DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Thinking the coup is no longer necessary, but still ready, willing and able to stage it should it become necessary.
A/N: Sorry it's been a while. Work. Insomnia. Not been feeling it with the last two episodes…. You know…stuff!
NOT THE WAR
Nigel stirred his coffee and watched Bug fidgeting with a tea bag. Despite what Dr. Macy had said about the meningioma case being a consult, neither of them were entirely convinced. Bug stopped dunking the hapless mesh and raised his dark eyes to Nigel's. "Oh."
"Oh…what?" The criminologist asked.
"Oh… I know who it is."
Bug nodded, his face grave and sad. "Think about it."
Nigel almost retorted that he had been thinking about it, when he realized he hadn't been…not exactly. He'd been thinking around it, to be more precise. Bug's words made him realize why. Deep down, he knew, too. "You don't … no. It couldn't be."
"Couldn't be what?" Woody Hoyt looked chipper this morning. His blue eyes sparkled, his suit seemed freshly pressed and he had on a tie Jordan had once given him (which meant she either loved or hated it; he still wasn't certain.)
"Um…you know," Nigel replied lamely.
The detective raised an eyebrow. "Right. Of course, I do." He gave a slight head shake. "Come on, guys… it couldn't be what?"
"Er… well… it's… not really something we should talk about," Bug told him.
"When has that stopped anyone in this place?" Woody cajoled as he moved toward the cupboard.
"We thought Dr. M had a meningioma," the tall Brit blurted out.
Woody nodded slowly. "Uh… huh. And that would be?"
"A brain tumor," Bug replied, throwing a murderous glare in Nigel's direction. Poor, hapless Nigel could only shrug. He really was inept at keeping secrets.
"Oh my God!" Woody had been rooting in the cupboard for the jar of peanut butter. He stopped and looked back at the two men. "Dr. Macy has a brain tumor?"
"No, no!" Nigel assured him, smiling inanely. "No, not at all."
The man's unease did not slip past one of Boston's Finest. "Then why did you think he did?"
"We – uh – that is… we sort of… oh…."
"We saw some e-mails," Bug finished, gritting his teeth.
"But he doesn't."
Both men shook their heads.
"Good." Woody turned back and reached for the peanut butter. His hand stopped inches away from it. "But someone does."
"He was a doing consult," Nigel supplied, feeling himself almost calm again.
Another nod from Woody and then a puzzled look. "Look, guys, no offense, but why would someone ask an M.E. to a consult? Unless it was cause of death. Was it cause of death?"
Bug silently vowed never to try to stand in the same room as Nigel and keep secrets again. "No. It's just – just a consult."
"Yeah, but why?" Hoyt showed no sign of letting it go. "Like I said, no offense-"
"Yeah, none taken, mate," Nige interrupted, hoping to close the topic.
Woody eyed both men with deep suspicion. "Oh, geez, it's not Lily, is it? Or Abby?" He received negative murmurs. His eyes narrowed and his voice dropped; he was suddenly a cop interrogating a suspect. "What are the symptoms of this tumor?"
Nigel looked down and Bug glanced at the cell phone clipped to his hip, willing it to trill into life and call him away.
Woody waited a moment. He considered repeating his question more forcefully, but the way his heart clenched told him he didn't need to. His mouth had gone as dry as the Sahara. He rasped out his next question. "Is it malignant?"
"No," Nigel replied softly.
Nigel looked away, leaving Bug to answer. "That depends."
Woody closed his eyes briefly, but an image of her flashed against his closed lids. "Shit," he muttered.
"That about sums it up," Nigel said softly.
He broke every speed limit making his way toward her Pearle Street apartment. He parked illegally, thrusting the "police business" placard in the windshield and not caring if he was written up for misusing that privilege. Too many thoughts had raced through his mind for him to recall them all. He just knew his life – his life with Jordan Cavanaugh in it – had flashed before him and the thought that those flashes might be coming to an end clawed at his gut and shredded his heart. He took the stairs, his heavy, panicked tread evoking a fresh memory with each step.
Listening to Macy and Jordan talk about the bank robbery, conspiracies and comparing them to Mulder and Scully.
Seeing her with that hair clip at the sanitarium.
Shooting a man to save her.
