Author's Notes: I know I need to finish other things as well but the ideas started coming for this one and I couldn't ignore them. This is the sequel to Growing Up Too Fast. Not sure how many chapters it's going to be but probably not quite as long as GUTF (although I never expected it to be as long as it was either.) The first chapter doesn't have anything M but it is coming. I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: The show Flashpoint and its characters were created by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern and belong to them and the networks who air the episodes. Since the show has ended, our only way of getting new Flashpoint is through fan fiction. This story is my attempt to help fill the void, and the only profit I make is the warm fuzzy feeling reviews give me. Anything that does not come directly from the show is my own creation and should not be used without my permission.
The Re-Education of Jules Callaghan
Johnny Dawson's arm tightened around her chest and the muzzle of a gun pressed against her temple. She wanted to struggle against his grip, but two things stopped her. One was the muzzle of the gun pressed against her temple ready to fire at a moment's notice. The other was the certainty that he would perversely mistake her attempts to get free as some sort of intimate sexual act on her part.
Two dead bodies already littered the room. Natalie's friend Rhonda stared at her with lifeless eyes. Jules couldn't help but feel like the woman was staring accusingly at her in death. Why hadn't she done more to protect Rhonda once realizing who she was involved with? The other was a relative stranger, a man Jules had met for the first time only earlier that day but who had apparently been intertwined with her life unknowingly for weeks. Chris Miathis had tried to be a hero and had died in the attempt, gunned down by Johnny Dawson only moments earlier. In fact the muzzle pressed to her forehead was still warm from being fired.
There was a third body crumpled on the floor near her feet. Sam was still alive, but she wasn't sure how long he would remain that way if he didn't get help soon. The gray leg of his pants was saturated with blood from multiple stab wounds, the knife still embedded in his leg. His face was almost as gray as his uniform pants and his breathing was shallow.
"So much blood on your hands, Little JAC. So much death you are responsible for. If you had just let me love you the way I wanted to, none of this would have happened. If you would just love me the way I love you, we could be so happy."
Jules shook her head. "Go to hell. My team is right outside that door; they'll kill you before they let you hurt me again."
Johnny only laughed. "Not if I kill them first."
He moved the muzzle of the gun and fired it in rapid succession. The door to the apartment seemed to disappear as one by one her teammates starting with Sarge fell in a pool of blood. Even Raf, who was supposed to be on medical leave, was there and collapsed under the onslaught of bullets.
Tears streamed down Jules's face. It wasn't right. Her friends couldn't die because of her. Johnny chuckled and once more pressed the muzzle to her cheek. It burned her skin. "I don't think they can help you now. I'll make you a deal though. I'll let Golden Boy live if you agree to come with me right now. How much is his life worth to you?"
Her stomach churned. She couldn't lose Sam; not even if it meant she lost her own life. It didn't matter to her that she'd promised Sam she wouldn't let Johnny hurt her. Sam would have to understand that sometimes promises had to be broken.
"Jules, no!" Sam's weak voice pleaded with her but she couldn't listen. She couldn't let anything happen to Sam. Even if going with Johnny meant she never got to see Sam again or never got to feel his comforting arms around her any more, it would be okay so long as Sam was alive.
"Okay." She didn't - couldn't - face Sam. Couldn't stand to see the look of disappointment she was sure was on his face. Did he think she wanted to go with Johnny? Didn't he realize that she would do anything to protect him? Even sell her soul to the devil.
Johnny began to pull her alongside him toward the door. He dragged her bound body over her fallen teammates and friends. More deaths she was responsible for. Would Sam ever be able to forgive her for not doing more? Would she ever forgive herself?
Sam struggled to his knees as if determined to reach her in order to stop what was happening. Johnny glared at him and pointed the gun at him. "I don't think so."
The shot and Jules's scream rang out simultaneously. The bullet lodged between Sam's eyes killing him instantly. Her struggles were ineffective as Johnny picked her up and threw her over his shoulder. He was whistling as he walked away.
- FP - FP - FP -
Jules sat straight up in bed, drenched in sweat and breathing hard. When familiar arms didn't wrap around her in the pre-dawn darkness of the bedroom or Sam's sleepy voice didn't question whether she was okay, Jules was surprised but glad. The scream that had torn from her throat with such force that it was slightly sore must have been only in her dream and not repeated in reality. As much as she could use Sam's comforting embrace, she was relieved that she hadn't woken him up. She knew the nightly nightmares were worrying him and she hated that.
