Author's Notes: This is my first Flashpoint story. The idea came from a dream I had one night. I'm not sure how old Jules is supposed to be on the show. I know Amy Jo Johnson was born in 1970 so she'll be 42 this year but the character seems a little younger to me. For the purpose of this story, I'm making Jules 36. I hope you enjoy the story. Feedback is always appreciated.
Disclaimer: The show Flashpoint and its characters were created by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern and belong to them and its respective networks. I am making no money off this story and it is for entertainment purposes only. However, this particular story is my creation and should not be used without my express written permission.
Growing Up Too Fast
The day had been made especially for being outside. Or at least it seemed that way to sixteen year old Julianna Callaghan as she jogged down the two lane street toward her driveway. Though she'd already been running for almost two hours straight, the cool fall breeze had ensured that she'd barely broken a sweat when normally she'd be positively drenched by this point. She hadn't intended to run for so long; when she'd first left her house two hours earlier the plan had been to run to her usual stopping spot of the old tree stump a mile and a half down the road and then back again. However, when Jules had reached her destination she'd felt the urge to keep going forward rather than to make her way home. She wasn't sure if it had been the almost perfect day that had kept her moving or the dread of returning home.
It wasn't that Julianna didn't like her home. She really did, usually at least. But just that morning her father, a police officer, had left to attend a training seminar out of town. He'd be gone for the rest of the week. Jules knew the problems that would cause for her being left alone with her mother during that time. She loved her mother but didn't always know the best way to handle her mother's hidden problem. When her father was home, Margaret Callaghan hid her addiction well, but whenever Jack Callaghan pulled a late shift or had to go out of town, her mother quickly found solace in the arms of her other love Jack Daniels. Jules was pretty sure that her mother had probably already downed a full bottle of the whiskey and was well on her way to getting and then staying drunk for the duration of Jack Callaghan's absence. Jules had learned at a young age that while her mother was normally a sweet and loving woman, she was a mean and vicious drunk.
The only thing keeping the sixteen year old from jogging straight on past the driveway and figuring out somewhere else to stay while her father was out of town was the knowledge that her favorite, if only, uncle, was coming to stay with them for the week. Her mother's younger brother, barely even five years older than Jules herself, was perhaps her favorite person in the entire world outside her own father. She was pretty sure he knew about his sister's addiction and while he didn't know how to handle it any more than Julianna did, would act as a buffer between mother and daughter if things got too bad.
With the promise of the coming presence of her uncle, Jules didn't hesitate to turn down her driveway when she finally reached it and continued to jog down the long path that led to the small house she called home. It wasn't much by most people's standards but she loved it, mostly because of the renovations that had been lovingly carried out by her father. During his days off, Jack Callaghan had spent hours on project after project making the house a place they could all be proud of. Whenever she could, Jules had eagerly pitched in to help, enjoying the work itself as well as the chance to spend the quality time with her father.
Once at the front porch, Jules sank to the steps to catch her breath. No car was in the driveway except her mother's and she was afraid that meant that her uncle Johnny, or UJ as she had always called him, hadn't arrived yet. She didn't want to go in and face her probably already inebriated mother without him there.
A small gray cat rubbed against her leg and meowed softly. Jules smiled and reached down to pet the small animal before picking her up for a more thorough cuddle. "Hey Boxer. What are you doing outside? Did you decide the day was too nice to be cooped up indoors or were you escaping Mom as well?"
The cat meowed again as if to answer her before curling up against the teenager's body purring. Jules's smile widened even more at the creature. She'd only had Boxer for a couple of months but it had been love at first sight.
Behind her, the front door opened and a small but imposing woman stepped out. "Where the hell have you been? Your uncle will be here any minute and this place is a disaster. Get your ass in here and start cleaning." Jules's prediction had been correct; her mother had been drinking. It was always easy for her to tell. Normally her mother would never use foul language in front of her. It was only after a few drinks that her control on the English language slipped.
