This part of story takes place between Crossroads (when Ravenwood came to town) and Red Flag (when Gracie Leigh died), during the month that Jake wasn't speaking to Heather. I'll be doing a little bit of time jumping here and there so be prepared, but time changes will be clearly marked. Hope you enjoy. and general disclaimer applies.

-Original Max A

Since the bombs went off, the mentality of the residents of Jericho, Kansas ranged for survival mode to despair and back again. The reasons for happiness or even relief were few and far in between. Despite their best efforts, maintaining some sense of normalcy and keeping the faith that the world they once knew would return became harder every day.

However, when the word spread throughout the town about Mayor Johnston Green's recovery, a small light could be seen in everyone's eyes. In this new world where there wasn't a president, vice-president or even a state government to look to, Mayor Green and the entire Green family had become a pillar from which the rest of the town drew its strength. More than the patriarch of his family, Mayor Green was father figure of Jericho and without him; everyone feared that Jericho would crumble, much like its namesake.

But Jericho and Mayor Green would survive another day thanks to its very own prodigal son, Jake Green. The former troublemaker was quickly becoming a town hero and progressively living up to his name, Johnston Jacob Green Jr. After repeatedly risking his life for the well being of the town, people started looking to Jake as a leader, despite his past.

But with all of his heroic deeds and selfless acts there was one person who still couldn't fully accept that Jake had changed: Jake Green. He Knew that he was helping the town to survive, like his father and grandfather before him, but nothing he could do would redeem him from the lives that he has taken, his selfishness, his guilt for not protecting Emily's brother, Chris.

More than her love, he longed for her forgiveness and maybe by loving as the more mature man that he is not, he can finally defeat the selfish kid that still nagged the back of his head. That kid was apart of his reckless strategy to blowup himself, the bridge and the contracted mercenary group Ravenwood to stop them from coming into town and destroying everything. That kid influenced him to challenge his enemies when he was obviously outnumbered and outgunned. And knowing that kid was still is in his life was apart what stopped him from talking to the brave brunette schoolteacher who was walking to Gracie Leigh's.

She looked up at him and smiled, making the day that much brighter. Jake couldn't help, but smile in return. She waved him over. Jake shook his head and pointed to City Hal. He shrugged and waved goodbye. Although he walked away, he didn't miss the look of disappointment in her eyes. It was a necessary evil, he thought, to protect from caring about him even more.

Jake embraced his new role as the head of the Rangers and unofficial town leader because he owed this town. Ever since he saved that little girl and Heather's class, he thought that maybe, maybe this time he could do something right. When it came to Heather, he had to protect her from more than the outside world and whatever crisis Jericho was forced into next – He had to protect her from himself.

In her, he saw a chance to be different man than everyone saw him as. He saw in her eyes a man who he wanted to be. A man who was worthy of those side glances that she gave him when she thought he wasn't looking, the man that made her blush beet red when he came out the shower. He'd be lying if he said that it wasn't a nice boost to his ego. It was nice to have someone in Jericho that saw him for who he was today and didn't have memories of who he was five years ago.

But when she kissed him, it all changed. In his mind, she went from the schoolteacher who he admired for her bravery and mechanical know-how to a woman, soft, sexy and full of desire that he ignored until that moment. After the initial shock, he felt her and experienced the world that was Heather Lisinski. He felt her passion, tasted her innocence, connected with her intelligence and touched her curves that letting him know she was definitely full grown. Looking into her eyes after the kiss, he knew that she had no clue just how sexy she was. As she backed away, he saw her revert, not to the mechanically minded schoolteacher, but to that 12-year-old girl that stripped wire and repaired machines because she hadn't been asked to the school dance.

He saw her as a woman for the first time and realized how much he had teased her and played with her emotions. He didn't want hurt her, but after that kiss, he knew, if it went any further, he would. Heather was special and deserved more than the town rebel. He realized in crisis after crisis, he and Heather depended on each other, worked together and made a pretty good team. Last time he had a partner like that, he nearly ruined her. He couldn't put Heather that. He realized something else too; that it wasn't the first time that his universe had been reduced to a petite brunette who wanted nothing more than to save him from himself.

15 years earlier

Jake raced to Stanley's farm after a big blow out with Emily. She was mad at him for hauling something for her father, but it was only one time, so he didn't see what the big deal was. Not mention, that was how he purchased their matching Bonnie and Clyde outfits for Halloween. He felt a little stupid in his suit without Emily's tommy gun and cute dress to match, but he was too pissed to care that much. He walked up to Stanley's door and knocked. He waited for a second.

"Stanley, you in there!" he called.

The grind of a chainsaw roared behind him making him jump 10 feet in the air.

He turned around and saw Stanley with his Jason mask over his head with a chainsaw and shit-eating grin. Stanley stopped the chainsaw and doubled over in laughter.

"You should have seen your face," he managed between laughs.

Jake punched him, "You mother f**ker, you gave me a heart attack."

"It was so worth it."

Jake shook his head, "Let's go."

Stanley looked around, "Where's Emily?"

Jake walked over to Stanley's truck, "She's not coming."

"What? I thought…"

Jake just gave him a look.

"Wonder how long this one's gonna last," Stanley muttered as he climbed into his pick-up.

"So where are we going again?" Jake asked once they got on the road.

Stanley smiled, "New Bern. We're crashing a party."