John and Roy came to themselves to find themselves in the middle of -- Hell. An enclosed room filled with coal -- on fire.
Firefighter instincts took over and John immediately began trying to find something to try to put the fire out with.
Roy did the same, then he grabbed John's arm and pointed at a ladder. "This is a ship! Ten to one, the captain doesn't know he's got a fire on board!"
"You're right!" John yelled above the din of the other men fighting the blaze. "Let's try to find him to let him know!"
They tumbled up the ladder to find themselves face to face with a man in an old-fashioned Naval uniform. "May I help you gentlemen?" he asked in an accented voice that made Brice's seem positively sunny by comparison!
"There's a fire down below! We're going to need more men to fight it!" John gasped.
With the look one would give a slow-witted child one was not particularly fond of, the man said, "Of course there's a fire down below. We have six boiler rooms; each one with four boilers, each boiler has a fire in it. Now IF you will excuse me..."
John didn't like being talked down to, especially by a Little Lord Fauntleroy wannabe. "No, you twit!" he growled. "I mean you have a fire that is out of control! Now if you don't want this ship to burn down around your ears, I suggest you get someone!"
"And I suggest you go back to your cabin and leave the running of the ship to ---"
"Problem, Murdoch?" a cultured voice asked.
The twit snapped to attention. "Captain Smith, sir!" he gasped.
The grey-bearded captain turned to John. "Sir, you seem agitated. I am Captain EJ Smith. May I be of assistance?"
Once again, training kicked in and John straightened his shoulders and said, "Yes, sir. One of the fires in one of the coal rooms is out of control."
The captain's eyes widened. He laid his hand on John's thin shoulder. "Show me."
"Yes, sir!" John said, giving the captain his lopsided grin. He and Roy led him to the coal room they'd just left.
Smith cursed. He ordered everyone out. Then he sealed the bulkheads and ordered ballast -- pure seawater -- poured into the room to put out the fire.
"Sir!" Murdoch protested. "How will wet coal power our boilers? Would it not be more prudent to let it burn itself out?"
John growled. "What, and burn the rest of the ship with it? I swear, I have to wonder how you got where you are, with such a way of doing things!"
Smith interrupted before it went further. "Come, gentlemen." He led them upstairs to the Bridge. On the way, he asked, "In what cabin are you staying?"
"Third class, most likely," Murdoch snorted, glaring at John and Roy.
"Mister Murdoch, suppose you go see if Phillips has any messages for you." When the idiot left, Smith smiled. "For your service to the ship, I'd like to reassign you -- to Promenade B. Directly across from my cabin. I will show you the way."
An officer ran up to them. "Captain, we have a problem. Southampton forgot to give us eyes!"
"Southampton?" Roy's eyes widened, then narrowed as he frowned.
"Yes...what of it?" the officer asked, somewhat baffled.
John's eyes widened as the pieces fell into place. "Uhm...never mind," he said, detaching something from his uniform belt. "Here, use these," he said as he handed a small pair of 'eyes' to the officer.
"Thank you, sir!" he raced off.
Smith smiled. "You are truly a kind man."
Smiling shakily at the captain, John said, "Well, I know how important it is for the lookouts to have their binoculars."
"Would you like a tour of the ship, gentlemen?"
"Sure... you up to it, Roy?" John asked his mostly silent partner.
Roy smiled shakily and nodded.
John frowned. "You okay, Pally?"
A deprecating smile and slight shake of the head.
"What's the matter?" John asked, a hand immediately going out to Roy's shoulder.
"Smoke," he rasped. "Talk hurts."
"Oh, man!" turning to the captain, John said, "Where is your sickbay?"
"Our infirmary is down this corridor," Smith said. "Follow me."
John nodded and stayed close to Roy, ready to support him should the need arise.
The doctor smiled after a perfunctory examination. "He is unhurt, just mute. It is temporary, never fear."
John let out a sigh of relief, then he grinned and said, "Ah, quiet...." At Roy's Look, he winked and said, "Just teasing, Pally. I'm glad you're okay."
"You should'a got the smoke," Roy rasped.
"But then, you'd be deprived of all of my great ideas..." John said with another wink and an impish grin.
Roy just rolled his eyes, which made Smith laugh. "Ready for your tour, gentlemen?"
The Titanic was, indeed, a ship of luxury. Huge and ornate -- and beautiful without being pretentious.
