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.
NOTES (Please read): I've changed J.D.'s background slightly – mostly because we don't know all that much and I needed to flesh him out a bit. Also changed is the timeline of Jordan and J.D.'s involvement and his employment. I actually started this after Judgment Day and wanted to have it complete before posting. It took a lot longer than I'd ever planned, partly due to a computer glitch, but mostly due to some real life complications.
This is a Jordan/J.D. fic though it won't end that way, but die-hard, rabid W/J shippers probably don't want to read it unless you really trust me. (Which is my hopefully polite way of saying "no flames" if you simply don't like the pairing).
I also put Jordan's birthday back in September.
Part One: Instrument
Jordan crept around in the darkness, finding her clothes by feel more than anything. She nudged open the bathroom door, wincing as her bare feet hit the cold tiles, and then clicked the door shut with a soft snick. Letting out a long breath, she rested against the wall for a moment before switching on the light. In several quick motions she tugged on underwear and jeans and one shoe. "Damn," she murmured. Sighing, she moved on to her bra and top. A glance in the mirror made her grimace at the smeared make-up and tangled hair. She rested her forehead in one hand. After another deep sigh, she groaned.
"Looking for this?"
Jordan jumped at the sound of the voice behind her. She whirled to find J.D. Pollack holding up her missing shoe, smirking at her. She was grateful he'd at least slipped on a pair of running shorts. "Um – uh – uh – yeah." She advanced tentatively and took the dangling sneaker. "Thanks." She didn't meet his gaze.
"It's the middle of the night, Jordan."
Faint smudges of pink decorated her cheeks. "You know," she glanced up and gave him a thin-lipped smile. "Work."
He gave an exaggerated backward look at his bedside clock. "At 2:30 in the morning?"
"I need – uh – I need to get home, shower, change, get coffee."
His expression was wry. "That's either a very long shower, love, or it takes you far too long to choose your outfit." He ran his eyes up and down her body, making her shift uncomfortably. "And you'd look good in anything you put on, so…."
"I just –" She bit her lip.
"Too fast?" He advanced toward her, observing with a casual eye how she seemed to shrink against the counter top, but at the same time her breathing became a bit shallower and he could see the rapid fluttering of her pulse in her neck. He kissed her in a way that made her body respond and subdued her natural inclination to flee with vague promises of future hook-ups that would never happen. When he pulled away, she still gave him a sharp look, however. He smiled lazily at her. "You call me. If you want to, Jordan. Whenever."
"You – uh – shouldn't wait – I mean – I don't know-"
He chuckled. "I'm not going to wait on you, darling." He cocked one eyebrow. "Not that it wouldn't be worth it again. I just don't think either of us is looking for those kinds of strings."
Mutely, Jordan nodded. "Um – yeah, right. Yeah. Okay." She smiled, a glittery, false smile and then ducked past him. He ambled behind her as she made her way to the door. Jordan barely gave him a backward glance as she scurried into the hallway of his apartment building. She wrestled herself into her jacket and hurried down the corridor.
Jordan carried a pathology report in one hand. "Lily! Seen Nige?"
"He's in Trace," the grief counselor told her. "Uh – So is…."
Jordan waved a hand in thanks and strode down the morgue hallway, leaving Lily to sigh heavily. The M.E. had to admit that, despite the fact she'd never gotten back to sleep last night, or this morning more accurately, she was in a good mood. She couldn't respect how Pollack used his journalistic skills for the most part, but she recognized a lot of things in him with which she herself had struggled – still struggled. It turned out he had a good sense of humor and a quick mind and, when he left behind meth addicts who microwaved parrots, he was an interesting person who could make intelligent conversation. Jordan's shoulders twitched involuntarily at the memory of a few other things he did rather well.
She pushed open the door to Trace and damn near let it shut again while she turned and walked back down the hall. Bug was showing Woody some piece of evidence. From vague attempts at civility to curt, terse exchanges, Jordan and the detective had descended into ignoring each other. She knew from the others that Woody was, at last, getting some psychological help and she was glad for him. He would never be the same man he'd been before Riggs, before what he took as her pity, but she hoped he could find some peace and let himself heal. If part of the price of that was their friendship… well, then, she still loved him enough to make that sacrifice. But in the back of her mind, she was sorting what would go into the inevitable suitcases.
Nigel looked up and a broad grin crossed his face. His voice came out in hearty tones. "And how was your date last night?"
Jordan glared at him.
"Come on, Jordan, enquiring minds want to know."
