Author's Notes: No guarantees but I'm going to try to do a post-ep one-shot for every episode this season. As a die-hard Jammer, it'll be heavy on the JAM I'm quite sure. This post-ep came to mind based on what I knew was going to happen really even before I saw the episode. Again, just in case you missed the big warning in the summary, this story is a post-ep for Season 5 episode 1 "A Broken Peace." If you haven't seen it yet, and don't want to know what happens, this is NOT the story for you right now. Wait until you see the episode and THEN come back and read. Hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: The show Flashpoint and its characters were created by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern and belong to them and its perspective 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.
Sam and Jules had a ritual. They wouldn't call it such but it was. One they had started when they had made their first attempt at dating and one they had picked back up on the second go around. The first time hadn't been planned, it had just happened. The second time they really hadn't thought about it until after it was all said and done. After the third, they realized it worked so well for them that it didn't make sense to try anything else. So it had become a ritual, one they had added to and perfected over time.
In their line of work, a bad day at the office took on a whole different meaning than most other peoples. As SRU officers, a bad day usually meant someone had died or had came close to dying It meant that emotions ran high and sometimes things were said that weren't meant. And they both knew all too well that once said words couldn't be unsaid later when the emotions weren't quite as raw.
There were bad days at work and then there were days like today. Days like today that made all those other bad days rolled all together seem like rides on a merry-go-round. So, once the debriefing was finally over and the team headed off to the locker rooms to shower and change, Jules and Sam both knew what the other expected and needed without having to say anything.
Jules finished first. Being the only female on the team had its advantages and not having to share the shower was one of them. Dressed in jeans and a purple pullover sweater, she waited for Sam near the stairwell exit. Sam didn't have to initially see her leaning against the wall to know she'd be there. He didn't even stop, knowing she'd fall into step beside him. They didn't speak as they made their way down the stairs and out of the building. The silence continued as Jules pulled out of the parking lot and aimed the vehicle toward her house.
She made one stop along the way and sat in the jeep with the engine still running as Sam ran inside to make the purchase that had initiated the ritual and become the focal point that everything else revolved around. As she waited, she leaned her head against the seat rest and closed her eyes. She didn't want to think about the call, didn't want to see the image of an eighteen year old paying the ultimate price for a bad choice. It wasn't fair. Jules herself had made more than her fair share of bad choices when she'd been May's age; some that could have potentially had far reaching consequences but nothing like this. Death was too high a price.
She heard the door open and then close and knew that Sam had returned. Still, she continued to sit there for a few extra moments with her eyes closed. She sensed his hand coming even before the back of his fingers brushed softly against her cheek. She turned her head, trapping his hand between her cheek and the seat. Opening her eyes she offered him a wan smile.
"Ready?" Even though he kept his voice soft and gentle, the sudden break in silence reverberated in her ears. The tears that had earlier turned her eyes red and were visible more in her speech than her face were once more evident as she had allowed herself to get back inside her head for too long. She gave a brief nod but still kept his hand trapped there for just a moment, needing the physical contact just for a moment more.
Then taking a breath, she lifted her head off the seat which released him and put the still running engine in reverse. Almost as if he needed the contact as much as she did - and she was sure he did, the hand that had caressed her cheek took hold of her hand as soon as she'd shifted to drive and wouldn't need it for driving until they reached their destination. She turned her hand in his so that she could lace her fingers through his and gave it a squeeze.
They drove through the sleepy streets of Toronto hand in hand and silent. Sam noticed she took a route that might be longer but kept them from having to drive past the Royal York, but he didn't question the decision. Neither one of them wanted that visual reminder of how quickly the call had gone bad. Didn't need to see the hotel to have their thoughts turn back to every moment of the evening examining every second for some way it could have gone better. Their thoughts were going there, but by tacit agreement made early in their relationship, they wouldn't discuss it with the other until they were home and at least halfway through the contents in the bag sitting by Sam's feet on the passenger side floor.
