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Lost Sheep - Ch. 15/??

Title: Lost Sheep
Characters: Beck, Heather and Others
Rating: PG
Chapters: 15/??
Disclaimer: No, still don't own Jericho. Just having a little fun - not profit. No characters were harmed in the creation of this fic, and even the fluffy plot bunnies felt safe enough to come out and play.

Unbetaed. All mistakes are my own.


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A week after he was shot, Booker returned to Antelope Wells to a muted hero's welcome. He blushed deeply as he got out of Tomas' car and made his slow and painful way to Manny's trailer where he was to stay until he was fully recovered.

"Your timing is perfect," Manny said, his voice carrying across the crowd as he helped him towards his trailer. "Camilla has only just moved in with me. Now we'll have to behave ourselves while you're staying with us. Sadly, Frankie's place is bulging at the seams, otherwise trust me - you'd be there," Manny added.

The listeners laughed and applauded as Booker chuckled, shrugged ruefully then winced in pain. The crowd didn't disperse until the door had closed behind them. Beck followed them into Manny's trailer and once they had Booker settled in one of the spare bedrooms, Beck stayed to speak to him.

Beck watched carefully as Booker leaned back, his face ashen, grimacing in discomfort. Booker quickly gave Beck a small grin when he noticed his concern. "I'm gonna be okay," he assured him.

Beck nodded. "I'm glad to hear it," he replied.

"I don't know how to thank you," Booker said earnestly. "If you hadn't been there to shoot that guy and slow the bleeding..."

"It was nothing," Beck replied uncomfortably, glancing away. If he had been faster, he thought, then Booker wouldn't have been hurt at all.

"Hey, saving my life isn't "nothing" to me!" Booker joked, then sobered. "Seriously, Sam. I owe you one. Probably more than one. Anything. Anytime. Anywhere." He gestured ruefully. "Well, once I'm healed, of course."

Beck quirked his lips. "Thanks, Booker. I'll remember that."

Booker paused. "I know you're going to be leaving once Gregory gets back and you have a lead on where to find the Becks. But I for one would like you to come back once your mission is done." He held out his hand to Beck. "As far as I'm concerned, you'll always have a home here."

Beck stared at him, stunned. He slowly reached out and grasped Booker's hand. "Thank you," he said. He couldn't think of anything else to say.

Booker gave him a tired grin. "Now, tell me everything I've missed since I was gone. I hear Frankie punched out Tomas?"

Beck chuffed out a laugh and settled in to bring Booker up to speed.

The next day, Beck and Heather drove out of town to check in with Jericho. While things were pretty much status quo, Constantino was getting more and more bold. Whether it was because he knew Beck was gone or whether it was simply because it was part of his overall strategy was unclear. Heather told Jake that the person they were waiting for was due back at any time, and they would be heading back to Jericho as soon as possible.

Beck and Heather discussed the situation on the drive back, and Beck finally shook his head. "We can't wait much longer," he said grimly. "Clark and the others can handle Constantino - I'm not worried about that. But the longer I'm gone, the more likely it is that word will somehow leak out to the ASA - if it hasn't already."

"If it's already leaked out, why haven't they attacked Jericho?"

Beck shook his head. "Why did they agree to the truce and the conditions of it in the first place? They're not ready for a war. And neither is Texas. They may be willing to ignore this breach of the agreement until they are ready. They may not." He slammed his hand against the dashboard in frustration. "If Gregory isn't back within the next week, we'll have to head back."

Heather was silent for a long moment before slowly saying, "I could stay. Wait for Gregory. We could ask Tomas and his men to escort us to Kansas once I've found Simone and the others."

Beck was shaking his head even before she stopped talking. "No."

"Why not? It's the perfect solution!"

"No - and that's final!"

"You can't still be worried about the people in Antelope Wells!"

"It's not them I'm worried about," Beck snapped. "Sooner or later, J&R will see that list of names and send the army or Ravenwood to check it out. What if you're still here when that happens and they find out who you are and where you're from and what - " He stopped abruptly. "Besides," he continued in a rush, "I can't expect the people of this town to lie to the ASA about my family and their location. They've already done too much - they can't do any more without risking retaliation. And while I think you're safe enough in Antelope Wells, you may not be as safe wherever Simone and the others have ended up."

