Author's Notes: The final chapter of the post-eps. I'm more than a little sad to see it come to an end. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I'd love to hear what you think.
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.
Hand on My Back; Voice in My Ear
Going home wasn't as easy as going to their vehicles and driving home, not for any of them with the exception of maybe Wordy and Raf who had already gotten off shift before coming. For Team One, going home meant taking the SUVs back to HQ and checking in the equipment before going to the locker rooms to change out of their uniforms. After everything that had happened, no one on the team seemed to want to linger any longer than necessary, especially with the sense of loss that seemed to pervade the air. Jules lingered in the locker room. She wanted a shower more than anything, needed to wash away the layer of dust and grime that seemed to have permanently embedded itself into her skin, hair, and clothes. The directions she'd been given to keep the stitches dry thwarted that desire though.
"Hey, you okay?" Leah asked as she buttoned her shirt.
Jules shrugged. "I'm not even sure what the definition of okay is any more."
"I would recommend going home, turn on some soft music and a couple of lamps, curl up on the couch in your husband's arms with a good glass of wine and just shut out the world for the rest of the night. Given the little bom…" Jules realized Leah had been about to say bombshell but had caught herself just in time. Then Leah continued. "Given the amazing news the two of you dropped on us at the wedding this morning, I guess wine is out of the question. So, let your husband take you home and for once don't fuss if he wants to spoil and pamper you a little. You both deserve it. Like Ed said, all of this will still be here tomorrow unfortunately."
"What about you?" Jules asked as she pulled her a short sleeved sweater over her head. She looked at the garment bag hanging in her locker with her wedding dress zipped inside. It seemed like a lifetime ago when she'd put it on in anticipation of becoming Sam's wife. If things had happened according to plan, she and Sam would have been getting ready to slip out of the reception to head for their honeymoon. A destination she still didn't know the location of. How could she be so selfish to be thinking about things like honeymoons when Sarge was fighting for his life; Hank was facing the first night of the rest of his life without Donna, and Mrs. Cumberland had only a blanket to hold as night descended on the city. She looked at Leah, needing to push all such thoughts from her mind. "I know you were planning on bringing Dex to the reception tonight. Is he going to be waiting for you when you get home or is he pulling an extra shift with everything that's going on?"
Sharing a locker room had given Jules and Leah ample time to share stories, so Jules had heard all about the firefighter that Leah was dating. Leah insisted that it was just a casual thing but Jules wasn't as convinced. Leah smiled wanly.
"According to his last text, he's already got the soft music on and the lights turned down low."
Jules eased her work out pants on being careful of her leg; they might not match the sweater but the material would be much softer and stretchy-er on her injury. "And the wine poured?"
Leah shook her head. "Nah, wine wouldn't even begin to cut it for me. A day like today calls for a good glass of scotch - Johnny Walker Black. Dex will have it poured as soon as I pull into the drive."
Jules was glad that Leah had someone waiting for her at home. It was almost easy to think that because she hadn't been with them as long, the losses they had endured that day wouldn't affect Leah as much as it had the rest of them but the truth was none of them had been immune to the effects. Tonight was a night nobody needed to be alone to face the nightmares that were sure to be vicious. Ed had Sophie, she had Sam, Sam had her, and Leah had Dex, but who would be there for Spike? Spike, as their demolitions expert, had faced the added pressure of feeling responsible for defusing all the bombs. Spike, who had never completely gotten over feeling guilty for Lew's death, would be haunted by the what if things had turned out differently. Spike would be going home alone and that was just wrong.
Leah said her goodbyes and Jules was alone in the locker room. She tied the laces on her tennis shoes and then just continued to sit there. The team was a family and family took care of each other. Her decision made, she grabbed the crutches and hobbled toward the door. Sam was leaning against the wall outside the locker room, obviously waiting for her. He hugged her. "Ready?"
She shook her head. "Sam, Spike can't go home alone. You know it's going to be a tough night and we can't leave him to face it alone. It's as inhumane as anything Faber did today. I know it's our wedding night, but it's not like anything else about our wedding day has been normal. It's not that I don't want to be alone with you, but I can't stand the idea of Spike not having someone to…"
He cut her off with a kiss. She was glad to see that Sam looked relieved at her statement rather than upset. "I was hoping you'd feel that way. He's in the gym attacking the punching bag like he's got a personal vendetta against it. I haven't said anything to him yet but I wanted to invite him to spend the night with us. Nobody should be alone tonight."
