FEEDBACK: Yes, please. I respond to everything except flames. Constructive criticism is valued.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters. No profit is being made. It's all for fun.
A/N: Thanks for the sweet review for "The Greatest of These." It's been an interesting week around here and those have really lightened things up. I've got to get this fluffy little bit out of my system and then I'll finish up "My Heart's in a Whirl," for those of you reading that. I promise!
Jordan stood back, her heart thudding heavily. "Damn," she muttered. "Damn him." She examined the evidence she'd found again. "What the hell were you thinking?" She began to pace, wringing her hands angrily as she did so. When Woody had been accused of planting that evidence, she'd been certain she could clear him. Certain she could clear him because Woody wouldn't do that.
Nigel walked in and gave her a look. His tone was careful, but knowing. "Something bothering you, luv?"
She stopped abruptly. "What?" Her eyes went wide. "No. Why?"
He gestured a finger up and down. "Oh, I don't know. Maybe walking back and forth in a small space is your new preferred form of exercise?"
She averted her eyes.
"Wanna talk about it?"
"No. I don't." She started to make her way out of the lab and then turned. "Can I ask you a hypothetical question?"
"Oh, dear, Pollack hasn't given you a friendship ring has he?"
"Nigel," she growled. He knew damn well she and Pollack hadn't seen each other since his release from the hospital. They were thinking things over, supposedly.
"Sorry." He did manage to look apologetic. "What's your question?"
She gnawed on her lower lip for a moment. "Um, let's say you were looking for something-"
"Like car keys? The grocery list?"
She could have sworn he was enjoying this. "No. Something else."
"Like something else, Nige! Okay? So you were looking for one thing and found something else. Something you really didn't think you'd find."
"Something you really didn't want to find?"
She nodded, her eyes dark with misery.
"Well, I suppose I could … 'lose' whatever I'd found, not tell anyone about it, not…." He took a deep breath. "No, I couldn't, could I?"
"No," her voice was soft, torn.
"What'd you find, Jordan?"
She shook her head. "I'm not going to tell you. If I tell you then Walcott might… I'm not going to, Nige. I can't. For you as much as – anyone else."
"So what are you going to do about this something else for someone else?" He studied her, his eyes full of sympathy.
"I don't know."
Nigel waited a moment and then asked, "What do you want to do?"
"Everything I can't do." She tugged her hands through her hair.
"Jordan." His voice was gentle. "Maybe there's nothing you can do."
She glared at him. "There has to be something."
"Luv, if you've found out that – if you found out something about – um – something else and then another certain someone – let's say a legal certain someone- finds out you found out something and … Sweet Nancy, I've no idea what I'm saying any more! Jordan, are you worried about Woody?"
"Yeah," she admitted.
"And you have a reason?"
"And if Walcott finds out…?"
Jordan didn't bother to respond.
"Well, that is a problem."
"What if I have to testify?" She murmured her rhetorical question.
Nigel's eyes went wide. "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that."
"Of course not, you're not me."
"No, luv. I mean I wouldn't worry at all."
"Apparently, there is a little loophole in the law that our Jordan doesn't know about. Or maybe you just need your memory refreshed."
Her eyebrows arched. "A loophole?"
Thirty minutes later Jordan was at Woody's door. The look he gave her was hopeful. She ignored it and strode past him. "Pack a bag."
"Just do it, Woody."
"Jordan, what's going on?"
She rounded on him, her eyes blazing with anger. "I know what you did."
"What? I didn't do-"
"Come off it, Woody. This is me you're talking to. Even if I weren't pretty damn good at my job, I'm Max Cavanaugh's daughter, remember?"
Woody's innocent act faltered. "Jordan, the guy's scum-"
"I'm not interested in your excuses."
"Then what are you interested in?"
"Making sure you keep your job."
He stopped short. "What?"
"You heard me."
She hesitated. "Woody, you're a good cop. And – And…." She took a breath. "And - I don't want to see you go down over this."
"So – um – so what are you going to do?"
"Pack a bag, Farm Boy, and you'll find out."
Woody's eyes rounded, but he said nothing.
At Jordan's gentle, sing-song, "Woody, wake up. We're here," Hoyt peered around owlishly. He looked at her for several long heartbeats. She was staring straight ahead, her hands clenched around the steering wheel. She wouldn't look at him.
