A Little Braver - Chapter 4
So, chapter 4 is finally here.
It has a few funny moments but it also has angst.
This fic has so much more angst that i originally planned.
Anyway... enjoy it.
The drive to the hospital did not take long but once inside they noticed the waiting room was swamped.
“Whitethorn, this is pointless,” she said when he placed her on an empty chair “we’ll be here for hours.”
“I don’t care, we are getting that knee checked.” His tone did not admit any protest from her.
Aelin grunted “I hate you.”
“Is that news? Tell me something I don’t know.” Rowan took a seat on the empty seat beside her then took her injured leg and lifted it on his lap. Aelin winced.
It was three hours later when Rowan started to loose his patience “that woman came after us and she went in already.” He protested a bit too loudly for Aelin’s taste. Why was he caring about her wellbeing all of a sudden?
“Maybe she is worse than a busted knee.” She shrugged but he glared at her.
“She walked into the A&E on her own two feet. You just dealt with that damn inferno with that busted knee.” He protested and the hint of pride in his voice moved something inside her.
“I don’t need the red carpet.”
“Some fucking attention for people who bust their asses to save other people lives would be appreciated.” His tone got a bit louder still. Rowan did not seem the type to cause a scene but he seemed a bit too annoyed and to be honest she did not know much about the guy. She just hoped his military training would kick in and restrain himself.
“Doctor save lives too.”
He grunted and stood and Aelin braced for the worst. She saw him walk with purpose to the reception desk with perfect military stride. She would have laughed if it wasn’t that she was scared of what he would do.
She saw him talk to one of the nurses behind the nurses station. A few times his arm pointed at her and she made herself small and invisible.
Then she went back spying on him and studied his posture and gasped. The man was flirting with the nurse. Stick up in the arse captain was flirting with the nurse to get her in early. She was dumbfounded. She could not believe that he had it in him.
He came back five minutes later with a smug face “Someone will come for you soon.”
Aelin’s mouth fell open “Did you just flirt with the nurse to have me seen earlier?”
“I did not such thing,” and he looked away, scanning the waiting room.
“She is looking over here. I think she is interested in you and is now wondering how it would feel to bag an airforce captain.”
Rowan huffed “not interested.”
“She is pretty.”
“Not my type…”
“Oh come on grampa, she could even play sexy nurse with you.”
Rowan rolled his eyes “you really are a menace.”
She was about to add a snarky remark when a doctor stopped in front of them “Aelin Galathynius?”
Aelin’s head snapped up “I am here.”
“I am doctor Yrene Westfall. Follow me.”
Westfall? Was she Chaol’s wife?
“Did you say Westfall? Is Chaol your husband?”
“Yes. Do you know him?”
Aelin nodded “I am a firefighter, we work a lot with the police. He was at the embankment fire tonight.”
“He told me, apparently it was hell. His own words.”
“It was bad.” Aelin stood and swore as sharp pain shoot from her knee up her leg.
“Why did you do that?” Rowan protested and lifted her again in his arms.
“You are making the nurse jealous.”
“Shut up and let’s follow the nice doctor.”
“Put her down here,” Yrene pointed at an empty bed.
Rowan placed her gently on the bed and stepped at the bottom of it. His hands behind his back.
Yrene lifted the leg of her trousers and had a look at her knee “This look quite bad, why did you wait this long to come to the hospital?”
“I was going to… but then city emergency and all and it slipped my mind.”
Rowan snorted and Aelin glared at him.
“And you walked all day on it?”
“You might have made things much worse.”
Aelin leaned back on the pillow and sighed. She knew and with the performance review on its way it had been very stupid of her.
“How did it happen?”
“We were in the middle of a drill this morning. The explosion happened, the shockwave made me loose my balance and I fell down the ladder face first and my left knee took the impact.”
“You might have broken your kneecap. I need to send you for an x-ray and see what is the situation.” She went away and came back five minutes later “Someone will come and get you soon. You captain, can wait here until she is back.”
Rowan nodded and pinched her big toe when he noticed her worried expression “Do you want me to come in and hold your hand?”
“Screw you, Whitethorn.”
He pinched the toe again and his lip quirked up in a tight attempt at a smile.
Aelin wondered if she’ll ever see him smile or even laugh.
The porter came and rolled her bed away. She snatched a last look at Rowan and saw him standing where her bed had been I’ll be here. She saw him mouth to her.
Rowan began pacing back and forth in a very nervous state. His phone pinged and saw a text from Lorcan asking for an update on behalf of her squad. He texted back saying she was getting an x-ray.
He sat down on the chair near where the bed was and took out his phone to scroll through the news of the fire at the warehouses. In one of the articles he saw a great picture of her. She was staring at the inferno in front of her and with her hand she was pointing at something, maybe giving an order. He saved the picture on his phone then went on reading the article flushing with pride at how the journalist had praised her for handling such an emergency with professionalism and doing a great jobs at keeping the victims to a very low level. Turned out they only had lost two workers. Considering what he had seen he was impressed because it could have been far, far worse. He read a few more articles and almost seethed with rage when a journalist had the courage to criticise the TFD for having a young girl in charge of such an emergency.
It was an hour later when Aelin and Yrene came back. Aelin’s face told him that the news was bad.
“Her kneecap is badly fractured. She will need surgery. I have contacted the orthopaedic surgeon to see if he can squeeze her in tomorrow. Then she will have to stay in the hospital for a few days. Once she gets home she can move around with crutches but it might take up to a month before she will be able to do rehab. The whole thing should last around three months if she cooperates.”
Rowan stared at Aelin and he saw her heartbroken expression.
Once Yrene excused herself saying she was going to get her a room, Rowan moved closer to her.
“Don’t. Don’t you even try and say what you are about to say. I do not need your pity.”
He knew that the idea of not being able to participate in the performance review was killing her. Gods he wanted to hug her again like in her office and offer comfort. But that was a skill he had always been bad at.
“Do you need anything?”
“Yes, being less fucking stupid.” She growled through gritted teeth “I knew that explosion was coming. I knew we had fucked up the exercise and let it run longer than meant to. Aedion and I had planned that explosion. I knew it and I still let it knock me off like a blasted newbie.”
She breathed deeply “I am too stupid to be a captain.”
No, he was not having that.
“Now you are talking shite.” He snarled back. He was not having her accusing herself os something like that. He took out his phone and opened the first article he read. The one with the great picture.
“Captain Galathynius has showed nerves of steel while handling a double fire that could have had catastrophic consequences. She masterfully deployed two teams to tackle emergency after emergency without ever backing down from the constant challenge. And when it seemed that the situation was taking a turn for the worst, she pulled a rabbit out of the hat and convinced the stiff necked airforce posh boys to join and help tackle a raging fire, far too big for three fire engines. Captain Galathynius and the two teams deserve more recognition for their incredible job. Far more than a pat on the back.
All the firefighters involved tonight had showed great heroism and excellent skills. Every day these men and women place their lives on the line to keep our city safe. The government should keep it in mind at his next budget review and find in itself to invest in money in services the city deeply deserves like firefighters, the police and the health services instead of flushing it down the drain to fund fancy planes built for destruction.”
“Uh…. He really does not like you guys.”
