This is the last chapter ...
Mike had been in the armoury, he had been taking stock of the new EMD's that had been delivered, when his phone rang.
"Hey ... Jo..." Mike smiled, he had noticed her number on the screen and he looked forward to a lovely chat. He had wanted to tell her about the new male medic that was covering her maternity leave.
"Mike...? My water's have broken... Can you come over, right now?"
"Yeah, I'm coming..."
It took Mike a moment to sort himself out. He couldn't move or speak and he shook his head trying to clear his head and his thoughts.
Jo was only eight months pregnant? Surely it was too early she wasn't due until...
Matt shook him. "Everything OK, mate?" He queried.
"Jo's gone into labour..." He mumbled, the words he spoke not registering in his mind. "Surely it's too early for the baby to come along? She's only eight months?" He questioned.
"When's she due?
"Yeah... three day's time! Besides ... She's a doctor! If she's says she's in labour, then she's in labour, trust me, women know about these things!"
Mike gazed at Matt for a moment, and then as the enormity of the situation sank in, his mouth fell open and he began to run. Initially he ran towards the road, then realising he would need the car, he ran towards that instead.
Taking the motorway would have got him home in less than 10 minutes, but there were road works along this particular stretch of the motorway.
Mike racked his brains, He was supposed to be good at this, he had been the expert when it came to lifting cars and dodging police, surely he could do it now.
He weaved through the side streets trying to get home, and the short journey took almost twenty minutes longer than he expected. By the time Mike opened the front door to the flat, he was frantic. Jyoti, on the other hand, was ready; she was calm and collected. She knew exactly how much time was needed.
"I'm ready," she smiled as she pushed herself up from the chair she'd been sitting on.
"There are road works on the motorway. I'll find a different route to the hospital; I know I can do this. I'll get us there!" Mike panicked. "It's OK. Put your coat on and we'll get going."
"Mike ... It is twenty-four degrees out there! I don't need a coat!"
He blinked. "Course not,"
He huffed. "Shall we go?"
Jo smiled, nodded, and followed him out to the car.
Jyoti chose to sit in the back, she knew that sitting in the front was a bad idea, she couldn't comfortably get the seatbelt around her, and if they were involved in an accident, she could potentially loose the baby.
Mike tinkered with the satellite navigation system, before he gave up and relied on his knowledge of the area. In the back of his mind he knew he could do this, Mike Malonino would know exactly how to get his wife to the hospital in a matter of minutes, and he relied on his instincts to get them there.
"Let's go!" He grunted as he pulled away. He glanced in his rear-view mirror and caught Jo wincing as a contraction began. He noticed that she had breathed through it and it seemed as if she was the one who was handling this really well.
Mike drove round the corner faster than normal.
"Mike! Be careful! I want to reach the hospital in one piece; I don't want to be in an accident!"
"Sorry..." Mike took a deep breath and unconsciously he began mirroring her breathing pattern.
He tried to focus on the road ahead. "Damn!" Mike swore, as the traffic lights changed to amber and rather than stopping, he sped up, going through a red light.
Moments later he cursed himself again, as he heard the sound of a police siren behind him.
"No! This is not happening!" Mike shouted as he pulled over with the police car in front of him. He head butted the steering wheel in defeat.
"Mike, you didn't do anything stupid did you?" Jo moaned her contractions were becoming stronger and closer together.
Mike wound down the window and waited for the policeman to approach. The policeman looked familiar, wasn't he the one who had arrested Tariq and Aamir after Jyoti's rape?
"Good morning sir, are you aware that you went..." He stopped as Jyoti let out an ear-piercing scream. "Um..." he peered into the back where Jyoti sat writhing in agony.
"Dr Jo Patel?" He questioned.
"Yessss...!" Jyoti hissed panting loudly.
Mike became worried, she had been so cool and calm a moment ago.
"Officer - You have to help me!" Jo gasped for air, "I'm in labour, and we need to get to the hospital NOW!" She screamed, making the policeman gasp.
"And that's why you went through a red light!" The man's eyes widened, there was only one thing to do.
"Follow me closely sir, we'll get you there!" The policeman ran back to the patrol car, switching on the siren, he cleared a path for Mike to the hospital.
"Are you OK Jo?" Mike questioned nervously, her panting had stopped almost as quickly as it had started.
"I'm fine; I just didn't want you to get into trouble." She smiled briefly before another contraction caused her to wince. "I've just got us a clear path to the hospital!"
Mike smiled, if Jo hadn't screamed at the right moment, he would be getting a ticket right now; instead they had a police escort!
