by PattyS

Disclaimers: These characters are all mine, so don’t use without my permission.


"What’s the address?" Nick Seeberger asked as he flipped the switch for the red lights

then hit the siren.

"1060 Royal Station 4-16," his partner, Jessie Marsten responded. "Building 4 is on the right side, in the middle of the cul du sac."


"Gotcha," Nick replied over the wail. "Hey, I thought we were gonna have a white Christmas," he said, turning on the windshield wipers as it began to rain.

Jessie snickered. "Um, no. More like a blue Christmas. I bet it’s still raining on Sunday." She made some notations on their report, glancing up in time to see a car slam on its brakes in front of them.

Nick barely missed the silver Thunderbird, just managing to keep the ambulance from sideswiping a car in the opposing lane. "Dammit! What the hell is wrong with people?"

"Stupid people. Job security," Jessie replied dryly. "They’re driving this way in the rain. Let it snow and watch them really shine."

"Amen to that." Nick pulled the ambulance into the apartment complex on Royal Station, carefully maneuvering around the parked cars to building 4. "Um, is that our patient?"

Jessie followed Nick’s gaze to the sidewalk in front of the building. Standing beside an old fashion leather suitcase was an elderly woman in a brown trench coat. "Sally. I should have known," Jessie grumbled as she reached for the handle of the door. "And this is why I became a paramedic?"

Nick laughed. "You became a paramedic to save lives. This is just one of the many perks."

"I hate you." Jessie ignored her partner’s continued laughter and got out. Sally met her halfway. "C’mon Sally, let’s get inside the ambulance and out of the rain."

"Thanks honey." Sally grabbed her suitcase and followed the paramedic into the ambulance. Once inside, Sally removed her trench coat to reveal her multi-colored housecoat.

Jessie rolled her eyes and sighed. I bet her shoulder hurts.

"Oh Lordy, my shoulder is a achin’ today," Sally proclaimed, taking a seat on the cot. She covered herself with the blanket and settled the pillow behind her head.

"Comfy?" Jessie asked.

"Not really." Sally frowned. "Bring me some water?"

"You know I can’t give you anything to drink, Sally." Jessie connected the seatbelt straps on the cot. "So, you want to go to Mercy Clermont?"

"No. I don’t like the doctors there. Take me to Anderson."

Jessie took a seat on the bench beside the cot. "Sally, the doctors are the same at both hospitals and Clermont is closer."

"Nope." Sally vigorously shook her head. "Santa Claus is coming to town and his first stop is Anderson Hospital. I have to be there to ring the silver bells to let everyone know he’s there."

"Okay." Jessie signaled for Nick to take off. She casually ignored her partner’s snicker and gave her patient her full attention. "So, your feet hurt. Anything else?"


"Huh?" Jessie waited for Sally to elaborate.

"That’s when it happened. 2001. September 11th." Sally turned bloodshot eyes to Jessie, locking gazes with her. "I was there."

"I know, Sally." Jessie patted the old woman’s arm, knowing full well that Sally was nowhere near New York or Washington DC or Pennsylvania on that particular day. Sally had been in the back of the same ambulance they were in now, on her way to the same hospital with the same phantom pain in her shoulder.

"Yes I am."

"What? What are you, Sally?"

"I’m talking to my angel." Sally’s eyes focused on the florescent lights above them. "She says ‘Run Rudolph Run!’"


"Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."

Jessie had to smile. Sally was switching channels faster than a man with a remote. "It’s okay, Sally. We’ll be at the hospital in a few minutes. You just sit back and relax."

"He’s up on the housetop. He can see everything." Sally grabbed Jessie’s hand with more strength than Jessie was expecting. "He knows. It’s God’s will."

"Okay, Sally." Jessie peeled the old woman’s crooked fingers from her hand. "Place your hand on your chest, okay? We’ll be there soon."


"Hey Suzanne." Jessie greeted the charge nurse as they rolled Sally into the emergency room.

"Lemme guess," Suzanne was already writing Sally’s name on the status board. "Her feet hurt?"

"Ding, ding, ding, you win." Jessie winked at the tall nurse.

Suzanne pointed down the hall. "Put her in 13. I’ll be there in a few."

"You got it." Jessie and Nick got Sally settled on the hospital bed.

"Pretty paper." Sally grabbed the report out of Jessie’s hands. "Can I have it?"

"Nope, sorry." Jessie took the report then pulled up the bed rails. "See you later, Sally. Tell Santa I said hello."

