This Too Shall Pass
Matt Hawkes looked at his sister rocking her new born daughter in the rocking chair his mother had rocked them all in. Jess was as natural a parent as she was a Ranger. Things had been calm on the California side of their mountain for a few days and Matt thanked God for that.
"What is it that you're trying hard to avoid telling me?" Jess looked up and her brown eyes met a storm brewing in his blue ones.
"I wanted to protect you." Matt never wanted anything to hurt his family but somehow it never worked out that way.
"You have, for a whole lot of years Matt. Kitrick?" Cole Kitrick was an evil man. He passed himself off as a law man for a lot of years. He even gained the trust of the US government. Now he was in jail for trying to kill fellow officers and trafficking drugs. The testimony of Matt and some others could put the man away for the rest of his life and then some.
"They need you to testify." Jess looked down at her month old daughters. Sierra was by far the needier of her two babies. She knew when her parents were settled and comfortable and then she would let herself be known. Skylar on the other hand watched the world go by with a smile.
"We all have to be there the beginning of next week."
"All of us?" Jess knew it had been a slow summer but if they went it would leave the mountain with only a handful of rangers to patrol it.
"The DA hopes to get a witness list to me before the weekend so we can maybe go in shifts. Jess I didn't want you to have leave the girls for this."
"We knew it was going to end up like this."
"It shouldn't end up like this Jess. There is a million other ways to put Cole away."
"And most of them are not feasible or the witnesses are dead." She stood and laid her daughter in the small portable crib with her sleeping sister. "I'm alive and I can be witness to his abuse of power."
"So can JT."
"JT wasn't around all the time." Jess crossed her arms over her chest and looked out into the bright July day.
"Jess…is there something you never told us?" She turned and looked at her brother. Taking a deep breath Jess wondered if she should have just kept quiet. "Jess?"
"A few months before I headed back home Cole called me into his office and told me that he needed me do some work for the Pentagon. It would require me to spend months out of the country. I asked him if JT was coming with me and he said that he was off on another assignment and that he would be my go to."
"What was the assignment?"
"I don't know. I told him that I didn't want to leave US soil after the botched up Texas job." Jess went back to the window.
"He was okay with that?"
"I think he was planning on killing me then. A few weeks later I started getting sick. Whatever he was sending me to do, he was planning on me never coming home again. I know that now. It wasn't so clear back then, now everything he ever said or did leads to him trying to hurt me to get to you."
"I didn't know he had so much hatred toward me Jess or I would never ever have let you take that job." Matt knew that Cole was a jack ass but he never believe the man to be a cold blooded killer.
"Matt, don't blame yourself. It might of started out about hurting you but he knew that I had his number and that JT and I would only follow him so far before we realized what kind of person he'd become." Jess went to him and hugged him. "He hurt all of us and now all of us are going to make the bastard pay."
"He's going to bring into light your trip to bring Cody home."
"Matt, if they want to bring up past sins, let them. I know what I did was wrong and I was willing to pay for it then and I'm willing to pay for it now." She looked at her babies, asleep and so angelic. "Even if it means spending some time in jail."
"Jess…" She smiled and looked at her brother.
"Let's just see what happens Matt. For once in my life I'm going to look ahead and say it's all going to work out." Matt knew that Jess would stay strong through whatever comes their way. "We have enough to get him put away for the rest of his life Matt." She sounded so confident and sure of herself that even he believed it would all be okay.
"How is she holding up?" JT McCullen looked up from his paperwork when Matt walked in.
"Better than I thought." Matt sat down across from his friend. "I hope she's as strong as she says she is."
"Your little sister is a lot of things, but a liar isn't one of them." JT sat back and looked at his friend. "I was right there Matt and I couldn't protect her so don't go beating yourself up because there was nothing you could have done."
"I could have stopped her from going after that job back then." Matt felt guilty that he never told her not to take the job with Kitrick.
"She needed to go Matt, so she could come back and be the person she is today."
"As many times as it's been said JT, I just can't believe that what she went through all those years was worth it. The man tried to kill her. More than once if her suspicions are right." Matt knew that JT had always been there for his sister and he wouldn't stop now.
"Jess's priorities have changed. She has always had a reason to take Kitrick down but now its life or death so to speak." JT stood. "Jess can do this Matt."
"I know. I got a schedule to rearrange once the DA gets me the witness list."
"Mia said she'd answer phones and do some filing if you need her."
"I may take her up on that. I don't want to schedule Derek if I don't have to. The girls need one parent at their beck and call. I also made sure we had accesses to the states jet to get Jess back here as soon as she's done testifying."
"Gotta love a man with connections." JT looked at his friend. "It'll all work out Matt."
"I hope so my friend. I can't deal with any more crap." Just then his brother Cody walked into the room. "Speaking of crap."
"Hey…I resent that." He put a file in front of his brother. "I got this from my friend who shall remain nameless." Matt opened the file.
"And shall remain shameless. Cody, these are the defenses witness lists."
"All bets are off Matt. They're dragging Jess into this." The younger Hawkes wasn't keeping his anger in check like his brother. The storm brewing in his blue eyes was something Matt was all too familiar with.
"We need to do this by the book Cody or it could go south really fast."
"Matt, this is Jess. She'll tear Kitrick apart bare handed if she gets the chance but I don't even want her to have the face the bastard." Matt knew Cody was thinking the same thing they all had been thinking. If she testifies against Kitrick he was going to bring up Afghanistan.
"It's been six years Matt." Mark Sheppard came in just then. He looked at the three men standing in the office and shook his head.
"There's a stress induced heart attack waiting to happen in this room." He handed Matt a file.
"It's about time you come visit your old stomping grounds." Matt looked at the file. It has his sister's name on it. He opened it. "I forgot was a fricken' genius you are." Matt smiled.
"I'm just a doctor, worried about his patient." Matt handed the file to Cody.
"A do not travel order?"
"She just had a difficult birth. No long drives…no airplane rides for at least another two weeks." JT smiled at his friends.
"In two weeks my dad can have all the papers in order saying the rescue was legit." He picked up his phone and dialed his Coronal father.
"Do you think he'll do it?"
"He'd move mountains for your old man Matt." JT went to make sure his father was on the same page as the Hawkes. Matt looked at his friend who had been with them from the start.
"Anything for you and your family. How's the wife and kids?" The older man smiled. "I can't believe I'm asking the bachelor of the century that."
"Look who's talking. Don't you have a nurse on every floor?"
"Every department." He said his good -byes and headed out. Cody looked at his brother. "Do you think this is going to work?"
"It'll work Cody. And we can do it without the witness list." Matt handed it to his brother. "Burn it."
"I'm on it." Cody left the room and Matt ran his hands through his hair. The trial was going to take a lot out of his family. Hopefully they could rally around each other and make Kitrick go away for good.
"You need to sleep when they're sleeping Jess." Derek Morgan stood behind his wife and put his hands on her shoulders.
"I know." She leaned against him. "They are both so beautiful."
"You expected something less from the two of us?" He chuckled.
"No." She closed her eyes. "I can face a man with a gun, a mountain full of snow and a damn grizzly chasing me but I can't wrap myself around the reality that they're both here."
"They're real baby." Derek hugged his wife close. "And they are sleeping. Jess, please get some rest. If Matt can't get them to postpone your appearance you're going to need to be rested up."
"Kitrick could die in prison before this trial actually starts Derek."
"Let's hope so. Matt said their calling witnesses starting next week."
"I don't know if I'll be the first or the last but I will testify against him Derek."
"I know you will Jess. He needs to pay for what he did to you and all the others." Derek Morgan had been a profiler long enough to know that Cole Kitrick was not going down quietly.
"The team and my brothers don't think I can do it without some sort of breakdown."
"They know you can do it Jess, they just don't want you to have leave the girls a month after giving birth. No one does, especially me. Those people just want what's best for you and those babies. So do I."
"I know." She kissed her husband. "Wake me when they need me." Jess headed to the settee and curled up. She was asleep before Derek turned around. Smiling, he took the blanket from the back of the chair and covered her. He was worried. His wife was a strong woman, stronger than any women he had known, but she had a breaking point. In the last year she had seen some really bad things come her way but facing Cole Kitrick could be her undoing. Quietly he left the room and his three girls to nap in peace. He needed to talk to Jess's brothers and get perspective on how things would go down. Derek was never a planner by nature but years fighting crime and the justice system made him a little more willing to have a plan if the need arose.