Standing at the door to the bedroom Sam gazed fondly at the sleeping form of his partner. The American lay on his stomach a hand stretched under the pillow and the quilt lying bunched around his waist. His tousled hair begged to be combed and Sam smiled as he remembered the previous night’s endeavour. Chris was a tiger in bed and he gave as much as he took and last night had been particularly strenuous. He knew from previous experience that Chris would be feeling the effects all day and so Sam had allowed him to lie in until he had finished his shower and prepared a light breakfast. With a steaming mug of coffee in his hand he walked over to the bed and leant down to brush his lips against the warm forehead.
“Time to wake up lover” he whispered and wafted the coffee in front of him. He didn’t know whether it was his soft words or the smell of the coffee but Chris stirred and turned over grimacing at the ache in his well used muscles. Slowly he opened his eyes and found himself staring into two startlingly green eyes showing both affection and amusement.
Chris stretched and then took the proffered mug, taking a long swallow of the hot liquid.
“Ah, I needed that” he muttered.
Sam smiled again. Chris was not ready to function in the outside world until he had drained at least two cups of strong black coffee, the caffeine needed to kick his system into gear.
“Come on get up now, we’ve got to be in the office in an hour” he said getting to his feet and turning towards the bedroom door.
Chris sighed and stretched back and Sam couldn’t help but compare him to a feline. Chris nonchalantly eased the kinks from his muscles very conscious of the fact that he was putting on a show for his partner.
“I would have thought that you’d be too tired for any more “exercise” after last night” the dark haired Englishman commented as he caught the sly look that his partner had thrown him.
“I always need to be in peak physical condition to be the top CI5 operative in Britain” commented Chris knowing that they really didn’t have time to get up to anything.
“I’d love to keep up the training but Malone will kill us if you’re late again. Come on sunshine, time to get up”.
They shared a brief look of affection and understanding before Sam turned and left the bedroom.
An hour later they entered the CI5 operations room and Chris immediately found the coffee machine and poured out two strong cups. Taking them over to Sam he saw that he was talking to Backup. Stepping up beside his partner he smiled at her “morning Tina”. Tina smiled a welcome and indicated to Malone’s office.
“He wants to see you both straight away. We’ve got news on the whereabouts of Adam Sandling.”
Sam and Chris exchanged a surprised glance. They had been trying to find Adam Sandling for the last few weeks. He was a known link to an eastern European gun runner called Hotz Abranowiz but they had not been able to trace his current location despite several frustrating false leads. Turning towards the office Sam warned “don’t get your hopes up too high Chris, it’ll probably be in Timbuktu knowing our luck.”
Chris could only nod as Sam knocked on the door of Malone’s Office.
“Ah, Mr Keel, Mr Curtis, good morning. I believe we’ve got some information which you may find encouraging in our search for the elusive Adam Sandling. Please sit down” he indicated to the two chairs in front of the desk.
After they had settled Malone handed Sam a buff file and after briefly flicking through it, his eyes scanning the relevant information, Sam handed it to his partner.
“233a Crofton Road, Brixton” read Chris. He turned to Sam “that’s a bit closer than Timbuktu at least”.
Sam grinned as a perplexed Malone continued
“That’s right Mr Keel, though I dread to think where Timbuktu comes into your head from. This is from a reliable source and I have no reason to doubt the information. I want you both to go and see what you can uncover.”
“Have you had any surveillance done on the address?” asked Sam, his mind already processing the task ahead.
“There hasn’t been time, we only received the information overnight.”
Sam nodded and glanced at Chris receiving an encouraging nod. He retrieved the file from Chris and re-read the relevant information. It wasn’t much - just a report from an un-named source that their target was using the address as a base whilst organising a covert operation involving stolen munitions.
“This source can be trusted?” he asked Malone glancing up at his boss.
“As you know, nothing can be guaranteed in this business but yes, Mr Curtis, I am informed that the information from this source is usually reliable.”
“Can I ask the source?”
“All I can tell you is that the MI5 have an informant close to the centre of another branch of Abranowiz’s operation.”
“Fine” said Sam, satisfied that they were probably not going out on a wild goose chase.
“I don’t need to tell you to be careful gentlemen. I will see you back in this office at 12.00pm precisely.” He glanced at Keel who grinned back “of course Sir”.
Chris squirmed on the car seat trying to make himself comfortable. Sam could only grin at his partners discomfort.