John gave a low whistle at the base of the grand staircase. "She's even more magnificent in person..."
"The brochures don't do her justice, do they?" Smith asked.
"Uh... no, they certainly don't...." John said, deciding to let the captain think he was talking about publicity photos.
Roy smiled. He leaned close and rasped, "Nice save, Junior."
"Always," John whispered.
The room Smith left them in was huge. Ornate. Luxury at its height for the day.
"Wow... this place is almost as big as my house!" John gasped, awestruck at the opulence of the place.
Roy nodded and rapped the porthole -- then he gasped.
"Wow..." John repeated.
"Hungry?" Roy now spoke telegraphically.
"Yeah, a little..."
They walked out of their cabin and John collided with none other than Murdoch. "Watch it," he snarled at the paramedic.
"Oh, excuse me," John said sarcastically. "I didn't know this was your private deck."
Murdoch growled at him. "I don't like you."
"Oooh, that really hurt..." John said in a fake English accent that was surprisingly good.
"So... you are a person of breeding after all."
"Yeah," John muttered to himself, "and you must be a person of inbreeding..."
"I beg your pardon?" Murdoch blew.
John grinned, but it didn't reach his eyes. "Ah, I see your breath isn't the only thing that resembles a dog's..." he said, tapping his ear.
Murdoch hit him, knocking him backward into Roy's arms.
"You hit me!" John said, stunned into momentary inaction.
Roy pulled him into the room and closed the door, leaning against it.
"That jerk hit me, Roy!" John fumed, eyes blazing as he clenched and unclenched his fists. "Wait till I get my hands on him!"
Roy sighed and shook his head. He cursed his uncooperative voice.
"What? You don't think I should give that guy a taste of Ol' Lefty here?"
Roy shook his head and tapped his shoulder, where the rank braid on Murdoch's uniform was.
A nod, and Roy sighed, hugging John and praying he understood.
John returned the hug and said, "Thanks, Pally -- for saving my butt again!" With a sigh, John broke the brotherly embrace and went on, "So we're on the Titanic. Do you think we'll be among those who make it?"
Roy sighed and shrugged. "Don't... even know... what day... it is!"
"Yeah..." then John studied Roy carefully. "Hey, Roy.. your voice is getting worse. Maybe you should drink some lemon tea or something."
He nodded. "Room....service?" he quipped.
"Ha, ha, ha. How about we go to the dining room? We may be able to get some information there."
Roy nodded and they headed that way. A woman tittered as they passed, and another stage-whispered, "Mercy! Such clothing! What is this world coming to?"
John glared, then blinked and in a stage-whisper of his own said to Roy, "And I thought only the fashionable people were on board! Some people obviously haven't seen the spring fashions from Paris!" With that, John tossed his head back, sending his nose straight into the air. "Come, Roy!"
Roy's laughter sounded like seal barks coming from his tortured throat. He ended in a bad coughing fit.
"Oh, man...let's get that tea into you..." John wouldn't say it, but he was getting more and more worried about Roy.
Roy's eyes goggled as he looked at the menu. Red caviar? Canapes? What the heck... his expression clearly transmitted.
John just grinned. "First class has its advantages..."
"May I help you gentlemen?" a soft voice asked as a svelte redhead walked up.
John's grin died as he gazed at her. He became aware that he was staring and he blinked and cleared his throat. "Uh...my friend here would like some warm tea with lemon and honey..."
"Certainly. anything to eat with that?"
John looked at Roy. "Well?"
He pointed to the porridge on the menu.
"The uh... the porridge. Actually, make that two." John gave the redhead his most winning smile.
"Certainly, sir. If you need anything, my name is Violet."
"How about your phone number?" John asked with a grin.
She chuckled. "I have no phone in my cabin, sir. Which address would you like -- London or New York?"
"Why not both?" John asked, his grin broadening.
"Well, I doubt my fiancée would approve."
"F-Fiancée?" John stammered, blushing as red as the caviar. "I, uh... I didn't know you were engaged...."
Roy was grinning openly.
Violet chuckled. "I'll be right back with your food."
"Thanks..." John muttered, trying to blend into the surroundings. "Engaged!" he hissed, blushing again.
Roy tried to laugh, but ended up coughing again. "Ask...date..." he finally rasped.
