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10 February 2016 @ 09:38 pm
Within in my reach, chapter two.  
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 2 WithinMyReach

Jeff turned around and headed back up the stairs. As he reached the fifth floor he staggered back as a wave of intense heat washed over him. The whole hallway was ablaze and Jeff moved down the hall in a crouch, avoiding falling debris as he went.  He reached 5A and attacked the door with abandon.  The lock was gone in seconds, and once again Jeff used his tentacles for added leverage, finally managing to tear the door from its hinges and throw it behind him.

Jeff went into the apartment and called out as he ventured further inside. “Gabby, sweetheart, don’t be scared. I’m from the fire department.” Jeff moved quickly through the lounge; he didn’t expect to find the little girl in there.  After years of experience of dealing with frightened children, Jeff knew Gabby would be hiding somewhere familiar to her.

Jeff peered through the smoke and spotted two doors. One of them had butterflies and flowers painted on it, and he knew he’d found Gabby’s room.  Jeff was walking towards the door when there was a thunderous crack, and part of the ceiling collapsed.  Burning debris rained down on Jeff, and he staggered as a large piece of ceiling bounced off his shoulder.  The deadly shower was halted as Larry and Curly grabbed a coffee table, and held it over his head.

“Thanks, guys,” Jeff muttered as he made it to the bedroom, stepped inside and looked around. Jeff knew they didn’t have long before they were cut off by the fire, and started searching.  First he checked under the little girl’s bed. As he knelt beside it he looked up and saw the wardrobe. The door was slightly ajar. Jeff smiled when he heard coughing coming from inside. Jeff went to the wardrobe and opened the door further.  Curled up in the corner clutching a battered soft toy was a dark-haired little girl. Jeff crouched down. “Hey there, sweetheart, I’m here to take you to your mommy. Shall we go and find her?”  Jeff held out his hand, but the little girl shook her head.

Jeff looked around desperately; he could just grab Gabby, but he didn’t want to scare her any more than necessary. Then he spotted some soft toys and had an idea.

“Gabby, can you tell me who these guys are?” Jeff glanced over his shoulder and his tentacles appeared, and each one held a soft toy. Gabby’s face lit up when she saw her toys, and she edged forward a little.

“That’s it. You’re doing great, come on. Now, who is this lovely little lady Moe is holding?” Moe curled forward, and waved a bright pink dog with purple ears.

“That’s Mitzy!” Gabby said happily, crawling closer to the doorway, following Moe as he pulled away.

Jeff looked at the soft toy. “Well, hello Mitzy. Pleased to meet you. I’m Jeff. Shall we go and find Gabby’s mommy together?” The little dog nodded her head, and Jeff held out his arms to Gabby. The little girl stepped into Jeff’s arms, and giggled as Moe placed the dog in her arms.

Larry appeared over Jeff’s over shoulder, and handed Jeff the little girl’s comforter.  Jeff carefully wrapped it around Gabby and stood up. “Why don’t you tell me all about your other friends as we go downstairs?”  he said, his tentacles tucking the other toys in the comforter with her.

Jeff covered Gabby’s head and pulled her close to his body. As Jeff stepped out of the bedroom, the floor sagged dangerously beneath his feet.  Jeff inched forward slowly fighting the urge to rush. One false move and he and Gabby could end up crashing through into the apartment below.

Jeff carried on moving cautiously. They’d nearly reached the apartment door when his luck ran out.  Jeff put his foot down and the floor gave a crack like a gunshot, as his right foot went through the broken board. Jeff shouted out in shock as his legs gave way, and there was a searing pain in his right knee as splintered wood tore into it. As Jeff fell, his tentacles snapped out like whips and gripped the door frame, preventing him from sinking any further.

Jeff gritted his teeth at the pain in his leg, and the heat radiating through the thickened skin of the tentacles.  He took a ragged breath, and his back ached with strain as the tentacles struggled to pull him free. As they pulled, Jeff managed to disentangle his foot from the wreckage of the floor and then he staggered out of the room.

Jeff kept close to the walls as he made his way back along the hallway, concentrating on getting himself and the little girl out of there as quickly as possible.  When Jeff made the stairwell, he breathed a sigh of relief.  They weren’t out of danger yet, but at least they’d made it off the fifth floor.

Fireman Jeff divider

Outside the apartment the crew was waiting impatiently. Jared paced back and forth, running his fingers through his shaggy hair. Rob and Richard were standing silently, their eyes trained on the door of the building. Jared turned to them, a look of desperation in his eyes. “That’s it. I’m going back in.” He lifted his mask up ready to pull it back on.

Richard leapt to his feet. “Hold ya horses, Sasquatch. Looks like the old guy came through!”  He whooped with joy when the door swung open.  His happiness was short lived, when he saw Jeff limping heavily.

Jared spun round and ran towards Jeff. “Shit. Are you ok, man?” He looked at Jeff with concern and put a hand on his shoulder.

