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Dylan had known something was coming even before Skye had opened her mouth. He'd felt her body tense and wait for the proper moment to approach the subject. Then she'd said it, and though she had tried to keep her words calm and measured, he could tell this was a matter of some weight to her.

Still, what she wanted had shocked him. He'd tried to ignore it at first, seeming absorbed in the game, which actually hadn't been hard to do. But she didn't let him get away with that.

An ache began in his stomach. Why couldn't she understand that they were hanging onto safety by their fingernails? The Sick, Infected, people like Calvin's gang, the day to day struggle of finding food, the limited medical supplies. Any one of those things could take them out.

With the addition of the townsfolk on the mountain, they had just changed the chances against them from overwhelming odds to maybe some of them would make it. This was becoming a safe place but any one of their enemies could change that in an instant. The last thing you do is go looking for trouble, draw attention to yourself. No, what you do is stay in your spot, nice and quiet, and do the best you can.

Their best was pretty good. It was the best his life had ever been. There was no way Dylan was going to jeopardize that. No way.

Dylan looked down at her snuggling against him, appreciating every moment of it. Yet, much as he loved her, he wouldn't give her half a day before she'd be talking to everyone about what she was thinking. Why couldn't she just let it be?

Knowing he had to stall her somehow, he said, "Don't tell anyone about the White Coats. People could get some crazy ideas. Let me think on this a while."

Skye seemed happy with his words as she pulled him to a stop and pecked him on the cheek. "Thank you, Dylan! Yes, your right. It's probably better to keep it quiet."

Dylan chuckled to himself. The way she mulled over her words, he knew that giving her half a day had been way too much time. A couple of hours would have been more like, and the whole community would've known about them. Now he just had to figure out how to get her to drop it altogether.

He needn't have worried so much that afternoon about it because by nighttime the judge showed up unexpectedly early and took Skye's mind right off the subject.


Jesse pulled on his jacket and shoes. What was going on? They'd just been sitting around the table playing some stupid board game that Skye liked and all of a sudden there was a knock on the door.

First off, he'd been getting some pretty serious points with Skye for playing something other than Jenga. That was something he needed because instead of going off on some stupid mission to find some wannabe doctors, he wanted to go get his sister. It'd been a few weeks now since he had found out Sue Ellen was still alive and he as of yet didn't know much else. Dylan had promised to look into it but there hadn't been a word yet on the progress.

Second off, anytime anything unusual happens everyone gets tense, and a knock on the door at night qualifies as unusual. Most people didn't wander around after dark, most healthy people anyway.

But it was just the lookouts for the night telling them the judge had finally shown up, and he wanted to see him. Jesse Bailey.

Why? I'm not the criminal.

Jesse stepped out into the darkness behind Dylan and Skye with Wade trailing behind him. Jesse quickly scanned the yard, though the moon's thin light made it harder to see then it should have been. Jesse's fast, light breaths frosted in the air in front of him as he pushed his hands deep into his coat pockets.

He didn't like being out here like this. He flashbacked to that day in town when the Infected had come to call, and not in a good way. They'd barely made it out of there, but Mom had done it. Jesse had seen Kelsey, white as a sheet, and made fun of the Sick so she wouldn't be so scared. But his own heart had thumped in his chest like a jackhammer he'd once seen some construction guys use on a sidewalk. He hadn't known a heart could do that and the person still live.

Just thinking of that day had gotten his heart going again. Jesse took a few deep breaths to calm himself like Mom had shown him. His feet crunched across a portion of the open yard and the sound of it against the quietness of the night startled him. He cleared his throat a couple of times.

Skye looked back at Jesse. "You okay?"

Trying not to look rattled, he said, "Yeah, fine."

"Come here," she said waving him up between her and Dylan. Jesse took a couple of quick jumps to catch up with them, and when he did, she laid her arm across his back. Her other hand she put on the knife at her belt.

He looked up at Dylan, who carried his rifle, his gaze alert and searching, as always, for any signs of trouble. Gun in hand, Wade came up on the other side of Skye, scanning in front, then behind the group.

Jesse put his hand on the hilt of his own knife as he trailed his gaze across the four of them again and scoffed at himself. How many times had there been trouble? And how many times had they taken care of it?

What am I worried about? It's like I live with a group of apocalypse superheroes.

After a few minutes, they reached a large cabin that had stood empty until it was decided to use it for the trial with a room in the back had been cleaned up for the judge to use as a bedroom. The four of them stamped their feet on the weathered wood porch to get any dirt off their shoes before going in.

Dylan, Skye, and Wade threw questioning looks at each other. They didn't know why they were here any more then Jesse did. The screen door creaked as it was passed from one to the other of them. Stepping in, Jesse saw that the main room of the cabin had been cleared of any furniture except for a couple of chairs and a desk at what he assumed would be the front of the court.

An older man sat at the desk, his greyed head bent over some papers. A lantern made a circle of light around him, just enough to read by. When he looked up, his gaze swept their group and landed on Jesse, locking eyes with him. Even from here, the boy could tell he was the right man for the job, his sharp eyes could reach into person's soul.

"I'm gonna assume your Jesse Bailey," the judge said, his voice was low and cultured.

Jesse looked up at Skye, who nodded at him. Then at Dylan, who put a hand on his shoulder. Jesse straightened and said, "I am, sir."

"Very good," he said, "Well, then, I have somethin' for you."

As he spoke, he waved to someone out of Jesse's line of sight. "Come on out now," the judge said softly.

At first, Jesse wasn't sure, and his eyebrows knitted together as he tried to figure it out. It'd been years since he'd seen her but then he somehow just knew, was absolutely certain.

He wasn't sure if it was the way she peeked around the corner before coming out, or the round blue eyes, just like their momma's, that flickered just a little when she saw him, or maybe it was the tumble of messy, blonde curls that no one was likely to forget, no matter how young. But something, something told him exactly who she was. His breath caught as he thought her name before he said it. "Sue Ellen."

A/N: Maybe this was a little surprise you didn't expect? :) I hope you enjoyed the chapter. If so, please comment or push the little star. :)

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