True North by mainemom
Summary:

Jake and Heather find out that they are no longer all that different from each other.


Categories: Jake/Heather Characters: Heather Lisinski, Jake Green
Episode/Spoilers For: None
Genres: Romance
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: No Word count: 4199 Read: 19968 Published: 18 Dec 2008 Updated: 18 Dec 2008

1. The Cabin by mainemom

The Cabin by mainemom

 
"Jimmy, have you seen Heather?" Jake questioned as he entered the sheriff's office. He'd checked all the regular places she shoulfd have been but she was nowhere to be found. The list of repairs that needed to be done before winter hit was a mile long but she wasn't at the town garage or on one of the many windmills that needed to be winterized. Though the war was over and the United States were again united, Jericho was still off the grid in many ways. Most of the major cities were in different phases of reconstruction and the smaller towns, though getting supplies on a fairly regular basis would have to fend for themselves in some areas until major utility companies made it out to them. So that left Heather in charge of a band of jack-of-all-trade types shoring up everything as best they could.

Mrs. Coolidge had stopped Jake as he left Gracie Leigh's. Heather had put in a request for some parts that were still unavailable through "official" channels and had dropped in to see if Dale could procure them on his next supply run. Mrs. Coolidge had informed him that the church organ was still not functioning and that Heather had promised to have it up and running for church services this coming Sunday. When first approached about the problem, Jake had tactfully tried to tell Mrs. Coolidge that "church organ" wasn't exactly high up on their priority list at the moment but Heather knowing that faith was a major reason that many had survived the last few years agreed that fixing the organ would bring back a small sense of normalcy. Jake also recalled that Heather told her that she would "get to it as soon as she could." Mrs. Coolidge being 80 years old took this to mean by Sunday. Jake Green was used to standing up against anyone and everything but he drew the line at 80 year old great-grandmothers and told her that he would see what the situation was with Heather and get back to her.

When Jimmy let out a sigh, Jake could tell that something was up. "Jake, Heather got a letter from the President's office a couple of days ago. Jessie-Lyn delivered it here for her figuring it was important." Jimmy paused and shuffled some papers he was holding before he looked Jake in the eye again. "I figured it must be bad news if she isn't around, figured she needed some space." Jimmy was trying to gauge Jake's reaction when he nodded and turned to head out the door.

Jake headed down the Town Hall stairs and to the door of his sheriff's car and hopped in. 'Where are you?' he thought to himself. A few places ran through his head before he settled on the Fogerty Cabin. He started the car and headed north towards Kettle Creek lost in thoughts of what had happened over the last few years.

The Second American Civil War lasted two years, two years and eight months and like the first Civil War there were many casualties on both sides. The Cheyenne Government had managed to convince most people under their control that the whole nuclear bomb plot was a big propaganda effort put out by the Eastern Government to sway Texas to their side. It worked for a little over two years but finally evidence was recovered that tied Thomas Valente directly to the original plot and the subsequent cover-up. Cheyenne was taken over by it's once former troops converted to the Eastern side. The destruction the war had caused was wide and far reaching. The rebuilding of the country's infrastructure would be a long and arduous process.

Jake had worked as a pilot for the Eastern/Texas allies during the war and had only able to return to Jericho shortly before it ended. Gail Green had received an occasional message from him, either in a letter slipped in by advancing Eastern troops or relayed over the HAM radio that the resistance used to monitor the ASA. Jake had worried profusely about his family and his hometown during his absence but if he or Hawkins were to be found in Jericho or were even suspected of being there it would have put a bull's-eye right on their hometown and their families.

Upon his return to Jericho, Jake found that many things had changed about the town but thankfully not the heart and will of the people. They had survived the unthinkable, outlasted the evil of Thomas Valente and were now being heralded as the town that saved the nation but it had not been without sacrifice. The Jericho Rangers had quadrupled in size with the addition of Beck's troops and upon the release of evidence on Hawkins's computer he had allied himself with a number of troops based on the outer rim of the Cheyenne defenses which offered them all a bit of protection. Unfortunately, there were towns such as New Bern, still under control of Phil Constantino, that sided with Cheyenne and were responsible for as much sabotage and disruption as they could cause.

Heather for her part became Edward Beck's right hand. She has been the one who had opened his eyes and made him see the truth. Jake was surprised to learn that it was Heather who became the Rangers' leader when Beck had been killed by an IED on the way back from a strategy meeting with some of the other US allies. Beck knew Heather's sense of right and wrong and what was best could always be counted on, and made sure that Lieutenant Campbell, his second in command, was aware of this. The lieutenant took care of the day to day security but when it came time for decisions of importance he too, looked to his mentor's right hand for guidance.

