Chapter One: When You Have
Author note: spoilers for 04x17: Priority of Life. Pretty much the entire episode. And I am using dialogue from the episode. This story is the fifty-ninth in the Magical Flashpoint series. It follows "Knights and Cops".
Although all original characters belong to me, I do not own Flashpoint, Harry Potter, Narnia, or Merlin.
Full Blurb: Dr. Toth has a bone to pick with Sergeant Parker. Two actually. As Team One's Sergeant faces suspension for his decision to keep Wordy on duty as well as his lack of action regarding Jules and Sam's renewed relationship, he fights. Not for himself, but for his team. And an unexpected ally steps into the fray, settling the score between doctor and negotiator…for good. AU of Priority of Life
An acrid yellow fog hung over the room. Boxes of supplies, specimen tubes, and petri dishes lay scattered on the metal floor, near a closed lab refrigerator and a wheeled half-barrel. Four people lay in the room, two men, two women. One of the women clutched her arm with the opposite hand, a pained expression on her face.
"We need to go now. The vents aren't on," Constable Jules Callaghan reported in a weak, nearly trembling voice.
Outside the lab, in the facility's monitor room, Spike spoke with a grim tone. "The venting system must've been knocked off-line when Xavier sabotaged the power generator."
Jules turned her head at a desperate cry from the other woman in the lab. The blonde scientist was partially trapped under the biological clean bench she and her colleague had been working only moments before. "My leg," she wailed, "I can't feel my leg."
The brunette could feel Sam's gaze on her, willing her to hold on and survive. Over the comm, he spat, "The pathogen meter's 900 and rising."
Another voice murmured, "Anything over 2500 is fatal."
Spike's echoed, "Twenty-five hundred," fell through her headset. The dread. The utter horror, along with a fearful, not again, please not again.
Sam's determination rang through the lab's intercom. "She needs medical attention. Okay? You all do. You need to let everybody out now." Then, softer, more intent and desperate. "Jules?"
It hurt, oh, gawd, it hurt. She could feel herself slipping, falling sideways. Her grip losing its strength.
The sniper felt her face hit the cold metal of the floor, tiny pinprick holes against her cheek.
As Sam yelled, "Jules," power flared within her. Scarlet, marked with his determination, his refusal to let her give up.
And she swore she could hear her Sergeant's voice inside her mind.
Don't you dare die on me, Julianna Callaghan. You do not have permission to die.
Softly, under her breath, Jules whispered, "Copy that, Sarge."
5 hours earlier
The tall brunet walking down the hall glanced over at the sound of beeping from the nearby hazmat lab. His newest waste disposal technician wasn't the swiftest of human beings and hadn't yet grasped all the company's safety protocols. Accordingly, he slowed his pace and turned to watch the man come out.
The scientist's dark eyes were tucked under modest eyebrows and a long nose, above a clean shaven chin and jaw with the beginnings of stubble. Below Dr. Applewhite's typical white lab coat, he wore a blue plaid shirt with white buttons and a rumpled collar, but the collar did nothing to detract from the intelligence that burned within the researcher.
When his technician appeared, the doctor wished he'd been wrong in his suspicions. The man carried a yellow bag marked for incineration, but the bag alone was not enough. "That's a test subject?" he inquired, a British lilt to his voice.
"Yes," the technician confirmed at once, turning with surprise to his boss.
Disapproval rang. "It's not contained."
The other man blinked, confused as he hefted the bag. "I did. I double-bagged it."
Annoyance joined the disapproval, but it was buried under the doctor's calm teaching voice. "You double seal it and then you put it in a container." He paused, surveying his technician, then stepped closer. "The subject may be dead but the pathogens that killed it are very much alive, understand? Be careful."
Finally, the man understood and a trace of fear shone in his eyes. Satisfied, Dr. Applewhite continued down the hallway to his destination, a quiet, "I'm sorry, sir," drifting after him.
