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The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

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There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?

Lieutenant Sarah Graham -- Mace to most -- was all out of "cope" for the moment.

Not that she thought anyone at her new command noticed as she was really good at locking her emotions and feelings behind a mask. After the original talk with Fee and Becker, and then later Matt, she hadn't spoken to anyone but Lester about her brother. It had never come up with anyone else and the last thing she wanted to do was introduce him and how she was feeling into conversation -- especially once she started to realize that there were at least three different mind sets about him here at the ARC.

Group one believed he was a hero. Group two believed he was batshit. Group three believed he was a traitor.

He was her older brother and had been her hero, but now Mace didn't know how to feel about him or what to think and it was tearing her apart.

It wasn't interfering with her job -- she was too good of a soldier for that -- but it was causing her a great deal of personal conflict and pain. There was an excess of emotional energy building up in her system and she wasn't going to be able to keep it under control if she didn't do something.

When the Valkyries came back from the latest call, Mace decided that she needed to just go out and do something; even if it was wrong. She got cleaned up, made sure their kits were refurbished for the next time they were needed and then she bid her team good night. She was halfway out the door and didn't notice the glances that Rachel and Lily exchanged with each other. Nor, did she notice Lily flipping open her mobile phone.

 

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you

In the past, when she needed to let loose, she usually had something at hand that she could blow up and no one would have had a problem with it. However, she was still feeling things out on this new assignment and after the incident with her being related to Stephen, she wasn't yet ready to push the boundaries with those in charge too much at this moment. Therefore, while making something explode would make her feel a lot better right now, that was out of the question in her mind.

Finding someone to have a meaningless shag with was also out of the question -- and she wasn't going to delve too much into why she wasn't willing to do that. She didn't need to have her brain working on more than one emotional issue to figure out at a time.

That left the old standby of drinking and fighting. It wasn't pretty, but it would get her out of her own head and right now she needed that desperately.

As she guided the Ducati down the road, she wasn't even completely sure where she was going. She just knew that she was slipping into auto pilot in more than one place in her life and she needed a release of some kind before she ended up melting down while at work. She couldn't do that to herself and more importantly, she couldn't do that to Fee and Hil.

It wasn't until she parked her bike that she realized she had ended up at a pub she had gone to a couple of times in the past. Of course, Stephen had been alive at that time and the last time he had pulled her out of the place kicking and screaming.

She impatient brushed away the tear that slid down her face.

"Not now," she muttered. She wasn't going to cry, not here and not tonight. This was to keep her from having one more night of camping inside her head and crying over the brother she just didn't think she knew any longer.

Squaring her shoulders, she pulled her leather jacket down and started toward the door.

Three drinks later she was starting to feel a little better and a fourth drink found her at one of the shabby pool tables in the corner. It was after her sixth drink that the trouble started. Well, others would probably call it trouble, but at this point, Mace was calling it "fun".

 

There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

When the truck pulled up outside of the pub, Davis frowned slightly. "Are we sure that she's in there?"

Lily looked down at the device in her hand and nodded. "We're sure. This is where the signal led us to. And there's her bike."

Rachel was already getting out to stand on the gravel of the parking lot as she looked around the surrounding area. "This is where she is," she said quietly. "It's exactly the kind of place that she thinks she needs right now."

"Do you think we should call Fiona and tell her what's going on?"

"No," Lily answered. putting her device into her pocket. "We'll look after Mace and call Fiona after we've got her some place safe so we can talk to her. Mace knows Fee and knows she can count on her both on the job and outside of it. Right now, we need to show Mace that we're there for her, too. I think it would help her."

Davis shook his head as he came to stand with the two women. "Why do you two think something is going on with her, anyway? She seemed all right to me."

Rachel gave him a faint smile. "That's because it's what she wanted all of us to think."

"She's hurting," Lily agreed. "She's hurting and she's keeping it locked inside where it is starting to eat at her. So, she's trying to escape it without dealing with it." Lily wrinkled her nose as she looked at the door of the pub. "And any pain that makes someone come to a place like this to escape it is one that we need to step in to help with." Lily looked at Davis and Rachel seriously. "From what I understand, besides Becker and Fee, we're the only family she has now."

Davis sighed in comprehension. "Only she doesn't yet realize that we're her family."

Lily nodded.

Hearing loud noises coming from the pub, all three of them started walking to the door.

"We should probably go in and get her before she blows the place up," Lily decided as they walked.

"I don't know," Davis said, looking at the place with distaste in his eyes. "I think perhaps blowing this place up might count as a public service."

"Not if Lester has to fill out extra paper work."

 

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you...

By the time she had started thinking about getting seriously drunk, Mace hadn't been so set on looking for a fight. She had decided that just getting slammed would make for a lot less questions than showing up with bruises to work the next day would. That would be why she was caught off guard by the trouble happening at her pool table.

It started out simply enough, one of the men she was playing against accused her of cheating because she had won money from him. She hadn't yet figured out how to cheat at pool and in her inebriated state calmly told the man out loud that if he was stupid enough to get cheated at pool, then he deserved to lose his money. After all, if he was unable to stop the wrong balls from going into the hole then maybe he should find a new activity.

She didn't realize until the first punch was thrown that he thought she was insulting his masculinity.

