Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, so, let's move on.
Author's Note: It's that time of year again — it's Moonbeamdancer's birthday and I want to go for yet another change of pace. This is a songfic by nature, so I suggest going to Mediaminer Org for the real deal. Link to my profile is on my profile here.
My beta: busy, you know the drill.
Dedication: Moonbeamdancer, I hope you have a happy 25, love. Trying my best to help with that.
Edit: Special thanks to El Chacal for the review and prompting me to revise a concept or two in order to re-emphasize the real burden of the story. Thanks for your support.
Timeline: Post Refuge.
"Could you hand me the DD-5 from last March?" Jack solicited while he and Abbie parted through the red tape in her office.
"Sure, although, my eyes are starting to bleed ink." She massaged her temples after she handed him the requested document.
"Right. So, you've been here almost a year now. How do you like New York? 'The city so nice, they named it twice'," he probed as he skimmed the file.
She paused. "I think that's the first time I've ever been asked that by anyone."
"Better late than never?"
She mirthlessly chuckled. "To answer your question, if you ignore the bleeding heart liberalism and the endless gridlock, it's quite…interesting."
"Don't mince words on me, Carmichael," he casually gibed.
"I won't, McCoy. I feel like a stranger in a strange land, that's how I feel."
"Don't worry, I've been there."
"Yeah, I was born in Chicago."
"I didn't know that. One of these days, we should do a luncheon and finally ask all these minor details. What do you think?" the A.D.A. teasingly posed.
"Sounds good to me. Anything but barbeque," he quipped.
"Oh, ha, ha." She swiveled her eyes.
"Let's get back to work, shall we?"
The prosecutors later stretched themselves out after an hour of mind-numbing bureaucracy. He slackened his garnet tie whilst she slipped out her charcoal jacket, revealing her maroon blouse.
"And, we still have much more to go." Jack thumped his head on the desk. His female counterpart was ready to retort when her stomach rumbled.
"And, I say we break for lunch," she remarked as her face was flush from discomfiture.
"Good idea; I'll choose."
"No Chinese." She wagged her finger.
Her superior snapped his fingers. "Darn."
"I'll go order. While I do that, someone needs to go fetch People v. American Motor Club as it covers other forms of pecuniary gain for the Kasady-slash-Barrison case and I don't know where the case law is."
He bobbed his head. "Right. I'll go get it, boss."
"Don't get cute on me, Jack," the Texan spitfire quipped as they exited the room.
"'Cute?' Who, me?" His beam was lost on her for she receded into the corridors.
With suitable compromise, Abbie ordered from an Italian restaurant. Jack sidled up to her with the appropriate case law in hand on the way back.
"Here you go." The E.A.D.A. proffered her the tome.
"So, what did you order?"
"I found a decent pizza joint. Hope you like sausage and hot peppers."
Without a beat, he stated, "I love sausage and hot peppers."
"There you go being cute again."
"My charm must be on overdrive today," he deadpanned as they headed back to her office.
"I guess after everything with Volsky and his goons, I want to try to be happy for a change." His manner was modified to a solemn one. She in turn promptly evoked memories of her slain friend, A.D.A. Toni Ricci.
"Yeah." She halted in her tracks.
"Oh, Abbie, I'm sorry." He extended his hand out.
"Don't be. Let's get back to work." Her voice had traces of a monotone.
He stilled his tongue. "Right."
Behind the twosome in the adjacent corridor, two youthful female secretaries materialized, tattling away.
"Man, those A.D.A.s and those long hours. Thank God I just have a nine-to-five job," a brunette woman in her early thirties sighed in relief.
"I know. But at least they're cute," her companion, a blonde woman in her late twenties commented.
"That's true, like E.A.D.A. McCoy? He's kinda sexy."
The intended one somewhat smiled while his cohort glowered.
"Oh, please," the Texan scoffed.
"Young girls will be young girls, Abbie," Jack cordially chided.
"Doesn't mean they have to be giggly-stupid either. And, they work for the D.A. Honestly." She nodded in disapproval. The lawyers then sauntered away while the other pair carried on.
"That he is, although, his new assistant from Texas sure is a bitch — God, typical Texan conservative. I never realized how much I miss Jamie Ross and her defense attorney views until today," the blonde sneered.
"I know. And, what an unemotional hardass, too — I wonder if she felt anything when A.D.A. Ricci was murdered. I doubt it, but I bet she gives Hang Em High McCoy a run for his money."
"Turning him into her lapdog — I mean, he's always in her office and kowtowing to her with their cases. I wonder if he'll try to sleep with her; he's famous for it, you know."
"Nah, she's probably a bitch in the bedroom, too," the brunette chimed in.
"I don't know how he tolerates her with that sarcastic attitude of hers."
"I wouldn't worry. With her bungling the Georgi Maletkov case — you know, the Russian Mob chiropractor — with the witness list and her assigning of the Nicole Hampton case to juvenile court, Schiff will ship her out eventually."
"Well, then, here's hoping the next one won't be such a hawk. I don't know why they bother around here," the younger of the duet chirped as they vanished into the corridor.
"Abbie, I'm…" Jack clenched his fist.
"What? It's nothing, Jack. It's the typical liberal whining; what else is new?" Abbie shrugged as she hiked back to the office. He narrowed his eyes and tagged along.
"Anyway, the food should be here in twenty five minutes, so let's finish this up." She resumed her seat and scanned the hardback he supplied her.
"Alright," he acknowledged.
In the course of ten tortuous minutes, the E.A.D.A. couldn't bother upholding his eyes on the court documents.
"Jack, I don't want to talk about it. Okay?" She sensed his fretful gaze upon her.
