DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Thinking the coup may not be necessary. But still ready, willing and able to stage it should the need arise!

FEEDBACK: Always.

BROKEN HALLELUJAH

Dress blues.

Bagpipes.

A cortege of "important" people.

Her family has had its share of tragedies. That she died a heroine does nothing to comfort her parents, nor should it. They are putting all their hopes and dreams for her in the ground with her body.

I stay away, aching for them, not knowing what to say, watching as, one by one, slowly, the city's luminaries pay their respects to a family they'd never met about a woman they'd never known. I turn away when Woody approaches them, unable or unwilling to intrude even with something so small as a look.

Funerals should be private.

I walk, knowing this place far too well. Not surprisingly I find myself in front of another plot of turned earth. The grass had barely had time to begin growing and now we've all stood in front of another gaping hole.

I crouch next to the headstone. I'd buried him alone. Only Garret had been there to watch the tears slide down my face, to listen to the hitches in my breathing, to read my lips as I mouthed the apologies I could never find the voice for.

I've said too many "goodbyes" in this life, but it's taken me all this time to learn how to grieve.

XXXXX

We didn't talk about it, didn't plan it, but the knock on my door doesn't surprise me. He gives me a look when I open the door to him. His eyes are wounded, self-doubt warring with that grief I know too well. His face is pale and drawn. I reach up and put my arms around him, feeling his solid weight against me. He pulls me tightly to him and clings to me as if I'm the only thing left on earth for him.

"God, Jordan. I – I don't even… God," he murmurs in my ear.

"I know, Woody," I tell him, pulling away, leading him across a threshold we'll never cross again.

There is nothing of what we were – once – of what we waited so long to be in this moment. There is only shared grief and the renewed knowledge that lives end too soon. The other will come, in time, when we have mourned, given our dead their due. There is no more rushing toward each other, only to fall back in the last second before the collision, only quiet, easy steps that, unspoken, will take us where we need to go.

I'd made dinner and we eat silently for a time. Gradually, conversation begins. Memories flow out over food, over dishes, over last glasses of wine. We sit together, his arms around me, our fingers entwined, talking desultorily, listening to the silences between the words.

"It could have been you," he says at last. He's not talking about that alley.

"Or you," I reply. I am talking about that alley.

"That's something, isn't it? Something… meaningful."

I nod. I realize I don't want to forget J.D. Pollack and, strange as it would have seemed even a month ago, I don't want him to forget Tallulah Simmons.

Friends.

Lovers.

Enemies.

Friends. Again.

Like one of those stately, old dances, we've been through all the steps, whirling around each other, changing partners with the music, slowing with the final notes each time.

For a while we're going to turn off the music, but it will start again. I know that. Just as I know we finally have learned the steps that will bring us together in the end.

END