REMIX OF: Foundations, by Elfbert
RATING: Implied Ray/Chris, White Cortina
WORD COUNT: 1,204 words
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written for the Remix Challenge at 1973flashfic. Also, apologies to all. This is, frankly, rubbish. Read the original instead. It's superb.
DISCLAIMER: Life on Mars is copyright Kudos and the BBC. All Rights Reserved. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made.
The explosion came as a complete surprise.
Gene’s reaction didn’t though, as he grabbed Chris and pulled him backwards, falling against the outside wall as the door ahead of them collapsed in a pile of dust and concrete. He lay there for a moment, staring at the pile of rubble and dust that Sam and Ray had walked through a moment earlier, until he realised that Chris had been stunned by the fall.
He pushed the younger man off him so he could get to his feet, and started dragging Chris outside, pursued relentlessly by the noise of the building’s continuing collapse, trying not to think about what was happening inside.
He slumped back on the pavement, his arms still around Chris, staring in disbelief at the building that had buried his DI and his DS.
Tyler and Carling. Sam. And Ray.
Chris spluttered, struggling awake against Gene.
“Ray?” he asked. “What happened?”
“Not Ray,” said Gene in an unusually quiet voice.
Chris broke free, and turned to look at Gene.
“Guv? What happened? Where’s Ray? And the boss?”
Gene shook his head. “They’re still in there, Chris.”
Chris looked back at the building where the dust was beginning to settle and got to his feet.
“We’ve got to get ‘em, Guv,” he shouted as he turned towards the building.
Gene tackled him.
“Not in there, you div. That’s not a job for us. Call for backup. They’ll get the fire brigade out.”
Chris looked as if he was going to protest for a moment, then ducked his head and turned towards the Cortina.
Gene stood watching the building for a moment, as he listened to Chris speaking urgently on the radio, taking charge for once, telling Phyllis that no, he needed backup and the fire brigade now and no mistake.
Gene walked over to the car as Chris finished his anxious call, and laid his hand on the younger man’s shoulder.
“We should get back in, Guv,” said Chris anxiously. “They could be suffocating in there. They could be...”
“We wait out here,” said Gene decisively. “Don’t you remember your sodding ARP drill?”
Chris looked confused and Gene sighed.
“Course you don’t. Too bloody young, aren’t you?” he asked rhetorically. “Well, for old hands like myself, the rule is that you don’t go charging into a building like that because it’s dangerous. Dangerous for you and dangerous for anyone in the building.”
“But Ray...” said Chris.
“And Ray’s an old hand like myself and if anyone knows his ARP drill, it’s him,” continued Gene. “You get under cover under something solid and you wait. And he knows we’re out here and we’re getting the cavalry in.”
He paused, looking carefully at Chris, who was even paler than the concrete dust that covered his face.
“If it was Tyler in there on his own,” he added. “I’d be worried. Cos I bet he spent the entire war on a farm in the country in some cushy billet. But Ray? I know Ray knows what to do.”
Chris smiled faintly at the comment, and then turned sharply as the sound of more destruction in the building. Gene sucked in a breath of worry and reached for a cigarette to hide it.
“Now, that, that’ll have been Tyler being a div,” he said casually. “Ray, though? Ray’ll have him safe.”
Chris nodded, choking back his emotions. Gene kept looking ahead at the building, watching his DC from the corner of his eye.
“Ray... Ray don’t like close spaces,” said Chris, almost to himself. “Got trapped in a mill when he were young.”
“Playing on a bombsite?” asked Gene, almost casually. “We all did it. Either to look tough or because you wanted to go somewhere quiet.”
Chris looked over at Gene and Gene gave him a wink.
“Mavis Dobson,” he said with a broad grin.
“Yeah, well, Ray was a bit younger,” said Gene, taking pity on Chris.
“He still has nightmares about it,” murmured Chris, almost to himself.
Gene tactfully ignored the statement in favour of looking down the street.
“Ayup,” he said. “Cavalry’s here. Let’s get our boys out of there, will we?”
He thought he’d have to keep Chris busy for the next while, running around, doing messages, doing anything, just to keep him distracted, to stop him thinking about what might have happened, what they might find in that building. But Chris was in control of himself, and started doing his job, quickly and efficiently. If he was pale and upset, well, two of his colleagues were trapped down there and Hunt’s team were tight. Everyone knew that.
Gene found that it was he who needed the distraction of shouting orders to stop himself thinking about what the rescue crews might find. He was the one who nearly collapsed with relief when he heard Sam call his name and turned to see his DI running around the corner towards him. He checked quickly – as much on his own account as Chris’s – that Ray was okay before calling Skelton.
“Ray’s been with Tyler – get the fire boys to bring a ladder.”
The beam that split Chris’s face nearly made Gene crack one back but he kept his face straight, hiding his emotions. Tyler looked at him quizzically and Gene knew he knew something was up.
They followed Sam back to where he’d escaped the building and Gene wondered if they could find it again in the dark. He stood back as Chris tailed Sam, desperate to find Ray, but doing his best to hide the worst of his worry.
“Boss?” asked Chris, as Gene wondered just how long it would take to find the hatch Sam had been pushed out of. He didn’t know which of them was most relieved when the beam of Sam’s torch finally caught the edge of the hole.
A moment later, Ray was out, breathing heavily. Gene ignored the tears on Chris’s face – even real men had to cry sometimes, and it was relief got you every time. Not loss, not fear, not pain, but the relief that the person you cared for was okay.
“Ray?” Chris said, his voice catching slightly.
“I’m all right, you div,” Ray answered. “How ‘bout you?”
Gene watched as Ray glanced around, checking out who’d notice. He reached out and wiped some of the tears from Chris’s cheeks. “I’m okay, okay?”
Chris nodded again.
Sam turned around just in time to see Ray’s actions.
“Oi, you two – Chris, get ’im checked out by the doc. No excuses,” Gene ordered. He watched Chris obey, gently reaching out to guide Ray towards the ambulances and turned to deal with his own problem.
Sam was silent for a moment before he asked the inevitable question. Nonetheless, Gene was impressed – not just at Tyler noticing, although Chris had been pretty damn obvious since the first explosion, but at Tyler’s balls in asking. So he didn’t explode, he didn’t threaten, he just used the answer he’d had prepared in the event anyone ever did ask.
“As long as it don’t affect my team, I don’t give a shit.”
To his surprise, Sam closed his mouth and nodded. “Right. Yes.”