They Saw It Differently & Respite for All
SRU HQ - Briefing Room
Blaze, Winds and Patch silently watched the display of fatherly concern playing out before them and could not reconcile it with their years of history of what the man had put Blondie through. Holleran's words had painted a very different picture of the man. But as far as they knew the man constantly put Blondie in harm's way. So much so that the kid was so very close to losing his soul. This just did not add up. What the hell was going on?
As Blaze was mulling over this vast disconnect a few words the General was whispering wafted towards the group. Words intended for Blondie only but it was so deathly quiet in the room it was impossible not to hear some. He was saying "… so sorry … I'm here, rest … god what happened … look terrible … like the first time in Kandahar …". The last struck him hard 'the first time in Kandahar', god Blaze remembered that, it was terrible.
The memory flashed into his mind. Blondie and Matt had joined them about four months prior. Their mission required Blondie to take up a sniper position and Matt was his spotter to cover the unit. The rest of them were to recon the two-story building a kilometer away from Blondie and Matt's position.
Everything was going as planned Blaze, Winds and Patch were on the first floor and Gary and Mason were on the second. Then their coms went down. Matt and Blondie could see them but not communicate. Blondie had spotted several strange shapes attached to the outside of the building. Matt checked them out and realized that the building was wired to explode. The two surmised that the unit had been lured into a trap with false intel.
They had to let the unit know so they decided that since Blondie was the faster runner he would go and Matt would take over as sniper. Blondie hauled ass to warn them to get out of the building. As Blondie was running towards the building several shots were fired, alerting us something was up.
Matt took out the three targets and no more shots were fired. As he got closer we heard Blondie yelling at the top of his lungs 'get out, bomb, get out now'. The three of us on the lower floor headed out at the sound of the warning. Gary and Mason had not heard. Blondie did not stop as he sped passed and up the flight of stairs still yelling the warning.
He found Gary and Mason and the three were almost clear when it blew. Mason was thrown clear and was shaken badly but otherwise unharmed. Gary was killed as a concrete wall collapsed on him. Man that was hard losing Gary, he had been with them for a few years. He still missed that guy.
Blondie was on the ground unconscious, blood running across his face. He's been blown forward but hit with debris. A sizable chunk of wall had struck his back and was on top of him. A smaller piece had rammed into the side of his head just above the ear causing a deep gash. Geezz head wounds bleed a lot he thought as he shivered a bit at the memory.
He thought Blondie was dead. Patch raced over to check him out and found him to be alive. He was shocked to find that Blondie had also been hit by two bullets. One was in his thigh and one had grazed his side leaving a gash. Matt was totally distraught about allowing shots to be fired and didn't realize Blondie had been hit because he never missed a stride in his mad dash to the building.
That was the first time they rushed him to the base hospital. He had lost a lot of blood by the time they had arrived, he was beyond pale. While they were waiting for word from the doctors the guys had decided that it was serious enough to alert the General, Blondie was his son after all.
Blaze remembered the conversation and boiled even now. "Hello General, Lt. Blain, Cpl. Braddock's CO. I need to inform you that your son has been wounded. We are at the base hospital. He's in surgery now Sir."
The response is not what he had imagined ever getting from a father "Is he alive?"
He had answered "Yes but his condition is unknown we are awaiting word."
Then the General responded "Let me know if he doesn't make it, I don't have time to run to the bedside of every wounded soldier."
The bastard showed no concern. He didn't even ask what the injuries were. He just wanted to know if he died. Cold, so very cold. It was that day the unit decided they needed to protect Blondie. With a father like that who needed enemies.
Blondie was like everyone's little brother. Hell Blaze was almost old enough to actually be his dad, so protective feelings grew. Blondie had been hurt saving their butts that day. He risked himself running up after Gary and Mason.
So, one of the guys from the unit stayed with him the entire time he was in the hospital, never left him alone. He wasn't there long though; only four days. That kid really hated hospitals. It was irrational and he insisted he'd recover faster in his own cot.
Luckily the bullet didn't shatter or break the bone and did not do major damage. The blow to the head had caused a mild concussion and the one to the back caused bruised ribs. The graze on his side was relatively minor.
The General never once stopped by to check on Blondie. Even though he was in country and only a short drive from his current location. Damn, this just doesn't add up Blaze thought as he shook his head but kept quiet.
As he held his son the General was thinking about the first time he'd seen Samuel wounded badly in Kandahar. God it had hurt to be so cold to Lt. Blain when he called but he could not allow any action he took to be seen as giving preferential treatment to his son.
Unfortunately, Sam had paid the price too often for being the son of the General. Every night he had gone to see Sam. The first night the entire unit was with him so he stayed hidden as he checked on Sam. The second night the very large unit member was sleeping so he had quietly slipped into the room.