Sally’s face brightened. "You bet! Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas, Sally."

"Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose," Sally began singing as Jessie and Nick walked out, her sore feet completely forgotten.


"I hate you."

"No you don’t."

"Yes I do. I hate you times 1000." Jessie put the ambulance into gear and pulled away from the emergency room.

"You can’t resist my charm. You love me."

"I hate you infinity."

"Well, that settles it. You must be crazy for me."

Jessie narrowed her gaze at him while they were stopped at a light. "The only crazy person here is you. Besides, if I wanted to…"

"Oh, you do. I know your little secret, Jessie Marsten. You can’t get enough of me."

"Oh geez." Jessie rolled her eyes, trying to look annoyed, but unable to hold back the laughter. "You’re cracked. You know that?"

"Yup. Mama I’m strange, but you still love me." Nick giggled.

Jessie reached over to turn the volume up on the radio, deciding to drown out her partner. It worked until he started singing. "On the bloody morning afterererer…one tin soldier rides away!"

"Oh boy." Jessie tried to ignore him and changed the radio station.

Another song started up and Nick began using the dashboard as a drum set. "Oh play me some mountain music. Like Grandma and Grandpa used to play. Oh play me some mountain music…"

"How the hell do you know every word of every song?"

Nick winked at her. "I was raised on radio, baby."

"So, what are you doing for Christmas?"

"Ah, nice segue. I’m going home for the holidays."

"You mean your little sister, Angelene, is giving you a free meal."

"Yep. My sister is doing the whole deck the halls, chestnuts roasting on an open fire thing. Gonna have a regular feast of food. I have to bring dessert though."

"Dessert?" Jessie laughed. "That ought to be good. You going to UDF or Kroger’s?"

Nick grinned. "Kroger’s. Best ice cream cake in the world. I’m leaving Saturday night."


"Damn? Don’t want me to leave, huh?" He nudged her arm.

"Of course not." Jessie glanced over at him while they were stopped at a light. "I figured it would be a silent night if you were on duty with me. You’re always a wheel chalk on Saturday night."

"Ha ha." Nick crossed his arms and stared out the window. "You’re getting a lump of coal for that one."


The firehouse was a flurry of activity by the time Jessie and Nick returned. Most of the firefighters and paramedics were busy decorating the bays for the Christmas party.

"Huh, looks like we don’t get out of decorating."

"Nick you are such a scrooge! This is the best part of Christmas!"

Nick narrowed his eyes at Jessie. "Bah humbug."

She stuck her tongue out at him. "Go put our report away. I want to check on the status of dinner." Jessie made her way into the fire station kitchen and found her mother opening the stove to check on the turkey.

"Almost done," she announced.

"Mmm, smells wonderful."

Amanda Marsten closed the stove and turned to greet her daughter. "Well, hello there. That was a quick run? Everything go okay?"

"Yep. It was just Sally Johnson."

"Poor Sally. Didn’t her husband die on Christmas Eve?"

Jessie nodded, taking a seat at the breakfast bar. "Three years ago. It’s pretty much when she snapped."

Amanda leaned against the bar, smacking Jessie’s hand when she reached for a piece of fudge. "None for you until after dinner."

"You’re mean."

"I’m your mother. It’s my job."

"And you do it well." Jessie kissed her mother on the cheek. "Thanks for fixing dinner. Everyone here loves your cooking you know."

Amanda smiled fondly at her child. "You’re welcome. Now get into the bay and help with the decorations. I’m willing to bet that your Aunt Carrie could use a hand."

"Heh. She’s got an entire fire department to order around out there." Jessie moved toward the door. "Besides, isn’t there supposed to be some kind of perk to having your aunt be the fire chief?"

"Nope. None at all."

"Figures." Jessie left the kitchen and entered the main fire bay, her senses immediately assaulted by a mixture of Christmas music and loud voices arguing of something.

"Hey kid. I hear you had to take Sally in again."

Jessie smiled at how the quiet voice of her aunt Carrie seemed to rise above the chaos in the bay. The older woman was standing beside one of the fire trucks, one hand leaning against the side of it, the other adjusting a Santa hat. The image made Jessie laugh. "Are you Santa Chief?"

"Something like that," Carrie grinned and adjusted the coat of her dress uniform. "You don’t think I look daper in my Santa hat?"

"Sure. Daper. That’s the word I was looking for."

"Hey Chief!" The bellow came from the opposite side of the bay. The two women exchanged amused glances. Jessie had a good idea who was bellowing and why.

