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Updated on August 29, 2011

episode 8

David and Isabella had one of those rare days when they both had a day off together, and they had decided to spend the day exploring some of the older sections of LA and tasting some traditional or cultural foods. It was late afternoon and they both were getting tired, but felt the day had been well spent. They had just crossed an intersection and continued on down when they heard a frantic honking, then loud screeching of tires and they spun in time to see a car collide with a SUV. Even before the crash was complete they had begun sprinting in its direction. The car had been traveling at a high rate of speed and had run the light. It had begun honking before entering the intersection, but the SUV had been talking on his phone and not realized the honking car posed a threat until to late. When David and Isabella got to the vehicles, the driver of the SUV was mostly uninjured, just badly shaken and dazed, thanks to his seat belt and airbag, as he had been the one to strike the car as it entered the intersection in front of him. Unfortunately the driver of the car, a man, was killed on impact.

David went to the man in the SUV while Isabella went to the passenger in the back seat of the car. She had been sitting on the passenger side and had been wearing a seat belt and that is what saved her from the worst of any injury. However it could not stop her labor, which is why her husband had been speeding in the first place. Isabella went in the front passenger door and checked on the husband, determined he was dead, then looked to see who was in the back seat. When she realized who was in the back, she nearly cried. They were a young couple and she was sure this was to be their first child. She hated when this happened. She climbed over the seat back and checked the womans pulse. She had a strong pulse, so she began calling to her, and soon she came to. As the woman realized where she was and what had happened, she began to panic and call for her husband. Isabella tried to get her attention, but the woman simply could not hear beyond her panic and fear and pain. At that moment David got into the car. He reached back and took hold of her head, forcing her to notice him, forcing her eyes to look into his. It stopped her hysteria. She looked at him and he kept her eye contact and began speaking to her.

He asked her name and learned it was Susan. She was 23. She was in labor with their first baby. How was her husband. He told her they would know more when the paramedics got there, right now he was unconscious, and that was probably better for him, because he wouldn't be in any pain, and he would not be worried for her. This helped to calm her, so even though he hated to lie to her, David knew it was the better thing to do for the moment. Isabella removed the seat belt from Susan, and then both she and David exited from the car. Then David re-entered the car and Isabella opened the rear passenger seat door. This time David climbed over and got in the back seat and had Susan turn her back towards him and lean back until she was as comfortable as she could get in such cramped quarters. They all could hear sirens, but they were not very close. Isabella knew Susans water had broke because she was soaking wet, and it concerned her to see a large amount of blood. But she got quite a surprise when she lifted the skirt up to see a tiny head already showing. She looked up into Susans eyes and told her that her baby was eager to come out, the head was already out. Susan let out a sob, then a gasp as another contraction grips her. David slips his hands into hers so she can have something to hold tight to during the pains. The three people caught up in this little drama are completely unaware of the crowd that has gathered to watch the miracle of life being born in the midst of life ending. Even the driver of the SUV is engrossed in the drama.

No one is aware that the fire trucks have arrived. The Paramedics have arrived. But they don't interfere, because as they start to push the crowd back, the captain stops them. He realizes that the two people who are helping the woman know what they are doing, and to stop and change people now in the middle of the birth could cause harm. He can also see the driver of the car is dead. He realizes this can have a devastating effect on the woman, so he does not allow his men to deal with the body yet. He does notice the driver of the SUV. It is easy to see who he is, he is cut up. He sends the paramedics over to deal with him. Finally, the baby is born. A healthy baby boy. A great cheer goes up, and only then do the occupants of the car realized they have an audience. Isabella tries to wipe some of the blood from the baby, when someone hands her sterilized wipes. She looks up in surprise to see a smiling paramedic. He is holding a light blanket for the baby, so she cleans the baby up and wraps him in the blanket, then hands him up to the mother. But the mother does not take him, and Isabella realizes that she has passed out, from physical or emotional exhaustion or both. So still holding the infant, she backs out of the car, allowing the paramedics to care for the woman and load her onto a backboard, and remove her to the ambulance. Then David came and stood by her, looking intently at the child. He looked at her, then gently smiling, he brushed her check with his thumb. He told her he was so proud of her, she had done a tremendously good job. By the way, he says, you look so fine holding that baby. She blushes, but feels warms with joy at the thought. Then one of the paramedics says they are ready to go, and she hands the baby over to him. They are sad that she has lost her husband, but glad that at least she has her child to remember him by.