The fact that she started giggling probably didn't help the situation, either. The giggling is what allowed one punch to hit her and even as she was thinking that her jaw was going to hurt tomorrow, she found herself getting caught up in the fight.

It was a fight that quickly became a brawl, and that wasn’t good.

Brawls usually meant that the police got telephoned and that was the last thing she needed right now. Because she was fairly certain that Lester would be less than thrilled over her needing to get bailed out of lock up.

That didn't stop her from kicking one man in the knee and hitting another over the head with her pool cue. It got a little blurry after that, but the next thing Mace knew, she was standing on one of the pool tables and there was a cue in each hand. A voice in her head somewhere asked if she even knew how to fight with two sticks while she was this drunk, but because the voice sounded like Stephen, she ignored it. At a time like this, she didn't need to have finesse with her weapons, she just had to be able to hit people.

Which she did. A few times.

At some point, it got quiet and Mace realized that most of the attention was focused on her. One of the larger of the men she had been fighting with smiled slowly.

"Little girl, you are in serious need of some back up right about now."

It was while Mace was trying to think of an answer for him that she heard the unmistakable sound of a hammer being drawn back on a weapon she could probably identify later.

"Yeah, that would be us."

Blinking, Mace looked towards the door and met the dark eyes of her teammate, Rachel. When she saw that Lily and Davis were with her and all of them not only had weapons, but were still in uniform, she struggled for something intelligent to say.

"Hi!" She finally managed to say as she used one of the cues to keep herself from falling over sideways and embarrassing herself.

 

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you...

She wasn't sure how they got her off of the table and out of the door, but the next thing she remembered, she was sitting in the backseat of a truck and Rachel was sitting next to her.

"My bike?"

"Taken care of," Lily said from the front seat as she turned to look at Mace. "Honey, you're a mess."

"You should see the other guy," Mace responded.

"We did," Davis said dryly. "All five of them."

Mace blinked and then she turned her head slightly to look at Rachel. "Five?"

"Five," Rachel agreed and Mace couldn't tell what she thought about it.

They pulled up to someone's flat and Mace felt herself ushered into the place -- she didn't notice who unlocked the door, but she was ushered in and sitting on a sofa before she could think.

"Want to talk about it," Rachel asked her.

"No." It was Mace's automatic response.

"I'm sorry, that wasn't a real question," Lily said, sitting down next to her while Rachel took the other side. Mace looked confused as Davis sat on the table in front of her.

The three of them had effectively penned her in.

"The thing is Mace ... Sarah ..." Rachel said quietly. "Is we're a team. But we're more than a team. We've become a family, and now you're our family, too. When one of the family is hurting, we're there to help with the pain."

She started to deny it, but Davis shook his head.

"We know the signs. We've seen it before." His voice was a lot more serious than she had ever heard him before. "You're hurting and you're running. Your way of running is tearing you apart."

Lily started working on cleaning the wounds on Mace's face. "They got you pretty good in the jaw and you've also got a fairly good cut above your eye."

"I only got hit once," Mace mumbled.

"No, you only felt one hit," Lily corrected. "You have wounds on your face and your knuckles are pretty well messed up."

Mace looked down at her hands and she was surprised to see the torn and bloody skin staring back up at her. "I didn't feel any of it."

"Of course not," Rachel said with some sympathy. "How much did you drink before you started fighting with the patrons?"

"I didn't start the fight." It wasn't a good sign that she actually had to think hard about that one. "Seven ...no eight."

"No wonder you didn't feel anything," Davis commented as the two women winced. "What were you drinking?"

"I don't remember," she admitted. "It just hurt so much and then I wasn't hurting any more."

"And that's why we came to get you. Anything could have happened to you while you were like that and we weren't taking chances with your well being," Lily said as she moved to clean the blood off of Mace's hands. "It was better that we get you before anything happened to you than Fiona and Becker went to clean up after whomever decided to mess with you while you're like this."

She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes, but she couldn't pull her hands away from Lily to squeeze against her eyes and forbid the tears from coming out.

"Tell us about Stephen," Rachel said gently.

There was something about the look in Rachel's eyes when she made the request and against all planning, Mace felt herself breaking down and there was nothing that she could do to stop it. All if it came pouring out of her as she sat there. She told them of how he was her overprotective big brother when she was a kid and how he tried to continue that when she went to Sandhurst against all of his advice. She told them about him dying while she was on her first tour and how she was lied to about his death. She told them about how she found out Stephen worked at the ARC and the conversation with Fee and Becker about what really happened to her big brother.

Through the sorrow that she couldn't keep hidden and the rage that she couldn't control, three people sat with her and three sets of arms were there to give her comfort. As every tear and every curse came out of her, the bond of family seemed to strengthen. When she had broken so much inside that she couldn't even lift her head up, they were there to hold her and encourage her -- and that was when she noticed that Fee had arrived at some point. Her oldest friend and now her commander had seen her shattering and it didn't change anything that she could see in Fee's eyes. She thought that was a good thing, something she had been afraid of seeing if she did break down.

"You're not alone, Mace," Fee said gently. "You're never alone."

Mace could feel herself starting to cry again, but this time there was a cleansing nature to the tears. She still didn't understand so much about what happened with her brother, but at least she knew that she had people that would help her get through the pain and the confused betrayal she was feeling.

It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah...