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Fear Itself

Chapter 13

"So this cop," Woody began for the third time that afternoon, watching as Jordan took a bite of the lunch Nigel had brought for them. A real bite, too, though he didn't say anything about it. "Is he still in jail?"

Jordan shrugged. "I don't know, I guess. He got, like, twenty-five to life."

She ignored his eyes on her as she continued eating, knowing he was storing the guy's name away to check on once he got back to the precinct. They had stayed up on the roof for almost an hour, not saying much more. Instead they just stood there silently, content to be in one another's arms, hearing the other's breathing or the beating of their heart. After the week they had had, that was the most healing hour together they could have wished for. He hadn't tried to refute her words or convince her it wasn't true. He'd known her for six years; he had to realize at some point that she had very little regard for her life most of the time. He'd even mentioned it himself a time or two in the past, usually in a what-were-you-thinking-you-almost-died kind of way.

Finally, he had asked her very quietly if she felt she would be able to eat, if there was anything in particular she's like. She'd smiled broadly at him and touched his cheek. That was how they had ended up with Italian take-out; Woody had gone inside and asked Nigel to get it, loathe to leave her side for the rest of the day.

"So he never tried to contact you or anything?"

Jordan laughed and shook her head. "No, Farm Boy, he has never tried to contact me. His threats were pretty empty. I've gotten much worse." She met his eyes and smirked when he blanched. "Oh, come on! You always ask people, 'Did so-and-so have any enemies?' For me, the answer to that question would be, plenty. I've probably made more enemies than friends over the years."

Woody's shoulders sagged and he let his fork drop into the paper bowl. "I guess you're right. You sure do have a way with people. And not a very good way, either."

"Hey, that's not very nice!" she said in her own defense, lightly punching his arm.

A knock on the doorframe brought their attention up, and they saw Santana standing there with an ever-growing case file and her notebook. "Hey, guys. Busy?"

The medical examiner turned her grin to the other woman and gestured her inside. "Hey, Luisa. Come on in. Hungry?" she asked, holding out a bag of warm bread sticks.

"No, thanks." Santana shook her head, her eyes briefly meeting Woody's. He seemed to be feeling better now than he had been the day before and she grinned at him. "I just spoke with Hutchings, the board member who was out of town? She was pretty horrified to find out what had happened. But - get this." She opened her notebook and glanced over the notes she had taken. "O'Malley applied for a research position a few weeks ago. He was denied."

They both sat forward, their interest peaked. "So he was trying to continue his research? Was she able to tell you what kind of research he had?" Jordan asked, pushing her meal aside to make space for the file on her coffee table. Santana sat on the floor across from them as she spread everything out.

"Yeah," the detective said with a hint of excitement they all recognized from being hot on the trail of something. "He wanted to continue what he had started in New York - genetically altering a known bacteria."

Her gaze flicked to Jordan's, and the doctor filled in the rest. "Yersisnia pestis."


"If he applied through the hospital, his application should have a record of his address," Jordan mused, already focused on the papers before her. "I did an internship with a research team when I was in med school. The paperwork was really thorough."

"I've already asked for everything to be sent over to me at the precinct," Santana explained. As if on cue, her cell phone started to beep and she unclipped in from her belt and flipped it open. "Yeah?" She listened to the person on the other line for a minute, then smiled, thanked them, and hung up. "Speaking of, Mrs. Hutchings found everything. It's waiting on my desk and his new, shiny address here in Boston is right at the top. You wanna come, Hoyt?"

"Um…well…" His sentence faded before it started and, as quickly as the excitement bloomed in his chest, it vanished when he looked at Jordan and thought of leaving her again.

Sensing his eyes on her, she met his gaze and, practically reading his mind, smiled warmly. "Get outta here, Detective."

"Are you sure?" he asked, turning to her completely. Santana stood and backed away, feeling as though she were intruding but not knowing where else to go yet. "I can stay here with you. I don't mind."

Jordan teasingly pushed him away from her, her grin transforming into a smirk. "Go, man. I'd already be out the door if I were allowed to leave."