With a sigh and feeling like a convict about to enter the prison gates for the last time, Jules pushed up from the steps to obey her mother's wishes. While the house wasn't magazine cover immaculate, it wasn't a pig sty either. However she didn't want to cause any more problems than was necessary. She stepped inside and started to put Boxer on the floor when her mother stopped her.
"That beast stays outside."
Beast? What was her mother talking about? Boxer was barely more than a kitten and the best behaved cat Jules had ever seen. With the exception of a few excursions out of doors, the kitten had been primarily an indoor cat from the day Jules had gotten her. Why the big protest now?
"But Boxer always stays in the house." Jules protested before realizing it probably was a bad idea. The palm of her mother's hand collided with the side of her face in a stinging slap. A few tears immediately sprang to the young girl's eyes. It wasn't that the slap was that painful but the idea that her mother could hit her that hurt the most.
"Do not talk back to me like that. Your father lets you get away with entirely too much. I don't know what he was thinking bringing that animal home. I say he stays outside."
"She." Jules corrected automatically and then flinched at the anticipation of another slap. But this time her mother didn't hit her. Instead she reached out and snatched the kitten out of Jules's hands. The normally docile feline was so surprised and frightened by the sudden grab that she latched out with her claws to try to keep from falling and hissed.
Jules let out her own hiss of pain and grabbed her arm as her mother unceremoniously dumped the kitten back out the door before closing it solidly. She looked at Jules's arm which was starting to bleed.
"Told you it was a nasty creature. You better go clean it carefully so it doesn't get infected. I certainly don't want to have to take you to the doctor if it does. Then clean this place up."
Knowing it was useless to protest, Julianna retreated to the bathroom. Closing and locking the door behind her, she inspected the wound. The scratch wasn't deep but it was already stinging worse than the slap had even thought about hurting. She turned on the faucet and held her arm underneath the warm stream. The clear liquid was tinged in red but she held her arm there until it was no longer bleeding. Though she was pretty sure it would at least momentarily hurt more, she poured some peroxide over the scratch and then dried it off so the bandage would stick to it.
With the wound taken care of, Jules opened the door and stepped out of the bathroom. She didn't hear her mother rambling around the house and she took that as a good sign. The downstairs was completely deserted but then she heard a door slam upstairs. Jules wasn't going to complain; the more she was able to avoid being alone with her mother for the duration of her father's training, the better for her.
Jules wasn't sure exactly what she was supposed to be cleaning; nothing seemed out of place. She headed into the kitchen thinking she could at least make sure the breakfast dishes drying in the drain board were put away. Stacking the glasses one on top of the other, she then opened the cabinet to place them inside. Staring back at her defiantly were three bottles of the amber liquid that so altered her mother's personality. Jules set the cups aside and removed one of the bottles. How could something so innocent looking cause so much trouble?
Jules put the bottle back, resisting the urge to open the bottle and pour its contents out into the sink. Pour it out so her mother couldn't drink it. Her best friend Beth once told her that every time she found a pack of her own mother's cigarettes lying around she would tear them to pieces so her mother couldn't smoke them. It had eventually worked and Mrs. Connors had quit smoking but Jules knew that Beth's attempts had caused quite a few problems for the mother and daughter before it worked. She somehow didn't think it was a smart choice on the first day her father was out of town.
Instead she finished putting the dishes away and hoped her uncle would arrive soon. Not seeing anything else that seemed so out of place that her mother would complain, Jules returned to the front porch where Boxer was curled up next to the door. The kitten picked her head up as the teenager stepped outside and meowed. Jules picked her feline friend up and nuzzled her gray fur. She hoped the kitten knew she didn't hold her responsible for the scratch on her arm.
"I'm sorry, Boxer. I don't know why Mom's decided to turn against you today. I'd sneak you up to my room and hide you but if she found you there we'd both be in trouble. Maybe once UJ gets here, he can help convince her to let you come back inside."