“Stop wriggling Chris, people will be wondering what you got up to last night”
The American cast a mock glare towards his lover.
“You’ve got something to make up for tonight”
“Chris, you said you wanted me to ….” and then they both collapsed into laughter. Wiping the tears away Chris muttered.
“I guess getting kinky when you’ve got to work the next day isn’t such a good idea”.
Sam shook his head in amusement. “You did enjoy it didn’t you?”
“Yeah, maybe too much. I won’t be sitting still for long today. Remind me to do the same to you next time”
“Can’t wait” murmured Sam, braking sharply at a red light.
They found the address to be a basement flat in a semi-derelict building within an area of decayed industrial units. Chris muttered about always being knee deep in crud as they climbed over debris, most of which they didn’t want to examine too closely. Sam was sure that he saw several rats scurry away from their passage. They had waited in the car for an hour observing the property and making sure that no-one was around but eventually had decided to take a look inside the flat.
Moving to the dilapidated entrance, Sam gained access by using his electronic lock-pick and they moved succinctly into the room. They found it to be a single room, the only furnishings being a table, chair and a camp bed set up in the corner. The congealed remains of a takeaway lay near the bed. A small sink in the corner with a bucket underneath was the only sanitary ware in the room.
“Nice place” commented Sam wrinkling his nose in disgust at the smell. Chris only grunted in reply as they examined everything in detail. Uncovering the bed Chris’s eyes were drawn to a thin black cable and he ran his eyes along it to trace the source. His eyes widening in horror he cried out
“Shit Sam - get out now!”
Sam swung around as he felt his partner’s hand on this shoulder shoving him in the direction of the door. It was too late and the explosive charge. automatically armed when they had opened the door, was triggered. Sam felt himself flung to the floor, something falling heavily on him and then everything went black.
“Sam, Sam. Godammit Sam Curtis - don’t you dare be dead. I need you buddy”.
Chris tried again to move the heavy joist pinning him down but it wouldn’t move. The joist had fallen across his shoulder and chest effectively trapping him. Luckily, one end had become lodged on the remains of the bed otherwise he would have had the life crushed out of him. Both of his arms were pinned down so he had no chance of being able to lever the heavy beam away from his body. He couldn’t move more than a few inches and couldn’t twist his head to see where his partner was. He had been calling to Sam for several minutes but had not received any reply.
“Sam, please Sam” he groaned as the pain of a broken arm and collar bone made itself known. He listened intently as silence descended on the basement, trying to hear whether Sam was breathing but there was nothing except the soft thump of debris falling as the rubble settled. Lying back Chris closed his eyes, resigned to a long wait. Backup knew where they were and he was confident that when they didn’t report in she would effect a rescue. He was more worried about Sam’s condition than his own as he hadn’t heard anything from his partner since the explosion and he knew that in his panic he had actually pushed the Englishman towards the door where the charge had gone off. He had a vague recollection of flying backwards and he knew Sam had been in front of him and would have taken the brunt of the blast. It hadn’t been a big explosion but was enough to cause the walls, door and ceiling to crumble.
Time passed slowly, he didn’t know how long. It could have been 10 minutes or an hour, he had nothing to follow to give him an indication of time. His watch was on the arm pinned down and his mobile phone was somewhere in his jacket pocket, again out of reach and most probably crushed under the joist.
Suddenly he heard the tell tale ring of Sam’s mobile but straining to hear he leaned too far and fell back gasping in pain. “Come on Sam, pick up the phone” he yelled in frustration. Here he was trapped and the means of this rescue was in the possession of …… he gulped banishing the dread that thought had created.
“Sam” he yelled again but it was to no avail and shortly the ringing ceased. Chris’s head fell back and he let out a sob of frustration. “Sam” he gasped.
Backup hung up the telephone and turned to her worried boss. “He’s not answering Sir and I can’t get a signal on Keels”
Malone sighed heavily, a feeling of foreboding flooding through his system. “Something must have gone wrong. Miss Backus please arrange for yourself and Mr Spencer to visit the address and see if you can find them.” He turned around as he saw her nod “And be careful. We’re dealing with a dangerous person here. I only hope that Mr Keel and Mr Curtis have not found that out the hard way.”
“So do I” thought Tina looking for Spencer.
A groan could be heard cutting through the silence of the basement rising to a scream as broken bones made themselves known.
Chris was roused from his semi-conscious haze, his heart beating strongly. Sam was alive - hurt - but alive. “Thank god” he whispered.
