Author's Notes: The end is here. More notes at the end.

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

Chapter 76


Jules's eyes fluttered open from her own light slumber at the weak but almost panicked cry. She stretched in the chair and bit back a groan before it could become audible. Normally she could sleep anywhere, curled up in whatever small space she'd managed to wedge herself into. But this wasn't normally. Her injuries from the past few weeks were healing but not completely painless and had only been aggravated by the kicks she'd taken in Rhonda's apartment.

"Jules?" This second cry was even more panicked. Jules leaned forward and brushed the tips of her fingers over the Sam's stubbly cheek. This wasn't the first time he'd called out for her in such a way. The first few times it had scared her, making her think something was wrong with him. But each time he'd simply once more been seeking reassurances that she was there and okay. Once she let him know everything was okay, he was fine once more.

"I'm here. It's okay." Jules assured him.

He nodded weakly. Reassured, his eyes started to close again. Despite her worry, Jules smiled. In the hours since he'd been moved from Recovery to a regular room, he'd been asleep more than awake. The times he had been awake, he hadn't seemed very lucid and hadn't seemed to remember what he'd been told the last time he'd been awake. It worried her at first but then the nurse who'd been assigned to his care overnight had reassured her.

The older, experienced woman had checked his chart and smiled. "Mr. Braddock seems to be the poster boy for perfect health. No previous surgeries and it doesn't look like any major injuries. Between the anesthesia and the pain medication - neither of which he seems to be accustomed to having, he'll probably be pretty much out of it for awhile. Don't worry, by tomorrow he should be his usual self again."

Now, a few hours after the nurse's reassurance, Sam shifted on the bed and groaned. Jules winced, knowing how much pain he was probably in, despite the pain medication. He had a pain pump so he could push a button to get morphine when he needed it but so far he hadn't pushed it while awake. So far he'd gotten three doses of the morphine simply because his nurse had pushed the button for him when she'd come into the room to check on him. Jules bit her lip, "Sam, why don't you hit your pain button."

He shook his head and opened his eyes. "Want a clearer head. Don't like feeling foggy."

Jules frowned. "Well, I don't like seeing you suffer when you don't have to. Trust me when I tell you they are right about not letting the pain get out of control. Remember, I know a little bit about pain."

"Don't like to remember that," Sam muttered and groaned again. "I'm good." Instead of hitting the pain button, he reached out for the bed controls and raised the bed slightly so he was sitting up. "Can I have some water?"

Jules nodded and left her chair. Picking up the water pitcher, she poured some more water into a glass and held it for him so he could sip through the straw. Once he was satisfied, she returned the cup to the nightstand and ran her fingers through his blonde hair. "You want anything else? You haven't eaten anything. Your nurse said if you were hungry they have soups they can heat up."

He shook his head. "I'm good." His eyes drooped once more but Jules could tell he was fighting it. They opened again and he looked around. "Weren't there more people here earlier?"

Jules nodded. She returned to her chair that was as close to the bed as she could get it. "Yeah, the whole team was here along with Natalie and your parents."

His eyes opened all the way and he looked over at her. Everything had been so fuzzy since he'd woken up. "My parents were here?"

Jules smiled at him. She didn't want to tell him about the phone call; at least not tonight. The General and Mrs. Braddock had arrived about an hour after Sam had been moved to a regular room. Sam's mother had cried and fussed over her still groggy son but the General had hovered near the door. He didn't say anything at all to Jules and she didn't feel the need to say anything to him in return. "Yeah, they'll be back in the morning. They got a room for the night. You had your mom pretty worried."

He nodded. "Mom freaks about a simple paper cut so I can only imagine. Kind of surprised the General came. I wasn't exactly nice the last time I saw him."

Jules bit her lip, still not wanting to upset Sam by telling him his dad had originally not planned to come. There would be plenty of time for that later. "You're their son; where else would they be?"

Her fingers running through his hair seemed to be relaxing him and his eyes started to close. A moment later, his breathing evened out and he was once more asleep. Jules continued to play with his hair for a few minutes more to make sure he was completely asleep. Then she settled back in her seat again. Though it would be very easy for her to give into the sleep she needed, she forced her eyes to stay open.

