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10 February 2016 @ 09:33 pm
Within in my reach, chapter one.  
Fic Title: Within My Reach
Summary: For Jeff life as an Evolutionary Enhanced isn't easy. For a start there's the prejudice he faces daily, along with a constant struggle to find clothes that will fit over his tentacles. But these difficulties pale into insignificance when Jeff is faced with trying to woo the man of his dreams.
Disclamer: Here be fiction, folks. This isn’t real nor is it meant to reflect the relationship between the two men, whose names and faces I’m borrowing.  This is my very own little take on reality or as I like to think of it now, the wrong trouser leg of time, where our universe and this one split apart, and this universe is bathed in a rosy pink hue.
Author’s Notes: First and foremost, my thanks go to my amazing beta bigj52.  There should be statues erected and sonnets written to this amazing woman.  I can never fully express my gratitude at her endless patience in dealing with my scribbles. Once again I've been scrbbling for spn_reversebang, and I want to thank my artist beelikej for all her support and her amazing art.

Chapter 1 WithinMyReach

As Fire Truck 67 turned the corner, the air was filled with smoke and sirens. Inside the crew saw two other fire trucks and their crews were already in attendance. Jeff felt the familiar surge of adrenaline course through his body. Even after fifteen years in the fire department, he still felt the same rush every time he was called out. Be it to a fire, vehicular accident or even a cat in a tree, he still got a buzz from helping people.

Judging by the amount of activity going on in front of them, this was a serious incident.  Suddenly Jeff’s back tightened and his ‘friends’ tensed, ready for action. Jeff took another deep breath as one of his tentacles curled around his thigh and squeezed slightly. He had to relax otherwise there was a chance he’d lose control of them, and in a fire it could prove fatal.

“The guys raring to go, Lieutenant?”  Jared asked in amusement, as one of the appendages was helping him on with his fire-retardant jacket. “Thanks for the help, Curly.” The tentacle gave Jared a salute and curled behind Jeff again.

“They’re always raring to go. I’m usually just along for the ride.”  Jeff answered with a smile.

 “Just remember when we go in there, I’m with you. I love it when you and the guys do all the heavy lifting.” Jared laughed as his Lieutenant rolled his eyes at him

“That’s it, Padalecki, let me do all the hard work as usual.” Jeff winked at his friend as the fire truck came to a halt. Jeff opened the truck door and saw Jim Beaver, the Firehouse Chief waiting for them. “What’ve we got, Chief?”  Jeff asked as he climbed out of the truck.

Jim was busy on his radio coordinating with the other crews. Finally he turned to Jeff, his expression grim. “Fire started on the fifth floor, and it’s spreading fast.”

Jeff looked at the burning apartment building, and opened one of the panels on the side of the truck with a tentacle. A sense of calm stole over him as it handed him his breathing gear. The initial rush of excitement gone, Jeff was focused and ready to go to work.

Jeff pulled on his breathing apparatus, and the air cylinder nestled in the centre of his back, in between his tentacles. “Do we know how it started?”

Jim shook his head and pointed at the building. “At the moment, Jeff, all we know is it started in an empty apartment that’s being renovated.” Then Jim nodded at a group of people huddled together. “Most of the tenants have been evacuated, but I want you and your guys to go in, and do a sweep to be safe.”  There was an explosion and a window blew out, and Jim and Jeff ducked as they were showered with shards of glass. “Balls! We need more water on this blaze now, otherwise the whole building will go up.”

Jim turned to Truck 67’s driver. “Chad, you’re up on the turntable. Get some water on that apartment now.”

“Yes, Chief.”  Chad ran to the back of the truck as the turntable’s ladder began to extend. As Chad climbed, the ladder swung slowly around, bringing him level with the apartment’s window.

Jim gestured to another member of the crew. “Matt, we need more lines set up in there.” The dark-haired firefighter nodded, grabbing more hoses, and setting off in search of water.

