Title: For God and Country and Heather Lisinski
Characters: Beck, Heather, OCs
Disclaimer: Don't own Jericho...If I did, it would still be on the air; Beck would have had his shirt off at least once (or for most of the show), and Beck, Heather, Jake and Hawkins would have had at least one scene together. My TV would have exploded, but it soooo would have been worth it.
It was spring once again, the air soft and scented with the smell of new growth and the promise of rain. Heather paused to scan the horizon and to check on the progress of her team, wiping sweat from her forehead.
She tried to appear casual as she looked at Beck, toiling in the warm spring sun, wearing jeans and sneakers, and shirtless, his torso sleek and muscled and glistening with sweat. The work was hard and hot as they worked the fields and planted the crops they needed in order to survive the coming winter.
When Jake and Hawkins had returned from Texas a year ago, they brought with them confirmation that Beck's wife and child had died soon after the Attacks. His grief had been deep, and dark, and Heather had wondered if there would ever be a light in his eyes again. In the last six months, however, he had begun to slowly emerge back into the world of the living. He had even been known to smile and to laugh at times. She was grateful for that.
A truce between Columbus, the ASA and Texas had been in place for the last six months as well. President Tomarchio had been assassinated, but not before the ASA had inflicted a huge amount of damage on Texas. Columbus had remained out of the conflict; the east had been too devastated by the Hudson River Virus. But currently the balance of power was still shifting, and no one had any doubt that there would be another war, and another struggle to regain some semblance of what they had lost.
In the meantime, life went on - as hard as it seemed to believe. Jericho was once again left to fend for itself, only this time, they had a standing army and a more pragmatic approach to the future.
Heather's role as liaison ended soon after the war began, and so she opened a garage and became a jill-of-all-trades, doing anything that came her way. When they lost power again, she helped install the windmills they had built the previous year in New Bern, and she helped to build more to meet the needs of Jericho. When Beck's equipment sergeant was killed in action, he asked her to help maintain his army's equipment. Her duties there diminished once the fighting stopped and the soldiers could return to other duties.
During the six months of war, Beck's men suffered severe casualties and once the news came that a truce had been established, he let anyone who wanted to leave his unit. Few did; those who stayed had already lost their families in the Attacks and had nowhere left to go, and no one left to go to.
With the truce, life began to take on a rhythm again. Jake was still sheriff and had the Rangers to patrol the town itself. Beck had command of Jericho's army and answered to Gray. Their responsibility was to protect the town from outside attacks, to scout the area, and to keep the peace with the neighboring towns and hopefully forge alliances. Beck and his men were also responsible for searching for supplies and providing an escort for Dale on trips to the trading posts that had sprung up again. The black market was still Dale's sole responsibility, and Jericho didn't hesitate to use Dale's connections whenever there was a need.
And Heather - worked where and when she was asked, and did everything asked of her. And if she had nightmares, or had little appetite, there was no one to notice. Although Beck often asked if she was eating properly and if she had enough supplies. Sometimes he frowned when he asked her, his eyes thoughtful and searching, and Heather would quickly assure him that everything was fine.
And now Heather stood in a field, preparing it for planting, and trying not to stare at Beck, fascinated by the smooth play of muscles beneath his tanned skin. Heather had thought that her attraction to men had been killed in New Bern, but over the winter, she had found herself paying more and more attention to Beck, observing him with something almost approaching fascination. She would find herself staring at his eyes, mesmerized by their depth and beauty. She would watch his lips as he spoke and admire their shape. She would watch him walk, and note the grace of his movements, the lines of his body and his military bearing.
The day she realized that her feminine reaction to a handsome man ran deeper than a distant, detached appreciation was the day she saw Anita Meyer, the former vice-president of the bank, and now town manager, come into Beck's office and coax a genuine smile out of him. Heather saw the warmth in Beck's eyes, and felt a lance of jealousy so strong she actually gasped, and clutched her stomach. To the concerned soldiers around her she made an excuse that her lunch wasn't agreeing with her and quickly left the sheriff's office.
She went home and stayed there for the rest of the day, alternately cursing herself for becoming attracted to Beck and revelling in the feelings the thought of him created. She had thought New Bern had killed that part of her; she was relieved and terrified that she had been mistaken. But she cursed herself because, once again, it was an unrequited attraction. She didn't even need to kiss him to know he would never be interested in someone like her. Not with someone like Anita - cool, beautiful, sophisticated - around. And if it wasn't Anita, there were other women in Jericho who Heather was sure would be more to Beck's taste.
Heather paced a lot that day, and in the end decided she had to do everything she could to hide her feelings from Beck. Heather didn't want to lose him like she had lost Jake. And, because of Jake, she had also lost Emily.
That had been five months ago, and Heather thought she had done a good job so far. She slipped a time or two, but nobody - least of all Beck - noticed, and she was grateful. She still argued with Beck when needed, still helped whenever he asked; still spoke the truth to him whether he liked it or not. And if she seemed to get a little too far into his personal space during an argument, well, Beck never seemed to notice.
In the meantime, Heather spent the winter shovelling people's sidewalks, and negotiating the sharing of space to conserve fuel. She herself stayed alone, but everyone else on her block was eventually relocated to shared quarters in other parts of Jericho. Heather told herself that it wasn't deliberate, but in the dark of night, as she shook from her nightmares, she would admit the truth to herself. In late fall, Russell had gotten word to her that Constantino had upped the price on her head, and his men were anxious to collect. She relocated her neighbours because she didn't want anybody else to get hurt if Constantino's men decided to brave the town limits to get to her.