Mike ears began to ring from the sound of the siren, and absently he wondered if it was too loud for the baby's delicate ears.
Arriving at the hospital, he was surprised to see a team of doctors and nurses already waiting, the policemen had obviously been in touch via the radio and had cleared the way for them.
Jyoti had to pause as she climbed out from the car, she breathed through her contraction she had been timing each one and they were now just 5 minutes apart. The midwife behind her noticed her discomfort and eased her onto the gurney nearby.
"How far apart are your contractions?"
"Five minutes," she told her.
Quickly she was wheeled into the delivery suite, with Mike following closely behind.
"Mike!" Jyoti screamed suddenly. He turned to look and she grabbed his hand, squeezing it as hard as she could. "It's coming!"
"It's OK;" he cooed, he was calmer now that they had arrived. "We're at the hospital now, do as the midwife tells us, yeah?" He grasped her hand tightly, a lump in his stomach and his throat constricted painfully.
"I think I can see the top of the head." The midwife told them calmly.
Mike nodded and smiled at Jyoti. She looked exhausted, her face rosy and glistening from tiny beads of sweat that were formed across her forehead. Quickly he grabbed a towel, and soaking it in some water, mopped her brow.
"It's time Mrs Temple." She whispered. Jyoti let out a loud groan as the midwife urged her to push.
"I can see it." The midwife informed them calmly, Mike stood to the side of her felt her hand as she clenched his fingers. He almost gasped in pain as she pressed his knuckles together painfully.
"Once the head is out, it'll all happen very quickly." The midwife informed Jyoti, forgetting that she was a doctor and would know these things anyway.
Jyoti pushed as another contraction came, this time she knew just when and how hard to push. Suddenly there was a loud shriek – Hope Temple was making her presence known.
The midwife wrapped her in a towel and gave the scissors to Mike, for him to cut the cord.
Trembling, Mike scooped up the tiny infant and cradled it, gently rocking to and fro.
Mike held his daughter for an age, she was finally here!
He turned to Jo. "Hope Temple. She's Beautiful! I love you!" He kissed the tiny babe on the forehead.
Jyoti moved her arms away slightly. Her smile dropped, and she gulped as her nightmare resurfaced, and she faced the inevitable question... Whom did she belong to? Who was her father?
"Hope... Is there an Indian equivalent?" Mike smiled.
"Asha... It has a ring to it doesn't it – Asha Temple? Or should it be Hope Temple?" Mike grinned; he didn't hear the sadness in her voice.
Jo could not help the tear which slid down her face, and as Mike handed her over to her she began to weep, just as her own mother had done when she had been born. For a moment Jyoti let herself believe that the tiny babe belonged to Mike. That he was her father.
Smiling Mike left the room to tell Matt, Connor, Abby, Emily and Diane the good news. That Asha Temple had finally been born.
He felt hands thumping him on the back in congratulations and good wishes passed his way. Then someone approached him from behind. It was the policeman who had helped him reach the hospital.
"Mr Temple, A little girl I hear?" The police officer questioned.
"Yeah," Mike grinned.
"Good, that's great news, and Mrs Temple? I trust she is OK too?"
"Yeah, she's fine. She's amazing." Mike could not stop grinning. He wanted to tell the world about his newborn daughter, and here was someone willing to listen.
"Good, that's good to hear." The policeman became serious all too quickly for Mike to remain ecstatic.
"Sorry to have to give you this today of all days, but..." the policeman held up a traffic violation ticket; and all because Mike had driven through a red light whilst driving to the hospital.
"Don't worry, all you'll have to do is attend this driving course for a morning and the charges will be dropped." The policeman smiled as he excused himself and walked off.
Mike groaned, after all that he still got a ticket for going through a red light.
Mike was returning from the shops, Jyoti had sent him out to buy some nappies, and a few baby grows.
He was surprised to see a number of cars outside his new home.
Jyoti and Mike had bought a house not far from Connor, it was large enough, and had a separate annex for his mother to move into.
Jyoti liked the idea the Diane was nearby, it meant that she had a live in babysitter, and would have no problems when she went back to work.
Connor and Abby lived down the road, and the two brothers loved the fact that they would be able to see much more of each other.
Mike looked up at the five bedroom house, at times it looked like a mansion, and at other times, it looked like a normal three bed detached property.
He smiled as he noticed Vijay's sleek, black, sporty, BMW. He also noticed Suresh's car, as well as a few others; it seemed as if he was coming back to a full house. Now he understood why Jyoti had rung him on the mobile, and asked him to bring back a selection of cakes and biscuits.
