AN – I don't own Ghost Whisperer, or the characters. Just love the show, just like everyone else on this site :-)

~Chapter One~

Rick Payne was digging through his paperwork, obviously very stressed, his office was covered in boxes and what was not in boxes was all spread in disarray around his desk. "God damn it!" He shouted numerous times. He never even noticed Melinda walking through the door, which seemed to happen a lot. He had been looking through his papers for hours trying to find the file on his new assistant student professor that would be joining him for the year. "Where is it?" He asked with much irritation.

"Where's what?" Melinda asked the scatterbrained professor as she went to sit down on a chair. She picked up a manila envelope and placed it in her lap.

Rick looked up with surprise as he heard Melinda's voice in his office. He looked at her, "The folder on my new assistant! I can't find it and she gets here today!" He exclaimed. He turned away from her and started digging through more piles of paper.

Melinda looked inquisitive. She looked at the envelope that was in her lap. "Umm, is her name Jordan Frank?" She asked.

Rick turned around and looked at Melinda, "yes…please don't tell me she's dead and is standing next to me, because that would…that would not be very helpful." He said seeming to plead with her.

Melinda smiled and shook her head with endearment. She turned the envelope over so Rick could see the name on the envelope. "No, she's not a ghost." She said with a chuckle.

Rick looked thrilled as he grabbed the envelope away from Melinda, "this is great!" He said with excitement. He looked back to Melinda, "This is why I love you – " he said and then cut himself off. He wasn't sure what life was going to be like, now that he was back and Jim was gone. He smiled, "What can I do for you?" He asked.

Melinda shook her head, "I just wanted to see how you were doing getting all set back up in your office." She said as she noticed he had barely done any unpacking. "Obviously, you aren't doing well." She mocked him.

Rick looked at her with irritation, "No, because I haven't had time. The university obviously thinks that I need to make up for my sabbatical last year and has doubled my class load this year!" He let out, almost cathartically. "Which is why, I am getting an assistant…" He explained.

"But, she's a student still right? From another university, here to learn how to be a professor?" Melinda asked and waited for a nod from the professor. "It's not like she's an office assistant where she does your bidding." She explained realistically.

Rick shook his head, "Oh, no…she will…she will do my bidding because I will make her." He stated coldly. "I had to do it as a student professor, so will she." He said as he started to dig through the information he had on her.

Melinda looked a little sorry for the future student professor; Rick was not someone you want to be around in a bad mood. "What made her study the occult?" She inquired.

Rick shrugged with uncertainty, "They don't tell us that kind of thing, but it does say she studied at some school in Minnesota for her undergrad degree in anthropology. Then she moved to Seattle for her graduate degree in Anthropology in the archeology department. Minus her locations, she's like a little mini-me!" He said with his bad mood shifting to excitement.

Melinda smiled, she was happy to see Rick so happy all of a sudden. "When is she supposed to be here?" She asked him.

Rick looked at her, "in about ten minutes…want to stick around and meet her?" He asked.

Melinda shook her head and said, "No, you get to know your new assistant and bring her by the store sometime, then I will meet her." She began to walk out when she was stopped by a gentle hand. She turned to see Rick staring into her face.

"Melinda," he started, "I don't know if this is the right time, or if there is ever a right time. But," He said, beginning to sound nervous.

Melinda knew where this was headed. She smiled and without allowing him to finish she said, "When the time is right…" She turned and walked out of the professor's office.

Rick smiled with a touch of disappointment behind his smile. He went and took a seat at his desk and began to read the profile on Jordan Franks.

"But, why are you dodging this? You have known about his feelings for years, you both have been through a very traumatic thing, and you care about him very much." Delia explained to Melinda, later in the store as she filled the shelves with their latest success at a state sale.

"Because, it doesn't feel right. Not now, not so soon after…after the whole Sam thing." She said, with what sounded like tears beginning to manifest in her eyes.

Delia looked at her friend with sadness, "Melinda…"

Melinda looked at Delia, "I mean, Jim was released from Sam's body and finally crossed over, because he knew everything was over, but that doesn't fix the pain. It doesn't fix the fact that I got to mourn my husband twice. It doesn't fix anything." She said now with tears falling from her eyes like a waterfall.

Delia nodded, also with tears. She knew this pain; she knew how it felt like the pain would never end and how the pain was so heavy on the heart that you can literally feel your heart break. She reached out her hands and brought Melinda into them with a deep loving hug.

