A/N: The very much delayed Chapter 6! It's nowhere near what I hoped it to be, but you guys really deserved an update! Please review and let me know what you thought! Four chapters to go! Thank-you all so much for the ongoing support too!
Chapter 6 – Old Appearances
The horde of reporters massing in front of the TR vehicle has Charlie and Lawson shoving through to get back to their vehicle. Shannon was doing her best to stay between the two superiors to the best of her ability, but it was near to impossible as a result of how excitable and eager the crowd was to get their story. Within all the pushing and shoving, the shouting and insanity Lawson felt a firm hand grab at his wrist and before he knew it he was pulled out of line. Rather than assisting Charlie and Shannon to retake their position in TR1 to get on their way after Devonski, he was being forced into a more open place where he could be talked to in a much more reasonable and calm manner. Struggling to keep a steady footing while he was getting dragged, Lawson began uttering.
"Let go of me!" he shoved and watched as the hand dropped away from his arm and the reporter fell to the floor, stopping herself from obtaining injury with her palms.
"What the bloody hell do you think you're doing?" Lawson shot, his eyes levelling on the woman on the floor.
Within the next moment, the reporter turned her head and Lawson's jaw line tightened. The curly brown locks, the distinct smug smile and the vibrant eyes.
"Jacinta." He spoke.
"Hi Lawson. Nice way to say 'it's nice to see you again'." Jacinta spoke back, clearly annoyed at the fact that she'd been shoved over. Nonetheless, she didn't spend any longer on the floor, taking a hand Lawson offered her way to help her up.
"Look, yeah, I'm sorry. Are you right?"
"Fine. But I'll be better if you consider giving me some answers." She responded, her reporter outlook clearly shining through.
With a smug, mocking smile, Lawson retracted his hand and folded his arms over.
"I should've known that you'd want something." He uttered matter of factually. He was received with a smug look and a raise of the brow from Jacinta.
"You know, Lawson – you should have."
"What happened between us was just you tunnelling your way into an informant in the police force."
"If that helps you sleep at night." Jacinta shrugged, detaching herself from the true emotions she felt on the matter. "So are you going to give me something to work with or are you just going to piss off like you used to?"
With a frown, Lawson shook his head. "Jacinta-."
"-Lawson. Give me something to work with or you can just go." Jacinta interjected.
"Okay, okay." The Senior Sergeant broke.
"So what're you going to give me, Lawson?" Jacinta asked – flirting a little with the suggestiveness of her tone. Her slim fingers etched towards Lawson's hand and the Senior Sergeant had to grab at either of his forearms to deny himself from reaching out much the same. He'd be lying if he said that Jacinta didn't mean something to him. They'd been through a lot in the passed and as much as he loved and adored Shannon, there was this hidden, over shrouded longing that lingered deep within. Something Lawson didn't know existed until this very moment.
"Devonski-." Lawson began before being interrupted.
"I don't care about Devonski right now. I want to fix things. You can tell me all about him later – but right now – lets talk about what happened between us."
"Jacinta…. Look, I can't do this now."
"You've got somewhere to be?"
"Yeah. My work doesn't just wait for me. This assholes going to get away if I don't head off now."
"And the ring on your finger; doesn't that stop you from talking to me?" Jacinta had a sinister smile playing at her lips – the idea of having Lawson's affection even when he was supposedly with someone else giving her a strange invigoration.
Rubbing the band on his finger, Lawson cast a shameful glance down at the floor before allowing his eyes to settle on the ring and then on Jacinta.
"We'll talk later."
"What about her?"
"Just…- Jacinta, can you just leave it?"
"Lawson!" Charlies' voice rang out from over near TR1, his hand waving the Senior Sergeant down. "Would you stop flirting and get your ass over here!"
Shannon's eyes were assessing the situation too, and a concerned look was tweaking either side of her lips; her blue eyes filled with wondering.
"I'll call ya' later." Lawson promised, jogging off the spot and heading for TR1, managing to get through much easier than before. Ducking into the vehicle and shutting his door, Lawson cast a hesitant look back at Shannon. The Sergeant made a specific effort to avoid looking at her partner.
"What was that about?" Charlie broke the silence.
"Nothing. Come on; let's get after Devonski before he one-up's us again."
What was he playing at? He cared about Shannon. He loved her. He wanted to marry her. Although, Jacinta was the first person that really saw eye-to-eye with him on work-based commitments. She was the first person to really mean anything to the Senior Sergeant. Shaking those feelings were impossible – but that didn't mean he was ready to give up everything he had and felt for Shannon Henry.
"Are you a complete idiot? No, seriously – tell me how the hell you got your ass into the police force, let alone into the rank of Sergeant? Tell me!" Kerry wasn't coping well under all this pressure; especially when she was dealing with a police force that was fairly incompetent. She was used to dealing with the best; people like Charlie, Josh and Lawson – not the assholes that made up the uniforms. She was trying to block off roads to make sure people were safe and to make sure that people on the bus weren't going to have a head on collision with any wandering vehicles on the road. Furthermore, TR2 would actually be able to attempt to board the moving time-bomb. Yet here she was, two hours into trying to block off roads and at least fifteen minutes behind on the roads she didn't to block off because a handful of uptight, arrogant and prideful dickheads who didn't take kindly to taking orders from women were questioning the Superintendent's orders.
