Hot, Hallucinating, Healing & Howling

SRU HQ - Briefing Room

It was hot, really hot. Sam vaguely thought he must be in the desert. He could hear people talking but was still in a fog not quite making out what was being said. He woke as normal, so stealthfully, that no one noticed and did his normal checks. Physical, yep all the same injuries. The pain level was bearable just required slow breathing. What was new was he felt hot, so hot. Must be fever, crap. He definitely had an IV in and that confused him he had left the hospital. Hadn't he?

Yes he had. He gave that poor patrol officer a hard time about needing to leave. He laughed in his head at the shocked face of the patrolman when Sam had simply complied after he insisted that if Sam was well enough to leave the hospital he was ordered to SRU HQ for debrief.

He could tell the man thought he was nuts. Sam just had to get out of that hospital even if it meant going directly to SRU HQ. He was happy to find he was wearing sweats and a t-shirt. It would have been a bit embarrassing to show up here in just boxers. Hell the same thought two days in a row.

Ok so surroundings? He made it into SRU, check. Somewhat comfortable bed? That was odd because he could swear he was in the briefing room. That room had a distinctive feel and light pattern he knew well. He was definitely in the briefing room. But on a bed? Several people were in the room. Ok must be the team. They were all in there when he arrived. Feels like more than just the team though.

Next, mental state? He thought hard. He remembered watching Jules yell at Holleran, registered the looks from all his teammates that said they wholeheartedly agreed with what she was ranting about. Damn she was sexy when she was angry. He had to admit a little scary to but definitely sexy.

So mental state? Okay, really okay. Still had some things to sort out but it felt good to belong again. To have family again. He had missed that feeling. He remembered how he felt yesterday morning here with his family. Yeah, he was good. He could do anything, handle anything with his brothers and sister around. Whoa, no can't think of Jules as a sister that would be creepy. It has to be something different, better, more … that way he could still think she was sexy.

The voices started to become distinct. One he recognized was talking, it was Jules. Try to focus on what she is saying he told himself. Would be easier if it wasn't so damned hot in here. "… if not more" she finished.

Did someone just say "The General?" Crap they didn't call him did they? They wouldn't do that to him would they? The General was hard enough to deal with when he was at one hundred percent, but like this? Wait, they could have called but he is in Kandahar now, won't come, won't have to deal with him. Whew!

Ok someone is pissed or surprised, clearly heard "no fucking way." The voice sounded so familiar. No it couldn't be. Could it? Sam thought he saw him in the ravine. Chalked it up to hallucination due to pain. But no, that is clearly Patch's voice. He'd know it anywhere. What is he doing here?

He wanted to open his eyes to validate but he was so hot, so drained, that they just would not obey him. So Sam laid there and decided he had to rely on his ears. He was intrigued when a new voice, one he did not know, started to speak.

Davis cleared his throat "I'm sorry that is a hard picture to look at. I've viewed many crime scene photos but this one is by far one of the more painful one I've seen. So do you all need a moment or are we ready to move on to the suicide?" Sam was confused, what suicide? Oh crap, must be talking about Richard Donner. He steeled himself to listen, glad that no one knew he was awake. He would have a chance to process whatever they said without pitying eyes.

"So, he left an extremely detailed note" continued Davis.

"Inspector Davis, hold on a minute. You are saying there was a suicide note? I never knew that" Holleran interjected. Sam thought how could you know it just happened last night?

"But you were listed as the investigating officer. How could you not know?" Davis asked.

"Officially I was listed, but recused myself immediately after the accident. I could not be objective. Handed it over to a junior officer, guess they didn't change the name on the file. I was too wrapped up in grief to follow the details" Holleran answered.

"So there is a note, what does it say?" Holleran asked in a manner that indicated he didn't really want to know. Sam was more than confused. This could not be about last night. Ii just didn't fit. So what was it about?

Davis blew out a breath as said "As I said it was very detailed. The man was devastated by what he had done to the boy and girl. Spoke of how the girl was so young and bright and deserved to live and the guilt he had for killing her. Went into great length about what he said to the boy at the scene."

"What did he say? God, I didn't know he talked to him. I arrived with William after they had the man in custody and in the back of a patrol car. What did he say to him" Holleran queried his interest peaked but wary. Sam could discern the guarded interest in Holleran's voice. What was that about?

God it was hot, so hot now. Sam's mind was muddled. If he was so hot why was his starting to shiver. What the hell? Oh yeah, fevers do that, his body's natural defense was kicking in. He felt the miserable mix of hot and cold.

Sam sensed movement next to him. Heard a swishing sound followed by water dripping. Ahh that felt good. Someone placed a cooling cloth to his forehead. A barely perceptible sigh escaped as the person took another and wiped it across his face and neck.