The two stood in the store and they cried together for a few minutes until Melinda realized it was time to open the store. She broke her hug with Delia and smiled sweetly at her friend. She wiped the tears from her face and got the store ready to open. "We have a long day ahead of us, so we better get a head start on it now." She said seeming as though she had never been crying.

Delia was always amazed at Melinda's resiliency, her ability to bounce back without a second thought. She smiled and started back to work, "You got it boss." She said with enthusiasm.

While Melinda was at work selling her antiques, Rick waited impatiently for his new assistant, who was late. Rick couldn't wait any longer; he grabbed his stuff and started out to the door of his office where he ran into a young woman. Both fell to the ground.

The young woman was in her mid twenties. She looked at the professor with her blue eyes, "Are you alright?" She asked as she stood and offered her hand to help him up. Her brown hair fell over her shoulders, but just barely.

"No, I am not alright!" Rick exclaimed, his bad mood back and fiercer with his irritation of Jordan's absence. "I am running late because of my new assistant, but you don't want to or need to hear this. Good day." He said as he started to walk off.

"Your assistant…was her name Jordan Frank?" the young girl asked.

Rick rolled his eyes and turned around, "Why is everyone doing that today?" He asked out loud to himself. "Yes, and if you are her, which you better not be, but if you are, I am very angry." He said to her.

"Well, I am sorry to make you so angry." She said to him, "But I am Jordan, sorry I am late…I just got into town from Seattle today." She said to him.

"Well that doesn't matter now, let's get to class. Are you prepared for your lecture?" He asked as he started to walk expecting her to follow.

Jordan was caught by surprise by the sudden movement by the professor, but she followed anyway. She was able to hear everything he had said even if she had to run to catch up. "Umm, yes." She said as she went over the notes in her head. "This class is about the theories that surround the idea of ghosts right?" She asked.

Rick nodded, "Quick question, are you a skeptic or are you a believer?" He blatantly asked.

"Believer." Was all she stated.

Rick looked at her and smiled, and she smiled back at him. "So, tell me about yourself." He requested.

She looked down to the ground, "Well, I am twenty seven and this is the last thing I need to do before I can get my PhD. I was born and raised in Minnesota, my parents still live there, but my sister has come with me though it all, undergrad, masters, doctorate school, she's my best friend." She explained to the professor, "Anything else you want to know?" She asked.

"No, I am fully satisfied." He said as they entered the lecture hall. "Hello students, and welcome to a new semester of Payne-full classes." He joked, he bent over to Jordan, "I like and take full advantages of puns, and you will soon learn, for most students, that pun was true." He looked back out to the students who sat seeming to be bored, some there for their major some with their minor. Some trying to get a general taken care of. "I see some familiar faces; the smart ones are in the back…or are you so smart?" Payne's voice had become cold, as if he was a different person, he was still joking with them, but he was in professor mode.

Jordan looked on with admiration. She had always wanted to be a professor, even though she didn't want to be cold, but she wanted to be exactly like what she saw from Professor Payne.

Rick turned to Jordan, "This is Jordan Frank, you can all call her Professor Frank this semester. She is a student professor from the University of Washington. After we get through our syllabus she will give you a short lecture about ghosts and the myths that surround them." He explained to the students. "So, shall we get started?" He asked the students as he and Jordan began to pass out papers to the students.

Later in class, Jordan was just finishing her lecture. "So, who here in this class right now, believes in ghosts?" She waited for a few moments, as no one raised their hands, "come on, and don't be shy." She said to the students as she approached them. She raised her hand and stated, "I am not ashamed to admit that I believe in them." She turned to Rick, "Professor Payne, are you a believer?" She asked.

Rick smiled, "Why, yes I am, Professor Frank." He said as he too raised his hand. He was impressed with her lecture, and it was only getting better.

She turned and saw a fraction of the students that now held their hand in the air. She smirked, "Well, my goal for the end of the semester, is to change this outcome…" she turned to Rick and nodded to him.

Rick stood and said, "And that ladies and gentlemen, is the end of class."

The students all stood, all but one left in what seemed to be in a hurry. The one that remained was Ned Banks, Delia's now college aged son. He stood and joined the other two down on the lecture floor. "Great lecture." He said to the new professor.

Jordan smiled, "Thanks see you next class." She said, not knowing his connection with Rick.

Rick laughed, "Jordan, this is Ned…he's the son of a friend." He explained. He then looked back to Ned, "You better have raised your hand."

