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A week after Jake had come back from his latest mission, he and Claire had taken Hannah to the local fair.  She had been excited to see her Uncle Jake again and hang out with Claire after some time apart.  They let her run ahead of them a ways to look at the sights while they walked behind her, holding hands and carrying her game prizes.

Jensen had a look of distaste as a group of loud teens rushed by them.  “This fair has gotten way too crowded.  When I was little—“

“You mean back in your day, old man Jensen?”

“Don’t laugh.  I used to bring all my girls here and show them a good time.  See that ferris wheel over there? I almost got to first base, but then I threw up.”

“Oh wow, that’s bad.  Too much fair food or nerves?”

“That’s why I can no longer eat cotton candy and corn dogs.  I puked on my sister and her boyfriend beneath us.  He tried to beat me up and she punched him.”

“Wow!  Don’t mess with Jess!  So what happened to your date?”

“She left me for some other kid that night.”

“Well I would have gotten you a soda to calm your tummy.”

“I believe you.  You always take care of me.”

“Yup.  What would you do without me?”

“I don’t even want to think about it.”  He said, lowering his voice as he stopped and pulled her to him for a kiss.

Hannah ran back to Jake and grabbed his hand, pointing to a carnival game.

“Can I try for another goldfish?”

“I think one’s enough kiddo.  Let’s see how this one does first, then we can go to the pet store.”

“Alright.”  Hannah grumbled.  She lifted the bag up, looking at it closely.

“What do you think I should name him?”

“Gill?” Jensen suggested.

“Bubbles?” Claire offered.

Hannah had a look of concentration as she studied the fish and then looked up.  “I like Sherman.”

“Well what do you say we get Sherman home so he can see his new digs for an hour or so before he kicks the b—“

“Stop that.”  Claire interrupted quickly, scolding Jensen before looking over at Hannah.  He took her hand again and laughed.

“Ah baby, I was just kiddin’.”  He teased.

“That’s not funny.”  She elbowed him playfully as he leaned over and kissed her cheek.

“No, it’s not.  The price we paid for those games to get one fish, it had better live through at least the night.

“Alright.”  She said shaking her head.

“Who wants some more funnel cakes?”  He said loudly, Hannah cheered and raised her hand.

“How about you, my love?”  He asked Claire fishing for his wallet and grinning at her.

“Ugh, no! I’ve had enough fair food.  Where do you fit all of that junk food?”  They stopped at a funnel cake stand and looked at the menu.

He came up behind her putting his chin on her shoulder. “I need my energy for later.”  He said quietly, kissing her cheek again.

“For when you take out the trash?”

“Nooo.”  He said, wrapping an arm around her.

“For when you set up Sherman’s new fish bowl?”

“No.”

“Well I have no idea what you’re talking about then.”

“Oh ha ha.”  He stood behind her with his arms around her waist and felt a sudden shove on his shoulder.

“Hey asshole, some of us are in line here!”  A loud man behind them snapped at him.

Jensen stood shoulders straight and slowly turned his upper body to face the loudmouth behind him, his face expressionless and intimidating.  Even Claire looked a little nervous.  She’d seen him agitated only once before.  He hid his anger by being quiet, but if someone pushed enough, he’d push back harder.

The loudmouth slunk down a little and looked away before looking back at him, “Hey sorry, didn’t know you were in line.”

Jensen turned back around and Claire looked up at him, he looked at her and mellow Jake was back.

“Ooh, take me now, soldier man.”  She whispered, leaning her head on his arm.

He smiled down at her.  “See why I need my energy?  You can’t resist me.

“Don’t forget Hannah and I have a girlie night tonight, so you need to go away later.”

“Again?”  He lowered his voice.  “I’m ready for a Claire night.”  He said holding her tighter.

“Yeah Uncle Jake.  Go see Pooch.”  Hannah said, looking at her fish.

“Fine, fine.”  He held up his hands in defeat and stepped away, “You both go wax your hair, trim your nails, clean your ears and all that other girl stuff you do at slumber parties.”

“Well that’s just wrong.”  Claire said, making a face, “We only wax when the moon is high.  Don’t you know anything about women?”

“My mistake.”  He said with a grin, adjusting his glasses before stepping up to the counter to order their snacks.

Chapter Text

“Uncle Jake you have to go NOW!”

“Maybe I don’t want to.  I’m just gonna make sure this shoelace is nice and tight before I put on the other.”  Jake looked up at Hannah with a laugh as she put her hands on her hips glaring at him.

“Oh no, there’s a rock in my shoe, now I have to start all over.”  He feigned a frustrated look and started to unlace his shoe.

“No!  Just get out!  Me and Claire want to talk about boys!”

“Oh so that’s why you want me out.  Boy talk.”  He sat back and leaned on the arm of the couch with his chin in his hand.

“Well I heard that Claire likes the cutest guy, and he’s funny, smart and handsome.  She says he has a nice—“

“SET OF EYES!”  Claire interrupted with a shout from the kitchen, trying to block whatever he was about to say.

“I was going to say smile, Miss Guttermouth.”

“What’s a guttermouth?”  Hannah asked, hopping up on the sofa next to him.

“Someone who thinks gross thoughts and says them.”

“Well then that’s you, Uncle Jake.”

A snort of loud laughter came from the kitchen.

“You tell him, Hannah.”  Moments later, Claire came out with a plate of homemade cookies.

“Ooh!”  Jensen jumped up to grab one and Claire dodged him, turning fast and running to the other side of the room.  He chased after her and she shrieked, looking around for an exit but ended up cornering herself.  Hannah stood laughing at the pair, cheering Claire on.

“You think you can keep warm cookies from a hungry army man?”

He rested his palms against the wall on either side of her, “Give me a cookie.”  He said his face lowering to hers, with a playful smile.

She licked her lips and stared up at his blue eyes in defiance with a giggle.

“No.”

He tickled her sides and she laughed, “Cookie me!”

“Uncle Jake, gooooooo!  Hannah shouted impatiently.

Jake looked over at Hannah, then back at Claire and sighed, “Do I have to go?”

“Yes!”  Both Hannah and Claire said together.

He leaned forward, “I’d rather stay here with my girls.”  He said, his forehead on Claire’s before he kissed her quickly.

Something in his eyes made Claire weak kneed and she smiled back not able to speak.   She gave him another quick kiss before ducking under him to escape.  He turned fast and grabbed on to her waist, embracing her.

“Fine.  But don’t talk about too many boys.  And Hannah I want to meet all these young men.”

Hannah rolled her eyes, “Gooooooo!”

He stole three cookies and laughed, “Pooch and Cougar need a cookie too.”

“Get out!”  The girls shouted as he left, leaving them to their fun.


 

A few hours later, Claire and Hannah were doing each other’s hair and watching a movie.

“Claire?”

“Hmm?”

“Are you going to marry Uncle Jake?”

“I don’t know, we’ve never talked about it.”

“You should.”

Claire stopped braiding Hannah’s hair and sat back, “I should?  Why’s that?”

“Because he really likes when you come over to visit him.  I heard him talking to my mom.”  Hannah turned around and looked at her happily.

“If you got married could I call you Aunt Claire for real?”

Claire looked at her and was surprised to receive a hug from the girl, “I would love that, Hannah.”

“Me too."  Hannah smiled and turned around to focus on the movie.  Claire was thinking about what Hannah said and she heard her phone buzz.  She looked over and saw it was from Jensen.

Jake:  Heyyyyyyyy.

She grinned and replied.

Claire:  Heyyyyy back, Fonzie.

Jake:  I miss you both.  What are you doing?

She shook her head and typed.

