Disclaimer: Not mine, nope.
Author's Note: One of a pair of fictions playing on the 5th anniversary of Abbie Carmichael/Angie Harmon's departure. Poor Angie, instead of reprising her role from the first Cody Banks, she got dumped in the sequel. Silly producers. This is a companion to my longer piece, "That Day (Moment of Clarity)". One of the two will be a fluffy context and another with angst context. For this fic, you make the call. This was based from a series of 1 sentence pairing fics I did for the 1 sentence LJ comm. Moonbeamdancer egged me on to actually write a fic based from one of them (which is the real point of the exercise) and so here I am. Those interested, check out my Gamma piece.
Since this piece and its companion are songfics and the lyrics add to the piece, the true versions are on my MediaMiner org profile, which is linked to my own profile here. I rather recommend that.
Beta: PureSakuraMelody, who enjoys weird angst as much as the next person.
Timeline: the final minute of Criminal Law.
"Wow. Can you believe it?"
"Someone has guts or just stupidity."
"Carmichael might want to hear this."
The local office pool in the U.S. Attorney Southern District chatted plenty around various televisions as they all played the same blurb: "Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy was nearly shot at by defendant Leland Barnes' younger son Robert in front of the courthouse at One Police Plaza."
One of the attractive but mousy secretaries sauntered past the crowds of gawkers to Abbie Carmichael's office, ignoring the rest of the report. She tentatively knocked on the door.
"Yes. What did I say about being disturbed? I have a major closing to write." Abbie opened the door, appearing rather disheveled in her traditional, albeit winkled, onyx shirt and charcoal pants.
"Ms. Carmichael, I hate to disturb you but I am wondering, um…if you've seen…" The secretary was ready to dry heave her way into unconsciousness.
"Spit it out."
The subordinate inhaled an extended breath. "I'm wondering-if-you've-seen-a-news-report-regarding-your-old-boss, Jack-McCoy-almost-being-shot-at-on-the-steps-of-the-courthouse-of-One-Police-Plaza."
The Texan A.D.A. froze in place. "J-Jack McCoy? You're sure?" she queried, almost disoriented.
"Yes, ma'am. It's on all the local channels."
She slammed the door, excavated for her remote, switched on the TV and found a local news channel.
"In case you're just joining us, this just in. There was nearly blood on the courthouse steps as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy was nearly shot at by defendant Leland Barnes' younger son Robert in front of the courthouse at One Police Plaza. However, it was revealed that the younger Barnes wanted to shoot his father instead. The elder Barnes' was pronounced dead only minutes after police subdued his son who fired three shots and is now in custody," A bleached blonde newscaster babbled on.
'Oh my God. Jack. Oh God.' She rapidly rummaged for her car keys and badge, put on her indigo trench coat and bolted out of the office. The others didn't notice or didn't care their occasionally frozen boss raced out in a mad panic. She arrived to the elevator and nearly punched the button off.
'Stupid hunk of junk. 5 years ago, everything was fine, so what the hell happened for someone to try and shoot him? I know he's made a lot of enemies but nothing like this? Come on.' She kept pressing the button.
'The hell with it.' She removed her high heels, headed to the stairs and descended 10 flights in her bare feet. Once at the bottom, she slipped them back on and went to her obsidian Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV in the parking lot.
'I hope he'll be all right, and if not, that little punk is going to wish he was never born.' Abbie gunned the engine and drove out of the complex like a bat out of hell. Unfortunately, it was a Friday in New York and major traffic would ensue.
'Let's see if my knowledge of New York streets will pay off. And damn any police that try to stop me.'
She shifted in high gear, sped down an alley, reaching 60 M.P.H. and beyond as she blazed forth in the concrete labyrinth.
Jack slumped on the courthouse steps, the sounds of the people and devices being muted out as he dosed off into his own mind. Everything else is chattel as he thought he would be on Death's doorstep, instead of simply wearing out the welcome mat as he had been for the past few weeks. After all the defendants he locked away, was this the way it would end? To die on the steps of his beloved courthouse like a dog put out of his misery?