Just as Jules was starting to reposition the crutches, they noticed that Winnie was already heading into the gym. Sam put his hand on Jules to stop her forward movement. The pretty dispatcher grabbed hold of the punching bag and held it fast until Spike stopped his assault on the bag. Sam and Jules were too far away to hear what was being said but whatever Winnie was telling the demolitions expert seemed to be sinking in. When Spike sank to his knees and his body began to shake as if he was breaking down, Jules started to go to him, but Sam held her back. She sent him a glare.
She returned her attention to her hurting friend and saw why Sam had stopped her. Winnie had sat down on the floor beside him and wrapped her arms around him. His head was buried in the dispatcher's shoulder. The picture it created was both heartbreakingly sad but hopeful at the same time.
"Looks like Winnie might be changing her mind about her rule." Sam remarked quietly.
Jules nodded, reaching up to swipe at her misty eyes. "Life's too short to limit your heart to who it can or can't love. Sometimes it takes something like today to remind you of that. It doesn't make up for all the loss, but if today's tragedies helps bring them together, then at least something good can come out of it."
As Jules and Sam watched, she couldn't help but feel a little like an intruder. Even still, she couldn't tear her eyes away, needing both the reassurance that her friend was going to be okay and also needing the image of something sweet and innocent to try to wash away the horrible sights that seemed burned into her memory. She leaned her head against Sam's broad and perfect chest.
After a few minutes, Spike and Winnie rose from their spots on the floor of the gym. Spike's arm was around Winnie's waist as they made their way toward the exit, never once glancing at the newlyweds. Jules smiled. "I guess he's going to be okay and not completely alone."
Sam nodded. "Today couldn't have been much easier on Winnie; stuck here behind the desk, hearing what was going on but at the same time not really knowing anything more than what we were saying on the radios. It's good that they have each other."
Jules looked up at him, her hand on her stomach. "I'm glad we have you. I'm not sure I would have made it through today without you."
Sam leaned down and kissed her again. "You would have because I don't know anyone as strong as you are."
Jules shook her head. "I don't know about that. I don't feel very strong right now. I feel like all I've done today is break down in tears. How strong is that?"
"Stronger than any of the rest of us that wanted to do the same thing but were too scared of how it might look to give in to the urge. Now, then Mrs. Braddock, what are we still doing hanging around here? Let's go home."
Home still wasn't their next destination. Jules realized as she got in the jeep that the prescriptions the doctor had written were still in her uniform shirt upstairs. Not wanting her on her leg, crutches or no crutches any more than she had to be, Sam volunteered to run back inside to get them. At the pharmacy, he ran in to get them filled leaving her sitting in the passenger seat of the jeep. In the dark quiet, Jules could feel herself drifting off to a light doze again. This one was a little deeper than in the waiting room and she barely registered when Sam returned with her medicine and drove off again.
When his strong familiar arms started to gather her in his arms to carry her inside, she roused herself to sleepily admonish, "Don't you dare, Braddock."
He kissed the side of her head. "I warned you at the hospital that I was going to carry you into the house and I'm pretty sure I said no arguing."
She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Not going to argue about you carrying me in. I'm protesting you trying to carry me in without waking me up. I don't want to sleep through being carried over the threshold by my husband on our wedding night. I want to enjoy every second of it."
Sam grinned. Just when he thought he knew his new bride better than anyone else in his life, she could still do or say something to surprise him. They'd had their fair share of discussions about what traditions they were going to include and which ones they were going to do away with. Sam pretty much had wanted to do everything according to tradition but Jules had very definite other ideas about almost everything. He'd won the one about him staying somewhere else the night before so he didn't see her before the wedding because silly superstition or not, he wanted to start off the marriage right. She'd won the one about not walking down the aisle with or without her father saying she didn't think it was fair that only the bride was put on display like that. They'd both agreed there was no way they'd shove cake in each other's face at the reception and that they would do everything possible to make sure that when it came time to throw the bouquet and garter, they would aim for Winnie and Spike respectively. To hear her say she wanted to be carried over the threshold both amused and excited him.