She'd passed exhausted hours ago before everyone had finally left. She was now working on waking zombie status. It must have been noticeable to the rest of the team because as they started to leave, Greg had offered to spend the night at the hospital with Sam so she could go home and get some real sleep. Even if she had been tempted to take him up on his offer, Sam had woken up briefly in a panic looking for her and seeking reassurance that she was okay. No one else had said anything more about her leaving after that.

She shifted in the chair trying to find a more comfortable position but knew it was an impossible task. The room was a semi-private one and the other hospital bed was empty. The nurse had told Jules earlier she could sleep in it but so far Jules had held off. It would just make more work for the staff if they had to put someone else in the room later and she was worried she might miss it if Sam woke up in the middle of the night. She couldn't take a chance on him hurting himself trying to look for her.

She glanced down at the scrubs she was wearing and the disastrous results that had almost caused. She would have been content to stay right by Sam's side from the moment she joined him in Recovery but investigators for SIU had different ideas. They had shown up not long after Sam was moved to a room needing her statement. Recounting everything that had happened in the apartment hadn't been easy but Greg, who had shown up with Ed just before SIU's arrival, had insisted on sitting in on the meeting. His presence had helped. The investigators had needed her uniform as evidence so she'd had no choice but to change into a pair of pale green scrubs offered to her by the hospital staff. She'd been in the process of changing when Wordy had burst in saying they needed Jules back in the room. Sam had woken up and was distressed that Jules wasn't there. He was trying to get out of bed to look for her and even in his weakened condition, they weren't having much success keeping him still. She hadn't strayed far from his side since then. She'd even limited her trips to the bathroom because it seemed like he would wake up as soon as she left.

Her weariness was starting to catch up with her and she leaned her head onto the bed and let her eyes close. As she drifted off to sleep once again, she didn't see Sam's expression change as dreams invaded his sleep. She wasn't aware of his increasing distress until he started to thrash on the bed. She sat up quickly and tried to hold him down, worried that he would rip out his stitches.

"Sam, baby, wake up. It's okay; everything's fine. It's just a dream. It's okay."

He stilled beneath her and slowly opened his eyes. He was breathing hard as he tried to focus his eyes and his thoughts. Each breath in was released in the form of a whimper of pain. After about ten of those breaths, his hands reached up to touch her arms, almost as if reassuring himself that she was really there. "Jules?"

She forced a smile even though her heart was breaking to see him in pain. "Yeah, I'm here. It's okay. Want the pain button now?"

He shook his head. "No…" He was practically having to pant out his answers. "Just… moment."

She perched gingerly on the side of his bed where she could once more run her fingers soothingly through his hair. Slowly, his breathing became less ragged and pain filled and the shaking she'd felt in his hands eased. He closed his eyes but she knew this time he was not going back to sleep. Then he opened them again.

"You're okay, right? He didn't hurt you? It's like I remember him hurting you."

Jules leaned down and kissed him softly. "I'm fine. You're the one I'm worried about."

Sam shifted on the bed and as soon as he tried to move his injured leg, his fingers unconsciously tightened on Jules's arms and the groan became more of a scream of pain. Jules winced, but it was more in sympathy for the agony he was enduring than from his painful grasp. When his hold on her eased considerably, Jules reached beside him on the bed and pushed the button on the pain pump giving him a dose of morphine. He glared at her.

"I seem to remember you complaining when I did that to you," he grumbled.

She smiled and kissed him again. "Didn't stop you from hitting it when you thought I was being too stubborn. Honestly Sam, you are way more stubborn than I ever thought about being."

Sam rode out the rest of the pain. "What happened to Johnny, Jules? Please tell me his ass is in jail for good this time."

"Johnny's dead, Sam."

Again Sam's eyes rested on her, wide and questioning. "I think I vaguely knew that. Was it you or me?"

Jules shook her head. "No, it wasn't either of us. Remember Chris Miathis coming in?" When Sam only gave a half nod, Jules filled in the gaps in his memory. When she got to the part about how she'd tried to negotiate Chris into not pulling the trigger, she hung her head, unable to hide her guilt from Sam. "Part of me wanted to tell him to pull the damn trigger and be done with it. So that I could be done with him once and for all. The only thing that stopped me was that I didn't want Chris to pay that price. What kind of negotiator does that make me?"

