A/N: KittyDoggyLover, Jinubean, Orlando-crazy and Lioness-Rampant, thanks for reviewing Ch17! Luv ya:P

Okay...its time to wrap this thing up...final chapter and all...


Chapter 18: Severed

"Ah," she said inadequately as she stared down into the box.

"Ah?" Harding asked. "That's it?"

Jordan made a noise in her throat. "Did you run the hair?"

"Yours."

She nodded, and something hit her. She was taken, again, back to the night this whole nightmare started.

A feeling of dark horror swept over her leaving her feeling ill.

"No," she uttered, eyes transfixed on the body. "No, no, no…"

She stood, rooted to the spot, staring at the man. His eyes were open in a death stare, depicting the terror of his last moments. "No, no, no…"

The words took on a trance like feeling as she repeated the word over and over, as if somehow that would make it all better, as if somehow that would breath life into the body of the man in front of her, make him smile and laugh and talk again, tell her how much he loved her…

"No…" When she could move again, she backed away, numb, terrified.

She pulled out of the memory and stared. Not once had she touched him, not once had she gone close enough to him to leave the hair that was so damning her. Staring at the lock in front of her, she realised the full magnitude of Koreldy's manipulation. She opened her mouth to speak but closed it as she spotted Mathers coming down the corridor. She had the strangest impulse to duck behind the counter, and had to physically stop herself from doing so as he came through the door, Garret, scowling, in tow. Woody moved closer to her, as if offering support, and she braced herself.

"What are you doing here?" Mathers said, eyeing the ME. She met his stare and glared back.

"I work here."

"Not at the moment you don't. You really shouldn't be here."

"Well I am," she said, and was about to allow the thoughts and frustration to release itself in the form of an insulting comment towards the detective, but Woody nudged her gently and she sighed instead, looking to Harding, who jerked into action.

"Detective," she addressed Mathers, and Jordan noted with a barely concealed grin the way her voice changed. You manipulative old fox, she thought genially and watched carefully. "I told you about the search on the Koreldy house this morning?"

"Who initiated it?"

She opened her mouth to answer, but it was Woody who addressed the older detective.

"I gave the NYPD a call this morning," he said.

"I'm sure you did," he said. "I thought you were told to stay well away from this case? Well away?" He sent Jordan a look of distaste as if to cement his point. Jordan returned it kind and he snorted softly and looked away.

"I was just helping out a friend," Woody said, and blinked under the other man's scrutiny.

"Yes," he just short of sneered. "I can see that. Anyway, the results are the same. What do we have?"

He effectively dismissed the two open mouthed 'rebels' standing in front of him as he cut in front of them to stand behind Harding.

"A box. Seems Koreldy had a small fascination with the Cavanaugh's."

He made a noise in his throat as he looked at the articles procured by the ME.

"This sheds new light on the investigation, I must say," he said, and Jordan and Woody exchanged an incredulous glance. "But it doesn't mean much. The hair was hers?"

"Yep. 100 match."

"Okay. Ballistics back?"

"Its funny you should say that," Nigel said from the door. "Just got them in." He was grinning widely as he winked at his friend.

"It's a match for the bullet found in Max," he said excitedly, addressing Jordan instead of Mathers, which pissed him off no end. Jordan found herself grinning back; the relief was all the sweeter because she had not allowed herself to hope, had forced herself to dwell on the downside. She turned to Woody and he smiled at her genuinely.

"That's wonderful," he said, and they stared at each other for a minute before Mathers cleared his throat.

"It's not as simple as that," he said. "Don't you understand? There is nothing putting him there."

"The guns match," she said slowly. "The receipt for fuel from Boston from the day of the murder…"

"Yes. But…" he stopped, as if sizing them up. "You could have planted them."

"How dare you accuse me of…"

"What, planting evidence? I would have thought murder would have been more alarming to you." He stared at them, as if just realising something. "But," he said, in a tone that scared Jordan more than the accusation. It was light, as if he had had a complete revelation, as if the shadows had been cast away and he finally could see the light. "You're more worried about the planting evidence charge than the murder charge because you're guilty of the former and not the latter!"

"That doesn't make any sense," Woody said, looking from Jordan to Mathers. Their eyes had locked and they had waged an all out war. The strongest will would win.

"Oh yes it does," he said. "She knows what I mean."

"I am not guilty of either," she said in a strange voice. Mathers nodded.

"Be that as it may…" he said, and widened his eyes momentarily at her, and she caught exactly what he meant. He knows.

"Well I suppose I'll take your advice and ski-daddle on out of here, then. Coming?"

Woody nodded, bewildered look still plastered on his face, and watched the smug look on Mathers face and the 'sprung' look on Jordan's, wondering why the handcuffs weren't already slapping around their wrists, and not even having the foggiest idea why he would think such a thing.

