WHAT MATTERS

Disclaimer: Never owned 'em, never will.

Author's Note: This is another lame attempt at a songfic to fight a writer's block case. Result: 5 pages of cheesy ranting. Sorry J . First -– and maybe only –- JD fic.

The song is "What Matters Is The Heart" by Edwin McCain (and Jewel, a personal favorite). I came up with this listening to the song right after watching Jamie Avery get kidnapped by Lenny (that's about where this story should be inserted). It's a rather short vignette, something to keep us all entertained. JD/JA hints. Screw Rachel what's-her'-name!

Feedback is greatly appreciated in these times of JD depravation!

**********************************************************************

She tossed the keys right after switching the light on. It was an involuntary reflex she had acquired over the years. The sight of the empty apartment wasn't exactly encouraging. She was tired, and she was hurting.

But for the first time in ages, she smiled genuinely.

She had never been so scared in her life, the way she had been today, not knowing if she would make it through, not knowing if Lenny would just snap and shoot her. Again.

Still, an epiphany had ensued, the way life-threatening situations always had.

About 8 months ago her life had ended along with the life of whom she loved the most. Dean Rossi had been the rock she clung on for dear life, refusing to become the person she was at work: the tough cop, emotionally challenged.

With him, she could be just a woman. A woman who went to church every Sunday. A woman who could have a house, and a dog, and a picket fence -- the whole package. A woman who would be a mother, a wife someday. Something else other than a cop. She loved her job, but she had let it define her for a little too much time.

He had saved her, and both knew it. Without him self-protection had won the battle, and she was painfully aware of it.

The thought of it had been too much to deal with, a whole life by herself. The thought of a life with someone else - the way everyone said it would eventually be - not yearning for the past, had seemed even worse. So she did the only thing she knew at the time. She followed her gut and focused in following orders. Without Dean to force her to cool down she got lost in the struggle of taking a step at the time, forgetting everything she had ever fantasized about.

Did you forget about the passion

Living day to day

We keep our dreams locked down inside

She missed that sometimes, though. She let the dreams linger on her heart for a little bit more, but then again, it hurt too much. Her life - the real one - had slipped through her fingers while she was too busy fighting the tears away. She had become a shell of the person she had been before. Or maybe not. Maybe the façade had finally fallen down, and she was faced with the fact that she was indeed what she had dreaded so much. After all, the others hadn't noticed any changes at all from one day to the other.

Well, perhaps Frank had and she was grateful, for it was a way of showing her how sincerely he cared. She had confirmed it that night, the playful smile on his face as she accepted John's invitation and stayed under the pretense of playing darts. She had stayed, reclaiming her life back. And his lips had curved into a relieved smile.

Of course, they had been partners long enough. He had seen the not so physical changes; how she would take more risks at work, risks she no longer dared to take in her personal life. The promotion had been a piece of cake after that. She almost counted on it.

And yet, sometimes she still hoped she could chase the ghosts away. Sometimes she longed for a non-related call in her answering machine. For something other than frozen meals and a lonely apartment, too big for her anyway.

And choking on a lifetime

And never take a chance

Wake up one day wishing you tried

Yes, it had been that way for quite some time. But after a while, the point of inflection had shifted from one issue to another and it had taken her long enough to realize that, as simple as it was.

Down from there, it was unknown territory. And it is in the nature of every human being to be wary of what's strange to ourselves.

Which meant it all came down to the fact that she was terrified. Period. Super Jamie Avery was scared to death. Scared of living again. Scared of placing another bet. Scared of losing again.

Scared of getting hurt.

It had stopped being about Dean, or their dreams together, or even her life outside the force. It wasn't about the life she would never get because the man she was supposed to spend the rest of her life with was dead. Both had known from day one that their lives were put on the line everyday and *it* was a fair possibility. They hadn't fooled themselves on that.

But she still grieved for what she thought she'd lost, because it was lost forever. She would never even try something like that again. She couldn't afford to get hurt like that again.

That's what it all came down to. Fear in its purest, unadulterated form.

And it ain't about the money

It ain't about the time

It ain't about the love you lost

Or the things you think you've left behind

It ain't about your losing streak

Makes you feel like you're falling apart

What matters is the heart

And then, there was John Doe.

Jamie stepped in, and sunk in the couch wincing slightly at the sting in her arm. The coffee table in front of her was already crowded, a yellow file on top of everything else. The label read 'John Doe' in her own handwriting. She'd managed to rescue it before it could cause any of them more trouble.

Curiosity had got the best of her, and in the process it could have cost her life. If it had been for her own reluctance to trust the man, she might not even be alive. Could she be blamed for it? No, it was a cop's normal reflex to start a file on someone as inconsistent as he was. But so was following your instincts, and she had shamefully repressed them, hid them in the back of her mind. Listening to them could prove to be a really dangerous exercise. She wondered how many times it would also be the defining line between the possibility of losing her life and staying safe. She wondered how many of those opportunities the line would be blurred. Just as it had been this time.

Lenny had told her a thing or two about what he believed was the fundamental base of their relationship. And she hated to admit that she had been oblivious to what it was so evident for a loony psycho freak.

