Hello,

Welcome to the long story idea that came from nowhere and ended up nowhere. I'm posting it mostly because I terribly miss the Flashpoint Forum and all of its wonderful people. Guyyyyyyyyyyyys T.T –hugs-

This story is old, but new in a way, lots of parts are missing and some ideas I never expanded are still in the brackets, go figure eh? I'll leave it up to all of your amazing imaginations to fill in the blanks. I'm posting this all in one go, and its long…like kill your firstborn long. DX What was I thinking, and when did I have the time to actually type all this out? Ack, I can't keep track of my own hands apparently! Haha, anyways, 50 pages later this is all I can think of to write. It does contain an OC, that really, looking back now, she reminds me too god damn much of my other OC Kate from my 10 Rules story. If you ignore that fact you may find some joy in this terrible mess.

I'll shut up now, and good luck…and…and… I hope you don't mind me sliding back into Flashpoint like I have a right to be here after leaving for so long. –Carrot

XxX

The house was silent as Sam moved up the stairs, Reena only a few steps behind him. Outside the sirens on the police cars had been turned off and the low buzz of chatter from police officers was only a murmur in the back ground.

As quietly as he could Sam walked along the hallway opening the doors on the left as he went. Behind him still, the brunette cop was doing the same with the doors on the right. Wincing at the loud squeak the last door on his side made, Sam set the nozzle of his gun against the wooden frame and slowly pushed open the door to scan the inside of the room.

His breath caught in his throat as blue eyes landed on pale pink walls, a wooden chest that was pushed against the wall opposite of the door; stuffed animals spilling out of it onto the floor. And there, wrapped in a single pink blanket, nestled in a small white crib, was a baby girl. Coming to stand next to the crib Sam looked down surprised to see wide blue eyes staring up at him in wonder. Holstering his gun, the police officer looked around once more to make sure the room was clear before reaching down and taking the baby into his arms.

"Sam?"

Reena stepped into the room having finished checking the other rooms but paused when she saw her partner. Her gun fell to her side as she lowered her arms to stare at the sight in front of her, moonlight shone in from the window across the room, giving an almost urethral glow to the blonde and the small child he was cradling in his arms.

Sam didn't look up from the pink bundle as the brown haired woman came up next to him.

"The vic was found at the base of the stairs…" Reena started her voice barley a whisper. "We thought she was just trying to get away from her husband… she was probably on her way up here to protect her baby." Brown eyes widen as tiny hands escaped the blanket and grasped the front of Sam's jacket. "She's cute."

"She is." They were the first words Sam had spoken since entering the house and they seemed to echo around the room as the blonde sniper reached up to replace his jacket with his hand and the baby quickly took hold of his finger shaking it.

The two officers made their way outside but when Sam went to hand the baby over to the paramedic she had erupted into loud cries. Quickly shushing the baby girl till she was quiet, Sam grinned sheepishly to the female paramedic before trying to hand the child over again. Only this time the wails from the baby could be heard all around the scene and the red head medic gave Sam a flat look gently transferring the crying baby back into his arms.

"She likes you I guess." The woman stated opening the back doors to the ambulance. "Get in,"

"Guess you're going for a ride, huh Braddock?" The Chief of Police laughed clapping the younger man on the back. "I'll meet you at the hospital."

"Yes sir." Sam sighed looking down at the wide blue eyes as he climbed into the large white vehicle. The baby girl was looking up at him; tears gone from her eyes, the look on her small features were almost asking 'What?'

The blonde just hung his head and sat their quietly as the red head paramedic looked over the enfant who refused to let him out of her sight.

xxx

Reena growled under her breath as she tried to push papers over on her desk but failed when they hit a pair of arms that were pillowing her partners head. Why the blonde had decided to pick on her and randomly decide to sleep on her desk… she didn't want to know. But did he have to do it while she had paper work that needed to be done… not that she was really in a rush to do it…

"Look if you're that tired, why don't you go home?" Reena questioned finally, setting her stack of papers down to lean back in her chair glaring at the older man.

"I'mnottired." Was his response, muffled by his arms and her desk.

"Then why are you hanging out here…around my desk? Shift did end an hour ago."

Sam looked up at her, a grin on his face as he rested his chin on his forearms. "Because I'm bored." He replied "And you're interest in waterfowl always serves to amuse me." He nodded towards the duck-a-day calendar sitting on her desk…next to various figurines of different coloured ducks. He tapped playfully at the green duck bobble head before Reena snatched it away from him.

"Ducks are under rated in this world." Reena muttered glaring at her partner before throwing her eraser at him, watching in slight amazement as he quickly sat up to catch it right in his palm. The two sat in silence, one not wanting to get back to work, the other not wanting to leave it.

"Reena, I-"

"Sam-"

The two started and stopped in unison, but they didn't stop because the other had spoken. Next to one of the odder looking duck figurines Sam's cell phone had started going off, nearly vibrating off the small desk.

In a flash Sam had flipped the phone open and had it by his ear. "Braddock." Reena watched, her thin eyebrows furrowing, as several emotions flashed across Sams features before finally settling on fear.

Before she could even ask what was wrong or who was on the line Sam was up out of his seat and halfway across the room. "Sam! Wait!" Reena nearly fell over her chair as she ran to catch up to him.

xxx

Sam ran as fast as his two legs could carry him, which was pretty fast, through the hospital doors leaving Reena to park the Tahoe. Opting for the stairs instead of the elevator, deeming his own speed faster, Sam raced up the four flights of stairs in record time. Making his way out of the stair case and onto the NICU floor slightly out of breath, the sniper saw the nurse he had dealt with the previous week.

"Caroline." Sam greeted coming up on the nurses' side smiling when he saw the relief flood her face.

"I'm glad you're here Braddock." Caroline stated leading Sam towards a room at the end of the hallway. "You asked me to call you if there was ever any other incidents with the infant you found at the…that house." She swallowed thickly. "A few days after her release from our children's ward into foster care a couple adopted her, but-"

Sam felt his heart clench at the possibilities not daring to list them in his head. "But, what?"

"She stopped eating." Caroline stopped outside a glass door and Sam could see inside the room, there was only one plastic bed in the room and the lights were dimmed low.

The blonde frowned barely looking away from the tiny hospital crib in the room. "What do you mean she stopped eating?"

Caroline felt her shoulders sag. "Whenever the woman or her husband tried to feed her she would refuse. They even said she would cry for hours without reason." Out of the corner of his eye Sam saw the nurses worry for the baby on the other side of the glass. "Finally after the last little bit the couple brought her here and revoked the adoption papers."

"So why did you tell me to come down as fast as I could?" Sam asked feeling like he was seconds away from running into the room.

Caroline looked up at him with a faint smile. "You would have came down wither I asked you to or not." She chuckled opening the glass door. "We have her hooked up to a few IV's but we're hoping you can do what we can't, and get Little Miss Stubborn to take her bottle."

Sam smiled and watched as Caroline walked away before he slipped into the room shutting the sliding glass door behind him. Tip toeing over to the plastic crib Sam leaned over look at the infant. His heart that had been racing till now slowed seeing the rise and fall of the baby's chest. She was thinner then the last time he had seen her but otherwise she looked okay. Brushing a few errant blonde hairs out of the girls' eyes, blue orbs opened from sleep to look up at him, almost as if to ask 'where the heck have you been?'

The blonde officer laughed lightly tapping the baby's cheek with his fingertip. "So I hear you're a stubborn little thing, hm?"

Careful of the IV lines Sam lifted the child into his arms and took a seat in the padded chair next to the crib. On the table next to him were two bottles full of formula. Thinking back to his time growing up, Sam had watched his mother look after one of her friend's children, a small boy, while his mother was out. Trying to remember how she had done it Sam adjusted the girl in his arm while reaching out for a bottle. "Now don't be so stubborn okay. Nobody likes difficult children and being stubborn about this will only make it worse for both of us." Sam said looking directly at the baby who only had eyes for the glass bottle in his hand.

'What am I doing?' Sam thought as he lowered the bottle to the baby's lips and she began to drink. "Really what am I doing?" he asked aloud this time. "I'm not a baby person. I never liked kids, was never good with them." He laughed nervously leaning back against the rest of the chair. "And yet, here I am, doing the most un-action and un-exhilarating thing I could have ever imagined." Blue eyes looked over at him from above the bottle and he sighed. "If Jules could see me now, she'd probably freak-out."

He smiled looking down at the pink bundle in his arms, which clearly did not care about a word he had just said. "I think all this time in Toronto made me soft. Don't you think?" He didn't expect an answer but found himself grinning as the baby in his arms gurgled.

xxx

Caroline stepped into the room several hours later surprised to see both the bottles empty on the night stand and Sam asleep in the chair next to the crib where the baby girl slept peacefully. The nurse quietly made her way across the room, checking the computer screen for the baby's vitals.

"Is everything okay?"

Caroline nearly dropped the clipboard in her hands as Sam's voice startled her. She whipped around to face him glaring at the now awake police officer.

Sam grinned sheepishly, people really needed to stop glaring at him, It wasn't his fault...mostly wasn't his fault anyway. Being in the Special Forces had made him a light sleeper. He had woken up as soon as Caroline had entered the room. "Sorry." He pushed himself up and out of the chair his spine popping loudly. "Is everything okay?"

Caroline smiled. "Everything is looking great. Another day or two and she should be back to normal." Her brown eyes watched as Sam stood next to the crib and pulled the blanket up further. "Um, Sam…" blue eyes looked up at her curiously. "It may be a bit presumptuous of me, and I know I shouldn't have-but…" She looked down at her clipboard.

"What is it?" he asked his voice still slightly accented with sleep.

The nurse held out her clipboard for Sam to take. "I wanted to start filling this in the day after you brought her in here. I only got so far…but it just seemed right and call me crazy, but it was like you and her connected somehow. Like you share the same kind of loneliness inside…or something."

A quick glance over the forms in his hand told Sam all he needed to know. He recognized the papers. They were the exact same papers that had been sitting on his living room table for the past several days;

Sam grinned at the brown haired woman. "I have these already filled out at home." He watched as Caroline's jaw dropped and he past her back the adoption papers.

xxx

Sam looked around the one of the spare rooms of his apartment that was slowly being transformed into a girl's bedroom; his daughters' bedroom. The sniper still couldn't fathom it; the judges had actually deemed him worthy to look after the infant, and the doctor's had signed off on it without dragging it to extraordinary lengths. Lowering the paint roller in his hand Sam stared at the light purple colour now covering the previous white walls; and that was how Reena found him minutes later absentmindedly staring at the half painted wall.

"It's not going to paint its self you know." Reena stated causing the blonde to look up. "Or are you just second guessing the colour? I told you that Santorini sky colour would have been prettier."

Sam winced at the mere mention of the colour of Jules living room. "No, I'm not second guessing the colour Reena. I was just having one of those weird moments where I contemplated how my life got to such a point." He muttered

The brunette officer stared at her partner a thin brow raised. When he didn't clarify she just grabbed the roller out of his hand and continued on painting. "Whatever."

The ex-SRU officer laughed and picked up the paint can and thin paint brush to start on the edges. He hadn't gotten very far when the buzzer to his apartment went off. Sending a quizzical look up at Reena, she smiled.

"I called people to help." She laughed as the older man got to his feet heading or the hallway.

However the last person Sam expected to see when he opened the door was the Chief of Police, the man he worked for with a strange woman at his side, and he didn't expect to see Anthony and his girlfriend next to her.

"Hey." Sam started awkwardly staring at all the higher ups standing in the hallway in front of his apartment.

"You going to let us in to help or what, Braddock?" Anthony laughed as he pushed his way into the room the others following behind him.

"Sorry man." Sam laughed closing the door behind his new boss. "I just wasn't expecting you…"

Richard laughed and clapped his hands together. "Reena called us, asked us to come over to help set everything up. So where do you want us to start?" he asked looking around the living room at all the boxes.

"Well," Sam scratched his head. "Anywhere would be a great help, but you guys don't have to go out of your way to do this or anything."

