Story Time: Fire in the Distance

Join Leandra for the next installment with the Fifth Avenue Twins!

Fire in the Distance

Leandra Ranger

James was just pulling his coat on to meet Delilah when he heard the fire sirens. Sighing, he pulled the coat back off and strode back into the bowels of his house to his sister’s workshop.

“Josie?” he called, turning the handle just to confirm that it was locked.  He was met with the clanging of his sister at the forge in concert with the sirens in her attempt to drown them out. He considered pressing the issue-he could probably get her attention by knocking on the offbeats-but she had yelled at him for interrupting her coping mechanisms before.  Instead, he scrawled a note describing his whereabouts and slid it under the door before leaving her for the kitchens.  Delilah would probably be too busy assisting the victims to make their appointment, but she still needed to eat.

~ ~ ~

Thirty minutes later, James approached Bellevue Hospital, using his tall stature to search over the crowd for Delilah’s dark hair curling out of her nurse’s cap. Cutting through the crowd was easy; his recognizable mask and leg proved his right to be in the thick of the action. Once he reached her side, he pushed a sandwich into her hand and unwrapped his own. Delilah tore her eyes from the road to look at him briefly before returning to scanning for hospital carts.

“Thank you,” she lilted, briskly beginning her own meal.  “Are you going to go investigate the site?”

“Not tonight,” he replied. “The smoke’s bad for my lungs.” He was not eager to get near the strange green flames even if his physical health wasn’t getting in the way.

“The fires are getting more frequent,” she observed, placing her hand over his on his cane.

“And we’re no closer to figuring them out,” he added. “In fact, where is this one, exactly?”

“Blackwell Almshouse,” she shook her head sadly. “We’ll be busy tonight.”

They watched the road together for a moment before James dropped his head to her shoulder, mind clouded with smoke and ashes. His breath caught in his chest, and he fumbled at his mask compulsively, sure it was coming undone. Expert hands covered his and took over the check, reeling him back from his rising panic.  Smoke cleared to show the comfortingly-distant green glow, and James took a minute to put effort into slowing his breathing as Delilah’s arm snaked around his waist.

They stood in silence for a long moment until the crash of hooves announced the arrival of the dead and dying.

“Take care of them,” whispered James as he slid from her arms.

“Take care of yourself,” she shot back as she ran to save lives.

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