"Sam, it's our wedding night. Other than the actual ceremony, we've missed out on everything else we'd planned for today. Nobody is going to fault us for taking what moments we can. If anything, the reminder how short time could be, I think it's more important than ever."
And just as he was realizing she could surprise him, she had to go and show just how well she knew him. No sooner had the words left her mouth then Sam felt guilty about his reaction. What right did he have to be thinking about such thoughts about Jules after so much death and destruction. She was right though, but of course she was; Jules was always right. They couldn't afford to put off any chance they were given to share the love they had for each other. He didn't want to get maudlin, but at the same time he couldn't deny the fact that neither of them were guaranteed a long and happy life. They could want it and try for it but it wasn't a guarantee. Therefore they had to make sure whatever time they were given, long or short, was as happy as they could make it.
Leaving one arm around his neck, she grabbed her crutches so that Sam could lift her slight weight into his arms. Then he carried her up the front walk where she shifted the crutches so she could unlock the door without him putting her down. Once inside, she closed the door and locked it. Without bothering with the lights, Sam carried her straight up the stairs to the bedroom. Only once he crossed the threshold of the bedroom did he set her lightly on her feet. She set the crutches against the wall so that she could once more put both hands around his neck, much as she had that morning at the wedding, and just like at the wedding she drew his head down so she could kiss him. There was a desperation to her kiss that said she needed the contact with him more than she needed the air she was breathing. He was only too happy to oblige her.
"I want nothing more than to curl up in that bed in the safety and love of your arms." Jules admitted to him. Sam's hands immediately went to her waist, ready to lift her up and do just that but her hands left his neck to cover his hands, stopping him. "Don't think I didn't smell your shampoo when you were carrying me. I know you got your shower at HQ. I unfortunately can't get these stupid stitches wet."
Sam grinned down at her. "It's not like we haven't had practice keeping stitches dry." Jules frowned bothered maybe more than she should be that once again she was the one with the stitches. Sam kissed her forehead. "If you want to get your change of clothes ready, I'll go back downstairs for the Saran wrap and tape."
Jules appreciated that he was letting her keep her independence as much as possible. He knew her so well. Once she was alone in the bedroom, she retrieved the crutches and hobbled over to the dresser. As she pulled out one of Sam's old stretched out t-shirts to sleep in, she couldn't help but think about what she should be wearing tonight. She'd turned as red as the small amount of material that made up the sexy lingerie Sophie had given her during her bridal shower. Though it wasn't anything close to what she would normally wear, she'd packed it to wear the first time she and Sam made love as husband and wife. It was tucked away in her suitcase in the jeep still in the box it had been wrapped in, waiting for her and Sam to arrive at his secret honeymoon destination.
As she stared at the t-shirt - a favorite she liked to sleep in but not what she'd pictured for her wedding night, anger coursed through her. An anger so hot that, for the moment, it overshadowed her grief and fear. It was an anger that had to find an outlet or it would consume her just like the other emotions had threatened to do earlier.
She picked up an empty votive candle holder and slung it against the far wall. As it smashed into thousands of pieces, she was already picking up another object to throw. Only some deep inner conscience that was still rational kept her hands away from keepsakes too precious to break.
When nothing expendable remained on top of the dresser, she started in on the clothes in Sam's open drawer. The articles of clothing didn't make as satisfying a thud or crash as the heavier objects from on top of the dresser; that only fueled her anger even more. When the drawer was empty she moved to the shoe rack hanging on the back of the closet door. She didn't care if the thrown shoes made a dent or left a scuff mark on the wall upon impact, didn't care about anything but purging the rage rising within her.
She ran out of shoes before she ran out of the need to throw things. She also ran out of steam to locate more objects to throw before she had exhausted her need to lash out at the world. So, she did the next best thing. She balled up her fists and began to hit the closet door with all her might. The only difference between her and Spike earlier at the barn was that the punching bag he was laying into was a little more forgiving.
Sam had been standing unobserved in the bedroom doorway since about the fourth object had been thrown. He hadn't said anything or made a move to intercept or stop her. He was almost glad to see the anger taking control. He pretty much knew what to expect from Angry Jules whereas he'd been at a loss to know how to really help her at the hospital. Though he'd been honest when he'd told her it didn't make her weak that she'd broken down, it had hurt his heart to see her so upset. It was also scary to see her lose control that way, although he'd never admit it to her. If she knew just how much it had thrown him to see her so upset, she would probably guard her emotions more tightly the next time. Not that he ever wanted there to be a next time. While Angry Jules could be scary as hell when her anger was directed at you, he at least knew how to respond to this emotion.