"Blondie? Blondie you awake?" a voice said close to his ear. "Come on buddy, I know the difference when you are actually out or just in stealth mode. Open your eyes now. There are some guys that really want to see you again. Open" Patch encouraged lightly.

The others in the room had looked to Sam when Patch had started to speak. So when Sam finally got his eyes to obey there were eleven sets of eyes staring at him. He quickly registered his team, Holleran, an unknown. He blinked several times because he could not believe that Blaze, Winds and Patch were all there. Crap, the fever must be bad enough that he was hallucinating.

"Hey kid, scared us real bad" his hallucination of Blaze said. It rose and walked towards him to. It gathered him in a gentle hug and said "I'm so sorry we lost you. Won't happen again. You've always been like a son to me. I won't hurt you again. I'm sorry you thought we blamed you. It was not your fault." The heat of his face was cooled as he felt tears drop on it from Blaze's eyes. Blaze held him, really held him. This was not a hallucination.

Tears welled in Sam's eyes as Winds moved forward and took his hand. "I'm holding tight Blondie, not letting go. I'm sorry I hurt you so badly. I just couldn't find the words to ease your pain. I couldn't bear to witness the pain in my brother's eyes" Winds choked out as he stared intently at Sam. No he had to be hallucinating, right?

"Hot but cold. Hallucinating?" was rasped out in a dry voice.

Reaching for a water bottle and opening it Patch responded "Hot plus cold, yes, fever. Hallucinating, no we are really here. Drink" and put the bottle up to Sam's lips.

The cool liquid felt good as it touched his lips and slid down the back of his throat. It was as if the water and the words quenched a long aching thirst. He sighed as he focused on each man a few seconds. Each one held his eyes, did not look away, they smiled at him.

Did they really not blame him? Part of him could not fathom that because he still blamed himself, still carried the guilt, and probably always would. But Matt had been there for him last night. He wasn't sure how but it had felt so real it had to be him in some form. If Matt could forgive him and be there for him, maybe just maybe they could too.

Blaze asked "You doing okay Blondie?"

Sam smiled weakly, still so very tired "Missed you. Mmm okay. Hungry" and as if on cue his stomach roared. Tension broke and light laughter arose.

Davis had watched Sam's eyes during the entire exchange thinking, this guy is multifaceted and very intriguing. The range of emotion that was communicated in his eyes was astonishing. They had rapidly gone from confusion to profound grief to hope to guilt to forgiveness to questioning and finally landing on acceptance with a sense of peace.

When Donner's note said the boy's eyes had pierced his soul he had wondered what the guy really meant. He now understood. Then he said he was hungry and his stomach communicated too. He sat back with a slight smile on his face.

"Let's take a break, near lunch time now. Well get some sandwiches and such brought in" Greg said smiling glad to see Sam awake. All agreed. Ed went to talk to Winnie to see if she could order in food for them. She was happy to hear Sam was awake and readily agreed to get something delivered.

Spike skipped from the room pulling his wallet out on the way. He stopped at the vending machine and selected Sam's favorite snack. He went to the break room fridge to grab the iced capp they had gotten earlier.

Then bounded back to the briefing room and with a huge smile Spike enthusiastically said "Here Samtastic, got you something to hold ya over until the real food arrives."

Patch adjusted the gurney so Sam was in a reclining position.

"Thanks buddy. Ya know what I need" Sam said softly and reached for the iced capp looking forward to the taste. He needed the caffeine boost. He took a long drink but grimaced and looked at the offending drink and said "Whoa, not right, not right."

Patch snickered "Sorry buddy, its decaf. Know you hate it but you can't have the caffeine yet. So put up and shut up or I'll make sure you only get green jello and broth for lunch" as he threatened to take away the snack.

Sam pinned him with a 'damn you' stare but only said "Mmm tastes good" with only a slight shudder as he took another drink and opened the snack bag. Spike and Patch giggled, which earned them both a 'damn you' stare.

Greg walked up to Sam and asked the room of people if they would please leave for a bit that he needed to speak with Sam alone. They all complied but Blaze and Winds took up guard positions just outside the room. When they were gone Greg pulled up a chair close to Sam and sat. As his Sergeant it fell to him to bring Sam up to date. He rubbed his hand over his head and across his eyes as he often did when gathering thoughts then took a moment to really assess Sam's current state.

Sam wasn't sure why Greg cleared the room and watched closely as he sat down. There was concern in his eyes. He could see he was trying to judge Sam's state so he offered "I'm okay, beat up and colorful, a little feverish, but really I'm good. Yesterday was a bitch of a day. Won't lie. Many highs and lows. Felt like I was swinging on a damned pendulum. I still need to process a few things. But I've had worse days. I'm good. Whatever it is you have to say just spit it out. I can take it." Then he took another sip of his 'wonderful decaf' iced capp, tried not to grimace at the taste and waited.

