"Big Girls Don't Cry"
Summary: Dr. Toth had shaken her cool, but she'd be damned if she allowed him to render her helpless. One-shot, spoilers for "Fault Lines."
Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Flashpoint
A/N: A big thanks to Carroussella for betaing this for me! Please read and review – let me know what you think Jules's band in high school would have been called ^_^ The site keeps eating my formatting, so hopefully the divisions (there are two quotes) are visible.
"My name is Julianna Callaghan. I'm 36. I'm from Medicine Hat, Alberta."
"And I love quilting."
Jules, though she was still Julianna at this age, had learned early not to be a baby. Even though she was one, in a manner of speaking: the baby of the family. Playing with her brothers in the rough around their father's farm, scraped knees and tears were not greeted by a mother's loving "shh, there there; it's all right." Mama had died, and dad was managing the fields, so instead it was William Jr., the oldest, who had sneered, "You're fine. Don't be a baby."
That became a family catchphrase, and she learned to suck it up and hurry onward to catch up with her brothers. Little Julianna learned to leave the pain and tears behind, so she was always surprised in school when her classmates had whiny crying fits. The more she learned to be tough, the more she found that she could withstand. She was fine, often.
It wasn't till years later that William admitted how scared he was when she got hurt, since he was the oldest and responsible. His affirmation of "you're fine" was how a scared little boy dealt with his inability to comfort his sister, and in the process he'd accidentally taught her self-reliance. Their father's ever-present but slightly gruff love, too, reinforced her desire to be independent and an equal among her brothers.
The Callaghans were a strong, loyal family. No cowards and no weaklings allowed was an unspoken pact between the five children – the occasional black eyes and bloody lips brought home from school were proof enough of that.
One elementary school evening after Michael had gotten into a fight, Dad was applying ice to his face and scolding him yet again for his lack of control. Jules, sitting there watching, started to cry as she stared at the bruises. She wasn't injured, but she could see that Michael was, and it looked like it hurt, bad. Suddenly Michael jumped up and ran across the room at her, startling both her and their father. "What're you crying for, you little baby?" He yelled at her, one eye squinting shut due to swelling and fury. "I got the black eye, not you. Stop being such a girl!"
Michael got a prompt swat on the rear and was grounded for two extra weeks because of that outburst. Jules could tell because her feelings were hurt that what Michael said was wrong. But now she went into her room to finish crying. Whether or not her tears were acceptable – like her dad said that sympathy and grief tears were okay, because they show you're human – she started avoided her brothers when she felt them coming on. The tears she shed due to emotional turmoil, she discovered, were harder to assuage than tears from physical pain.
As a young teen she had a hard time coming to terms with her femininity; on the one hand, she discovered she loved hair ribbons, the colors pink and purple, and skirts. On the other, the person she had been up to that point in her life was a short-haired tomboy who devotedly followed her brothers in their romps outdoors. She wasn't confident enough to imitate the popular girls in their fashion, nor ditzy enough copy them in fawning over boys. It was a confusing time for her, and many a tear was shed over this new emotional pain. After many a hug, her father eventually encouraged her to stop moping and do something useful to distract herself. She took his advice to heart, honing her marksmanship without his knowledge.
Jules hated feeling weak. Or helpless. Helplessness made her cry, which only served to make her feel weak. It took her 16th birthday, when she was finally able to fill out those miniskirts and tube tops that she had longed to wear, to gain back some confidence and realize that she could be feminine and also be strong. Strong was something she'd trained herself to act, and feminine was something she naturally was; it just took a while for the two to mesh together well. Forming a band with her friends, wearing that tough rocker chick image like a badge on her sleeve, was immensely satisfying. It allowed her to unleash the femininity that she had kept locked away for so long, and the confidence she gained was a power in which she reveled.
Armed with this newfound confidence and increasing popularity, the rest of high school went pretty smoothly; at least, until she got dumped by Curtis at the graduation dance. He was the one who had taught her how to play her first chords on the guitar, the one who told her what he knew about music theory so that she could write songs. Together they were half of the band, and now apparently he apparently didn't think they were worth the effort of a long distance relationship. That she was worth it. She'd been speechless, her normally quick wit failing her, as she'd turned on her heel and walked away from him as fast as possible. He had made her feel helpless at the height of her teenage glory, and it had taken all of her self-control to prevent herself from crumbling in front of him.
