Title – Walk in Their Shoes
Author – Sealgirl
Fandom – Ironside
Characters – Chief Robert Ironside, Mark Sanger, Sergeant Ed Brown, Officer Eve Whitfield
A/N – Written for ff100, as well as the lj small fandom flash fiction challenge #12 - Fantasy.

Walk In Their Shoes

Running, walking, jumping, moving. Motion, twisting, turning. Up, down, forward, back. Step up, step down, kneel down, stand up. Stand up. Stand up.

Stand up.

It was always in his dreams, as it was in his every waking moment.

Though he put on that persona, the familiar demeanour that everyone expected and got on with the day-to-day trial of living with no legs, stuck sitting down forever, it was always there, no matter what he did.

He wakes with a slight start, aching down his back and sides, feeling heavy and immobile, like a half-squashed animal. There is an ache down where he legs are, and he knows it's not real, just his imagination playing tricks on him. He doesn't move. He knows the sensation will pass. He's used to it by now.

There is the faint noise of someone already up and about in the office. Mark is always up early in the morning, studying his books before helping Ironside get out of bed and get dressed. Ironside watches him at the table, his legs crossed, kicking the air lightly as he studies. He watches the foot slowly rise and fall as if hypnotised.

After a while, the homework is finished. Then Mark gets up from his seat and, seeing the Chief awake he goes to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. His walk is slow, laid-back but controlled, his feet barely raising off the ground. He pads forward like a panther, a predator. No, like a fighter; which is exactly what he was before he came to work for Ironside. His walk gives him away with every step, measured, cautious, ready for action at a moment's notice.

Ironside still watches him in the kitchen. He watches him reach up the top of the fridge to get the sugar down, rising up on the tips of his toes to stretch, and hears him curse Ed for putting it away for far back out of reach. He watches him dart back and forth between the stove and the fridge, taking shorter strides when he carries the coffee over to Ironside's bed.

There is the usual struggle to get Ironside dressed, and Mark gets on with the job, just like Ironside. Half an hour later, he's at the table, eating breakfast and on his second cup of coffee.

Ed is first in, as usual. He strolls through the door with that long, rolling stride, his hands in his pockets, as they usually are.

Ironside watches Ed's feet lift up off the floor in that unique gait as he crosses over the first platform, and the way he always raises his knees just slightly too far to be natural. Then he steps down over the two stairs, not bothering to use them or the ramp, heading straight to the coffee pot. Then, coffee acquired and cup in hand, he strides over to the table and dumps himself down into a seat with a friendly "good morning".

Ironside nods a greeting.

Eve follows soon after.

She glides, there is no better way to describe her as she enters. Her smooth walk shows her breeding and social status as much as the expensive clothes she wears. She trots nimbly down the ramp and is presented by a cup of coffee from Mark which she accepts with a smile.

On her way over to her seat, she knocks into a precariously balanced file and bends down swiftly to pick it up again. Ed is only half way out of his seat to help by the time she finishes. Ironside watches her, the bend of her ankles and knees, the slight twist she gives and she stands

He sighs. They are all here.

It's time to work. That's what they are paid for.

They are all waiting in the van for the suspect to come into view.

He hates the van. True, he hates it less than that flamin' paddy wagon that Ed thoughtfully blew up at the first available opportunity, but he still hates it. He hates it because it's his, and he can't get around easily without it. He can't just pick a car and drive away, he has to have something special, something tailored to his needs.

They are all sitting there, waiting and Ironside forces himself not to shift around in his wheelchair, the mysterious ache in his legs more pronounced now there is nothing to do for a while.

Mark is in the driver's seat, and from his position inside, Ironside can't get a clear view of him, but no doubt he is looking out of the window. Eve is opposite Ironside in the back, her legs primly crossed as she looks out of the window beside her to the street. She is tapping her foot impatiently.

Ed is next to her, also looking out of the window, ready to move into action. His jacket is unbuttoned, and his gun obvious on his belt.

Ed was nervous. To anyone else, even to Mark and Eve, Ed always seems to be the epitome of calm. But Ironside can tell. There's the way he held his shoulders, hunched slightly and rounded. But the dead giveaway is the subtle twist of his foot around on one spot, as if he were trying to crush a cigarette butt. He only did that if he was nervous.

It's a big collar, there's been a lot of work put in, not least by Ironside, but it's going to be Ed's job to bring the man in. They were only going to have the one chance to do this cleanly, and he couldn't afford any mistakes. Ironside could remember what it was like, waiting for a suspect, knowing that there was no room for human error, knowing that if he made a mistake in the final moments, innocent people could be killed. But that was a long time ago. He doesn't go chasing after suspects any more. Not like that.

They keep waiting.

The suspect doesn't stand a chance, not really. Ed is just too quick.

It never ceases to amaze Ironside just how fast Ed could be if he put his mind to it. He should have been too tall to sprint, but he could easily take Mark of they went head to head; and even over a longer distance, Ed would still have been the faster. On the football field, he must have been difficult to catch. He might even have been as fast as Ironside was when he had played football in school.

The three men run, the street is busy with people, but that doesn't seem to matter. Ed and Mark are getting further away, and more difficult to see. At his side, Eve shuffles nervously.

Still waiting beside the van, Ironside watches as Ed slips, almost falling, when the suspect changes direction. But Mark is there too a few steps behind, and he springs forward like a cat, a leap that any athlete would be proud of, and brings the suspect down heavily to the ground.

Ironside can see the glint of silver in the Californian sunshine as Ed pulls out his cuffs and the collar is done. The suspect is helped up and walked back to the van, and the Chief. Ed is smiling with relief, and Mark grinning like a cat with a mouse for his owner.

Ironside nods and jerks his head to the van. It's over.

Back at the office, Eve paces around. Ed is the one lumbered with the task of taking the suspect through all the check downstairs, and making sure that everything is done properly. It's not a task that Ironside envies, he never liked that part of the work in the first place, but Ed accepts it as part and parcel of working for the Chief and never complains, at least not within the Chief's hearing.

Mark is busy in the kitchen, preparing chilli hot enough to burn a hole in the dish. Ironside can see him move out in the corner of his eye. But he doesn't watch Mark. He watches Eve as she walks slowly round in circles.

There is the sound of footsteps from the elevator, and Ed comes in. He stops by the landing, leaning forward over the railing.

'It's all done, Chief,' he says. 'Consider that case as closed!'

Eve spins around on the spot and grins at the Chief. Mark grins too.

He looks at his team. Fit, young, healthy. Standing.

He scowled, hiding his feelings under the familiar frontage of grouchiness that is his trademark. There are times he can hardly bear to look at any of them: Eve with her graceful step and poise; Mark as swift and sure as a cat; and finally Ed, every inch the confident policeman that Ironside once was, when he could walk.

'It was a good job,' he says at last, forcing himself to smile in congratulations. They smile at each other, and him. Inside, Ironside gives a sigh, the mysterious ache where his legs once were paling against the ache in his heart at the sight of his three active friends.

That night, he knows he'll dream, reliving what he'd seen that day in frustrating detail: Running, walking, jumping, moving. Motion, twisting, turning. Up, down, forward, back. Step up, step down, kneel down, stand up.

Stand up.

How he wishes he could stand up like the others.