A/N: Thank you so much for following this story so far and huge thanks for the reviews which have really given me a boost and a kick up the arse! *hugs everyone*
Green wasn't really his colour but it would do for now.
Keats finished tying Robin's hands firmly around his back with one of the lengths of bandages that he had found tucked around the ambulance. It had been quite fortuitous as far as things went. Keats hadn't really had many expectations following the bomb blasts. His primary objective was to cause as much damage as possible in a short space if time. He was hoping he might be able to grab a few added extras afterwards but never had he expected to take such a fantastic prize.
"About time we did some brotherly bonding," he sneered as he tied a piece of material around Robin's mouth to act as a gag, "me and you. What do you say?" he laughed to himself as he finished tying the gag. "Not very much by the looks of it."
He needed to shift Robin's body around to tie his legs up so he jammed his foot into his stomach to do so. Despite letting out a pained noise Robin was still too stunned from his clobbering to come round. Keats gave a smirk and set about tying his legs as he glowered at Robin's features. He detested the echo of his own face that he saw within them. It made his blood boil to know that they shared half their DNA. Robin wasn't looking quite his normal self that night though; his lip was split and his face bore wounds from his earlier fight. He didn't smell like normal either, Keats realised as he leaned over Robin. Alcohol. He reeked of the stuff.
"Try not to choke on your own vomit, Robin," Keats told him as he continued to tie his legs.
This really was like scooping a bonus prize. Like completing Sonic 2 and getting all the chaos emeralds too.
As the ambulance crews had started arriving, Keats saw his opportunity to expand his plan. With more chaos ensuing it became easier for him to wander without standing out. Everyone was busy watching the crumbling building. No one noticed the man in the dark coat slipping amongst them.
When he spotted the ambulance driver standing by his vehicle having a crafty smoke it was like a gift-wrapped treat that he couldn't turn down.
The fire extinguisher sat on the floor nearby. Used by an escaping officer to fight her way through the flames. It had been long-since abandoned; half-empty and useless when it came to controlling the fire. Keats had flexed his fingers and scooped it up as quick as a flash. Considering the fact that the station was on fire in several places no one thought anything of him wandering around the car park with such an object.
Hidden from view around the side of his ambulance, the driver glanced up as the figure approached in his long, dark coat.
"You alright, sir?" the man asked, stamping out his cigarette.
In reply Keats merely held the fire extinguisher above him and brought it down sharply to the side of the paramedic's head.
As he dropped to the floor, a plan began to form in Keats's mind and it didn't take long to shape into something workable. It only took him a moment to drag the man around the side of the station dumpsters. The paramedic was somewhat larger than Keats; a few extra pounds all over his frame, and the uniform fitted easily over Keats's own clothes to spare him the time and indignity of getting undressed in the open air in order to slip into something more green and less comfortable.
After he had donned his disguise he simply had to wait. He'd chosen the area of the canine unit as the location for one of his devices specifically to spite Robin. The fact that the area had been devoid of people had been a bonus too, but just after setting it up the dogs had gone crazy so he'd moved quickly to the next location. The unit more or less abandoned overnight, no one else was close enough to pay attention as he knocked him out and hauled him into the back of the ambulance.
"And now you're all tied up like a birthday present," Keats smirked.
Gene ignored the shout at first. He had enough to deal with there and then. Simon had taken Eddie's passing better than Gene had expected, which worried him in itself. He remembered the physical and emotional mess that he'd been in when performing his duty before. He wasn't shaking or sobbing, despite losing his friend. He sat in silence in the ground as fire crews and other emergency services worked away at the smouldering building.
Gene waved his flask under Simon's nose again but it took Simon a moment to glance up.
"I'm alright," he said quietly, waving his hand to dismiss the scotch. Gene drew back a little, shocked.
"Blimey, now I am worried," he said.
"Guv, here… there's another one," Jake said shakily as another body bag moved along beside them on a stretcher, "it's DI Peter Vickery."
Simon felt his stomach drop.
"My whole fucking department," he said under his breath, "wiped out in one night."
This time he couldn't ignore the insistent cry. He turned to see Shaz running towards them, her uniform dusty and ripped at one side.
"Here's another one accounted for," he said as Shaz stopped just before them.
"Guv, have you seen Chief Inspector Thomas?"