“I don’t care,” said Rowan quickly “What matters is what she said about you. She doesn’t think you are stupid. And I don’t think it either. This stiff necked posh boy thinks you are amazing.”
“I am not lying. Why would I? I agree with this woman. You were fucking amazing tonight. All of you. And yes, you deserve far more credit than what you will get.”
His eyes glistened with pride and his words had helped a bit ease her anger.
“So you think I am amazing?”
“I do.” His voice much softer all of a sudden.
Yrene came back in that moment and broke the spell. She had a feeling she and the captain were about to have a moment but the magic had passed.
“I have a room for you.” And she had a wheelchair with her.
Rowan grabbed Aelin again and lifted her into the wheelchair and offered to push her.
“Chaol was my saviour tonight,” she giggled while Rowan rolled the wheelchair along the corridor following the doctor.
“He knows I hate reporters. So as soon as he saw a few coming at me he came and saved me before I could punch them. Plus, he and his men did an outstanding job at crowd control. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you have people running terrified from a building on fire it can end badly. And they also kept an eye to all the curious monster who come and have a peek and film it to post it social media for a five minutes of glory. Police let us concentrate on the emergency without worrying about what’s happening in the background.”
“Thank you for telling me.” The woman smiled at her.
“Make sure you give him an extra cuddle tonight.”
Both Aelin and Yrene burst out laughing.
“I will reward him accordingly, captain.”
They finally reached the elevator and the three got in. Not long after they were in the room and Rowan lifted her in bed. Yrene left them to get her settled in.
“You need clothes, damn it.” He looked around him as if to find an answer in an hospital room.
“My house keys are at the station.”
“Fine I’ll go and get them and grab some clothes for you from your house. Give me the address.”
His face turned confused “why? You can’t stay in your uniform.”
“I am not having you in my house, going through my drawers and my clothes.”
Rowan sighed “tell me where you keep t-shirts and shorts and I will just go straight to that one. I am not a creep I swear.”
“Fine.” She texted him the address “my keys are in the black messenger bag in my locker. There is a small pocket at the front. They are attached to the hook. Actually take the whole bag with you. I have a charger and other stuff in there that I might need.”
“Ok, I’ll be back as soon as possible.”
He nodded and before leaving he turned once more “you could start calling me Rowan, by the way.”
“Thank you, Rowan.”
He left thinking that his name on her lips was the most beautiful sound ever.
He reached the fire station not long after. He met Ress in the corridor.
“Ress, isn’t it?”
The man nodded.
“She will need surgery. She is not happy as you could imagine.”
A tall man joined them a moment later. His uniform was white.
“This is chief Havilliard.” Said Ress.
So that was the young Havilliard.
“You must be captain Whitethorn.”
“Thank you for your assistance tonight.”
Rowan shook his head “it was Aelin’s idea. The credit goes to her. I just follow orders.”
“How is she by the way?” And Rowan could see concern in the man’s eyes.
“She will need surgery. Her knee is busted pretty badly. They are trying to book her for tomorrow. I am heading to her place to get her some clothes.”
“I will update the squad.” Dorian said “I will also try and beg the board to postpone the review. Aedion will be home tomorrow but he will be off for a week and Aelin looks like she will be out of commission for a while. And I need them to train the team. They are my golden duo.”
Rowan took an immediate liking to the chief.
Once Dorian took his leave, Ress took Rowan to their changing rooms and pointed to Aelin’s locker.
“Tell her that the team is behind her and that she was awesome tonight. Also let us know where she is in the hospital so we can come and visit.”
“Room 252 in the orthopaedic ward.”
“Thank you sir.”
Ress left him. He grabbed Aelin’s bag and his eyes spotted the pictures attached to the door and the walls. He saw some pictures with a man and he had a feeling his face was familiar. The photos portrayed a couple in love and for a very brief instant a very strange emotion he could not decipher set into him and then it quickly went away with the same speed it came.
He ignored it. Slammed the locker shut and left the station.
Fifteen minutes later he reached her house and let himself in. The house was gorgeous and very modern. He stepped into the living room and noticed the wall were painted a light yellow giving the room much more brightness. He smiled at the insane number of bookcases bursting with books. So, she was a book worm. Good, something to talk about if they had a chance to have a conversation that contained less insults and vitriol.
He walked to the door she had indicated and reached her bedroom and froze for a moment. He knew he had her permission but for an instant he felt as if he was invading her privacy.
The room was painted a pastel blue and a huge bed was was in the middle. At one end he noticed the drawer and walked to it and froze when he noticed there were two middle drawers.
Shit, she had said the middle drawer but which one. Damn, he had promised.
He opened the top one and slammed it shut when he saw the content. That was her underwear drawer. He turned and leaned against the piece of furniture. Bras… 38A she had said and now his treacherous brain was picturing the piece of clothing filled by…
He opened the other one and breathed relieved when he noticed t-shirts and shorts. Good. He grabbed a few of her TFD t-shirts and placed them in the duffel bag at the bottom of her bed.
His phone went off. It was Aelin.
“Gee, you sound grumpy.”
“What do you need m’lady?” His voice dripping with fake pleasantness.
“I am giving you permission to open the second drawer from the top and grab me some underwear as well, please.”
“You are kidding me.” Aelin could clearly hear the panic in his voice.
“Ro, I am not. I have an emergency and I will soon need new knickers. So yes, get in that drawer and grab me my underwear.”
His hand ran through his hair in a nervous gesture.
“Also, there is a small convenience store around the corner, could you please buy me tampons?”
Rowan almost choked.
“I am sorry what?”
“You heard me. I assume you had been with other women before. You know we get periods, right?”
“Fine, I will phone you back once I am in the shop. I have no idea what to buy.”
“Just don’t blush too much.”
And he could hear the grin in her voice.
He hung up and breathed deeply and opened the drawer. The selection was… incredible.
He picked a few sports bra thinking that for an hospital stay they would be the better option. Definitely the lacy one were not proper. He rummaged a bit and looked again for something more sober when all of a sudden he found in his hands something that had little or no use as underwear but his treacherous mind painted some very sexy pictures.
Damn, that was torture. He grabbed a nice selection of the sober pieces and closed the drawer from hell in relief. He stuffed everything in the bag and walked out, in desperate need of fresh air.
Next stop he drove to the convenience store and braced himself for the next task. He walked in and sneaked to the correct section feeling like a perv for lingering in a section where he clearly did not belong to. He looked at the boxes and he had no idea that there were so many choices. He phoned her.
“Oh, you are still alive.”
“I am in the shop. Which one do you need?” He almost growled.
“Tampons.” She said matter of factly.
“I am a bloke, Fireheart. I have no idea of what you are talking about.”
He heard her sigh “the ones that looks like bullets.”
“Ok, which type?”
“At the bottom they have guidelines with drops. One with two drops and one with three. Actually make it two each.”
“Does the brand matter?”
“I am not fussed.”
“Okay. I got it.”
“I owe you another one.”
“That’s two now.”
“Fine, fine, Buzzard.”
“I’ll tell you later, get your arse back here.”
He hang up and had a look at the brands. She had said she was not fussed but he had decided to get her the expensive ones, hoping it meant they were of a better quality as well.
He walked to the counter to pay “For my wife,” he muttered embarrassed, paid and got out quickly.
