Jacked Up, Final Chapter.
Pacing had become Sam McBride's best friend. It was nearly his life now. He got some intel and then paced and waited. If he was lucky, occasionally he was afforded some sleep and some food, but mostly he just paced. Today was no different from another, except that instead of sleeping with the enemy, he was standing in a brothel waiting for his contact to arrive. Sam ran his hand over his upper arm, feeling the rough texture of the bandage coving his gunshot wound. I've stood on point on many nights, so why is this one rendezvous making me so damn nervous? he wondered as he peeked out the window. Don't suppose the fact that I held a gun to his wife's head has anything to do with it, he added wincing at the thought of Jonas busting through the door and ripping him apart limb by limb.
"Still on the team?"
The voice jolted Sam from reverie. "Never left," he answered turning to face the formidable team lead.
"Quite a cover you built for yourself," Jonas went on as he made his way around the room picking at random items, looking for bugs. "Rapist, malcontent, terrorist henchman …"
"Thanks Sergeant," he muttered waiting for the other shoe to drop. "I stepped on a few toes in the pantomime. My only regret is what I put Bridget through." He watched Jonas eyeball him.
"And my wife?"
"She was an unexpected variable," Sam replied. "I tried to protect her." He looked up at Blaine and noticed the man was still staring at him. Jonas's face was a blank slate. So much for trying to read the guy, Sam thought swallowing hard.
"I know," Jonas finally remarked. "She told me."
"Ugh," Sam grunted wondering exactly how that conversation had gone. He never tried to kill me honey, he just shoved a gun in my face two or three times. He rolled his eyes at the image.
"No hard feelings," Jonas remarked suddenly cutting the ice in the air. A mischievous grin crossed his face. "Molly can be ah…"
"Handful?" Sam finished his sentence cautiously.
"I was going to say pain in the ass, but yeah," Jonas chuckled. "I hope she didn't compromise your cover."
"I kept her off Drake's radar and I whacked the only guy that would have been suspicious," Sam replied. "Drake's waiting on me."
"Where is he now?"
"He's down the road. I told him that I needed to relieve a little tension," Sam remarked carefully lifting the edge of the curtain to look out the window.
"He seemed too," Sam said stepping across the room. "I just hope others can as well," he muttered under his breath.
"You were on a mission," Jonas said plainly. "Besides the team…" his voice trailed off and he shrugged his shoulders. "'I've suspected for awhile."
That caught Sam off guard a bit. "How long?" Sam guffawed completely stumped.
"Since the stand-off," Jonas said flatly.
"You've known since the stand off," Sam repeated not believing it.
"You didn't play your hand very well Sergeant. A rogue soldier wouldn't have anything to lose, wouldn't have hesitated to hurt another or pull the trigger on himself," Jonas practically lectured him.
Sam blinked as his team lead quietly analyzed his rogue performance. He's full of crap, Sam surmised as he listened to the senior man's words. "You didn't know since the stand-off," Sam said shaking his head. "I'd say you found out exactly when I let you in, two days ago in the tunnel."
Jonas pursed his lips and stared at Sam with stone eyes for a moment before his features softened. "Oh, you think you're smart don't you."
"I am smart," Sam nodded. "Admit it, you didn't know."
"Ah, just answer the question. It bodes to my ability to maintain the cover."
Jonas hesitated for a moment before revealing his cards. "Bob knew since the standoff," Jonas conceded making no further comment regarding himself. "He saw Ryan slip you the lighter."
"And you?" Sam pressed.
"Suffice it to say, I was suspicious,"
"And yet you shot me!"
"You told me too," Jonas replied with a sly grin. "Be thankful I just shot you in the arm. I was going to take out your knee."
"I probably deserved the knee more," Sam said ruefully.
"Yeah, well, I'll reserve the right to recall that option if we don't take Drake down," Jonas said crisply bringing the two men back to the matter at hand.
Sweat dripped off his brow and his muscles burned with fatigue. An agonizing moan filled the air as the weight bar clanked back into the safety of the rack. Another grunt rolled the lifter up so he could rest his forearms on his knees. Water from a bottle dumped into his mouth splashed haphazardly across his face and ran down his chin. He scanned the room and smirked at the familiar setting. He was home, ironically the first home he had in years, yet things weren't quite right. Some things time would fix, some things might never be right again.
