Jake took a train from San Diego to Denver. He went to the long-term parking garage and pulled the cover off of his 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner. He was heading back home to Jericho, Kansas.

On arrival, his first stop was Richmond Ranch to see his best friend Stanley and to pick up a strawberry rhubarb pie. Next, he stopped at Gracie's Market to get some flowers. As he walked out, he saw her. Emily. He stared at her and his face dropped slightly as she finished her phone conversation with "I love you, too."

They hugged as Emily asked him what he was doing back.

"I just came for the day to see my grandpa, visit the family."

"Oh, yeah, sure of course. I just didn't hear."

Jake shook his head, avoiding the challenge in her statement-that he needed her permission to come home. "Anyway, how you been? Mom tells me you're teaching at the high school now."

Emily gave a half-hearted laugh. "Yeah, it's weird, huh? I love it. I just bought a house in the Pines."

"The East side on a teacher's salary?" Jake questioned.

"Uh, my fiancé, he's in banking, so…" she said, lowering her head.

"That helps," Jake replied, shifting uncomfortably.

"Roger really loves it here."

"Well, I'm happy for you, Emily."

"How about you, you got somebody?" she asked, shifting the conversation away from herself.


"I'm sorry."

"No, you're not, you love it," Jake laughed.

After a few moments, Emily asked him, "Where have you been?" killing the lighthearted mood that had existed briefly.

"The Navy," he replied smoothly. Emily turned away, rolling her eyes. "Oh, why do I even bother?" he asked.

"Seriously, where have you been?" she said again.

As he drove away, Jake couldn't help but shake his head. Emily always knew when he was lying. It was annoying. Jake could tell that she still hadn't forgiven him. He didn't know if she ever would.

After his visit home had turned into yet another argument with his father, Jake and his mother, Gail, stopped by the cemetery to see Jake's grandfather. Gail tried to slip Jake money, but he refused to accept it.

Jake had only made it a few miles outside of Jericho when he saw the mushroom cloud. He couldn't tear his eyes away. He finally looked back at the road, but it was too late. Another car had drifted into his lane and he couldn't avoid it. The cars slammed into each, knocking Jake unconscious and killing the passengers in the other car.

Jake was limping his way back to Jericho when he heard a faint voice call for help. He stopped, searching for its source.

He saw two children running over the hill. "Please, mister, help! Mister!"

He hobbled toward them.

"I think they're dying!" the little boy cried.

Jake, despite his leg wound, hurried ahead of them.

It was after dark when Jake and the children finally reached the bus. As he entered, he saw the bus driver, collapsed. He checked his pulse.

"Is he alive?" a woman asked.

"Yeah," Jake said. "You ok?"

"Yeah," she sighed, "but I-I think my leg is broken."

"Can you feel your toes?"

"Yeah," she nodded. "Don't worry about me. Worry about them."

Jake finally looked at the rest of the frightened students. He was impressed-this woman had managed to send for help and keep the remaining kids from panicking, even though she seemed a little dazed; she was probably in shock.

"Is anybody hurt?" he asked. One student in the back raised his hand. "Stacy's sick, she can't breathe."

Jake hobbled toward him. "What's wrong? What happened?" He stared at the little girl clasping her hands over her throat.

"When the bus stopped, she was like this," the boy explained, imitating her face.

"It's ok, Stacy, let me see it." He gently removed her hands while continuing to reassure her. He saw a large bruise. "Do you have an ice pack?" he asked the woman. "We gotta stop the swelling now."

She looked around. "Lucas, the first aid kit is under the seat."

Lucas ran the kit back to Jake, who took out the ice pack and placed it on Stacy's throat. She said, "Please-" and stopped breathing.

Jake froze for few moments, staring in horror. Suddenly, he pulled himself out of it, muttering, "Think. Think." He straightened slightly. "Alright, I need everyone's help right now. Who has a pen? Does anyone?"

"We have pencils," Lucas offered.

"No, I need a tube, something hollow, um, a straw."

A girl offered hers.

"Let me see it, come on." He examined it. "It's too thin. Does anyone else have a juice box? Get them out. Get out some bandaids. Alright, everyone, give your straws to Julie, ok? Hurry." Jake pulled out his pocketknife and disinfected it. "Tape them together," he instructed Julie.

Jake made an incision and gently inserted the bundle of straws. He blew into them, praying it would work. Finally, Stacy took a short breath and then her eyes fluttered open. Thank God, Jake thought, squeezing his eyes shut. He sat down heavily on an empty seat. He happened to glance up and saw the woman staring at him with wonder.

Jake made it outside and pulled the deer out from the under the front tire. He came back and sat in the driver's seat, the gash in his leg throbbing. "Alright, everyone, sit down," he said as he started the bus.

"Hurry," the woman said as the children around her began chattering in nervous excitement.

Jake and the woman both fought to remain conscious as he drove back to Jericho. Eyeing the gas gauge, Jake asked, "Does this bus have a gas can?"

She simply shook her head.

"The bus, if it stops…" Jake said.

"Ok," she said, turning toward the children. "Kids, listen to me. If the bus stops again, we're gonna need you to walk back to town and get help, ok?"

"I don't know where we are," Lucas said.

"When you get to the stop sign, take a left, ok? Turn left," Jake replied.

"Which was is left?"

Jake sighed and hung his head in frustration, but the woman knew what to do. "Hold up your hands, stick out your thumbs. The one that makes the L, that's your left."

Fortunately, the bus made it back to Jericho. Jake honked the horn repeatedly as they drove in. He exchanged relieved glances with the woman. "What's your name?" he asked.

"Heather," she said with a slight smile.


"It's nice to meet you, Jake," she said, the stress of the day beginning to take its toll-her voice shook with emotion.

He smiled back at her, nodding. "You, too."

As he was helped to the ambulance, he realized he'd never been so thankful to see his family before. He mentioned the empty prison bus he'd seen to Eric. As his mother fussed over him, Jake tried to relax. He couldn't resist one final crack. "You know, I go away for a few years and the whole town goes to hell."

"I'm so glad you're home," his mother whispered.

"Yeah, we'll see," he replied. As he laid his head back, he replayed the events of the last few hours, dwelling mostly on Heather. There had been nobody there to meet her.

Heather spent the night at the med center. She didn't have a broken leg; it was only a sprained ankle, but Dr. April Green had instructed her not to walk on it yet and she had no other way to get home. As she tried to find a comfortable position for her cumbersome ankle boot, her thoughts continually wandered back to Jake. She'd heard a little about him, usually in connection with whispers about 'Jonah,' 'trouble,' and 'that poor boy.' Heather didn't know what that was about. All she knew was that Jake had rescued them, a real knight in ripped up jeans.

A/N: I'm not trying to do anything too original here; just tweaking a bit, episode by episode. I haven't finished season one yet, so there's still time if anyone thinks of ways I could improve this. I am just focusing on Jake/Heather interactions, and anything I think is significant to their characters. I don't want to include too much about the rest of the episode because there won't be any significant changes there. This is really just how the show might have looked if Jake and Heather got together instead of Jake and Emily reconnecting.