So, he'd stood in the doorway, plastic wrap, tape, a bottle of water, and the bag with her prescriptions in hand and he'd watched. He'd watched as item after item from the dresser became a projectile, marveling at how, despite the outward appearance, she'd kept control enough to avoid the framed photographs that held an important display space on the top. He'd watched as his t-shirts, underwear, and socks went next, noting almost with pride at how well she could pitch his rolled up socks across the room. When it came to the shoes, he still didn't intervene even though he was grateful that she didn't wear spiked heels.
If she destroyed the room completely, he wouldn't complain because he knew it was her way to find some control in a situation she'd felt helpless to do anything about. He'd gladly and without comment clean everything up, and he'd follow her instructions on how to repair any damage her weapons might inflict on the walls. It would be worth it if it helped her deal with the aftermath Faber had left them with. But when her anger went from throwing objects to throwing her fists, he could no longer stand by as a bystander. She'd been hurt too much today, both physically and emotionally for him to let her cause herself any more pain. Dropping his gathered items on the bed, he went to her side and wrapped his arms securely around her. Her fists were now trapped between their bodies so they couldn't do any damage to him or to herself. The only movement she could do with them was to grab hold of his shirt.
"Jules…" He started but didn't really know what else to say. Not that she gave him the chance. With her body trapped in his arms, the only weapon she had left was her voice.
"Damn him to hell and back. How much can he take away from me in just one day? It wasn't enough that he threatened the city I love and am proud to protect. Wasn't enough that he killed Donna and almost did the same to Sarge. And who knows if he'll ever be able to return to Team One? I almost lost you today as well. All this loss and now I can't help but think about the little things he stole as well, things you and I will never get back. We missed our reception and our honeymoon, and now even our wedding night is ruined." The fact that the mild expletives rolled so easily off her tongue when she'd been so careful since learning she was pregnant told just how upset she actually was.
Sam couldn't fix the big things; couldn't undo the damage done to the city, couldn't bring Donna back from the dead, couldn't assure her that Sarge would make a full recovery, and as much as he'd like to, couldn't erase the fear he'd caused her when the bomb had gone off and she hadn't known if he'd gotten clear in time. He could however help with the smaller things, and perhaps in doing so, it would help with the larger issues as well.
"Jules, this morning you became my wife. We vowed to love each other for better and for worse and all those other things that I forgot and stumbled over because every time I looked into your eyes I couldn't quite believe this day was finally happening. I know we didn't plan on "for worse" rearing its ugly head only hours after the wedding but we're still here and I still love you. We are married; we're husband and wife, and nothing Faber did today changed that. Maybe we missed out on the reception but we can still do the honeymoon once we know for sure Sarge is okay."
He lifted her slightly and carried her to the end of the bed so she could sit down on the trunk at the foot of the bed. He kissed her and knelt down in front of her so he cup her face in his hands. "And as for our wedding night, we still have that. Maybe it won't be the way we imagined it or planned it but that's okay too. As long as you are in my arms when we turned out the lights I have everything I need."
Jules's lower lip trembled. "Remember what I said this morning about there being so many words? I just figured out the ones I should have said were that you make me so much better than I could ever be alone. I'm so lucky to have you."
He kissed her again. If he kissed her a million times a day for the next seventy to eighty years it wouldn't come close to ever being enough. "See, that's where you are wrong. You are so perfectly you with or without me. I'm the lucky one because I get to share the rest of my life with you."
She smiled; it seemed wrong because of everything bad that was happening, but she couldn't help it. How was it that he could fix what was hurting her with jus the cadence of his voice, the sincerity in his eyes, the warmth of his touch , and the words her heart needed to hear at that moment. "We'll agree to disagree on that one, how about it?"
His smile turned boyish. "And if it'll make you feel better, I can always run back out to the jeep and retrieve that sexy little number you packed to wear tonight."
She blushed as deeply as she had the day she'd opened the present. "You weren't supposed to have seen it until I wore it for you."
"Hard to miss it since I packed the rest of your bag." He'd insisted on packing for her since she didn't know their destination and wouldn't know the appropriate clothes to pack.
