Disclaimer: They are not mine. I don't make profit from this.
ATF universe belongs to Mog. Thanks to my beta Laura, to Angela B. and Murh.
Thoughts in // italics // . Be happy, this is the last chapter.
Dedicated to the evil-twin-sister, Terry Kay, sfulton229 and those who wanted the entire Josiah´s love story.
"So she´s not that young?" asked Buck intrigued.
"No, she´s not. But you better stay away from her or I will choke you with my bare hands," warned the profiler.
"So, have you known her a long time, Mr. Sanchez?" inquired the gambler.
"It´s a long story," managed the older man.
"I have nothing else to do," interjected the Texan.
Josiah, sat at one of the couches and, taking a deep breath he began, "I had just graduated from the academy. I was looking for a place to live and I found this great apartment building. There I meet my first love... she was beautiful, her name was Emma. She was the owner´s daughter."
"She wanted to be an artist and when she got enought money she left Denver. I had a job and responsibilities, so I stayed. Nevertheless I got news about Emma by her sister Annette, but I didn´t see my love again for a long time."
"Your home is really that old?" guessed the computer expert, which resulted in a light blow in the head from Buck and a glare from Chris.
"It has been remodeled over the years," explained the profiler. "Some time later Annette moved to the appartment next door, and we became good friends. And Miss Amada came with her. After I became a detective, the job made me leave home a lot and Annete would take care of things around in my absence, sometimes for months. Miss. Amanda was nine or ten..."
"She was ten," stated J.D. who avoided Buck´s second blow.
"Well, at first, she was scared of me; even then she looked younger than she was. But, after a while, I won her trust by showing her that her opinion was important and respected. After that, we were friends, for a long time."
"When she went to college, I missed her company. Then Annette got sick and Miss Amanda came back to stay with her. Before Annette died, she pleaded with me to keep an eye on Amanda for her."
"At Annette's funeral, I saw Emma. She was still beautiful. She had a rich boyfriend at her side, and she had already divorced a couple of times. Most of the family gave Amanda their condolences, but Emma was so mean to the girl that she cried all the way back home."
"That would explain your attraction to my mother; cold demeanor with a list of rich ex-husbands, among other qualities," interjected the Southern.
Ignoring the gambler, Josiah continued, "It was a hard time, the next couple of months. Then, Amanda got the offer to study in Europe and she accepted. When she left, I felt that I had failed Annette. I got a little lost in my way, got a leave from the force and traveled some. Around that time I became a profiler and was recruited by the feds and life went on."
"I was thinking about retirement when Nathan told me of Chris' project and now Amanda is back and planning to stay. I got my second chance and almost blew it. She got hurt and involved in our case."
Before any of his friends could say anything, he stated, "I know there wasn't a lot I could have done to stop it, but I'm going to do my best so it won't happen again."
The team stayed in silence. They could understand the feeling. Nobody would want to see their loved ones hurt.
"Tell me something, Mr. Sanchez." Ezra was thinking fast over the puzzle Josiah had described. "You think Miss Amanda was Miss Annette's daughter, don´t you?"
"The idea crossed my mind, yes," replied the older man.
"But you are not sure. So she could be Emma´s daughter?" the gambler insisted.
"Maybe." said the profiler reluctantly. Ezra narrowed his eyes; he had missed something, // what else? //.
"Food is ready!" announced Mary from the kitchen door. "Josiah, if you´d have told us before that Mandy was a chef, the meal could have been ready hours ago and without so much mess."
"Mess? What mess?" growled the blond leader getting to his feet a little unsteadily.
"Don´t mind it, Chris. It´s already taken care of," calmed Casey, bringing a bowl of salad to the table.
Nathan got worried. "She didn´t get too close to the oven or got her hands wet, did she?" After all, the girl wasn't at her best and Josiah wouldn't be pleased if she got hurt again.
"She just helped us with the directions," answered Mary. "She could have cooked, but Chris doesn't have any spoons that she could manage with the gauzes at her palms."
// Wood spoons! // thought Josiah as he remembered something. // I didn't renew my magazine subscription, damn! //
Mary went past the profiler and gave him a funny look as he hit his forehead softly against the doorframe.
The aroma of the pot that the blonde brought made mouths water and stomachs growl.
"Hey preacher," said the sharpshooter, with a sudden inspiration. "Since Ezra didn't want to stay in your house for the week like the doctor said, I think I will go with you and leave him here with Chris. I know that the company and the food there would be better than here."
Chris tried to get hold of the Texan's neck. "The company?, I'll show you what you´ll miss, you scruffy, smart mouth, rat..." With the blond's movements restricted by the bruised ribs, the Texan escaped easily.
"Hey!" shouted Buck, taking offense at the comment, as he would stay in the ranch to help Chris with the horses.
Vin was being chased by Chris, and Nathan was in close pursuit. "Chris, be careful! he suffered a concussion! Vin, don´t trip him or you could break his ribs!"
Casey and J.D., already sitting at the table, said at the same time, "Kids never behave!" and burst into laughter.
Josiah went slowly to the porch. His emotions still running high after retelling his memories, even if the month's worries were finally settling. He was taking deep breaths when he felt a hand at his shoulder. Ezra was at his side.
Seeing the deep sorrow reflecting in the light blue eyes, he asked, "Mr. Sanchez, when did you find out that you had loved the wrong sister?"
For a moment, Ezra thought that the profiler would not answer his question, then he said softly, "Once, I heard that you could find love when you least expect it. But I only lost my blindfold that day at the cemetery..."
Josiah closed his eyes lost in the memories. "It was too late, Ezra. I was too late."
* FIN *
* THE END *
Josiah´ cooking set is from chapter 3;
-- Josiah reached his workplace, called home and listened to his messages;
An artificial voice informed him that he could renew one of his subscriptions to a specialized magazine and get a cook set simply by calling back before two days.--
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