Belonging

Aftermath Hot Call 3


Beanie's Gas Station - Inside

As Wordy ran out the back door in pursuit, the team heard Sam say "Wordy got your back" and trusted that those two could handle the situation in the alley. The rest of the team was dealing with the bedlam going on inside the gas station. They needed to contain a distraught subject, soothe five very frightened crying children, calm down an extremely hysterical cashier and get medical help for an overwrought chaperon who had collapsed.

As Lou squatted next to Gayla checking her pulse, strong but fast, he called out "Boss, I need EMS in here now Gayla has collapsed."

Greg was making his way in and could not hear what Lou had said due to loud hysterical screaming in the background "Lou, repeat please."

Lou swiveled to peer at the cashier. He stood and placed a hand on her shoulder, applying slight reassuring pressure. "Lonnie, calm down, shhhhh, it is okay, you're okay, quiet down, please" he said in a smooth calming voice.

Once Lonnie had quieted enough that Greg could hear him Lou repeated "Boss, I need EMS in here. Gayla has collapsed. Her pulse is way too fast."

As Greg and the EMTs were entering and heading towards Gayla, Ed was trying to get the distraught subject on his feet. Ed needed to place him into custody of the uniform officers outside but the man would not rise.

Chance kept blubbering "I'm sorry, I didn't want to hurt anyone, I'm sorry."

Ed was getting a little frustrated. He had a gut feeling he needed to get to the alley with Wordy and Sam but couldn't do so until he handed Chance off to the unis. Ed snapped out "Kenny is fine. Get up now. On your feet. Let's go." Finally, he got the subject up and was escorting him out to the unis.

At the same time as Lou, Ed and Sarge were handling their issues, Spike and Jules were trying to get the kids settled down. They needed to get them outside to be checked out by EMS and into the arms of their anxiously waiting parents who had arrived on scene. Ava had clamped tightly to Jules leg and would not let go. Kenny was still bawling but no longer screaming bloody murder as Spike cradled him in his lap and rocked back and forth slightly. The other three boys had ceased crying and were nervously hovering very close to Jules.

Jules gazed down to Ava with compassionate eyes and softly said "Ava, it is okay sweetie." She glanced at the boys "You all are okay, you are safe now, shall we go see your parents?" With that Ava reached to be picked up and Jules scooped her up into a tender embrace, gently stroking the little girl's blonde curls. Spike stood with Kenny still ensconced safely in his arms as the seven of them started for the front door.

BANG!

Five heads jerked up and eyes widened in shock as the sound of a gunshot ricocheted loudly in their headsets.

"Wordy? Sam? Status?" Greg urgently called quickly rising from where he knelt next to Gayla. He rapidly headed towards the back door of the station and the alley.

Silence.


Beanie's Gas Station - Exterior Front

Ed's gut feeling was raging now "Guys, status!" Ed snapped harshly as he approached the patrol officer who would assume custody of the subject.

Silence.

"STATUS NOW!" Ed roared as he handed Chance off to the patrol officer.

The patrol officer flinched at the ice-hard tone, steel set jaw and lightening flash in the SRU officer's eyes that dared anyone to defy his command. He briefly thought damn he's scary, I'm glad I'm not whoever it is that didn't respond. They're gonna get a big-time ass chewing.

Silence.

Ed spun on his heel and stormed toward the alley.


Beanie's Gas Station - Back Alley

Ed and Greg skidded to a halt at the end of the alley taking in the perplexing scene before them. Ted was dead, bullet through the head. Sam was unconscious on the ground with little Sara clinging to his chest sobbing. Wordy was on his knees, hands laying limp on his thighs, head shaking slightly back and forth with unfocused eyes and a dazed expression on his face.

"What the hell happened?" bellowed Ed looking from Wordy to Sam to Ted.

No response.

Greg and Ed looked at each other apprehensively. Something bad, very bad, had just occurred. They just didn't know what yet with neither of their guys responsive. They had to get control. "Ed I've got Sam and Sara you deal with Wordy."

Ed moved closer and placed a hand lightly on Wordy's shoulder "Talk to me buddy."

Mind in a fuzz, eyes unfocused, he finally found his voice and whispered "Sam shot Ted?"

Ed recognized it was a question not a statement "Wordy, you okay? What happened?"

"Sam shot Ted" this time statement not question.

Wordy was trapped in his own head with disordered thoughts swirling around still not fully comprehending. Sam shot Ted. If Sam shot Ted, why is Sam on the ground? Why? It doesn't make sense. Why is Sam lying there?

