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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Jake and Heather, a beginning...

My urge to write has been fueled by Jann's recent posts, and SF's and lgl's video contributions. This a first--Jericho fiction--but I've been SO inspired by Skeet, er JAKE, the last five weeks! (big grin)

As the thunder from the missiles faded, Jake continued to track their arc across the sky. This changed everything and it was only going to get worse before it got better. If he could pry some information from Hawkins, he'd have a better understanding of where they stood. That 'pool boy' remark had elicited a definite reaction and they needed to talk. But right now, his concern was for Heather--he hadn't seen her since the fire this afternoon and he wondered about her absence tonight at Bailey's. He'd only known the girl (he couldn't help but think of her that way) a few days, but those days held a lifetime of trauma. She'd been shaken up yesterday. They'd been hoping to rescue people, only to find them dead from radiation sickness. Hell, they'd all been shaken.

After giving Hawkins a look that spoke volumes, Jake turned and kissed his mom, telling her he'd see her in the morning. He'd taken to staying up at night, keeping an eye on things in town. Most all the men were taking a turn, helping out with security. As he walked down the street, people were returning to their homes, pondering the significance of what they'd just witnessed. When he got to Heather's, she was still standing on the front porch, arms across her chest, looking up at the sky. Jake went up the steps to stand beside her.
"April told me you were hurt today, playing SuperTeacher." He smiled, but she just looked away. When he reached for her hands, she quickly stuffed them into the pockets of her jacket, flustered.
"They're OK. Just kinda sore..."
"I just wanted to make sure you're all right. Can I come in for a minute?"
"I guess..." She turned, leaving him to follow her into the house.

The living room was dark but for the glowing logs in the fireplace. She sat on the couch, drawing her knees up, tucking her bare feet under her. She stared at the fire but said nothing. Jake sat beside her, silently waiting, finally holding out his hands. She sighed, and cautiously put her hands on top of his. She couldn't resist studying him as he intently checked her burns. She chewed her lip, wondering about this man. Who he was, where he'd been. He had such strong, capable hands, but now they were extraordinarily gentle. He examined each of her fingers, then carefully probed her tender, reddened palms with his fingertips.
"No blisters. The skin's warm--tight, but dry--that's good."

Reluctantly, he let go of her hands. Still she didn't speak. She looked exhausted. No wonder, with what she'd been through. He pulled a quilt from the back of the couch and draped it around her.
"It's going to be chilly tonight, and the fire's dying–"
"Dying. Seems like everthing...dying." She put her head down on her arms.
"You should go, Jake...please." This was not the feisty, fearless Heather he'd come to know and respect. But his previous experience made it easy to recognize her signs of shock and fatigue.
"Hey, it's ok–" he leaned closer, sqeezing her shoulder.
"No, it's not ok." She looked up at him, tears welling in her eyes.
"My parents have been gone. I accepted that. I came back here, to my gram's old house. I was making it...I was doing all right. But now what? What does it mean, those missiles?? I only had a little family left--aunts and uncles, cousins...." Her eyes widened as all the implications set in. "Oh my God, Jake, some of them had babies-- babies--"

She was sobbing now, and he pulled her across his lap.
"Heather, shhsh...ahh, sweetheart, I'm here..." All he could do was let her cry-allow her to grieve. She needed to release all of her pent-up emotion. He held her, rocked her until her tears were spent and blessed exhaustion overcame her.

He carried her into her bed and covered her with the quilt. There was no way he was leaving her like this, so he kicked off his shoes and lay down beside her. Instinctively, she curled against him, knowing even in her sleep that he was there and provided comfort. He sighed, softly kissing the top of her head, stroking her hair. They would talk in the morning...maybe in time, he could find out about her extended family. But for now, they slept.

Heather woke to the early morning sunshine peeking through her curtains. She groaned softly as she rolled over, head pounding, her eyes burning. She heard Jake in the kitchen. Oh dear God, she'd had a meltdown last night. When he'd come to her, had shown her compassion, the floodgates had opened. As if he didn't have enough troubles to deal with, his own family to worry about, she'd lost it and unloaded on him. She hurried into the bathroom, hoping to pull herself together before facing him.

When she came out, Jake was sitting on the bed.
"I made you some tea..."
She sat down beside him, feeling very shy and awkward.
"Thanks....about last night-" He gently tipped her face up to meet his.
"Listen to me. You have this town, my family...me. You have me. I'll always be here for you, Heather, always. Got it?" She nodded. He reached over to wipe the single tear from her cheek, and took her face in his hands. She was completely lost in his eyes, those deep brown eyes that held so many secrets. Her own eyes fluttered shut as his lips met hers--firm, warm, insistent. She held her breath as he gently tugged at her top lip, urging her to follow his lead, all the while pulling her closer. He kissed the corners of her mouth, her nose, her lips until she opened them to his gentle searching. He wanted to taste, to savor her sweet kisses. Finally, she exhaled and leaned into his chest, sliding her hands up his back to hold him. She gave up any doubts about him and realized she was quickly losing her heart. Jake was here, with her, and he was going to make everything all right again.