DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Just playing "what if…?"

DEDICATION: bourbon, merryann, bmfejk. I "blame" them. All their fault for saying I should write fanfic for Jericho.

SUMMARY: Thanksgiving in Jericho. Mimi is reflecting

PAIRING: mostly Stimi, J/Em references and a Heck (Heather/Beck) implied

SPOILERS: whole series to date, esp. season 2 finale

FEEDBACK: Oh, sure. It's always great.

NOTES: When it takes the fingers on both hand to count the fandoms for which you've written fic, it might be time to back away, but, what the heck? I love Jericho too much to back away. This is my first Jericho fic and is fairly light and soppy. Hopefully, there is more to come.


Football at the Greens'. Sometimes it's hard to imagine when this didn't seem normal. Sometimes it's hard to remember that this is only my second Thanksgiving in Jericho and that last year I would have looked down on all of this. Now I can't help but smile, watching all of them throw, catch, chase, tackle, as I sit, knitting almost absently.

Gail sits down next to me. "You're not going to join them?"

I smile and shake my head. "I've gotten good at a lot of things here, but I don't think that is going to be one of them."

She chuckles a bit. If this day is hard on her, she isn't showing it. Much. But I know she must see the faces of those missing, too. April Green. Johnston Green. Bonnie.

Life has gone on. It's rarely easy as everyone waits for the war to come home. So far it hasn't. We've had problems with the power supply, with getting information from Texas, even with getting supplies, but it's not like the time after the attacks. Yet. I look out again and wonder what will happen when this war does arrive. Will the men out there today go off with their guns? Will some of the women? Though neither of them talks about it, we all know Hawkins and Jake take huge risks every time they leave Jericho on a run for the Texas-Columbus alliance. Hawkins, we've all learned, signed on for that sort of thing. Jake found himself drafted. A moment of fear washes over me. Is Stanley next? Will he answer it the way Jake has done? Will I be staying up nights, keeping Emily company?

There is a shout and a lot of laughing. I come back from my reverie. Emily has tackled the opposing team's … throwing guy… quarterback, who just happens to be Jake. Looking over, I see Gail smiling broadly.

Somehow they've ended up in a tangled heap out there. I think Heather tried to pull Emily up and got pulled down by Jake for her troubles. After that, Beck seems to have gotten involved, coming out of his customary reserve truly for the first time today. Now Eric and Mary are trying to separate everyone. I think the only person who believes they stand a snowball's chance of success is Sam Hawkins. The kid just wants to play football and all these grown-ups are acting like kids.

God, how we need that!

Gail looks over at me and we share a laugh. She gives a happy sigh and stands up. Her voice is conspiratorial. "I know how to break 'em up." She pauses. "Although I almost hate to."

"Yeah," I answer.

"Oh, well, I think they're all probably dirty enough by now." She shakes her head fondly. "Dinner!" Who knew the woman could bellow like that? She's right though; it gets their attention.

Sam is no longer thinking about the game; he's heading for the steps, pulling at his mother because she's been reminding him to mind his manners and he doesn't want to seem too eager. Allison lags behind, waiting for her father, who puts an arm around her shoulder and says something in her ear that makes her laugh.

The pile slowly pulls itself apart and Gail is right again: they're a mess. Emily has dirt clods and leaves in her hair. Jake's face is grimy. Even Mary Bailey, who always seems so composed, is flushed and perspiring a bit, her hair a red halo. I notice Stanley has torn a hole in his jeans. And I realize that I know how to fix that. So many things I didn't know this time last year. So many things I almost missed out on.

It's strange how the bombs gave so many of us a second chance at finding ourselves. And liking what we found.

Gail tells them they all have ten minutes to get cleaned up. The Green boys actually whine in unison, "Mooooooommmmmmm!" They are smiling though, making Gail laugh, giving us all a glimpse of how it was, once, a couple of lifetimes ago.

I lay my knitting aside and follow Gail to the kitchen, ready to help with whatever she needs. She is worried that it's not the sort of meal she put on "before," but I promise her everyone will love it, that everyone will be happy simply being together. She looks at me steadily for a moment, as if assessing me, and then nods.

When we sit down there is a moment of awkward uncertainty, a look in every eye that speaks of pain and loss, but there is also a look of what this day is about: gratitude. Despite Gail's worries, the table is filled with food; I wonder how she got all of it actually, but today is not a day to question. Once we are seated, Gail glances over at Jake. "Jake, will you say the blessing?"

He takes a deep breath and begins to speak. "Lord, today we thank you…"

I feel Stanley reach for my hand under the table and I slip mine into his. He squeezes gently. I look down and see he has taken Emily's hand with his other. I reach to my left and clasp Beck's hand.

Jake pauses ever so briefly as the circle reaches him and tears spring up in his mother's eyes. Taking another shaky breath, he continues, "… we thank you for this food and for this day. We thank you for getting us this far and we pray we'll make it through this, all of us." His breathing hitches. "We thank you for being here together and we thank you for those that aren't here, grateful that we had the chance to know them. To – To love them." He hesitates again, looking for more maybe. But he has said what needs to be said, so he ends with a quiet "Amen." The echo from each of us is heartfelt and full of conviction.

I look up to see Stanley smiling at me. He releases my hand so he can brush away the tears falling down my cheeks. I notice I'm not the only one crying. Wordlessly, we begin to pass the food. Conversation resumes with a gentle hum.

They are talking about the game they played. Emily is teasing Jake that her throwing arm is still better than his. Sam is chiming in that it's also better than his dad's. Hawkins is laughing. It's a moment to watch, to drink in, to keep and to savor in whatever dark days may come.

Gail turns the conversation. She looks at me, her eyes sparkling with curiosity. "What were you knitting, Mimi?"

The question takes me by surprise. I feel a blush creep up my face and I stammer out something about it being nothing.

Gail persists. "The pattern looked complicated."

"Oh, no," I demur. "Not really."

Emily sighs. "I wish I could knit."

Jake groans. By now a good number of Emily's early efforts at domesticity have been chronicled for us.

"I can do scarves," Heather adds. She gives me one of her bright-eyed looks. "Is it a scarf?"

I shake my head.

"So what is it?" Jake asks.

Evasion apparently isn't going to work. "It's – uh – it's a winter hat."

Stanley, between mouthfuls of turkey, observes, "Kinda small, isn't it?"

I'm blushing redder now. "Not really." I take a deep breath and focus only on my husband. "It's for the newest Richmond."

It doesn't seem to register at first, but then he stops mid-chew and swallows heavily. "The… newest… Richmond?"

There is a rush of comments around us, but I only have eyes for him and I nod solemnly.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that I didn't want all these things.