As she spoke, she heard a car turn into the drive. She looked up and recognized her uncle's car as it kicked up dust on the path. Giving the kitten one more loving pat, she set the kitten on the porch and ran down the steps to greet him as soon as he parked his vehicle. She barely let him get out of the car before throwing her arms around him in a welcoming hug. He returned the embrace just as enthusiastically then pulled back to give her a good once over.
"JAC, you just get more and more beautiful every time I see you." He pulled her back in for another hug, kissing her cheek in the process. Jules's worries began to fade. It'd been several months since she'd seen him but he always made her feel special every time he came around.
"I'm glad you're here." Julianna admitted.
Johnny eyed her carefully. "She's already hitting the bottle isn't she?" He gently touched her cheek where her mother had slapped her earlier. "As well as hitting other things, right? I see faint outlines of fingers there. I'm sorry, Kiddo. Wish there was something I could do to make things better."
Jules helped him retrieve his bags from the car and walked with him up the walk to the front door. "You do just by being here."
He threw an arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer. "I'm glad to be here. You don't have anything to worry about as long as I'm around."
It wouldn't take long before Jules found out that not every promise could be kept.
- FP - FP - FP -
Connect. Respect. Protect. It was the mantra of the skilled negotiator. People who resorted to holding others hostage to get what they want or to prove a point or to just salvage what they believed to be threatened were usually a big danger to everyone involved.. It wasn't always effective to just burst in with guns blazing and hope for the best. That was how lives, both innocent and not so innocent, were lost.
The first thing the negotiator had to do was connect with the hostage taker. If the person charged with bringing a safe resolution to the situation didn't connect with the person with a gun, he or she had no chance of getting the person on the figurative or literal ledge to listen to reason. That always meant that the negotiator went in without a weapon. Hard to engender trust when you are pointing a gun at someone. That didn't mean the negotiator was unprotected. Others were charged with that protection detail. It also usually meant the negotiator had to put a likable and personal face on the whole of the police department.
The respect aspect was sometimes harder. The negotiator had to find some way to respect the feelings and beliefs of the person who was threatening to turn other lives upside down. Generally speaking, a person didn't just up and decide to hold someone hostage on a whim. There was usually a trigger that at least in the eyes of the hostage taker was worth the risk of killing someone. It was the negotiator's job to uncover that reason and offer an alternative method of handling the problem while validating the reason behind it. Sometimes that was easy, such as the case of the father who was holding an organ transplant team hostage in an attempt to save his daughter's life. Other times it was almost impossible to muster up any sympathy for the person holding a gun, such as when a cult leader was determine to avoid capture by killing himself and the whole assembly of willing followers who believed they were doing God's will. And the worst was when despite being able to find that respect, the hostage taker was mentally unable to distinguish reality with the fantasy the mind had produced, such as the unstable man who'd been led to believe terrorists were trying to destroy the world and believed that a helpless waitress was really a suicide bomber.
Sometimes no matter how much respect went in to connecting with the hostage taker, it was impossible to protect everyone. A negotiator went into a hot call hoping to resolve the issue peacefully without anyone, hostages, officers, or even the hostage taker getting injured. Sometimes calls worked out just that perfectly but not always. Sometimes people got hurt but no negotiator wanted to make a Scorpio call that would take the life of the hostage taker unless it was completely unavoidable. The loss of even the life of the hostage taker didn't seem much like a victory to the skilled and caring negotiator.
Jules Callaghan took a deep breath as she carefully entered the nicely decorated suburban home that was the current scene of the hot call Team One had been dispatched to. All they currently knew was that a young woman was holding her father at gunpoint and threatening to kill him. The girl's mother had made the 911 call before sneaking out the back of the house. Currently she was giving Greg Parker, leader and sergeant of Team One, information on what was happening inside. He'd assigned Jules the task of being the negotiator for this call, thinking the desperate young woman might respond better to another female. So Jules was entering the house in her Kevlar and flanked by her co-worker and boyfriend Sam Braddock on one side and newest member of the team Raf Rousseau on the other. Greg and Spike were both at the truck monitoring the situation and Ed was making his way to an elevated area to try to get a good line of a shot in case negotiations failed and Scorpio had to be called.