Jules pulled into her driveway and turned off the engine. Almost reluctantly and only because it was necessary in order to get out of the jeep, they released their hand hold. But as soon as they met each other in front of the vehicle, Sam's arm encircled her waist and tucked her close to his side. Walking that closely together shouldn't be easy but they made it look polished from years of practice.
They entered the house through the back door knowing the kitchen was their destination. Only then did he release her. They knew their roles perfectly. Jules immediately went to a drawer and pulled out two spoons as Sam placed his purchases on the table. He went to the refrigerator and pulled out the bottle of chocolate syrup that lived in the one of the door shelves. They met back at the table where Jules opened the bag and pulled out two containers. The pints she expected were instead quarts and she raised an eyebrow in question as she looked at Sam over his choices.
He shrugged and Jules was pretty sure she could see the hint of a blush creeping into his cheeks. "Figured today warranted more than just a pint."
She didn't smile but just a little of the tension seemed to leave her face as she scooted one chair close to its neighbor and sat down. Sam joined her and their legs brushed against each other as they each took their respective carton of ice cream and removed the lid. She handed him his spoon and in exchange, he offered her the chocolate syrup. He waited with his spoon poised over his Pistachio Pistachio as Jules uncapped the chocolate syrup and drizzle the dark thick liquid over her Chocolate Therapy ice cream. He shook his head as he always did as she added even more chocolate to the chocolate ice cream that was already mixed with chocolate cookies and chocolate pudding.
"Too bad you don't like chocolate." How many times had he uttered that same sentence. The simple answer was too many for his liking.
This time she shrugged as he'd known she would. He could even mouth her next words along with her although he would never dare to actually do so. "What can I say? The words 'too much chocolate' don't exist in my vocabulary." She offered him the bottle. "Want some?"
He shook his head and she set the bottle on the table in front of them. They dipped their spoons into the frozen concoction at the same time and with the first bite, allowed the taste of their favorite treat to soothe a little of the pain away. After four bites, Sam's hand once more sought out Jules's and once more they entwined their fingers together taking solace in each other's presence and the carton of ice cream in front of them.
At the quarter mark of the container, Jules had to silently acknowledge that Sam had been right - a pint wouldn't have been enough. If this had been a pint container in front of them, this would be where they would start to discuss the heavy thoughts in their heads and she wasn't ready to do that. Her eyes met Sam's and she could see he felt the same. So they continued to surrender themselves to the therapeutic benefits being performed by Drs. Ben and Jerry until half the quart had disappeared.
It was at this point that Sam left the spoon in the container and once more looked at Jules who still had her spoon in her mouth savoring the bite she'd just taken. He gave her hand an extra squeeze. "I love you."
The spoon scraped against her teeth as she pulled it out and set it in her own container. "I know. I love you too. I hate calls like tonight though. Not just what happened to May but just in general. I hate calls where the end result doesn't feel good and debrief ends up feeling like a shouting match of would've, could've, should've rationalizations. We're a team and I know everyone's not going to always see eye to eye on every situation but debriefs like tonight just eat me up. It's like we turn into people I don't recognize instead of the friends and colleagues we are."
She didn't say it but he could hear it in her voice anyway. She hated those calls where he and she exchange heated words. He hated it as well. Hated it with ever fiber in him. Rationally he knew that they would leave those moments at the debriefing table. Knew they were moments that had to be said in the safety and professionalism of those four walls and that when he and she ended the shift that those disagreements would stay there while they came home and could be the friends and lovers they wanted to be. Still, it wasn't easy.
He picked up his spoon and took another bite of the slowly melting ice cream, wondering if he should have gone for the gallon instead of the quart. He lowered the spoon again. "She turned the gun on you."
