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Out Of The Shadows

Guest WYN100

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Story Title: Out Of The Shadows

Type of story: Long Fic

Main Characters: Bianca, Harvey, Sasha etc

BTTB rating: G

Genre: General

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: No

Summary: Ins and out of various characters' lives.


As the late autumn sunshine began to slowly dip over and across the Bay, a gentle breeze began to play across the Civic Centre car park , setting up a series of impromptu play-chases between bunches of loose leaves over the indented Councillor –only parking bay. Just one car now remained to impede their progress and act as an early finishing line. To any passing observer the vehicle may have appeared to be empty, but a second look would have revealed Harvey Ryan sitting in the front seat. Granted he had every reason to be there as a duly elected official but a closer examination would have revealed his usual slightly shifty features to look slightly more hunted than normal. With almost robotic regularity he switched between darting glances in the rear-view mirror and checking his watch –clearly the expectation was of an imminent arrival to join him. By now a lone sparrow had joined in the leaf Olympics, blissfully unaware of the dilemma clearly assailing the occupant. Eventually, the fretful waiting appeared to have got the better of him as he gunned the car’s engine into life and began a slow reverse, scattering both the leaves and the indignant sparrow far and wide.

At that very moment though, without a glance at the man in the car park attendant’s hut, a long black car with partly tinted windows purred in through the entrance and reversed slowly into place next to where Harvey was hastily semi-resuming his place. As he did, , he lowered the window slowly, the action being replicated by the other man.

“And where the hell were YOU going !” he demanded in a low, brusque tone.

“Well, it was getting late, thought you might not turn up….” Harvey rather self-consciously responded.

“If I SAY I’ll be here, I WILL be !” came back the unaccommodating response “Now, we’ve got stuff to discuss, so where exactly are we at…!”

With his eyes darting unnecessarily round an empty car park, Harvey too lowered his voice, picked up a sheaf of documents and answered “Well we’ve certainly got a trail laid, he’s new enough to follow the bait – now we just need him to bite !”

After a short pause the voice came back “ Right Harvey, you’re the Councillor – and don’t forget who backed you to get there – make sure he DOES damn well bite –you know him – and we NEED this, right !”

Gripping the documents tightly, Harvey assembled his features to look as decisive as possible, and nodding decisively replied “ Yes, yep – you got it – done deal, done deal” But even as he spoke, the other car was reversing in preparation to leave the car park. As he did, the curious sparrow circled back down and landed with a familiar alert expression on the roof of the Councillor’s car….

“I want to, believe in…..” Bianca was singing happily to herself as she entered through the kitchen door of the beach house sifting through a pile of envelopes just deposited by the morning postman. Eyes down as they were, she narrowly avoided a collision with Irene, who’d just entered the kitchen in the opposite direction.

“Whooa darl, traffic approaching !” she smiled “Hey, you sound pretty perky this morning Madam..!”

Tapping her forefinger lightly on Irene’s shoulder, a wide smile adorned Bianca’s face as she replied “And WHY shouldn’t I be !! My gorgeous husband is getting back home from his comeback tour and I for one CAN’T WAIT !!”

Popping herself onto the sofa she stretched out her legs and gave a contented sigh. Her face though became momentarily serious as she turned her face back towards the kitchen and said “You know Irene that guy’s had to come through such a lot to get back to this – rehab twice and so much stuff because of me – firstly Vittorio, then Heath and all t hat stuff, and look at him now, back doing what he loves best and I’m sooo proud of him !”

“True darl’ but remember you’ve cut him a fair bit of slack at times too, and I’m reckoning when he looks at YOU over the breakfast table of a morning, he’ll feel HE pulled a fair few cards from the lucky tree as well you know !”

Seeing the smile widen on her face, Irene went on “So when will the returning hero be back amongst us then ?”

“Not sure to be honest – plane from the north lands back at the city airport this afternoon then Leah said she’d drive me up to meet him aft er we know the time !”

