-1Hey Guys,

I own nothing to do with Conviction. I do wish they hadn't cancelled it though. James Sinclair is an NYPD Blue character who I'm borrowing for this story.

This occurs sometime after episode 10 'Deliverance'. The title is taken from a Tift Merritt song.

Stray Paper

"You should take the deal, Mr. Steele."

"I don't think so, Mr. Sinclair. We've got a very strong case. I don't think a jury is going to look very favourably on your client." Jim shrugged, perfectly nonchalant. "I think I'll win this in court."

"You're good, Mr. Steele. Very good, even." James Sinclair sat back, allowing a smoothly arrogant smile to drift across his face. "But you're not me."

"Murder Two, ten to fifteen." Jim interlocked his fingers, resting his chin on top of them. "Best I can do."

James Sinclair laughed, a harsh, forced sound, echoing around the small room. "You don't have a strong enough case to make Murder Two. You know it. I know it. Try harder."

"I have motive and enough evidence to…"

"Circumstantial at best, assuming the Judge even allows it in." Sinclair shrugged again. "Even if it is admissible, it isn't strong enough to build a case around. I smell reasonable doubt, and if a jury smells reasonable doubt…."

"What do you suggest?"

"Man Two. Five years, less time served."

Jim burst out laughing, his shoulders shaking with amusement. Secretly enjoying the anger which darkened James Sinclair face. "Absolutely not, Councillor. Out of the question." He leaned forward, his voice low, hard. "Your client murdered the victim in cold blood. Murder Two is the absolute best deal I can make."

"You really think you can beat me? With this case? Come on Jim! There's no need to put a jury through this case." He sat back, pretending to think. "Man One. Eight years, parole in five."

Jim shook his head. "I don't think so."

"It's the best offer you're going to get." Sinclair steepled his fingers. "It's a guaranteed win and it gets a perp off the streets." The smile drifted back, smug, arrogant. "I'm sure that'll keep your boss happy. How is Alexandra anyway?"

"She's fine." Jim leaned forward again, desperate to wipe the smile off Sinclair's face. "And last time I checked, she didn't support this office beating murder raps down to manslaughter." He sat back again, suddenly keen to get this meeting over and done with. "Murder Two."

"No deal."

Jim shrugged again. "Does your client know the consequences if you loose? Life imprisonment. That's a hell of a lot of time to stake on your reputation. I recommend you take the deal."

"My reputation? Do you know why my clients trust me, why they stake so much on my reputation?"

'Because you're a ruthless amoral snake?' Jim shook his head, wondering where Sinclair was going with this.

"Because I'm single minded, Jim. I take on a case, and I focus on it. I don't get distracted by my boss, or a co-worker." He paused, adjusting his grip on the verbal knife before he slipped it between Jim's ribs. "Or the opposition council."

He fell silent, staring at Jim, tapping his fingers against his mouth. Waiting.

"Murder Two is the lowest I'm prepared to go. Take it or leave it."

James Sinclair sighed and stood up, lifting his briefcase from the table. "Then I guess I'll see you in court, Mr. Steele."

"I guess you will."

Sinclair stopped with his hand on the door handle, his mouth twisting in a sly smile. "By the way, Jim, Julie says hello."

Steele didn't reply. He'd been wondering when Sinclair would slip that particular distraction into the conversation

"She's spending sometime with her sons in the Caribbean. I think she deserves it, after everything the city put her and her family through, don't you?"

Jim found his voice. "I'll see you in court, Councillor."

The End of Stray Paper