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After the Storm

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He should have felt guilty about Melissa but being back with Jo and the others had been exhilarating, reminding him of why he had spent so many years as a stormchaser. He had forgotten what it was like to watch the skies and see twisters form, and he had forgotten why it was so important. Everything he and Jo had worked for was for the benefit of people like Jo's Aunt Meg and all the others in Wakita who had lost everything. The data they collected would solve some of the mysteries surrounding twisters and perhaps show them how to defuse them before they became the monsters that destroyed homes and livelihoods... and killed people.

It was more important work that becoming 'the weatherman on channel whatever', warning people to take an umbrella on a wet day or wear sunscreen when it was sunny.

The F5 tornado disappeared almost as quickly as it formed leaving a scar across the land two miles wide and almost eight miles long but had miraculously missed the house of the family who had taken shelter in their storm cellar. He could see in Jo's expression that they reminded her of her own family, of the father she had lost when he was sucked out of the cellar and into the storm. They had found his body hanging in a tree several miles away. The light rain stopped and the sun came out, and even though they covered in cuts and bruises from all the debris circling around the tornado, he felt more alive than at anytime in the recent past.

Jo was with him, and he held on to her tightly as the dark skies cleared leaving behind a beautiful day.

The guys arrived, still full of excitement but he knew they would all crash later, exhausted from the adrenaline high.

They made sure the family were okay, even helped out a little in rounding up the horses that had run away from the storm, and gratefully accepting a little hospitality in return. Eventually they needed to move on, wanting to take a look at the raw data collected by DOROTHY IV even though they all knew it would take months to collate it all and make sense of it. Bill clambered into the Barn Burner, Dusty's minibus with Jo taking a bench seat beside him, leaning into him heavily. He rested his chin on her head and listened to the excited chatter as the miles past, too tired to do more than smile.

They were alive, and together.

The motel had enough rooms for everyone but no one looked twice when Bill and Jo entered one together. Inside it was the usual, standard motel set up except this one was older than most and still had a bathtub. Without further thought Bill started running the taps, perhaps going a little overboard with the bubble bath but after a day like today he simply didn't care, especially when he heard a laugh from behind and saw Jo standing in the doorway, still in her torn and slightly bloodied clothing. She looked terrible and yet she was still the most beautiful sight he had laid eyes on in years.

"Come on," he said, indicating towards the large bath overflowing with bubbles. Jo didn't think twice, stripping off to reveal scratches, cuts, and bruises, some a little deeper than others but none so bad they needed a hospital.

She noticed his look and raised an eyebrow. "If you're worried about me then check in the mirror first."

He glanced towards it but it had steamed up leaving just a blur of himself in the reflection.

Jo sank into the hot water with a contented sigh interspersed with a few hisses. "Where are you going?" she asked as he headed towards the door. She indicated towards the bath with her head and Bill smiled, stripping quickly and climbing in behind her. He hissed as the hot water hit some of the deeper cuts, then relaxed, letting Jo settled back against him. She had one particularly nasty looking cut along her shoulder but it could wait until later. Bill felt himself drifting off, slowly slipping under the water and brace himself. He hadn't noticed the water cooling around him, and the bubbles dissipating.

"Come on," he murmured and gently pushed Jo up.

She groaned in reluctance but climbed out, gasping a little as her actions pulled on cuts and bruises. They dried off quickly and Jo sat on the edge of the double bed while Bill applied a salve to some of the worst cuts and scrapes. Eventually they crawled under the sheets together, holding on to each other as the last of their energy faded. Tomorrow they would have to worked out where they went from here but for the first time in a long while Bill knew where he wanted to be, what he wanted to do, and with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life.

He settled back, closed his eyes, and slept.