"Maybe you should have given me that self-defense training you promised, huh? Or taken the time to teach me to shoot?" She gave him a small smile.

Beck chuffed a laugh. "Maybe." He shook his head. "I still wouldn't leave you behind." He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. "Jake would shoot me on sight if I returned without you."

"Not if we warned him," she replied absently. "Beck, are you and Simone divorced?" she asked abruptly.

Beck blinked at her, startled by the sudden change in topic. "I - I, uh, I assume so," he replied.

"You don't know?" Heather asked incredulously.

"I signed the papers the night before I deployed to Iraq," Beck explained. "I assume they got filed. Simone was certainly anxious for the divorce to go through."

"Because of William?"

"They wanted to get married." There was only a hint of bitterness in his tone. "I was in Iraq for six months before the Attacks; I can't imagine the divorce was held up that long. I would have received word somehow, I'm sure, even in the back of beyond where I was located at the time."

Heather hesitated, chewing on her bottom lip. "I'm sorry," she said sincerely. "Why didn't you tell me about the divorce and about William earlier?"

Beck sighed wearily. "Because it wasn't really your business," he replied quietly and she flinched. "And because...because it's just not important. Whether we're still legally married or not, she's a great person, she was my wife for a long time, and she's the mother of my child. Feelings don't just go away with the stroke of a pen - not even when there's another person in the picture."

Heather nodded slowly, and wished she hadn't asked.

When they awoke the next morning, they discovered that Gregory had returned the night before and was waiting for them at Manny's place. Beck and Heather, Frankie and Adrienne headed to Manny's for breakfast and to meet with Gregory. They arrived to find that Tomas was there as well.

After four weeks away, Gregory truly did look like a stereotypical mountain man, but he was again surprisingly young. He was also soft-spoken and obviously well-educated.

Beck's eyes betrayed his eagerness for information as they listened to Gregory.

"Yeah," Gregory said, thoughtfully eating his breakfast and taking an appreciative sip of his coffee, "I know where Simone, Maggie and William are. They're holed up with about forty, fifty others in some cave dwellings about 300 miles north of here. They're off the beaten track, and the cave dwellinjgs don't show up on most maps. Not as extensive as the ones in Gila, but they do the job, apparently."

He carefully assessed Beck and Heather as he chewed another bite of breakfast. "It's a rough road - a track, really, for twenty or so miles, and then a hike of about two or three miles over pretty rough terrain."

"Were you there recently?" Heather asked, hoping he could give them good news.

Gregory shook his head. "I was in a totally different area this trip," he replied.

"Can you take us there?" Beck asked, his eyes burning with excitement and hope.

Gregory shrugged and nodded. "Sure. When do you want to leave?"

"As soon as you're ready," Beck replied, biting back the urge to order him to leave now.

"We'll leave tomorrow," Gregory said calmly. "That'll give you time gather supplies. I'll take you there, but I won't stay long. I have obligations here."

Beck nodded. "I understand," he replied. He glanced at Heather. "We'll be ready to leave tomorrow morning. Early."

Beck and Heather spent the day packing their few belongings and checking the car to make sure it was ready for the trip to the caves and the subsequent trip back to Jericho. They then sat with Tomas, who suggested a route out of New Mexico and back to Kansas that not only avoided the majority of towns, but also took them through a trading post where they'd be able to get gas and other supplies if needed. Frankie had given them back most of the salt they had brought with them and was now in the process of getting enough food together to keep them going for at least two weeks.

It didn't take long to get ready to leave. They spent the afternoon building before heading back to Frankie's place, to find that she had lit a fire in the firepit and was in the process of putting together a farewell feast.

"What are you doing?" Heather protested. "You don't need to do this, Frankie!"

Frankie didn't look at her as she busied herself at the kitchen counter. "You won't be coming back, will you?" Frankie said bluntly. It wasn't really a question, but Heather answered anyway.

"No."

"Then you need to let us say good-bye to you."

"Frankie - " Heather said helplessly, tears pricking at her eyes.

"It's okay," Frankie said briskly, giving her a quick glance and a small smile. "We knew you'd be leaving eventually. But we owe you - we owe both of you - and this is just a small way to show that you and Sam are always welcome here. Anytime you want to come back, there'll be a place for you."

Heather sniffed loudly. "Thank you," she choked out.

