Author's Notes: This story was inspired by a comment SYuuri made the other day after seeing the final scene of the final episode. So this one is dedicated to her.
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.
The Greatest Gift
Sam Braddock eased the door open and stepped quietly inside. In one hand he carried a small table top Christmas tree and in the other, a canvas bag full of brightly wrapped packages; a duffle bag slung on his shoulder completed the look. As the door closed behind him, he couldn't help but stand there, parcels in hand, and stare at the sight before him. It was breathtakingly beautiful and perfect both at the same time.
Jules Callaghan Braddock was curled on her side in the hospital bed, sound asleep. It wasn't the first time he'd seen her lying in such a hospital bed but at least this time it was for a happy occasion. She looked almost dwarfed lying there in an oversized hospital gown, surrounded by fluffy pillows they had brought from home for the occasion. Funny how they'd had the pillows with them when the time came but not her bag packed with the clothes and other items she would need for her stay in the hospital.
All the times he'd looked at her and thought he'd loved her, seemed so insignificant compared to this time. He felt almost as if his heart would burst not just for the love he had for the sleeping figure of his bride but from the pride he had that he was the one she'd chosen to love for the rest of time. She looked so peaceful and content, and while he didn't want to wake her, he couldn't stop himself from leaning over her and dusting a feather light kiss to her forehead. She smiled and murmured something incoherently but didn't awaken. He smiled.
Settling the canvas bag of gifts on the floor next to the nightstand along with the duffle bag, he busied himself for a few minutes setting up the Christmas tree on the nightstand and plugging it in so that the multi-colored lights danced on the shadows of the dimly lit room. He was glad that so far, they still had the semi-private room to themselves. He didn't want to have to share this night with anyone but family.
Soft grunts came from the small bassinet beside Jules's bed and his grin widened. He'd purposefully avoided looking in that direction when he'd come into the room, not because it's content wasn't first and foremost in his mind, but because he knew that once he directed his attention to the precious bundle lying inside, everything else would cease to be important.
Though what he wanted to do more than anything was to gather his daughter in his arms and never let her go, he went to the sink in the bathroom and washed his hands carefully and thoroughly. The older nurse who had been caring for Jules and the baby since they'd been moved to the room after delivery had carefully admonished both of them about the importance of proper hand washing before handling the baby. Her warning of the dangers of flu and other illnesses had scared him into strict compliance. Satisfied that he was as germ-free as he could get without going through a full decontamination process, he returned to the bassinet. His heart, which had just been on the verge of busted, melted at the sight of his daughter looking up at him and batting her tiny fist in the air toward him.
Sadie Grace Braddock. Not even the littleness of the outfits that Jules had carefully washed to ready them to be worn once the baby was born had prepared him for just how small she really was. Her official birth weight was six pounds twelve ounces but she seemed so much smaller. Still, she was perfect in every way. Ten perfect little fingers and ten perfect little toes, a head full of downy soft dark hair, and gray blue eyes that gave no indication of what color they would one day turned to all combined to convince him that he and Jules had been blessed with the most beautiful baby ever to be born.
Sam gathered his newborn daughter into his arms. The couple of hours he'd spent away from the hospital just now seemed more like years and he needed to check her over carefully to make sure she hadn't changed any in the time he'd been away. He smiled down at her beautiful tiny face, marveling not for the first time that his perfect little creatures was his.
"Hey there, Scrappy. Did you miss me?" He kept his voice to a whisper, partly so as not to waken Jules and partly not to completely shatter the sanctity of the moment. Sadie's mouth formed a little o as if she wanted to respond to him even though Sam knew she was too small to really even do so much as coo at him. Her eyes seemed to land on his face and he hoped it was because she recognized his voice. Everything he'd read seemed to suggest babies were born knowing the voices they'd heard a lot from the womb. He'd certainly spent enough time talking to her since even before her ears had developed for her to recognize him.
