DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Willing to stage a coup.
FEEDBACK: Welcomed and appreciated
A/N: One down…uh… I've actually lost track of how many stories I'm working on. But I am working on them, I promise!
DEMANDS: Part Six
It took Woody two weeks to have the courage to show up at the morgue, so intense was the welter of emotions roiling within him. He'd attended Haley's funeral, watching from a distance, knowing he wasn't a part of her Jordan's life any longer, no matter what had occurred the day the FBI profiler had died. Now he slunk into the building he'd once found at least one excuse a day to visit. He ran into Lily.
She gave him a genuine smile. He glanced over his shoulder, thinking perhaps someone was behind him. She chuckled softly. "Hi, Woody."
"Hey, Lily. How're you doing?"
She lifted one shoulder and made a non-committal noise. "Good, I guess. You?"
"Same." He found it hard to meet her eyes.
"You didn't come to here to trade small talk, did you?"
Woody shook his head. "I wanted to check on – on them."
"Yeah," Lily replied. "Allie's… it's hard for a kid her age to understand it all, but she's got a mom who knows a little something about this sort of thing."
"She says she is."
The grief counselor smiled gently. "She's Jordan."
Woody nodded soberly. "She thinks she could have done more, knows she could have saved him if only she'd put it together faster…?"
"Yeah. Pretty typical Jordan." The woman moved closer to him, put a hand on his arm and lowered her voice. "It's harder for her than she'll admit, Woody. They were divorced, but still really – really connected. I don't think she knows what she's 'supposed' to feel."
His eyes went wide. "She divorced him?"
"You didn't know?"
He shook his head rapidly.
"It was mutual. They – They gave it… Woody, you should talk to Jordan about this stuff."
"I doubt she'd like to see me." He ran a hand through his unruly hair.
"I think she would," Lily confided. "More than either of you know, maybe."
"She loved Haley. He was great for her." She shrugged. "And even if she won't admit it – yet – deep down, she never got over you. And Haley never got over his wife."
"They what – settled for each other?" His voice was bitter.
"No, I wouldn't say that. They recognized something in each other and they gambled that the things they shared would be enough."
Slowly, Woody nodded.
"She's in her office."
Woody watched Lily go as she walked down the hall toward Garret's office. Watching her leave was easier than moving his own feet in the direction he wanted to go, but feared to. After a deep breath, he turned and walked toward her door. He hesitated before knocking, but was rewarded by her voice – tired and strained – calling out "Come in."
She looked up as he shut the door behind him. A hesitant, tiny smile curved her lips. "Woody. Hi."
"Hey." He scuffed a foot on the carpet as a flush spread up his neck and into his cheeks. He didn't know what to say; he shouldn't be here. "I – uh – um – How's Allie?"
Jordan shrugged. "She's…. confused. Some bad dreams." She licked her lips and swallowed. "She's angry sometimes, misses Drew, wants to know when she'll see him again."
He nodded. "How are you?"
"Coping." She gave him a rueful grin. "I have a whole new appreciation for what my dad went through. And I'm not being accused of being an unfit parent or of murdering Drew."
"Is Max helping?"
She nodded. "He thinks Allie hung the sun and the moon. He's been amazing. It's – It's weird to say it, but I think it's bringing us closer. He listens to Allie, talks with her." She shrugged again. "A lot of things he couldn't – or wouldn't – do with me."
"That's – That's good."
"Yeah." She looked down at her desk for a moment, the silence hanging heavy and awkward between them. "Can I do something for you? I mean… I haven't caught any of your cases, so…?"
"I just wanted to – to check on you. And Allie."
"Thanks. She'll like that." Jordan smiled. "She liked you."
"Yeah. Oh, wait." She opened a drawer and pulled out a sheet of paper. "She drew this for you and said to give it to you the next time I worked with you." She handed him the paper.
Woody looked down and felt his throat close with emotion. She'd drawn the scene from the hotel and added the words "Thank you" to her artwork. He looked up. "Tell her – Tell her it's great. I'll put it in my office."
"She may want to check on that."
He smiled. "Any time."
Woody sighed from his diaphragm, hating paperwork with a fierce passion. Outside it was dark. He should be… home. Eating. Watching the Sox. Or out with friends. He snorted at that thought. If he'd imagined coming back to Boston would be easy, that he'd be welcomed with open arms…. Everyone he knew seemed to have moved on, literally and figuratively.
Everyone except Lu. And that wasn't making things easy. This was her turf now. He was the interloper. A few of her colleagues – their colleagues, really – resented him, thinking he'd gotten a position that should have gone to her. That didn't bother him all that much; he knew he deserved the job he held, that he had a good clearance record and that he had more experience than she did. Still, it would be nice if he could come to work and not feel like he was the big bully who'd stolen the littler kids' candy bars and lunch money.