"Now, scoot out of here," Frankie said firmly, blinking back her own tears. "Go for your walk with Sam. By the time you're back, the food will be ready. We'll be eating in the town square tonight."

When Beck and Heather returned from their walk, which was a little longer than usual due to the number of people wishing them luck on their journey in the morning, Manny asked to speak privately with Beck. They went to Manny's office at the customs building.

"I just wanted to tell you that you've been a real asset to this community, Sam," Manny smiled, clapping a hand on Beck's shoulder as he motioned him into a chair.

Beck quirked his lips. "Thanks, Manny," he replied.

"And that Heather of yours," Manny added, "she's been just as valuable to us. A sweet, hardworking woman with a lot of valuable skills."

Beck wondered where Manny was going with this. "Thank you," he said again, a faint question in his tone.

"I wanted to speak with you privately, Sam, so we can speak freely." Manny hesitated for a moment and then continued. "I know you have a mission to complete, and other responsibilities back where you come from, but if you'd ever like to return someday, we'd be happy to give you a home here."

Beck stared at Manny's broad, honest face. First Booker, now Manny. It had been so long since someone had actually wanted him - of course, he reminded himself sharply, they wanted Sam, not Major Edward Beck. At the end of the day, he wasn't who they thought he was.

"I...we'll keep that in mind," Beck carefully replied.

"If...when you find Simone and the others, I hope you'll at least think about coming back here."

Beck hesitated. "I would be honoured to come back," he said honestly, "but there's war coming. And you're right - my responsibility - my duty - lies elsewhere and the longer I'm here, the more dangerous it is for you. It'll be dangerous enough when the ASA learns about Simone and Maggie - "

"The ASA and that damned Ravenwood are the least of our worries," Manny responded with a shrug and a half-smile, "or have you forgotten that we have enemies that are strictly our own?"

"No, I haven't forgotten," Beck replied solemnly, the memory of Booker's blood on his hands still vivid. "But if the ASA finds out that you knew about Major Beck, and how Simone and Maggie are related to him, and you never told them that Heather and I were here...it could go very, very badly for you."

"Don't worry about that. It's been a brutal year, Sam - you know that better than most of us. We've learned from it, though. You know we're not as helpless as we appear, and we protect our own." There was a glimmer of steel in Manny's warm brown eyes, his easy-going expression hardening for a moment into something entirely different. Beck's respect and liking for the man went up another notch. "We'd be - we are willing to protect you and those close to you - the way you've been willing to protect us."

"We can't return, Manny. There are things you don't know and even if you did, you don't understand the implications."

Manny leaned over his desk, lowering his voice. "I know who you are, Major Beck. I've known from the very first day."

Beck stared at him, shocked and horrified. "No," he denied.

"Maggie had pictures, Sam. She knew you'd come for her."

Beck's face tightened. "No," he repeated. "I mean you can't know who I am. There are bigger things - "

Manny shrugged. "If keeping your presence here a secret is a requirement to address these "bigger things", don't worry," Manny winked. "You were never here."

"Does everybody know?" Beck demanded grimly, controlling himself with an effort.

Manny shook his head. "Just me and Frankie. We'll tell Booker, Camilla and Tomas when you've gone. I wanted to tell you that we know who you are, and that you'll always be welcome here - you and anyone close to you. Anytime. We owe you. More than that, you're as much a member of this community as any of us." Manny came out from behind his desk and held out his hand. "You're leaving tomorrow and I just wanted to assure you that you don't need to worry about us. We protect our own."

Beck slowly reached out and shook Manny's hand. He was still shell-shocked when they returned to the town square. When Heather came up and asked him if everything was okay, he could only nod and say he would tell her everything later.

It became an evening out of time. As people drifted in to grab some food and to say good-bye, the evening took on a festive air as everyone ate, talked and laughed. For a few suspended hours, it felt like it had before the Attacks, as though they were just camping with friends, and everything would be normal in the morning.

Heather and Beck ate supper together, sitting on benches that had been built for just such an occasion, surrounded by the friends they had made in Antelope Wells during their month there. Heather watched him, fascinated by his ease with the people around him and the warmth in his eyes when he looked at her.

Beck for his part thought Heather looked beautiful and in her element, talking and laughing and constantly surrounded by people. Being appreciated in a way he didn't think she truly was in Jericho. As he watched her, he thought about Manny's offer, and wished for a moment that they could stay here. That he could ride out the coming war with the people around him and especially with the woman beside him.