Ted's dead, I know that. Ted is dead. Hey that rhymes. What? Why is Sara holding Sam? Why is she crying? She's so tiny, helpless. How did she get to Sam? Ted is dead. Only one shot fired. Only one shot. It came from Sam I'm sure. Am I sure?

Why is Sam not moving? Is he dead? Only one shot I'm sure. Sam shot Ted. No talking just shot. Oh god he just shot him. Just aimed and shot. Why did he do that? Why? Ted shot Kenny? Ted is active shooter. Sam shot Ted.

The confusion just continued to swirl in Wordy's mind.

Greg had immediately knelt down and checked Sam's pulse. It was steady but fast; probably due to adrenaline. There was a bit of blood next to his head, not much. He lightly probed Sam's head and found a slight lump and a very small cut on the back. Minor but would likely give him a headache.

He could find no other injuries, no bullets to the vest, nothing. He must've fallen. The fall must have knocked him unconscious. But how did he fall? Sam needed to be checked out but first Greg needed to calm Sara and get her safely away from this scene.

Slowly shaking his head Wordy repeated again "Sam shot Ted."

Spike, Jules and Lou all had heard what Wordy kept repeating and wondered why Sam didn't say anything. Spike and Jules were still very busy with the kids but Lou was now on his way to the alley.

Arriving he stopped dead in his tracks. Shit, this is not good he thought. Greg and Ed were busy with Wordy and Sam so he went to check Ted and secure the weapon that was lying on the ground. He looked at Sam then Wordy then calmly said "Spike we need EMS in the alley. Sam is unconscious and Wordy is on his knees dazed. Unsure of injuries."

Greg lightly placed a hand on the back of the tiny sobbing girl. She lifted her golden head and looked at Greg with tears running down her face. "It's okay, will you come to me?" Greg asked quietly.

Sara shook her head no and held tighter to Sam. "Please." Another shake no. "It will be okay, you are safe now." Sobbing increased as she held tightly to Sam shaking her head no. "Please. I can take you to your mommy." No again but more vigorously. "Why don't you want go?"

"Safe" a tiny voice said.

"You feel safe with Sam?" softly asked Greg.

"Safe" and a vigorous shake no as the sobbing continued.

Greg was baffled. He thought her one word meant she felt safe with Sam. What else could she mean? She was only three, how do I understand what she needs?

During this exchange Ed had placed his arm around Wordy and was trying to get through the haze to him. "Buddy, come on. Shake it off. Wordy look at me. Where are you man? Focus on my voice. Talk to me."

As Ed continued to speak Wordy's eyes began to focus coming back to the present; mind regaining control exiting the haze. He gave his head a sharp shake and blew out a ragged breath. Then Wordy took a deep cleansing breath and exhaled; completely returning to the present, mind crystal clear now.

He looked directly at Ed with ferocious determination carved into his face. A look that could be read as a father protecting his young and stated in a rock-hard, clear voice filled with conviction "Sam saved Sara."

That was not at all what Ed had expected his long-time friend to say. It threw him off balance. "Sam saved Sara?" he repeated back to Wordy questioningly.

Wordy nodded firmly and with conviction stated "Yes!" then abruptly stood up walking toward Sam.

When he reached him he knelt down and stroked his hand through Sam's hair and said in a fatherly voice "It's okay. She's safe. Sam you saved Sara. Wake up. It's okay now. Sam you saved Sara."

Wordy was shocked by his own actions. He wasn't sure what drove him to react this way but he had a gut-wrenching feeling it was very important that Sam know this. Sam needed to know Sara was safe.

Sara was crying quietly now but still hanging onto Sam as hard as her little arms would allow. Quietly repeating "safe" over and over.

Greg needed to know what happened. There might be a clue in it for him to help this little girl. He could forcefully remove her from Sam but that might cause more trauma. So for now he would let her be with Sam.

At that moment Spike came over the headset "Guys, EMS is still pretty backed up, dealing with all the kids. I will send one as soon as possible."

Greg replied "Copy that Spike. Wordy is good, back with us now." They exchanged a quick glance and smile "Sam's still out cold but appears to be only a minor head wound so have EMS focus on the kids."

Spike responded "Copy that Boss."

All knew something significant had happened. Otherwise Sam would not be unconscious on the ground with no apparent injuries. Something caused him to collapse. They needed to understand the facts before they could begin to figure out what needed to be done. Ed and Lou now stood behind Greg all three looking expectantly at Wordy hoping to understand.

"So, tell us what happened" prompted Ed.

Wordy started reciting the facts as he knew them to be "Sam caught up to me just after I exited the back door. We both ran flat-out after Ted. Ted held Sara to his chest facing outward. Sam and I boxed in Ted. There was no place for him to go as you can see. No exit. Sam and I were positioned where we could see each other. I was over there."

