Well, here it is – the last chapter. Wonderland is finished!
Thank you to everyone who has read through it all, and thank you especially to all of you who reviewed. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you sticking with me through that, um, rather long disappearance.
As I said last week, I have more writing to share with you, so add me to your Author Alerts or keep an eye on the main CJ Fan Fiction page.
Thank you again for the fun times, everyone! I will see you soon.
I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Epilogue – Three Weeks Later
Jordan signed the bottom of her last autopsy report for the day and slid it neatly into the file, folding it closed and leaning back in her chair to let out a long yawn. It had been a very grueling nine hours; the morgue was still understaffed, since Garret hadn't returned to work yet. Bug had come back just two days after Jordan, but then Nigel had been given a week off, and then Kate – who was currently still away, leaving a very frazzled Jordan to look after things in both hers and the Chief's absence.
She certainly understood Garret's reasoning for not wanting to leave her in charge anymore, but that didn't mean she was happy about it. She liked being "Second in Command", even if she had honestly not given any thought to one day being the actual Chief. In her mind, Garret was always there, always in that position. If she was a medical examiner, then he was the Chief M.E. Always. Others would come and go. Trey, Elaine, Peter. Devan. Garret was her only constant in this world of chaos. She missed him.
"Throwing sharpened pencils into the ceiling tiles again?"
The soft voice from her doorway startled her, and she fell forward in the chair. The very man she had just been thinking about was standing there, his arm in a sling and likely wearing a brace under his shirt, but looking no worse for the wear. She jumped up, an elated smile opening on her face. "Oh my God, Garret! What're you doing here?"
"I had to pick up some forms to get ready to come back to work on Monday and saw you in here, looking ready to fall asleep." He smirked at her, coming into her office and lowering himself gingerly onto her couch.
Incredibly pleased to see him, Jordan walked around her desk and plopped down onto the sofa next to him, poking his side and feeling that there was, indeed, a brace there. "Monday, huh? No one even knew where you were, man. You practically dropped off the face of the planet after you left the hospital." She slipped her hand into his and squeezed it tightly in a show of companionship.
"I needed some space," he told her softly, squeezing her hand in return. "Think some things through. I'm not leaving, Jordan. Not for good. Or at least, not yet."
"Good." Surprised at the amount of relief she felt, she let her head fall onto his shoulder. "I'm glad you're here."
"So," Garret said jovially, changing the subject, "word around the water cooler has it that you and Woody are suddenly living together. What exactly happened up on that mountain? You're not pregnant, are you?"
Jordan let that roll off. She and Woody hadn't talked about the no-baby thing yet, and she definitely hadn't spoken to Garret about it; he had no idea how much potential that one joking question had to hurt her. So she just laughed obligingly. "No, Garret, I am not pregnant. But yes, he did ask me to live with him."
"And you actually said yes?"
"Why the hell are you so surprised?" She raised her head to glare at him. "I mean, really. I think Nigel's head almost exploded when he found out, and I didn't even tell him! He was just being nosy in my personal business. And you should have seen the look on Bug's face when Nigel told him. Besides, Woody and I aren't actually living together permanently yet; he still has the lease on his apartment for five more days. All of his stuff hasn't even been moved in yet." Jordan paused in her make-believe tirade and shrugged. "I guess I'm just ready to get going with my life. In the right direction this time."
Garret chuckled and pulled her head down to kiss her hair. "I just keep thinking about the whole Tyler fiasco, that night at dinner. But you know, if anyone can tame that wild streak in you, Woody can."
"Woody isn't going to "tame" anything," Jordan scoffed belligerently, letting her boss put his arm comfortably across her shoulders anyway. "I just love him, that's all. It's not like it's a big deal."
"I never thought I would hear you admit those words out loud, despite how blithe you're trying to be about it all."
"Yeah? Well shut up." But she shook her head and gave him a closed-lipped grin.
"Are you sure you're ready for this, Jordan? Woody adores you; everyone knows it. I would hate to see you self-destruct because you rushed into something too soon. Honestly, I'm not sure if either of you could recover from another blow like that."
Jordan was silent for a long moment, considering his words. She had thought about it a lot since coming home from Rhode Island. But, no matter where her mind went, the conclusion was always the same – she wanted to be with Woody, one way or another. Truth be told, she had wanted to be with him for a very long time. "When we were in Warwick," she told Garret calmly, "and he asked to move in, I told him I wanted to take it slowly. Because, as much as I wanted it to happen, I was scared. But then, when we got back? I called him not ten minutes after he dropped me off and asked him to come back to my place. Turns out he hadn't even left my parking lot." She couldn't help the laugh that bubbled up out of her throat at the memory. "We haven't spent more than two days apart in the last three weeks. It feels…good, being with him."
"It's about damn time," Garret mumbled. "Does Walcott know?"
"What? Why does Walcott need to know about my personal life?" Jordan whined with a scowl.
"You and Woody can't work together anymore. You know that."
"Yeah, yeah." She leaned against his arm to press back into the couch, eyebrows knitted defiantly. "I'll just bring it up with Reneé the next time we have some girl talk. Come on." But then she pursed her lips and sighed in annoyed agreement. "Woody's actually already started requesting a different M.E. to respond to his calls. Or at least letting dispatch know that it's him so that I won't get drawn. Which is a shame; we were such a good team."
"You're still a good team," her friend corrected gently, giving her shoulders a little shake before she could start moping. "No one ever said you can't discuss cases anymore. Just that you can't work on them officially together."
There was a soft rap on the open door to her office just before Woody himself poked his head inside. "Hey, Jo, are you ready to – oh, hi, Doctor Macy!" He beamed ear-to-ear, seeing the two of them sitting there on the couch, and came into the room. "How're you doing?"
"I'm doing all right, Woody. Thank you for asking." Garret smirked at him and removed his arm from Jordan's shoulders. "I think I have a decent idea of how you're doing. Are you two heading out for the night?"
Woody's face turned scarlet at the insinuation, and Jordan started to chuckle as she answered her boss's question. "Yeah," she said, getting to her feet and stooping down to give Garret a hand up as well. "We were going to go grab some dinner before going home to crash. You're welcome to join us, if you want. For the dinner part, not the crashing part."
"I appreciate the invitation, but I will have to take a rain check. Abby's waiting for me." He pulled Jordan into as tight an embrace as he could, given his injuries, before turning to Woody and giving him a stern look. "Since Max is still M.I.A., I guess I'll be the one to tell you to take care of her, not to hurt her, and all that. Now get outta here, lovebirds."
Jordan gently smacked Garret's arm. "Oh, stop."
He grinned at them and gave her a shove toward Woody, who had already taken her bag and jacket from the coat hook by the door like the gentleman he was. "Ready?" the detective asked softly, all of his attention now on her and her alone as she stepped close and looped her elbow with his.
Garret came up and clapped the other man on the back. "Just kiss her already," he muttered, nodding goodbye to Jordan and walking past them into the hallway. "No need to hide that here."
Woody watched him walk away with stark embarrassment, but Jordan just burst out laughing again. "You know," she said as she led him out into the hall and pulled her office door closed, "he does have a point there." Without waiting for him to respond, she reached up to wrap one hand around the back of his head, tugging him down for a very brief, very chaste kiss.
"Let's just grab some take-out," he whispered after a moment, enveloping her waist with his arms as they waited for the elevator. "I'm ready to go home."
"I like the sound of that, Farm Boy."