Greg Parker strode down the hallway towards the gun cage, intent on checking over a few things before Team One's latest shift. In particular, the day before he'd noticed a few magazines out of place and whoever had used the climbing gear last hadn't coiled the rope properly. Although he'd fixed the problems, they'd gotten a callout before he could check the duty log to see who'd used the gear. Not his guys, he knew, but whoever it was needed a good talking to and he was certainly game to deliver it.
In between one stride and the next, his cell phone chirped at him, a soft sound that drove his teammates mad; he'd lost count of the times Eddie had all but begged for him to turn the volume up so they could all hear it if need be. The Sergeant buried a smile at the memory of his last rejoinder – that maybe Ed should have his hearing checked if he couldn't hear a cell phone – and answered with a brisk, "Greg Parker."
All hints of amusement vanished at the voice on the other end, but he responded with a smile and a polite, "Dr. Toth, hello. Very well, thank you. How are you?"
The response was just as polite, but there was a lingering edge in Toth's words. Frowning to himself, Greg replied, "Okay. You wanna tell me why?" As he listened to the next volley, he shifted directions, heading for the dispatcher's desk at a swift clip. "Yes, I know what's in there," he reassured the psychologist.
As he approached the dispatcher desk, an internal frown threatened. Not Winnie, nor Kira. Ben was a fairly new dispatcher to the SRU, though he'd proven quite dependable in the few calls he'd assisted Team One with. Unfortunately, he had yet to pick up on the SRU's open secret and remained clueless as to why SRU Headquarters was sharing space with a group of 'officers' who preferred robes to uniforms.
The dark-haired constable glanced up, gray eyes brushing Parker's serious hazel as the Sergeant whispered, "Ben, incident report two months ago, the 17th."
Swapping focus to his call, Greg countered, "Nope, that can't be right."
Returning his attention to his patient dispatcher, the negotiator requested, "Hey. Set it up in the briefing room."
"You got it," Ben agreed.
Turning and heading for the briefing room, Greg shifted once more to Toth and reassured him, "Yeah, I'll be here."
Had Dr. Applewhite been able to see his lab technician, he might've been impressed with the measures the man was now taking. The lab subjects were now packed in a small container and the waste technician had a white mask over his face and mouth with safety glasses above. The technician carried his burden towards the waste disposal lockup, wishing it was farther away from the buildings now that he knew the threat each barrel carried.
When he reached the gate, he set his container down to open it, fumbling with his keys before he forced himself to calm down. He'd done this before, even if now he realized just how sloppy he'd been in the past. Hefting the small box up once more, he headed inside the lockup and set it down to open up the newest incineration barrel. Not quite full, though he'd probably have to bring another barrel out to the lockup soon.
Focused on his task, he was unaware of his company until the new man yelled, "Down on your knees! Don't turn around!" Instinctively, he started to turn, spying a gleaming gun barrel and earning a shouted, "Don't turn around! Hands behind your back!"
Terrified, the technician obeyed. One thing was for sure – he wasn't paid enough for this!
Greg stared at the screen, wishing, bitterly, that it would change. Wishing that they hadn't been so stupid! He hadn't even realized – and for good reason. Between Donna going off the rails and Giles making it abundantly clear that he was still suicidal, he'd had bigger fish to fry that day than two of his constables acting like utter idiots!
Which just brought him back to the words staring him in the face, words that his entire team would regret for a long time to come. Sorrowfully, he read the transcript once more.
Callaghan: So, hypothetically, you ever think of a honeymoon?
Braddock: Love a honeymoon, hypothetically.
Callaghan: All right, just promise me it's not daiquiris on the beach.
Braddock: Extreme hiking, remote trails, no outhouses.
Callaghan: Nice. I like it.
Braddock: Oh, you mean with you?
A sigh forced its way free, accompanying a soft, "Blast it," that didn't quite cover his team leader's arrival.
"What's going on?" Ed demanded, striding into the briefing room to join his dejected and frustrated boss.
Indicating the screen, Greg replied, "They forgot to turn their mics off." Discouragement rang. All that work, all that effort, even the team's willingness to turn a blind eye to the broken protocol in their midst and it had been for nothing. The pair had only just started their unofficial punishment the week before – Holleran had been hovering too closely over his top team to risk it before then.
