Disclaimer: I don't own the characters you read before you. All rights belong to Wolf Films and all that.

Author's Note: Just a personal challenge to see if I could do an L/O songfic with M2M lyrics. I chose one of my favorites but also an appropriate one, given the template. That and I wanted to write something light given September's heavier fictions. Go to Mediaminer for the proper version.

Beta: Busy, busy, busy.

Timeline: Prior to "Cherished".


'Almost there.'

One pressed Abbie Carmichael dashed to the nearest bus stop in high heels, cursing with each step.

'Stupid heels. It serves me right for falling for female dress codes.'

Unfortunately, the heel broke as she cleared over a puddle and nearly flopped over backwards. To complicate matters, thunder roared above.

'That's it; tomorrow, I'm buying pants.' She bolted to the construct in her bare feet.

'Four years in New York and I don't have much to show for it: mouse hole of an apartment, the police again towed my SUV, and I still don't know all of the city's nooks and crannies. Well, at least my new job is starting in a week — I finally made the big time.'

A passing car unexpectedly splashed her by.

'Oh, come on. No one has this amount of bad luck. Times like this, I want to go back to Dallas.'

Eventually, one of New York's finest buses approached her street. She was shoved into a vacant chair whilst being herded with the rest of the cattle.

'Is it statistically impossible to find even one well-mannered New Yorker?'

The young Texan shifted herself toward the window. Her eyes widened in astonishment at the sights of a now drenching Manhattan. 'I keep forgetting there's so much here….' She gaped at an affluent woman embarking onto her limousine vs. a slumbering homeless man on a nearby park bench. 'So much.'

Five stops later, a man in his fifties was propelled onto her adjoining unoccupied seat.

He groaned settling himself in. "Sorry, the herd is exceptionally strong today."

"Good thing I didn't set my things down on that seat, then,"

She eyed the gentleman: dressed in a modest business suit, possessing distinctive salt-and-pepper hair, a fine roman nose, and the bushiest (and most peculiar) eyebrows.

'Looks decent enough for a man who looks like my grandfather.'

He slumped against the cushion, his mind also drifting. Abbie peered at him from her peripheral vision.

'He certainly looks like he has a lot on his mind. Makes me wonder what he's thinking. I guess I could have a little conversation. It would pass the time and it's not like I have a pressing engagement. Besides, he's just a stranger — I'll just tell him to blank off if he annoys me.'

"You must not be from around here: everyone usually eyes the front of the bus. You look like you're a tourist by the way of your posture. Blame the reflection," he observed.

Before she could retort, she, indeed, judged the rest of the passengers: each one was in a mindless gaze.

'This guy has nerve and he beat me to it. What is he, a mind reader?'

"Well, if you must know, you're right — I'm not from around here. I moved here from Dallas."

He elevated an eyebrow. "Wow, you're a long way from home. May I ask why you came to "the city so nice, they named it twice'?"

"A new job." 'I better not define my job, in case this is a guy I'll end up prosecuting. Crime takes all kinds, right?'

"You feel excited?"

"A little," she shrugged.

"May I ask what your new job is?"

Her eyes flashed wickedly. "Well, I could tell you, but then, I'd have to kill you. You know the rules of…uh, C-16?"

"C-16? What's that?"

"A branch of the F.B.I., of course."

He chuckled mirthlessly. "You mean the same F.B.I. that Janet Reno dismantled?"

"The very same."

"You're not much of a liar, are you?"

She rotated away from him. "Not really."

The man had a mischievous grin. "A woman of scruples. I love that."

"So, you say now; wait until you get to know me."

"Well, I also love a challenge."

She again faced him. "You know how to roll with the punches, don't you?"

"With my kind of job, I have to."

"So, what do you do? Hope you're enjoying the shoe on the other foot."

"Well, I could tell you, but what if you break the law and I end up dealing with you as a felon?"

'He is a mind reader.' "You a cop?"

He burst out laughing. "No, but I'm part of the law enforcement machine — a major cog in the machine if you will."

Now, she hoisted up an eyebrow. "Big gun?"

"One of the biggest."

"I'll say you're either a secretary or a glorified janitor," she jabbed.

He mockingly clutched his heart. "You're so caustic."

"It's a gift. Or I don't like male ego, pick one."

"Gee, how could Dallas ever let you get away?"

"I want the big arena and there is nothing is bigger than New York City."

"I can't argue with you there. But I suggest you'd be careful: the city can eat people up," he tenderly forewarned.

Abbie fluttered her hand dismissively. "I'm a big girl, I can take it."

"You definitely act like it. Is this your regular bus route?"

"I don't know. I just caught one since I didn't have money for a cab. I'll probably transfer out soon," she affirmed cautiously.

"I'm just asking because this is one of the best conversations I've had in a long time and it wouldn't hurt to plan my route accordingly. What about you?"

"Actually, I am enjoying this."

"You sound surprised."

She snorted indignantly. "Somewhat. I haven't made any acquaintances since I got here four years ago."

"Maybe I can correct that."

"You can try," she taunted. "But enough about me, why were you lost in thought from before?"


"When you plopped down on my seat, you looked you were lost in thought?"

"Oh, well, my assistant has just left and my boss is assigning me another," the male acknowledged solemnly.

"I take it you were attached?"

"I wasn't supposed to, but she was a special one. My boss is giving me someone from Texas, actually."

The Southerner's eyes brightened up. "Ooh, you know where?"

"No. Either way, I have a feeling we'll clash. Texan brand of justice isn't my bag."

"You might be surprised. Maybe you'll end up liking it." The firebrand winked.

"I doubt it. I'm not a fan of change, despite the fact it happens to me all the time anymore."

"Well, you could always take a chance and like the new assistant."

"Take a chance?"

"I took a chance and talked to you, didn't I? Besides, you can't avoid change. It's inevitable, right?"

"I suppose you're right. Sadly, I'll have to wait to prove you right or wrong, for I have to go." He pulled on the signal wire. "You have a lot of spunk. Don't lose it." He was lost in a flurry of passengers.

"Hey, I don't even know your name," she shouted as he exited the transport. The commotion blocked out her words. She revisited to the windowpane, watching him wave good-bye. She tentatively returned the gesture.

'I'm suddenly missing him. He was just a passenger on a bus who randomly talked to me. Granted, he was attractive for his age, but…. I guess I made a new friend. I wonder if I'll ever see him again. At least the new job will make for a great distraction.' Abbie conducted the remainder of the ride in silent meditation.


The following week, Jack McCoy stormed the D.A.'s office in one of his patented huffs. 'I can't believe Adam is going to let this Texan maverick walk all over him. "Sorry that I didn't think of it first"? Oh, please. Even I wouldn't arrest a child with the death penalty. If Adam thinks he's going to partner me up with some hot-shot from Special Narcotics, then, he has another thing coming.'

He loomed towards A.D.A. Carmichael's office. 'It's time to show this woman the flaws of her Texan brand of justice.'

The E.A.D.A. strutted into the threadbare area. "I understand you're…I…" He immediately identified the woman's tan skin and flawless cheekbones. 'That's the woman from the bus.'

She, in turn, recognized his bizarre eyebrows and salt-and-pepper hair. 'That's the man from the bus.' "Jack McCoy, I take it?"

'Now, what do I say? Is this going to be awkward.' The pair mused simultaneously.


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