Hearing the soft, gentle tones in her voice when she told him, "I could try harder" out there in the Mojave Desert.
Dancing with her at the Pogue.
Arresting her during the Malden case, his heart shattering as he did it.
Willing her not to answer her damn cell phone on that rooftop in L.A.
Feeling the rush of her breath across his skin as she whispered those words in his ears and enjoying the confused, nearly forlorn look on her face when he told her it didn't mean anything.
Watching her with Pollack, bitterness a permanent taste in the back of his throat.
Loving her that night at the Inn.
Staring at her across the gulf that had somehow opened between them after that, not knowing how to bridge it.
Watching her flirt with Danny McCoy, wishing it were him she could still banter with like that.
Telling her – oh, God – he'd wanted someone else on that last case.
He was at her door. As heavily as he'd pounded up the stairs, he knocked even harder now. She wouldn't be able to ignore him. For once he wasn't going to let her and that was all there was to it.
He heard her muttering under her breath, saw the flash of darkness as she peered into the peephole and waited expectantly while she opened the door. "Geez, Woody," she said, her tone sarcastic as usual – except nothing was usual now. "Where's the-?"
His hands were on her arms, banding the firm muscles there as he pulled her to him. His mouth descended on hers with fury and fear, swallowing whatever question she'd been asking. Even as he kicked the door shut, he felt her stiffen and push him away.
Her eyes blazed with angry confusion. "What in the Hell are you doing?"
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"Quit it, Jordan. I know."
"Congratulations! Care to enlighten me?"
She was so convincing; he came close to believing her. If only she hadn't dropped her eyes at the last moment. "I know," he repeated softly. "About the – the tumor."
Her jaw set in a hard line and she opened her mouth to deny it.
"Don't bother telling me I don't know what I'm talking about. It explains everything – the feeling that something wasn't right with you, the mistake you made on that last case… Dr. Macy taking you off the schedule."
"He – He thought I needed a break."
"Yeah. It's called medical leave, Jordan." Woody enunciated each word carefully, almost as one might to a stubborn toddler. "When's the surgery?"
She swallowed before replying in a low, stony voice. "I'm not having surgery."
Woody was floored. That she wouldn't tell him, he'd half expected. That she'd tell him not to worry, he'd known would come out of her mouth. That she wasn't – no. That one he hadn't expected. "You're not serious!"
"Too many risks," she told him simply.
"And having a tumor in your brain is better?"
She couldn't reply, couldn't even nod, no matter how much she wanted to.
He changed tactics. "What are the risks?"
She repeated them softly, her voice coming as if from a distance. "Brain damage, paralysis, stroke… death."
"And doing nothing?"
She shrugged. "I can cope."
Woody nodded. "Right. Cope. So well that Macy took you off the rotation."
"I've just – I've had a lot of stress lately."
She ignored him. "Stress causes symptoms."
"Ah, so…what? Things'll calm down, back to their normal 'life of Jordan chaos' and these symptoms will go away?" His sarcasm now matched hers; he had learned from the master, after all.
"Yeah." Her reply was brave, but her voice belied that false courage.
"Woody, I don't want to talk about it."
He regarded her for a moment, unnerved by the vulnerability she couldn't hide in that moment. He'd seen that side of her so few times. And every time he'd screwed it up. He couldn't screw this one up. Wordlessly, he collected her into his embrace, folding her against him, smoothing a hand along her hair. Quietly he told her, "You're going to have talk about it, Jordan."
She trembled in his arms. "I don't want to."
"Yeah, I know," he replied. "You're still going to have to."
How she could break him with that one syllable was beyond comprehension, but she did. He reached down and tilted up her chin, forcing her to meet his gaze. "Because someday it's going to make one hell of a story."
"Yes," he interrupted. "Someday you'll be telling our kids all about the day Daddy asked Mommy to marry him because he realized that life without her in it wasn't worth living and all it took was a brain tumor."
She stared up at him for a long time. "Woody, I can't…."
He smiled and drew a thumb along her cheek. "You can. We both can."
He held his breath until, at last, she nodded.
How long they stood wordlessly, Jordan held securely in his arms, neither of them ever knew. The minutes didn't matter; neither did the silence. All that mattered was that no matter how many battles they'd lost against their own feelings, they'd won the war.