Disclaimer: I don't own the characters you read before you. All rights belong to Wolf Films and all that.
Author's Note: This is part two of an Abbie angst trilogy. This was originally based from a private short story to Moonbeamdancer, but alas, I lost the file and I wanted to take the concept further. I thought a snow day piece would be good given the major snowfall where I live, plus to give any New York City readers (and their recent fluctuating weather) something to play with. And, on top of that, something more light in tone after the previous entry and the next one.
Edit: A friend commented on my narration besides the erudite approach, so I'm going to play with different styles until I can find something everybody can live with.
Beta: Still busy.
Timeline: Two months after "Punk".
Jack plopped his snow-flecked overcoat onto a chair in his office. Last night's blizzard had iced up both New York City and One Hogan Place. The office was all but deserted with the exceptions of Jack, D.A. Adam Schiff, and a few receptionists.
"I knew a few snowflakes wouldn't keep you down." Adam breeched the silence.
Jack gawked at the man. "Adam, it's a good seven inches."
"Oh, please, you should have been here in the 50's. Now, those were some real blizzards."
"I hope you're not going to say, 'in my day, I walked thirty feet in the snow in my bare feet just to serve a subpoena' again, are you?"
Adam frowned in response. "If I thought it would be instructive, I would. Look at this way: you'll have plenty of time to catch up on your paperwork."
"You just couldn't call it a snow day, huh?"
"Crime waits for no weather. It's 11:30 now, so if it's going to be just the two of us, I might consider it...at 5:00. You call yourself a workaholic."
"Doesn't mean I can't occasionally stop and smell the roses, either. If I were a ten year old, I'd be on my wit's end trying to figure out how to play with all this snow."
"You're how old now?" Adam then returned from whence he came. Following that, Abbie trekked her way in, appearing drenched.
"Did I mention how much I hate snow?" the woman grumbled as she shed her winter apparel.
His eyes were upon her. "Not really."
"My car was slipping and sliding everywhere until I crashed into a fire hydrant. The water soaked my brand new paint job."
"No, what do you think? Sorry, I just really hate snow."
"Don't worry; I didn't want to come in, either."
"You didn't? I thought you were a workaholic."
"Why do people keep saying that? I can relax, too, you know." Jack sagged into his chair.
"It's all the same to me, Jack. Ready to go to work?"
The cascading snowfall painlessly tortured him. "As ready as I'll ever be."
Jack endorsed another affidavit and massaged his blurry eyes.
"You'd think they'd take a snow day," he bemoaned.
Abbie roamed her fingers onto another file. "The criminal system is like the postal system: never called off on account of bad weather. What's with you, anyway? You usually dive into the paperwork without any complaints."
"Hey, I can bitch and moan just as well as the next guy, Abbie."
"Yeah, well, the proof is in the pudding, right?"
"Is that supposed to be a dare?"
"Well, I've always wanted someone to say to their boss, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.'"
"Paraphrasing 'Network' isn't going to get very far with me, Abbie."
"Yeah, well, I'll bet you'll never say it to Adam," she countered cheekily.
He flouted his hand. "I'm not stupid; I'm not going to do that."
"Oh, please, if you're worried about your precious reputation, no one else is here. I'd be the only one who would know."
"You just want me demoted, so you can take my place." He wagged his index finger.
Abbie eyed the digit like a metronome. "What do you think?"
"I think I'm right. However, there is something to be said about indulgence, especially in a job like this."
Her eyes glinted in amusement. "So, you'll do it?"
"I will, if you return the favor."
"What do you mean?"
"Indulge. If I'm going to make an ass out of myself, I'd like to make it worth my while."
"What do you want?"
Jack faced the whiteout outside and then her. "Normally, I would never suggest this, but A: no one is really here, and B: after some of the recent cases we've had, we should use this opportunity to go relax. I was thinking since it's been snowing so much, we could…go out and play?"
"Dead. I could do it myself, but it isn't the same."
"You really want me to play in the snow with you?"
His features developed into a fine tomato shade. "Yes. Come on, Abbie, I'm sure you might have given it some thought. Not like it snows in Texas, right?"
"That shows what you know — it actually does snow down there. And I've been in New York for over four years, Jack: I've seen snow," the Southerner stated wryly.