Part of him was grateful when Ed's swiftly growing fury didn't echo through the 'team sense'. Despite all the drawbacks to the new 'team sense', at least he usually didn't have foreign emotions to deal with any more. One small saving grace in amongst all the painful realities he'd been living with instead.
"When was this?" Ed demanded.
Parker let a bitter laugh escape. "Right after Hank got shot."
The team leader froze. "Before Fletcher Stadium," he filled in, earning a solemn nod. "And Toth knows."
It was not a question and both men knew it, but the Sergeant nodded nonetheless. "He called me this morning. He's coming."
"And then what?"
Greg cast his team leader an incredulous look.
The sniper swore under his breath and whipped away, glaring hard at the screen. "Suspension?"
"Likely," Greg acknowledged. "Toth has probably already informed Commander Holleran. Jules and Sam will be split up at the very least; neither will remain on Team One and they'll be watched on their new teams for some time."
That was assuming the pair were allowed to remain in the SRU, though Greg doubted that Holleran would want to get rid of them. Sam was still his godson and a first rate sniper with team leader experience to boot. Jules, cross-trained as a sniper and a negotiator, was likewise not someone the SRU wanted to lose. Not to mention their Auror status, a status that doubled, if not tripled, their value to the SRU.
Ed flinched; it was this very scenario that they'd all been trying to avoid. And yet, even before the entire team had known the couple's secret, it had already been exposed. "What are you going to do?"
Hazel eyes flicked up to the screen and narrowed. "What I have to, Ed. I made the choice not to interfere."
"They didn't care," Ed spat. "Even if you'd told them to stop, all they would've done is work harder at hiding it!"
"Ed, it doesn't matter. When Toth put this team on probation, I gave him my word that Jules and Sam wouldn't cross the line again. My team, my problem, my punishment."
He was going down, he knew that. Even on the off chance that he kept his job, he was done, finished. He'd never get another promotion – was actually looking at a demotion, at best – and he'd be darn lucky to stay in the SRU himself. His experience as a negotiator meant little when stacked against his history of alcoholism, not to mention all his issues with magical control and everything else.
But they didn't have to go down with him. If he took a stand, refused to accept his own punishment unless Toth left the rest of Team One alone… His days as cop would be over, but weren't they already? And once off the job, he'd have a legitimate excuse to never, ever use his 'team sense' again. Never again use his friends' weakness against them. And he could go back to pretending that their trust in him hadn't been influenced and tainted. Because what would it matter anymore? So long as the 'team sense' was off, he couldn't command them. Couldn't use that tainted trust against them.
The experienced negotiator's expression never twitched as his plans flew through his head, but Ed must've seen something anyway. "Greg, don't do this," he begged.
One brow arched.
"Don't fall on your sword like this. Jules and Sam – they made their choice. You didn't do that, they did."
Softly, Greg countered, "You and I both know it doesn't work like that, Eddie. The buck stops here."
Behind them, the alarm went off and Ben yelled, "Team One, hot call. Gear up."
He had so much more to say, but his time was up. "Go."
Ed didn't budge and blue bored into hazel, still pleading. "Greg…"
Sorrow glinted, but Parker shook his head. "I got no choice. Go. Just go."
"You have a choice," Ed snapped. "You just don't want to do it."
He wasn't wrong, but Greg wasn't in the mood to hear it. More firmly, even as he forced every last jot of his magic down, the Sergeant ordered, "Go." Ed snarled, finally going, only to glance back at his boss's final words. "I don't want the team distracted by this."
"Copy," Ed ground out.
Fury roared through him, scorching hot and aching to be unleashed on two very deserving targets, but the likely soon-to-be Sergeant forced the rage down, wrestling the words away from his tongue. Later, after the call. After Greg was gone…
Grim, Ed focused back on the road, hands clenching tight around the steering wheel. Three trucks flew, his in the lead, leaving other drivers chewing their dust as the SRU vehicles screamed through midday traffic. "What are we looking at, Spike?"
