Copyright: March 2003 by Robin R. Neher

THIS STORY IS WRITTEN FOR PLEASURE AND IS NOT
INTENDED TO INFRINGE ON ANY PREEXISTING
COPYRIGHTS THAT MAY BE VIOLATED. FEEL FREE
TO SHARE WITH FRIENDS, BUT NOT FOR PROFIT.
THIS STORY IS FICTIONAL, A WORK OF THE WRITER'S
IMAGINATION. THE CHARACTERS AND INCIDENTS
USED IN THIS STORY ARE PURELY FICTIONAL AND
ARE NOT BASED ON ANY PERSON AND/OR PERSON'S
ACTUAL EXPERIENCES.
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Title: A matter of color
Author: Robin R. Neher
E-mail: NRobin1027@aol.com
Rating: PG
Pairing: N/A
Archive: Yes
Fandom: Emergency!
Summary: Mike Morton and John Gage talk about an important issue during a rainy night at Rampart General shortly after the events in the episode, "Bottom Line"
Content Warning: Some harsh Language.
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The hospital halls were dark and people were screaming in panic as doctors and nurses scattered to see to patients. Dr. Mike Morton was on his rounds when a voice called to him.

"Doc?" John "Johnny" Gage called from his room. "Can I talk to you a second?"

"Johnny, I'm busy-" Morton began.

"It's important." The young and injured Paramedic insisted.

Morton sighed as he entered room 333. He wasn't looking forward to facing the young man.

"Yes?" Morton asked going over to John's bed.

"Doc, about the other day, I wanna apologize. I've been thinking and you weren't completely wrong about the IV's." Johnny said.

"I appreciate that, Gage." Morton replied. "If you'll excuse me-"

"Doc, can you talk awhile?" Johnny asked the resident as the building was plunged into total darkness.

The pleading in the man's voice made the doctor stop in his tracks.

"Okay." Mike decided after a minute, pulling a chair up to Johnny's bedside. "What do you wanna talk about?"

"I wasn't injured in any fire or rescue this time." The Native American revealed. "I was beaten up."

"Oh?" Morton asked.

"Tony Freeman did this. He was filling in for Chet Kelly. He's also a bigot." Johnny told the doctor.

"Were you trying to defend Marco?" Mike wondered.

"No, myself." The Paramedic answered.

"Yourself?" The doctor repeated.

"Yes. Is that so hard to believe?" Johnny asked

"I know you're a Native American." Mike answered. "I just never thought-"

"That John Gage could be a victim of racism." Johnny guessed. "What makes it even worse is that Freeman was once my partner. We were on squad 8 together as rescue men."

"Go on." Morton encouraged.

"When that Chief told me that I'd been picked to be a Paramedic, Freeman lost it. He called me a damn Redskin and stormed off." Johnny told the doctor. "It wasn't just him either. My colleagues at 8's treated me as if I was a second class citizen. I always had to wait for everyone else to shower before I could, same with eating. They made me do all the dangerous and heavy work."

"John, being a black doctor is harder." Morton told him. "When I first started working as a doctor after medical school, I was treated more as an orderly than a doctor. I was not allowed to treat any patients. I was made to wash them, make beds, clean up after someone vomited, peed, shit, whatever. It was made very clear to me that the white men were the doctors and I was just the token black."

"Sometimes, I can feel white men, even at station 51, glaring at me as if I cheated them of a pair of white medics. I wonder if I ever should've become a medic at all?" Johnny asked.

"Do you like being one?" Morton asked.

"Yeah." Johnny answered.

"Then why do you care what bigots like Freeman think?" Mike asked.

"Doc, I keep thinking of guys like Freeman, DeSoto, Stanley. They have wives and families." Johnny explained. "When my time comes to try for promotion, I'm gonna have to compete against guys like that. Is some Chief gonna give me a promotion to Engineer or Captain simply because I'm a minority and not base it on my qualifications for the job?"

"You're afraid of what the Roy DeSotos of the world would do if you were promoted over them." Morton realized. "You know, I was too when I first applied here at Rampart."

"Do tell." Johnny prompted as thunder clapped outside.

"Dr. Morton? There you are." Dixie McCall interrupted, coming in with her flashlight. "Dr. Brackett needs you in treatment two."

"Right." Morton replied as he got up. "See you later, John."

As soon as Morton was gone, Dixie took Johnny's wrist to check his pulse. A moment later, she kissed him on the forehead.

"What was that for?" The patient asked.

"Just because." The head nurse smiled.

"Dix?" Johnny asked.

"Hmmmm?" She replied.

"Do ya think the world will ever really accept people like Morton and me?" Johnny asked.

"Johnny, people accept minorities more and more everyday." Dix assured him. "People like you and Dr. Morton will always have to work to prove yourselves to others, but things are getting better all the time. Now, get some sleep."

Johnny settled in for the night as the nurse left.

THE END
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