She owed him big time. Not for the water drop but for this.
When he got back to the hospital he went to her room and dumped the bag on her bed and moved away from her.
“Gee someone is on edge. Did my underwear scare you? The fearless pilot got frightened by lace.”
He scoffed an ignored her.
“Seriously man, never had a girlfriend or a date wearing sexy lingerie for you?”
“Well, so what’s problem?”
He sat heavily on the chair “I was probably dating the person at the time, which implies other things.” She could still see the embarrassment in his features “you and I are just work partners. It was very weird.”
“Well, at least now you know how big is a 38A.”
The top of his ears turned red. She loved so much to rile him up.
She had look at what he had brought her and was very happy when she noticed he had picked sports bra. He had actually put some thought in it. Then her eyes caught the boxes of tampons “Rowan, these are very expensive.”
“I just thought… you know… better quality, perhaps? More comfortable? I don’t know. Again, I am a bloke.”
She wished she could stand and kiss him. He had been amazing. She never had put Sam through such torture. He would have probably died at the idea of buying her feminine products.
“I am very grateful. For everything.”
He gave her a smile. It never reached his eyes but the effort was there her heart fluttered at the precious little show of emotion.
He stood “I’ll let you change.” He made to walk away but stopped when he noticed her face.
“You need to use the facilities I guess.”
He lifted her in his arms and walked into the bathroom and deposited her on the loo.
“Let me know when you are done.” He left the room and walked to the corridor and sat on a chair. He took his phone and started browsing some old news about firefighters. He was still thinking about the man he saw in the picture in her locker. He had seen that face in the news.
He searched for a while until he found an article about a fireman called Sam Cortland. He opened and began to read. Shit. Sam and Aelin had been an item for five years and according to the article they had been engaged. He had been a captain at west station. He got killed while fighting a fire in a warehouse. Shit. His hands shook. They had in common more than just books. He pocketed the phone and walked back to the room.
“Are you okay?” He called through the door.
He leaned against the wall and tried to calm down. It had been just over a year. Was she okay?
“I am ready.” He shoot off the wall and opened the door of the bathroom and saw her in her TFD t-shirt. He lifted her in his arms and he never would have wanted to let go of her.
“Back to your bed.”
Her arms were around his neck and it felt as if she lingered like that a bit longer on purpose.
Or maybe he had just imagined.
“Do you need painkillers? Something to eat?”
Aelin shook her head “I am officially fasting. My surgery has been scheduled for tomorrow at 9.”
“I am a bit nervous.”
He sat down on the bed, just in front of her. Her hands were on her lap. He took her hand by grasping just the tip of the fingers “I can stay with you. I can be here when you wake up, or I can call someone else whose company you enjoy more.”
Aelin squeezed his hand back. She wished she had the strength to tell him that somehow she had enjoyed his company very much in the recent hours. But things were still very weird between them and she was positive he still did not like her.
Then she looked up and saw his eyes staring at her and realised that maybe she was wrong. In those beautiful green eyes of his she had noticed a spark of emotion, albeit for a fleeting moment.
“Keep me company, please.” He nodded and sat back on the chair.
They chatted amicably. She had told her about the station and her friends, then he reported that Lorcan was officially smitten by Elide and the two started making plans to set up the two of them.
At her first yawn, Rowan ordered her to go to bed. He tucked her in and went back to his seat.
When he woke up the next morning it was pretty early. He stood and stretched his back, sore from a night asleep on a chair. Aelin was still asleep so he sneaked out of the room and went in search of the cafeteria for a coffee. Then he had a look at himself in one of the doors and noticed he was still in uniform, now a mess, and a shadow of stubble on his face. His academy CO would have his head for walking around in such horrible state while in uniform. He shrugged, got his coffee and went back to the room. Jotted down a note for Aelin. He needed to go home, take a shower and get fresh clothes. He would be back by the time she returned from surgery.
On his way home he phoned Lorcan to give him an update on his whereabouts. He asked also for a few days off to help Aelin and the man agreed. Rowan snorted. Being in love was doing miracles on the old bastard.
He got home, relaxed, took quite a long shower and eventually he had breakfast and caught up with the news and saw that the big fire was still making the headlines. Then a photo caught his attention. Apparently the community had turned in support of the fire stations. They had flocked in front of the government building protesting in light of the new spending budget. Many of signs called for a cut in military spending and to give due value to corps such as firefighters and police. He realised that he would have probably been there as well if it wasn’t that his presence would guarantee him being kicked out of the force immediately. He had been disgusted when he saw how much the airforce got for the repairs. So much more than asked and then Aelin and the guys had to beg for a second engine. Yes, he was in the airforce but he did not agree with the amount of money that often got thrown at them. He eventually got dressed and headed back to the hospital but once he arrived he spotted a few reporters.
He tried to walk unnoticed, but alas, his silver hair was not the most inconspicuous of traits.
One woman blocked his path and flung the microphone at him “Captain, how does it feel to save the day?”
Rowan looked at the woman puzzled. How on earth did they know who he was? He had been on a plane the night of the fire.
“You and your team stopped the fires. Without you, the firefighters would have failed.”
Anger. Fiery anger surged through him in a savage wave.
“I think you have read the news wrong.” He tried to calm down “The real heroes are the firefighters,” he shouted for all the reporters to hear “They are the ones who put their lives in danger. They are the ones who jumped into an inferno saving as many workers as possible.” He looked at all of them “over an hour. They were at it for over an hour, with no break, no one to cover for them or take their place. Captain Galathynius supervised the whole thing while injured and barely being able to stand. And you give all the credit to us?” He roared “We showed up because the captain had the amazing idea of using us. We swooped in at the end of the game, when one of the building was almost off. We just dropped some water and you call us heroes?” His hand were now in tight fists “I flew one of those planes and I do not want glory. I do not deserve glory. East and west station do. The police do.” And he walked away furious. Bastards. He hoped that someone passed the interview live, so his real words would pass on. He did not trust reporters.
He ran upstairs and when he arrived he noticed Aelin in bed and half asleep. He gave her a big smile.
“Hey you, tight-pants.”
He chuckled and sat beside her “how do you feel?”
“My hand moves funny.” She said moving her hand in front of her face and Rowan realised she was still quite drugged up from the surgery.
She was quite funny.
“Your hair is white.”
He brushed his hair with his hand “do you like it?”
She gave him a goofy smile “you are sooooo pretty.”
“Oh thank you. No one has called me pretty in a very long time.” He took her hand in his.
“I have a secret” she said and placed a finger in front of her mouth.
“Can I hear it?”
“Yes. But don’t tell the captain.” Who did she think she was talking to?
“I won’t, I promise.” He played along.
“I think I like him. A lot.”
For a brief instant something flashed in her eyes and Rowan had a feeling she was quite lucid.
He jumped off the bed in terror.
“I like him a lot, but he hates me.”
Sadness. That was definitely sadness in her voice. He took a step back.
She turned her head to the side.
“I really, really do.” And he saw her close her eyes.
