Idea by Carol,inspired by an episode of Casualty.
While discussing it, we decided to write it from each of the lads' perspectives.
As Adamson threw himself backwards out of the line of fire I fired. Even as my shot spun the gunman I heard a loud ominous crack and watched in horror as the gantry railing gave away behind Adamson. I lunged forward to try and grab him, knowing I was too far away.
He hit the edge of a crate below, tumbled off to the ground and was still.
"Rick!" Haring for the stairs behind me I fumbled automatically for the R/T to summon help before remembering I'd dropped it soon after this fiasco started. It took me precious seconds to find my path through the triple-stacked crates until I could see Adamson's motionless body twisted in an impossible fashion, eyes open and staring.
Staring at me - and incredibly, conscious and blinking.
"Rick?" I crouched beside him. He groaned and attempted to lift himself to his elbows. "No, stay still. Don't make things worse."
There was silence as he twisted to focus on the impossible angle of his lower body. "Can't feel my legs..."
"I'm going to get help."
I paused. "What is it?"
Adamson drew a shaky breath. "You'll call an ambulance, they'll take me to hospital, fix me up, yeah?"
"Yeah, of course. So?" I was impatient to be gone, to get the help he needed.
"And then what?"
"What do you mean? What are you talking about?"
"Don't be stupid, Doyle. You know perfectly well what I'm talking about."
And I did, didn't I? You were stupid if you didn't have the sense to realise the potential dangers in this job. Death being one of the easier ones to live with. But you were also a liability if you didn't keep those thoughts buried deep where they couldn't distract you or hold you back, so now it took me a second or two to realise what he was saying.
"I'm not having it," Adamson went on. "I know what this kind of injury means and I'm not having it."
"You don't know anything of the sort," I said, kneeling down beside him. "Not for certain. And even if it is…"
"Yeah? Think about it, Doyle. How would you like it, eh? No more tearing around like you do now, peak of fitness. No more shagging all those different birds. The best you'd get from them would be pity. And I suppose you've always wanted to take up basket weaving but just never quite got around to it!" He was panting with the effort of his tirade now, sweat beading on his forehead.
"Never mind what I'd do. I don't know what I'd do so you can't go second-guessing me. Besides I've haven't got a wife waiting for me at home. You have and I'm not going to be the one who tells her you didn't have the guts to stick around. That you didn't care enough about her to stay alive!"
My anger was rising, getting the better of me. I sat back on my heels, ran my hand through my hair and glared at him. "Because that's what you're talking about, isn’t it?"
"It's better this way." Adamson spoke more quietly. He put up a hand to stop me before I could speak. "My Dad was in a wheelchair. Accident with a forklift in a place just like this." His eyes encompassed our surroundings. "I was only twelve and the oldest of five. My mother was run ragged looking after him and all us kids, and he withered away inside watching her. His pride gone. Not the man of the house any longer. Unable to do anything to help. Well I'm not bloody having it. I'm not doing that to Sally. It ends now."
"You're just in shock," I said, helplessly. "You don't even know you're right. Let me make the call, it'll be OK. I'll be as quick as I can."
"Fuck it, Doyle. If you haven't got the guts to help me then just give me your gun and walk away!"
Never being renowned for deep wells of patience nevertheless I bit back the first retort that came to mind and cast around desperately for the right words to pull him back from the brink.
"Right, so I just give you my gun and waltz on out of here as if nothing had happened? So I tell Cowley he was wrong in his judgement of you."
"Wha…?" Clearly this was nothing like anything Rick might have expected. I just had to keep his attention.
"Oh he thinks you've got more smarts than most of us. 'Och, Doyle, why canna you not be more like Adamson, man?'" I parodied the old man for all I was worth. "' He doesn'a leap to conclusions before all the evidence is in.' But that's what you're doing." I dropped back into my own voice. "You don't know what the doctors will say. No. You don't!" My turn to hold up a hand stopping him speaking. "Things have come a long way since you saw your dad suffering like that. You could at least wait and hear what they have to say. I thought you cared more about Sally than to rob her of a husband and that baby she's carrying of a father. I thought you had more guts than to take the easy way out, like this."
Anger flared in his eyes then and he grabbed my wrist, fingers digging into my skin so tightly I knew they'd leave marks. "You think this is easy? You think I don't want to live, to see my baby born? Of course I do."
"Then do it," I urged. "What on earth have you got to lose by letting them take a look at you?"
His fury faded to be replaced by something I'd never seen on his face before, fear. He shifted his gaze and spoke more quietly. "I'm scared, Ray. So bloody scared. If I don't do it now I might not have the nerve later."
I swallowed. Big, hard men of CI5 we didn't go around talking about our feelings, did we? But they were there all the same.
"Listen mate. You let me call the nice ambulance men now. You get along to the hospital and let them do what they can. And if it's what you think…." I took a deep breath. "…and you still want to, then I'll help you. OK?"
He looked at me then, long and hard. "No you bloody wouldn't."
