Author's Notes: "No Kind of Life" was a great Sam episode. Loved it. I bet it won't come as a surprise as to where my mind went for the post ep. Again, in case you missed the warning in the summary: Spoilers for season 5 episodes 1 and 2 within. If you haven't seen either one yet and don't want to be spoiled, you might want to wait about reading. For those of you who stick around, I hope you enjoy it.
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.
Our World, Too
Jules pulled into a space next to the motorcycle that was already parked and turned off the engine. For a moment she sat there allowing her eyes to adjust to the dark. When her night vision kicked in, she surveyed the surroundings until she finally spotted the person she was looking for.
Not unsurprisingly considering the bitter chill of February and the fact that it was almost ten at night, the park was deserted except for her and the solitary figure sitting on a swing. His back was to her so she still couldn't see his face. But his hunched over posture and the almost boyish way he kicked at the dirt beneath his feet was enough to give her an idea of his current mood.
But she hadn't really needed to see him to know that something was bothering him. His conspicuous absence all day, the unanswered calls, his presence at the park itself were all telling clues. Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully and her teeth captured and worried her bottom lip as she took a few minutes to just watch him. If he had heard her pull in, he hadn't given any indication. Zipping her jacket up against the brisk temperature, Jules left the warmth of the jeep.
Sam Braddock continued to scuff the toe of his boot against the dirt. He'd heard the jeep as it pulled in and hadn't needed to turn around to know who was there. Even after she had seated herself in the curve of the swing next to him, he didn't acknowledge her presence. For a few minutes the lovers sat in silence, together but separated by more than just the space created by the two swings. He knew she was curious and concerned. Knew she was wanting an explanation but he wasn't sure he could explain his thoughts to himself let alone to her.
"Missed you today." Jules finally broke the silence.
Sam nodded, guilt adding to the mix of emotions already swirling around in his tortured mind. He'd battled the same guilt when he'd called in sick early that morning, after he'd slipped first out of the bed and then the house itself while Jules was still asleep. Sarge hadn't given him a hard time, hadn't reminded him that they were already a man down with Raf gone. Hadn't questioned why he needed the day. He'd just accepted that Sam couldn't work. But Sam had heard or at least thought he'd heard the accusation all the same as Sarge asked if he was okay. Perhaps he would have felt better about it if Sarge had gotten upset.
"Sorry." Sam muttered. He didn't ask if had been a difficult day. He didn't want to feel worse about his defection if it had been.
Again silence became the norm until the quiet just became too loud. Again it was Jules who broke it. "We dipped into the benevolence fund and bought one of those get well baskets that's full of junk food." Benevolence fund was the term they'd coined for everyone chipping in money for special treats. "We even let Spike pick it out. We figured since he was the biggest kid of us all, he'd probably have a good idea what would appeal to a little boy the most. He and I even managed to find a little time during the shift to deliver it in person."
She waited to see if she would get a response from Sam. None was forthcoming. She frowned and continued. "Curtis is going to be okay. You and Dr. Alston did a great job saving him. Doctors think he'll be recovered enough to be released in a few days. Sarge pulled his magic strings with Child Services to get the Alstons approved as temporary guardians. He's going to be okay."
"Yeah." Sam agreed quietly. He was sure she was aware that he'd paid his own visit earlier in the day. Was sure she'd seen the balloons he'd brought as a gift and that Curtis, who'd been more alert than the night before and excited to see him, had told her that he'd been there.
Jules sighed, her breath visible in the cold night air. While Sam had never been one for deep discussions about this feelings, he wasn't usually this hard to talk to either. It was immensely frustrating while at the same time being painful to see. She wanted to help even if all she could do was listen. She set the swing she was sitting on into gentle motion, not front to back but side to side. Therefore she bumped into him after three or four slow passes. Finally, for the first time since she'd sat down, he looked in her direction. He was frowning and the pain reflecting in his beautiful blue eyes went much deeper than just worry about a kid he'd known for twenty four hours.
"Sam, help me out here. What's really bugging you? Let me in." She didn't want to beg but her looks of encouragement wasn't getting her what she was looking for.
Instead of answering, Sam pushed out of the swing leaving her sitting there alone. He walked about three feet away keeping his back to her. Jules took a half a second to wage a brief internal debate before slipping off her own swing and following him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her nose, cold and probably red from the sharp nip in the air, into his back. She wouldn't pressure him to talk if he didn't want to but she wouldn't let him walk away from her either.