"I’m busy, Austin!" Carrie bellowed back.

Jessie watched as the man she’d always known as Bear lumbered toward them. He had a scowl on his face and she couldn’t help the giggle that escaped. Austin narrowed his eyes at her.

"What’s so damn funny?"


"What’s so damn urgent?" Carrie countered, getting the big man’s attention.

"We’ve got a problem."

"I’m listening."

"We can‘t agree on where to put the Corn Hole ramps."

Carrie lifted a single eyebrow in her best Mr. Spock impression. "You can’t what?"

"I want to put the Corn Hole in the bay behind the tables so we can play later. Rhonda insists that we put it in this bay behind the trucks so it’s out of the way during dinner. You’re the Chief, so we figured it was up to you."

Jessie snickered. "I can’t believe you’re going to play Corn Hole at the Christmas party!"

Austin shrugged. "Why not?"

"Just put it behind the trucks."

"Okay, boss." Austin turned away from them and hollered, "Hey Rhonda, you win!"

They could hear Rhonda laughing from somewhere on the other side of the bay-turned-banquet hall. "Cool. You can get these damn things moved then."

"Oh no." Austin started toward the bay. "You have to help me, Rhonda. I’m not doing it by myself."

"You can lift both of those ramps in one hand!" Rhonda protested.

"I’ll carry the corn bags. You have to carry the ramps."

"I’ll put the damn things in the dumpster if you two don’t stop arguing about them." Carrie winked at Jessie, who knew her mom enjoyed the game, which consisted of tossing sacks of corn into a hole carved into a wooden ramp. Similar to horseshoes, Corn Hole had become a favorite at the fire station.

"See! You always have to fight it out. Now you’ve done gone and pissed Chief off!"

Carrie just shook her head and steered Jessie out of the bay and into her office. "Okay, my niece who is more like a reluctant daughter. What’s on your mind?"


Carrie made the Spock face again. "Sally? As in Sally Peterson who calls once a week because her shoulder aches?"

"Yep, same ole Sally." Jessie leaned against the wall while her aunt rested on the edge of the desk. "I just can’t help thinking about how lonely she is right now. I mean that is why she calls us all the time."

"Most likely. I think we’ve had close to fifty calls to her house since Gerald died on Independence Day in ’01." Carrie shook her head. "But there’s not much we can do about it."

"That’s not what I’m getting at." Jessie glanced out the window at the freezing rain. It was barely three in the afternoon, but the rain had made it as dark as night. "I just want to do something nice for her. I can’t explain it, but it just gets to me that her family doesn’t even visit her. And her daughter has her power of attorney!"

"I know. I was there the night her husband died. The daughter couldn’t even be bothered to show up. Probably part of why Sally keeps calling us. We were there during her worst time. People remember that kind of thing. We’re familiar and we always take care of her."

"Maybe. Did you ever notice that huge portrait of her husband that hangs next to the door?"

Carrie thought for a moment. "Sure. He’s in the Navy uniform, right? Looks like it was taken in the 40’s."

"1940 to be exact. And the inscription is ‘To my dearest Sally. You are my heart and soul. I love you, Gerald.’"

"I never realized…"

"Most of us would never see it, but I had to wait for her to go to the bathroom when we took her a few weeks ago. I was standing in her living room and just decided to take a look around. Did you also know that all the paintings she has are her own work?"


"Yeah, at least a dozen stills lifes and a lot of farm animals and such. She’s quite a talented lady. And next to those paintings are old pictures of her daughter and what I assume are her grandkids. Grandkids I’m sure she never sees."

"Sad but true. So, what are you wanting to do?"

"Take her some dinner. I’m sure she’ll get a cab and be home around six or seven tonight. It’s Christmas Eve and we’ve got our entire extended family here tonight. I just can’t bear the thought of Sally being alone."

"I’ve got a better idea." Carrie moved behind her desk and started flipping through the address book there. "Let me make a few phone calls."

"What are you going to do?"

Carrie was about to answer when they were interrupted by the sound of Jessie’s pager shrill alarm. The dispatcher’s voice followed. "Squad 51 respond to 756 Elm Street for a laceration."

Carrie motioned Jessie to go. "Be careful. I’ll take care of Sally."

Jessie headed toward the bay, wondering what her aunt had up her sleeve.


The freezing rain had covered the roads with a thick sheet of ice, making it hard for Nick to drive faster than twenty. "It’ll be Christmas before we get back to the station," he grumbled. "They better leave us some damn turkey."