She'd lost count of the number of times she'd had a version of the same nightmare. Sometimes it was a straight memory of the day in Rhonda's apartment when Johnny had made his last stand. Those were bad enough, but usually, like this one, the nightmares morphed into some into some horrible alternate reality of that day. It happened way more than Sam was even aware of, although all too often it had taken his calming presence whether he was awake or sleep to ground her afterward.
As her breathing started to even out, she twisted in the bed, so she could snuggle into Sam's sleeping arms until her heart rate could do the same. Even as she reached for him, she found only an empty space where his body should be.
She glanced at the bathroom but the door was open and the light was off. He wasn't there. She whimpered slightly, hating herself for the sound. A touch of his side of the bed told her that it had started to cool. He'd been absent from his side for a little while. She reached for his pillow and hugged it to her chest. Burying her face into the fluffy material, she breathed in his scent. She hated these nightmares more for the state they left her in more than anything else. She was the badass SRU sniper and negotiator but the dreams left her feeling, at least for a few minutes, helpless and small.
The dream image of Johnny shooting Sam flashed through her mind again and she shuddered. It was always harder for her to bounce back when the nightmare ended with Sam's death. Not even the nightmares that ended in her own death affected her as much. It took her awhile to remind herself that as bad as that day had been, both she and especially Sam had survived.
Where was Sam now thought? In the time they'd been together, Jules had always been the earlier riser. The few times Sam had managed to wake up before her, she'd pretty much followed immediately after. She was typically a light sleeper and was usually aware the moment he stirred. In the rare event he didn't wake her that way, his gentle but insistent kisses soon did the job.
She glanced at the clock on the nightstand. The alarm wasn't set to go off for another thirty minutes. It was a big day; Sam had been on medical leave for a month solid following the attack in Rhonda's apartment. A month that he'd been sidelined due to stab wounds to the thigh. She knew the month had seemed like a lifetime to him; he was too active to be happy being inactive for long. To Jules, however, it seemed more like yesterday that she'd been terrified he wasn't going to survive the loss of blood and the time it took to get him medical help.
Yesterday he'd finally been cleared to return to work. Sam had been afraid the doctor was going to put him off for at least another week, so the clearance had thrilled him. The whole ride home from the doctor's office, Sam had talked nonstop about returning to work. He'd promised that he wouldn't complain about anything that might happen. Training, he'd insisted, wouldn't bother him, no matter how demanding or tedious. He wouldn't be bothered by multiple back to back call outs or the lack thereof. Patrolling all day in the SUV listening to Spike talk about a new gadget for Babycakes? Bring it on.
Jules had found it hard not to be amused by his exuberance. When they had gone to bed the night before, he'd still been practically bouncing off the walls in anticipation. She couldn't blame him, she'd been about the same way when she'd been cleared to return to work after being shot. He'd been like a kid at Christmas. Perhaps, like said kid, he'd been too excited to really sleep and had decided to go downstairs to watch TV so he wouldn't disturb her and had fallen asleep on the couch.
Not wanting to stay in bed alone, Jules threw back the covers and stood. She reached for her short terry cloth robe and slipped it on over the oversized t-shirt she'd worn to bed. Instead of heading to the bathroom to shower and dress, she made her way downstairs to check on Sam. She expected to see a glow from the television but the living room was dark. She flipped on a light at the base of the stairs and bathed the room in soft light.
She frowned. The couch was bare except for the kitten curled up in his new favorite spot on the middle cushion. He lifted his head at her arrival and let out a playful meow. Jules grinned in spite of herself and as she passed the couch, picked him up and scratched behind his ears. She'd been so reluctant to have another pet after the violent death of the kitten she had as a teenager. But when Wordy's daughter Lily offered her one of their cat's litter, she hadn't been able to say no, not without telling the horrible story she didn't want anyone to know. It hadn't taken long for the kitten to worm its way into her heart. Even Sam had gotten emotionally attached to the feline.
