Nikki sighs, smiling as she watches Danny walk down the street. He turns occasionally to wave back at her. Nikki is relived and feels a sense of happiness for her boyfriend. He seems so much more relaxed now that the horrible mess with that controlling psycho has finally been cleared up. He is less tense and he has even begun to ignore Steve Parker. His shoulders are less hunched over and that little crease between his eyes has all but disappeared; at least, for most of the time, when he knows that Nikki is watching him.
Nikki still catches him looking sad and thoughtful sometimes, however she knows that this is normal behaviour for somebody so young who has been under such a huge amount of stress. The thing that bothers Nikki the most, though, is how Danny continues to pretend that nothing is wrong. He stubbornly refuses to confide in her about anything! Nikki really liked Danny, but sometimes he really irritated her. He is too brave for his own good.
Danny turns around the corner and is greeted by the familiar sight of his home in Cork Terrace, at least, his home for the time being. Now that his mum and dad are back together again, they are thinking seriously of moving out. Not too far away mind, he had only just been reunited with his grandparents after all. Danny shook his head, smiling. It was quite bizarre to think of Des being his father; of having both parents together for once in his life.
However, Danny's smile fades to a look confusion and shock as he catches sight of and ambulance with several paramedics piling out of the back. Mum's face is white and panic stricken; she is pointing frantically towards the front door whilst several neighbours crowd around the fence, trying to get a better look at what is going on. Danny starts sprinting as fast as he can towards the house. He is running as fast as he can, but he feels his legs tense and his breathing is shallow; catching in his throat.
What's going on, mum? What's wrong?
Dad was taken to hospital just half an hour ago. Cathy is sobbing on the phone to mum, watched anxiously by Danny who is desparately trying to keep calm. It's a blood clot, mum says. In his brain; the silly old fool. Possibly caused by his injuries a few months ago. His condition is critically unstable. He may not survive. Mum tells her that she will ring as soon as there is any news, but she has to go now to sign some papers and to wait indoors; no visitors allowed in the intensive care unit.
Cathy puts the phone down. She takes a deep breath inwards and starts to tell Danny exactly what has happened.
Des hears the sound of an amulance long before he sees it. He sighs and turns a page of the newspaper that he is reading. Car crash, most likely. There are so many of those nowadays. Still, business is business and broken cars mean a decent profit for his company; for him.
A bold headline catches his eye. "PRISON ESCAPE NEAR EAST LONDON"
He finds the corresponding column and reads on quickly. Surely not… It can't be! The name of the prison; it's where that Chris guy is being held! He scans ahead anxiously. Three men, anonymous at the moment have escaped and dismantled the security system of the prison! He has to warn Cathy! Danny too! Even old Grumbleguts and his wife Joan need to know about this danger! Of course, the whole story may turn out to be irrelevant but he can't take the risk. He grabs the landline and dials Cathy's number at her house but the phone is engaged. Probably her mother chattering on to her frineds about something completely unimportant. He rushes out to his car, yelling a quick apology to his co-workers and drives off down the street, heading for Cork Terrace.
Danny and mum just sit in the kitchen, not talking, not moving. Danny is in dazed and angry. Things had just started to look up; his grandparents were back together; his parents too; he and Nikki were going out and of course The Animal had been brought to justice… Why did it all have to suddenly go wrong? Maybe its me, he thinks. Maybe I'm just a bad luck charm. Maybe there is some rule that you must have a fair share of happiness and misery in your life; had he overthrown the balance in these last few months? The phone rings and before Danny can look up, mum has answered and is almost shouting down the reciever; half in panic; half in hope. Danny understands the expression on her face because he feels exactly the same way.
Her brain is working faster than she can talk. She is thinking about so many things all at once that it almost hurts. Mum, is that you? How's dad? Have you heard anything new? Is he going to be all right? Please mum, is he going to be okay?
"Mum?" A weak murmur is all that she can manage. Danny looks on worriedly, his gaze fixed on Cathy's tear stained face.
She hears a low chuckle from the other end of the reciever. Her heart almost stops. She would know that particular voice anywhere. Danny senses the change in her expression and begins to stand up, however Cathy ushers him back down into the wooden chair and turns towards the window.
"Who is this?" She whispers, though of course she already knows what the reply will be.
"Ooh Cathy, I'm sure you can work it out!" He taunts. "After all, you always were clever, weren't you, Cathy girl? Too clever, in fact. Far too clever for your own good. I've enjoyed this little game of ours. You were a good opponent; but now I've finally beaten you! Ironically, these last few months in prison have been oddly beneficial. I made acquaintances with the right people, if you know what I mean. Now I am back in the game, Cathy. I will find you and that mongrel son of yours. You will lose everything."
Cathy makes a strange choking sound and is about to reply when the phone on the other end hangs up; all that is left of the fateful conversation is a low humming sound; seemingly mocking her. She turns back to Danny and his bewildered face looking up at her is the last thing she sees before she hits the floor; unconscious.