"Oh no doubt you could take it. Evidenced by the fact you are sitting here. Whether I want to cause you more hurt is quite another thing" Greg returned.

Sam just calmly looked at him and waited.

"First, how long were you awake? What did you hear?" Greg asked.

"Jules was speaking but only caught the last word or two. Thought I heard someone say the General then I definitely heard someone say no fucking way. Heard the rest after that too. Whose suicide were you discussing? Pieces don't fit for it to be Donner's. And why are Blaze, Winds and Patch here? Why would they be included?" he answered and asked.

Greg liked that about Sam, quick to assess. "Actually it was Donner's suicide just a different Donner" Greg said getting a quizzical look from Sam. "But this is related to what happened last night. I'm sorry that happened to you. If we'd known anything about it we would have been there for you. The man wouldn't have gotten within a one hundred yards of you" his look communicating the truth of his statement.

He then proceeded to fill Sam in on everything that had transpired from the point that the team heard the second shot. Quite sometime later, Greg concluded "So that's why your buddies are here and we are currently meeting with Inspector Davis."

Sam was stunned. More to process but some of it very nice. His JTF2 buddies and Team One family had gone above and beyond for him. They were there for him, damn that felt good.

"So is this something you want to hear or would you rather sit out and we can let you know if it has anything to do with the 'new situation' that has put Blaze on protection detail?" asked Greg.

Sam thought hard about it. Sara's death was hard. He never knew the driver killed himself. That the SIU agent was his son. Richard must have hated him very much but why him? He was just a kid at the time.

What he had done in the interviews made some weird twisted sense now. Donner had wanted to inflict pain and mental anguish. Sam understood the possible motivation but that didn't make it easier to accept what the bastard had done to him. He would have to work on forgiving or at least tucking it away.

Perhaps understanding the father's mind through his suicide note would help him do that. So Sam said "I think I need to hear it. Won't be easy but it's probably important" as he nodded slightly then hung his head down.

Greg placed his hand under Sam's chin, gripped gently and tilted his head up so they were looking eye to eye and firmly stated "Okay, but you need to promise me. If it gets to be too much to let me know and we will stop. We are here for you. You do not have to do this alone."

"Promise" he said with conviction.

Greg stood and went to the door. The food had arrived, everyone including Sam gathered around the table to eat. The move from gurney to chair had nearly sapped him of what little strength he had left. The guys had decided while Greg was talking to Sam that they would keep the lunch conversation light and fun. Sam was hungry but found it was difficult to eat much so he just picked at his food. Jules noticed this and inconspicuously put aside a selection of food for him to snack on later if he was hungry.

Blaze glanced at his watch and saw it was 1400. He wondered where the hell had the time gone. Out loud he remarked "1400, only four hours until the General arrives. We better get this over with so Holleran can brief us on what he knows before the General gets here."

Sam's head snapped up. "The General is coming? Here? Now? Why?" Sam croaked a look of bewilderment plastered on his face.

"Parker, I thought you told him everything?" Blaze queried.

"My apologies, one thing I forgot. Sam your father is enroute. He will be here at six pm. Apparently he has additional information on this new situation that must be communicated in person" Greg responded.

"Roger that" Sam retorted. They all heard the more army like acknowledgement, saw him sit more erect and saw the look that came over his face. Something like a mix of pain, dejection, fear and strangely enough wonderment. Like he couldn't believe his father would bother to come.

Davis inquired "We ready to start?" looking directly at Sam waiting for his response alone. When he got a slight nod he began "So as I was saying the note was very detailed. I can either summarize it or you may read it." Again he looked to Sam for the answer.

"I'll read it" Sam said thinking it would be easier to take then hearing it out loud.

Davis handed him the note. The group was waiting for a reaction, expected to see sadness and pain. What they had not expected was what they got.

With an utter traumatized and confused look Sam mumbled "No, no that can't be right. No, he said that, no god no. He said that, no, wrong."

He finished reading and look up at Holleran a lost little boy look on his face and held the note out to him. "This can't be right, it's wrong, he said these …" his voice quivered.

Holleran took the note.

Sam laid his head on the table his arms encircling the back of his head as if protecting himself. His whole body began to shake uncontrollably as a surreal howling scream broke free and would not stop.

Frozen in place by Sam's reaction all eyes turned to Holleran as he read the note a look of horror on his face. He immediately took out his phone and dialed a special number and shouted into it "I know now. I know how. I know why. There's hope. I don't care how you do it but get here NOW" and slammed the phone closed.

Holleran looked at everyone in the room and yelled "Out now, seal the doors!" as he moved towards Sam.

The only one that left was Davis, actually he was forced out. The others refused to leave. The doors were sealed as the howling cry continued unabated.

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