"But have you ever played in it?"
"What possible difference does that make?"
"Shall I be serious?"
"If you would."
"I'm a workaholic like you, but frankly, after the recent caseload, I'm finally ready to relax and I think you need it, too."
"Oh, you do, huh? What brought this on?"
"Do I have to say it?"
"Don't bring up the Simonelli case, Jack. Besides, it's irrelevant."
"Maybe, but honestly, you don't look like you've had any fun in a long time, and neither have I."
"What does fun have to do with it? You sound like a child."
"Because without it, you'll turn the job into a vendetta or crusade. I've been there, Abbie, and it blows up in your face real fast. I'm also saying that there are times when we should be allowed to be human or, as you so delicately put it, children.
"Our colleagues are not here and since the weather is providing opportunity, why not go for it? I have to be honest: I don't want to be here today and I feel like doing something I haven't done in years."
Abbie gritted her teeth. "Do you do this with all your assistants or just the pet projects?"
"No, just you. You need the chance to indulge in a good way."
"Jack, I can't go out there. I just really hate snow. It's hard to explain."
"Abbie, it's just like the dark: once you get rid of the fear, there is nothing to it," he reassured in a paternal tone.
"I'm surprised you're not patronizing me on this."
"Why would I do that?"
"Look, if you do it, I'll throw in another dare. Anything you want."
"You really want to do this, don't you?"
Jack fiddled with his candy-cane striped tie. "Look, I want to put an end to the rift between us. You make me want to tap into my seldom-used humanity. Now, I won't force the issue, but it's something to think about, right?"
"I get the feeling this isn't something I should just throw away."
"And I get the feeling that's the by-product of our interactions anymore. Or, maybe I should appreciate the finer things in my old age."
He jokingly throttled himself with his tie. "Anything."
"Could you do that first dare right now? Since no one else is here?" Abbie posed in childlike anticipation.
"Before I answer: is this for your trust or is it because you want me in trouble?"
"Alright." He was at Adam's sealed door, hand poised to knock.
She was between him and the doorway. "You're serious about telling Adam off?"
"Yeah. Besides, he has it coming."
She cursed underneath her breath. "I guess a half hour outside won't kill me. But during lunch, okay?" He smirked from ear-to-ear.
"Oh, shut up, Jack."
Abbie tripped in the snow-white field adjacent to the courthouse. She regained her footing and glowered at her companion.
"Can I add another dare to that list?"
"No. Two is enough." Jack escorted her to the center of the commons. They had a worm's eye view of the ice-covered city. Both the Twin Towers and the Empire State building were crystallized monoliths, the usually active and polluted streets pristine and still. The park itself had a sickly atmosphere, as seen by the deathly skeleton trees.
"Now, where would you like to start?"
She grasped the collar of her trench coat. "How about back in the office?"
"You're sounding like a child now."
"Alright, fine, Jack. I'll follow your lead."
"Wonderful. I'll start with the basics: do you know how to make a snowball?"
"Of course I do."
He brandished a lop-sided leer. "You honestly know how to make a snowball, Abbie?"
She lowered her head. "Okay, fine, I don't know."
"Alright, first, you take a scoopful of snow and make a pile in your hand. Keep packing it with more snow until you have enough sticking to make a snowball. It won't be perfect, but it will do." He demonstrated with a misshapen snowball.
Her initial attempt crumpled apart in her hand. "Damn it."
"It takes time, Abbie. Here, I'll help you." He presented a half-complete one.
"It's just that easy, huh?"
"Don't worry; it takes lots of practice. And then you just throw it." He lobbed his at a tree trunk.
"Besides finding an opponent and avoid getting hit? That's it. Once you have enough and have an open area to evade your opponent, you're more or less set." He surveyed the area: ample space littered with rotting foliage. He then ambled towards a tree.
"You know, I'd rather hit you with my sarcasm."
"Just tell me when you're ready." Jack amassed his arsenal, awaiting for his protégé's attack.
Abbie copied his instructions to the letter. "That man just drives me to pull 180s on myself," she murmured to herself. "Ready. Now, what, just throw them?"