"They will. It’s only a little after five, Nick. Besides, isn’t Austin on the carb diet? I doubt he’ll be eating much."

Nick glanced over at his partner and in all seriousness replied, "He swore off the diet for the holiday."

"Oh." Jessie motioned ahead of them. "Can we go any faster? I want to eat too, ya know?"

Nick laughed. "Well, darlin’, add some music and I’ll do my best to slide faster."

"On second thought, I don’t think I can take any more of your singing."

"Hey! Be nice." Nick turned up the radio and started tapping out a beat on the steering wheel.

"Look here little drummer boy," Jessie turned the volume down. "Just drive, okay? This damn freezing rain makes me nervous."

"Is that what’s been bothering you?"

"No. Am I that obvious?"

Nick shrugged.

"I guess I’m just thinking about Sally. In some ways she kinda reminds me of my mother."

"How so?"

"Well, they’re both widows." Jessie stared out the window watching the familiar landscape of her hometown roll past. "And I would never even consider leaving town and leaving Mother to fend for herself, but that’s exactly what Sally’s daughter did. I mean she decided to live in freakin’ San Francisco, two-thousand miles away, just a few weeks after her father’s funeral. It’s not right. "

"You’re right, Jess. But you’re a better woman than Sally’s daughter."

"Thanks, partner."

They grew silent for a time, both lost in thought.

Jessie laughed softly. "When I was six I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus and I got even more upset when I thought that she might leave Daddy for a big fat guy in a red suit. I think I was ten when I figured out that my father was the big fat guy."

"Yeah? I told my second grade class that my grandma got run over by a reindeer."

"What? Why’d you do that?"

"It sounded cooler than saying she broke her hip falling out of the bathtub."

Jessie shook her head. "You’re bad, Nick."

"Oh yeah, baby. Bad to the bone."


Dinner was well under way when Jessie and Nick returned to the firehouse. They were pleased to find that, by order of the Chief, enough food had been left for both of them. A spot at one of the tables had been kept for the pair as well. They had no sooner gotten settled when Carrie stood to make an announcement.

"Okay, before we get too full of turkey, I’d like to make note of a special guest we have here with us tonight." She cleared her throat and winked at Jessie.

"I don’t think anyone here would disagree that we’re a bunch of lucky people. We all have families we were born into, but for us, the family we belong to here at this station is just as important. And it’s the love that we have for each other that binds us closer than blood ever could. We love together, we share joy together and we mourn together.

"But some people aren’t so lucky. They don’t even have friends to talk to, much less a real family. And in this business, we seem to find more and more of these folks every year.

"But I won’t get too sappy." Everyone laughed a bit. "For years now we’ve been making calls to 1060 Royal Station 4-16 and we are all very familiar with Sally. But I’d be willing to bet that none of you knew that Sally was a nurse during WWII. She served aboard a medical ship in the South Pacific. Her ship came under fire more times than could be counted and during one of those times Sally was wounded. But, despite the hole in her shoulder, Lieutenant Sally Davis continued with her job of tending to the injured Marines and was subsequently awarded The Navy Cross for her bravery. I’d like to make a toast to Lieutenant Sally Davis Johnson."

Everyone raised their cups and cheered for Sally, who was seated near the front of the bay. She was no longer dressed in her housecoat, but now wearing a dark blue pants suit and a slightly large Santa hat. The old woman blushed when she was cheered and motioned Carrie to sit down, telling her to stop all the fuss.

Carrie dutifully sat down with her family, settling across from Jessie.

"Thanks Aunt Carrie," Jessie said, watching Sally chatting away with Austin and his wife, Rhonda. "She looks so happy. And how’d you find out about her being in the Navy? I’ve never seen any pictures in her house."

Carrie shrugged. "I talked to Sally. Nothing more. Sometimes, all it takes is a few minutes of conversation. She’s a good gal once you get to know her."

"So are you." Jessie raised her glass to toast her aunt, then made her way over to Sally.

"Jessie! Hi!" Sally nearly fell trying to get out of her chair to hug her young friend. "This is such a nice party! Are you having fun?"

"You bet, Sally. Are you?"

"Oh my, yes." Sally turned her attention to the window of the bay door. "Hey, it’s snowing!" She moved closer to the window, so close that her breath appeared when she tried to look out. "It’s a real winter wonderland out there now." Sally turned around to Jessie, her eyes glazed over with sudden tears. "Gerald loved the snow. Did you know my Gerald?"

