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DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters. No profit is being made. It's all for fun.
NOTES: see part one
Part Six: It Is in Giving that We Receive
In the end a small Indian restaurant along a backstreet in Cambridge had to do. To Jordan's wondering "How did you find this place?" Woody replied that rumors of his having dinner with Detective Simmons were not exaggerated. Jordan managed to smile at that.
They sat at a table in a corner, screened by some sort of small trees that created a living barrier between the cozy table and the rest of the room. Both peered through the leaves from time to time, in search of a familiar face and when the requests of other customers drifted to their ears, they listened for accents and intonations. After about twenty minutes, Woody asserted he thought they'd made a clean escape. It made his companion smile and, for that, he was both grateful and encouraged.
They made small talk for the most part, light and inconsequential in content, but so much more in context. Awkwardness set in only as he drove her home, having insisted. As he pulled up to the curb, they both sat. Woody found the stretch of street in front of her building endlessly fascinating while Jordan studied her nails with the intensity of a cosmetology student hoping to pass the big exam.
"Um, Jordan-""Woody, you know-"
They both laughed, constricted, tense sounds. He continued his scrutiny of the pavement and she hers of her nails.
"You go ahead-""Why don't you-"
Another laugh, a little more relaxed this time. They looked over at each other, uneasy smiles spreading across both their faces.
"Maybe we should draw straws," Woody suggested.
Now Jordan's laughter was more comfortable, the footing less treacherous between them. "Or you could come up for some coffee or something."
She nodded. "Seems like we both have a few things we need to get out in the open."
"It's just – I don't want to make your day any worse."
She gave him a lop-sided smile. "That doesn't sound promising."
"No, I mean – I think we have a lot to talk about and – and maybe it could wait."
"Don't you think it's all waited long enough?" Her dark eyes glittered with held-in tears.
With a solemn nod, Woody opened the door, glancing over his shoulder as she did the same. He wasn't sure he was ready for this. Then again, if he waited until he was sure he was ready for this, he figured he'd be about eighty-three.
Woody shrugged out of his suit coat and loosened his tie. He watched Jordan avoid him and he let her. He wanted to push her, to get a crowbar and snap the locks on her heart, but that approach had never worked – unless you counted getting shot and nearly dying as having "worked." So he took the tumbler of Scotch she offered and he sat next to her on the couch.
Jordan gulped her drink, letting it burn all the way down, hoping it would drown, or at least cauterize, the butterfly farm that had sprung up in her stomach. She'd been ready for this. Really ready. Before Woody showed up. She'd made a good show of it at dinner, but none of that had been real. This was real. This was the moment of reckoning. This was jumping off that cliff again and trusting he'd catch her. She took a deep breath.
And belched. Loudly.
For a moment Woody gaped at her while she returned his wide-eyed expression. Then, at the same moment, they both broke into peals of laughter. They both laughed until their sides ached. Jordan had tears running down her face and, with a wordless gesture toward the bathroom, she rushed out of the sitting area. When she returned, she was more composed, a grin tugging the corners of her mouth. She flopped down next to him, propping her feet up on the coffee table.
"You know that clears up everything," Woody teased her.
She socked him on the arm. "This is supposed to be serious."
He held up his hands in self-defense. "I'm not the one who - who… and, by the way, that was impressive."
This time she rolled her eyes. "I mean it."
"I know." His tone softened and his eyes grew darker as he studied her. He reached for her hand, gripping it tightly, rubbing the backs of her fingers with his thumb. He felt the tremors go through her. "You know what I think?"
"What?" It was a hoarse whisper. The gentle touch of his hand on hers had robbed her of any greater sound.
He leaned toward her. With his free hand, he drew her mouth close to his. "I think we don't need to talk, Jo."
"Woody-" The protest was half-hearted at best.
"I think if we talk, you'll talk yourself right out of this."
"Woody-" Her protest was even weaker.
He held her head so near to his, his lips almost on hers, yet teasingly withheld. She bit her lip to stifle the groan in her throat. "Here's the serious part, Jo. We know the best and worst of each other and we're still here. You've run from me; I've pushed you away and yet here we are – right where we've always belonged." He kissed her softly. "Together." He kissed her again, as softly as before. There was nothing fierce in the press of his mouth, but the passion was as unmistakable as his tenderness. His lips left hers and traveled slowly along the line of her jaw, up her neck to her ear. He whispered, "I want to know everything, Jo. I really do. I know you're still grieving your baby and I want to grieve with you. I want to explain my behavior and apologize for it a thousand times a day." He pulled her closer to him. "I love you."
She shuddered lightly. This time the moan escaped her lips unfought.
"I love you, Jo. And I want to make love to you."
