A/N: Well, this is it...the final chapter. I had such fun writing this story, and I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks so much to those who read and reviewed. Your insightful comments are really sustaining. I was nervous about posting this story, so thank you for all your feedback!
They floated rudderless for the next few days. Everyone seemed to move in a daze, barely speaking. Jordan forced herself to take the reins and provide some kind of leadership when all she felt was scared and alone. Garret was gone, and Woody had yet to return.
She had all but given up hope of seeing him again; hope had not served her very well here. But there was still a glimmer of it. She would dab the rose perfume on her wrists and lie awake in her cot at night picturing him there with her. He had said he would come back...I will always find you. It was the only thing she had to cling to.
She stood looking down at the calendar that she had seen fluttering in the wind on her first day there. She had marked off almost two weeks worth of days on it. It was December 31st. It seemed strange that it was about to turn over into a new month, a new year, but it was hard to keep track of time here when one day seemed to bleed into the next.
The day was a marked contrast to the warm festivities of Christmas Eve. No one seemed particularly determined to celebrate. They moved through the day in their usual empty-eyed daze, and late in the afternoon, she crossed off yet another day on the calendar and turned the page over into 1945.
She heard something then...the distinctive sound of a jeep in the distance. Everyone looked up hopefully from their funk. Woody. He was back. Then there was something else, not just a jeep, but the heavy rumbling of a truck. They were being rescued.
"Somebody call for a cab?" It was one of Woody's men who had come for Christmas Eve. He stood in the doorway with a wide grin on his face, and the others cheered and applauded with relief. "I just escorted this truck here. They are going to get you back to your unit. You'll be safe there, but you need to hurry and pack up what you can. There's another storm rolling in."
Jordan ran past the soldier and into the street. Woody was here, wasn't he? He said he would back. She looked up and down the street. Two Army drivers opened the back of the truck and waved her in.
He wasn't there.
She ran back into the church to where Nigel and Bug were hurriedly grabbing up their supplies and Lily was preparing their patient for travel.
"Where's Capt. Hoyt? Isn't he with you?" The young man's face fell, and her heart fell with it. She saw her worst fear realized in his eyes. Her voice was small and pleading. "Please tell me he's okay."
He took a deep breath. "He radioed to us out in the field before he left HQ. That was yesterday. He should have been back by now."
"Oh, God, no..." She reached out to the wall to steady herself.
"We don't know anything, ma'am. He could have been caught in the weather. He could be holed up in a barn somewhere riding out the storm."
She nodded. Yes, of course. He was fine. Fine. She turned as Bug and Nigel solemnly brought Garret's body up out of the crypt. The young soldier removed his helmet respectfully. "We heard about Col. Macy, ma'am. We're very sorry."
She felt herself tear up as they passed by with the stretcher. She would not lose Woody, too. "He'll be back. Woody will be back. I didn't say goodbye. I didn't tell him..." She shut her eyes. The last words she had said to him were in anger. If you're going to go, then go.
One of the drivers stuck his head in the door. "Let's get a move on! We're about to get clobbered by this storm!"
She numbly gathered up her coat and staggered out the door. Lily took her arm and led her down the steps. Nigel and Bug had already climbed in the truck and were urging her on. Bug pulled Lily in the back of the truck, and Nigel leaned down to offer Jordan a hand.
Over her shoulder, she could see the storm cloud descending on them. Her fingers brushed against Nigel's.
"That's it, love. Let's go!"
She turned again. Woody was out there. She had to make things right. Things would not end this way. Not this time.
"No..." She let her hand slide from Nigel's as the truck began to pull away.
The snowflakes began to sting against her face as she turned into the blinding white storm. Woody was out there somewhere. She would find him.
"Jordan! Come back!" Nigel shouted to her over the buffeting winds. "Can you hear me? Jordan? Come back!"
She heard Nigel's voice receding in the distance as she was swallowed up into the whiteness.
"Jordan? Can you hear me? Jordan? Come back."
Her eyes fluttered open. There was a white light. A figure loomed over her, silhouetted against the garish and artificial brightness.
"Nigel..." Her tongue felt thick and dry in her mouth. Her eyes darted with panic around the room. There were others there, speaking with urgent, muffled voices. She tried to lift a hand to shield her eyes from the glare.
Nigel turned to speak to the other figure at the end of the bed. "She's awake!"
"What happened?" The storm...she'd been lost in the storm, and they had found her. She was in the hospital.
No. Something was different. She tried to blink her eyes into focus.
"You had us worried," someone said.
"Garret...is that you?"
"It's me. I'm here, Jordan." She choked on her tears. Garret came around to the other side of the bed and took her hand. "It's okay. You're going to be fine."
She was finally aware of the dull ache in her head. She was back. She was home. "How long have I been unconscious?" she croaked.
"About twenty-four hours."
Twenty-four hours. She had lived a lifetime in those hours.
Nigel continued. "We've all been here with you. Dr. M., me, Bug. Lily can't stop crying. She blames herself."
She shook her head and held back a sob. "I thought you were gone, Garret."
Garret and Nigel traded curious looks. "Jordan, I've been right here in your room."
She shut her eyes. There was no point in trying to explain it all to them. They wouldn't believe it, anyway.
Then, her eyes snapped back open. She tried to sit up. "Woody! Where's Woody?"
Garret put a hand on her shoulder. "Easy, Jordan. He's here. He's been here in the hospital the whole time. He's down in the waiting room."
She struggled again. "I need to see him," she said as she reached out to grab Garret's shirt. "I need to see Woody. I need to talk to him. Please."
"Okay, okay. Just lie back and save your strength, Jordan." Garret nodded at Nigel, and the two left the room.
"Hello..." She turned her head toward his voice. He was there then, standing awkwardly in the doorway. His eyes were puffy and red-rimmed.
Seeing him opened the floodgates, and the tears flowed in sheets down her face. He stumbled to her bedside and took her hand in his. "Oh, hey! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. That's why I stayed outside this whole time. I wasn't sure if you'd want to see me or not. I'll go..."
"No! No! You don't understand. I thought I'd lost you. I thought I'd never see you again."
"You're going to be okay, Jordan. We were scared for awhile, but the docs say it was just a bad blow on the head. No real damage. The head of yours is too hard for that." It was an attempt at humor, but she could see the real worry behind his eyes.
"No. Listen to me," she started with urgency. "Something happened while I was out. Maybe someday I'll try and explain it to you, but you have to believe me. Something happened."
He looked at her doubtfully. "Like one of those near-death things?"
She shook her head. "No. That's not it. I don't know how to explain it myself, but it was real. It happened. And now I want you to listen to me. I am not leaving you again. Not ever. I was an idiot to walk out of that hospital room, and you were an idiot to throw me out. If you can't see that, you're more hard-headed than I am. I am not going to waste another second running from you, Woody Hoyt. And don't you dare push me away. Time is too precious."
She could see that his reddened eyes were growing damp again. He bent his head down onto the side of her bed and lifted her hand to his lips. With her other hand, she reached over and stroked his hair.
"Now I've upset you."
"I thought I'd lost you, too, Jordan."
"Well, you found me."
He leaned down and kissed her bandaged forehead. "I will always find you." He shivered a little. "Wow. I just got the strongest sense of deja vu."
"Yeah. Strange." He cocked his head and lifted his chin up. "That's weird. I smell roses."
"Roses?" She smiled.
"Yeah. Definitely. Crazy, huh?"
"No. Not crazy at all."