He was shocked at how bad he looked. He had stroked his hair a few times and whispered gentle words to him. Wishing he could hold him but fearing what repercussions it could have for Sam if he was seen. The next night he was glad to see Matt was by his side. He liked that guy, he was good for Sam, helped him smile and laugh.
As he continued to stroke Sam's head he let himself review his memories of Sam and Matt. They had met in basic training. The Commander was an old friend and had kept him apprised of Sam's progress. He told him he knew what it was like wondering, because his son had join the army a few years ago and he was always worried.
His friend was amazed at Sam's abilities but concerned that he was a loner. He informed him that Sam never engaged with the other recruits. The General knew what it was about, what it was always about. When a son of a high ranking officer joined, others either wanted favors or made it as hard as possible on the sons because they thought they got special treatment.
With the Braddock name Sam was a prime target for the recruits. They all thought he'd get special treatment and passes on things because his dad was General of Special Forces. The problems only got worse as Sam excelled, his cocky attitude didn't help him much. They were jealous of his abilities; all except one.
Apparently Matt had recognized that Sam's cocky attitude was a shield he hid behind. What he needed was a friend. Matt decided to be that friend and they got on well. Over the next few years, the only intervention the General did was to make friendly recommendations that those two were stationed at the same location. Sam and Matt never knew, only thought they were very lucky.
A few years later, Matt had applied for JTF2. Matt was older than Sam by several years and met the age requirement and it was what he really wanted to do. Sam was happy for Matt but he didn't want to be alone; he wanted to apply to but was too young.
That was the only time Sam had ever approached him for any favors. The conversation was stilted and awkward but eventually he had placed his request. So the General intervened. He told Sam that he would get him a chance to try out but it was up to him to exceed the standards otherwise it would look bad for both of them and undermine his authority.
He knew Sam's abilities and his age should definitely not be a factor in his case. He was more mature and stable than some double his age. In the end he made it, he never doubted he would.
The last time he ever intervened in Sam's assignments or military career was when he made sure that Matt and Sam were assigned to the same unit fresh out of special ops training. What he made of himself from that point would be all his own. Sam needed that, to be out of the General's shadow so to speak. He was so sadden when Matt died. Matt was a good man, died way too young.
The General was pulled from his memories as Holleran spoke to him "William, General, Sir, we need to talk."
He took a deep breath, looked at Sam's bruised and abused face once more then gently laid him back on the gurney, not really ready to let go of him. He stood and turned to face the others. Assuming his calm, steady authority voice he said "I want to thank you all very much for all you have done for Sam. He has been through a lot."
The General took a moment to assess the nine men and one woman in front of him. They looked like hell, every last one of them. Whatever Sam had been through they had been through with him. There were dark circles under most of their eyes and a drawn tight look to their faces. These people had gone above and beyond for his son and they were thoroughly spent. He made a decision.
"You all have been through a certain hell the last two days. Although I had planned on briefing everyone on the situation tonight, it can wait. You all need rest. I will move Sam to a secure location so he can get the rest he needs. Captain Blain, I will make other arrangements for his security for the next day or two. In three days' time we can reconvene and I will brief you then." He was about to continue when Blaze interrupted.
"Sir, with all due respect that will not work. I do not plan to leave Blondie's side until I know he is free of whatever this threat is. If you think that is insubordination Sir then you can have my walking papers now. I will not be swayed from this decision" Blaze stated firmly then set his jaw in an unforgiving line and stared at the General.
"I second that Sir" Winds added forcefully.
Followed by a chorus of strongly voiced 'Copy that' from the SRU officers. The General was taken aback.
"He is our responsibility, our family. We take care of our own. He will keep him safe, we promised. He belongs here, we will protect him" Jules interjected passionately with eyes that glowered.
"I see" the General said slowly trying to decide how to proceed and deciding to relent in the face of a far stronger force. He was a General after all and he knew when he was outflanked.
"So if that is how you all feel we need to make a plan, Sam needs proper rest and care now. Something more than a gurney in this room" he said looking to each of them.
He was happy for Sam, he had such good friends. But he was jarred by another thought; god please let Sam be okay. He really did need help right now. He had felt the fever, he had heard the screaming, he knew about the physical and mental trauma he'd gone through in the past two days. A person could take only so much.
The group was starting to disperse around the room again after having been clumped together in a corner observing the General. Winds spoke "Sir you are correct that the lot of us are exhausted, but we could rotate shifts watching over Blondie. As for where I'm not certain, you're right this room is not ideal."
"What about taking him to his place. He'd be comfortable there" Lou suggested.
"Not secure, if there is a threat against him that would be one of the first places they would check" Ed offered.
