"MATT!" Jess jumped the fence and ran to her brother lying on the ground. The front of his black jacket riddled with buckshot. "Damn it Matt you better not die on me. Not now. Not ever. She ripped open the nylon parka. There wasn't any blood. "Matt?" His eyes fluttered. "Matt!"
"You think after yesterday I'd go anywhere with you and not wear protection?" He gasped as Jess loosened his bullet proof vest.
"A bus almost took you out yesterday." She helped him sit up.
"I wasn't taking any chances." He smiled. "You were worried?"
"No." She leaned in and hugged him. "Okay, a little, maybe." Jesse was standing over them. Cody with his knee in Tanner's chest in case he decided to regain consciousness.
"Are you done?" Jess looked at her father and then her brothers.
"Not till we get this ass off our mountain." Standing up she helped Matt stand. Morgan came out of the woods with the rest of Matt's team.
"Nothing like a trip to the cabin on a sunny day." Cody smiled. Jess fussed over the cut on Matt's head.
"Jess, I'm fine. Really." She didn't look convinced. He took her hands in his. "I'm fine. I have a mother and you know she'll fuss over me."
"I just have this feeling I haven't fussed enough." She looked at him. "I'm sorry." He took his sister in his arms and hugged her.
"It's over Jess. There's nothing to be sorry for." He pushed her away. "Go check on how the FBI's handling this. I think we can hand over Tanner to him since somewhere between town and here we crossed state lines." She nodded and headed to Morgan. Hotch and the rest of the team had been notified and were waiting in the clearing.
"You okay Jess?" Morgan looked into her eyes.
"I think I might be." He touched her cheek. "I have something of yours." She reached into her boot and pulled out his phone.
"I was worried I would have to get a new one."
"I was careful." She smiled. "I don't know what we would of done if you hadn't dropped that this morning." She stood on her tip toes and kissed him. "You saved us all Agent Morgan."
"You saved yourselves. I was just along for the ride." He took his phone from her. "I had my head somewhere else when I left that this morning."
"Lucky me. Can I ask where your head was Agent Morgan?" Cody cleared his throat.
"You guys ready to go? Rossi and Prentiss are taking Tanner down in chopper. Another one is on its way. Dad wants Matt to go to the ER and have his head and chest checked out and wants you two to go with him."
"You got it. If he's got to stay you have to run the names on Coral's employment roster."
"Heart's still on till five." Cody smiled. "Just don't you guys find any trouble between here and there. I've had enough problems today." He turned and walked back to their father.
"You'll have to tell me about your early morning ride." Morgan and Jess started walking to the chopper. Four Rangers ahead of them, carrying Matt on a stretcher.
"All in a days work Agent Morgan. All in a days work."
Three Days Later
Jess sat in the chair next to Matt's bedside reading a three year old magazine. He had to have one more set of tests done before he could leave and he wasn't happy. Jess looked up and saw he was starting to fidget.
"It'll be just a few minutes you big woos."
"I hate needles."
"What are you like five? You've been shot twice, stabbed once, been is six avalanches and your afraid of a little needle."
"Sorry. It's just the way I feel." He looked at his sister. "When's the BAU leaving?"
"Sometime today, I think." She knew but she wouldn't let Matt have the satisfaction.
"You and Morgan talk?"
"Yeah. He's been busy with things and I've been here. But we found time to chat now and then." She hid behind the magazine. Matt reached over and pushed it down and saw the sadness in her eyes.
"Did you talk about anything important?"
"Parker's charge, the weather, what a fun filled week he's had on our mountain."
"How about if you're going to see each other again?"
"Matt why bother? I live here and I'm not going anywhere. I can blatantly see I cannot leave you and Cody alone on this mountain. It would crumble the minute I reached the state line." She raised her eye brows. "And he could never leave DC with its bustling metropolis and swinging night life." A lab tech came in carrying her trey. "Ah look Matty; it's your favorite time of the day." Jess stood up. "If you need me I'll be in the hall." She started walking out.
"Jess get your a…owe…hey…Jess…." She walked to the coffee machine. That's where Derek Morgan found her.
"Hey you." She turned and smiled. "I thought I'd find you here."
"Cause you heard my brother swearing at me down the hall I'm guessing." She took a sip of her coffee.
"My plane leaves in an hour." He looked into her brown eyes. "You've been avoiding this for three days."
"I know. I thought if I just walked away it would be easier." She folded her arms across her chest. "I can't leave them Derek."
"I'm not asking you to." He touched her cheek. "Just don't forget I'm just a phone call away." He took her face in his hands and kissed her gently. "I never met anyone like you Jesse Lynne Hawkes and I don't want to loose that. This, whatever it is Jess is worth trying to figure out. It may take a while but I'm willing to give it a try. How about you?" She set her coffee on the table next to her and hugged him tight. Tears fell from her cheeks.
"I want that too Derek. More then anything." He held her close for a long time. After what seemed like an eternity he pushed her away and kissed her one last time.
"You know where to find me if you need me honey." He wiped her tears away. "I'm going to miss you Jess." He squeezed her hand one last time and turned and headed down the hall. She felt warm hands on her shoulder. Cody pulled her back against him and hugged his sister close.
"Don't ever think you have to stay here for us Jess. I couldn't live with your trading your happiness for this mountain or us."
"My happiness is you and this mountain. He knows that. But he sure does have a fine rear end." Cody slapped her.
"Come on kid. Let's go get Matt and save this place from his wrath." Jess watched Morgan get into the black SUV in the parking lot and wondered if it was the last time she would see him. She hoped not but chances were he would never set foot on her mountain again. She followed Cody into Matt's room and prepared to rescue the nursing staff from his unruly attitude.
(Looking out the window of the plane)
You never go into a situation knowing all the facts. Just like anything you commit to there is always an integer you never expect. Meeting the Hawkes wasn't one of them. Liking them was. Falling in love with one blindsided me like nothing ever had. We all will remember this case because we not only saved a family; we saved an institution and a mountain all in the same week. And somewhere along the way I found something I didn't even know I was looking for.