Her jaw clenched. "Enquiring minds – specifically mine – need an analysis of the substance we found on Claire Walker's feet yesterday." She handed him the report. "Please?"
Chastened – momentarily – the Brit nodded.
"Thanks." Jordan turned and walked out, her heart rate elevated. She chided herself for reacting like a schoolgirl – mortified that Nigel had said a word about her date in front of Woody, but also pleased if the way the detective's shoulders had tensed and how his fingers had tightened on the back of Bug's chair meant he might be jealous. She ground her teeth as she entered her own office and closed the door, a little more forcefully than necessary as it bounced halfway open. She sat down anyway. For a long moment, she stared at the phone on her desk. Pollack had left it up to her. She could call him. If she wanted to. She reached for the phone and then changed her mind. And changed it again. Then drew her hand back once more. And extended it again.
Standing in the doorway, Garret cleared his throat. "Afraid it might bite?"
Jordan flushed. With good humor, she grinned. "No. I was thinking of calling someone."
"I got that."
"Was there something…?"
Garret smiled. "I thought you'd want to know – the D.A.'s office just called. The Ensey case?"
"They have a verdict?" Her eyes shone.
He nodded. "Guilty."
"The A.D.A said your testimony really clinched the case." His smile broadened. "Good job."
"I'll – uh – I'll let you get back to thinking about your phone call."
She flicked up her eyebrows and nodded.
In Trace, Woody kept glancing over at Nigel. Each time he did so, Bug rolled his eyes. Finally, Dr. Vijay burst out, "Oh, for the love of Buddha! She went out with a reporter."
Woody's eyes widened. "A reporter."
Bug sat back in his chair. "J.D. Pollack."
"That guy from that – that tabloid?" Woody was awfully indignant over the love life of a woman for whom, by all external indications, he had lost all feeling. "But – But…."
"He's a lovely chap," Nigel said enthusiastically.
Bug's jaw dropped open as he thought of the way Nigel had spent yesterday muttering about bottom-feeders who weren't fit to be in the same room with Jordan, not to mention the Brit's many other previous diatribes about the reporter that had blistered Bug's ears over the past few weeks. Bug sighed softly. He let it go.
Woody didn't. "He writes garbage!"
"No, no," Nige corrected. "He writes human interest stories that have certain unique qualities about them."
The detective's face creased in disgust. Bug brought the "repartee" to an end by recalling Woody's attention to the entomological evidence that could help Woody nab a killer.
Jordan came out of Autopsy One massaging her right shoulder and grimacing at various other muscle aches. A small grin twitched up the corners of her mouth when she thought about one way to work out the… kinks? Soreness? Stiffness? Somehow those phrases weren't helping her focus on the fact she still had reports to put together. Or that she'd shut down J.D. Pollack by not calling him in ten days. She gave herself a mental shake as she ducked into the break room to grab yet another cup of coffee.
Lily looked up and smiled. "Long day."
"And about to get longer," Jordan agreed. She held up her mug and pondered it. "Think we could Garret to just install a system for caffeine drips."
Lily chuckled. "Oh, I have one thing that ought to brighten your day." Jordan raised an eyebrow in reply since she was sipping her drink. "I put them in your office."
Jordan lowered the mug. "Put what in my office?"
"You'll see." Lily shrugged innocently. With a smile, she watched her friend hasten out of the room and listened to the clack of heels on the hall floor. Lily hadn't read the card, but she was certain Jordan's surprise was from Woody. A complete reconciliation was a bit too much to hope for just yet, but a truce didn't seem unreasonable. He'd been mentioning Jordan every time he came to the morgue – how was she? Was she really dating that reporter? He'd even irritated Bug a time or two by commenting on some procedure Jordan did slightly differently. He had to have come to at least a few of his senses.
The M.E. opened her door to find a strikingly nice arrangement of flowers on her desk. Her eyes widened in pleasant surprise. Blush roses mingled with peach alstroemeria, pink Gerber daisies, white larkspur and some greenery that Jordan couldn't name. She inhaled sharply. Almost hidden among the beautiful floral display was a white envelope. She opened it, and her smile faltered for a moment. Then she decided What the hell? Life's short.
She sat down at her desk and picked up the phone. When he answered, she said, smiling, teasingly, "Subtle."
"Well, you know…." J.D. paused. "Do you like them?"
She laughed. "Like them? They're gorgeous!"
"Good, just like the woman."
Jordan leaned back in her chair. "Look, I'm sorry I didn't call. I've been really busy at work and-"
"Jordan? You don't have to make excuses."
