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. Sick, angry fun at the moment, but fun.
A/N: Whoo, I was worried "All Fall Down" would touch a nerve or two, which it seemed to, though not in a bad way. Thanks to everyone for so very many complimentary reviews! So this is the sequel. I may be having just a tad too much fun tormenting Woody at the moment though to stop here. And Lu. Who knew mean could be such fun?
(You're Stepping On) My Toes
Jordan flipped through the tox screen Nigel had just handed her as she made her way to her office.
The M.E. raised her eyes to see a slightly out-of-breath, somewhat-windblown Lu Simmons hurrying toward her. Jordan kept her voice cool. Despite the sense of freedom she felt after her blowout with Simmons' lover, the pain still nipped at her from dark corners, ambushing her every so often. "Detective Simmons. What can I do for you?"
Lu had reached Jordan, expecting her to stop, but found herself trotting back down the hallway, working hard to keep up with Dr. Cavanaugh. "I – um – I came by to see how Kayla's doing."
Jordan arched an eyebrow.
"I know she's not staying with you anymore, but I – I heard you were – you know – still – um…."
"She's fine." Jordan's voice softened marginally at the mention of the orphan's name.
They reached the door to Jordan's office where finally the M.E. stopped. Lu breathed a sigh of relief. "Good. Great." She fought the urge to twist her hands around themselves. "I just… wanted to know."
"I think next time a phone call'd do, don't you?" She said. "Or, you know, I could have Nigel put you on the e-mail update list."
The sarcasm in Jordan's voice made Lu cringe internally. She swallowed, stepped forward as Jordan began to shut her door. "He broke up with me."
Jordan's deep brown eyes regarded her steadily for a moment. After a moment, she gave an abbreviated shrug. "Bummer." Her door closed with a loud clack.
Jordan held up the compact mirror she'd pulled from her desk, checking her make-up, trying to tell herself to stop acting like a teenager going out on her very first date ever. After all, my very first date ever was with Paul. Look how that ended up. She grimaced. A tap at her office door drew her attention. "Yeah."
Nigel poked his head in and then gave a low whistle. He made a twirling motion with one finger and she obliged. "Nice. Good lines on you and the color is perfect."
"Thank you, Mr. Blackwell," she replied sarcastically, unable, however, to suppress a grin.
"Do I know the lucky chap?" Nigel was smiling at her, an ear-to-ear grin splitting his face.
She shook her head.
His face fell slightly. "So it's not… him?"
"Him who?" Her eyes were wary. "Woody?"
"Well, I did hear he was single. Again. Still."
"Not gonna happen, Nige. It – He can have whoever he wants. As long as it's not me."
The Brit studied her for a moment as she turned back to the compact. He could have told her she didn't need the finishing touches she was applying so assiduously, but he was trying to decide how far to push. He took a breath. "No?"
She looked up. "No."
She glared at her friend.
Nigel sat down on the corner of her desk. "What happened, luv?"
She closed her eyes for a moment, conceding defeat to Nigel's insatiable curiosity. "Short version? When we were snowed in at that stupid inn, things went a little too far. A lot too far. I – uh – I thought… God only knows what I thought."
"That you and Woody were going to be together?" His voice was soft.
She looked at him, her eyes flat, dry. "Yeah. Didn't happen. I'm over it."
"Just like that?"
She bit the inside of her lip. "No, not 'just like that!' Maybe. Yes. I don't know, Nige. All I know is he came in here angry with me for ratting him out to his new bed buddy when supposedly we were taking it slow."
"Rat him out?" She rolled her eyes. "I didn't even know! That's how I found out."
"And that was it?"
She balled her hands into fists, driving her nails into her palms. "Something broke. I don't want to do it anymore, Nige. I can't do it anymore. We – I chased something too long. I threw away something that was healthy, working, a relationship that – that had a future."
She shook her head. "Don't try, Nige. It's better this way."
She took a breath and then spoke very softly. "Yeah." She checked her watch. "Did you need something? I've got to get downstairs."
Nigel opened his mouth and then shut it. "No, luv. It can wait."
The Brit's head came up from the evidence he was studying. He regarded the slim blonde with a cool look. "Detective Simmons."
She exhaled loudly, lifting up a lock of hair from her forehead. "Oh God, you, too?"
"Me too, what?"
She waved a hand to take in the morgue area. "Everyone. Bug. Lily. Dr. Macy. You all treat me – act like…." She sighed in frustration.
Nigel shrugged. "Yeah, well, someone we all love very much was rather badly hurt."
"By Woody! I didn't even know about – about them."
The Brit cocked an eyebrow. "Really?"
"Really." Her face grew sulky.
"You mean, as part of his therapy with you, he never once mentioned Jordan?"
She blushed. "Okay, yeah, fine. He may have… once or twice… said something about her. I just thought – it seemed…." She groaned this time. "He broke up with me anyway!"
Another shrug. "Count yourself lucky, Detective." Nigel informed her.
She raised her brows in question.
He grinned, the expression cold and unnerving. "None of us are speaking to Detective Hoyt. At least not in words with more than one syllable."
Lu slammed Woody's office door behind her. His eyebrows shot up in a vain attempt to mate with his hair. "I – uh – Hi."
"Shut up," she told him as she sat down across from him. "It's your fault."
"Of course it is," he agreed with her. Then he leaned forward. "What's my fault? This time."
"Do you know what it's like when I have to go to the morgue?" She was livid.
He sighed. "It can't be as bad as when I'm there."
