A.N. Sequel to Timing. Long author's note/explanation is located at the end of the chapter, as it is very slightly spoilery. Takes place three years after the events of Timing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Flashpoint (sigh), but I do own Libby. She's mine!
10/6/17 WARNING! the events of this story hold similarities to the Las Vegas shooting. The similarity between this story and real-world events is purely coincidental and not intentional. I've had the plot written out for a while. I do not wish to cause anyone distress or pain, so please take heed of this warning going in and do not read if you feel you will be triggered by descriptions of sniper-like gun violence and targeting in a populated area.
Sam's body protested as he slowly made his way out of SRU headquarters. He didn't bother trying to keep his feet from dragging or his shoulders from slumping. Normally he wouldn't be caught dead letting any form of exhaustion or pain show, but he knew nobody would be watching him. Not after the day Team One had just had. No, he was pretty sure all of his teammates were in the Barn somewhere ranting to each other about him.
Several years ago, when Sam was a new member to the team, that was a common occurrence and he'd resigned himself to it after the first few months. He hadn't liked it—hell no—but he'd given up hope that the team would ever accept him and try to understand him, or even try mentoring him. As loathed as he'd been to admit it, he'd recognized that his military approach wasn't necessarily the best fit for every situation in the SRU, but beyond chewing him out for his action oriented tactics, no one on the team had ever really tried to teach him alternatives. Instead, he'd done his best to adapt on his own, learning as much as he could just from watching the others work and weathering the storm of their anger by keeping his tongue in check and his head down. It had been a sink or swim situation and Sam was not the kind of person who allowed personal failure; he swam.
But fortunately, all of that had gradually started to change as Sam did his best to fit in, and finally at some point it felt like they'd clicked as a team. He couldn't pinpoint exactly when that was, but knew that it had happened. The frequency of tongue lashings gradually decreased, while words of appreciation and encouragement slowly began to filter into Team One's exchanges with Sam. Even without understanding what had made it happen, he welcomed the change. If he was honest with himself, he wasn't sure how much longer he would have lasted if Team One had continued to tear him down and keep him at arm's length. But with the more welcoming attitudes, he finally felt like he belonged and didn't think that his teammates were just tolerating him or putting on a façade. The incident at The Oakes had only served to further prove to himself that he was a valuable member of Team One and that his friends knew that, too. Additionally, it clarified to him that his teammates were not just co-workers, but friends who stood by him. It had been years since they'd all sided against him and judged his actions without giving him a chance to defend them.
Too bad all it took was one hot call gone terribly, terribly wrong and they slipped right back into old habits…
Sam couldn't suppress a hiss of pain as his foot landed awkwardly on an uneven bit of pavement, sending fire shooting up his bruised leg. Should've stayed put, Braddock! Bones don't really like slamming against buildings, scolded the very small part of his brain that was concerned about his own self-preservation. Yeah, but bodies like bullets even less, responded the overwhelming majority of his brain—which did not regret his actions given that they'd saved lives. Still, he really wasn't looking forward to the bike ride home, though he was looking forward to the next few days off; Team One's rotation had just finished and they had three days off duty, which gave Sam three days to let his body heal and avoid any sort of contact with his teammates in the hopes that they'd cool off by the time they all returned to work. Maybe by then, this whole nightmare of a day would be a forgotten memory… Ha. Not a chance.
He wrapped his arm a little tighter around his midsection in an effort to stabilize his protesting ribs while he stuck his other hand into his pocket to fish out his keys in order to unlock his bike. Looking down as he was and too wrapped up in his own misery, he failed to notice the figure standing off to the side, watching him with arms folded and narrowed eyes.
The figure had been observing him from the moment he set foot outside of the building. Analyzing and assessing his physical and mental state through his uncharacteristically open body language and actions. Probing for weaknesses, the figure found many exposed and anticipated that they would be easily exploitable. The figure frowned, knowing that this was incredibly abnormal for the SRU officer.
Sam was almost to his bike before the figure stepped out of the shadow of the building behind him and shouted, "Hey!"
He froze, unable to believe his ears. Braddock, I think you hit your head a little harder than you thought when you collided with that wall. Turning slowly, his eyes landed on the person who'd caught his attention. Her arms were crossed and she was frowning. She was older than he remembered, taller and ganglier, and it took him a moment to reconcile her more mature face with the voice he'd heard. But then she broke into an unmistakable smile. "Libby," he breathed in astonishment.
She laughed and ran towards him, arms open, but stopped just short, the frown returning to her face as she recalled the way he'd limped out of headquarters without even noticing her. No matter how much she'd missed him and wanted to give him a hug, she didn't want to hurt him.
Sam solved her quandary for her, however, by reaching forward and wrapping his arms around her. She came up to just below his chin, now, but he lifted her off of her feet and hugged her tight, oblivious to any pain he'd felt moments before.
When their embrace ended and he set her back on the ground, he had difficulty stringing an intelligible sentence together. "What are you—how—where…" he finally went with, "are you okay?"
Her eyes softened as she looked up at him. "Oh Sam, still looking out for me, huh?" She shook her head. "You've got to stop doing that. In fact, it looks like you need to start looking after yourself more!" she scolded.