Shaz's words were not ones that Simon had been expecting and he scrambled to his feet, ignoring the fact that Shaz hadn't been speaking to him.
"What?" he said quickly.
Shaz turned to him.
"Have you seen him?" she panted, brushing a little of the dust from her face.
"I thought…" Simon glanced around. The last he knew Robin was having his wounds treated. He just assumed that he'd gone home after that. He turned to Jake. "Wasn't he with you?"
Jake felt his face reddening as it did its very best to show him up and reveal some truths.
"No," he said, feeling self-conscious as everyone turned to stare, "I finished cleaning him up and then there was an emergency…" he turned to Shaz, "I thought he was with you."
"He was," Shaz said quickly, "there were dogs…" she trailed off as her eyes scanned Jake and she frowned. "Why isn't your shirt done up, Jake?"
Jake wanted to disappear down a hole.
"What happened with the dogs?" he asked loudly as he tried to fasten the buttons again but his trembling fingers had other ideas.
"It was the weirdest thing," Shaz's face was full of innocent wonder as she recalled the strange events that had taken place, "you'll call me crazy."
"You'll drive us crazy if you don't hurry this story up," Gene said quickly.
"There were two dogs and they weren't ours," Shaz told them, "one was going mad. We couldn't catch it. Then another dog just… arrived."
"By horse-drawn carriage?"
"We don't know where he came from, Guv," Shaz shrugged in confusion, "but Sir knew her.
Simon narrowed his eyes.
"What do you mean, knew her?"
"She was his dog," Shaz explained, "she'd run away once and found her way home."
"Robin doesn't have a dog," Simon shook his head.
"Cassandra," Shaz told him and suddenly the world began to spin at double-speed.
Simon stared at her, blinking as though when his eyes reopened everything would make sense, but it didn't. He swallowed and tried to take that in.
"Cassandra?" he repeated.
"Beautiful dog," said Shaz, "she was so pleased to see him."
"Then where is he now?" Simon cried.
"That's what I was asking you!"
"Where did you last see him?"
"I left him with his dog," said Shaz, "just before the blast. He wanted to spend some time with Cassandra, I think. He sent me up to you with a message but I didn't make it that far."
Simon was wide eyed. He swallowed. His eyes scanned the car park looking for any trace of him but when he couldn't see any sign he had a terrible sinking feeling inside.
"Shit," he breathed.
He began to move forward towards the canine unit, scanning the area as he went.
"Shoebury, don't be a bloody idiot!" Gene cried as he started to follow him.
Simon broke into a trot and Gene did his best to keep up but he was still somewhat unsteady from his injuries and couldn't stay with him. He caught up as Simon froze, dogs circling his legs. He turned and glanced at Gene.
"I hate these things," he said as the dogs panted and lavished affection on his trousers. "Ugh! The drool!" Simon shuddered. One of them came and sat directly by his feet, tilted its head and barked before lying down on the ground and whimpering. Immediately Simon felt like he'd been struck with a revelation.
"Cassandra?!" he gasped. He knelt down and despite his anti-dog stance he reached forward and stroked her soft coat, staring her in the eye, "It.. it is you." He swallowed and turned to Shaz.
"You said he sent you up with a message for me?"
"What sort of a message?" he demanded.
"He said he was really sorry, Sir," Shaz told him.
There was a steady, insistent beat banging away in Simon's ears that he didn't realise for the longest time was his own pulse. He swallowed as he stared at the entrance to the canine unit. The thought that no one had seen him was causing a boulder of anxiety to grow in the middle of his stomach.
"Robin?" he cried as he took one last look around the car park. If he'd been there then surely he would have gravitated towards the group by now? "Robin!" There was no sign; no sign at all. Cassandra whimpered and laid a paw on Simon's foot. "What?" Simon asked, too worried to feel stupid about talking to a dog, "Where is he, Cassandra? Where's Robin?"
"Her name's not Lassie, you daft bugger," Gene cried, slightly irritated but Simon didn't even register it.
