Bullshit, Guts & No Fucking Way
SRU HQ - Briefing Room
Holleran's phone vibrated just after he stated "The new situation actually has relevance to something in Sam's past." Looking down at the number he recognized the first three digits were ones reserved for police. He's held up his hand to the group indicating hold on as he answered the phone "Holleran here."
["Good morning Commander, this is Inspector Davis of SV&H. I was the one on the detail last night with Constable Braddock. Got a moment to talk?" Davis asked.]
"Kind of busy at the moment. Is it important?"
["Might be. Last night several things did not add up. Got my brain into overdrive. I've just spoken with a Dr. Carter and she shed some light on the situation" Davis shared.]
"Who is Dr. Carter and why would she have anything to do with last night's events?" Holleran asked. His comment about last night's events perked up the ears of everyone in the room, except the sleeping Sam.
["She was Donner's psychologist. I think you should hear what she shared with me. Might be important for Braddock too. Your comment about him not knowing intrigued me. Might be helpful for him to know but I don't want to cause more problems for that guy. I don't know him so was hoping to talk with you about it, get your opinion" Davis replied.]
Holleran was thinking hard. He had put together that Donner was the son of the driver. But was there something more going on? Could it possibly have any bearing on the current situation? Decision made he said "Davis, I'd like to hear what you have found out. But I want to do it in person. There are a few others that may need to know what you've found. We are at SRU HQ, if you could come to us that would be best."
["Will do. Heading out shortly. Be there in a while, I'm all the way across town" Davis concluded hanging up the phone as he gathered up all the info and put it into a file folder. Always the investigator his brain started to niggle on the comment 'others may need to know'. Oh well guess he would find out when he got there.]
He looked at the expectant faces and said "Inspector Davis who worked the incident with Sam last night has some information he needs to share. As you heard I've asked him to meet me here. I have no idea what he has found, it may or may not have bearing now." He received nods from around the table.
Greg looked at Holleran and stated firmly "Before he gets here and before we start the briefing. I have a question that needs answered. I had hoped to ask you in private, but all this is centering on Sam and his past. I feel that we need to know some facts that only you can provide."
"I'll answer what I can" Holleran responded warily.
Having already discerned the answer to his first question, why had the meeting been moved up Greg asked him his second question "Just how long have you known Sam? I've read his file and as blacked out and redacted as it is, it still contains nothing relating to him as a child. How did you know about Sara?"
"Since he was born" he replied getting shocked looks from everyone but they remained quiet hoping he would offer more. Silence drawing out he realized he had to say more, explain more. "He is my godson."
More nods implying him to continue. "I've known General William Braddock, his father, since we met as young teenagers on a base in Saskatchewan. Our dads were both stationed there. We just seemed to hit it off, we were as different as night and day but we formed a friendship. Even as we moved to different bases it just stuck."
More nodding, still silence. What else to say? Better lay out the essentials as it might be relevant to current problem. "Okay. I'll lay it out for you, I know you all care for Sam so I'll tell you what I can. Some of it will have to wait until General Braddock arrives tonight" Holleran continued.
That drew even more shocked and a few disgusted looks. Yeah he knew what Blaze, Winds and Patch thought of the General. The hatred clearly evidenced on the hard planes of their faces. The General never felt it necessary to explain himself or justify his actions to anyone. He didn't give a rat's ass what they thought about him personally. He was a hard, hard military man. His nickname 'Badass' was well earned.
"Not sure when Davis will arrive. Let me lay a quick Braddock foundation up to Sara's death at least" he said and looked around at them. Several nodded. A few relaxed back into their chairs preparing to listen wanting to know more about Sam.
While others, namely Blaze, sat tensely with a look that said 'I do not want to hear anything about the hardhearted SOB that treated his son so callously'. Yep, he thought Captain Blain was still fiercely protective of Sam. Choosing him for this detail was the right call. The General's concern that the friendly fire incident had changed their relationship was unwarranted. At least from Blain's perspective.
Holleran realized that Sam probably wasn't even aware that Blaze and Winds were here. From where Sam had been standing just outside the door, the three JTF2 guys would not have been visible to him. When he'd seen Patch in the ravine he blanked out. It would be interesting to see how Sam reacted when he found out all they had done for him. Hopefully mend some wounds for all four of them.
"Well, let's see where to start? Ok. So, I was the best man at William and Yvonne's marriage. Still not sure how he got her to marry him. She was all bright and full of laughter and he was a dour man, never really showed his emotions to anyone."