"Very funny. Very funny..."
"No! Serious! Ask...date!"
"Roy, I can't believe you! That woman is engaged to another man, and you want me to ask her on a date?"
Roy swatted the back of his head. "The date, Junior!" he rasped harshly.
"Oh. Well, dumbass me."
John groaned and said, "Yeah. Well...let's see if there's something with today's date on it..."
The menu did. They had two days.
"Two days..." John said softly. "Think we can convince the captain to do things differently in that time?"
Roy shrugged. The tea came and they settled in to enjoy.
Two days later, a party was in full swing in first class.
"Look at them," John said to Roy. "They have no idea what's about to happen..." The party was lively and happy, yet John could only shake his head sadly. "I just wish the captain would have listened..."
Roy nodded sadly. His thoughts were with Joanne and his children.
As if sensing this, John placed a hand over Roy's and said, "They know you love them... and besides, there were some male survivors from first class..."
Roy turned a hopeful, but sad, smile on him and grasped his hand tighter.
John checked his watch -- 11:40 PM. Five minutes to impact. "Pally... I want you to know, just in case..." He couldn't bring himself to give voice to the impending disaster. "You've been a good partner, and a great friend."
Tears welled and Roy nodded.
What neither of them knew was that the ship was already turning. The lookout had used the binoculars -- and the Titanic would miss the iceberg!
"Wanna go out on deck? Maybe we'll get to see it.." John suggested.
Roy nodded. They went out -- and there was the mammoth thing.
"Holy cow..." John whispered, craning his neck to try to see the top of it.
"Oh, shit..." Roy whispered as a THUD was felt.
John's eyes widened, then he frowned as he noticed wherethe berg had connected with the ship. "Roy... I think we're okay...."
Roy looked at him with huge eyes. "What?"
"Look," he said, pointing to where the THUD had come from. "All the books and movies showed the iceberg hitting the front of the ship..."
"Back," Roy gasped, his voice deserting him again. "Back!"
"Yeah...something's changed!" John said, hugging Roy quickly. "Somehow they were able to..." John's eyes grew huge. "The binoculars.... G-d....those binoculars I gave that officer two days ago..."
Roy frowned at him, puzzled.
"Remember when we first showed up here? The man griping that he didn't have any binoculars?"
John nodded and smiled. "There may be a fighting chance after all!"
A few moments later, the Titanic stopped in the water as the crew scurried to ascertain the damage. Once it was determined their rudder was nicked -- and that it could wait to be fixed till they were at New York, the engines were re-fired.
The Titanic was once more underway to New York.
"Man...that was close!" John said to Roy once they'd gone back to their cabin. "Wow...do you realise the ship could very well get to New York now?"
Roy whooped. Loudly. Then his hands flew to his throat and he fell to his knees.
"Roy!" John cried, moving to his side. "What's the matter?" *Oh, man, I knew he was hurt worse than the doc said ... I wish Doc Brackett were here!*
Roy shook his head. "...burns...."
"Oh, man, let's get you to the infirmary!"
Again, a stubbourn headshake. "Be....fine..."
"No, Roy... you need to have a doctor look at you!"
With a sigh, Roy rasped, "Okay." Then he looked at John and teased with a grin, "...Roy."
John gave a double-take, then grinned. "Well? What do you expect when you act like me?"
Roy blinked, then laughed -- then coughed.
"Come on..." John said.
At the infirmary, the same doctor examined Roy -- a bit closer this time.
John stood in the corner, concern for Roy playing across his features as he watched the doctor closely this time.
Finally, the doctor sighed. "Mister Gage... I hate to admit I was wrong.. but...."
"You were wrong," John said coldly. "What's really wrong with him?"
"The smoke inhalation aggravated some lacerations on his larynx... and vocal cords." He looked grief-stricken. "There's nothing I can do for him. I'm sorry."
John blinked back a tear as he squeezed Roy's shoulder. "Guess we should go to our regular doc when we get home..." Then he frowned. "Where'd the lacerations come from, anyway?"
Roy looked at his shoes. "Only he can tell you that," the doctor said before he left the room.
"Roy?" John asked softly. "Don't talk.... write it."
He nodded and wrote, *Would you believe they're partially-healed burns?*
"Wow! How'd it happen? On a run?"
