A/N: And here's the first chapter of Book Three! I hope you all enjoy it! I've done my best to give you all a fairly exciting start and I really do hope that it's to your liking. Please review! It gives me the strive to write more and I really do enjoy both short and lengthy reviews; they're truly more than well-received! So please, sit back and enjoy the first instalment of RUSH: Book 3!
Chapter 1 – Don't let me go
"Shot's fired! I repeat, shot's fired at the Vineyeard Restaurant, Acland Street! TR1, we need immediate assistance!" Charlie's firm tone called into the comm's, his hand frantically trying to find the grip of his holstered pistol. Drawing it quickly, the Senior Sergeant took cover behind the door of TR2, his eyes scanning the doors of the restaurant, trying to make sight of anyone who may have been shot. From this angle; nothing could be seen. Sergeant Brendan Joshua was taking cover on the driver's side door and Christian had bounded out of the backseat, his gun pushed out and away from his body, fully extended arms allowing him a perfect aim. One shot had been fired – but now – silence.
"We're on our way Charlie." Lawson's voice called back after a moments delay. Shannon and Lawson had been forced to ride one man short. Stella was on leave after having trouble dealing with Michael's passing and Lawson had refused to have some random fill in her slot. "So what's the go over there, Charlie? Until a minute ago you were saying that these assholes weren't the real deal – and now they're piss-farting about and shooting people?" Lawson clicked back once more.
"Look, Lawson. Until now it seemed like these guys just wanted to get the cash from the register and up and out of this place. Apparently someone gave them a reason to start shooting." Charlie raced back, clicking his comm. and feeling slightly personally attacked by Lawson's words.
"You sure you didn't spook 'em? Maybe you should've just let 'em walk?" Senior Sergeant Blake challenged.
"Lawson – I know what I'm bloody doing. Get your ass here and give us a hand, or piss of back to whatever it was you were doing before. I didn't call you into to scrutinize how we dealt with this situation." Charlie shot back with a fiery and determined tone.
"Yeah, yeah. We're five off." Lawson succumbed, a smile crossing his lips. There was nothing better than stirring Charlie up; even when he had started to make his bed in TR's ranks.
"Okay, Josh – I'm going to approach the door. I need you to cove me. Christian – I want you to go around the back and make sure they don't try and do a runner on us. Let's go!" Charlie instructed, advancing away from the safety-shield that was the TR vehicle door. Pacing carefully across the open terrain, Charlie finally found himself in cover again. Back pushed firmly against the door and hidden from the robbers inside, Senior Sergeant Lewis waited for Christian to get in position.
"In position, Charlie." Christian clicked back.
"Okay. On my mark, we're going to move in and try and put this thing to a stop. Josh; get onto Lawson – tell him we're going to attempt a resolution."
"Charlie." Josh pushed back quickly, making sure to get in before the Senior Sergeant took any action. "I think our best bet's waiting on Lawson and Shannon. It's too risky."
"Josh! From what we can tell, someone's been shot in there. I'm not waiting on Lawson if it means losing another bloody life. Do you understand?" this wasn't about saving lives. Charlie may have wanted it to seem that way, but in all honesty, he just wanted to prove that he was better leadership material than Lawson was. He wanted to pin himself right into TR's top dog position before Lawson could work his magic.
"I'm waiting on Lawson, Charlie. You can go in, but I'm not coverin' ya'." Josh stated simply. There was no swaying the Sergeant. His loyalties to Lawson were unshakeable and unwavering. The two of them had faced some hard times, had some falling outs here and there, but always found their way back to the same place they were at now; a best mateship. No matter what any superior said, Josh first and foremost took orders from Lawson. It was a bond that was so close that it was hard to determine whether the two of them were brothers – related by blood – or simply just close mates.
"No Charlie. I told ya'. Wait on Lawson – that's all there is to it."