Alexandra approached him and knelt beside him. "Fontana and Green are on their way. They want to get our statements."
He heard her voice but it came off as white noise. What was the point of caring about what this one thought? What was the point about caring about any of them anymore? He already lost one too many and just when he finally gotten used to the last one, she was gone. Of course, with that one, she had mighty big shoes to fill and while she tried her best, it wasn't good enough compared to her predecessor. It was one of many thoughts swirling his mind.
"Fine," he said in a monotone.
"Jack, are you okay?" she spouted.
He gave no response. "Jack?"
"I thought he was aiming at me," he continued the mechanical tone while she looked on, dumbfounded.
"Just go on, I want to be left alone," he replied softly but coldly. The frustrated A.D.A. wanted to reach out but recalled when she recanted him and maintained her distance during the sordid affair.
"Okay, Jack. I'll let you know when Fontana and Green show up." She left him to his own devices.
He didn't know if her presence was there or not but she, like the rest of them, was the least of his concerns.
Despite the speeding past traffic lights, the occasional road rage driver, and the odd driving on empty sidewalks, Abbie reached her destination with police cars sprawled everywhere. Parked in a far off corner, she skipped to the courthouse gates and an officer stopped her.
"Sorry, ma'am. This is a police scene."
"It's okay, I'm A.D.A. Carmichael. My office just heard of the incident. Where is Mr. McCoy?" She whipped out her badge.
"Oh, of course, Ms. Carmichael. He's still on the courthouse steps." He let her pass.
'Good thing I remembered to take it with me.'
She paced herself as she slinked through the ominous crowd and recognized Detective Green but not the older man with him talking to Jack and another woman. 'Ed must have gotten a new partner. I wonder what happened to Lennie. Who is that woman with Jack? Could she be…my replacement?'
The harden A.D.A. suddenly felt as if she received a punch to her stomach. 'Probably, but that's about right. Still, it doesn't make it easier.'
The two cops walked away into the courthouse and Jack and Alexandra loitered on the steps.
"Jack, I'll go tell Arthur about this. You need anything, you call me, okay?" Alexandra nudged him back to reality.
"It's over with, Alex. You won't have to worry anymore. No one will be after either one of us now." He sustained the monotone.
"Yes, right," she said dubiously as she harked back to her recent scare with the criminal prison gang, L-12, and scampered off.
She stopped and turned. "Yes?"
The A.D.A. perked up slightly with that. "You're welcome." She jaunted off and he stared at the spot he was in when Robert unleashed his gun. Barnes' body was still covered in a white sheet. 'Hard to believe I was that close to…to…' He certainly used the concept of death against a defendant many times yet why is it so complicated for him to fathom the possibility of death on himself?
"Jack?" He heard another voice, a more familiar one. Was it a melodic specter from the past?
"Jack." The E.A.D.A. returned to his senses. He sized up one rather unkempt, former A.D.A. of his.
"A—Abbie? Wh—What are you doing here?" 'How long has it been? Almost 5 years?'
She tried her best to conceal her blush. 'It figures. I was so focused on whether or not he was alive; I didn't think what I would say to him after all this time.' "I thought…I'd pop up out of the blue?" She also sized him up and noted how gracefully he aged. Except for letting his hair being bushier, he is the same as when she left him about 5 years ago.
"I would believe that if you didn't look like hell." His anxiety dispersed.
"Can't fool you, huh? I…heard a news report about you getting shot at. So…I raced over here." She released her blush.
His signature eyebrows hoisted upward. "In Friday afternoon traffic? I'm impressed."
"Well, enough about me. How are you?"
"Beyond getting shot at, I'm good," he replied, his best nonchalant impression.
"Don't you seem so chipper after a near death experience?" she countered in her usual sardonic tone.
"I wouldn't be but meeting someone I haven't seen in so long; it makes a good distraction," he sighed.
