Hi, everyone! Sorry for not posting for the last few days, I'm my family's handyman (well handygirl) so I spent half of last week repairing my grandparents' roof and laying paving slabs. And then I got a new laptop and had to sort out some word processing software (easier said than done considering I live in the dark ages technology-wise). But I'm back now, with a brand new chapter.
Huge thanks to my wonderful reviewers: pook, Lord Horatio Augusta and Sparky75.
"Sir, we have a lead on the weapons supplier we've been trying to trace."
Sasha looked up at the young FSB agent hopefully. He had been buried in a mass of reports for days, there had been no new leads in the search for the leak or any other case and he was going mad with boredom.
"Where? Who?" The young agent opened his mouth to reply but Sasha cut him off, getting to his feet and grabbing his jacket. "Never mind. You can tell me on the way."
The two FSB agents walked out of the derelict warehouse, looking dejected. The lead had come to nothing, the warehouse had been thoroughly cleared before Sasha and Alexei had arrived. Sasha paused as they reached the car, glancing back at the warehouse; when he turned back, Alexei was already opening the car door. He saw the wire too late and the car exploded. Sasha was hurled back against the wall of the warehouse. He briefly registered stabbing pain in his head and chest before everything went black.
He woke to Callum's worried face hovering over him. "Sasha? Are you awake? Come on, talk to me."
"Shut up, Callum," he groaned, putting his hand to his head. His vision once again went black and this time, when he came to, Callum was yelling frantically at him.
"Come on, wake up! Can you hear me?"
"Yeah, I can hear you," Sasha mumbled. "I just don't know which one of you is speaking."
Callum laughed shakily. "You scared me then. I thought you'd died on me. So, I guess that's a 'yes' to double vision?"
"Mmm. There's four of you. Thought one was bad enough. What are you doing here?"
"We were in the area, saw the explosion," Callum told him. He frowned. "What happened?"
"Car exploded," Sasha said quietly. His words were slurred and he was having trouble focusing. "Alexei? Where is he?"
Callum bit his lip. "Dead. I'm sorry."
Sasha closed his eyes again, trying to push away his guilt and anger.
"Come on, stay awake," Callum urged him. "Dimitri called an ambulance, it'll be here soon."
"Dimitri?" Sasha couldn't concentrate, his head was throbbing and he was becoming increasingly aware of the fire in his chest.
"Yeah, he's here too." As Callum spoke, Dimitri appeared beside him. Sasha's glazed eyes tracked slowly across to him. Dimitri knelt beside the injured FSB agent.
"How are you doing?" he asked.
Sasha's lips twitched into a small smile. "Fantastic," he said softly.
Dimitri smiled. "Sure. Stupid question I suppose. What hurts?"
"Head. Chest," Sasha replied, unable to manage more than one word sentences.
"Okay." Dimitri pushed some of Sasha's hair away from his forehead, examining the deep gash that was still streaming blood. "That's going to need stitches. I guess you already know that you have a concussion. Do you mind if I check your ribs?"
"Go ahead," Sasha whispered. He was struggling to remain conscious; every time he blinked, his eyes remained closed longer than the last.
Dimitri carefully opened Sasha's shirt, wincing sympathetically at the sight of the bruising already developing across the other man's ribs. "This is going to hurt," he told the FSB officer. When he got no reaction he continued, pressing one hand lightly over Sasha's ribcage, feeling ribs shift under his hand. He was worried about the lack of reaction from the Russian. "You have a few broken ribs. You'll need an X-ray to see how many. There doesn't seem to be any internal bleeding, which is good. You should be fine."
"Great." Sasha's voice was weak and Dimitri was glad to hear the sound of sirens approaching.
Harry and Ruth marched down the hospital corridor towards the treatment room where the doctors had taken Sasha after the ambulance had brought him in. Callum and Dimitri were sitting outside looking bored.
"Is he still in there?" Harry demanded.
"Yep," Callum replied. "The doctor's just finishing up. And trying to persuade him to stay for observation. I can hear him muttering about stubborn idiots and reckless young people from out here."
Harry nodded. "Good." He stormed into the room, Ruth following close behind.
Sasha was sitting on the edge of the examination bed, the doctor wrapping his ribs. Harry glanced at the light board on the wall where the X-rays were pinned. Even with no medical knowledge, Harry could see that there were at least three broken ribs. The doctor looked up, glaring at Harry and Ruth.
"Who are you?" he snapped. The man was old, in his sixties and had a gruff, no nonsense attitude.
"We're friends," Harry replied. "
"Well, I hope you can talk some sense into him. Bloody stubborn idiot. Wants to go waltzing out of here with five broken ribs, three cracked ribs and a concussion. Not to mention more bruises than you could count. What are you thinking?" He returned his rant to Sasha. "A month after three major surgical procedures and you go gallivanting around getting blown up."
Sasha muttered something under his breath in Russian.
"What was that, son? You're going to have to speak up. And speak English."
Sasha gritted his teeth, resisting the urge to give the man a direct translation. "I said, thank you for your concern, doctor, but I'm fine."
The doctor snorted. "I give up. Sit there and stay." The doctor walked out, muttering to himself. As soon as he had gone, Sasha hopped off the exam bed and reached for his shirt. Harry rounded on him.
"The doctor told you to stay. So stay!"
Sasha gave him an amused glance and continued to pull his shirt on with a brief hiss of pain as the movement aggravated his damaged ribs.
Ruth decided to try the more gentle approach. "Sasha, you should stay in the hospital. The doctor's right, you've been through a lot recently."
"I'm fine, Ruth," he insisted.
The door opened again and the doctor walked in. He frowned when he saw his patient standing beside the exam bed. "I thought I told you to stay," he said sternly. He handed over the legal disclaimer forms and his expression softened a bit. "Look, son, it really would be better if we kept you for observation. I don't want to see you back here because you've collapsed. Your body has gone through some serious trauma in the last month. You need time to recover."
"I can't. I have things I need to take care of, and I can't do that from a hospital bed." Sasha quickly signed the forms and handed them back.
The doctor sighed. "On your head be it. Try to take it easy, don't do anything too strenuous."
Sasha nodded. "Thank you." He walked out of the treatment room. Harry and Ruth shot apologetic looks at the doctor before following the FSB officer.
"I hope whatever it is you have to do is worth it," Harry snapped. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were trying to get yourself killed. We told you to be careful, but you just wouldn't listen and you ended up in the hospital. Again."
Sasha stopped abruptly in the middle of the corridor and glared at Harry. "Believe me, it is worth it. I've finally found out who the leak is."
Voila! I hope you liked it, despite the lack of action in this chapter. Drop me a line in a review, I love to hear what you think!