Jeff looked up and gave Jared a smile. “Mind your language, Jay. There’s a lady present.”  Jeff pulled the comforter down, and Gabby blinked tears out of her eyes and coughed in the fresh air.

Jared’s face lit up with a smile that made his dimples appear. “Hey there, sweetheart. I think we need to get you checked over.”  As he spoke he gently took Gabby out of Jeff’s arms, and motioned to the paramedics to come over.

As the paramedics reached them, Gabby’s mother rushed over to them. As Jared carefully placed Gabby on the stretcher, she put her hand on his arm. “I can never thank you enough for saving my little girl.”

Before Jared could tell her he hadn’t rescued Gabby, a car screeched to a halt. A man leapt out and ran over to the stretcher.  Gabby saw him and called out. “Daddy!”  The man stood by the stretcher and took his daughter’s hand. He reached out and pulled his wife to his side, overjoyed his family was safe.

“Thank god you’re alright. I got here as soon as I could.” He hugged his wife tightly, and looked over at the crew. “Who do I have to thank for my little girl’s life?”

Mrs Tyler pointed to Jared. “It was this young man, Jake.” Mr Tyler held out his hand for Jared to shake.

Jared shook his head. “You don’t have to thank me, sir. I wasn’t the one who pulled your little girl out of the fire.” Jared stepped to the side so the Tyler’s could see Jeff.

Jeff had pulled his helmet and mask off, and took a step forward. His knee buckled and Jared was there right away supporting him. Jeff knew the moment Mr Tyler realized who’d saved his daughter, his smile faded and the hand offered in gratitude was lowered.

“Oh, I see…..”  Mr Tyler seemed to be at a loss for words, and an uncomfortable silence filled the air as he stared at Jeff.

However, Mrs Tyler wasn’t as reticent as her husband. “You let a Changed rescue my little girl?” Her lip curled in disgust.

Jeff felt Jared’s muscles tense, and he gently squeezed his shoulder in warning.  Jared looked at him and Jeff shook his head. Jeff took a few steps forward, ignoring how Mr Tyler stepped back from him. He stood by the stretcher and looked down at Gabby. “You’re a very brave little girl. I was very happy to meet Mitzy, so was Moe.”  Moe appeared over Jeff’s shoulder and patted Mitzy on the head.

Gabby giggled happily, reaching up towards Moe and Mrs Tyler let out a shriek of outrage. “Don’t you dare touch her with that filthy diseased thing.” She looked over at her husband. “Jake, take that toy off her now, and throw it away.  Who knows what kind of diseases he’s carrying.”

The little girl looked up at her mother, and her large brown eyes filled with tears. “Mommy, why are you being so mean to Jeff? He’s my friend and he rescued all my favourite toys.” Gabby clutched Mitzy tightly to her chest.

“It’s because your mommy’s a bigoted bitch.”  Rob said softly, and Mr Tyler stepped away from the stretcher.

“What did you just say about my wife? She’s only being a concerned parent. Surely you understand her point of view?” Mr Tyler puffed out his chest and loomed over Rob, as the rest of the crew gathered protectively around Jeff.

Jeff rolled his eyes and tried to attract Jim’s attention. He could see this whole situation was going to get out of hand very quickly.

“Yeah. She was so concerned she left her kid with a teenager, who was already babysitting two other kids, while she went shopping,” Richard sneered.

Jeff winced. If Jim didn’t get his ass over here soon he was going to have a riot on his hands. “Richard, Rob, apologize to Mr and Mrs Tyler.”  Jeff tried to restore order and get the situation under control.

But it was too late the damage had been done. Mr Tyler went bright red and pointed to Jeff. “At least my wife left our daughter with a normal person.  If we’d have wanted her to be babysat by a freak, then we would’ve asked Mrs Abbott in 6B.”

There was a moment’s silence then Rob lunged forward. “You sanctimonious asshole!” He pointed at Jeff. “That freak risked his life to save your little girl.  We’d been ordered to pull out of the building, because it was too dangerous to continue. Jeff ignored the order and went back for her, and this is all the thanks he gets.”  Rob stood with his fists clenched, as he glared up at the much taller Mr. Tyler.

Jim divider

Jim had heard the raised voices and was heading towards the source of it.  He saw his crew surrounding Jeff and heard the word freak. Jim picked up speed, knowing how the crew would react to that insult.  By now the confrontation was attracting attention from onlookers, and people were starting to film it.  Jim had to move quickly to make sure Rob didn’t take a flying leap at Mr Tyler.  He could just imagine that hitting Youtube and going viral.

Jim reached them just in time, and stepped between the two men. “Benedict, stop being a damn idjit,” he said sternly.

Jim took in the angry faces. The way Mrs Tyler was trying to prise Mitzy out of Gabby’s arms, he had a fairly good idea what was going on. “Balls,” he muttered under his breath, and then in a louder voice, “What appears to be the problem?”

