A/N: Tongue in cheek humor/romance piece based on an actual item I got at an after-Christmas sale. If you haven't figured it out by now… I have a dirty mind. And I'm not afraid to use it.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Ready, willing and able to stage a coup.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES
Shortly after New Year's Day, 2007
Jordan heard Nigel's full-throated laughter and a raucous shriek from Lily emanating from the break room. Bug's "Oh, for the love of…," followed shortly after. She stopped and gave them an eye. "Is it safe?" Her voice was bright and her eyes smiling.
"That depends," Bug rejoined, his expression long-suffering, though Jordan detected a hint of humor in his dark eyes.
"Have you done some warm-up stretches?" The man asked.
Jordan's forehead crinkled in confusion. "Um… I…."
Lily crossed the room, a block of paper in her hand and held it up for Jordan to see. For a moment, the M.E. looked disbelievingly at the page in front of her. Then, her eyes went wide and her jaw dropped a bit. She scanned the page again and finally looked up. "It even comes with a calories used count?"
Lily could only nod, her face suffused with color, her throat spasming on hysterical laughter.
Nigel handed Jordan a package. "Here, luv. I got everyone one." He winked. "Never know when it might come in… handy."
Jordan's door was cracked open and Woody could see her without her noticing him. Her dark head was bent over something on her desk. As he stood there, unseen, she tilted her head, her eyes narrowed and her tongue poked out between her full lips, as if she was trying to decipher something. Smiling to himself, he knocked.
She jumped and he noticed a faint blush rush into her cheeks. "Uh… sorry," he said as she yanked open a desk drawer and put away whatever she'd been looking at. "Your door was… everything okay?"
"Yeah, yeah," she answered with that quickness so common to her when she was caught off balance. "Yeah. Thanks."
She smiled, glittery and false, but the color was already fading from her face, leaving him to wonder if he'd imagined things. "What can I do for you?"
"I needed to go over the Robertson case." He looked around. "If you have time."
"Sure." She began to hunt through a stack of files on her desk. "Why wouldn't I?"
"I… don't know," he answered slowly. As he entered into her territory, he glanced around the room, hoping to spot what might be unsettling her, but knowing her well enough to know it probably wasn't something visible. He sat and gave her another concerned look. "You're sure you're okay?"
"Woody! I'm fine. Geez." She brushed aside his concern with her usual irritation when he prodded too much. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I'm fine-"
"Great," she interrupted. "You're okay; I'm okay. Let's go over the Robertson case."
Giving up, Woody took out the notepad he'd brought with him. Though he had her report, he wanted to clarify a few things and he knew writing it out for himself would help with his eventual testimony. She gave him the answers he needed though she never seemed to be one hundred percent "with" him. He wondered if her time on the run was catching up with her in some way. He started to ask and then thought better of it. She'd been annoyed earlier and he didn't want to push it. Things had been occasionally strained between them since her return, so he treasured the moments that were comfortable and pleasant. She was finishing up telling him about the GSR evidence when Lily and Bug passed by in the hallway.
"I can't wait until tomorrow!" Lily exclaimed with a giggle, clearly unaware that Jordan's door was open.
Jordan blushed again, leaving Woody confused all over again. What was special about tomorrow? Someone's birthday? He ran through the Morgue birthdays he knew… no. Some kind of anniversary for Lily and Bug? Not that he could think of. Maybe the grief counselor and her M.E. boyfriend both had the day off. Weird.
Pushing the thought aside, Woody thanked Jordan and headed out. He almost bumped into Nigel getting onto the elevator. The Brit looked like he was in another world. It took Woody nearly a full floor to get Nigel's attention and then the man hardly said a word at all, even in response to Woody's rather enthusiastic good-bye.
At the precinct, Woody put his notes in his desk and decided to grab a water before he left for the day. He ran into Matt Seely. "You notice anything weird about everyone at the Morgue lately?" Woody asked.
"Lately?" Seely asked. "I'm not sure I've ever noticed anything normal over there. Why?"