He settled into the rocking chair next to the hospital bed, careful to support her head the way the nurse had shown him. It struck him that he'd probably handled bombs with less care than he was now using with his daughter. She was far more precious than anything else he'd ever held.
"I love you so much. I don't think I even realized how much until the nurse put you in my arms for the first time. I have to be honest with you though, Scrappy; I'm a little scared of you too. Watching your Uncle Wordy and Uncle Ed with their girls, I'm pretty sure that's not going to change anytime soon. However, this is the only time you'll hear me admit it." If he was supposed to feel foolish pouring his heart out to a baby who couldn't respond, he didn't.
"I want you to be a Daddy's girl. I want you to grow up thinking I can do anything just because I'm your dad. I know I'm going to make mistakes along the way, but hopefully none you have to see or none big enough that they stick with you more than the good times."
Jules shifted in the bed and moaned softly. He glanced over at her but she didn't awaken. She simply settled into her new position and her face relaxed. When her water had broken the night before during the team's annual Christmas party, he'd rushed her to the hospital sure the baby would arrive by morning at the latest. But at eight a.m., when her labor had not progressed sufficiently for the doctor's liking, she'd decided to give Jules something to help speed things up a little. It was still four more hours of intense labor in which he would have willingly taken her place if he'd been able to. Finally around noon, Sadie had finally made her appearance.
He looked back at Sadie who seemed, in contrast to Jules, wide awake. He could already see so much of Jules in his daughter even though it could have been just wishful thinking on his part. It was enough, though, to make him amend his earlier statement. "I want you to be a Daddy's girl, but I want you to take after your mom. She's so strong, Scrappy; I've always known that but today just convinced me all over again. Your uncles had already filled my head with all kinds of horror stories about how Mommies sometimes could act while giving birth, but not your mom. Towards the end I could tell she was in pain and that she was exhausted but she never complained, never screamed and called me names, never suggested she couldn't do it. I don't think the word can't even exists in her vocabulary. She's tough and she doesn't know the word quit. She scares me sometimes too just so you know, although I don't admit it to her either. The two of you are probably going to make me gray-headed before too long from worrying about both of you."
Her little fist found its way to her mouth and she smacked on it noisily. He grinned at her, his blue eyes filled with unshed tears. "Your mom is working on me about being too smothering with my protectiveness and I'm working on curbing it some. It's not easy for me though. Neither she nor you are going to be able to stop me from worrying though. It's part of my job as a dad and husband; one I take very seriously."
In the six short months of marriage, Sam had lost track of the number of times he'd had to worry about both Jules and the baby. The tragic events the day of the wedding where Jules had pushed herself both physically and emotionally to the very limits trying to protect the city from a serial bomber still haunted him and Jules. For days and weeks afterward, Jules had struggled with the memory and pain of that day to the point her doctor had cautioned her about her blood pressure. Concerned that she was putting the baby at risk and with urging on his part, she'd finally agreed to talk to one of the crisis management counselors provided by the city to help those who had seen so much that day. Though Jules wouldn't have said so out loud, the therapy sessions had helped.
Though those wounds had started to heal, work hadn't become easier. Holleran had decided it was too soon to make permanent changes in the teams' rosters in the aftermath of the tragedy. Team 3, he insisted, needed time to mourn the loss of Donna and Jimmy before permanent replacements were chosen. Sarge had been put on extended medical leave as he recovered from his injuries although they were all pretty certain his days with SRU would be over. The missing gaps in the rosters meant they were all working longer shifts and handling more hot calls. By tacit agreement, they'd both watched the risks they were willing to take on the job, and Jules had put herself on the sidelines in the command truck as soon as she started to show.
Sam had never been happier than the day she'd tearfully told him that though she trusted the team to have her back, she just didn't think she could take the risk that a stray bullet could end their dreams of being parents. He'd been thinking the same thing but had refrained from voicing his concerns as he knew it would be a lot to ask of her given her love of the job. Ed, who had taken over more responsibilities in Greg's absence, had assured her that her spot on the team was secure when she was ready to come back full steam and that in the meantime, he was grateful to have her backing them up in the truck.
