Before You Go

Disclaimer: I do not own anything.

A/N: This is probably not the way many (if any) people saw the Jordan – Woody – Lu triangle… but if you're willing: Take the alternate death scene from 33 Bullets on the NBC website and add a dash of A Man in Blue, a pinch of Embraceable You, a smidgen of Someone to Watch Over Me; pour over The Ice Man Commeth and shake gently…

Before You Go...

Jordan sat alone, eyes closed, in the cool darkness of St. Inez – with only her thoughts for company. The scent of incense lingered in the air and she was surprised by the familiar comfort it offered.

She felt the presence of the other woman – sitting next to her in the pew – before she opened her eyes.

"I thought you weren't religious, Jordan. At least that's what Woody said." Lu shook her head with a quick flick – the way she sometimes did – and every hair fell back into place perfectly.

"Ummm… religious – no. I think he refers to me as a 'lapsed Catholic girl'. But, it's not God I have issues with… just some aspects of the institution…"

"And yet you're here?" Lu smiled sweetly, her face full, her cheeks pink… not at all the pale beauty Jordan had last seen.

"Yeah. I guess there's… comfort… here – in these rituals." She smiled back but refrained from reaching out to touch Lu's hand. Their almost-friendship had not progressed to that level… not even after… everything…

"The candles?" she inclined her head toward the dancing votive flames in front of them.

Jordan nodded. "It goes way back to when I was little and my mom and dad would take me to Mass. I waited impatiently… endured, really… until the end because then she'd give me a penny so I could light a candle. Every once in a while she'd give me a dollar and I'd get to light one of the big devotional candles… I hear those last a week."

"What did you light the candles for?"

"Then? It was simple then, kid's stuff. The 'gimmes' of childhood… a new bike… a puppy… that kind of thing."

"It got more complicated?"

"Yeah, after she died. The 'gimmes' stopped working – she never came back."

Lu nodded in understanding. "If you don't mind me asking – what do you light candles for now? As an adult."

Jordan studied her for a moment before she answered, "Woody… when he was shot. I lit candles for him… that he would live… walk again… be whole again."

Lu look surprised. "That's all? Nothing for you in there?"

"I don't really matter." Jordan smiled at her slightly. "He is all that matters."

"Matters, huh? Even now?"

Jordan's nod was almost imperceptible.

"What else have you lit candles for?"

"J.D. That he'd somehow know how sorry I am that what happened… happened."

Lu flinched at the sound of her voice as it betrayed the rawness of the wound. "I'm sorry, Jordan. I didn't understand… you're not easy to understand…"

"So I've been told."

"But I started to… understand that is. I started to see you like they… like your friends… see you. Like Woody sees you."

"That's dangerous," Jordan chuckled softly, mirthlessly.

Lu didn't miss the sarcasm but acknowledged the statement anyway. "Very dangerous. To let you in… because then I started to feel… like you felt. Risks weren't out of the question… they were acceptable if they could yield just results."

She studied Jordan for a moment before she continued, "It bothered me… before. I told Woody once," she stopped to take a deep breath, "that he would do anything for you. And after I worked the last couple of cases with you… I started to understand why…"

"I'm sorry, Lu. So, so sorry."

"For what?"

"I failed you. It was my responsibility… my idea… to go out there with the riot going on. It was because of that lie I helped to tell… I didn't mean for it to happen… I never imagined…" The panic I felt when I heard the gunshots in the background when Woody called… and he was out there… you were both out there... I never imagined…

"I know that," she laughed lightly, the sound no more than that of an exhaled breath.

Jordan raised her eyebrows so Lu would continue. "You sent your body guard with me."

"Woody? He's not…"

Lu raised her hand to stop Jordan's denial, "The wink didn't escape either one of us, Jordan."

Jordan looked down to study her hands. "You meant a lot to him."

"I know. He wanted to be friends. I wasn't ready for that… yet. We'd have gotten there, I think… eventually. I was still angry with him… angry with myself…"

"Angry with me?"

"You? Nah. Jealous, maybe… but not angry."

"How so?"