He shook his head. *At home.*
John nodded, remembering Roy had suddenly been quieter than normal with no explanation. "Tell me." He led Roy back toward the cabin.
*Jenny brought me some pink lemonade to drink,* Roy said. *Turns out she ran out of sugar and used a tiny bit of Joanne's powdered lye wash-powder instead.*
"Ouch!" John groaned. "What'd they do for you?"
*Burned me.* Roy shrugged. *Just now healing -- till the smoke got me.*
"Yeah, but what I meant is, what did the doctor do for you?"
Roy sighed. *Nothing. Made me throw it up, sent me home to heal.*
"Made you what?" John's eyes widened in disbelief. "And you let them?"
*Didn't know it was lye till it came back up. Didn't even check to see what kind of poison it was.*
John growled. "That doesn't sound like Brackett or Early!"
"That sonuva---" John cut himself off and growled. "That sounds like somethin' that idiot would do!" Squeezing Roy's shoulder, John said, "We'll get you fixed up when we get home."
At that moment, a man with a handlebar moustache walked by them, talking to himself. "...damned lucky -- what if we'd hit that thing another way...."
John turned and tapped the man on the shoulder. "It could have been a terrible tragedy."
"Oh? And what do you base that on, Mister....eh?"
"I base it on the fact that there aren't enough lifeboats on this ship for all the souls aboard!"
The man drew himself up. "I'll have you know we have four more than is required!" he snapped.
"That may be true, sir," John said politely, "but that still doesn't mean there are enough. What do you think would have happened to the majority of people on this ship who didn't have spots on those boats?"
"Ridiculous! The ship is her own lifeboat!"
John couldn't keep himself from rolling his eyes. "Yes, unsinkable and all that... but wouldn't it be better to double-- or even triple -- the number of lifeboats on the ship? That way, one could truthfully add 'safest' to the Titanic's list of attributes!"
The man's eyes widened. "Sir, do you know how much that would cost?"
"Do you know how much it could cost you not to?" John retorted.
The man frowned, deep in thought, and resumed his walk.
"Well...I hope he listened..." John said to Roy.
Roy nodded, then grinned broadly. "Feel it?" he asked, shivering.
"Yeah .. cold! And you be careful with that voice of yours!"
Roy stuck out his tongue -- and they were gone.
John blinked against the bright sunlight, and frowned at the sound of an impatient honking. "Yeah, yeah....whatever..." he said as he drove the Squad through the green light. Once they were out of the intersection, he pulled over and said, "Wow, what a daydream..."
"Tell me about it," Roy rasped.
John did a double-take at the sound of Roy's voice. Seeing the way his partner was dressed, he said, "Uh...Roy..."
"Huh?" Roy turned, and his eyes grew huge. "Junior! Your clothes!" Then he began to cough.
"Yeah...and your voice!" John exclaimed. He picked up the radio mic and said, "Squad 51, unavailable!" before steering the Squad toward Rampart. "And Morton's not getting hold of you this time!"
Roy couldn't repress the smile.
Once they got to Rampart, John led Roy into the ER. At Dixie's expression at their appearance, John said, "Long story, we'll tell ya later. Is Doc Brackett around?"
"Yes, he's in his office. John, what..."
John shook his head. "Roy needs help. Smoke inhalation..."
"In four," Dixie said, waving a hand there.
"Right." John led Roy into Treatment Four.
Brackett walked in. "What's up, Roy?" he asked the near-mute.
John stepped forward. "He took in some smoke...aggravated some lacerations on his vocal cords -- injuries Morton examined and aggravated!"
"What?" Kel began to examine Roy.
"The lacerations came from burns Roy received when he accidentally ingested a small bit of lye powder -- and Morton gave him ipecac!" John was fuming.
Kel glared at him. "Roy, drink a large glass of cold water right now." He stormed out of the room and grabbed Morton -- literally. "My office. Now."
Morton's eyes widened. He knew to save his questions until he was behind closed doors. Once there, he asked, "What's the problem?"
"Roy DeSoto. Where the hell do you get off making a mistake even an intern knows better than to do?"
"What mistake?" Morton snapped. "I don't know what you're talking about. I haven't treated Roy DeSoto in weeks!"
"Weeks?" Kel roared.
"What? What's your problem?"
"He's in Four right now, mute from burns to his throat!"
"Oh, those." Morton sighed. "I told him his throat would heal in time."
