AN: I didn't really intend to write a follow up but I kind of liked how it turned out. Set at the Goose after Follow the Leader. Also - ... I feel guilty admitting this, but this is my 'fake' account. I have another. That I usually use. Which is why I'm so neglectful on this one. Yeeaaaaaah. Anyway. Back to your regular programming!
The Goose was jammed tonight, patrons squeezed around the bar in a thrumming mob of bodies. Nearly empty pitches of now-warm beer were scattered amid the pint glasses littering the tables and counters. A group of rowdy barely-legal boys, jeans slung low, were tussling over the outcome of a pool game. The barkeep barked out a threat, his look deadly cold, that had them slinking to the counter to pay their tabs. And Team One was gathered their usual place, a table set snuggly back from the bustling crowd.
The day had been long – but they'd done what they'd always meant to. They'd kept the peace. They'd stopped an Aryan Brethren plot to murder dozens of civilians. And they'd saved a lost and angry kid from doing something that he wouldn't even live long enough to regret. Thanks to the team, and Sam's persistence, that kid would have the chance to grow old. The opportunity to change his life. He'd have a future.
So they sat around the table at the Goose, toasting their success and thanked their lucky stars that the asshole kid with the rifle hadn't had better aim. Or Greg wouldn't have just taken a pair of bullets to the arm and the vest.
Sam shuddered at the thought, lifting his frosted glass to his lips to clear the bitter taste in his throat.
He'd redeemed himself, in a way. He hadn't been able to save Kovacs, his stomach sunk with the memory. But he had been able to save Trent. And that was still something.
"Sam!" He heard his name called. The voice, like from beyond the grave.
He shot to his feet, the chair falling to the floor behind him. Almost instantly he was tackled in a bear hug so tight he couldn't breathe.
"Jake." He exclaimed heartily, thumping the other man on the back. "It's been a long time."
"Too long." Jake grinned back at him. "Far, far too long, brother."
"This your new team?" He asked, glancing around the table. "Couldn't get rid of the bastard for three whole freaking years," Jake announced, grinning, to the group. He ploughed a pointy elbow into Sam's gut. "Then, bam, we wake up onemorning and there's this gawky white boy from Winnipeg sleeping in Sam's bunk."
Sam cringed inwardly. He had always regretted that he hadn't told his teammates himself that he was leaving. It had been such a quick decision. They'd sent Matt's body home and, not two hours later, his father had made the offer. He'd felt pressured. Angry. Sam had wanted a way out and his father had handed him one. Nothing would have been the same anyway. The unit was falling apart at the seams. He knew he was the reason the trust was gone.
When he'd seen Will again, as a special-ops consultant at the SRU, he'd known he'd made the right choice. For himself, yes, but also for his men. In a unit like theirs you needed the team to have complete unity – complete faith in every other man. And with him, they couldn't. Not when he'd killed one of their own.
"How long did my replacement last?" He asked jokingly.
"Just under three days. His replacement lasted four weeks. And his, less than 24 hours." Nobody could fill your shoes, Samm-o." Jake ruffled his hair. It was like nothing had changed at all.
"You going to introduce the boy or what?" Greg asked, watching them with owl-like eyes, brows lifted in question.
"Team, this is Corporal Jake Naganis. We, uh, served together in Afghanistan. Both tours, actually." Sam said, keeping an arm around his friends' shoulders.
"Jake. This is my boss, Sergeant Greg Parker. Ed Lane. Wordy. Jules and Spike." He said, each member giving a quick nod as their name was spoken.
"So, y'all are the big bad urban coppers, keeping the mean streets of Toronto safe?" Jake asked surveying the bunch, assessing his old friends' new colleagues.
"Yep." Greg said, leaning forward. "You got the rest of the world – we're just patrolling our own back yard. Keeping the peace."
Jake seemed satisfied with this idea.
"You involved in taking down the racist sons of bitches who tried to take out the department of immigration today?" Jake asked.
"Yes. We were." Ed answered. "Sam here was the one who talked the bomber down." He jerked a thumb in his direction.
"Talked 'em down? As in … negotiating? Long way from shooting Al Qaeda." Jake remarked.
Deeds, not words. The infamous motto. Sam couldn't have gotten any further from it, really.
"Kid was just confused and lost. He was being manipulated by a hateful bastard. He just needed somebody to understand. He needed somebody to listen. We all walked away safely. Including the kid with the bomb." Sam shrugged. Trent had needed to know that love, and life, were more important than hate. And, even when he felt alone, he wasn't. He'd always have his family.
"Not going to lie, I'd probably have been tempted to pull the trigger."
"I was. But then again, the bomb had a deadman's trap." Jules said, sardonic smile inching across her face.
"You were covering Sam?" Jake asked, turning his brown eyes on hers. Jules' squirmed under the attention. Something in his eyes unnerved her.
"In a manner of speaking." She frowned.
"You're a sniper?" Jake asked, sliding a sly glance at Sam who sifted uncomfortably. Sam covered his friends' boot with his own and slowly pressed down on the insole in what Jake would know was a painful warning to keep his damn mouth shut. Sam prayed he'd heed his silent threat.
"Yes. Is that a problem?" Jules cocked her head.
"No. I'm just … impressed. Your skills must be extraordinary if they're pulling Sam. Best shot in the division." Jake said, his face split ear to ear by a massive grin.
"I'm damned good." Jules responded casually, relaxing now.
"Looks like you're empty." Sam said, waving his hand in the direction of Jake's empty pint glass. "Lemme get a round. For old time's sake." He grabbed his friend by the elbow and with a quick nod to the team, dragged him towards the bar.
"Sexy sniper chick, eh?" Jake whispered under his breathe to Sam as the team shifted to accommodate the newcomer.
"Shut up." Sam hissed in return. "Don't say anything." He motioned his order to the bartender
"I just can't believe you found one. She's smokin' too." Jake whistled under his breath. "Trust you."
"Yeah. Well. She's a teammate." Sam said briskly.
Jake rolled his eyes. "If you honestly think that then you're not the man I thought you were."
"Okay. Yeah. There was a time when…. But that's over. That's well over."
"What happened?" Jake asked, leaning against the bar and turning to casually survey the woman in question once more. Maybe he wouldn't like her so much, he thought. Not if she'd hurt Sam.
"Came down to me or the job. She picked the SRU." He said collecting their beers from the bartender.
"Ouch." He exclaimed.
"Listen. She's a friend. A good friend. Don't say anything. Nobody else knows. And we want to keep it that way. The team's got to stick together. They could tear us apart over this." Sam warned him. From the corner of his eye Jake saw Jules look over. He caught the slight frown and the quick glance away when she realized he'd seen her.
Interesting. Jake thought as they meandered back towards Team One's table.
"Well. You've done worse." Jake lifted a shoulder in resignation.
"What's this?" Wordy asked, leaning forward to catch their conversation.
Jake met Sam's eyes and winked. "Sam ever tell you he dated a girl named Candi? Spelt with a I?"
"Whoah. Seriously Sam?" Spike asked. "Was she a stripper?"
"No!" Sam protested all too quickly. Jules rolled her eyes, but not before Jake caught the moment of jealousy that flashed across her face. Very interesting, indeed. Jake sent Sam a bland look.
"She was an extremely high-class waitress at a well-respected family establishment." Sam scrambled to explain.
"She worked at Hooters." Jake cross his arms and leaned back, his voice as dry as dust.
"Good to see you too, Jake." Sam muttered darkly.