Woody shrugged. "I don't know. I just – I was over there and they all seemed… I don't know. Weird."
"I wouldn't worry about it, Hoyt," Matt told him. "You're the only one who still tries to figure that group out."
Lu Simmons approached and Woody decided that was his cue to take off. He heard their conversation as he retreated and heard her snort when Seeley explained that Woody thought the Morgue crew was acting strangely. Maybe he was the one who was "off." After all those years of hanging out with Jordan….
The following weeks didn't really change things around the Morgue. Woody felt slightly vindicated when some of the other detective began to comment on it. No one, it seemed, had any idea what was going on, except that the usually-reliable group was distracted. They weren't making mistakes, per se; it was more like they had a secret, kept only between them, one that both amused and surprised. It was, Woody realized, like they had some tree house club and none of them were willing to share the password or handshake.
He wasn't surprised, therefore, when he ran into Jordan at a local market one night, and it took his calling her name four times before she looked up from stowing a couple of bags in the passenger seat of the El Camino. "Oh, hey."
"Hey, yourself." He gave her a casual smile. "I – uh – I didn't know you shopped here."
"Oh, yeah," she averred. "They have a great salad bar. You know." She waggled her eyebrows a bit. "Better than Chinese take out every night."
He laughed politely. "Wanna grab a bite instead?"
"Oh… uh… yeah, not tonight." Her smile was slight, neither warm nor cold. "I've already got my salad and, you know… those things don't keep well."
"Sure. Yeah. Okay." They looked at each other for a minute. "Jordan, are you sure everything is really okay?"
"Yeah. I promise." Her smile warmed now and she laid a hand on his arm. "I just – not tonight."
Woody gave her a half-hearted agreement. She gave him a quick, friendly hug and got into her car. He shut the door for her and watched her drive off, wondering more than ever what was going on at the Morgue and if he should feel left out… or grateful.
The movement of something white fluttering against his shoe caught his eye. He bent down and saw Jordan's writing on the rectangular piece of paper. It looked like it came from one of those page-a-day desk calendars. She'd used this one for her grocery list. He pulled out his cell phone, planning to call her and tell her that he had it when he realized she probably didn't need it and wouldn't care. She might even take the phone call as an intrusion into the personal life she seemed eager to keep him from. He put the phone away and, out of idle curiosity, flipped the page over.
His eyes widened, his jaw gaped open and he turned about fourteen various shades of pink. Then he narrowed his eyes and studied the … diagram more carefully. "Is that even possible?" he murmured in the cold, dark air.
It took Woody a few days to track down the calendar from which Jordan's lost page had come, but finally he found a bookstore that still had one in stock, even as February drew closer. The clerk gave him a sly smile as Woody brought up his purchase. "Bachelor party gift," he muttered.
"Uh huh," the girl, all of about twenty, replied.
Woody paid and left, anxious, despite the embarrassment, to check out the item that had the Morgue crew so distracted. Or, at least, Woody was guessing that was it. If it was something else… well, he would officially give up on all of them.
Once home and going over the calendar, he decided this had to be it. Had to be. He made a couple of mental notes about some of the days and chortled to himself when he thought about how he'd approach his friends.
His opportunity came four days later, on the first Monday of the new month. He was at the Morgue for no reason in particular, except, of course, hoping to catch them all together. He found Nigel, Lily, Bug and Jordan having coffee in the break room, getting ready for a day of autopsies, tox screens and counseling. He was greeted with easy, casual expressions and offered coffee. He glanced around and ventured a question. "So… anyone have out of town guests this weekend?"
He got strange looks and could barely keep down the smirk building on his face.
"Uh… no," Lily responded at last. "You?"
Woody didn't quite choke on his coffee, but it was a tight battle. "Nope. Did a little window shopping though. Thinking about getting a birdfeeder."
Nigel's brow quirked up and a knowing look began to come up in his eyes.
"Where would you put a birdfeeder?" Jordan asked, all innocence, her eyes roaming over the donut tray.
