DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Willing to stage a coup.
A/N: Hmmm... it's not like there are other stories to work on, but this one appeared and would not leave me alone. Inspired, oddly enough, by "Bring on the Dancing Horses," by Echo and the Bunnymen. Call it nostalgia...gee, call me old! Grin.
"Damn it," Jordan Cavanaugh curses softly, digging around in her desk drawer for her aunt's phone number. "I know it's in here." Her fingers brush against a folded sheet of paper and she gives a triumphant "ha-hah!" as she pulls it from the back depths of the drawer. Lifting the paper up she quickly realizes it's not the half sheet of paper where she wrote down the phone number of her seldom-seen aunt, but an old newspaper photo.
She unfolds it and memory fills her. She can barely believe how different they both are now, the six years that have elapsed taking their toll, in ways both visible and not. Still, she can tell; she can remember. It had been their third or fourth case together and a photographer had snapped a picture of them conferring at the scene. The newspaper must have liked it because they ran it on page three. Woody must have cut it out. She'd found it in his wallet after the shooting, when, as his listed next of kin, the hospital had given her care of his belongings. She'd always meant to return it to him…
She runs a finger over his figure. Woody had looked so young then. "Fresh faced" and "scrubbed, wet behind the ears" Max had told her, with a chuckle. Nigel had teased her about having a new boyfriend and she'd always parried with the comment that she had to go or she'd be late for cheerleading practice. Lily had been Lily – accepting and open to someone new, excited by the possibilities of new friendship. Garret – well, Garret had usually just given his head a shake or two, as if wondering how long it would be before the big city ate up the small town boy.
And Jordan herself? She sighs softly. She'd figured the big city would eat up the small town boy quickly, too, but she'd underestimated him. She'd thought his life was too simple, both past and present, for him ever to fit in. She wishes time had proven her wrong. She wishes it had never gotten complicated, that she'd told him how she felt after that desert kiss instead of pretending it had been nothing, a mere satisfaction of a normal curiosity.
She frowns at the yellowing paper, her mind drifting past all the moments when it could have changed, when the complications could have been thrust aside and the simple fact they needed and wanted each other could have been acknowledged. Most of all she thinks of the night at the Lucy Carver Inn, the way he had touched her, the feel of his mouth on hers, his lips brushing the cup of her ear as they worked their way down to her neck and collarbone.
She flushes at the memory of his hands undressing her with an aching slowness, first her boots, then gently, slowly, her jeans. She'd wanted to shimmy out of them, but he'd done it in his own time, pulling them off her, her heightened senses intensely aware of the texture of the denim as it slid over her skin, even more intensely aware of the delicious feel of his hands caressing her bare legs, moving ever upward.
By the time they were both unclothed he'd nearly driven her insane with anticipation. She shudders as her body recalls the way he felt, thrusting into her, stilling, holding her as she quaked around him, that first intimate contact enough to enrapture her. She remembers with perfect clarity not only how his body felt within hers, how he fit into her as though they had been fashioned for each other, but how she felt a spark of something she'd never felt before, how she'd felt as though they might never need words again, that somehow their souls truly were connected in that instant. She remembers and pales with shame at how frightened that had left her, how she had wanted to run back to Pollack because, while she cared for him, she would never feel that way about him.
She brushes away the tears that have filled her eyes and spilled over. It all got so complicated; she longs for the days when it wasn't, when she didn't always seem to be searching for the right thing to say to him.
Even now, after the crew at the morgue had proven her innocent and she'd returned, it still seems there are never the right words. She is still searching.
She grimaces at the photo. I was already falling in love with him then, even if I didn't know it. If I had told him, just once, once before we screwed it up, once when it was still as simple as "I love you."
Her phone rings and she jumps. A body. Found in a nearby park. Apparent stab wounds. The responding detective requested her.
She grabs her purse and heads out to get Nigel and tell him to grab a kit, she'll meet him in the garage. The newspaper clipping catches her eye. She snags it from her desk and, refolding it hastily, slips it into her bag.
Woody watches them approach. He doesn't see much of her. He's still trying to figure out how to say everything he wants to say – needs to say – to her. He sighs at all the complications.
They are professional. She examines the body, makes a few cautious statements while Nigel takes the pictures. While Nigel is arranging for the body to be transported back to the morgue, Woody pulls her aside, hoping for a little more information to help him get started, but also hoping for just a moment alone with her, even if they are discussing a corpse.
For a long moment they simply look at each other. They both begin to speak at once. He gestures that she should go first. She fishes something out of her bag and hands it to him. "It was… in your wallet. After… um… Riggs. I was your next of kin so they gave me your stuff." She blushes. "I've been meaning to give it back to you."
"Thanks," he replies, his voice stunned. "Thanks." He turns to walk away.
He spins back around. "Yeah?"
"What about it?"
"It was – We were… so different."
"I know." He glances down at the folded square. He doesn't need to open it; the image was burned onto his brain long ago.
"Do you ever wonder? How it got so… complicated?"
He shrugs, but she can see the pain in his eyes. "I guess we just – we didn't know what to say after a while."
"What do you mean?"
"Why didn't we say – say what…." She takes a deep breath and hesitates. "I – I just wanted you to have that back."
His shoulders fall and he nods again. He looks down at the ground, scuffling the dirt with one toe.
"I want us back," she blurts out.
He lifts his gaze to hers and stares.
"I don't want it to be complicated anymore, Woody."
"It doesn't have to be," she hurries on. "That night… in Littleton Village. I'd never felt that way. It scared me."
He still stares at her.
She shakes with the adrenalin coursing through her. "It's not that complicated, Woody. I love you."
And then she is in his arms; he is holding her, whispering into her hair, kissing her lightly on the mouth, loving her, letting the past and all its complications fall away from them. For a moment, it is simple once again and that moment is the greatest gift of all.