"Who says it's an excuse?"
He chuckled into the phone. "It isn't?"
She thought of the long days she'd put in, the meticulous reports and timely paperwork given to Garret. "All right. Maybe. A little one." She tapped the card on her desk. "The flowers are nice. They really are. It's been a while."
"Well, that's wrong, then. I'd be willing to wager it's been too long since you've had a decent meal, as well."
She thought of the variety of take-out, leftovers and fast-food she'd eaten lately. "Define decent," she challenged.
He did. She was glad he wasn't there to see her mouth gaping open. "I'll pick you up at your place at eight."
"But – they're booked – well, really far ahead."
She could imagine his casual shrug. "Might be I know a few people."
"How do you know I'll say yes?" She was now twirling a lock of hair around one finger.
"Oh, I can see a girl turning down dinner with me, but a dinner at one of Boston's best restaurants?"
She closed her eyes and shook her head. "Okay."
"Beautiful. Eight o'clock then."
Their dinner exceeded Jordan's expectations, an impressive feat given the hype the place got. J.D. had asked her what kinds of foods she liked. She'd replied with a smile and a list of pizza, take-out and pasta. "Come on, Pollack, I'm a single woman who works long hours cutting up dead bodies-"
"-And being Crusader Rabbit." He had grinned slyly at her.
She had taken a breath. "And being Crusader Rabbit. I don't usually have time – or money - to appreciate the – uh – finer things."
"Well tonight, Doc, I promise, you'll have the time and money is, definitely, not your concern."
"You'd be surprised what an article about a bit of toast that looks like Moses can bring in."
Jordan had shaken her head at him, but grinned anyway.
Now, after a meal specially prepared for them by the chef himself and a bottle of wine that might well have cost more than her rent, Jordan had to admit that she couldn't think of a better meal.
They stood waiting for the valet to bring Pollack's car around. He studied her face, a smile playing along his mouth. J.D. slid an arm around her waist and whispered in her ear, "Satisfied, Doc?"
She turned her head to gaze up at him, her warm eyes alight with a combination of laughter, physical response and uncertainty. After a moment, she replied, her voice catching just enough for him to hear it, "Dinner was wonderful."
"Didn't answer my question."
She leaned up and kissed him lightly on the cheek. Then she whispered in his ear, "For now."
His grin broadened, and he made a motion as if doffing an imaginary cap to her.
They dated three or four times a week for a few weeks. Jordan wasn't looking for a relationship, not in the long term, at least, but she also found she wanted to mean a bit more to some guy than just this random chick he slept with the night before. And she wanted "some guy" to be more than that to her. She suspected every shrink she'd ever seen would be proud of her.
Pollack pushed as far as he could, but never past the boundaries she'd set up. He could have had other women without the effort – well, probably, he admitted only to himself – but he liked the way everyone watched Jordan when they went anywhere together. He liked the way she looked, what she wore, how she carried herself and how she moved. He also liked her intelligence and sarcasm and her passion for helping people. It used to be he tried to help people, too. Times had changed, but he had the feeling that being around Jordan Cavanaugh could - just maybe – rekindle that spark. Of course, in the meantime, she was a Boston M.E. and a tabloid hack could probably get himself some pretty good stories. That last thought always made him smile wryly. Jordan had no illusions about him, and he was still persona non grata around the Morgue. She also refused to talk about her cases.
He was a little surprised when she called him to cancel a date. The cancellation didn't surprise him – her work came first; he was a pleasant enough distraction, but cases motivated her more.
"It's just been a long day. Everyone's pretty stressed," she explained.
"Un-huh. It's all right-"
"We're all heading over to this place… blow off a little steam. You know." He could picture her biting her lip as she hesitated. "Why don't you meet us there?"
And that was what rendered him speechless – briefly. "This place won't have my mug shot, as you called it?"
She chuckled. "No."
His voice grew serious. "You sure, love?"
"Yeah." She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Yeah."
"Where and when, then?"
She told him and didn't let herself think about having to explain his presence to everyone else until she was in her car. As it turned out, everyone got along tolerably well. J.D. and Bug discovered a mutual interest in – interest being a mild term – cricket and 'the Ashes' test for the coming year was hotly debated to the confusion of the others. It also turned out Pollack knew a thing or two about jazz which broke the ice with Garret. Jordan had just about relaxed, congratulating herself mentally on a successful fusion of her apparent social life and her professional life, when Lily's eyes darkened. With a barely noticeable twist of her head, Jordan saw the source of Lily's concern. She smothered an exasperated sigh.
