Summary: His ego, alongside John Bristow's murderous motive of envy, almost got the better of him. He should have known better.
He had insisted on the taxi; and with no real argument to counter his disgust for and refusal to ride in the ambulance with John Bristow – she complied.
With exasperation etched all over her face – eyes ablaze with disbelief, he watched in hazy silence as she reluctantly abided by his wishes and made the calls. She whipped out her cell phone, first to dial 999; then to hire his ride. Her voice held a steely edge, one he rarely heard; a dead giveaway that she was unhappy with his decision.
When she completed the calls, Robin turned to him – catching her lower lip between her teeth. Suppressing her opinion, he thought gratefully, until she blurted out, "Why so stubborn?" Then standing swiftly to her feet, marched out the door, and down the spiral staircase to await the arrival of the ambulance and police.
Over her shoulder she commanded, "Don't move from that spot until you're properly looked over", and was gone. Leaving him to sit in bemused astonishment; unable to move under his own power even if he wanted to.
Strike frowned at her departing figure; then peered down at the jagged scar beneath Robin's scarf. The bleeding had already stopped, thanks to her quick action; and staring over at the unconscious, boneless, bloody form of John Bristow only got him to cursing. "You fucking bastard.", he sounded off, dabbing gingerly at his split lip.
Wishing the prick would just sit up, so he could punch him again had him wondering what he would have done if Robin hadn't showed up when she did? Something really, really stupid he supposed.
And before he could wrap his mind around the bizarre events of the evening and what might have happened, his office was bursting at the seams, crowded with medics and the police – Wardle in the mix, barking orders; attempting to get answers from him while trying to preserve the scene.
When he couldn't form a coherent sentence to answer any questions, Robin strode forward amidst the chaos and crossed her arms. She stood tall and erect; a human shield ready for battle. "Can't you see he's hurt? You can talk to him later once he's sorted out." The twin medics attending to him nodded in agreement with her; their heads bouncing in perfect unison.
Strike could only raise an eyebrow to the surreal nature of the situation as Wardle took a step back from the force of nature which was Robin Ellacott. She certainly had a way about her and watched in awe as Wardle acquiesced with a slight nod, his hands held up in surrender; then move away to harass someone else.
Before he knew it, his arm was bandaged; his cuts and bruises cleansed with sterile wipes; his leg returned, and the room emptied of John Bristow.
"I'll see you in the morning then." Wardle stated and followed behind the gurney transporting the murderer of three people in haste.
They were moving pretty fast.
The driver's hypersensitive reaction to Robin's, "Can't you get this thing moving any faster?" was to grimly set his lips in a straight line and put the pedal to the metal.
Flashing lights from pubs; and street corners swept by in dazzling streaks of color. White and red head and break lights from cars racing by added to the cacophony of horns blaring and whining sirens. The taxi dipped, swerved and seemed to hit every pothole.
He was going to be sick.
Next to him Robin stared anxiously at him, her words of concern lost to him as they drifted above the noise from the street, the screeching tires; and the sirens blaring just in front and around their taxi – the police leading them expertly through traffic to the hospital.
Leaning back into the vinyl seat, Strike groaned; but not in pain.
His arm, his face, his body no longer hurt. The shot of morphine given to him by the medics back at his office, all but took care of any physical discomfort he might have been feeling. His fear, however, could not so easily be remedied.
Instead of abating, it fluttered about in his chest, then lay heavy – making it difficult to breathe. He knew this sensation. Panic would ensue if he didn't settle down soon. It wouldn't do for Robin to see him like that.
He hated hospitals. The memory of waking up in an antiseptic environment; the smell of disinfectant so strong he gagged; no sound; no color …his leg gone; his life changed forever…the smiling boy standing over him was enough to send him over the edge.
Closing his eyes to the glare of flashing lights, Robin's worry and his own fears; he silently berated himself for this weakness and changed course in his musings. Pushing down his nausea and rising panic, Strike rubbed his eyes and wondered what the hell he was thinking.
Confronting John like that had been a monumental mistake. He could see that now. Now that the possibility of Robin getting hurt was clear to him. Only at the time, all he could see was Charlie, a child dead at the bottom of a quarry….a friend; rare for him as a child. There was Rochelle…misguided and desperate – he, too late to save her. And then, Lula – beautiful, passionate naïve Lula; who reminded him of Leda. Who led with her heart and was killed for it.
It didn't matter that he was almost overpowered; perhaps even killed. He had lived through, survived worse. And if he didn't – at least there would be justice. John Bristow would get what he deserved. But Robin….
If something had happened to her, how would he live with himself?
Opening his eyes he turned and studied her face closely. There was something there he couldn't quite read and searched intently to find the answer. She gazed back, searching too – her smile open and earnest. Reaching for his hand, he did not resist the overture and she squeezed tight.
Here, seated next to him was a strong, capable, compassionate young woman – who sought to ease his worries and growing anxiety. She was striking; she was a wonder; she was beautiful. And he had almost gotten her killed. Forgot that he was no longer alone in this.
His ego, alongside John's murderous motive of envy, almost got the better of him; and by extension her. He should have known better.
As she leaned in to speak, her eyes warm with care – he turned away, squeezed her hand gently; and felt the engagement ring encased on her finger, a tactile barrier warning him to keep his emotions in check. Then let go.
Taking a deep breath he felt the adrenaline of panic release from his body and float away. He could sense her hand on his arm, her presence so near a comfort…but refused to acknowledge it.
What was he going to do? She had saved his life in more ways than one. Had come just at the right moment; assessed the situation and ignored his excuses as to why she should go. Robin was a part of him now. He was use to her; needed her; counted on her.
Just ahead, not too far in the distance, he could see the hospital looming large; the mad dash coming to an end. "Don't worry." Robin whispered softly, "It's going to be alright. We're almost there."
This is a missing scene from Cuckoo's Calling. When Strike asks for a taxi, I wondered what that ride would look like. Thank you for reading and please leave a review to let me know what you think!