The woman next to the Chief laughed airily. "You don't have to worry about a thing dear. You're part of our family now. So anything we can do we'd be glad to do it." She smiled at him her dark eyes warm. "And beside, you need some women around here to help you men with the instructions or nothing would ever get done."

Anthony's girlfriend let out a sound of agreement and the men in the room grimaced sheepishly.

Richard leaned over to his wife wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "Doesn't she just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?" he joked. "Braddock, you may not have been introduced, this is my wife Elaina."

"And this is my honey, Carmine." Anthony added as Sam shook both of the women's hands and the group got to work.

xxx

"You can not do that!" Reena shouted throwing her cards in Anthony's direction. Her face was flushed from the beers she had drunk.

The large burly man looked over at her trying not to laugh at the horrible glare she was pulling off. "Straight flush beats four aces in Compton any day." He remarked.

"I think it works in Orange County too." Sam laughed.

"We're not in Compton! Or fucking Orange County! We're in freaking Ontario and I'm saying my four aces beat your stupid line of cards in its stupid line of order!" Reena snapped.

"I still win R."

The entire group laughed at the petite woman who just reached over and smacked the black man sitting beside her. "You suck Tony." She grumbled.

Sam laughed climbing to his feet a bit unsteadily. "I'm getting another beer, you guys want anything?" he called over his shoulder before he started towards his kitchen.

"ME! BEER, PLEASE!" Reena's hand shot into the air nearly smacking into Richards face.

"I think she's had enough Braddock," The Chief replied. "Maybe a glass of water for her instead, might do her some good."

Sam nodded disappearing into the kitchen. Throwing the empty beer bottles by the sink the blonde went to open the fridge but paused when his eyes landed on a familiar photograph pinned to his freezer. In it everyone was smiling happily, smiles he hadn't seen in a while and it made his heart clench.

Taking the small photo into his hand he looked over the members of the SRU's Team one, his eyes lingering on the lone female officer. Once upon a time, they had been his family too. They had accepted his hot headed ways and trained him, helped him learn how to be responsible and most importantly, they had taught him how to connect.

'Family,' Sam thought to himself letting out a sigh. 'It seems I've been a part of a lot of those lately, the army, the SRU, now these people are welcoming me with open arms into theirs.'

"You alright?" Elaina's voice asked from the doorway making him jump slightly. Her head was tilted to the side and her hands were full of empty bottles, but she smiled as she caught sight of the picture Sam was holding. "Who are they?" she asked instead setting the bottles by the ones already by the sink.

The blonde held the photo up for her to see. "They're… my friends. They were my family too…in a way." Sam let a small grin flitter onto his face. "They're great people."

Elaina chuckled leaning closer to get a better look. "They look like it… except that guy. He looks like he wants to start kissing that robot thing."

Sam laughed moving the photo back onto his freezer door. "He has, on more than one occasion I'm sure."

The older woman shook her head watching Sam open the fridge to get another beer and a bottle of water for Reena. "Speaking of family, have you told yours about the baby yet?" she watched as Sam's face paled.

"I don't even want to think of what my fathers going to say." Sam groaned as the two made their way back into the living room.

xxx

Sam plopped down on his couch, opting for it instead of the hardwood floor as he glanced over Anthony's shoulder to see the man's cards. The two players had switched out Poker for go fish and still Reena seemed to be loosing horribly. Sam just barely held up two fingers for Reena to see, and even in her drunken state she knew he was telling her which cards to ask for.

After several minutes, and Anthony finally realizing what was going on when Reena actually won a game, the tattooed man looked at the blonde sprawled out on the couch behind him. "So what are you going to name her?"

All eyes turned to Sam who looked down at the blurry image of his friend. "Huh?"

Anthony chuckled throwing down a suitable card for their latest game of crazy eights. "The kid man, have you decided on a name?"

"Didn't her parents already name her?" Richard asked throwing down a card of his own.

"Nah, the docs said the kid was born at home so none of the filing for her birth certificate was done right. Even if she had a name, it's not like anyone's around to tell us what it was." Anthony shrugged. "I'm sure the court would let you name her."

Sam let his eyes roll back to stare at the ceiling trying to think of a decent name. The sudden urge to name her Juliana was there, but Sam quickly squashed that idea. 'Too awkward, that would be just too awkward.'

"How about you name her something like Violet?" Reena offered looking up from her cards.

Richard sent her a look that clearly said what he thought of the name. "How about Katherine?"

"I've always liked exotic names." Anthony smiled. "You know Azure, Chizu, something like that. How about Kira?" he added missing Sams wince.

"You're in the wrong country for those kinds of names you idiot." Carmine muttered.

The debate of names went on for a good hour or so, some of the suggestions were decent, and others had no merit at all. Sam cast a glance out the window just in time to see the first rays of sunshine coming over the horizon to light up the city, and it made him think. 'What would be a good name?'

/

Sam looked over at his friend with a grin on his face. "No way."

Matt nodded unable to hide the wide smile on his own features. "Yeah! Marion called me the other day. She's going to have a baby!" he laughed breathlessly. "My baby sister is going to be a mom."

The blonde got to his feet patting his team mates' shoulder. "Congratulations Matt. You're going to be the definition of the crazy uncle." Sam just laughed at the look the brunette gave him and ignored the rude gesture Matt sent his way.

xxx

The two men were on their stomachs, each on a different level of the mountain where they had been posted.

Sam looked through his scope, not seeing any movement in the city below. "You see anything?" the blonde sighed into his headset. He frowned however when the other man didn't reply to him. "Yo, M, you see anything over there?" Out of the corner of his eye the soldier saw his friend jerk back to reality and scan the area with his rifle.

"No, nothing B." Matt's tired voice came back to him in his ear.

"You alright man? You kinda zoned out on me there for a second." Sams voice was teasing, but he was still slightly worried, he needed his friend focused here.

Matt sighed, hanging his head for a second to work out the kinks that were starting to form. "It's just my sister B. She called last night and kept me up during most of my off duty hours."

Sam grimaced. Those hours were few and far between too. "What did she want?"

"She was running baby names by me and wanted my opinion on some. For five hours!"

"Ouch. What did you tell her?"

"Well, Allegan told her if she called again that he was going to break my cell phone." Matt replied in a joking voice, but was actually being totally serious. His bunk mate was almost as tired of the late night video-calls as he was. "But I just told her that what ever she decided to name her baby girl was her and her husbands' decision. What the hell do I know about kid's names any way?"

Sam caught his tongue between his teeth before speaking. "…How many names did you narrow it down to for the choices that you like?"

"I got it down to Hannah Jane, Amara Ellen, and Courtney Ann."

Sam laughed under his breath. How very like Matt, knowing his friend he had began thinking up names for his niece the moment his sister asked him for help. "And if you had to choose one to name your own kid, which one would you pick?"

"Well that's hard." Matt chuckled into his earpiece. "But probably none of them; I think I'd pick something like-"

xxx

Sam blinked his eyes watering at the memory; he could feel all the occupants of the room looking at him, waiting. A soft smile dawned on his face and Elaina and Carmine exchanged excited looks.

"He found a name." Elaina squealed reading Sams face. Her husband looked at her like she had two heads.

"How can you tell?" he asked looking at his newest officer.

"A woman knows these sorts of things. You can just tell." Carmine smirked wrapping Anthony's arms around her. "It's in the smile."

"The smile?" Anthony looked over to the blonde man lying sprawled out on the couch. "It looks like he just got laid-" A quick elbow to the stomach from his girlfriend shut him up.

Reena who was also looking at her partner frowned. "Well I'm with Big Man and the Chief on this one. He doesn't look any different to me and I'm a woman."

Elaina laid a hand on the brunettes arm. "That's just because you've been hanging around them too much at the station." She laughed.

But Sam had drowned them out; which he was actually pretty good at now thanks to Lou and Spike. After one experience of trying to listen and follow along with one of their conversations, Sam had trained himself to just pick out the important parts… if they ever said any. Closing his eyes the sniper felt him self start to fall into the warm blackness that was sleep. The murmur of conversations from the others and the low hum of the refrigerator were the only sounds he heard; and just before he slipped into unconsciousness he felt the first rays of sunshine reach though his window to light up his living room.

xxx

Sam swallowed thickly as he stood in front of the judge's desk as she signed the papers to finalize the adoption. The sniper felt something he refused to be butterflies fluttering around in the pit of his stomach. The older woman in black robes looked down at him.

"And the name of the child will be?" she asked, her voice hoarse.

Blue eyes sparkled in amusement as the group of his coworkers leaned closer in their seats. He had avoided telling him the names he had chosen, mostly just to annoy them. Sam sent a quick glance to the baby girl in the arms of the Social worker.

"Her name is Raye Lynn Braddock."

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Richard nod approvingly and Reena grinning widely.

The judge nodded also signing off on the bottom. "Sign here," she passed the papers to the aide at her side, who then passed them to the blonde. "You are aware of the mandatory background checks we conducted along with Social Services checking in on you from time to time to make sure all is well?"

"Yes ma'am I am." Sam replied scratching his signature onto the paper.

The old woman nodded getting the papers back as the aide brought them to her. "Well. Everything is in order." Her stern gaze softened. "Congratulations, Constable Braddock and good luck." She stepped down from her podium as the Social Services woman brought the enfant over to him.

Behind him Reena and the others burst into applause as Sam took the baby girl in his arms and turned to face them while stepping closer to his friends.

"Oh Sam, she's adorable." Elaina exclaimed taking one of the baby's hands in her. "Hi there." The child gurgled, which only caused the mother to squeal in excitement and take the girl from Sams' arms cooing at her.

"Hey!" the blonde frowned narrowing his eyes towards the dark skinned woman.

Reena laughed patting his shoulder in sympathy. "You've had her for barely a minute and she's already been kidnapped."

The group all laughed leaving the court room and headed for home.

xxx

"See, if I pose like this you can't see my belly." Reena chuckles tilting her head back a bit farther. "This hand goes on my hip, covers that flab. This hand lays here hides the bra roll and…" She twirled around striking the same pose she had been doing for the past ten minutes. "Walla! Instance sexy Reena!"

Sam groaned rolling onto his stomach to bury his face in the pillow trying to get away from his partners incessant ramblings. "Reena, you don't have any flab or rolls." He snapped his head coming up so he was facing the headboard of his bed so as to not look at the half naked woman standing on the other side of the room. "And why can't you do this in the bathroom? Or in your room?"

The brunette pulled the side of her hair up trying to mimic the commercial she had seen the other day and was constantly poking fun at. "Because you have a full length mirror in here and the one in the bathroom sucks." Reena paused dropping her hands and looking at the blonde on the bed. "Sam."

"Mhmn?"

"Why exactly do you have such a big mirror in your room anyway?" Reena raised an eyebrow. "That's kind of girly."

The sniper sighed dropping back to the pillow. "It came with the room."

"Oh," the female cop blinked shrugging before walking over to Sam's closet. "Dibs on the beach shirt."

Sam shook his head turning his eyes to watch the brunette slip the blue shirt over her head. He remembered when he had gotten that shirt from Jules…she had only bought it for him because she liked it. So the first time she 'slept' over at his place she had put that shirt on in the morning and it had Sam thinking to himself it was the best present anyone had ever bought for him.

Reena puffed out her cheeks as he stared at the shirt before a child's cry interrupted them. She saw Sam start to roll over to get up but the woman held up her hand. "I'll get her, you stay in bed."

The sniper nodded his thanks as Reena moved across the hall to scoop the crying baby up in her arms. Bouncing Raye in her grasp the brunette looked down at the girl with a sort of sad smile. "You know it's slightly disheartening to be a half naked woman in a single guy's room and all he has eyes for is the shirt she's wearing." She stated.

Raye just blinked up at the woman as her cries quieted down, not understanding what the woman said.

xxx

Blue eyes scanned the large white house in front of him before glancing back to the baby carrier in the back seat. He thought he had a bad case of the butterflies when he was standing in the court room, but now somehow, sitting in front of his parents house those butterflies didn't actually seem all that bad.

'No backing out now.' Sam thought to himself yanking the key out of the ignition and climbing out of the large SUV. Going around to the side he undid the buckles holding the baby carrier to the seat and set up the handle. Looking down he smiled at Raye. "Don't worry, I'm sure they'll love you." He chuckled. 'The General's going to kill me.'