Heather had also garnered the respect of the other militia leaders and ranking US government officials back in the East and in Texas, so much so that she was given the codename "True North" to protect her identity. Once Jake returned and things began to settle down, Heather gladly turned the reins of the Rangers back over to Jake. There were many that had tried to change her mind but Heather was truly exhausted. The person she had become was so far removed from the third grade teacher she had been just a few years before. She had been everyone else's "True North" now she had to find her own.

Jake had been back in town about a year now and he and Heather hadn't yet had a conversation that didn't involve the Rangers or a repair or New Bern. Jake had made a mental note to search Heather out and have a talk about all that had happened but the day to day grind was a non-stop machine that left little time for either of them to do anything but run from task to task.

Jake had noticed that she seemed to be a shell of herself. There was no longer that smile in her eyes and he couldn't remember the last time he heard her laugh or tell some kind of "brainy" joke that he had been accustomed too. It seemed that whenever his life had taken a major detour and he needed help she had always been there for him and he would like to return the favor for her now if he could. God knows he owed her.  The memories of the times he had let her down began to run through his mind.  He had let her go to New Bern and didn't go after her when she didn't return on time.  He had disappointed her when she found out that he was with Emily, he could see it in her eyes.  He had put her in the difficult position of having to steal the Air Radiation Report from Beck's office and then left her there to pick up the pieces.  Jake realized that he more than owed her and it was time that she knew how sorry he was.

Jake was so deep in thought that he nearly missed the dirt road to the Fogerty cabin. The Rangers had used it as a safe house where they had planned most of their run and gun operations but it hadn't been used in almost a year now. It was close enough to town to be in the safe zone but far away so that visitors wouldn't be stopping by. Raiders were still somewhat of a problem but things like that were slowly coming under control. He was half-way down the dirt driveway when he saw Charlotte pulled up beside the cabin with the hood up. Jake pulled his car up along side of it and turned off the ignition. He could hear the blaring of a radio down by the creek.

As Jake exited his car and rounded Charlotte he noticed a few parts strewn across the top of a picnic table along with a couple pieces of paper that had been crumpled up and a three-quarters gone bottle of whiskey. Jake picked up the pieces of paper and straightened them out the best he could. He took a deep breath and began to read.
 

Dear Miss Lisinski,
On behalf of The United States Government and its citizens I would first like to thank you for your service during our most desperate hours. This country owes you a debt of gratitude that cannot be measured or fully expressed. I'm sorry the following information isn't what you had hoped for. If I can be of any further service to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

James Mitchell
President of The United States of America
 

Jake then began to read the second letter.


Dear Miss Lisinski,

We regret to inform you that your brother, Brandon Lisinski, was killed in action on November 24, 2009 while carrying out orders for the United States Government regarding the reunification of our country. Please accept this Silver Star and Purple Heart as a token of our appreciation for the heroic actions of your brother. We are unable to release specifics of his mission at this time due to national security issues. We thank your family for their sacrifice. Please contact us if you should have any more questions.

Sincerely,
Corporal James Nisbett
Office of Family Reunification
 

Jake took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. There it was in black and white. Heather's brother was dead. He had known that she had lost her mother and father early in life. From what Emily had told him Heather's brother had raised her. They had moved from army base to army base and that's where she had picked up her mechanical prowess. She had learned from the best "grease monkeys" in the business. It also explained her shyness and social awkwardness. She had never stayed put long enough to make any close friends. It wasn't until her brother had been sent overseas during the first Gulf War that he had sent Heather to live with his best friend and service buddy in New Bern.

Jake felt another pang of guilt hit him. It seemed for Heather the hits just kept on coming. It was then that he noticed two black boxes laying on the ground about fifteen feet from the picnic table. No doubt they had been thrown there in a fit of grief and rage. He retrieved the cases and set them on the table. He then focused his attention on the music coming from down by the creek. He approached the wharf with unease knowing that a "broken" Heather would be there waiting for him.

Jake came upon the wharf and saw Heather leaning against one of the posts another bottle of whiskey cradled in her hand. Her voice startled him. "I want to be alone right now, Jake." Heather took another swig from the bottle. Jake could tell she was well beyond drunk and that he wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon.

"How'd you know it was me?" Jake asked. Her back had been facing him the whole time, he never once saw her look over her shoulder or give any indication that she had heard someone approaching. "Who else would it be?" she replied in a sarcastic tone. "Whatever it is that needs fixing can wait a couple of days. I believe I've earned a couple of days to myself." The tone in her voice was somewhat cross but she was trying to be as polite as she could given the circumstances.

