THIS is the last chapter. I know the ending might still be a bit abrupt, but I am running out of steam a little bit, and I think it is time to get off the "angst express" (TM jtbwriter!)
So, even Jordan deserves a little fluffy happy ending in her life!
Thanks to all who've reviewed and left constructive feedback. You have no idea how helpful it has been! Here goes...
So. That was to be it, then.
She walked slowly into her darkened apartment and dropped her keys on the end table inside the door. They slid off onto the floor, and she did not bother to pick them up.
She threw herself onto her bed and sobbed with abandon. Woody was gone, out of her life with nothing more than an affectionate squeeze of the hand and a bit of bland chit chat. He had said he wanted to talk to her, but what could he possibly say? How many ways could he find to tell her that it was over, and they both needed to move on?
She felt as if she had been running from him for years, and tonight would be the last time. There was nothing to run from anymore.
No, it was better to leave it like this, with her halting attempt at an apology and a gentle kiss on the cheek. At least they could be civil if their paths crossed at work in the future, and they would, of course. She would have to learn to smile and nod casually when he came into trace for a report and hide the fact that she felt as if she had lost a part of her own heart when he had been shot.
She found suddenly that she could barely keep her eyes open and rolled onto her side without undressing. It was best to take advantage of her state of exhaustion. She had barely slept in the past weeks, and when she did, her sleep was interrupted with nightmarish visions, and she would be jerked awake with the sound of gunshot still ringing in her ears.
She lay with her eyes closed, sleep more elusive then she had hoped, when there was a knock at the door. There was a moment when she debated not answering it, but she finally rolled out of bed.
She looked through the peephole and then quickly undid the chains.
"Woody!" Her voice did not betray her surprise at seeing him.
He stood leaning breathlessly against the door frame. "Well, thank God you live in a building with an elevator. That's all I can say." He smiled lightly. "Are you going to invite me in?"
She stared at him a moment, as if she hadn't heard. "Oh! Of course, I'm sorry. Come in. Let me get you some water. Can I get you some water? You must be wrung out," she started to babble. He chuckled and flopped onto the sofa. "What? What's funny?"
"You. Always trying to get me water and tuck me in."
"You can't take this lightly, Woody. You almost died. Recovery is going to take awhile," she said with an unintended sharp edge in her voice.
"I know, I know. No one knows that better than I do. Believe me. I just don't want to wallow in self-pity. I just want to move on."
Move on. Ah, there it was again. He had come to rub her nose in it?
"Well, it's just a glass of water," she said curtly and headed toward the kitchen.
"Jordan, please just sit down. Okay? Don't worry about the water," he said gently and caught her hand as she passed.
The touch of his hand sent little ripples down her spine. She sat and curled up on the opposite end of the sofa.
"Okay..." she said warily.
"You left before we had the chance to talk, Jordan."
She looked down with a sad shrug. "There just didn't seem to be anything left to say, Woody."
"Of course there is, Jordan. " He began softly. He reached out and traced small circles on her arm with his fingertip. "I know you blame yourself for everything that has happened. And I'm not just talking about the shooting, Jordan. I'm talking about everything. And...I just want you to know that it's all right. Despite appearances of late, I'm not angry. I don't blame you, Jordan. So, stop beating yourself up."
She looked up at him in surprise. "I don't get it. I've behaved horribly for the last three years. I wouldn't blame you if you never wanted to see me again. How can you possibly forgive me?"
"Well, when you get shot in the belly, you find yourself with lots of free time on your hands to just to lie around. So, I started thinking. When I said it was time to make peace and move on, I meant it. But I think you must have misunderstood. I meant we can't change the past, but we can't dwell on it, either. Besides." He smiled a small knowing smile. "I think I figured something out about you, Jordan Cavanaugh."
"You did?" she gulped. "How so?"
He leaned forward purposefully. "Before my dad died, I don't remember him ever telling me or Cal that he loved us or that he was proud of us. I convinced myself and everyone else that I hated him. But when he was shot, I never left his side. I stayed at the hospital around the clock. And then when we knew the end was near, I sat there with him. He was so scared. So, I just talked to him, telling him he was going to see mom soon, and I held his hand until he was gone. Despite all the rotten things he had done, I stayed there. Because you don't leave the people you love when they need you most. Even when they keep pushing you away. Do you, Jordan?"
She could not look him in the eye. She had been found out.
He went on quietly, moving closer to her on the sofa. "You don't sit there with someone at a hospital, lying to the hospital staff just so you can sneak into their room, putting up with the verbal abuse of the worst patient ever if you don't love them even just a little bit." He leaned over and took her hand in his. "Do you, Jordan?"
She burst into relieved sobs and leaned against him. "No. You don't."
He laughed. "Hey! I thought you'd be happy! I didn't mean to make you cry!"
She sat up and rubbed at her dampened face. "I am! I just thought...tonight at the bar...I thought you were..."
He groaned and threw his hands over his face. " I know! I know! Come on, you know me! I'm horrible with words! I can never find the right thing to say when it really counts. There I was trying to tell you that I love you, and I'm not about to give up on you because I know you feel the same way, and I blew it!"
When he looked at her again, she was staring at him wide-eyed. "You...love me?"
He drew one corner of his mouth up in a bashful smile. "Well, of course. What did you think?" She began to cry again and nuzzled in against his shoulder. "Aw, jeez! Here we go again!" He laughed warmly and wrapped his arms around her. "I know you love me, Jordan. I know it. You don't even have to say it. And I know this is going to take some time. We both need to heal, physically and otherwise. This thing is not going to be easy. But you wouldn't be Jordan Cavanaugh if it were. Just no more lies, okay? Life's too short. I know it sounds cheesy..."
She sat up and looked at him with a smirk. "Well, you are from Wisconsin."
He smiled down into her face, thinking she had never looked more lovely with her puffy eyes and red nose. "Is that what I'm going to have to put up with from now on? Cheesehead jokes? Boy oh boy, I might just have to reconsider this whole thing."
She grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and pulled him closer. "Just shut up and kiss me, farmboy."