Next to him, Spike remained focused on his computer, hunting down the intel they'd need for the call. "All right, it's a level three biohazard research facility."
"Meaning what?" Ed pressed.
"It's classified," Lou offered up over the comm.
Without looking up, Spike remarked, "Right you are buddy, but hold on." Fingers tapped briefly. "Private company, study biological agents and develop vaccines."
Lou whistled low, right under Ed's next question. "Terrorist target?"
"It's on the watch list," Spike agreed at once. Reading further, the bomb tech audibly gulped. "Oh, man. Viruses, toxins, pathogens, all kinds of exotic bacterias. This stuff gets out, it's like biological WMD's, like, mass casualties."
Definitely not good. Thinking fast, Ed said, "Okay, okay. Ben?"
"Go ahead," the dispatcher replied.
What he wouldn't give for Winnie or Kira right about now. Pushing that aside, Ed ordered, "We need a hazmat team with a decontamination unit. Full community evac…" Stumbling over the required distance, he stole a glance sideways. "Spike?"
"Two kilometers," Lou called.
Spike's head jerked up; meeting Ed's gaze, he nodded, still bewildered for some reason. Setting that particular mystery aside for later, Ed repeated, "Two kilometer radius. EMS on scene, please."
In the background, he heard Spike hiss, "You do that in your head, Lou?"
"Biohazard, Spike; the math's not that hard."
Over both of them, Ben reported, "I've got RDA's CEO, Dr. Henry Bergan, on the line."
Ed cast Spike a glare; the bomb tech shut up. "Okay, Ben, thank you. Put him through."
"Patching him in now."
The team leader waited for the click in his ear, then said, "Doctor, it's Ed Lane, SRU."
The man on the other end sounded as if he was near traffic, possibly just outside his car. "Officer, I just heard. I was on my way downtown. I'm at least forty minutes away from the lab."
Convenient. "Who's in charge of the facility now?" Ed asked.
"Rose Gilvrey. She's our CFO. Rose is extremely capable, she can give you everything you need."
Nodding to himself, Ed filed the name away, noting the implicit trust Bergan had in the woman. "Okay, thank you. Appreciate it."
The brisk, business-like tone hesitated. "Officer, I don't know if you're aware, but our facility… If the wrong person were to get their hands on our materials-"
Yep, that was the stuff doomsday scenarios were made of. Although…Ed could think of worse… "We're aware," Ed reassured the CEO.
The doctor kept pushing, dread filtering in. "All it would take is a subway car, an office building, a vent."
Ed cut off the charming images now drifting through his own head. "Doctor, the best thing you can do right now is to let us handle it. Keep your phone handy, we'll call you if we need you. Thank you."
As the phone clicked off, Wordy asked, "Ed, where's Sarge?"
Not a hint of his own dismay and downright dread made it to Ed's voice. "Boss is taking care of something back at the station, Word." Fortunately, none of his teammates called him on the obvious disconnect between Team One getting such a critical hot call and their Sergeant skipping said call.
It was rather a shame – Ed had been hoping they would.
As the trucks arrived at the lab, Spike cleared his throat and held up his phone for Ed to see. The team leader parked, then leaned over, reading over the brief message. Blue flicked back and forth, then Ed nodded permission.
Turning off his radio, Spike sent the text, then waited impatiently for his phone to ring. Less than a minute later, it did. Snapping up his phone, the bomb tech said, "Hey, Giles, we got a situation here." Without letting the other man ask, Spike continued, "We got a lab that develops vaccines for biological agents and an armed intruder. If any of this stuff gets out…"
"End of the world?" Giles offered dryly, sarcasm reeking.
Spike didn't laugh. "Weapons of Mass Destruction ringing any bells, wise guy?"
The wizard sobered. "You need containment options?"
"If you've got some."
For a moment, Giles was silent, weighing what he could offer. Then, "Let me call you back, Scarlatti. Revan might have some ideas."
"Copy that." Before the other could hang up, Spike added, "Hey, Giles?"
