A/N: I debated on whether or not to write this story. It's very similar in subject matter to one written by NCCJFAN called "War and Peace. If you haven't read it already, by all means, do. Like all her stuff, it's great. In the end, I decided to go ahead and write it. As part of a military family, I've been wrestling with the themes for awhile, and a lot of things Jordan and Woody go through are stuff I've experienced. It's a really personal story, and I wanted to get it out on paper. Catharsis is good for the soul! (Apologies, Doc S. I only hope mine is half as good as yours!)
It meant something.
Her hand had shaken as she lifted the glass of shiraz to her lips.
"God knows what," she told Pollack and laughed through the tears that had pooled in her eyes. "But it meant something."
And now Woody was here, standing in the doorway of the restaurant, scanning the room for her.
It meant something.
She caught his eye and waved him over, smiling at the memory of the week before: the feel of his body pressed against hers, the brush of his fingertips on her skin, the way he had curved himself around her as they lay tangled, breathless, in the sheets.
Yes. It meant something.
He crossed to her and bobbed awkwardly, trying to decide just what kind of hug or kiss was in order. He finally decided on a quick kiss on the cheek and dropped into his seat with a nervous, "Hey, Jordan..."
"Hey..." She smiled as she passed him his menu. "I'm glad you could come," she said with forced casualness. "I've been wanting to try this place for months."
"Okay, just give it to me straight, Jordan," he said and put the menu down without opening it. "Because I've been going crazy since you called this morning and said you wanted to have lunch."
"Woody, it's not..." she tried to stop. He frowned and went on.
"Just tell me. You and Pollack are deliriously happy and are going to run off and make a bunch of Aussie babies."
She dropped her eyes onto her lap and fiddled with her napkin. "Pollack and I are over."
There was a beat. "You told him."
She looked back up and shook her head slowly. "He guessed."
"Oh." Woody ran a hand through his hair, and she watched the emotions play over his face while the news sink in. "What does this mean?" He asked cautiously, and then added in a soft voice, "For us?" as if he could hardly dare to refer to them as one.
She had gone over that question countless times since the night before. After she had said those last words to Pollack, he had unhooked her doorkey from his chain and laid it gently on the counter. With a soft kiss on her forehead, he was gone.
She had drained the rest of the bottle of wine and then curled up on her bed and fallen asleep, still in her clothes, without ever having turned the light on.
It meant something, but even as the memories of their night together still flooded her senses, she knew that she had no idea what it meant.
She struggled for words before going on. "I don't know what it means for us, Woody. I hurt someone I cared about last night because I don't know my own mind. I can't get into that situation again. Not with you. I just feel like I've been the star of my own personal soap opera for too long. When you were shot, and then...after. All the anger and the hostility..."
"But we're past that, Jordan," he interrupted.
"I don't know. Are we?" His eyes fell back to the table, and she went on gently. "I feel like we're just getting back on track. Don't get me wrong, the other night was...wonderful." She smiled and let her fingers fall onto the back of his hand. "I don't want to pretend in never happened. But we rushed into things physically. I don't want to rush it emotionally. I just want to be for awhile, and figure out how I feel."
His jaw tightened, and he squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. "So...what are you saying? We're over before we even started? You don't want to be with me?"
She let a heavy sigh escape. "No, that's not what I mean, Woody. I don't want to be with anyone right now. I just ended the first relationship I've had in a long time. I don't know which way is up! Things are just..." She threw up her hands with a shrug, knowing there were no words to fully explain the mess she had gotten herself into.
He placed his hands on the table and began to push himself away. "Okay, Jordan. If that's what you want. Look, I've got to get back to work. I've got a deposition..." He wasn't being angry or petulant. He seemed genuinely hurt, almost ashamed.
She reached out for him, but he took a step backwards. "I'm sorry if that's not the answer you wanted, Woody. Hey! We're friends, right? We can still hang out," she said with perhaps a bit too much enthusiasm. "There's a new tapas bar around the corner. What do you say? Saturday night at 8? Tapas?"
"Sure. Friends, Jordan. Sounds like fun." He dropped a couple of bills on the table and hurried out.
Her apartment seemed more empty than usual. Last night, there had been too many men in her life. Now, there were none. Far from feeling liberated, she felt more confused than ever.
She had thought that keeping Woody at arm's length was the right thing to do. They had made love, and it had been wonderful: tender and passionate at the same time. She had felt wrapped in a warmth that she hadn't known in a long time, not even with Pollack, perhaps not ever.
But was that enough to sustain them? Was that enough to overcome the angry words and hurt they had traded since he had been shot? She had thought the answer was no.
Until now, as she sat in her empty apartment. It is a rare thing, she suddenly understood, to feel as safe and loved as she had in Woody's arms that night. It was not to be dismissed with a promise of mere friendship the way she had dismissed Woody at lunch that day.
She had to at least try. She owed him that. She owed them that.
She picked up the phone and dialed his number. He answered on the first ring.
"Hoyt..." he said in a tense rush, and she immediately had the sense that he had been expecting someone else.
"Woody? It's Jordan." There was a beat, and in it, came the feeling that something was wrong.
"Jordan...I was just about to call you."
"Oh? Great minds think alike, huh? Well, I really wanted to talk to you..."
"I'm going to have to cancel tomorrow," he interrupted with force. "I won't be able to make it."
"Oh...sure. Well. Maybe next week?"
There was another pause. "No. Not next week. Something's come up, Jordan."
Yes, something was very wrong, indeed. She eased herself onto the edge of the bed. "Woody, what is it?"
"I just got a call from my guard unit."
She had never thought much about his Air National Guard commitment. She wasn't even sure what he did. It always seemed to her like he was a kid who ran off to his secret clubhouse to play "soldier" one weekend a month and two weeks a year.
"Oh, yeah. Your 'weekend warrior' thing. What, you guys playing paintball this weekend or something?" She tried to laugh off the uneasy sense of dread.
"We're being activated, Jordan."
"They're sending us overseas. To Iraq."
The news hit her like a physical force, and the air felt as if it had been sucked from her chest. "But you said your unit was too vital to homeland security. You said they wouldn't send you overseas."
"Things change. 'Needs of the Air Force'...etc. etc.," he said wearily.
She took a deep breath. "How long?"
He paused for a moment. "At least a year." She bit her lip to keep from crying. "Jordan, are you still there?"
"Yeah, I'm here. We must have a bad connection," she covered.
"We're leaving Sunday morning. I was hoping you could give me a ride out to Hanscom. I don't want to leave my car on base for a year. It'll get trashed. Are you free?"
There was a thick silence. "I'm sorry things didn't work out. Jordan." He could have meant the cancelled date or their doomed relationship. It was all the same. "Well, I've got to go. I've got a lot of calls to make. I've got to get my stuff together..."
"Sure. I'll see you Sunday. Around 9:00?" she said, trying to sound upbeat.
"That's fine. Goodbye, Jordan."
There was such a ring of finality about it, that she found she could not respond, and she sat there with the phone clutched in her hand long after he had hung up.
Finally, she set the phone on her bedside table, rose, and busied herself as best she could.
She wouldn't cry. He would be fine.
He would be fine.