"Robin!" he screamed one more time. But once again there came no response. He didn't care about the stupid fight they'd had. He didn't care about his jealousy any more. He didn't care who Robin was or wasn't enjoying bedroom Olympics with. He just wanted him back safe, sound and in one piece. The dogs were all running around, so where the fuck was Robin? He would have been with them. Unless he couldn't be. Unless he couldn't get out. What if he went back in one last time and something happened? What if –
Instinct took hold of Simon and sent him hurtling toward the doorway with Gene yelling after him. When it became clear that Simon wasn't listening Gene knew he had no choice but to follow, mumbling about what a bloody idiot he was as he went. Alex had been distracted by the doggy gathering for a moment but realised that she was being left behind.
"Gene, don't be stupid!" she cried as she started to run after him,.
"Why not? He bloody is!" Gene protested.
"Then don't follow him!" cried Alex but she knew she was wasting her breath, "oh, what's the use?"
Before they knew it all three were inside the building once again. There was smoke and a terrible, growing heat but the flame itself seemed to be keeping a distance. With his sleeve over his nose and mouth Simon ran into the main compound but not only was there no sign of Robin there were no sign of any dogs either. By the time Alex and Gene caught up with him he was already doubling back on himself
"He's not in there," he cried, rushing back into the corridor then past them both.
"Where are you going now?" cried Alex.
"Checking his office," Simon yelled, struggling to be heard over the crackling of the flames and the din of the alarms.
Alex chased him closely but with his walking still hampered Gene had to keep a few paces behind, frustrating him beyond compare.
"Both of you have got a bloody death wish!" he cried, trying to push himself forward but he was struggling now, exhausted and in pain. He began to wish he hadn't been quite so hasty in binning his pills.
Simon screeched to a halt inside the doorway of Robin's office and looked around but the room was empty. Well what had he expected? Why would Robin even have been there? It wasn't as though he was desperate to save a pile of beloved paperwork, was it?
"Simon!" Alex cried crossly as she caught him up and skidded just inside of the room, "come on, Simon, he's not here – he'll be out there somewhere.
"But no one's seen him –" Simon cried
"Someone will have seen him," Alex yelled, "remember what Shaz said – maybe he was trying to find where Cassandra came from and had already left by the time the explosions happened."
"All the dogs are loose," Simon reminded her, "He had to have been here. He had to be the one who –"
The end of his sentence was cut off by an almighty creaking noise and the sound of rushing dust and debris. Simon and Alex's eyes opened wide and their heads turned upward in time to see movement from above them.
"Shit –" was as much as Alex got out while attempting to dive sideways but neither had enough time to move before chunks of plaster fell onto them followed by a light fitting that pulled down with it a metal bar. The collection of objects struck both Simon and Alex just in time for Gene's arrival and with extreme horror he saw them both,lying on the floor, crushed and trapped. The flames were encroaching and smoke was flooding the air while the ominous rumbling sound that drew Gene's eyes upward for a moment showed more of the building was about to follow the same way as the light fitting.
"Shit," Gene gasped as the full reality of the situation struck him. The heat was starting to sting his back and the smoke made him want to hack up a lung but it was the terrified look on Alex's face as she struggled fruitlessly to push the heavy bar from her back and cried his name that truly hurt.
"Bolly," he hissed as he scrambled towards her over plaster and metal, but before he could act Simon's voice begged for help.
"Gene – Please!"
Gene spun to one side and saw Simon's agonized expression as the other end of the bar lay across his shoulders and back.
The smoke and the heat were becoming harder to cope with and the onset of the flames nearby put them all in a more severe situation by the second. Simon coughed and choked as hard as his compressed chest would allow. He knew he wasn't getting enough oxygen into his body and the feeling of desperation was growing.
"Help me – I can't… can't take any more…" he gasped as the pain worsened.
"Gene!" Alex's voice cried out.
He turned from one to the other, both in agony, both choking on the acrid air, both in direct danger as plaster crumbled above them, sending a shower of dust to the ground. The rumbling noise grew more insistent and Gene could see movement above them as the ceiling threatened to crumble further. He turned back to them and swallowed. He didn't have long and knew he had to act immediately but there was no way he could save them both. The ceiling was moments from collapse and he didn't even know if he could take one from the danger but –
He felt his stomach churn and his heart raced as he looked from one to the other and swallowed desperately. The love of his life or his flesh and blood. He only had one chance. And so did they. It was the hardest choice that Gene would ever have to make and he knew that whichever way it went he was going to have to live with it for the rest of his life.