He looked up. The subject of his musing stood in his doorway, bathed in the soft light from his desk lamp, the corridor behind her dim. He couldn't read her face, but her tone was conciliatory enough. He gave her a tired smile. "Paperwork."
She gave a short laugh. "I think it's actually worse when you clear a case sometimes."
"Tell me about it." He leaned back. "What's keeping you here?"
She shrugged. "I – um – I…." Her eyes went to the framed picture hanging on one wall. "Cute. Up and coming artist?"
Woody glanced over and smiled. "Allie Haley drew it for me."
The elicited a sigh from her and another short laugh, this one harsher. "That's kind of why I stopped by."
"You want Allie Haley to draw you a picture?" The words rang false even as he said them and the charm attempting to dance in his blue eyes tripped and failed to provoke even the slightest grin from her.
"I – I…," she sighed again before marshalling herself. "That day. You had no right to do what you did. You or – or Jordan Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh-Haley. Whatever the hell she's calling yourself. No right, Woody!" Now her eyes blazed with the anger she'd been bottling since that afternoon.
"I – She – What mattered was Allie. And finding Haley alive if possible. Knowing who the victims were, the Captain had already sent me down there before Jordan pitched her fit; he didn't want the Bureau to complain about how things had been handled, figured two experienced heads were better than one. My timing was just – could have been better."
"You let her get away with her – her blackmail!"
He inclined his head. "That's one way to look at it."
"Lu, don't you think Jordan's mistrust of this department – this entire institution – was pretty much earned? Officers – later top brass around here – implicated in her mother's death. Those same officers helping to try to frame Max, which almost cost him his daughter. Malden… well, you weren't here then, but, trust me, it was bad. The things – The way I was acting for a while. Might not have a lot to do with the department, but you're into all that psychology stuff. They call it 'transference', right?" He got a slow nod from the blonde. "And then – then the biggie."
"Pollack. You were there, you know as well as I do that she thought she did it," Lu defended herself.
"Yeah. And I also knew it was impossible."
"You didn't want to believe it."
"And the evidence eventually proved that I was right, Dr. Macy, Lily, Bug, Nigel…everyone who really knew her… we were all right. She didn't do it." Woody's blue eyes burned now with the memories. "You know as well as I do, Lu, you ignored some of the critical evidence in the case and that if that evidence had been factored in, if the leads it provided had been followed earlier, then Jordan wouldn't have been on the run so long."
"And I didn't 'factor it in' or look for leads from it because she ran! Running tends to make a cop pretty well convinced the suspect is guilty."
"Or the suspect knows all too well how things work and doesn't trust that the investigation is going to be thorough or impartial," he countered.
Her body vibrated with anger. "Are you suggesting that I wasn't impartial or thorough because she was Jordan? Because of the – the weird history you two had? Because of – of everything else?"
"Thorough and impartial? You bet you ass, Detective Hoyt!"
His voice dropped to a whisper. "Pollack's car accident."
"What?" The color drained from her face, leaving her skin the color of chalk.
"Dr. Macy had to prod you to investigate the previous injuries to Pollack. You found out he'd been in a car accident the week before. Do you honestly want to tell me that if it had been anyone else as our lead suspect that you'd have accepted that as the end of the matter? You're a trained investigator. The coincidence had to strike you. But it was easier to leave it there, wasn't it?" There was no reply, so he moved on. "Easier because if Jordan had murdered her lover, if she was put away for that, then maybe I'd stop thinking about her."
"Don't flatter yourself," she spat back. "Whatever we had is gone."
"I know," he replied softly. "A long time ago. But not quite yet, not then."
She took several deep breaths, her eyes closed. "Okay. That case was not my finest. I thought the 'Queen of Second Chances' might be willing to give one."
"That investigation almost cost Jordan her life. That's the sort of thing she doesn't forgive easily, which, really, who would? And that day? At the hotel? That was about her child's welfare, so multiply the usual by whatever factor fits Jordan." He stopped, his expression softening. "I didn't mean to cut you out, Lu. I wanted to keep that kid safe and maybe find her father."
After a moment, she nodded slowly. "I know. I guess I needed to clear the air a little. Don't do it again, Woody."
He smiled. "Scout's honor."
She arched a brow. "Were you a scout?"
"Sure I was." His blue eyes danced. "Got all the way up to that falcon rank."
She grinned. "Eagle."
"It's Eagle Scout." He still looked puzzled. "The top rank – it's an eagle, not a falcon. Scout's honor." She rolled her eyes at him. "Just promise me as colleagues."
"I can do that."
She nodded, biting her lower lip briefly before adding, "And friends."