There was nothing to it. Whether Charlie wanted to go in or not, without Josh, it just want safe enough. He wasn't willing to risk his own ass or Christian's for that matter just to secure an arrest. He wasn't that obsessed and he wasn't that hell bent on securing his place in TR.
"Well is he bloody here yet?" Charlie worded back.
"Just got here now, Charlie." Josh replied immediately, signalling Lawson and Shannon to pull over in a zone where they weren't at a risk of being fired on. The Senior Sergeant dropped out of the car, his hands swaying by his sides as he advanced to his best mate. Offering him a greeting handshake, Lawson raised a brow and tilted his head towards the building.
"So what've we got then?" the Senior Sergeant asked, adjusting his vest slightly.
"Same as before, Lawson. Charlie and Christian are ready for a breach, but I thought we may as well wait on you." Josh uttered simply back.
"Yeah, yeah. Sounds like the best option." Lawson smirked. "How'd Charlie take to that?"
"He got pretty pissed." Josh offered back with a taunting smile.
A brief pause as Lawson smiled back.
"Good." He acknowledged, patting Josh firmly on the shoulder. "Alright, Charlie; Shannon and I are on our way to you." Lawson clicked, pulling his glock out and holding it downward in his left hand before taking cover behind Charlie. There was a moment of silence and Charlie signalled Josh to make his way to Christian. All teams were set in no time. Breaching time was approaching. Counting down with his fingers, Charlie signalled Lawson and Shannon to move in. The Senior Sergeant busted forward, his foot crashing into the doors and forcing them to fling open. Shannon briskly moved passed him, her gun drawn fully out and aimed at the targets that had now frozen in shock. Shotgun swinging a hostage to the door that had suddenly been busted open, a suspect discharged and a scatter shot sent itself towards Shannon. A firm slamming feeling hit her chest and immediately, she fell backwards into the wall and coughed vigorously as she fell to the floor.
"Shit!" Lawson cussed, his eyes tracking between his targets and his partner. "Put your weapons on the ground!" Lawson shouted forcefully, his eyes finally finding themselves locked on his targets now. He was no use to Shannon if he got shot. He needed to deal with the situation at hand before he could help her. "Put your weapons on the ground now! I will not ask again!" Lawson demanded; a confirmation of his words ever present in his eyes. For the first time in a long time, Lawson had allowed himself to let his personal feelings into his line of work. The suspects nodded and quickly they dropped their weapons to the floor. Josh and Christian advanced from behind, kicking each of the men in the behind section of their knee and cuffed them. Immediately once the targets were secured, Lawson holstered his weapon and rushed to Shannon. She was alright. She was breathing and there didn't seem to be any blood. The vest had stopped the shot; but there was no doubting she was hurt.
"Shan." Lawson spoke. "Shannon – look at me, yeah!" he spoke quickly, patting her cheek gently to shake her out of the shocked state she'd found herself in. "Shannon. Can you hear me?" he asked, hoping for a response. Just something to confirm what he could already see; that she was going to be okay.
"I'm fine, Lawson." She spoke softly, clasping his hand that was working at snapping her out of the state she was in. "I'm fine." She repeated, offering him an earnest smile.
A sigh of relief escaped Lawson's lips and his eyes fell relieved. She was okay.
"Don't do that to me again, yeah?" Lawson begged.
"Lawson – I didn't exactly plan it." Shannon responded with a smart-alick tinge to her words.
"Sometimes I bloody wonder. Testing me to see how much I bloody love you or something?" Lawson joked and leaned forwards, kissing Shannon gently on the forehead.
"I don't need to test that, Lawson. I already know."
"Lawson!" Josh's voice broke the moment that the two love birds were sharing. "Kerry wants ya'." He offered a phone in the air.
"Yeah, yeah. Coming mate." He spoke, offering Josh a nod and patting Shannon on the shoulder. "You're not gonna' die on me if I pop off to talk to Kerry, are ya?"