Careful not to shake the enfant he was carrying when he climbed the stairs to the porch the blonde mused at the irony at ringing the doorbell to his own family's house. It didn't take long before the door opened revealing a familiar blonde haired woman.

"Sam!" His mother exclaimed in excitement stepping outside to embrace her son.

"Hey mom," Sam laughed moving the carrier out of the way so his mother wouldn't hit it as he wrapped an arm around her back.

And that was when she noticed it. Her green eyes traveled down to the gray plastic and pink blanket. "Sam?" her face showed disbelief as she let go of her son. "Who's this?"

The sniper lifted up the carrier with a smile. "I hope you don't mind mom, but I kind of made you a grandmother."

Mary Braddock stared at her son in shock before jumping into mother mode, ushering them inside and towards the living room her face alight with glee. "Sam, I can't believe this, when did this happen?"

Sam set the baby down on the hard wood floor where his mother immediately knelt down to look the child over. With a smile he squatted next to her. "A week or so ago, I would have introduced you sooner but I wanted her to get used to the apartment first."

His mother nodded undoing the straps holding the baby girl in place and picking her up into her arms. "She's beautiful dear, what's her name?"

"Raye Lynn." The blonde replied moving his hand to brush a stray piece of his daughter hair out of her eyes.

The older woman turned to her son as she stood up. "But Sam honey, I didn't know you were seeing anybody after Jules. And this is so sudden-" she trailed off looking down at the smiling baby.

Sam got to his feet and shrugged. "I'm not seeing anyone and she isn't really mine…well she's mine, but she isn't really…not by blood, she's my daughter, just not my..." He paused untying his tongue. "I adopted her."

Mary nodded in understanding bouncing the baby on her hip with practiced ease. "She's wonderful Sam. You're father is going to love her." At Sams unbelieving look she just patted her sons arm fondly. "He will." Raye let out a gurgling noise drawing both of their attentions. "See Raye here agrees with me, don't you baby girl?" Mary cooed. "Yes you do, yes."

Sam just rolled his eyes at his mother and the two headed for the study where the General would be. 'Please, don't freak out.' He thought to himself.

xxx

"I just didn't want you to miss your granddaughter's life." Sam sighed, his shoulders falling.

The general shook his head. "The child isn't yours, she's not my granddaughter."

Sad eyes looked over his father. "And that's going to be the reason Raye's not going to know her grandfather? Because she's not mine but I'm choosing to raise her anyway?" he didn't quiet follow the older mans logic…then again he never had before. "Gener- Dad,"

Chris glanced up at his son, taking in the dead set eyes that were tired of arguing, the rigid posture that told him Sam was going to stand his ground again.

"You were never a big part of my life growing up and I hated you for it for a long time." Sam confessed. "All the missed birthday parties, the lonely Christmas's while you were away, Mom having to spend your anniversary alone…" Blue eyes met blue and Sam let out a shaky breath. "You can't get back the chances you got to really know Mom or I or Nat, but I'm giving you a chance to be able to meet and know your granddaughter." Sam's voice broke off. What was he doing? Was he really saying this? Throwing his hands up in frustration Sam turned around and threw the door open. "I just didn't want you to miss out on more lives, on a person that really could have cared about you." The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them, his real feelings coming out like a wave as he stormed out of the room. He paused a few feet away from the door to lean against the hallway wall for support. 'I can't believe I just said that…'

A happy laugh coming from downstairs got his attention as he moved to the top of the stairs. At least Raye would have a grandmother, a loving, doting, spoil-you-until-your-teeth-start-rotting grandmother. Plopping down on the top stair, he leaned his head against the banister watching his mother bounce his new daughter on her hip. The blonde couldn't help but think that maybe, if things had worked out different a few months ago, that would be Jules holding onto Raye…and the baby girl in her arms might actually be his. And the laugh coming from Jules as she placed a kiss on the child's head would be almost enough to make his heart melt with happiness.

"Everything okay Sam?"

The blonde looked down the stairs, snapping back to reality as his gaze landed on his mother looking up at him worriedly. Shoving the heart wrenching thoughts of Jules out of his mind Sam slid down the set of stairs on his back, stopping a few steps up from the bottom. "Conversations with him always wear me out." He muttered.

Mary nodded. "He'll come around dear; you just need to give him some time."

Sam rolled his eyes at his mothers' optimism taking the baby from her carefully setting the child on his legs; he had a hard time remembering to support the infant's neck. The first time Caroline had watched him lift the baby up the nurse had almost had a heart attack. What the hell did he know about holding a six month old?

xxx

General Christopher Braddock was a proud man. He had done many things in his life that he was sure would bring recognition and praise to his name, and like he wanted, they had. The Braddock name was very well known force among politicians and military alike. He had pulled men out of sticky situations, protected high-ranking officials and taken down some of the worlds biggest terrorists with a single strike team. Any who saw him would say he was a strong man who was proud of his job… and they were right.

But as the small figure of his granddaughter took her first shaky steps towards his outstretched arms, Chris felt a pride building up in him like he had never felt before. The older man caught Raye as her unsteady legs gave out beneath her and the little girl beamed up at him her blue eyes bright and shining. "That was wonderful!" he laughed lifting the girl up into his arms and she wrapped her arms around his neck.

A couple of feet away his wife squealed with glee throwing her arms around her sons neck and the General looked over at the two, his eyes meeting Sams for a moment. A feeling of loss swept over the old man as he suddenly realized just what Sam had meant all those months ago; just what he had missed in his own sons' life. He hadn't been there for Sam's first steps…Mary had called to tell him about them, but Chris had just shrugged her off with an 'it's about time'. He hadn't been there for a lot of things for his son or daughters. He had missed out on a lot, on what other parents lived for.

So, maybe he had been a less than stellar dad…okay, even he now knew he had made a pretty shitty ass father… but his son was willing to give him another chance at it. Maybe it was too late for them, but by god, Chris vowed to himself, he was going to be one hell of a grandfather to the little girl in his arms.

Sam smiled as his mother let go of him to rush over to her husband and granddaughter. He had seen the look on the other mans face. Remorse; remorse at missing so much, so many important things and a few months ago Sam would have given anything to see that look on his fathers face. But now, as he stood apart watching his parents interact with Raye; that look didn't belong on his fathers' usually sure face. It really didn't belong on anybodies face anymore. The blonde sniper was just glad that Raye would know his father as he never had. As a person who loved them.

xxx

~ 5 years later ~ (air show every year along with the C.N.E. Canadian national exhibition) (includes midway-games, carnivals-, business, agriculture, fashion,)

Lake shore, exhibition stadium along Lake Ontario)

General Christopher Braddock twisted his hands together as a group of soldiers ran by to pass on instructions. He had barely had his back turned for a moment and when he had looked back at his granddaughter; his heart almost stopped seeing the spot she had been standing in, empty. Sam had left Raye in his care while he was talking to some of his old Army friends, and he had let her just disappear.

However being a General did have its perks. Quickly grabbing the nearest uniform the older man had rounded up several quick search parties, intending to search the entire area of the air show if he had too.

Beside him Mary was rubbing a comforting hand up and down his back with a reassuring smile. "They'll find her. She's only five, she can't have gotten far."

The general sighed heavily and watched as his worried son ran off with a group of soldiers. "I hope not."

xxx

Raye wasn't sure how her grandfather had gotten lost. But she missed him and she wanted to find him as quickly as she could. Tears started forming at the corner of her eyes when she couldn't see him as she wandered around. Suddenly her bright blue eyes landed on something she did recognize. It was the uniform from her Daddy's favorite picture. But it was walking away from her.

As fast as her little legs could take her she followed it, her blonde ponytail bouncing behind her. But the man was faster then she was and she quickly lost sight of the gray outfit. The tears came back with a vengeance, blurring her vision causing the young girl to trip on a crack in the asphalt and land face first on the ground. "DADDY!" Raye's young voice cried loudly.

A few feet away Spike stopped walking when he heard the shout. Turning on his heel he saw the blond girl on the ground crying. Doubling back the SRU officer knelt down next to the kid frowning at her devilish appearance. "Hey kiddo, what happened?"

Raye hiccupped and stopped crying long enough to see that the gray uniform and the man attached to it had come back to her. "I-I… hic- lost my dadd-dy!" she sobbed latching onto his arm.

"Lost," Spike gasped dramatically picking the girl up into his arms. "Well, how about we try and find him okay?" In his arms Raye nodded and rested her head on Spikes shoulder.

xxx

"Sir, we have reports of a child matching Raye's description at one of the first aid tents on the other side of the exhibition grounds." An unnamed uniform stated as he ran towards the higher officer.

General Braddock was on his feet in seconds. "Someone find my son and tell him to meet us there." He ordered with Mary right on his heels.

xxx

"Grandpa!" Raye's excited squeal brought Spike out of his thoughts as the girl looked up and into the crowd. "Look! It's grandpa!"

The techie of Team One looked up from the colouring book he was sharing with the girl and turned in his seat, nearly falling out of his chair as he shot to his feet saluting the older man who was behind him. "General, sir!"

"There you are Raye." Chris stopped next to the table sweeping the young girl into a tight embrace as his wife came up to take her and inspect the child herself. The General turned to Spike who was still in a salute… a highly confused salute. "At ease Constable, You're the one who found my granddaughter?"

"Uh-yes sir." Spike swallowed lowering his hand and was surprised when the gray haired man held out his own hand for a handshake. "well, s-she found me…but, ah…yes."

"Thank you very much Mr.-"

"Oh, Scarlatti, sir," Spike took his hand shaking it firmly. "Constable Mike Scarlatti."

Chris nodded the worry lines gone from his face. "SRU am I correct?"

Surprised Spike nodded. "Yes, sir. Strategic Response Unit's Team One-"

"RAYE!"

The group looked up and the child shimmed out of her grandmothers' arms. "Daddy!"

Spike was sure his jaw just crashed into the ground before he could finish his word as he watched the familiar figure of his old teammate ran forward at top speed, crashing to his knees in time to catch the small bundle of child in his arms. 'NO WAY!' The Tech analyst blinked in confusion stepping forward to get a better look his nerves twitching like an electrocuted rabbit. Dark eyes watched as Sam lifted Raye into his arms and checked her over for a third time, taking in the messy ponytail and duck shaped Band-Aids. He was taken aback when the little girl pointed over at him and Sam's familiar blue eyes followed her finger to where he was standing.

"Spike?" The old SRU member asked out of breath.

"H-hey Sam." The dark haired Italian waved dumbly at him.

"That's the guy, daddy. Grandpa got lost and he found him." Raye stated excitedly not lessening her hold on her fathers' jacket.

Sam strode forward, seemingly recovering from his fright and shock first. He could feel his parents' eyes on him as he came up in front of his old friend. "It's good to see you again."

"Yeah, you too." Spike chuckled giving the blonde a quick disbelieving smile before asking. "So this little munchkin is yours?" he pointed to Raye who was grinning at him.

"She is," The ex-sniper nodded. "So how have you been? How's the team?"

Spike jolted almost forgetting that he was supposed to getting them food at the moment. "I'm good, they're great too; actually I'm-"

Suddenly above them the speakers turned on, the loud metallic screeching sound making the entire group cringe. A female's voice came over the PA system. "Attention everyone, There is a lost child. Please be on the lookout for a Michelangelo Scarlatti; often answers to the name Spike." Spike felt his ears turn red as the woman continued. "He is six foot with dark hair and brown eyes. He will be wearing a gray police uniform. His guardians Gregory Parker and Ed Lane are waiting at the reception booth. If anyone has seen him, would you please locate the nearest officer to report his location? Thank you very much for your co-operation and enjoy the show."

Sam pursed his lips but could barely hold back his laughter as the man in front of him glowered silently. To the side Mary looked up at her husband confused, but the man just shrugged and muttered something about strange team dynamics. "That was nice of them." The sniper finally let out his laughter as Spike pinched the bridge of his nose.

"I should go…" the taller man looked at his old teammate. "You should come say hello to everyone. They've all missed you-" he stopped seeing the strained look take the place of amusement on Sam's face. "Or…not…maybe later?"

