Sleep & Little Boy Lost

SRU HQ - Outside Briefing Room

Sam heard the raw unvarnished truth in the fury of her words. His mind translated the meaning …

'acceptance, belonging, family, hope, trust, redemption, safety, love'

His heart and soul gently immersed, washed, soothed, cleansed, calmed, and healed by these words.

Into the silence he could only voice …

"I'm good. Nowhere in the world I'd rather be."

Ten sets of eyes snapped to his face and were met with …

... a beautiful smile with light that shone strong and bright in his clear blue eyes.

A feeling of being cocooned in warmth and safety enveloped him as his body forced him to sleep.

Ten people rushed forward as Sam slowly collapsed to the floor the smile not leaving his face even as his eyes fluttered closed.

Patch was the first to reach him, followed closely by Jules and Spike. The three were on their knees. Patch checking his pulse and other vitals. Spike grabbing a hold of his hand and squeezing it hard staring at the face silently begging the eyes to open.

Jules cradled his head in lap and stroked his hair softly whispering "Beautiful smile, gorgeous eyes, rest now you are home." She did not give a damn that she was stroking his hair in front of the guys yet again. She was just so happy to have seen that light in his eyes and the smile on his face. She agreed wholeheartedly 'nowhere in the world I'd rather be'.

Everyone else was circling looking expectantly between Sam's face and Patch. Waiting. He had to be alright, he just had to.

Patch breathed a deep sigh of release "He is sleeping, took his body to the end of his endurance. He will be okay. He just needs to sleep, to rest." He sat back on his heels and smiled up at Blaze and Winds. Their shared looks communicated 'he belongs; he finally found a place to be'.

A collective sigh of relief was emitted. So focused on Sam they had not noticed they had drawn the attention of the others in the barn. Greg was the first to notice that around them standing stock still were all the members of Teams Two, Three, Five, Frank from Team 4 and Winnie.

They had all heard Jules outburst. Who couldn't? It was probably heard a mile away. They had seen Sam standing in the door listening. They were astonished by his simple words followed by his collapse and their reactions. They were relieved by the paramedic's report.

As they watched, several thought that they had just glimpsed part of the reason Team One was the best of the best. Many conversations had taken place over the years in other teams wondering how Team One's evaluation score always bested the other teams. Today they had witnessed first-hand that these seven people were more than just a team.

Rollie smiled, good they are whole, they are family. He knew it was time to give Team One some privacy so turned to speak to the rest. "Alright everyone, let's move, you've got jobs to do" and clapped his hands then making a shooing motion to get them to going.

He nodded to Greg then turned to join his team at the gun range. He missed Team One sometimes but really enjoyed being a Sergeant of his own team now. He was trying to build that family sense with his team, but was rare, very rare; it took a unique set of people to achieve that. His last thought turning the corner to head to the gun range was welcome to the family Sam, welcome brother.

The team, JTF2 buddies and Holleran continued to stare at Sam. Finally Ed shook out of his stupor and said to no one in particular "Gotta find him a good place to sleep, can't be napping on the floor of the briefing room."

Laughter, pure, deep, cleansing laughter burst from all.

"Man he looks terrible. His face looks like some kid spilled their paints on him" Lou snorted out as he was gaining control of his laughter.

"Either gonna repel the ladies with his ugliness now or garner their sympathy. Who wants to bet it will be sympathy?" said Winds.

"I'm with you on sympathy especially after those news reports yesterday and Brett's sister and her friends reactions" Wordy added.

"Who's Brett and what reactions" Blaze asked. Wordy explained it to the JTF2 guys and more laughter followed.

"So where do we put him to rest? Any ideas?" Spike inquired.

"Has to be where I can see him, watch over him" stated Blaze firmly and all business. "Do you have a cot or something we could put in the briefing room? He cannot leave my sight, he is under my protection."

That got everyone's attention. Looking at Blaze, Greg asked "Does this have to do with the new situation you referred to earlier? We were wondering why you were here so early."

"Yes it does. The Corporal and I have officially been assigned protection detail to Blondie. Was told to meet with Commander Holleran at 0600 to assume command of his protection detail."

"Let's get Sam settled then we can deal with whatever it is. First up, do we have a cot?" Jules responded.

Winnie had overheard and offered "We have that gurney in the storage room we use for training would that work?"

"Perfect" said Patch as Lou and Winds trotted off to get it. "I just wish I had some medical supplies. He looks dehydrated and he's gonna need pain meds here soon. Shouldn't be out of the hospital. But I know full well, no one can keep him there when he wants to leave, even when it against medical advice (AMA). Hospitals freak him out."

That garnered looks from Team One. Spike thought, one more thing to add to the Care and Feeding manual.

Jules asked "Think if we contacted Dr. Fraser, he would send over what you need?"

