'London's Burning' - After The Satellite Fell. By Mandi Sheridan.

He ached like hell all over and groaned as he lowered himself into the steaming hot bath. The bruises covering his stomach and chest were an angry purple. In fact most of his stomach was that colour and a couple of ribs were definitely cracked. He'd taken a piss before getting into the bath and was relieved to see very little blood, hardly any in fact, compared to the leak he'd taken earlier at the station. Then it had bright red and bloody painful too, but this time he peed it was almost clear and easier and that meant his kidneys were probably okay. One of Jimmy's thugs had managed to get in a few well-aimed punches to his kidneys, as well as one bright shining moment of crystal clear pain when a well-aimed knee connected with his groin and had him doubled him over and brought tears to his eyes. His balls still ached this morning, but that was nothing compared to the pain in his ribs and stomach - mostly around his lower ribs, and it was as sharp as hell every time he took a deep breath or turned himself sideways.

He lay back and closed his eyes, letting the hot water relax him. He wondered and worried about his spleen or his liver, but figured if there had been any serious damage he'd probably be dead by now - especially after the last shout. Carrying those kids out of the warehouse hadn't helped and then the gas explosion had sent him flying across the floor, and he landed in an agonising heap in a corner, thankfully protected from the flames. Semi-conscious, he'd been content to just lie there, just give up, until he'd heard Sally's voice calling him from somewhere. It took a few seconds of looking around for her to realise that she was calling him on the radio.

"Fire-fighter Mooney this is Fire-fighter Fields. Come in Frank!" Her voice was muffled and crackling, and seemed to come from a million miles away yet he could hear the worry in it.

"Frank can you hear me?" She was almost yelling down the mike.

No Sal, he thought. Just let me lie here. I'm too tired, and anyway you don't really want me.

"Frank it's me. If you can hear me then please just respond."

He could hear her voice breaking, almost as if she was crying. No, he told himself again. Just let it go. She's too good for you, he told himself even as he reached for the radio.

"I'm so sorry. I really messed everything up."

Frank could hear the tears in her voice now and he pressed the 'send' button on his radio.

"Fire-Fighter Mooney." He fumbled with the radio. "I hear you Sal."

Then Mick was calling him and he hit the radio again. "Negative Guv. I'm trapped."

He heard her reply. Telling him it was okay. Telling him they were coming and to hang on.

He closed his eyes and waited for what seemed and eternity. Someone, Geoff or Adam, or maybe Charlie, half carried, half dragged him out and he was in the open air, gasping and in agony but trying still to hide it from the crew. Then Sally was beside him and reaching for him. She was crying. She didn't speak. She didn't have to. He gave her a smile - it was all he could manage to tell her he was okay. He could hardly stand upright let alone walk, but she was there and he leaned on her and she helped him walk to the pump.

****

Funnily enough, despite the pain he was in he'd managed to stand upright along with the others back at the station. They'd all stood there watching the burning pieces of satellite entering the atmosphere. Just like a fireworks display or a meteor shower, he figured. Mick and Shauna and Liam had held each other as they watched. They looked like the perfect happy family. Shauna had caught his eye as she hugged Mick and she looked away quickly - embarrassed or disgusted - he didn't care either way. Was he the father of her kid too? He didn't care. Not now.

All the watch had stood there as the sparks flew in the early morning light. Sally looked tired and pale. But then she had good reason to be tired and pale. The termination yesterday must have been hard on her even though she hadn't wanted the baby - hadn't wanted his baby. She'd told him so. That hurt a little. Not as much as his ribs, but it had still hurt when she'd told him.

He'd watched her more than the light show and she'd smiled at him a few times before they'd all drifted off to shower and change and head home for breakfast and a day's sleep. She didn't speak to him before she left.

****

No breakfast, just a hot bath and he was sinking deeper into it, letting the hot water ease him. He was tired and he closed his eyes - half asleep now - half dreaming. He saw Jimmy's two lads and their fists - hard as rocks - punching him - flesh striking flesh - and he was doubled over and gasping as the wind was knocked from him and the pain came in hard flashes of agony.

Don't think about it then, he told himself. It's over now. Jimmy will be okay next time you see him. A bit angry probably - he'll mouth and yell at you a bit for nearly screwing up. But the debt had been paid. Adam was in the clear and safe and Jimmy would be okay - eventually. Don't think about how it felt to just stand there and take the punches and the pain.

