A.N. Here's chapter 2!
Disclaimer: I still own nothing... sigh.
When Sam and Libby reached the small silver car, Alex exited it and hugged the SRU officer gently. She could tell that Sam was somewhat surprised by her greeting, but he returned her hug warmly. Though he hid it now completely—no sign of his earlier discomfort was visible—she'd seen the same thing her daughter had: how gingerly Sam had carried himself until he'd seen Libby. The gentleness of her hug failed to convey how happy she was to see the man up on his own two feet, awake and okay… for the most part. She owed this person too much to ever repay, though she knew from numerous conversations with her daughter that he would never, ever ask for anything in return. Even though she had never met him in person—not beyond seeing a pale, sleeping figure lying in a hospital bed—and even though she didn't recognize him until Libby stopped him, due to the fact that he was so different from her memory, so alive and solid now, she felt like she knew him.
Libby had spent hours talking about the young SRU officer who'd befriended and saved her, enough that Alex was fairly confident she knew him almost as well as her daughter did. She knew of his bravery and skill from his actions that saved Libby's life, but anyone could know that just by reading a newspaper article; though both his and Libby's names had been kept anonymous, the details had been extensive, all about an SRU officer who was in the right place at the right time and who saved fifteen people from eight gunmen, with the help of his team. But those character traits were superficial compared to his kindness and heart, which she knew of from what he'd given her daughter: safety, words of comfort and wisdom, unconditional friendship, and—most importantly—respect given to an equal and a peer. If only there were more people like you, Sam Braddock. This world would be a brighter, less selfish place, she thought to herself wistfully. I guess I'll have to settle for having you in Libby's life and making her world a better place.
When she pulled away, she was pleased to see that he was smiling. "Officer Braddock, we haven't gotten the chance to formally meet. I'm Alex, Libby's mother, and I just have to say thank you. Thank you for everything you did for her and I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to be able to thank you in person. Witsec's a blessing and a curse," she admitted wryly.
"Please, just call me Sam," he replied. "None of this 'Officer' stuff. I just left work and would rather forget about it for today, and I'm Sam to my friends."
She nodded in acquiescence. "Well please, if there's ever anything we can do for you in return, don't hesitate to ask," she instructed him sincerely.
He nodded his understanding, but his eyes made it clear that—just as she'd suspected—he would never ask.
"Mom," Libby interjected from her position beside the blonde, "Sam is coming home with us."
"Of course he is," she replied without missing a beat, giving Sam no chance to catch any sort of hesitation in her voice. "That was the plan!"
It hadn't been the plan, but she trusted her daughter's judgement and Libby's eyes were silently begging her to follow her lead as if this had been the plan all along. Alex knew Libby had an uncanny ability of reading people—which was a double edged sword, because Alex herself could never hide anything from her daughter—and that Libby and Sam had formed a strong connection. Therefore if Libby thought Sam needed to come home with them, then that's exactly what he needed to do. Plus, Alex was looking forward to the opportunity to get to know the SRU Officer better. Though she knew a lot about him already from Libby, there was only so much Libby herself could learn about him from one whirlwind experience—Alex pretended not to know about their bi-yearly, two-hour-long, highly clandestine phone calls. And she wanted to actually talk with him, rather than just hear about him.
Sam was obviously worried he would be imposing on her and opened his mouth, probably to ask if she was sure it was okay, but she pre-empted him by opening her car door and getting in, calling out, "Libby, you're banished to the backseat. I won't have Sam stuffed back there where there's no leg room."
"But you're fine with me getting squished?" Libby demanded indignantly, already moving to scramble into the back so as to give Sam the impression that they fully expected him to follow.
"Absolutely. You're young and flexible; your bones will bounce back." Alex winked at her.
Responding to the duo's casualness and gentle encouragement to follow them into the vehicle, Sam rounded the car and tucked himself into the front passenger seat. Alex was impressed that he showed no sign of discomfort, though the motion of ducking into the tiny car couldn't have been easy.
"Thank you, Mrs. Riles," Sam murmured.
"Alex," she corrected firmly, noticing his mouth quirk up in a small smile. "Now," she continued without pause, "since we are so rudely abducting you, is there anything you need before disappearing to the depths of our household? Something from your home? The grocery? Of course, we plan to feed you, but I just thought I'd check in case you need anything specific."
"Yeah, do you have any allergies?" Libby piped up from the backseat. "I have an intolerance to nuts and it drives me nuts when people don't think to ask—pun intended," she added with a grin.
Sam shook his head. "I don't need anything and I don't have any allergies, thank you for asking, though."
"Well that's settled then." And with that, Alex started the car and drove out of the parking lot, leaving the SRU and everyone inside it in the rearview mirror.