They look around, and are surprised to see the driver of the SUV getting a ticket. He seems surprised to and getting angrier by the minute. David walks closer to see what is going on. He comes up behind the man in time to hear him shout at the cop that this is where the taxpayers money goes? So they can harrass innocent people? The accident wasn't his fault, He wasn't the one speeding. He wasn't the one who ran the red light...The only reason they were trying to pin it on him is because the real guilty person was dead! The officer again explained the reason he was getting a ticket was because he had been talking on his cell phone, which distracted him, and that "played a part" in the accident. So he was "in part" to blame for the accident. Once again the man went off on the cop. The cop told him if he didn't calm down he would get more than a ticket. That only served to make him angrier. He shouted "So you wanna threaten me huh? I'll have you know I was a Ranger. No one, not even a cop, threatens me"! And with that, he swung back his fist to punch the cop, but it never landed, because David, who had been standing behind him, caught the back swing and continued it so the body was forced to swing around to face him, and while the man was still off balance, he delivered a punch of his own, that while it didn't knock the man out, it did serve its intended purpose and knock him down, giving the officer time to take control of him and slap a pair of cuffs on him. The officer thanked David and took the man off to his cruiser. David and Isabella resumed their walk, pretty much ending their day. The next day David returned to work and was surprised to see a large newspaper picture, blown up and pinned up, of Isabella and himself standing beside the car holding the baby. He then heard cheering and looked around to see the crew cheering him. He blushed, feeling uncomfortable, but then the guys began to tease him, asking when he and Isabella were going to start their family, they looked so good holding that baby. That felt more natural, the teasing, but, since it dealt with the woman who meant more to him than life itself, he still didn't know how to deal with it, so he just smiled at them.

Finally the Captain came out, saw what the commotion was about, told everyone to settle down, and congratulated David on the job he and Isabella had done the day before. David had just gotten settled down to some serious study time when the alarm went off. When they got to the fire they each experienced a thrill of fear to realize that they all could lose their lives today. A car had slammed into a gas station/convenience store, and while it did not hit the pumps, it had started a major fire that was quickly spreading towards them. They had to get the electricity turned off so the pumps would be turned off or the whole place would go up if they couldn't get the fire out before it reached the pumps. The Captain got on the phone and called the electric company. It was Saturday, and he got the company that answered for them when they were closed. He was about to get upset when the woman told him she could give him the number to the after hour manager. So he calls this man, who tells him it will take him at least twenty minutes to get to the office and shut that section down. The Captain tells him he will do his best to give him the twenty, if he will do his best to make it ten. The man agrees. Meanwhile, the crew have begun a two part battle, soaking the walls of flame that stretch like fingers outwards towards the pumps and other buildings, and soaking the building itself, so that David, Ben and Abe can get in and see if anyone has survived. They work their way in around the car, following Brian and Chris with a two and a half inch hose. Though they search every inch, they could find no one, living or dead. By the time they had searched the entire place their SCBA's were out of air and they were forced to exit the building. There, they saw things were not going well.

The fire had nearly reached the pumps despite the water being poured on it. David ran back in and grabbed Brian, tugging on him, indicating he should come back out, so Brian and Chris followed him out. When they were out again, he showed them how everyone, including the Captain, was fighting those walls of fire that were almost hungrily reaching for the pumps. The building was a lost cause and no one was inside it and if the pumps went they and everything around would also be lost. Brian agreed and he and Chris headed over and turned their hose towards the base of the fire nearest the pumps, on full stream rather than wide spray. David, Ben and Abe also got a two and an half hose and joined Brian and Chris, doing the same thing, trying to push the flames back towards the rest of the crew. At first it appeared that it wasn't working, in fact, the flames seemed to grow even larger, as though the water itself were feeding them. But then, they began to hiss and shrink as thick plumes of steam rolled upwards, at times blinding the men from their target. Finally they could see real progress being made, as the wall of flame became nothing more than a small finger, then just an extension of flame from the building. They realized then that at some point the two walls had joined and become one giant wall. Now they were fighting the fire at the building itself, and the Captain sent Matthew and Samuel around behind the building to work from that angle outside the building. He sent Brian and Chris around to one side to work that angle to do the same. He sent Andy and Dan to the other side to work that angle and set David and Ben in the front. They were to soak the roof. It sounded to simple but the Captain figured by this time, the building had been burning long enough that the weight of the water on the roof should collapse it. When all that water hits the interior of the building at once, it should, in theory, put out the fire. It took about six minutes for enough water to build up on the roof and cause it to collapse. Even then the whole roof did not go, just about half of the roof did. But the weight of the massive amount of water hitting the fire all at once had the desired effect, in that once the worst of the smoke and steam cleared enough for them to see in again, they could see that maybe only a quarter of the building was still burning. The Captain had them all focus their hoses on that portion still burning, aggressively attacking it until it to was out soon after. The men wrapped things up and headed back to the firehouse, where they made their trucks, gear and equipment ready for the next call, then they took a much needed rest. The Captain called the Fire Marshall and asked him if he would investigate the fire because they had found no dead bodies, not even a driver of the vehicle or a clerk. He suspected someone was attempting to claim insurance.

