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A majax.

No, not the one they had this morning. That was only a near majax. Another one.

Guppy groans inwardly when he hears that. So much for having only four hours of his very heavy shift to go. And then comes the news that the consultant is still missing in action, the other doctors are needed in the department...

"If you aren't sure, think what Harry would do." Abs tells him as they get out of the emergency response vehicle. Guppy nods, looks highly uncertain when Abs tells him it'll be fine, and heads for the nearest needy casualty.

He considers that other than stopping at the occasional RTC, he hasn't really been at the actual accident scene before. It's something different to see the patients being scraped off the floor, and in a lot messier a state than they normally reach him. But he keeps going with the job, forcing himself to stay focused. All thoughts of tiredness pushed way back by the adrenaline, he answers the call of the firefighters.

"The building's been cleared." Abs tells him as they follow the fire crew inside. The air is thick with smoke, although it's gradually drifting out. Guppy coughs as it irritates the back of his throat, then follows the nurse's instructions. A patient, trapped, obese and in a bad way in the cellar. Abs passes him an oxygen cylinder. "Use the oxygen if you need to."

He's never been inside a brothel before. Would probably not have known what it was if it weren't for the signs outside and the protesters they had in earlier. Catching sight of the man sitting at the bottom of the stairs, he carefully makes his way down, calling to the patient in hopes of a response.

Behind him, something crashes, and then something else, and suddenly there's clouds of dust everywhere... survival instinct kicks in and he crouches down on the stairs just as the ground floor caves in on top of him.

But it doesn't crush him. He coughs and chokes as the dust rains down like sleet, curled like an animal beneath his somewhat useless hard hat. And then it is quiet, very quiet, with only the sound of the patient's laboured breathing and the fall of dust. For a minute, all he can do is lie there and cough, his eyes stinging and throat full of the smoke, dust and fumes.

Hearing the patient coughing too, he somehow manages to get up and take a few deep breaths through his sleeve, then goes down the rest of the stairs to the man.

And suddenly, it's business as usual. What else can he do? He gets on with the job, doing what Harry would do, except for getting flustered when the man assumes he's a patron of said brothel. When George is stable, he focuses his energy on trying to shout his way out, each attempt forcing him to breathe more of the thick air. But before he knows, George is struggling again, and try as he might, he can't find any signs of a bleed.

In desperation, he tries to find a patch of clear air so that he can think what to do, and spots a mobile phone lying in the rubble. Grabbing it, he dials the emergency department and is highly relieved to hear Alice's voice. Moreso to hear Maggie's as she talks him through the patient.

He's just been advised on a plan of action when something slams down on the phone. But rather than being faced with another building collapse, he looks up to find himself face to face with the arsonist himself. Who is holding an extremely sharp piece of debris at his throat.

...Shit.

He follows the man's instructions and gets himself backed against the wall. But George is dying in front of him, and there's no way he's going to just stand there. As soon as the wood is lowered from his throat, he makes a move forwards, but is immediately grabbed by the throat. His eyes water from the smoke and fumes as he pleads with the arsonist.

The last thing he remembers is a heavy impact on his right before everything turns black.

***

It could have been a few seconds, maybe ten, fifteen minutes or more before he hears the arsonist's voice behind him, berating the patient for his use of women. As the world spins slowly back into focus he sees debris below him, some with drops of his blood on it.

Somehow he staggers to his feet, head to one side for a moment as his hand examines the wound. His head throbs horribly as he looks up at the man next to him.

"Are you scared?" The arsonist asks.

"Yes. I'm scared that he'll die." Guppy replies, facing the man.

If it's my turn to die this New Year, I'm going out fighting.

"I'm not involved with the brothel, I'm a doctor." He tries, and they banter, each as stubborn as the other to realise their dream. The arsonist talks of a war, a strange smile on his face as he contemplates George's death.

"This is my war." Guppy replies. "If I don't try and save him, I'll never be able to live with myself."

The spark slowly drifts from the arsonist's eyes, and he lets Guppy through. By the time light begins to drift back into the cellar again, they are side by side trying to save George.

The ride back to the department is almost dreamlike. He faces his colleagues with a dazed, relieved grin as Harry shakes his hand and even gives him a hug. And with an invitation for after shift drinks he tells them to give him ten minutes to clean up.

The cheery smile fades the instant he is out of sight, the adrenaline rush beginning to fade to leave just the throbbing pain in his head.

He pushes open the door to the staff room, closes it behind himself, and moves to sit down on the sofa.

Since he's in the bar, it's not there.

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