The drive passed quickly and before Sam knew it, they arrived at a quaint bungalow style house in one of Toronto's many suburbs. Flower beds lined the house, neat and tidy enough that they were obviously cared for, but just wild enough to show character instead of immaculate perfection. A basketball hoop stood to one side of the driveway's large circular turnaround area, and boxes in various stages of being unpacked lined the interior of the garage. A "SOLD" sign was the front yard's most prominent feature.
"You'll have to excuse the mess," Alex explained as they unbuckled and exited the car. "We only started moving in two days ago."
"Yes, she made me wait two whole days before she'd let me tell you we were back!" Libby exclaimed, kicking off her shoes and opening the door to the house. "It nearly killed me to wait that long! Patience still isn't my strong suit," she admitted, glancing at him sideways to see if he caught her reference.
He did. Her note to him was still stuck to his refrigerator—per her request (or orders, depending on how one looked at it)—and he re-read it frequently. He almost had it memorized, now.
Alex merely rolled her eyes at her daughter's dramatics and forged further down the hallway and into the kitchen, dodging boxes all the way.
When Sam entered the kitchen, savory smells and cheerful clattering immediately greeted him. A man stood humming away at the stove; the pots he was studiously rearranging were the cause of the clinking.
At the sound of the trio's entrance, he turned and smiled at them. "Welcome home, you two!" And then his eyes settled on Sam and his smile grew. "And welcome to our house!" He quickly wiped his hands on his apron and strode forward, shaking Sam's outstretched hand enthusiastically. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you! I'm David, Alex's husband and father to that rascal over there," he gestured over his shoulder to where Libby was surreptitiously trying to sneak a taste of something from the stove. She snatched her hand back the moment her father turned, plastering an innocent look on her face.
David raised a skeptical eyebrow, but didn't call her out. "Now," he turned back to Sam, "can I get you anything to drink? Beer, water, wine, milk…"
"Or Orangina!" Libby interjected, already pulling the bottle out of the fridge. "At least, that's what I'm having."
Sam smiled. "I would love a glass. There's nothing better on a boiling hot summer day than a nice glass of Orangina."
"You sure?" Libby asked uncertainly. "I didn't mean to pressure you into anything."
"I'm sure and you didn't," he assured her.
Drink in hand, he settled down at the small table in the kitchen and watched as David and Libby bustled around the room, working as a team to finish dinner. Alex had disappeared because she had to finish a few business emails before being able to clock out for the weekend. As Sam observed the father and daughter duo, laughing and interacting so easily with each other and with such care-free attitudes, he couldn't help but feel a pang of melancholy, thinking about what he and his own father might have had, if only the General hadn't been so… well… military minded. He'd often wondered if things would have been different if his sister hadn't died, but that was a daydream. Because she had died.
Pulling himself from those unpleasant memories, he pushed them away and turned his attention back to Libby and David. He was so glad that they had such a positive, connected relationship, and he chided himself for being selfish and thinking about his own troubled familial interactions. Feeling bad for just sitting there while they did all of the work, he rose from the chair and stepped forward to offer a hand, when all of a sudden he was attacked from behind.
Arms encircled his waist and squeezed tightly, and Sam thanked every god he could think of that he didn't lash out on instinct like he normally would—especially given the day he'd had. A small part of his subconscious must have known who it was before his conscious awareness caught up with it, because he didn't feel the need to defend himself. When his conscious awareness did finally catch up with events, he peered over his shoulder with a grin and greeted his attacker, "Hey Tulio."
A.N.2. I was sooooo tempted to leave the chapter at "when all of a sudden he was attacked from behind," but I decided that would be too cruel and misleading. Huh, this is the second chapter that I'm not ending in a cliff hangar... this is so out of character for me!
So there we go! Another chapter in. A bit of a slow start, I know, but Sam and Libby definitely deserve a break and Sam deserves lots and lots of hugs and friendship after the day he had... (and yes, eventually we'll find out what happened with the Team). I'm doing my best to give Sam and Libby some relaxed quality time together before the craziness hits again.
On another note, I always hesitate to create OCs because I know they can be hit or miss in an established fandom, and I'll be honest, I created Libby initially thinking she was going to be a small side character, and then her bold personality laughed at that and said "no, you're not relegating me to the sidelines," and then she promptly stole my heart. So fair warning, she will once again be one of the main characters, alongside Sam (and other members of Team One, of course!).
Additionally, given the nature of this story, other OCs (such as Libby's parents and people from another SRU team) will be necessary and I anticipate them playing a rather large role. I will do my best to provide everyone from Team One ample "screen time," so to speak (because let's face it, they are all awesome!) but I just wanted to give all my readers a heads up in advance :)
And in response to missblueeyes63, an excellent point about Lou, but alas he did not live... If I had planned better, I totally would have had him live, but I didn't include him in Timing (never thinking I would write a sequel), so I can't really have him in this one.
Thanks for reading! Until next time!