"From the moment I met you, I had a feeling you and Woody weren't finished. And then when I kissed him the first time – I knew. The rational part of my mind told me to run. Unfortunately, it wasn't the rational part of my mind that won."

Lu studied Jordan for a few moments, seemingly deciding whether to continue. Her voice was almost ethereal when she spoke again. "I enjoyed being with him. When he managed to step outside of the darkness, he could be fun. An adventure. Quirky. A lot like his 'friend' Jordan. You were never just his friend." Lu's gaze engaged hers. "Did you ever realize you two are the halves of a whole?"

Jordan was silent, speechless, as Lu continued, "You had – I thought you had – the reporter… J.D. And Woody was a caregiver… with no one to care for. I figured I could use a little TLC. Why not? What harm could it do?"

Jordan's voice was faint; "I knew I couldn't help him through the darkness he was trying to get through. He shut me out on a level I wasn't prepared for – and I couldn't reach him. I was a toxin to him – he made that clear. Even after… ummm… I told you – I let things go too far with an old friend… We didn't get past that."

Lu started to interrupt, contradict what Jordan was saying – but the look in Jordan's eyes stopped her. "You were good for Woody. He deserved you… stable, steady, uncomplicated – all the things I'm not. You were a good partner."

Jordan smiled, eyes twinkling. "Besides, I liked you… I knew where you stood… From the moment you helped me – no questions asked – gather the evidence to help clear Woody… or was it Mike…" Jordan's grin was lopsided, "when he was accused of planting that cell phone.

I knew what it was like to have you on my side. And I found out what it was like when we were on opposite sides of the issues. I could relate to the passion – but in the end, when we got past the personal issues – you did the right thing simply because it was the right thing. I respected that."

Lu watched her closely; "You didn't have problems with it… with us. You didn't fight for him, you didn't act like a woman scorned… you really let him go."

"I wasn't prepared for how much it hurt when I found out about you two." Betrayed, helpless. "But, if you were happy… if he was happy… it was all good."

"We should have told you sooner," Lu lamented.

"You should have," Jordan agreed. "Unfortunately, life is full of 'should haves' – I should have been the one in that alley. I should have been able to stop your bleeding… keep you awake… keep you alive. I should have been able to save you. But, I couldn't."

"I'm glad you were with me, Jordan. It helped having you there... and I heard everything you said."

Jordan's eyes reflected the mild surprise she felt but she remained silent, unable to find her voice.

"I'm okay, you know," came Lu's gentle assurance.

"I know. But I'm not… not yet." She felt the warm tears making wet tracks down her cheeks.

"Good did come out of all this, Jordan. It was where you said it would be… the thing Jammar was holding. And I found it – just like you said I would – hidden in the alley. Finding that toy airplane… it will help the city begin to heal."

Jordan sat silently for a few moments, unable to answer.

It was Lu who, changing the subject, broke the silence once more. "Well, I'm sure J.D. will eventually realize how you feel about everything."

"Oh, he does," Jordan smiled vaguely.

"You already know that? But you said you came here tonight…"

"No, you asked what else I've lit candles for. Not what I came to light a candle for tonight."

Lu smiled and a small laugh escaped. Jordan decided in that instant that this was the way she would always remember the detective… shrink… almost-friend.

"I do know, Jordan," Lu said softly, a tear trickling down her cheek.

XXXXXXXXX

Jordan woke with his arms around her, the unique, reassuring smell of him filling her nostrils. She relaxed into his embrace and neither of them spoke for a few minutes. Finally, kissing the top of her head and rubbing her back gently, methodically he whispered, "I was worried about you. When I didn't find you at your apartment… I don't know what made me come here to look for you."

Jordan sat back to look at him, "I came to light a candle."

"For Lu?"

Jordan shrugged.

"It's good we were with her… you were with her when…"

"It is." Jordan forced a smile. "There's something… sacred… in that." Her face relaxed. "I just hoped she understands how sorry I am… about everything."

Woody hugged her tightly to him, "I'm sure she knows, Jo."

"Yeah," Jordan agreed quietly, "she does."