"Are you going to be okay?" She refortified her barriers; she already lost her edge as it is.
"I'll be fine, it's nothing new here."
"I don't know, Jack. When I was here, no one made a swipe at you." Her legendary cynicism cocked with both barrels.
"Things have changed a lot since then," he said, blankly.
"I'm sure they have. Do you want to talk about it? If not, we can also catch up."
"Yeah, sure. Let me clear up with the bodyguard detail." He faded back into the courthouse. He emerged with Detectives Green and Fontana.
"Since you're here, thought I'd bring out the gang." He receded off into the background as the two men approached her.
"Man, when Jack said you came back, I didn't know what to think. That's what I get for doubting the wise man," Ed spoke and she fell at ease.
"How are you, Ed?" They briefly hugged.
"I'm doing pretty good and keeping busy. I wish punks like Barnes would take a day off and stop making me so busy. Oh, meet my new partner, Joe Fontana. This is Abbie Carmichael, the A.D.A. when I first got here."
"I see you must have been a model in a past life, because it certainly shows," Fontana carried on in his usual smirk.
"And I see you must have been a wise guy in yours," she served without missing a beat. The older detective relented and furnished off a grin.
"This girl's alright with me."
"So, Abbie, what are you doing here? The U.S. Attorney is taking over the case?" Ed asked. Loathed as she was to admit the truth, she had no choice.
"No, this was personal. I heard an incomplete report of the shooting and wanted to see for myself." She prided herself for not appearing flush again at least.
Ed nodded in satisfaction with a knowing grin. "I gotcha. We won't say anything. Well, it's good to see you again. We'd like to continue this but we got investigations and long interrogations ahead. Drop by the precinct sometime, I know the Lieu will want to catch up with you and I certainly do. Take care of yourself." The pair hiked off.
"You take care of him, Joe," she called out.
"Don't you worry, ma'am. I'm not through with him yet." He polished off with another smirk and they wondered off, muttering to themselves. Abbie turned back to Jack.
"I've concluded that's part of his charm. They cleared me but I probably should stick around, just in case." He pointed to the courthouse.
"We could talk here, just not much on privacy." She sat down the steps, watching the people scurry off back and forth like ants.
"Okay." He followed suit.
"Who wants to start?" 'After all this time, I thought I'd have more to say to him.'
"Aren't you generous? Alright. What happened to Lennie?"
He sucked in a breath. "3 years after you left, he decided to officially retire as a detective and be a District Attorney Investigator. He didn't get far into it as he…passed away the following year because of prostate cancer. No one knew. Don Cragen and Mike Logan were at his funeral."
She would have sunk to her knees if she wasn't already sitting down. "I can't believe that…Lennie's dead. That's what I get for being busy with work." She censored her writhing emotions but that theory has been tanking for the better part of several hours.
"I was surprised, too." The concept of death crept up on Jack once again. Both lawyers were thoroughly depressed.
"I don't know about you, but I'm getting depressed," she commented.
"It's a depressing time."
"Okay, moving on then. Who was the black haired woman with you before?" She scrutinized two men hovering near the couple behind the pillars.
His thoughts honed in on her voice. "She is Alex Borgia. She's from major Felonies. She hasn't been on that long. She replaced your replacement, Serena Southerlyn."
She arched her eyebrow. "Already gone through two since me? What are they like? Go chronologically as it makes things easier." She suddenly went hollow inside.
"Serena was a…I guess puppy dog works."
"Puppy dog, huh?" she scoffed.
"Oh, she's not so bad. In time, she developed quite the views and her own identity. Liberal idealist would be the right phrase."
"One of those; I could go to town on that. I shouldn't be surprised though, given Nora and her views—why not get a clone?" she sneered.
"It came off that way much later, when Nora left. Serena got a new job, clashing with my current boss, Arthur…"
"Branch, yeah, who hasn't heard about him? He seems so controversial. Particularly given the liberalness of the New York legal elite."