Ned nodded, "I was the first one…but I hate to admit I didn't right away." He explained. "So, have you met Melinda yet?" He asked.

Rick looked at him and shook his head. He grabbed Jordan by the arm and laughed nervously, "Well Ned, I am sure you have another class to get to, and we have…unpacking to do." He said as he rushed out of the lecture hall.

Jordan made Rick let go of her arm, "Who is Melinda?" She asked him.

Rick stopped and looked at her, "To be honest she is the love of my life." He explained to her. "But we have a lot to do today…correction; you have a lot to do." He said with a smile as he dashed her to his office.

After class, Ned went to town square to visit his mom and Melinda at the store. He made the bell on the door go off as he entered the store.

Delia walked in from the back and saw her son standing by the counter. "Hey honey! How was your first day of class?" She asked him.

Ned smiled and nodded, "it was good; I met Professor Payne's new assistant professor." He told his mother.

"What's she like?" Delia asked.

"I didn't get a chance to talk to her much, they had work to do I guess." He explained, "But I met her. Where's Melinda?" He asked.

"She headed to Village Java for the regular; I can give her a quick call if you want something." Delia offered as she reached for her cell phone.

Ned shook his head and said, "No, that's ok. I just stopped by for a little chat." He explained. "I do miss you, you know." He told his mother.

Delia was relieved to hear that she was missed; she was caught off guard when Ned told her that he wanted to live on campus for the first couple of years. Now she knew that it was never because of her that he moved out, which she always knew, but somewhere deep inside her, her heart broke as a mother. "I miss you too; the house has been so empty without you." She told him.

Melinda dashed into the shop right in the middle of this mother/son moment. "Delia!" She exclaimed. She then saw Ned standing next to his mother, "Oh Ned, Hi…" she said seemingly in a desperate tone. She turned back to Delia, "You guys will never guess who just walked back into our lives!" She exclaimed in a panic.

Delia was alarmed, she knew it was ghost related but she didn't know who or what was happening. "What, who?" She asked worried about her friend.

Melinda made a motion with her hand for the two of them to follow her to the window. She pointed to a dark skinned man standing in the center of town square next to the military statue.

The man standing to the other side of the street was none other than Gabriel Gordon, the very man that caused Melinda's momentary death a few years ago, and has caused her permanent emotional damage as well as damage to the light itself.

"Oh my God…" Ned said in astonishment.

"This can't mean good things." Delia added in her own astonishment.

In the meantime, Rick had gotten Jordan back to his office and had her unpacking his office as he lounged in his chair. "Those books go there." He said to her with a pile of books in her arms.

Jordan nodded with irritation, "Why aren't you helping?" She asked her fellow professor.

Rick didn't even answer; he just let out a little laugh. After awhile he finally stated, "I am hard at work on grading." He said.

Jordan shook her head as she placed the books on the shelf.

Rick stood and told her, "I need to go take a quick bathroom break. I will be right back."

Jordan nodded and watched him leave the office. She continued to take books from boxes on the floor and placed them on the shelves around Rick's office. After a few minutes she took a break and began to unpack some of her own personal boxes and decided to dress up her own desk.

A young man walked into the office, he stood at about six feet and he had shaggy brown hair. He saw Jordan at her desk, "I'm sorry, is Professor Payne here?" He asked.

Jordan looked up and shook her head, "No, he took a break…can I help you with something?" She asked.

"No, I will just come back a little later." He said to her as he walked out of the office.

Jordan watched the student leave with a look on her face as if she were in mental pain. She got up and began to unpack more of Rick's boxes.

Rick returned to his office about ten minutes after leaving. He grabbed some books from his boxes and began to place them on the shelves with Jordan, "Did anyone come by at all?" He asked.

Jordan glanced over to Rick and nodded, "One student came by. He didn't leave a name or anything." She informed him.

At that moment Eli entered Rick's office, "Hey, Payne…" He said as he caught a glance of Jordan. He was mesmerized by her, she was beautiful in his eyes, "Who, uh, who is this?" He asked.

Rick looked over to his colleague, "This is Jordan Frank, and she's my assistant student professor." He explained.

Jordan turned around and smiled, "Hi." She greeted.

Eli smiled and held out his hand for a shake, "Hi…I am Eli James."

Jordan grabbed his hand and began to shake hands with the psychology professor. "Nice to meet you." She said in a very friendly manner.

Rick looked at the two of them with a smirk; he saw the spark between them. However, he also knew it had to end for now. "Is there a reason you came to see me, Eli?"