"I can do that, too." She turned to leave, then paused. "Go home, Woody. Take a break."
He gave her a theatrical sigh. "Just one more report or the Captain'll keep me in at recess."
With a snort, Simmons left.
Nearly seven months passed. Woody saw Jordan rarely, always in connection to a case. As much as he longed to sit her down and tell her how wrong he'd been all those years ago, he didn't. Lily had been right – despite the fact they'd been divorced, Jordan was still grieving for a man she'd loved enough to marry and have a child with. He knew the ground between would be too pockmarked with the old pain and hurts to be stable for either of them. Given their past – the way he'd left, how he'd hurt her too many times before that – he wanted to protect her – from himself in some ways. When she was ready….
"Woody!" Her voice chasing down the hallway toward his office.
He turned and smiled. Had he ever been able to keep himself from smiling at Jordan Cavanaugh? When he was sane, that is. "Hey, Doc. What brings you here?"
She caught up to him. "I thought I'd drop this off." She handed him a white envelope.
He gave her one of his speculative looks, shaking it with exaggerated caution and holding it up to the light before asking, "What is it?"
"Invite." Her broad smile and the flash of humor in her eyes dazzled him. "To Allie's birthday party. She'll be six."
"Ooooh," he groaned. "That's – That's really sweet of her and all, but… uh… I don't know, Jordan. A – A sea of six year olds? I'm not sure that's my… social circle."
She rolled her eyes at him. "To the family party. It's only the grown ups. Max. Garret. Lily and Bug. Nigel. Father Paul. People like that. She really wants you to be there."
"She only met me once!"
That garnered him a shrug. "She liked you. It's kind of how she is with adults – she either likes people right off or she doesn't and it rarely changes."
Jordan – and her descriptions of Allie – had broken him down. Grinning, he gave in, only to ask what on earth he should get a six year old as a gift.
"She already reads." Jordan gave Woody a sly smile. "Maybe some Nancy Drew books?"
"That is just what the world needs – Jordan Cavanaugh's daughter thinking she is also an amateur sleuth. Wouldn't that be carrying 'like mother, like daughter' a bit far?"
"Oh, come on, Woods. It could be fun." Her dark eyes were twinkling merrily.
The party was different than what Woody had expected, very low key, actually. Jordan made Allie's favorite dinner – lasagna with garlic bread and salad – and a chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream. They all sat down at the long table in Max's dining room, Allie seated at the head of the table, perched on phone books so she could survey her subjects. After dinner, presents were opened. Woody winked at Jordan when Allie squealed in delight at the Nancy Drew chapter books Woody had bought. They had their cake and soon goodnights were being said as Allie and her grandfather booth trooped upstairs – Max's present to her (one of many actually) was a day for just the two of them, starting with getting up before dawn to head out fishing. The police detective stayed behind to help Jordan with the clean up, even though she'd assured everyone they needn't stay.
For a while they worked in silence, the quiet around them comfortable and amicable. Jordan held open the big trash bag, while Woody gathered the detritus of cast-off wrapping paper, mutilated bows and paper plates, cups and plastic cutlery. They moved on the kitchen, where Jordan had piled the dinner dishes. She watched him set the trash out in the garage and then come back in. "Thanks. I really can get these."
"I know." He rolled up his sleeves. "But it'll go faster with two." His flashing grin and shining eyes convinced her.
As she rinsed plates and handed them to him to be put in the washer, she couldn't help but think of another night she'd done dishes with a man she loved. Do I? Still? Love Woody? Somehow the thought had snuck up on her. Deep down she'd known that was what Drew had meant before he died, but she'd told herself that the only thing she'd ever have again with Woody was this: friendship. She'd told herself that it would be enough, more than enough, given their history. But this…. It felt right. And yet confusing. She was shocked when she felt scalding tears well up in her eyes and overflow before she could tamp them down.
Woody looked over. "Jordan?"
She shook her head and tried to dry the tears that wouldn't stop.
"What is it?"
She swallowed several times but control still eluded her. Gently, Woody put an arm around her and guided her to one of the kitchen chairs.
"Come on, Jo. Tell me. Did I do something?"
She shook her head, and then nodded. "But – But… oh, God. No, Woody. It's – It's nothing."
"Jordan, all of a sudden you're in tears and it's 'nothing?' It's something. Tell me. Please."
She looked up at him now and saw the care and concern in his eyes. "It's just – It… Oh…." She looked over his shoulder, out the dark window, into nothing. "Drew and I… I don't know. Jobs. History. Personalities. We thought – We thought it'd be okay." She shrugged. "It wasn't working though. We were separated and – we – we kept – part of wanting to make it work…."
"You kept seeing each other."