Sam sighed and picked a towel up from the floor. He ran the rough fabric across his face and neck, to wipe away the sweat and push away the memories of the past few weeks. Alpha team, Jonas, Mack, Bob and Charles, they all understood. They knew like some unwritten code that it was way of life for them. Bravo team got it unconditionally. The other guys that he passed in the corridor and the members of the TOC didn't even question it. All of the unit members lived it every day and to them, what Sam had been ordered to do was just another day in an operator's life. Even RedCap knew how it worked, but Bridget … Bridget was another story.
RedCap and Bridget were one and the same, at least in theory anyway. They shared the same body and the same moods, but they were different people inside. RedCap was a team member. She was skilled, confident and resourceful. She understood the inter-workings of the operation and the sacrifices that sometimes had to be made. Bridget was a woman with feelings and emotion. As strong as she was in her groove, she could be hurt and manipulated and in the wrong circumstances be taken advantage of. Like Ryan did on this mission, he contemplated at he stared blankly at the floor.
"Or I did by going through with it," Sam mumbled. He tossed the towel over his shoulder and stood up from the weight bench. He walked out of the gym and across the hallway in to the locker room. "Get over it McBride," he whispered as he pulled open the door. He could only wish it was so easy. He could use that bio-feedback crap to stow his emotion over what he had to do to accomplish his objective. He could write up a thousand reports, face ten or twelve inquiry boards, and pass them all with flying colors.
Not that any of it really matters, I'm still here, I still have a place on the team, Sam thought as he shuffled around the corner to his locker. "Bridgett," Sam exclaimed when he came face to face with her on the other side of the lockers.
"Sam," she squawked looking equally startled.
"I ah… I didn't knaah, I can leave," he mumbled stumbling over his words. He started walking backward in retreat and nearly tripped over the top of Sergeant Bohrman from Charley team.
"No," Bridgett said shutting the door to her locker. "Sergeant can you give us the room?"
Sam watched as Bohrman exited the room and then looked back at Bridget as she weaved through the tables. He was suddenly nervous in her presence, not knowing how she was going to act. Is she going to burst into tears like she nearly did in the TOC or kick my ass? he wondered as he watched her.
"You were right," she finally said breaking the silence. "Right that people would take advantage of me."
"I took advantage," he agreed. "I used things you confided to me against you." Sam leaned against the locker and pulled the towel of his shoulder just to have something to do with his hands.
"No, I meant the army," she said. "You warned me … and you were right. Makes me wonder," she said her voice trailing off into nothing.
"What I'm doing here?" she asked ruefully. "If all the army thinks is that all I am is a skirt that can be manipulated as they see fit, then what am I doing here?"
"Is that what you think?" he asked. If this is a pity party, I'm leaving early, he thought pushing off the locker.
"Apparently it doesn't matter what I think," she said. It didn't go unnoticed to Sam that her bottom lip was quivering again, or that her eyes had welled up with tears.
"You didn't answer my question," he said pulling a chair out from a table and flipping it around before resting his foot on it. "Is that what you think?"
"Think about what?" Bridgett snapped back at him.
"About yourself. About your position with the unit," Sam prodded her into a response.
"I'm not part of the team. You said so yourself."
"Ha!" Sam chuckled shaking his head. "I'm not the one that doesn't think you're part of the team." Sam pointed at his chest while he was talking. "We all think you're part of the team. It's you that doesn't believe it."
"I don't believe it?" Bridgett guffawed at him. "I believe it."
"Do you?" he questioned her. "Cuz you're talking like you're giving up and that isn't team member material."
"Some battles aren't worth the fight," Bridgett replied crisply.
Sam laughed and pushed back from the chair. He paced around the table and pointed his finger in her direction. "That's what you think Bridge? You know what? I spent eighteen hours with Molly Blaine. Eighteen long hours trying to keep her alive so Jonas didn't slice me to bits. I threatened to kill her twice! I held a gun to her head three times and you know what? She never backed down from me. She never begged for her life. She fought me all the way until the end. She fought me with courage. She was annoying as hell but she impressed the shit out of me!" Sam said flatly. "She picked her battles and she never gave up."
"You think I'm giving up?" Bridgett scuffed. She stood up from the table and headed for the door. "You don't know me very well."
"I know you well enough," Sam said quickly. "Like I knew you would fight me that night." The words cut through the air and stopped Bridget in her tracks.
She turned on her heel with an incredulously expression on her face. "Excuse me?"
"I knew you would fight me that night," he repeated.
"And if I hadn't?"
"I would have stopped," Sam said flatly. "I would have retreated and thought of a different strategy for my exit. And for the record, it would have never gone any farther than it did."