Ironically enough, the biggest threat to both Jules and the baby hadn't even come on the job. Because they'd been working so hard since June, he and Jules were both able to secure a week's vacation for Thanksgiving. Jules had wanted to spend time with her father but had known Medicine Hat had been too far a drive to try to make it in the time they had off. Instead, her father had compromised and agreed to meet them halfway. Two hours from their destination, a semi had jackknifed directly in front of Sam causing him to lose control of the Jeep and crash into the side of the rig.
With the exception of a broken right wrist and superficial lacerations to his face from the windshield, Sam had been fine. Jules, on the other hand, had been trapped in the passenger side. It had taken rescuers the better part of an hour to extricate her from the wreckage and she'd immediately been flown by medical chopper. Sam had been terrified that he was going to lose either Jules, the baby, or maybe even both of them.
Even after he'd arrived at the hospital, the answers weren't black and white. A moderate concussion had left Jules unconscious for about a day but doctors were pretty confident that she'd make a full recovery. However, he was more concerned about what effects the damage caused by the seatbelt and the airbag might have on the unborn baby. For several days, they'd worried they might lose her. Sadie, however, had proven she was a fighter like her mother and the doctor had finally decided she should be just fine. It was then that Sam had taken to calling his daughter "Scrappy."
As she'd recovered from the accident, Jules had decided to start her maternity leave early even though it would mean she'd have less time off after the baby was born. Sam had been glad when she'd broached the subject first. He'd to ask her to consider it but had put it off knowing it wasn't really fair of him just because he was worried about what might happen when she was doing everything she could to be both the perfect cop and the perfect mother to be. Despite being such an active person, Jules had taken to her maternity leave reasonably well, finding little projects around the house to keep her from going stir crazy.
The smacking got louder as Sadie seemed almost determined to eat her fist. But even that didn't satisfy her for long. Her face scrunched up and turned a little red as she began to cry. Sam jiggled her a little even though he knew that wouldn't solve the problem. His heart broke seeing her cry and he knew right away he was doomed when she grew up enough to realize the effect her tears had on him.
"Don't do that, Scrappy. Mommy needs her rest but I don't think I can take care of what you want. I sort of don't have the right parts for it. Please Sadie." If the guys at work ever found out he was begging his hours old daughter not to cry would they tease him about it or with the exception of Spike sympathize with him after their own experiences with their own children?
"Give her here, Sam. I'm pretty sure I do have the right stuff for what she wants." Jules murmured sleepily as she raised the bed. He let her get comfortable before placing their now unhappy daughter in her arms. He gave Jules a kiss before pulling the curtain around the bed. He didn't think they'd get any visitors this late but wanted Jules to have her privacy just the same. By the time he turned back around, Jules had undone her gown and Sadie had latched on contentedly to Jules's right breast. The sight of his wife nursing their newborn daughter took his breath away; for a moment he was speechless.
Her first attempts at breast feeding hadn't gone well, and he was pretty sure it had upset and frustrated Jules much more than it had Sadie. This time, they both looked happier with the outcome. He eased down on the bed next to Jules's legs. "Is this the first time she's eaten?"
Jules shook her head. "Not really. The breast feeding specialist came in right after you left to see how things were going and she gave me a few pointers. Sadie took some then but not a lot. She was more interested in sleeping than eating at the time. How long have you been back?"
"Not long." Sam admitted. "I didn't mean to be gone so long. After I got my shower and changed, I felt like I needed to bring back more than just your bag."
"Like a Christmas tree?" Jules teased, nodding toward the small decoration on the night stand. "Sam, I can't believe you went shopping on Christmas Eve. Wasn't it a madhouse?"