Sam grimaced but tried a smile shifting his daughter in his arms. "My leaving wasn't really on good terms. I think it'd be better if they… didn't know I was around." The cop sighed.

'Don't tell them I'm here.' That much Spike understood. The techie nodded before saluting the General who was waiting with his wife and waving towards the little girl Sam was holding. "Well I better get going. It was nice to meet you Raye." His voice lightened and he turned to leave the first aid tent.

The child waved back energetically. "Bye-bye Mr. Robot man! Thank you!"

xxx

As Spike ran towards the reception desk he tried to wrap his head around everything that had happened in the last few minutes. So Sam was still in Toronto. And he had a KID! Shaking his head the tall man rounded the corner to see his other teammates waiting for him looking amused.

"What was that for?" Spike put his hands on his hips as he reached them.

Jules grinned up at him. "You were taking forever. We assumed you got lost and we were worried."

"What if somebody had kidnapped you?" Ed added with a fake horrified look on his face.

The Italian gave each of his friends a flat look.

"And you didn't even get our food." Lou pointed out noticing his friend's empty hands. "What have you doing for the past thirty minutes?"

"I-" the techie froze mid-word a voice in the back of his head telling him not to say anything about Sam. "I was… at the first aid tent."

Suddenly the amused glances turned to worried ones. "Are you okay? You're not actually hurt are you?" Jules frowned looking over the taller man who shook his head.

"I'm fine... I was just…" he swallowed, knowing he couldn't lie to save his life. "I was talking to one of the girls working at the tent." It was close to the truth anyways.

The amused smiles were back as the team started to poke at him and demand more information. But standing behind Ed, Greg Parker was frowning. Being a good negotiator meant knowing people, and he knew Spike. There was something the younger man had left out. Besides; he had checked the roster, there were no female officers working in the first aide tent today.

xxx

Team one looked up as a waitress came up on the side of their table setting a beer down in front of each of them and a Pepsi in front of Greg. The brunette woman paused next to Spike looking down at him with a cheeky grin, slipping a piece of paper into his hand as she placed a quick kiss on his cheek. "With his thanks Mr. Scarlatti." She grinned at him before she turned, walking away as the rest of the SRU team looked at Spike.

"With whose thanks?" Ed asked raising an eyebrow towards the Italian jerking his head towards the pretty waitress.

Spike just gave him a shrug, opening the folded up piece of paper, he smiled. 'If you should ever find yourself in need of a favour, do not hesitate to ask. Gen. C. Braddock' Sticking the note into his pocket the techie took a swig of the beer the General had bought for them.

xxx

Sitting a few blocks away in a nearby McDonalds, Raye's head was bent down almost to the table as she attacked the colouring book with her crayons. Her father was waiting in line with Anthony to get the food while Reena sat next to her doodling on a napkin with the little girls red crayon.

Sam smiled as he set the happy meal down in front of his daughter. "Raye put that away please, it's time to eat."

"One minute daddy." she muttered as she formed misshapen letters above the picture she had coloured.

Cocking his head to one side as he slid into his seat Sam watched the blonde finish before she held up the book for him to see. His eyes widened as he read Raye's note above the poorly coloured picture of Nemo and Dory. "To: Mr. Robot Man Fr: Raye, Thank you for finding grandpa." He read aloud chuckling at a few misspelled works and backwards letters. "Raye honey, that's really sweet of you."

"Do you think he'll like it?" the five year old asked with a toothy grin as she dug into her Chicken nuggets.

Sam unwrapped his own burger with a grin. "I'm sure he'd love it."

"Can we go give it to him?"

"How about after we eat?"

The blonde girl nodded happily eating a bit faster. She had liked Mr. Spike from her Daddies picture. He was nice and he coloured pictures with her.

Beside the child Reena grinned. "Am I allowed to come too Daddy?" she joked at Sam. "I want to meet the great Spiky who rescued our dear Ray-Ray."

That was where Sams grin faded. He knew Reena and he knew how much trouble could be caused by her meeting Spike. But, she's likely to just follow him anyway so he sighed heavily. "Fine, you can come too, But-" he held up a hand just as Reena went to speak. "No questions, comments or anything of the sort, just a thank you and no exchanging of stupid ideas of making me talk to Jules or the others."

Reena pouted as she sipped on her drink slowly. "Killjoy." She muttered as next to Sam Anthony laughed into his soda.

"Whoofs Jewuls?" Raye looked up at her father her mouth full of chicken nuggets.

Sam narrowed his gaze towards his daughter's half eaten meal. "Don't talk with your mouth full Raye, and slow down before you choke."

xxx

Spike looked down at his jacket, digging his vibrating phone out of his pocket. Holding the handheld up, he blinked down at the message on his screen.

'We're waiting outside, Come see us? –Sam'

Closing the message quickly as Lou looked over his shoulder he frowned as the dark skinned man grinned at him wickedly.

"I think Spikes got himself a girl friend." Lou teased in a sing song voice causing the others to look up in interest.

Spike felt his ears turn red as he got to his feet putting on his jacket. "I do not." He stated in a low voice to his best friend before scurrying out of the bar ignoring the cat calls to his back. Stepping out into the brisk night air the dark haired man looked around spotting two familiar blondes across the street with a brunette he hadn't met before, next to them. He smiled as the little girl in her fathers arms waved to him happily.

Crossing the empty street Spike came up in front of his old teammate who was grinning sheepishly at him. "I go five years without hearing from you and now twice in the same day." He laughed.

Plaintively ignoring Reena's pointed look, Sam glanced at his daughter. "Somebody wanted to thank you personally."

Raye wiggled in her fathers grasp as he set her down on the sidewalk. With a shy smile she held out the page from her colouring book for the older man to take.

Spike knelt down to her level as he took the folded up piece of paper and chuckled when the little girl ducked back behind her fathers' legs, embarrassed. Opening up the paper the Italian could only smile as he looked over his gift. "Is this for me?" he asked and Spike grinned when she nodded. "Thank you very much Raye, I love it."

"Really?" the five year old darted out from her hiding spot wrapping her small arms around the other mans neck. "Thank you for finding my daddy."

xxx

When Sam asks Reena spur of the moment to marry him, you know, make things easier between them, she looks at him, smiles, asks him if he still loves Jules. When he doesn't answer she laughs and leaves telling him she'll see him tomorrow. She goes outside, crying and starts talking to Alex (her dead husband/partner) and says "It is the false shame of fools to try to conceal wounds that have not healed."

And she felt like the biggest fool of all; trying to lose herself in a fake relationship with Sam, when all she could think about was her late husband.

xxx

~6 years~

The blonde let his head fall back on the seat behind him, his hat falling to cover his eyes. He was just going to ignore the sense of foreboding that filled the patrol car as Reena climbed out of the vehicle and onto the empty highway. He heard her pop the trunk and rustle about for a moment before she showed up at his window.

"Aren't you coming?" She asked. "This is going to be hilarious."

Sam tipped his hat up a bit to glare at the brunette. "Reena, being around you for five years has actually allowed me to smell impending doom." He muttered dropping his hat back into place, deciding to ignore the can of white spray paint in her hands. "I'll stay here thanks."

Reena smirk faded a bit. "You're no fun." Straightening up, the woman shook the can in her grasp walking up to the speed sign a few feet in front of her. This highway had been barely used since the new one showed up halfway across town cutting a good twenty minutes off of peoples scheduled commute. People sped through here all the time and she was going to have some fun with it. "Alright Mr. 80 clicks an hour…let's see how fun it will be to make you 30."

In the grand scheme of things, this was probably one of her worse ideas. Worse then the April fools joke last year, worse then trying to buy a pet duck…Worse then throwing glow in the dark paint all across her bosses ceiling. But no, the last sign just before the corner that branched onto the highway that told poor unsuspecting drivers that they were about to enter an eighty zone, would soon be a thing of endless amusement and headaches.

The brunette chuckled mischievously glancing between the 80 sign behind her and the now 30 sign on her other side. Any drivers would be coming around the corner doing eighty, and would have about five seconds to drop their speed down to thirty. Her grin never faded as she scurried back to the patrol car and tossed the can of spray paint at Sam's feet. Putting the car in reverse she hid it behind the large 'Welcome to Aurasanche' sign.

And as she did all this, the only thought that Sam had running through his mind was 'I wish these seats reclined.'

xxx

Officer Kevin 'Wordy' Wordsworth shifted in his seat, his body sore after the lengthy four hour drive from Toronto. He had just gotten off the busy highway and turned onto the old road marked on his map when a set of flashing red and blue lights were seen in his rearview mirror. "You've got to be kidding me." He muttered under his breath pulling the Suburban onto the side of the road and rolling down his window.

Reena grinned to herself. Maybe they would actually meet their arrest quota for the month. She laughed to herself putting on the sunglasses Sam had left behind when he decided to walk back to the station around an hour ago, and her hat. Placing the sternest look she could on her face Reena stepped out of the squad car and up to the side of Wordy's car.

"Is there a problem officer?" Wordy asked as the brunette stopped beside his window.

"Sir, are you aware that you were going almost ninety in a thirty zone." She squealed for joy inside at Wordy's shocked face, but outside her face remained cool and calm. Motioning to the sign that she had spray painted, she continued. "You have to realize sir that that is sixty kilometers above our posted speed limit."

Wordy shook his head still staring at the oddly clean road sign. "I'm sorry ma'am, I just came off the highway and I wasn't aware of the speed change-"

Reena held up her hand. "Sir, this road cuts though a thick forest with lots of wildlife. We put these signs up for your own protection." She stated.

"Yes, I'm extremely sorry, I know you probably hear this a lot, but I didn't even see the sign-"

"You're right, I do hear that a lot." Reena snapped jerking her head to one side. "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to show me your license, registration, and proof of insurance."

Wordy sighed reaching over to his glove compartment for the papers. But Reena started when she saw the gun nestled there.

"Sir, Step out of your vehicle!" The brunette shot back away from the door her hand going right to her hip for her own sidearm. "Now sir! And I am not asking."

The father groaned to himself as he slowly stepped out of the Suburban keeping his hands in the air, he had forgotten about the back-up piece in each of the Suburbans. "Look, I'm a police officer. I-"

Reena just pushed him sideways away from the door. She hadn't actually expected him to be armed. 'Police officer my ass.' She thought to herself taking in the country style civilian clothes, his sweet, honest demeanor and the large black SUV. To her it almost screamed 'abductor'. "Hands against the vehicle, now!"

The SRU officer felt the woman tug his hands around his back handcuffing him. How the heck did he manage to get himself into this? He watched as she kept her firearm on him while she dug the gun out of the glove box setting it on top of the hood. Oh, the others were going to love this.

xxx

Wordy looked up from the floor of the holding cell at the sound of voices and his gaze landed on a blonde child standing in front of the bars. Her blue eyes went wide when she saw him, a smile breaking out on her chubby face.

"Daddy, Auntie Reena arrested a man from your picture!" She exclaimed her young voice almost squealing, pointing to Wordy.

"Don't be a tattle-tale Raye!" a female voice snapped.

The SRU officer frowned getting to his feet just as two others stopped beside the girl, one was the woman who arrested him and the other was-

"Sam?"

Blue eyes shot up from the keys in his hand at the familiar voice. Sam looked over the man in the holding cell for a moment before his eyes narrowed and he turned to Reena cuffing her with the back of his hand on her shoulder, hard.

"Hey! What was that for?" she snapped her hand going to rub the sore spot.

"You're an idiot Reena." Sam growled unlocking the cell door with a bit more force then necessary. "You are possibly the only police officer on the face of this planet that would arrest another cop! Let alone arrest him for carrying a licensed firearm and speeding in an area where you changed the speed sign!"

Wordy frowned looking at Reena. "Wait, she changed the speed limit?"

Sam rolled his eyes throwing open the door and grabbed Wordy's arm pulling him out of the cell towards Richards office. He was pretty sure the Chief of Police was having a minor meltdown at the mere thought of arresting a SRU officer. The blonde stopped by his desk tossing Wordy back the gun Reena had confiscated from him along with his wallet and other personal belongings. That was when he saw the older mans confused look. "What?"

