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Friday, January 19, 2007

The Kiss, Revisited

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Okay, I’ll admit it, I've been dying to revisit this. While I didn’t want to play ducks and drakes with the series canon, I imagined that there was a little more to this scene than we were given, starting at the end when Jake is looking after Heather. So here's how I wrote it, seen almost entirely from Heather’s perspective, with all of the dialogue from the original episode intact until my slightly alternative ending. I have saved this tale for last, since it was my hope to go out with a bang, or at least a kiss. With this story, I am going on hiatus. Clarke

DISCLAIMER: “Jericho” and all characters, storylines, and trademarks associated with the program are the intellectual property of Junction Entertainment, Fixed Mark Productions, CBS Paramount Television and/or CBS Studios, Inc. The following story is a work of fan fiction intended solely for the entertainment of the writer and a small circle of friends. No infringement of copyright is intended or should be implied. If anyone at CBS happens to read this, please permit me this brief sojourn in your sandbox. Thanks.


“I don’t think this is such a good idea,” Heather cautioned Jake as the two of them stood next to her old truck in the Jericho town square, outside Gracie’s supermarket. She had trouble deciding which she really meant: the ninety-mile trip to Rogue River, or using her truck to get there. Both, she thought.

“No choice,” Jake replied matter-of-factly, throwing his supplies into the back of the truck. He had to get the antibiotics for his father. Without them, he’d be dead before the day was gone.

“Well, then, at least let me do some work on the car,” Heather pleaded with him. She'd meant to say “truck,” but she wasn't thinking clearly. Her worries over Jake were flustering her.

“There’s no time,” Jake insisted. “I have to go now.”

He stopped for a second, considering her comments.

“What…wait. You said it was sturdy.”

Sturdy was one thing -- fast was another. Heather had done the best job she could refurbishing the truck, but she knew it wasn’t enough. The fact that it ran at all, after the EMP, was a miracle. Most of the other vehicles in Jericho had been turned into useless, sitting scrap metal.

“Well, sturdy, yeah…but what if you need to outrun something?”

“Why? How fast will it go?” Jake queried her.

She fudged. “I don't know. Thirty, maybe forty miles an hour -- best case, downhill -- and not for very long,” she added anxiously.

Jake ran his hand over his face. He hadn’t expected this.

Heather was almost apologetic.

“See, this is what I'm saying. Maybe you should go on horseback.”

“A horse is slower than that,” Jake told her.

“A horse is less likely to explode,” she said, seriously, in frustration, feeling like she was not being heard.

Jake glanced at her for a moment. “I’ll take my chances,” he decided, brandishing his gun as if to show that he was prepared. He turned and headed for the truck, apparently ready to leave.

Heather felt her heart climb into her throat. Things were already getting bad in Jericho. God only knew what it was like in Rogue River. If the truck broke down, or if he had to get out of harm's way in a hurry…

What if something happened to him, because of her?

She didn't want to think about that. In fact, she didn't want him to go at all. The look on her face escalated from worry to panic. She was scared. And she didn‘t scare easily.

Heather hurried after Jake, her increasing concern coming out in a torrent of pointless words.

“Okay, well, then, at least open her up easy -- make sure you have enough car left in case you need to ask for a lot in a hurry.” She really wasn’t herself; she’d said “car“ instead of “truck“ a second time. "And remember,“ she babbled, “the gas tank on the thing is on the left hand side, so if somebody decides to start shooting at you“ -- her anguish came through loud and clear -- “make sure it's not on that side!”

Jake was becoming impatient. He stared her down. “Anything else?”

The two looked at each other.

Oh, God, yes, thought Heather. Everything. And how can I tell you?

The look went on, endlessly.

Heather was frozen in place.

A little voice whispered to her: You may never see him alive again.

She argued with herself. For God’s sake, Heather, tell him how you feel! But words failed her. He’s going. It’s now or never. Do something. Do it!

She did.

Heather rushed to Jake, threw her arms around his neck, and poured all of her emotions into him with a passionate kiss he could never have expected.

She had never dared such a thing in her life.

And after a moment, the miracle happened.

He’s kissing me back, she realized. He didn’t pull away. He didn’t run off, or push me aside. Jake Green is kissing me back!

All of her lonely years -- there had been so many of them, starting in junior high school, almost as soon as she'd become interested in boys -- slipped away like a hated old cloak that, at long last, she'd been able to discard.

Heather abandoned herself entirely to him.

Her hands stirred, carefully, one around his neck, the other against his chest. She pressed her lips to his -- strong, tender, perfect. She suddenly felt his hands on her back, gentle, sensual, caressing her, embracing her, drawing her closer.

Bliss, Heather thought, melting in his arms.

She hadn’t even been sure Jake had such passion in him, let alone that he would share it with her. They’d barely known each other. Until now…

The world had long since stopped turning.