Thomas O'Malley's new address wasn't in Boston's city limits at all. In fact, it was about an hour outside the city and Woody watched as the clustered building began to spread into the metro area. Santana was driving, chatting amicably with Claudia, who was in the back seat. Bug was following behind them in one of the morgue SUVs, just in case there was some evidence to be gathered and taken back. Another squad car with two more officers was among their small caravan.

Woody fingered the search warrant in his hands, not really listening to the two women as they talked about Atlanta and what it was like to live there. He was still thinking about Jordan and how it felt, having to leave her behind again. She had watched longingly as he had gathered his jacket and keys and walked away, though he had pretended not to notice. They had left the full file spread out on the table and she had immediately started to rifle through it. He sighed and closed his eyes, seeing her face in his mind. A wave of intense emotion hit him.

He had almost come to terms with the meningioma and the effect it was going to have on her health. Her life. His life. Their lives together. He could handle all of that. He knew he could. It tore him apart sometimes late at night while she slept and he lay awake that there was nothing he could do about it, but they would be okay.

And kids? He almost laughed to himself. He couldn't believe that, of all things, she was nervous that he would have a problem with her not being able to have children. Sure, he would have loved to have children with her. But, like he had told Dr. Macy before – all he cared about was being with her, the love of his life. He'd do everything in his power to make her understand that, to make her know how loved she was, and every chance he got.

It was the other things now - things like this stupid disease - that would drive him insane with worry for her. He had always worried, but it was different.

"Oh, here it is," Santana said suddenly, slowing the unmarked Crown Victoria to a crawl. "The house belongs to Krista and Tom Harrison, but it's the address on the application."

Woody opened his eyes again. They were in a rundown neighborhood with one-story and split-level houses along both sides of the road. The house she had pointed out was a pale yellow. There were two old cars out front and about a weeks' worth of newspapers in the driveway.

The other police car pulled around and kept going at the detective's subtle signal, not wanting to alert anyone who may have been home. They'd circle around and come back once Santana and Woody had knocked on the door. Bug went ahead and parked beside the house next door as Santana cut the engine.

"Stay in the car until I wave," she told Claudia as both she and Woody unbuckled their seatbelts and quietly got out of the car. "Got the warrant?"

"Yeah, right here." Woody held it up briefly, then unclipped the buckle over his holstered gun. Something about this felt off.

Santana noticed and nodded her agreement. "The cruiser is coming back. Come on."

They walked across the street and through the unkempt yard up to the front door of the yellow house where O'Malley had supposedly been living since he returned to Boston. She gestured to Woody. "Your collar. Go for it."

He pounded on the door. "Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, BPD! Open the door!"

Silence. They looked at each other.

"We have a warrant," Woody continued loudly. "We need to come inside right now. Open the door or we'll use force."

Still nothing.

"This isn't right," he whispered, peering carefully through the narrow window beside the door. There were no lights on inside. No movement, no sounds. The other two officers came up behind them. "Two cars, newspapers...I see a coffee mug on a table near the sofa, a book on the floor. And...blood. There's blood! Get this door open!" He turned to one of the other cops and got out of the way while he pried it open for them.

The smell of congealed blood and decay hit them first. It seemed to be coming from everywhere at once, and the two officers, who were not from the homicide unit, recoiled. Woody pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and covered his nose and mouth, while Santana made use of a newly gloved hand.

"Oh, my God," she whispered. "I guess the Harrisons are dead, huh?"

Woody treaded lightly into the foyer to get a better look into the living room, where he could now see a man lying face-down on the carpet beside the couch. The book and coffee had been his, as had the blood. "Guess so. Bug! We need you in here!"

The M.E. was right behind them, and the cops moved away so he could come inside with a kit. "I've called for a van," he said brusquely, already making his way to the first Harrison on the floor to begin a cursory examination.

Wishing for the umpteenth time that this was Jordan with him instead of Bug (though he did like the man, of course), Woody turned to look around the crime scene. "There was very little struggle," he observed, noting how nothing other than the book and the body on the floor were out of place. "The attacker was likely already in the home. O'Malley, probably, since according to what he told the hospital, he was living here. The blood spatter begins on the couch, here, and then falls down along the cushions…" He followed it with a gloved finger. "And ends with the pool of blood by the body. Bug?"

