The Great Escape
Chapter 5: The Grim Reaper
Two dark shadows closed in on him and snatched him from the clutches of the vicious flames, which were inches from devouring him whole. The next thing he knew, he was able to breathe fresh air again, yet he could still smell and taste the distant embers of the fire. He looked up to find Geoff Pearce standing over him, hands on hips, trying to look as if he had some air of authority.
"What do you think you're doing Firefighter Mooney?" Pearce demanded.
Frank knew instantly that his wish had not been granted. He couldn't be in Hell if Geoff Pearce was there. Not real Hell anyway.
"Uh, I thought I saw someone else in there," he replied dully. "Sorry Sub."
"Hmmn, and was there?" Pearce inquired.
"No, my mistake."
"Yes well, you more than anyone should know the dangers of rushing off on your own!" Pearce launched into a lecture, which Frank wasn't really listening to.
He just muttered an occasional: "Yes Sub," at least pretending to show some concern for his own safety.
Sally and Craig were glaring at him, as they ripped off their BA masks once more. It was quite clear that they did not appreciate having to risk their own lives to save his sorry arse, and neither of them would be doing it again in a rush.
He didn't care. On the way back to Blackwall, Frank sat in his own little world, next to Adam, who risked sideways glances in his direction every so often. Probably to make sure Frank hadn't opened the door and jumped out of the moving fire engine. He had considered it, but then realised that the central locking wouldn't allow it.
He spoke to no one and steered clear of the rest of Blue Watch as soon as they arrived back at the station. He knew they would probably have plenty to say about him though. Or maybe they had accepted his explanation of seeing someone else inside the burning building.
"Frank, wait," Sally caught him up just as he was about to mooch off to one of his many hiding places inside the station.
"What?" he didn't bother to wait for her, or look at her as she caught him up.
"What about it?"
"Come on, you can't seriously think I'm gonna believe that bull shit you told Pearce!"
He shrugged. "Believe what you like."
"Frank, look, you don't need to do this…"
"Why, because you say so?"
"No, because there are people who care about you!"
"Oh yeah? Where?"
"Leave me alone, Sally. If you cared then you would have listened to what I had to say instead of going off and doing your own thing!"
She knew he was talking about their child. Or 'thing', as she preferred to think of it as. Anything created by Frank Mooney would have been riddled with evil, she was sure of it.
"It would never have worked," she protested.
"And you never gave it a chance did you?"
"It was the wrong time."
Frank had seen Adam hovering nearby. In fact, he had noticed Adam hovering around a lot lately, especially if Sally was in close proximity. At last, he thought he had realised the real reason Adam was being so tolerant of him. Because Sally was.
He wondered exactly how much Adam knew, or how interested he would be in damaged goods. At least it would make a change from stolen goods…
"You killed a child, our child," Frank glared darkly at her, knowing his voice was just loud enough to reach Adam's pricked up ears.
"It's no worse that what you did!" she retorted, she hadn't noticed Adam standing behind her, listening to every word, and looking slightly horrified at the revelations.
"Why don't you just leave me alone! I don't need you," Frank made a point of looking straight at Adam. "Either of you!"
He marched off as Sally turned to see Adam. She looked down at her own feet, anywhere but at him.
"Is that true?" he asked softly, almost whispering as if he didn't dare believe what he had just heard.
She turned away and muttered something about needing something from her locker. He went after her. However, Charlie, and Craig intercepted him on the stairs.
"Are you going down the pub tonight?" Craig wanted to know.
"What?" Adam's mind was elsewhere.
"The pub," Charlie repeated. "You know, usually involves drinking some liquid called beer and getting pissed! Are you coming?"
"Uh, no. I've got things to do."
"Oh yeah?" Charlie's eyes widened as a big grin spread across his face. "Anyone I know?"
"I doubt it!"
"We'll get one in for you then!" Charlie grinned, thinking that Adam was probably winding him up and that there was about as much chance of him having a date as there was of him becoming the next King of England.
Adam ignored him and continued to chase after Sally. She was in the dorm, hiding behind the small red curtain which separated her from the main room.
"Go away," her voice was shaky.
"Are you ok?" he asked the closed curtain.
She didn't answer. He opened the curtain to see her sitting on the low bed. She turned away from him quickly, but he still saw her red face and the wet bit of tissue clutched in her fist.
"What's going on Sally?"
"I said go away."
"Not until you tell me what's going on," he stood his ground.
She still didn't look at him, and didn't reply either. He stepped forward towards her, letting the curtain drop behind him. She didn't make any moves to stop him as he joined her on the bed.
"I didn't know you fancied Frank."
"I don't. It was a mistake."
"Frank is one big mistake."
She turned swiftly to glare at him. Adam shrugged.
"I'm sorry but he is! Who knows what else he gets up to behind closed doors!"
"Huh?" Adam hadn't been expecting that.