"You realize you are losing your couch buddy today, right, Patches?" She asked the kitten after nuzzling its fur for a moment. She knew it wasn't coincidence that Patches had changed favorite locations from the third step to the couch. Several afternoons after shift, she'd come home to find Sam stretched out on the couch with Patches either curled up on Sam's chest or on the couch beside him. "But that's okay 'cause that means I get him back at work where he belongs. That is if I can find him. You got any ideas where he is?"
The kitten meowed again and Jules set him back down on the couch. She went into the kitchen but Sam wasn't there either. At least here though, Jules could find evidence that he'd been there. His coffee mug was in the drain board, still wet from having been washed. The coffee maker was on with just enough in the carafe to fill her mug that Sam had left sitting on the counter next to the pot.
There was a notepad propped to the side of the appliance. She picked it up to read it. Went in early to hopefully get checked off before shift starts. Didn't want to wake you. See you at work. Love you.
Even though she knew it was silly, Jules felt hurt that he'd left without her or without at least waking her. One of the perks of their relationship being in the open and approved of was that they could go to and from work together. It had become almost a thing with them; being Jules and Sam the couple until they arrived at headquarters where they became Constables Callaghan and Braddock the teammates. It was a ritual she'd missed while he was off, and, truth be known, one she was just as excited about resuming as he was about going back to work.
Blaming the remnants of the nightmare for her current feelings, Jules set the pad back on the counter and left the kitchen. Returning to her bedroom, she gathered her clothes and carried them into the bathroom. What did it matter how they got to work so long as they got there? They didn't have to arrive together arm in arm to prove anything and she was certainly capable of handling a nightmare without Sam to kiss it better. As she stepped under the spray of the shower, however, she had to admit that she sure wanted him to.
After she'd showered and dressed, Jules returned downstairs. She made sure Patches had plenty of food and water in his bowls and then turned off the coffee maker. She'd show Sam how glad she was to have him back at work by stopping at Timmy's to pick up coffee and breakfast for him and for herself. She didn't see any evidence that he'd eaten anything with his coffee. She knew he would appreciate a bacon egg sandwich and a latte to wash it down. She wasn't going to let a stupid nightmare ruin the day for either of them.
- FP - FP - FP -
"Thanks for agreeing to handle my check offs." Sam said as he and Donna Sabine Gerarld left the target range to head back to the main building. He'd wanted to get cleared yesterday as soon as the doctor had signed off on his return. However Team One had been off shift and he knew it wasn't fair to ask either Sarge or Ed to come in on their day off simply because he was in too much of a hurry to wait.
When he'd woken up way too early and had been unable to go back to sleep, he'd decided to take a chance on getting Donna to clear him since Team Three was working the graveyard. She'd been more than happy to do so, and as a result, he wouldn't have to waste valuable shift time.
Donna nodded. "Glad to do it. It's been way too long since Team One had a full roster."
Donna hid a grin as they reached the back door to the building and Sam automatically opened the door and held it open for her to enter first. It was such a gentlemanly thing to do but she wondered if Jules let him get away with such a chivalrous act. "Do you still have rehab on the leg or are you finished with that as well?"
"Officially finished but I know I'm not back up to my usual speed. Now that I'm back to work, it should improve. Nothing like a pre-shift workout to kick the body back into shape." He didn't add that he still occasionally felt twinges of pain, especially when climbing stairs. It wasn't anything he couldn't handle and he didn't want to run the risk of being sidelined over nothing.
Donna glanced around to make sure they were alone. "Sam, I don't have a right to ask and I'm not asking as a team leader but as a friend. How's Jules doing? I mean really doing?"
Sam frowned. It was on the tip of his tongue to give an automatic "she's fine" answer. Something in the way Donna had asked and was looking at him made him bite off the quick response. "Why?"
Donna sighed. "The first couple of weeks you were off, I filled in for several shifts since Raf was still off as well. During work Jules was fine; maybe a little more reserved than usual but essentially her normal self. In the locker room, however, it was a different story. I guess she's used to having the space to herself and being able to let her guard down."
Sam's worry must have been evident because Donna quickly continued. "It wasn't much, not even enough that I said anything to Greg or Ed. It's just that I could tell things were bothering her more than she was trying to let on. God knows I couldn't blame her. You were hurt; she was nearly shot and killed; the man holding her at gunpoint was killed as he stood next to her; any of those things individually would be bad enough but all three on top of everything else? I don't think I could handle it as well as she is."