But he couldn't stay here. He was Major Edward Beck, and he had a responsibility, a duty and a loyalty to the troops and the town he had left behind. More than that - he had tied his fate, and the fate of his troops, to the fate of Jericho, and he couldn't - he wouldn't - turn his back on that. He gave a quirk of his lips as he realized that all the time he had spent wondering when and where he would find his own home, he had already made his choice - whether that home wanted him or not.

But what about this town, he wondered. What could he do to protect these people?

The next morning was both somber and exciting as Beck and Heather ate breakfast for the last time with their core group of friends - Frankie and Adrienne, Manny and Camilla, Tomas and Booker. Heather hugged them all one last time and then headed towards the car, blinking back tears as she got into the driver's seat.

Beck followed suit, hugging and shaking hands and saying good-bye to the people he now called friends. He left Booker until last, and they spoke for a few minutes before he shook hands again, hugged Booker and turned away.

"Sam," Frankie called as he reached the car. She ran up to him with something in her hand. "Here."

She handed him a picture, and his breath caught when he looked at it. His own face stared back at him. He was standing behind Simone and Maggie, his arms around them both, all of them grinning widely at the camera.

"My God," he breathed.

"Maggie left that with me," Frankie said quietly, her eyes swimming with tears. "To give to you, when you got here."

Beck tore his eyes away from the picture, and stared at her.

"She knew you'd come looking for her. She wanted us to know you when you arrived."

Beck blinked back the tears that filled his eyes. "I'll..." he cleared his throat. "I'll make sure to give it back to her when I find her. So she'll know you kept your promise."

Frankie blinked back her own tears and nodded. "Good luck," she said. "Tell her I said hi, and that I think she has a great dad," her voice broke.

Beck pulled her into a bear hug. "Thank you," he breathed. "For everything."

Frankie hugged him tightly, sniffing back her tears. "You're welcome. And thank you for all that you did while you were here. Be careful. Find her. Find them. Keep them all safe."

Beck pulled away, his hands on her shoulders. "Listen to me, Frankie. If you - or anyone here - ever need help, or you ever need a home - we're in Jericho, Kansas."

Frankie gave him a watery smile. "I'll remember that. Now, go. You've got a family to find."

Beck hugged her again then got into the car.

Neither Beck nor Heather looked back.

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A/N:  Holy crap - it took way longer to get them out of Antelope Wells than I had anticipated!!  LOL.
 

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Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
janiekins
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
:)

more please... :)
shirleyann66
Apr. 19th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
I love you, Janiekins. (And I mean that in a totally non-threatening, completely platonic way... LOL ).

More is on its way shortly... ;)
janiekins
Apr. 19th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)
hey, if some over-the-top & insincere cyber flirting will continue letting me read some delicious Heck-type goodness, i can do it!! (G)

janet blows big cyber smooshes to all the Heck writers, hoping for more :)

shirleyann66
Apr. 25th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
It worked!! It worked!!! I think you must have magic cyber flirting/smooches because both Inanna and Rubberbisquit came out to play. Awesome!!! :)

Now we only need a new chapter from nativefloridian (and a snippet from you... {blinks innocently} ) and my world will be complete.

nativefloridian
Apr. 19th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
Don't really have time to leave a detailed comment, but I loved it - "I knew who you were".

Can't wait to read the next chapter. I've always thought cave dwellings were cool. Of course, that's the same part of me that was denied building a treehouse when I was a kid...
shirleyann66
Apr. 25th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

The next chapter should be up this weekend, actually... :)
shirleyann66
Apr. 25th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
Whoops - also meant to say that I've always thought cave dwellings were cool, too. I grew up on flat, bald prairie and the thought of carving out homes in a cliff face just fascinated me - or maybe it was just the concept of cliffs that was so interesting?? Anyway, I've always thought it would be cool to live in one at least for a day or two. :) (Although I don't really like mountains after all, so it may not be all that enjoyable for me. LOL )


ditte3
Apr. 21st, 2009 08:01 am (UTC)
Amazing chapter.I always love reading this story.I've been busy lately.:)hurry with the next chapter please.
shirleyann66
Apr. 25th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Ditte! I hope you've been busy with good things. :)

I'll be posting chapters faster now, and I'm planning on having the next one posted this weekend.
rubberbisquit
Apr. 23rd, 2009 03:55 am (UTC)
Beck blinked at her, startled by the sudden change in topic. "I - I, uh, I assume so," he replied.

