In honor of Veterans Day.
Every day the American Soldier writes a check to the American people payable for up to and including their life. I would like to take a moment to thank those men and women for their sacrifice for our freedom. Also a thank you to their families who are often left behind.
The morning had started off so well, Jo had woken wrapped in Zane's arms in her new house. Simply enjoying time spent together as they fought over who got the shower first, they ended up sharing or whether to take her car or his bike to the office. But all that had changed when Zane had stepped into her office just before noon telling her that General Mansfield needed to see her in Fargo's office ASAP.
Something felt off as she crossed the rotunda with Zane. Mansfield had been reassigned after the DED theft and his presence now felt ominous. Fear trickled through Jo upon entering the office, Fargo and Mansfield both looked well sad. Straightening her back and slipping into soldier mode Jo greeted Fargo with a nod and turned to Mansfield. "General"
"Chief Lupo I wish my visit was under better circumstances. I'm afraid I have some bad news." The General began.
Jo felt her chest tighten and felt her knees go slightly weak. "Which one? Which one isn't coming home?" She closed her eyes and braced herself for the news.
Mansfield's voice was thick "Ricco, Captain Ricco Lupo was taken down by a sniper yesterday. He managed to save half his platoon and several civilians before he was shot down. Your brother was a hero."
Zane's arm wrapped around Jo's waist and she took a calming breath. "All of my brothers are hero's sir. Ricco just had to make the ultimate sacrifice this time."
"I have yet to meet a Lupo that is not a hero Josefina. There is no finer military family than yours. I had the honor to serve under your grandfather, with your father and to command more then one of your brothers. I am truly sorry for your loss. If you need anything let me know. My office will make arrangements for you father and other brothers to be flown state side for the service."
"Thank you sir" Jo felt the tears welling in her eyes but didn't want them to fall yet.
Mansfield took two steps towards the door and then turned back. "Donovan, a word please."
Zane helped Jo sit down on the couch while Fargo crossed the room and sat down next to her. She gave Fargo a sad watery smile. Zane stepped out of earshot and over to the General.
"Donovan, I still don't like you, but if Jo needs anything please let me know." Mansfield handed him a card with a personal cell number on it. "Also please let me know when and where the service will be. My wife and I will be there."
Swallowing hard, Zane nodded and headed back to Jo, taking the seat on the other side of Fargo. Jo turned and let Zane wrap her in his arms. They sat there for several long minutes tears still not falling from her eyes.
"Fargo I'm going to take Jo home now." Zane said pulling Jo to her feet as he stood. "She's going to be out for a few days." Jo wanted to protest that she was still fully capable of doing her job and handeling what was happening. She would be lying though, she needed time off.
"Of course," Fargo agreed "take all the time you need. And please let me know if you need anything. Anything at all."
Zane half carried Jo to her car, he insisted on driving. Once back at the house he moved Jo to the couch and held her. Gently placing her on the couch he simply held her while the tears fell. He rubbed circles on her back and stroked her hair.
Two weeks later Zane found himself standing at a funeral inArlingtonNationalCemetery. Jo stood in line with her two remaining brothers and her father. All in their dress uniforms,Mansfieldhelp procure a replacement uniform for Jo. Zane tried not flinch at the first round of the twenty one gun salute. He held a strong hand at Jo's waist when a flag and a Purple Heart were presented to Colonel Lupo.
Soon after moving to Eureka and after Zane had hacked Jo's computer and found what he had thought was the most morbid thing he had ever seen. It was a file called final plans. Zane had wondered if she was actually planning on taking over the world so he read it. Inside he had found copies of how each of her brothers, her father and even how she would like their funerals handled. Now it seemed practical and even kind to the other members of the family in the wake of this tragedy.
It was only a matter of time Jo had told him when she caught him bringing up the file the day after they found out Ricco died. With four siblings who had gone Special Forces and a father who had buried way too many of his men, their father had insisted that final wishes be written out before every deployment.
Jo and her family had been allowed to grieve while Zane had a road map on how to handle things on her behalf. To most people Jo looked stoney and stoic but he could see the pain in her eyes. He knew the tick in her jaw was caused by the stress and the guilt that she felt, like if she had been there she could have saved him.
After the service Colonel Lupo pulled Zane away from the group.
"Sir, again I am so sorry for your loss. I wish I would have had the pleasure to meet your son. Jo talked very highly of him of all of you." Zane had a natural dislike of authority but this situation gave him a new perspective. The Lupo family put their lives on the line everyday so he had the right to be a jackass and speak his mind. Now he was alive and a much better man them him was not.
The Colonel cleared his throat. "Please call me Joseph. I want to thank you for everything that you have done for my family these past few weeks and for being there for Josefina."
"I would do anything for your daughter, sir. I love her, very much and as for what I have done for your family, it is truly is the least I could do."
Joseph extended a hand to Zane. "Still, I will never forget what you have done."
The older man walked away, leaving Zane to his thoughts. He had done so little in the last few weeks that really matter. A few funeral and hotel arrangements a few phone calls, not much at all in the grand scheme of things.
He rubbed a hand across the back of his neck as he caught Jo's eye from across the room. She smiled weakly at him. Jo was truly an amazing woman and he never had more respect for then he had at this moment. This woman would have laid down her life if that's what it came down to when she had served. Not that she wouldn't have fought the entire way down, hell she still put her life on the line because of the crazy antics.
Walking back over to her, he wrapped an arm around her and kissed the top of her head. Thankful that he still had her. And for the first time in his life really appreciative of her sacrifice and the sacrifice of countless others in the preservation of freedom.
A/N Once again I offer a heartfelt thank you to all who have served. Especially to both of my Grandfathers who served in Korea and my little sister who served in the US Navy from 03-09. Have you thanked a veteran today? If not please do.