Fear Itself

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Here we go! Another chaptered Crossing Jordan story for y'all, as promised. This one is probably going to be long. I already have four and a half chapters written and the main plot still hasn't been fully revealed. So hopefully it will keep everyone entertained for a while! Updates may be sporadic due to, well, life but I will do my best to give you a new chapter at least every three weeks.

As for timeline - this is set after the end of the series by roughly six months. Jordan and Woody have already started the relationship that was hinted at during the finale. Everything else will be explained as the story progresses. Also, this time the whole gang will be involved. (And, while bits and pieces of the plot may overlap, this does not follow the same timeline as Wonderland.)


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The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address (1933)

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Fear Itself - Chapter 1

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The gall they have, shutting down my project! How could they do that? After all of the hard work I've poured into this! The dedication! I've done everything they asked me to do, those vultures. Everything, without question. And all I asked for was a little more money, a little more time.

Well, I'll show them. They want to see its full strength? Fine. They'll see it, all right.

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"God, Jo, it was so nasty," Woody said with a shudder, setting his sandwich down it its wrapper on his lap and looking at it in distaste. "There were these gross bumps filled with...with pus or something on her legs and arms."

"Pustules?" Jordan supplied with a much-too-wide smile as she took a big bite of the turkey sandwich he had brought for her.

He scrunched his face up, starting to turn green and leaning back against the bench they had found in front of the courthouse. "That's what Kate called them, too. She didn't know what caused them, though. Man, how can you guys deal with stuff like that on a daily basis? And really, Jordan, how can you still be eating right now?"

"Hey, you're the one that brought it up."

"Only because you asked about my day."

She chuckled and reached down toward her feet for the store bag and the potato chips still in there. It was only just noon, but she had spent the entire day at the government building so far, waiting to be called to testify in a case for Walcott. A very boring day, really, but it was still part of her job – as much as she hated to admit it. Sitting in court for hours on end was definitely not her idea of a good time; she'd much rather be back in the morgue, maybe even looking at this body Woody was describing to her right now. Unfortunately, though, that would have been out of the question even if she hadn't been stuck here waiting to be called to the stand. They hadn't been allowed to work a case together since their relationship had become "official" to the DA.

"You found the body in the park this morning?" Jordan asked curiously. 'Working a case together' wasn't the same thing as 'talking it out', after all. The wind picked up and blew her hair around her face, and she grinned softly as Woody unconsciously reached out and smoothed it back behind her ear. "I was wondering where you were when I got out of the shower. You always get so excited when I put on a suit."

"It is a rare sight, you have to admit." He glanced up at the courthouse, shaking his head. "I can't believe she asked you to testify at this trial instead of Bug."

"Lots of men on the jury. Now, you found the body this morning? Come on, man, details!"

Woody sighed at that, his lips pursing in frustration. "Details are something that I am lacking right now. She's a Jane Doe, found under some bushes. Fully clothed, and it looked like someone took care in placing her. They even put leaves and fresh-picked flowers over the body. They wanted her to be found quickly, but not before they had enough time to get away. No ID on her, and no hits from Missing Persons or anything yet. Kate hadn't found cause of death when I left to pick up lunch, and she wasn't looking too hopeful to have it by the end of the day, either." He folded the wrapper over his half-eaten sandwich and looked down at it glumly. "Cases like this...I really miss working with you."

"Hey now, Kate's just as good at this job as I am!"

"Oh, come on!" He raised his eyebrows in indignation as she shoved about a quarter more of her sandwich into her mouth and chewed quickly. "She doesn't have half your dedication, and you know it."

'Half my dedication, or half of my obsession? Ease up on her, Woody." She touched his shoulder and gave him a sympathetic smile around her full cheeks when he glanced up at her. "It's obvious she's been trying to change since we were stranded on the mountain. Just give her some time."

"You two have just had time to bond, all girl-like. After your surgery. Don't try to hide it; I've seen the way you two sneak coffee breaks together." But the grin he was attempting vainly to smother belied his feigned annoyance with her.

"Okay, fine, you caught me - we get coffee from the break room together and gossip about all the goings-on around the office. Please." Though some of that was true; Kate was growing on her, ever since she had shown a gentler side during a time Jordan was refusing help from everyone else. It had been hard not to open up to her every so often after that. And yes, over coffee. Sometimes the gate had even opened the other way. They weren't friends, necessarily, but maybe they could be. Eventually. "Really, Woody, give her a chance. Okay?"

"I've already given her several," he muttered good-naturedly, "but fine."

She opened her mouth to say something in return, but the soft hum of her vibrating cell phone stopped her train of thought. "Crap, there's Walcott. I've gotta run. I'll look over everything you have on this Jane Doe tonight over dinner, promise." The buzzing stopped as the call went to voicemail, and then immediately started to ring again. Jordan hastily stood and gathered her purse, took a last bite of her sandwich, another swig of her soda, and leaned down to give Woody a quick peck on the cheek. "Thank you for lunch, hon. I'll see ya later."