He took another step back and walked out of the room. Once outside he ran to the car and leaned against it closing his eyes. Her words kept ringing in his ears. And her voice. It had changed so much when she uttered those words. It was her. She was fully lucid when she said it. He placed a hand on his heart and found it racing. He wanted to go back to her and say that he did not hated her. That he… he had no idea what he felt. He groaned and jumped in the car and decided to go for a drive. He had to clear his head.
Lysandra found Aelin with her head turned to the window and she thought she had heard her friend crying.
“Hey you…” Lysandra sat at her side and caressed her friend’s head “what’s wrong?”
Aelin sniffled loudly “I think I have said something stupid.”
“More than usual?” But when Aelin did not laugh she realised it must have been real and bad.
“I woke up from surgery and I felt funny for a while. I think captain Whitethorn was here. I am not sure. And I think…” she stopped, sobbing a bit more “I think I told him I like him.” She finally turned her face to Lysandra “I remember his terror and then he left.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I think the drugs were wearing off and I felt a bit more lucid. I think it was him.”
“He hates me so much that he ran away.” Aelin resumed sobbing heavily “am I such a horrible person?”
Lysandra hugged Aelin tightly and cursed the man. If she got her hands on him he would be a dead man. Or she could unleash Aedion on him. He was just as protective of Aelin.
“He is an idiot. A big tall idiot.” Lys brushed Aelin’s cheek “you need to rest now. You just had surgery.”
“At home. Sore and bored already. The doctor gave him a week off but he is not happy. Well, you know him.”
“I heard Dorian mentioning that he might try to get the review postponed. It’s not fair on you guys.”
Aelin sighed “I will still be out.”
“I know, but at least Aedion will be there. One of you at least.” Lysandra reassured her.
Aelin put the tv on and gasped when the tv showed Rowan. It was just outside the hospital.
“What the fuck?”
“Put the volume up,” said Lysandra.
“They were at it for over an hour, with no break, no one to cover for them or take their place. Captain Galathynius supervised the whole thing while injured and barely being able to stand. And you give all the credit to us?” She heard him raise his voice“We showed up because the captain had the amazing idea of using us. We swooped in at the end of the game, when one of the building was almost off. We just dropped some water and you call us heroes?” His hand were not in tight fists “I flew one of those planes and I do not want glory. I do not deserve glory. East and West station do. The police do.” Aelin saw him walk away and she had a feeling that it was when he came back to her. He had normal clothes on. When he took her at the hospital he still had the uniform on.
“That is definitely not the speech of a man who hates you.”
“Lys, not helping.”
Aelin flipped through the channels to see the interview again.
“Don’t think too much about him.”
“Yeah,” Aelin stared at the tv “no worth it, right?”
Lys kissed her head “Babe I need to go home and tend to Aedion. I don’t want to leave him alone for too long. I know the guys are planning to come as soon as they are off shift, which will be tomorrow morning.”
“Go, I will be fine.” She patted her hand and gave her a tight smile “go and look after Aedion.”
Once Lysandra was out of the room she grabbed her phone and texted Rowan. She waited an hour and tried to phone and realised his phone was off.
“Fine, message received.”
Rowan had driven all the way to the coast to Ilium. It had taken him two hours but it had been worth it. He had spent the afternoon sitting on the beach, his phone switched off. He lay down in the sand and closed the eyes, enjoying the peace of the beach. He almost thought that he’d love to take Aelin there but as soon as his brain said the name he had been ignoring for the past two hours his mood was soured again.
He had fled. Like a coward. She just had surgery and he had left her on her own because he had an issue dealing with his feelings. He was the worst human being ever existed.
Was it so wrong if she was in love with him?
His mind flashed him a name. A name he had tried to bury in the depths of his mind.
He groaned in frustration and stood and started walking on the sand along the beach. The place was beautiful.
He wandered until it was late then decided to go and find a room for the night. He was not in the mood to go back to Orynth. Then he went for dinner and finally dragged himself to a pub. Alcohol. He definitely needed a drink. Something that he hadn’t enjoyed in a very long time. Damn he was so boring. How could anyone be in love with him?
He had a few whiskies in one shot and the liquor burned his throat. He was not used anymore and the booze already started spreading a welcomed numbness through his body and mind. Good, oblivion is what he wanted.
He ordered two more whiskies and chugged them down again in one single motion.
He looked at the tv behind the counter and he discovered the news were passing his interview. He lowered his head and realised straight away it was a stupid idea. His silver hair stood out like a sore thumb.
“I think you look prettier in person.” Said a voice at his side, then he felt a pair of hands on his arm.
He turned his head and there was a woman at his side. Smiling sensually at him.
“Well, you need glasses.” He turned his head again and kept watching the tv ignoring the woman.
“I am Remelle.”
“Good for you.” He ate a couple of the peanuts on the small plate on the counter.
“Why is such a good looking man all alone in a place like this, drinking whisky shots?”
“None of your business.” She moved closer and her hand traced the length of his arm. He had a t-shirt on and his tattoo was on display.
“I love your tattoo.” Her fingers traced the lines of it.
Rowan got off the chair “I am sorry, but I am not interested. Not in the mood and you are being very rude.”
“I can help you make forget about her. You look like pining about some mysterious woman”
Rowan had enough. He stormed out of the pub and ran all the way back to the beach and fell on his knees. He looked up at the dark sky and then closed his eyes.
He had feelings for Aelin. Somehow his treacherous heart had decided to play tricks on him and make him feel again. Something he had forbidden himself from doing for a while. But Aelin had struck him dumb since day one with her big mouth, her defiance. The woman had fire in her and a part of him felt irremediably pulled to her, no matter how much he tried to deny it. He confessed to himself that he had enjoyed fussing over her, looking after her and even try to cheer her up when she had been down. He had told her the truth, he was in awe of her, of what she had done and he hadn’t been in awe of anyone in a very long time.
He had feelings for her, big damn feelings and all he could do was flee instead of facing them. But he was not ready yet. That was his biggest fear. That’s why he had ran out of the room, because her admission had touched a part of him that hadn’t healed yet. Just like her he had loved and lost everything. His feelings were just budding. He had better repress them before it got worse. It was better for both of them. He was positive she deserved someone better than him.
Rowan sighed and sat in the sand in silence, staring at the sky until the fog in his mind started to clear. Eventually he dragged his pitiful arse back to his hotel and crashed in bed fully clothed.
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A Little Braver - Chapter 3
Here we are with ch. 3
This one has some action and i hope it’s even remotely believable. it has been a hard one to write.
There is a bit of development for our two idiots.
And well... Rowan loves to fuss....
It was the following morning, and Rowan was in the car with Lorcan on their way to the fire station. They had decided not to call. He had a feeling that Aelin would have refused a meeting with him out of spite.
He parked the car on the street as the previous day and when he noticed smoke he realised they were probably having another drill. Shit, he should have called. She was busy with the performance review as well.
“Is the building on fire?”
Rowan shook his head “they are training. The tower over there is used to run drills.”
They walked in the main yard and Rowan pulled Lorcan to the side in order not to distract the team.
The truck was in front of the tower and all the hoses were deployed and same for the ladder. One man, Nox if he remembered correctly was at the very top of it. Aedion looked in charge, Ansel was near the truck with a very nervous looking Luca and they both were in charge of the hoses and the water. The rest of the group was not there and Rowan assumed they were inside. She was inside.
“Where is your fierce Captain?”