Jules nodded. "I know. I've had guns pointed at me more times than I can count without batting an eye. But just between you and me, this time it actually scared me. Not because I thought she would shoot me but because I didn't see it coming. I should have. The indications were there and we missed them. All of us did. I know there was nothing we could have done differently but I still feel guilty."
"I felt scared. I was too far away to do anything but take a shot that I didn't want to take didn't have an order to take even if I did. But I swear to you Jules, had it looked like she was really going to shoot you I would have stopped her, order or no order. Maybe I should have anyway. Maybe it would have made things easier to take." He scooped up an even bigger bite of ice cream, a bite almost too big for either the spoon or his mouth, a bite that was sure to give him an instant headache from the cold. But he needed the extra time it would allow him not to have to speak.
Jules stared at him, her heart skipping a beat every now and then. That was not a shot any of them would have wanted to take and here Sam was expressing a wish that he'd taken it even earlier than they had to. She dropped her spoon into her ice cream and squeezed his hand even tighter. "Sam?"
He shrugged, waiting until his extra large bite was completely melted and swallowed to answer. "It's not that I wanted her to die on that rooftop, but maybe it would have been easier for us all to accept if we had taken her down for threatening one of us rather than her abusive father. Less questions asked about whether we followed proper protocol. I don't know."
Jules reached over with the hand that wasn't safely encased in his larger one and wiped away a little of the pistachio ice cream left on his upper lip by his too large bite, her thumb continuing to hover there even after its work was done. "I do know. Sam, nothing would have made this easier for us all to accept. It's one of those calls we're probably going to be second guessing ourselves on for a long time. But no amount of second guessing, no amount of wishing for a different outcome, is going to change the fact that as much as we hate it, Ed made the right call. It doesn't feel right and it probably never will but it was the right call in that moment. As much as I hate what Ed's probably going through tonight, I'm glad it wasn't you; I'm especially glad that you didn't take the shot when she had the gun pointed at me. Yeah, protocol might say you take down a subject when he or she threatens a member of the force but you taking that shot wouldn't have been that cut and dried."
Sam kissed the thumb that lingered at his face. He shook his head. "I don't…"
"Think about it Sam. We're were given the green light to date and I'm thrilled about that. I wouldn't have wanted either of us separated from each other or Team One. But you know we're under a microscope. You know they are just waiting for one screw up to say they changed their minds. Even if the shot had been justified, you taking her down to save me would have raised questions. It wouldn't matter that it was protocol and that you would have done the same thing if she'd pointed the gun at Raf or Spike, it would have been called into question because it was me. I'm glad you didn't have to answer those questions."
There was more that probably needed to be said. More that would be said but for now it was enough. They returned to their respective cartons of ice cream in silence. Once both quarts had been demolished, they sat back and looked at each other, their hands still wrapped securely together. Jules gave his an extra squeeze. "It's late and while we should probably jog around the neighborhood to get rid of all those calories we just consumed, maybe it would be better if we just went to bed. Tomorrow's not going to be much easier than tonight was."
Sam nodded and they stood. He pulled her close to him, his lips capturing hers and for a moment their tongues dueled each other as remnants of pistachio mixed with chocolate. The kiss lasted until they both needed to breathe but even then Sam continued to hold her. Finally they separated and Jules brushed her fingers through his short blonde hair. "Why don't you go on up and get your shower. I'll clean up the evidence of our bad eating habits down here and then come up."
Sam nodded. They had both taken showers at HQ but sometimes after a night like tonight multiple hot showers were needed to try to wash away the bad feelings as well. He made his way slowly up the stairs to the bedroom they shared. After retrieving a fresh pair of boxers from his underwear drawer, he entered the bathroom and turned the shower on so the water would get hot by the time he'd shed his clothes and stepped under the spray.
As the hot water cascaded over him cleansing his body, he tried to also cleanse his mind of the images that he knew would threaten his dreams later if he allowed them. He was so lost in his thoughts that he never heard the bathroom door open or see Jules also shedding her jeans and sweater. Was aware of nothing until she joined him under the spray.