Sam flushed and stood a little straighter, berating himself for dropping his guard and not noticing her the moment he stepped out of the doors—she hadn't really been hiding, he realized belatedly.
She noticed his negative reaction to her calling out his obvious injuries, so she briefly diverted the conversation in the hopes of softening him up a little bit before grilling him. "To answer what I think your four question were—if I interpreted them correctly—one," she held up a finger like she was counting off a list, "I am here because I am finally out of the witness protection program. Two," she paused, pursed her lips, then continued, "well, to be honest I'm not quite sure what you were trying to ask with questions two and three, so I'll take a guess. Two, how am I here? Long story, but the short of it is that Evans is dead. Three, where did I come from? My mom is waiting in that car over there," she pointed over her shoulder. "She brought me here. And finally, four, yes I am absolutely okay!" she finished happily, before turning serious again. "Which is more than I can say for you. What happened?" she demanded, folding her arms and raising an eyebrow in her trademark move that meant she was not budging until she got an answer.
Sam grimaced, knowing dodging the question was useless. Instead he went for vague. "To quote you, 'long story, but the short of it is' a rough day at work is what happened. It's nothing," he stated dismissively.
"Samuel Braddock, that is the biggest heap of bullsh—crap I have ever heard," she countered sternly, glancing over her shoulder and changing her word choice as if she were concerned her mother might be in ear shot. "This," she gestured to encompass his entire body, "is not nothing. But, for the sake of saving your pride—foolish as it may be—I will allow you to redirect my attention because I am so happy to see you!" she finished exuberantly. "But don't make the mistake of thinking I will forget. We will come back to this subject!" she warned.
"Deal," he replied, grinning.
"Excellent!" she nodded, sealing the pact.
Sam broke into a coughing fit just at that moment, hunching over slightly in obvious discomfort, so Libby took advantage of that to get a good look at him without him staring back at her. Up-close, it was obvious that he was even more fatigued than she'd initially thought. She didn't see the usual physical signs—such as dark circles or puffy eyelids—instead she saw the almost complete lack of spark in his eyes. They had lit up when he first saw her and she was glad for that, but there was still a dullness to them that she didn't like and hadn't seen before, not even when he'd been lying in a hospital bed. Add to that the fact that his shoulders were ever so slightly slumped—beyond what was due to any injuries he might have—and she knew something was wrong. Initially, she'd just planned to surprise him after work, say hello and exchange hugs, then plan a meeting at a later time when he had more of a head's up, but she immediately scrapped that plan. This required an intervention. Now. Glancing back at her mother, who was still waiting patiently in the car, Libby made a snap decision and dearly hoped her parents would be okay with it.
Sam's coughing finally subsided and he apologized, but she just waved his apology away. "None of that," she stated dismissively, before continuing boldly, "Now, fair warning—well, I guess it's not fair warning since I'm only give you five seconds—I am going to kidnap you for the rest of the afternoon and possibly the evening. Or really, I guess it would be 'adult-nap' you, but that just doesn't sound right. Hm," she put a finger to her chin, pondering, "they really need to come up with a better expression and take the 'kid' out of 'kidnapping,' don't you think?" she mused, reaching her hand out towards him expectantly.
Sam didn't hesitate. He reciprocated her gesture and let her take his hand in hers, giving it a gentle squeeze as she led him towards her car, chattering all the way. Yes, Sam had had other plans for after work, but he was perfectly prepared to drop everything. Nothing seemed to matter as much as this unexpected gift of a friend. So he put his complete and utter faith in Libby and followed her.
As they walked away from SRU headquarters, away from a terrible day, Sam could already feel his heart getting lighter. He left his bike chained to the rack, knowing it would be there when—or if—he returned for it.
A.N.2. Hello again, everyone! Here is the sequel to Timing! I just couldn't let Libby and Sam's friendship go, and I heard from a few of you that a sequel might be appreciated, therefore I set about attempting it. It's taken me a while to come up with an acceptable plot line, but I think I finally have it. The main barrier I had to overcome was the fact that, at the end of Timing, Libby was in witness protection. Therefore, in order for this story to occur, I had to end her time there and the only way I could conceivably do so was by getting creative. All will be revealed eventually, but yes, you may have to suspend disbelief (that's why this is a work of fiction).
This occurs three years after the events of Timing. It deviates from cannon as Wordy is still with Team One (I really like the guy and wish he hadn't left) and Sam and Jules never got back together but are friends (yes, I like them as a couple, but if you've read my other stories, then you know that I don't write their relationship well and prefer to write their friendship).
I do not have the entire story written, but I have a general sense of its outline and direction—though as always, any input from you readers is appreciated and I do my best to accommodate requests/ideas! I hope updates will be fairly regular (bi-weekly? no promises, but I will try), and I will be alternating between updating this story and the other story I am working on—We're In This Together—in a separate fandom.
Unlike Timing, this story will have a slower start in that we will not jump right into the action. This is because I wanted to give Sam and Libby some bonding time outside of a life or death situation and let them just be people. But I promise there will be action, heroics and hurt aplenty!
And hey, look at that! The first chapter doesn't end in a cliff hanger! This is incredibly out of character for me… but don't get used to it! I anticipate many cliff hangers in the future.