The detective shrugged. "I'd find someplace."
"Yeah, mate," the criminologist agreed. "I'm sure you would."
Woody felt a hint of color come up into his cheeks and he fought against it. "But, you know, to each his own."
To Woody's satisfaction, Nigel snorted while the others gave both men strange looks.
Lily sighed and reached for another donut. "I probably shouldn't… but they're jelly donuts!"
"Well, you know, Lily," Woody replied. "You could…slide down the banister. That burns a lot of calories."
"What are you talking about, Woody? Are you okay?" Jordan stood up and crossed to him, pretending to take his temperature with the back of her hand against his forehead. "You've been weird since you got here."
"Not weird… not weirder than any of you lately," he countered. "Maybe I just need a facial. Maybe I have static cling. Maybe-"
Nigel doubled up with hysterical laughter.
"What are you laughing about?" Bug demanded of Nigel, just a touch indignantly.
"Oh, nothing, nothing," Nige waved a hand and brushed away tears from his cheeks from laughing so hard. He looked up at Woody and, his laughter bubbling up again, "How many did you memorize?"
"How many what…?" Jordan's shrill question died on her lips. She looked from Nigel to Woody, who had one of his biggest "I know what you know" grins on his face. She turned bright pink.
"You should be careful what you use for writing grocery lists, Jordan," Woody told her lightly.
She groaned before dissolving into giggles as Nigel continued to laugh helplessly, soon joined by Lily and even Bug.
"Welcome to the club, mate," the Brit told Woody, clapping him on the arm, as he headed to Trace.
Lily and Bug left together, leaving Jordan scuffing one toe on the floor and refusing to meet Woody's gaze. He watched her for a long moment, enjoying his discomfort just a bit. He didn't blame her for being so reticent about the "secret," but he was glad he was now in on it, even if his participation hadn't been planned. Finally, he spoke. "You know my favorite one?"
She looked up. "One what…? Oh. That."
"Yeah, that." He grinned.
"I don't think I want to know, Woody," she managed.
"New Year's Day," he told her. "The New Year's Resolution."
It took her a moment, but she placed the reference at last and her gaze became confused and suspicious. Her tone was mocking. "Out of three-hundred-sixty-five sex positions, your favorite is the one where the two people face each other and kiss?" She snorted.
He shrugged. "Yeah."
"No, I'm serious." He took a step toward her. "I mean… some of those others… I don't think even a contortionist could manage." He smirked. "At least not without a trip to the E.R. and I'd hate to hear that explanation."
She glared at him.
"Don't get me wrong, Jordan. Some of the less… bendy ones look pretty… interesting, but no, I like New Year's Day."
She just shook her head and made to move past him.
He wouldn't let her though, taking a hold of her arm and stopping her in her tracks, unless she wanted to wrench herself free. Woody realized it was one of the first times he'd touched her since her return. Somewhere that easy friendship of small touches and gentle gestures had frayed, but he was ready to work on mending the edges because he knew it was only the edges that were torn. He stared at her until she looked up, her eyes dark, shining with what might have been a sheen of tears. They'd been out of synch; no one could argue that. But at that moment they were perfectly orchestrated. "Yeah," Woody told her. "New Year's Day. The New Year's Resolution. The calendar says the benefit of it is 'a fresh start.'"
Ever so slowly, she smiled, the expression beginning in the corners of her mouth and lazily widening her lips into a playful curve. "I guess we could use one of those."
He nodded wordlessly and kissed her lightly. The kiss deepened and he pulled her into his arms. When they broke apart, they were both smiling. He brushed a stray strand or two of hair from her face. "Wanna come to my place tonight and be my understudy?" His eyes twinkled like Boston Harbor on a summer day.
She gave him a coy look and said she might, adding, "We do have an entire month of positions to make up for."
He dropped a quick kiss on the top of her glossy head. "One down. Three-sixty-four to go."
Her laughter echoed down the hallway, a happy sign that two-thousand-seven would far outshine two-thousand-six.