"Anyways Sam was born almost two years later. Then two years later little Sara came and Natalie four years after Sara. All three kids took after their mother's personality. Bright, outgoing, full of smiles and mischief. You know, just happy kids."
"Sam and Natalie had their dad's blues eyes but Sara had emerald green like her mother." There was a quick intake of breath from Wordy as he thought of Sara Clarry's eyes. Team One's eyes quickly glanced at him thinking the same thing but no one interrupted Holleran.
He was saying "Physically Sam takes after his father in many ways. Rugged looks, untold stamina and hard to kill."
Patch snorted at the hard to kill comment, didn't he know it. The kid should have been dead many times over but always managed to survive. The same comment filled Blaze and Winds with rage because that is exactly what they thought the SOB was trying to do, kill is only son. Holleran was unaware of their rage because he had looked over at Sam thinking too many close calls, damned hard to kill, thank god.
"Braddock was busy moving up in the ranks when the kids were very young and as such was gone a lot. He rarely saw them until he became a Lieutenant General when Sam was six. He was finally able to take his family to whatever base he was stationed at." Holleran stopped to consider what to say next and popped a timbit in his mouth and sipped his coffee.
Recalling the General's pride in his son Holleran shared "William got a kick out of being able to take Sam to the range and teach him how to shoot. Especially long range which was his specialty too. He preened the day his eight year old son bested some of his experienced marksmen. Kind of pissed some off. But he didn't care, becoming a General you will make enemies along the way."
Recalling Yvonne's displeasure over the same he continued "I digress, anyway. Yvonne argued with him that Sam was too young. He was only six years old when William started taking him to the range almost daily. They argued over it but Braddock would not back down. He was stupidly headstrong and told her 'it was never too young to learn that skill. That Braddock men were military men, always had been always would be, generation after generation. That it was necessary and his duty to prepare the boy'."
Sadness entered Holleran's voice as he shared "That was the reason that Sam was only ever allowed to call him Sir and had to stand at attention or parade rest when speaking with him. He ruthlessly drilled into Sam that he must always follow orders that not doing so was failure he would not accept nor tolerate."
Holleran stopped to take a drink of coffee. He wondered if he should really be sharing this kind of detail. He decided to continue "Unfortunately, he was a misguided man and would verbally dress-down Sam like he was a soldier when the boy got into mischief or did not follow an order. Sam learned early on to turn things on and off quickly depending on if the General was around."
"Sam was smiles and laughter when it was just his mom and sisters. He would flip a switch to soldier mode when the General was around. It's truly sad, William's actions originated from love for his son. He had simply wanted to prepare Sam for the harsh world of a soldier. But he couldn't see what he was doing was so very, very wrong until it was too late." He sighed and took another drink so he could compose himself.
"It was the day that Sara died that showed him how wrong he had been. It was the day he lost not only his little girl but also his son. It was that day he realized he had broken a father/son relationship. That what existed now was only a general/soldier one."
"He is a hard and proud man who rarely openly expresses emotions. But he does feel them deeply. I know he is still guilt-ridden for what he did to Sam and he has tried hard to mend it in his own way." He stopped and looked directly at Blain.
"BULLSHIT! That man is a sadistic bastard and if I wouldn't be court martialed I would have beat him to a bloody pulp for all the shit he put Sam through. No one that loved someone would do those things. You have no idea how hard Matt and I worked to keep that kids soul intact." Blaze roared and stormed from the room.
Remembering his duty. Blaze stopped at the door just long enough to say "Winds, watch Blondie. I need a break" then strode furiously outside.
They wouldn't continue without Blaze, so they took a much needed break. Greg, Spike and Wordy stood and paced slowly to stretch their legs as their minds churned. Holleran stood, walked to the windows and stared aimlessly at the scenery. Lou leaned back in his chair and forcefully made his body relax taking shallow slow breaths.
Patch went to check on Sam. He mumbled to himself and then pulled out his phone and dialed. "Dr. Fraser, its Jim. Sam has a fever. "
[Dr. Fraser asked "How high?"]
Patch replied "It's at 102 right now. I'm pretty sure he needs antibiotics and something to bring down the fever. Could you arrange to send them over and few more saline bags?"
["I'll order a broad spectrum antibiotic and fever reducer. Are the rest of his vitals good? Are you still at SRU HQ?" Fraser asked.]
"No change in his other vital, they are all good. Yes we are still at SRU HQ. Thanks" Patch finished then started to leave the room.
