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Part Ten: This Is Your Life
Jordan heard the door behind her open again. She was crying softly as she stared at the new picture Max had put in the locket. "Change your mind, Dad?"
The footsteps stopped behind her. "Jordan."
She caught her breath and quickly swiped away the tears, before she turned. Her smile glittered falsely and her voice rose in the unnaturally high and tight tone that signaled her discomfort. "Woody. Hi. Fancy seeing you here."
He stared at her, his eyes like ice chips. "You let me think you were dead, Jordan."
"Gee, Wood, don't take it personally. I let everyone think I was dead."
"Damn it, Jordan! Do you know what everyone went through? What I went through?"
Her tears had vanished and anger flared in their depths. "Yeah, I noticed. How long was it before she moved in?"
"She? Who? Tammy?" Woody's jaw worked, grinding his teeth. "Did you spy on me?"
Jordan fought back the shaking that had started in her toes and wanted to climb up her legs and jitter her apart. "You didn't answer me."
He took a step toward her. "And you didn't answer me. Did you spy on me?" He watched her writhe emotionally. "Oh, my God. You also came to the crime scenes. It was you I saw." He exhaled angrily.
"God Almighty, Jordan! God! I - I - Do you get it? Do you know how many times I wondered what you'd think of the case? How often I thought your instincts would have made the difference?" He stopped, his throat raw from yelling at her and from the tears he refused to permit egress. He lowered his voice. "Do you understand that I mourned you? That I kept thinking the last real conversation we had ended with me telling you what you said to me didn't matter? I dreamt about you, Jo."
She took deep breaths, steeling herself for another round of futile words. "Woody, I can't say anything more than I'm sorry."
"Is that it? Do you think that's enough?"
She stepped toward him. "No. It's not enough. I know that. But I can't change what I did."
Woody's shoulders slumped. "Why did you do it?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. It made sense at the time."
"Sense? How could faking your own death make sense?" The pain in his voice rang in the air. "I don't get it, Jordan."
"I don't know," she told him, tears choking her voice. "I went back in to get evidence and I - I knew if I didn't find it that Moreno would walk, get a whole new shot at life. And - And then I was taking off my mom's locket and putting it about where they'd expect to find me if I'd been trapped. I just - I wanted a new life." She thrust her hands in Max's coat pockets and gazed up at the stars.
"How was it?" His voice scalded her heart.
"Awful." She let tears slip down her cheeks. "I found out everything I thought was wrong with my life was more right than I ever knew."
"Why didn't you - Why this long, Jordan?"
"What was I supposed to do, Woody? Pop by the temporary morgue and say, 'Hey, by the way, I'm not quite as dead as I pretended. What've we got in Autopsy One?' I didn't know what to do." She sighed heavily. "I had finally decided to leave Boston actually, to get on with whatever I could."
"And none of us ever would have known?"
She shook her head. "It might have been better that way."
She gave him a sad smile. "Dad thinks everyone will forgive me in time. Garret, too, but I don't know. I've put everyone here through a lot, maybe it would be better to - to stop reminding them."
"No." He shook his head. "Un-uh. You said you found out your life was - what? - more right than you knew? So you want to give that up again?"
"I don't want to. But I've hurt everyone enough."
Woody snorted softly. "That's irony for you - Jordan Cavanaugh worrying about hurting all of us."
She turned away from him. Her whisper floated into the night. "I've always worried about that. Didn't you ever understand that? I never wanted to hurt you - any of you - but especially you, Woody."
"You managed to do a pretty good job of it though."
She turned around, her eyes flashing, her own voice growing hoarse. "You played a part in it too, Woody! Did you forget that? Or is it just easier to make it all my fault?" She clenched her fists inside the coat pockets. "I told you how I felt. You didn't want to hear it then. I'm sorry I couldn't perform on cue, but you knew me, you knew what I was like. You knew how damn hard it was for me to trust anyone - anyone!"
His mouth trembled with pent up frustration - and grief at the pain they had caused each other. He kept his voice low. "I was hurting and - okay, I'll admit it - scared."
She nodded. "And I came back. Remember that? But it wasn't good enough." Her eyes overflowed. "I know I screwed up. I know I did everything I could to push you away and I will regret that for the rest of my life, but when you told me it was too late..." She turned away from him again. "I told everyone it was all right. I lied to everyone as long as I could, so no one would know."
He moved toward her, his heart thudding rapidly, his breathing shallow. "Know what, Jordan?"