He was walking up the driveway when Suresh opened the front door and stepped out. He told Mike to leave the bags in the doorway, and he escorted Mike to an object covered in Tarpaulin. He urged Mike to help him take off the cover and together, they revealed a sports car, similar to Vijay's in vibrant red.
Mike's eyes nearly popped out of his head. He had always wanted a car like this, it was the car of his dreams, and he gulped before he started to drool. He opened the door and checked the interior; it was exactly the same as Vijay's with all the mod cons, including the keyless ignition.
"Wow! What a car! Whose is it?" He walked around the car and now he looked at the number plate and realised who the super car was for. M1 KE could only belong to one person.
"I'm sorry Suresh; I couldn't possibly accept this from you. It's ..." Mike could not put into words what he needed to say.
Vijay heard him talking to his father-in-law, and now he approached.
"You know, this is just a gift you know, it's not Dowry," Vijay told him.
"I'm still sorry Suresh; I can't accept it from you."
"Look, I would have given this car to any man whom Jyoti had married, it's just a gift." Suresh informed him.
"You don't understand, it's not the car, it's super, but I just can't accept a sports car, you see," he paused trying to choose his words carefully.
"I'd love to have this car, I really would, but I need a family car, with the little one now, I'd need somewhere to put little 'uns car seat. I wish I'd have had a car like this when I was younger, but I'd like to think I'm a family man now, quite a happy one at that too."
Suresh smiled; maybe another type of car was needed here.
"I'll have it sent back then, but you won't say no to a larger BMW, one for the whole family?"
Mike forced a smile, how he hated extravagant gifts such as this. But to keep Jo and her father happy he would accept this one gift, and he would ensure it was only the one!
Together the three men began to walk back to the house when Caroline and James Lester pulled up. Caroline walked to the rear of her car and pulled out some equipment.
Mike's heart sank, he realised why everyone was here now. Caroline was going to do the DNA test today, and she was going to, test little Asha's blood to determine the father. In contrast to what he had been feeling beforehand, a dull and familiar ache began in his chest. The ache that came with the fact, that the sweet little girl might not be his.
He led everyone inside, and whilst Caroline set up her equipment, he went through to the dining room and opened the French doors. He provided the blood sample that Caroline needed for her test, and his heart broke, when Caroline pricked the tiny baby's foot to draw some blood.
Once Caroline had finished putting a plaster on little Asha, he took the babe, wrapping her in her blankets, he took her outside, and he sat on one of the garden chairs, holding the little babe who, in such a short time, had become the centre of his world.
He had noticed Samira, standing in a corner, she was clad in her burkha, something which Mike detested, and he fervently hoped that she did not share DNA with either Tariq or Aamir. The fact that his daughter could grow up and have to wear one of body covering gowns tore his soul apart.
He held her close, as tightly as he could and at one point became scared that he could crush her to death. He loved her so much. He blocked out everything going on inside, fearful that the little babe was going to be snatched from him at any moment.
A moment later Jyoti and Samira came outside.
"Can Samira hold her?" Jyoti asked politely.
"No..." Mike shook his head, the ache in his heart grew, it took hold of his heart and refused to let go.
"Mike! You're being unreasonable." Jyoti admonished.
He took the small infant in his arms back inside. He didn't want to know the results to the paternity test.
If he didn't know, then he would not have to give the babe up. He would not have to send her away.
He absently heard Vijay speaking as he typed.
"The child, named Asha Temple, whose birth mother is Dr Jyoti Patel, is fathered by ..." Vijay paused to check Caroline's paperwork. "Mister ... Michael ... Temple." He typed up the official paperwork.
Mike couldn't believe what he had just heard. The little babe in his arms was his. Caroline had completed her DNA testing, and she was his.
He closed his eyes and asked Vijay to repeat himself, Mike trembled waiting for Vijay to speak.
"The child, named Asha Temple, whose birth mother is Dr Jyoti Patel, is fathered by Mister Michael Temple."
For an age the whole world stood still, or rather it seemed to stop as Mike digested the information he had heard.
Happy tears began to roll slowly down his cheeks. The ache in his heart was replaced by one of sheer joy. He leaned down to kiss the tiny infant in his arms, wanting to believe this moment was real. Very gently he kissed the top of her head, and felt her hair as it caressed his face. Slowly, very slowly he turned to face Jyoti.
His eyes met hers across the crowded room and everyone else seemed to melt away. It was just the little babe, Jyoti and him. He saw her smile that seemed to light up the room, ever so slowly she began to laugh, tears rolled down her cheeks as she did so.
The sound of her laughter felt like music to his ears. Months had gone by where he had longed for this one moment, when she would laugh just as she used to. Closing the distance between them he hugged Jyoti, and he didn't even notice when someone took the baby from his arms so that he could hug Jo properly.
