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Rifiuto: Non Miriena

Summary: What if the Astreaus mission went off as planned? When Jo returns from her walkabout, she goes in search of the one person who's always meant home to her...

She drove through the Oregon forests, the windows rolled down on her sporty blue car, Phil Phillips's Home blaring from the speakers. She'd managed to stop by and see her older brother Davie; his daughter had been estatic to see her aunt, and had begged Jo to come watch her gymnastics trials. As Jo had sat in the gym with her family, watching her sixteen-year-old niece go through the trials, she thought back on her own gymnastics and dance career.

She remembered the sore muscles, torn ligaments, early mornings, hardcore diets, the constant work to be the best. Driving from competition to competition, doing her best to place. She'd quit at twelve; she'd lasted longer than with dance. Dance she'd quit when her mom died, not long after Jo's eighth birthday. Lost in her own memories, Jo had watched her niece chatting with two of her friends- a Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. For some reason, those two girls struck a nerve with Jo, and she couldn't help feeling that she was watching Olympic greatness in the making.

She shook her head, scattering the memories as she continued to drive. She'd had virtually no contact with anyone in Eureka since leaving. She had no idea whether the mission was a success or not. And right now, she didn't care.

But she began to wonder why she was even returning to Eureka.

There was nothing there for her, no one who'd be waiting on her front porch when she got back. She'd probably slide through town and return to an empty house, filled with cold memories of a life she no longer lived.

But a small part of her was crying that everyone was waiting for her, wanting, needing her to return. That she belonged in Eureka, with GD, its insane scientists and that loveably idiotic sheriff. Carter was her best friend, he'd be waiting for her, that was a given. Allison... maybe.

And while she loved the town and the people, there was only one person who mattered.

"You were never just a hookup."

She blinked back tears, telling herself that it was stupid to cry over a man who'd never loved her- in this, or any timeline.

Miles outside of Eureka, she pulled up to her lookout, slipped her headphones into her ears, and trekked up towards the smooth rocks that sat near the edge- a perfect bench to sit and think, built into the lookout. She stared into the deep Oregon forest, breathed in the air, let the quiet envelope her.

"Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm going to make this place your home
Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found"

She wished it were true. The song made it sound so simple.

But it wasn't.

She was completely lost, and might never be found.

She flipped through the images on her phone, at the stills she'd gotten of her niece's routines. The girl had done so well, and she hoped against hope that she'd make the Olympics...

Her eyes landed on the last photographs in the files.

Images of her and Zane.

They were sitting at this exact spot; she was nestled between his legs, leaning back against his chest, an old, faded pink sweater on over a pair of ratty jeans. Her hair was down in waves over her shoulders, and he had his arms wrapped tight around her, his chin resting on her shoulder. They grinned at the camera, a pair of fools in love.

The second image made her heart break.

She'd turned from the camera, captured his lips in hers, her hand moving up to cup his cheek. Their eyes were closed, and they were locked together. In love, in happiness. In a feeling Jo rarely felt anymore.

"Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm going to make this place your home"

She reached up, brushing the tears away before tucking the phone back into her pocket and getting up. Climbing back in her car, she returned to the road, becoming lost in thought as she returned to Eureka.

Welcome to Eureka

The sign brought back warm memories of when she'd first arrived in the town, back then, a Purple Heart recipient of twenty-four, honorably discharged from the Army. Over time, she'd grown to love the town and the people. This had been her home...

Would it still be when she finally entered downtown?

Downtown Eureka welcomed her as she drove through mainstreet. The song blasting from her speakers brought the residents out to see who'd arrived in town, and as Jo pulled into a nearby parking space, she soon realized that everyone in Eureka and then some were on the sidewalks, watching.

Except for those in Cafe Diem.

As she cut the engine, she could hear music coming from the cafe, and glanced around at the others watching her as she made her way to the small restaurant. She could hear the whispers starting up like wildfire, but her eyes were pulled to a banner hanging in front of the Cafe.

Welcome Home, Astreaus!

She watched silently through the window, as people chatted and laughed, hugged and kissed. The clinking of glasses could be heard through the open door, as well as chatter and the smell of spices and fresh baked desserts. As she got closer to the door, she heard the familiar lyrics.

Taking a deep breath, she stepped up to the doorway.

Everyone turned, to see Jo standing in the doorway, waiting to be invited in.

Vincent, Grace, Henry, Fargo, Holly, Allison, Kevin, Zoe, baby Jenna, Carter... they were all staring at her, as though she were a ghost, risen from the dead. She went from face to face, gauging their reaction to her return. All were shocked to see her; and then she saw Carter's face split into a grin.

"We were wondering when you'd get here."

She sighed, giving him a small smile. Then, Carter tugged gently on Allison's arm, and the group moved away from the counter. Zane sat alone at the counter, gazing into a cup of coffee, looking about as forlorn as Jo felt. She watched him, noticing how... lost he appeared.

Her heart began to pound in her ears, the sound cutting off all rational thought, and as she stood watching him, she saw exactly what she'd been searching for on her walkabout.

It had led her back to Eureka.

"Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found"

"Zane."

He looked up, turning towards her voice, and for a moment, he couldn't believe it.

She stood before him, in a pair of jeans and a tank top, her brown leather bomber-style jacket hanging loose on her small frame, her long raven hair tumbling around her shoulders in soft waves. She had a small scrap on her right cheek, and she looked as though she hadn't slept in weeks.

But she looked whole.

He slipped off the stool, taking a step towards her, before stopping, unsure if he should go to her. He just stared at her, drinking in the sight of the woman he'd done nothing but think about for the last six months.

"Jo?" His voice was choked with tears.

That one word- hearing her name pass from his lips- broke through the fog of uncertainty she'd been living in since the timeline change. Suddenly, she saw everything in perspective, realized that everything she'd been searching for, every answer to every question, every little hint she'd been waiting for the universe to send her, was standing here, in this cafe, across from her, dressed in a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and that black leather jacket she loved so much.

She swallowed. His blue eyes watched her, drinking her in. Without saying another word, she rushed to him, throwing herself into his arms, her own arms going around his neck while her legs wrapped around his waist and her lips crashed onto his.

She drank in his taste, tasting the coffee he'd been sipping, breathing in the familiar scent she could only characterize as his, and the feel of his body against hers. He held her close, tangling a hand in her long dark hair, reaching up to cradle her cheek. All of Eureka watched as Zane and his Chief of Security became lost in each others' kiss.

Her arms tightened around his neck, her fingers tangling in his hair. They told each other exactly how they felt in that kiss- that they needed each other and weren't ever going to live without one another again, no matter what. Cheers erupted, and the cafe broke out in applause, but neither noticed.

Eventually, however, Jo pulled away, gently running her teeth along his bottom lip as she pulled back to stare into his eyes. He glanced at her cheek, noticing the scrape, his fingers running over it gently. He drank in her sight until he couldn't take it anymore, until he got drunk, becoming lightheaded off the sight of her. His eyes asked what had happened, but he said nothing.

They locked eyes, before he whispered,

"Welcome home, Jojo."

"Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm going to make this place your home"