In the open van outside, Anita removed her headphones as she caught sight of a girl attempting to push her way through the police barricades. Detective Rey Curtis was hovering nearby and she indicated he attend the issue. Adam was doing his best to keep her calm, wondering what else was happening five stories up in his legal offices. The lieutenant shifted her attention as the girl was let through the line. She was leggy and rather pretty, with long dark hair swept into a loose ponytail and eerily familiar features. The taxi she had abandoned was still parked at the curb, the meter running, and the detective was walking her in the direction of the van.

"Lu," Rey started, but the young woman demanded, "Where's my dad?"

She head heard about it on the news, walking into the terminal of JFK international airport. No more had she gotten off the plane than her attention was drawn to the news.

Van Buren stepped out of the van, indicating for one of her fellow officers to take her place, and Rey said, running a hand anxiously over the back of his neck, "McCoy's daughter. She just flew in from Chicago an hour ago. He was supposed to pick her up." His tone was demure, but she sensed the torment raging beneath his dark composure. Curtis and McCoy did not get along in most situations, but as a father of daughters, this one hit a little close to home. It might have been his daughter to hear about it on the news, to wonder what was happening.

"We are doing everything we can to get him out of there," Anita reassured her, walking her out of range of the television cameras. "I need you to remain calm, and stay with the officer. As soon as I know anything, I will tell you." She could see much of McCoy in his daughter, in the intensity of her gaze and the quiet lines of her features, even the unique tone of her voice. Rachel nodded and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, escorted by the officer to one of the police cars.

Returning to the van and picking up the receiver, Van Buren heard the girl's voice crackle across the line. "I don't have to reason with you. We can play this game all night, or we can get to the particulars. I'll make you a trade, Mr. Schiff. I'll let three people go. You promise to come in here, to look me in the face and explain why you let my brother die, and I'll release them all. Because it is you, after all, that I came to see, not Mr. McCoy, or Miss Kincaid, or any of your other little minions. You have a thousand attorneys, and as many cops, one of the greatest police forces in the country, yet you are so narrow-sighted that you could not see one man's perilous fate."

Leaning against the near wall with his arms crossed, Jack shifted his focus with that statement. "Adam," he said, "don't do it."

He was immediately the recipient of everyone's attention. There was silence on the other end of the line. He was exhausted of the situation, of the ridiculousness nature of it, the fact that a seventeen year old was attempting to barter their lives with the police. "Look," he said, "you don't need any of them. You said it yourself, you don't care about anyone except the person responsible for placing your brother in jeopardy."

"What the hell is he doing?" Van Buren hissed to Arthur, her hand over the mouthpiece. The weathered face of her companion revealed his similar feelings as the line suddenly went dead.

Jack removed his hand from the button on the front of the phone, his colleagues watching in stunned silence. Looking down at her, he said, "This situation is not going to lead where you want it to. The police aren't about to agree to a trade. Adam Schiff will never enter this building and you know it. It was to a disadvantage that he wasn't here today, but it also means you still have time to back out of a murder conviction." He stepped between the gun and Claire, and for the first time saw a flicker of respect in the girl's eyes. She was listening to him. "Let my colleagues go," he said softly, "and we'll handle this."

Claire started to say his name, but was silenced when he held out his hand. Chanterelle gazed at him from behind the level of the gun and then nodded. "Get out," she said, "all of you, except you, Miss Kincaid." She was not stupid, had seen the glances between them, and knew enough to sense they cared for one another. The others slipped out of the room and down the stairs, their footsteps echoing faintly until they were assisted by the police. Only three remained now, in the sweltering heat, all of them damp with sweat but their keen minds working rapidly. Claire leaned against the waist-high shelves behind her, arms crossed.

The phone rang again and Chanterelle yanked the cord from the wall. "I don't want to talk to them anymore," she said, and he could see she was on the verge of either giving up or snapping. He had spent numerous hours in the presence of Dr. Olivet, whose evaluations of patients he trusted, and could detect the classic symptoms of stress. "This isn't what I wanted," she said, keeping the gun aimed at his head. "I sat in that courtroom every day during the trial, not just when my brother was on the stand, and I listened to you present the case. And you did a good job, but what was it you said to the press, Mr. McCoy? That sometimes people get run over when you're prosecuting a murder trial? Do you ever think about the victims you leave behind? The lives that are ruined because of the deals you make?"

He was watching her intently, offering no response. Then, it happened. The air conditioning system kicked on. The thunderous sound echoed through the air shafts in the building, and distracted her just for an instant. An instant was all it took. Claire did not completely see what happened, only that the back of Jack's hand caught the girl across the face and sent her crashing to the ground. Air flooded out the vents, lifting the hair off her neck as Jack picked up the gun and emptied the bullets onto the table.

"God forgive me," he said, gazing at the unconscious form on the floor.

Lennie Briscoe appraised the dazed look on the defendant's face as she was led from the building, then cracked, "Wow, Counselor. Maybe we should have you in the interrogation room more often." His humor was not shared by his companion, but it was meaningful when he added, "You may be a hard hat, McCoy, but I'm glad you're all right. You might want to stop by the van on your way out. Your daughter is just about to cut the police tape and come up for herself."

Trailing Claire to the elevator, Jack turned as the detective added, "She's just like you, Jack."

"Fortunately, she looks like her mother," he retorted, and pressed the button.

Claire entered with him and leaned against the railing, watching as the doors closed and took them down. There was a moment of silence before she said, "Hard to believe twelve hours ago we were in this same elevator, little realizing what we were in for." The note of melancholy faded from her voice, and a hint of her humor returned, the same humor that allowed her to see the best in every situation. It was this that prompted her fierce arguments with Adam Schiff, the optimism that most men were good in some aspect of their life, that trials came out fairly and in the end, the good guys would always win. "It figures the air conditioning would come on now, when the building is going to be empty all weekend."

Jack smiled at her from across the elevator, attempting to repress the thoughts Chanterelle had awakened in him, wondering if perhaps he had not made a mistake in her brother's case. "It's the price of being a civil servant," he replied as they came to a gentle halt. The light flashed on and as the doors opened, he pushed away from the wall.

"Come on, Claire," he said, taking her arm, "I'll introduce you to my daughter."

THE END