Eli broke from his trance that he was in over Jordan and turned to Rick, "Yes, I came to bring you some of my papers and wondered if you could check the information, one used a lot of Anthropology stuff." He explained as he handed some papers to Rick.

Rick nodded, "I will go over them tonight, but the semester just started, how could you have papers already?" He asked.

"I emailed all of my students asking them for a little paper for the first day of class." He informed Rick.

The young man from before walked in again and saw Rick standing in his office, "Professor Payne, there you are!" He exclaimed with minor excitement.

Rick seemed to ignore the young man and continued to look through the papers.

Jordan glanced over at the young man and quickly looked away.

Eli turned and looked around. After awhile he realized there was a ghost in their midst. He wasn't sure how to tell Rick, he looked over to Jordan who looked a bit nervous. He wondered why she seemed so nervous, "Uh…Rick…" He stated quietly.

Rick turned and saw that the two people in his office were nervous; he wasn't sure what to think. "What?" He asked.

The ghost of the young man approached Jordan, "Why is he ignoring me?" He asked in exclamation. "You can see and hear me!" He yelled.

Jordan shook her head and walked away.

Eli's heart dropped after he heard the ghost speak. She can see ghosts! He thought to himself. He grabbed Rick by the arm and whispered into his ear, "There's a ghost, looking for you. And I think Jordan here…can see him."

Rick's eyes widened, "You have got to be kidding." He whispered back.

Eli shook his head and looked at Jordan, "Jordan, let me show you around campus a little, how does that sound?" He asked. He looked back to Rick, "Maybe we can meet at Mel's shop later. All of us?" He proposed.

Rick nodded and looked at Jordan, "You can go if you want." He told the young woman.

Jordan nodded, she just wanted to be away from this situation and soon. She didn't want anyone to know her little secret, even if Rick claimed to be a believer. She walked out the door with Eli.

Rick looked around, "Look, I can't see or hear you…if you wait, and come with to Melinda's store, I will let you talk to her and we can deal with whatever it is you need from me." He said. He shook his head afterwards. He still couldn't believe he believed in this. It made no sense at all.

The ghost of the young man looked disappointed, "Why can't you see or hear me?" He didn't know he was dead; he had only died that night and was still rather confused. He waited a little while and then disappeared in disappointment.

Later, as proposed, Jordan and Eli got to the antique store to meet Rick. They walked in and saw Delia standing with a customer. "That's Delia, she's Melinda's partner in this business." Eli explained to Jordan.

Delia heard her name; she looked over and smiled, "This would be an excellent gift for your wife." She told the customer.

The elderly customer let out a little laugh and said, "Sold!" He was enthusiastic, "This is our fiftieth, and I want it to be special." He said.

Delia found this so romantic. She smiled a bittersweet smile, she could only wish she and Charlie had made it to their fiftieth. "Well, should we get you rung up?" She asked.

The man nodded and walked with Delia to the counter. "Could you gift wrap it?" He wondered.

Delia nodded, "I can deliver it as well all I need is your address and signature right here." She informed him.

The man did so and paid for his gift and proceeded to leave.

After the man left Delia walked up to Eli and this new girl, "Hey there, who do we have here?" She asked.

Jordan reached out her hand, "I am Jordan Frank, Rick Payne's new little assistant student professor. It's very nice to meet you." She said with a smile.

Delia shook her hand, "Nice to meet you." She looked around and said, "Melinda is around here somewhere. I will check in the basement." Delia proceeded into the back and went down to the basement, there she found Melinda going through a box. "Mel, Rick's assistant is here." She said to her.

Melinda looked up with surprise, "Here? Great!" She said with enthusiasm. She jumped up and walked with Delia back up to the store front. There she saw the pretty young woman with Eli, "Oh, I figured I would have seen Rick up here with you." She laughed.

Eli smiled, "I showed her around a little, Rick should be here shortly." He informed his friend. "In the meantime, this is Jordan Frank." He said as he motioned to Jordan.

Melinda smiled her regular sweet smile and held out her hand, "Wonderful to meet you, I am Melinda."

Rick walked into the store, "Ahh, you two beat me here. Well so now everyone knows everyone and Melinda, we need to talk." Rick said with the fakest smile on his face. He pushed Melinda into the back room and proceeded to tell her what he needed to tell her. "So, pretty sure, my new little assistant here can see ghosts."