"Well, you have to check your aim and see how close your target is before they can strike back in time. That's it, really, short of being quick on your feet." He chucked the opening salvo at her, the projectile whizzed past.
"Hey, you could have warned me, you know!"
"But what fun would that be? It's part of the game." He darted to another tree and pitched again.
"Jack, I feel so stupid with this."
He emerged from his stronghold. "Alright, tell you what: I'll be nice and let you have a free throw. Just don't hit me in the face."
"Really? No catches?"
"None. Go for it." He extended himself into a yielding posture. "Come on, Abbie, you know you want to."
"Fine," she sighed perfunctorily as she hurled the sphere at his torso. Gaping upon the splatter, she cracked a slight smile.
"Actually, that was kind of fun. I want to do another." She tossed another with matching success.
"No fair!" He dashed to a bristly shrub patch. "I said, 'just one.'"
"You didn't give me a specific number, so that gave me a loophole to work with." He dodged every one of her pseudo bullets and finally retaliated with one to her breast.
"You're lucky I'm wearing layers, Jack." She mockingly clutched her heart.
"Hey, I'm just lucky I have excellent aim. My basketball days are finally paying off."
"You still can't get away, Jack! I was on the track team in UT."
"So, what? I have been playing this for fifty some years," Jack cackled. The game soon descended into a flurry of snow pellets, friendly heckling, and sodden clothing. The panting duo momentarily ceased, disregarding the scoffing passersby.
"My first snowball fight — that's something for the ages, huh?" The weather materialized Abbie's intermittent wheezing.
"And you played dirty, too. I'm damn proud of you."
"You gave me good motivation."
"I think you're ready for part two: the snow angel. Of all of them, this is the easiest. Watch." He flopped on the ground and flapped accordingly.
"That is so complicated," she deadpanned as she followed suit.
"The complicated part is trying not to ruin your angel as you get up. Try it." He indicated his textbook snow angel.
"What's that song: 'Anything you can do, I can do better'?" Her hands scuffed up the wings. "Oh, never mind."
"Rome wasn't built in a day, Abbie."
"I still feel like an idiot."
"No, you just sound like someone who has never played before."
Ten further attempts had her most irritated. "Maybe I'm better off making a snow devil instead."
"I've tried it; it doesn't work. So, are you having any fun? I know you smiled a little when you pelted me with all those snowballs."
She folded up her arms. "I think it was more the cold acting up on my cheek."
"I could be sarcastic, too, you know. But since you've been such a good sport, I'm not going to. Do you want to stop?"
"No, I can keep going. But don't ask me what's next, though."
"I wish I had a sled and I don't think we have enough time to make a snowman." The lady froze at his remark.
"Yeah, tell you what: I think I'm going to go take a short walk around the block, and then we'll play something else, okay?" The slush made her getaway difficult.
"Alright, Abbie, what's wrong?"
"Oh, stop it. I know when you act defensive."
"If you recall, Jack, I've been defensive on this, remember?" Her glare combined with the cold staggered him.
"There is a fine line between sensitivity and defensiveness. I respect the former, but I'm not so sure on the latter."
"Drop it, Jack."
"Look, I'm not the bad guy here."
She heaved a sigh. "No, you're not."
He apprehensively advanced towards her. "I'm just getting some mixed signals here, Abbie."
"You had to say 'sledding.'"
"Okay, I don't get it."
Abbie growled in exasperation and settled upon a park bench. "You weren't supposed to, anyway."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"That I don't want your pity?"
"It's not pity; I don't know what the hell it is."
She gazed into his frustrated eyes. "Actually, you were wrong before — I did play in the snow once. We had a decent sized blizzard and it was the most snow Austin had seen in a while. He coaxed me to go out and play with him.
"He wanted to go sledding, but I didn't. Suffice it to say, he was hard to say 'no' to. I was uncomfortable the whole time and it didn't help that he copped a feel. Afterwards, I told him if he ever pulled that on me again, I would feed him his hands at gunpoint. A week later, we had a date, and you know the rest."
"You didn't know. It's what you said before: 'once you get rid of the fear, there is nothing to it.' I know that snow is harmless, which is why I went out with you."