Sam left his spot by her knees to wedge himself into the space at the head of the bed beside her. Once more he kissed her, this time on the side of her temple. "No way did I brave the stores. I stopped by the barn and 'borrowed' the tree Winnie put on the communication desk. Ben's working dispatch tonight and he didn't mind."
Jules shot him a look of mock severity. "He might not have minded but Winnie goes on duty bright and early in the morning, and I'm pretty sure she will mind."
Sam shrugged unrepentantly. "I'll tell her it was for Sadie; she'll forgive me." His grin once more threatened to split his face in two. "I can't believe it, Jules. Our daughter is here; she's healthy and beautiful; you're healthy and beautiful. My life can't get any better than it is right now."
Jules stared at the baby in her arms in wonder, a slow grin of her own filling her face. "She really is perfect, isn't she?"
"Just like her mother." Sam agreed.
Jules rolled her eyes. "I'll let you get away with sappy because it's Christmas Eve and because I know you're still on a new papa high." She lifted Sadie to her shoulder to burp her. The newborn let her displeasure at losing her food source be known. Jules patted her back. "Easy there. Mama will let you snack on the other side after you burp. You don't want a nasty old tummy ache, do you?"
Sadie's answer was a resounding burp and the new parents laughed out loud. Sam shook his head. "Sounds like someone has already taken lessons from her Uncle Spike."
Jules gave a derisive snort as she settled Sadie on the other side to nurse off her left side. "Right, blame Spike cause we both know in the nine months I was carrying her, she never heard her father burp just as loudly. There you go, Sadie. Drink all you want; apparently I'll make more."
For a few minutes, the only sound in the room was Sadie's smacking, but for all her protests when Jules had tried to burp her, the desire for sleep soon won out over an interest in eating. Sadie's eyes slowly drifted shut and then she was asleep. Sam lightly caressed her cheek, wanting the contact but worried about waking her. Jules glanced up at him.
"You want to see if she'll burp again and then put her in the bassinet?" Jules asked quietly. It wasn't that she wanted to give up her daughter, not even to her husband and certainly not to the bassinet. However, the nurse, Sophie, and Shelley had all given her the same advice. It was better these first few days especially not to give in to the temptation to just hold the baby non stop, especially when she was asleep. They had warned that it was better for her to get used to sleeping on her own from the start or they'd have a hard time once they took her home from the hospital. So, even though it went against every instinct in her, she was willing to listen to their advice.
Sam shifted Sadie carefully to his shoulder, his hand firmly against the back of her head until she was reclining against his body. Then he mimicked the motions he'd seen Jules doing earlier. The burp he was able to elicit from her wasn't as loud or as dramatic the one Jules had coached from her but it was enough to prevent Sadie from fussing later. He didn't want to put her down any more than Jules did but he kissed the top of her head and settled her on her back in the bassinet. After covering her with a blanket, he continued to stare at her for a moment.
"You know, this is the second Christmas Eve birth we've been a part of." Sam reminded her.
Jules leaned her head against the bed. Had it only been last Christmas they'd had to deliver a baby during a hot call? Her eyes twinkled mischievously. "Yeah, I seem to remember doing most of the work for that delivery as well."
"Next time I promise I'll do everything." His tone was so solemn and sincere it was cute, especially since they knew it was a promise he couldn't keep. Instead of joining her on the bed once again, he went to the one of the bags he'd deposited on the floor next to the night stand. Jules watched him in curiosity.
"Sam, what do you have?" The note of suspicion in her tone made his ears turn pink.
"Most of the gifts from under our tree. Tomorrow is Christmas and I didn't want us or Sadie to miss out because we were here." He finally selected the one he was looking for, a small package wrapped in brightly colored birthday paper. "Since Sadie's birthday is Christmas Eve, I guess we'll have to get used to celebrating the two events separately. I don't want her to feel one gets slighted because of the other. I know we have time to figure out how we'll do that but I decided a couple of months ago when we came so close to losing her that I really wanted to mark her actual birth day." He handed Jules the package.