Claire:  Doing our hair.

Jake:  You don’t need to do your hair, you look purdy all the time.

Claire:  Thank you.  Are you okay?

Jake:  Yeah just saying hi.

Claire:  Hi back.  I have to go, we’re about to make some snacks.

Jake:  I want a snack too.  Wink wink

Claire:  When you get home.  I’ll keep it warm for you.  ;)

She laughed and put the phone down.

“Was that Uncle Jake?”  Hannah ask, her voice sounding annoyed.

“Yep.”

“He’s being annoying.”

“Yes he is.”  Claire agreed.

“Want me to tell him to marry you?  I told him to tell you he liked you and he did.”

“Hannah listen.”  She didn’t want Hannah to get her hopes up if they didn’t last.

“You laugh at his jokes and stuff too and he tells really bad ones.”

“Well most of them are funny.  Some of them you have to humor him.”  She said laughing.

Hanna turned around again, she made a face.  “He had a girlfriend once who never laughed at his jokes and she tried to kiss him all the time.  She liked to grab his arms and butt a lot, in front of everyone.  He looked grossed out.”

“I don’t blame him.”  Claire said making a face.

“She didn’t like me, she would get mad and not talk much when I came over.”

“That’s rude, you’re a cool person.”

“I know!”  Hannah said her face lighting up.

“You guys kiss a lot too, but I know you like each other and you’re not mean to me.  I know he likes you because one night when you were over with us, I got up to pee and I heard him saying your name in his sleep.”

Claire thought about that remark for a moment and then her eyes widened, realizing what Hannah was referring too.  She blushed and stood up.

“OKAY, lets to get those snacks now!”  She said changing the subject, shooing Hannah into the kitchen for treats.


 

They were working on a puzzle, talking, when her phone buzzed once again.

Jake:  Heyyyyyyyy

Claire:  Hi Jake.  She sighed as she replied.

Jake:  I so drunk, Cougar keeps buying rounds.

Claire:  Oh really?  How many have you had?

Jake:  Some girls hit on me.

Claire:  Oh really?

Jake:  Don’t be mad baby I told them I loved you.

Claire let out her breath as she replied, getting worried.

Claire:  I’m not mad.  Are you drinking water?

Jake:  I had a light beer.  But it could have been piss.

She rolled her eyes and another text came in.

Jake:  Hey guess what?

Claire:  What?

Jake:  I love babies.

Claire:  Yeah?  Me too.

Jake:  I got hard thinking about you tonight.

Claire shook her head but was intrigued by the comment.

Claire:  Jake go drink some water.

Jake:  No wait.

She sighed and ran her hand through her hair.

Claire:  What.

Jake:  Don’t be mad at me.

Claire:  I’m not mad.

Jake:  When I get home I’m gonna make your baby.

Claire:  What??

Jake:  Tiny Claire would be cute.

Claire:  Jake give Pooch your phone and go get some water.

Jake:  You don’t want my kid?

Claire:  Jake, go get some water please.

You’re cute holding babies you should come live with me.

She scrolled to Pooches number and texted him quickly.

Claire:  Pooch, is he okay?

Pooch:  I’m bringing him home, he’s drunk off his ass.  Punk ass won’t stop talking about you.

Claire:  Take his phone.  He’ll thank you later.

Pooch:  On it, he’ll be home soon.

Claire:  Thanks Pooch.


 

The next morning Claire woke up to Hannah stretched out next to her taking up most of the bed.  She felt hard lumps under her back and pulled two small game systems out from under her.  She dislodged herself from the girls many limbs and headed downstairs.  She was in a foul mood from worrying about Jake and not sleeping due to the child limbs that were shoving her all night and taking the covers.

There was light snoring from the living room as she came down the stairs and was met with Jensen sprawled out on the couch, his mouth slightly open, one foot on the floor and the other stretched across the couch.  She snuck by him and started coffee, looking in the fridge for breakfast.

“Heyyyyyy, not so loud.”  He grumbled, she heard a thud and a groan, “Ohh my ass.”

“Have fun last night?”  She asked in annoyance.

“I think so?”  He walked into the kitchen, scratching the back of his head, yawning.

She stood up and closed the refrigerator door, turning to him.  “Jake I need to talk to you and you have to be honest with me.”

“Now?”

“Yeah.  Read these.”

She grabbed her phone from the counter and opened the messages.  She handed him her phone and he took it, reading the texts.

He scrolled down and then his eyes widened.  “Ohhhhhh wow.”

“Yeah.”

She leaned on the counter and crossed her arms.  “What are we doing, Jake?”  She asked bluntly.

“You’re making breakfast I think?”  He gave a lopsided smile and walked over to her.

She backed up, “No I mean us.  This.”  She gestured between them both.  “All last night Hannah kept asking things like why I don’t live here all the time, why we aren’t married, why we don’t have babies.  Then you text me that stuff and I’m just confused.”

“She doesn’t understand, Claire, she’s eight.”

I don’t understand.  If you’re being serious with your texts last night, I agree with you.  I want that too but I just don’t know why it takes a handful of beers for you to say this, over text of all things.”

“I’m not good at this stuff, you know that.”

“I know, but at some point after this much time together, don’t you think you should be?”  She looked up at him and was met with a sheepish expression.

“I just.  I don’t know.”  He stood looking helpless.

“Jake I want to be able to talk seriously with you.  Not just over texts and after some alcohol.  I don’t even know if those texts were serious.”

“Claire come on.  Can I get a shower and some coffee before we do this?”

“Jake, I don’t know.  Maybe I should go home and we can think about things.”

“Think about what?”

“Like what you really want.”  She walked to him and took her phone back as she left the kitchen.  She went to the living room and turned around.

“I love you and I love Hannah, but I didn’t sign up to be a cool aunt and girlfriend with no real future.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”  He was becoming aggravated.

“I need to know something is happening!”  Her voice raising, “I don’t know.  I just, I should go.” She said sounding defeated.

“Claire, come on.  Please wait.”

“I’ll call you later, I just need to think.”  She grabbed her bag and keys, leaving Jensen standing by the door at a loss for words.


 

Claire drove back to her place thinking about Jake and what she said to him.  She was tempted to turn around and go back to him a few times but she decided to just go home and think.

She wanted to take things further.  They were like a little family when Hannah came over, even when they babysat little PJ for Pooch and Jolene.  She thought he was on the same level, but he would only talk about taking things further in jest or apparently when he was drunk.

She got home and got settled.  Her apartment didn’t even feel like her home anymore.  She was more comfortable at Jake’s.  She plunked down in a chair, put her head back and looked around sadly.  Part of her thought that she should have kept her mouth shut and stayed but she was glad to get it out for the most part, telling him how she felt.  She tapped her fingers on the arm of the chair a few times before deciding to get up to shower and get some sleep.

A few hours later she heard the door and went to answer it.

Jake stood with his hands in his pockets, looking at the ground.  His eyes were tinged with blue from his late night partying and he looked exhausted.

He looked up at her, “I have to talk to you.  I took Hannah home.  Can I come in?”

“Of course.”  She moved aside so could he enter and waited for her to shut the door.

“Okay, first is this.”  He moved quickly to her and his mouth was on hers, rough and sensual, his lips running along hers like he was out to prove something.  She felt his arms move around her and she followed suit, pulling him to her.  He broke free after a long minute, then pulled her to her couch.

“Okay, second.  I love you.”

“I love you too, but Jake—“

“No buts, just listen.”  He looked away and sighed and then looked back.

“I suck at this.  You know it and I know it.  We have our own thing here and it’s good.  You know those people who can read each other’s minds?  It’s like that but we don’t need to talk.”

