A/N: A two-part short story that came to me while listening to Richard Marx. I think you'll be able to guess which song. :-D

Disclaimer: The characters in this story don't belong to me they remain the property of Paxson Entertainment and Pebblehut. I'm just borrowing them for a while.


Coming Home


Staring out of the window, Sue watched a little nervously as they taxied out, her eyes barely able to focus on the scene outside as the plane ate up the concrete of the runway while gathering enough impetus to lift itself off the ground. She could feel that they were airborne at last and leaned back in her seat, relaxing and closing her eyes. She was leaving Ohio with mixed emotions, her father had been willing to support her but her mother felt let down. Carla had seen the decision as a defeat for her daughter and none of the excuses she'd given could convince her otherwise. The truth would probably have made her understand but if she'd told her, she would probably have never been allowed out of her parents' house again, let alone out of the state. For now, she was a disappointed woman and Sue knew it would take her a while to get over it. She could still see the older woman's words…

"Susan Thomas, I didn't raise you to be a quitter and as far as I'm concerned that's what you are but as you've always gone to great lengths to point out, it's your life not mine…"

Yes, it was her life but, annoyingly, her mother had been right to a certain extent, although she preferred to think of her actions as more of correcting a mistake…

The New York offer had been far too good to pass up. She had known it would be a challenge but she'd never been one to back away, always determined to prove to herself and everyone around her that she was as good as, if not better than they gave her credit for and it had been both an enjoyable and rewarding experience at first.

The travel hadn't been quite as much fun as she'd expected, mainly because of the long-haul flights which could be incredibly boring, especially when you had no one to talk to and nothing to do but sleep or read. The in-flight movie and radio had been non-starters for obvious reasons and there was only a certain amount of times you could flick through the free magazines that were packed full of advertisements for things you either didn't want or couldn't afford. The one companion she did have wasn't much on conversation or flying for that matter and more often than not there just wasn't enough room for him and worried he might get trodden on, which had happened more than once, she always had him stowed for the duration and then he'd sulk for days when they reached their destination. Internal flights weren't as much of a problem, providing they were short, but turbulence always agitated him, making him difficult to handle.

The job itself had been interesting and she'd met a lot of influential people but unlike D.C., there was no camaraderie in the NY Field Office. In fact, she was convinced most of the occupants of the 23rd floor didn't really like or even know their colleagues; they were too busy trying to outdo one another in pursuit of the best cases. She'd missed the fun and friendly banter that went on in her own Unit, not that she'd had much call to visit their equivalent of the bullpen, apart from the odd briefing. It was used mainly for working cases as a team whereas individual lines of inquiry were conducted in assigned cubicles, something Myles would have hated… Members of the cabin crew were coming down the aisle with drinks and she accepted a hot chocolate gratefully, lowering her table and allowing it to stand and cool, having burned her tongue more times than she cared to count.

It was her free-time that had had her questioning her original decision. For the most part she worked alone, although she did share an assistant with Ted Hackford, that was when he could spare her which wasn't often and she'd wondered from the outset if they'd had something going on as the girl often worked late for no apparent reason. Her suspicions had been proven, when they'd had a lunch meeting that had overrun making them late back at the office. The younger woman had been rude and sullen, and she'd practically been able to feel the daggers of jealousy her eyes had shot into her back for the rest of the day. Cheating in a relationship had never been something she could stomach and having met Ted's wife a couple of times and liked her, it had been doubly hard to overlook.

She'd kept in touch with everyone in D.C. but the phone just wasn't the same as seeing them face-to-face. Lucy had come to stay once and promised to do so again but they'd been buried up to their necks in work for the past couple of months and she hadn't been able get away. Tara and Bobby had called her from time to time as had D and Donna and even Myles had sent his best. Jack she hadn't heard from in quite a while, not that she was surprised, they'd argued the last time and she'd said some things she'd wished she hadn't.

A few weeks after moving to the new city, an Agent had approached her, introducing himself as Jim Rivers and asked if he could take her to dinner as a kind-of welcome to the neighbourhood thing. She'd been sceptical at first, not sure of his motives, but he'd been a fun date and more importantly had taken her deafness in his stride, he'd reminded her a little of David, albeit an older version. They'd been out a few times and he'd even helped her find the apartment she was living in and then one evening, out of the blue, he'd mentioned knowing Jack who had asked him to keep an eye on her and make sure she settled in okay. She'd been furious and jumped to all the wrong conclusions, calling him that same night to say 'thank you' for his help but 'no thanks'. She'd torn strips off him, comparing him with her mother who had thought she couldn't survive on her own either and told him she didn't need him to fix her up with dates or anything else for that matter and then she'd slammed down the receiver without even giving him a chance to reply.

