I rounded the corner towards the canteen, spotting Sam and Dodger sitting inside. Both of them were talking as they occasionally sipped from two steaming hot mugs. They were readily dressed in their standard issue, navy blue uniforms, their t-shirts framed their athletic bodies and were tucked into their belted up pants of the same colour. Both men had dark hair, Dodger’s a little longer, and messier than Sam’s, and with a similar rugged appearance, they could have passed for brothers to people who didn’t know them. Sam being a few years older though, added a dash of maturity to his looks. Dodger, on the other hand, was one of those people that didn’t even look as old as he was. Only just moving into his late thirties, he had such a strong, youthful personality, that he could pass for someone a good few years younger.
I pushed the door open, both looking up at me as I entered. Sam abandoned the newspaper that he had just been glancing at, then rubbed the bridge of his nose, his hazel eyes flicking back to Dodger, who was practically bouncing with his usual energy.
“Hey, Rebel? You’re in for Friday night, right?” Dodger called across the room, his grey eyes zoning in on me, glinting with the familiar mischief that he had when he was planning something.
“What’s Friday night?” I asked, walking to the kitchen counter, picking up an apple, and tossing it in the air, then catching it again.
“You just had to ask.” Sam sighed in exasperation.
I laughed, taking a seat opposite them, watching him lean back and wave his hand through the air, signalling the beginning of Dodger’s explanation.
“Oh lighten up Sammy,” He said playfully, rising to his feet and perching on the edge of the table. “I have this mate, he’s opening a new club, and I can get us all in for free on the opening night, what do you reckon?”
I froze, halfway through chewing my bite of apple. My eyes locked with Sam’s who then proceeded to arch his eyebrows, and share a knowing look with me. We both knew all too well how Dodger’s plans could turn out.
“Oh come on. I promise this is legit!” He said, rolling his eyes skywards at the silent scrutiny.
“Legit?” I asked, swallowing my apple. “So, it won’t be like the time we were ‘invited’ to the restaurant event, and ended up having to go in as cater waiters?”
“Or the pub sing-a-long night, where we ended up being down as the booked strippers?” Sam chipped in.
Dodger scratched at the top of his head, running his fingers through his hair and shrugging slightly.
“Okay, I get the reason you might be a little bit skeptical. But I promise, it’s all above board.”
Just then, the door opened again, and in walked Cain and Jax. Their conversation dying out as they saw us.
“Ah, lads! You two’ll come won’t you?”
“What’s this?” Cain asked, looking from me to Sam.
“Another Dodger grand event.” Sam chipped in.
Jax and Cain’s faces instantly mirrored the same expressions of mine and Sam’s moments ago.
“Is this going to be like the time there was the Halloween party in the woods, and you took us to the wrong woods?” Jax asked.
“Bloody hell, are you lot ever going to let that go?” Dodger replied dramatically.
As a rumble of laughter echoed around the room, Jax moved forwards, the sun hitting him as he passed the window, casting his brown hair in a golden light.
“Just face it Dodge, you don’t have the best track record with these events of yours.” Cain added, moving to take a seat next to Sam, who handed him the paper.
Cain nodded in thanks, and began to scan the page in front of him, while Jax took a seat next to me, leaning back and crossing his arms.
“Do we only have your word that this won’t be another wonderous cock up?” He asked, his blue eyes narrowed on Dodger.
“Fine,” Dodger replied, holding his hands up and rising from the table. “Don’t worry about it, I get the message.”
I could hear the falsely dramatic tone in his voice, and I knew what he was trying to do. Sure enough, everyone exchanged guilty glances, and then Cain let out a sigh.
“Alright, we’re in.”
Dodger turned and winked at me, his plan having worked yet again. I continued to eat, chuckling to myself at the familiarity of this turn of events. It wasn’t uncommon here. We were a family after all, and that meant that we always did the stupid stuff, even if it was likely to end in utter humiliation.
“Right, I’m gonna go tell the others the good news.” He smiled, walking past me and heading through the doors.
“Pix is gonna do her nut.” Jax laughed, directing the statement at Cain, who closed his eyes with a groan, muttering a stream of swear words under his breath.
“Nicely done Bro.” Sam added, clapping him on the back.
Cain shook his head, his dark eyes moving between us all.
“We always cave, so what difference does it make?”