“Inside.” Replied Rowan without removing his eyes from the scene in front of him. He looked up at the top of the ladder and felt sick. As a pilot he was used to altitudes but in a different way. And although the man at the top of it was fully harnessed he still felt queasy at the scene. Then his heart jumped when he noticed her. She appeared at the window with a dummy, a victim. She passed it to Nox on the ladder with an agility that impressed him, then she went over the window ledge and climbed down the ladder with swiftness. And he laughed. He had helped her climb off the small jet ladder not knowing that she was used to far worse. She kept surprising him. She jumped off the last two rungs of the ladder and ran to Aedion for probably an update. Her mask pulled on her head.
He heard some radio chatter but did not manage to catch the message but guessed it was not good as Aelin sprinted into the building. A moment later Aedion shouted an order and he saw both Ansel and Luca concentrate the flow of water to another point of the building.
“I think the wind has shifted.” Muttered Rowan clenching his fists in a nervous gesture. Something had gone wrong.
Ren ran out of the building and both Lysandra and Elide ran to him when they saw him collapse exhausted on his knees after dropping off his dummy. A moment later he stood again sending the paramedics away.
How long had they been at it?
He turned to Lorcan and noticed that the man was staring at Elide with interest.
A moment later Aelin reappeared with a dummy on her shoulders, she dropped it on the ground in front of Aedion. Ress and Brullo followed a soon after with two more dummies and he saw Brullo lifting six fingers to Aelin. They still had six dummies to save and there were already four on the ground. The three disappeared again and his terror came back.
It was and half an hour later when the ten dummies were finally all out and Ress and Brullo had carried the last one but no sign of Aelin. Rowan moved a step closer.
Aedion called her over the radio but the silence was killing him. At the third call Ress pulled back on his equipment and dashed back into the building ignoring Aedion’s orders to stand down. When he was younger he did something like that. His wingman had got stuck with a jet on his tail and could not shake the enemy off while chasing another plane. Rowan had ignored his CO’s order to stand down and clear his share of foes, and went to give help to his mate. He caught one hell of a reprimand for that escapade of his.
He snapped back to reality when he heard an explosion ripple through the building and the fire flashed stronger for an instant. Everyone shouted apart from Aedion. Rowan wandered if that was part of the exercise as well.
“That was savage,” commented Lorcan.
Finally two figures appeared from the smoke. A badly limping Aelin was leaning against Ress. His heart stopped.
Lysandra and Elide ran to her and the three helped her to the ambulance.
“Do they always have an ambulance or only when they do drills?” Asked Lorcan following the scene in fascination.
“I did some research and apparently each firehouse has a set of EMTs as well. All firefighters are trained in basic medical emergencies help but they cannot concentrate on the medical side while helping with the emergency so if the call requires medical assistance like a fire or an accident, they are followed by an ambulance.” Rowan pointed to the two women “the taller of the two is Lysandra. She is the paramedic in charge. She is the senior one and the one making the medical decisions. The other one is Elide her partner.”
His tension lifted a bit when he saw Aelin standing, she removed her heavy jacket and took the water bottle Lysandra offered her.
She looked exhausted, there was no way she would have time for him.
Her head snapped in his direction as if she felt his stare in her.
With a heavy limp she made her way to him and Lorcan.
“Captain, Commodore.” She said with tired voice.
“That was one scary drill.” Confessed Rowan staring at her. Her face was covered in soot and her blue eyes stood out like beacons. Gods, even covered in soot she could take his breath away.
“Were you worried about me?” Challenge in her tone. She was definitely still mad at him.
Aelin turned to look at the training tower, now completely extinguished.
“That was calculated. It was meant to happen after a certain amount of time. Only Aedion and I usually know about these things. They are meant to keep us on our toes. The drill today should have finished well before the explosion. But a few things did not go as planned. But that’s how things go in a real fire.”
“You should sit.” He told her. She had limped all the way to him.
“I am fine, I had worse. I don’t need coddling.” She looked at him “why are you two here, by the way? I don’t remember getting in touch with you.” Her tone was harsh.
“It’s my fault, captain. I asked captain Whitethorn to take me here. I wanted to talk about some of the ideas you sent me yesterday by email.”
“I had to do so. Captain Whitethorn seems to have misplaced the materials I gave him. Quite rude of him, after I spent an afternoon working on it.”
Lorcan looked at Rowan as if to say, what did you do to piss her off so much.
“I’ll make sure he doesn’t do that anymore.”
Aelin glared at the captain “take your CO to my office and wait for me. I need to clean up.” And she limped away without giving the two men any more attention.
Rowan walked Lorcan to her office and the man slapped his neck “what the heck did you do? The woman is fucking furious with you.”
Rowan sat down on the chair and ignored Lorcan.
“Do you know anything about the other EMT? Elide?”
Rowan’s head snapped in Lorcan’s direction at the comment “Are you kidding me?”
“She is cute.”
Rowan shook his head in disbelief.
“As if you don’t have the hots for the captain. You were nervous as hell while she was inside that inferno and only relaxed once she was out. And I have seen how you looked at her today. Have all the sex you want you two, just don’t fuck this up to satisfy your needs.”
Rowan stood and left the office. Once outside he leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. Lorcan was right. He had to keep it professional. No matter how he felt drawn to her. The project was far more important.
“Do you hate my office so much that you came outside for a nap?”
Rowan’s eyes snapped open. Aelin was in front of him. All clean and in her blue captain uniform. It was short sleeved and he noticed scars on her arms and other signs that clearly were burnt marks.
“Move your arse inside, sleeping beauty.”
Rowan peeled away from the wall and followed her inside and took back his place on the chair he had vacated.
“Sorry to keep you waiting Commodore. Had you phoned we could have arranged a convenient time. I don’t know if our esteemed captain had the good sense to tell you that we are due a performance review in three weeks and we are quite busy at the moment.”
“He did, but I was the one who had pushed. This visit was entirely my decision.”
“So I assume it’s important.”
Lorcan nodded “I have received a confirmation by my superiors that the works can go ahead. All of them.”
A huge smile appeared on Aelin’s face and Rowan almost melted at the sight.
Lorcan extracted a letter from inside his jacket “this is the budget I have been given for all the needs to be done.” He passed the letter to Aelin.
She took it and smiled again “It seems like you begged quickly and pretty well.”
“I just explained to them the gravity of the situation and of what happened. I might have threatened them to call the press and reveal the real reason behind the fire. That made them listen.” He leaned back in his chair with a smug expression “such a scandal might reach the news, and then the government. If then the government caught whiff of how badly its budget was spent, well, let’s say the airforce might find itself with a lower budget at the next revision. And in my position I need to learn to play the political game as well. And I am quite goos at it.”
“As long as it got us the authorisations we needed I have no qualms on how you used your powers.”
“I hope the captain mentioned that if we get called for deployment we will have to drop all training. That’s why I was going to suggest if we can prioritise my pilots. So we know that it’s done. The ground staff stays behind so there is no urgency there.”
“I can’t see any problems in that, sir. Will you be joining us as well?”
“I thought I would, if you don’t mind.”
In his seat Rowan stared at the interaction and could not believe that Lorcan was actually charming her. He was speechless.
