Sam closed his eyes and sighed as he put a hand on the glass doors of the large building, the Toronto Strategic Response Unit Headquarters located in downtown Toronto. Taking a deep breath, he opened his eyes, turned around smiling, and waved at the woman sitting in the driver’s seat of a sleek black Mercedes-Benz C Class he had just gotten out of. The woman smiled and waved back. Sam turned around and walked into the building, knowing that the woman, his Omega sister Natalie, would not leave until he was inside. Inside, he walked over to the Dispatcher’s Desk, waving at Constables Peter Henderson and Sidney Nelson, two Alphas who worked as dispatcher for the SRU.
As he handed over to Tim Horton’s to go cups, he said with a soft aristocratic British accent, “One double-double large coffee for Peter and one medium double-double for Sidney. How you are able to consume that is completely beyond my comprehension.”
“Thank you, and you look stunning as always.” Peter said, accepting the cup and taking a sip.
“It is liquid gold, and how you can’t stand it is beyond my comprehension.” Laughed Sergeant Roland ‘Rollie’ Cray, an Alpha on SRU’s Team Three as he walked in to the building. He accepted the cup that Sam held out for him.
“It’s amazing how you are able to look so amazing, and yet still be one of the first ones to arrive and last ones to leave every day.” Commented Sidney.
“I’ve been wondering, why do you dress this way, when you have to change into either your uniform or your workout clothes after you arrive?” asked Rollie, taking a sip of his coffee.
He was referring to the tasteful ensemble Sam was wearing that day, consisting of white top-black bottom pencil dress, black and white pumps, with a black clutch purse and a diamond and pearl jewelry set (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/474566879469180692/). He also had his golden floor length, wavy hair pulled into a chignon bun (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/474566879469228737/).
Sam laughed and replied, “Every day, my fiancé Rahul, drops me off and picks me up. This is my way of showing him how much I love him. Even though it is very early in the morning or late in the evening.”
“By dressing up?” asked Constable Riley Mills, an Alpha on Team Four.
“Yes. It’s my way of showing him that I want to make myself look beautiful for him, even for a little while.” By this point, Sam had a slight blush dusting his high cheekbones, making him look almost ethereal in the sun rays from the window. “Though, with the wedding coming up this weekend, my sister has taken over chauffeur duties since he can’t.”
“Why can’t he drive you just because the wedding is around the corner?” Riley asked, curious.
“It is tradition, that the bride and groom do not see or communicate with one another for a time before the wedding. The longer the time, the better, however at least a month of no communication apart from letters or notes. We do not see each other for a bit longer though. It makes seeing each other for the first time as a married couple that much more sweeter.”
“That is so cute. And romantic.” Constable Kira Marlowe said as she took over from Sidney, who was packing up to leave. She was an Omega dispatcher for the SRU. Her, Sam and Constable Winnie Camden were some of the only Omegas even in the SRU, with Sam being the only one actually on an SRU Team. “Anyways, the rest of Team One is on their way, so you’d better get changed.” She added to Sam. Sam nodded and went to his change room. Of all the members of the SRU, he was the only one who had their own locker/ change room.
Going inside, he closed the door and leaned against it, sighing. He shook his head, put his purse on the counter, and went to his locker to remove his uniform, workout clothes and a small contact lens case. Putting his uniform on a hook, he removed his jewelry, placing them in a small bowl on the counter along with the lens case, before removing his heel and putting them beside his locker. He unzipped his dress, put it on a hangar and put the dress on the hook next to his uniform. He put on a pair of socks, before putting on his sweats and t-shirt. He turned to the mirror and opened the contact case, before removing a light blue contact lens from his eye and placing it inside the case. He repeated the process with other eye, closing it before putting the contact inside the case. With his eyes closed, he took a deep breath, waited a few seconds, before slowly releasing it.
He opened his now purple-blue eyes, and the world was awash in color, from the soft golds around the locker room to the pink surrounding his jewelry, it was as if he was seeing everything in a different light. As the colors began to get brighter, Sam hurriedly closed his eyes.
