This is the first of what I'm pretty sure will be many ficlets stemming from the finale. Please note it's completely separate from my other fics. Different universe, if you will.
Also, this fic is definitely of the 'fade-out' variety, so if you're looking for smut, you're going to be disappointed. Not to say you shouldn't read it, of course. Come on, you know you wanna... :)
The Road Less Travelled
She stared out the window, acutely aware that each passing mile took her further and further away from her father. She'd spent so much of her life looking for him that she wasn't sure how to feel about his being gone for good.
Sighing, she turned to her partner, whose attention was focused on the road ahead. Marco and Luke had opted to fly back to Houston, ostensibly as an escort for their newly-apprehended fugitive, though she suspected their motive had more to do with wanting to give her and Jimmy some alone time.
"You okay?" he asked, throwing her a worried glance.
"My father asked me to go with him."
Her partner said nothing, the slight tightening of his fingers around the steering wheel the only indication that he'd actually heard her.
"I spent so many years wishing he'd come back for me," she continued, "that he'd tell me he wanted me to be part of his life, and now that he has, I just... I don't know..."
"You've been looking for him for pretty much all your life, Annie," he replied softly. "Nobody would blame you for at least considering it."
"Right," she scoffed, "I'm sure me running off with a fugitive would go over very well with everyone."
"The people who love you would understand. To hell with everyone else."
"Would I what?" he asked, frowning.
"Would you understand if I just... left?"
"Look," he sighed, reaching over to squeeze her hand. "I know what I've said in the past, how I'd arrest him if given the chance, how I expected you to do the same... I shouldn't have said that. I was just... frustrated."
"I've always been pretty good at frustrating the hell out of you, haven't I?" she asked, the ghost of a smile flitting across her features.
"I'll grant you that," he said, rolling his eyes at her, " but still... I had no right..."
"You had every right, Jimmy. You're a U.S. Marshal; he's a fugitive. It's pretty much in the job description."
"Yeah, but he's your father, and that does make a difference, no matter how much we might want to deny it."
"But he's not your father," she argued, shaking her head vehemently. "He's not your responsibility, he never was."
"That's not how it works, Boots."
"Because I love you, and that makes him family, regardless of the unarguably bad choices he's made in the past. However, family or not, if he hurts you again, I will hunt him down and put him away."
"I don't think that'll be necessary," she sighed, turning to once again stare out the window. "He's gone. For good."
"You okay with that?"
"Yeah," she replied, surprised to find that she actually was. "I got to say goodbye, this time, and at least I know it's not me he's running from."
"It never was," he pointed out. "Not really."
"Sill doesn't take away the pain I felt for all those years, wondering what made me so unlovable that he'd just... leave."
"You're anything but unlovable," he said, his voice laced with anger, no doubt directed at the man who'd make her believe such a thing.
"I know that," she said, twisting around in her seat to face him. "Thanks in no small part to you, I might add" she told him, lacing her fingers with his. "You know, I always thought that, by leaving me behind, he'd taken away my only chance at having a family, but I was wrong... You're my family: you, Marco, Luke, and..." She trailed off, unable to actually say the name of their recently-charged-with-murder teammate and friend.
"It's okay," Jimmy said softly, giving her hand another soft squeeze. "Daisy may have made some really bad decisions, but that doesn't mean you have to stop caring about her."
"I know, it's just that... She was my friend, Jimmy. How did I not know what she was going through?"
"She didn't want you to know."
"That's not good enough," she argued. "You always know when I'm spiralling out of control."
"Well, for one thing, I've known you for a lot longer than you've known Daisy. And, you and me, we've always been... close."
"So you're saying that if I'd been sleeping with Daisy, I would have known?" she snapped, hating the fact that she was lashing out at Jimmy yet unable to stop herself. She needed to vent some of her anger at what had happened, and her partner was unfortunately the only target currently available.
"Obviously not," he replied evenly, "since Luke didn't know. Nor did Marco, for that matter, and you know how those two were."