"Jules, our suspect is Samantha Harper and her victim is her father Spencer. Mother reports that Samantha is recovering from a brain injury she suffered five months ago in a car accident. She's suffering from retrograde amnesia of the first fifteen years of her life as well as erratic behavior. She's being treated by a psychiatrist. Spike's getting him en-route now."
"Copy that." Jules spoke softly into her comlink. The ability of the others to feed her information on the fly was indispensable in the field. She made her way cautiously toward the living room where it had been reported the action was taking place. As she rounded the corner, she could see the twenty-something year old brandishing a gun on an older, obviously terrified man. "I have a visual."
"In position on the roof next door." Ed Lane reported. "I have the solution."
Again Jules copied the information, hoping it wouldn't be necessary for Ed to use the solution he'd found. As she came into the younger woman's sight, Samantha turned, the gun wavering between her father and this newest possible threat.
"Samantha, my name is Jules and I'm with the Strategic Response Unit. I just want to talk to you. See if we can resolve whatever is going on here. Can we do that?"
"He's a murderer." The distraught young woman insisted, the gun now back on her father. "He should go to jail for what he did."
"What are you talking about Sam? I never killed anyone. Come on Sweetheart. Put the gun away and let us help you. We'll take you to see Dr. Peters."
"SHUT UP!" Samantha screamed at her father.
Jules knew she had to get the woman's attention back on her and not on the man she seemed intent on killing. "Samantha? Look at me. If your father committed a crime, we can make sure he answers for it. But before we can do that, I need some more information. Do you think you could tell me about the murder you say he committed?"
"Good, Jules." There was no mistaking the tone in Greg Parker's voice. It was a mixture of both professional and almost paternal pride. Jules knew he had every confidence in her ability to do her job; he'd never assign her as lead negotiator if he didn't but she also knew he was aware that she wasn't always as confident about her ability as he was. She was grateful the reassurances.
"I was just six years old and she was my friend. He killed her."
Apparently, Samantha had recovered a missing memory but how accurate was it? "Killed who? Samantha, what was your friend's name?" If they had a name, Spike could feed the information into his computer to help verify the story.
Samantha sniffled a little. "Snowball."
Jules frowned. She somehow doubted any parent would name a human child Snowball, even if said parents had lived during the height of the hippie crazy of naming children wildly unusual names. Still it was obviously a painful memory that was haunting the gun wielding woman. She gentled her voice even more while shooting Spencer a look to stay quiet. "Who was Snowball, Samantha?"
"My puppy. He was solid white and he was my best friend. I loved him but Dad killed him. Will you arrest him now or should I just kill him the way he killed Snowball?"
For just a moment, Jules flashed back in time to a different animal. The sight of an impossibly still gray kitten lying in a pool of blood on her bed filled her mind and she felt her stomach twist and turn. It took a sick individual to murder a helpless animal and the part of her that would forever be that teenage girl who'd experienced a similar pain wanted to urge Ed to switch his line of fire so she could call Scorpio on the father instead. Instead, the adult who knew there could be more to the story and wanted to resolve the situation peacefully took a deep breath and pushed the troubling images out of her mind.
"Samantha, let's talk about this." Never lie to a suspect. Another rule of being a good negotiator, but Jules wasn't sure the truth would be reassuring to the younger woman. "I can't arrest him for murder if the victim is an animal but if you could give me more information he might could be charged with animal cruelty. Why don't you give me the gun and we can sit down. You can tell me what you remember. I'll take your statement."
Samantha shook her head. "I don't remember what happened. I just remember standing right here where I am now. I had just found out Snowball was dead and that Dad was responsible. I can see myself standing here screaming at him calling him a murderer and he doesn't deny it. He just hung his head and told me he was sorry. How can you kill an innocent animal? How could you, Daddy?"
