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Lost Sheep - Ch. 18/??


Title: Lost Sheep
Characters: Beck, Heather and Others
Rating: PG
Chapters: 18/??
Disclaimer: No, still don't own Jericho. Just having a little fun - not profit. No characters were harmed in the creation of this fic, although their hearts may be breaking a little bit...  :(

Unbetaed. All mistakes are my own.


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They had cleaned up, packed up and were hiking out of the valley as the sun rose. Neither of them wanted to spend any more time there than they had to, and there was nothing left for them to find anyway.

They drove steadily and mostly in companionable silence, following the route that Tomas had laid out for them. They stopped at the trading post he had told them about and traded salt for gas. They also spent some time gathering news and assessing the goods available for trade. When they were on the road again, Heather and Beck discussed the pros and cons of expanding Jericho's trading range. It would be a natural way to keep communications open with Antelope Wells and a good way to help support the people and the community that had embraced them so warmly.

They made the safe house where they had spent their first night on the road as the sun was setting. Beck searched the house to ensure it was secure before sending Heather in with their gear while he checked the rest of the area and moved the car into the garage.

She pounced on him the moment he walked in, grabbing his hand and dragging him into the bathroom, where she playfully pulled him into the shower with her and turned it on. As much as Beck enjoyed the first hot shower he'd had in a week, it paled in comparison to being stripped by a laughing Heather under the hot spray. Even the harsh soap felt wonderful when it was Heather briskly rubbing it over his body.

By the time he had her pressed against the shower wall, her legs wrapped tightly around his waist, he was willing to swear that this was best shower of his life and getting clean had never felt so good.

Afterwards, they puttered around the house, cooking supper and washing dishes while their wet clothes dried in front of the fireplace. They chatted lightly about everything except the place they had left behind that morning and the place they would reach tomorrow.

Beck lay awake, thinking, for a long time after Heather fell asleep, her face buried in the crook of his neck, her arm flung across his chest and her legs tangled with his.

He hoped his clothes would be dry enough to wear by morning. His only other pair of jeans were the ones he had worn when Booker was shot, and he didn't want to be wearing blood-stained clothes when they returned to Jericho. He'd already be answering to a lot of people about the hickeys on Heather's neck; trying to explain blood stains would just make it that much worse.

Beck hoped he wouldn't be in the room when Jake saw Heather for the first time. He didn't really want to see Heather's reaction to Jake, but he also had a shrewd guess that Jake would go ballistic when he got a good look at her, and while Beck was almost sure she wanted to continue this sexual relationship once they returned to town, he was absolutely positive that beating the shit out of Jake on their first day back would put a damper on things.

He hadn't realized how much of a coward he really was in some instances until this evening. He found, to his surprise, that he simply couldn't bring himself to talk to her about the next day. They both knew that nothing had changed about his relationship with the town, and in spite of the last six weeks - and in spite of the mind-blowing sex of the last two days - nothing else had really changed either. Her first loyalty was to Jericho. She was probably still in love with Jake. For all Beck knew, this was the post-Attack equivalent of a holiday fling and would end the moment she saw Jake again - although he admitted that that was rather unlikely.

But if this lasted longer than the next five minutes, sooner or later there would be conflict between him and the town - between him and Jake - and she would be expected to make a choice. If she was to continue living in Jericho, then her choice had to be a foregone conclusion.

He would enjoy what time he had with her, he decided, even as his arms tightened around her for a moment. With a deep breath, he loosened his hold, knowing that as much as he may want to, he couldn't force her to stay with him. He'd learned that with Simone, just like he'd learned from Simone that if you loved someone, sometimes you had to set them free.

With a sigh, he closed his eyes, breathed in Heather's scent, and fell asleep.

The taste of his uncertainty lingered in his mouth long after they made love in the morning and were on the road. Yet he still couldn't bring himself to broach the subject of what would happen once they reached Jericho.

Beck contacted Clark when they left the safehouse to inform him of their location and ETA. Clark confirmed their route was stable - and told them that an escort would be sent to meet them and get them safely home.

After Beck disconnected the phone, Heather and Beck took some time to discuss Beck's plans for the rest of the day after they got to Jericho.

"Clark will need to brief me," Beck said calmly. "God knows I need clean clothes, and a shave," he added ruefully, scratching his cheek; he had decided against shaving that morning in favour of having more time to make love with her. "Depending on what Clark has to tell me, I'll also need to meet with Jake and Gray."

Heather glanced over at him with a smile, and then turned her attention back to the road. "You'll have a long day once we get home," she observed.

"Heather - " Beck began after a long moment of silence.

"You should try to get some sleep," she hastily interrupted him. She didn't want to talk about what would happen once they got to Jericho. She wanted to pretend for a few more hours that the biggest decision they would have to make was whether they met at her place or his. "You don't know when you'll be able to sleep once we get back," she continued. "Who knows what's really been happening since we've been gone. I mean, why do you think they're sending an escort?"

Beck blinked at her, and then followed her change of subject. "Just a precaution. I hope."

They discussed the reasoning behind the escort for a few minutes before Heather said again, "You should try to sleep."

Beck hesitated, then nodded. With one last look at her, he leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

Heather drove steadily, keeping a watchful eye on the road behind them as well as in front of them. She resolutely refused to think about what lay ahead of them in Jericho; instead, her thoughts were behind them, back in New Mexico, and with Maggie - wherever she may be.

She refused to believe Maggie was dead - not until she had proof. She had hope - she had to have hope - that there were still miracles left. That good things still happened. That sometimes you still got what you wanted.