By the time the water lost its stinging heat, the couple had joined together in the final part of their ritual. The one major part of their ritual that hadn't started that night after the first bad call that had driven each other to each other's arm. A call that had also, curiously enough, originated at the Royal York hotel. It was only after the call where a woman desperate to be a mother had been stabbed by the woman she was holding hostage because Sam wouldn't give the order for Jules and Spike to enter that they had added the steamy shower that became even steamier to the ritual.
Turning off the water, they stepped out of the shower and reached for a couple of big towels. After drying off and dressing, they made their way to the bedroom where they collapsed into an exhausted sleep. Secure in each other's arms, they both hoped for but didn't expect a dreamless night.
A couple of hours later, Jules woke to find herself no longer in the warmth and comfort of Sam's arms. Blinking, she did a sweep of the room looking for him, finding him sitting at the edge of the bed with his back to her. Jules sat up but didn't say anything. Instead she reached over to the bedside table to where she'd cleaned out her jeans pockets before joining him in the bathroom earlier. Picking up what she was looking for, she crawled to the end of the bed and pressed her body into his back. She dangled the object over his shoulder until he took it.
Sam looked at the five dollar bill confused and then glanced back her with a shake of his head. She shrugged. "I know the saying is a penny for your thoughts but ones that heavy must be worth more than that. Want to talk about it?"
Jules was glad to see the barest hint of a smile creep into his features. However, it was several silent minutes before he nodded. "I feel bad about tonight. I don't think we did enough."
"We did everything we could do, Sam. You know that, nothing we could have done or said would have changed anything." Shifting back slightly so she could reach them better, she began to dig her fingers into his shoulders, wanting to ease the tension she felt in the muscles.
"I'm not talking about May." Sam admitted, grateful both for the darkness of the bedroom and the fact that his back was to Jules. He could talk to her about this but he wasn't ready to face her just yet. "I'm talking about Raf."
She continued her massage but added a quick kiss to the nape of his neck. "I know. So was I. It was his decision and we tried to talk him out of it, to at least think about it. But his mind was made up."
"We should have done more. We shouldn't have let him walk away like that. Why didn't we do more?" The hurt was clear in his voice.
"What could we have done?" Jules countered. It wasn't an argument but rather a honest question as to whether he'd considered something she hadn't.
"I don't know. I know what it's like to want to walk away. I've been in his shoes and the team wouldn't let me walk away. I had my locker packed up and when I came back from the shower all of you had put everything back in its place. You wouldn't let me make that decision when I was upset. Why did we let Raf?"
Jules ceased her massage and wrapped her arms around his broad chest and rested her head on his shoulder. "It was a different situation.."
Sam shook his head. "Not really. It was a bad call both times. A bad call where Ed made a shot that took a life that shouldn't have had to be taken. A call where we'd gotten too close to a subject that crossed a line and the call went south. A call where the debriefing turned into a shouting match of second guessing and tempers ran high. But even though I was ready to walk away, no one would let me because you all knew it wasn't what I really needed. Why didn't we give Raf the time to cool down and see things differently?"
Jules shifted her position so that she was sitting in Sam's lap, her legs wrapped around him and where she could look him in the eye. "Because he wasn't going to see things differently. Sam, the day you wanted to walk away, we all knew you were more upset about the fact that you felt like you let Kovacs down. That you once more cost a soldier his life because you failed in your duty, the same way you felt like you failed your friend. Even though both times you had done everything you were supposed to. It really wasn't about you questioning whether Ed should have taken the shot. Tonight was different."
She sighed, hoping she could express her thoughts in a way that would heal the pain she saw in Sam's eyes. Then she continued. "Be honest with me. Go back to that call at the coliseum; put yourself in Ed's position and Ed in yours. If you hadn't made that connection with Kovacs and you were the Sierra watching him threaten first Spike's life and then turning the gun on Ed, would you have taken the shot?"