The next evening a somewhat irate Lucy had called to set her straight. It seemed that Jack himself, had done a short stint in Federal Plaza when he was dating Allie and knew from experience how hostile and unfriendly the people could be and how hard it was to find affordable accommodation in the area, so he'd asked Jim to help out until she'd found her feet, the dating part, on the other hand, had been totally down to Jim, Jack hadn't known anything about it. Her friend also had confided to her that a certain Agent Hudson had been downright miserable since she'd left and had been planning on paying her a surprise visit as soon as work allowed. Immediately contrite she'd left several messages on his answering machine but he'd never responded.

He'd been right about one thing… making friends had been an uphill struggle. The people she worked with had no inclination to socialise with each other after hours and the one or two she had made, were married with families of their own to occupy their time. She'd found and joined a local Deaf Club but had learned very quickly that walking home at night alone wasn't the best idea. She'd been approached by strangers several times and it had scared her and she was pretty sure that, at least once, she'd only been saved from being mugged, by Levi and his 'scary' face. A more terrifying incident that had happened a few weeks prior to her trip home had prompted her to reconsider her future…

She'd been alone in her apartment reading in bed when all the power had gone out. Scrambling out from under the covers she'd made it over to the window to open the drapes in the hope the street lighting would allow her to see her way around but outside was in darkness too. Feeling her way back, she walked into the table at the side of bed and banged her knee hard enough to bring tears to her eyes. It had taken forever to find her BlackBerry, which thankfully she'd just charged, but when she'd flipped open the address book she'd realised she had no one to call. Levi had pushed closer to her and she could feel that he was agitated and on alert which meant he could hear something that was worrying him. Flashes of red and blue had danced across the ceiling as emergency vehicles passed by and she'd felt panic rising up inside of her. In desperation she'd pressed the first speed dial number hoping he'd answer but the only thing that had come up on her screen had been the taped 'sorry I can't take your call' message.

Frightened and with tears running down her face, she'd whispered his name over and over almost begging him to answer and then suddenly the message had changed. Relief had flooded through her and just knowing he was there had served to calm some of her fears. She'd explained to him as coherently as she could about the blackout and being alone with Levi and he'd asked her to use the light from her cell to make sure her door was locked and chained and then get back into bed to keep warm. He'd stayed with her all night until the low-battery warning light had come on just as the first light of dawn had broken over the city and she'd thanked him for his kindness and apologised properly for the way she'd treated him the last time they'd spoken. He'd told her it was okay and said goodbye but she wasn't sure if he'd really meant it or if he was simply trying to bring the call to an end.

The next morning when she'd left for work she'd been shocked by the scene outside. Several store windows had been smashed; the broken glass scattered over the sidewalk and glistening in the harsh morning sunlight, bearing witness to the looting that had obviously gone on overnight. Wooden doorframes were scorched where small fires had been started, including one in the entranceway to her building. She'd been so intent on surveying the ground to pick out a safe path for Levi that she hadn't noticed Jim getting out of his car and she'd jumped violently when he'd loomed up in front of her. He'd told her Jack had called to ask him to make sure she was alright and given her a ride into work. That time she'd been properly grateful and made sure she'd apologised to him as well.

Popping into the shops on her way home, she'd bought far more candles than she could possibly ever need along with matches to light them and then stopped off for flashlights and spare batteries. The stores that had been damaged were boarded up and it wasn't until she'd run into one of her neighbours that she'd learned several of the apartments in her block had been broken into. The consensus of opinion had been that the only reason their floor hadn't been touched was because of Levi's continuous warning bark and they'd bought him a chew-toy as a thank you. Closing her door, she'd pushed the bolts home and put on the chain before making a quick meal and locking them both in the bedroom for the night. It was at that point she'd finally accepted that New York City wasn't the place for her and it was only her stubborn pride keeping her there, she belonged with her friends and people who cared. It was something Deanne had tried to tell her in the church in Georgetown so many months ago and before she'd had the chance to talk herself out of it, she'd picked up the phone to call D and ask if there was any possibility of a transfer back.


Second and final part coming soon!