Wordy blinked looking over the blonde in front of him. "It's…ah, good to see you." He stated awkwardly. "I didn't know you were so close to the city still. You should have told us, we would have come to see you."

The blonde shook his head sighing heavily. "Sorry but that's what I was trying to avoid." He nudged the others mans shoulder pointing to the open door of Richards office. "Rick wants to have a few words for you; I'll have the files you came to pick up ready for you when you're done." With that Sam strode away scooping up the young girl who was holding Reena's hand and giving the older woman a stern glare.

Taking a deep breath Wordy turned on his heel heading into the Chief of Polices office his head still spinning.

xxx

"Braddock." Reena stated pressing the speakerphone button on her friends' cell phone so Sam didn't have to lift his head off of its place on the desk nestled into his arms. He had spent the last hour combing through the files on Reena's desk for the documents Wordy had come to get.

"Reena, is Sam there?" Spikes voice asked sounding worried.

The brunette looked over the blonde in front of her who twitched. "Yeah, his heads down but I'm pretty sure he's listening."

"Good, Sam, I just got back to the station and found out some interesting news. The Sarge sent Wordy down to Aurasanche to pick up some files, I don't know when he's supposed to get there but I just wanted to give you a heads up-"

Wordy who had come to stand next to Sam a few moments prior looked down at the phone surprised. "Spike?"

Sam lifted his head from its comfortable spot glaring at his phone. And as if sensing that glare Spike spoke quickly.

"Um, I'll call back later, See you later guys!"

"I think that's a good idea." Sam muttered reaching forward turning off his phone and letting his head fall back to the desk with a groan.

Reena chuckled leaning back in her chair again her eyes glancing towards the clock. "Whoa, I didn't think it was that late. We have to be in for Rooster hours tomorrow…we should have been in bed a while ago."

Wordy glanced down at his watch, ten, he still had enough time to call Shelly before his wife went to sleep. Blinking he looked down at Sam. "Rooster hours?"

Sam sat up his back popping again. "It's what Reena calls the three hours before the sun rises. So what she means basically is we start at four." He watched as the brunette jumped to her feet, throwing a black jacket at him before tossing Wordy, his. "So where exactly are you staying tonight anyway, it's kind of late to be driving back to the city."

The SRU officer grimaced. "I had actually kind of planned on just picking up the files and then leaving again…but you know getting arrested and then getting a very lengthy apology from your guys boss has made my traveling light kind of disappear." Wordy smiled catching Reena's twitch out of the corner of his eye. "Is there a hotel nearby I could check into or something like that?"

"Pfft." Reena's snort had the older man looking at her as Sam got to his feet lifting his daughter up off the couch. "You can check into the Hotel of Sam's Couch." At Wordy's confused glance she continued. "There aren't any hotels around here for miles man. Hardly anyone ever comes through here to stay, visit maybe, but never stay so we never built anything of the sort. Trust me, I've been here all my life and nobody had ever even given building a hotel, motel or B&B a second thought."

As Reena continued to ramble Wordy looked at the blonde standing next to him. "Is she always like this?"

"Always, after a while it just becomes second nature to ignore her." Sam sighed motioning for the older man to follow him. "Come on, I've got a spare room at my place, you can crash there for the night."

xxx

Wordy watched intrigued as Sam slid the sleeping girl in his arms into the backseat next to Reena who wrapped an arm around Raye shoulders. He stood by the passenger side door, opting to leave his Suburban at the station and just drive in with Sam tomorrow morning. Closing the back door of the Tahoe Sam slid around to the drivers side as Wordy climbed into his side.

Picking up a CD case that was on the floor the father of three looked over at Sam. "Disney's Greatest Collection, Volume II?" he read the front cover with amusement.

Sam laughed lightly opening up the console in between the seats. Taking the case from his old teammate he shoved it into the plastic cubby. "Reena bought it for Raye as a birthday present last year." He explained. "She kept playing it until it almost drove me crazy."

The SRU officer nodded. "I know that feeling," oh yes he knew the pain of hearing the same song over and over. He loved his girls dearly but there is only so many times any man can hear 'Teenage Dream' before snapping. "Where'd you hide the CD?"

The blonde gave him a sneaky smile, glancing in the rearview mirror to see that Reena had fallen asleep next to his daughter. "I put it in a filing cabinet at work, stashed under piles and piles of unfinished paperwork. It's something Reena avoids like the plague so that was the best place I could think to hide it. If Reena found it she'd just give it back to Raye."

In the backseat, Reena cracked open her eyes a bit as she made a mental note to get Anthony to dig though the filing cabinet at work the next day. 'Silly Sam…now that I've found it I'll never let it out of my sight again…' And in the far, dark, cobweb infested part of her brain a tiny voice let out a maniacal laugh.

xxx

"Wait, if he takes the spare bedroom, where am I gonna sleep?" Reena asked hanging off the back of the couch to look at the blonde. "I hate sharing with you; you kick in your sleep... and your couch is uncomfortable."

"So why don't you go sleep at your house for a change?" Sam raised an eyebrow leaning sideways to look at her ignoring Wordy's raised eyebrow.

The brunette whined. "But that's so boring. Oh-" her eyes lit up and Sam had the urge to smack her. "Raye!"

"NO!" The sniper snapped reaching out and fulfilling the urge. "You're going to keep her up all night with those horrible ghost stories-"

"She likes them."

Sam gave her a flat look and pointed to the door. "Go. Home."

"Kill joy." Reena muttered pushing herself up and grabbing her coat off the chair. "You guys have a good night then. See you at work tomorrow Sammy." With a final wave the woman left the apartment and Sam sunk into the couch.

Wordy blinked in confusion. "She's…"

"Crazy?" Sam offered.

"Not your wife?"

The blonde had just lifted his glass of water to his lips to take a drink when he choked. Coughing loudly Sam set his water back on the table looking at the older man across from him. "What is it with everyone? You and Lou both…Jeez?"

xxx

It was quiet.

Too quiet Sam realized as he leaned against his headboard. Had he switched his phone to silent? Grabbing it off his bedside table he unlocked it but saw no missed calls, no annoying messages or voicemails that he didn't want to listen to but would enjoy anyway. Twelve thirty. Hm…

Why hadn't Reena called him?

Throwing the blankets off his legs the sniper crawled out of bed and padded out into the kitchen knowing he wouldn't be getting to sleep until he had gotten a message from his partner. Sending her a quick text he threw his phone onto the counter and headed to the fridge. Moments later he leaned back a frown marring his features.

No message back.

Okay, that wasn't like Reena at all. She always answered, even if she had been asleep. Was she ignoring him for sending her home? Pressing in her number he tried to ignore the unsettling feeling in his stomach. As he listened to the ringing in his ear he saw the open file Wordy had come to pick up open on his counter. Casting his eyes over the mug shot Sam felt his phone slip out of his hands just as Reena's voicemail echoed out of it.

His heart had dropped like a rock as he scooped up his mobile and ran back into his room throwing on a clean shirt and his old paint covered jeans as fast as he could. Shoving his feet into his shoes Sam prayed silently to himself that he was wrong; he'd give anything to be wrong. He'd take looking like a fool running around in the middle of the night in front of the Chief, Tony and Wordy, if only he was wrong. Redialing Reena's number several times he found himself cursing aloud as he dug his gun out of his bedside table.

"Come on Reena, this isn't funny, pick up your phone, pick up, pick up…"

But as the brunettes' answering machine reached him once more, Sam hung up and shoved his gun into the back of his pants. Throwing open the door to his daughters room he scooped the little girl up into his arms causing her to wake up.

"Daddy?" Raye looked up at her father rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.

"I'm sorry sweetie, but I need to take you to Margo's okay?" Sam muttered tugging a blanket around her shoulders and passing her, her favorite stuffed animal.

The child just nodded sleepily letting her father carry her out of her room. But Sam paused when Wordy stepped out of the spare room fully dressed and looking alert.

"What's going on?" The SRU officer asked eyeing the gun Sam had on him.

Sam shook his head walking down the hallway heading to the apartment door right across from his. "Reena's not answering her phone." He looked down as an elderly lady opened the door in front of him and he saw Wordy slip on his own sneakers behind him. "I'm sorry Margo, I know it's late, but could you watch Raye for me?"

The silver haired woman smiled happily. "Of course Sam, honey, you know us old people never sleep." She reached forward taking the child from the blonde. "Another late night call?"

Sam turned locking his door behind Wordy. "Something like that," Bending over he placed a kiss on Raye's head. "Be good Raye, I hope I won't be long. Thanks Margo!"

Margo just waved him off as the two police officers jogged down the hallway. "Just be careful!"

xxx

"So what if she didn't answer her phone?" Wordy asked as the came out onto the empty street.

"She always answers, always!" Sam stated running off to the right. "And call me paranoid, but that killer, Horne, his description and photo from the police don't match the description we got from the mourge!" He hated running and talking at the same time. "We assumed it was the killers because the features were similar and he was said to be around here when he was last spotted."

The older man behind him frowned not liking this train of thought. "What are you trying to say? Sam?"

However the blonde ignored him, stopping dead in his tracks as he saw the contents of a familiar bag scattered all across the sidewalk of the main street. Reena's bag. Bending down next to it Sam looked around, not seeing her gun or her cell phone. "Shit."

"She may still be close." Wordy stated his thoughts going on a similar path as Sam's. "If you think there's even a slight chance that Horne is still alive we need a large open space where he would take his vi-" he paused, switching words. "Her."

Heart in his throat Sam looked around his eyes landing on the only really open space inside the town. "The park." Leaving Reena's bag on the ground Sam barely registered the fact that the gate was unlocked as he ran as fast as he could into the park, not caring if Wordy was keeping up with him or not.

"REENA?"

The brunette struggled with the strangely stronger man who was pinning her to the ground. His bright green eyes held a tint of a drug induced craze to them and it was enough to have Reena in tears as fear started to settle into her entire body.

She had stopped by the park on the way home, intending on messaging Sam for a while, maybe even sending him a few pictures of a couple of sleeping ducks from the pond just to annoy him. But as soon as she sat down on the bench she felt a hand clamp around her mouth, another arm going around her torso pulling her backwards off the bench. The brunette had fought back, managing to get away from her attacker, running out of the park with the deranged man hot on her heels.

The police officer had dug in her bag for her gun but a swift sharp blow to the side of her head had her crashing to the ground in a heap. Reena had barely felt the arms dragging her back towards the park, or the sticky fingers ridding her of her phone and her sidearm.

But now the dizziness had subsided to fear and Reena was well aware of the knife pressed to her throat. Blood dripped from a couple of cuts she had already gotten, onto the wet grass under her. Above her Horne's familiar profile hovered, lifting the blade away from her neck to hold it above her, the metal shining in the moonlight, looming over her like her own personal death.

"REENA!"

Reena's eyes snapped open, brown orbs watering at the familiar shout. Suddenly that knife didn't look so scary. Those crazy eyes didn't look so frightening.

Sam had his weapon in the palm of his hand as soon as his eyes saw the glint of the knife. Dropping to one knee the bullets were out of his gun before Wordy could even get to his side. He fired one into Horne's hand making him drop the knife while he put the second into the back of the killers head.

The female cop was breathing heavily as the man above her collapsed sideways, seconds before Sam dropped to both knees at her side pulling her up into his arms. She clung to him, her fingers digging into his shirt. "Oh...god… Sam,"

The blonde cop let out the breath he had been holding when he noticed his partner was not seriously injured. He pretended not to notice the tears soaking into his shirt as he rubbed comforting circles on her back.

Xxx

Would you be ashamed if I told you that I knew about your little fantasises with the duck?

xxx

Wordy finally managed to corner Spike in the conference room when the others had left for the day. The Italian looked like a little kid who had blabbed a secret that he wasn't supposed to know; and in a way, he was. The Father crossed his arms. "So, are you going to tell me why you kept Sam and his daughter a secret from us?" he paused for a moment. "Which in itself is considerable when you think of it."