-----------

"But everything adds up! Damn it, we have everything to charge his dead ass! Why isn't this clearing her?"

"Garret, please," Renee said, look of distaste on her face, evident even over the phone that separated them. "There's still the…"

"The hair, yes I know. I have already explained to you why…"

"And yet, when recounting the events of the night, she never once mentions going near enough to her father to leave it." There was a silence, which Renee took for defeat. "Look, I'm sorry, but…"

"Wait. I'll call you back." He slammed the phone down on the receiver, an idea coursing through his mind. It was too good to be true, there's no way it could…

"Jordan!" he called, spotting his friend stepping into the elevator. Upon hearing him she jumped out, but the detective wasn't quick enough and Garret almost laughed at the look on his face as the doors closed on him, coupled with the triumphant look of freedom on his friends face. She very obviously did not relish having her every step dogged by the man. Garret didn't really blame her. How could he?

"What is it?" she asked.

He looked at her. "The hair," he said.

"Yes," she said, face hardening.

"The hair that damned you could very well be your saviour."

"I don't see how…"

"That night," he started, but the elevator started making the strangest noise, causing them both to look at it. The doors opened and Woody stood there, red faced, and laughing.

"I thought it was stuck."

"You were in a hurry," Jordan observed.

"Hey, I didn't know where Dr. Macy was going to whisk you away to and you know its more than my job's worth to lose you…"

"Yada yada yeah I know. I have heard that same line oh…about fifty times since I was let out?"

Garret chuckled and Jordan looked at him. "You were saying?"

He sobered up quickly, not wanting to go there, especially not out in the open standing in front of an elevator.

"Come," he said and started walking. They followed and he pushed the door open of Trace.

"Hey Nige," he said, and the man jumped up from staring into a microscope.

"Hey Dr. M," he said. "What can I do you for?"

"Go and get the hair from the crime scene, will you?"

"I need Harding's authorization to…"

"Forget that. I'm the Chief, you're following my orders."

"Right-o, Dr. M," he said, shrugging and walking out.

"What are you doing?"

"That night. Did you go near him?"

"I know what you're saying. But I don't remember if I did or not. I mean, I don't think I did but…" she trailed off. "I really don't remember."

Woody stood, again having no clue what the two were going on about, but contenting himself with listening.

Nigel came back in and handed Garret the bag. The Chief ME motioned to Nigel who nodded and dragged the contraption he had been staring into over, and Garret placed the damning hair under it. Lowering his face, he stared into it.

"Yes," he said, and straightened. "Take a look."

Jordan studied his face and bent, not daring to think, not even daring to allow the slightest trace of hope into her mind.

"It's severed!" she said incredulously, silly grin implanting itself onto her face. "It's severed!"

She launched herself into Garret's arms and he was nearly toppled over but squeezed her back tightly, reluctant to let go.

"Thank god," she whispered over and over into her mind, only vaguely hearing her boss's command to Nigel,

"Get Harding in here. Now."

"Severed?" Woody asked dumbly, and bent over the microscope himself. He stood up. "Uh…question – how can you guys tell?"

Jordan disentangled herself from the ME's arms. "Years and years of looking at hair through a microscope, Woodrow. That's as severed as they get!" She grinned at him, and it must have been infectious because he found himself grinning back.

Harding came in; glad she had not yet gone home.

"What is it?" she asked, eyes flickering between the three of them, noting the relieved looks on the men's faces and the almost "dying of relief" look on Jordan's. Macy gestured to the microscope and she frowned, and stepped closer, looking in.

"It's the hair from the crime scene," he told her.

"It's been cut!" she said. "It was planted!" She straightened, looking at Jordan.

"This is very good news, Dr. Cavanaugh," she said, smiling. Jordan could only nod.

"I'll call it in," she continued.

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"Oh come on!" Jordan said in mock irritation as she and Woody walked, again, through her door. "Now that I'm not a psychotic killer, is this really necessary?"

"Now now Jordan," he said, adopting a pompous look. "Until it's been finalised…"

"Finalised my ass," she said.

"Now there's a nice image," he said. "What's for dinner?"

"How does pizza sound?" she asked. "Your shout."

"Oh how generous of you."

There was a thump on the fire escape, and Woody's head snapped around.

"Hey," Jordan said, frantically trying to get his attention. "I feel like Chinese, which sadly doesn't deliver. Go fetch."

"What was that noise?"

"What noise?"

"A thump. Outside."

"Oh, that. Probably another bird."

"Bird?"

"Yeah. I'm hungry. Go get food."

Woody shook his head, forgetting about the noise. "Why are you so eager to get rid of me?"

"I just want to be alone at the moment. Just to try and think things through. Please, Woody."