Mrs Tyler stopped struggling with her daughter and turned on the fire chief. “What’s the problem? Your fire department is the problem.” She shot Jeff a contemptuous look. “Letting creatures like him pick up poor defenceless children. Who knows what kind of trauma my Gabby is going to suffer after being pawed by those things.”  She pointed at the tentacles curling protectively around Jeff.

Jim’s jaw ticked as he straightened his back and spoke softly. “Mrs Tyler, I assure you that Jeff is an excellent firefighter, and we of the Dallas Fire Department are damn lucky to have him.”  Jim took a step closer and spoke evenly. “I appreciate your concern, but I won’t tolerate any of my men being verbally abused in this way.”  Jim looked down at Gabby happily playing pat-a-cake with Larry and Moe. “I get the feeling Gabby won’t be too traumatized by her experience. After all your little girl has grown up in a world with the Evolutionary Enhanced.”

Mrs Tyler glared at Jim. “I have every right to be concerned about that man handling my daughter. You only have to listen to Pastor Pellegrino to know that the Changed aren’t even human any longer.”

 Jim stepped to one side to prevent Jared from confronting the woman. He pasted a sincere smile on his face. “I’d like to thank you for your forthright views, Mrs Tyler, and if you wish to take this matter further please feel free to contact the department.”  Jim produced a business card and handed it to her. “The lady you need to speak to is Samantha Ferris.  Now if you’ll excuse me, we need to get Jeff to the hospital. I think he was injured saving your daughter.”  Jim turned and ushered his men away from the Tylers.

As Jim herded them back towards the truck, Jared complained, “I don’t fucking believe it!  Why the hell did you let those two bigoted assholes talk to Jeff like that?”

“Jim let the Tylers talk to me like that because they were just itching for the chance to sue the department. You heard them, Jay. They would’ve gone to the first ambulance chaser they could find and sued for emotional distress, due to a Changed handling their daughter without their permission.” Jeff shrugged, and Jared opened his mouth, ready to complain further.

“I know it stings, Jared, but you know what people are like and if they sue, the department would have no choice but to suspend Jeff. I have to walk the political line, Jay. You know how hard we had to fight to keep Jeff on the crew,” Jim said as they reached the truck.

Jared sighed as he unfastened his coat. “I know, Chief, but it still sucks.  Jeff is one of the best firefighters around, and I hate all the crap he has to put with just to be able to do his job.”

“Only one of the best?” Jeff smiled as he limped past Jared, and waited for Moe to open the truck door. Just as Jeff was about to pull his aching body back into the cab, Jim stopped him.

“And where do you think you’re going?”  Jim asked.

“Back to the firehouse where I’m going to cook dinner, as I lost a bet to junior here.”  Jeff pointed at Jared who was doing a victory dance.

“I believe I said you were going to the ER to get checked out.”  Jim gave Jeff a determined look, and motioned to the paramedics.

“I just banged my knee when I went through the floor in the apartment.  Just let me put some ice and a few band-aids on it and I’ll be fine.”  Jeff groaned as the paramedics pushed the stretcher over.

“You never said you went through the floor or that you’re bleeding. You’re definitely heading to the ER now,” said Jim with a half-smile.

“Hey, chief. How about we take him? That way you can be sure Lieutenant Morgan actually makes it to the hospital.  Remember what happened the last time? He sweet talked that cute little blonde paramedic into believing he was fine, and they dropped him off at the firehouse,” Chad said as he waved the paramedics away.

Jim looked at Chad’s innocent smile and scowled. “How could I ever forget that night, with Jeff talking to the hatstand for half an hour because of his concussion? But something tells me, this is more about you scoring a date with a nurse, rather than ensuring Jeff makes it to the hospital.”

Chad gave Jim a 'who, me' expression, then scrubbed at the back of his neck. “Chief, I’m wounded. I’m just concerned for an injured colleague.”

Jim laughed. “Of course this is all about Jeff, Murray. Okay, if it makes you happy, you can take him to the ER.”

Chad beamed at the Chief then leapt into the driver’s seat, impatient to be on his way.  Jeff looked at Jim. “Really? Come on, Chief. You know Chad’s been banned from every ward except tropical diseases.  That’s only because he can’t get in there to talk to the nurses,” he pleaded, hoping to win a reprieve.

“I know, Jeff. That’s why I’m relying on you and the rest of the crew to make sure Chad doesn’t get Truck 67 banned from the ER for harassing nurses.”  Jim smiled at Jeff’s frustrated growl.

Chad leaned out of the window. “Hey, I don’t harass anyone. I just try to bring a little romance into women’s lives.”

Jeff slowly climbed into the truck and sat down, relieved to have the weight off his injured leg.  He looked at Chad and said good humouredly, “Of course you don’t harass anyone. You just want to share the love. Right, Chad?”

“Too right, Lieutenant. I’ve got more than enough love to go round. It seems a shame not to share it.”  Chad pulled away, ignoring the sound of retching from the other members of the crew.

Team Firetruck67-600px
Current Mood: nervousnervous