“Sounds a plan !” called back Irene, heading for the fridge . She broke off as she did though on hearing the peal of the telephone bell. Sweeping into the other room she held her hand up in restraint saying “No, no Marilyn Monroe, you stay lying there and someone’ll be along in a moment to peel you a grape !” Smiling at Bianca’s extended tongue of response she picked up the receiver “G’day Beachhouse ! No, no..this is Irene, but she is here, just a sec…” Shrugging her shoulders to indicate she couldn’t identify the caller , she passed over the handset – “Hi, Bianca speaking…yes, I do.. yes, today “ then, stopping short “What !..when ? …yes, yes I will.. thank you …” Without hanging up the call, the handset dropped from her grip onto the sofa cushion, Irene asking with concern “Bianca….darl’…whatever’s the matter !”

Face drained of colour, it took the other some moments to frame a reply, When it came it was slow and halting after a deep gulp. Involuntary moisture appearing at the corners of her eyes, her voice was as that of a small, frightened child as she said “Oh Irene – it was rge airline – they said Liam’s plane flew into a heavy storm---“ – another deep gulp - - - “It..it went down over the bush just north of here, and…and…” Irene moved forward to hug her close as the slowly evolving sob overtook her, almost engulfing the chilling final stab to the sentence…”And right now, right now - they say they’re not sure if there are any survivors…” Irene‘s own ever-widening eyes reflected the chill that had all-too-suddenly encased the living room of the Beach House…….

“Sash – SASHA !! for the third and last time, dinner’s READY !! - and it won’t stay hot for ever !! “

Sid rolled his eyes impatiently and returned to the kitchen to supervise the dispensing of t he spaghetti

Bolognese. “ Still in there I guess…” sighed Indi, sitting alone at the dining table . He nodded ruefullly – it had been like this for many days now, basically since the whole situation with Stu, Xavier etc – she’d remained cloistered in her bedroom, poring over her computer, but what the others didn’t know was a huge percentage of that time had been devoted to Facebook and particularly one person whose friend request she’d accepted. Called Dwayne he’d filled her in on how he’d been a friend of her mother.

With so few links to the past and despite the best efforts of the Walkers to integrate her plus her job at the diner she still more often than not had the feeling she was the square peg or the third wheel in the whole equation.

But now had come Dwayne, with consoling comments and a link back to the past she consumed with growing hunger through every conversation.

Turning her head to call a delaying but unenthusiastic response to her father, she swivelled back as the audible conversation bing tone signalled another comment from Dwayne - - this time requesting they should meet – as soon as the following day.

Giving a brief thought to t his new development, she leant back forward, and – smiling as she typed- agreed a rendezvous for the following day at the far end of the promenade outside the surf club. Adding two kisses to her sign-off agreement, and feeling tangibly buoyed by this development she decided she would in fact head out to join father and sister for the evening meal. Her step would however surely have been less spring-heeled had she been able to see the reciprocal smile or indeed the actual face of Dwayne as he logged off his Facebook account

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Good Chapter. Hope Liam's ok Looks like Sasha is heading for trouble I wonder how Harvey fits into all this.

Hey if you just do a edit on your 1st chapter you can put the story info in with your 1st chapter just click on full edit. Just trying to help you out :D

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Awesome start. I wonder who Harvey was talking to. Hope Liam's ok. Loved the scene between Bianca and Irene, I could imagine them having a conversation like that. Not too sure about this Dwayne character, but have a feeling Sasha may be in the thick of things. Look forward to more. :)

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Xavier tutted as his mobile phone sounded on the car seat alongside him. It had been another exacting day in this, his first year as a probationary constable , and all he keenly wanted to do was to return home to Ruby and enjoy the evening with her .

Pulling on his ‘hands-free’ kit he forced himself to be momentarily philosophical in feeling any call COULD be an important call – but quickly realized this WASN’T going to be one, as he heard the voice - - NOT for the first time that day - - of Councillor Harvey Ryan.