Sam didn't want to admit how concerned he was, not to himself, not to a member of Team One, and certainly not to someone from another team. The nightmares plaguing Jules's sleep seem to be getting worse not better. He'd given up asking her about them because he was afraid she'd shut him out completely if he kept making a big deal out of them. So he'd watched her quietly and worried without a word. It was one of the reasons why he hadn't woken her this morning. She'd been sleeping so peacefully and for once seemed undisturbed by the nightmares that had been haunting her that he hadn't wanted to disturb her. "Like you said, all that happened would affect anyone. That was right after it happened. It's been a couple more weeks since you pulled those shifts."
Donna nodded, leaning against the wall next to the elevator. "But has it gotten better? Sam, a woman can spot make-up tricks. I saw Jules last shift and she had a ton of concealer on. If I didn't know you like I do, I would have thought she was hiding a black eye but I'm betting it's dark circles she's trying to cover."
Sam shook his head and tried to keep any doubt from showing in his blue eyes. "She was sleeping like a baby when I left this morning."
Donna frowned. "Babies don't sleep that well, Sam, and I'm betting Jules isn't either. Like I said; I'm asking as a friend not a TL. Jules is probably as tough as they come but she's not indestructible. She went through more in just a few weeks than most people go through in their whole lifetime. It's understandable that it's upsetting her. I know she's done the mandatory sessions with Luria but if she needs to talk, I'm willing to listen. One stubborn female making it in a predominately male world to another."
Sam shrugged. He appreciated Donna's concern but he knew Jules wouldn't accept it. She had even balked at the mandatory sessions with Luria. He didn't know any of the details from those meetings but he was sure she'd said and done only what she had to in order to satisfy the requirement. He was just grateful she would at least talk to him although he was pretty sure she wasn't even telling him everything. "I'm sure she knows that but I'll remind her."
The elevator door opened up and Donna stepped inside and held the door. She realized she was getting the brush off but didn't take offense. "I've got to get to the debrief. You coming up? Pre-shift workout starts pretty soon. Wouldn't want the rest of the team to think you were slacking off on your first day back."
Sam shook his head. "If I know Jules, she'll be coming in any second now. I think I'll wait down here and walk up with her. Thanks again for doing the rechecks for me."
Donna nodded. "You're welcome. I'll tell Greg you're good to go. Just remember I'm here if either you or Jules needs anything. I know you've got the rest of the team but sometimes it helps to have someone not as connected."
Sam told her he'd keep it in mind as the elevator closed. He glanced at his watch. Jules was pretty predictable when it came to her schedule. She'd be walking in the door any second now. He hoped she wasn't too mad at him for leaving without her.
As he waited, he thought about Donna's concerns. Though he had acted like it was nothing, he was really worried about Jules. After everything that had happened, Sam had been glad it seemed like the effects of what happened were confined to her dreams. Only in her sleeping did she seem affected in any way by what had happened. The rest of the time she seemed to have bounced back better than he had.
But he hadn't been with her all the time. She'd been working her normal shifts while he'd been stuck at home recuperating. Had he missed something she'd been careful to hide from him? She seemed to be eating okay. He knew she had a tendency of losing her appetite when she was upset but he hadn't noticed a change in her eating habits this time. He also hadn't noticed any signs of weight loss that would indicate she'd been skipping meals when she wasn't with him.
Even though he hadn't been at work in a month, his teammates had been stopping by regularly to visit and check up on him. They hadn't mentioned any concerns and he was pretty sure Sarge at least would have said something if he'd seen something worrisome.
Maybe Donna was imagining things. He sighed; maybe the team and even he were too close to see if there really was a problem. No doubt Jules was a master at pretending nothing was wrong. She'd been doing so since her uncle first attacked her twenty years earlier.
Still, she'd been better about at least letting him in since the truth had come out. She'd allowed him to see her vulnerable side in a way he didn't think she'd ever shown anyone else. From the moment she started opening up to him while they had been at Halton, he'd seen how difficult it was for her to face her demons. But they had been facing them together. She wouldn't completely shut him out.
He grinned at the sight of Jules walking toward him. She was carrying a cardboard drink holder tray with two large cups with the familiar logo and a bag with the same logo. When she was close enough he kissed her softly before taking the coffees from her. "Hey yourself. I am now completely and officially cleared for duty. Donna just finished my check-offs."