"Shut up, Lawson." Shannon snorted back with a playful jab into the Senior Sergeant's leg. A jab that was enough to make him wince a little.
"Right-o." Lawson stood to full height pacing towards Josh, "Give it here." He remarked, taking the phone from the Sergeant and pushing it to his ear.
"Uh, yeah, Lawson. Look – I need you to get TR to the Melbourne Airport as soon as possible. We've got a highly important foreign guest flying in that needs some protection, and I scored you guys the job. I'll meet you down there, yeah?"
"Ah – Kerry. We're a little busy at the moment."
"Oh, Lawson. I'm not asking."
"Alright. I'll see what I can do." Lawson lipped back finally, hanging up the phone and tossing it back towards Josh.
"What'd she want?" he quirked with a raise of the brow, catching the phone and sliding it back into his Kevlar vest.
"Kerry needs us all down at Melbourne Airport. Some high-risk bullshit we've gotta' deal with." Lawson answered back. "Charlie; get some uniforms down here. We need'a get going, yeah?" Lawson offered.
"Their on their way, Lawson." Charlie nodded.
Clicking in on his comm. Lawson paged Leon, "Mate; do us a favour?"
"What's up, Lawson?"
"Look, Kerry's just called us over to Melbourne Airport. Find out who exactly needs police protection that's flying in today, yeah? I need to know what I'm dealing with here."
"Yeah, Lawson. I'll see what I can do. I'll be back to you in a jiffy." Leon responded helpfully.
The sound of the ocean pressing against rocks and trickling into the air continued in almost a rhythm-like sequence. The vibrant golden coloured sun shone on from behind some brief clouds, and the rays bounced off the surface of the pure blue water. The wind blew only slightly; enough to be a breeze – but not enough to cause any discomfort or a chill. The air was warm. It was fresh and it was completely clear. Sand grains gently mixed themselves up with one another with each brief blow of the wind and Stella simply stood there amongst it all. Her eyes were tracking along the beautiful ocean and her hair blew to the left of her, brushing over her shoulders and allowing her to feel every last strand moving away from her as the wind blew. The sand tickled beneath her toes and the water splashes from the ocean meeting the rocks landed on her features. She could feel it all. This couldn't be anymore real. She wasn't alone. Her right hand was laced with someone else's fingers. Michael.
The warmth of his strong and untrained hand on hers was enough to cause comfort – but it wasn't enough to sustain her happiness. She wanted him to hold her. She wanted to be in his arms.
She never was.
It was always the same. Her on a beach, her right hand interlaced with Michael's hands. A pleasant smile was always pulled over his features and his eyes were so lively that they appeared completely life-like. He was there. He was standing there with her, and her standing with him. There was no denying. She could feel him there. She could hear his every breath just above the wind that casually picked up and drowned out its sound here and there. But nevertheless – even when the breathing was feint, Stella knew it still was. And it always ended the same way.
"I love you, Michael."
Eyes snapping open and chest pounding with the racing heart that rested behind the ribcage, Stella felt the rock-like sweat droplets trickling down her forehead. She couldn't sleep anymore. Every single time she tried, she just couldn't. Being home and away from work didn't help anything. It gave her too much time to think. To ponder on the what if's and to see Michael in her dreams. To see him and tell him what she had always wanted to tell him. To tell him what now, it was too late to ever translate. Her eyes were swelling from the tears that she'd been unknowingly crying in her sleep, and slowly, Stella started to realize that despite how many times she told Shannon and Lawson that she was okay when they called her when they got home at night; she wasn't. She wasn't okay. She was lost, broken, unsure and alone. She'd lost the one person she had every truly loved and she wholeheartedly believed that losing him was for the most part as a result of her lacking of action. No, she wasn't okay.
She couldn't fake it anymore.
She had to see someone and she had to do it before everything became more than painful – but dangerous.
