Kind of but not really a companion piece to From the Wreckage. You definitely do not have to read that one first, though. Set after the end of S6, probably about six months to a year.
Come Running Home
Jordan rolled to her side in bed, taking a deep breath and fighting back the nausea that had woken her two hours before. She'd already gotten up and run to the toilet three times to empty her stomach, even though by this point there was nothing left to eject. Maybe things would settle, and she'd be able to doze off again. Nope. No, there it was. Crap.
Trying as best she could not to jostle the mattress and wake Woody, who was sleeping like the dead beside her, she flung the covers off once more and dashed into her tiny bathroom, kneeling in front of the toilet just in time for a few dry heaves to torture her body. There was nothing left but bile to come up now, and she squeezed her eyes closed, too exhausted to even hold her hair back this time. The wave eased after a moment, and she lowered the toilet lid to lean her arms against it for support, timing her breathing in an attempt to keep herself calm.
"Jordan? Are you okay?"
She sighed, running her hands over her face in self-doubt. She hadn't wanted to wake him. More than that - she hadn't wanted him to see her like this. Weak and sick, not when she had been spending months attempting to prove to everyone that she was healthy as a horse. But he padded over to the bathroom when she didn't answer right away, pushing the door all the way open and peering in at her through eyes still clouded with sleep.
"I'm fine," she told him dismissively, her voice hoarse. "Go back to bed, Woody."
"You're not fine." He reached for a washcloth, one that she had left in the sink from earlier, and got it wet before coming to crouch next to her, using two fingers under her chin to turn her face toward his so he could run the cloth over her cheeks and lips. "Are you getting sick?"
"No." Jordan swallowed and looked away from him, torn between giving in to his willingness to take care of her and stubbornly pushing him away. "It's, um, this new medication my neurologist prescribed. My body's reacting badly to it, that's all."
"What kind of medication?"
Another deep breath as a wave a nausea overtook her stomach again. She compulsively leaned forward, pressing her head into the crease of her elbow. "Called topiramate. For controlling seizures, and to prevent those migraines the meningioma caused."
"And it makes you this ill?" Woody ran his hand up and down her back in concern.
But Jordan didn't answer, shaking off his hand and tossing the toilet lid back up again as more dry heaves tore through her stomach. He immediately gathered up her hair, holding it back as her body tried to retch. Finally, after an agonizing five minutes, she fell back and rested against the side of the shower, the coolness of the teal-colored tile soothing against her hot skin. "Not everyone responds like this," she softly answered the question he had asked. "I'm not one of those lucky ones, I guess. I'll just have to talk to my doctor about adjusting the dose. No big deal. Really."
"No big deal?" Woody scoffed, moving to sit beside her against the shower. "Jeez, Jo. You're puking your guts out and you say it's no big deal? How long has this been going on?"
She let her head loll back against the rim of tile and covered her eyes with her arm, still loathe to accept his help. "I dunno, a few hours?"
"You could have woken me."
The hurt in his voice made her glance over at him, and the wall she had been attempting to keep up came crumbling down when she saw him sitting there in his pajamas, so worried about her. She reached out and found his hand, pulling it into her lap and encasing it with both of hers as she closed her eyes again. "Guess I'm just too used to battling my demons alone."
He used his free hand to push her hair behind her ear, letting his fingers run down her cheek. "How are you feeling now?"
"Like shit." Her eyes cracked open and she gave him a thin smile. "It'll pass once the medicine is out of my system. Just give it another few hours. I'll try to get in to see my doctor tomorrow, okay?"
"Is there something you can take now? To make you stop throwing up?"
She shrugged, her shoulders sagging more as they came down. She was so, so tired. "I already took something when I first felt this coming, but it came up after just having enough time to soak in. Can't take anything else until...five o'clock, I think. I'm going to have to call out in the morning." It was an excruciating thought, giving in to this stupid thing, and her brain was already running through excuses she could give Garret for her absence. Dog ate my homework. "Don't you even think about telling anyone about this. I'm fine. I'm going to be fine."
"I know," he told her gently, putting his arm around her waist to draw her a little closer.
The way Woody touched her - softly, reverently - made her heart tighten. Like he was afraid she was going to vanish, or break into a million pieces right in front of him. She had told him so many times that she was okay, that the tumor hadn't started growing again in the last nine months, that she was healthy. But it was obvious, especially during times like this, that he was terrified of losing her the way he had lost his mother, the way he had lost his father. The way he had lost everyone he had ever cared about. He was powerless against this, and she knew that that frightened him the most. She needed to let him help her. If not for herself, then for him.
"Hey," she whispered, her forehead dropping heavily to the crook of his neck, letting the scent of him briefly soothe her. "Maybe a hot shower will get my muscles to relax. Help me up?"
If he noticed the change, he didn't say anything. Instead, he stood and held her elbows as she got to her feet and found her balance. Then he silently helped her tug off her flannel pants, pull her shirt up over her head. He folded both and draped them over the edge of the sink. And, as she stood there naked in front of him, she let him clip her hair up at the back of her head and lean over to turn on the water. She watched him as he tested the water's temperature, studying his face. The fear she had seen there a moment ago was gone; he had pushed it away.
She blinked, focusing on his question and holding her hand under the stream of water. "Yeah, that's good."
"Come on, then." He took her elbow again and flashed her a wide, dimpled smile as he gave her support so she could step over the edge of the shower, and then sit on the stall floor and lean back against the wall so that the water splashed across her front - exactly where she needed it. She pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. "Nothing like a shower at two A. M., right?"