Sam watched Bridgett carefully and saw the confused expression on her face. "I don't understand…" she muttered with a perplexed look in her eye.
"Did you think that it would?" Sam prompted her. "Honestly?" He waited for a second for her to answer. When she didn't he went on to explain himself. "What did you tell me at the bar in Paris?"
"What does that have to do with anything?" Bridgett asked with an irritated tone.
"What did you say? About the drunk at the bar?"
"I don't like men that drink too much," Bridgett replied crossing her arms impatiently at her chest.
"No, you said you hate obnoxious drunk guys," Sam corrected her. "And why did you curse me out after I told him to buzz off?" "
She sighed and rolled her eyes. "I said I could take care of myself."
"A series of events occurred that night to set my plan into motion," Sam said walking closer to where she was standing. "I irritated you during the op for no other reason than to get under your skin. I drank a couple of beers fast enough to give the appearance of being drunk. I made some rude obnoxious comments that were solely directed at you and the ultimate bad idea ….I hit on you at the bar. All things that I know really piss you off … and then, the icing on the cake, which I hadn't even planned for, was when Bob swooped in to warn me off." Sam leaned against the locker with a wicked grin crawling across his face. "So when I showed up in the parking lot of your apartment and tempted fate…"
"I was ticked off enough to fight you," Bridgett said filling in the blanks.
"You played right into the ruse," Sam said filling the air with fast talking rhetoric trying to convince Bridgett that she wasn't the victim in this whole mess.
"There was no way you could have known I wouldn't call the police," Bridgett tried to argue.
"Yeah there was," he interrupted. "It's not your style … it's not our style. It's unit tradition to keep our dirty laundry in house. And whether you want to admit it or not Bridge, … you knew, you knew inside there was a reason for my actions." He watched Bridgett mill around the room and shake her head, like she was waging a silent argument with him. "That's why you told Colonel Ryan that you didn't want to make a report." Sam gave her a knowing look and when surprise crossed her features, he shrugged his shoulders. "Bob told me," he added.
"Is that supposed to make everything right?" she asked as emotion rippled across her face.
Of course not, why would anything be easy, Sam thought turning to walk toward the refrigerator. I practically beg for forgiveness from her and she shoves it back in my face. "Umm no," Sam answered swinging the door open. "You thirsty? You wanna beer?" he asked reaching in for two. He popped both lids and held the bottle out for her to take. A peace offering of sorts. Guys do it … wallow in their shared misery over a cold beer, he reasoned with himself. A few more seconds ticked off the clock before she made any move toward him.
"This doesn't make up for anything you know," she said reaching for the bottle.
"I never said it did," he replied taking a swig of the beer. The familiar taste of beer and regret flooded his senses. He pulled out the closest chair and sat down. "I never said it did and honestly it shouldn't." Despite how much he wanted to make this right with her, making it right wasn't the answer. It needed to fix itself naturally.
The two shared the beer in silence as Sam looked everywhere in the room but at her. He couldn't. Yesterday she was his friend and tomorrow she may be again, but today she needed to work through her feelings. Because nothing in my life is just that easy, he reminded himself as he stood to get another beer. He pulled two again and twisted the lids off the bottles. This time when he sat down, he held her gaze and sought some understanding in her eyes. After a moment, she gave it to him.
"To the team?" Sam ventured holding the neck of the bottle toward her waiting to clink the glass together.
"To the team," she agreed tapping his bottle with hers. She took a swig of the liquid and leaned forward at the table. "I'm still mad at you though," she added quietly.
"I wouldn't want it any other way," Sam said lifting the bottle his lips. He took a long swallow and closed his eyes as the fluid flushed through veins. On a mission assigned by the general, I attacked my friend, held the boss's wife at gun point while I tried to save her life, got arrested for locking myself in an office at a car dealership and in the end helped save the world. "It bodes to my life," he said as an afterthought.
"How's that?" Bridgett asked him.
"Huh …. You need to ask?" Sam questioned her with a raised eyebrow. "Normal is too easy. Suffice it to say, my life is just jacked up."
A/N: Thanks for reading and the reviews. I felt compelled to write this story after hanging out on the message boards and reading everybody slam Sam. Even though I thought he was a little creepy with all that jumping he did in the first episode … I thought he was still a good guy. I think it's really easy to write tags to The Unit because the characters are dying to be heard. (Especially now that they've been cancelled). I have Bridgett and Molly's versions in the works, so stay tuned to your favorite bat channel for updates.