It was a question Jules never had gotten a satisfactory answer to either, not that she'd really been able to voice the question to someone who might could have answered it. She took another step closer to the suspect and ignored Sam's voice in her ear telling her not to. This girl wasn't going to hurt her. She was locked in a memory of pain and needed answers. Her brain injury might have made her reaction unstable but Jules could understand her need all the same.
"Samantha, I get that you are upset. I understand all too well how hard it is to lose a pet you love so much, especially if you didn't have to. I'm sure your dad can explain what happened but it's going to be hard for him to do so if you are holding that gun on him. So how about you give me the gun and I'll sit down with you and your father and listen as he tells us what happened. I promise you that if he broke any laws I will arrest him when he's finished. Okay?"
The gun wavered just a little but Samantha didn't hand it over. Instead she shook her head. "He'll lie if he thinks he's not in danger."
"I know your memory is fuzzy because of your car accident but is your dad the type of person to lie to you?" Jules was steadily moving closer, not wanting to panic the girl but wanting to be close to possibly disarm her if she escalated. Sam was still protesting in her ear that she was taking too big a risk but she ignored him, especially when Greg assured him over the comlink that she was doing fine and to let her be.
After another couple of minutes, Samantha slowly lowered the gun completely and handed it to Jules who held it behind her for Sam to take. Jules then put an arm around the younger woman and led her to the couch. She knew the rest of the team wouldn't stand down just because the gun was out of play but they would relax just a little. She motioned for Spencer Harper to join them.
"Mr. Harper, do you remember the incident your daughter is concerned about?" Jules asked delicately, her voice still an oasis of calm meant to keep reassuring Samantha that everything was okay.
He nodded as he joined them, sitting in a chair opposite the couch they were sitting on. He looked upset. "Unfortunately I do. I wish I could say Samantha remembered the incident incorrectly but her memory of screaming at me and calling me a murderer happened just the way she remembered it. I didn't think you'd ever forgive me for Snowball's death."
Samantha stiffened next to Jules and the officer was grateful she'd managed to get the gun away from her before Mr. Harper's admission. "So you admit you killed him? Why Daddy, what did my puppy ever do to you?"
"Nothing." Spencer Harper ran his hands over his face struggling to find the words to explain what happened. "I didn't kill Snowball, Sweetheart but I was responsible for his death. You were so young when it happened that you didn't understand the difference."
"When what happened?" Jules asked hoping to keep the conversation going without Samantha escalating back into a danger.
"Snowball was sick. Somehow he got into some chemicals in the garage that I thought were stored properly. I took him to the vet. Do you remember Doc Bob, Samantha? He took care of Snowball off of his life. But there was nothing he could do for Snowball this time. Rather than let Snowball die a painful death from the poisons he ingested, Doc Bob recommend that we put him to sleep. I knew how upsetting it would be to watch your best friend die and I didn't want you to see it. Samantha, I hated to let Doc Bob euthanize Snowball but I didn't want the little fellow to suffer either. I promise you I held him all through the procedure and reminded him how much you loved him and were going to miss him. When you got home from school that night I told you what happened but in your little eyes you saw what I had done as murder. I don't know which hurt more. Watching Snowball's last few minutes of life or seeing you stand in this living room accusing me of murder. I think I did a better job of comforting the puppy than I did you."
A lump formed in Jules's throat as she listened to the story. Again her mind replayed the last time she'd seen her own furry best friend and swallowed back the bile that threatened to push past the lump. She was glad that this current story had a better ending than her own. She glanced over at Samantha who had tears streaking her face.
"Samantha? Do you believe what he's telling you?"
The younger girl shrugged. "I don't know. I don't remember any of the rest of it."