He looked away confused and then back a Claire.  She had an equally confused look on her face but was listening intently.

“Ok, I think I get it, but—“

“No, listen.  I need you.  You get me, you always have.  I’m a man-child I know that, and I have a hard time with feelings, but… do you get what I’m saying?”

She tucked her legs under her and leaned on the back of the couch, “I’m not sure?”

He let out a large breath and stood up.  “Ok, so come home with me and stay.  Full on offer.  Move in with me.  I know you don’t think this place is your home anymore.  I can see it when we’re here.  This place doesn’t feel like a home.”

He pointed at the door, “My place is your home.  It has been for a while now.”

Claire looked at him and smiled, her eyes watering.

“And the texts, those were me.  I see you with the kids and I start thinking about things.”  He paced a little and she smiled.  He turned to her and waved his hands out.

“Does any of this make sense??  I feel like I’m shooting blanks here.”  She looked up in relief and grinned at him, jumping up to go to him.

“Yes!  That’s all I wanted.”

“Oh thank God, because I don’t think any of that came out right.”

“It was just fine.”  She said burying her face in his neck, hugging him.

“Can we go home now?”

“I have an appointment tomorrow morning so I can’t stay over, this place is closer.”

“Well then, let’s get some things packed while we’re here.  I’m getting you moved as soon as possible.”

“Okay.”  She said laughing, “Let’s do it.”

Jake suddenly stopped and made a face.

“Oh, so I have some bad news though.”

“Sherman?” Claire asked.

“Yeahhhh, Sherman the fish is no more.  We had a Viking burial at sea after Hannah found him.”

“Oh no, how’s Hannah?”

“Oh she was the one who flushed the toilet and asked if we could get her another to keep at our place.”

“Our place.”  Claire said as she looked over at Jake and smiled at him, she was going home.

Chapter Text

Jake sat at the small table, working feverishly between both laptops, looking for the information they needed.  The mission was a shit show from the get-go.  They had been called out quickly and were gone for longer than they thought.  Jake couldn’t contact Claire so he was distracted and frustrated.  Clay was getting angrier with every passing minute.

“Jensen what are the coordinates?”

“He’s shut the system down.  I can’t get a read on anything, it’s gonna take me a minute to get it up again.

“If you even can.”  A male voice taunted from the comm.

“Shut the fuck up and listen to me.  Those are innocent women and children.”  Clay gripped the comm harder, knuckles tightening.  He looked over at Cougar and Pooch quickly.  They listened in on the conversation, ready to jump when Clay gave the word.

The voice over the comm spoke with an eerie calm, “They were innocent women and children.  They’ve been dead for a while now and we’ve moved on to bigger things.  If you won’t come out of hiding, we’ll just flush you out.”

“What the fuck does that even mean?  Colonel?”  Roque asked out loud.

Clay looked over to Jensen, “Jensen?”

“Still working on it.  They have something fighting me.  Every time I get in the system I get thrown out.  I can’t make anything out.  Goddammit!”

He ran his hand through his hair in frustration and let out a quick breath.

“Tick Tock, Jensen.”  The smooth voice taunted coolly.

“How do you know our names?”  Clay snarled.

“Put Jensen on.”

Jensen looked up at Clay questioningly and was met with a nod.  Clay held the comm. toward Jensen as he worked.

“Who is this?”  Jensen asked into the Comm.

“Jacob Jensen.  You should have shown her where you hid that gun, she might have had a chance.”

His stomach dropped out with a sick feeling as he paled.

“Who the fuck is this??”

“You don’t want to say hello?”  There was the sound of a scuffle and a woman yelping in pain.

“JAKE!”

“Claire??”

“JAKE!”  There was a sickening thud and a snapping sound as Claire screamed.

“CLAIRE!”

“Jensen, that was an arm.  Compound fractures aren’t pretty.”

“CLAIRE!”  He heard her crying hysterically and grit his teeth to the sound.

“Jake, help me, please!”  Her voice sounded weaker.  He felt the anger and fear building in him and he was starting to lose concentration on his task.

“I’m trying to find you baby, just hold on!”

“JAKE HURRY, I’m scared!”  She was sobbing, the terror and agony in her voice breaking the men as they listened to her torture.  She shouted and choked on cries as the sound of a sickening dull thud came over the comm.

“Jensen c’mon, HURRY!”  Pooch shouted.

“Jake please!”  There was a dull cracking sound and another agonized scream.

“Ribcages just aren’t as strong as one might think, hmm?”  The voice crooned in an evil sneer.

“WHO IS THIS?? Let her go!  Why are you doing this?”

He typed furiously trying to unlock the server.  Everything he tried would fail - one step forward, two steps back.  He was losing focus and it was costing him precious time.

Clay clenched a fist as he growled into the comm.

“Let the girl go, you don’t have to do this.”

“Oh I do, I just want to make it clear that none of you are safe.  Ever!  Right Claire?”

“PLEASE, Jake help me!”  There was a metallic clicking sound that Jensen knew all too well.  A gun being cocked.

The sound of something hard hitting flesh came through the comm and Claire shouted weakly from pain.  There was the sound of gagging and sobbing, Jensen shut his eyes tight to collect himself.

“I’m coming Claire, just hold on!  Just a few more seconds, baby, and I’ll take you home!”

“Nah, I think she’s done now, don’t you?”  The voice said roughly.

“No!  No please!  Claire, just hang on, I’m coming for you and everything will be okay.”

The server finally let him in and the screen showed what they were looking for.

There was another dull thud and Claire let out another scream.

“Jake, he has a gun!  Don’t let him shoo—“

“Clay I found the coordinates!  They’re righ—“

BANG

Jensen jumped back in his seat.

The comm went silent.  He stared at the laptop screen.

“Oops.  Finger slipped.”  The voice goaded.

“YOU SON OF A BITCH!”  Clay shouted.

Cougar began to murmur a prayer in Spanish before looking over sadly at Jensen.  Pooch was shaking, and glaring at the comm Clay held.

Jensen stared in shock at the screen with sickened disbelief.  He was too late.  Claire had just been executed in front of him and he couldn’t do anything to protect her.  He put her at risk and it had just killed her.

He sat, his jaw working and his heart racing, a nauseated feeling creeping up on him.

He stood up looking at the screen.  Pointless coordinates that didn’t make any damn difference now.  He almost had her.  Her last cries rang out in his head and he shook his head to try to shake them.

He started shaking with anger as he picked up the laptop and furiously heaved it in to a wall, watching it shatter into pieces.

He clenched his fists and swallowed hard as he turned to walk past the group.  Nobody dared make a move as he strode away silently, rage continuing to build in his gut.

“Jensen!”  Clay called after him.

“No.” Cougar said, “Leave him.”

“Oh and Jensen?”  The voice on the comm said smoothly.

“You bastard! When we find you, you’re dead!”  Clay shouted into the comm.

“That stick on the bathroom sink had a big blue line.  Congratulations and my sincerest condolences.”

Clay's face fell in horror as he looked toward Jensen who stood motionless after listening to the voice.

“Oh my God.”  Pooch uttered, closing his eyes and bowing his head.

Jensen took in what the voice had just said.  He shut his eyes tight for a moment with a pained, angry whimper before he kept walking.


 

Jake sat up drenched in sweat, trying to catch his breath.  He rubbed his eyes and met wetness and knew he had been crying in his sleep.

“Claire?”  He looked over groggily to her side of the bed and found it empty.

“Claire!”