Jules had been dazed, walking through the school hallways and dodging the couples who had sneaked away from the gymnasium. She barely remembered stopping by the music room to get the loaner guitar out of its locker. She needed some space; space away from Curtis, away from these couples, away from the Hat… was there actually anything else worthwhile out there?
Not knowing where her feet were taking her, all Jules knew was that she needed to keep walking. By the time she registered where she was, she was on her way up the stairs to the roof, and she was a mess. Her carefully applied makeup had been smeared by the tears she had tried so hard to hold back, the expensive heels she'd begged her father to buy her were swinging by their straps in her hand, the borrowed guitar cradled carefully next to her body.
On that rooftop, she'd sobbed for a solid thirty minutes – how could the bastard break her heart like this? Vancouver wasn't thatfar away, and so what if she'd been the one to pen the band's most popular songs? – before the painful hiccups finally did her in. Forcing herself to take deep breathes, she looked around her, over her home town, out across the South Saskatchewan River. Though tears still rolled down her cheeks, she was calm, and she grabbed the guitar and played whatever came to her fingertips. Singing out at the blackness beyond the small town, she kept reminding herself that she was taking control of her helpless feelings and telling them to shove it. She was a Callaghan, and she was going to make something of herself.
"Listen, I worked my ass off to get a spot on team one and I worked twice as hard to get it back."
To say that Dr. Larry Toth had Jules worried was an understatement. He, or rather his reputation as a team-breaker, terrified her. With Team 1 under the microscope, all the things that made them human could be twisted into any shape Dr. Toth wished.
She tried to stay one step ahead of him, to anticipate his thought process and pay careful attention to what he said. It was a fight for control, and she had the short end of the stick. Vaguely she wondered whether this manner of mental struggle was giving away some tell in her behavior that she didn't know about.
But in the end it wasn't possible to avoid the questions. She normally avoided thinking about her past and present feelings for Sam, how she was affected by her mother's early death, or whether her failing to negotiate a subject was more or less stressful than firing Scorpio, but those were some of the topics the good Doctor brought up. And just how was she able to collect and recentre herself after a shift like the evening of the museum gala shooting? Hooked up to those polygraph machines, she didn't have a choice but to answer and betray herself. Her control of the situation gone, she felt seventeen all over again, sobbing up on the roof of the gym, all her emotions laid bare for the world to see. William Jr.'s catchphrase played over in her head, though, and now she drew comfort from the familiar words. Dr. Toth had shaken her cool, but she'd be damned if she allowed him to render her helpless.
After all the interviews were done, everyone's blank, distant looks showed her that he had shaken them up as well. Trying not to act helpless was one thing… but the defeat she read in the slump of Wordy's shoulders, the tension in Spike's face indicated that they were, in fact, at the mercy of the team-breaker. He was messing with Team 1, threatening to destroy her Toronto family, and they were powerless to stop it, chained in only by the truth. If the truth will set you free, well, then Team 1 must have been chained to the bottom of the Toronto harbour. It was going to be a long swim up to the surface.
So maybe that was why she'd broken down once she reached her house. Years of negotiator training had taught her how to control her breathing and her steady her voice, so at least she wasn't audibly sobbing. Keys and purse on the side table, dropping down into the first chair she found… when her head fell into her hands, her palms were stained with tears.
Same as she had battled with her whole life, it was the tears of helplessness that she could never control. The suicide of her best friend the summer after graduation, Lew's death, a woman driven to desperate measures because her memory was unraveling, her SRU family threatened to be split up: moments of weakness aired out in private.
But then Will Jr.'s voice popped up in her head for the second time that day, repeating the oft-heard "don't be a baby" from her childhood. So she got control of herself, wiped away the wetness on her cheeks, blew her nose and wondered what to do next. How to take control of the situation, how to make it better?
Changing into something comfortable, she tried to make herself some food, but ended up staring down an untouched plate of leftovers, her stomach too unsettled to eat.
She wasn't crying anymore, but she was still wrought through with emotion. What should she do? She had to do something.
Fifteen minutes later, she found herself walking down that oh-so-familiar hallway to apartment 1008, not quite sure what she was doing there. How was this going to help things, whatever this was that she was doing? Were she and Sam going to figure out once and for all how to clear up the doubt about their professional relationship? She didn't know. Her mind was racing at a thousand kilometres a minute with different thoughts and questions and worries, but she intuited that seeing Sam would somehow make things clear.
So she took a deep breath, reminded herself not to cry, and knocked.