I know it's been forever, don't kill me. I've been so busy with school, I mean I'm actually enjoying laundry because it's my only unstructured time and I hate doing laundry! I'm crazy busy, so I haven't been able to write so much but I have been reading and thinking and I loved this conversation at the end of "Grounded." Something just stuck in my head about it and I couldn't get it out. So here we go, spoilers for everything up until "Grounded." I only own Flashpoint in my dreams and I might be a little rusty, so please review!
"You okay, Raf?" Sam asked as he stepped out of the plane and stood next to their newest team member.
"Yeah...fine." He said, halfheartedly, barely hearing the words, everything sounding like a muffled blur as his mind reeled. His face was calm, his voice horse, but he had the appearance of holding himself together and that's all that mattered. Ed stepped out of the plane and joined them.
"Okay, SIUs gonna want to talk to you about the shooting." He almost spoke softly, as soft as he could imagine Ed speaking.
"I'll just tell it like it is." He said, more wanting someone to validate that he did as he was supposed to.
"That's right." Ed gave him a nod meaning more beyond his words as they headed down the stairs.
"It's your first lethal, right?" Sam knew the answer already.
"It stays with you." His voice was kind, knowing.
"Do yourself a favor Raf, go straight home when it's done." Ed tried to balance the air of authority and the sensitivity of a friend.
"I'll wait for you, give you a lift." Sam offered.
"No, it's okay man, I'm good. Part of the job, right?" Raf asked as they walked across the tarmac and saw SIU agents exiting their car, gloves already on along with the scowls they always seemed to wear.
"Well, you're good now but later on it's gonna sink in." Ed said seriously but with a soft undertone.
"It does for all of us." Sam added, almost finishing Ed's unspoken thought.
"I'd suggest no alcohol. It's important to feel what you're gonna feel."
"Ed and I are going to be your main contacts for the next 72 hours so we'll be in touch, okay?" Sam asked, not asking so much as telling Raf that they would be there for him.
"Yeah, okay. That'll be good." Raf mumbled as they got closer to the SIU agents.
"That's part of the job too, okay buddy?" Ed asked as he patted Raf's shoulders and solemnly smiled. Raf returned the smile, even if only briefly as he stepped up to his SIU agent, his arms raised.
He wasn't able to figure out SIU's intentions; either it was to cover their asses (likely) or to make him relive and rehash all the details of how he took a life, to criminalize him and make him feel like an animal, evil. He spent about two minutes alone in the room with the SIU detective, felt the ice that must have run through the man's veins, and was relived beyond belief when the lawyer Ed had promised to call showed up. He didn't know what he would have done if the lawyer hadn't shown, he was already floundering beneath the surface, though it wasn't visible to anyone.
It was a long interview, much longer than Sam's had to have been. The detective kept asking if maybe Raf had just panicked? It was, after all, 'his first time face to face with an armed subject.' Maybe he was just a little too eager? A little too afraid? Maybe he wasn't nerves of steel yet like the rest of the SRU? Did he tell the subject to drop her weapon? Did he try to negotiate or consider less lethal options? Did he panic and pull the trigger too soon?
The questions went on and on, Raf's frustration mounted each time the detective opened his mouth. He knew that he didn't do anything wrong. He told the subject to drop the weapon, he saw her intent to shoot him, and he shot first. End of story...but was it? The detective pointed out how he'd wanted to enter earlier, only held back because Ed told him to wait for simultaneous entry and he was nervous, but wasn't everyone? There were a lot of hostages in an enclosed space and a lot of things that could go wrong. He was exceedingly nervous that a hostage would get caught in the crossfire but he knew that he hadn't pulled the trigger too soon...he knew it...
When they finally let him go he almost didn't know what to do. A unit gave him a ride back to SRU so that answered that question for him. He needed to get his keys and get out of there. He knew Ed's words about the alcohol were true and part of him was so exhausted that he didn't think he'd be able to make it home but another part of him knew that sleep wouldn't come as easily as he hoped. He shook his head as he walked into the locker room, surprised to see Sam laying on his back across a bench. When the door closed Sam bolted up and looked around, seemingly roused from a nap. He let out a breath as he saw Raf and remembered where he was.
"Hey," Sam grunted as he stretched out and rubbed his eyes. "What time is it?"
"Almost 9." Raf answered and he went over to his locker, trying to seem nonchalant. How was he asleep? He killed someone...took lethal action today too? Sam nodded as he got up and splashed some water on his face.
"How was SIU?" He asked as he glanced in the mirror, not so subtly trying to get a read on Raf. He shrugged.
"I don't know." He answered quietly. Sam turned and looked at him with a knowing look.
"Oh yes you do." He smiled as he went and sat back down on the bench as Raf packed his bag. "You can tell me it was terrible and the guy was a jackass. I remember your detective, I hate him." Raf smiled and nodded.