She wanted Beck to have his daughter, even if he couldn't have Simone.

She remembered Simone's and William's graves, and Beck on his knees, head bowed. The vulnerability in his posture as he mourned his wife - divorce bedamned. The look in his eyes when he looked at the locket looped around the cross on Simone's grave, how the locket had gleamed in the sun as he lifted it.

She bit her lip and blinked back tears. Maggie must have loved her mother very much. Simone's grave had had the only ornamentation. Of course, what did anybody have left, Heather wondered. And to leave behind what was probably the last thing Maggie still had from her mother -

Beck awoke with a start when Heather hit the brakes, his gun in his hand as he frantically looked around for whatever had stopped them.

He stared at the empty Kansas landscape and turned to Heather with wide, startled eyes. She was staring back at him, her own eyes wide and shocked.

"What?" he demanded, still primed for battle.

"The locket," she whispered. "The locket!"

Beck blinked at her. "Simone's locket?" he asked.

"Yes! Did you take it with you?"

"No - it belonged to Simone, and Maggie obviously wanted it left there."

"Damn it!" Heather groaned and pounded the steering wheel. "Why didn't I think of it before?"

"What? Think of - " he stopped and now his eyes were wide with horrified realization. "Damn it - Maggie left a message in the locket!"

"Maybe - "
 

"No maybe about it! Maggie would never have parted with it without good reason. Or - " He stopped abruptly.

"She's not dead," Heather insisted. "I refuse to even think it's a possibility. You call Clark - I'm turning this thing around."

Beck dialed the phone with one hand while holding on with the other as Heather whipped a u-turn and floored the car back towards the safehouse. Heather listened with half an ear as she drove and she knew immediately from the tone of his voice that they couldn't go back to New Mexico.

With a heavy sigh, Beck closed the phone and stared straight ahead as Heather slowed and then turned the car around again, and headed back towards Jericho.

"Look," she said after several minutes of heavy silence, "we don't have to delay too much. The main thing is to get the locket. We could send a couple of your men to quickly go to New Mexico and grab the locket and then we can go to the next step."

"We can't send any of my men to New Mexico," Beck sighed. "The ASA is getting suspicious, and Constantino's becoming more and more aggressive. He's attacked my men the last three times they've gone between Jericho and New Bern. That's why they're sending an escort for us - Constantino's been watching all roads in and out of Jericho, and Clark, Hawkins and Jake weren't sure we'd get through on our own. Especially if Constantino recognizes us."

"Is he letting Dale through?"

"Apparently, but that's for his own benefit as well since Dale also supplies New Bern."

"Could we send Dale, then?"

"That's a possibility," he conceded, "but Dale and his crew tend to shoot first and ask questions later when they're on the road, and Dale's arrogance and recklessness is going to get him killed one of these days, if he isn't careful." He met Heather's look and shrugged. "It's a dangerous world - as you've noticed. Dale and his crew know Kansas and the local trading network extremely well; how they would fare outside of that environment is the question, and I'm not willing to take the chance."

"How about Tomas or Gregory? Can we get word to them somehow?"

"Antelope Wells is off the communications grid, and I never found out where Tomas lives when he's in Mexico. Did you?" She shook her head. "So, we have no direct way to get a message to them."

"Maybe we could get a message to them through the trading post we stopped at yesterday."

Beck pondered then shook his head. "There's no guarantee the message will get through, and it would take time, especially since we'd have to wait for Tomas to stop there again." He fluently cursed, frustrated. Heather glanced at him, concerned.

Beck shook his head. "I just - I can't believe I didn't realize while we were there. I let her down," he said softly.

"Beck," Heather replied, "you'd just found Simone's grave. And then we found the children. I don't think you were thinking of messages being left in lockets."

Beck wasn't sure if he was relieved or disappointed that she didn't mention that they had also discovered each other - and the added distraction that had caused.

Heather glanced at him. "Having sex didn't cause us to lose sight of our purpose, you know."

Beck stared at her.

"Like I'm not thinking the same things?" Heather asked drily.

He smiled slightly and sighed. "I just...I failed her."

"Not yet," Heather stated with conviction. She glanced over at him. "Not ever." She reached over and entwined her fingers with his.

He kissed her fingers and held her hand in silence, frowning.

"Maybe..." he said slowly.

"Maybe...?" Heather prompted when he didn't say anything else.

"Maybe I can call in a favor from one of my contacts in Texas. Get him to go to the cave dwellings; have him go through Antelope Wells in case Gregory is there and can guide him. Have him bring the locket here."

"Won't that break the truce?"

"Yes. But it's the fastest way. And, like our field trip, it only breaks the truce if we get caught."

"What about he goes to Antelope Wells and talks to Manny and Frankie? Have them ask Tomas to bring the locket? Nobody said anything about civilians coming to Jericho, did they?"

"No, they didn't," Beck chuckled. He thought about this suggestion for a few moments. "You're right," he conceded. "It's the best way, and may be the fastest. Even though the locket may not have anything from Maggie," he added.

Heather nodded. "But we have to try," she said earnestly.

Beck looked at her, his gaze solemn. "We have to try," he agreed, and picked up the phone.


 

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

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

-- Susan and Death in Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

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-- Lord Vetinari in Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

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-- Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

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-- Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

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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.

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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
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Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed: but won't you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream

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But I like to be in touch with what makes me scream
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These are the things that terrify me the most.
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Scares me like vampires,mummies and the Holy Ghost.

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