Fervent, smoldering, the kiss lingered, until Heather finally, reluctantly pulled away. Her forehead touched his for a tender moment. She was doe-eyed, totally lost in him. Jake bit his lower lip, showing just a hint of a smile, obviously pleasantly surprised by the whole thing.

My God, Heather thought, I’ve moved him. I got through. He knows I care.
He cares.

Her gamble had paid off.

She could barely breathe.

Heather looked up at him, misty, unable to say anything at all for a handful of seconds.

Finally, she found words.

“Come back in one piece,” she said to him in a half-whisper, her voice full of emotion.

Jake chuckled just a little.

“I will…I promise.”

Heather nodded at him as if to say, You will, won’t you?

Jake knowingly nodded back, slowly, gently, reassuringly.

They understood each other, now. Something had passed between them -- more than just a kiss. There were feelings here that would have to be discovered…later, she thought, when Jake came back from Rogue River and the crisis with Johnston was past. She would help his father in any way she could. Once he's gone, I'll go over to his house, she decided.

Heather couldn’t stop looking at Jake. She’d never been this close. His eyes were amazing -- dark and glistening, like sharp gemstones, with depths and facets that she desperately wanted to explore.

Her arms were still around him. She didn’t want to let go.

There was an awkward moment as she tried to find herself.

“I -- I thought you were going to go,” she stammered.

“I’m waiting on Eric,” Jake told her.

“Oh,” she said, with a nervous laugh.

She hadn’t known he wasn’t going to Rogue River by himself. That made her feel better, but it also made her feel silly for worrying so much. Eric would be riding shotgun. And she would feel even sillier if Eric saw her like this, in a clinch with his brother.

Heather slowly began to back away. She broke into a self-conscious smile.

“Um…watch out for giant irradiated ants out there,” she blurted out, thinking of the first thing that came to mind, an old science-fiction movie she’d watched before the bombs fell.

That amused Jake just a little. “Always do,” he smiled, turning to the truck.

Shut up, Heather!, she told herself.

“Ooo-kay,” she muttered under her breath, turning away, embarrassed. She started to walk toward the entrance to Gracie’s store.

Jake looked after her. He put his hands on the truck, shaking his head. What in the world was he getting into? She sure wasn’t anything like Emily. What kind of girl was this?

He liked her. He planned to find out.

Heather kept walking, her pace getting quicker. Damn it, Heather, she said to herself, you kissed him, and he kissed you back, and you haven’t felt this way this since Jason surprised you with that kiss at the Christmas party at teacher’s college five years ago, and you have to go and ruin it with some stupid comment about giant ants.

She thought she was going to cry, and wanted to be inside before she did.

Jake was still watching. Her gait spoke volumes -- she was almost running for cover. He thought he heard a sniffle. Was she suddenly upset, tearful?

He wasn’t about to leave her like that.

“Heather, wait a minute,” he called to her, leaving the truck to follow her.

Oh, don’t, Heather thought. Just leave me alone. She walked even faster.

“Heather,” Jake said again, finally catching up with her just before she entered Gracie‘s. He put a hand on her shoulder, then both hands, turning her around. Tears were beginning to roll down her cheeks.

Suddenly she was back in junior high school again, feeling terribly foolish. Now he’s going to tell me how stupid I've been, she thought. He’s going to tell me that what just happened didn’t really happen.

Heather braced herself.

She was in for a surprise.

“It’s okay,” Jake said to her, a little out of breath, in the sweetest voice she’d ever heard from him. “Really, it is. I never thought…”

Heather just looked at him, in sheer wonderment.

And then Jake leaned down and kissed her again.

Oh my God, she thought as she caught her breath.

It was a soft kiss, a kiss with sincerity, confidence. A kiss of consolation, but not a kiss for second place. A kiss meant to reassure her, to ease her pain.

It did.

It was much more than okay.

I’m dreaming all of this, Heather thought. I’m going to wake up at home, with my father knocking at the bedroom door, scolding me to get up and run some church errands for him.

But it was real. He was real.

It was making her head spin.

Jake gently pulled away, grasped her shoulders with a smile, and started to walk back toward the truck, where Eric had arrived and was waiting for him. Her eyes followed him, dreamily. He gave her that cocksure grin she had grown to love, the one she had seen that first day on the school bus, and at the mine when he’d returned to rescue her.

“I’ll be back,” he told her, with only the slightest hint of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Heather couldn’t say a word. Smitten, she watched Jake and Eric hop into her old truck and go, headed down the dangerous interstate to whatever waited for them in Rogue River. Her hand went to her throat. Her feelings, her heart were following him.

She recalled what she had said, and meant:

Come back in one piece.

Whatever came, Heather would be waiting.