He only had to point out his location because Sam and Ted were still in their original positions. "Ted turned around facing both of us but more directly at Sam using Sara as a shield. Ted was solidly in red-zone when he knew he was surrounded. There was a frenzied look in his eyes. Body movements were jerky and unpredictable. I noticed Sam scanning, assessing the tactical options; you know that calculating look that comes across his face" Greg and Ed nodded. They knew the look well.

"Then Ted yells 'You let me leave or I swear I'll blow her brains out.' Sam and Sara locked eyes for a few moments. This sounds really weird, but to me it looked like two souls conversing. It was so intense. Their gaze broke as Sara smiled so sweetly."

"I was transfixed by her smile but I noticed Sam looked slightly down. A fraction of a second later he fired. It all happened so fast. We didn't even get to identify ourselves or tell him to drop his weapon" Wordy stated.

Greg and Ed shared a look that said 'this could be a problem with SIU'.

Wordy continued "Sam must have seen some movement or threat I missed in that split second before he fired. Maybe something that indicated that Ted was going to shoot. After all Ted had already fired inside the station."

Greg and Ed sighed in relief and communicated silently 'SIU problem adverted, Ted was an active shooter.'

"Ted lost his grip on Sara as they both fell to the ground. Then Sam was on the ground with Sara sobbing on top of him. It stunned me. I only heard one shot. My mind got lost for a bit trying to figure out how Sam could be down when there was only one shot and how or why Sara was on top of Sam and crying. That when you guys showed up I assume" Wordy finished and looked between Greg and Ed still a bit bewildered by it all.

As Wordy was finishing, Jules and Spike approached after ensuring the five kids were okay and safely with their parents. Jules looked down at Sam concern written in her eyes then over to Sarge "Boss, the unis have taken over the scene for mopping up. EMS is still busy, probably another ten minutes or so."

Greg nodded trying to sort it all out in his head. This call had gone from good, to bad, to weird.

Wordy looked down at Sam troubled "I still can't figure out what dropped him."

Spike knelt down and placed a supportive hand on Wordy's shoulder as he scrutinized Sam's face and the quietly crying girl clinging to him.

Just then Sam's eyelids started moving. He was struggling to open his eyes. He groaned in pain as his hands clenched into fists and released several times. Then his right hand reached out like he was holding something. It jerked suddenly and dropped limply to the ground like he'd lost hold of it. He was starting to regain consciousness, the team sighed in relief.

Relief was fleeting and turned to alarm when Sam started whimpering and mumbling "Sara no, oh god, please no, her shoes, sorry sir, my fault, no Sara, Sara, why not me, hurts, Sara, no no, don't leave me Sara, don't go, oh god not her, take me, sorry sir I failed, did not protect her, it jumped the curb, just gone, didn't save her, all my fault, couldn't, didn't save her, sir, no, no, sorry sir, hurts, no, no, sir, pulled her away, no, no, hurts, sir, hurts, sorry sir, no no, her shoes, no shoes, shoes sidewalk, no, no, sorry sir, don't, hurts, no, please stop, hurts, no crying allowed, yes sir, didn't protect, my fault, all my fault, hurts, she's gone, no no no."

They all exchanged horrified expressions and were completely immobile. Sam was stuck in some god awful memory or nightmare.

Sam's eyes flew wide open as he screamed at the top of his lungs "SARA" in a voice filled with abject desolation. He stilled completely, eyes wide open staring straight up into the sky but not really there.

What happened next was beyond belief. Tiny little Sara lifted her head and scooted her body so she could look directly into Sam's eyes. Locking her teary eyes with his vacant ones; seemingly searching for something. She was whispering the word 'safe' over and over to him in a soothing lilting little girl voice.

Sam blinked, once, twice, three times. He registered he was on the ground on his back. Then lovely green eyes were locked onto his deep blue ones. A soothing little voice was repeating 'safe' to him.

He blinked again; innocent soul comforting suffering soul. She was safe. He was safe. Tears welled in his eyes spilling unchecked. Muscular arms wrapped gently around a tiny slip of a girl and held her close in a protective embrace.

"Safe" Sam whispered lovingly.

"Safe" whispered back a little blonde haired girl with innocent green eyes as she kissed his cheek.

Both closed their eyes and sighed as she laid her head on his chest and placed her little hand over his heart. "Safe now" she whispered one last time before drifting to sleep in his arms.

Silence reigned. Minutes ticked by but no one dared move a muscle. Afraid to shatter the sanctuary the little girl built for their friend.

Sam's eyes blinked opened again. He looked cautiously at each of them in turn, locked eyes with them, searching for something. Searching for what they didn't know. But whatever he found seemed to comfort him because he sighed as a serene look settled on his face and he soundlessly mouthed "thank you."

A kindhearted fatherly look appeared on Wordy's face as looked at Sam and gently said "Safe".

Each team member, in turn, gazed at Sam and quietly said "Safe."

They all remained motionless and silent for several more minutes. Each was mentally processing what had occurred and contemplating the meaning as they regained their composure. By unspoken agreement no one commented on what had transpired. Whatever it was that happened had been truly cathartic for Sam, it showed in the respite that now reflected in his eyes.

Ed moved first. Drawing everyone's eyes to him as he adjusted his stance to one of authority. Then a hint of mischief entered his eyes and a wide grin appeared as he said sternly "No napping in alleys either Braddock."

Sam grinned and replied "Copy that." He started to rise cradling a sleeping Sara in his arms. Six pairs of arms reached out to help him up.


Beanie's Gas Station - Exterior Front

It was an impressive sight for onlookers when seven SRU officers in full tactical gear rounded the corner out of the alley. Flanked by three officers on each side a handsome young officer gently cradled a sleeping little girl in his arms. They strode forward with purpose and conviction towards a distressed young couple who were consoling another young girl.

Spike, Jules, Lou, Ed, Wordy and Greg stopped a few paces back from the girl's parents. Sam approached the young mother and carefully placed the sleeping girl into her waiting arms.

Sam leaned in close to her and spoke so only she could hear. "If she ever asks, please tell her Sam Braddock is safe because of her. Sara has a beautiful soul. Thank you."

He stepped back slightly. He smiled down at Sara. Reaching out he stroked her hair lightly. Sam leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead and whispered "Thank you Sara." Then he turned and strode towards the command truck with his team, his family, surrounding him.

As they approached the command truck, Jules and Spike each grabbed one of Sam's arms and redirected him towards EMS. "What?" he said.

Jules gave him a stern look "You were out cold for several minutes. You need to be checked out before going with SIU."

Sam allowed himself to be steered towards the EMS truck and sat on the edge of an empty gurney. He disliked having to be checked out by EMS. He was okay, only a small bump and headache. But he disliked SIU more. So he wouldn't fight it now and enjoy a small reprieve before having to discuss two shootings with SIU.

As he sat waiting for the paramedic to come, his mind was mulling over what happened in the alley. He knew the team was wondering just what the hell happened. They would not force him to explain, he knew that from the searching looks he gave them. Knew that they would respect his privacy but he didn't want to hold this secret in. He hoped when he told them they would not condemn him too harshly.

Sam decided that after debriefing tonight he would tell them about how he failed to protect his little sister Sara. How he was responsible for her death. How when he noticed that little Sara Clarry had no shoes on the horrible memory of his Sara being violently wrenched from his grasp as she was hit by the car so hard she was knocked right out of her shoes slammed into his brain.

He would tell them how in that instant he could not allow tiny, sweet Sara Clarry to be killed by Ted. How he was glad, truly glad for once that his reaction time was so fast. How if he hadn't seen in that fraction of a fraction of a second Ted raising the gun towards her head, Sara would be dead.

And he would tell them how if that had happened Sam feared that he would have been irrevocably lost and broken. They were his chosen family. They deserved to know. He would trust them with this memory and to keep him safe.

Sam was drawn from his thoughts as the paramedic started asking him questions. As the medic did his thing, taking vitals and such Sam distractedly watched the scene around him wondered at all the news cameras. Must be a slow news day to cover a gas station robbery he thought. He saw as Greg and Ed approached just as the paramedic completed his assessment.

The medic reported "No concussion, disinfected the small cut, no need for stitches. No concerns regarding the small bump on the head, though it might be tender for a bit. Offered pain meds for the slight headache but he refused. In my opinion he is fit to return to duty."

Sam slid off the gurney and glanced at the paramedic "Thanks." He turned to Greg and grimaced "So off to SIU now?" he queried.

"Team One, Team Five, all hands on deck, Team Three needs backup now" Winnie sounded off in their headsets.

"What's the situation?" Greg asked.

"Team Three on scene in Rouge Park, responded to shots fired call. They are reporting apparent gang war in progress. More than a dozen active shooters dispersing in multiple directions" Winnie explained.

"Team One in route. Call in any of available members of Team Two and Four as well. With so many active shooters and the size of Rouge Park we will need all available officers" Greg commanded as all members of Team One raced to the vehicles.

Unknown to the team, SIU agent Richard Donner glared furiously at the back of Sam Braddock and silently fumed "I'll bring that cocky son of a bitch down a notch or two. He doesn't deserve to wear an SRU uniform. He's nothing but a killer."
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