BURNING LOVE

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Confronting Maggie

“You say she’s been feeling sick for a few days now?” Ryan asked.

“Yeah… She’s tired as hell and throwing up the whole day. She says it’s just the stress, that it’s not the first time it’s happened to her, but I’m worried,” Sawyer stated.

“You know…” Ryan trailed off.

“What?”

“Well… You’ve been fucking like monkeys lately—”

“What the fuck?” Sawyer laughed.

“Well, you have that aura around you, and that stupid smile plastered on your face all the time, that says I-have-fucking-amazing-sex-every-damn-day-more-than-once.” He shrugged.

Sawyer burst out laughing. “Good, ’cause I’m having incredible sex every fucking day! But what does that have to do with anything?”

“You can’t be so dumb!” Ryan rolled his eyes. “Sex plus the woman feeling sick, horny and tired…?”

“What?”

“She could be pregnant,” Ryan noted.

“She’s on the pill, dude.”

“Still, those things fail sometimes.”

“I tell you that’s impossible.” Lizbeth wasn’t exactly infertile, but it wouldn’t be easy getting her pregnant, much less if she was on the pill. It was Wednesday and it wasn’t normal that she was still feeling sick, but with the case still open, Nicolas in prison and Maggie walking around freely, who could blame her for feeling anxious?

“Just make a test and find out, but I tell you, my ex had all those symptoms and nine months later I had this beautiful little girl in my arms.”

“I…” Sawyer paused. It was hard for her to get pregnant, but not impossible, so could it be—?

The alarms in the station went off, muffling even the thoughts in his head. “The roof of a student housing complex has collapsed, trapping several people inside the building,” one of their colleagues said as he ran past them. They followed him into the changing room and put on their bunker gear. Pants. Boots. Gloves. Coat.

Then, they moved to the room to get the tools they needed, like the flashlights, wire cutters, paramedic scissors, or shove knives. They got their helmets, the medical examination PPE, and loaded the truck with the masks and drager air cylinders. Those moments were always frantic.

In less than two minutes they were all ready to go to the place of the accident. Ryan jumped in the driver’s seat and turned on the engine and the sirens. When the whole team was in the truck he stepped on the accelerator and hit the road.

Ambulances and police vehicles gathered in the apartments' complex parking lot. The atmosphere was tense and the spinning blue and red lights in the night made it eerier.

Dark smoke was coming through the windows at the top of the building, and that meant that some fire had started inside. There was debris piled up in the small garden beside the entrance and some others were threatening to fall over the terrace where a couple of girls were crying for help.

“Fuck! We gotta get up there!” Sawyer shouted as he put on his helmet and mask.

“The walls don’t seem stable enough for the ladder,” his colleague stated.

“Yeah, you should use the crane. Let’s go!” Ryan commanded them. Six of them ran towards the destroyed building while two of them stayed on the ground, talking with the police and the paramedics to arrange everything and keep them updated on the situation from there. Besides, they were the ones in charge of the truck.

“How could something like this happen?” One of the firemen asked rhetorically, his voice stifled and distorted by the mask. The building was old and the maintenance wasn’t the best, obviously.

“You two go to the first and second floor, you go to the third one and we’ll go to the last two,” Ryan told them. “If we split we’ll find more people.”

“Got it!” All of them nodded and then ran down the corridor.

“Let’s go, Sawyer!” Ryan ordered him. He could be a bit arrogant sometimes, blunt to the point of being harsh, but he was the leader of the team and the most reliable person Sawyer had ever met.

They ran up the stairs as fast as their seventy-five pounds equipment allowed them. It was hot and heavy inside all those layers of protecting clothing, but they didn’t care as long as they could save people’s lives.

“Help, please!” the distressed voice of a woman called from the end of the hall. Sawyer and Ryan looked at each other and nodded, moving towards it.

“Hello! Keep talking!” Sawyer asked the woman. It was the best way to find the exact place where the voice was coming from and to let her know they were already there to save her.