Ignoring Roy's curious glance, Onasi swiftly dialed his old partner's new phone, unsurprised when Revan picked up the phone the wrong way and had to fumble his way through turning the device right-side up. "Giles?"
"Hey, partner," Giles replied, "You know any good containment spells?"
"Containment?" Revan echoed, confused. "Why, what's wrong?"
Huffing, the Auror explained, "Team One has a hot call and they want to make sure nothing nasty gets away."
"Nasty as in?"
One shoulder hiked. "Not sure," Giles admitted. "But Spike called them, um…" Tilting his head, he thought hard. "…biological agents…?" On the other side of the desks, Roy swore and grabbed the phone away from Giles, ignoring the startled, half-indignant, "Hey!"
"Revan, tell me you got something," Roy begged. "That kinda stuff can kill in seconds."
Giles paled, sitting up straight. "What?" he blurted.
The answer was not a comfort to either man. Roy blanched and met his partner's eyes. "He said, 'I'll see what I can do.' "
While Spike dealt with a discreet call in to their Auror liaison, Ed angled for the woman who appeared to be in charge of the organized chaos in the lab parking lot. She, in turn, spotted him and hurried over.
Black hair flew out around the woman's face, brushed back both by her speed and by the wind around them. Small pearl earrings peeked out as her long hair frothed around neck and shoulders, accenting skin a few shades darker than Ed's, hinting at Indian ancestry, though her British accent made it clear she wasn't first generation. Dark brown eyes met Ed's, the woman as professional in her way as Ed was in his.
"Officer. Rose Gilvrey."
Ed halted in front of her, eyes shifting down to keep focus on the slightly shorter woman. "Rose, is this building fully evacuated?"
"Apart from central personnel."
Internally, the team leader frowned, but kept his tone brisk, with no hint of condemnation. "We need everybody out of there now."
"Tests are still in progress in the lab," Gilvery explained. "Samples of sensitive materials have to be properly contained."
Part of him was skeptical, but he'd seen Greg handle the on-scene civilians long enough to know there were some battles not worth fighting. "How many people we talking about here?"
"Two. Our chief scientist and his second, and they'll be done as soon as possible."
Ed still wasn't pleased, but moved on. The sooner they dealt with the subject, the better. "Okay, any word from the security guard?"
Gilvrey shook her head. "No, but one of our workers was found tied up in the waste disposal lockup."
Well, at least they hadn't sat around waiting for the police to show up. He liked pro-active civilians – as long as they didn't put themselves or others in danger. "Did he get any descriptions?"
Regretfully, she shook her head again. "No, he was attacked from behind, he didn't see a thing."
Over his shoulder, Sam asked, "Can you confirm how many intruders we're dealing with?"
Before Ed could voice his displeasure with Sam trying to take over Wordy's spot, two gunshots rang out.
"Shots fired!" Sam yelled.
Behind the two men, Jules turned towards the frightened lab workers and shepherded them away as she ordered, "All right, get back! You guys, back, back, back!"
Ed pinned Sam with a furious glare, demanding he fall back even as he announced, "Ben, we got shots fired. Active shooter."
"Copy," the dispatcher acknowledged.
Wordy shifted up next to his team leader as the disappointed Sam took up a spot on the opposite side, watching the door while Lou leapfrogged forward, submachine gun at the ready. Gilvrey stayed behind Ed as he took cover, sidearm out and ready.
Even as he eyed the door, Ed reeled off more orders to their dispatcher. "Let's get EMS down here immediately. We're gonna try to locate and extract any of the victims."
A glance at Wordy was all he needed; the big constable nodded once and leapfrogged past Lou to the lab door. The brunet swept out with his free hand, gesturing their teammates into formation. Lou and Sam shifted, ready, but with spots left open for their team leader and Wordy at the very front. A glance back at Spike and Jules earned twin nods; the pair would handle the rearguard.
While Wordy organized the entry, Ed glanced back at Gilvrey. "Rose? Can you help us out with a staging area inside?"
She nodded, bringing out several plastic key cards. "I've brought you pass cards. Keep them on your person. These give you access to the entire building. Though I would advise you don't go into the clean room until they're done."