She was a Lieutenant, and he was -- well, hence the problem. She had no clue on who he was. He could be a fugitive, for all she knew. She had a job, duties to fulfill, a purpose maybe? He just played the piano at some bar, slipping away now and then to play riddles with them.

But boy he could play the piano.

John and her were close. Probably not in the way Frank was with both of them, but there was some sort of unspoken bond between the two that was exclusive. They had lost their pasts, and for the life of them couldn't figure out how to get them back.

Why not face it now? She was also scared of him. Of the things they shared. Of what it might mean.

Let's forget about the notion

That we're not the same

My brother Ron's is red as yours

Equality was a notion that held no place in the world of law enforcement. True, the law said all men were born as equals, but in her place of work there were only superiors and subordinates or criminals and policemen.

And in the private world that was her very own mind, it was hard not to make those distinctions. Or even many more that were not officially contemplated, such as gender differences - having been looked down on as a consequence of them. While in church they disappeared, for all men were equal in God's eyes. Until only one of those who every Sunday attended the small chapel got three shots in the chest.

It hadn't seem a matter of equality from were she was standing. Or maybe she had failed to see somebody else's problems while drowning in her own.

We all get angry

We've all been scared

We've all made big mistakes

That can never be repaired

She sighed deeply and took the file between her hands, passing each page carefully.

Worst of all was she had reached a point where she knew it was entirely up to her. She couldn't pass on the blame pretending somebody else had screwed up. Nobody could control her life. For better or worse, she was in command. Or at least was supposed to be.

And it ain't about the money

It ain't about the time

It ain't about the love you lost

Or the things you think you left behind

It ain't about your losing streak

Makes you feel like you're falling apart

What matters is the heart

It had been quite easy to blame God for the robotic routine her life had turned into, but she presumed this was as close as a last chance she was about to get. She would never understand why Dean wasn't there to hold her after a long day's work. But it had grown old as an excuse to elude what she knew she had to do. Start breathing.

And she was determined to start that night.

Staying out most of the night had been nice for once. Out of her place, out of her job. Just enjoying herself. They had played darts, ordered a few drinks and just talked. Not a deep meaningful conversation about the mysteries of life and death. Just talked.

Frank had noticed, and motioned her to stay put when he left. She had felt compelled to follow him, for a heartbeat. But then she had turned around, and he had made her stay. She still couldn't figure out how, but he had. Maybe it had been the look in his eyes. Her former partner smiled amused, taken aback by her lack of resistance, but still knowingly. Maybe he had picked on something she hadn't.

Look me in the eye

And take my hand

We can make a difference

We can make a difference

I know we can

Getting home had been an adventure of its own. She was feeling a little tipsy, even sitting on the couch, the events of the day finally catching up with her. She didn't mind. She was exhausted, but happily exhausted.

Once upon a time, there was a woman that had left fear get the beat of her. She had eagerly left life among the living behind, being the price of never running the risk of getting hurt again. Life had taken its task to make her realize it didn't matter how detached she struggled to appear, she was always about to get hurt. If not, she would be certain she had stopped living.

The problem came when she prevented herself from living and still got hurt. What was the benefit in that? Might as well try and give the world altogether a second chance. Or maybe try and convince it to give *her* another opportunity.

If we forgot about the passion

Living day to day

We kept our dreams locked down inside

And choking on a life time

And never take a chance

Wake up one day wishing you tried

She grabbed the picture of him that was neatly attached to the first page of the file. He resembled a little boy. Just as naive.

Jamie winced slightly, remembering Stella. A little competition never hurt, or at least she used to think so. Then she had heard something about a British doctor from Frank. She didn't mind either. She wasn't about to turn his life into an attention contest. It wasn't the point. She would do what she had to do for her own sake. For everyone's sake.

It ain't about the money

It ain't about the time

It ain't about the love you lost

Or the things you think you've left behind

It ain't about your losing streak

Makes you feel like you're falling apart

What matters is the heart

Moving as fast as she could without tripping into anything, she looked for a lighter in the kitchen.

Bottom line was, she had stopped caring about everything long ago hiding behind the shadow of something beautiful that had been once. She could either remain hidden, sticking to her role as Lt. Avery Seattle PD, or she could resume her life. Pick up what was left of it and carry on. Do the best she could, making mistakes in the process, but never alone.

Because it wasn't about Dean anymore. Or what they had. Their life together, the life had planned, dreamed of even. It wasn't about mourning for what she knew she wouldn't have or what the process of growing past it had taken. It didn't matter if he wasn't even slightly interested in her.

It ain't about the money

It ain't about the time

It ain't about the love you lost

Or the things you think you left behind

It ain't about your losing streak

Makes you feel like you're falling apart

What matters

What *really* matters

is the heart

This was about her heart, and the newfound capability of navigating her own life. She would never drift away without destination. Never again.

Jamie Avery had never been so scared in her life. But after so much time and struggle, that was finally a good sign. Because she wasn't about to let fear get its way with her.

One by one she tore the pages of the file, before - being extremely careful - lighting it all up. Everything but the picture.

She wondered if he would ever find what he was looking for. She sure had.

THE BEGINNING - EL COMIENZO - IL PRINCIPIO - DAS ANFANG - LE COMMENCEMENT - O COMEÇO

**********************************************************************

Written by Mary S. Lame, I know, but still wadda ya think?