"It wasn't fun but, you know...I just don't like being interrogated..." He ended the sentence, resisting the feeling to add 'like I did something wrong' to the end because now he wasn't sure. The tiny seed of doubt that SIU had to implant in order to do their job was growing and he felt himself buckling under that burden.
"I hear ya." Sam said with a nod, letting the room fall into silence for a moment. "Wanna come over my place for a little bit? I'm sure think there's a game on tonight." Sam offered as Raf closed his locker.
"Nah man, but thanks." Sam stopped short for a moment with a cautious look on his face.
"Raf, tell me you're a Leafs fan because if not there are gonna be some problems." They both smiled and Raf nodded.
"Yeah man, I like the Leafs, just...not tonight." He said simply as he led them out of the locker room.
"You sure?" Sam said a little more seriously.
"Yeah, I kind of just want to be alone, I'm really tired." He said simply as Sam nodded.
"I get that, but if you can't sleep and you want to talk, give me or Ed a call, alright? Anytime, seriously. I pretty much live on cat naps and Ed's on baby duty so it's no trouble, okay?"
"I got it Sam, thanks. But really, I think I'm okay." Raf said with a small smile.
"Alright..." Sam said skeptically. "but if you're not doing so okay later, you know how to get in touch with me."
And later, he wasn't doing so well. He paced around his small loft apartment, simultaneously exhausted and energized. His mind was moving at a rate he thought it wasn't capable of, thinking and seeing two different things at once, going in slow motion one moment and the next flashing forward and seeing things at super speed. He went from feeling dissociated from the images to reliving them, feeling the cool touch of his gun in his hands, spatters of blood flying towards him as words distorted. He suddenly couldn't tell what the subject had said just before he shot her. Was it "...you don't tell me what to do?" Or was it, "Don't shoot,"? Or maybe it was something else altogether because the words were morphing now and becoming and unintelligible blur. Did Greg ever give Scorpio? It was kind of implicit, Sam shot first anyway, he was just following the lead of a senior officer. Nice, blame Sam for your murder-
Murder. The word struck him and turned his blood to ice. Murder. Cold blooded, intentional, killing. He was almost dizzied by the conclusion and felt himself falling into a nearby chair everything he'd been pushing away since he was a child hitting him with tenfold strength. His first piano lesson, being recruited by the private arts school, his parents being so proud of him. His first few days, growing close to his teacher...too close. And then his father taking it into his own hands, sitting at his trial and knowing it was all his fault. Joining the police academy, his first murder scene, first 10-33, first day of SRU recruiting, all leading to this: his first murder. And now it wasn't the word that stuck in his head, it wasn't the 'murder' part of that statement that bothered him, made him sick, it was the qualifier. His first murder. If he stuck around long enough, he'd be like Ed and Sam, experienced executioners; and if he stuck around even longer, he might end up like Sarge, the leader of the killers. He'd have a body count attached to his name
He tried to get up, he couldn't sit there and let these thoughts come and see that they were true. He couldn't let his past and present and future catch up with him; the only problem was that he was still dizzy and light headed and sickened by his realizations and his mind was transmitting all that discontent into physical pain. He felt his stomach drop and staggered his way to the bathroom, making it just in time to vomit up the fast food Sam had insisted they stop for.
He sat on the floor of the bathroom for a while, at first catching his breath, his eyes closed against the harsh light, sweat dripping down his face. But time passed and the sweat began to mix with tears and catching his breath turned into losing it as he inhaled and exhaled quickly, not feeling the oxygen enter his lungs, lightheaded again. He wasn't sure if he was having a panic attack or if he was crying so hard that he couldn't breath but he didn't have the energy to try and figure it out. His vision blurred and he thought he was going to pass out when he heard a quiet ringing from the bathroom countertop. The distraction did him good as he felt his head clear ever so slightly and he somehow found the energy to get over to the phone and then fall back to the floor.
Sam. He read the called ID to make sure his eyes weren't deceiving him and debated his options. He was still breathing heavily and he thought that he felt himself growing sick again, he knew that if he answered the phone in this condition Sam and Ed would probably both be on their way in seconds despite any protests he could come up with. But then if he didn't answer...well they'd probably break down the door anyway. He almost laughed at the thought of them breaking down his door with a battering ram before he realized that he had one more ring until voicemail kicked in. He made the quick decision and accepted the call, holding the phone to his ear but not saying anything.
"Raf? It's Sam..." He waited for a response but Raf was forcefully trying to keep himself from getting sick again. He looked up to Sam, he was a great leader and mentor and he was one of the best at the job. He'd been teaching Raf so much and it seemed that he'd been able to retain his humanity despite the demands of his tough job. How did he do it? How can he do it? How can he kill someone a few hours ago and he's perfectly okay with it? The thought almost made him hate Sam but the pause had gone on too long and now the man on the other end of the line was worried.