“Shit!” Ryan growled, bumping into Sawyer when he dodged another part of the ceiling falling right beside them.

“This place is literally falling to pieces,” Sawyer exclaimed with a bittersweet tone.

“We need to get these people out of here, the whole thing is going to crash down soon,” Ryan stated as he looked around. The smoke was surrounding them in a scary dance while the flickering lights were hanging from what was left from the ceiling.

They went room by room, checking how many people there were left. They instructed them on how to breathe with a piece of cloth covering their nose and mouth so they didn’t inhale the smoke and the toxins coming from it. Then, asked them to wait for them in a spot that seemed secure enough. “Please, don’t leave!” One of the girls gripped Sawyer’s uniform.

“You’ll be fine,” he sweetly told her, looking over her shoulder as he saw his colleagues, Smith and Jones, coming their way. “They’ll take you out of here, okay?”

She turned around and saw the other two men walking towards them. “The first floors were clear,” one of them noted.

“Good.”

“We’ll get them out, go help Ryan!” the other one told him.

“Sure, thank you!” he shouted as he ran following his friend.

They walked to the last floor and stepped over some debris as they entered a room that seemed like the center of that tragic event. It didn’t even have a door anymore and it was on fire, with cables hanging loose and a huge crack on one of the walls.

“Please, help us!” one of the girls standing in the terrace cried. She was desperate, crying, and shaking, but who wouldn’t in a situation like that?

“Don’t move!” Ryan ordered them in a harsh tone of voice. “Fuck! Sawyer, look at the balcony’s anchors…” he whispered. They were slightly pulled out of the wall and the balcony was already bouncing.

“Fuck!” he said under his breath. “That’s gonna fall.”

“Yeah… We need to be careful.”

Sawyer nodded and they approached the girls, talking to them to ease their fear, letting them know that they wouldn’t let something bad happen to them. Miller and Reid were already working to get them with the firetruck.

As soon as they reached them, one of them jumped on Ryan’s arms, not thinking about anything but surviving.

However, the pressure she put on the ground below her was enough to make the balcony break free from the wall. “Fuck!” Sawyer growled as he launched himself to grab the other girl’s arm.

Gravity made its job, dragging him on the floor towards the opened door. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. He thought.

Prepared to deal with those situations, his brain took control of his actions and moved to find something to clutch his free hand and to stick his feet to. And then, they abruptly stopped as Sawyer found his grip.

Half of his torso ended up floating in the air as he tightened his hand around the girl’s arm. “No, please, don’t let go of me!” she cried, her face distorted with so much fear.

“Hey! Look at me!” Sawyer told her. “I won’t let anything happen to you, okay?” he told her, feeling the strength leaving his body as all his muscles were shaking, resisting the pull from the girl swinging.

“I got you!” Ryan said as he grabbed his belt. Sawyer turned his face and saw the other girl sitting on the floor as she watched them utterly shocked. “I need you to stay put, okay? We’re gonna pull you up now.”

The girl nodded.

Ryan pulled from Sawyer’s belt as he pushed himself backwards with the hand he had pressed against the wall. “Just a bit more…” Sawyer grunted.

A few seconds later she crawled on the dirty floor. Reid and Miller already reached the opening in the wall. “Come here.” Miller motioned the girls to walk towards him. “That’s great,” he said when one of the girls finally stepped on the crane.

“Your turn,” Sawyer told the girl he just saved.

“Good girl, you’re doing great,” Miller reassured her as she slowly got into the crane with him.

“We’re going to check no one else is here,” Ryan declared.

“Noted,” Miller said. A second later Reid was pulling them down.

They walked out of the room, checked the other rooms where they found a girl trying to wake up her friend. She was crying and desperate, but anybody would be in a situation like that.

Ryan moved towards them and took one of his gloves off to feel her pulse. “She just fainted, but she’ll be alright,” he said so the other girl could relax. “We’re going to take you out of here, okay?”