“Sam, Sam can you hear me. You’ve got to wake up buddy. I know it hurts but I need to you wake up”
Sam stirred and groggily levered himself up to a sitting position. Crying out in pain again as a sharp pain coursed though his leg, his head span and he dazedly put his fingers to his head feeling the blood dripping down his face.
“Sam, can you hear me Sam?” Called out Chris desperately.
“Yeah, that’s me. How are you doing?”
“I think my left leg is broken” he shifted to see where his partner was and cried out “No, I know my left leg is broken.” Breathing deeply he tried to regulate the pain and eventually he managed to relax. “Where are you Chris, I can’t see very well, I think I’ve got blood in my eyes”
“I’m over near the bed, I’m pinned down by a beam and can’t move.”
Sam crawled over towards the voice and bumped into his partner’s warm body. Groping around he managed to find his hand and gripped it tightly.
“Glad your alive Sam. I thought I’d lost you” whispered Chris, a tear falling down his dusty cheek.
Sam squeezed the hand unable to vocalise his emotion.
“Are you badly injured?”
Chris considered the question for a moment. “My arm is broken and I think my collar bone is busted but otherwise I seem to be in one piece. I’m just trapped, I can‘t move more than a couple of inches”.
Sam grimaced and looked at the beam pinning his partner down.
“I’m not going to able to move it off you Chris”
He felt his hand squeezed
“I know buddy. Your mobile was ringing a while back. Can you call in and get the rescue squad. As much as I like spending time alone with you I think this is a little extreme - even for us”
Sam smiled, only Chris could see something humorous in such a situation. Managing to extract his handset without too much pain he dialled the number of the Ops room.
“45. Yeah, we’ve got a code Red emergency. 37 and myself are both injured and trapped. Yes, right, yes. Broken arm and collar bone, I’ve got a broken leg.” Twisting his head round he looked towards the door trying to focus un-cooperative eyes. “No easy way out, there’s a large pile of debris blocking the doorway. You’ll have to dig us out. Yes, ok. Please hurry. I know. 45 out”.
Chris listened to the one sided conversation admiring Sam’s tenacity. He knew that he must be in a lot of pain with the broken leg and he must at least have a bad headache as he had been unconscious for so long. He felt Sam shuffle around trying to get over the joist. Crying out in pain again Curtis managed to raise his body over the joist and crawl over, flopping over the other side.
“Christ Sam, you didn’t need to do that” cried Chris although he was thankful that his partner had done so. It was lonely being on this side of the barrier.
Sam took a few deep breaths trying to regulate the dizzying pain and then pulled himself along until he sat next to Chris’s head. He critically examined the predicament. The joist had indeed pinned the American down and it would have killed him outright if it had fallen a few inches to the right. He looked down again and found himself looking into a pair of frightened blue eyes. Bending down Sam kissed the dusty forehead.
“I’m not going anywhere Chris. We’ll wait this out together.”
Chris’s eyes watered, never afraid to show his emotion and Sam kissed him again.
“I told you I didn’t want to sit down all day. My ass is killing me.” said Chris forcing a smile from his lover.
“They’ll get us out soon. Apparently Backup and Spence were on their way already. All we need to do is relax.”
Chris sighed as Sam gently lifted his head into his lap, the closeness comforting.
“What the hell happened?“ he asked as he gently brushed his fingers though the short brown hair.
“Sandling wired up the entrance with a small explosive charge. It must have had a one minute delay so that he could disarm it when he came in”.
“Damn, that’s one tricky bastard”
“Yeah” agreed Chris. “I saw the wire but I wasn’t in time to do anything about it. Sorry, but I threw you in the way of the blast”.
“You weren’t to know Chris. Don‘t worry, Backup will have us out of here in no time.”
They lapsed into silence both trying to regulate their pain and fear.
Outside a major emergency rescue was being set up. The fire brigade were called and were assessing the condition of the building and Backup and Spencer were liasing with the various elements. The chief fire officer came up to them with a deep frown on his face.
“We’re not happy about that lintel above the door. If that goes it will bring the whole front of the building down. We’re going to have to secure it before we can even think about clearing the rubble.”
“How long will it take?” asked Backup worriedly. “They’re both badly hurt and the sooner we can get them out of there the better.”
Looking speculatively at the problem the fire officer made an estimation.
“At least an hour, maybe two, and then probably another hour before we can get the rubble out of the way.”