"Worth a try, the guy was mired in guilt for not recognizing it was pain last night. I think he'd do anything to try and make up for that. I'll call him" Patch rose and walked a little away and placed a call to the hospital to get a hold of the doctor. Doubtful he was there still but maybe they could give him his home number. No success. "Dammit, stupid regulations, they won't give me his home number."

Spike heard him grumbling and said "Give me a few seconds, I'll get it" as he went over to the computer at Winnie's desk. "Mind if I used that?" giving Winnie a smile.

He thought wow she's looking really pretty today and she smells real nice. Wonder what perfume she wears? Winnie scooted out of his way and within seconds he had the doctor's number.

"Success" Spike hollered then cringed as he realized he said it so loud. He handed the number to Patch. To Winnie he said "Thanks for sharing" then walked back to where Sam was still on the floor.

Patch was now talking to the doctor telling him exactly what was needed. Dr. Fraser had responded that he was more than happy to help and would personally bring it to SRU HQ. He said it would take him about twenty to thirty minutes depending on how long the pharmacy took to fill the order.

As he hung up Lou and Winds returned with the gurney. They had taken a bit of time to find a pillow and blanket too. Ed, Blaze, Patch and Winds carefully lifted Sam from the floor and settled him on the gurney. Spike put the pillow under his head. Jules covered him with the blanket and tucked it in around him. They all stood there looking again. Sam looked so peaceful, so relaxed, so young, so very colorful.

SRU HQ - Briefing Room

As they moved Sam into the briefing room Greg made a suggestion. "We all are still very disconcerted by all the events from yesterday and this morning. I suggest that we wait until after the doctor gets here with the meds and Patch gets Sam settled to begin our discussion. We could all use the time to sort our thoughts."

"We could all use some coffee that doesn't taste like boiled boots too" Spike added drawing a smile from Patch. "I suggest that we make a Timmy run, maybe grab something for everyone to eat too. I'll go, anyone want to join me?" Lou and Winds offered to go with him.

Just as they were about to leave Jules piped up "Hey Spike, get Sam his favorite iced capp. He might not be awake to drink it for a while but don't want him to feel left out if he does wake."

"Have them make it with decaf. I don't want to flood him with caffeine. He needs his sleep" Patch added.

"Copy that" and the three headed out the door.

When they returned Patch was just finishing up with the IV and ready to add the meds. The doctor had fully checked Sam out before leaving. He had shaken his head and wondered how the guy had managed to leave the hospital in his condition. He also told Patch to call him at any time day or night if Sam needed anything or if his condition deteriorated in any way.

The guys had brought back an assortment of hot breakfast sandwiches and several dozen timbits. Coffee and food in hand, everyone settled into chairs to get down to the business of protecting Sam. Greg thought as he sat down time to understand the new situation and get some answers regarding his past.

"Okay so what do we need to know, what is this new situation?" Greg asked looking at the Commander.

Special Victims and Homicide Department

Inspector Davis was still troubled by the incident last night at the hospital. Sitting at his desk several questions niggled at him. Most would simply chalk it up to a deranged man picking a target and attacking. But there was more to it. He had many, many questions.

What was the connection between Braddock and Donner? Why did Donner first point the gun at Braddock but then turn it on himself? What did a General care if pictures were taken of something like that?

The flimsy excuse about being a problem for security did not hold water. It spoke more to a father trying to protect his son from hurt. It must be something in the past that he did not want repeated.

Why was Braddock's boss so concerned? Wait, one answer, he called him his godson. What was that business about Sara? Who was Sara? Who was this driver that killed himself after killing her? How is that connected to Braddock?

Who was this Matt that Braddock referred to before he passed out? He could see that it had totally freaked out the Commander every time he heard Braddock say the name.

So earlier this morning, he had started digging to see what he could find out. His digging led him to several things. Thank goodness for the internet, amazing what you could find out there.

He found that Donner had a blog from which he found he was seeing a psychologist, Dr. Carter. He found the pictures he assumed Holleran was concerned about. He found a newspaper report on the car accident which led him to the police report. He found a short follow up story about the suicide which led to another police report. He couldn't find anything about a Matt though.

He hoped that the call he would make in a bit, he had waited for a more reasonable time of day, would shed the final light on this incident. It was tragic really tragic. So many hurt by it; he would try to put the pieces together. And maybe just maybe it would be helpful to Braddock.

Braddock was confused and hurt deeply by all this, he saw it in officer's eyes and heard it in the words he had voiced. Davis also remembered that Holleran had said 'Sam doesn't know anything about that, we never told him'. Depending on what he concluded maybe the guy needed to know.

So now to get this sorted in his head before making the call. What are the facts? Nineteen years ago there was a car accident that killed seven year old Sara Braddock. She was hit so hard she knocked out of her shoes. Sam Braddock, nine years old, was with her and saw her die as after she was wrenched from his grasp at the crosswalk.