He grabbed his glasses and shoved them on, leaping out of bed quickly.  He tripped on balled up sheets hanging off of the edge of the bed and cursed as he raced to the bathroom.  It was empty, and he turned to the bedside table to find his phone.  He found her on the favorites list and called as he raced downstairs looking for her.

“Claire, where are you?  You were supposed to be here last night.  Call me when you get this.”

He hung up and paced anxiously tapping his phone to his chin thinking of where she could be before he raced back upstairs to get dressed.



He arrived in Claire’s in record time, his jeep coming to a stop with a screech as he pulled into her driveway where her car was parked.  He hurried up to her apartment and found the door ajar.

A bag of groceries was spilled on the floor, eggs broken and a jug of orange juice spilling.  He stepped in the apartment slowly taking in the surroundings, looking and listening for anything out of the ordinary.  A sound in the kitchen caught his attention and he hurried over quietly, his back against the wall, ready to make his move against whatever was on the other side.

A sound came closer to him and he leaped forward grabbing the source of the noise.

“Hey!”  Claire yelped.

“CLAIRE!”

“What the heck!”  She shouted in shock and stood stunned.

He let her go, “WHERE WERE YOU?  I got up and you were gone!”

“I told you I had an appointment so I was staying here overnight.”

“Your door was wide open!”

“I went shopping and on the way in I dropped a bag and had to get some paper towels.  Why are you yelling at me?”

She headed over to the mess and began to clean up.  Jensen followed her slamming the front door, the wall around it shaking slightly.

“Jeeze Jake, what’s your problem?”  She looked up angrily.

“You scared the shit out of me.  Why didn’t you answer your phone?”

“I told you yesterday that I had a girlie appointment.  I turned my phone off for it and forgot to turn it back on.  Is that okay?  She replied sarcastically.  “I can start giving you my itinerary from now on if you want.”

She huffed and stood up, taking the mess to the kitchen.  As she came back out, she ran into Jensen’s wide chest.

“Why are you following me around?”  She asked in annoyance.

“What if someone had come in?  I wasn’t here to help you.”

“I just went shopping.  I think I can handle that.” She retorted with an eye roll.

“That’s not what I mean!”

“Then what do you mean?  It’s too early for this.  What is going on?”

Jensen sighed, went to a chair and sat down.

“Do you know how much I worry about you when I’m away?”

“I know.  We’ve talked about it.”

“You don’t know.  I sit out there sometimes thinking about how, if these assholes can find me then that means they can find you.  It scares the shit out of me.”

“Jake.”  Claire walked over and stood next to him, her hand resting on his shoulder.

“You don’t get it.”  He said quietly, looking at the floor, “These are bad guys, Claire.  You have no idea what they can do.  What they’ve done.  I can’t even tell you half the stuff I’ve seen.”

Her face softened as she sat next to him.

“I figured with what you do there’s not so pleasant stuff.  But I’m fine, Jake, I’m right here.  It’s okay.”

“You don’t know that.  I can’t guarantee you’ll always be safe.  What good am I if I can’t keep you safe?  All of my training, all of my skills, it would be pointless.”

“Jake.  Jolene’s fine when Pooch is gone.  We’re fine here, nothing will happen.”

“We’re not Pooch and Jolene!”  He shouted, causing her to jump.

He leaned forward and put his head in his hands, sitting quietly. Claire sat stunned next to him, unsure of what to do or say.

After a while, he looked up at her and his eyes were red.  He wiped his eyes and ran his hands through his hair as he sniffed and looked down again.

“Maybe…maybe we should take a break after all.”

Claire felt her heart drop and she suddenly felt nauseous.

She stared at him silently in disbelief before she felt her own tears forming.

She became angry and nodded, biting her lips together.

“Yeah.  I get it.”

She stood up and started to walk toward the kitchen but stopped suddenly and whipped around to face him.

“That’s the most chicken shit excuse I’ve ever heard.”

“What?”  He looked up confused.

“You’re full of shit, Jake.  First you can’t talk about your feelings, and then you can only do it drunk, apparently.  You want me to move in with you, then a day later you freak out and use this as an excuse for me to not move in.  It’s a load of crap.”

He stood up and walked over to her and she stepped back from him.

“Who the hell put you in charge of deciding what’s best for me.  I want YOU!  I love YOU!  I KNOW what you do and I’m still here.  Doesn’t that tell you anything by now??”

“You’re too close to me and I don’t want anything to happen to you.  If you’re not with me, you’ll be safer.”  He pleaded.

“Oh fuck you!  Fuck this safety shit and just be honest.  I’m sick of this ‘I’m can’t handle my feelings’ crap.  Grow up and take responsibility for yourself.”

“Claire, it’s not like that.  Just listen.”

He took her hand and she tugged it away.

“How about I just make it easy on you.  Get out.”

“I…  I had a dream and it freaked me out.”  He looked away from her as he spoke.

“Oh a dream freaked you out.  How about this.  I dream all the time lately that I have little Jakes running around with little t shirts and goofy hats on.  I don’t wake up freaking out about it to you, wanting to break up!”

He didn’t meet her gaze and she pointed to him, “You can’t even look at me.  YOU wanted me to come home with you last night and now you’re not sure, so you pull this.”

“You can’t understand how real it felt.”  He said, his expression looked pained.

“You know what Jake, just go.”  She went to the door and turned, giving him a cold stare.

“Claire.”  He looked like she had just kicked him in the gut.  His eyes were bright red and he looked vulnerable.  She looked away, fighting back tears.

“Hey look, you’re showing an emotion other than humor.”  She spat at him as she opened the door.

“Claire, please...”

“Just go!  Get the hell out!”

“I’m sorry, I just… you’ll just be safer without me.”  He said, his voice a dull shadow of himself.

“Get out!”

“Claire.”

“Would you just go??”  She started to cry and he walked past her.  He looked at the floor as he walked out, refusing to look at her.

He stepped out of the apartment and turned to speak, “I hate myself for this.  I just—“

She slammed the door on him and leaned against it, starting to sob.

Jensen stood on the other side, looking at the door, his heart breaking as he heard her cry.  He touched the doorknob for a moment and then turned to leave.

It was over.  It didn’t happen exactly like in his dream, but Claire really was gone.

Chapter Text

When he got home, Jake walked in the door and stood for a moment before slamming the front door shut.  He sat in a chair and put his head back, closing his eyes before letting out a ragged breath as he looked around the room.

There were magazines and some books Claire had read on the coffee table.  Her small game system was sitting opened next to his and her favorite hoodie was draped over the sofa.  He leaned over to grab it and he brought it to his face.   Her perfume and natural scent filled his nose and his eyes started to burn from tears threatening to build.

He let the hoodie fall in his lap and sat quietly for a while before pulling his phone out of his pocket.  He found some of their last messages and reread them.

Claire r u up still?

Yeah, you okay?

Tell me something I don’t know you do when I’m away.

Um, ok.  Don’t laugh ok?  You know when you’re away and I do laundry, I find one of your t shirts and wear them to bed.

Gross.  The ones I work out in?  Do you have a sweat fetish?  :P

No, ew!   Just the latest shirt you wore, the ones you leave on the bed for bedtime.  I sleep in them because you’re here with me that way.

He thought about the time she had been there to welcome him back on base from a mission.

He was walking along with Pooch talking and heard a familiar female voice coming closer and looked up to see Claire hurrying to him.  He grinned and dropped his bags, running up to her and she wrapped her arms around his neck showering him with kisses.

“Hey!”  He said excitedly dropping his bags.

He held her tight and buried his face in her neck, “I missed you.”  He murmured before she leaned back and her lips found his, kissing him.

