Thank you to everyone who has been reading so far, and a special thank you to those who have reviewed! I really, really appreciate it.
As a note: I know what happens from here on isn't exactly medically accurate, but hey. The show wasn't exactly medically accurate either, now was it? Just bear with me and enjoy the ride!
"The CDC headquarters in Atlanta is sending a team up as soon as they can to help us handle the outbreak. In the meantime they've already put someone on a flight up who should be here shortly to help us assess the situation."
A quiet murmur rose through the conference room once Garret finished. The entire morgue staff, the two EMTs, and an unlucky delivery man were all crowded in there to hear what was going on, and there was an air of tension and anxiety that was only getting worse by the second. Jordan looked around from her usual seat at Garret's right, her stomach twisting until she felt ready to vomit. This is bad.
"I don't want anyone to panic," the chief continued calmly, specifically catching the gazes of the newcomers. "Y. pestis is rarely transmitted from person to person and once the team from Atlanta gets here we can probably get all of this under control quickly. But for the time being, no one can leave the Morgue - and some of you will have to be quarantined." His gaze flicked to Jordan, whose mouth fell open in shock. "The woman coming up now is bringing with her rounds of antibiotics for us all. Find comfortable places to settle in and call your loved ones. Nigel and Bug will start coming around shortly to get blood from you all for testing to be sure none of us has been infected. Any incoming cases that are not urgent will be rerouted to one of three hospitals for standard autopsy until further notice, otherwise they will be divided among the medical examiners who are here. I'll share any news as I get it."
"Quarantine!" Jordan hissed furiously as soon as people started to filter out of the room, getting to her feet to stare Garret in the eye.
Her boss came to stand in front of her and gently touched her shoulders. "Your immune system was compromised by the tumor last year, Jordan. That puts you in one of the highest risk groups to catch this thing. You know that. Just like Bug knows he won't be able to go home to Lily or their baby because they are both in another risk group."
She readied a belligerent response, but it died on her tongue when the reality set in. "I can't take the antibiotics either, can I?"
"Not until we clear it with your doctor. And until your blood comes back clean, you could be carrying this thing without knowing. Now, you have two options: Your office with a hazmat suit when you need to come out to use the toilet or the quarantine unit at the hospital."
"What do you think?" she spat, her bad mood from before back with a vengeance.
Garret dropped his hands and sighed, resisting the urge to pull her into his arms. Or maybe just shake her. He wasn't sure which one would help right then - compassion or force. "You need to go take a shower and get rid of these clothes. Use the strongest soap we have -"
"That stuff will slough off my skin!"
"- and go straight to your office," he continued over her protests. "Lock the door. We'll have a two-way set up soon."
"I need to call Woody." It came out as a pained whisper and she took a step back, looking away as her thoughts began to run off. This was going to kill him.
"Let Kate do it. Go take care of yourself. That's an order."
She didn't protest anymore, and Garret just watched in surprise as she obediently walked away from him toward the women's locker room to do as he said. She was scared - and there was nothing he would be able to do to get her to open up to him. Not yet.
Hopefully Woody would get here fast.
Woody bolted off of the elevator, hurriedly pushing people out of his way and shoving through the swinging doors into the morgue proper. "Jordan!" he called frantically, looking every which way and growing panicked when he didn't catch sight of the dark-haired woman. Techs stared up at him, startled, as he nearly ran into their cart of drawn blood. "Jordan, where are you?"
"Here! Woody -" There was a tapping sound, and he skidded to a stop to see her standing forlornly in her locked office, wet hair in waves around her flushed face and wearing scrubs that were much too large to be her own. Her voice was muffled through the window she had her knuckles against. "I'm right here. I'm - I'm fine."
"Jo..." He pressed his hand flat to the glass, and she did the same on the other side. With the sofa against the other wall now, she was so close he could almost imagine he could feel the warmth of her body through the window. "I can't come in, can I?" At the silent shake of her head, he felt any hope he still had vanish with all the subtlety of a popped balloon. Her eyes were wide and anxious, and he wished more than anything in that moment to take her into his arms and tell her everything would be okay even though he didn't know if it were true. This was too surreal. "How long will you have to...stay in there?"
She shrugged and curled her fingers in toward her palm. "Until it's safe, I guess," she said in a non-committal tone, trying not to sound as frightened as she felt. "I, um, can't take the antibiotics yet. Not until we talk to my neurologist and make sure nothing will interact badly with all the other drugs I'm already flooding my body with, and to make sure that it won't just kill me flat out." She gave him a weak smile that he had no hope of returning. "We can't risk exposing my immune system to the infection any more than it has been, and we also can't risk the little fact that until I can take those damned pills the CDC will be bringing, I could potentially be a Typhoid Mary. So. Quarantine it is. For...a while."
