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Coming Back Home

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“—you really think that's wise?”

Jo, shrugging into her backpack, winked at Melissa and said, “I don't think it's wise. But I'm gonna do it.”

“DOROTHY is already working—you don't have to be on the front lines anymore, honey.”

“Yeah,” Jo agreed easily, moving close to buss a kiss against Melissa's cheek, “but imagine Preacher in my place. "Or...” she considered, grinning. “Dusty in the saddle. I mean, can you imagine?”

Melissa, who could imagine quite well, sighed. “Okay. Don't call me until you're done.”

“I never do,” Jo reassured her, patting Melissa's cheek before heading out the door.


Aunt Meg, cracking another egg into the skillet, chattered amiably around where Melissa was worrying into her coffee mug.

“How's it going with Bertha and Marvin?” she asked, and Melissa looked up, smiling.

“You know perfectly well that it's Bertie and Martin.”

“I do,” Meg replied, “but it got you outta your funk, didn't it?”

Rubbing at her temples, Melissa placed her forehead against the edge of the hardwood table. Meg took the skillet off the stove-top and huddled down next to Melissa.

“You're the one that married her, darling—you're the one that's gotta live with what she does.”


“And you know what she did?”

“What'd she do, Jo?” Rabbit asked, rolling a frequently used map into a sturdy tube.

“She asked me how I felt about the thing!”

“And what'd you say to that?”

Jo scoffed and replied, “I told her that I didn't care either way.”

“Bad move, Doc,” Rabbit said unnecessarily, not even bothering to look up.

“But I actually don't care either way, you know?”

“A therapist doesn't like to hear that.”

There was a thump—Jo's forehead hit the window of the truck; Rabbit laughed at her.

“Well don't I just know that now.”


The house was quiet as Jo dropped her bag onto the floor.

“Hello?”

She hurried her way upstairs when no answer was forthcoming. Intellectually, she knew nothing terrible had happened, but she still couldn't help the worry when Melissa didn't answer her when Jo knew she was home.

“Mel?”

Groggily, half-asleep on their bed, Melissa answered, “You know I hate that nickname, Jo.”

Her accent was thicker when tired. Jo flopped on the bed beside her, groaning happily as she settled, comfortable and close.

“I'm back! And, you know, mostly intact.”

Melissa smiled, pulling Jo into a brief kiss. “Good.”