She raised an eyebrow. "Shouldn't we wait until she's awake to open it?"
Sam shook his head as he once more jointed her on the bed. "No, this one is for you. You're the one who gave birth, who gave me the greatest gift anyone could possibly give anyone. You deserve so much more, but I wanted you to have something to mark the occasion."
Jules carefully unwrapped the paper to reveal a small jewelry box. With shaking hands, she lifted the lid. Nestled inside was a sterling silver necklace with three charms dangling from the center. The first two charms were two adults, a male and female. The male charm had a small yellow charm where the heart should be and the female had an opal in the same spot. The couple was connected by a small pearl. On a small drop from the center of the couple was a smaller female charm with a turquoise stone. Jules had never seen anything like it before or anything as beautiful. She touched the smallest charm with her pinkie finger. A single tear ran down her cheek and she wiped it away impatiently.
Sam kissed the side of her head again. "It's a family tree necklace. The couple is us, obviously with our birthstones. The pearl connecting us marks the month we got married. And that's Sadie. I don't know what I would have done if she'd been stubborn enough to wait until January to be born. And the jeweler who made it for me assures me that it'll be easy to add more charms as our family grows."
Several more tears slipped past her defenses, but this time she didn't bother trying to wipe them away. How or why the most perfect man in the universe had chosen her to love, she couldn't say, but she wouldn't question it. How could she when she now had a beautiful daughter as proof of that love. "Sam, it's beautiful. Will you help me?"
Sam removed the necklace from the box as Jules held her hair out of the way. He fastened the clasp around her slender neck. Then he settled her back comfortably against his body. The rest of the things in the bag could and would wait until the morning to be opened. Christmas Day, the first full day of the Braddock family of three would be a busy one. The team would be stopping in to visit and Sophie had promised to bring lunch because, in her words, "no one should have to eat hospital food on Christmas Day."
She would enjoy the visits, would enjoy showing off her daughter to her uncles who would fuss over her every bit as much as she and Sam would. However, for now, it was perfect that it was just the three of them. Well, almost perfect, Jules decided. Sam's arms were wrapped around her, holding her close but her own arms felt disappointedly empty. Arms that almost ached with the need to hold her daughter and never let her go. Intellectually, she knew she should listen to the advice she'd been given by women who knew much more about being a mom than she did. Emotionally, she was prepared to take her chances. "Sam, I don't care what the nurse suggested. Tonight I need Sadie in bed with us."
"Copy that." Sam agreed. It had felt wrong having Sadie so far away, and he was glad to hear Jules felt the same way. It only took a moment for him to scoop Sadie up out of her bassinet and return her to her mother's arms. Then he resumed his position in the bed holding them both close. Now it was the perfect moment.
There would be time to follow all the rules and listen to the advice given to them by people with more experience, their friends who had already traveled down the road they were just embarking on as well as professionals who made a living preparing new parents to leave the hospital. But that could happen tomorrow or the next day. Tonight on this special Christmas Eve, as the snow gently fell outside the hospital window, there was only one rule they needed to heed. It was the rule of their hearts and their hearts told them nothing mattered more than spending the evening with the ones you loved the most. That they planned to do all night long.
Sadie continued to sleep undisturbed in her mother's arms and slowly Jules's eyes grew heavy as well and she surrendered to the sleep her body was demanding. Sam continued to watch as the women in his life slept. He hadn't slept in over twenty four hours himself but sleep was the last thing on his mind. He continued to watch over them until his eyes became almost too heavy to stay open. He kissed Jules and then Sadie before once more moving the sleeping infant to her bassinet. As happy as he would have been to keep her in the bed with them all night, he was scared she might get squished between them if he fell asleep as well. He covered her with the blanket and kissed her again.
"Night Scrappy. Merry Christmas. Thanks for making this one the absolute best."