Spike raised an eyebrow sliding into the chair at the back of the room, effectively putting the table between himself and his friend. "What do you mean?"

Blue eyes sparkled for a moment. "You can't keep a secret to save your life Spike," Wordy stated ignoring the indignant squawk from the younger man. "Well you can't, and you've kept this one for how long?"

"Over a year thank you very much!" Spike stated firmly, proud of himself for a moment before he realized he had just helped dig his grave a bit deeper. "Oh..."

Wordy smirked crossing his arms. "When did you see him?"

"You remember at the Air Show last year? When we all got those free drinks?" At the older mans nod Spike continued. "It was just before then…"

xxx

~7 years~

Sam felt himself start to wake, but he didn't know why…at least not until he opened his eyes a crack, just enough to see another set of blue eyes staring back at him. Jerking back slightly the sniper gave his daughter a flat look. "Raye, what are you doing? Is something wrong?" He felt himself sober and sit up quickly.

Raye got to her feet jumping up and down on her father's bed. "Don't you know what day it is?" she exclaimed excitedly.

Letting his head fall back onto the pillow when he saw that Raye was fine, Sam snuggled back into his blankets fully prepared to get a few more hours before having to go in for work. "It's Friday, go back to bed Raye."

The blonde child pouted, her cheeks puffing out. "But Dad, you promised!" when her father made no move to get up Raye sat down on fathers' back. "You promised I could spend the weekend with Uncle Spike while you were at that meety thingy!"

'Oh right…the conference in the city.' Sam groaned trying to bury his face further into the pillow. "Ray-Ray, It's too early. Uncle Spike will still be asleep; like we should be."

But that didn't deter the little girl. "But it's a really long drive dad, by the time we get there Uncle Spike will be up."

The blonde yawned lifting his head up to look at the clock on his nightstand. '4:34' he thought to himself. 'Where the heck does this kid get all her energy from?' Sam turned to face his daughter as best he could. "How about you give your dad one more hour of sleep while you go wait peacefully in your own bed? How does that sound?"

The seven year old crossed her arms. "But Dad!" she whined getting off of him and climbing under his covers to lie next to him. "You promised we would leave 'nice and early'."

Sam cracked open an eye. "Raye let me tell you something, whenever Aunt Reena says that I say stuff, it's not going to be true." He muttered.

"Oh." Raye blinked in confusion. "So does that mean we can get a dog for my birthday?"

"Ray-Ray, we're not getting a dog sweetie." Sam muttered pretty much giving up on his extra hour of sleep when the blue eyes next to him started to mist up. 'Stupid, Reena.'

(During the conference, they get held as hostages. SRU is called, can't get a hold of Spike who is out shopping with Raye. Reena is outside getting coffee he meets her there. SRU goes in to take the situation.)

"Reena? What's going on? Why are you outside?" Spike asked with a frown as Raye looked around the crowd from her perch on his shoulders.

The brunette looked up at the girl. "Raye, plug your ears." The little girl did as she was told. It wasn't very often that her Aunt Reena used such a tone, but when she did, someone was in trouble. The cop looked at Spike worry written all over her face. "I stepped out for coffee the next thing I know all of the pagers are going off, there's a guy with a gun in there, He's got a hostage with him and is hiding in the conference room with Anthony and Sam. Your friends are there… your sergeant is trying to talk him down and it isn't working!" Her hands ran through her hair tugging it back.

Spike laid a hand on her shoulder before moving to take Raye off his shoulders and pass her to the woman. "Hold onto her, I'm going to go see if I can find out how everything has been going."

Reena nodded taking the child and watching fearfully as the taller man ran under the yellow tape and past the guard with a small wave to show who he was.

Spike threw open the door surprising Wordy, Lou and Parker who were sitting at the computers.

"Where have you been?" Lou asked him with a frown as the Techie pushed Wordy's chair out of the way to kneel down by the computer the older man had been sitting in front of.

"Spike," Greg moved to stand behind him looking down at the screen. "What are you doing?"

'So you finally showed up?'

The group of men minus Spike jumped at the amused voice speaking up from the phone. A voice very familiar to them.

"Oh, like you should talk." Spike rolled his eyes, his fingers going over the keyboard faster then the others could make out.

'Where's Raye?'

"She's outside with Reena." The dark haired man grinned as the screen in front of him sprung to life. "Gotcha, I got a visual on the hostage." He looked up at Greg who was staring at the two men standing against the wall on the screen.

"Sam?" The lead negotiator blinked as on the screen the blonde officer looked up at the camera and gave a wave.

'Hey Sarge,' Sams voice filtered through the van sounding amused.

Pushing the massive amount of questions he had down, Greg looked at the two cops on the screen. "Braddock, Is there any way you can try and talk the hostage down? Maybe try and get him to lower his weapon?"

'I've been trying Boss, but this guy just doesn't seem to want to listen.' The blonde muttered.

Sam sighed as he shared a look with Anthony beside him. Both of them cringed as a few more bullets flew by the wall they were hiding behind, some even going through it. "Come on Mr. Baxter, I know you don't want to do this, If you continue on like this, it's only going to make the situation more difficult for yourself." Sam shouted his voice carrying into the other room.

"I'M NOT THE ONES MAKING THIS SITUATION WORSE! IT'S ALL YOU PEOPLE!" he moved his gun back to the red haired woman at his feet. "But mostly it's you…" he seethed. "You want to leave me, that's fine. But I won't let you take them with you! You're poison to them!"

The blonde sniper who had been listening intently perked up at he mans words. "Won't let her take who with her Mr. Baxter?"

"Matthew. And Izzy." The gunman sniffed running a hand over his forehead. "My kids… MY KIDS! AND SHE WANTS TO TEAR THEM AWAY FROM ME! I WON'T LET HER!"

"It sounds like your kids are real important to you Mr. Baxter." Sam stated moving closer to the hallway to hear better.

"They're my life." Mark growled.

Anthony grinned, sharing a look with his friend and inside the truck Spike was wearing a knowing smile. "Yeah, Kids are like that." The dark skinned man laughed softly. "They can run your whole damn life and that doesn't stop you from loving them; wanting the best for them."

"I love my kids," Mark stated firmly. "Which is why, I can't let this bitch take them."

Sam stood up straighter. "Mark, can I call you Mark? I'm going to come out into the hallway now, okay?" he said moving back slightly and slowly, very carefully, stepped out into the empty hallway.

"Sam, be careful." Spikes voice ordered from the blue tooth in his ear when the robot man saw the shooters gun go right to Sam.

"I'm going to put my gun down now, alright Mark?" Sam said aloud making obvious movements so as not to startle the shaking man. "I just want to talk to you. I want to work this out so that we can all go home, safe and sound and see our kids."

Mark watched as the blonde man in front of him slid his gun away from him and kept his hands in the air. "You have kids?"

Greg and the others watched in amazement as Sam nodded, the image too fuzzy to see the ex-snipers soft smile.

"I do, a daughter, her names Raye."

Mark nodded. "Then you know. You know what it's like! The other guy said it too! I want what's best for my kids. And I know this whore isn't it!" He waved his gun at his ex-wife's face madly making her cry out in fear.

Sam's gaze flickered. "But do you really think having their father hurt their mom is the best for them?" When the man didn't reply Sam took a tentative step forward and Tony came out into the hallway behind him gun raised even though Sam was directly in his line of fire. "Do you really want to put your son and daughter through all the pain of losing both of their parents at the same time?"

xxx

Wordy smiled widely as he watched the screen. "Who would have thought, huh? Sam Braddock is out negotiating you." He looked over at Greg who was watching the exchange inside the building intently.

"Does he really have a kid now?" Greg asked from Spikes right side.

"Yeah, she's waiting outside." Spike replied before he paused, feeling the lead negotiators eyes turn on him. Damn his inability to keep a secret!

"Really?" the sergeant raised an eyebrow.

Wordy and Lou exchanged a confused glance before the dark skinned man looked at his best friend. "Raye's here? I thought she was staying with her grandparents for the weekend."

The techie shook his head. "Nah, they're away too so I offered to watch her for him, besides Mom really wanted to see her again."

Lou laughed shaking his head as Parker looked between the three.

"So you all knew Sam was around?" Greg crossed his arms fully intending to interrogate his team if he had to. "And you never said anything?"

The other three men looked at each other sheepishly. "He was avoiding Jules." They replied in unison. "And us too for a while there." Wordy added.

Greg shook his head. "But you three knew he was still around the city?" He was slightly offended that Sam was avoiding them; he had been part of the team, a part of their family until he left. Greg had actually been kind of fond of the brash young man.

Wordy raised his hand. "I found out when his friend arrested me." The father stated.

"Air show, a few years back." Spike chuckled as he watched the screen in front of him as Sam slowly got closer to Mark, still talking calmly.

"I came over for a game at Spikes." Lou pointed over his shoulder at the dark haired man. "Saw the kid and wanted an explanation."

"And you didn't leave until you got one."

The four men turned to see Reena standing in the doorway of the truck.

"And you are?" Greg asked facing the brunette.

"Sam's partner, you can call me Reena." She reached out to shake his hand.

Spike leaned back in his seat noticing the lack of child. "Where's Raye?"

"I left her in the car." Reena muttered stepping around Lou's chair to look at the blonde on the screen. At Spikes wide eyed expression she added. "Don't worry, I left the window open."

There was silence for a moment as the woman looked around seeing the serious expressions. "Oh please." She slapped the back of Spikes head. "The chief showed up and I wanted to check on Mr. Samtastic-Pants so he took her." Her brown eyes traveled back to the screen. "What exactly is he doing anyway?"

"Trying to get the guy to keep his gun off that woman until our guys can get up there."

xxx

Sam watched in horror as Mark spun on his heel in Ed's grasp and managed to get his hands free. There was little Ed could do as the man dropped him to the floor and grabbed the handgun from his leg holster. Almost instantly Mark was on his feet and aiming the gun straight at Jules who was holding the mans wife.

Several loud bangs erupted and Jules felt herself hit the floor with enough force to knock the wind out of her. But the pain was missing, all there was, was a warm heavy weight bearing down on her.

Brown eyes snapped open as her mind finally registered the all too familiar cologne next to her. Shifting in her spot Jules climbed to her knees flipping Sam onto his back revealing the two bullet holes, one above his waist, and the other in the middle of his shoulder. "Sam?" her voice was a mere whisper.

Someone skidded to a stop on the other side shouting. "Yo, Sam, Stay with me bro!" Tony snapped pressing his hands to the wound on his friend's stomach.

Behind them the few members of Team Three who had just arrived had managed to take Mark down and escort him out of the building while Ed stared wide eyed at the unconscious man on the ground.

Anthony grabbed the radio off of Jules shoulder and flipped it on. "This is Officer Lumark; I need an EMT at my coordinate ASAP! Officer down, I repeat officer down." Dropping the radio next to his leg, the black man nudged Sams chin trying to get the blonde to open his eyes. "Come on man, come on. You need to wake up Sam; Raye isn't going to look after herself Bro, you gotta open your eyes."

None of his coaxing seemed to work as Sam laid there unconscious, Jules watching in shock unable to comprehend what had just happened. That was Sam…Sam had gotten shot. Sam had gotten shot saving her… She felt sick as the blood, Sam's blood, pooled around his limp form.

xxx

Reena watched in horror as the paramedics rushed a heavily bleeding Sam towards the ambulance. All only thing the woman could see was the red blood staining the blondes shirt and pants. Her breath caught in her chest and the feel of bile rose to the back of her throat. In her hands the small child was eagerly trying to turn around to see her father but Reena's hold on Raye was like cement.

"Daddy!" Raye's shout sounded through the court yard. "Daddy?"

Spike was at Reena's side in a second taking Raye from the woman's vice like grip and held her close. "Its okay sweetie, your dad's gonna be just fine. He's gonna be alright." He assured her as blue eyes started to mist up. "He's going to be fine."

Reena wasn't sure who Spike was trying to reassure as the dark haired man gave her a worried glance out of the corner of his eye. 'Yeah, he's… tough… he'll be fine.' She thought to herself as she looked past the blood soaked form of her partner to the doorway of the building where Jules and Ed were being led out by a few other police officers. Taking a deep breath the brunette ground her teeth and strode over to the two SRU officers, more specifically the target of her anger, Jules.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" She snapped grabbing onto the lapel of Jules uniform making the other woman snap out of her stupor.