The pain from that call so long ago was still fresh in Sam's eyes but slowly he nodded. She nodded as well. "And tonight, if you had been in Ed's position would you have taken the shot against May?"
Again he nodded, a little quicker this time since he'd already admitted to her earlier that he would have. She chewed on her lip a little before continuing. "I would have as well. It would have hurt like hell afterward and I would have regretted having to do so as much as I'm sure Ed's hurting and regretting it right now. But it was the right call last night just like it was the right call back when Kovacs was shot. She made herself the subject when she wouldn't step down. Maybe we made decisions earlier that could have been avoided but in the end SHE was the one who pulled the gun. She was the one who decided we weren't going to handle things right and she was the one who made herself a threat. A threat that wasn't going to go away on its own until she made sure her father wasn't going to hurt anyone. We couldn't let her do that. Words weren't working and she left us no other choice."
"But if we had forced Raf to take the time to calm down and think about it…"
"Raf wouldn't have made that shot. Not tonight and not if the situation came up again. You heard him. 'This can't happen again.' As much as we might hate it, it's probably going to happen again. And, as much as we all love Raf, if he can't make that decision even if it feels wrong, then he made the right choice to walk away. Sometimes we don't get to make the decisions that make us feel good. You know that as well as I do. We have to take those shots that hurt us long after the call ends because its our job. Because if we don't, someone else is going to die. It might be a person like May's father who made his own bad decisions or it could be one of us. Raf is a great cop but not everyone can do this job. And because we love him we can let him go because it's what's best for him. Just like making you stay and deal with your demons was the best decision for you."
Sam let her words wash over him like the healing balm they were meant to be. As hard as it was to accept, he knew she was right. It didn't mean they liked Raf any less than him but that, as the profilers they were so good at being, they had known the right thing to do in the situation. He hadn't really wanted to leave and was secretly glad that to come back to find his stuff neatly placed back into position in his locker. But he wasn't Raf and even though the situations were similar, Raf's reasons behind his decision were totally different. As if sensing he needed just a little more reassuring, Jules continued.
"And if down the road, Raf finds himself regretting his decision; if he realizes the job is worth the pain that calls like tonight cause, then he'll make his way back. Maybe not to Team One but any SRU team would be fortunate to have him. It'll be okay, Sam. Maybe not right away but eventually."
Sam wrapped his arms around her, holding her in place as he stood and carried her back to the head of the bed. He laid her down and followed her down. They lay there for several minutes in comfortable silence. Then after brushing a kiss to her temple, Sam spoke.
"You, Ed and I have all had to take that Scorpio shot. It's the hard part of being a sniper. But have you ever noticed that it's usually Ed who takes those really hard ones. The ones no one wants to make but there's no way around it?"
Jules nodded in the darkness. "Yeah, it doesn't seem fair does it? But when it comes down to it, I think it's the only way he would want it. Ed is such a protector that I don't think he would want either of us to have to battle the extra demons taking those impossible shots create in you. I think he'd rather shoulder the burden himself than watch us suffer them. It's what makes Ed Ed."
Again they settled into a companionable silence as they allowed the drowsy pull of sleep to once more pull them under. Just as Jules was about to drift again, Sam's voice, husky with his own exhaustion once more filled the room. "Ed's not going to bounce back from this one like he has the others is he?"
Jules scooted even closer to Sam as if maybe if just the proximity of him next to her could fix everything that was wrong. "No," she admitted softly. "Even though he was quick to try to rally us and get us out of our own heads tonight, I don't think he will. I don't think any of us will but for Ed it'll be even worse. But Ed will be Ed; he won't ask for help. All we can do is be there for him; the same as he would be for one of us if we were in his position."
"And hope it's enough?" Sam added.
"And hope it's enough." Jules echoed in agreement. For the moment it was all they could do as sleep once more claimed them.