"He's been dead for at least a week," he replied distractedly. "Throat was slit. I'll have to do a full autopsy before I can give you a positive CoD."

"Can you give me more than that?"

"No," was the terse answer. "I'm not Jordan."

Woody shrugged and turned away toward the kitchen, trying not to let on to how much that stung. "Check the rooms down the hallway there," he told the two uniformed officers still standing in the doorway with Claudia. They nodded and made their way toward what was probably bedrooms and a bathroom. He turned into the kitchen with Santana, who was flipping through a stack of mail. "Anything?"

She shook her head. "Bills and some boring catalogue. They seem like pretty normal people."


It was one of the officers, and Woody and Santana left the kitchen to follow the call to the master bedroom. They had found Krista. She was dead in the bed, under the covers. Aside from the smell and decomposition, there was no obvious way to tell what had happened; it looked like she had been sleeping. No blood was in the room.

"Um, Claudia?" Woody took a step back, his heart constricting. "Is this…did she die from – from the bacteria?"

The doctor came into the room, handing everyone a mask as she went. Without a word, she pulled the bed covers back and made a gentle cursory exam. "Yes." She glanced back at Woody with eyes wide. "He killed them both?"

His brain started to whirr. "Krista likely died first, before Tom knew what was going on. O'Malley must have killed him before he found his wife. Probably thought she just had the flu or something." He looked back out into the hall, desperately seeking some kind of clue or direction. "Any sign of him living here?"

"The other bedroom was empty," one of the officers supplied warily.

"Guys!" Bug called suddenly. "There's a basement here!"

The detective rushed over to where the M.E. was standing two doors down, Santana on his heels. With a gentle hand, he pulled the other man back from the dark stairs and unholstered his gun in preparation to descend.

"Surely he's not still here?" Claudia asked in a panicked whisper, reaching out to grab the arm of the officer standing closest to her. He looked at her in surprise, but she was too frightened to notice.

"Luisa." Woody nodded his head toward the stairs and she took out her own gun in response. "Jason, behind." The other officer gave his consent.

Very quietly, he began to go down the stairs and into the dark below. His eyes adjusted quickly thanks to the light above and he scanned the small room. There was a bed against the far wall. A desk, a large set of drawers. And, along the wall beside the stairs, a long table with odd-looking equipment. "It's empty," he called up. "Come on down and find the lights."

There was the sound of feet on the steps, and then the overhead light flickered on. The table was littered with medical supplies and equipment. Vials, needles, syringes microscopes, and a number of things he couldn't name – even a small refrigerator. All the makings for a DIY laboratory.

"He might not be here now, but O'Malley was definitely here at some point," Woody muttered.


"This is the same strain of Y. pestis that killed all those people," Claudia said softly, her voice pained. Everyone had returned to the morgue to examine the evidence and bodies they had found, and she adjusted the view on her microscope to bring her slide into better focus. "Most of the vials were already empty, but they still had traces of it."

"Damn it," Woody spat, resisting to urge to punch the wall in anger. "He was there! He was there and we missed him! Now two more innocent people are dead."

"Hey, calm down." Jordan was at his side in an instant, her hand on his arm. She could see the beast trying to come out and she pressed close, trying to soothe him before he truly lost his temper.

"Calm down? Calm down!" He spun on her, ready to release his frustrations, but then, just as quickly as it had risen, his anger vanished when he saw her livid face, ready and willing to fight back when he wouldn't listen. It was like she was the antidote to his fury, as ridiculous as that seemed. Her temper was at least five times worse than his and much more volatile, and yet there she was telling him to stay calm. The pot calling the kettle black. It had worked, though, odd as that was. His shoulders slumped forward and he let out the breath he had been holding before catching her hand to bring her fingers to his lips. "Fine. I'm okay."

She nodded and took a step back so he could go hover over Nigel, who was lifting fingerprint after fingerprint from the equipment. "Our Mister O'Malley is in the system; he was printed when he took his exam. All of these are his. Buggles also found the weapon used to murder Tom Harrison under the couch. It also has his prints."

"So we've got him," Woody breathed, the muscles of his jaw tightening. "Now if we can only catch him."