By now Jeff had pulled his breathing mask on, and was settling his helmet on his head. “Jared, I want you, Richard and Rob to come with me.  We’re starting at the top and working our way down. I’m taking point.”

“Yes, lieutenant, we’re right behind you,” Jared responded as he reached for his Halligan, immediately reassured by its comforting weight in his hand. Then he noticed Jeff’s Halligan was on the back seat.  Jared grinned and picked it up, about to call Jeff when one of the tentacles curled around it. “Hey there, Larry, looks like the boss forgot this again. Shows he’s gettin’ old. Could you give it to the old timer for me?” ‘Larry’ lifted the universal key out of Jared’s hand.

Larry handed Jeff his Halligan, glanced over his shoulder and grinned at the younger firefighter. “I might be gettin’ old, Padalecki, but I can still hear you. Last one to the eighth floor cooks tonight,” he said as he strode towards the building.

Richard and Rob looked at one another in horror. “Padalecki, we’ll carry you up there, if it means you don’t end up cooking.  I still ain’t over that curry you made last time. Thank god Rob put the toilet rolls in the fridge.” Richard pressed his hand to his stomach, grimacing at the memory as they followed Jeff.

“You guys just don’t appreciate fusion cooking. I worked hard on that curry.  It took me a long time to source all those spices,” Jared said mournfully.

“Fusion cooking? More like nuclear fusion.  Jay, it nearly melted my intestines. You’re a great firefighter, but you suck as a cook,” Rob said as he gave Jared a consoling pat on the shoulder.

“It’s just as well that I’m not gonna be the last one up there. Right, Jeff?”  Jared slipped past the older man, and started up the wide staircase.

“You just keep telling yourself that, Jay. Are we ready, boys?”  Jeff asked, and Richard and Rob grinned.

Jared was making good progress and was just starting the climb to the third floor, when Jeff, Rob and Richard double timed it past him. He looked up in shock as Richard waved at him, when they turned the corner to the next flight of stairs. “So that’s how you want to play it, huh?” Jared muttered as he picked up the pace.

By the time they’d reached the eighth floor, Jeff let Jared overtake him.  He loved the kid like a brother but Rob was right, Jared’s culinary skills left a lot to be desired. After working a blaze like this, the crew didn’t need one of Jared’s special meals. Also Jeff didn’t think they had enough Tums in the firehouse to deal with the aftermath.

When they reached the eighth floor the four of them worked methodically, knocking on doors and ensuring the apartments were empty.  The eighth floor was clear, and so was the seventh. As they reached the sixth floor the smoke was getting thicker, and the heat was increasing, but there were no visible flames. There was, however, the tell-tale creak of fire, as it consumed everything in its path.

Jeff swore softly, pulled off his glove and carefully touched the wall.  He felt heat radiating through the plaster boarding and reached for his radio. “Chief, I think we’ve got a problem. The fire’s in the walls between the partitions.”

“Balls! Ok, you need to get a move on. I’m calling the rescue effort in two minutes.”  Jim swore under his breath; if Jeff was right and the fire was traveling that way, the structural integrity of the building would be compromised a lot quicker.

They were halfway through the search of the sixth floor, when they heard faint cries for help. Jeff hammered on the door. “Fire department. Call out. Is there anybody in there?” There was no response to his shout, and he was just about to turn away. “Please, somebody help me.” Jeff moved, quickly attacking the lock with his Halligan and pried the door part of the way open. His tentacles added their own weight to his efforts, curling round the edge of the door and pushing hard. The door swung in under the combined assault and Jeff entered the apartment carefully.

The flames were visible in here, climbing up the walls and rolling across the ceiling. “Fire department. Call out.” Jeff shouted again.

“I’m in the bedroom. Help me, please.”  Jeff heard a woman call out, her voice raw from the smoke.

Jeff walked towards the sound of her voice, being careful of the flames. His tentacles had curled themselves close to his body, and offered him a strangely comforting weight at his back. Jeff reached the bedroom and pushed open the door.