He thought about Sally instead but somehow that was almost as painful. Don't think about anything then, you daft git, he told himself. Okay then I won't, and he closed his eyes and tried to relax.

****

"Shit!" He cursed aloud at the noise of the phone ringing. It was insistent and he wondered who it was at this time of the morning. He almost got out of the bath but sank back again when the answer machine cut in. He heard his own voice first then hers.

"Frank? It's Sally. I was a bit worried about you after the shout and all. Can I come over? Pick up Frank if you're not sleeping. Hope you're okay. Call me later. Okay?"

Stay in the bath or call her? Eenie, meenie, minee, mo. What should he do? Well he knew what he should do. He should ignore her and forget about her and forget that he'd told her he loved her. Yeah, that's what he should do. Jesus Christ! It's almost 10.30 in the morning. Get some sleep girl and I'll see you at work tonight!

Instead he carefully eased himself out of the bath, picked up the phone and dialled her number. She answered on the second ring.

"Frank! Are you okay? You looked bad this morning - and I wanted to talk to you but I didn't - I couldn't. Frank - um - can I come over?" Her voice was pleading, still tearful. Definitely not the Sally he knew.

"Bring milk and a paper with you."

****

"Tea?" He switched on the kettle. "Or Coffee?"

"Either. Whatever."

"Toast?"

"No thanks."

He browsed through the paper as the kettle boiled. There was no mention of the illegal rave or the explosion. That would be in tomorrow's paper probably. He had a quick glance at page three and then checked the back pages to see the sports headlines. Sally sat opposite him saying nothing. He offered her a cigarette. She took one this time and for a couple of minutes they smoked in silence.

"What's up?" he asked. He was careful not to inhale much. His ribs still hurt when he took a deep breath.

"Um - nothing. I just couldn't sleep."

"Too much excitement?"

"No. Not that. No." The look she gave him wasn't quite a dirty look, but it was almost one. "I've just too much on my mind Frank. Things you said and a hell of a lot of things you didn't say."

"I don't say very much Sal. You know me."

"But you said you loved me. Did you? I mean do you?"

"Yes." He reached her a mug of tea.

"Really?"

"Yes."

He could see the relief on her face. One word was enough to take away all the tension and the worry. "Can I stay here with you then?"

"Yes."

She reached forward and kissed him gently on the lips. She frowned slightly when he didn't respond but tried again. "You taste good."

"Not now Sal."

She sat back. "What? Is it because I got rid of the baby? I know you said it made you care and you'd help me, but I couldn't Frank. I just couldn't face all the responsibility and I wasn't sure about --"

"About me? Trust cuts both ways Sally."

"I know. I know. God, I do trust you. I'm so sorry. I know I said things that really hurt you. I'm sorry. I was scared."

"Maybe I have to trust you too. What about Mick then?"

"What about him?" She looked surprised.

"It's me or him. Make up your mind."

"I have. That's why I'm here."

****

He took her hand and pulled her to her feet. "Come on, I'm knackered. A couple of hours kip and then I'll treat you to a bite to eat somewhere and we'll talk. We'll talk properly. Okay?"

She nodded. She was knackered herself. "Yeah. Yes. That sounds good."

Still holding her hand, he led her into his bedroom and closed the curtains against the late morning sunlight. He noticed that she kept her underwear on as she climbed into his bed. He kept his back to her as he took off his dressing gown and lay down beside her but she still got a glimpse of the bruises.

"God! What the hell happened to you?" She reached for him and he tried not to pull away.

"Nothing. Just lie beside me."

She touched his chest, running her hand lightly over him. Her eyes were filled with worry and concern.

"No Frank, these bruises? They're really bad. Are you okay?"

"They're nothing. They look worse than they are."

"Did you get them at the shout this morning? From the gas explosion?"

Frank closed his eyes and kissed the top of her head. He did care about her. He didn't want to but he did. And he wanted to protect her and love her, so the lie came easily. "From the gas explosion. Yes."

****

Aug. 2002. I don't own any of these characters, I just borrowed them for a while. This is my first London's Burning fan fiction and I'd really appreciate some feedback! - mls0055@aol.com