“I missed you so much.”  She said when she pulled back.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d come.”  He said adjusting his glasses.

“Are you kidding?  I couldn’t wait anymore, I wanted to see you as soon as I could.”  She clung to him, and he thought his chest would burst from happiness.

He smiled sadly at the memory and took off his glasses before he rubbed his eyes.  He tossed the phone on the table and let out a large breath of air as he stared at the wall.  Maybe he’d made a mistake with what he’d just done to Claire.

He remembered when they first met.

Pooch did the talking when they had arrived at her place to explain the situation.  Roque wouldn’t have come off as friendly so they decided Pooch, Jake, and Cougar would go in first.  She had been a witness to an action a crime lord they were tailing had been involved with, and they needed her information.

Jake and Cougar let Pooch do the talking and she looked over at Jake occasionally.  She noticed him watching her and she blushed but couldn’t stop looking back at him.

She looked over at Pooch, “So your name is Pooch?”

“Correct.”

“And you’re Cougar.”

Cougar tapped his hat and nodded at her.

“And you’re Jensen?”

He just stared at her, his eyes meeting hers but he didn’t speak.

“Does he talk?”  She asked Pooch before looking back at Jake.  “Are you okay, you look like you’re gonna puke.”

He was watching her quietly and nodded.

“Well the bathroom’s down the hall, there’s some antacid in the cabinet.”

“No.  No.  I talk, I uh, women think I’m kind of, uh…”

“Oh God Jensen.”  Pooch sighed rubbing his forehead as he rolled his eyes.  Cougar chuckled.

“I understand.”  She said to Jake before turning back to Pooch.  She would occasionally glance back at him with interest.

He sat and thought about when Clay called Pooch and Cougar back to assist and Jensen offered to stay behind with her for protection.

“You’re not going too are you?  She had asked a little too quickly, something in her voice made him turn and look at her.  She seemed upset at the thought of him leaving.

“Nope.  Stuff’s too heavy to move all at once, I’m staying here with you.”  It was a lie.  He volunteered to be the one to stay behind with her.  He could have carried most of his equipment easily on a shoulder if he had too.

“Oh good.  I mean, the stuff is a lot to move right?”  She seemed relieved.

“Yeah, and we need to finish the zombie show anyway.”  He teased.

“Dork.”

“Geek.”

They smiled at each other and he backed into a chair as he moved away, almost tripping.  He smiled nervously at her as she rushed over, offering her hand to help.

He got up and went upstairs.  He saw his Petunias shirt on the bed.  He picked it up as he sat on the bed and sighed.  He remembered when he left it for her the day he had to leave.  They had recently become intimate and he was having a tough time with the thought of leaving her.

“Got all your gear?”  She asked leaning against the kitchen doorway.

“I think so.”  He said looking up, his face somber.

“So.  Where do you go now?”  She asked quietly, some sadness in her voice.

“I can’t say.  I would if I c—“

“That’s okay.”  She stopped him from finishing as she turned and walked into the kitchen.

He followed her, “Wait, Claire.”

He put his hands on her upper arms and started to turn her gently.

“Can I come back?  When this is over?”

She looked up at him and grinned happily as he lowered his head to kiss her.

He laid back on his bed and balled the shirt up, whipping it across the room angrily.  He took off his glasses and ran a hand over his face while letting out a loud curse.


 

He stood at his sister’s door few hours later and she answered silently, beckoning him in.

“What did you do?”  She asked, frowning.

“Did you talk to her?”

“Hannah wanted to tell her about something at school so we called her.  She said Claire was crying so I took the phone and she told me everything.  You really screwed up, Jacob.”

He stood with his hands in his pockets.  When Jess called him by his full name she meant business.

“Did she tell Hannah?”

“No.  She thinks she’s just watching a sad movie.”  Jess crossed her arms angrily, “It’s going to break her heart, Jake.  She loves Claire.”

“Just stop, please.”  He said looking down at the ground.

“You look awful.  What happened?”

“Nothing.”

“You broke up over nothing.  Good call, moron.”

“Thanks.”  He said sarcastically as he sat down and let out a frustrated groan.

“I think I made a mistake.”

Jess sat next to him and looked over.

“Yeah you did.  What happened?”

“It’s nothing!”

“Don’t bite my head off.”  She said back to him with a dirty look, “I’m trying to help you.”

“I had a dream okay?  It was a bad one.”

“Okay.  So what happened?”

He took a deep breath in and let it out not wanting to relive the dream.

“It was nothing.”

“Jake, stop saying that!”

“She was held hostage and I couldn’t get to her in time, alright?  I tried everything, we all did, and nothing helped.”  He sighed and ran his hands over his face.  “Nothing I did worked and I could hear everything they did to her.  I listened to her die.”

“Shit...”  Jess said quietly, “No wonder you’re freaked.”

“The worst part is, I was walking away and whoever had taken her said she was pregnant.  I lost her and my family.”

Jess’ eyes grew wide, “Is she??”

Jake looked up annoyed.  “I don’t think so.  She’d tell me.  She had an appointment this morning at some girl thing.”

“Hold on.” Jess found Claire’s number and texted her something.  After a few minutes a notification came back.  She read it and looked up at Jensen.

“Nope.  Just an exam.”

“Great, now she’s thinks I’m even more of an asshole.”

“Oh stop.  You look disappointed though.”

“What?”  He looked over in irritation at his sister.

She shook her head and smiled.

“You have it bad.  You looked disappointed when I told you her reply.  You have it bad for her.”

“Doesn’t matter anymore.”  He mumbled.

He was about to speak again and Hannah bounded into the room.

“Uncle Jake!  Can we take Claire to the aquarium this weekend?  I want to see the sharks eat again.”

“Hannah, listen.”

“Come on, I got a good grade on my test.  You promised!”  She whined.

“Hannah.” Jake took a deep breath and let it out, “Claire’s not going to be hanging out with us anymore.”

“Why?  You love each other.”

Hannah looked at him confused as he looked at her sadly.

“I’m sorry, kiddo, she’s not coming back.”

“Yes she is.  She likes us.”

Jess stepped in and tried to calm her, “Hannah honey.”

“No!  Uncle Jake, she likes us all.  I love her too!  Go make her like us again.”

“She does like you Hannah.  It’s me, I did something wrong.”

“You always do something wrong!  I hate you!”

“Hannah!”  Jess warned, “That’s enough!”

“I hate you!”  She ran to her room and slammed the door.

“Great…”  He said sadly, leaning back and closing his eyes.

“Jake, you need to go talk to Claire.  Explain the dream and how you feel.  She doesn’t understand how stressed work can make you sometimes.  Go fight for her.”

“I screwed it up.  I can’t explain it to her.”

“Well you better fucking try before you break any more hearts.”  Jess said growing angry, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get her back.  You’re a goddamn adult and in the military.  If you need to talk to someone, you do it.  Do what it takes to get her back.”

Jess left the room and Jake sat tapping his fingers on the arm of the chair unsure of what to do.  He felt helpless and alone.  Claire would have been able to comfort him but he just pushed her away, probably for good.


 

“If you’re over here anymore, I’m hiring you as a nanny.”  Pooch teased as they sat watching a football game in Pooch’s living room.  He looked over at Jake, who was staring listlessly at the TV.  He was becoming concerned that Jake wasn’t his usual playful self and rarely spoke about Claire lately.

Jake had been spending a lot of time at Pooch and Jolene’s.  He was a help with PJ so Jolene didn’t mind and it kept his mind off of Claire a little.

It had been three weeks since they broke up and he was still upset, moping and depressed.  Pooch knew something was wrong but didn’t push anything.