Her hand, still held in his, flexed. She pulled away from him, her mouth seeking his. This time the kiss was fiery and greedy. The knowledge of how close they had come – in so many ways – to losing one another quickened both their pulses as much as the physical contact heated their blood. In a few minutes a trail of discarded clothing led to her bed. Woody stopped briefly, suddenly remembering what she'd experienced. "Is it okay? For you, I mean?"
She nodded. "I'm fine."
A smile – the beautiful one that spread across her whole face and lit up her eyes – graced him. "Yeah. I'm sure."
Despite her assurance and the ache in his own body and soul, Woody slowed down, wanting to savor the moment, wanting even more for her to savor it, to be able to look back and cherish it. His fingers trailed slowly, lightly along her collarbone, making her shiver with desire. One hand cupped her breast, while the other wandered back to her face. He drew her to him and kissed her deeply, letting his fingers tease the taut peak with gentle pressure and soft touches. She made tiny mewling sounds that nearly undid his resolve. He'd never known her to be so open, so vulnerable; he wanted to crawl into her soul and stay there.
Easily his mouth replaced his hand, making her gasp as sharp bolts of pleasure seared her body. She exhaled his name and reached for his free hand, seeking it as an anchorage against the storm of need he was calling up within her body. He held on to her tightly even as his actions intensified the waves of yearning washing over her, pulling her under into a world she'd never wanted to acknowledge existed. As he kissed his way down her belly, his free hand brushed softly against her thighs, making her tremble. She bucked as he drew a light touch over the small bundle of nerves at the apex of her core and cried out as he eased one finger into her heat. Slowly, gently, he nearly drove her mad as he caressed and kissed her body. Her pulse hammered and her breath came in fast, rapid gasps. Patiently, inexorably, Woody brought her closer and closer to release. At last, her body tensed; the pressure of her hand twined with his testified to the strength of the climax rippling through her. As she came down from that pinnacle, he laid soft kisses on her neck, moving to her jaw, her cheeks, her eyelids and finally to her mouth. After a long, languorous kiss that gave them each time and leisure to explore each other's mouth, Woody pulled away slightly. His lips barely touched hers when he murmured, "I love you."
He couldn't hear her response, but he felt her mouth move beneath his and it thrilled him almost more than actually hearing it could have. Silently, but honestly, she admitted her feelings for him. Without sound, she invited him into her heart and soul. She trusted he'd know what she'd said, that he'd understand and this time, her trust was well placed.
"Jo-" he started.
"Make love to me," she interrupted, her voice young, soft, innocent in a way he'd never heard before. "Please."
Woody kissed the dark crown of hair as Jordan lay cradled in his arms. The normal sleepy lull he usually felt after sex was utterly absent; being with her exhilarated him. She sighed contentedly, reaching for his hand, weaving his fingers with hers once more. Her voice was soft in the dark. "You're right."
He looked down, mock surprise glittering in his eyes. "Since when?"
She chuckled. "When you said I would have talked myself out of this."
"Ah." He ran his tongue over his lips. "Do you – um – wish you had? Talked yourself out of it?"
She looked up at him, her eyes the color of warm honey. She shook her head. "Not at all."
His answer was the pressure of her lips against his collarbone. Then she freed her hand from his and skimmed both sets of fingers over his skin. Her mouth followed suit, and Woody was convinced her touches scorched his flesh. She moved, sliding from beneath the sheet to straddle him. She grinned down at him, her hair framing her face.
"Jordan, I don't think I can-"
She laid a finger against his lips. "Don't think." And then she made it impossible for him to recall that he even had a brain while also proving to him that what had seemed like mere minutes to him had seemed like hours to his body, for he wanted her again with a fierceness even stronger than before. Even as he climaxed he wondered if he would ever be able to get enough of her – making love to her, holding her, unearthing all the secrets that made her who she was. He hoped to have a lifetime to find out the answer to that question.
She lay collapsed on top of him, her body draped over his in a pleasant state of exhaustion while his hand rubbed her back gently. From time to time, they kissed lightly, quickly. As the night deepened around them, Woody broached the subject uppermost in his mind – well, almost uppermost. "You loved him."
The hiss of her indrawn breath told him he didn't need to clarify. "I – I – don't know. Maybe. In a way." She looked down into his eyes. "I wanted to love him."
"You were having his baby." The rawness in Woody's voice took them both by surprise.
Jordan's brow furrowed. "I was having my baby." She scrutinized his eyes, noting the tense set of his mouth. A flicker of memory went through her. "When you found out… you almost asked me something."
All he could do was nod.
"Did I ever wish…Did I ever wish she'd been yours?"
"Jordan, I'm sorry, that was… I had no right…." He swallowed heavily.
"Was that it, Woody? Was it?" Tears had sprung up in her eyes.
Slowly, he bobbed his head. Another painful swallow. "I'm sorry. It's – I just – My first thought when I saw your sonogram was that it was really over - you and me - that we'd – we'd never have a chance. I thought how if I hadn't said what I said, hadn't done what I did with the whole Riggs thing – maybe that baby would have been mine – ours."