"Get off your fat ass and do what I told you too!" Kerry signalled, her firm thrusting hand directing the careless sergeants on their way. Pulling a phone from her pocket, Kerry dialled Josh's number and waited, her breath slowing down as she began to calm herself from the situation she'd just been in.
"Josh, its Kerry. Yeah, look, we're a little behind on blocking off the roads so it's gonna' be a little while before you can start trying to board the thing. I've got the number of the driver assigned from Metlink for you though. It's a Harrison Danvers, aged forty-one. I'm sending the number through to your phone now. Are you gonna' be right to talk to him about this?" Kerry offered.
"Alright, we'll do our best to stay in line with the bus until you give us the go-ahead. I'll give the driver a call as soon as I get the message. If he answers, d'ya want me to charge him for answering the phone whilst operating a vehicle?" Josh responded, a broad grin creeping across his features and the sound of Christian laughing making Kerry smile all the more on the other end of the phone.
"Oh, Josh. How you make times like these humorous is beyond me." Kerry chuckled back timidly.
With a smirk playing at his lips, Josh clicked the hang-up button on his phone before dialling in the number that Kerry had offered his way. There were a few rings on the line and then the distinct sound of murmuring could be heard from within the bus.
"This is Sergeant Brendan Joshua is anyone there?"
"Josh?" a familiar voice cracked through the phone. A voice that Josh was hardly expecting to hear. If he was right as to who he was matching the voice with the face this whole situation was about to get a whole lot more complicated.
"Josh is that you?" the voice crept back again.
"Tash." Josh spoke, his voice fading out somewhat as the shock sunk in.
Stella flashed her eyes off the road and onto Josh, her stomach knotting immediately once she had realized what was happening. There was an immediate conflict of interest and a whole new degree of person involvement in this operation now. Taking her left hand off the wheel, Stella clapped her fingers to her palm twice.
"Give me the phone, Josh." She wasn't asking. She was blunt and straight to the point. Nonetheless, there was no response from her superior officer. His index finger was still pushing the earpiece firmly against the side of his head and his eyes were fixated ahead.
"Josh; Give-me-the-phone." Stella sounded out, her words louder this time and enough to grab Josh's attention. He palmed it off to her before casting a glance out the window, his hand pulling over his face as he tried to keep composure.
Christian sat in the backseat, his concern completely with Josh.
But Stella of all people was keeping her head clear and at the ready. Placing the phone by her ear she allowed herself to take a deep breath and center herself before beginning to talk with Tash.
"Tash, it's Stella. Look. I've had to ask Josh to step down from talking to you as a result of the personal involvement he'd find in the situation." Stella began.
Tash already knew it all. Being a doctor, she was more than educated on these kinds of things.
"I know, Stella." She replied. "Look, our drivers not doing too well. He fainted just before and we've moved him out of the driver's seat and replaced him with a truck driver that was catching the bus."
"Alright, that's good Tash. Just make sure you keep an eye on the bus driver." Stella confirmed. "Were the candidates for the bus selected specifically or were you all just coincidentally on the bus itself?"
"No, it was completely random. My car broke down this morning and I didn't want to bother Josh so I bussed it." Tash chuckled a little, feeling silly now that she was in the situation she was in. "Seemed like a good idea at the time."
Josh was blocking out everything that Stella was talking to Tash about. This couldn't be happening. This whole situation was bad enough as it was, but to put Tash in danger of Josh failed to board the bus and defuse the bomb? This was just crazy. His lifeless eyes snapped back into motion after a few long moments of thought and quickly, he whipped his head back around to Christian.
"Get me the rappel line from the back and some latching hooks."
"You're not gonna' try anything now are you? It's not safe."
"Christian. The line and the hooks." Josh put pointedly.
"Okay." The constable succumbed, his eyes filling with concern.
Shuffling through an assortment of boxes, the youngest member of the team finally found what his superior was looking for and handed over the tools needed. Stella was too focused on maintaining a constant speed with the bus and so, she hadn't taken note of Josh's recklessness; something that was to much the relief of the Sergeant.
"Is anyone hurt on the bus? We can see blood splatters on the windows from here." Stella broke the silence of the call once more.
"Y-yeah. Uh. A young man was shot trying to stop the guys who were planting the bomb. We've stopped the bleeding…. But he's not in a good way."
"Alright. You're doing great, Tash. Just keep everyone calm on there, okay?"
The line fell dead.
Dropping the phone into her lap and casting a look Josh's way, Stella shook her head.
"You're not gonna' try and board yet, Josh."
"Oh yeah? What're you gonna' do to stop me, Stell'? My fiancés on that bloody bus and the last thing I'm gonna' do is sit around waiting for Kerry to get back to us on when it's safe to jump ship." Josh retorted forcefully.
"Alright, hero. You wanna' get yourself killed? That's fine. But don't do it on my watch. I'm dealing with Michael, but don't make me deal with you too." Stella shot back, her honest feelings on the matter sprouting to life. It was enough to stop Josh from prepping to go out onto the bonnet to try his luck at jumping onto the bus. He said nothing, but his actions spoke a thousand words. Unlatching himself from the harness – Josh concluded that Stella was right.