This was inspired by a number of things, most of which were lighthearted and amusing. And while that is where I was trying to go with this, it…didn't work out that way. Also, it's been a very long time since I needed stitches, so please forgive any inconsistencies.

Set during S6, in the weeks before Jordan tells anyone about her illness. Remember a scene during the episode Fall From Grace, where she has a seizure staring off into space while Woody tries to get her attention? Surely that wasn't the only one she had before they got worse.


Dante's Prayer

It was the blood he noticed first.

A small puddle of it on the cutting board, drops continuing to fall from a gash on the palm of her left hand. There was a knife on the floor beside her feet, and a half-cut apple on the counter. And yet – she was just standing there, staring at the dark red blood streaming through the creases of her skin, motionless.

"Jordan!"

Woody had come by the morgue to tempt her with a late-night dinner, or maybe an overnight case study or three. He knew she was pulling another double of her own accord – a new mystery that she was determined to solve – and he hoped a bit of distraction would do her some good. When she hadn't been in her office or Trace, he came here, to the break room, and found her. Covered in blood.

The small stack of files he had been cradling in his arms fell to the floor, papers scattering and hopelessly mixing, as he ran into the room to her side. She didn't notice him, even as he reached out and grabbed her wrist. There was so much blood it was hard to tell what was wounded and what was just dirty.

"Shit, Jordan! What did you do?"

Jordan blinked at the harsh movement, her eyes suddenly focusing and shooting over to find his. "I…what?"

"You're hurt!" Woody stared at her, shocked at the utterly blank look on her face.

"Oh."

"'Oh?' What the hell's wrong with you!" Her warm blood was smearing over his fingers, and he tugged at her until she moved with him to the sink. He turned the water on, unnerved by her lack of response and not even trying to hide it. "What did you do?" he asked again, shoving her hand under the stream and fighting back a wave of sickness at the sight of the reddened water rushing down the drain.

"Ouch!" Jordan hissed, abruptly snapping fully out of whatever trance she had been in and jerking her hand away from him. "Woody, what are you doing?"

"Cleaning you up," he retorted angrily, grabbing her wrist again and putting it back under the water, "since you seem completely incapable of doing it yourself. What were you doing – just standing there and watching your hand bleed everywhere?"

"I-I was cutting an apple." It was a weak explanation and they both knew it, but her voice scared him; she had no idea what was going on.

Rather than remark on her obvious fluster, he just muttered, "I can see that."

Jordan let him rinse the cut for another few seconds before bumping him away with her hip. "Let me do this," she demanded, leaving no room for argument.

So he stepped away, watching as she gently rinsed the blood off of her hand and inspected the damage. The knife wasn't a very good one. It was kept in the break room to be used for exactly what she had been doing – cutting food. But at least it was serrated enough to have left a rather even, though deep, wound across the upper part of her palm.

"Damn," she breathed, pursing her lips in frustration. "It's going to need stitches."

Woody took another step back toward the door, already reaching for his car keys. "Well come on, I'll take you to the hospital."

She shot him an annoyed glare to stop him in his tracks. "I'll do it myself. No hospital bills, thank you very much."

"What?" The word came out as a yelp, and he couldn't help the little surge in his stomach at the very thought. "Yourself? Here?"

"I've done it before," she said lightly, leaving the room and walking toward the autopsy bay. She glanced over her shoulder to see him following. "We keep sterile supplies on hand for injuries like this."

"You've…given yourself stitches before?" A horrified look came over his face and he had to turn away from her, really not appreciating the smirk playing across her lips. "Oh, my God. That's gross, Jordan."

"You're gonna have to get over it, Farm Boy. I'll need you to hold some things for me while I work one-handed."

"No. No way." He shook his head fervently and stopped short in the hallway outside the swinging doors. "I…no. I can not watch you sew your skin together like that guy from Silence of the Lambs. Just – eugh! Isn't there someone else here who can do that?"

"Kate is here somewhere, but I don't want to bother her with this," Jordan said quietly, and Woody realized there was more to this than she was letting on when she proceeded to avoid the subject completely. "And just so you know, the guy from Silence of the Lambs didn't sew his own skin; he used the skin of his victims to make that suit. Pay more attention next time."

Something was wrong with her. He knew there was, and had been for a while.

It had started that day with the hantavirus outbreak. He'd assumed at first that she was just shaken up when she had stared at him though that thick plastic drape, maybe even thought that she had gotten sick with the virus herself…but as the weeks went by, her mood had gotten worse and worse. She wasn't angry, exactly, but withdrawn? Depressed? Whatever it was, she had lost that 'Jordan' spark from her eyes. It scared him, a lot more than he was willing to admit, and he wished desperately that she would talk to him about what was upsetting her so badly. But no matter how he tried, she never gave him a straight answer.