“Well, captain,” said Lorcan standing up “the captain and I will leave you in peace to rest. I apologise again for coming unannounced, I just felt it was something that had to be told in person.”
“I agree.” She stood shakily and Rowan almost jumped forward to grab her but she used the table to steady herself. She extended her hand and Lorcan returned the handshake. She gave him a smile and ignored Rowan altogether.
The two men left. She was about to sit down again when Rowan rushed back in her office.
“I am sorry, okay? I was trying to make a joke and I clearly failed. Humour has never been my stronger point. I am sorry. I had no intention to offend you.” He paced back and forth nervously. Aelin leaned against the desk heavily and stared at him.
“You are fierce, and fearless and I am in awe.” He fully turned to her, facing her “I don’t think for a second that you are a brat or a menace.”
Aelin finally put him out of his misery and smiled at him. Rowan sighed in relief.
“You are forgiven, captain.”
Rowan moved closer to her, going around the desk and sitting just beside where she was leaning “I think Lorcan has his eyes set on Elide.”
Aelin’s head snapped so fast that she lost balance and landed against him. Rowan’s arm flew around her to hold her in place “Easy.”
Aelin winced and she noticed Rowan’s worried gaze on her.
“You should really rest. Or at least sit down.”
Aelin nodded and sat down “so, tell me everything.”
Rowan sat back on the desk just in front of her “during your drill he spent the whole time staring at her. And while we waited for you, he asked me if I knew anything about her and admitted that he found her cute.” Rowan stopped “coming from Lorcan it’s very high praise.”
Aelin leaned back on the chair “he might be her type to be honest, but I need to investigate.”
She took out her phone from her pocket “give me your mobile number, Whitethorn.
He rattled out his number and she saved it under Pain in my arse.
“Hey,” he complained at the name.
“Until I find a better nickname.”
“What about my name?”
She shook her head “take it or leave it.”
As a protest he took his phone and changed her name from Captain Aelin to brat and showed it to her.
“Now we are even.”
Aelin grabbed his phone and changed her name “this is better.”
“My Queen?” He asked “high opinion of yourself I see?”
She giggled and a rebel lock of hair came loose and he almost reached to place it behind her ear but stopped himself. Boundaries.
“I have a better one,” and took his phone back, typed something and showed it to her.
“It’s perfect. You are a firefighter, when you are mad you are as scary as that fire out there today,” and he pointed at the tower in the yard “and you have a heart that burns with passion.”
Aelin stared at him incapable of saying anything.
“My mum used to call me like that.” She admitted “exactly for the last same reason you said. She said that even as a toddler I always had my ideas clear and I was always a little passionate brat about what I loved.” She felt tears sting her eyes but she took a deep breath and stopped them from spilling. She could not cry in front of him “No one ever called me that apart from her. Not even Aedion knew about the nickname.” She looked away from him for a moment.
“I can go back to My Queen if this makes you sad.”
Aelin reached for the hand leaning on his knee and gently grabbed his fingers “No, please. I would love you to call me like that.” And the tears eventually came and Rowan did the only thing his instincts told him to do. He pulled to her in a hug and let her sob against his chest. While it lasted he enjoyed the feeling of her against him, his arms holding her and the smell of her enveloping him.
“I am sorry,” she said once she was done and pulled back “I had a long day and I am in a lot of pain.”
He lowered his arms “you should go home.”
“No,” she shook her head “I have far too much stuff to do. I’ll just ask Lys to give me something for the pain. I will be okay tomorrow.”
“Ok,” he yielded “let me know when you are home. You have my number now. Just a text.”
She rolled her eyes at him.
“Please.” And before he knew it, his hand reached for the strand of hair and pulled behind her ear. He might have lingered a bit too long but she leaned into the touch and closed her eyes for a second.
Then they both jerked away from the contact.
“Sorry.” He stood “I should go, Lorcan is probably waiting for me.”
“Yeah… sure…” she felt a savage blush rise on her face.
Then he left.
Once he was out of the door, she grabbed her phone and texted Lysandra: girls meeting.
By the time she hobbled to the ambulance, she noticed that Lysandra, Elide and Ansel were already sitting in the back of the vehicle with their usual stash of chocolate biscuits.
She sat down and groaned in pain.
“You should go and get the leg checked. I am just a paramedic. If you injure yourself badly before the review the station will kill itself.” Commented Lysandra noticing the state of her friend.
“I will be fine.”
“Is this meeting about your hot captain friend?”
Lysandra grabbed a biscuits “had sex yet? Is he good? He must be. He is probably a god in bed.”
“No,” shouted Aelin “and, do I need to remind you that you are in a committed relationship with Aedion?”
“I know. And I still love him. Nothing stops me from making the eyes wander and fantasise a bit.”
“Anyway, no to the first one and I have no idea about the second.”
“What’s stopping you?” Asked Ansel while picking the chocolate chips for her biscuits and eating them one at a time.
“The fact that I have known him for three days and that we spent the majority of them fighting?”
“Angry sex can be fun, and wild.” The woman grinned.
“The guy doesn’t even like me.” But her mind wondered back to the moment in her office, the hug and the hair.
“The important question is how do you feel about him?” Asked Elide.
Aelin sighed “I don’t know.” She finally grabbed a biscuit “he is hot. So, so hot.” Aelin took a bite and used the time for munching to think about how she felt “I really don’t know how I feel about him.” She looked away “but the main problem is that I don’t think I am ready. I can’t get involved again with another man. Especially not with another one who does a dangerous job. Losing Sam almost broke me. I can’t go through that a second time.”
“So you are never going to date anymore?” Asked Ansel.
“No, I will just date a guy with a very boring job. Like an accountant.”
“That is not a guarantee that you will have a happy relationship. What if you spend five years with the guy, then he cheats on you because he got bored and breaks your heart?”
Lysandra had a point, damn it.
“Have you tried to show him that you were interested?” This time it was Elide.
“No, I was too busy shouting at him.”
“Less shouting and more shagging, darling.” Was Ansel’s suggestion.
Lysandra and Elide chuckled and Aelin rolled her eyes.
“Also, if Aelin doesn’t act on it can I? I don’t have airforce Captain in my list.”
“No!” Shouted the other three women in unison.
“His squadron will come here for training, you can take your pick.”
From the little bit she had seen about Fenrys she had a feeling that he and Ansel would get along like a house on fire.
“Speaking of pilots,” Aelin turned to Elide “did you notice the man with Captain Whitethorn today?”
“Oh my gods yes. The tall dark haired hot as hell man? Hell yeah.”
Aelin laughed. She knew the man was Elide’s type.
“He is Whitethorn’s CO. His boss. He was here to discuss some things about our project. Anyway…”
“A bird told me that he noticed you as well.”
She saw Elide blush savagely.
“He is coming back when the squadron comes for training. We can set you up.”
“NO.” shouted Elide.
“You girls know my past. What happened in one of my foster families. Because of that I never had a boyfriend which means I never….”
The girls knew about her past. She had lost her parents when she was twelve. She was sent to foster care and eventually a family adopted her. However the family was not what she hoped. The father was abusive and violent toward his wife and eventually he turned his attention to her in the worst possible way. Because of that Elide had always struggled with men and never had a boyfriend.
