What Mothers Are For
Pairing: Sam/Mrs Braddock; Sam/Jules
Disclaimer: As much as I'd love to, I don't own Flashpoint, and all characters remain property of the show's wonderful scriptwriters. All original characters and plots are mine. No copyright infringement is intended.
Synopsis: "A mother always knows, Sam," she told him, placing her palm against his cheek. "That's what mothers are for." Spoilers for 2x07 "Perfect Storm"
Author's Note: After I wrote The Hardest Part, Syuuri put this idea into my head and I haven't been able to get it out since then. So I totally blame her :)
"So, when am I gonna meet her?"
Sam turned, pausing in his washing of the dishes as the figure of his mother filled the doorway of the kitchen.
He went for nonchalant. "Meet whom?"
Mrs Braddock leaned against the cupboards and smiled at her son. "You know who I'm talking about."
"There isn't anyone, Mom," Sam protested.
"Don't lie to me, Samuel," his mother told him.
Sam sighed. The woman was sometimes far too perceptive for her own good. It was a habit, he reasoned, borne of years of marriage and living with a hardnosed General for a husband who never showed any emotion.
Yet, he still tried to play it cool. "What makes you think there is anyone?"
Amelia Braddock sighed again. She hadn't seen her son in months. The last time he was over for dinner, the event was strained, the dark cloud of his discharge from the army hanging over the table. Her husband had been furious – furious that his own son would choose to leave the uniform behind – and Sam had been equally furious over what had happened in Afghanistan.
She had longed to hold her little boy in her arms, longed to hug his fears and guilt away, just the way she had done when he was nine and had come home with a bloodstained shirt and his sister's shoes. She had hugged him then, telling him that what happened to Sadie was an accident and he wasn't to blame. She had wiped away his tears while holding back her own.
But when he had come back from Afghanistan, bearing the guilt of having shot his best friend, her heart had broken for the little boy she lost. He was no longer the boy who pushed through the guilt of failing to protect his sister; he had become a man beseiged with the terror that he – and he alone – was responsible for another's death. Not just any other man. His best friend.
Her husband had announced that Sam was to begin work at the Strategic Response Unit the following week during that dinner, a sort of "time out" for the entire event to die down, and for Sam to regain his bearings. The General had never intended for his only son to leave the military, not when he counted on Sam to carry on the Braddock name in service as he and his father before him, had done.
As he always had since young, Sam had merely responded "Yes sir" with nary a complaint or even a raised eyebrow, and Amelia had resigned herself to the fate that her only son was once again being taken away from her, relocating to a city three hours away, working 12-hour days, and facing the same dangers as he did in the army. She remembered praying fervently that night, that he would find his place there and that the break would be good for him, and that somehow, the SRU would heal his fragile soul.
And it apparently had. She made it a point to call him at least once every week, since phone calls had been a rare privilege during his army days. It was good to hear his voice so regularly, to be constantly reassured that he was doing well and just to remind herself that he was all right.
Initially, he had hated the SRU, complaining constantly of the team leader who made him go on coffee runs during a standoff and teammates who were less than welcoming (and she still remembered how he recounted that the first impression he gave the team was so bad, they each pulled a gun on him).
Those complaints lessened over time, and she heard the pride in his voice everytime he recounted a situation where they saved someone and no one got shot. She learnt about each of his teammates – Greg, the sergeant who always kept a cool head no matter the circumstance; Ed Lane, the initially abrasive team leader who had become a respected mentor; Wordy and Lou, the first people who welcomed him more readily into the team than all the others; and Spike, with his Babycakes girlfriend and his superb computer skills.
But mostly she learnt about Jules, the enigmatic Julianna Callaghan, who was the only female on his team. Amelia detected a hidden joy in Sam's voice as he recounted how Jules put her life at risk to talk down a troubled teenager, and she heard the worry in his voice when he described how nasty the bruise Jules earned for that effort was.
He always tried to keep conversations about Jules neutral and relevant to work, but Amelia learnt a lot about the other woman through the things that Sam avoided saying. While he would pepper his stories with mentions of the other guys when they hung out, it was the lack of things he said about Jules that made Amelia wonder. He was always careful not to say too much about the only female member of the team, Amelia noticed, and when he reported that Jules had been shot while on the job, she had sensed intuitively that there was something more going on between her son and his colleague.
Tonight, however, she knew for certain that Julianna Callaghan was not simply just her son's teammate.
The General had ordered Sam back into the military, having pulled some strings to get him back on active duty, and Sam had stood his ground and flat out refused the demand. The action had stunned both her husband and her son, but Amelia had somewhat been expecting it. She knew that Sam had grown to love his new job, his new teammates, and she knew that he felt he was making a huge difference in the lives of others.
There had been a fierce argument at the table, which was something new, since Sam usually acquiescedto his father's demands without so much as a fight. That, in itself had been very telling, but it was what Sam said that drew her in and made things crystal clear.
"You said that the SRU gave you someone worth shooting for," Amelia told her son, watching surprise flash across his face before he shut it down into a neutral expression again.
"You must've heard me wrong, ma," he replied, refusing to meet her gaze.
"I didn't, and I know it," Amelia insisted. She pushed herself up, and walked to where her son was now furiously scrubbing dishes and getting foam on himself to avoid talking to her.
She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "I may not be a trained psychologist like your Sarge is, but I do know a slip when I hear one. And you clearly said the SRU gave you someone worth shooting for. Someone, Sam. Not something."
Her son sighed, washing the soap off before running his hands through his sandy blonde hair in a show of frustration. She was taken aback at the action, having expected that the special relationship he seemed to share with Jules Callaghan would be a comfort instead of an exasperation.
She had thought the other woman brought her son some measure of comfort in their crazy world; that was the impression that she always got. Amelia had always thought that Sam had found his rock and his savior in the petite officer who, as he told her, was an even better shot than he was.
"There's nothing to talk about, ma," Sam insisted, still refusing to look at her.
"What happened, son? I thought things were going well."
"How did you know?" Sam finally brought his head up to look her in the eye, and Amelia's heart broke once again for the fragile boy she had brought into this world. There was so much pain in his eyes.
"A mother always knows, Sam," she told him, placing her palm against his cheek. "That's what mothers are for."
Sam leaned his forehead against hers, and closed his eyes, savoring her familiar scent that had comforted him all his life.
"It's over, Mom," he said, voice breaking a little. "So I don't think you'll be meeting her anytime soon."
All Amelia Braddock could do was wrap her arms around her little boy, just as she did so many years ago, and let him cry into her shoulder. That was what mothers were for.