"No, I’m sorry, but I didn’t know him, Sally." Jessie moved forward, wrapping her hand around the old woman’s arm. "But why don’t we sit down so you can tell me about him?"

"Sure. I’d like that."

"Corn Hole time!" Austin announced as he dragged the ramps into the dining area. Rhonda was right behind him with the corn bags, ready to go. "Who’s my partner?"

"Corn Hole! I love Corn Hole!" Sally’s face lit up. "We’ll talk later, dear. I need to teach these youngun’s how to play Corn Hole."

"You go right ahead Sally." Jessie started to join them, but the sound of nearly twenty pagers going off at once stopped her in her tracks. The dispatcher’s voice once again echoed through the station.

"Squad 51, respond to 5116 Beech Ave for a sick person."

Nick rolled his eyes as he and Jessie started for the ambulance. "Isn’t that Harold Lumbowski?"

"Yep." Jessie glanced back as the Corn Hole game got underway. Sally was laughing and thoroughly enjoying herself. "We’ve been there twice this month." She found Nick was watching her as he pulled the ambulance out of the bay. "But hey, it’s Christmas, right?"

"Yep." Nick was grinning. "Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…"

Jessie reached for the siren, hoping the sound would drown out her partner’s voice.


The End

  1. Royal Station 4-16 - Melissa Etheridge
  2. White Christmas - The List # 24
  3. Blue Christmas - The List # 2
  4. Raining on Sunday - Keith Urban
  5. Silver Thunderbird - JoDee Messina
  6. Let It Snow - The List # 13
  7. Amen - Jewell
  8. Bring Me Some Water - Melissa Etheridge
  9. Me - Faith Hill
  10. Go - Pat Benatar
  11. Santa Claus Is Coming To TownThe List # 19
  12. Silver Bells - The List # 21
  13. 2001 - Melissa Etheridge
  14. September - Earth, Wind, and Fire
  15. Yes I Am - Melissa Etheridge
  16. Talking To My Angel - Melissa Etheridge
  17. Run Rudolph Run - The List # 18
  18. Rudolph the Red Nosed ReindeerThe List # 17
  19. Smile - Lonestar
  20. It’s Okay
  21. Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood
  22. Up On The Housetop - The List #23
  23. God’s Will - Martina McBride
  24. Place Your Hand - Melissa Etheridge
  25. Suzanne - Journey
  26. Pretty Paper - The List # 16
  27. Sorry - Pat Benatar
  28. I Do - Beach Boys
  29. Resist - Melissa Etheridge
  30. Must Be Crazy For Me - Melissa Etheridge
  31. Crazy - Patsy Cline
  32. If I Wanted To - Melissa Etheridge
  33. Your Little Secret - Melissa Etheridge
  34. Enough Of Me - Melissa Etheridge
  35. Mama I’m Strange - Melissa Etheridge
  36. Music - Madonna
  37. Play - Jennifer Lopez
  38. Raised On Radio - Journey
  39. Home For the Holidays - List # 8
  40. Little Sister - Jewell
  41. Angelene - JoDee Messina
  42. My Sister - Reba McIntire
  43. Deck the Halls - List # 4
  44. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire List # 3
  45. Silent Night - List #20
  46. With Me - Lonestar
  47. Saturday Night - JoDee Messina
  48. Amanda - Boston
  49. Fire - Ohio Players
  50. Kid - Pretenders
  51. Carrie - Europe
  52. Austin - Blake Shelton
  53. Urgent - Foreigner
  54. Believe - Cher
  55. Help Me Rhonda - Beach Boys
  56. Always - Bon Jovi
  57. Fight It Out - Pat Benatar
  58. Reluctant Daughter - Martina McBride
  59. Think - Aretha Franklin
  60. Independence Day - Martina McBride
  61. In The Navy - Village People
  62. I Love You - Martina McBride
  63. Wait - White Lion
  64. Sad But True - Metallica
  65. Holiday - Madonna
  66. Darlin’ - Beach Boys
  67. Add Some Music - Beach Boys
  68. Little Drummer Boy - List #14
  69. Live - Celine Dion
  70. San Francisco - Beach Boys
  71. Softly - Lonestar
  72. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa ClausThe List # 9
  73. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer The List # 7
  74. Bad to the Bone - George Thorogood
  75. We Belong - Pat Benatar
  76. Friends - Beach Boys
  77. I Won’t - Pat Benatar
  78. Winter Wonderland - List #25
  79. Tell Me - Pat Benatar

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