Spike took the stack, passing one to Ed and one to Jules. The rest of their team could wait until the initial sweep was done.
"Okay," Ed breathed. "Spike, you ready?" The bomb tech jerked a nod, earning one in return. "Let's move," the team leader ordered, swiveling towards the door and advancing to one of the open spots. "Word. Let's do it."
Wordy moved in, ending up shoulder to shoulder with his best friend while Lou and Sam pulled the gray lab doors open. Weapons rose and remained up as the constables entered, scanning the first hallway for any signs of trouble. Their civilian contact stayed behind them, guarded by Jules and Spike, the latter toting his box of electronic goodies.
"Power's out," Ed observed.
"This shouldn't be happening," Gilvrey protested. "We have precautions against blackouts."
Sam glanced over at her. "You have backup generators?"
"Of course. But every second of downtime's dangerous."
Great. As if they needed even more danger in a bio-lab.
The trouble with being on the sidelines was the part of him that would always, always, always be a member of Team One, even once he inevitably lost his job. To watch Eddie go without him had hurt more than he could ever express, even though he knew it was necessary. After all, if he was right, then he was probably already suspended, with only his signature still required on the paperwork.
Even so, Greg couldn't quite help trailing out to the dispatcher desk. "What's going on, Ben?"
Worry sharpened at the reply. "Active shooter. No confirmed victims yet."
Before the Sergeant could speak again, a faint squeak of shoe against tile brought him around. Dr. Larry Toth, looking far more worn and old than Greg had expected. Shouldn't this be Toth's big moment? The day he was proven right about Team One and its Sergeant? Why did the man look as if he was about to do something he truly didn't want to do?
Turning back to Ben, Greg requested, "Just keep me informed, all right?"
"Sure thing, Boss."
Not for much longer, but Parker appreciated the thought. The Sergeant turned back to Toth, meeting blue-gray eyes. Eyes that held even more sorrow and anguish than his posture. But why? He knew what Toth thought of him, of his team.
Shock reverberated through him when Toth said, "Greg, I'm sorry to do this."
"Do what?" Oh, he knew what Toth was here for, but if he was going to have any shot at deflecting Sam and Jules' punishment onto himself, then he needed to antagonize Toth. Needed Toth to see him as Team One's biggest problem, its most glaring weakness. If he could convince Toth that Sam and Jules' actions were more his fault than theirs… A long shot, but what else did he have to lose?
To Parker's surprise, the next words dragged themselves out of Toth, reluctance coating each one. "I'm here to suspend you from duty."
One brow arched, but the suspended Sergeant made no reply.
After all, what was there to say?
Author note: I'm still looking for a new job, but that's just taken a serious backseat. Yesterday, the data drive of my desktop died badly enough that it will have to be shipped out for data recovery. Even worse, when I looked up the symptoms later, I discovered that the clicking noise I heard from the drive is known as the Click of Death. There is a serious possibility that when the hard drive head failed, it impacted the platters that actually store data; such an impact would destroy my data. My last backup was in late May, but thankfully, I send my stories to my Dad to read, so I've managed to recoup most of my stories. The glaring exceptions are my three latest stories, two complete and one that was in-progress with only three chapters to go. I am honestly very doubtful that I can reconstruct those stories without a heck of a lot of work and even then...
I've also lost all the updates to my notes since late May, along with at least three online passwords. My parents and I are still hoping that the drive did not destroy much data when it failed (despite the grim-sounding Click of Death), but there is no way to know until the drive is shipped to the data recovery company for evaluation.
Please pray that I will get my data back, even if it takes several weeks or even over a month. Obviously, I'll be a lot more careful going forward, but I need to get through this horror in the meantime.
This will not affect updates; the stories I was working on were slated for 2022 and with the stories from my Dad, I am good until January of 2022. I also will not allow this to stop me from writing my series. I am praying to get my data back, as reconstructing my notes and rewriting three stories is an overwhelming thought, but I know I could do it if I had to. Not sure the stories would be anywhere near as good, but they would be rewritten.