"Okay." The man was not convinced.
His mind coasted back to the secretaries' slander. A year of operating with Abbie Carmichael demonstrated that this woman was no ordinary A.D.A. (or woman, for that matter). Her rigid prosecuting rather appealed to his sense of similarity for starters. Regarding her unemotional or conservative image, she has her reasons, nonetheless, he still cannot reckon why she informed him of her rape to this day.
She then topped herself with her recent shedding of tears for the Ricci murder, in front of him no less. Unemotional hardass indeed, he mused. Curious how it seems only he can reduce this firebrand's barriers to ashes. By comparison, Claire and Jamie were open books. In a morbid way, it bequeaths a rather distinctive honor to the only man to unravel such cloistered secrets and actions.
He cares for her, yet there is no solution as to why he does in his specialized niche for her. Is it empathy, attraction, or one ultimate challenge? His deliberation will have to wait after their impending lunch.
The two devoured their repast in silence with occasional discussion about the Kasady/Barrison case in between. He searched for a way to broach the subject without her smacking him upside the head with one of his own arms. Of course, fortune favored the bold, according to the clichés.
"Are you ready for the Spivak appeal?" she inquired as she tendered him another motion.
"No, it can wait."
"Okay, but his defense lawyer won't like it."
"No, I meant until after you and I talk."
"Talk about what? Oh, you mean before. Jack, I've been there many times, so the office grapevine doesn't care for me or my politics. So, what? I'm not here to win a population contest," she mocked.
"I know that, but you can't tell me it doesn't get to you now and then. That was some strong venom we both heard."
"I have a thick skin, you know that, Jack." Her drawl had a slight melancholy tinge.
"I know, I just…" Frustration merged with his compassion.
"Jack, I really appreciate your 'knight-in-shining-armor' routine, but I'm fine. I go through this everywhere I work. It's my image; I get it. But, you know why." She imparted him an inexpressive smile.
"And, I also wish it wasn't political, but you can't run away from it — that famous proverb: I knew the job was dangerous when I took it. Plus, it's New York, so, I know the deck is stacked against me as a conservative. Of course, the liberal office pool is going to despise me for one reason or another. Besides, I do what I do for me, not for anyone else."
"I know, but do you think things would go easier if you weren't such a…," he diffidently rejoined.
"I suppose, but I wasn't, people might snoop into my life and I can't afford the risk of being compromised like that. Now, if I were a bitch, then, people would leave me and the contents of my life alone, wouldn't they?"
He downed his head in forfeit. "I'm sorry. I guess I'm making a fool out of myself, huh?"
"No, actually. Everyone usually goes with the majority about my attitude and/or politics and silently hating my guts anyway, but you haven't." Abbie was rather comforted by his consideration.
"I haven't yet. I don't do the majority, remember?"
"Yeah. I guess after being unpopular myself with Adam and the negative publicity, it makes me empathic to your situation."
"You're making it sound like an 'us vs. them' argument."
"Actually, yeah. It sounds like high school, doesn't it?" he chortled.
"Yeah, it does. It never goes away, even after all this time, does it?"
"Of course not, Abbie, or psychiatrists would never get rich."
The young lady's grin was ear to ear. "Well, given how the office pool feels about me, you no doubt realize that by associating with me, you'll be even more unpopular around here?"
The E.A.D.A. induced one of his notorious smirks. "I'll take my chances."
"Loser," she ribbed.
It was her turn to address her own stunning gravitation towards the elder. In the course of a year, she divulged to him both her rape and her emotions vis-à-vis Ricci's murder. When she arrived to New York, she had no idea such a man would charmingly disarm every single defense mechanism in her arsenal. Moreover, Jack supported her on the legal issues, bolstered her against Adam's (and evidently, his office's) old-fashioned liberalism and reprimands, while bantering with her along the way.
Even now, he heeds her interests, as properly demonstrated by the gossiping twits. Did she elicit a vulnerable image for him to intervene or was it out of his own sense of decency? She inexplicably longed for it to be the latter. Was this a case of being simpatico, latent attraction, or sheer experimental inquisitiveness? The lady hothead intended to acquire the key for the locked questions one way or another.
"But, seriously, Jack, after we're done with work, you want to get an actual meal at an actual restaurant around here?" She bestowed him an astoundingly amiable guise.
"You sure? You know what the class will say about you hanging around with the cool kids or me hanging out with the unpopular," he derided.
"I thought I'd 'take my chances.'" She mimicked.
"Hm. Then, I will, too," he frivolously snorted in return. "Anyway, it sounds fine to me, but I pick this time."
"Great. Then, you can tell me about those cracks those two said about you always hanging around my office, kowtowing to me, and possibly sleeping with me," Abbie mischievously tantalized.
For his sake, it was fortuitous he wasn't imbibing any beverages or he'd unleash the mother of all spit-takes. "As for the former, I enjoy the view or your office looks better than mine if you want an actual explanation? For the secondary, I don't see it as, uh, 'kowtowing' as more agreeing on a proper legal vantage point with my colleague. For the latter, what could I say? It's not my fault that I find some women more attractive than the ones at my gym." Déjà vu overwhelmed him as he once enlightened Claire on the issue.
"Really? How do you feel about this…'gym' policy now?" She heaved an eyebrow upward in her anticipation of his response.
"Shouldn't we finally go back to work?" He conveyed a file folder to her.
"Fine, but you owe me an answer, Jack," she taunted.
"And you'll get one, eventually. I just don't know what the answer is yet," he cryptically replied in a puckish manner.
The poor woman rolled her eyes in bemusement as the couple recommenced their duties.
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