She was afraid, and alone, and in love, and it was a dizzying combination. Her nightmares intensified, and so did her workload.
But now it was spring, and Beck was working in the fields with Heather without his shirt on. She could feel herself rotating around him like the earth going around the sun, or, more accurately, she thought sadly, like a moth around a flame. She went back to her work, muttering to herself to get a grip. Besides, they had to finish the field before nightfall.
As she worked, she alternated between sneaking discreet looks at Beck, thinking of the next day's work, and planning ahead. There would be fuel to gather and store for the winter; haying to finish; harvest to get done. Old Mrs. Francis needed her barn repaired, while Mr. and Mrs. MacIntyre wanted to move into Jericho if anybody would take over their place. Both Old Mrs. Francis and the MacIntyres had old equipment from the 20s and 30s on their places; equipment that was drawn by horses and didn't need gasoline. An idea began to take shape in the back of Heather's mind.
She jumped when a hand came down on her shoulder, and she spun around. She stared at Beck in consternation, as he gave her a half-puzzled, half-amused look.
"Sorry," she said. "You startled me."
"Anita's here with the water and food." Beck said, his voice as calm as always, and Heather marvelled at the fact that he could be so casual standing half-naked near her. For one giddy moment, Heather wondered how casual he would be if she flung herself on that chest and kissed him with everything she had.
And then she remembered Jake. And New Bern.
"What's wrong?" Beck asked sharply.
"Nothing," Heather said, shaking her head quickly, feeling the blush start to rise in her cheeks.
Beck gave her a hard stare, and then, as her blush deepened, his expression softened, and he gave her a small, rather satisfied smile.
"What?" she challenged, lifting her chin defiantly, and desperately struggling to keep eye contact. His smile widened into a grin.
"Nothing," he said. "Let's go eat." He put a friendly arm around her shoulders and started to guide her towards the wagon. Heather felt liquid fire spreading through her, starting where his hand was resting on her bare shoulder. She tried to control her breathing and hoped he would think her heightened colour was still the previous blush.
Beck spoke laughingly to Anita, and grabbed two waters and two lunches, and led the way to a spot in the shade of the wagon. They settled on the ground, their backs against the wagon wheel and ate and drank in companionable silence.
"Why are you working here today, Edward?"
Both Heather and Beck turned to look at Anita, standing at the end of the wagon. Heather was struck again by her cool blonde beauty, and noted what a striking contrast Anita made to Beck's dark good looks. Heather felt suddenly self-conscious of her sweat, the grime covering her, and her rough hands and broken nails.
"Corporal Decker had to drop out for a few days. He received a minor injury while on patrol, and we couldn't spare anyone else. I decided to take a little holiday to help out in the fields until Corporal Decker can take my place."
Heather carefully filed the information away, feeling both relieved and disappointed that she wouldn't be working side by side with Beck for the entire season. She glanced at him quickly. He really was quite spectacular without his shirt, she thought wistfully, and this was as close as she was ever going to get.
As Beck and Anita chatted, Heather finished eating, leaned her head back against the wagon wheel and sighed tiredly. She would close her eyes, she thought tiredly, just for a moment.
She struggled as she was forced towards the bed. The sound of the handcuffs locking her hands to the bed frame echoed in her ears, even over the screams of the two women. She tried to free herself as the deputies advanced. "No!" she screamed. "No!"
She awoke with a start, sitting bolt upright, and panting heavily, her body drenched in a cold sweat. She blinked, disoriented, then realized that she had been slumped onto Beck's shoulder, and he was now staring at her with concerned eyes.
"What - " she stammered, trying to come back out of the nightmare.
"Heather," Beck said soothingly, "it was just a dream."
She nodded, and glanced around, meeting Anita's assessing gaze. "How long was I asleep?" she asked.
"About five minutes," Beck responded.
Heather nodded, her breathing slowing, and her reaction to the dream fading. She avoided Beck's eyes, feeling embarrassed and vulnerable. But, she assured herself, he couldn't know that this was just another in a long line of nightmares.
Beck frowned, as if he wanted to say something else, but he turned to Anita instead. "Is there more water?" he asked.
Anita nodded, and grabbed another cupful for Beck. Beck, in turn, gave it to Heather.
"Drink," he ordered, and Heather gave him a half-smile at his tone.
"I'm not one of your soldiers," she said, her smile softening her words, "but thank you."
Beck gave her a long, hard look, assessing her, with that stillness that told her he was determining a course of action. Then he blinked, and turned back to Anita. "Thanks, Anita." he said. "It's almost time to go back to work," he added, glancing around at the rest of the crew.
The crew was evenly split between men and women, and between soldiers and citizens of Jericho. With gas and oil in short supply, the plan was for this team to manually complete as much of the fieldwork as possible for the year, with the assistance of the various farmers whose land they were working. The crew had been carefully picked to have the skills necessary to work in the fields and to do whatever else needed doing, such as building repair.
Heather thought it was an amusing coincidence that all of the women were single, and had no families in Jericho. Like her.
Heather felt a cold wind of loneliness pass over her, and she shivered. Beck glanced at her and frowned. Heather smiled and stood up. "Still feeling my nightmare," she said quickly. "It'll pass once I'm working again."
Beck looked at her skeptically. "Whatever you say," he said. They stood, and Heather went gratefully back to her work and discreet gawking at Beck's bare torso, and wondered how long she would be able to enjoy the sight.