Jules smiled. "Awesome. How early did you get here? I wasn't even aware you were gone until I woke up."
Her tone was carefully neutral but Sam heard a slight accusation in it anyway. He grinned teasingly. "Yeah, well if you hadn't been snoring so heavily you might have heard me."
She slapped at his chest. "How many times have I told you that I don't snore?"
Sam shrugged. "That's right, you stayed up one night to listen and didn't hear yourself."
Jules's eyes narrowed in mock anger as she took the coffee tray back from him. "I don't have to take this abuse. I'll just take the coffee and breakfast sandwiches upstairs and find someone who's nicer to share them with."
Sam chuckled and kissed her again. "Okay, okay, I'm sorry for suggesting you snore. You weren't and you never have. But you were sleeping so peacefully that I didn't have the heart to wake you. May I please have my breakfast?"
She seemed to consider his apology and request thoughtfully before handing him back the tray. "The one on the left is yours. Mess with my double double and I won't be as forgiving."
"Yes, Ma'am. Did I hear mention of a sandwich too?" He took the one she'd indicated was his and handed her back the tray. He eyed the bag she was holding appreciatively.
His grin was infectious and boyish and made her heart melt just a little every time he looked at her that way. She grinned back at him as they started up the stairs. "Yeah, I wasn't sure if you would be in the mood for sausage or bacon so I got one of each. I figured that way you wouldn't start eyeing my bagel BELT once you wolfed down yours. So, did you do the obstacle course in the dark? The sun is just now starting to really come up."
Sam nodded and he took one of the sandwiches from the bag. The check offs had left him hungry. Unwrapping it, he discovered it was the bacon sandwich, his ultimate favorite. He took a bite and waited until he had chewed and swallowed before answering. "Yeah, but with the lights on the training field, it wasn't that dark. It was different, but kind of cool."
Jules cocked an eyebrow. "So, what was your time?"
"Way under the required five minutes." Sam's answer was purposefully vague. He remembered when Jules had to do her recheck after she'd been drugged and attacked. She'd been so upset that her time had been 3:05. Considering he'd been recovering from a leg injury, he was pretty sure she'd be upset to know that he'd beaten that time. He didn't know anyone who was as competitive as Jules, nobody except possibly himself.
He sighed. "3:02 but keep in mind that's slower than my usual time. Stupid doc hasn't been letting me work out the way I should."
Jules rolled her eyes. "Stupid doc knows you had really big holes carved into your thigh. You needed the time to heal before you put too much stress on that leg. Any pain now that you've run the course?"
Sam shrugged, finishing off the sandwich just as they reached their floor. "Nothing I can't handle. After workout, I'll pop a couple of Aleve and I'll be set for the day." He eyed the bag as he opened the door leading into the SRU headquarters. "Did you really get me two sandwiches?"
She nodded and offered him the bag again. She didn't bother to question him on the pain. He was just as stubborn as she was but he was also just slightly better about accepting his limitations than she was. If he said it was okay, then she would trust his word. As they approached the communications desk, she threw away the tray the coffees had come in and retrieved her own sandwich. Winnie hadn't arrived yet and Sid barely paid them any attention as she accepted the sandwich Sam handed her.
Sam studied her for a moment as they quietly ate their breakfast. Despite the make-up that Donna had mentioned seeing Jules wearing lately, he could see the dark circles under her eyes. It concerned him even more knowing that Donna had noticed. Could he really blame Jules for having nightmares after everything that had happened? He'd had his own fair share of nightmares and he hadn't been assaulted the way she had. In every other aspect of her life, she seemed to be handling things so well. But was that just a careful façade she'd perfected?
"You sleep okay last night?" He asked, trying to sound casual.
She nodded. It wasn't exactly a lie. The nightmare hadn't technically occurred during the night but rather the pre-dawn morning hours. "Apparently so since I didn't hear you at all."
"Look who's back!" Spike's exuberant voice filled the room as he entered the barn. He slapped Sam on the back as he approached. "The slacker finally returns. Awesome. The team's back whole at last. About damn time."
Jules wasn't surprised to hear Spike's enthusiastic greeting. How often had he complained in the last month that the team just wasn't the same when they were a member or two down. "Slacker? Be careful who you call a slacker there Spike. Sam's been here long enough already this morning to get re-qualified."