"Yeah, but you forgot something."
"What's that?" Morton said defiantly.
"Roy is a fireman. The smoke he inhaled aggravated the burns! And why in the hell did you give him ipecac when he drank lye? That's a stupid mistake even an intern knows better than to make!"
Morton glared at Kel. "He has breathing apparatus! Why didn't he use it? And as for the lye, I didn't know it was lye till after I'd administered the ipecac!"
"You did what?" Kel leaned over his desk, fury pouring from him. "You knew he was poisoned by something-- burned by something-- and you didn’t check first? You cocky bastard!"
"I had to get it out of his system! I knew he was poisoned by something ---" but Morton finally seemed to be taken down about half a notch.
"And you were so convinced you knew what was best that you didn't check first. You aggravated his condition, not helped it!"
"But he's alive!" Morton argued. "Isn't that why we're here? To save lives in any way we can?"
"You're on suspension, Doctor. I suggest you review proper poison and corrosion protocol because upon your return there will be a test!" Then his eyes narrowed. "And Doctor Morton?"
"Should Roy DeSoto sue this hospital, be advised I will testify in the case. Against you. I will not tolerate your level of arrogant incompetence!"
Morton actually looked scared. "Y-yes, Doctor Brackett," he said softly. "How long is my suspension?"
"Six weeks. Unpaid."
"Un---" Morton began to argue, but then he clamped his mouth shut. "Yes, sir."
"Good. Now get the hell out of my sight!"
"Yes, sir." Morton left without another word, realizing he was extremely lucky to have a job to come back to.
Kel went back to John and Roy. "I want to examine you again," he told Roy, trusting instinctively that John would be his voice.
John nodded and said, "The water seemed to help him."
"It cooled the fire," Kel nodded. "Roy, too much time has passed. All I can tell you now is to keep water and cool liquids going down and to wear your facemask. Your voice will return, and if you keep those precautions, it will stay."
John heaved a sigh of relief. "That at least is something, right, Roy?"
Roy nodded in relief. Then he croaked, "Morton --?" hoping John would finish his question.
"How did Morton react when he found out?" John asked.
Kel growled out what had happened to Morton.
"Good," John ground out. "He needed to be taken down a notch or twelve."
Roy nodded in agreement.
As they left Rampart, Roy grabbed John's arm. "Clothes!"
John looked down at himself and smiled. "Oh, yeah..." Raising an eyebrow, he went on, "Hey --- I wonder what happened to the Titanic after we left!"
"Good idea... but we're going to have to get back in uniform first..."
"Can't," Roy wheezed. "Wearing last...clean one..."
A call to Dwyer and a quick exchange of the Squad for the Land Rover, and soon the pair was changing into 1973 clothing at John's house. "Library?" Roy rasped as he drained his glass of ice water.
"Yep. And don't talk so much," John grinned.
Roy's reply was a deliberately Gage-ish raspberry.
John laughed. "Grab some more water and come on."
The librarian smiled at them. "May I help you, sirs?"
With his patented lopsided grin, John said, "Yes, we'd like to see some information about the Titanic."
"Titanic...yes, just a moment..." She gave them a large book, chock full of pictures. "Fascinating story."
"Yeah..." John started flipping through the book. "I've never heard the full story..." *True enough...*
"Damn," Roy rasped in a whisper once they reached a table. "Junior, she still sunk!"
"What? When?" A cold knot of dread formed in his stomach. "We didn't do a damn bit of good..."
"Yes we did." He cleared his aching throat. "Second voyage!"
John's eyes widened and he took the book. "On May 10, 1912 the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank... due to the till-then unknown extravagance of three times the number of required lifeboats, only twenty souls perished...Wow!"
Roy traced with his finger, though did not read aloud, "Bruce Ismay, builder of the ship, credited an unknown Native American passenger on the maiden voyage for helping the Titanic live up to her reputation as safest ship on the sea. Strangely, no Native American passenger could recall speaking with Ismay on her maiden voyage -- and despite Ismay's claim, none of them were in First Class." Roy grinned at John, eyes twinkling with mirth.
"Hey, what can I say? But I wish they knew our names...Imagine! Being part of history..." and he was off.
Roy, still trapped in silence, leaned on his fist and smiled tolerantly as he listened to his exuberant partner ramble on and on and on.
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