Jack snickered. "I think he would have liked you. He reminds me…of you a little bit."
"Don't suck up, Jack. I heard of some of the stunts during his year. His stunt with the Japanese media rather said enough for me," the Texan A.D.A. retorted in disapproval.
"I wasn't too thrilled with it either."
"So what happened with Serena?"
Jack withheld his panic as he couldn't divulge Serena's ignominious fate, could he? "She got a better job offer, one where she could play with her ideals." 'That's close enough for jazz.'
"Lucky her. And Alex?"
"She just joined us last year. I don't want to say she's idealistic but she's strangely compassionate and religious."
"You don't sound too thrilled about that." She scanned his face and his hard eyes.
"I guess I'm not. She and I have clashed over the way to perform cases now and then."
"No, a conservative of sorts. Just when that conservatism shows up is another story, Abbie."
"I see," the two men still remained in place. "Are those your bodyguards?" She cocked her head to the back with the pair still waiting in that protracted position.
He craned his head. "Yeah, they're mine. Just taking precautions."
"Alright. So, you were saying? She's kinda conservative and…"
"I'd say a wallflower at times, but she's quite well versed in etiquette, so that explains that. But once something stirs her passions, watch out," he hesitantly explained.
"Wallflower? Not a word I'd use when it comes to being A.D.A. to Jack McCoy." Abbie exhaled a mirthless chuckle.
"That may be but she is capable of surprises."
'Nice to know I'm not missed,' she thought sourly. "She sounds like a hoot, Jack."
"You'll have fun meeting her. But other than that, that's about it for the people. Recent cases have been ranging from kidnapping with a lot of strings attached to free the hostage and nearly lost my job over it to playing a case from S.V.U. to a Terri Schiavo type incident to seeing Paul Robinette again over sterilizing poor black women." He dusted off his monotone.
'He's sound more and more like a robot.' "I get it; you've been busy. And all this?" She motioned her hands to designate the courthouse area.
"Well, to sum up, seemingly random people were being murdered by an elusive killer masquerading as a police mechanic until the detectives followed the trail to a hit list of those people on it—including my name. It was based from a roster of witnesses called in the trial of Leland Barnes, a lawyer who nine years ago, walked into his wife's office and killed her along with three others. I finally prosecuted him five years ago. Those witnesses on the hit list were his survivors. He was supposed to get the Death Penalty but New York put the moratorium on that and the Appellate Court overturned his case recently.
"The remaining witnesses either recanted or were killed while I stalled his re-trial as best I could. As easy it was to back off, I kept going with the investigation. The man responsible was Barnes' son, Harlan, who used the identity of a dead son in his foster family to escape detection and plan his move. The other son, Robert, rather leads a respectable life and tried to turn his brother in. He failed but the police got him but…I had no other evidence besides motive and the judge let him go. Barnes and I had few words here and then Robert pulled up the gun and shot him. I thought…he was aiming at me." He became lifeless in his monologue.
"Despite all the risks, you did it anyway?" She blinked, incredulously.
"Yeah. Seems so stupid now but what kind of example would I set if I skipped out? And even if I did, it wouldn't take me off the list."
'Now I'm really impressed.' "You never cease to amaze me, Jack," she said, heartfelt.
"I believe a philosophy comes to mind: 'I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.'"
The battleaxe A.D.A. chortled. "Like the chicken says?" He smirked in recognition, "Jack, were you scared? Tell me the truth."
"I'll plead the fifth." He peered at his shoes.
"Oh, come on," she ribbed.
"Well…between you, me and the spirit of Frank Hogan, I was scared to death. Don't tell anyone." He placed his finger to his lips in a shushing gesture.
She grinned. "Your secret is safe with me."
"But that's enough for me. What about you? How is the "bigger arena"?"
Abbie ruminated for a moment. "The standard fare: major rapists, mass murderers, lately embezzlers as I'm dealing with Emerson Technologies and Enron. So stereotypical at times," she responded, almost bored.
"Same old grind, eh?"
