Beautiful Fragility: Open Wounds

Post "Fault Lines". A series of oneshots dealing with the team's individual reactions to Toth's brutal interrogation.

ONE (1). BANDAIDS.

"Today was a hot mess," Jules Callaghan remarked, popping the tab on a can of her favourite beer and treating herself to a huge swallow. Across from her, nursing his own alcoholic beverage, Sam Braddock had no idea what to say. Both he and Jules were accustomed to hellish days- working as part of the city's elite Strategic Response Unit was not as glamorous as it sounded. The human condition was a fatal thing, they'd learned- but today had taken the cake. A "routine" psychological/physical examination had quickly turned into a nightmare for each member of Team One.

"Are you okay?" Jules asked him, setting her drink down to engage him in a stare-off. Sam blinked. He couldn't bring himself to look at her directly, knowing that if he did, if he allowed himself to be captivated by those deceivingly harmless doe eyes, he'd be done for. They'd been playing some sort of tricky "We-Used-To-Love-Each-Other-And-Still-Do-But-We-Can't-Be-Together-So-Now-I-Have-To-Keep-My-Distance-But-If-I-Could-I-Would-Fuck-You-Like-An-Animal" mind game. They'd become silent experts at it over the past few months, especially Jules.

"No," Sam answered, staring at the clock just above Jules's head. "No I'm not okay. I feel betrayed."

"By Sarge?" that was so Jules. Give her a hostage situation with a female hostage or subject, and she'd be able to keenly detail the emotional angle of things. But when it came to her own affairs, she was blind as a bat. Sam wasn't sure, before he'd thought her oblivion was an endearing (if not exasperating) quirk; now he thought she did it on purpose. He should have seen that earlier, when they were still together, but it didn't matter, and anyway, would it have changed anything?

No. Jules was so damn set in her ways, so protective of a job that was now at risk because of a near-traumatizing psych evaluation, she would still have broken up with him. It didn't matter that he'd been prepared to introduce her to his family (for the record, he never brought a girl to his parents. He brought plenty to his bachelor pad to tangle up his sheets, but never to meet his sweet-as-pie mother and hardass father), it didn't matter that he loved her. It didn't matter that the night before she'd dumped him, he'd had a dream about them married, with a little girl who had dirty blonde hair and brown eyes, with another baby on the way. None of that was relevant to Jules, it never had been. And, Sam told himself, it was best if he let go of it, too.

"Sam?"

"What?"

"Are you mad at Sarge for bringing Toth in?"

"No," Sam quirked a half-smile when he saw the surprise flicker onto her face. "He's human, Jules. And he didn't trust himself to overlook our flaws and our histories-" he gave her a pointed look at this, but she didn't seem to be on the same page as he was. "He was only trying to look out for us by being objective. He didn't know that Toth would be the one who…"

The portable phone shrilled. Sam stood, glad for the distraction, snatching it up.

"Sam?" an unsure voice queried. Sam recognized the soft, urgent feminine tone instantly. It had been a life-saver during so many of Team One's more taxing incidences.

"Winnie?" he furrowed his brow, shooting a glance at Jules. She shrugged, bewildered, but sat up straighter and pressed a finger to her lips. He rolled his eyes. As if he'd be stupid enough to let on that she was with him when they'd just been ripped to shreds for their brief relationship.

"Sarge, uh, he told me to call you. He's on his way to the hospital. Ed's been shot."

"What?" Sam felt as though a bucket of ice had just been poured over his head; the reaction he had whenever his hectic little world was thrown off balance. He'd experienced it only a handful of times: when his little sister died saving his life, when he'd accidentally shot and killed Matt, when Jules broke up with him, when Lou died, and… now. "What do you mean shot, Winnie?"

"He was shot. We don't know who did it. But Sarge is down there now, he asked me to call you."

"Down where? Is he with Ed?" Sam's head was spinning, that frigid, icy feeling was engulfing him. His blank face betrayed nothing, however, and Jules could only watch, curious.

"At the hospital. St. Simon's."

"Fuck."

"I know." Winnie agreed sympathetically.

"Is he going to be okay?"

"I'm sorry, Sam, I don't know. I need to call the others."

"Yeah. Thanks, Winnie."

"Don't thank me. Please."

Sam sighed, hanging up the phone and shaking his head. It took a fair amount of restraint not to rip his phone charger from its wall outlet, punch said wall until his knuckles were bloody, and then crush the portable phone with angry feet.

"Sam?" the world was spinning, but Jules's voice was steady. "Hey, Sam, what is it?"

"Ed." she stood, moving closer to him. "Ed's been shot." the next few seconds were a blur as Jules approached him, wrapping her arms around his waist, resting her head on his chest. How many times since their split had he desperately longed to hold her like this again? But fuck, not in these circumstances, not when his team leader had just been gunned down outside of work.

"What the fuck?" he voiced his thoughts, barely aware that Jules had taken his hand and led him, like a lost child, to the living room. She gently eased him down into the arm chair he'd been occupying before her visit- reading a book that was cast off to the side, forgotten- before padding from the room.

Sam pondered where the hell she could be going, but then wondered, as another wave of shocking coldness overwhelmed him, if he cared. Jules returned seconds later with the blanket from his bedroom. Without another word, or another sound, she pecked his startled lips, taking a seat in his lap and draping the blanket firmly over both of them. He buried his face in her hair and closed his eyes, inhaling the strawberry scent that was seared into his brain. She grabbed one of his clammy hands with both of her smaller ones, rubbing it to try and make it warm again. She knew about the coldness. He'd told her. She knew.

They'd go visit Ed in a little while. As Jules's hands massaged his, Sam realized how funny life was. By sitting in his lap the brunette woman was fearlessly slashing open old wounds. And he found they helped to combat his new ones. But it would only be temporary, like a bandaid. Sam understood that when they left the apartment, he'd have to tear the bandaid back off, and both sets of injuries, new and old, would have renewed breathing space. He closed his eyes, wrapping one arm around Jules's waist. Right now, he couldn't muster up the energy to care about his painfully correct foresight. He was too busy holding onto his bandaid, trying to stop the hurt by pretending something was finally going to be okay.


Hey guys! I don't know how many of you remember me, but it's been a LONG time since I've written anything for the Flashpoint fandom. Earlier today I was thinking about how uninspired I was, and then boom, I watched the season finale (caught it online today) and this idea popped into my head. My skills are a bit rusty, but I hope you enjoyed this anyway. Hopefully I'll add to this soon, with different points of view from the different SRU members. Did anyone else feel horrible for Spike? Or was that just me? And what's up with Wordy? I don't think his hand-shaking is something that can be passed off as nerves, but that could just be me. What do you think will happen when the series continues? Leave a review and let me know, or message me. I'm REALLY hoping that Ed will still be able to work, as much as I like his family, I LOVE his surrogate family ;). And who the hell was that guy at the end, anyway? (I'm trying not to add spoilers, in case someone hasn't seen the finale yet).

Reviews inspire me -big smile-. Sam Braddock as a Christmas present would inspire me for life ;)