Belonging

Wrap Up Hot Call 2


Inside Central Bank - 11 am

Winnie informed the team that EMS was fifteen minutes away due to an accident and construction detour blocking their route. Looking up at the faces of his teammates Sam saw that this news aggravated the entire team, with the exception of himself. Sam would be happy if EMS never showed up.

As he lay on the floor quickly regaining control of his body, he realized the team needs to focus on the job not stare at him until EMS arrives. And he could really use a few minutes of alone time to start to push those agonizing memories back into that dark, thick walled place he contained all his hurt. Sam was good at deflection. Had to be given his past, so he took a tentatively deeper breath, flashed them all a huge grin and said with mock disgust "What, I can't nap in a bank either?"

His wild left field comment got the desired response from most of the team; several relieved laughs and smiles. Ed laughed deeply and then mock sternly replied "No Braddock, you are no allowed to sleep in a bank."

Sam's ability to sleep anywhere had been a running joke with the entire team over the last few weeks. Ed had found him asleep in some strange places during their break times and always joked about it and told him he couldn't nap there. The unacceptable nap location list was growing; bank floor had just been added.

Greg and Ed shared a look that communicated, 'he'll be okay'. Each of them at one point or another had taken a hit in the vest. It hurt like a mother but was usually fine in a few days if nothing was cracked or broken. Greg looked at his team and quickly did his normal assessment of each member's condition after an event like this. Everyone but Spike seemed pretty much settled back to normal.

Spike appeared to be really shaken by this, he'd talk later with him about it. For now though best to get everyone back to on task. He removed his hat and rubbed his head "Alright team, let's get back at it. Spike, I need you to stay with Sam until EMS checks him out." The rest of the team dispersed to take care of business.

Greg and Spike helped Sam to a seated position. Greg leaned down close to Sam and said softly "Good work Sam. I'm so proud of you and glad you are a member of this team. You connected in a way none of us would have been able to. Thank you. I know that was hard. If you ever want or need to talk about what you shared today, I'm here; we're all here for you." He rose and stepped away to give direction to the unit taking over the scene.

Sam appreciated the offer, but he'd never willingly talk about those things with anybody. It was too agonizing to let them escape. Those feeling were held tight in that dark prison he'd made for them.

Crap, 'let them escape', 'dark prison', he never used that terminology before. Was it a prison? Did those emotions want to escape? GET CONTROL NOW Braddock he yelled in his own mind. Now is not the time to try and sort this out. You are on the job. For now it is sufficient to think that you pulled them out because it was the only way to connect, to save others. How you put them back before they kill you will have to wait. What? 'before they kill you.' Aw man, this was gonna be harder than he originally thought to shove back down. He'd never thought in these terms before; harm yes but not kill.

He winced as another realization hit him hard, almost taking his breath away like the bullet to the vest. He'd done it again. Shit! Ed would be pissed if he knew. He'd taken what Ed referred to as 'unacceptable risk' again to save someone else. He sighed softly. Relived Ed wouldn't lay into him over this because Ed wouldn't ever know because this 'unacceptable risk' was a risk no one else could see.

Dammit, dammit, shit, and dammit again! The rookie did it AGAIN Spike fumed in his own head. He didn't think anyone on the team knew. Boss might suspect based on the talk only, he was intuitive like that. What Boss just said to Sam indicated he was holding out a hand but Sam would get to choose to take it or not at this point because Greg only suspected. Ed certainly didn't know or he would have laid into Sam already, injured or not.

Spike reasoned he was the only one that knew, truly knew without a doubt because he was the only one to see Sam's face as he spoke with John. Dammit, why was Sam always risking himself for others? Today Spike glimpsed a profoundly wounded soul. Today the risk taken wasn't physical but it was no less lethal.

Right now he had no idea how to help Sam. For now, all he could do was watch and wait and be the lifeline that caught Sam if he fell. He had been and still was utterly serious when he told Sam he would 'hold tight and never let go'.

Spike took a deep cleansing breath and plopped down to sit on the floor next to Sam thoroughly spent emotionally. "So what's the prognosis Dr. Braddock" Spike quipped trying to lighten the mood.