"Not a hospital either. Two reasons, hard to secure and he would just leave at the first opportunity. Can't keep him in them. Never understood the irrational fear" Patch stated.
The General nodded and thought to himself, I know why he hates them. Those damned orderlies terrorized the poor boy. Wish I could have done more than just dress them down. Then winced at that realizing what that had caused.
"I have an idea. I will get a suite and several adjacent rooms at the Royal York. Captain, would you be able to adequately secure the area?" he asked.
"Yes Sir. I would with the appropriate man power. I have a request that will solve two issues. I request that I be allowed to bring in the other four members of my unit. I trust them implicitly even though we have only been together for a little over a month. It would give us the man power we need and it would allow us to get some much needed rest" Blaze said as he rubbed his weary eyes knowing that they all needed rest. It was hard to be on top of your game when dog-tired.
"Okay that resolves the security, but what of his physical needs. Patch can't stay up 24/7, he's about to drop as it is. I know he's a miracle worker but …" Winds trailed off looking over at his drained buddy with a worried smile.
Patch gave him a look that said both 'thanks' and 'what the hell, I'd do anything for Blondie'. But he knew Winds was right he was dead tired. Then an idea came to him.
"When Heather brought the supplies earlier she told me she had the next three days off and said if we needed anything to call her. Maybe she'd be willing to help watch him while I got a bit of shut eye. She seemed nice and concerned about all of us the other day. God was that just last night, wow. I noticed that she had changed his name on the chart board too when I was talking to Dr. Fraser" Patch said as a small grin teased the corners of his mouth.
"She did what?" asked Spike.
"She changed his name on the nurses chart board" Patch repeated with a full grin.
"To what?" Spike asked itching to know seeing the grin on Patch's face giving him a clue but wanting to hear it anyway.
"Samtastic" he replied. Loud boisterous laughter erupted from all except the General who was looking a bit concerned. Were they so tired their minds had cracked. But Samtastic, yeah that fit and allowed a hint of a smile to cross his face.
"Oh my god, she didn't. Told you Samtastic was way better than Blondie" Spike said gleefully.
As the laughter died down a bit Patch said "So should I see if she would be willing to help?" Heads nodded yes. He made the call and Heather said she was honored that he had called and she would be delighted to help.
Patch then gave her a list of supplies he needed. He needed to redress the wounds, more pain meds, more saline and more fever reducer along with a few other items. He told her to meet them at the Royal York hotel, to ask the front desk to call up to General Braddock's room and that an escort would arrive to bring her up. Just before he hung up he asked her to arrange for more sedative too. It would probably be a good idea to keep Blondie under for a few days so his physical body had a chance to recover before he had to deal with the rest.
The plan was taking shape. The General contacted the Royal York and arranged for the rooms. In fact he cleared an entire wing of one floor, it would make security easier. The General also thought it would be nice to provide a room to each of them to get some much needed rest without having to be far from Sam. It was the least he could do, some small repayment for taking care of Sam.
Spike had talked with Winds and Holleran to get the necessary equipment to setup security cameras. Greg had gotten Sam's keys from his locker. He and Jules were now on their way to his apartment to get clothing and personal care items Sam may need and then to their respective places to gather the same.
Blaze contacted Colonel Sutton, who had assigned him and Winds the detail and requested the rest of his unit be assigned. He was hesitant to do it so the General took the phone for a moment and resolved the issue with the Colonel. Hal and the others would be sent straight away but it would be a few hours until they arrived. Blaze contacted Hal directly and arrange for him to bring a kit and change for him and Winds.
Security, medical, personal items and lodging arrangements made Wordy looked at Sam and said "So how do we get him there? I doubt we want to attract attention wheeling him through the lobby on a gurney. Not after all the pictures of him on the news lately. And striding in with the General would also get noticed." Everyone stopped to think, no one was coming up with any good ideas.
They were all stuck on solutions going through the lobby when Lou offered "We could take him through the back service entrance. We could cover his head with a hat pulled low so no one can glimpse his face. Two of us can sling his arms over our shoulders and carry him in."
"I like most of it but given his injuries I wouldn't want to put that kind of pressure on his arm, shoulder or ribs. We need a wheel chair at bare minimum but I would still prefer this" Patch said pointing to the gurney.
They pondered suggestions for a while more, They were coming up blank so it was decided to leave it up Patch, Blaze, Ed and Wordy to figure a plan to get Sam safely there without attracting undue attention. That way Winds, Spike, Lou and the General could leave for the hotel and get the security set up before Sam arrived.
Although he did not want to leave Sam at this time, Holleran still had a job to do running SRU. He had to make arrangements to give Team One extra time allotted to this protection detail. While Team Four was still out on annual leave and dealing with the loss of Aaron.