“Hey mate, just a quick word…”

“Harvey I’m driving, can you just spit it out or better still leave it till tomorrow.. ?”

The aggravatingly ever faux-friendly voice continued “Won’t keep you mate – it’s those forms you need to sign about the Community School liaison programme-I’m going to be passing your place soon – any chance I could st op off then and get them done ?”

Xavier heaved a deep sigh – on the list of things he ‘d like to do with his evening, form-signing with Harvey Ryan came so low it would have carried dozens of zeros after it, but the ‘getting it out of the way’ factor also played high in his mind, so between gritted teeth he said “Ok ok if it has to be tonight, I’ll be there in ten..”

And so it was that twenty minutes later an exhausted Xavier leaning against a tree outside his house signed off the final paper, rubbed his eyes, and turned towards his front gate.

“Oh yes - - - and this one too” – Harvey wafted another sheet at him in the gathering dust which he grabbed, signed, and . smothering a yawn observed wearily “Well, at least you’ve got everything you wanted ?”

His characteristic obsequious smile still very visible through the fading light he replied “Oh yes –certainly thank you !” Climbing into his car, he reckoned that with that final document, he’d got EXACTLY what he wanted……

Alf mopped his brow, emitted a heavy sigh and flopped down on a tree stump. Temperatures in the northern bush were high enough anyway as the midday sun tore down from a powder blue sky, but inside the orange emergency services suits they were escalating into suffocating levels.

Alf looked up as John Palmer approached . “ I reckon this looks hopeless Alf, that plane looks well mangled from the impact and you’ll have heard of course there weren’t many on it because it was a bit of a last minute thing by the record company or promoters or something like that…”.

Alf inclined his head towards the other man’s, fixed him with a granite stare and said “John mate – I’ve helped out with lads like these on even bigger and tougher challenges than these, and the one thing we DON’T do is give up till the fat lady’s recording her tenth flamin’ album – or CD or whatever it’s called these days !!”

“Ok , so what do you suggest, Indiana Jones ?” replied John, his barely disguised sarcasm betraying his deep fatigue and dwindling belief in a positive outcome.

“Rising from his squatting place Alf set his jaw determinedly and replied “Well I’ve been thinking - - with the angle that plane came down and the wind direction at the time, there’s a little reef just over the far side which I don’t think they‘ve searched yet – let’s give it a go !”

They set march with grim resolve, pausing only to take on copious draughts of water, the walkie-talkies they’d been given quietly relaying the dialogue of the other search groups sprinkled over the crash site. They split up on reaching the small access point to the reef, each searching and peering diligently in and around the various bushes and trees, each roughly searching a full half-circle of the area each before reconvening at the entry point with head shakes and shrugs that indicated both a crushing weariness and no progress to report.

They’d both silently set off to make the trudge back to base camp when John suddenly stumbled and with an involuntary “damn !” reached down as people for some reason do and revealed..a suitcase as he was joined by an alerted Alf to thrash away further at the vines and creepers to reveal another motionless shape some little distance further which caused both their heads to swivel and minds to work in almost synchronized union as they both gasped…”Liam…!”

“Thanks so much Gina, it’s just…awesome how it’s helping, really it is….”

Casey was honest and sincere in his appreciation as he stood up to leave t he Palmer house - it was following his latest tutorial session with Gina to accompany his TAFE course in English. After so much turbulence the younger Braxton had straightened his life out in convincing style in recent times with an impressive HSC score and an emerging affinity with English he was now looking to refine alongside his part-time job at the newly re-opened Bait Shop.

“Well Casey it’s you that ‘s putting in the hard yards or it wouldn’t be happening – keep it up, I’m very proud of you !”

“Thanks heaps again Gina, see you same time next week !”

She nodded and he departed, with a warm inward swell generated both by a sense of achievement and the kind of maternal-style guidance and approval that in all honesty had frequently been lacking in his upbringing.

That had been despite the best efforts of Brax who he’d decided to pop in on that evening before heading for home.