“He is good looking but I don’t know anything about him. I can’t…”
Aelin hugged her friend “you don’t have to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable doing.”
Elide pulled back “I am thirty and I never had anything like what you had with Sam or what you have with Aedion and whatever Ansel does. I want to experience it so badly.”
“What if we help you?’ Suggested Lys.
“I can investigate a bit more about Lorcan. I have an inside contact and if he is not worthy of you… well… we’ll find you a better candidate.”
“If he is worthy, and interested as Rowan affirmed, we can help you with what happens next.”
“We are going to be here for you.”
In that instant the dispatch alarm went off.
“Fuck it.” Said Ansel.
Both fire engine and ambulance were needed on the scene.
Aelin hobbled to Aedion “I am coming. I will not be inside. I will stay outside and direct the show. Just let me come.”
“As if I could stop you.”
When she struggled to get on the truck Aedion pushed her inside.
“Isn’t that the warehouse down at the river near the embankment?”
Aedion looked at the map “Shit. If the fire has spread to the embankment, that’s an area always full of people.”
“If the fire has spread we might have to call west station. They have two engines.” Added Ress.
“Speaking of which.” Continued Aedion “you are super buddy with Dorian, any chance we can get a budget boost to expand our station and get a second engine?”
“I have a meeting with him on Friday. He has been quite busy taking over his new job.”
They arrived at the scene five minutes later and it was far, far worse than expected.
The police had cordoned off a good part of the area, keeping people away.
Aelin got off the truck but almost ended on her knees when her left leg touched the ground. She hobbled behind Aedion. She called dispatch and asked to send west station to support them.
In the distance she spotted Chaol and joined him “what’s the situation?”
“Shouldn’t you be at home?”
“Chaol, what is the situation?”
“Alarm went off twenty minutes ago. Some witnesses reported an explosion and after that the fire had gotten worse. It seems out of control.” He continued “we had no idea if the warehouse was occupied. We evacuated the area and sent away all the passersby. We closed the embankment and the boats down the Florine have stopped for now.”
She patted him on the shoulder and walked away. Reached Aedion and recounted the situation to him “The explosion makes me think the worst. You are our explosive expert.”
“Be safe, please.”
In that instant Aelin got a confirmation from dispatch that west Station was on its way with the two engines and another ambulance “Lieutenant, Captain, come in.”
“Aedion, go ahead.”
“Dispatch confirmed west is coming with two units. We got your back.”
“Copy that, captain.”
Then she turned to Lys and Elide “West is coming with an ambulance as well.”
All of a sudden an explosion rocked the sky and when Aelin lifted her eyes she discovered in horror that the fire had now spread to the attached warehouse.
“Fuck, fuck and fuck.”
They heard people screaming and running away from the building on fire.
“Chaol, I need crowd control,” she shouted to the policeman.
He nodded and took a few guys with him to help.
West arrived a few minutes later.
Thomas, the tall blonde captain of the station walked to her quickly “what are you doing outside?”
“Leg injury. I am directing the show.”
“This does not look pretty.”
Aelin shook her head “two explosions, two buildings involved.” She pointed at them “the second one went up just before you got here. Police is on crowd control and embankment is closed and empty.”
“Where do you want us?”
“Take one full team in the second building with you.” She ordered “then split the second team. Send some men in with my team and take the remaining with you. Have one engine with water on the second warehouse and send the other one here. The fire in this one if far worse.”
“Thomas, be safe.”
He winked at her and ran back to his teams to give instruction on how to proceed.
“Lieutenant, captain west is here. Backup should be in in a few minutes.”
The radio crackled for a moment “this is a warehouse for the river boats. There is wood everywhere and I can smell solvents.”
Aelin swore. Of course. They would paint and more to treat the boats.
“Give me good news, please. It’s hell in here.”
“Be careful moving around. Chances your warehouse belongs to the embankment as well. Aedion smelled solvents.”
Aelin heard Thomas curse over the radio “exactly my feeling.”
Her phone in her pocket went off and when she saw it was Rowan she cursed. What did he want?
“Not now, captain. I am in the middle of something.” And she hang up.
With the corner of her eyes she noticed Lys, Elide and the other paramedics running to help some of the injured.
“Lys,” she called “do you need more units?”
“We don’t know yet.
“Tell the trucks to intensify the water. It’s an inferno in here. I found an entire room full of turpentine. This was a goner. But I definitely smelled it. I found another room — “ the conversation cut off and another explosion happened.
“Aedion come in.”
Silence over the radio.
“Aedion, anyone form east come in.”
“I heard. We found two closed rooms but we did not opened them. It stinks of turpentine here as well. Evacuating now and trying to take as many civilians as possible with us.”
“Aedion come in, please.” Panic was starting to rise in her voice as well.
“East team report in.”
Thomas was at her side a moment later “The fire in the second building will be under control soon, but it looks like the first building is in pretty bad shape.”
“How long will it take for stations outside Orynth to send help?”
He heart sank when Thomas shook his head.
“Three trucks are not enough for this inferno.”
Then she had an idea. She grabbed her phone and called Rowan. He answered at the first ring.
“Whitethorn shut up and listen to me. I need a favour, a big one. I am down at the embankment. It’s an inferno down here. Three trucks are not enough. We need air support. I need to get you arse in action and find a way to give us enough helicopters to fly over us and dump water on the fires. And I need it yesterday.”
“Copy that.” A pause “are you safe?”
“Yeah.” She looked at the fire “don’t let me down.”
He hung up the phone and she hoped he could pull a trick to save them all.
“I am going in,” said Thomas “ I’ll take my team. We need to try.”
“Find them, please.”
He patted her shoulder and went to gather his men and went back inside.
The pain in her leg had reached unbearable levels and she felt as if she could pass out.
“Are you okay?” Asked Ren noticing her in pain.
“Don’t worry about me. Worry about the water.”
“Thomas, remember not to open any doors. You risk giving turpentine more oxygen.”
“We found some factory workers, Ansel is taking them out.”
“I’ll have EMTs ready.’
She was turning to go to Lysandra when she found herself face to face with reporters.
“Are you in charge? Can you give us an update?”
Aelin counted till ten to avoid punching the bastards “This is a restricted area, I need to ask you to move away.”
Luckily in that instant Chaol ran there and took the reporters away and pushed them behind the cordoned off area.
“This is terrifying.”
“Thanks for the support you guys.”
“I love pushing away reporters. Such a fun job. You do your magic. I will keep an eye on them.”
Ansel cam out in that instant, a man on her shoulder a woman holding onto her and two more following her “Lys, I need you here.”
“We need help.” Said the woman.
Aelin nodded and called dispatch straight away and asked for more ambulances.
“ETA 5 minutes.”
Her phone went off again. Dorian. Damn.
“I just saw on the news. I am on my way back. How the situation?”
Aelin sighed “bad, multiple explosion in two boat warehouses down at the embankment. There are injured workers. West is here as well and the police has blocked off the whole perimeter and is doing crowd control. I have the airforce on its way for help with aerial support, hopefully.”
“Keep me updated. I should be there in five.”
Once she closed the conversation she noticed the text from Rowan we are coming.
Gods she could kiss the man.
“Go ahead, Cap.”