She wasn't sure if he was going to answer but at last he sighed and started. "I know I don't always sound like I believe it, but the General is a good father. We always had what we needed and he was there if we had a problem. Maybe he hasn't always been the easiest man to be around and maybe sometimes I question whether he even likes me but I've always known deep down that he loved me at least in his own way. Even if the words were never spoken."
Jules just listened. Sam never talked about his father much and when he did, it was usually about how his father disapproved of his choices. She hadn't met the man but she'd often privately wondered just what kind of relationship they had had when Sam was growing up. Sometimes, especially at team family gatherings, she'd seen him watching almost wistfully as Ed and Clark interacted with each other. As if he was seeing something he longed for himself. It was different reaction to the one he would get when it was Sarge and Dean, a difference she'd always attributed to the fact that that particular relationship had been strained due to years of separation.
"I don't want to be a good father one day." Sam admitted. Jules's eyebrows furrowed in confusion but she didn't interrupt. After a few seconds, when he had apparently collected his thoughts, he continued. "I want to be a great father. A man who not only provides and protects but who's also involved in his kid's life and enjoys being around them and vice versa. But after yesterday I question whether I can even qualify for good."
Jules shook her head. "Sam…"
He stepped away and turned to face her. "Brenden loves Curtis but he couldn't protect him. He couldn't keep the choices he made in life from endangering the one person he couldn't live without. It's as simple as that. You said it yourself: You just don't bring a kid into that kind of world. Into our world."
It was an echo of their conversation the night before. At the time, she'd contributed his pensive words to have been a momentary reaction to the adrenaline and emotional fallout of the call, further fueled by the lingering bad feeling from the week before. She hadn't known what to say to make him feel better; hadn't even been sure he had needed or wanted her to say anything at all. So instead, she'd settled for just resting her head on his shoulder sympathetically hoping just her touch could provide at least some comfort.
"Sam, you can't seriously compare yourself to Brenden. You two aren't even in the same league."
"Aren't we? All last night I kept thinking about it, trying to justify what right we have bringing a baby into our world - a world where at any moment either one of us could be called on to take a life. For the life of me I couldn't come up with one that wasn't just selfish on my part."
Jules took his hand and led him back to the swings and made him sit down. She stood in front of him, her gloved left hand pressed to the side of his face. His skin was icy to the touch even through the material of the gloves. She wondered just how long he'd been out in the winter weather.
"Why do you have to justify anything? It's not like fatherhood comes with an application process. But even at that, there's still a major difference between you and Brenden. He chose a life of crime, a life of making the world unsafe both for himself and Curtis. When you make your bed with people who have no regard for life, you have to expect bad things to happen. But Sam, you and I and the rest of the team, we're trying to make the world a better place. Everything we do, we do so that children -whoever they belong to- are safe from things like what happened to Curtis. Our jobs might be violent but our lives outside the job aren't; we don't bring the job home. Look at Sarge, Ed, and Wordy; it's not like the job has endangered their kids. No reason to think you wouldn't be a great father."
Sam reached out, encircling her waist and pulling her closer. He leaned forward so that his forehead rested on her stomach. "And what do we tell our child - or worse, what does Sarge tell our child- if our dangerous jobs cost him or her one or both parents one day?"
Sam wasn't usually one to venture so far into the land of What If. Jules couldn't understand why this particular call was affecting him so much. It wasn't like they hadn't talked about their future plans and dreams, but it was usually a lot more light-hearted than the direction Sam was currently going in.
She thought back to her questions months earlier about a hypothetical honeymoon. True, the slip of letting the auto transcriber catch it had almost cost Sarge his job and one or both of them a spot on Team One. Still and especially because they had averted both of those disasters, it had been such a casual teasing moment that it caused more pleasant memories than bad when she thought about it even now. This hypothetical baby Sam was imagining was causing him more pain than pleasure and she hated to see him suffer.
She leaned down and kissed the top of his head. "If that happened and that's a might big if, our son or daughter would at least know Mommy and/or Daddy loved him or her so much because he or she wouldn't have known a day before that moment of not being loved and the surviving parent or the rest of the team would make sure our child never forgot just how much. But Baby, that's a risk any parent takes regardless of their job. Accidents and illness rob children of their parents just as surely as anything else. The fear of what might happen shouldn't keep people from having children."
Sam looked up, meeting her downward gaze and taking comfort as she smiled at him. Slowly he returned that smile. If she didn't have worries, shouldn't let go of his fears as well? "I'm sorry I abandoned you today," he apologized softly. "I know I let the whole team down when they needed me. I feel bad about that but more than that I hate that I deserted you personally."