“You staying for dinner tonight?”

Jake lifted PJ up and bounced him gently, watching him smile and blow spit bubbles.  He remembered how Claire looked holding the baby, laughing and spinning, doing little dances to entertain him.  It made him smile, but his heart ached.

“A smile.  Wow man, I’m shocked.”

“I haven’t been that bad.”

“Please, you’ve been moping here all week.  Are you gonna tell me what’s wrong eventually?”

“He broke up with Claire.” Jolene said, as she entered the room.

“You what??  What the hell for?”  Pooch sat up and looked over at Jake in shock.

“I don’t want to get into it.”

“What happened?”  He said turning off the TV and turning to him.

Jake ignored Pooch and looked up at Jolene.

“How is she?  Is she okay?”

“Cries a lot.  Looks as miserable as you.  Why do you care?”  She walked over to him to take PJ.

“I care.”  He said quietly.

“Uh huh.”  She turned to Pooch, “We’re going over to see her.  We’ll be back later.”

Pooch nodded and Jake perked up for a minute.

“Can you do me a favor?  Tell her that I—“

“Seriously Jake?  Call her yourself, I’m not helping you rip her heart out any more than it already is.”  Jolene glared at him, her hand on her hip and PJ on the other.

Jake slunk back into his chair, putting his head in his hand, leaning against the arm of the chair.

Pooch waited till Jolene left the room before he turned back to Jake.

“What happened?  Talk to me.”

Jake sighed and ran his hand through his hair in frustration.

“I had a nightmare about her.  It was bad.”

“Oh boy.”  Pooch said, his tone sympathetic, “I’ve been there.”

“You have?  This was bad. Claire was tortured and killed and I couldn’t get to her.  They fucked with us and we all heard her die.”  He said quickly before looking away.

“I’ve had those kind of dreams before.  Did you tell her?”

“Not exactly.  I bit her head off for leaving her door open bringing in groceries.  It got bad from there.”

“It what?  I know you like a brother, and don’t take this the wrong way, but…”  Pooch knew Jake well and couldn’t bring himself to say what he was thinking.

Jake caught on to his comment and looked horrified.  “No!  Shit, no!”

“Sorry man, just checking.  It sounds like you have some PTSD.  It can really mess with you.”

“No, it was just a nightmare.”

“A nightmare bad enough to cause you to break up with your girlfriend for no reason?”

“Pooch, it was a shit nightmare.  She was dead.  The asshole fucked with me saying that she was pregnant and dead.”

Pooches jaw clenched at the thought of a dream like that and shook his head.

“Damn, man.  You need to talk to her.”

“I don’t think she’d listen after what happened.  I just want her to be safe.”

“She is safe.  She has you, and we got your backs too.”

“That’s not what I mean.”  He let out a frustrated groan, “Damn it, I don’t know what I mean.”

“We cover our tracks, and we’re pretty damn good at what we do.  I’m a little confused.  You’ve been okay going on missions in the past while you’ve been with her and now it scares you?”

Jake nodded, “I don’t get it.”

“You really love her huh?”

“Yeah.”

“I did this with Jolene.  But I didn’t break up with her, we talked.  A lot.  You need to get your ass over there and explain things to her.

“It’s too late.  She thinks it was an excuse to dump her.”

“Oh come on.  I’ve seen you too together.  She’s Girl Jensen, she’s not going anywhere.  She’s head over heels for you.  Don’t know why because you’re a punk bitch, but she loves you.”  He smirked and leaned over shoving Jake’s arm.

“You can’t keep this in.  It’ll eat you alive.  You’ve got to talk to her and let her help you.”

Jake looked over at him, “If she tells me to fuck off, I’m coming back here, becoming PJ’s nanny and going off the grid.”

“As long as I get some damn sleep at 3am, you can do whatever the hell you want here.”  Pooch chuckled, turning the TV back on to finish the game.

Jake sat staring at the TV, thinking about Claire.  He’d call her that night and hope to God she’d give him a chance to explain.

 

Chapter Text

Claire sat in her chair reading a magazine half-heartedly while listening to the TV.  There was a knock on the door and she sat up quickly, partly hoping it was Jake and partly hoping it wasn’t.  She took a breath before opening the door and saw Jolene standing there holding PJ.  She backed up and gestured them in.

“He’s a mess, I thought you should know.”  Jolene said right away, handing the baby to her.

“Don’t know why, he dumped me.”

“He’s miserable.  He doesn’t talk, doesn’t eat, mopes around.  He needs you, Claire.”

“He’s the one who ended it.  He shouldn’t be the one upset.”

“We have to talk.”  Jolene sat at the kitchen table and watched Claire sit across from her, resting the baby in her arm.

“You’re an idiot.”  She started.

“Thanks a lot.”  Claire looked up at her with a frown.

“I think I know what the problem is.  Jake’s afraid for you.”

“Afraid for me?  What the hell for?  That’s just his excuse.”  She said, irritably.

“That’s the truth, he’s scared to lose you.  Pooch told me something a while ago about some stuff they do on missions sometimes and I don’t need or want to know any more.  As long as he comes home to me I’m good.  They face some really bad people, Claire.  Really bad.”

“I know, but—“

“No, no buts.  I was getting PJ ready to come see you and I heard them in the other room talking.  He dreamt you were tortured and killed in front of him.  You were pregnant too.  It sounded like a nasty dream.

Claire’s eyes widened, horrified, as she sat and let it sink in.  It explained his erratic behavior and his wanting to keep her safe.

“Oh no.”  She said quietly.

“Yeah, can you imagine that kind of fear?  Losing your family in one shot like that?  Personally I think you both need to talk.  He has to get it out or it’ll mess with him.”

Jolene looked at Claire and watched her expression.  She reached over and took PJ, smiling at him before bouncing him in her lap.

“I’ve known him a long time, Claire.  He had it rough as a kid and Jess took care of them both, their parents were asses.  Jess had Hannah and she’s almost like his own kid.  Then you came along and he’s just…happy, like he’s complete.  Can you imagine thinking you could lose that in a heartbeat by an enemy?”

Claire sat and thought about what Jolene told her.

“It’s not easy being a military wife, we need each other to lean on and talk to each other.  You don’t just have Jake.  You have me and Pooch too.  We’re always here for you.  You’re gonna have to talk to when things bother you.”

“I’m not a wife though.”  Claire argued.

“No, but you’re Jake’s girlfriend if I have anything to say about it.  You’re part of the club, you’re stuck with us now.”  She looked up at Claire with an encouraging smile.

“Do you think it’s my fault?”  Claire asked quietly, “I didn’t really listen to him, he tried to tell me something and I didn’t want to hear it.”

“It sounds like a lot of feelings were hurt.  “A lot of words were said, but not a lot of listening.  He really is a mess, he needs to talk but doesn’t know how to start.  If anyone can help him, it’s you.”

Claire put her chin in her hand on the table and sighed.

“Maybe tonight I’ll talk to him.”

“I think he’d like that.”  Jolene reached for Claire’s hand and squeezed it encouragingly.

“Please get him happy again and get him out of my house.  He’s moping around and it’s driving me nuts.  PJ loves him though so I can’t complain.  But really, you need to talk to him and get him to open up.  If anything for his own good.”

“I’ll try.”

Claire thought about Jolene’s advice.  She knew Jake could get very quiet when he was upset, but she didn’t know to what extent.  If he was as bad as Jolene had said, she had to talk to him and figure out what to do.


 

Later in the evening, she sat on her bed and stared at her phone.  She was suddenly nervous to talk to him.  Every time she was about to call him, she would start to get anxious and put the phone down.  What if he decided to move on already?  He might have given up on her or was angry that she hadn’t listened to him when he needed her.

