Title: Sharp Dressed Man - Ch. 4/5
Characters: Heather, Beck
Genre: Fluffy Fluff
Prompt: #27: fire @ story_lottery
Summary: Just an ordinary day - or as ordinary as it ever gets in Jericho.
Spoilers: Nothing specific, but anything in both seasons is fair game.
Word Count: 1416
Disclaimer: Jericho and everything associated with it is owned by CBS and whoever else owns it - not me (sadly). I have no claims or affiliations with any of the powers that be for this universe. This is strictly for fun, not profit, and the characters shall be returned relatively safely and mostly unharmed.
Beck and Heather had been in Bailey's for about two hours when the storm they had seen on the horizon when they arrived rolled in with a vengeance. The wind was shaking the building and the thunder was deafening and almost non-stop. Bailey's was packed and jumping, the jukebox louder than normal to be heard aboe the storm, and Beck and Heather were standing at the bar, pressed close together to accommodate the crush of people and in order to be heard over the noise. Jake and Emily were in a similar position close to them; Stanley and Mimi left shortly after Beck and Heather had arrived. It was harvest time, and Stanley would be in the fields at first light.
Beck noticed the smell of smoke first, closely followed by Heather and Jake. With a quick glance at the crowded dance floor and the press of bodies around the bar and the tables, the three of them surreptitously looked around, searching for the source. When they couldn't find one, Beck and Jake headed towards the back of the bar, with Heather close behind.
They discovered the fire almost immediately when Beck reached out to touch the closed door of the storage room and sharply pulled his hand back with a hiss of pain. Away from the babble of voices and music, they could hear the fire crackling in the walls and, they realized with a swift glance upwards, in the ceiling.
“How many exits are there?” Beck asked Jake and Heather.
“Two, now. The third exit was through there,” Jake nodded further down the corridor they were in, past the hot door. They were all silent as they saw the tendrils of smoke beginning to seep out from the storage room.
“What's in there?” Heather asked, a note of trepidation in her voice. They had stockpiled weapon and ammunition throughout Jericho, and Bailey's had once been one such storehouse. This particular storage room had been renovated to create hidden storage compartments for just that purpose.
“Just foodstuffs,” Jake reassured her. “I think.”
Beck shook his head. “We don't have a lot of time.” He glanced up at the ceiling where they could hear the fire getting louder. “We have to get everybody out of here without causing a panic.”
“They're pretty inured to panic by now,” Jake replied, even as they to headed back to the bar. “I don't think that's going to be the problem.”
“What will?” Heather asked as they came back to the main part of the bar.
“Getting their attention,” Jake yelled in reply as they hit the wall of noise.
With eye contact and hand gestures, they split up. Jake headed towards the bar where Mary and Eric were filling drink and food orders, and Heather watched as he took them aside and gave them the news, and then he and Eric headed out the front door. Beck moved to the front of the bar and was starting to spread the word as people gave him horrified looks and began to gather up their belongings and head towards the front door. Heather shook her head then headed towards the dance floor and the back part of the bar to spread the news and herd people towards the back exit.
Mary unplugged the jukebox and amidst the catcalls and the boos, made the announcement that the bar was on fire and that everyone needed to evacuate the building. The smoke was already thicker, soot and ash was beginning to fill the air, and everyone could hear the fire in the ceiling above them once the jukebox was turned off. Jake had been right, though – there was no panic. Two years of hardship and war had made the people of Jericho far more resilient than they had ever been before.
Beck quickly lost sight of Heather in the milling crowd and the thickening smoke and ash. The sudden onslaught of water as the volunteer fire brigade arrived and began to fight the fire didn't help, either. A detached part of him was amazed at how quickly the bar had filled with acrid, blinding smoke once they actually noticed the fire, and he was impressed by the speed with which the volunteer fire brigade had responded to the alarm, even as he shivered as the water drenched him. Another part of him was busy assessing how many people were still there, how long it would take to get them out and how much time they had before the bar was completely ablaze.
The part of him that wasn't focused on the crisis, though, was yelling at him to go – find Heather – get her the hell out of this building before anything happened to her. It was the part of him that didn't care about saving the world – he only wanted to save one woman. He had to keep telling himself that Heather was a capable young woman, doing what needed to be done in a crisis, and he had to have faith that she was okay, and helping the others – like she always did. As the evacuation progressed, though, and he still hadn't caught sight of her, his worry and concern for Heather grew until, with an oath, Beck yelled at the last dozen people “Keep going, but be careful!” and he headed towards the back of the bar, searching for the one face he suddenly felt a desperate need to find.
Heather, meanwhile, was busy helping people grab their belongings and herding them towards the back door. She was fighting memories of the library fire, when she'd been hoping for a miracle – or a hero - to save her. If she was honest with herself, she'd hoped that Jake would ride to her rescue – again. Instead, she got the other Green brother and – seriously – she was just as happy to see Eric as she would have been to see Jake.
Beck, on the other hand, a distant part of her thought, obviously expected her to be the rescuer and not the rescued. On the one hand, she appreciated that very much. On the other hand, the part of her gibbering in terror in the corner of her mind wished he didn't have such high expectations of her.
Beck seemed to suddenly loom out of the chaos of smoke and soot, ash and water, startling her as he grabbed her shoulders. “Are you all right?” he yelled above the noise of the flames and the shouts of the men outside and the sound of water pouring onto the burning building.
“Yes!” she yelled back.
“Good!” He stared at her intently, then quickly glanced around the area. “Everybody's out?”
She nodded frantically, her heart pounding with adrenaline and fear. Beck grabbed her hand and tugged her towards the door.
If this were a movie, Heather thought as she followed him, her hand tucked securely in his, a burning timber would have fallen, trapping them. Instead, they quickly reached the outside without further incident.
They were soaked from the fire hoses, coughing from the smoke. Their hair and clothes were black with soot and ash, and they shivered in the cold wind that was all that was left of the earlier storm.
Beck kept a firm grip on her hand as he pulled her to the front of the building, and past the controlled chaos of the firefighters and they headed towards Eric, directing activities near the fire trucks.
“Anything we can do?” Beck shouted above the noise.
“No,” Eric replied, shaking his head. “We've got it under control.” He gave them both a once over. “You two should head to the med-centre; get checked out.”
Heather automatically shook her head. “I'm fine,” she assured him.
“You should be checked out for smoke inhalation,” Eric insisted. “But they'll be overwhelmed. Bailey's was packed tonight,” he added ruefully as he watched Mary's place of business burn brightly.
Beck nodded and pulled Heather away. “Come on,” he said, “let's let the pros handle this.”
Heather hesitated, and then she nodded. “But not the med-centre,” she said, catching sight of Mary, Jake and Emily on the other side of the street, Mary crying silently. Now it was Heather's turn to tug Beck behind her as they headed across the street towards their friends.