"Right." She looked up at him and put effort into returning his grin. A misting of droplets stuck to her eyelashes, and her breath caught as he reached down and ever-so-gently brushed them away.
"I'll be right back," he told her quietly, starting to pull away.
Jordan opened her mouth to protest, to tell him to go back to bed, that she would be fine now. But he picked up her dirty clothes from the sink with purpose. He needed this - he needed to be needed. So she would let him take care of her, even though she knew she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. Her stomach clenched again as another wave of nausea overtook it, and she pressed her head back against the wall and squeezed her eyes closed, taking deep, measured breaths. There was nothing left to throw up; it wasn't worth it to go back to the toilet. This will pass. This will pass.
She pushed the air out of her lungs as Woody came back into the bathroom, holding fresh, clean pajamas for her in his arms. "You doing okay?"
All she could do was shake her head, and he immediately came and sat on the edge of the shower, reaching inside and rubbing her shoulders. "You're getting wet," she observed haltingly, attempting to be humorous and failing when speaking only made the nausea worse.
"I don't mind." To prove it was true, he retreated just long enough to pull his now damp loose-fitting shirt up over his head and let it fall to the floor. His hands resumed their massaging. "I'll even get in with you, if you want."
"Mmm, you just can't resist seeing me naked." The offer was tempting, though, and the thought of his strong arms around her was enough to make her concede. "Fine, c'mere. Treating me like a child," she mumbled under her breath, even if she really did appreciate what he was doing as he stripped off his pants and climbed in, still wearing his boxers. She slid forward so he was able to sit down behind her, legs on either side of hers, his arms sliding around her waist to hold her tight against his chest. She sighed slowly, her head falling back to rest on his shoulder as the hot water soaked them both.
"How are you feeling?" he asked quietly, his mouth right next to her ear.
"A little better," she replied honestly, turning her face into his neck so she wouldn't have to see the pain in his eyes as it blossomed again. "It'll come and go for a few more hours, but I'm doing okay right now. Thank you."
"I never knew a medicine could make a person so sick," Woody muttered, moving one of his hands to her damp hair, checking to make sure the clip was still secure before simply resting his fingers against the side of her head as she continued to hide her face.
She was silent for a moment, measuring the pain in her stomach. "Some people just have stronger reactions," she finally explained. "And unfortunately my body doesn't always respond well to new things anymore. It's hit or miss. At this point it'll just be a matter of playing around with dosages and stuff. I really am fine, Woody. I promise."
"I know," he responded, kissing the side of her forehead he could reach. "I just hate seeing you like this."
"Yeah, well, I hate feeling like this." She finally lifted her head and met his eyes, giving him a wry smile. "It'll pass. Think Garret would buy something like, 'I just don't feel like coming in today'? Or maybe, 'there's this great show on T.V. that I have to watch all day'? Or how about the good ol' fashioned 'my car died'?"
"No," Woody said with a laugh. "Probably not. Why not just say you have a cold?"
"Kind of defeats the purpose of coming up with a cover story, don't you think? Still makes me sound sick."
Neither one of them spoke again for a while after that. Jordan closed her eyes, focusing again on her breathing as the water hit her skin and soothed the angry muscles in her abdomen, just as she had hoped it would. Woody's arms around her were a point of grounding, his legs completing the circle and making her feel safe even as her body rebelled. It would take a lot for her to admit it, but having him there with her was such a comfort, despite how she had resisted at first. She had lost track of time when Woody stirred, and she glanced up at him when her concentration was broken.
"The water is starting to get cold," he whispered, and she realized he was right. "Think you're ready to get back in bed?"
"Yeah, I think so."
He nodded once, disentangling his limbs from hers so he could turn off the water and get a towel for them both. She accepted his hands as he helped her out of the shower and wrapped her up, drying her arms and back, and then letting down her hair and running his fingers through it. "I just got you one of my old BPD shirts to wear. Is that okay?" When she smiled in the affirmative, he handed it to her and took a step back. "I'll leave you to it, then, so I can go get some dry pj's myself."
Jordan watched him take the second towel off the rack and go back into the bedroom, his boxers soaking wet, and bit back a chuckle. She didn't bother sliding the door closed as she finished drying off and pulled on his shirt. The nausea was mostly gone at this point; hopefully it would stay that way long enough for her to fall back to sleep. After brushing her teeth and rinsing with some mouthwash to get the lingering taste of vomit out, she flipped off the light and followed him into the room.
Woody had already climbed into bed, on the right side, and she looked at him quizzically as he switched their pillows. "What are you doing? You always throw a fit when I do that."
"The left side is closer to the bathroom," he said simply, pulling back the sheets so she could slip into the bed beside him. As soon as she was comfortable, rolled to her side, he slid close and spooned against her back. "Wake me if you need anything, okay? Even if you just need me to move."
He was asleep in just a few minutes, but Jordan had a much harder time joining him. What would she ever tell him if the tumor started to grow again? Her best friend, her lover. Her future husband? He wanted so badly to help her, but what if...? Stop it, she told herself firmly, squeezing her eyes closed and feeling his arm around her waist, his leg hooked over hers. Holding her tightly.
Letting her know that, after Jordan had spent more than three decades struggling through life alone, he was there now - there and not going anywhere.
She wasn't alone anymore.