Jordan backed through the doors into Autopsy, turning to him and nodding toward one of the cabinets under a counter. "In there," she told him. "Get out a few packages of gauze, some of that white tape, and a suture kit. Rubbing alcohol should be under there, too."

Woody did as she asked, all the while throwing her distrustful glances as she used her right hand to make space at a rolling table usually used to hold medical tools. "I'm still not sure about this, Jo. Shouldn't you just go to the hospital, or a clinic or something?"

"It's two o'clock in the morning," Jordan said dryly. "No clinic is open, and I am not coughing up a large portion of my measly paycheck for a brief trip to the hospital. I'm a doctor, remember? I've stitched myself up a bunch of times. It's easy."

The detective brought over the supplies she had asked for and spread them out. Not meeting his overly-worried gaze, she gestured to the alcohol. "Open this for me?"

He did, and she took the brown bottle and upended some of it over her hand, letting the excess run out over the empty autopsy table to drain down the sides. Not the most graceful way of doing things, but it worked well enough. She had him open a few packets of gauze, which she used to dab up the remaining liquids and make sure nothing foreign was in the wound.

Just watching her prepare for the imminent stitching made his stomach heave. She knew it, too, if her amused glances were any indication. "Isn't it going to hurt?" he asked, fighting back a wave of sickness as he helped her wriggle her right hand into a glove. Watching her cut open dead bodies was one thing. This was something else entirely.

"Of course it's going to hurt." She gave him a mischievous smirk before adding, "But I bet it won't be as bad as the time I cut open the sole of my foot. There was so much blood, it was unbelievable. Oh! Or that time some intern sliced me across the side with a scalpel. Running through the hallways with sharp objects…" She made a tsk-ing sound and shook her head in faked disappointment. "Garret actually made me go to the E.R. for that one."

Whether or not she was telling the truth was a mystery – one he would save for another day. Or maybe never. She was doing this on purpose, making him sick, and she was getting some kind of disgusting pleasure from it. "God, Jordan, just stop already."

She chuckled lowly, but obligingly stopped filling his head with those awful images. Instead, she picked up the suture kit and handed it to him. "Now put on some gloves and open this," she instructed calmly. "The needle is already threaded. Just hold it up for me so I can get a good grasp."

Trying very hard not to think about what she was going to do with that needle in just a minute, he pulled on a pair of gloves and unwrapped the kit.

"Now hold my hand open, like this," she murmured, taking the needle and giving him her upturned hand in return. It was still bleeding. "Don't pull on it like that – there, perfect. You can close your eyes now, if you want."

"I don't like your tone," he retorted. But he looked away anyway, just before she sank the sharp tip of the needle into her skin. Anything else he was going to say died on his tongue, leaving only a revolted, "oh, my god!"

Refusing to glance down, Woody's eyes quickly darted to Jordan's face. Her jaw was clenched, but, to her credit, she was showing very little reaction to what had to be a lot of pain. He was quiet for a long moment before asking, "What happened, Jordan?"

She didn't answer at first, and the seconds ticked by as she made stitch after neat little stitch. But then she was done, cleaning away the excess blood with another sheet of gauze and having Woody snip the very end of the thread. Finally, she wrapped the wound loosely with another pad of gauze and taped the edges down to keep it from being reopened by accident.

He was still gently holding her fingers when she looked up and met his gaze. "I was just cutting an apple," she explained softly. "I guess I must have been distracted or something – maybe fell asleep on my feet – because the next thing I remember is you getting my arm all wet at the sink." She tried to laugh the strange story away and dropped her eyes. "I've just been really tired lately, that's all."

That was a lie, and they both knew it. But Jordan just gave him a weak smile as she disposed of the bloody mess she had made. "Help me with one more thing?" She led him back to her office and pointed to the bottom drawer of her desk. "Get out my purse and find a pill bottle, will you?"

Woody walked past her into the room and pulled open the drawer to rummage through her bag. The bottle was easy to find, and he took off the lid before she had a chance to ask. He had no idea what the medicine was or even how to pronounce the name, and he knew that she was very aware of that; she was trusting him with this because, with no medical background, he wouldn't be able to put two and two together. It was hurtful, but he stubbornly brushed it away.

"Thanks," she said softly, swallowing the capsule dry and tossing the bottle on top of a stack of papers.

"No problem." She was getting ready to dismiss him, and Woody shuffled his feet as he tried to think of the right thing to say – some way to get her to open up. But nothing brilliant came into his head. "Guess I'll…just go clean up those files. Are you okay?"

Jordan nodded and sat down at her desk with an air of finality. "I'm fine. Go home and get some sleep, Woody."

There it was – the dismissal. He opened his mouth to say something, anything now, to find a way to stay, but the words never came. "Get that checked out in the morning, okay?"

"Promise." Jordan gave him a small half-smile before breaking his gaze completely and pulling forward her most current file. "G'night."

"Good night, Jo."

She didn't say another word to him, and so he did the only thing he could.

He left her alone.