Pollack caught the sound however and quickly noticed Woody as well. He dipped his mouth down to murmur in Jordan's ear. "Do you want to get out of here?"
She considered it for a moment. Garret's barked suggestion to get over whatever was bothering Woody and her hadn't had much effect. She'd tried but, despite the rumor he was finally getting some couch time with a shrink, he still seemed to enjoy scoring points off of her any way he could. Realizing who was with him, Jordan started to wonder about those "couch time" rumors.
Before she could answer JD, Woody was sauntering over, Lu Simmons' hand firmly clasped in his. "The gang's all here," he said, his voice falsely hearty, his eyes chips of anger as they swept over Jordan and her date. Pollack countered the gaze by slipping his arm around Jordan's shoulders. Woody's mouth quirked down. "We'd join you, but it already looks a little crowded."
"Actually," Jordan pushed her chair back, keeping her voice calm and low, devoid of emotion. "We were just leaving."
No one mentioned the fact Pollack had been in the middle of a story about diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Instead, good-nights were offered and wordless looks of consolation passed. Once outside, Jordan began to tremble. She handed Pollack her keys. "Unless you mind…?"
He shook his head. "Not at all, love. I was going to catch a cab back to my place anyway." He wrapped his arm around her waist, let her rest against him for a moment. "Are you all right?"
She shrugged. "I will be." She said nothing else until they neared her apartment. "I shouldn't let him get to me."
"You still care about him." Pollack stared ahead as he said it.
She shook her head. "I don't know. Maybe. Mostly I'm angry at him these days. For being angry with me. I didn't do anything." She sighed. "Which was part of the problem, I guess." Her throat constricted painfully with the tears she refused to shed.
Pollack pulled into a parking space and insisted on walking her up. To Jordan's mild surprise and definite relief, he didn't make even the slightest play for her. Instead he held her in a close embrace, one hand rubbing her back and shoulders. He kissed her cheek. "Call me if you can't sleep, Cavanaugh."
She nodded. "Thanks."
His hand trailed along her face. "Any time, love."
"Coffee?" Lily's smile brightened Jordan's office doorway.
"I'm fine, Lily," Jordan assured her. "But thanks, I'll take the coffee."
The grief counselor chuckled. "Pretty obvious, huh?"
Jordan shrugged. "I appreciate the concern." She took the paper cup from her friend and raised it in a silent toast. "And the caffeine."
Lily hesitated a moment and then gestured to the chair, her brows raised in question.
"Yeah, yeah, sit," Jordan replied in between draughts of scalding espresso. "How was it? After I – uh – we left?"
Lily made a seesaw motion with her hand. "He's so different, Jordan."
"Tell me about it."
"Do you think all of that anger was always there?"
The M.E. made a face. "I don't know. And I'm going to leave the analysis up to Detective Simmons. And anything else he might… need."
"Lily, he doesn't want me in his life. I…," she glanced down at her hands, fingers laced together so tightly her knuckles had whitened. "I gave up. I had to. I know Pollack isn't exactly anyone's favorite, but he's not as bad as he seems once you get to know him."
Lily's eyes moistened with tears on her friend's behalf. "Is it – Is it real?"
"Hell, I don't know." Jordan snorted. "I think my track record shows I wouldn't know real if it came up and bit me in the ass." She gave Lily a sad, rueful grin. "Or kissed me out in the desert."
In spite of herself, Lily laughed. "That's quite an image."
"Isn't it though?" Jordan grimaced slightly. "Interesting way to start my morning."
Lily smiled as she finished the last of her coffee. She eyed Jordan speculatively for a moment, then plunged ahead. "Can I ask you something really personal?"
Jordan rolled her eyes in mock irritation, but her eyes twinkled. "Once. I wanted to back off after that and he's been very respectful."
"I hope that's what you were going to ask."
"Well…," Lily teased. "Yeah."
Garret poked his head into Jordan's office. "Jordan?"
"Sydney's sending in a body. The son of Councilman Morrow. He was stabbed to death. We're going to need to work fast, get everything right the first time. I want you to take it."
Wordlessly, Jordan nodded, her mind already racing ahead to the ramifications of a high profile case. "Uh, Garret? Who's the detective?"
He sighed. "Three guesses."
"Great," was her reply. She looked from her boss to Lily. "Do me a favor and keep him out of my autopsy. I can't deal with his crap today."
"Done," Dr. Macy promised.
END Part One