"Nothing quite like the good old days," she said, wistfully. 'Doesn't my life feels so…'
"No." They waited in the protracted silence until Jack finally shattered it.
"Why did you come back?"
"To see if you're okay. That's all and to catch up."
"Come on. Abbie, I haven't seen you in almost five years and then right after I'm shot, you just show up out of thin air? What's going on?" His eyebrows elevated while his eyes probed her.
"Nothing. You're acting paranoid." She glared right back.
"Then you explain it because I don't understand."
"What is there to understand? I'm concerned about you or was at the rate you're going."
"Then why haven't I seen you, heard from you, talked to you since? Are you that busy?"
"That's hypocritical coming from the workaholic. And stop starting sentences with 'then'," she spat, defensive.
"You're the career woman, you tell me. Abbie, you don't owe me a thing."
She tightened her muscles. "Maybe you could have returned the gesture too. Did you talk to Jamie or that Serena after they left?"
He sighed in exasperation. "No."
"So why are you getting defensive?"
"I…don't know," the E.A.D.A replied, shameful.
"That's reassuring." Her pessimism revived.
"It's a confusing time, Abbie."
"Are you like this with other friends you haven't seen in a while, or am I special that way?" she jabbed, mordantly.
"I'm not in a joking mood."
"I'm not finding this funny."
"You didn't answer my question: why are you back?" he interrogated, accusatory.
The A.D.A. got irritated. "I said I was concerned about you. What do you want? A public press conference saying 'I miss Jack McCoy'?" Some of the crowd became attracted to the brouhaha and browsed back and forth now and then.
"No. Just the truth," he forced on, with a minor expressionless lilt in his voice.
"I got a better question, Jack: what the hell is wrong with you? You seem like a robot because you certainly don't seem like the man I knew when I left." Her eyes pierced his soul.
"That's because I'm not." He resigned himself to the evidence and the fact he had changed.
"And why is that?" Now the tables have turned.
"Answer my question first." His eyes have perforated hers now.
'You stubborn, stupid, silly man.' "Answer mine first." She returned the gaze.
He sighed again. "We're not getting anywhere. Are we?"
"No. We're stubborn as always."
"I missed that," he toned down.
"That's not getting you off the hook, Jack. I'll ask a New Age style question: what's going on with your life? You just got shot at, we finally meet up again and instead of being somewhat enthused, you're acting rather pissy. What is this?" she posed in her "all business" style.
"What would you have me say, Abbie?"
"Anything? Even a gurgling sound so I know you're alive?"
"Just stop it. I could badger you but my sense of chivalry won't have that. Fine, I'll say it—I miss you."
"And I missed you."
She drew a blank. "Okay…that doesn't explain your behavior, does it?"
Jack exhaled in disbelief. 'I never thought I could say any of this, no matter what the circumstances.' "No, you don't get it. I missed you. I missed you in a job where I am not allowed to attach to anyone. After Claire, I didn't think I'd get that again in any form and then you sashayed in with your cynicism and your Texan style of dispositions and…it's nothing I've dealt with before and then you're gone. It's my fault. I should have known better and yes, I do miss Jamie. I resisted then, and it didn't do me any good. Your replacement was, in fact, tossed behind my back and I don't know anymore with any new ones, Abbie. What I am supposed to feel?" he ranted with peaking indignation, and stood up.
She was broadsided, not to mention speechless. 'Wow.' "How…long have you been holding that in?" the A.D.A. wondered after a measure of silence.
"Since you left. I've drowned that with the occasional bitterness of you up and going for a better job instead of misguided loyalty I supposed. However, I know you're a career woman and I don't hold that against you. Believe it or not, I was at the Southern District Office around a year since your departure—a case with Nora. I guess I could have knocked on your door but…I didn't know what to say to you. I knew I should have severed all this before it became too much."
'He was there in the same building with me?' "Jack, you make it sound like we're lovers or this is the aftermath of a breakup," she stated with her usual firm quality.