"You don't know?" Heather asked incredulously.


You have so many sad-making moments. It's heartwrenching even more now knowing that he's never known for sure if he's really divorced.

"You won't be coming back, will you?" Frankie said bluntly.

Poor Frankie. Her and Heather became really close and now she's losing a friend.

"Does everybody know?" Beck demanded grimly, controlling himself with an effort.

I had the thought this was going on.

Neither Beck nor Heather looked back.

I hope not forever. I hope we'll get our happily ever after and find out they go back for their honeymoon or something ;)

it took way longer to get them out of Antelope Wells than I had anticipated!!

Not really complaining at all.

I was happy to see them spend the time and build the relationships with the people there as well as each other.

I'm also glad, and a little sad, that I'm all caught up. This story is just fantastic :)
shirleyann66
Apr. 27th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
You have so many sad-making moments. It's heartwrenching even more now knowing that he's never known for sure if he's really divorced.

Awww, I'm glad you found it heart-wrenching. There are so many things in this universe that just stop me in my tracks. When the world as you know it ends in a moment, what does that really mean? Kids are left without parents; cities are left without food; and events in people's lives are left without resolution.

I had the thought this was going on.

Damn! Hoped it would be more of a surprise. LOL

This story is just fantastic :)

Thank you!! I'm glad you're enjoying it (and that you had some time to come out and play). :)

rubberbisquit
Apr. 27th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
Damn! Hoped it would be more of a surprise. LOL

Don't get me wrong! I don't think it was glaringly obvious it was just at times Beck would do something that was a really Beck thing to do and if his family had described him at *all* the people in town would have to suspect! He's the right age and I imagine the right racial mix, in relation to his daughter, to kind of raise suspicions.

Seriously though, not obvious! I swear!
shirleyann66
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:13 am (UTC)
Seriously though, not obvious! I swear!

Oh, good - glad to hear it! LOL ;)

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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Quotes

"All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need...fantasies to make life bearable."

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little --"

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

"So we can believe the big ones?"

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

-- Susan and Death in Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

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"And no practical definition of freedom would be complete without the freedom to take the consequences. Indeed, it is the freedom upon which all the others are based."

-- Lord Vetinari in Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

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They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.

-- Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

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As a wizard, it was something that Ponder had only before encountered in acorns: a tiny soundless voice which said, yes, I am but a small, green, simple object - but I dream about forests.

-- Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

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In the 24th century, there will be no hunger. There will be no greed. And every child will know how to read.

-- Gene Roddenberry, as repeated by Jonathan Frakes in the documentary How William Shatner Changed the World

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We've got two lives, one we're given and the other one we make
And the world won't stop, and actions speak louder
Listen to your heart, and what your heart might say
Everything we got, we got the hard way.

-- Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Hard Way from the album Come On, Come On

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Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want.

-- John Mayer, Waiting on the World to Change from the album Continuum

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Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, "I'll try again tomorrow."

-- Mary Anne Radmacher, as seen in Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Tales to Inspire

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I never loved the soldier
Until there was a war.
Or thought about tomorrow
'til my baby hit the floor.
I only talk to God
When somebody's about to die.
I never cherished freedom
Freedom never cries.

-- Five for Fighting, Freedom Never Cries from the album Two Lights

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It may sound absurd: but don't be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed: but won't you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream

-- Five for Fighting, Superman (It's Not Easy) from the album American Town

---------------------

Had a dream last night took a time travellin' ride
Back to my childhood where those monsters reside
They snack on innocence and dine on self-esteem
But I like to be in touch with what makes me scream
Vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost
These are the things that terrify me the most.
No alien, psychopath or MTV host
Scares me like vampires,mummies and the Holy Ghost.

-- Jimmy Buffett, Vampires, Mummies and the Holy Ghost from the album Fruitcakes

---------------------

"I want to believe that... the dead are not lost to us. That they speak to us... as part of something greater than us - greater than any alien force. And if you and I are powerless now, I want to believe that if we listen, to what's speaking, it can give us the power to save ourselves."

-- Fox Mulder, The X-Files from the episode The Truth, pt. 2
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