Jeff saw the woman lying on the floor, entangled in a wheelchair. As Jeff knelt beside her, he saw the reason for the wheelchair. Her left leg was in a cast from ankle to hip. As he reached out to help, Jeff ignored the way the woman flinched as she saw his tentacles unfurl and wrap round the wheelchair.

“Hi, I’m Jeff. What’s your name?” he asked as he carefully disentangled the woman’s right leg and pushed it out of the way.

“I’m Sandra.”  She gasped in relief as the feeling in her leg came flooding back.

“Are you hurt anywhere else?”  Jeff asked, as he considered calling for a backboard.

Sandra shook her head. “No, I’m fine apart from this stupid broken leg. My sister was right about me being too old to have a go on my nephew’s skateboard.” She managed a shaky laugh and rolled onto her right side.

Jeff smiled warmly. “You’re never too old to try something new. Can you tell me how you ended up on the floor?”  Jeff asked as Jared, Richard and Rob joined them.

“I smelt smoke and heard the fire alarm, and as I tried to get round the bed I must’ve turned too sharply and overbalanced. I still need my learner’s permit for that thing.” Sandra pointed at the discarded wheelchair.

Richard knelt beside her. “First a skateboard, and now wheelchair wheelies. You’re a regular daredevil.”  He looked at Jeff. “How do you want to do this, boss?”

Jeff was looking round the room, thinking; he knew they didn’t have time to wait for a stretcher. Then he reached out and pulled the comforter off the bed. He looked at Sandra and gave her a smile. “How do you feel about being transported in style, Sandra?”

The four firefighters carried Sandra through the hallway of the apartment block on the makeshift stretcher, made from the comforter. Jeff clicked on his radio. “Chief, we’re bringing a casualty down. Lady with a broken leg and slight smoke inhalation.”

Jim divider

“Good, I was about to pull everyone out. You’re the last team in there.” Jim was relieved that his men were on their way down. He was about to ask Jeff if they wanted the Paramedics on standby when a commotion by the building caught his attention.

A young woman was frantically trying to get back inside, but Matt was holding her back. “You don’t understand. She’s still in there!  Please, I have to go and get her.”

When Jim heard that he ran over to her. “What do you mean she’s still in there?” Before the young woman could answer him, another woman shouted.

“Debbie, where’s Gabby?  Where’s my little girl?” A harassed looking woman with her arms full of groceries was running towards them.

Debbie turned her tearstained face to the newcomer. “I’m so sorry, Mrs Tyler. I heard the fire alarm and I was leading the children out of the apartment, when Gabby let go of my hand and ran back for Princess Kitty.  Before I could stop it the door swung shut and locked me out.” Debbie broke down into tears, as she pulled two bewildered children close to her.

The bags fell to the floor as Mrs Tyler stumbled forward. “GABBY!” Her desperate scream brought paramedics rushing to try and calm her down.

Jim turned to the distraught babysitter. “Which apartment were you in?”

“5A, on the end. Please, you have to help her,” Debbie begged.

Jim looked up and his heart sank. There was no way he could send someone in through the apartment’s window. Flames billowed through the broken glass, and Jim was reaching for his radio when Jeff spoke. “Chief, what’s happening down there?”

Jim saw several firefighters gearing up to go back in, but they were stopped by their chiefs. “Jeff, we’ve got a situation.  There’s a little girl by the name of Gabby in apartment 5A. We can’t gain access from the window, and we’ve called everyone out as the building’s becoming unstable.”

Jeff froze when he heard that, and Jared frowned at him. “Jeff?”

  Jeff handed his corner of the comforter to Jared, “There’s a little girl trapped on the fifth floor. You three get downstairs now. I’m going back up to see if I can reach the apartment.” Jared hesitated for a moment. “Get going, Jay. You heard the chief give the order to pull out.  This is my call and I want you out of here with Sandra.”  Jared nodded and the three firefighters started moving again.