“Stupid.” He muttered to himself. “I know better to try and see without the contact lenses. Being able to see beyond the outward appearances can be taxing, especially if I am in a place that gives me more negative feelings than positive ones.” He slapped himself on the side of the head, before reapplying his contact lenses. Looking down at his left hand, he rubbed the 18k diamond ring on his ring finger (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/474566879462201659/), before he removed the ring, put it on his military dog tags chain and put it back around his neck. He tucked the chain into his shirt. Shaking his head and checking to make sure his hair and contact lenses were secure, he left the change room with a smile and went to the gym, waving at Kiera and Peter as he passed the Dispatcher’s desk.
Inside, he headed straight for the exercise bike. As he began his warm-up exercises next to it, Sam contemplated what it could be that Deputy Chief of Police, Commander Norman Holleran wanted to talk to him about. Yesterday, after he reached home, the Commander had sent him an e-mail to him saying that there was something very important they needed to discuss, and that he would call for him sometime during the day. When Sam read the e-mail, he had a feeling he knew what it was about, his upcoming wedding.
He had just gotten on the bike and started riding, when the rest of Team One arrived. They entered in pairs, talking about their days off or the more recent updates in their personal lives. First to walk in were Constables Michelangelo ‘Spike’ Scarlatti, the team’s demolitions expert and technical analyst, and Lewis ‘Lou’ Young, the team’s less-lethal weapons operator. They were discussing Spike’s estrangement with his father over the former’s position with the SRU. Following Spike and Lou were Constables Julian Callaghan, the team’s intelligence gatherer and profiler, and Kevin ‘Wordy’ Wordsworth, the team’s entry and Close Quarter Battles expert and less-lethal weapons specialist. They were talking about Wordy’s youngest daughter, Ally’s antics with her older sisters Emma and Katie. Last to enter were Sergeant Gregory ‘Greg’ Parker, the team’s leader and main crisis negotiator, and Constable Edward ‘Ed’ Lane, the team’s tactical leader and secondary crisis negotiator. They were discussing Clark’s recital that had taken place that weekend.
“Well, you’re on time.” Greg said to Sam, in a surprised tone, as he walked to the treadmill.
“For once.” Muttered Ed quietly, though loud enough for the rest of the team to hear and make sounds of acknowledgment, as he went to the weights. The rest of the team also spread out and began their workouts. They didn’t realize that Sam was always in early, usually spending the time restocking supplies, like the first-aid kits and SUVs, or helping Holleran with Admin or his own Liaising duties with the military, and that whenever he was “late”, it was due to him helping someone out and not due to selfish or petty reasons.
Sam simply smiled at them and continued his workout, managing to keep the hurt he felt at the callous remarks hidden.
Before anyone could say anything else, Peter poked his head in and said, “Sam, Commander Holleran says he wants to see you in Briefing Room 1 in 5 mins.”
“Did he say why?” Julian asked, stopping his weightlifting.
“Ohhh. I wonder what it could be about.” Spike said.
“No, just that he wants to talk to Sam.” Peter replied, before leaving.
“I wonder if it has anything to do with Sam’s constant tardiness?” stage-whispered Spike.
“Or his constant need to play the hero?” Lou chipped in.
Sam ignored them as he did a few cool down stretches and went to the briefing room. Just outside, he saw Team Four, minus Troy who was already inside, also heading in. Riley moved beside Sam, and as they walked in together, Riley gently nudged Sam to an empty seat next to Troy, while taking the one next to the tiny blonde. The remainder of Team Four took the available seats or stood around the room as Teams Two, Three and Five were also already inside, facing the white board.
Teams Two and Three having come in because of an e-mail Holleran had sent out the night before, despite them being off rotation until the following Monday.
“What’s going on? Do any of you guys know?” Riley asked, looking around.
“I will explain in a few minutes Constable.” Came a stern voice from the doorway. Riley jumped and looked sheepish, rubbing the back of his head.
Holleran came in and stood in front of them.
“I have asked all of you here today, because two officers will be leaving for some time. One will be gone longer than the other.” He said, looking at all of them.
“Sir, is this about Declan leaving for a family matter this Friday?” Asked Troy. He was referring to Constable Declan Freeman of Team Four. He was leaving for his cousin's wedding that was taking place this weekend, and returning in 2 weeks.
“Yes, Constable Peters, it is. And I too, will be leaving for the same two weeks.” Holleran said, looking at Troy.