Melinda's eyes widened. This was getting crazy, granted it had been awhile since she ran into someone else she knew could also see ghosts. Eli was the last one, and he couldn't see them, and he was a special case. "How do you know?" She asked him.

"Eli was in my office and heard a ghost; he said that she acknowledged him or something. I told the ghost, hoping he heard me, to meet me here so you could talk to him. But what I really want you to do is talk to her." He explained.

Melinda nodded and walked out followed closely by Rick. She saw a ghost, not sure if it was the one that Rick was talking about. She looked at Jordan and approached her. "There's one more introduction that needs to be made." She said to her.

Jordan looked at her confusedly. She wasn't sure exactly what was going on, but she was game. She let Melinda guide her to the ghost, now she was more afraid than anything. "Can you see this man?" She asked.

The others watched knowing what was going on. Delia was the only one who didn't know Jordan's secret.

Jordan was shocked; she realized that Melinda could see them too. However, she looked away, "See what?" She asked.

Melinda sighed; she realized this was going to take work. People like her weren't too trusting; they were given every reason to not be trusting. "It's ok, I see him." She said.

Jordan turned to Melinda, "See who?" She asked, now irritated.

Melinda turned to Eli, "Are you sure about this?" She asked him.

Eli nodded, "The ghost said that she had seen and talked to him before."

Melinda turned to Jordan, "What do you have to say?"

Jordan hated the idea of calling Melinda crazy, since that is what she had heard all her life, but she knew in order to keep this secret, she had to say it. "I think you people might be a little crazy."

The ghost, who was indeed the young man from before, looked at Melinda, "She's lying, she did see me. I came to see Professor Payne. What is going on, why can you two see me and the others can't?"

Melinda turned to the two professors, "Where there any deaths on campus recently?" She asked. She knew that ghosts who didn't know they were dead were usually newly dead.

Rick nodded, "Someone who was on my roster died last night, they say he had a heart attack. He was an anthropology major, so I knew him." He said to Melinda. "Is that who's here? His name was Benjamin Berone." He explained.

Melinda turned to him, "Is that your name?" She asked.

Benjamin nodded, "Yeah…but I can't be dead." He said allowing the denial to creep in.

Melinda looked at Benjamin with hurt in her eyes, "I know you are confused right now, but I can help. Do you see a light?" She asked him.

Jordan looked at the ghost painfully. She wasn't sure to handle this situation; she just wanted it to go away.

Benjamin shook his head no, "Am I really dead?" He asked Melinda.

Melinda nodded, "I am so sorry, you had a heart attack. It's normal for ghosts to not realize they are dead at first." She said to him. "Do you have any idea what your unfinished business is?" She asked. "Why did you come to Rick's office today?" She asked hoping that would give her some clue.

Benjamin looked down, "I know this sounds dumb. But in high school, I was the all time jock. I got to college and realized I was possibly good at anthropology, and archeology. I was actually smart for once, not the dumb jock." He started as he glanced at Rick, "I wanted to thank Professor Payne for all he had done, and I wanted to know if he thought I had a possible future." He finished.

Melinda turned to Rick, "He wants to thank you, for being a good professor and he wanted to know if, had he lived, he had any future in archeology." She told her friend.

Rick was amazed at this, yes he knew who Benjamin was, and yes he had a future. He was sometimes amazed at the research papers he had received the last two semesters from this just out of high school student. But what amazed him was that he stood out to a student. It wasn't the first time, but somehow, he just always seems to be touched when he touches a student like that. "Ben, yes, had you stayed alive; I would have been honored to have gone on a dig with you." He said to the air.

Benjamin smiled and then noticed something off into the distance, "What is that?" He asked, "Is that the light you talked about before?"

Melinda nodded, "Yes, I guess all you needed to know is if you wasted your time or not doing what you were doing. Now that you know you were not wasting time, you are free to go into it."

"What's there?" He asked.

"From my experience, people see loved ones…and feel peace. It's a good place, that's all you need to know." She said to him.

Benjamin began to tear up, "I see my mom and my baby brother. They died in a car crash two years ago." He said with excitement. "They want me to come." He said as he began to follow them. "Tell Payne, that he is one of the greatest professors, he just needs to realize it." He said before he walked into the light. He then looked at Jordan, "its ok, you are safe in this place, trust them." He finished as he disappeared into the light.

Melinda looked at Jordan, "I think we have a lot to talk about, don't we?" She asked.

Jordan nodded, tears running down her face. "I would like that a lot, Melinda." She said as she walked up to her.