Sam reached up and touched her cheek. "A human one. Seriously, Jules, this wouldn't be the first time we tried to keep a subject from firing because we cared more about the subject than the victim. Don't beat yourself up over it."

Jules nodded but looked down as if suddenly interested in short fingernails. Sam frowned and maneuvered himself into more of a sitting up position despite the pain. "Jules, what aren't you telling me?"

She shook her head, not wanting to add any more stress to him. The hand on her cheek drifted down to her chin giving it a slight bump to make her look up. His eyes lost just a little of the painful look. "Please."

"I had to give my statement to SIU earlier. They seemed satisfied but I don't know. I can't help wondering if I did everything to stop it. I'm not sorry he's dead. I can't be, not after all he's done to me, my family, you. If I had tried a little harder to convince Chris to let him live, then maybe Chris would still be alive as well."

"You can't blame yourself, Jules." Sam urged. "I know you; you don't know how not to do your best in everything you do. I don't have to remember everything that happened after I was stabbed to know that."

She just frowned showing she wasn't sure she believed him. Sam raised an eyebrow. "Jules, one thing I do remember almost perfectly are a couple of promises we made to each other in the apartment. You made me promise to hold on, remember?" Jules nodded and Sam continued. "I did that, right?" Again a nod. "Okay, so you've got to follow through on your promise to not let him hurt you."

Jules sighed. "Sam, he's dead; he can't hurt me anymore."

Sam shifted slightly, his eyes closing once again to the pain and his jaw rocked as he tried to avoid crying out. Jules glanced at the monitor on the pain pump. Still three more minutes until it would allow another dose. Swallowing a final groan, he re-opened his eyes. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be a baby…"

Jules leaned down and kissed him again. "Sam, the doctor didn't even bother telling us how many stitches it took to sew you back together so I'm pretty sure that means a butt load. I think you've got a right to hurt. But just so you know, if you don't push that morphine button as soon as the lock out on it ends, I will and I won't feel bad about it."

"Damn, you mean I can't push it now?" Sam moaned.

Jules wrapped his hand around the trigger mechanism. There had reached a point after she was shot that she was ready to admit defeat as a tough girl and hit the button almost constantly whether it gave her any relief or not. "Press it as many times as you want to. It'll make you feel better even if you aren't really getting any medicine. Trust me I know."

"I mean it, Jules," Sam continued as if they hadn't been talking about his pain. "Don't let Johnny hurt you from the grave. You said you aren't sorry he's dead; good, because frankly I'm glad he's dead. Just like your Aunt Millie said all those years ago, prison is too good for him. I wouldn't have been upset if he'd suffered a hell of a lot more before he died to be honest with you. But as much as I would have loved to be the one to put him out of our misery, I'm glad someone else did it. I hate that he ended up forfeiting his life in the end; I wish that could have been different."

Jules's lower lip trembled. "There's still so much I don't know though. Why he did it, how he did it, and now I never will."

"Lay down beside me." Sam urged softly. She shook her head; she felt bad just sitting on the bed with him. She was afraid she was going to hurt him. Sam raised his eyebrow. "Please. My leg is going to hurt regardless and I'd feel better having my arms locked around you. I'll even let you hit the damn pain button for me as much as you like."

A hint of a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth and she twisted carefully making sure she was curled up next to him. Already it felt much better than the chair, especially as Sam's arms wrapped protectively around her. Even though she was on his right side to avoid bumping his injured leg but she made sure her head was resting on his chest so that she could hear the reassuring sound of his heart beating steadily.

He sighed but without a hint of pain this time. "Jules, even if Johnny was alive, I don't think he'd give you the answers you want. Hell, I don't know if even knows the truth because he's so entrenched in his delusions. I know you want the answers but would it really change things if you did know?"

She shook her head. "No, I guess not. I found out more from Chris than I probably ever would have found out from Johnny. He used me, Sam. He promised Chris he'd take care of the guy who hurt Wendy and he did - by making me the weapon. I killed a man because Johnny made sure I did. I haven't questioned pulling the trigger on the guy until now."