"That may be, but I should have known better. I should have sensed you being uncomfortable, but…. "
In for a penny, Jack mused. "But it's hard to gauge yourself when the person you're with doesn't exactly give you many options. I'm sorry I said that, but I do occasionally feel that with you."
"Don't be. You're right — I am defensive. Yet, being around you just gets rid of all that, and I don't know why. It's been a few months since I told you about my rape and I still don't have an explanation."
He parked himself beside her. "I think I was right before: you needed to indulge, like with the snow. I mean, I know I shouldn't play in it as I'm an adult — albeit an…older one — but there are times where I want to be a kid again.
"Ironically, I hate feeling that way because my childhood sure as hell wasn't the best. The snow made for a good distraction and with all the recent changes in my life, I needed to get away. I still don't know much about you, Abbie, but I wouldn't be doing any of this if I didn't think it was worth the attempt. I was the same way and then things changed."
She carried on her intense staring. "What changed for you?"
"Someone died. Someone important to me and being my usual smartass, alpha male self lost its appeal."
"Were you scared? Because that's what I'm feeling here."
"Yeah, I was. But it made me a better person for it, as I finally saw. It takes time and a good friend. She helped me through it, and if you're up for it, I'd like to try that with you."
"Do you actually mean that?" Abbie entreated on the verge of tears. Bitter gusts had locked her eyes into place.
"Yeah, I do, but you have to want it. I hate saying that, but it's the truth."
She covered her face for warmth. "I want to, Jack, but something is holding me back, like it's all too good to be true. And the fact that this is coming from my new boss is freezing me up, pun not intended."
"I know it's a bit out there, but you have to believe in your instincts, Abbie. What does your gut say?"
"That it's difficult for me to create trust."
Jack nodded his head in futility. "Come on, I have a feeling that I wasn't going to get away from this. Let's go back to the office — I have a dare I need to do."
She perked up considerably. "Really?"
"He has it coming, anyway."
"You heard me! I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Jack bellowed within Adam's office. Abbie heard in stunned silence in the outside corridor.
"That makes two of us. I should demote you for this!" Adam barked back.
"You should. It would give me the free time you've promised me for years!"
"Son of a bitch, he actually did it," she mumbled.
"I suggest you get out of here and stick your head in the snow to cool off. Now."
"Yes, sir." Jack raged out of the lion's den and slammed the door.
He approached his slack-jawed assistant. "Is this satisfactory enough?"
"Very much so. I can't believe you did it."
"I gave you my word. I have to build your trust somehow, right?"
The firebrand still was astounded. "Yeah."
"Abbie, you okay?"
"Uh, yeah. I just remembered some DD-5s I have to check. I'll be right back."
"I have to take care of something, anyway." As soon as she was out of sight, Jack skulked back into Adam's inner sanctum.
He handed the elder twenty dollars. "Here, an extra twenty bucks, on top of the twenty from before."
Adam snatched up the dollar bill. "I hope it was worth it for Ms. Carmichael's sake. About time you two got through to each other."
"You know I'm docking you for this, right?"
Jack fashioned a false grin. "Of course."
With the workday concluded and Abbie's enigmatic request to reconvene outside, Jack was on his way. The red twilight along with the white snow produced a blinding effect.
He shattered her concentration. "Yeah?"
"You said to meet you out here?"
"Yeah, I did."
"You okay? I know it's been a big day and all."
"It certainly has," she affirmed in a semi-trance.
He had on a light expression. "I don't know about you, but I did enjoy playing in the snow with you, for what it's worth. I'd like to think you were enjoying yourself, despite what happened later on."
"Actually, I did. Once again, you gave me something to dwell on, Jack."
"Let's just say I had a cerebral Christmas."
"You can stop saying that, you know. You know what they say about 'actions are louder than words' and you proved it six ways to Sunday today. That being said, this is the only response I can give you for now." Once spirited away from potential prying eyes, she hugged onto him for dear life. What she whispered to him next was the real shocker.
"Thank God you're in my life now, Jack." The E.A.D.A. was at last speechless.
"I think I want to use that second dare now."
"I want to go to Central Park to play in the snow again and good luck trying to get away from me this time." Her rascally simper unnerved him.
"I think I created a monster."
"And for that, I thank you. But, are you going to get it," she teased prior to dragging her compliant quarry in tow.
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