So engrossed in his own mental musings, Sam wasn't sure what Spike meant and just stared blankly at him. "Your injuries, ribs, shoulder?" Spike clarified.

Oh right, Sam got it. Spike watched as Sam began to probe his ribs and shoulder to determine the extent of his injury. He knew Sam was trained in medical self-assessment and treatment thanks to the Special Forces.

Sam knew his physical body intimately and how it reacted to various types of injuries. He had a mental catalog of every injury he's sustained and how long it took to heal. The bruising would be vivid; it always was even when it was a minor injury. The way he bruised always garnered horrified gasps from anyone who saw them. It sucked, they always looked worse than they actual were.

He healed extremely quickly, except for bruising. He also had a fairly high pain threshold; which was a good thing because he hated taking medication of any type. He'd rather deal with the pain then the loopy, out of control feelings pain meds usually caused him.

"Well, the patient is bruised but no real damage. He'll be sporting awesome shades of red, blue, black, purple, green and yellow over the next week or so. He might be a little sore and stiff, no need for meds. I release the patient for active field duty, effective immediately" Sam replied as he looked at Spike with an assessing gaze.

Spike snorted with laughter and said "Can't wait to see the awesome colors. Your bruises are always spectacular."

Good, thought Sam, I've got him laughing. Sam could tell something was bothering Spike. Whatever emotion he was feeling showed easily on his face; so unlike Sam's own controlled mask. There was clearly something bothering him and Spike needed something to do, to focus on, to get outside his own head.

"What do ya say we get out of here and head to the command truck? I need a change of scenery" Sam suggested. "I can wait for EMS there. I know Sarge won't let me get away without them checking me out at least on site" he sighed.

Spike hopped up and then offered a hand to Sam. Sam took it and rose slowly to his feet a little shaky at first. Without having to say anything Spike was immediately at his side providing stabilizing support. Sam took a step, faltered a bit, but Spike was there at his side steadying him; not letting him fall.

"Thanks" Sam said.

"Anytime" Spike responded.


Outside Central Bank - 11:15 am

They slowly made their way to the command truck and arrived just as EMS parked next to it. Good timing Sam thought. The paramedic had Sam sit in the back of the ambulance while he checked him over.

The paramedic had grudgingly given Sam an all clear even though he had wanted Sam to get x-rays to be one hundred percent sure there was nothing cracked or broken. Sam's insistence that he was okay and mentioning his JTF2 medic training got the paramedic to back off and agree to clear him.

Sam was just about to put his shirts back on as Jules walked up. She started to ask how he was, had gotten out "How's our guy, is he ..." when her eyes landed on his chest. Whatever it was that she had intended to say never left her mouth. Her eyes widened in shock and her hand flew up to cover her gaping mouth.

Sam understood her reaction and hurriedly pulled his t-shirt over his head and down. Jules had never seen his scars. They were faded now but still visible and it disconcerted most people when they saw them.

He desperately wanted to redirect her thoughts and quickly. So he plastered a cheesy seductive look on his face and said in his best cocky guy voice "Well, well the sexy sniper chick finally gets to ogle my awesome body Spike. Ya think she likes what she sees?"

Spike instantly picked up on what Sam was trying to do so and chimed in with his best nerdy-boy high pitched voice "Nah, you muscular, he-man brute types don't interest her. She'd rather ogle this sleek Italian stallion".

Christ! Did they just say what I think they said Jules thought? She swiveled her head back and forth between the two of them with an incredulous look on her face. She then pinned them each with a 'you are dead look' before she spun around and stormed away.

Sam and Spike looked at each other with mock horror and fear and said simultaneously "You're in trouble now dude." "Me?" "Yeah you."

Then they both broke down in a fit of laughter, until Sam clutched at the pain in his chest and started to cough. Spike patted his back lightly. As his coughing eased and pain receded, they stared at each other. They were truly amazed they'd said the same exact words at the exact same time. Then they broke into another fit of laughter. Spike silently thought, this is good, laughter heals the soul.