She smirked. "I heard. But, see, I didn't do anything, Woody. I mean, you know…." She turned pink. "I didn't know."
His face softened. "Look, Lu, I'm sorry. I wish-"
"Don't be sorry! DO something!"
His head jerked back at her tone. "Like what?"
"Find a way to make Jordan Cavanaugh happy."
"Short of serving her my balls on a plate, I don't think that's going to happen."
Lu muttered something he couldn't quite catch, but the gist he did get didn't thrill him too much. His eyes widened in alarm. "What was that?"
She looked up at him. "I said 'If that's what it takes.'"
"Lu, come on!" He felt a chill at the base of his spine. Then his eyes narrowed. "Besides, I thought Jordan Cavanaugh was happier without me."
The look she gave was level and as coolly appraising as the one Nigel had given her. "I wouldn't know about that. All I know is the entire morgue staff is mad at you – at us – because she got hurt. So make it better!" With that the blonde pushed back the chair and strode from his office, slamming the door even harder on her exit.
Woody watched the door rattle in its frame for a moment before resting his elbows on his desk and putting his head in his hands.
Woody ran various solutions through his mind.
Complaining about the morgue staff to his captain.
Except they really weren't doing anything wrong. And then Hoyt would have to explain why he was complaining anyway. Technically Lu hadn't been his therapist any longer when they got involved but… he chucked that plan.
Surprising Jordan at her apartment one night, waiting for her with pizza and beer until she got home from work.
Except she was a little too used to unexpected guests at Pearle Street being gun-toting maniacs and she might shoot first, ask questions later. Or at the very least, knock him out with something heavy and ask questions later. Of course, if she knocked him out, then she could shoot first, say she asked questions later and, given she was just sort of, kind of a, oh, you know, forensics expert… he gave that one up, too.
If she didn't prick herself on the thorns, she'd probably decapitate them all. Nope.
Would probably remind her of either the last time he'd tried that or the fact that Pollack had bought her an engagement ring. Bad plan.
Arrange some little murder caper at another out-of-the-way place like Littleton Village, get her alone and… images of the Pearle Street scenario came back to him. Not gonna work either.
Call her and leave a long, heartfelt message on her voicemail. She'd delete it when she saw the number in caller i.d. He could go to a pay phone! She'd delete it when she heard his voice. He could ask Matt Seeley to do it! Right. Lois Carver? Judging by the looks Carver – not to mention Santana and Capra – shot his direction these days… damn.
Go to the morgue and just insist on talking to her.
With all those sharp implements around. And hazardous or flammable chemicals.
By Saturday morning he was numb mentally, exhausted emotionally and frustrated in every way a man can be. He figured going for a run – something he was just getting back into after being shot – might help pound thoughts of Jordan from his brain.
He was done in by the time he stopped in the small park where they had once finished their running. He bent down, hands on his knees, breath heaving in and out. He saw his right shoe was untied and shuffled to a nearby bench. Without looking, he thumped his foot up on the bench and began to fix the lace. It took him a moment to become aware that there was another shoe beneath his own. The voice jolted him back into reality.
"Can I have my foot back, please?"
Woody looked up. "Jordan!" He gasped. "I – Sorry!"
She wiggled her toes beneath his. "Do you mind?" Her brows were arched and the look she gave him said dumbass more strongly than if she'd written it on a sign and hung it around his neck. "You're stepping on my toes. Not that it surprises me."
With a shamefaced look, he dropped his foot back to the pavement. "I'm – really sorry. Did I hurt you?" He nearly winced at his poor word choice.
She smiled. "Nope. Not a bit. It was just – annoying." She turned to leave, ready to thrust the tiny earphones into her ears and begin her run.
"Jordan, I need to talk to you. Please?"
She gave him a very level, very blank stare. "That didn't work out so well the last time, did it, Woody? Or maybe it did." She shrugged. "Either way? We have nothing left to say to each other."
"Come on, Jo." The nickname did nothing to move her. "I love you."
Her eyes filled with scorn and venom. He'd never been caught in those headlights before and he wished he never would have been. "God help the woman you hate, Detective."
"Look, I screwed up. Big time." He spread his hands in front of him, a plea for peace. "I know what I did really hurt you and – and I'd apologize every minute for the rest of my life if it would help – but… we've gotten through stuff like this, Jordan. Before."
She shook her head. "There was nothing like this. Because I never toyed with your emotions. I never played you, Woody. I may have been fucked up emotionally and, at times, mentally, but I was always honest with you." Her voice rang with steel. "Don't you think you owed me that much?"
"No. I told you. No more. I'm not doing this anymore. You can look back on today and realize it was the last time you got to step on my toes, Farm Boy." With that, she retreated from him, earphones in place, music playing, feet moving swiftly away. Getting over him wasn't as easy or certain as she'd projected to everyone, but it was getting better each day. She was determined she would get over him and walk away from the wreckage that marked that period of her life. And, after all, there was very little in her life that Jordan Cavanaugh couldn't accomplish – when she set her mind to it.
Wow, this is cathartic. Some day I may be able to like Woody again. Not today. Not tomorrow. But some day. Sadly, I can think of way too many dancing metaphor titles to use in a "Torment Woody" series however. Still want more? Review and let me know! I really do appreciate the reviews for "All Fall Down" and a special thanks to NCCJFAN, bourbon, and 2kool4skool who are giving me added inspiration at the moment with their fics. I'm feeling the love…er… loathing. :g: