Author's Note: Something that popped in my head, lately. There is nothing else to that. Well, beyond the fact the title is from a Juliana Hatfield song lyric ("Backseat"), that is.
Beta: Busy, yep.
Timeline: In between "Vaya Con Dios" and "Endurance".
'He's gone. I can't believe he's really gone,' Jack rambled to himself as he gaped at his office window's ominous skyline. It has only been a day since D.A. Adam Schiff announced his resignation.
'I honestly thought he'd be here long after I left.' He mused on all the near firings in addition to the colorful reprimands. 'He's hinted that he might do Holocaust reparations — he'll finally have his chance. I'll have to break out the scotch bottle soon, but don't I do that all the time anymore?' He heard the reverb of a door opening.
"Jack?" It was Abbie's mellifluous voice.
"I need your signature on this affidavit." She submitted him the chosen document.
"Right," he declared dispassionately whilst he scrawled his mark, his face still fixed away from hers.
"You ok? I know I'm still reeling from Adam's resignation—"
"I'm fine." He interrupted.
"You sure?" The lady was ready to venture out on a limb.
"I'm sure; it's just been a long day. Have they found a replacement yet?"
"Not yet, no."
"Then I suggest everyone should enjoy the vacuum while it lasts: like having a massive party and people taking turns riding bare-ass on the copy machine," he deadpanned.
"Wow, that's even more sarcastic than anything I was going to say," she avowed amazed.
"I think I've been around you too long."
"Maybe," she simpered. "But seriously, how are you feeling, coping, dealing with it? It's in that vein."
"Didn't you already ask me?"
"Well, Jack, I wouldn't have to ask if I thought you were actually dealing with it," she bitingly prodded.
"Abbie, I'm not in the mood."
"Right." She gaited out of the office.
'If I know her, she'll be back in here in less than a minute.'
A distant door slam later and she rematerialized behind him.
'Do I know my A.D.A. or what?' The man would be more confident if he wasn't presently morose.
"I knew you'd be back," he gibed.
"I'd have to as that's my job?" she retorted sardonically. "But that's not why I'm here and you know it."
"Abbie, I just need a little time to sort it out."
"You know, I'd accept your answer if you'd turn and face me when you say that."
"There is a time and place for these things; this isn't one of them," he sighed.
"Now, I know you're lying. Look, I know it's not chic for males to admit their inner feelings, but what purpose is hiding going to serve? You're just going to drive yourself miserable and everyone else around you."
He fluttered his hand dismissively. "Oh, please, I think that's a bit drastic. I internalize myself."
"'Please' yourself. I've heard the rumor mill's chattering about what you've put Jamie Ross through. So, for the sake of my sanity and my patience, can't we just cut through the bull and you say how much you miss him?" He sensed her lurking closer to him.
"Is there a particular reason why you're pushing for this?" Jack's curiosity lumbered within him.
She deeply inhaled. "My official answer is: if I left you alone, I think you'd simply brood it to death in silence. I don't want that to happen to you and it's evident you feel something about this. I'm not going to needle you, but I don't want to go through what you did with Ms. Ross. I think we're better than that, or at least I think we are. Aren't we?" Abbie's tone was of genuine concern.
"That doesn't sound like the woman I know who doesn't care what the world thinks."
"That's because the 'woman' doesn't care about the world — just her particular corner and the people who live within it." He halfheartedly budged his head to her.
"Glad to see I got your attention," she leered.
"It's hard to say 'no' to you, you know that?"
"Well, you know I don't pull the empathy card too often."
"To this day, I still don't know why you told me about your…" He could not complete the sentence.
"Sometimes, I don't know why, either. But I had to tell someone eventually and…you looked like someone I could trust."
He finally faced his A.D.A., her silver blouse shimmering in the sunlight. "So, is this you returning the favor?"
"A little. It's mostly because…" She garbled the rest.
"It's mostly because I care about you and I don't want you undone by stupid male machismo. Satisfied?" A blush patterned her face.
"Right." A faint grin enhanced his lips. "I'm sorry, Abbie, but it's not the easiest thing in the world to reveal my emotions."
"I don't know, Jack. You've emoted whenever you wanted to, like you occasionally do in court."
"Hm. Yeah. You know, around the Mickey Scott execution, I had a luncheon with Dr. Olivet. She said that people like me bury themselves in their work because they want to hide from their emotions or they have no emotions to hide from. I ignored it at the time, but after…Claire's passing, I gave it a second look." His face blemished.
"I can see her thinking that's true, as it sometimes is with me. But if you were emotionless, then how would you feel the way that you do about Adam or Claire or anyone else for that matter?"
His eyes widened in contemplation. 'I never thought about that. I usually did what Liz said: pile myself into my work.' "That's hard to dispute, Counselor."
"Only if you wanted it to be." Abbie edged towards him. "I say just let your emotions naturally flow — let them take their time. It doesn't have to be today, but maybe sooner or later?" There was a sympathetic quality in her language. "Do you want me to leave you alone now?" The woman recollected her timidity back at that prison admissions desk so long ago.
"Come back after everyone leaves for the day. Maybe you'll get something, then." He spun away from her and focused on his windowpane.
"I'll be here with the scotch." She departed without delay.
'I'd say she also knows me too well,' Jack chuckled before his mind wafted to days and memories past.
The sun had set in the background when Abbie reemerged in Jack's office with the worshiped scotch bottle and two snifters.
"I hope I won't get addicted to this," she punned as she doled out the nectar.
"You would be sorry if you didn't." He wilted on his chair, already in his whitish dress shirt and denim.
"I heard through the grapevine that Nora Lewin, an ethics professor, is a likely candidate to be the interim D.A.," she promulgated while she proffered his glass.
"I know her. Nice lady."
"And her politics?"
