Sweetness and Joy

Swallowing back fear the woman known to Pine Valley as Jenny Gardner-Nelson rose to her feet, her hands in front of her as she stared at the man who was pointing a gun to the head of the young brunette.

Shakily, she took a step towards him, her hands held in front of her, so as not to spook him, as she tried to remember how Roland had handled the gunman in his office when they were both held hostage and not remember how her eldest daughter had been killed. "You don't have to do this," she remarked. "People will listen to you. I can help."

"Shut up! Shut up!" he responded as he took the gun away from Amanda Dillon's head and pointed it towards Jenny. "You don't know anything."

"You might be surprised," she said as she looked over his uniform, trying to take in any sort of information that could help get them all out of this. Please let this be like the office and not the bar. If someone has to get hurt please let it only be him, she silently prayed even as she tried to rid her mind of the shooting that had ended the standoff over a year before. "You've seen combat," she said quietly, but with certainty even as Greg called her name and begged her to sit down. Ignoring her husband, she took another step towards the man holding them in the room. "Iraq?"

"Yeah," he admitted. "How'd you know?"

She smiled slightly: "the ribbon's new. Plus, you look fairly young," she said taking another step towards him. "Also your age. You can't be much older than my. . ." she stopped herself before she said 'my daughter was,' and instead said: "then my friend's son," swallowing she added: "he just finished boot camp. His battalion was sent over last week."

"Like you'd know anything about that?"

"You'd be surprised," she said sadly as she rounded a nearby table. She knew she had to be careful what she said now. What she revealed to the room about the life she had been living between when she was reported dead those twenty plus years ago and her miraculous return months before. "His father's over there too. Frank-- that's the father's name-- was missing in action last year.
His helicopter was shot down.

And another friend-- Roxy-- her husband was hurt over there. He was back for only a few weeks before Comman decided he was ok to go back. I don't know who it was harder for. Her, the kids, or him" she continued, the pattern of her voice and tone changing from the one she usually used here to the one she had used before. She was unconsiously morphing from Jenny Nelson into Claudia Joy Holden-- the wife of a career military man and not a teacher. Confidence and peace came over her. A confidence born of the knowledge that Michael had never let her down in the past, and although he wasn't there to help her get out of this one she was sure that Jesse Hubbard, the man who had been Jenny's best friend, would get her out of the situation. "There are others of course," she told him with a smile, taking a step closer. "Another friend-- Pamela-- her husband is special opps. All she knows is secrecy. Everything about what he does if kept from her. Where he is.
When he'll be home.
When he'll be shipped out.
And still another.
Roland.
His wife's the one who's Army.
She served in Iraq.
She came home, but she wasn't herself.
It took time.
Treatment.
But she's better now.
Her career is as strong as it ever was.
Stronger even.
She's XO of the post she's stationed on," she told him, moving even closer. "Even has a new baby."

"They're the lucky ones," the man spit out. "They didn't have COs who were too concerned with their younger sister's drama! If he hadn't of spoken to her that day my friends would still be alive!"

Swallowing, she cocked her head to the side: "do you really believe that?" she couldn't help but ask as she then leveled her head: "is that what the recon tells you? The reports."

"They can be made to say anything they want them to say," he scoffed.

"I know," she admitted. "A former best friend from Post's husband was killed in the line. She didn't believe what the reports said. She fought for an investigation. The Army wasn't thrilled with the results, but she got closure."

The man glared at her: "why former?"

"She didn't think I gave her the support that she needed. Maybe I didn't," Jenny admitted. "Maybe if I had stood by her. . . gone with her to DC. . . did a thousand other things I wouldn't be standing here."

A cold grin came across the man's face: "you're not just some civilian, are you?"

Raising an eyebrow at that she stopped short: "meaning?"

"Someone you love is military."

"My half-brother was Army," she replied after a second's hesitation.

"I. Don't. Like. Liars," he said as he pointed the gun at her.

In that moment, everything started to move in slow motion. Instinctively she took a step to the side, not realizing that as she did he threw Amanda Dillon to the floor or that he was now in view of a sniper on a building across the street.

As she was forming her response she couldn't know that Jesse Hubbard was ordering his snipers to take the shot.

She couldn't know that her brothers Tad and Adrian, along with Jake Martin and Adian Devane had circled around and were ready to jump the man as soon as he wasn't pointing a gun at her.

She wouldn't find it out until it was too late.

Instead in her mind's eye she saw Michael as he tried to be accept her leaving him.

She saw the anger in Emmilyn's eyes as she said goodbye because she thought it was the only thing she could do if her family was ever going to heal from the after effects of Amanda's death.

As she opened her mouth to retort she felt the first shot.

Staggering back she saw Greg move forward, her name on his lips, only it didn't completely register, what did was the pain as the second shot hit her and she fell to the floor.

Struggling to inhale she heard a third shot, but didn't feel it.

Fighting to hang onto something as darkness started to fall in on her; she was anchored by the hand of Angie Hubbard and her harsh command to stay with her. Looking at the black woman as tears fell down her cheeks she knew it was bad. "Tell. . . tell. . . Mi. . .Michael. . . I'm so…sorry," she managed to get out before she succumbed to the darkness pulling at her.

Her last thought that maybe now she'd find peace.
Maybe now she'd get to hold her baby.
That she'd wake up and Amanda would be there. . .