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

Author's Note: After watching "Prince of Darkness" this past weekend and finally psychoanalyzing it, I have this banter itch that I need to scratch. I've developed this fondness for Ben, and I thought it was time to finally explore it. And eventually, giving the talented Sugar Kane a run for the money? Heh. Anyway, it's my first stab at both Ben and Paul, so patience.

Beta: She'll get there, one day.

Timeline: A half hour after "Prince of Darkness".


A.D.A. Paul Robinette paced to and fro within the main corridor, awaiting signs of life from E.A.D.A. Stone's office. The prosecutor locked himself into his workspace: his reaction to the verbatim aftermath of the Javier Gaitan case. Of all the casualties involved, no doubt the abduction of the victims' daughter, Felice Ortega, stung above all else. Paul debated upon interacting with his superior, emotions still unprocessed.

Realizing he didn't attain his current position without taking chances, he tentatively knocked on the ill-omened door.

"Yes?" Ben's muffled mellifluous voice chimed.

Paul parted the door open. "You in the mood to talk?"

"I suppose; come in."

Ben continued to stare at the ominous window ahead. Paul maintained his distance by the entrance.

"I wouldn't even know where to start, Ben."

"I would say, 'start at the beginning', but I'm sure from your worried tone you want to know how I'm feeling."

"Well, now that you mention it…."

"I'm alright. This isn't the first time this type of thing has happened, and it won't be the last."

"I know that, but it doesn't mean you can ignore your feelings, either." Paul fortified his patch of ground.

"I'm not one to bury my feelings, if need be. I'll just save it for the next time, the next criminal."

"That's fine for plain old indignation, but what about yourself? What are you really thinking?" He loomed towards Ben.

"Besides the fact many lives are down the tubes simply because Manuel Ortega didn't care for a man flirting with his wife? I can understand it, but I see it as a waste," the senior sighed deprecatingly.

"No, you're thinking about the little girl, Felice."

"Am I that transparent?"

"No, I just know you, Ben," Paul observed resignedly, the pair side-by-side.

"Fair enough. I'm not thinking of just her abduction β€” I'm dwelling on her future. You know as well as I do that she'll either be killed or worse, be later turned into a mule or a prostitute. That's why I'm so lost in thought." Ben seethed in his indignation.

The words had frozen the youth. "You're right β€” it's a miserable situation. But, Ben, you know you can't obsess. We played the hand we were dealt, and that's all we can do."

"I thought McCoy had the market cornered on the card analogy."

"As far as I'm concerned, it's still apt." Paul attempted to smile.

"Hm. Don't worry, this shall pass."

"I'm sure it will, but I wouldn't bury it right away if I was you β€” you might need it for someone." There was intrigue within Paul's voice.

"Who are you talking about?"

"Someone else who has lost more than you tonight."



Ben recalled the firebrand detective's visceral response to his original partner's murder. "I see what you mean. I'll call him tomorrow."

"I don't think he'll do anything rash. It's pointless since Lobrano is dead, anyway."

"Right. Besides the little girl, I thought about something else."


"What Adam asked us before he got the news: 'you sometimes feel that we're running in place?' After tonight, I think I can answer, 'yes.' Because compared to the cartel, we simply go through the motions and can only pray justice can be served." Ben pressed his temple alongside the wooden beam, his peripheral vision eyeing Paul.

"You know what they say: justice is swift, it isn't always fair," Paul observed glibly.

"You always were good with a phrase."

"You never did answer Hoover's question: were you in any way happy Gaitan was killed?" He endeavored to alter the subject.

"Would it matter either way?"


"Then, no. However, is the world better off without him? That's the better question." Ben was most curious of his second chair's pending response.

"Do you want me to answer it?"

"No. And, on that note, I think I'm going home. I'll talk to Logan tomorrow night, after it has a chance to sink in." The elder sought his trusty briefcase and beige trench coat. He stalled in his tracks on his way out. "Paul? Thanks."

"Of course. I wouldn't be much of a friend if I didn't say anything." Paul dusted off a minor grin.

"Hm. I think I'll make that call tonight. Good night." Ben then journeyed towards the elevator. Paul focused on the transom and gazed at New York's finest skyscrapers, gleaming in their radiant glory.


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