Jake approached Heather carefully and sat down beside her. She took another swig of whiskey and passed the bottle to Jake. He obligingly took a swig. "Don't 'spose you're gonna do as I ask though are ya?" Heather eyed Jake quickly before looking back across the stream.

"No. No, I suppose I'm not." Jake didn't want to push but he also wanted to make it clear that he wouldn't be going anywhere until he knew she was alright.

They sat in silence for a while both lost in their own thoughts. "It's pretty here this time of year. All the different colored leaves," Heather remarked.

Jake nodded in agreement. "I used to go hunting around here a lot as a kid. It looks pretty much the same as it did back then." Heather nodded in acknowledgement. "I saw the letter." He saw her stiffen at the mention of the letter. She reached for the bottle and took another swig and set it down between them. Jake noticed her eyes growing heavier every time she blinked and knew it wouldn't be long before she passed out.

"I already knew he was gone but seeing it in black and white made it real. I just hoped that somehow...." Heather left her thought hanging in the air and reached for the bottle but this time she met Jake's hand.

"That's not gonna do you any good you know." Jake was trying not to sound condescending.

Heather pushed Jake's hand out of the way, grabbed the bottle and took another swig. "I know. I just don't want to think right now and........and well, this helps." Jake took the bottle from her and nodded as she searched his eyes for acknowledgment.

Heather's eyes began to close again. "He was the only one left who really knew me." With that said, Heather finally succumbed to sleep. Jake removed the bottle from her grasp and gently picked her up and brought her into the cabin. He placed her on the bed and covered her in blankets and then went to start a fire. Once he was sure Heather was settled in, he went to his car and radioed his position to Jimmy to let him know that neither one of them would be returning to town that night. After reassuring Jimmy that Heather was fine, he walked over to the picnic table and began to pick up. God willing it would be morning before Heather would wake and he would be there for her when she did.

A short time later, Jake found himself sitting in a big leather easy chair which had certainly seen better days. He was watching Heather sleep when his mind began to wonder. It occurred to him that not only was this probably the first time that Heather had had anytime to herself that didn't involve town business but it was the first time he had settled in one spot as well. For two people who had seemed so different just a couple of years before they now had become more similar than he would have liked. He felt another pang of guilt hit him. 

Jake reached for one of the whiskey bottles and took a long haul off it. He began to think about the others he had wronged. His mother and Eric, not knowing for long periods of time whether or not he was alive or dead. And then there was Emily. After months of not hearing a word on Jake, she had received word from Heather that Roger had been wounded and was at an Army hospital near Columbus. She had gone there, she had told herself, to make sure Roger wasn't alone and to get him back on his feet but after spending so much time with him, the reasons she had fallen in love with him in the first place became evident again. A letter had been waiting for Jake when he arrived back in Jericho explaining that she would be staying with Roger. Jake had accepted her reasoning. After all, he had been gone. He would always care for Emily and would be there for her in the future if she needed him. He was glad that she had been able to find some happiness in all the destruction that had happened even if it wasn't with him.

Jake took another haul of the bottle and noticed the even rise and fall of Heather's chest as she slept. Of all the people he had hurt it seemed that Heather had taken the brunt of it. The decisions he had made were more than partly responsible for the changes in her. He never should have taken her to Black Jack and let her go to New Bern. He should have never asked her to get involved in taking the paper from Beck's office. He never should have left her to take the brunt of the consequences when this betrayal was found out. She never should have been the one to take over the Rangers, that was his job. She never should have had to make life or death decisions for those that surrounded her. She never should have had to do any of it. The only reason she had to was because he had left. And now those decisions coupled with the confirmed death of her only remaining family member had left her a shadow of herself.

Jake took another drink, disgusted with himself. He then heard the soft cries of Heather deep in her slumber. She was dreaming and from the look of it, it wasn't a peaceful one. He walked over to and settled on the bed next to her. He reached for the lock of hair that had fallen across her face and slowly moved it away. He brought her close and held her and she calmed instantly. Tears came to his eyes for the first time that he could remember. "I'm sorry. Heather, I'm so sorry." Jake's eyes grew heavy and he too succumbed to sleep.

***********************************************************************

The morning sun peeking through the window woke Jake from his slumber. He slowly opened his eyes and surveyed his surroundings. Heather was curled up against him. Her head nestled into where his shoulder met his chest. Her leg was covering his, her arm strewn across his chest.