He was down two teams, not good. The other teams would have to pull extra duty and he wasn't sure how that was going to sit with those teams. He also had to reschedule the SIU interview for Jules and Sam. Jules would need to do it tomorrow but Sam's would have to wait until he was able.
As he walked out of the briefing room he noticed that Inspector Davis was still there and looking upset. He walked towards him and said "He will be okay. We all will see to that. I'd like to thank you for your investigative skills and for bringing that suicide note to my attention. It may have not sounded like it earlier but I think it was a good thing and may help to heal a very old wound for two people. I'd like to know what the psychologist had to say. Will you join me in my office?"
Davis nodded and followed him into his office. When the door was shut he shared what he had learned from Dr. Carter. Holleran shook his head and simply said "Tragic, all around tragic. Thank you again" then stood and shook Davis's hand before the inspector left.
Royal York Hotel – One hour later
In the end, Ed came up with the idea of how to get Sam to the hotel. He called Sophie and arranged to use a catering truck. They rigged up the gurney with poles on four corners and then draped it to look like a food rack, Sam completely hidden. They all donned caterer jackets and went in the service entrance then took the service elevator to the fifteenth floor.
They had just settled Sam in the bed when the phone rang. It was the front desk. Heather was here to see the General. Spike jumped up and said he would go get her, she was the best in his book, she liked Samtastic better than Blondie.
He gave her a huge grin when he met her at the desk. "Hey, let me take that for you, you're a real life saver" as he grabbed a large nondescript box off the floor. "Samtastic is gonna appreciate all your help. In fact we all do. Were you able to get everything we need or do I need to send someone out to get anything?" he said in a lighthearted manner.
Heather replied "Got everything and some things he didn't ask for but we might need. I like being prepared. I'm really glad you guys called me to help with Samtastic, he's special isn't he?" She smiled and followed as Spike headed to the elevator.
"Yep, very special" Spike responded with a strong emphasis on the word very.
A man had walked into the lobby and saw a pretty woman standing at the desk apparently waiting on someone. He sat down in a chair and pulled out the newspaper and was stewing when he overheard the banter between some man and he assumed that woman. He thought what a stupid nickname.
As he half listened to them he read that the funeral for SRU officer Aaron Plouffe was planned for three days from today. They were waiting for some of his teammates to return before they held it. He was disgruntled, and maybe rightfully so, the newspaper allotted tons of space talking about the injured SRU officer and his exploits that day but barely a word was printed about the one who had died. That didn't seem right Aaron was a good man. Even the dammed gang lord got more attention.
He rustled the newspaper in frustration. Damn he needed to plan, he still needed a plan. He had gone to the hospital this afternoon hoping to give him an overdose of morphine but he was not there.
First, I have to find him. I'll check his apartment tomorrow. He's not in good shape from what little information he gathered from people that worked there. He was surprised that no one was talking. Usually it was easy to get that kind of information. Anyways, now he needed another plan. Damn that toy soldier is hard to kill.
Royal York Hotel – Two hours later
Hal and the rest of the unit had shown up an hour ago and assumed security detail. When they arrived the SRU officers had gone to their respective homes to gather necessary items and check in with their families. They had all returned just a short while ago and everyone except the three unit members on guard duty in the hall and at the elevator were gathered in the main suite living room. It was huge, must be the governor's suite or something thought Lou.
The General had ordered up an assortment of food, enough to feed an army. They were all starved and were not shy about digging in. Once the initial hunger was sated, they relaxed in the collection of chairs and couches. Patch had invited Heather to eat saying Blondie would be fine for a few minutes, he was just a few steps away in the other room. His vitals were looking much better, except for the fever, it would not budge. At least it wasn't rising, small blessing.
As they lounged for a bit to let their food settle they discussed security rotations. It was decided that the fresh JTF2 guys would handle it for tonight. Heather would take the night shift with Blondie. That way everyone else could get a nights rest. Nobody would go as far as saying a good night's rest because they all knew it would be fitful at best given all that had transpired. But at least it would be a respite in a soft bed. After another few minutes they headed off to their assigned rooms for some much need sleep.
The General had put Sam in a room with two queen beds. He was not leaving his son tonight. He had showered and changed in to comfortable sweats and t-shirt then entered the room. Heather was just finishing administering more sedative per Patch's orders, one he completely agreed with and he gave her a soft smile and said "Thank you."
She nodded slightly and turned to put the syringe away and to give the man a moment of privacy with his son.He wished Sam was small again and he could get away with gathering him in his arms and holding him while he slept. But he was all grown so he would have to make do with being as close as the bed next to him. Just before he got into his own bed, he leaned down to Sam and placed a kiss to his forehead. "Sleep well my boy, sleep well."