Sawyer picked up the girl lying on the ground and walked out of the room with the other one gripping the sleeve of his uniform. Ryan following behind. They went downstairs to get to the ground floor again, but in the way, there was another collapse. Concrete and iron beams fell like a bomb over Ryan, making the man howled in pain and the girl hysterically scream.

“Fuck!” Sawyer grunted as he turned around to see his friend half-buried under the heavy material. He stood there for less than two seconds analyzing the situation and thinking about the best thing to do.

“Sawyer, get the fuck out of here! You have to save them not me!”

“Ryan, you need help!” He paused a second as his brain worked a mile a minute. “Bring your asses to the third floor. Now!” Sawyer shouted through the radio.

“What’s going on?” Jones asked.

“Ryan needs help and we also have to take two more people out of here!”

“Coming!”

“If something happens to them because you decided to stay here, my ghost will follow you forever!” Ryan told Sawyer.

“Stop joking in a moment like this!”

“I’m not joking! You’re risking several lives for one. If I get out of this I’m kicking your ass until I die, you hear me?”

“Shut up!” Sawyer growled. “We’re not leaving you behind while you’re still alive.”

Ryan just gave him a smug and painful smile, his gaze hazing as he let his head resting on the floor.

As soon as the other six men reached them, Sawyer handed one of the girls so he could get her and her sister out of that hell.

They started digging into the mountain of debris over Ryan. “Hey, don’t sleep, chief! Open your eyes and talk to me! Come on, man!” Sawyer heard Wilson as he tried to keep him conscious.

After ten more minutes, they finally managed to dredge him up. “Let’s do this,” Davidson said as they positioned to lift the metal beam still crashing Ryan’s leg.

They slightly crouched down, resting the beam over their shoulders and then pushed up. As soon as they freed him, Wilson dragged him out.

“Good, let’s go! This place could crash down any minute now!” Sawyer commanded as he was the second in charge.

Ryan seemed badly injured, his leg was bleeding through the most horrifying opened wound he had seen in a while. The bone had ripped through the muscles and he probably had more injuries hidden under his clothes. He still couldn’t believe how he had made it out alive after the massive weight smashing his body. He was definitely a tough one.

As they walked out of the building, the paramedics approached them, taking Ryan with them. The police were trying to calm people down, preventing them from doing anything reckless and taking the statements of those that were still able to talk. It was chaotic but at least everyone was alive.

Sawyer sighed, relieved, and proceeded to take off his mask, but when he raised his arms, a shooting pain bashed all over his body, sending electric shocks to his left shoulder. He put his hand over it to hold it in place as it was dislocated.

“You should come with us to the hospital to get that checked,” one of the paramedics told him as he approached from behind.

“Yeah…” Sawyer breathed, not caring about the pain anymore. Even though it was scary walking inside that building as it was crumbling down, it made him feel really good that it had a happy ending.


Before getting out of the car, when Sawyer pulled into the parking lot in front of the apartments' building where he lived, he checked his phone, which had been ringing for a while.

It was already ten in the morning and Lizbeth had called him several times. She must have heard. She worked in the University and lots of the students probably lived in that complex. He pressed the button to call her and let her know he was okay.

“Sawyer!” she screamed at the other end of the phone as she picked up.

“Hey, Babe…” He closed his eyes and threw his head against the back of the driver’s seat.

“I heard this morning when I came to work! Are you alright?” Her voice sounded an octave higher, which made him softly chuckle because it always did that whenever she was nervous. “What are you laughing at?” she asked, confused.

“It’s just… I love hearing your voice, it’s like a medicine to me,” he confessed as he slightly rotated his painful shoulder, his arm supported inside a sling.

“Are you okay?” Lizbeth’s voice quivered. “You weren’t answering and I got so scared…”

“Kitten, I’m fine, I promise.”

“Why didn’t you call me before?”