He glanced around again, taking stock of things. A glance at his watch told him it was nearly two in the morning. They'd left Boston just ahead of the rush hour traffic, stopped for a quick dinner and then kept hurtling into the growing darkness. She'd refused to tell him where they were going, just told him to toss his back in the back with hers and trust her. Any sarcastic comment he might have made he bit back. She didn't deserve it, for one thing; for another, his fate was clearly in her deft hands. They were parked in front of what looked very much like someone's home. The porch light burned dimly in front of them. "Where's here, Jordan?"
"We're just outside of Frederick."
"Frederick?" His eyes narrowed. "Frederick, Maryland?"
Frederick, Maryland," she confirmed in clipped tones.
"You idea of helping me keep my job was fleeing to Maryland?"
Finally she looked over at him. Her eyes blazed with emotions so strong they nearly sent him reeling. The anger was clear and, for the first time in months, he felt it wasn't directed toward him. Disappointment, perhaps, but then again, as she'd pointed out, she was Max's daughter, and Max hadn't played by the rules on every single case, something Woody had a feeling Jordan was more comfortable with now. He also saw something very much like uncertainty, almost a lack of confidence. "Not fleeing exactly."
"Not fleeing exactly. Then what, Jordan?"
"This – uh this guy is a friend of Nigel's."
"And?" Woody felt at sea and not a little concerned with Jordan's reticence.
"He's – He's - Oh, God."
"He's a deity?" Despite his increasing nerves, her discomfiture did amuse him.
She glared sullenly and burst out, "No! He's a justice of the peace!"
Woody's jaw dropped. Computer genius who could manipulate any evidence, he might have expected. Black ops expert who might arrange an accident for Walcott seemed a bit farfetched and a tad over the top, but Jordan really wasn't fond of Renee. Expert forger who might have all the documents Woody needed to start a new life somewhere in Montana or Oklahoma wasn't entirely out of the realm of possibility. But a justice of the peace? "Ohhhhh-kayyyyyyy."
She said nothing.
"Um, Jordan? I know that – um – things weren't – well, they pretty much sucked between us and lately, it's been better, but isn't this a little sudden?"
She sighed. "Woody, this is – it isn't – we… A spouse can't be compelled to testify against his or her spouse."
"A… spouse… can't.. be… what are you saying?"
"What I'm saying, Woody, is that if we – if we get married, then I can't be forced to – to –to admit what I found out. About the cell phone."
He gaped. "And you're - we're – Are you serious?"
"Do you want to keep being a cop, Woody?"
"Yeah." He nodded. "Yeah. But, Jordan-"
"Woody, if I have to testify, I'll have to explain what I found. I don't want to do that."
"My career means that much to you?" He gave her a lopsided grin.
"It means that much to you," she shot back.
"Jordan, you don't have to-"
"I know." She was clutching the steering wheel again.
He stared ahead for a moment. "Why?"
"It's the only way."
He turned his blue gaze back to her. "This is my problem, Jo. Not yours."
"Remember when we used to help each other with our problems?" The wistfulness in her voice cut through him.
He nodded. "We never took it quite this far." He tried for humor, but the catch in his voice spoiled the effect.
She didn't speak for a while. Instead he listened to the sound of her taking steady, deep breaths. At last she spoke, her voice hushed, "Maybe we should have."
He reached over and pulled one of her hands free. She winced as he unclenched her stiff fingers, covering her hand with both of his. "What are you saying, Jo?"
She closed her eyes and leaned her head back. "You know what I'm saying."
"Say it anyway," he pleaded, moving closer to her.
"I said it once before," she reminded him.
He moved even closer, his hip touching hers now. "I know. And I told you it didn't change anything." He lifted one hand to trace the line of her cheekbone. "I was wrong. Wrong about that and wrong about the way I treated you – after."
She nodded, still unable to look at him.
He cupped her chin and turned her head, surprised to see the shimmer of tears in her eyes. "You can't cry, Jo."
He smiled. "It's our wedding day." He looked around. "Wedding night?"
She smiled at him. "No, that's next."
He arched an eyebrow. "Yeah?"
"Unless you don't want…?"
He stopped her with a kiss. Pulling away gently, he murmured, "No. No. I want." He grinned at her, his eyes flashing. "A lot." His hand slid down, along her arm, toward the swell of her breast.
She smiled up at him. "None of that."
"We're not married yet." Her eyes sparkled with mirth.
"Well then, let's go fix that, huh?"