Sam tightened his hold on her. "Stop it. Whatever role Johnny played in it, the man you killed was a rapist and if you had given him half a chance you would have been his next victim. You did what you had to do. That you could question that now is one of the reasons why I'm so glad you weren't the one who pulled the trigger. I know you Jules, no matter how justified the shooting was, no matter how many people cleared you; you would always question whether you did the right thing or if you acted out of some sort of need for revenge. I would have spared you that if I could have but thanks to the bastard putting a knife in my thigh, I was pretty helpless. So forgive me if I'm glad Chris did what I couldn't do."

The screen on the pain pump switched from lock out to a dosage so Jules pressed the button, knowing that her joining Sam on the bed had to have increased his pain. "It's over but not really, is it?"

Sam sighed, feeling his eyes getting droopy again. It wouldn't be long before he drifted off again and he was sure Jules wouldn't be long behind him now that she was in a more comfortable position. "No, I guess not. Johnny's dead but the damage he's done won't go away overnight. But at least now we can focus on your recovery without having to look over our shoulders wondering what's going to happen next."

Jules lifted her head so she could look at him. "You really think that's possible? Recovery? Can I really put it all behind me and not let it affect me - us- anymore?"

Sam nodded. "I think if the second attack hadn't happened, you'd already be there. I'm not saying it's going to be easy or pain free but yeah, I think it's possible. I'll be there with you every step of the way."

Jules returned her head to Sam's chest, yawning widely. "I wouldn't trust anyone else to see me through it."

Sam's hand slipped under her scrub top to rub her bare back. "Some things are going to have to wait awhile; at least until this leg heals some. Of course, me having my own private nurse to help me with little things like sponge baths and things like that will help."

Jules smiled as she slipped toward sleep once again. "Sponge baths, huh? I guess I can handle that."

- FP - FP - FP -

"Ouch, shit."

Sam gripped the railing on the side of his bed as he once more tried to gingerly swing his leg over the side of the bed. He was glad he was in the hospital room alone so that no one was witness to the fact that he was cursing a blue streak and almost in tears trying to get out of the bed. His knuckles were white as he clutched the cool metal as he placed first his right bare foot on the cool tile floor. His injured leg followed a little slower but soon it too was touching the floor without any weight being placed on it. Gritting his teeth so tightly that his jaw quivered with the effort, he attempted to put at least a little weight on the injured side.

The pain was intense but Sam didn't let it deter him. He turned the railing loose and took a tentative step away from the bed. Instantly his leg buckled and he went to the ground. He laid where he'd fallen clutching his injured leg, grateful that the IV line was long enough that the fall hadn't jerked it out of his arm. At the same time he was cursing the fact that he was now too far away to reach the button on the pain pump. He'd willingly press it a thousand times in that moment.

The hospital door opened and Sam prepared himself for the tongue lashing he was sure he was about to get from whomever was entering, whether it be nurse or friend. He was surprised then when his father knelt beside him. "Son, are you okay?"

The concern he heard in the General's voice surprised him even more. He nodded, the pain still too great for him to attempt to speak actual words. His father shook his head. "What were you trying to do?"

"Had to go to the bathroom." Sam managed to pant out.

"Alone, less than twenty four hours after major surgery? And you try to claim you aren't a chip off the old block. Let me help you back to bed and I'll see about finding you a urinal bottle or something."

"Got one." Sam muttered. "Just don't want to use the damn thing. Nothing more embarrassing."

"Yeah, like trying to explain why you've ripped open your stitches and bled out on the floor of your hospital room because you're so stubborn wouldn't be embarrassing. From what I understand, you can't really afford to lose much."

Sam didn't argue as his father lifted him off the floor and gently eased him back on to the side of the bed. Even though he felt like a small child again, Sam also didn't protest as he was once more tucked into bed. Hoping his father didn't notice and add to his embarrassment, Sam held his thumb down on the pain button as if the harder he pushed the button, the more he'd get instead of a predetermined dose. He leaned his head back against the pillow and stared at the ceiling.

The General founded the aforementioned bottle and offered it Sam. Sam shook his head. "Don't need it."