"Don't take my word for it." Spencer urged her gently. "As Doc Bob yourself. He'll tell you the truth. I felt so guilty that day. Guilty that the puppy had gotten into the chemicals in the first place. Guilty because there was nothing the doctor could do to save him. Guilty that you didn't get a chance to say goodbye before we put him to sleep. Guilty about having to tell you."
He left his seat and knelt on the floor in front of his daughter, gathering her gently in his arms as she began to sob. "I'm so sorry, Sam. I want you to get your memory back but I guess I was hoping you could just regain the pleasant memories and keep the painful ones locked away so they wouldn't hurt you."
He glanced over his daughter's head to look at Jules. "She's been through so much. Please tell me she's not going to be in trouble because of this. I know what she did was wrong but I don't think she'd really have hurt me."
Jules waited until Greg confirmed the answer she wanted to give him over the comlink before reaching out to squeeze his arm. "If you don't want to press charges, then nothing more is going to come of this. Dr. Peters is outside, would you like for him and your wife to come in?"
He nodded and returned his attention back to his distraught daughter. "Thank you."
Jules nodded and rose from the couch. She followed Sam and Raf out of the living room, passing the doctor and Mrs. Harper as they made their way to Spencer and Samantha. She missed the exchange of looks between Sam and Raf. The newest member of the team continued on out of the house, but Sam put his hand on Jules's arm, stopping her. He turned off his comlink and motioned for her to do the same.
"Damn it, Jules, what were you thinking in there? When I was in Afghanistan I saw buddies with brain injuries similar to hers do crazy things they would never ordinarily do. She could have turned on you in an instant. She could have shot you."
"But she didn't. She was upset and wanted to find the missing pieces to the puzzle of her memory. Don't make this worse than it was, Sam." Without giving him a chance to say anything else, she turned her comlink back on and left the house.
At the truck Greg congratulated her on a job well done. If he wondered why the two had turned off their comlinks in the house he didn't say so. Every since Sam and Jules had been allowed to make their relationship official the team had done their best not to make it a bid deal. It was if they all knew if it became a work problem, one or both would have to be transferred off the team and nobody wanted that. So as long as it didn't interfere with their work, Greg didn't question their need to sometimes go offline . He could however tell something was bothering the young woman, especially when she chose to ride back to the barn with Ed instead of Sam as she usually would. Again, he didn't press the issue.
Once back at the headquarters, they debriefed from the call quickly before returning to the more mundane duties they had been engaged in before the call came in. The rest of the afternoon was quiet and Sam said nothing more to Jules about the call until just before the end of the shift when the young couple found themselves working out in the gym side by side. He sat down next to her on one of the workout benches and offered her a bottle of water.
"Cat or dog?" He gently teased as she downed half the bottle in one long swallow. She recapped the bottle and raised an eyebrow in his direction.
"What are you talking about?"
"At the Harpers earlier, you said you knew all too well what it was like to lose a pet. You've never mentioned having one before. It made me curious. Are you a cat person or a dog person?"
Almost immediately he could feel her tense up. She stood from the bench and stepped on the treadmill, turning it up to an almost ridiculous speed. "Neither."
Sam frowned, wondering about her sudden frosty behavior. "So what kind of pet did you have? Come on Jules, I'm just curious."
Instead of answering him, Jules turned up the treadmill even more. Concentrating on the speed and incline she'd selected, Jules effectively shut Sam out and ending the conversation. She knew he didn't mean anything bad by his question but she also couldn't stop the images that his innocent question brought back to the forefront of her mind. Images she'd been trying vainly to ignore since the call earlier.
Sam sighed and dropped the subject, going back to his own workout. Once Jules finally shut off the machine and stepped off the treadmill, he followed her out of the gym and then pulled her into a deserted hallway. He wrapped his arms around her small waist and pulled her close. She remained stiff but didn't pull away. He pressed a warm kiss on her cheek. "I'm sorry, Jules. I didn't mean to upset you earlier. It's just sometimes I feel like you know everything there is to know about me and I know so little about you."
"Some things you are better off not knowing."