"He… he told me, he killed someone."
"I don't know, just some guy who didn't pay his debts on time."
"Proves my point then!"
"I suppose. I thought I could change him. Why do I always have to attract the loosers?!"
"Hey," he put an arm around her shoulder as another tear trickled down her flaming red cheek. "There are plenty of good guys out there, plenty of guys who are looking for an amazing girl like you! You can take your pick."
She looked up at him through her glassy eyes. "Thank you," she whispered softly.
He grinned. "Any time!"
"I really think you should take your time to consider this," D.O. Ross was pacing his office at Headquarters as Mick Callaghan sat in front of him.
"I have sir," Mick assured his boss. "I need to be with my family."
"The Brigade are your family."
"I mean my wife and son, sir. And um… Expecting."
"Shauna's pregnant, sir, that's why I need to spend more time with her than Blue Watch."
"But surely, you can manage both?"
"No sir, that's the point, I can't. I can't run Blue Watch, they don't respect me."
"Nonsense!" the D.O. spat. "I will be strongly objecting to this course of action."
"At the end of the day, it's my decision, sir. I have put a great deal of thought into it and it isn't the right time for me to be taking on extra responsibilities. Not at the moment anyway."
The D.O. paused for a moment after Mick's speech. "Very well then," he said finally, as he returned to his executives chair behind the desk. "If it's what you really want."
"It is sir."
"Well then, I guess I'll need to start looking for a replacement won't I?"
"Geoff Pearce has been doing a good job sir."
"Hmmn," Ross didn't seem too keen on that idea. "Yes, but he's not exactly station officer material is he?"
"Oh I don't know sir, he's certainly got enough experience."
"Well, yes, but I would like someone who… well gets on with the Watch."
"I'm sure you'll find someone sir, unfortunately it isn't me!"
"Hmmn," Ross folded his arms in front of him as if considering the implications of Mick's decision and how much it would inconvenience him as the D.O.
He wondered if he should try for a kiss again, but then decided that it wasn't the right time. She was upset and the last thing he wanted to do was take advantage. He felt protective of her as he held her in his arms. He wanted to make sure that nothing else bad happened to her.
She looked up at him. Her tears had stopped flowing now. She moved her head upwards and connected her lips with his. He entertained them for a moment but then put his hands on her shoulders to gently push her away.
"This isn't right."
"Why?" she asked, her voice still shaky and barely more than a whisper.
"Not here, and not like this."
She knew why. Still, part of her wished he would take advantage of her for once. But she also knew it was for the best. The last thing she wanted was to find herself in another mess. They were interrupted by Pearce's unmistakable voice over the station tannoy.
"All Blue Watch personnel to assemble in the appliance bay," he announced rather pompously. "Repeat, all Blue Watch personnel to the appliance bay, chop chop," he added.
"Chop chop?!" Adam muttered. "Who does he think he is?!"
"I think we'd better go and see what he wants!" Sally made a move to leave the position she had felt both safe and secure in.
A position she started to wonder if she wanted to take up more often. The only other person to have held her in a loving protective way had been Joe. Her love. She wondered if she was looking at Adam as a replacement Joe. They were so much alike, their cheekiness, their astounding ability to get themselves into trouble, right down to their fiery tempers. She wondered they would have got on, if they would have been mates. She wondered if Joe would mind…
"Right," Pearce was bustling around as Blue Watch assembled in the appliance bay and lined up in front of him. "Right…"
Craig was looking around eagerly as if he was expecting the Queen to be visiting Blackwall. "What's going on?"
"Good question!" Charlie echoed.
"What's going on Geoff?" George demanded.
"You'll find out, soon," Pearce replied.
"He doesn't know!" Adam muttered, next to him, Sally hid a grin.
They were soon put out of their misery when Mick Callaghan appeared in the appliance bay, in full uniform and pushing his hat on to his head.
"Thank you Geoff," Mick started as he looked over Blue Watch.
He knew he had made the right decision. He didn't know how they would see it though. Maybe they would be glad to get rid of him, particularly Frank Mooney, who seemed to fancy himself as Blue Watch's top dog. Or maybe they thought he was just running away because he couldn't handle the pressure.
"I just wanted to let you know," Mick started. "Before you hear it on the Brigade grapevine! I've accepted a transfer to Staff. Effective next week," he surveyed the misshapen team in front of him, wondering if it had been he who had moulded them that way in his short reign as guv'nor, for they were no longer the smart, close knit group he had been introduced to only a year ago.
"Geoff will be Acting Station Officer until a replacement is found," Mick finished, then he paused as he waited for Blue Watch's reaction, and at that moment he decided that he didn't care what anyone thought of him.
He was going to spend time with Shauna, Liam and the new baby, whether it be his or Frank's, he decided he didn't care about that either.
London's Burning – The Grim Reaper © Karen Moody 24/11/2003