He sat assuming a feigned expression of interest and made sure to interject an occasional, "uh huh" or "absolutely" as the man in the clip-on tie behind the desk went on and on about "working 24/7" and "thinking outside the box."
Jordan had not been far from his thoughts in this past week. When she had left that stormy Friday night, he had immediately gone upstairs and left a message with a fumbling apology asking her to please please please call him.
She had not.
He was surprised how keenly he felt the loss of Jordan from his life, more so than Devan, he had realized with not a little bit of guilt. Devan had died, a young woman's life had ended terribly, and he grieved for her and for her family. But with Jordan, he grieved for himself and the end of something for which he had yearned for so long.
He was ever the optimist, hoping Jordan would stop running for long enough to realize that she loved him as much as he loved her. It was inevitable, he had thought. But their timing had been hopelessy, tragically off, and the past three years of his life in Boston now seemed an utter waste.
Time to move on.
He looked over the man's shoulder out the window onto the streets of the unfamiliar city below. This part of town was ugly and grey, and 8th Street was like any other dirty, urban street. It wouldn't be that different from Boston, he thought, except no Jordan. And that was a good thing.
He smiled and nodded vacantly as the man finally stood up from his desk. "Well, Det. Hoyt? What do you say?"
Woody rose and stretched his hand out. "I say, 'It's great to be aboard. When do I start?'"
She had dreamed of him the night before. They were together, and he held her close to him. His mouth was on her shoulders and her neck, and her fingers traced the smooth curves of his back.
While she was still in the ether place between dream and sleep, it was all real and Woody was beside her. Then she awoke with a start at the intrusion of the morning alarm and the unwelcome reality flooded back in.
She had convinced herself it was for the best that she did not return his call the night she had run from his apartment. Perhaps Garret was right and she should leave Woody alone and end things forever. That was why she hadn't called him.
Then it was anger and pride that paralyzed her. It had hurt her to have her childhood trauma dismissed so flippantly. But then, she knew he had spoken from his own anger.
Yes, she had led him on, but it had all seemed so harmless to her. He had followed her like a loyal puppy dog for three years, willingly and unconditionally, she had thought. She had made half-hearted attempts now and again to make it clear to him that they were "just friends." But how clear could it have been when she, herself, was not certain that friendship was all she wanted? And, of course, the implied promise of more had always been there.
Funny thing, that. The promise had been spoken now. She was ready. He was not. Just when she had decided to stand still, he had stopped chasing her. The bitter irony of it stung. How could their timing have been so off?
So, she had trudged through a double shift that day with the image of her dream running through her mind and then home in what had become a numbing routine. She was just about to let herself fall back into sleep when there was a knock.
Before she could reach the door to look out the peephole, he spoke.
"Jordan, it's Woody. I know you're in there. I can see your shadow under the door, so you might as well let me in or I'll knock all night."
She was surprised after all that had passed that her heart still leapt a little at the sound of his voice. This was not good. Not good at all. She was supposed to be angry. She was supposed to not care. This was supposed to be over. She steeled herself, took a deep breath, and opened the door.
"Hi..." He managed a weak smile. "Can I come in?"
She said nothing but shrugged and let him pass. She returned to the center of the room and stood with her arms folded across her chest.
He stood for a moment shuffling his feet, clearing his throat, wondering if he should make small talk.
"Did I catch you at a bad time? You busy?"
She swept her arm across the room. It was empty. The TV was off, the coffee table was clear of books and papers, the lights were dimmed. "Well," she began with heavy sarcasm. "As you can see, I'm up to my neck in work and I've got this house full of people..."
"Oh. Yeah." He laughed nervously. "Listen, I just want to apologize." His voice was soft. " What I said about your...issues. It was uncalled for and totally insensitive. You just really threw me for a loop..."
She raised her hands in interruption. "Hey, look, it's me who should apologize. I dumped a lot of stuff on you, and I don't know where it came from."
"Oh. So all that about finding someone and the kiss? That was...?"
"Must have been a full moon, huh?" She tried to let out a careless, casual laugh, but it stuck in her throat.
"Oh. Well. Because if you'd said all those things to me a couple of months ago, I'd count myself the luckiest guy in the world right now."
"Ain't that a kick in the head?" She blinked back the puddle of tears that had gathered in her eyes.
No one spoke for a painful moment.
"Well. Anyway." He continued slowly. "I also came by because I wanted to tell you I've been offered a job with the Philadelphia P.D. I though you should know before you heard the rumors. It's a bigger division, more responsibility. The new Philly chief is out of Boston homicide, and he made a by-name request for me, so...well, it just seems like it's time for a change."
"Great. Good for you. I can certainly identify." She managed a pained, rueful half-smile.
"And. Well. There's not much point in hanging around Boston anymore, right?"
She opened her mouth to speak. "No. I guess not."
A fleeting look of disappointment passed across his face. "Right. So. I'm just on my way down to the precinct to give my two weeks notice, actually. I'll get out of your hair."
He shuffled awkwardly back towards the door.
"You know, Jordan, I'm going to be pretty busy in the next couple of weeks. Tying up loose ends and all, and I don't imagine I'll see you before I head out. So, I guess this is..." He let his voice trail off, not able to say the word.
"Yeah." His voice came out a whisper. "I guess so."
"Oh." She looked away and searched for words. "Well, it's been great knowing you. We're going to miss you around the office." She felt the sting of hot tears return to her eyes at her complete inability to express anything more about the most important person in her life these last few years. "I'll just see you downstairs."
The walk to the street was silent and strained. They found themselves staring face to face on the sidewalk.
"Well." He said.
"Well. Goodbye, Woody." They reached out simultaneously and found themselves locked in an uncomfortable embrace. She patted his back awkwardly.
He backed away a few steps and waved. She waved back. He smiled weakly and turned to go. She stood watching him, her sadness deepening with every step he took away from her. This was it. He was gone.
He walked steadily down the long block, growing ever smaller in the twilight, but she stood there still, unable to turn from him, wanting to watch until he disappeared in the distance forever.
He walked on. And then his pace seemed to slow as he reached the corner.
She leaned forward and narrowed her eyes.
He had stopped. He stood stock-still, his back to her. Her heart raced. He raised one foot, as if to step off the curb and on to the next block and the next.
But he did not. He turned slowly and faced her for a long, agonizing moment. Then, he took a tentative step back to her, then another.
His stride lengthened as he moved purposefully back to her until finally he broke into a run, running back to where she stood with her arms open.
It was useless to stop the tears, she knew, as he lifted her up and covered her face with hungry kisses. She laughed with mock protest as he spun her and set her back on her feet. He took her face tenderly in his hands and tucked a loose strand of her chestnut hair behind her ear.
"I'm not going to Philadelphia. I'm not going to Philadelphia. Not a chance."
She laughed again, wiped at her tears, and kissed him back as they danced and spun on the sidewalk in the heady mix of emotions.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." She found the need to say, and the words poured out of her in a litany.
"Hey, sssh. It's okay."
She pushed back from him then and looked up at him seriously. "I know I have issues, but they make me who I am. Good and bad. You've got to accept that. Can you accept that?"
"All I can do is try, Jordan. We both have things we've got to deal with." He looked away, and she knew he was thinking of Devan.
"It's going to be okay," she said, as if for the first time, she believed it. "We'll get through it. Both of us."
She took his hand and they moved to the stoop in the front of her building.
They sat there together in the last of the day's light, wrapped in the warm, untroubled silence.