He watched silently as she dashed up the granite steps, almost blending in with the lawyers as they hurried to and from court.

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Woody moved stiffly around the kitchen in Jordan's - their, rather - apartment, chopping some of the fresh herbs he had picked up from the grocery on the way home from work to add to the spaghetti sauce currently simmering on the stovetop.

Truth be told, he was having a difficult time adjusting to living in such a small space. Living with Jordan was wonderful, no doubt there. It was the apartment he was having issues with. They had tried going back and forth between his and hers at first, as they got used to really being together. Alternating weekends, and then every other week. And then the time had come to choose: one or the other. Woody had been more than willing to move in here - permanently - with her. The rent was cheaper, for one, and being civil servants certainly didn't pay well. But more than that, this was her home, more than Woody's apartment could ever have been. So now his furniture was in storage and his clothes were in her closet.

Five (relatively) happy months had passed since then. They'd had some arguments that, again, could be blamed on living in such a small space. This apartment was more of a flat - no separate rooms, nowhere to go if one or the other needed space. Far too easy for toes to be stepped on, even though they weren't upset with the other to begin with. They always made up quickly, but still. It would be even better if those fights never happened at all. Woody had been trying to think of a tactful way to bring up finding a new place to live with her. Maybe even buying a home, or a condo or townhome.

But suggesting something like that - buying a house together - was akin to asking her to marry him, something he was definitely not going to try for another year at least. It was a huge commitment. He still remembered the blood leaving her face when she found that engagement ring in Pollack's things. Yeah...he wouldn't be asking for her hand any time soon. He remembered then how close he had come to losing her to the reporter, and his face colored in shame. But that was over. Longover.

Woody's elbow rammed the thin bottle of olive oil, nearly knocking it off the counter, and he cursed as he made a grab for it. He'd wanted to have dinner ready for her when she got home from spending the entire day in court, but he was only halfway there and getting more frustrated by the second.

The soft click of a key in the lock was the only warning he had before Jordan let herself inside and fell back against the door as soon as it closed. "I hate defense attorneys," she said bitterly, her sharp gaze quickly taking in his rolled up sleeves and pinched expression without comment.

He grinned at her as his frustrations began to lift just from having her nearby. "Rough cross?"

"The guy was a jackass. Seriously, Walcott was objecting to practically every other word out of his mouth. I had to bite my own tongue a few times, but thankfully being held in contempt once is enough to teach me my lesson about talking back during cross examination." Jordan rolled her eyes and sauntered into the kitchen to peer over his shoulder at the delicious sauce. She didn't touch him, though, knowing that was exactly what he wanted her to do and wishing to play little. She reached around him instead for a wooden spoon and dipped it into the pot as he dumped the cut herbs in. "You made me dinner? Aren't you sweet."

He glanced back at her, feeling the small space she was leaving between them like it was a physical thing and watching as she tasted what he had made so far. "I'd wanted to have the noodles done by now, too, but...um, things didn't work out."

"Ah."

Her eyes flicked up to his and in that moment he realized that she knew - she knew he was having a difficult time living there as clearly as if he'd told her. But she didn't say anything about it, and he was thankful for her silence. That was something he wanted to tackle on his own, and that she was willing to let him spoke wonders about their relationship. "Would you like me to finish up for you, then? I think I can handle boiling a pot of water. I'll even look at your Jane Doe's autopsy results for you while we wait." She flashed him a wide smile, finally snaking her arms around his waist from behind to rest her head against his back, inhaling deeply to pull the scent of his soap and lingering aftershave into her lungs.

"That's all right." He turned around in her embrace and cupped her cheek, turning her face up for the kiss he'd been wanting since she walked in. "I know how spending a day in court can put you in a bad mood. I'll finish dinner. You go lie on the couch."

"I'm not in a bad mood now," Jordan murmured lowly, tilting her head just enough to bring her lips closer to his again. "Think dinner can wait thirty minutes?"

Limbs nearly turning to jelly at her insinuation, Woody slammed the lid back on the pot and quickly made sure the flame was turned to as low a simmer as it would go. "Dinner can wait an hour."

Within seconds, she was tugging his button down shirt out from the waistband of his pants and finding the clasp of his belt as he guided her backward around the island and toward the couch, fingers clenching in her straightened hair before falling down her neck and over her shoulders to push the jacket of her suit away. It fell to the floor, and she nearly opened to mouth to make a lighthearted protest about wrinkles and dry cleaning bills when his lips found the sensitive spot on her throat, making her breath hitch. Any other witty quips she had were lost.

"I love you, Woody," she whispered roughly as his fingers worked on the buttons of her blouse, knowing the words affected him just as strongly every time she said them. It was all she could manage now as his hands found bare skin. "Wherever we go, whatever happens. Okay?"

The only thing he could think to do in response was take her lips with his in a searing kiss as they fell down on the sofa.

Yes. Living with Jordan definitely had its pros.