By the time she officially arrived at the scene the blaze was all but out and the ashes were being dampened. What was once a large warehouse had been reduced to twisted skeletal remains carved from melted and warped steel. The power of fire always impressed her in a morbid way.
Even though they were all dressed identically she spotted him a mile off, her heart skipped a beat and a smile raced across her face. She flashed her badge at the officer setting up the perimeter and ducked under the flimsy blue and white police tape.
She tapped him on the shoulder, "We have to stop meeting like this." She beamed with a jollity that betrayed the situation.
He turned around slowly; her heart melted when she saw his powder blue eyes, seemingly brighter than ever peering out of the soot and grime that covered his face.
"Third one this week, "He said sadly. "We think it was being used by a few homeless people as we have found some …"
He paused as he searched for the right word. "Remains." Was the one he finally settled on.
It would be different later on at the station house, the sick humour coping mechanism would kick in and bravado would overrule the raw emotion you always experienced on site. Once the official processes kicked in and the humanity of the situation was removed he would be able to carry on as normal but these first few hours were always the worse. You never forgot your first one, that was a given. Every fire-fighter she knew could name the first body they pulled out, no matter how long your career. He was different he could remember each and every one, the shock and sadness never lessened.
She placed a hand gently on his shoulder, offered a warm smile she hoped was reassuring. "We'll catch them you know, we always do in the end."
"Doesn't help them though does it?" He said angrily, gesturing at the smouldering carnage in front of them.
She knew then she truly loved him; she also knew she would have to stop starting the fires and start looking for some way to wash the blood off her hands, but not yet maybe one or two more would make him notice her properly?