Jules kissed him. "We survived. As for me personally, I was worried but realized you needed some space, which I was willing to give you a little of. I didn't feel deserted. But at the same time, I wasn't going to let you get too lost, even if it was in your own thoughts. I'm here, aren't I?"
Sam nodded. "Yeah. How did you find me? Spike track my cell phone?"
She shook her head. "No I used something a little less scientific and a whole lot more reliable." She took his hand from behind her and placed it over her heart. "You have a few go-to places when you are upset and a park is one of them. Given that the call yesterday involved a small child, it seemed like the logical place to try." She glanced around. "This a nice one. Look at that jungle gym. I bet it doesn't surprise you that it was always my favorite growing up." She took the hand that she'd placed over her heart and gave him a tug hoping to draw him further out of his melancholy state. "Come on. Race you to the top."
Without waiting to hear his reply, she took off toward the climbing structure. She was halfway up before Sam caught up. He looked at her almost panic stricken. "Jules, you shouldn't be up there."
She rolled her eyes as she peered down at him from her perch at the top. "Sam, there's no age limit on the jungle gym. What, you think the playground police are going to come and bust me for being too old for this? I think between the two of us, we can take them. Come on, be a daredevil, join me."
Sam followed and when he reached her, he wrapped his arms protectively around her as if afraid she was going to fall at any second. "Jules, it's not safe."
This time, instead of rolling her eyes, she let out an unladylike snort. "Please, you've have paid attention to some of the things I've had to climb at work, right? I don't think I really need a safety strap for a kid's climbing structure. Sam, really, what's gotten into you?"
Sam frowned. "Jules, you've got to be careful. Isn't this the most dangerous time?"
"Most dangerous time for what?" Jules shook her head confused.
"You know." Sam persisted, his hand coming to rest on her flat stomach. Seeing her confusion he blanched. "What? You don't know? I thought women had a sixth sense about such things. I thought maybe you were just waiting for the right time to tell me. I was going to be patient, let you surprise me. It never occurred to me you hadn't suspected."
Again Jules shook her head and then looked down at his hand that was almost tenderly rubbing circles on her abdomen, the same way she'd occasionally seen Wordy do with Shelley and most recently Ed with Sophie, times when her two co-workers were desperate for contact with their unborn children growing in their mother's wombs. Her eyes widened with shock as she understood what he was trying to say. "Wait, you think I'm pregnant? That's why you're suddenly so worried about what kind of dad you'll be? You think there's already a baby on the way?"
Slowly Sam nodded, her surprise catching him off guard. Things had been hectic lately but she couldn't have been that unaware could she? If he'd noticed, shouldn't have been more obvious to her? He blinked. "Aren't you?"
Jules didn't know whether to laugh or slap him. "Pretty sure not. Sam, what made you even think I could be pregnant?"
For a moment Sam wished the climbing structure would open up beneath him and let him fall through. She wasn't laughing at him but it was obvious she was bemused. The tips of his ears turned pink and it wasn't from the cold night. "I know we don't talk about these things - and I'm grateful for that really - but just because we don't make it a habit to discuss it doesn't mean I don't pay attention. That week every month when you get a little shyer about me barging into the bathroom with you in there and certain bedroom activities don't happen the way they do the other three weeks of the month, I know what's going on. I don't even need a calendar anymore to know it's time because it's always so predictable. So when it doesn't happen when it's supposed to, I notice its absence even more than its presence. So, yeah, naturally my mind goes to the obvious answer. Isn't being late a pretty big indicator of pregnancy?"
At least it had been when he had been just a cocky freshman in college and his girlfriend at the time had tearfully shown up at his door accusing him of knocking her up. Even after an initial home pregnancy test had come up negative, it had been a stressful week of repeated times of her peeing on a stick and coming up with a negative response until her period had finally made its tardy arrival and crisis was adverted. He'd been so scared from the experience that the relationship, which had been more fun and games rather than a serious commitment, had ended and he'd sworn off sex completely. At least until the worst of the fear had diminished and a new relationship had come along but even then the memory had made him a little more careful about protection.
For a moment Jules just looked at him. Raised in a house with a father and four brothers who wanted to pretend that certain feminine matters never happened if they weren't talked about, she'd always found the idea of discussing her monthly cycle with the man in her life embarrassing and unnecessary. She wasn't sure if she was shocked or flattered that he'd noticed without her having to say anything. Apparently not only noticed but was so well in tune with her body that he could immediately pick up on a change. "I'm not late, Sam. I skipped my period on purpose this month. When I saw when it was going to fall, I decided I really didn't want to put up with the hassle or especially the delay of 'certain bedroom activities' as you put it. Not this week. So when I reached the placebo pills of my birth control, I started a new pack instead so I wouldn't have to deal with the period this month." Her words were matter of fact but it was clear it wasn't a subject she liked discussing out loud.
