DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters. No profit is being made.
It's all for fun.
A/N: Thanks for those who submitted reviews on my other stories - I really appreciate it.
Rating note: I gave this an M rating to be safe.
Part One: Conflagration
Woody slued his car onto the nearest curb and nearly ripped the door from its hinges. Sprinting, he left the car wide open. His eyes searched the various knots of people; his mouth was set in a tight line.
At last he found Nigel. "Nigel! Nigel!"
The Brit turned.
Woody stopped. "Where is she? Where's Jordan?"
Nigel shook his head. "I don't know, Woody. I - uh - I haven't seen her since - since we were inside." Seeing the fear on the detective's face, Nigel clapped him on the shoulder. "I'm sure she's around here somewhere. You know our Jordan - always trying to do her own job and everyone else's."
Nigel's false smile and jovial bonhomie didn't soothe Woody. "Yeah, sure." He moved off, searching for any of the others, while behind the chaos outside, the morgue burned, a violent, sudden conflagration. The burned out hulk of a car should have grabbed Woody's attention, but tonight he couldn't think of the crime committed here. He could only think of Jordan.
He hadn't seen her in months. She'd caught only one of his calls since Christmas and, like the few before that, she'd said little to him that didn't pertain to the case at hand. Her office door was always closed whenever he stopped by the morgue. It seemed like someone had just seen her in Autopsy One... or Trace... or the staff room... try Garret's office, maybe. She must have been screening her calls because her cell always went to voice mail and her machine at home picked up. She didn't return his calls. He wanted to apologize for what he'd said, to tell her it was a good thing, though, that they'd both moved on.
So why was he here? Why was his heart racing in fear? Why did those hot flames make his blood run cold?
He finally found Garret who was huddled with Bug and Lily. Seely had arrived and had a protective hand on Lily's shoulder as she sat, wrapped in a blanket, breathing through an oxygen mask. Bug and Garret looked a little sooty around the edges, but nothing a good shower couldn't fix. Woody looked at each of them. "Where is she?"
"I haven't seen her, Woody." Garret said.
It was Bug and Lily who made Woody shiver. They both looked away.
"Bug? Lily? Where is she? She got out, right?"
"Yeah, she did," Bug nodded.
"See, she's here somewh-" Garret started.
"Then she went back in." Bug's despondent tone left no doubt as to what he believed must have happened to Jordan.
"She what...?" Macy nearly exploded. "Why? Jordan may be headstrong and - and - well, Jordan. But she's not stupid. Not stupid enough to run into a burning building. A collapsing, burning building!"
Bug gave an apologetic shrug. "There was physical evidence she needed for a case."
"A case?" It was Woody's turn to look nearly apoplectic. "What case?" He rolled his eyes. "Something to do with her mother's death, knowing Jordan."
The atypically insensitive remark from Hoyt brought an equally atypical reaction from Lily. She yanked off the oxygen mask. Her voice was hoarse and drawing the breath to speak caused searing pain in her lungs, which already felt like unwilling participants in a barbecue gone horridly wrong. "The Moreno case!" She spit the words at Woody.
He blinked. His gaze was steady on hers, his blue eyes very focused. "What?"
Lily took another painful breath. "You hear me. Your case. The case you demanded she rerun all the evidence because despite what she gave you, you couldn't get the suspect to talk."
The protest died on Woody's lips. Of course, Jordan would have gone back for the physical evidence in that case. Jeff Moreno had raped and beaten to death at least three prostitutes, but he'd also been very careful. Jordan's report had been thorough and her evidence solid as a rock, but circumstantial. He'd asked - had he demanded? God, he had... he'd hoped against hope that Jordan could work one of her seeming miracles and find that one shred of proof that would put the guy away. He hadn't put it that way though.
Over a bullhorn came the sound of the captain of the fire and rescue team, telling them they had to back away,
that everyone was out and the collapse of the outer walls of the building was likely.
Garret, followed closely by Woody, ran toward the man with the bullhorn. Garret's face wore a look of controlled panic. He got the captain's attention. "One of my people may still be - is - in there."
The fire captain looked over his shoulder at the tottering walls. "You're the Chief M.E.?"
"Sorry, sir. Anyone in there..." He let his words trail off.
"Jordan!" Woody surged forward. Macy and the beleaguered fire captain managed to grab him and hold him back. His muscles bunched under their grip and he called her name again, as if he could conjure her up, striding out of the flames, chiding them all for being so worried about her. Wildly woody looked at the two men keeping him stationary. "You heard Bug!" he yelled at Macy. "She's in there! We have to get to her."
The fire captain's voice came in softly, but with a sad certainty. "Son, anyone in that building is - beyond our help. I'm sorry."
"No, no, NO!" Woody shook his head. "Not Jordan." He turned to Garret. "Tell him, Dr. Macy. Tell him Jordan isn't - damn it - tell him!"
"Woody." Garret's spoke as softly as the captain before him. "There's nothing we can do." The Chief M.E.'s voice was steel even as his eyes kept slipping to the fiery hulk behind them.
Panting, Woody glared at Macy. "How can you say that? It's Jordan."
"I know. Believe me, I know."
Eventually the force of Macy's voice cut through the chaos in Woody's head. The detective finally relaxed. Garret dropped his grip on Woody's arm and gestured to the fire captain to do the same. Woody asked, "When can we get in there?"
"We go first, not you, not civilians."
"I'm a homicide detective," Hoyt muttered.
The fire captain exchanged a look with Garret. "All right. Still, we go first, Detective." The man gave Garret a look that said to look after the younger man. "We'll let you know, Doctor, when your people can get in."
Macy nodded. He didn't need to be told it would be at least a couple of days. Sighing, he looked at Woody and tried to paste on a hopeful smile. "You know, she probably went out the back. We'll get to the others and find her there, laughing and joking."
Woody's look was blank and hopeless.
Four days later the arson squad allowed the morgue employees back in to begin their own version of clean up. The burned out car had been moved, its shell a testimony to the amount of explosives packed into it. Though no one had called him, Woody turned up.
Nigel took the lead. "Woody. Um - You know, it might be better if we-"
"I'm going in there with you, Nigel. I l- She was my friend, too."
He didn't see the glare from Lily that his words provoked. He barely head the soft snort from her. Despite the fact Lily was still pale and her lungs ached, she was determined to be there.
They had to pick their way through the wreckage, among the melted lumps of the tools of their trade. Nigel, with single-minded focus, reached her office first. He made a cursory examination. "Guys," he called out. "There's nothing here!" The hope in his voice was unmistakable.
Bug appeared behind him. "The evidence was in Trace."
Nigel's face fell.
In the end it was Lily who noticed a glint of metal in the charred detritus. "What's that?" She pointed.
Woody knelt and, with a gloved finger, sifted the ashes gently. "Oh, Jordan," he breathed.
"What is it?" Garret asked.
The chain looped over his finger, the heart pendant swinging as he stood up and faced them. "Her mother's locket."
END Part One