"Fine," he said, holding his arms up. "Stay here."

She rolled her eyes and watched in relief as he walked out and shut the door behind him. Rushing over to the window she could have grinned when she saw her brother perched on the fire escape.

"He still here?" he growled, staring at the door.

"I'm afraid so," she said, wrinkling her nose suggesting to him that she as well wasn't happy with the arrangement.

"Look," he said, climbing in the window. "I've been thinking. There is no way I'm going to let you cop it for his murder. I'm going to turn myself in, tell them what I heard. If that fails, I'll confess to it myself."

"No, James…"

"I've been a pretty shitty brother up until now, let me rectify it."

"There's no need, it's all over."

"What? Don't give up, don't…"

"I don't mean that, I mean its over! I'm cleared!"

James' face changed, and lit up with a grin. "That's brilliant!" he said.

"Not relishing having to go to jail?" she asked. "Not that I would have let you turn yourself in anyway."

"You wouldn't have?"

"Of course not. Having a fugitive brother is fun."

He smiled at the wry tone in her voice. "So, back to the grieving daughter, huh?"

She swallowed. "I never really considered the murder suspects before," she said, and laughed, shaking her head. "Thank god its over. Its such a great weight off everything."

He nodded. "Guess I better go back to my life then."

"Or lack thereof?" she said, looking at him.

"What can I do?" he said. She shrugged. They were silent.

"One more hurdle," she said. "Before I can get back to mine."

"Oh?"

"The funeral," she said.

"Ah," he said, dropping his eyes. "When is it?"

"Tomorrow," she said. "It's already been longer than the…suggested time to wait but what with everything…"

"Don't worry," he said. She looked at him and he shrugged. "I guess I'll see you around then," he said as they heard a car pull up below.

"Yeah," she said in a choked voice, wanting to scream at him to stay, tell him she would help him, protect him. But she couldn't. Not when she could hardly help herself.

She stood there at the window after he had gone, watching the wind play with the leave on the trees, sweep the dust along the street, tug at people's clothes and hair. Something inside her broke, and everything came crashing down onto her. The tears fell then, those that had been bottled inside her, in her attempt at 'strength'. She spat the word into her mind. Humans did not have it in them to be strong. Not her, not James, not her father. Certainly not Koreldy. We bite and bite until we can bite no more, until it comes back to bite us in return.

That was how Woody found her. He came back, opened the door with the key he had procured, holding out the Chinese food cartons and preparing to make some stupid comment or another. But he saw her, slumped against the window. He hurried over to make sure she was alive, but wished he hadn't. She was so strong, so hardy, for her to break something had to be wrong, something wasn't right. Of course not you ass, he said to himself. Her father has just been murdered. But if she could not be strong, what hope did the rest of them have?

"Hey," he soothed. "What is it?"

"He's gone," she said, referring to her father and her brother at the same time, unbeknownst to him.

"Yes," Woody said inadequately, bobbing down beside her. "You okay?"

She turned her tear-streaked face to him and he broke. "Oh god, Jordan," he said. Her eyes were red, not just from weeping but from severe sleep deprivation as well.

"I'm sorry," she said, trying to stop the flow, but the pain had broken the wall she had erected and it wasn't looking like repairing itself anytime soon. For all the people to see her, all the people who could have walked in, it had to be him. She shook her head, it didn't even matter. Nothing did, not really. Not if their lives could be snatched away as easily as her father's had. Being a medical examiner, one would think she would have reached that realisation sooner, but sometimes other peoples' experiences remain just that – theirs. She wasn't to learn from their mistakes, only hers.

"You have nothing to apologise for," he said forcefully. "Nothing."

He gingerly reached an arm around her shoulders, and she nodded, wanting to believe him, almost allowing herself too. She breathed, deep shuddering breaths, as she wept for her father, who's life had been taken, and a brother who never had one to start with.

"It's going to be fine," Woody whispered. "I promise."


A/N: Well that's that, I suppose! Thank you guys sooo much for the wonderful reviews! I'm serious - thats the only thing that kept this going! Haha - I just put all the chapters into one document and it was like 97 pages. Terrifying. How did I manage to write 97 pages in a matter of a month or so? Oh well.

Thanks in advance to anyone who reviews this chapter because obviously, seeing as it has ended I wont be able to thank you or reply in an a/n...oh well maybe next time!

Speaking of which - I have an idea for a new fic - involving a train wreck, some dental records and a psychotic killer with an evil diabolical fool-proof plan to wreak havoc on the lives of those who put him away the first time...guess who? lol. So read it. Haha.

Ok - well please leave feedback, what I could have done better, what else I could have put in, if the ending was alright...etc etc.

Thanks again! This has been fun:D