After work that day, David made a special trip downtown without Isabella. One he had been thinking of but had not had the courage to make. But today, when he realized they all could die, he also realized how stupid he was being in delaying. He was finally going to do the right thing. No more delays. He would make Isabella his wife. He entered a small jewelry store, and went up to the display case that held the wedding rings. The clerk, sensing a determined young man, and thus a possible sale, came quickly to his case. They began to discuss the pros and cons of the different engagement rings, and David had just pointed to one he felt perfectly suited Isabella When the bell over the door jingled. He didn't know why, but the hairs on the back of his neck began to prickle. It made a sick feeling in his chest. He slowly stood upright and turned to face the door. There were two men standing in the doorway, both wearing ski masks, both holding semi-automatic handguns. They told the clerk to get over to the register and get the money out, and one of the men followed him over, while the other moved over to David, keeping him covered. He told David to get down on the floor, laying face down and don't do anything stupid. David did, all he could think of was staying alive for his Isa.

The man with the clerk suddenly yelled and struck the clerk with his gun, and shouted something about the alarm. Apparently the clerk had tripped the alarm. He had tried to do it unnoticed, but had been caught. David was terrified they would kill the guy. He was so young. David hated seeing anyone so close to death. The man who stood by him had his attention on the man with the clerk. David suddenly flipped over and kicked, kicking the legs out from under the man guarding him. The man landed hard on his back, the wind knocked out of him, and David helped that with a punch to his stomach and one to his jaw. When he had kicked the legs out from his man, the clerk used the distraction to dive over the counter and make another dive behind another case, there he stayed hidden. The man who had held the clerk had fired at the clerk, nicking his leg, but otherwise missing him. He then turns his attention to David. Meanwhile, people passing the store hear the gunshots and call the police who let them know there are police already in route. Inside, David is hunkered down behind a case trying to think what to do when he spots the gun that had belonged to the man he knocked out. He wonders if he stands a chance. He wonders if it is worth the risk, because if he loses he loses so much, but so does Isa. But then he thinks about the young man. If that young man gets killed, and he lives, he is not sure if he could live with the guilt. He is sure Isa would understand that. And so he takes a deep breath and dives out for the gun, grabbing it as he rolls, and coming up in a kneeling position facing the robber. He has a bare instant to see the gun pointed at him, and he squeezes the trigger. He never knows if he hits the man. The robbers bullet takes him in the head, throwing him backwards.

His bullet does indeed take the robber out, a perfect shot in fact. The clerk, who has heard the cops arrive, who has witnessed the whole thing, now runs out the door, never stopping to think that could have gotten him killed, his only thought an overwhelming need to get help for the man who had just saved his life. The police, not knowing who was coming barging out of the store, trained their weapons on the clerk, shouting for him to stop, put his hands up, get down on the ground. The clerk stumbles to a stop, momentarily confused, then he realizes the cops think he is the bad guy. He begins yelling that he is the clerk. An innocent man is shot inside and may be dying. One robber is dead and another knocked out. The police move in and take the clerk to the ground, cuffing him until they can determine the truth of the situation, meanwhile still other officers move towards the doors. They get no response to their proximity so continue and enter, and see it is the way the man has told them. They check the man by the register. He is dead. They take his mask off. They recognize him as someone they have been hunting in a string of jewelry store robberies. The men who check the other masked man discover he is indeed the other wanted man. They turn him over and cuff him. They call for the paramedics to come in and take care of the wounded man. The man who was first cuffed outside the store, they release after calling the store manager to verify his ID.

The paramedics look in Davids wallet to learn his ID and discover he is a firefighter. They contact Davids captain and tell him what has happened. Captain Chamberlain goes in search of Isabella and once he has found her, he takes her to the hospital. Isabella is devastated. She has come to understand the risk he takes with fires. Understand and accepts it. And she figured that it would be fire that would someday take him from her. But she never thought a bullet would. She just couldn't get it through her head that he had been shot. Why? She couldn't think. Suddenly she felt the Captains hand take hers and gently squeeze it. She looked over into his kind eyes. She owed this man so much. He had so much love in him. He loved every man under him like a son born to him, and she knew he loved her as though she were his very daughter. She had never known such a person, man or woman. His existence blessed so many lives. She knew that he felt the loss of each of his "sons" deeply and personally. And he still gave out comfort and strength. She squeezed his hand back, and told him that David would make it, he just had to. The Captain smiled his thanks for her comfort, and they continued to wait for word of Davids status. It came much sooner than they expected. When they saw the Dr. walking swiftly down the hall towards them, they would have thought he was coming for someone else, but they were the only people in the waiting room at that moment. Their next thought was he was coming to soon, David must have died on the table. But that didn't work with the Dr.s swift stride. They were, in any sense, very confused by the time the Dr. reached them. The Dr. reached out to Isabella first, taking her hands in both of his and with a smile he proceeded to explain that David would be just fine, the bullet creased his skull, but did not enter it. It will be a very tender spot, for a long time, and he will have to take care not to get hit there, but other than that, he should be just fine. Isabella, who was not the feinting kind, very nearly did just that. The Captain and the Dr. both caught her and guided her to the seats, making her sit. The Dr. told them as soon as she recovered, they could go and see him. They thanked him for all he had done.