She scuffed the rooftop with her toe. "That after all that time, after all the chasing, you finally caught me. And I wasn't good enough."
If someone had punched Hoyt in the solar plexus at the moment it would have hurt and stunned him less. Her words might as well have been one of the scalpels she'd wielded so well in the old days and she might as well have cut out his heart with one stroke. He closed the distance between them and, spinning her around, gathered her into his arms. She fought him, but he held on. Tightly. When he reached one hand up to stroke her hair, he felt her relax marginally against him. He stared at the city lights. "Oh, God, Jo, I'm sorry," he murmured. "So sorry." He longed to say more, but couldn't find any words that seemed anything other than hollow. "How did we get here?" He looked down at the crown of her dark head and dropped a light kiss on her hair.
"The stairs?" she replied weakly. The effort at being the old Jordan both reassured and grieved Woody.
He couldn't help the slight chuckle though. Releasing her just a bit, he took one hand and tilted up her chin. "I can't live without you, Jo. I still can't believe you did what you did, but it doesn't change the fact that without you, I'll never be a whole person. You are not only good enough, you are the best part of my life. And I don't ever want to lose you again." To convince her and ease away her inevitable doubts, he kissed her. What had been intended as a gentle kiss with promise of what might be quickly deepened with hunger and a need that stretched back over four years.
Jordan pulled away when she could no longer breathe. "What about Tammy?"
Woody shook his head. "It wasn't working. She's moving to California."
Jordan nodded. "Oh." She leaned her head into his hand as he brushed her cheek with the backs of his fingers. She raised one hand and caught his as it trailed down her neck. "You once promised to hold me tightly."
He smiled. "And then you avoided me."
"I'm not avoiding you now." She grinned.
He leaned down and kissed her again, softly and slowly. "What were you looking?"
She blinked. "When?"
"When I came up here. When you thought I was Max and asked if I'd changed my mind."
"Oh," she took the locket from Max's coat. "He changed the picture."
"Can I see?" Woody asked before reaching for the necklace. She handed it over. He opened it. "It's beautiful. Not a surprise, since it's you."
Jordan blushed. "I can't figure out where he got it though."
He laughed. "I don't know how he got a copy of it, but it's from that birthday party you guys threw Dr. Macy a while back."
"How do you know that?"
"Easy." He tapped the picture. "The way you have your hair. And the lipstick you're wearing."
Her eyes went wide. "You noticed that sort of stuff?"
"I noticed everything about you, Jordan. Always." He pulled her close again. "Why do you think he changed it?"
She studied the photo for a moment, not really needing to, but hunting for the way to explain it. "To tell me to put the past behind me, to be - myself, I guess. To be happy."
"Good plan." The wind rose slightly and blew a lock of hair across her face. He gently brushed it back behind her ear. "Can I make you happy?"
"No." Her response surprised him. "I've got to be happy with myself first."
He nodded. "Are you?"
"Yeah. I am. And before you ask, I can be happy with you."
"I can't ask for more than that." He kissed her forehead.
"Well, you can," she suggested.
"Would I get more?"
"You might." Her look was sly. She wrapped her arms around him and leaned up to kiss him this time. When neither of them could breathe, she laid her head on his chest. "Look, the sun's coming up."
"The first day of the rest of your life, Dr. Cavanaugh."
"Is that was that phrase means? I've always wondered," she teased.
"Now you know." He looked into her eyes once more. "Just please don't ever try to figure it out again." He unwrapped himself from her and she let him. They held hands as they walked toward the stairs.
"Did you really dream about me?"
"Un-huh," he said. "But having you here is much better."
"Yeah, you kept spontaneously combusting."
She gave him a wise nod. "I can see how that might be a problem."
Later that morning, in his arms and his bed, she wasn't quite so certain she wouldn't burst into flames, however. As she watched him sleep, she marveled that she could have made so many mistakes and yet this was her life. He stirred and opened his eyes. He sidled closer to her, molding her curves to his body again. She settled her head on his shoulder. Her voice had the dreamlike quality of his nocturnal visions when she spoke, but she stayed real and firm and whole. "I love you."
Woody smiled. Who would have ever thought she could say it first? "I love you, too, Jordan."
A/N1: I know in reality we're talking lots of therapy for these two if Jordan pulled a stunt like this, but wouldn't we all get bored with that? I would, so we get sweet fluff at the end.
A/N2: Thanks for all the feedback. It's been my pleasure to write the story.