"Raf, talk to me here, you okay?" He asked with a bit of worry.
"I'm here." Raf said simply as he swallowed hard. "Not feeling too well, guess that deep fried crap doesn't really sit well with me." He tried to joke but he knew that Sam wasn't buying it.
"Yeah? You punch something yet?" He asked as Raf was taken aback for a moment, confused.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, my first lethal back in the army I had a punching bag to go at but when I got home from my first one at the SRU all I had was a glass window, trust me, that's a very bad idea." Sam added the cautionary note and Raf almost smiled again.
"I think that Wordy punched a hole in the wall of his house, he patched it up pretty easy though. Jules still has a dent in her jeep apparently from her first lethal. I know you don't really pick what inanimate object you get angry at, but seriously, don't punch out anything that splinters, you'll be in the hospital for hours with them picking shards out of your skin."
Raf felt himself calming ever so slightly. The feeling that he was going to vomit again had mostly passed and his breathing was back to normal as he leaned against the wall.
"I'll remember that." He said horsely.
"You been drinking?" Sam asked, not accusingly but with a tone that expressed he really needed to know the answer.
"No. Thought about it, wanted to, but I'm sick enough, man."
"Good." He said simply.
"Good that I didn't drink or good that I'm sick?" Raf tried to lighten the mood but Sam wasn't having it.
"Both." That surprised him a little bit.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, good that you listened to Ed, that you didn't run to the bottle and drown the demons. You gotta feel this, even though it sucks. Plus, it's a good sign for your future at the SRU. You're gonna be able to stick this out Raf and if you can get through this you can get through anything." Sam seemed optimistic but Raf was still confused.
"And it's good that I'm sick because..."
"Shows you're human. When you don't get sick and you don't hate yourself a little bit and when you don't think about quitting after days like today...well that's the day that you should hand in your resignation." Raf took a moment, seeing some of what Sam was saying piecing together but there was that huge pile of doubt nagging at him.
"But Sam..." He started but felt his heart start to race, like saying it out loud would make it real, would make it be confirmed.
"Yeah Raf?" Sam prompted on, trying not to sound too eager but wanting desperately for him to talk.
"I...we...murdered people today." He was almost whispering, tears coming back to his eyes as he thought about his father and the 'just' murder he'd committed back when he was a kid. What was so different?
"Raf, we took lethal action against armed high-jackers on our Sergeant's command. We didn't take over a plane and start to threaten and kill people. We were keeping the peace." Sam said strongly, confidently, but Raf didn't quite believe the words as sincere.
"And that's how you can sleep at night? Knowing that we were only trying to do our jobs but we failed?"
"We didn't fail at all Raf. We saved 74 innocent hostages and took two of the subjects into custody." Sam heard Raf's breath catch for a minute and knew that he wasn't quite there yet. "You remember that kid, the blond teenager?"
"The one they were going to use as the example?" Raf asked with a bit of disdain.
"Yeah, you remember the look in his eyes when we stormed and he realized that he wasn't shot?" Sam asked, remembering the image himself.
"Yeah, I remember. Looked kind of beyond relieved." Raf tried to describe the look but couldn't find the words.
"Yeah, but it was more than that. You know what he was thinking?" Sam asked and took the silence on the other end of the line as a sign to continue. "He was thinking that if you hadn't had been there, he would have died. He's gonna to go off to school and he's gonna graduate and one day he's gonna tell his kids about this and he's gonna remember you. He's going to tell them that this cop stormed in just in the nick of time and saved his life." Raf stayed quiet for a moment and let the thought sink in.
"Raf? You still with me?" Sam asked after a long pause.
"I'm here." He said, more in reality than he had been since the shooting.
"Listen, I know it's really late and you're tired but maybe we can avoid the whole punching something phase and we can go for a run and talk. You up for it?" Sam asked, trying not to let the hope show through too intensely.
"Yeah...yeah I think that would be good." Raf said as he tried to get himself off the floor, realizing that he really wasn't alone.
"I'll be over in ten minutes."
Don't like the ending lines but otherwise I think I like this, especially considering I haven't written in what seems forever. I still don't know how much I like Raf but I liked that conversation at the end so that's where this comes from along with the recent reviews from HowCleverAreYou which kind of spurred this process and from my inspiration and communication with Andorian. Thanks guys, please review; as you can see, reviews make me come out of hibernation and write!
Also, on facebook make sure you like "Flashpoint Team One." It's a page run directly by the producers and there's lots of awesome people, discussions, and give aways (got myself a signed poster a few weeks ago which might also be a reason for inspiration!)