"No, just you know prosecutors—can't be allowed to be human, the negative emotions and all that."
"I can't argue there," she sighed as she acquiesced.
"You asked. Between that and Detective Briscoe going, Serena, sparing with my new boss, the job at times, and now my wearing out Death's welcome mat, it hasn't been a good year. I'm just tired, Abbie. That's really it," he certainly sounded enervated.
"I had no idea I meant that much to you," she elicited that sentence to more herself than her former superior.
"I didn't either. It was after you left before I figured it out. I wish I said it sooner but not quite like this. Or with an audience." The E.A.D.A. indicated to the onlookers slowly materializing from a distance.
"I'd suggest moving to somewhere else but the police might need you."
"It's alright. I said enough to embarrass myself to the next millennium." He suddenly contemplated and considered the concrete that composed of the courthouse.
"I don't think you embarrassed yourself…too much."
"Fine, what about you? Why are you here, I ask again."
The focus shifted back to her. "Honestly? I don't know. I really don't. I've been so busy with my job, and out of the blue, I hear you shot at and…I dropped what I was doing and ran to you. I don't know why." She also contemplated and considered at the concrete.
'Was really I that busy like he thinks? It wouldn't have hurt to try to create a connection with him despite leaving, right? Right?'
"I appreciate the thought anyway."
"Now what? Do we go back to our lives now?"
Abbie shrugged her shoulders as she entrenched herself in her thoughts. "I don't know."
"Should we reconnect again?"
"I don't know."
"I'm never going to see you again, am I? Like I'm supposed to," Jack babbled innocently.
Her apprehension heightened, but she didn't know why, beyond possible sheer reflex. "I don't know."
The sandbags piled on top of him. "What would be the point? We've freed each other. Go back to living your life, Abbie. Focus on that career, nail these bastards from the sewers they slime out of," he mused with a hint of sanguinity.
"What if…I don't want to leave?"
"You do. We both have to move on from this, I see that now. Wish this was said the first time or maybe it wouldn't have been built up." His burden hauled up from his shoulders while hers sagged on.
"You're suddenly chipper." 'As opposed to me.'
"I think it was the unfinished business. Thank you, Abbie."
"Jack…" Emotions undulated within her.
"What?" His mahogany eyes altered to a compassionate gaze.
'Why did I brush him off for so long? He is so different than anyone else I've worked with in so many ways. Aren't I the cosmic fool?'
"Nothing," she backed down. 'I think I've done enough. He's right; let it go.'
"Abbie, come on, you know from me what happens when you leave things unsaid." One of the bodyguards approached them.
"Excuse me, sir. D.A. Branch needs to speak to you."
"In a minute," he dismissed the guard. "Duty calls; I'll be okay. You better go before people realized you're not part of the investigation."
"Yeah," she replied in nonchalance.
"Abbie? What is it you were going to say?"
She gaped into his concerned eyes. "I don't suppose I can get back to you on that? Like maybe, over dinner sometime?" 'Don't I feel so weak? I usually am not but with him, there are times where I don't kno…no, I'm not going to repeat that phrase again. What is it about him that feels so hypnotic? Even after all this time?'
"As long as it doesn't take another 5 years. Take care of yourself," he whispered huskily as he leaned to her. "I'll be okay, Abbie. Thanks for caring." He walked off.
She lingered on the steps briefly and consolidated her thoughts. She then skedaddled to a payphone, thanked her creator for change, and dialed a number.
"Hello?" It was the mousy secretary.
"It's me. I'm taking the rest of the day off," the A.D.A. commanded in her authoritative voice.
"What do I say to the supervisors?"
"Tell them I'm doing it for personal reasons." Abbie smashed down the receiver.
'While I wonder what is wrong with my life.'
She eyeballed the courthouse and reminisced of times her and Jack have worked and walked on the grounds side by side and those twilight days.
I hope you all appreciate this as it was a difficult piece to write. Leave a review if you wish and see you in the funny papers.