"Alright, thanks for that Leon." Lawson clicked back, pacing towards the tactical response members who'd all regrouped at their designated cars. "Okay. Leon's done a little bit of a check on who it is exactly Kerry's set us up with here." Lawson scanned the ranks, locking eyes with Josh and Charlie more so than the others. "Stanislav Devonski is the official we're going to be looking after. Now, from what Leon can gather he's a Russian businessman who's got himself in some serious shit with the Russian mafia. He screwed them over with a weapons and drugs import and they've decided they've got a bone to pick with him. Expect hostility. Vest up and lets get going." Lawson concluded with a quick and to the point lecture.
"Shannon, you're with me. Josh, Christian and Charlie – you're with TR2." Lawson spoke simply; receiving a harsh look from Charlie. There was no denying that the idea of having Lawson bark orders at him was unnerving and unwelcome. But the team seemed to be working well thus far – so Charlie was willing to give Lawson a little bit of rope until he screwed himself over. The thing was; Charlie wasn't as all knowing as he thought – because Senior Sergeant Blake rarely made mistakes. In anyone's book; he was the perfect cop.
Hands firmly placed at the wheel, Shannon began on her way towards the airport. Lawson sat in reasonable silence. He was replaying everything that had happened over the past few months. Losing Dom. Losing Michael. Watching Stella fall apart. Everything had gone to the shit and for the first time – even being the leader of an elite squad – Lawson knew he couldn't do anything to help. It wasn't a feeling that he was used to. It was expected that he was able to help. To offer advice or a helping hand; something that'd get everyone back on track. But now, he just couldn't. The world was falling apart around the elite police squad and the one thing that shone bright and kept the Senior Sergeant sane was a person. A person that today, he almost lost. Shannon.
He loved her. There was no denying that, and now more than ever, Lawson was certain that it was the right time to show it. Blinking his eyes and snapping out of his train of thought, Lawson signalled Shannon to the side of the road.
"Shan – pull over." He piped abruptly.
Seemingly, Shannon responded; though immediately, she was concerned. Had Lawson seen something that she hadn't? Did she miss a hit & run that occurred at the lights behind them? No. The thoughts stopped as Lawson turned to her, unfastening his seatbelt.
"Lawson?" she questioned, uncertainty plastered across her features.
"Shannon – just… give me a minute." He tried.
Shannon sat silent as her eyes watched on in curiosity.
"Look, Shan. I know I've been distant. Since Dom and then Michael." Lawson's voice was holding strong and for the first time since Michael had passed away, the Senior Sergeant mentioned his name. "But Shannon – I can't explain to you how much you've meant to me in that time. You've been my rock, Shan – and not many people can say that for themselves. When I've needed you – you've been there and when I've needed my space, you've bloody well given it to me." Lawson worded. "If losing two of my closest mates in the period of a year has taught me anything, it's that life's too short. We can't rationalize everything we do. But this – what I'm about to do – it seems pretty rational in my mind, yeah?" Lawson spoke honestly.
"Shannon." Lawson spoke her name with the most sincerity. "I love you and I always will. I can't think of where I'd be without ya'." He spoke on. "Will you marry me?" he spoke finally, trying his best to keep the words as unshaken as he possibly could. His hand had reached into a pouch on his vest and he'd retrieved a small box which had now been cranked open – only to reveal a beautiful ring.
Shannon's body had frozen and she felt her face flushing with blood. Her cheeks were glowing red and she wasn't sure if it was from the shock or something completely different. She didn't know what to do. Every word he uttered was sinking in still and it felt like time was going so slowly, and even despite the fact that Lawson had finished talking – Shannon was still a good five seconds behind. Though finally it hit her, and tears began trickling down her cheeks.
"Yes." She chocked full hearted; a smile crossing her lips as she leaped forward and wrapped her arms around Lawson's neck, pulling him into a passionate kiss.
The Senior Sergeant's smile could only be seen for a moment before his lips were consumed by the softness of Shannon's. He was so relieved. So happy. So in love.