The driver of the car was West Donner. Richard Donner was his son, thirteen at the time of the accident. West Donner was cited for DUI but it turned out he was not drunk as was thought at the scene.

Toxicology reports showed a high level of anti-depressants, still grounds for DUI. West Donner was a paramedic. His wife who was six months pregnant was killed in a car accident two weeks before when someone ran a red light. He was the first responder and she died in his arms as she bled out.

The day of Sara's accident Richard Donner was in the car with his father. West Donner had to pick his son up from school early because he badly hurt a kid after that boy had teased him about being a momma's boy. Wow that had to be harsh having just lost his mom only two weeks earlier' he thought. Back to facts, stow the emotion right now the Inspector chided himself.

Okay, so the investigating officer was, aw crap, Norman Holleran. That had to be hard with Braddock being his godson. He would have known Sara too. So hard to stay to facts as the dots connected.

So now about the pictures. One of the crime scene pictures got leaked to the public. Dammed newspaper printed it. Wish I could find the person that decided to run it. I would punch their lights out.

The picture shows a little boy kneeling next to his little dead sister; two golden blonde heads. The little girl's blood covering his arms and hands and he is clutching a pair of pink sandals to his chest. He must have hugged her just before the picture was taken to get that much blood on him Davis thought.

But the most disturbing thing was that the photographer caught the little boy in the moment of an agonizing scream. His head tilted slightly up looking at a man, the little boy's face contorted in pain. His big blue eyes filled with tears were so tormented and lost. Shit, it hurt just seeing those expressive eyes. So that explains why no photos were allowed last night Davis thought sadly.

The follow up article said that West Donner left a suicide note. He read the copy of it in the police report. It was very lengthy and extremely detailed. He included details of how he felt in the week after and things he said to the boy the day of the accident. Donner said that he could never live with himself for causing that kind of pain and torment to a little boy. He said the boy's eyes pieced him to the soul. He was consumed with guilt for ending a beautiful little girl's life. That she had deserved to live.

He said he kept telling the little boy he had wished it had been him, meaning Donner himself, who was hit. Said he told the boy he wasn't worthy that he was supposed to protect people, he was a paramedic and that was his job. He had failed to save the little girl and he was so sorry.

His note went on to say that he had begged the little boy not to cry, to stop crying. The crying was tearing him apart. He kept saying no please stop crying, no crying, I'm sorry, it's all my fault. But the boy was inconsolable. He was in a total state of shock and kept screaming for Sara.

No one could get him to respond to them so locked he was in his anguish. The little boy would not let anyone touch him or take the shoes. Donner said he was devastated at seeing what he had done to the boy.

Then the little kid's father arrived. The grief he saw was so intense; both for his little girl and his little boy. No one could get the boy to let go of his sister.

Donner said he felt so bad that the only way the boy would let go was when his dad had to yell at him and order him to let go. It was the only thing that worked. The dad had tried pleading, crying, soft spoken words, nothing except the yell got through the grief barrier. The pain he saw on the dad's face as he did that then tried to console his son ate away at his soul.

He could not live with all of that so he decided to end his life. He shot himself in the head late one night. The police report said his thirteen year old son had woken from a nightmare and went to his dad's room for comfort and walked into the room just as his dad shot himself.

Aww hell Davis thought, that would screw anyone up. He looked at the clock. Okay Dr. Carter should be in her office now. He looked up the number for Lilliana Carter, psychologist. When she answered he explained who he was and generally why he was calling, leaving out specific names other than Donner's. At first she was reluctant to discuss a patient but once Davis reminded her that Donner was dead she offered information.

Richard was a long term patient. She'd started seeing him when he was thirteen after his dad committed suicide. The boy was racked with guilt. His dad would not have been driving that day if he'd had not gotten into a fight at school over his mother.

The boy felt he had destroyed his family that day. Richard had eventually seen the photos that were published. After seeing all the blood on the little boy he developed a fixation on gory details. For the most part Donner was able to operate in the world. He mostly had suicidal thoughts of ending it like his dad.

But something changed about three months ago. He no longer was blaming himself. He never gave her a name but for some reason he thought someone else was responsible for his dad's death. Something about eyes, lost eyes had triggered it.

Donner was still suicidal but the fantasies changed. He said he'd do it in a way that made the other person live with the same pain he had lived with. When Davis described what happened, without giving Braddock's name, Dr. Carter said it made sense.

Apparently he had never planned to actually kill that other person. Only to kill them in the sense he had been killed years ago. To make them watch him kill himself like he had watch his dad kill himself. Davis thanked her and hung up.

Crap, will I cause more hurt to Braddock if I share this or would it help him to know? He had no clue. Perhaps a call to Holleran would be in order. It was his godson after all.

SRU HQ - Briefing Room

Holleran took a steadying breath and started "The new situation actually has relevance to something in Sam's past."
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