She nodded. "This one night." She raised a hand to her eyes and dried them again with the flat of her palm. "I made dinner and he – I was doing the dishes. He came into the kitchen and told me it would be faster with two."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring up some bad-"
"No! No. He – um- he …." She blushed. "He didn't really want to help with the dishes."
"Ah." Now Woody flushed.
"That – That was the night we conceived Allie." She took a deep, shuddering breath and looked back at his face. "When you came back here – to Boston – I had – I thought I knew how it was going to be. I thought after so much time…."
"Me, too," he murmured.
Her honey eyes glowed, their color and depth magnified by the tear that still loomed. "I was all right with how it's been. And then – you said that. About two. And – uh – the first thing I thought was about that night – Allie – and how now another man I love had said that to me."
For a moment he didn't speak, her words soaking in slowly, as if his pores were hesitantly opening to them and absorbing them. "Jordan-"
"After all this time," she rushed on, her nerve quickly waning, "is it possible there's still anything there?"
For a moment, Woody didn't speak. When he did find his voice, it was a harsh whisper, forced out of a throat so tight Woody wondered if his own body might strangle him. "Everything. Everything's still there, Jo."
Her voice broke. "Why did you leave? Back then?"
He took her hands, began stroking her fingers with small intimate touches. "I'd hurt you too much. Every time I saw you, I saw all the things I'd done wrong. I didn't think there was any chance we'd ever get past it. And I wouldn't have blamed you. I wanted you to start over, move on with you life."
"Shh," he crooned. "I was an idiot. I figured that out." He looked down at their hands where his fingers still rubbed idle, gentle, meaningless patterns into hers. "I ran. I ran from the things I didn't have the guts to fix. Because…," he sighed and looked at her again, his blue eyes boring into hers. "I finally figured out that was it. I was afraid to try to fix them, but they were always fixable, Jordan. We were always fixable."
"You think so?"
He nodded. "We chased each other, Jordan. From coast to coast, crime scene to morgue, precinct to prisons. We met over corpses, sent each other crime reports like some people send love notes, had coffees between crime sprees, I think. It was all right out there, only we never said the words. The few times we tried… we didn't really know how. It should have been easy, Jo."
She sighed softly. "Except neither of us ever got that memo. Growing up, I mean."
He smiled ruefully. "I guess not." He squeezed her fingers lightly, loving the warmth and texture of her long, slender fingers in his. "I love you, Jordan. I should have said that years ago. I should have – I should have told you that no matter how I thought you'd react." He closed his eyes briefly. "But something you said – before Pollack was killed." He bit his lip. "I needed to grow up."
"We both did," she added.
He chuckled softly at her. "I realized… when you came back… you had. I didn't know – didn't know what to do. So, I left."
"Gee, I've never done that," she teased lightly.
"Nah, not you."
"Jordan, let me finish." He made it into a plea. She nodded. "I've had a lot of time to think, to figure out who I am. Um… Cal. Cal died last year." Her smile vanished. He shook his head, forestalling her condolences. "Drugs. He never – never kicked the habits he had. But as I – as I buried my last family member, I realized – I realized I belonged here. I – uh – I had no idea you and Haley weren't together. But all I wanted was to be back here where I felt like I made a difference, where maybe you and I could be friends again." He hesitated, gathering himself. "I realized – I was finally okay with myself, okay with whatever was or wasn't going to be between us." He swallowed. "I love you. But – But I – I don't need to push anymore."
"Can I say something now?"
He grinned and nodded.
"I love you, too, Woody. I loved Drew and I'll always miss him. But I've never loved anyone the way I love you." She gave his fingers a squeeze this time.
For a moment they sat, the kitchen quiet and still around them. They studied each other, seeing the changes the years had wrought and the things that no amount of time would ever change. After a few long moments, Woody cleared his throat. "I should get going."
Her eyes warmed and she smiled slyly. "Or not."
"Jo…." His voice was almost a low growl.
"I'm not saying…." Her cheeks had turned pink, though with embarrassment or the beginnings of arousal, she couldn't really say.
"Really?" His eyebrows rose.
"Talk, Woody. Talk. There's a lot we don't know about each other anymore."
He shrugged after a moment's thought. "I think there's a lot we never knew." He leaned across and kissed her softly. "And I'd like to find out."
Jordan heard Max and Allie moving around downstairs. She groaned quietly, glad she wasn't expected to see them off in the pre-dawn darkness. She cracked open her eyes and peered at the man lying next to her and smiled to herself before cuddling up against him once more. In his sleep, his arm tightened around her. They really had spent the night talking in hushed tones, giggling, crying a time or two even. They'd finally fallen asleep spooned together about an hour ago. Closing her eyes once more, her smile broadening, she slipped back into a dreamless sleep with his warmth and scent surrounding her.