Vaguely he noticed figures walking past him into the garden, and when the room fell silent he leaned down to kiss Jyoti, his lips met hers with a passion that they had never allowed themselves to feel. Finally their nightmare was over and he had not just his wife, but his daughter too.
"Give us a shout when you've finished snogging my sister! Some of us have work to do." Vijay called from the garden.
Jyoti giggled, trust her cousin to break up this perfect moment.
"Where's Asha?" Mike pondered.
"Sam's got her; she only wants to hold her before she has to go home. She's actually pleased that Asha's yours. She never wanted her to be fathered by Aamir or Tariq. It would have put a strain on our friendship." Jyoti looked up at Mike pulling away slightly.
"It is OK for me and Samira to remain friends isn't it? You wouldn't feel awkward would you?"
"I think I would, but it would be nice if the two of you could still be friends. Just tell me when she's coming round, and I'll make myself scarce." Mike grinned.
Jyoti understood what he was saying, he did not want them to stop meeting, and he just didn't want their past to get in the way. Sam didn't belong to him and that was that. He had the woman he wanted in front of him... Jyoti.
Mike was clearing up in the kitchen after their evening meal. He whistled softly as he worked. He was pleased with the result that he was Asha's father. Somehow he had known all along that he was the father, he had never doubted it for a minute. He had been even more pleased when Jo told him that Sam would not be fighting them for custody.
Jo had told Mike of her conversation with Samira, how her husband had been found in his cell. Aamir had torn up his bed sheets and made a noose with which to hang himself, Tariq had stopped meeting with him stopped talking to him and he blamed Aamir for everything that had gone wrong in his life. Aamir finding himself totally alone for the first time in his life could no longer live with what he had done.
Jyoti had been shocked by this revelation by Sam, but her childhood friend had simply smiled. She was pleased that she no longer had to face the Aamir again. Her father was also helping her find happiness again, and she had been introduced to a man who had recently been widowed, the man called Ali, had a very young daughter, barely six months old and he needed someone his child could call mum. If all went well there was a possibility that she could be married again next year.
Initially Jyoti was worried, what if this man turned out to be as abusive as Aamir? Sam had smirked, there was no way anybody could be as bad as Aamir, the man had been the bane of her life and now she was free to move on.
Mike had been pleased to hear this news, at least Samira was moving on too, and at least she sounded happy.
He smiled to himself as he prepared a mug of Fennel tea Jyoti had requested. Apparently it was good for her and stimulated her body to produce more milk. He brought the mug under his nose and smelled the contents. He pulled a face as the unpleasant smell assailed his nostrils. At least he wasn't drinking it.
Carefully he took it to her in their bedroom where she was feeding their daughter. He stopped as he approached, his mouth fell open and he almost stumbled and dropped the mug in his hands.
Jyoti was breast feeding Little Asha and whilst the tiny babe suckled at her breast, she was singing gently.
"Humee tuhmse pyaara kitna, yeah hum nahin jaanetey, mugaar jee nahin saaktey, tumhaare bina..."
'I don't know how much I love you; all I know is that I can't live without you.'
Finally, the Jo he knew and loved was back. It had taken a very long time, and all this time he had waited patiently. He had waited for her to overcome all her difficulties regarding the rape, and he had supported her as best he could. He recalled how sometimes even he couldn't bear hearing her moan at night. But now, her nightmares had stopped, she had been back at work, her smile had returned and today with the news of Asha's paternity she had laughed with him and now she was singing to his child.
Mike smiled as he walked into the bedroom to give her the tea. He set the mug down on the drawers beside her and gently he leaned down and kissed his daughter's temple. Sitting on the edge of the bed he leaned over and kissed his wife.
He put his arm around Jo and waited for her to finish feeding. He smiled at his own small happy family, and then thought about his life.
His beginning being seperated from his birth mother, having to grow up in an orphanage, finding friends, going through a rough patch and then finally finding his brother, mother, and then the rest of his extended family. He had found true love, and now he had a proper family. For once in his life, he was happy at the way things had turned out.
That was Mike's story, and I hope you enjoyed that incredible journey, into his past and then into the present.
That was the last in the 'Saving the World" series of stories. I may add to them in the future but for the moment this is the end.
I would like to thank
YouHaveLovelyHair, Tell Me More 90, Saden Becker, Rubytronix, Prawn Crackers, Mousey Jane, Mijo 54, juls 124, Invisible Blade, and Auntieneenah.
Thank you so much for sticking with me throughout this journey.