A small, sad smile crept across her mouth. "But she wasn't. And she wasn't for a reason."
Jordan rolled off him, snuggling next to him, relishing the feel of his arms around her despite the solemnity of their conversation – or maybe because of it. "You hurt me."
"I know, I know, Jordan. I'm-"
"Just listen, okay?" She laid a hand on his shoulder. He dipped his head in acknowledgement of her request. "For a while I walked around in a daze, like a different person. I did the thing that was – is – the most difficult thing for me to do: I admitted I loved and needed someone. And then that someone said it didn't matter. What's more, he backed it up with his actions." She paused, taking a deep breath. "Woody, I did a lot of – of things I shouldn't have – got you in more tight places than I care to think about, but I never manipulated you the way you did to me with Riggs."
"Do you know how much I regret that?"
"I hope at least as much as I do," was her terse response. "No, seriously, that was almost – no, it was worse than when you were in the hospital. I felt a lot like the 'old' Jordan – the one who sometimes didn't even know the name of the guy she was in bed with, the one who didn't let anyone in her heart. Emotionally, that's how I felt. Then, Pollack came along. I – I didn't expect there to be anything there." She bit her lip. "There was a night and-" she snorted. "It's kind of ironic, I found out the 'old' Jordan was pretty much gone; I hated myself in the morning, figured that was the end." She shook her head. "The thing is – he got it, got the trust issues, the fears and he wanted more than I'd imagined. I couldn't believe he was willing to wait, but he did."
"So why's he in Sydney?"
Jordan shrugged. "It's where he belongs. Just like this is where I belong. He – He helped me and Kathleen did the rest." She gulped several deep breaths. "When I first came back – when he stayed – I knew it was over with you. Too much had happened and not happened. Then I found out I was pregnant and I found out how much I wanted her." She stopped for a few minutes, tears trickling down her face. Woody cradled her, smoothing her hair, gently brushing the tears from her cheeks. He found his own throat tight. At last, she nodded, more to convince herself she could go on than anything else. "When I lost her… I was sure God was punishing me. But Paul told me that, as trite as it sounds, there was a plan. I figured it out today"
"What?" His voice was humble, a bit awe-struck by this side of her.
"Kathleen left a hole in my life, but, even though I never really saw her, never held her in my arms, I gained much more than I lost by loving her." She looked up at him. "I realized after seeing you this morning that if there was ever a second chance for us, I'd take it."
"Second chance, Jo?" His eyes sparkled.
"All right," she laughed back. "Fifth, sixth, maybe."
The calendar wove itself through the rest of summer, into fall, through another cold winter and into a soft spring. There were arguments over cases, fights over personality issues, steps forward and backward, but most of all there was love. For the first time since she was a little girl, Jordan felt happy. She felt safe with Woody and cherished by him – things that Pollack would have given her, but she never could have reciprocated. After slightly more than a year, she couldn't recall exactly why it had taken her so long to let herself love him.
The morning of her birthday, she opened her eyes to the smell of coffee and cinnamon toast. She smiled. For a year, they'd shared the most trivial details of their pasts and their presents, finding that often those details weren't so trivial after all. Woody smiled at her as he handed her a mug and a plate. The piece of toast had a tiny candle stuck in it. Jordan's laughter made the flame dance.
"Make a wish," Woody told her.
She closed her eyes and waited, blowing out the candle after a moment.
"What'd you wish for?"
She took a bite of the toast. "It's bad luck to tell!"
"No, it's not."
"Yes, it is," she insisted, laughing like a child.
He arched his eyebrows. "Please?"
She gave him a theatrical sigh. "All right." She made him wait while she tasted the coffee. "I didn't wish for anything."
His face fell and he stumbled over his words. "Wh- Why not?"
"Because," she replied, setting aside the toast and coffee and reaching for him. "There's nothing more I need."
He brushed her hair from her face. "Nothing?"
She shook her head, pursing her lips, ready to kiss him. The kiss was long and slow, filled with a patience borne of security and love. His hands slid down her body as he did his best to remind her there would always be a few things she would need, if he had anything to say about it.
After, they lay entwined, her head resting on his shoulder, his fingers tangling in her dark curls. He kissed her forehead. "I made a wish."
She raised her eyes to his. "You did?"
"What did you wish for?"
He traced a finger down her cheek. "Besides making love to you?"
He stretched toward the stand at "his" side of her bed and tugged open the drawer. She couldn't see what he gathered to him, but she had her suspicions. Keeping his hand tightly closed, he looked into her honey eyes. "I wished that you'd accept this, this time around." She watched as his fist uncurled to reveal the velvet box she recalled all too well. His eyes darted nervously. "Well?"
Her eyes fixed on his, she smiled.