"Apparently needed it enough to undo all the good that doctor did yesterday. There's stubborn and then there's stupid. The former I can accept and respect but not the latter."

"Didn't really need it before. It was just an excuse." Sam muttered, sounding and feeling like a small child being reprimanded. "I figured the doctors weren't going to let me out of here until I was a bit more mobile."

The General frowned. "And so you thought you'd prove you are ready to go home by getting out of bed and nearly killing yourself. Smart one, Sam." He looked around the room the otherwise empty room. "Where's that girlfriend of yours? I'm surprised she left you alone long enough for you to try something stupid like this."

Now that he was lying still again, the pain was starting to subside. "She'll be back. Sarge came by earlier and took her home so she could shower and change. I don't think she would have gone even then but Sarge also brought us our cell phones from the crime scene. She had a message from someone who needed help."

Sam didn't feel the need to explain how Wendy Miathis had called and left a message on Jules' voice mail. Fighting back her own tears after listening, Jules had played the message for him and Sarge. Wendy had been a sobbing mess explaining that she had to make funeral arrangements for Chris but wasn't sure she could leave the house to do it. Jules had felt torn between calling her back and agreeing to go with her and staying with Sam. He could tell she felt guilty and hadn't wanted to add to that guilt.

Sam had bitten back his initial almost cynical feeling that Wendy was playing on Jules's guilt for what happened to her brother. But then he remembered how scared the young woman had seemed when they had visited her and was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she truly just needed a friend. So to prevent Jules from feeling any more guilt than was absolutely necessary, Sam had insisted that she call her back and offer to go with her.

"Quite the firecracker that one." The General commented almost off handedly.

Sam grinned. That was one way to describe her. Perfectly harmless unless you lit her fuse, then watch out. She hadn't said anything to him, but after hearing his father's assessment, Sam had a feeling the General had somehow done just that. "Jules told me you and Mom were here last night. Sorry I was pretty much out of it. Apparently morphine and anesthesia throw me for a loop. Thanks for being here. It means a lot."

Warren Braddock studied his son carefully. "Seriously? I didn't think you wanted anything more to do with me."

"Dad, I had a right to be upset. And part of me is still upset. But when I was lying there in that apartment, losing all that blood, worried that Johnny was going to kill me so he could do unspeakable things to Jules, I guess it made me reconsider things a little. I don't agree with what you did - and I've already arranged to have the GPS chip removed from the bike, but you are still my dad and whatever our difference, I still love you."

The General cleared his throat, obviously not accustomed to the display of emotion. "Yes, well. I'm very glad you are okay. You gave us quite a scare. So this guy that hurt your girl, he's not a problem any more?"

Sam shook his head. "He was killed during the attack, so, no he's not a problem any more. Doesn't erase what he's already done though. She's been living with what he did to her for twenty years without telling anyone what happened to her. And just when she starts to open up about what she went through and start to get past it, she gets knocked right back down."

Warren raised an eyebrow. "Sounds like you love her a lot."

Sam nodded. "More than I ever thought possible."

"Then I guess it's time to give you this." The General reached in his pocket and pulled out a small gray box. He handed it to Sam. The younger Braddock opened it and smiled. It was even more beautiful than he remembered it to be. It was a white gold ring with a small diamond sitting in the middle of a rose. "You might have to get it sized down before you give it to her. Mom probably had larger hands than your little girl."

Sam smirked, not taking his eyes off the ring. What would it look like sitting on Jules's finger? "Don't let her hear you call her little. Are you giving me this because it's the right thing to do or because you approve?"

Warren settled into the chair next to the bed. "Does it matter? I get the impression that your decision is made regardless of what I think."

Sam glanced up. "It is. But I would like for you to be happy for me."

"She called me yesterday and told me in no uncertain terms that I'd better pick up your mom and get us here. Didn't really give me a choice about it. She didn't mince words. Your mother would never have talked to me like that."

Sam frowned. "No, I guess she wouldn't. I still love her though."

Warren nodded. "Your mother would never have talked to me like that but my mother would have. Jules reminds me a lot of your grandmother. So my own feelings aside, I think Dad would approve of your choice. When do you plan on asking her?"

Sam shook his head. "I don't know. Not right away."

