Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters of Law and Order. If I did, I wouldn't have to worry about scholarships, now would I?
Jack McCoy sat dejectedly at his desk, his head in his hands. He stared at the piece of paper in front of him, covered in that rabid scrawl that was his handwriting. Why did she have to ask me, of all people?
Jack thought back to the day before, when he met Mr. and Mrs. Borgia. He had been there when Branch gave them the bad news. He couldn't get Mrs. Borgia's horrified expression out of his mind. It nearly mirrored his own when he discovered the body of her daughter. Mr. Borgia had covered his mouth in horror and tried to force the tears back, for his wife's sake. Jack had been ready to move, in case she fainted. But Mrs. Borgia didn't collapse. She didn't wail hysterically. All she did was look at him. And say, "You were her boss?" He had been caught off guard. He had tried to reply, but the words stuck in his mouth, held there by his grief and rage. All he could do was nod. "Then will you give her eulogy, at the funeral?"
He didn't remember saying yes, but he assumed he had. All he could remember was that look. A look that seemed to pierce into the depths of his thoughts. A look that was so similar to the one that Alex would give him from time to time.
Jack leaned back in his chair and set his pen down. What am I supposed to say about her? He glanced out the open door to the empty space across the hall, the office that Alex had occupied only a week before. Her funeral. Now she was really dead. Before it seemed like just a bad dream, one that he could awake from and find her sitting at her desk smiling at him, same as always. But it wasn't a dream, and she would never sit at her desk again.
The chair creaked as he got up and walked over to her empty desk. His blue-gray eyes swept over the tiny space. So many memories. It seemed so empty now that her pictures were gone. Now that she was gone.
He sat in her chair and glanced around the room again. The picture of her mother sat right there. His fingers brushed over the spot. She used to keep a stack of files here. Her coat hung over there.
Jack imagined her brown head bent over the latest case that they were working on. Alex had always worked so hard on every task he'd given her, like she had something to prove to him. She worked through every loophole possible. She covered every detail.
He remembered the time he fought against Leland Barnes' new trial. Alex had come into his office to talk to him, but the conversation had led somewhere he didn't expect. "Just being next to you scares the hell outta me," she had confessed. But she didn't run. She still worked as hard as she could. And when he was sitting on the courthouse steps after his near-death experience, she had been the first one to ask him if he was okay. And he brushed her off. He hadn't appreciated her then either.
"You okay?" A deep voice jolted him out of the past and back into the present.
Jack glanced up to see the weathered face of District Attorney Arthur Branch. "Yeah," he said unconvincingly.
"I would have thought you'd have gone home by now," Branch said in his characteristic Southern drawl.
Jack stretched his arms over his head. "Just working on the eulogy." The fact that that word had come out of his mouth startled him. He still couldn't believe that Alex was dead.
"Having problems?" Branch asked, giving him a smile that said he already knew the answer.
Jack sighed. "What can I say about her?"
"How about how you feel?"
Jack grew silent. He inhaled deeply and said, "I don't know how I felt about her. She was…"
Branch leaned against the doorpost and crossed his arms. "Yeah, I know."
"It was my fault she died, Arthur." Jack stared at his hands.
Branch looked at him sharply.
"I should have taken the Andreas case from her. Or at the very least I should have taken part of it. But I didn't, and now she's dead."
Branch inhaled. "It's not your fault, Jack. Alexandra was stubborn. She would have fought you tooth and nail for it."
"I don't deserve to give her eulogy." Jack didn't look up from his hands. "I killed her, surely as if I had been the one that punched her."
Branch looked at his prosecutor for a moment. "You've taken Alexandra's death harder than anyone I know. You knew her the best of anyone in the office." He paused for a long time, then leaned forward and put his hand on Jack's shoulder. "Tell the world what she was like. Tell the world the truth about her." He gave the thin shoulder a quick squeeze and then was gone.
The truth? What's the truth? He sighed again and leaned back in the chair. The truth is that she didn't deserve to die like that. The truth is that she was kind, compassionate, and a helluva lawyer. The truth is that she didn't get half the credit she deserved. Jack flipped out the light in Alex's office and crossed the hall to his office. He sat at his desk and picked up his pen.
Jack fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat at the funeral two days later. Damn, this is the first time I've been in church since… well, since never. Alex always begged me to go with her. He felt a sharp pang of guilt and wished he had taken her up on her offer. He sat next to Branch on the front pew. The pastor was finishing his short sermon on the stage. Jack discreetly glanced around. He could see Van Buren, Green, and Fontana sitting across the aisle. Practically all of the ADA's in the Manhattan office was there. Jack was pleased to see that Alex's funeral was well-attended. Well, about as pleased about a funeral as you can be.
Jack felt Branch nudge him gently. The pastor was staring at him. Jack took a deep breath and stood. He slowly climbed the steps to the pulpit and unfolded his notes.
He inhaled deeply and began. "Alexandra Borgia was a fantastic attorney," he began. "She was smart, hard-working, and willing to do anything I asked her to." He glanced over at the picture next to the casket. Alex's face was smiling at him, and tears welled up in his eyes. "She was the kindest, most compassionate person I've ever known."
He paused as his hands started shaking, and his vision blurred. "She had the heart and soul of an angel. Everyone she met was impacted in some way by the love that flowed from her." He couldn't see his notes anymore. He glanced up at the detectives. Van Buren was wiping her eyes, and Green looked like he was struggling to hold back his emotions.
"She was beautiful in many ways, but her character was the most beautiful part of her.She cared for everyone that crossed her path." Jack paused. "Even those that didn't deserve it." Namely me.
He glanced at Branch. The district attorney nodded almost imperceptibly at him. Jack took another deep breath and looked at Alex's picture again. Those eyes bored into his soul. "She… she loved her family, her job, and her God. She never backed down from anything." Which is what got her killed.
"She didn't deserve the death she got." I did. I should have taken the case away from her. "She didn't deserve to die so soon. She was too young, too full of life." He locked eyes with her mother, who had tears streaming down her face. "But, if Alex were here, she would say that for some reason, God decided to take her away from us." Jack stopped, struggling to continue through his emotions. "We may not know why-" he looked back at her parents- "but she would say that she's in a better place." His voice broke, and he locked eyes with her parents again. "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Borgia. I'm so sorry." He pulled away from the pulpit.
Jack stopped in front of the mahogany coffin, which was closed to hide her battered face. "I'm so sorry, Alex. I'm so sorry." He gently put his hand on the coffin and looked at her picture again. Her eyes were soft, as if she was forgiving him, telling him that it really wasn't his fault. He could almost hear her voice, reassuring him that she was in a better place. "In a better place," he whispered. He turned his gaze back to the coffin, and a couple of his tears fell on the polished surface. "Rest in peace, Alex. Rest in peace." And for the first time since her death, he was sure that he could rest in peace now.