“Can you hurry it”
The fire officer shook his head. “No, if we rush it the whole thing will collapse and then we are talking about days.”
He touched Backup’s arm. “We’ve got to do this right first time. We’ll do our best to be as quick as we can.”
“They’re my friends in there” was all Backup could say despondently.
He squeezed her arm “I know”.
Sam shivered and felt his legs become damp. I hope that isn’t blood he thought distractedly. His headache was causing him to zone out and he slowly brought his attention back to the fore. Glancing down at his partner he absently brushed some dirt away from his eyes. Chris was semi-conscious, the cold numbing him, but roused with Sam’s light touch and gazed up into worried green eyes.
“Hey, how are you doing?” murmured Sam gently brushing his fingers across his partners forehead.
“I’m getting cold” replied Chris shivering “I think this place must be damp”.
Sam’s attention came alert at once and he looked down at his legs. It wasn’t damp, they were sitting in a pool of water.
“Damn, the sink must have been broken in the explosion. There’s water coming from somewhere. Probably a broken pipe.”
Chris took a sharp intake of breath. “Then I hope there’s a drain hole Sam because I don’t like to think what will happen if there isn’t.”
Sam paled significantly as the jeopardy of their situation increased one hundred fold. Chris was pinned down and couldn’t lift his head more than a few inches. If there wasn’t anywhere for the water to drain from it would continue pouring out and filling the basement. It would only be a matter of time until it covered and drowned him. The worst of it was, that Chris also realised what would happen. Please, Sam prayed, please drain away. I can’t cope with him dying in front of me like that.
“They’ll get us out Chris. I can hear them outside now. I’ll get you out of this somehow.”
Chris shivered continually now, the water leaching away the warmth from his body.
“I don’t want to die like this Sam” he whispered quietly and felt Sam hug him as much as he could.
“I know Chris and I’m not going to let it.”
He crawled away towards the sink and found the problem to be a broken pipe. It was completely broken at one end and just hanging by a thread at the other. There was no way that he could stop the flow completely but he managed to stuff a cloth into the end diminishing the flow. Crawling back to Chris he again took his head into his lap.
“I’ve slowed it down. Given us more time. They’ll dig us out - don’t worry. Backup will make sure they do.”
Chris closed his eyes, feeling the water lapping at his body. Not like this, I don’t want to die like this he thought desperately.
Time passed and when Chris became aware again he found that Sam was speaking on the phone again. Having Backup on the line just outside the building was reassuring and she told him exactly what was happening. When he told her about the water he knew that she would make sure that everyone knew the urgency had just been increased. Finishing, he turned off the mobile to conserve the battery and turned his attention back to the trapped man.
“She says it shouldn’t be too long now. They’ve shored up the front and are just about to start on clearing the rubble blocking the entrance. “
“How long Sam?”
Sam shifted uncomfortably. The water was lapping against Chris’s ears and he knew with a finality that the water would be over his partner’s head long before they were rescued.
“Not long Chris.”
“How long Sam?” demanded Chris staring intently into his partners face.
Sam sighed and Chris saw the truth reflected in the Englishman’s face.
“Too long” he sighed, his heart breaking at the misery in Sam‘s expression. “Sam, when it comes please hold me. I don’t want to die alone.”
Sam tightened his grip, tears falling unashamedly down his cheeks.
“I’m here and I’ll be with you to the end. I’m sorry Chris.”
“Sorry for what. You’ve made the last year of my life the happiest I’ve ever been since Annie. I’ve been loved by you and loved you with all my heart in return. Don’t be sorry Sam. Grieve for me but don’t ever be sorry.”
The water began lapping at the Americans face. They only had minutes together. Anger coursed through Sam as he saw Chris struggle to breathe, the resignation and fear vivid on his face. No, this was wrong. Chris Keel was one of the good guys. It couldn’t end like this - what they shared couldn’t end with his lover drowning in his arms.
The water began to rise above the trapped man’s cheeks, mingling with the tears which freely flowed. Sam wanted to look away, not wanting to see the final struggle but his eyes were locked with Chris’s eyes. “You’re not alone” he whispered, his heart aching as he saw the water reaching towards Chris’s mouth and nose.
He heard something clink behind him, the noise registering somewhere in the deep recesses of his brain. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the plastic water pipe floating, gently butting against the wall. Suddenly Sam had an idea. Turning around swiftly and ignoring the pain in his injured leg he groped for the pipe which he tore away from the wall.