"Eh," he shrugged as he had a dram.
"Goodie, but my griping will wait for another day. How are you doing now?" She hoisted herself upon the conference desk.
"I'm okay, I was thinking of all the times Adam yelled at me. Like the time the police uncovered the truth about Diana Hawthorne and her…misguided ambitions. The first thing he said to me when I came back after my suspension was giving the wrongly convicted three million dollars to settle his lawsuit and I simply said, 'Thank you, sir, and I'm very glad to be back.'"
"Oh, if only I were there sooner to see 'sarcastic Jack' in action," she good-humoredly bewailed.
"Not really; I think we would have clashed. Given my arrogance and drive to win, you wouldn't have liked it."
"Well, then, I'm glad I came when I did." She elevated her cocktail in a toast.
"I am, too." He followed suit as he accepted. "You know, right before you arrived, the witness tampering you once referred to came back to bite me. The judge involved in that threatened to tank my separate case against this child rapist — the one that sprayed the roach spray — and I was ready to quit when Adam said, 'don't get weepy on me. I'm not Nixon; you're not Ehrlichman.' He wouldn't accept it, so I kept on going." He beamed at the reminiscences.
"Well, I enjoyed the bickering on occasion. I've often wondered if he was ever going to fire me for shooting my mouth off one time too often."
"Gee, I wondered that, too."
"Thanks for the support," she bantered in a monotone. "Despite it all, I'm going to miss him."
"Yeah." Jack's comportment adjusted to sober.
"Don't worry; I'm not going to pressure you. I'm just going to sit here and drink my scotch." Her disposition matched his whilst she sipped her alcohol.
"Besides his occasional scolding, there were some nice interactions as well. I think the best was this coast-to-coast case against Hollywood director Eddie Newman and I won despite the odds — including facing Jamie's ex-husband as the defense attorney — and Adam in the happiest I've ever seen him said, 'You did a good job. Take the rest of the week off.' I said, 'It's Friday, Adam.' He grunted, 'So, it is. See you on Monday.' And I…" The E.A.D.A.'s emotions rustled forth.
"I think it's starting to hit me," he affirmed with an expressive lilt.
"I have a feeling that we're not talking about the scotch, are we?"
"Hey, I bet he'll pop up any moment and demand we get back to work." It was Abbie's best stab with a platitude.
"No, he won't; he knows better. So does anyone who leaves this place." The senior slurred himself.
"Hey, you're still here; I'm still here." His subordinate protested.
"A saving grace, but I'm sure you'll leave too, eventually."
"Give me more credit than that. Is this what's been bothering you? Because Adam left, you think I'll leave, too?" the spitfire scoffed.
"Actually, it's just on him, but now that you mention it, I'm sure I'll feel the same about you later. Damn scotch." He placed the beverage on his desk.
"Maybe it's time for you to look inside yourself and see what comes out."
"I don't know if I can anymore. I think I dried myself up when Claire died."
She positioned her tipple on the table and nudged towards him. "Jack, just because someone doesn't know how to express themselves, doesn't mean they can't feel like everyone else. Take it from someone knows: those defense mechanisms had to form from something."
"How long did it take for you to figure it all out?"
"Too long." The sentiments surged within her as well.
"Did you ever wonder what you would do if you didn't have your sarcasm?" Jack put with a modicum of trepidation.
"Sometimes I do, but I haven't, lately."
"I found the right person to confide in. You did it for me; I can do it for you." Her inflection was heartfelt.
He eyed the female, who was sheer inches away. "Okay, here goes. I can't say it was the best working relationship as he was a little too concerned about headlines than for justice for my tastes. That is not to say he didn't care, but there was a bottom line. Now, maybe his part of the rift was caused by Ben Stone's — the E.A.D.A. before me — departure. Adam treated him like a son, and I'm sure my brashness, at the time, didn't help.
"After Claire died and, then, dealing with his opponents, I realized how much I respected him for maintaining such a thankless job. I at least was allowed to be a maverick, whereas, he couldn't. Nevertheless, despite everything and all the turnover I've had to deal with, he was there. Maybe I'm not mad at him for leaving as more at myself for being complacent and thinking he'd always be there. I took him for granted, and now…" The male's tired eyes brimmed with unshed tears.
"Just because he's left his job, doesn't necessarily mean he's out of your life, Jack." She crouched herself down to his level. "There are plenty of ways to communicate: phones, letters, plane tickets, hop on your bike. Or, is it simply that you can't make the effort?" Her query did not seem callous.
"Oh, come on, Abbie. You know the workaholic game: once they go, they are gone, and then it's out of sight, out of mind."
"That's only true if you let yourself be so distracted and consumed by the job. Is your life outside your job that hollow, Jack?" she posed in tender candor.
His brain was paralyzed. "I–I can't answer that. I haven't been able to answer that in years."
"Well, truth takes time; it did for me. Now, I obviously can't answer for you, however, I can be there for you. If you want me to, that is."
"You'll leave. Everyone does." A lone tear cascaded down his cheek.
"Who has defense mechanisms, now? Yes, there will be a time that I may not be working here anymore, but don't think I'm just going to obligatorily remove you from my life. I want you around in some form. You're that important to me anymore." Abbie brushed off the droplet with her thumb.
"Please don't tell me 'I promise'. I don't think I could take it," he confirmed inconsolably.
"I could say it, but you're right — I can't. But I'll try my best to honor it."
"I sound rather weak, don't I?"
"Not at all. If you were, then you wouldn't be thinking about any of this." She encircled her arms around him.
"Damn it, Abbie, I didn't even have a chance to say goodbye to him." Jack reciprocated the gesture, securing the embrace.
"I know," she murmured as she patted his back. The prosecutors would carry out into the night in their display of comfort, assurance, and the sweet release of emotions.
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