Jules had laid her head on her arms on the table and closed her eyes thinking sarcastically this just keeps getting better and better when she overheard Patch's conversation. She sat up just as Patch was about to exit the room "Where are you going?" she inquired.
"Want to get some damp paper towels from the bathroom to cool him" Patch replied.
"I can do better. We got lots of fresh towels and washcloths in the locker rooms. I'll go grab a few and some ice water. Also we have some instant cold packs in our first aid kit if you think that would help" Jules informed him as she headed to the locker room.
"Thanks, that would be great" Patch replied as he went back over to Sam. "Blondie, always giving me trouble. One problem after another. Always testing my skills. It is okay to stop it now" he jokingly said to Sam as he squeezed his left arm.
Winds rose and strode over to Ed, who was standing at the doorway looking in the direction Blaze had taken. He said "Give him five alone, then talk to him please. You two are much alike and he could use someone that understands how he thinks right now. Not much of a talker but he might just with you. I've got Blondie covered so take what time he needs. If that Davis guy shows up we will make him wait til you two are back."
Ed nodded affirmative and slowly started from the room.
SRU HQ - Parking Garage
Ed found Blaze at the far end of the parking garage. He was pacing back and forth, hands clenched and arms at the ready. Stopping in front of the concrete wall on every turn looking like he wanted to punch it.
Ed understood that emotion. The unbridled rage that came when you were powerless to protect the people you care about. He waited for the onslaught of emotion to subside. He would only end up getting decked if he tried to intervene right now.
Slowly it dissipated and Blaze stopped. He leaned his back on the wall and slumped to the ground with his knees bent and his forehead in his right palm. Ed checked his watch, yep five minutes, Winds knew Blaze well.
Ed approached slowly and slid down next to the man. He sat silent, not pushing just wanting to let him know he wasn't alone. After a long time, Blaze blew out a ragged breath and turned his head towards Ed.
Blaze looked long and hard trying to read Ed's face then said "I have so much hatred for that man. For six years we protected Blondie as best we could. But there were things that were just beyond our control. He put Blondie through hell over and over. I cannot accept that the man loves him no matter what Holleran says."
He continued "Blondie doesn't know I know, But I know exactly how many kills he had to make in those six years. It would make a stone man weep. When he was with us we tried to limit the hits to his soul."
"However when he was forced to join other units it was very hard on him. You see he had to prove himself over and over, putting himself at risk. We never knew if they had his back. The worst time was when he was out for seven days and had to take out thirty-two targets."
Blazed banged his head lightly on the wall behind him frustration building again "That time the unit he was with 'forgot' he was with them. Bastards! Blondie had to hike back alone over twenty kilometers."
"The bastards didn't even get a reprimand from the Major. Something like that had to be reported up to the General. I still cannot believe they got off scott-free putting Blondie at such risk. The General did nothing. His son could have died alone as he trekked in by himself and the General did nothing."
"When we finally found him in the mess tent he was so close to the edge. Blondie eventually told us that he didn't tip off the edge because some guy had offered to help him and talked to him about SRU before we found him. He was shocked by the offer of help because no one but us gave a damn whether he lived or died. He also said he thought SRU sounded like a good place to be."
"So that's what they mean, confused Dale a lot. Gonna have to reintroduce those two" Ed said quietly seeing the connection.
"What? Dale? Reintroduce who?" Blaze questioned.
"Yea, Dale on Team Five. At the command post yesterday we heard him recount his only encounter with Sam. It stuck with him, said it was so intense he would never forget. He still wondered what the numbers meant when the guy yelled to others 'found Blondie, seven and thirty-two'. Thought it was some unit code. You also went into action fast when you heard 'found Blondie' yesterday" Ed said shaking his head thinking what a small world, damned small world.
"It was our code. Shorthand for how bad physically and mentally things were for Blondie" Blaze stated flatly.
"So I gather the first was how many days in the field and the second how many kills" Ed replied solemnly only getting a nod of agreement from Blaze.
Sorrow was etched on Blaze's face as he confessed "In the end, even we, his brothers, utterly failed him. Blondie left us because we failed him when he needed us the most. I was the one that relayed the all clear order that resulted in Blondie shooting Matt."
Tears threatened as anger mixed with pain and Blaze said through a clenched jaw "I couldn't look him in the eyes and see the agony I caused him. None of us could. His eyes can be so expressive. We didn't know what to say to help him, to take away the pain, so we were silent. When he disappeared three days later without telling us goodbye we realized he thought we blamed him and were rejecting him. It hurts so much to know I failed him like that. I'm no better than the damned General."