“Hold on a bit longer. Aerial support is coming.”
“Best fucking news since this hell has started.”
Five minutes later she saw Dorian in the distance and started walking toward him but half way through her leg gave up and she collapsed on the ground. The man was at her side in an instant and helped her up.
“You are injured.”
“Not important,” she breathed through gritted teeth.
“How long has it been?” Asked Dorian staring at the inferno all around them.
“It’s been almost an hour.”
“We are now at risk of collapse, you know that?”
“I need to do something.” And he ran to his car and grabbed his gear and started getting ready.
Aelin walked to him “Dorian, you can’t. You are the chief.”
“I am a firefighter first and foremost. My rank, just now has very little use. You are doing an amazing job out here. I am needed inside.”
She put a hand on his shoulder “Be careful. They have found large quantities of turpentine.”
“I’ll be okay.” And he kissed her head and then walked away.
She could not stare at him go inside the building as well. She and Dorian had an interesting history. When she was still a probie she had served under him when he was captain. He had fallen in love with her but she always considered him as a great friend. Then she moved to east station and she told him that she did not reciprocate the feelings. He was a wonderful man. But for her he had always been a friend.
Brullo and Ress came out bringing more people.
Brullo shook his head in silence and she knew he meant they hadn’t found Aedion yet.
In that instant a loud noise shook the sky and Aelin looked up and saw two massive planes fly above their heads. They were the types of planes used to fight fires from the air. She had seen them in action during some forest fires. One of them made a pass over the second building and dumped all the water extinguishing the fire. The second one flew over the first warehouse, but one pass was not enough. She saw the plane head for the river and scoop up more water.
“Thomas, Captain, do you hear the sound?”
“Yeah, what is that? The shockwaves are making the place vibrate.”
“That is the TAF. They are dumping water on the buildings. They are back coming for you. Hell should be over soon. Also, Dorian is on his way in.”
The conversation cut of as well and Aelin feared the worst.
With another three passes the fire was under control.
Aelin went to grab the hose from Luca and walked closer “Ren, follow me.”
They got closer to the building and started directing water inside the building and extinguish the last small fires still burning.
Aelin looked up as she heard the planes making another pass above their heads and smiled.
She owed Rowan a big one.
Aelin almost dropped the hose when she saw Dorian carrying out an injured Aedion.
“Lys,” shouted Aelin and when the woman noticed her man she ran to him and helped Dorian to carry him to the ambulance.
One of the guys from west station who was working in the second warehouse came to her and reported the fire completely extinguished and all civilians evacuated and safe. Aelin sighed in relief.
Ten minutes later the rest of her team, followed by Thomas and the remaining team west finally came out of the building and Aelin breathed again. Everyone was safe. Thomas came behind her and took the hose from her “I’ll have this. Go to your team.”
“Thank you,” she told him and limped heavily to her team and they hugged each other in relief.
Then they all went to the ambulance to check on Aedion. He was sitting on the gurney with an oxygen mask on his face.
“We are taking him to the hospital for checks. I will keep you posted.” Lysandra’s stare was on Aelin “you should come with us as well.”
“Just give me some painkillers and I will be fine.”
Lysandra was not convinced but handed her a tablet.
Aelin shut the door of the vehicle and pulled back.
Dorian was at her side a moment later “you and I should go and talk to the press.”
“Shouldn’t that be your job as chief? You love the attention.”
“Ah yes, but you know more details than me.”
Aelin growled “fine.”
It was almost an hour later when they finally managed to collect their stuff, tuck the equipment away and finally be on their way back to the station. The sun had started to set and Aelin thought she was ready for bed.
Lysandra texted her saying that they were keeping Aedion in for the night just as precaution, but that he was fine.”
“Lys says Aedion is fine. They are keeping him in tonight for precaution but he is okay. No serious injuries apart from bruises and cuts.”
Relief spread through the truck.
Once they arrived at the station they noticed the lights on and a few unknown cars parked at the front.
Aelin jumped off the truck and regretted it immediately. With extreme difficulty she dragged herself inside the station and then was speechless at what she saw.
Rowan’s squadron, Lorcan included, had prepared dinner for them.
Rowan saw her walking in and did not like what he saw. Her limp had worsened. He stared at her, happy to know that she was alive. When he had heard on the news about the raging fire down at the river he had been terrified. It looked very bad from the video footage, but only by flying over it he had realised just how an impossible task they had.
She moved a step toward him and a second later she was in his arms as her leg gave up and she almost crashed on the floor.
“I got you.” He said to her while lifting her up in his arms and carrying her to the sofa.
In that instant the rest of the team entered the kitchen and screams of joy at the sight of the food erupted from all of them.
Rowan stood “we thought that we would prepare a nice meal for your return. It seemed like you would be needing it.”
“Thank you all,” said Aelin on behalf of her squad.
Everyone sat at the table and began to tuck in.
Elide glanced over at Lorcan and noticed that the man was staring at her as well. Quickly she looked away and went back to her food.
Rowan sat beside Aelin and brought her some food “I can get you more.”
Then he grabbed her injured leg and lifted it on the table. She winched the whole time he moved it.
Rowan moved to sit on the coffee table in front of them, placed her foot on his lap and proceeded to remove her boot. Then lifted her trouser’s leg and once the knee was exposed they both gasped. It was purple and visibly swollen “why are you walking on it?”
“I had no idea it was this bad.”
“You can barely walk, of course it’s bad,” he said annoyed.
“Are you fussing?”
“No, I am just making sure that you don’t do any more stupid things.”
“Can we please go to the hospital after I ate my dinner?”
“Fine.” He very gently placed her foot on the coffee table and stood. When he came back he had an icepack in his hands.
The main table was a bit of a distance and they had a bit of privacy.
He sat down again and put her foot again on his lap then placed the ice pack on her knee and Aelin swore. It hurt like hell. She threw her head against the back of the sofa and breathed in deeply.
“Thank you for tonight. My squad and west station are alive because of your help. I owe you one.”
“It was the least I could do.”
“How did you pull it off?”
“Lorcan. He has some well connected friends. Once I told what was happening, he started making phone calls and we got everything organised.”
She kept eating and noticed that his thumb was gently brushing her skin while his hand held the ice pack in place.
“Have you noticed that Lorcan and Elide keep looking at each other while the other is not looking?”
“I did. Is she interested?”
Aelin nodded “she is into him apparently but Elide is very shy. I need to be sure that he has no plan to use her for a fling only and let her go. For many reason that I can’t tell you. But if Lorcan behaves like a pig, he will have to deal with me, Lys and Ansel. You’d better pass the message along.”
Once Aelin was done eating, Rowan took all the plates and took them to the dishwasher “Come on now, you and I are going to the hospital.”
He crouched and turned to offer her a piggyback ride but she scoffed “You are not carrying me.”
“Fine, then you walk to my car. Be my guest.”
Aelin groaned and pulled herself in a standing position but as she straightened the knee again, the pain brought her on the verge of tears.
Rowan went to the team and explained that he was dragging Aelin to the hospital and he got the team approval. By the time he had spoken with them, Aelin had barely made it past the sofa.
In one fell swoop he lifted her in his arms “I don’t care, now stop complaining.”
Aelin did not protest and leaned against his chest.
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