She knew it was immature to text instead of call, but they usually texted everything anyway so she decided it was a first step.  It took a few times to get the nerve but she eventually sent him a message.

Jake?

Almost immediately he replied.

Claire?

Are you still in town?

There was a pause and she was afraid he had decided to ignore her.

Not going anywhere for a while.

She sat and looked at the screen.  She wasn’t sure if she should ask him to come over.  If he would even want to after she kicked him out.  Her phone buzzed and she looked down again.

Claire?  You ok?

If I asked you to come over would you tell me off?

She was afraid of what the answer might be and looked away from the screen, looking back at it with a sick feeling in her gut.  The notification buzzed and she read the message.

Of course not!  You’re my Claire.

She let out a large sigh of relief as she tucked her legs under her blankets and bit her lip thinking of what to say next.

Another message popped up.

Are you still my Claire?

She took a deep breath and let it out quickly.

Can you come over?

Already out the door.

She smiled at his message and wiped away some tears.  Maybe they could work everything out.

 

Chapter Text

She had hurried into the shower immediately after he said he’d be right over.  Just as she turned the water off, she heard the knocks on the door.

“Damn it!  HOLD ON, I’M COMING!”  She shouted, as she grabbed a towel.

There was more knocking and she ran across the apartment, her wet feet slipping and sliding on the hardwood floor.  She hit the door with a loud thud.

“Ow, damn!”  She flung the door open and Jensen stared at her.

“Hello to you too.”  He said with an anxious smile.

“I thought I missed you.”  She said catching her breath, and rubbing her arm.

“I would have waited all night.”  He said.  His expression looked like a sad puppy and Claire fought the urge to pull him into her arms.

They stared at each other for a moment and she moved aside to let him in.

He walked by her and she shut the door.  As she turned around, she felt herself being turned in his arms and his lips found hers.

She let out a soft moan and heard his in reply as his arms tightened around her.

Holding her towel with one hand, she held the back of his neck with her other hand as the kiss intensified.  He moved a hand to her rear and pulled her against him.

He backed back suddenly, looking at her.  “I didn’t mean to do that.  No I did, but if you didn’t want—“

“I miss you Jake.”  She blurted out quickly, starting to cry.

“Oh, oh shit, Claire.”  He pulled her against him and she wrapped her arms around him.

“I didn’t mean to slam the door on you and kick you out.  I was angry because you were angry and I was confused.”

“Shh, I know.  I know.”  He stroked her hair and held her tight, lowering his head to hers.  “I’m so sorry for tearing into you that day.  I was scared when I woke up and didn’t see you and I freaked.”

She looked up, “I should have listened to you.  Can I go get dressed and we can talk?”

“Yeah, that’d be good.”

“You can come back with me if you want.  I just need pajamas.”

“I can wait here, go get dressed.”

She nodded, wiping tears as she hurried off.


 

She came back out in her pajamas, her hair still wet and loose from the shower.  She smiled shyly at Jensen and his eyebrows raised as he watched her enter the room.

“Sorry about that.  I just got out of the shower when you got here.”

“I don’t want to break up.”  He said quickly, looking up at her, his eyes searching hers, his expression vulnerable.

“I don’t either.  But I thought that’s what you wanted?”

“I was scared.  I AM scared I mean.  I don’t know.”  He looked frustrated as he leaned forward on the sofa, looking at the floor.

She sat next to him and pulled her feet under her as she leaned against the back of the sofa facing him.

“Jolene came by.  She talked to me a little bit.  She said you’re having a rough time with some things.”  She put a hand on his knee and he looked up.

“It’s stupid.  I just had a pretty bad dream.”

“You can tell me.”

“It’s hard to explain.”  He sat for a moment quietly trying to figure out what to say.”  It just…shit, this is hard to do.”

“What is?”  She asked.

“I don’t do this, this isn’t me.  Everyone expects funny Jensen.”

“I’m not everyone.  You can tell me anything.”  She said soothingly.  He seemed to be getting more agitated by her pressing but she kept going.

“You don’t get it.  It was a just a dream, its nothing."

"It’s not nothing, it’s obviously messing with you.  Just talk to me."  She pressed on.

“I can’t!  I want to and I can’t alright?!”  He looked up at Claire and his expression was heartbreaking.  He looked almost ashamed at snapping at her, but she sat still.

“Jake, we broke up over this.  Something spooked you so bad that you wanted to break up and that’s not what we want.  Please let me help you.”

“Claire, leave it alone.”

“Start with the dream.  Please?”  She thought back to what Jolene told her and held her ground.

“I don’t want to think about it.”  He said in frustration, running his hands over his face.

“Jake, tell me!”  I am not going anywhere!”

She looked at him, putting her hand on his thigh and running her thumb along it soothingly.

“Okay!  I had a nightmare that you were kidnapped and held hostage and then killed!  I tried so hard and I couldn’t find you.”

He took a deep breath and let out a frustrated sigh.

 “They did horrible things to you and I couldn’t get my equipment to work, I was locked out of locating coordinates and all I could hear was you screaming and calling for me.”

“Oh God, that’s horrible.”  She sat watching his face.  He looked a little relieved but still bothered.

He looked over at her and then to the floor, “They killed you Claire.  I heard it all and then it was just over.  Then they told me that you were pregnant.  It killed me to hear that.  I lost my family.”

“Oh my God, Jake.”  She leaned over quickly and pulled him to her, running her hand along his back, “No wonder you were upset.

He nodded, “I’m just scared for you.”

She sat up, “Is that why Jess asked me about my appointment?  That was just a yearly check-up, that’s all.”

He nodded and kept looking at the floor.

“You know I’d tell you something big like that right, if that happened?  Even if we were broken up?”

He nodded again, still staring at the floor.

“We’re nowhere near that part of our lives yet.  It’s just you and me, and I know you can work your magic to hide me if you had to, I know I’m safe with you.  You protect me and I’m safe.”

She took his hand and held it tight.  “You have nothing to worry about.  You’re the best at what you do or you wouldn’t be where you are.”

“I guess.”  He said as took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes.

“Jake, look at me.”  She moved closer to him and he looked up, his eyes red.

“I am right here.  I am not going anywhere.”

“You can’t promise that.”

“I knew about your life from the beginning, remember?  If I didn’t want this, I wouldn’t have wanted you to come back when that mission was over.”

“I’ve had stuff where we went in knowing we might not come out and I could handle it then.  I can’t handle if something happened to you.  I don’t know what I’d do, it felt so real.  You don’t understand.”

“I can’t imagine what that dream felt like, but I promise you, I’m fine.  We’re safe here.  I’m safe with you.”

“I’m so weak for talking about this.  I feel like an asshole.”

“No.  No you’re not.”  She scolded gently.  “You have no idea what this means for you to talk like this to me.  You get so quiet when you get upset, I don’t know what you’re thinking sometimes.  I’m glad you got this out.  I promise I will listen from now on too.”

“Yeah.  Me too.”  He sighed and leaned back, looking over at her as he put his glasses back on.

“I’m here for more than being silly, you know.  You can talk to me about anything.  You do it for me all the time.”

“I do?”

“All the time.”  She assured him with a smile as she leaned on his arm.

He put his arm around her and she felt him shaking the tiniest bit.

“Can you stay over?”  She asked timidly.

“Are you sure?”  He asked her.

She stood up and reached for his hand.  He stood and she led him back to the bedroom.  He closed the door behind them.