"You are only human, we make mistakes. He means a lot to you three, I can tell, you did well protecting him. Sam means a lot to us too. But we failed him too" Ed said with regret. Blaze looked at him questioningly.
Ed continued "I won't lie. We got off to a rocky start with him; almost lost him too. We let how he joined the team color our judgement. He was just put on the team, normally teams select their members. The Proper Care and Feeding of Samtastic manual is a result of a meeting the six of us had when we recognized our error."
"It has taken us several months to build that trust and prove to him we are worthy of him. Yesterday should have been a great day. Greg, Wordy and I recognized that Sam truly smiled for the first time that morning in workout. He looked rested too."
"Yesterday was bad for him, very bad, but I promise you we were and we are here for him. He is safe with us, he is family and he belongs. We won't let the General hurt him more. We won't let him fall" Ed finished letting that sink in.
Blaze nodded. He could see that and he could accept that. Blondie was safe with them and they would have his back. A small smile crossed his face as he remembered what Blondie said just before he started his 'nap' as Ed called it. Blondie knew it too.
He was brought back when Ed stood up and offered a hand to Blaze and said "My gut is screaming at me that there is something more going on than a crappy father. Ready to go back and see if we can figure it out before it harms Sam?"
Blaze nodded grabbed his hand and rose "My gut is telling me something is wrong, has been since last night. After hearing about what happened last night I thought it was that. But it has not shut up at all."
They headed back inside both glad they had talked.
SRU HQ - Inside
Davis had arrived just before Ed and Blaze returned. They were just about to begin when Winnie appeared at the door "There is a woman here with things for Sam. Says she is a nurse."
Patch popped up and went to the desk. He recognized her from the night before and said "Heather?"
Heather turned and smiled and said "Hi, Patch isn't it?" He nodded. "I was at the pharmacy getting something for a friend when I overheard the tech trying to figure out how she could get these delivered to SRU HQ sooner than two hours because Dr. Fraser had put a rush on it. Their second delivery guy is out sick and they are real backed up. I asked her who they were for and she said Sam Braddock. So I offered to bring them over. Why isn't he in the hospital, he's really not well enough to be out?"
Patch smiled as he replied "He hates them. I'll take good care of him. No need to worry."
"Okay, but here's my number; I'm off the next three days. If you need help with Samtastic for any reason, please don't hesitate to call me" Heather smiled and handed over the supplies then turned and left. Patch grinned and thought, wow she's cute, might have to keep that number for later use.
Patch entered the briefing room and went directly to Sam to start the antibiotics and give him the fever reducer. Davis was watching the interplay between everyone. He thought fascinating dynamic, something about this guy draws people to him. This should be interesting. When Patch finished and sat down, Holleran began. He introduced everyone in the room to Inspector Davis then handed the meeting over to him.
Davis began "Okay, I'll go at this in three parts, the accident, the suicide and the psychologist." They listened as Davis laid out all the facts about the accident. It was hard to hear. When he was done with the facts he pulled out the picture and asked Holleran if it should be shared with the group.
Holleran nodded but declined to look. He'd seen it before and couldn't take looking again. Davis handed it to Greg, his sharp gasp and distressed expression told the team it was going to be hard to view.
The picture silently passed from Greg to Ed to Wordy to Lou to Spike. Each man's face affected by what he had seen. Jules was the last of Team One to see it and was intently staring at it absorbing the raw pain she saw in Sam's eyes.
She was about to hand it off to Blaze when she looked at the man in the picture. The man was clearly devastated by the look on Sam's face. The man's face was a mirror of Sam's pain. Briefly she thought could it be Donner? But the man looked vaguely familiar like she should know him.
As she finally handed the picture to Blaze she asked "Who is Sam looking at? The man looks just as devastated if not more." The guys shook their heads. They hadn't even really noticed the guy because they were so focused on Sam when they viewed the photo.
"The General" a dazed Blaze exhaled breathlessly not able to believe what he was seeing.
Winds snatched the picture from Blaze. Patch quickly stood and peered over his shoulder to see. He did not want to wait until it was passed to him. Seeing the total and utter desolation on the General's face overwhelmed Patch.
He shouted "No fucking way!" as his legs lost the ability to hold him upright and sat with a thump on the floor.Blaze's and Ed's eyes met from across the table as they silently communicated 'our guts are right'.