My heart seized, fear slamming me in the chest, I couldn’t lose her. I refused to lose her. I was growing weaker the longer that I stayed underwater, my body screaming for air, but I couldn’t leave her. I caught sight of the water level in the rear of the car, the back was almost full, but there was an air pocket that was fading fast. Clinging to the door, I swam inside, pushing my torso between the seats, my head coming up from beneath the water. I took a few quick breaths, feeling my brain getting clearer as oxygen flooded back. I took one last gulp, then pushed back, swimming out of the car as fast as I could, and diving down deeper. There was a small glimmer ahead, and the closer I got, the clearer it became. A reflective strip on her uniform was catching the light from the car. I pushed myself harder, water rushing in my ears and my muscles aching with the strength I was using to push against the current. She was swimming rapidly, trying to pull her way back to the surface, but failing as she grew weaker before my eyes. The car creaked louder as it followed my progress through the water, and I was finally within reach of her. She looked my way at the sound, and stretched her arm towards me, I kicked my legs harder, stretching as far as I could, and finally managed to close my hand around her wrist. Her eyes were bulging as she gestured frantically toward herself, telling me that she needed air. I nodded, pulling her towards me, and into my arms, overwhelmed with relief that I had her in my grasp again. I motioned to her to look in my eyes, I kept treading water to keep us floating, whilst I leant in, pressing my mouth to hers. She understood immediately, parting her lips and allowing me to pass air to her.
As we parted, I was struck by an idea, it would still be risky, but it was our best shot. Pulling her with me, I gripped the wing mirror, using it as leverage to get higher out of the water. Rosie got the hint, and used her arm to reach higher, grabbing the rear door handle and dragging us along the car. Together we got to the end of the car, the current’s drag getting weaker as we neared the surface. Both of us were getting weaker, our movements slowing, my vision blurring. The only thing that was strong, was the grip that I maintained on Rosie’s wrist. Suddenly there were bubbles up ahead, and Will and Dodger appeared, swimming towards us. They had a hose line clutched in their hands with air streaming out of it, which they handed to us, letting us both take a long drag, whilst they hooked their arms under us and began hauling us to the surface.
“Thanks.” I panted, the moment that we were back above the water.
“Don’t mention it.” Will smiled, clapping a hand on my back, whilst Dodger nodded in agreement.
We swam to the ladder that was against the bank for us to get back to the road. I still had hold of Rosie, not wanting to let go just yet, even though we were now safely on our way out of the water. I’d come so close to losing her, and that frightened me more than anything.
“Are you both okay?” Alex asked, the moment that our feet hit the tarmac.
“Yeah, Sub, we’re good.” Rosie answered.
“How’s the driver? And the people from the other car?” I chimed in.
“No serious injuries in the other car. A few bruises. The driver you two managed to get out has a sprained ankle and a minor bump on the head, she’ll be fine. Luckily.” Alex informed us.
Me and Rosie sighed with relief, it was reassuring to know that they were all okay.
“Go get checked over, I want a medical all clear.” He said, with a tender pat on the arm, inclining his head behind him where an ambulance stood on standby.
Rosie began walking towards it, her hand finally leaving my grasp. I was about to follow after her when Alex stopped me.
“I want a word with you in my office when we get back Firefighter Knight.”
His tone assured me that I was in for a scolding, and truth be told, I deserved it. I knew that my actions were dangerous, and that sat fine with me when it was just my life on the line. But it had gone beyond me, and I’d inadvertently put Rosie, and even Dodger and Will at risk.
“Sub.” I nodded.
He tilted his head in the direction that Rosie had just gone off in, and I followed after them, Dodger coming up behind me and looping his arm around my shoulder.
“Looks like you’re in trouble bro.”
“More than you know.” I mumbled, my mind on Rosie, and just how much she was already affecting me.
Dodger followed my line of sight, and a knowing smirk slid its way onto his face.
“I wondered how long it would take.”
“What are you on about?” I asked, feigning ignorance.
He gave me a look that said he wasn’t buying any of it, and I rolled my eyes with a groan. He was my best mate and my brother, I should have known that he would see right through me, but I wasn’t sure that I was ready for it to be common knowledge that my resolve of not being involved with anyone was weakening since meeting Rosie.
“It’s obvious that you like each other, even Em saw it.” He said firmly, “But I know what you’re like, and we won’t say anything. Just, do me a favour?”
I nodded, grateful that he was going to keep it to himself.
“If you two hit it off, give it a chance. It’s hard enough to find someone who you connect with in life, don’t throw it away because of the chance of losing it someday.”
“Dodge, you know why-”
“I know. But Derek would have kicked your ass if he’d been here today. Do you really think that he’d have wanted his death to turn you into, whatever the male equivalent of a spinster is?”
I stopped walking, rounding on him in amusement.
“Spinster? When did I age forty years?” I laughed.
Dodger chuckled and nudged me with his shoulder.
“Maybe when you scared the shit out of all of us just then.”
“Yeah, sorry about that.”
We continued on to the ambulance, where a paramedic insisted that I sit down for a quick check over before returning to the station.
Jumping off the appliance when we got back, Alex went straight upstairs to his office. I threw the blanket that the paramedics had insisted I wore, into the back seat and followed after him. Arriving outside of his door, I rapped my knuckles on the wood and waited for his voice to call out to me, inviting me inside.
“I should come down on you like a ton of bricks right now Bane.” He said in a dangerously low voice, pacing up and down behind his desk. “You put yourself in danger tonight, and that was bad enough. But your actions lead to a fellow firefighter being put at risk too.”
“I know Sub, and that wasn’t my intention,” I retorted sincerely. “I was just thinking about getting the driver out of the car. It was rash and impulsive, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
“We have protocols for these things, and you ignored them, diving in head first with little to no thought for your own life, or the dangers of others in the situation.” He began to shout.
“I know, but I saw the car falling lower, and time wasn’t on our side. There wasn’t a chance to go through protocol without potentially losing lives.”
He paused, bracing his hands on his desk and glaring at me. The seconds passed and I wasn’t sure of what his next reaction was going to be. Suddenly, he sighed, deflating and sinking into his chair.
“It would be normal practice to suspend you for such actions.”
I silently prayed that he was about to say ‘but’. I couldn’t take the idea of not being at work. Not to mention the crappy feeling of getting a black mark on my record.
“But I’m not going to do that.” He continued, letting me breathe a sigh of relief. “This time. But next time, I want you to think, and if I give an order, you bloody well better obey it. Am I clear?”
“Good. You’re dismissed, go get some rest.”
It was strange to think that just several hours earlier, I was up on the roof with Lacey, happier than I’d been in who knows how long. Now I was trying to sleep knowing how close it came to losing her. It proved just how easily this job could spin things, going from our blissful intimate moment, to a near fatal call out. It was impossible to drift off into a comfortable sleep with my mind racing as fast as it was, trying to get my head around the total one-eighty that happened tonight. I stared up at the dark ceiling, hearing the soft breathing of the rest of the Watch as they slept, the sky outside getting slowly lighter as we got closer to morning, eventually though, my exhaustion won out and I fell into an uneasy sleep.