A/N: I don't get it. I just don't understand what the writers are thinking. What have they done to Woody? It's gotten so hard to root for Woody and Jordan as a couple. Still, I keep thinking maybe if the two can just sit down together, uninterrupted, Woody can explain himself, and they can begin to work things out. So, this is my attempt at letting them do just that…something I'm hoping the writers let them do, too.
There was something oddly comforting about the sting of the hot coffee cup against her hand. She could still feel the heat of it on her fingers through the cardboard cuff that ringed the paper cup, and it was soothing. Winter had been slow in leaving Boston, and the steaming latte warmed her as she rode up to the office on a cold Monday morning.
She stifled a yawn and sipped at her cup as the elevator jolted to a halt. She hadn't done anything particularly exciting that weekend to leave her feeling so drained. Quite the opposite. She had sat all weekend catching up on a stack of DVDs she'd rented weeks ago from Netflix. Woody could usually be counted on to call on a slow Friday or Saturday night for a last minute date. Nachos, karaoke, some late-night horror flick.
But he hadn't called in weeks. Not since he had left her on her doorstep with those words: I don't want to be your rebound guy.
She winced as she thought of it again. It had made sense to her at the time. She was still smarting from her break-up with JD, and the last thing she and Woody needed was to dive headlong into a relationship when she was still sorting out her feelings of guilt and regret.
Yes, now that she stopped to think about it, she hadn't seen Woody outside work since that night. True, he had come over the other night to drop off her reference letter. He even offered to cancel his plans to join her for dinner. But like everything else in their complicated relationship, it hadn't quite worked out.
She had been overwhelmed the last couple of months with little time for a social life, anyway. Garret's drinking and family problems had come to a head, and she felt as if she needed to be there for him. Then there had been the subway bombings and Kayla. She hadn't had the time it would take to nurture a romantic relationship. Still, she had been left emotionally rattled by all that had happened, and when she needed Woody's support most, he was strangely absent.
See ya 'round, she had said to him when she left him there at her door with a chaste kiss on the cheek. She hadn't expected him to take it so literally. And she hadn't expected to miss him quite so much.
The elevator doors finally slid open, and she stepped sleepily out into the lobby of the M.E.'s office.
There was a sound of a woman's laughter, high and tinkling. It was somehow familiar, and her heart lurched.
Jordan blinked her eyes hard. Woody and Lu were walking towards her, heading for the elevator. They were laughing, sharing some personal joke, unaware of her presence. He was finishing up the last of a donut from the break room, and Jordan watched in unfolding awareness as Lu reached up and coyly wiped at the last traces of powdered sugar on his lip.
Jordan knew in a heart-wrenching instant. They looked comfortable with each other. Playful, intimate. They looked like lovers.
It was Woody who noticed Jordan first, as she stood numbly by the elevator doors with her coffee still gripped in her hand.
Lu was still giggling girlishly as Woody came to a halt and stopped her with a hand on her wrist. She looked up, and the three of them stood in frozen silence.
I can't move. Why can't I move? Jordan stood rooted to the spot. Woody's face drained of color, and his adam's apple bobbed up and down wordlessly as he stood with his eyes still fixed on Jordan's.
Finally, it was Lu who spoke. "Hi, Jordan…" she started in a small, shamed voice, her gaze cast to the floor.
Jordan couldn't speak. She nodded her head, and hurried past them, having at last found her feet.
She could hear Woody's voice call after her as she staggered blindly down the hall. The scalding contents of her cup sloshed over the spout and onto her hand. She cursed in pain and angrily tossed the cup into the trash before heading into the locker room.
She was shaking as she stood there pulling on a fresh set of scrubs. She had foolishly assumed that she and Woody were moving tentatively towards a relationship. "Stupid. Idiot," she whispered aloud to herself. There was a sick feeling churning in the pit of her stomach.
Woody and Lu. Woody and Lu. It was unimaginable. Had she missed something? Why hadn't she seen it?
"Oh, God. Oh God oh God oh God," she groaned to herself. It was humiliating. She had stood there with Lu at Kayla's safe house only a week or so before. She had blathered on about having let things with an "old friend go too far." Thoughts crashed through her head. Had Woody and Lu been sleeping together even then? Lu had been his therapist. She must have known. Of course she had known that Woody was the "old friend" in question.
She took a steadying breath. There was an autopsy waiting for her, and she needed to pull herself together. The subject of Woody and Lu was something she was unwilling, or unable, to face.
She pushed open the locker room door. Woody was leaning against the wall, waiting nervously for her. She faltered for a moment, but then turned without a word and headed toward autopsy.
"Jordan, come on! Would you wait a minute?"
"She went back to the station. Will you just wait?"
She pushed through the doors into autopsy and saw with relief that Nigel had readied things for her, as she had asked, and Woody would not be able to linger there. She pulled an apron on over her head and grabbed up a pair of gloves and safety glasses.
"Look," he started uneasily, and had to dodge her as she picked up a scalpel from the instrument tray. "I'm sorry you had to find out about me and Lu this way."
The small part of her that hoped she was mistaken about what she had seen died. "Just forget it, Woody. Now, unless you don't mind getting an eyeful of this guy's pancreas, you should probably go." She held up the scalpel and prepared to make the Y-incision.
"Just let me explain."
"What's there to explain?" she asked matter-of-factly. " You and Lu are together. End of story. Knock yourselves out."
He paused a moment. "Is that all you're going to say?" There were traces of hurt in his voice.
"What do you want me to say? You want me to cry? You waiting for a cat fight? Sorry, not going to happen, Farmboy." She had always meant this teasing little nickname to be affectionate, but in her bitter voice, it sounded as casually dismissive as she had meant it.
"Jordan, please. Can we just talk about this?"
"I've kind of got my hands full."
"It can wait. This guy's not going anywhere."
She suddenly looked up at him. "What you do with your life is not my concern, Woody. I don't want to talk about this. Not now. Not ever. I'm done." She hoped she didn't sound as angry and hurt as she felt. She wouldn't give him that satisfaction.
"Jordan, I know you're probably mad at me…"
"Don't presume to know how I feel," she said with force. Her eyes flashed with anger, and she held his gaze for a moment.She began to press the scalpel against the dead man's cold flesh, hoping desperately that Woody would leave.
"Then tell me, Jordan. Talk to me. " She ignored him and went on with the autopsy. "What are you doing, Jordan? You wouldn't. Jordan, Jesus!" He held up a forearm against his face as she started to cut. "Fine. Forget it. You win."
He had turned to go when something in the man's tissue caught her eye with a foreboding. She snapped off her rubber gloves and hurried over to where his file sat in a metal tray next to the body. "Wait, Woody! You can't leave yet!"
He turned back to her as her eyes scanned the pages. "What is it?"
"He was a missionary in South America. Just got back last week. Damn it."
"What does that mean?"
"Travel in Brazil..these white patches here. It fits."
He took one step in towards her. "Jordan, you're saying this like it's supposed to make sense to me. Dumb cop here, remember?"
She shook her head. "He died from Amazon River fever," she said.
"I guess you're going to tell me why this is important?"
"Well, it can be fatal, obviously, but most strains are treatable if caught in time," she explained, trying to keep from sounding too panicked. "The most common means of human-to-human transmission is when diseased tissue has been directly exposed to the air."
"Like…in an autopsy," he said in sudden, dreadful comprehension.
"Like in an autopsy," she repeated grimly.
"So, what does that mean for us?"
"We'll need a prophylactic round of several drugs. They'll do a blood test on both of us to see if we've been exposed. We'll know in 24 hours."
"And…" She swallowed hard. "I hope you and Lu don't have any big plans tonight. You and I are now under quarantine."