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.
A/N: Jordan/J.D. If you don't like J.D. or the J/J.D. pairing, don't read this and – to be blunt – if you read it anyway and hate it, don't flame me – I've made it abundantly clear what to expect. If, however, you are interested in one person's take on J.D.'s actions and emotions, I hope you read and enjoy it.
A/N2: I recently found this on my hard drive. Originally it was intended to be a much longer, multi-part story, but time and circumstance have made that impossible. I decided to go ahead and post it as a short piece. Timeline is mid-Season 5, post "Man in Blue."
A/N2: That Thomas Hardy could write, couldn't he? I love the quote that gave me the title and wanted to give credit where credit was due.
Times Cures Hearts of Tenderness
Pollack took his laptop and set it aside, leaving it powered up. He took a last swig of the beer by his side of her bed, reflecting that after this last week it might not be his side much longer. His always-implied temporary tenancy could well be over. He got up and picked up the empty, padding into the kitchen with it. Where on earth she'd found Australian regional beer was beyond him. Foster's, sure, even Boag's could be had in some places, but 4-X? He smiled.
His smile faded when he returned to her bed. She'd switched off her light and lay on her side, facing away from him. Wordlessly, he slid under the covers and turned off his own light. For a moment he listened to her breathing. She took deep, steady, even breaths. She might almost have been asleep, but he could feel the tension in her to know she was faking it.
"You were right," he told her.
She didn't move, but the rhythm of her breathing altered.
"I shouldn't have written that story."
She shifted slightly, her head now cocked toward him.
"I owe you – and Hoyt," Pollack ground his teeth on Woody's name. "I owe you both an apology."
"Yeah." The simple, direct Jordan type of response he'd come to expect. At least she rolled on to her back finally.
He took a breath. "But I can't apologize for why I wrote it."
She snorted. "Of course not. I'm sure you had some perfectly righteous reason for turning out that piece of trash."
"I didn't say that. I had a reason."
"I can't wait to hear it," she baited him.
"See, the thing is, Cavanaugh, I'm pretty sure you can wait to hear it, want to even."
Now she rolled on to her side, propping herself up on one elbow to glare at him face to face. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
Pollack shrugged. "You were right."
"That you jumped the gun? Accused the wrong guy?"
His eyes never left her face. "That I wrote it out of jealousy."
"And is that supposed to make it better somehow?" Her eyes flashed with the fury he'd seen in her office.
"No. No, Cavanaugh, it's not." He set his mouth into a line. "But did you ever stop to think what that means?"
"What what means?"
He kept his voice calm, low. "The fact I'm jealous of Hoyt." What these admissions, which may very well mean nothing to her, cost him she would never know if he could help it.
Jordan stopped, her lips rounded into a loose "o." For the first time the look in his eyes and the tone in his voice wove together for her what he wasn't saying. She looked like the proverbial deer caught in the proverbial headlights.
Pollack measured her response, gauged his chances and knew there was nothing left to lose anyway. "I love you, Cavanaugh. You can be a pain in the ass sometimes. But you are as smart as can be, as hot as you are smart and you don't pretend to be anything you're not." He paused. "Or to feel things you don't." He bit his lip. "I love those things about you. I love you."
Jordan simply stared at him for a long time. She took several shallow breaths. He could almost feel her put on her mental track shoes. "You spied on me."
He looked down. "Kessler?"
"Yeah. I shouldn't have done that. It won't happen again."
Her mouth twitched. "You can't promise that."
"Actually, I can." He switched on the light, leaned out of her bed and retrieved his computer. Mutely, he handed it to her.
"Just look at it, Cavanaugh. Please?" Giving him a sullen look that hid the pounding of her heart, Jordan turned her attention to the document on the screen. She scanned the headline he'd written. Then she re-read it. Brows furrowed, she raised her eyes to his. He grinned sickly. "Go on."
She started to read the article. Halfway through it, she stopped. "Is this – Are you serious?"
He nodded. "I talked to my editor today, asked him to find something else for me."
"And – And – He agreed?"
"After a long discussion – and a bit of a pay cut – yeah."
Jordan opened her mouth, then snapped it shut. She re-read the entire article. "Why? Why would you do this?"
Pollack reached for the computer, which she handed to him without protest. This time he powered it down before laying it aside. Turning the light out once more, he rolled onto his side and faced her. He reached one tentative hand toward her cheek. "I told you." His voice was quiet, sincere.
"So – So, you're going to write sports articles? What do you know about sports? Do you even like them?"
He smiled slowly at her, the expression flickering in his eyes. "Well, sure. Played my share of ruggers at school. A little cricket here and there. So what's to know? Baseball is like a cricket test match that doesn't take three days. Your football is just rugby with a lot of wimpy protective gear."
"Wimpy?" Her eyes lit up at his teasing. She punched him lightly on his good arm. "You did this for me?"
He gave her a self-deprecating shrug. "I did it for us. I mean, I know – I'm not stupid, Cavanaugh. I know there's not that much of an us right now. And I know there's - feelings between you and Hoyt." He sighed and let his hand glide down her hair. She didn't stop him. "Maybe that won't change. Maybe you and I can't make it as a couple, but I'm willing to take the chance." He reached for her and she let him gather her to him.
"What if I'm not willing to take the chance?"
He raised her chin. "I don't think I'd be here if part of you didn't want to try this. I almost blew it with you. I know that."
"You're serious?" Her eyes studied his face.
"About all of it. About you."
After a long moment, she gave him a lopsided grin. "You admit you were jealous?"
"Were, Cavanaugh? Still am. You felt – feel, maybe – something for Hoyt you don't think you'll ever feel again."
She sighed. "Then why do you want – this?"
He brushed her hair from her face, cupping her head in his hand. "Isn't it obvious?"
Slowly, she shook her head.
"You're worth it."