"Wha?"

"I was outside in a fucking truck and even I saw that guy go for the gun before you did! What kind of fucking cop are you? You're an idiot! Because of you my partner got shot!"

Spike's eyes shot open as he lightly passed Raye to Wordy and went after his friend. "Reena!"

Jules glared at the stranger in front of her. "Who-"

"I have lost enough fucking partners to others fucking carelessness I don't want to put Sam on that list too! If something happens to him it will be your fault. He got shot protecting you- god knows why and-"

The brunette was cut off as Spike grabbed her arm, pulling her away. "Reena you need to stop, this is nobodies fault."

"Screw your stupid physco babble Spike!" Anger coursed through her uncontrollable, her thoughts a mess as images of Raye without a father flashed before her. "She was careless and because of that Sam got hurt! He could die, Spike!"

"Reena!" Spike snapped grabbing a hold of both her shoulder to make her look at him. "Calm down, getting angry isn't going to help Sam and going off at Jules isn't going to help anyone."

"But-"

Brown eyes bore down into hazel. "Go hold Raye."

The anger seemed to almost evaporate as Reena hung her head. Turning on her heel the cop made her way back to Wordy and Lou who were trying to comfort the child in front of them. Placing a hand on Raye's back caused the little girl to look up at her Aunt.

"Auntie Reena Where's Daddy?"

Reena's lip quivered as she spoke. "Daddy got a little boo-boo sweetie, that's all. He's gone to see the mean ol' doctor to try and get it fixed up." Her voice cracked and she smiled shakily to avoid anyone noticing it. She felt Spike come up to her side silently taking her hand in his. "But remember how tough daddy is? He's going to try and get right as rain as fast as he can for you, okay? Can you be a good girl and wait for him?"

The child in Wordy's arms nodded, sniffing as she hide her face in the crook of the mans neck and Reena's grip on Spikes' hand tightened almost to the point it was painful. For comfort or support she didn't care why he was holding her hand in the first place. She needed a bit of human contact. Had Sam walked out of that building he would have given her a friendly kiss on the cheek and they'd all be heading home now.

xxx

"Sam never wanted Raye to meet her, He was afraid that Raye might become attached to Jules and that Jules would get scared like she did when they were together. Sam didn't want Raye to feel the hurt he did when she walked away from him." Reena explained, "Sam put a lot out for a chance at a relationship with Jules, he switched teams, left the family he had started to gain, gave up his free time during shift to be with her on her days off, he even wanted to ask her to marry him…but he told me that they grew apart when they weren't on the same team anymore. It felt like some of the chemistry died he said."

Reena sighed running a hand through her hair. "They'd exchange quick stories of their teams over quick dinners because one of them had to go to sleep to get up early, the shifts were hell I could imagine, hardly being able to see each other at any given time. Hell, it was hard for Alex and I and we were at the same station with the same work schedule. If I had been in Sam's shoes I don't think I could have taken it either. To have to person you love so close and alive but not having them? I'm not surprised he just up and left. It's torment. For me it was different, my husband was dead, but Sam, his Jules was still alive. Alive and so far away…"

xxx

"Maybe we were never meant to be together, because 'maybe' never works out. But I know one thing. I love you. I have always loved you. Probably from the first time you pointed your gun at me in the square. Even after all the hell we went through trying to keep us a secret; even after I transferred teams. I love you Jules. There is no one else that I'll love more than you."

Jules felt the tears slip down her cheeks as Sam moved closer to her and this time she didn't back away. "Sam…"

Blue eyes shimmered in the dim light of the living room. Tentatively he reached up brushing a strand of her brown hair away from her face. His hand lingered on her cheek for a moment before trailing down her arm and intertwining their fingers her eyes sliding shut at the sensation.

She couldn't breath, couldn't get any words past her lips as her heart pounded in her chest. His closeness was making her head spin and Jules felt him close the rest of the distance between them.

Barely resisting the urge to just grab the brunette and make her his once more, Sam moved his head up and placed a light kiss above her eye. "Goodbye Jules."

Her eyes snapped open in shock. The cold air taking his place as he moved away was the worst thing Jules had ever experienced. Worse then the feel of metal driving into her chest when she had been shot; worse than knowing she missed her target and had killed an innocent. The feeling of loneliness was almost enough to suffocate the female sniper; but the sound of the door to her house closing, was like getting hit by the metaphorical ton of bricks.

Whipping around Jules could barely hold back the falling tears as she ran down the hallway and out the door after the one person who could make her act like a lovesick teenager.

"SAM, WAIT!" She shouted throwing open her door just in time to see the black Tahoe pull out onto the main road. Her voice lost in the torrent of rain.

And if Sam had been watching his rear view mirror he would have seen Jules running down the street after his vehicle. Instead the blonde cop just turned on his wipers as it started to rain.

xxx

"What happened?" Reena asked seeing Sam standing in the doorway almost soaked to the bone. "Where's Jules?"

If possible Sam felt his shoulders sag even lower. "Nothing happened." He replied stripping off his jacket and throwing it on the hook.

"Sam-"

"I don't want to talk about it."

Reena watched silently as he strode over to the couch and collapsed into it and she could just imagine the pain that shot through his chest from the bullet wounds. But he said nothing; just let his head sink into his hands. He didn't even look up as his mother came into the living room from the kitchen.

Mary looked over her sons' hunched position with sad eyes before going over to stand in front of him. "Sam honey," she started but her words fell short when she saw his shoulders shaking; and it wasn't from the wet clothes.

"I'm done." Sam stated his voice breaking. "We just weren't meant to be."

"Sam," His mother bent down to take his hands in hers and she wasn't surprised to see the red rimmed eyes when he looked up at her. "I have seen a lot of people who think they were meant to be together. And let me tell you something." Mary grinned at him. "They don't have anything on you and that woman."

xxx

Jules didn't know how long she had been standing there, in the middle of the sidewalk halfway down her street, the rain just pouring down around her. It must have been several hours at least. It had felt like forever. Yes, she knew that was corny to think like that, but it was the only words she could think of when she could barely hear her own thoughts over the chattering of her teeth. Whenever a car turned to pull onto the street Jules head shot up hoping that Sam had turned around and was coming back to her, but every time the car would drive by her, the larger vehicles splashing her when they ran over the puddles of water.

Finally Jules turned on her heel walking solemnly back to her house. Once inside she closed both doors behind her and slid down to sit on the floor leaning against the wall hot tears making their way down her face. She let him slip away from her. Again. And she doubted that he would be coming back on his own this time. Twice she had stood still as he walked out of her life and Jules hated herself for it; For letting him.

'Not again.' Jules snapped to herself. Her heart hammered loudly in her ears as she whipped around running into her kitchen grabbing her bag and keys off the counter. She was going to do something right this time. There were no Rules holding her back anymore. She was not going to let him walk away from her like this. And she knew exactly how to find out where he was going.

xxx

The last thing Spike Scarlatti expected when he heard the knock on his front door around three in the morning was to see the lone female member of Team one staring back at him, looking quiet like a drowned rat. "Jules?"

"Where is he?" She snapped trying not to let the shivers run into her voice.

The sound of her words seemed to wake him up and the taller man pulled the soaking wet woman into his house. "What are you thinking going out in weather like this, you're going to get sick!"

"Spike-"

"Especially without a jacket, what were- were you even thinking? If you wanted time off all you have to do is ask." He grabbed the blanket off the bench in his entryway and wrapped it around the other brunette.

"Spike-"

Said man was just about to speak again when Jules reached forward and grabbed his chin with both of her freezing hands forcing him to meet her eyes. "Spike." She growled "Where. Is. He?" she put a great deal of emphasis on the last few words, sticking in as much anger as she could muster at the moment.

Spike blinked, "Whomh?" his words were muffled due to his mouth being squished together because of Jules grip on him.

"Sam."

The simple reply made Spike stop and carefully step out of the death grip the woman had on his face. "Jules, I don't really think-"

But the woman cut him off her look of determination turning to one of desperation. "Spike, please."

The two paused, Spike looking over the vulnerable woman standing in his doorway. He had never seen her act like this before, not even when Sam had left the first time. Now, she wanted to go after him. Releasing a heavy sigh Spike set his hands on her shoulder looking her right in the eye. "Are you sure about this?" he asked. "Because if you're doing this out of guilt because he got shot saving you-"

"I'm not." Jules shook her head a nervous laugh escaping her. "I'm not. I-Spike, I didn't do a thing when he walked away the first time and I was so angry afterwards I didn't care!" She waved her arms helplessly. "And this time…I…I- I couldn't even say how much I missed him, how much my life sucked without him! I love him Spike," her brown eyes were blazing as she spoke. "I let him walk away once because I was stupid and stubborn. I can't do it again."

If Spike was an emotional guy he'd probably be in tears by now. However since he wasn't an emotional-get-in-touch-with-your-inner-feelings type of person, he blinked away the water that was starting to form in the corner of his eyes and nodded. "Okay." He muttered. "But there's something, someone else, you have to think of too Jules; Raye."

Jules heart fell to the pit of her stomach. Sam's daughter. How could she have forgotten? How could she think to just waltz right into their lives, because of how much she wanted to be with Sam? What right did she have? The hot tears came back with a vengeance before she felt Spike pulling her further inside his house to sit at the dining room table.

He knelt down in front of her patting her knee. "Jules, Sam really does love you. I've heard him say it countless times whenever I go see him. But Sam loves that little girl too and if you can't accept Raye along with Sam then I won't take you to see him. Are you ready to be a part of that family?"

The brunette looked down at the frayed end of the blanket, playing with the threads. Could she be a mom? Was she ready to be? Images of the blonde child she had met at the hospital flashed through her mind and the answer was already out of her mouth before she even knew she spoke. "Yes."

Spike's grin almost split his face. "Great!" he shot to his feet and ran out of the room, coming back a minute later with clothes in his hands. "Here, go dry yourself off in the bathroom and change into these." He tossed the jeans and sweater to the woman. "I'll change and bring my car around."

"Spike, whose are these?" Jules questioned veering from the serious conversation, looking down at the clothes in her hand. "Should I be worried as to why you have women's clothes in your house or should I be congratulating you finally?"

The Italian mock glared at her. "They're Reena's. She left them here the last time she was down-What?" He changed his statement halfway though when Jules just gave him a knowing look. "Oh, be quiet."

The two branched off, both changing, and drying off in Jules case, into more appropriate clothing.

"Alright, let's get this show on the road." Spike cheering as Jules finished zippering up the jacket she had taken from the hall closet. The taller man tossed her an umbrella before doing up his own jacket. "It's a four hour drive from here, so one quick stop at Timmy's before we go."

Jules chuckled, turning off the lights before exiting the house and running directly to the car, Spike just a second behind her. Her nerves were raw as she made herself comfortable in the passenger's seat, but she managed to relax herself a bit as they pulled out of the driveway and headed for the highway. She was going to see him.

xxx

"If you're looking for Sam, he's not home dear."

Spike turned to see Margo standing behind them with a smile on her old face. "What do you mean?"

"Detective Lumark came by to pick up some of his and Raye's things, they're staying at his parents place until he's feeling better." The elderly woman explained getting her mail out of the box, her eyes never leaving the brunette woman next to Spike. "I don't think I've ever seen you around here before honey."

Jules shook her head. "I'm just a friend…" she muttered.

Gray eyes narrowed, as the old woman smirked. "I think you're a bit more then that aren't you dear?" Sticking her hand into her mailbox once more she brought out a key handing it to Spike. "You should show her around before you go."

The female officer looked at the man beside her who was staring at the key in his hand like it was a bad idea waiting to happen. Snatching it out of his hand Jules went to open the door but Spike let out a string of undistinguishable noises grabbing it back and holding it out of her reach.

Brown eyes blinked as Jules looked at her team mate. "What are you doing?" Her brow furrowed. "And what the hell did you just say?"

The Italian glared at her. "I don't think you should go in there."

"And why not?" She crossed her arms an annoyed expression crossing her face.

Spike stood there slack jawed for a moment, his mind unable to think of a reason why Jules shouldn't other then she just shouldn't.

Fed up, Jules grabbed the key, unlocked the door and was in the apartment before Spike even realized what had happened.

The first thing that hit her was the lived in feeling of the apartment. His previous place when he had been in the SRU had felt more like just a place to sleep then a home, but this place… it felt what every home should feel like. Warm, Inviting, Safe. Brown eyes scanned the pictures lining the entryway as she moved further into the entryway. Some were of parties, Some of Reena, a great deal of them of Raye, Spike and Lou gracing a few of them, but one specific one caught her eye near the end of the wall.

It was of Sam and Raye. She was younger, maybe around four and it showed the two at the nearby park, near the pond on an extremely sunny afternoon. The two blondes were kneeling next to each other as they sat next to the water which was crowed with ducks. In Sam's hand was a bag of bread while Raye was holding it out for the birds to take. Both of them were happy, their wide smiles proof of that.

"Reena took that picture, it's her favorite." Spikes voice brought Jules back to Earth and she turned to the brown haired man. "It was on Sam's birthday a few years ago. It's nice isn't it?"

Nodding, Jules took one last look at the photo before going further into the blondes' living room. There was the customary blue blanket thrown haphazardly over the back of the couch, DVD cases were left open on the coffee table next to a book that was set upside down to mark the page. Cocking her head to the side Jules read the title smirking a bit to her self. 'Paradise Lost.'

Spike held his breath as he watched the woman look around the room; a detached interest surrounded her, like she wanted so much to be a part of this life but didn't want to intrude on what Sam had already built. He was about to open his mouth but before the brown haired man could speak his phone went off in his pocket. Pulling it out he saw Reena's number flash across his screen, it was flagged as urgent. Glancing at Jules he held his cell up and motioned to the kitchen. "I'll be right back."

The woman just watched him leave before brushing her fingers over the bookcase against the wall that was crammed full of novels and children's books. Her eyes passed over the titles quickly before she came to the hallway leading to the bedrooms. Jules looked around seeing Spike was still in the kitchen on his phone, before making her way to the first door on the left.

A spare bedroom that looked pretty lived in. The next door on the left led to the bathroom and she couldn't help the smile creeping onto her face when she saw the bubblegum toothpaste and the rubber duck sitting on the counter. Jules frowned a bit when she saw writing in permanent marker on the duck. 'Daddy can not throw out.' Underneath was an angry face and the brunette shook her head. She had been warned about Raye's weird fascination with ducks.

But nothing had prepared her for the little girl's room.

Jules blinked standing in the doorway looking around wide eyed at the purple walls and the yellow duck wallpaper. The bed spread was ducks, the duck shaped pillow, and the duck backpack that sat on the small desk in the corner. The woman smiled fondly at the typical unmade bed, toys everywhere and the clothes strewn all over the floor.

Closing the door behind her the female SRU officer glanced at the last closed door on the right side.

By process of elimination.

Sam's room.

Hands shaking Jules reached out, her fingers gripping the cold metal tightly. Stealing her nerves the brunette slipped into the room slowly, coming to stand in the middle of the bedroom. Now she felt like he was invading something. She figured she shouldn't be invading his privacy like this. That maybe she shouldn't be here without Sam. But as Jules trailed her fingers across the dustless dresser, she tossed the thought away her hand brushing over a familiar blue beach shirt. Holding it close to her the female officer could still smell the blonde on the article of clothing and it took every ounce of restraint she had not to let the tears fall.

Even after all these years, he still had this stupid shirt. She had liked the colour, the logo, so she had bought it for Sam so she could wear it when she was at his place. But she had liked it on him too. The way it showed off his arms, his stomach muscles and every outline of his torso…

Falling backwards onto the bed, Jules sighed deeply inhaling the scent of the t-shirt before she rolled over to the side of the bed Sam obvious slept on. Shifting into the dip his weight had created brown eyes glanced over to the bedside table and her heart froze. Her restraint broke and the tears came down slowly… silently.

And that was how Spike found her; curled up on the dark brown sheets, clutching the blue shirt tightly as she stared at the metal picture frame sitting next to the alarm clock.

"Jules?" Spike asked cautiously coming over to sit on the edge of the bed following her line of vision. The Italian smiled when he saw the photo of Sam and Jules on the bedside table. It was taken at one of the many fairs that made its way through Toronto that year. In it they were laughing loudly at the other as they tried to smear cotton candy in each others hair. Wordy had taken the photo while Ed made an off hand comment about how the scene was sweeter then the cotton candy and was likely to give any onlookers cavities. Jules had responded with a clever 'Well, we'd smear it in your hair but you know it's kind of hard since you don't really have any…' Everyone had had a good laugh at their team leader's expense. That had been a few weeks before Jules had broken things off.

"I was really stupid wasn't I?"

Spike looked down at the brown haired woman sadly. "No you weren't Jules, you were-"

Brown eyes glared at him. "I was just what? I loved him, he loved me, and I let him go because I was afraid." In a move that was a purely un-Jules-like move she buried her face into the pillow under her head avoiding Spikes withering glances. "I don't know what your definition of stupid is but it kind of classifies it for me."

The techie winced unable to reply; instead he rested a hand on her shoulder. "Well, whenever you're ready… we can go to his parents house." Spike felt her freeze under his hand. "Or we can just leave and go home and hope the boss doesn't kill us for being so late."

xxx

"What do you mean he's not here?" Spike asked jaw going slack at the repeated statement. That's twice in the past hour Sam hadn't been where he was supposed to be, Jules thought as she stood stalk still behind Spike.

Mary blinked in surprise at the two. "He, Anthony and Raye went to the park. They just left but they should be home in another hour or so, you're welcome to wait for them here if you'd like." She motioned to the couch.

"Which park?" Jules asked before Spike could open his mouth.

Blue eyes looked her over, a wry smile appearing on the old woman's face. "It's just down the street a block or two and around the corner, to your right on Maple Street."

The brunette didn't even bother to grab Spikes arm, content to leave him behind, as she sped out of the house. As soon as her boots left the veranda and hit the grass she took off running, her stomach practically doing flips inside her.

xxx

"You do look pretty miserable you know that." Anthony laughed resisting the urge to smack Sams back like he usually did.

For that Sam was thankful, it hurt enough sitting on the piece of wood as it was, he didn't think his wounds would appreciate being hit. "I know I do," Sam sighed running a hand down his face tiredly as he watched Raye play on the jungle gym. He and Anthony sat on the piece of wood that served as the markings of the perimeter.

"You still thinking about that girl aren't you?" The older man sighed as several children ran by in front of him. "There's nothing more you can do bro, let it go. Let her go."

"Yeah, I'll get right on that. I think it's time to head home now." Sam rolled his eyes shifting painfully in his spot. "Raye, come on Sweetie it's time to go." He called out to his daughter who looked over, disappointed her park time was interrupted.

With Anthony's help Sam got to his feet just as Raye came up beside him and put her gloved hand in his. The doctor had given Sam strict instructions not to lift anything heavier then a pen for the next little while and Raye had taken it pretty hard. She liked having her father give her piggy back rides, but she dutifully kept her feet on the ground like she had been asked too. Besides there was always Grandpa and Uncle Tony for piggy back rides.

"Hey, maybe Grandma will make us some hot chocolate when we get home, what do you think?" Sam smiled down at the seven year old by his side.

Raye's face split into a toothy smile. "With lots of marshmallows too, right?"

"I'm sure she's got some in her cupboard some where."

Anthony perked up from his spot behind the two on the sidewalk. "Think she'll have enough left over to feed your human crutch Braddock?"

Sam grinned looking over his shoulder at his friend. "I'm pretty sure Mom would make you an entire cake if you asked her too. Even if you weren't acting as my 'human crutch' as you put it."

The two cops laughed before Anthony frowned looking up the street. "Looks like somebody's in a hurry."

"Who is?" Sam asked turning to look up the road, his scarf blowing in the cold autumn air as he did so. His blue eyes widened as the woman made her way closer.

"Hey, isn't that-?" Anthony started to ask but stopped when he realized Sam wasn't listening to him. The brunette was close enough now that he could recognize the female SRU agent himself. Giving a slight whistle to get Raye's attention he beckoned the little girl to come stand by him.

Giving her father a quizzical look, Raye took her hand away from his and went over to stand by her uncle. "Isn't she that nice lady from before?" She asked as the bald man picked her up in his arms.

Jules almost laughed at the shocked expression on Sams face as she slowed down to a brisk walk towards him.

He took a few steps forward to meet her halfway. "Jules, What are you doing her-?" he started, confusion written all over his face but thin digits pressed against his lips quieted him.

The brunette looked up her heart racing. "Sam, I let you walk out on me once before because I couldn't even describe how I felt then. I let you do it again and I felt like it nearly killed me. I know it's been forever, and you claim you still love me…"

"I still do, Jules." Sam whispered, almost afraid to get his hopes up.

"He still does." Anthony stated in a firm whisper just loud enough for them to hear but low enough for them to act like they hadn't.

Jules smiled, and Sam swore it was the most breathtaking thing he had ever witnessed in his life. "I just wanted you to know, I still love you too."

Sam stared at the woman he loved standing right in front of him…wait did she just say she loved him too? He blinked, and blinked again… she loved him? Ignoring the searing pain that shot through his torso at the action, the blonde sniper dipped forward catching Jules lips with his own, wrapping his good arm around her waist to bring her as close as he possibly could to his own body.

Behind them Anthony shook his head and covered Raye's eyes with his hand. "It's about damn time." Out of the corner of his eye he saw Mary, Spike and Reena round the corner to stand near the entrance of the street each looking like Christmas had come early.

Reena grinned like an idiot, squealing happily for her partner. She threw her arms around Spikes shoulders and he spun her around, both of them laughing. (Their evil plan had worked.)

Beside them Mary Braddock dabbed at the tears forming in her eyes as she watched her son happily.

Sam and Jules broke apart, both out of breath but smiling like there was no tomorrow. 'I love you.' Sam whispered so quietly it was like he had barely spoken. "Always," Jules added before she stopped. "Oh my god, what about your wounds?" She jerked back a bit and she hated the feel of the loss of contact, but worry over the health of the man in front of her took over. "Are you okay? Are you sure you should be out walking like this?"

The blonde sniper just pulled Jules back into his grasp laughing at her. "Compared to the pain of not being able to hold you, this pain is nothing." He paused a second. "But yeah, it hurts like hell."

The SRU woman smacked his arm and got out of his hold. Taking his hand she stood next to him. "We should get you home so you don't pull at your stitches more than you already have." A tug on the bottom of her borrowed jacket made Jules look down into Raye's eyes.

"Are you coming home with us now miss's sniper lady?" she asked as Jules knelt down beside her. "Because you make daddy happy and I like daddy when he's happy."

Sam felt his heart melt at his daughters words and had to resist bending down to hug her. It wasn't like he could move much anyway.

Jules looked at the young girl in front of her. "You know what, I would very much like to stay here with you and your daddy, but only if that's okay with you, Raye. Would you mind if you had to share him with me?" Raye shook her head excitedly. "I'm glad, because your daddy makes me happy too."

xxx

As the door closed behind him, General Braddock stared down the hallway hearing all the shouts and laughs coming from further in his house. Taking off his boots the older man stepped into his living room to stand next to his wife shifting the grocery bags in his grasp so he could look around the room. He saw Anthony sitting on the arm of the loveseat before he turned to watch Raye run around the living room, Spike and Reena running after her yelling at the girl to give them something back, both of their faces red. He saw Sam lying on the couch with his arm wrapped around a familiar brunette, both their hands intertwined and smiling happily. "What in the world happened here?" he asked dumbfounded looking at his watch. "How long was I gone for?"

Mary just looked up at him and took the paper bag full of groceries from him with a smile. "Love happened dear." She replied giving him a quick peck on the cheek. "And sometimes it takes forever, and sometimes it takes no time at all."

XxX

If you're still here, wow… you deserve a trillion more cookies then I could ever bake for you.