Heading downhill towards the Surf Club area he stopped short as he saw a form leaning against a brightly coloured sports car parked adjacent to the pavement a couple of hundred yards ahead of him.

The reason for his halting was his recognition of a character called Kurt Skinner, a guy from his own Mangrove River area who’d made repeated and unsuccessful attempts to integrate himself into the River Boys – unsuccessful be cause despite the River Boys’ own occasional flirting with the wrong side of the law, Skinner had frequently drawn trouble for offences of violence, most distastefully against some of his girlfriends, something naturally repugnant to the River Boy ethos.

Aged around 30 he tended to drink with the likes of Stu Henderson’s father, so acting on his instincts Casey crossed the road and jogged down the opposite pavement.

Pausing to catch his breath near the end of the promenade he turned his head back at the sound of voices in greeting his eyes widened and heart pumped a little quicker as he saw Skinner ushering none other than - - Sasha into his car. Mind beginning to race, whichever way it appeared, this did NOT look to have a good vibe about it

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The Council Clerk shuffled his papers and intoned…”And the next Order of Business at today’s Summer Bay Local Authority Planning meeting is a proposal for a luxury apartment development along the coastal rim. It’ll provide accommodation for up to 600 with shops and leisure facilities and will involve compulsory purchase orders on a number of local businesses whose leases fall due for renewal in the next eighteen months or so.”

“Can we re-clarify what kind of businesses we’re talking about ?”

The question came from Councillor Edwina Hawke, a kind of sub-Morag Bellingham figure in her late fifties who was a stickler for details of all varieties and who nodded precisely at short intervals like an adult owl as the Clerk outlined “Well there’s a small newspaper store, a surf shop and of course the Summer Bay Surf Club and Beachside Diner..”

“Right, right,,” said Councillor Hawke in predictably brief, clipped , rather fussy tones, “ all sounds very progressive and forward-looking,,” , to murmurs of assent from those seated around her.

“Do we have any expressions of support for this application ?” enquired the Clerk “ Yes , “ put in Councillor Ron Andrews from further down the table “The local Tourist Board are right behind it, along with some of the coach operators from further out..” he paused while Harvey pushed him a document across the desk ..”thank you Councillor Ryan…” he ran his finger down it and went on “ some leisure groups…catering franchises…oh –and we have some support coming from the local police too…!” Murmurs of interest rose around him – he continued “Yes, Constable Xavier Austin, and he’s a Bay local too !” –cue further appreciative mumbling as the Clerk tapped the table and , shifting in to formal mode and with an introductory cough proposed “Well, if everyone’s ready, I think we can now proceed to a vote on whether this planning application should be approved…?…”

As he did, Police Constable Xavier Austin sat enjoying a late breakfast at home with Ruby, blissfully unaware he’d apparently just lent his – and by implication the force’s backing - to a project that could drastically change the face of

Summer Bay……….

“Brax !! Brax !! Casey’s face was red and damp with perspiration. He’d mounted the curved staircase up to Angelo’s two at a time – no mean achievement in itself –and had flung his study notes chaotically across the bar-top before slumping into a dining table seat, breath forced and heaving. It didn’t though prevent him looking up at the bemused face of his brother staring down at him over the hatch to heave out “BRAX – Kurt Skinner….” The older one’s features immediately darkened. - - “He ‘s still bad news, right . ?

“That mongrel, bad !! He’s worse than he ever was and a scabby dog would be sick to scratch him off it’s back, I can promise you that ! – why though ? “

“It’s Sasha…” he gasped..

“Sasha ? - what about her ! Casey !”

Jerking his thumb towards the door as if to signify the need for a quick exit and panted – steadily more cohesively as time went on “ Just seen her getting into Skinner’s car – I’m assuming that’s bad news ?”

Nodding grimly as he rounded the bar, Brax responded “OH yes –lucky I still know where he lives –my cat, now !!”

And so it was that Brax and Casey were in the elder’s car heading to Raven Heights, Skinne’s home village and more or less adjacent to Mangrove River.