“That’s true,” I began, standing and heading towards the kitchen. “But, you actually agreed to it, so you get to take the flack for it.”
Cain hung his head, his fingers threading into his short black hair, just as the door banged open.
“Okay, what moron agreed to another of Dodger’s dodgy disasters?” A female voice snapped.
I tossed the apple core into the bin, and headed back to the others. The newest addition to the room, and fellow team member, Cassandra, was leaning over the table, staring at Cain. Her petite stature had led to her nickname of Pixie, given how cute and small she was. But right now, she was far from cute. Even at her height, she seemed to tower over everyone with the anger she was exuding.
“Come on Pix, it’s not a big deal.”
“Not a big deal? Seriously? Are you forgetting that he made me dress up as Tinkerbell for that-”
“And what an adorable Tinkerbell you made.” I said playfully, sneaking up behind her and picking her up, spinning her and then dropping her back down.
“Not funny, Bane.”
“Sorry mate, you’re on your own.” I laughed at Cain, holding my hands up and retreating two steps.
She rounded on him, her blonde hair spinning out to the side, the light catching it in a blazing white flare.
“I invoke my immunity rights as Leading Firefighter.” Cain said, jumping to his feet, smirking.
Everyone laughed, the sound echoing as a loud rumble through the canteen, even Pixie’s lips twitched up at the sides. She was about to speak again, just as the bell rang through the building. The lads jumped to their feet, and we all began to hasten towards the door.
“This isn’t over Hustler.” Pixie warned Cain as she followed Jax out of the door.
I caught sight of Cain rolling his eyes as we ran through the hall, into a closed off section where the pole was located. Jax dropped down first, his feet hitting the mat with a thud as he was followed by Pixie, then the rest of us, one by one.
As I landed on the cushion at the bottom, I saw Will, another member of the Watch, hurrying from the office. With his tall and muscular stature, he moved his way through us easily, his impressive build dominated the space whilst he yelled the shout, over the alarm. Our Sub officer, Alex, pushed the handle to release the doors for the appliances to exit. He wasn’t even as old as Cain and Sam, but he commanded the respect of the team with ease. His smart appearance, tidy dark hair and sharp features made him look almost like a corporate businessman, but this man had become a Sub officer at that age because he was good, very good. That, and he’d seen Red Watch through some hard times already. His loyalty and dedication were second only to his love and care for the Watch, and that was the perfect quality for him. All eight of us joined together, running across the forecourt and jumping aboard the appliances, Dodger leapt behind the wheel of the one I boarded. Sirens now wailing as we sped out of the station.
Dodger navigated the familiar London streets easily, in and out of the afternoon traffic at high speed, the other appliance hot on our tail as we neared the location of the shout. The three of us in the back, pulled on our uniforms. This was our life. This is what we did every single day, and yet it never got easier. As we dressed, my eyes lingered on the matching tattoos that adorned every member of Red Watch’s upper left arm. The roman numerals of the date that one of our Watch, didn’t make it back home. When I’d finished changing, I joined the others sitting on the edge of our seats in silence, prepared to leap into action the moment that we stopped. I felt the appliance beginning to slow, looking up I could see the billowing smoke coming from the upper windows of a terrace house on the left. Dodger hit the breaks, and I threw open the door, jumping out and immediately opening up the side of the appliance, just as the rest of the Watch pulled up beside us.
“Rebel! You and Dodger in BA! Sam, BA control!” Alex called out, rushing to the front of the other appliance. “Jax, get that crowd moved back, and see if anyone knows if there’s persons inside.”
I nodded, turning back to the appliance and grabbing the BA kit. Myself and Dodger getting kitted up under Sam’s watch, just as a loud bang sounded behind us, followed by shattering glass, as huge flames burst from the lower floor windows.
“Sub?” Jax shouted from nearby.
“Yeah?” Alex called back.
Jax ran back towards us, shouting as he neared us.
“Apparent persons reported. At least one, female resident, late twenties. A Miss Sandra Landon.”
Alex nodded to him and then turned back to the others.
“Pixie, Will, take the rear of the house, report back on any further risks, or signs of life.”
Pixie and Will nodded promptly and left, hurrying around the side of the house.
“Jax and Hustler, I want hoses on those flames.”
As they set up and got to work hosing down the flames, Sam walked with myself and Dodger, to the front. Quickly making the checks on our BA gear, before letting us proceed inside.