“Ryan has been badly injured and I was with him in the hospital… He lost so much blood… I thought he wouldn’t make it.”

“Oh! Fuck! How’s he doing now?”

“They took him to surgery and everything is fine now. He’s stable and he’ll survive. It’s Ryan, you know him.” Sawyer smiled.

“Yeah…We need to throw him a party or something when he gets out of the hospital,” she said. “God… I was so worried…” she added.

“I’m sorry, Babe.”

“It’s not like you did it on purpose.” He could sense her smile. “I get so afraid whenever you have to go to these accidents, but God… I’m so proud of you!”

Her voice tingled in her ears in a delicious way. He didn’t do his job to get praise or to be called a hero, he just did it because he loved feeling useful. He loved feeling that even if it was small what he did because he couldn’t change the world, he was changing the world of some people, but hearing her say those words puffed his chest. “Thank you, Kitten…”

“I’ll let you go back home so you can rest a little. And don’t worry about anything today, okay? I’ll go get the kids from school and then we’ll take care of you, how does that sound?”

Sawyer softly laughed. “That sounds great. I love you, Kitten.”

“I love you too.”

“See you later.”

“Yeah. Sweet dreams, Babe,” she whispered before hanging up.

He wanted to ask her about the possibilities of her being pregnant, but he knew it was a delicate topic for her and didn’t want to do it on the phone so he decided to wait until she came back.

Sawyer got out of the car and closed the driver’s door, only to open the trunk and get his bag out from it. I fucking need a shower, he thought when he saw the dirt covering his hands.

The nurses had taken good care of him in the hospital, but he hadn’t been able to take a shower yet and he felt sticky and stinky.

He locked the door and made his way to his apartment, but when he reached his floor he felt the need to jump out of a window. “What the fuck are you doing here? And how the fuck did you know I lived here?” he asked Maggie as he approached her.

“I wanted to talk to you…” she begged with watery eyes.

“Cut the bullshit!” He glared at her. His night had been rough enough and he didn’t need her to tell him any more lies. “I went to your apartment yesterday to ask for an explanation of why you were doing all this, and what did I find? That you were still seeing the bastard with whom you cheated on me. You fucked him so hard that you got injuries similar to those of someone that’s been raped. And he didn’t even know you were using him to get back at your fiancé. That’s so fucking ironic,” he scoffed bitterly, feeling the venom in his words poisoning his blood.

When he got to her apartment the day before, ready to tell her what he had found out and to ask her why she had done all that, the man she cheated on him with was there, yelling at her. They had been seeing each other from time to time —whenever she came back from Europe— since they hooked up for the first time when Maggie and Sawyer were still dating.

He was an ass that played around with several women at the same time, but finding out that Maggie asked him to be rough to put an innocent man into prison made him furious. Apparently, even that scumbag has his principles. Sawyer snorted at the memory.

“That’s not—”

“I don’t give a shit about any of this anymore! Just fucking drop the charges on that poor man and leave me and my family alone!”

“Sawyer, please… I—”

“I said I don’t care! You lied to get back at Nick because he’s still in love with Liz, you’ve been close to ruining everyone’s lives because of your fucking selfish reasons!” he growled, so angry that he didn’t mind if someone was listening to their conversation. “Fucking grow up!”

He used to be collected but what Maggie had done to all of them for whatever sick reasons she had, added to the horrible night he just went through, had him at the edge of losing his temper.

“Sawyer, I need you…” she cried while tears started to run down her cheeks. At any other moment of his life he would have bought it, but not anymore.

“You’ve destroyed what we had and your own life because you always take the wrong path, and I’m tired, I’m so fucking tired of this shit. You’re toxic, Maggie. So please, leave me alone once and for all!”

She stared at him without saying a word for a few seconds. Her sorrow and pain slowly turning into rage and other dark emotions he couldn’t decrypt. “You’ll regret this,” she simply stated before turning on her heels and striding away.

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