When they entered his room, they thought he was asleep, but when Isabella could not suppress the small sob at the thought of how close she came to losing him, he heard and opened his eyes. He knew very well what she was thinking. He held out his hand to her and she ran to take it. The Captain, knowing they needed this time, slipped out until later. David held Isabellas' hand tightly, and told her how very sorry he was. He had thought the risk was worth it because a mans life was at stake, but now that he took the risk and nearly died. He could not forgive himself for making that decision for her, that she would understand. He realized how unbearable his life would be without her, and he could not imagine doing that to her. She put a finger under is chin and tilted it, forcing his eyes up to meet hers. She tells him that "It takes all kinds of people to make this world go around. Some people are weak and some are strong. Some are smart and some are not. Some are afraid, and some are not. Some are cruel and wicked, and some are not. Because there will always be strong bad people who prey on weak good people, then the world needs strong good people to protect them. There aren't so many of them that I would deny them you. I am proud of what you did, but I also thank God He spared you for me. There will always be fires, and you know that not only will I never, but I could never bring myself to ask you to stop fighting fires. I am a paramedic. It is what I live for, to save lives. I understand what is in you, what drives you. It is a big part of what made me fall in love with you." David is speechless. He pulls her down and hugs her tightly, it is all he can say. As far as she is concerned, it is all he needs to say.

The next day, David is awakened by a knocking on the door to his room. He calls for whomever it is to enter. A man in a business suit enters and approaches Davids bedside. The man introduces himself, but David barely understands the name, he does catch the name of the jewelry store though. The man goes on to say something about the clerk. David interrupts him to ask if he is ok. Yes, the man says, shaking Davids hand vigorously and smiling big. Then He pulls out a package from his pocket and hands it to David, smiling very big, and saying over and over...Thank you, Thank you. David looks up at the man, then down at the package. He is confused, but it is clear the man wants him to open it, and so he does. And he does not know what to do or say, for nestled inside the package are three beautiful rings. The very engagement ring he had been about to pick out for Isabella, and a pair of stunning wedding rings. They had to be expensive, but how to tell this man who barely spoke english that he could not accept such an expensive gift, he had not done anything to earn such a gift. He was struggling with this when, to his intense relief, his Captain walked in. He explained the problem to Captain Chamberlain, but was completely unprepared for the Captains response. The Captain turned to the business man and hugged him, accepting the return embrace, and profusely thanked the man on behalf of David, indeed on behalf of the entire fire department for such an incredible and generous gift. The man left completely satisfied that his gift was accepted, his thanks was accepted, his debt repaid. David, not understanding, asked his captain how he could accept such an expensive gift on his behalf, especially when he did nothing to earn it. Captain Chamberlain looked at him a moment, then asked him what he needed to do to earn an award? David told him "I can't, I don't put lives a on value scale, where so many lives saved equals so many awards won. Every life is more precious than...than, than whatever is most precious to any one of us." And with those words David understands what Isabella was trying to tell him. He would not do what he had been thinking, and give up firefighting. He knew that Isabella understood him far better than he did himself.The Captain, however was thinking about something else. He needed David to understand why people gave awards, or gifts such as the jewelry store owner did. "David, what would you give if someone took Isabella from you, and someone else brought her safely back to you...what would you do? what wouldn't you give to that person to express your gratitude"? David didn't have to think about that one, he only had to think what he had that was valuable enough to give. "I understand what your getting at Captain. Thank you".

Several days later, in the safety of his home, he treated Isabella to a romantic dinner. After dinner, he put one of his favorite songs on...Power of Love, by Celine Dion, and he took her in his arms for a slow and romantic dance. Near the end of the song, he knelt down and at her feet, took her left hand in his, and said " Isabella. I love you more than life itself, and I can't imagine spending the rest of my life without you in it. You once told me that you belonged to me. Well, I belong to you, mind, heart, body and soul. Please take this ring, wear it, and know that it is my promise to be your faithful and forever husband, as soon as you say yes and set us a date". Before he was even finished, Isabella had tears streaming from her eyes. She had dreamed of this moment, but had feared he would not have the courage to ask her. She almost couldn't get the yes out, but out it finally came. She pulled him to his feet and embraced him tightly. They moved over to the couch and sat down, and there they sat, unable to get close enough, sharing their dreams of their future.

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