“Okay, that’s got Declan covered. And you, apparently. Who is the other officer? And why would all of us need to be here?” Asked Riley, still confused. He was one of the newer recruits, having joined less than two months ago, so he wasn't fully up to date with all the drama.
“The second person who is leaving at the same time is Constable Sam Braddock. He will be returning in two months.” Holleran said, causing Riley to look at Sam.
“You’re leaving too?” The rookie asked Sam, before looking between Sam and Declan. “Wait a minute. Declan, Sam’s the cousin whose wedding you’re going to? And Commander, you’re attending the same wedding?”
“Yes.” Replied Declan to both questions. He spoke in lilting British tones.
“Now, because a member, and the primary sniper from Teams One and Four will be unavailable for some time,” Holleran said, bringing them back on track. “You can either switch team members as the situation calls for it or you can make use of the cross-training you have done. Now, you are well aware of the pros and cons to the switching around. And you also know the pros for the second option, however, the con is that, while it can be done for two weeks, it would be taxing on the team if it has to be done for two months.”
“What about Team Five?” asked Sergeant Hassan Nazari of Team Five. “We are the reserve Team, so this weekend, we can go through a few drills together, while we’re here, and if there aren’t any Hot Calls.”
“Yea, that could work.” Constable Sebastian ‘Bas’ Korbeld of Team Five said. “it would also reduce the possibility of any confusions that may come up from last minute changes to the roster.”
Holleran nodded, with a thoughtful look on his face.
“Or, instead of banking on the hope that there are no Hot Calls, maybe one the other Teams can come in and cover for Team One this weekend? I mean until Tuesday, and instead of Team One going off rotation from Tuesday, they can cover that Team’s shift?” Troy said, his head cocked to the side as he looked at everyone. “Where is Team One anyway? Shouldn’t they be here?”
“When I spoke with him yesterday, Sergeant Parker said that he wanted his team to work on Close Quarters Battles when they weren’t on a Hot Call today.” Holleran informed them.
Everyone nodded, and Riley asked, “Which Team is going to take over?”
They all looked at each other, before Teams Two and Three turned and looked at Sam.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” He asked, with a slightly weirded-out look on his face, leaning back in his chair.
“You are the one that makes the rosters. So, pick a Team that would be able to cover for yours this weekend, while they’re training with Team Five.” Rollie said, with a pleading look on his face.
“Okay. Sam pick a Team.” Riley said. “I’m getting hungry.” He pouted, rubbing his stomach.
Sam laughed and went to the white board.
“Alright, Team Two. Any commitments this weekend? Particularly ones that can’t be shifted? And no, your in-laws’ anniversary party is not something that you can miss. Before you say anything, make notes on the pads in front of you.” Sam asked/ said, while pre-emptively shutting down a few questions that would have come up. Team Two thought about their plans for the weekend, pulling out their phones to double check, before writing changes down on the legal pads in front of them.
Team Three also took out their phones and checked their calendars, writing down possible changes.
Hassan asked if Team Five was needed any longer, and when Holleran replied that they weren’t, Hassan asked if they could leave. He wanted to get some workout training in before any possible Hot Calls came in. Holleran agreed.
Sam’s phone rang. Looking at it, he picked it up and said, “I have to take this. It shouldn’t take long.” He turned to Declan, “Declan, if they’re done before I get back, just come get me, please.”
Declan nodded, and Sam left the room, answering his phone. Team Five followed and headed to the gym after waving to Sam.
“Hello?” Sam said.
“Hi, is this Sam Braddock?” came a female voice from the other end.
“Yes, this is Sam Braddock. Who is this?” Sam asked, walking outside into the warm morning light.
“This is Angie, from Petal House Florists.”
“Oh. Yes, Angie, how may I help you? Is everything alright with our order?”
“Yes sir, everything is alright. I am just calling to confirm your order before we go ahead and put it together. Just a precaution, in case there were any miscommunication.”
“I understand. What is it that you have on record?”
“We have an order for 2000 Summer Love Bouquets for the decorations, 50 Regal Rose Bouquets for the bridal party, and 2 Wedding Bells Bouquets for the bride.”
“Yes, that would be correct.”
“And they are all to be delivered this Friday morning?”
Declan came out and motioned to Sam that they were ready. Sam nodded, motioning to his cousin that he will be inside in a few minutes. Declan nodded and went back in.