Heather too had begun to awaken. The throbbing in her head making it difficult to think clearly. She had been at the cabin for a couple of days now and from her estimation finished about a bottle a day drowning her sorrows. She was surprised at the "good morning" offered to her from above her head and sat up quickly, regretting the action immediately and grabbed her head. It took her a second to adjust her eyes and when she did, was quite surprised to find Jake in bed with her. Hell, she didn't even remember Jake being there in the first place but slowly bits of their conversation from yesterday started to enter her severely clouded brain.

"Jake, I thought I asked you to leave?" Heather was puzzled and the cobwebs that had enveloped her brain were not clearing.

Jake nodded at her. "You did, but I couldn't really leave you passed out down at the creek in this weather now could I? It is getting cold out there you know." He was trying to keep the conversation as light as possible. Trying to find a small way in through the carefully constructed barrier she had erected around herself.

"Oh." Heather nodded in return. "Thanks. I.....I guess I wasn't quite myself yesterday."

"It's ok, though for someone who only likes an occasional light beer, you certainly can put away the whiskey." Jake was again trying to make a joke out of the situation.

Heather smiled as much as she could given the strength of her hangover. "A couple of light beers and I don't have to worry about this in the morning." She pointed to her head.

Jake rose from the bed and headed for the bathroom. He retrieved the medicine kit from the bathroom closet and returned with a couple of aspirin for Heather. She gladly accepted them and got out of the bed and headed for the hand pump for some water to down them with.

She then turned back to Jake. "I'm ok now, Jake. You don't have to stick around here on my account, I just need some time to sort some things out. You know how it is."

"I do know how it is." Jake replied "You shouldn't have to do it by yourself though, you've been doing things that for way to long now."

"Jake, I know........."  Heather was met by Jake's raised hand. He gestured for her to join him on the couch. She took a deep breath and sat down beside him. She really didn't want him there but if she ever did have a weak spot it was the man now sitting beside her. She noticed the pained expression on Jake's face and immediately wondered if there was something terribly wrong back in town. "Jake, is everything ok? Is everyone alright? Do we need-," Jake was able to interrupt her before her last question.

"Everyone and everything is fine back home. There are a few things I'd like to talk with you about is all." Jake looked into her blue eyes and began speaking from his heart. "I need to apologize to you." He reached for her hand, "I can't help but notice that because of the decisions I made you were the one left to pick up the pieces and pay the price. I am so sorry."

"I know Jake, I know." Heather searched out his eyes before she began again. "There were some times along the way where you weren't exactly my most favorite person in the world but it didn't take me long to realize that if things didn't happen exactly the way they did then there's a good chance that neither one of us would be sitting here right now." Heather took a deep breath and continued. "The decisions you made were obviously the right ones. They were made with the best intentions and I know that, we all know that. If I've made you feel otherwise, then I am the one that should be apologizing."

Jake flashed his patented smile. She always did find a way to amaze him. Still, he could tell that there was something else bothering her other than the confirmation of her brother's death. "There's more to you coming out here than just that letter isn't there?"

Heather closed her eyes, unsure of where to begin. It had been eating at her for a while now but she always pushed it the back of her mind. There were so many things that needed to be taken care of. Her problems were inconsequential. "Before all of this happened, I was happy you know? I mean there were aspects of my life that weren't the greatest but I knew who I was." Heather then noticed that Jake still had a hold of her hand and looked back up and into his eyes.

"I was happy with who I was, Jake. Now, I don't even know who I am anymore. People depended on me to get them through and I think about the decisions I made and the lives that were lost because of those decisions. I can't seem to find a piece of me that the war didn't change and that scares me." Jake could see the tears brimming in her eyes and drew her into a tight embrace. Heather regained her composure quickly and continued.

"When I got that letter about Brandon, well, I.......I was hoping that he was still here, you know, because if there was one person in the world that could help me find my way back it would have been him. I still would have been his little sister, you know?"

Jake nodded. He understood all too perfectly. "You know a wise person once told me about some decisions I made and how if I hadn't made them then we probably wouldn't be sitting here right now." Heather smiled. She hadn't expected to have her own words thrown back at her like that. "And as far as finding yourself again, well, I have no shortage of flannel pajamas and crossword puzzles at the house and I will make up as many irradiated ant jokes as I can think of. You've been our 'True North' for a while now, why don't you let me help you find yours?"  Jake stared into her blue fathomless eyes.  "Please, I'd like to help."

Heather nodded and again smiled at Jake.  She realized that for the first time in a long time she didn't feel alone.  "You're a glutton for punishment, Jake, but I think I'd like that."

This story archived at http://www.thegreensofjericho.net/eFiction34/viewstory.php?sid=37