Sam didn't know whether to feel relieved or disappointed. When he'd first done the math in his head and gotten the answer of pregnancy, he'd been excited. Unlike that time in college when the notion of becoming a father had him scared out of his mind, the thought of having a baby with Jules filled him with excitement and possibility. A renewal of sorts to soothe the pain of the traumatic end to the call the week before. But then he'd gotten embroiled in the situation with Brenden and Curtis and it had brought in to question all the excitement he'd felt. Suddenly the idea of fatherhood scared him worse than it had in college. His fears that he - that they - weren't ready for parenthood made worse by the thought that it was too late to change the fact that a baby was coming. But now, knowing that that baby, that perfect mix of all the best he and Jules could offer, didn't exist and hadn't existed, made him long for it all over again.
Jules reached over and brushed her fingers through his hair. She could see the silent war waging in his eyes. She just couldn't recognize the players. Was he relieved? Disappointed? Mad? A mixture of all three? "I'm sorry I had you scared for nothing. It never occurred to me that you would think there was something wrong. That it made everything that happened yesterday worse."
The grip he'd had on her trying to keep her from falling and hurting the baby that wasn't growing in her womb relaxed and he pulled her closer to him. His heart was at least now beating in a more normal rhythm. "Do you really think I would be a great father?"
"No doubt in my mind." Jules answered without hesitation. "You're great in everything you set your mind to. Fatherhood wouldn't be an exception. More importantly, I've seen you with Wordy's girls and with Izzy and I've seen the compassion you have when we have calls that involve children. Forget being a great father. You will be the perfect father. Any child would be fortunate to have you raising him or her."
Her ringing endorsement meant more to him that he could say. He gave her a gentle kiss on the lips. Suddenly the night didn't seem quite as cold. "Would you want to have a baby? I don't know what the maternity rules would be but I'm guessing it would seriously curtail your job duties for awhile if you were pregnant. I know how hard you worked to get your spot back after being shot."
This time Jules did think through her answer before speaking. "I've thought about it. I'd be lying if I said there weren't times in the silence of the night that I hear the tell-tale sound of a clock ticking telling me I don't have the luxury of waiting forever. I know I couldn't imagine myself having a baby with anyone but you. I put the job first before and it almost cost me you. I don't want to do that again. One day, maybe even one day soon, I would love to be pregnant and have your baby."
He could feel her shivering in his arms and felt bad about keeping her out in the cold night air. He rubbed her arms briskly hoping to warm her. "I sense a but somewhere."
Jules shook her head and looked at him. "No, not really a but. I guess I keep thinking about that old saying 'first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Jules with the baby carriage.' I guess all this baby talk seems a little like jumping the gun and doing things out of order. You know what I mean? I'm not saying it has to be that way and I'm not asking for anything. It's just hard to wrap my mind around it in anything more than an abstract thought."
Sam nodded. "But you don't rule out the future possibility."
"Definitely not. But for now, do you think we could maybe go someplace a little warmer and that maybe serves food? I kind of worked through lunch today."
Sam nodded, releasing his hold on her. He laughed as she nimbly dropped through one of the holes and landed on her feet like a cat. He followed suit and they walked arm in arm toward their vehicles. At her jeep, he pressed her against the cold metal and kissed her once again. Something she said earlier came back to his mind and he pulled back looking at her puzzled. "Why this week? What's so special about this particular week that you went to the trouble to skip your period?"
Jules blinked at him a couple of times as if trying to gauge if he was serious or not. Realizing he was, she shook her head. "Sam, have you seriously forgotten what today is?"
As realization hit, Sam groaned and twisted so that his back was against the jeep as well. Television, radio, and retail stores had been pointing to this date for weeks now. How had he forgotten? He'd even bought a gift, those hiking boots she'd seen in the store right after the first of the year that she'd said would be perfect for the vacation they were planning the middle of March; not really that romantic but something Jules would really love, just the same. February 14 - Valentine's Day. No wonder he'd thought he'd heard a pinched note to Sarge's voice when he'd called in sick. "I'm in the doghouse, aren't I?"
Jules smiled at him understandingly. "Nah, it's not like you didn't have a lot on your mind. Besides, you still have time to make it up to me. Spoil me with a little dinner and 'certain bedroom activities' afterward and all will be right with the world. Especially our world. After all, if we're going to be parents one day, it couldn't hurt to get all the practice we can in baby making department, right?"
Sam grinned, looking very boyish and irresistible. "Copy that."