"Can I get you anything?" he asked, almost too softly for her to hear through the glass.
"A few changes of clothes would be nice," she admitted hesitantly, then added, "and a pair of pajamas. My pillow, from our bed. All of my medications – they're in the bathroom. I already have shampoo and stuff here. If I can ever leave this room to use it, anyway. Oh, and any pair of slip-on shoes from the closet."
"You got it. Anything else?"
"Yeah, um…" She bit her lip and looked away, studying something in her office that he couldn't see. "Find my dad. Leave him a message, ask him to come back, send him death threats, I don't care. Just…find him. So we know where he is. You know, just in case something happens this time."
Woody wanted to barrel into the room, quarantine or no, and shake her until she quit thinking that way. "Stop it, Jordan," he said instead, hating that it was all he could do. "I'll bring him back for you, but stop it. Everything is going to be fine. You're going to be fine. Okay?" She didn't look at him, so he rapped on the window with his knuckles to force her attention back to him. "Okay?"
All she did was nod in response before taking a step backward into the room. It was harder to hear her now. "See Garret before you go. You weren't really exposed much, but the lady from the CDC is still going to want a list of everyone you've come in contact with since yesterday."
"No problem." He gave her a wide, dimpled smile, hoping to get one in return. He was disappointed. "I'll be back with your things as soon as I can. I love you, Jordan."
"Right back at ya, Farm Boy."
'Go see Garret."
She had turned away from him and moved toward her desk with that, so Woody backed away from the window and grudgingly glanced down the hallway. More than anything, he didn't want to leave her there, all alone, but Dr. Macy would have answers Jordan wouldn't give him. He spotted Garret in his office on the phone, and he turned and quickly made his way over to knock on the slightly-open door.
"Yes, thank you. We'll see you soon." The chief hung up the phone with a frustrated finality and tiredly called out, "Come in."
"Hey, Doctor M."
"Woody, I'm glad you're here." Garret immediately stood and came around his desk to clasp the detective's hand.
"What's going on? Kate said something about an outbreak of the Plague?" Woody swallowed and took a deep breath before adding, "Is Jordan really going to be okay? I just spent the last few minutes assuring her she would be, and now I'm wondering if I was making it all up."
"I won't lie to you - of all of us here, she's the most at risk. And if she gets it..." He let the words fall off and shook his head, not willing to voice the worst outcome.
"How could she catch it?"
"It's usually spread through fleas, but when it spreads from one person to another it's through bodily fluids or infected body tissue."
"Like during an autopsy," Woody murmured, eyes widening as he realized that she could have died if she had so much as done a Y-incision on that body.
"Like during an autopsy. And Woody, I have to ask." Garret waited until the man met his eyes again before continuing softly in an attempt to avoid embarrassment on both sides, "Did you two have sex last night?"
The detective stared at him, open-mouthed at the bold question. "I, uh..." But then it dawned on him. Fluids. And he had been near an infected body before she had. What if he got her sick? It suddenly felt like he had been punched in the stomach and he leaned forward to put both palms against Garret's desk for support. "Yeah. We did." More than once.
Macy put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Did you use anything?"
Woody shook his head, unable to look up. "Jo can't...can't..." He took another shuddering breath. "She can't...have kids. Not anymore. Not now. I dunno. Medications or something. Hormones. She explained it to me, but I can't... Oh, my God. What if I...?"
"The chance is slim that you passed anything to her," Garret explained soothingly. "I just needed to know so we can act accordingly by understanding when she would start showing symptoms. If she would start showing any." He lowered his voice sympathetically. "I'm sorry, Woody. She never told me about all of these complications. How's she handling it?"
"The same way she always does." He chuckled humorlessly and continued to stare at the cluttered desktop. "By not talking about it. I think...I think she's more worried about how I'll take it, to be honest. Which is ridiculous! All I want is her. All I've ever wanted is...is her."
The doctor gave him a wry smile. "No little presidents running around underfoot?"
"Not if it risks her health." Woody finally looked up again, his eyes sad. "Not if it risks losing her. Hey, she asked me to get some stuff from the apartment. Am I allowed to leave or am I stuck here, too?"
Knowing very well that the subject had just been permanently changed, Garret stepped back and started to reach for the phone again. "As long as you go there and come back here, yes, you can go. Let us get some blood before you leave and we can test it with the rest of our samples so you can get the antibiotic when the people from the CDC get here. I'll page Nigel to have him meet you by the elevator. And think up a list of everyone you may have come in contact with since you found the infected Jane Doe."
"Sure thing. Thank you, Doctor M."
"You're welcome, Woody. If you need anything, my door is open." He smiled one more time, with more warmth than the last, and patted his arm companionably. "Seems you're truly part of the family now. Well, again."