His father frowned. "Why not? You love her right? Why wait?"

Sam closed the ring box and handed it back to his father, asking him to put it in the nightstand drawer. "I can still remember the day Granddad told me the story about this ring. How his grandfather had worked hard to be able to buy it and the way he proposed to the woman he loved. How much in love they were. I'd never met them but it was like I knew them just from his story. Then Granddad told me how he set up a really romantic date for Grandma and proposed. Even though I was just a stupid kid, I recognized how special it was. Even then I understood that this wasn't just a ring that was being handed down. It was much more."

Sam cleared his throat, a lump starting to form. "One day, I'm going to get to sit down with my grandson and tell him the same story Granddad told me only I'll get to add my own story to it. I'll have to make him realize the legacy that goes with the ring. When I do that, I don't want any part of Johnny Dawson and the hell that the man put Jules through in the story nor do I want my proposal story to include me not even able to stand on my feet. I want to be able to tell him a story just as romantic as the one Granddad told me; want him to know how important love is. I want him to be sure he can recognize that special woman the moment he meets her. So as much as I could be happy asking her as soon as she walks through that door; I'm going to wait and do it right. She deserves it and our future grandson deserves it too."

"I'm proud of you, Son. I know I don't say it often enough, but I am. You've grown into a fine young man and Jules is lucky to have you."

Sam shook his head. "No, Sir, I'm the lucky one."

They sat in silence for a few minutes. The door opened and Jules stepped in. She looked more like her usual self now that she was wearing jeans and a short-sleeve sweater. When she saw the General sitting there, she blushed slightly and put her hands in her back pockets. "Hey, I'm sorry; I didn't realize you had company. I can slip back out for awhile if you two want to be alone."

General Braddock shook his head and stood. "No, come on in. I should get back to the hotel and pick up Sam's mother anyway. She and Natalie were doing some mother/daughter bonding this morning but I know she'll want to come by and see Sam again before we leave for home." He reached out and shook Sam's hand. "We'll be back in a little while. You need anything?"

Sam shook his head and nodded toward Jules. "I have everything I need right there."

General Braddock smiled slightly. "Yes, Son, I think maybe you do." He turned toward Jules and tapped the base of her chin with his hand. "Thank you for calling me yesterday."

Jules nodded, relieved he didn't seem upset with her. "Thanks for listening."

He left and Jules came closer to the bed, toeing off her shoes before gingerly climbing up on the bed to settle beside him. "You okay?"

Sam nodded, wrapping his arms around her. "Better now that you're back. What about you? How did it go with Wendy?"

"She's having a tough time with the idea that Chris is gone but I think she might be ready to make some positive steps. Her ex boyfriend met us at the funeral home and volunteered to help with the arrangements. She didn't turn him away. I think they might have a chance." Jules reported, resting her head on Sam's shoulder.

"Good." Sam replied. For several minutes they just continued to lie in each others arm, taking comfort in the other's presence.

Finally Jules broke the silence. "Sam, I made a decision after I left Wendy. I know it's not going to be easy and I know you're going to be limited in what you can do for a few weeks even…" She trailed off and Sam looked down to see her blushing slightly. He kissed her forehead to let her know it was okay to finish whatever she wanted to say. She took a shaky breath. "As soon as we can, I'm ready to do whatever it takes to make sure this is truly over."

"Whatever you need, whenever you're ready." Sam promised. "I'll be right here with you every step of the way. No place else I'd rather be."

"No one else I'd rather be with." Jules affirmed.

They sealed their promises with a kiss.

- FP -

Author's note: So eight months and 400,000 words later, this story has reached a close. I never in a million years thought it would go this long or be received so well. I appreciate all the reviews and follows and everyone who just took the time to read. I especially appreciate the wonderful people this story has allowed me to not only meet but now call my friends. Words could never express how grateful I am to you all.

Even though Growing Up Too Fast is now ended, Sam and Jules's story has not. Jules still has some healing to do and Sam has story for future generations to create. I will be doing a sequel to this story called "The Re-education of Jules" where both of these loose ends will be tied up. Look for it coming soon. Again, thank you to everyone who has enjoyed the ride as much as I have.