True Credit

Steven Harkness is a fraud. Everyone loves him but they don't know the truth. He loves the attention but his conscience is hammered by guilt. How does he come to terms with the truth, and with himself?

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1. It all starts with a Glance...

"Help me!"

The smell of petrol wafted through the air. Mangled metal and twisted pieces of plastic had created a nightmarish scene in the middle of the high street. People were screaming and running about in a panic.

The lorry had been pulling out of a T-junction and the driver had failed to notice the bus trying to make the turn in the opposite direction. The result- the lorry had crunched into the right-hand side of the bus, hard enough to tip the bus over. It would have crashed upon its side, but the building to the left had prevented that- the bus was wedged between the lorry and the building, with the lorry's engine leaking petrol all over the floor.

It had been a small mercy that no one had been between the bus and the building- they'd be a pancake if they had been. Now though, people in the bus were screaming for help.

Steven had been in the bank across the street when he'd heard the screech of brakes and the crunch of the vehicles. He, like many others in shops or on the streets, had gaped or gasped in horror at the sight. He couldn't think of anything that he could do- several people had their phones out, calling for the emergency services. Others were running toward the wreck, and he could see people starting to climb out the windows of the bus and fleeing from the scene.

Amidst the carnage, Steven could see an older gentleman, with strands of silver in his hair, struggling to lift someone up out of a window of the stricken bus. In the distance he could hear the whine of sirens- the emergency services were on the way.

He ran over to the man, and saw a woman, unconcious and bleeding from a head wound, in his arms, that he was trying to get free from the bus.

"Let me give you a hand!" Steven cried, ditching the rucksack on his back by the side of the bus. The older man looked at him with gratitude- Steven took hold of the woman under the arms whilst the other man grabbed her by the legs, and together they started to carry her, gingerly getting her down from the bus and onto solid ground.

By now the sirens were louder- and Steven could see the blue lights of emergency vehicles. He and the other guy gently lowered the woman to the kerb, waiting for help.

Steven noticed that the elder gentleman looked short of breath. The poor guy didn't look especially fit, and the exertion of climbing up a sloping bus and carrying another human being out hadn't been kind to him. He was about to ask if the guy was ok, when the man's face contorted in pain. He clutched at his chest, and Steven's eyes went wide with horror. The guy had just saved someone- he didn't deserve this!

An ambulance pulled up- and Steven waved his arms frantically. Several more were arriving and paramedics were leaping out to rush and help people in need. One of them spotted Steven and the man, who stumbled to the floor.

"Help me please!" Steven shouted. "I think he's having a heart attack!"

The paramedic- a young man who looked barely out of his teens- came running with his kit. Another barely-twenty-something paramedic, a woman- showed up moments later. They ushered Steven away, wanting room to work.

Another paramedic came over, tending to the woman, who was now stirring. It was only now that Steven noticed how beautiful she was.

long auburn hair was woven into a ponytail and her face looked like it had been crafted by angels. As she opened her eyes, Steven caught a glimpse of her hazelnut stare, as she looked about, disorientated. Her jacket- a warm-looking beige number that buttoned up- hid her figure, but Steven didn't care- her face, those eyes...

"Miss, miss, can you tell me your name?" Asked the paramedic attending her, a young black man in what Steven guessed was his early twenties (when did all the ambulance staff get so young?).

"Urrhhh..." She groaned. Then her face went pale, and she doubled over, vomiting onto the pavement.

"It's alright, just breathe, deep breathes, I'll get you some water..." Said the paramedic. That gave Steven an idea.

"Wait, I've got a bottle of water in my rucksack!" He dashed over to it- just in time to hear one of the paramedics helping the old man declare the poor guy gone.

He froze, momentarily stunned- that guy was a hero, and now he was dead? That was not right...

The sound of the woman coughing brought Steven back to the here and now. He walked back quickly, handing the bottle over to her and locking eyes with hers for just a moment. She gulped back the water gratefully, with tears welling up in her eyes as the shock of what she'd been through hit home.

"Well done mate- you saved her." Said the paramedic. "Not many folks are brave enough to do that these days."

"Oh I..."

The woman stopped drinking. She looked at Steven with bright eyes. "You got me out? T-thank you!" Before Steven could stop her, the woman grabbed him and pulled him into a hug. "I thought I was going to die!"

"Uh, well, just happy to help..." Replied Steven sheepishly. He felt awkward, to put it mildly.

"Ok now miss, we need to get you into the ambulance, check you over, sort out that cut on your head. Do you think you can walk?" Asked the paramedic gently.

"I uh, I think so..." She got to her feet slowly, started to walk on her heels, wobbling a little as she went. Without thinking Steven went to grab her when she wobbled a bit too much. He wound up helping her to the ambulance.

"Where do I begin to thank you?" She almost squeaked.

"You er, you really don't need to..."

"At least let me buy you a drink!" She was almost sobbing as she sat in the back of the ambulance.

"Er, sure, yeah, I just need to get my bag, I'll be right back."

When Steven got back to his bag, the old man was being placed into a body bag, and gently wheeled into the back of another ambulance. Guilt stabbed at him- that old man was the hero, not him.

So why was he going to let her believe otherwise?

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