He could see the annoyance in her stride as she passed into the inner hall of the building housing the district attorney's offices. Claire Kincaid was accustomed to having her own way. Concealing the smile lurking behind his eyes, Jack McCoy let the revolving door swing closed behind them and followed her to the elevators. Claire pushed the button and looked at him. Her round chin shifted as she clenched her teeth.

"I am not going to win this one, am I?" she asked as the little light above the doors illuminated, notifying them the lift was on its way. His corresponding smile was more than ample response. Jack never gave her an inch when it came to debate, in the courtroom or out of it. She feigned more annoyance than she actually felt, moving forward as the doors opened. It was early and not many people were at work, just those accustomed to odd hours, or with particularly unreasonable trial schedules. Most judges refused to appear before nine, but many attorneys were hard at work pulling together the final threads of their prosecution in the hours before trial.

"It's not that I don't have apathy for him," Jack remarked as the doors closed.

Claire deliberately stood several feet away from him. "Just that you think he should pay for his crimes," she replied, tucking her hair behind her ear and shifting her briefcase to the other hand. She chose not to look at him, but felt his sweeping glance as he appraised her from his corner. It was never dull in the presence of Jack McCoy, whether it was sitting next to him in a theatre seat or doing battle with him over how best to prosecute a case at court. It was one of the many maddening aspects of his dominant personality, and a trait she found attractive whenever it did not drive her to distraction.

"Whatever musical talent the character may possess does not lessen the fact that he was a manipulative, controlling, murdering kidnapper. If he showed up in our office, even you would throw the book at him."

Shooting him a withering glance, Claire replied, "Must everything pertain to our sense of morality in the courtroom, or are we allowed to have separate lives from work? Come on, admit it: you felt sorry for him in the end."

Resting his hand on the elevator handrail, Jack made a noncommittal motion of his shoulders. "I did," he admitted. It produced the smile he so loved and she stepped nearer to him as the doors opened, letting them into the upper hall. The offices were among others in the governmental building, and they had been screened at the side door as they entered. One flash of a badge had let them through the line without being stopped.

The heat that radiated through the open space made Claire sigh as they approached the security desk, where the guard sat, turning through the pages of a magazine. "Good morning, Mr. McCoy, Miss Kincaid," he said. He had noted how they often seemed to appear around the same time in the morning, a feat that was not replicated in the other attorneys in the office.

"Good morning, Patterson," Jack replied, and signed the ledger. The guard handed him an envelope bearing Adam Schiff's penmanship, and he unfolded the contents as his associate added her name to the meager list of individuals who had come to work that morning. There were ledgers for both incoming and leaving attorneys, signifying the number of hours they spent on duty, as well as for guests, every one of which had to sign a separate book.

"The air conditioning still isn't fixed?" Claire asked as she put the pen down and picked back up her leather case. It had quit Monday morning and for the past four days the offices had been like an oven. Fortunately, there was a high-profile trial on their roster and that granted them the ability to leave the offices for several days in a row, but there was nothing pressing that afternoon and Claire loathed the thought of facing the unbearable heat. It also created chaos for the security team, because everyone entering the building had to be searched.

"They're still working on it," the guard replied, with frustration. "Supposedly, it should be working by this evening."

"Just in time for the weekend," Jack returned dryly, and lifted his hand in acknowledgement as he made his way toward the office. Some of his coworkers were around, bent over their desks or arguing on the phone, most of them having removed their jackets and opened their collars. The weather forecast called for unbearable heat over the next few days. Lifting the envelope, he said, "Looks like Adam isn't coming in today. He's wanted up state for a judiciary hearing. The court of appeals must have granted us a hearing over jurisdiction for the Madison case."

He opened the door to their conjoined offices and let her precede him. His was on the east end of the building, the windows overlooking the street, and the room was already warm. "I'm surprised he didn't let you handle it," Claire said as he placed his things onto his desk.

"Adam has a good rapport with the presiding justices. I imagine he believes his appearance in the gallery will impress the importance of their ruling." Drawing up the shades, he opened the window, letting the sounds of the city flow into the room. This time of the morning it was mostly cabs traveling up and down town, but before long there would be scooters and pedestrians, a steady stream of attorneys and detectives coming in and out of the building.

Claire moved into her office and switched on the table lamp, leaving her shutters drawn. She intended to keep the room as cool as possible. "The one week we're going to break the heat record for the past hundred years," she remarked, "our air conditioning goes on the flux."

"It's the price of being a civil servant," he replied from the outer room, and dropped behind the desk. Having spent most of his childhood in Chicago, he was more acclimated to the heat than she was. Claire did not deal with it well, usually winding up with a migraine. He would have encouraged her to go home had not he needed her for a deposition that afternoon.

They worked in silence as the clock ticked away the hours. There was not much on the agenda and Claire was just finished with her case studies when his shadow fell across her desk. She was working on a deposition by lamplight, and glanced up as he leaned against the doorjamb. "Dr. Olivet sent me her findings on the Madison case," she said. "She believes he has a formidable defense for extreme emotional distress." He gave no sign of more than a passing interest, and after a significant pause, she asked, "What are you doing this weekend?"

Fridays were the most content days of the week, for it brought about closure to many of their cases. Most juries did not want to start a new week of deliberation and reached verdicts on this day, and the offices were blessedly silent. Her voice did not interrupt the flow of productivity, remaining quiet enough not to carry beyond his ears. Jack crossed to the sofa beneath the row of bookshelves gracing the far wall. Most of the volumes were similar to his, but interspersed among the law journals were a number of titles that he frequently borrowed to weigh against his cases. He ran his finger along the volumes and took one down, opening it.

"My daughter is going abroad with her friends on Sunday afternoon," he said. "She's flying in from Chicago tonight."