“Perfect. Please give me one moment while I confirm. Alright. Thank you very much for your patience and good luck for your big day.”
“Thank you, Angie. You have a pleasant day as well.” Sam hung up the phone and went inside.
Returning to the briefing room, he asked, “Okay, what have we got? Team Two?” Sam went to the white board and stood ready to make notes on the chart that was drawn while he was outside.
He noticed that Holleran and Declan were on the phone, and judging by their emotions of exasperation, they were finalizing wedding details.
“I’ve got my parent’s wedding anniversary/ family reunion on Saturday. ring shopping with my brother on Sunday, she wants to propose to her Omega boyfriend next week on their anniversary, but I can tell her I can’t go. And my youngest brother is getting his wisdom teeth removed on Friday, so I’ve got chauffer and babysitting duty.” Constable Donatello ‘Don’ Contarini, the team’s Tactical Leader, said.
“My plans were Netflix and popcorn, since I have no love life, much to Okaa-sama’s chagrin.” Stated Sergeant Moriyama ‘Mori’ Shuko, using the Japanese term for mom when referring to his mother.
“Same, only mine is because my wife is visiting her parents this weekend.” Said Constable Leland Johnson, the technical expert, said.
The remaining two members of Team Two made similar comments.
“Okay,” Sam said, making a few notes in certain areas. “Team Three?”
“I have my son’s recital on Friday, and my wife is taking the kids to see my parents on Saturday. I was going to go too, but we can chat over Skype.” Rollie said.
“Sam, the group from the SGC have reached. Where should I tell them to go? The Starlight Estate or the Stardust Resort?” Declan asked from beside the window, where he was on the phone.
“Straight to the Resort. It’ll be more practical, since we’re all moving there within the next two days anyways.” Sam said looking up at him, before turning back to Team Three. “The rest of you?”
“I was going to go furniture shopping this weekend. My sofa set has been completely torn through by my neighbors’ cats. But I can wait until next weekend.” Said Constable Quintin ‘Quin’ James, the team’s technical expert.
“I’m having the ‘meet the families’ dinner on Friday with my Omega boyfriend and our families. Other than that, I’m available. I can totally push the dentist appointment to another time.” Said Constable Brandon James, the team’s primary sniper and Close Quarter’s Battles expert, shuddering when he spoke about his dentist appointment.
“Okay,” Sam said, laughing lightly and making more notes on the white board. “We have Fridays that can’t be changed all around, one full weekend that can’t be changed for Donatello, and one weekend we want to try not to change for Roland. What is the condition of your furniture, Quintin? Are you certain shopping can wait until next week?”
“Definitely.” Quin said, not using any of his trademark sarcasm because he knew Sam would take it seriously.
“Sam, the tailor wants to know whether we’re going to pick up our clothes or they need to send them over, and when. And if they’re sending them when and where do they send them to.” Holleran asked, Rollie was about to say what his plans were.
“They need to send them over, after the final fittings on Thursday. So, right after we leave, they send it to the Resort. We will be splitting up for the last-minute checks, or returning to work, so we will not be returning to the Resort for quite some time.” Sam said to him, before turning to Rollie. “You were saying?”
“I really don’t mind telling Lisa to take the kids to my parents’ place on her own. They live in Thunder Bay, and it’s not that far.” Rollie said.
“I know. However, if you are able to spend time with your children, I do not wish to take away that precious time.” Sam said softly, as his hand absently drifted to his stomach.
“Okay, I’ll call Lisa as soon as we’re done, and talk to her. And I will spend as much time as humanly possible with them this week. Fair enough?” Rollie said, realizing that it was very important to the tiny blond that Rollie spend time with his wife and kids.
Sam nodded, laughing. He made a few more notes on the board.
“We can have Team Two, minus Donatello, come in on Friday, and Team Three can come in on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.” Sam said, summarizing the roster. “Then, from Tuesday, everyone minus myself and Declan, will be back on regular rotation. Everyone alright with that?”
With nods from everyone, Sam said to Holleran, “Okay, give me give me about 20 mins, I’ll type this up and send it to you.”
Holleran nodded, before returning to his phone call. Sam sat and began to update the roster, and sending it to Holleran.
Just as Sam hit send, Kiera’s voice came over the P.A. system, “Team One, Hot Call. Shots fired at Grand Summit Financial Holdings.”