I sighed. "No, I don't suppose I would. But I won't give up on you either. So, what's it going to be?"
Adamson blew a long breath and again tried awkwardly to shift his position, failed and cried out as a sharp wave of pain shot through him. He swore deeply but quietly and looked at me. "How does Bodie put up with you? Do you nag him to death as well?" He shook his head in resignation. "All right you bastard, you win. Go and ring the sodding ambulance and tell 'em to get a shift on, I'm getting cold lying here."
I slapped his arm lightly, grinning with triumph, stood up and shrugged out of my leather jacket. I draped it over Adamson's chest. "I shall be wanting that back, mind."
He managed a small smile, clearly tiring now and his eyes closed. Then they snapped open again.
"Doyle, leave me your gun anyway, yeah? Just in case any more of that gang pop up while you're gone."
I looked at him. He caught my gaze and held it without blinking. We both knew there were no other gang members. With that one I shot up on the gantry we had the lot.
Adamson quirked a tired smile at me. "S'ok, Ray. I'll be here when you get back, I just don't like feeling so bloody helpless." Slowly I pulled my Browning from the shoulder holster and looked at it, hefting it for a long moment before extending it, butt first, towards him.
"Thanks, mate. Now run along, there's a good chap. The Cow will be throwing a fit wondering what's been going on."
I nodded and backed away slowly, one step at a time, never taking my eyes from him until I bumped into the corner edge of a large crate jarring my back and jerking my attention.
"I won't be long," I said and turned to begin a darting run between the maze of crates.
At the door of the warehouse I paused a moment to get my bearings, working out the most likely route to take to find a phone box then I started to jog. I'd got no more than a hundred yards or so when I heard the shot. Instinctively I spun around and ran back but my pace slowed to a walk as I realised there was no urgency. That it was already too late.
I flung my hands up in the air in anger and frustration and screamed into the gloom of the warehouse. "Adamson, you bastard! You fucking, gutless coward!"
My shoulders slumped and wearily I resumed the, no longer urgent, search for a phone box to begin the nightmare of delivering the news.
A desire to be far from this place unconsciously made me speed up, my pace becoming quicker until finally I was running flat out.
Two streets away I spotted the red box and yanked the door open. Catching my breath I lifted the receiver and dialled the familiar number.
"4.5, where the devil are you? Bodie got back here an hour ago." At any other time I would have allowed myself to indulge in the relief my partner was safe but right now I had no time for more than a brief flicker of acknowledgement.
"Adamson's dead. Shot." Never mind that it would be obvious to whoever looked at the body, that it was self inflicted, he'd died on duty. That would remain the official story if I had anything to say about it.
"I'm sorry about Adamson." Cowley's voice seemed to come from a great distance. "I'll send an ambulance along. Where are you? Do you need any assistance?"
"Nope. All neat and tidy here." I was aware my voice was coming over as very brittle and I didn't care. I rattled off some directions in the same clipped tone and hung up.
I walked slowly and reluctantly back to the warehouse and stood outside, shivering slightly in the weak sunshine, wondering inconsequentially if the blood would come out of my jacket and even if it did whether I would ever wear it again.
It seemed only minutes before the ambulance pulled up beside me and two briskly efficient attendants hopped out.
"Got a body for us, mate? Want to show us where it is?"
Reluctantly I led the way back through the crate corridors stopping just short of the corner.
"Just over there," I gestured, not wanting to see the mess I knew awaited them. "It won't be pretty. Sorry."
The two men glanced at each other, shrugged resignedly and moved around the crates.
"There's two of them," I heard one of them say. Then his voice changed in tone. "Hey, this one's alive. All right mate. Take it easy, we've got you now. You'll be in hospital in no time."
Puzzled, I steeled myself and stepped behind the crates just as the ambulance men hefted their stretcher. The blanket wasn't covering the face as I would have expected and as the stretcher drew level with me a hand shot out and caught my arm.
"When I'm out of hospital I'm going to thump you for calling me a gutless coward," Adamson said. "If I have to get Bodie to hold you down to do it."
I felt my face split into a huge grin. "It's a deal. But I heard a shot. I thought…."
"One more we didn't know about," Adamson said, his eyes closing. "Call Sal…" his voice trailed away as he finally succumbed and the ambulance men moved on towards the door.
"We'll send another van back for the other one," one of them called over his shoulder and they were gone.
Slowly I bent and retrieved my jacket and gun from the floor, glancing at the other body a few feet away. I couldn't help but prefer it was him and not Rick that was lying dead on this cold, concrete floor, but what of his family and his friends? He must have some and they would mourn him just as we, and Sally, would have mourned Adamson. But had he, in the end, got the better of the deal? If Rick really was confined to a wheelchair – or worse – would he be grateful to me for having talked him out of suicide today or would he demand the help I'd promised? And if he did, which way would my conscience jump then?
I shrugged into my jacket and headed for the exit. Don't borrow trouble, my gran had always said. For today it was enough that Rick was alive. The rest could wait for another day.