Jules rolled her eyes. "Right, I can see where it would be hard for you to miss seeing something that was boxed up. You are such a peeker."
"Guilty as charged. As sexy as it looked in the box, I've no doubt that it will look even more incredible on your sexy body. If you want it, I'll go get it, but to be honest, tonight it doesn't matter what you wear to bed so long as you are by my side and in my arms. Whatever you come to bed wearing doesn't matter because I'm not going to let you wear it for long anyway."
"I love you." Jules whispered softly.
His grin grew. His three favorite words coming from his two favorite lips. "I love you too. Now I think you mentioned wanting a shower. How about I get that leg wrapped so we can take care of that."
"We, huh? Considering you got your shower earlier, are you thinking I can't handle taking a shower by myself?" There was no anger in her voice, just amusement.
Sam shook his head. "I think you are capable of doing absolutely anything you want to do." His tone was serious, no trace of joking to be heard. "I just really don't want to let you out of my sight any more tonight. You okay with that?"
Jules nodded. "Yeah, I can live with that. I kind of feel the same way about you."
As Sam retrieved the plastic wrap and tape, Jules carefully removed her pants. As he knelt before her Sam leaned down and placed a light kiss on the bandage right where he remembered the wound actually was. Then he looked back into her eyes. "It won't be that long before we'll be kissing our child's cuts and scrapes to make them better. I figured I'd better get in some practice. So does it feel better?"
The sweetness of the gesture chipped away a little more at the stress of the day. Jules reached out and touched his cheek. "A little bit. It was a pretty big wound though; it might take a few more kisses to really make it better."
Sam nodded seriously. "Let's take care of that shower and then I'll be happy to try to kiss all your pain away."
He wrapped her leg with the plastic wrap and secured it with the tape. "You want to take your pills before or after your shower and don't try telling me you aren't hurting 'cause I can see it in your eyes that you are. Besides, you've got to take the antibiotic anyway. Can't risk an infection."
"I'll wait until after the shower. You know how quickly junk like that knocks me out and I'd prefer not to fall asleep in the shower, even if you're taking one with me. Or maybe that's especially if you are there with me. Don't listen to me; I think I'm still a little drugged out from what he gave me in the ER. Take me to the shower Mr. Braddock."
He lifted her easily in his arms. "Whatever you say, Mrs. Braddock."
Once she was under the warm spray of the shower, her intentions of wanting to stay awake to enjoy the shower flew out the window. Sam decided it was a good thing he'd chosen to shower with her because it wasn't long before she was leaning heavily against him, half asleep. Sam took his time, sponging away the dirt and grime from her skin and hair and wished it was as easy to do the same with the bad emotions.
There was something she hadn't talked to him about yet; something she'd seen or experienced during the call that he hadn't been privy to. He'd known from the moment that she'd demanded to be allowed to go into the daycare that she was being driven by something other than her own stubbornness. Otherwise she never would have played the emotional card she'd played or been so insistent on putting herself and the baby in such danger. It was something they'd have to talk about eventually but not something they had to go into tonight. He didn't think the emotional conversation was one either could handle on top of everything else. It could wait until there was a little more distance involved.
Once he'd rinsed her off, he turned off the water. She roused herself enough to help dry herself off. She was about to slip into his t-shirt but he took it from her. "Like I said, I need to feel your body against mine tonight. Nothing between us. Okay?"
She nodded and let him carry her back into the bedroom and get her settled into bed. She took the medication and then curled into his embrace. She sighed heavily. "I was prepared for the changes marrying you would cause. I looked forward to them. Still I don't think I was ready for the other changes that I think today is going to bring. Nothing's ever going to be the same again. And not just in the good way I was thinking being your wife would be."
Sam kissed her and pulled her in closer. "I don't know. At least though whatever happens I know I'll be facing it with you on my side. That's the only way I want to face every day for the rest of our lives."
"Copy that." Jules agreed sleepily. She yawned, her jaw popping with the effort. "I just want it to be very long lives."
Sam was about to agree with her but then he looked down to see her eyes were closed and her breathing was evened out. He kissed her forehead. If long lives together was what she wanted, then he'd do everything possible to make sure she got exactly what she wanted. After all, what she was asking for was exactly what he wanted as well.