“Chris, listen to me. I’ve got an idea. Stay with me, don’t struggle. I think we may be able to get you through this. Take this”
Chris felt his jaw being opened and the end of a pipe thrust down into his throat. A hand clamped under his jaw to hold it in place whilst another sealed his nose shut. He twisted slightly but Sam kept a firm grip and then the water covered Chris’s face and he was lost in the murky liquid. He drew a breath and was surprised to find that he was able to get a fair amount of precious air into his lungs. The water was frigid and he felt both himself and Sam shivering but Sam kept a strong grip and Chris kept on breathing as the water rose steadily.
The sound of jackhammers could be heard from the other side of the door and eventually the firemen were able to break though. They knew that they were too late to save one of the victims but the other one would hopefully be alright. Stepping into the basement the lead officer was disappointed to see the level of water surpassed his boot - a level of nearly 2 feet lay throughout the basement. There was no way the trapped man would have survived and he felt so sorry for his friend having to see him drown in front of his eyes. They moved into the basement and their torches picked out the beam and the dark head of the surviving victim.
“We’re here. Don’t worry. You’ll be out soon” he called, reassuring Sam.
Sam was frozen solid, his fingers in a death grip on his partner. The water was lapping within two inches of the end of the pipe and it was going to close as to whether they were still going to be too late. The fire officer leaned over the beam and his eyes widened in surprise.
“Damn. “ he let a breath of air exhale as he saw what Sam had done.
“Hurry” was all Sam could say, his teeth chattering with cold.
Galvanised into action, the fire officer began to direct his rescue crew. A breathing mask and oxygen bottle was passed over and fitted over Chris’s face. Gently, the officer pulled the pipe away from Sam’s grip.
“You’ve done enough now. You’ve saved him but its time to get you out of here”
“No” cried Sam pulling sharply away.
Backup appeared behind him.
“Come on Sam” she said gently “they have to lift the beam and need you to make space. Come on Sam, you can wait for him outside”
He turned and looked at Tina and her heart contracted with the sheer look of loss in his eyes.
“I said I’d be there for him”
“And you were Sam. But you need to look after yourself now. We’ve got him. Don’t worry. You’ve saved his life.”
All fight left him and he collapsed against Tina’s shoulder. Turning, she indicated to the fire officers and paramedics to get him out.
It took them a short while to extricate Chris. The beam was floated on pneumatic air bags and he was slipped out underneath when it had been raised just enough. His condition was causing the paramedics concern as he was thoroughly chilled and had lost consciousness. When they brought him out on a stretcher they carried him onto the waiting ambulance straight away.. In the other cot was Sam and he raised his head weakly to see the condition of his partner. Gently pushing him back the paramedic assured him that he was going to be alright. He just needed to be warmed up. Sam lay back, his eyes not taken off the pale body of this love.
“I’ll never be sorry” he whispered as his sight dimmed and he lapsed into unconsciousness.
Sam gazed at the sleeping body of Chris. He had been sat there for more than an hour just gazing at his lover, this man who meant more to him than life itself. Fate had turned out kindly and he had saved his life. It had been touch and go for a while but as the treatment for severe hypothermia began to work the Doctors had been more optimistic that the American would survive. Now, although Chris was weak, he was recovering well. Sighing, he gently ran his finger down his partner’s cheek. This was too close, he never wanted to go through something like that again. He lost himself in his thoughts and when he came to himself again he noticed two blue eyes looking at him in concern. Reaching over, Chris took Sam’s hand in his.
“I’m alright Sam. I’m not ready to leave you just yet”
Sam moved towards him cradling the hand to his cheek.
“Thank you” murmured Chris.
“I love you”
“I know and I’m glad for that every minute of every day”
They held each other for a long time, each realising what they could have lost.
Eventually Chris smiled.
“Sam, did you keep that pipe?”
Sam looked at him in surprise.
Chris settled back, an innocent smile on his face.
“I thought it would come in handy when you decide to get kinky!”
Sam was horrified. “Christ Chris. You damn near drowned and nearly froze to death. You’re stuck in a hospital bed with a broken arm, broken collar bone and you’re thinking about getting kinky?”
“All I can do is think about it until you get that broken leg healed. I’m just running through a few options in my head.”
Sam couldn’t help but grin
“Remind me again why I love you, you crazy yank”
And then Chris kissed him and he remembered.