“Right there’s his trailer trash shack just on the side of the hill , and…” craning his neck …”..his fancy dan car is THERE, parked just outside it.”

“So what do we do, Brax ? – I mean she may not MIND being in there !” Casey shifted uneasily.

“You for real Case ? Take it from me – she will NOT want to be in there – I’ve seen that guy switch from flirt to fist at the blink of an eye, and if I tell you he was once hired muscle for Geoffrey King does THAT tell you a story ?”

His younger brother nodded seriously as they parked Brax’s 4 by 4 and proceeded cautiously up the pavement towards the extended trailer construction that was the Skinner residence. With the front door slightly ajar, presumably tp counter the effects of the baking afternoon sun, Brax placed a cautionary finger on his lips to s t ress the need for silence, and as they slipped into the outer passage, voices became audible from a room at the far end.

First was Skinner’s “Yes, your mum always wanted us to be very special friends….”

Then Sasha, with dawning realization of the risks she’d been courting….”Yes, but not THIS way, now just you WAIT a minute…”

Outside the door Brax indicated now had to be the moment to intervene and the intention to put his shoulder through the door at the end of a three-finger countdown.

That indeed duly occurred to a scream from Sasha, an aggressive roar from Skinner and an alarmed gasp from Casey as Brax’s velocity and dynamic of entry saw him crack his head against the corner of an upright unit to the left of the door and sink slowly to the floor, flecks of blood appearing around his hairline…..

Bianca’s ebullience was clear for all to see despite the incongruous surroundings of the hospital ward . Planting a - necessarily very gentle – kiss on Liam’s cheek as he sat upright in the bed albeit still a little groggily, she trilled “ladies and gentlemen – my gorgeous rock star husband – back from touring, AND ..” a slight cloud crossed her face –“ a freakin’ PLANE CRASH to come and see me !!” Grasping his hand she said reprovingly “Honestly Murphy, how am I EVER going to let you out of my sight again – there are easier ways to make an impression you know !!”

Rising with the smile restored to her face she now slipped her arms around both Alf and John, announcing “And THESE are my two hunky heroes who helped bring BACK my gorgeous rock-star husband…” turning left and right to kiss them both on the nearest cheek.

Assuming an elaborate simper, John responded “Well I don’t know about you Mr Stewart, but I could certainly get used to this – they re-making any Terminator films at the moment ? I’d be up for that !” That brought smiles to the faces of Liam and Bianca, but – rolling his eyes – Alf gave a derisive snort and replied “Huh ! Don’t know about the flamin’ Terminator – be more like Laurel and Hardy go to Yabbie Creek with you flamin’ well in it as far as I can see !”

“Well I remember the crash but nothing after it till I saw Mel Gibson there looking down at me , so don’t know how much help I’d be with the script !” joked Liam.

Turning back to him, Bianca’s brow again furrowed “But you’re not TOO bad considering, right babe ? “, then , as Sid Walker entered the room – “ah, now here’s the man – he COULD be a lot worse off given everything, couldn……” she broke off, noticing a distracted, even faraway look on the doctor’s face.

“Sid – what is it, what’s wrong… it’s not about Liam is it !! “

After a few seconds Sid shook his head as if to restore him to the here and now, first reassuring them “ Sorry, no, no, nothing like that, all unchanged there “, but going on “ I’ve just had a mobile phone call from Casey, Casey Braxton – the reception was diabolical, clearly he was in one of those ‘

Not-spots’ or whatever they’re called – well, through all the noise and jumble he mentioned Brax, another guy, and …..Sasha….”

He stopped short again..

“Well Sid…..!!” from John Palmer.

A deep sigh and “Well - - - and this is hy I’m hoping for a call right back with less crackle – from what I DID glean – it sounded like at least one, if no two of them, are, for some reason headed HERE right now - - - and in an AMBULANCE !!”

The affectionate bonhomie which minutes previously had prevailed in the room all at once gathered and gulped away like the final swirl of bathwater down the plughole…..

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