"I'm sorry," she sighed, "I'm being a complete idiot, aren't I?"
"It's okay, you get a free pass today," he replied, seemingly non-plussed by her mood swings. "And for the record, stereotypical male fantasies aside, I'm very glad you weren't sleeping with Daisy," he smirked, eliciting a small laugh from her.
"She was – she is – a good person, Jimmy," she said, serious once more. "A good marshal. And now, it's all just... gone. Nobody cares about all the good she did, all they see is a criminal to be put away."
"It could have been you," she said, her voice cracking slightly.
"I may not know the details of what you did to get me back back from Mexico, but I know some of it had to be pretty bad, bad enough to cost you your badge at the very least."
"We've had this discussion before," he argued. "I have no regrets about any of it."
"And what you did today," she continued, ignoring his protests, "letting my father go... You keep compromising your ethics for me, and... One day, something will go wrong, and they'll punish you, or you'll decide you've had enough and you'll- "
"Stop right there," he warned her. "Nothing could ever make me leave you," he said, without so much as a trace of doubt in his voice. "Nothing, you hear me?"
"Sorry," she mumbled, feeling like a complete jackass. "Can we please just get back to that happy place from an hour ago, walking in the woods hand-in-hand, just being... free?"
"I'll turn the car around and physically get you back there, if that what it takes to make you happy."
She smiled, knowing he'd do just that if she asked. "Not necessary," she assured him. "For now, I'd settle for just pulling over onto the side of the road."
He threw her a curious look, but didn't say anything as he slowed the vehicle, gently easing off the blacktop until they came to a full stop. Once he'd cut the engine, she got out, walking over to the driver's side.
She yanked open the door, reaching across her partner's lap to unbuckle his seat belt. That done, she pulled him out of the truck, still saying nothing.
"You're kind of worrying me here, Boots," he told her, eyeing her with concern.
"No need to worry," she assured him. "It's just that it's kind of hard to do this while you're driving," she explained as she slipped her arms around his waist, resting her cheek on his chest as she hugged him. He pulled her close, right hand stroking her hair as he relaxed against her. "He asked me if the reason I wouldn't go with him had something to do with you," she whispered, closing her eyes at the memory. "I told him I didn't know just yet."
"It's okay," her partner said softly as he pressed a kiss onto the top of her head.
"No, it's not," she sighed. "I lied to him. I know how I feel about you... I've known for a long time, even if I wasn't ready to admit it to anyone, least of all to myself..."
"They're just words, Annie. I don't need you to say anything; your being by my side is all the proof I need."
"You might not need to hear me say the words, but I do," she argued, tightening her hold on him. "I've spent most of my life actively avoiding any kind of meaningful connection with people, but that stops now." She took a deep steadying breath, then slowly pulled away so she could look at his face. "I love you."
She watched as her partner's face lit up at the words, amazed at how good it felt to finally tell him. In all the years since her father had walked out of her life, she'd never said those words to another human being, had never even allowed herself to be in a situation where she might be tempted to. And then she'd met Jimmy, who'd managed to break through her carefully erected walls, turning her world upside down without even trying...
"Still think you didn't need to hear the words?" she asked as she reached up to stroke his stubbly cheek.
"Okay, so maybe I was wrong on that one," he conceded, positively beaming at her.
"Maybe?" she repeated, arching an eyebrow at him.
"Well, I might need to hear it again to be sure..."
"Is that so?" she asked, laughing softly. "Well, I think that can be arranged," she told him, grinning wickedly as she shoved him, causing him to fall backwards into the driver's seat.
"What are you doing?" he asked, looking at her with undisguised interest.
She remained mute as she pushed the seat back as far as it would go, sending a silent prayer of thanks to the engineer who'd come up with the idea of electric controls, and climbed in, straddling him. "I love you, Jimmy Godfrey," she whispered against his mouth before claiming his lips in a slow, leisurely kiss.
Given her partner's reaction, it was probably a very good thing that the road they were on wasn't all that travelled...
~~~~~ The End ~~~~~