 

When Claire woke up she was buried under covers, cocooned in her usual sleeping position.  Jake was lying on his side, his head resting on his hand as he stroked her back and hair, watching her with a content smile.

“Hey.”  He said softly.  She gave him a sleepy smile back and stretched.

“Hi.”  She rolled to her side and burrowing into his chest as he held her tight.  She made a content sound in her throat and he chuckled.

“And you say I make happy noises...”

“You’re warm and comfy, I missed this.”  She said looking up at him fondly.  She rested against him for a little while before she wiggled free and sat up.

“Where ya going?”  He asked, looking a little concerned.

“I’ll be right back.”  She smiled reassuringly as she got up and walked to the bathroom.

When she came back out she found him sitting up in bed looking at his phone.  He looked up at her and smiled again, quickly putting his phone down.

She walked over to him and crawled back on the bed and then over him, throwing a leg over his legs, straddling him.  She ran her hand through his short blond locks as she looked at him, tracing her thumb over his furrowed brow.  Jake was back but he still didn’t seem like her Jake.  He seemed like something was still bothering him.

“Are you okay?”  She asked.

“I am now.”  He said putting an arm around her waist.

It wasn’t convincing and she looked into his eyes.

“I’m not going anywhere.  I should have listened to you, but I didn’t.  You needed me and I—“

“You didn’t know, Claire.”

“We have to let each other in, Jake.”  She said moving closer, her lips finding his hesitantly, testing his reaction.  His other arm wrapped around her waist, his hands moving up to her shoulder blades.  She put her hands on his shoulders, kneading them gently as her lips moved along his.

She moved her hands up to his cheeks and held his face as she continued kissing him.  He lifted his knees up and she leaned back against his thighs and looked at him.

She took off her shirt and tossed it on the bed before reaching for his, pulling at the hem and lifting.  She lowered her head and kissed along any inch of bare skin she could find as she removed the shirt.  He finished taking the shirt off for her and tossed it aside, his hands going back to her, sliding up her waist to her waiting breasts, just holding them and watching her reaction.

She smiled at him, and she leaned forward eagerly, her lips moving along his harder, her hands running along his neck and the back of his head.

“I’ve missed you so much.”  She murmured, “I love you, Jake.”  He moved his hands along her breasts as though he was exploring them for the first time and she leaned back and looked down watching him before she looked back up.  He looked like he was home, that’s the only way she could describe his expression.

Watching him and feeling his hands on her again stirred something in her and she found herself rolling her hips along him slowly, grinding against him.  She felt him growing harder under her and closed her eyes for a minute before she leaned forward and moved her hands to the headboard of the bed, trapping Jake between her arms as she moved, resting her head on his shoulder.

After a while she moved back and watched his eyes as she moved along his length, dragging herself slowly over him, enjoying the sensation.  Jakes mouth opened slightly and he was breathing heavier as he watched her face.

She groaned softly, pushing against him harder, running her hands down his chest and belly.

He put his head back as she reached into his boxers and found him ready for her.

She looked down between them and then back into his eyes as she ran her hand along his hard shaft.  She suddenly moved up and her mouth found his neck and collarbone, ravaging them as she stroked him harder.  He moaned her name softly as she rocked against him, both of them breathing harder.

Claire leaned back again and she looked at him, biting her lower lip, anxious to feel him inside her again.  He nodded and she moved fast, moving her panties aside and sliding onto him, letting out a soft cry as she leaned forward again, her arms around his neck.

Jake grunted as he moved his hips as best as he could in his position.  Claire had the upper hand at movement, so he wrapped his arms around her and just held her tight as she moved up and down him slowly, feeling every inch of her take him in.

She rocked along him slowly, planting soft loving kisses along his jawline, murmuring loving words.  He held on to her, moving his face to her neck, just letting the sensations wash over him.

“Don’t leave me again.”  He said quietly.

“Never.”  She replied moving back and looking into his eyes.


 

Afterward they had spent most of the morning cuddling and talking.  Claire was lying on her back propped up on some pillows, and Jake had his head on her belly looking up at her as she played with his hair.

“Did you know that male penguins will look for the shiniest, smoothest pebble to give to the female they like?”  He asked.

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“A pebble though.  Why?”

“To make their nest together.”

“Aww, that’s cute!”

“Yeah.”  Jake yawned and reached up to palm Claire’s breast.

She chuckled, “Can I help you, Sir?”

“Nope, just admiring the view.”  He smiled.

“I see.”  She laughed and reached for his hand.

“So, when do you want to start packing?  You still want to come with me, right?”

“Absolutely.”  She looked around.  “I want to start as soon as we can.  I don’t like this place, it doesn’t feel like—‘

“Home?”

“Yeah.”

“Well good because most of your stuff seems to be all over my place…our place I mean.  I couldn’t bring myself to pack up anything.”

“Even my hoodie?  I can’t find it anywhere.”

“Yeah well I’ve been sleeping with that.”  He said looking away and then back at her with a smile.

“Aww, really?”

“Told you I can’t sleep without you.”  He shrugged.  He got up and flopped back down next to her, pulling her over.

“I need to get up soon, I’m getting hungry.  Wanna get something to eat?”

“I have a better idea.”  He said grinning at her.


 

“She’s gonna shit when she sees you!” Jensen said excitedly.

“I hope not.”

You know what I mean.  She really hates me right now.”

“She doesn’t hate you.”

“I should have gotten that puppy we saw earlier.” He said, worry in his voice.

“No.”

He grabbed her hand and pulled her faster to the bleachers.

“Come on, we need a good seat for this.”

“Don’t embarrass me too much okay.  I know that look.” She said starting to laugh.

They made their way to their seats and Jake sat next to her and then changed his mind and sat in front of her.  Claire wrapped her arms around him and put her chin on his shoulder.

“I don’t see her.”  She said.

“She’s here.  Wait, there she is.”

Jake leaped up almost knocking Claire back in excitement.

“Hey!”

“Shit, sorry.”   He helped her balance before he turned to the field again.

“HANNAH!”  Hannah looked up and around toward Jakes voice and then frowned at him.

“HANNAH!  LOOK WHO I FOUND!  SHE WAS DIGGING THROUGH MY TRASH AND WOULDN’T LEAVE!”

“Oh my God, Jake.”  Claire said covering her face with her hand, laughing.

“SHE STILL STINKS A LITTLE BUT SHE’S BACK!”

“Jake!”  She looked away embarrassed, ignoring some laughter around them.

“Claire!”  Hannah shouted and waved while jumping, “You’re here!”

“Hey Kiddo!  Good luck!”

“Are you staying after the game?”

“Yes!  We’re all going home together.”


 

“You have to do it, you told her she could.  You owe her.”  Claire sat next to Jake on the couch, their bare feet propped up on the coffee table.

“But I brought you home.  That should be enough.  Plus she has an ice cream sundae. ”

“Jake.”  Claire warned.

“Fine.”  He looked over at Hannah.  “Ok miss, I’ve decided to go with the camo design.”

“Delightful!  You’re going to love it!”  Hannah picked up one of Claire’s nail polishes and opened it happily.  “I must say you are the first boy ever in my beauty shop.  You’re going to have so many dates!  Sorry Claire.”  She began to paint his toes, looking up from Claire to Jake with a smile.

“Hmm.”  Jake said, wiggling his bare toes.

“I’d love to see these dates.”  Claire laughed.

She took Jake’s hand and squeezed.  “You’re a good Uncle.”  She said, kissing his cheek.

“You know, THIS is the stuff you’re going to be doing, living here.”  He said smirking at her.

“I know.”  She put her head on his shoulder and smiled.  “I’m looking forward to it.”