Jules knew exactly what those two had just done for her and loved them for it. They'd given her a reason to exit in anger. Instead of standing there fumbling with other emotions brought on by seeing those scars for the first time.

Especially, since raw pain of what Sam shared still hung heavy around them all. Oh god, it was just so horrible what Sam had gone through. She mentally braced herself, now was not the time to time dwell on those thoughts. So, over the headset she responded angrily "You two are soooo in trouble; you better watch your backs."

The other guys on the team had heard the entire exchange and soft chuckles were heard. Deep breath in and out, better now, Jules slowed her pace to a walk and headed over to where Sarge was located. She had SIU to deal with.

Greg piped in "Behave children, you do realize you're all still on the auto-scripter. HR might be stopping by to conduct sexual harassment and sensitivity training if you're not careful."

Laughter exploded again, this time from every single member of the team drawing curious gazes from those around them not privy to the all that had transpired.

When the laughter died down, Sam's mind wandered back to the workout this morning when he realized that he was truly and deeply happy that his chosen family had accepted and cared for him. This call and his teammate's actions and reactions were tangible proof they were a family and affirmed Sam's feelings. A quirky smile flittered onto his face as he finished buttoning up his uniform shirt and walked towards Sarge. He still had SIU to deal with from the previous call.

Kendall Stevens was a seasoned SIU agent who had recently transferred from Ontario to Toronto. She had heard from several of her fellow agents that Team One was the best. This was her first time on a call with them. Her co-workers were absolutely right; this team was good, very good.

Courtesy of an earwig that allowed her to hear but not communicate to the team she had watched and listened to this latest byplay among the team and delicately smiled. She could see they were the best because they truly cared. They cared about the hostages, they cared about the subjects and they cared deeply about each other.

Kendall was glad that she was the agent to get this call. She knew she has a special kindness about her and always treats subject officers gently when investigating them. She is fair and balanced and bristles at procedures that don't treat the officers like they are human. Those procedures actually tick her off and she is happy to ignore them when necessary.

She had arrived on scene just as the team started to enter the bank. She watched in awe as the team seamlessly worked and sadly listened to everything Constable Braddock said. So today when Constable Callaghan had basically thrown the Remi to her in her desperate run towards a fallen teammate, Kendall had backed off and completely ignored the 'take them before they talk to anyone' procedure.

They were all on auto-scripter so all the real details were recorded anyways. She had simply observed from a respectful distance. Giving the team the space needed to take care of one of their own after such an emotionally fraught call.

They are human, and they put their lives on the line every day to save strangers. Watching Callaghan cradle Braddock's head in her lap and gently stroke his hair before she knew if he was dead or alive had touched Kendall's heart. The way the entire team responded impressed her. They care for and are fiercely protective of one another; that was clearly evidenced today. Kendall was so relieved when she found out the young officer was alright.

Jules, Sam and the Kendall arrived at Greg's location about the same time. Kendall introduced herself "Sergeant Parker, my name is Kendall Stevens, SIU. I need to take Constable Callaghan in for interview. I can also take Constable Braddock with me if he has been cleared for duty by the EMTs, as I understand he needs to be interviewed for a prior call."

"Sam, what's the word from the EMTs?" Greg queried.

"All clear, just bruising and little soreness to be expected" Sam answered.

Greg scanned Jules and then thoroughly scrutinized Sam making his own assessment of their status before saying "We are all done here, the units have taken over. So okay, you two head off with agent Stevens and we'll see you both back at the barn. We have a couple of tough debriefs to get through as a team."

Sam and Jules nodded in acknowledgement.

The three had just turned to head towards the agent's car when Winnie's voice called out "Team One. Hot call, armed robbery in progress at Bennie's Gas Station."

Greg blew out a harsh breath "Copy that Winnie. At this rate today is gonna be a long one."

He fixed his gaze on agent Stevens "Sorry agent Stevens, interviews will have to wait. I need Sam and Jules for now."

Greg waited for Kendall's nod of acknowledgement then turned and hurried away saying "Winnie, details please."

Jules and Sam shared a glance that communicated 'saved by the bell', as they both gave a quick nod to agent Stevens and then turned and jogged to their SUV.


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