"Damn." He extended the word so that it seemed to last for several syllables instead of just the one. "Awesomeness. Hey, did Jules tell you we got that new scanner in that the department bought with that grant money? I swear I feel like Superman using it, like I can see through anything. It's amazing. Babycakes is even jealous of its abilities."
Sam cut a look toward Jules. "Are my ears deceiving me or is Spike cheating on Babycakes? And considering he's dating my sister, why am I even joking about it?"
"Okay, ladies, less talking more exercising." Ed Lane announced as he passed the trio. "Pre-shift workout isn't going to work itself. Let's go, let's go, let's go. I want to see some sweat."
"Of all the things I've missed while I was off, Ed's eagerness isn't one of them." Sam confided just loud enough for Ed to hear.
"I heard that Braddock. Glad to have you back; you look like you've gotten a little flabby while you've been off. You been sitting on the couch eating bonbons the whole month?" Ed quipped as they all made their way to the gym.
Sam shook his head. "Nope, if I'm getting flabby it's your wife's fault. She's spoiling me."
Ed stopped and turned to face him, his eyebrow raised in question. Jules slapped Sam's shoulder but Sam just shook his head. "What? It's true. The freezer is full of those Tupperware dishes that Sophie been bringing over since I got out of the hospital. I'm not complaining, mind you; your wife is an amazing chef. Beats take out any day."
"Yeah, her shrimp alfredo is amazing." Raf joined the conversation as he joined the group. "Then again, so is her chicken tetrazzini, her four cheese macaroni and cheese, and don't get me started on her vegetable beef soup. The best thing about being on medical leave was that Sophie felt it was her duty to keep me well fed."
Spike sat on the bench and reached for a couple of dumbbells. He looked from Sam to Raf to Ed and back again. "Wait, you mean to tell me that getting hurt means Sophie feeds you? Why hasn't anyone ever shared this information with the rest of the class?"
Jules snickered as she turned the treadmill up to her usual speed and incline. "What, you planning on getting hurt just so Sophie will cook for you?"
Spike shook his head but it was clear he was thinking about it. "No, it's not worth the time off, but still. You guys are holding out on me. That's not cool."
"If it makes you feel better she's already cooking up a storm for the party tonight." Ed assured the demolitions expert. It was a surprise party for Sarge's upcoming birthday. Ed glanced around to make sure it was okay to speak freely. "Remember, the boss thinks this is just a normal team drink night, made even better because Sam's been cleared to return to work. Nobody spills the beans."
"So, Ed, what's the latest about that training day coming up?" Jules broke into the conversation to alert Ed that Greg was coming. He nodded his understanding.
"I was thinking about sending you and Sam to that one now that he's back. There's going to be some competitions during the day and the two of you are so competitive that I know you'll show them why Team One's the best."
Before Greg fully joined them, the tone out page filled the room. "Team One, gear up. Hot Call."
As Winnie, who must have arrived in the time they'd made it to the gym, rattled off the information, Sam couldn't help but be glad to be back at work. They raced to the locker room and quickly changed.
An hour later, he was wondering why he'd been in such a hurry to get back. He'd been perched on the roof top of a nearby building with his rifle aimed on a suspect holding a victim at gunpoint. Ed was supposed to be Sierra One but his location had lost its vantage point and he'd been forced to turn the role over to Sam. Greg was working the negotiation but it was still undetermined if he was going to be successful.
"Team, we've got a second suspect running from the scene." Ed suddenly reported though the headsets. "Jules, he's headed south down Berksten. Be careful, I can see that he's armed."
Jules copied the information and took off in pursuit along with Raf and Spike. Sam couldn't think about what was going on with them as he remained focused on the suspect. The second suspect's fleeing seemed to bring the negotiations to a grinding halt. The man holding the hostage was clearly escalating and Sam's finger hovered over the trigger, anticipating the Scorpio call any second. He was prepared then a couple of seconds later when it was clear that the suspect was about to shoot his hostage. Sam's finger tightened on the trigger before the second syllable of Scorpio was out of Greg's mouth. The suspect fell and Sam sat back. Then his heart plummeted though when Raf's frantic voice filled the head set.
"Shots fired. Officer down. We need EMS at Berksten and Clout."