This chapter has a little bit of L&O's Compassion episode thrown in..

McCoy looked down into her dark eyes. Not many people had occasion to see what he saw. Her vulnerability was almost more than he could bear.

"Ah, Liz. I know that's not true," he whispered.

As he took her in his arms, Jack could feel her body stiffen, then slowly relax, as her arms went around him.

Any other night, Donnelly wouldn't have hesitated to rebuff her former husband. Touching was reserved for at funerals and weddings. Even then, touching was limited to quick higs amd pecks on the cheek. They both knew better. But any alarms that rang that night,had been overridden, by the emotions of that day.

Being in his arms felt surprisingly right. Surprisingly good. Well. Maybe it wasn't that surprising. Jack always did know how to make a woman feel good.

McCoy thought about kissing her, but quickly rejected the idea. Chances were, Liz would knock him on his ass, and rightly so. She was hurting. Kissing her now would be taking advantage, and Jack knew it.

"You were thinking about justice for Susan O' Striker. The victim," he said quietly.

Finally, Donnelly stepped back to look up at him, shaking her head. "That's a cop out Jack. Sending that boy to jail for more years than he's lived…that won't bring the Susan O' Striker back."

" I really have to explain this to you? To you of all people," he asked exasperated by her response.

"You don't have to do anything, Jack," she said coolly, returning to the sofa and picking up her shoes. "Thanks for the drink. Obviously, I should go."

"Damn it Liz," he said as he took the shoes out of her hands, dropping them to the floor. " why are you so determined to punish yourself?"

"You don't understand. I know you're trying to help-"

"Don't understand," he repeatedly in disbelief. "How can you think that?"

"You have a healthy appetite for winning, Jack, but you don't go after -"

McCoy's body plummeted onto the sofa. "You haven't been keeping up with the office gossip."

Donnelly arched an eyebrow, as she stared down at McCoy. "You know never listen to that drivel."

"If you did, you would know, you're not the only one to go off half cocked." He paused, his face clouding, as he remembered."I was so sure a defendant was faking an insanity defense. Hell bent to show her for the fraud I thought she was. Couldn't wait to slice her up during cross."

"Who was the defendant", she asked as she sat beside McCoy.

"A pediatrician. Bethany Allison. She specialized in terminal cases."

Donnelly nodded, " The Gideon Blake murder? Blake convinced her he could heal her patients?"

"I had no reason to doubt her motive was revenge. I knew, if I had the chance, I could break her on the stand. When defense counsel put her on the witness list, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven." McCoy stopped to drain the remaining scotch in his glass.

He looked like she felt; ashamed, guilty, disheartened. Donnelly waited.

"Well, it didn't take long," McCoy said savagely. "She admitted that she had 'sent' Blake to make the journey easier for her patients. The children she failed. God, when she said that I knew… she sat there and went on about how she was a failure because the kids kept dying… she talked to those dead children… I let my arrogance blind me to how sick this woman really was."

After a long silence, Donnelly reached over and held his hand. "Alright, Jack. You convinced me. We're both heartless and egotistical. Gee, I wonder why our marriage failed?"

McCoy snickered. "Let's save that discussion for another night. One gut wrecking issue at a time, okay?"

"Maybe we should both forget about lthe law. Let's do everybody a favor and join a Holy Order somewhere. Renounce our hardhearted arrogance and take a vow of silence."

He smiled at her. "If we did that, who would be hard ass enough to take on the real monsters out here? Listen," he added somberly. "You know how tough this job is. SVU is even harder. I know the kind of cases you see. Liz, you didn't convict an innocent. He made a choice that put him in that court room. That's why you went after him. Hopefully, what you did will cause that boy to learn from his choices. Make better ones as an adult. The rest of it - your pride, your ego - might have played a small part, if any."

"Might have?"

"Might have", he said firmly." You didn't put him there. He did that all by himself when he chose to let that woman die."

Donnelly pondered his words carefully. "Twenty five years-"

McCoy picked up her shoes and held them out to her. "When sentencing comes up, you do what you can. Maybe help the PD to get him in a faculty close to home, so he can see his mother. When he's up for parole, you recommend early release. That's what I intend to do with Dr. Allison." McCoy stood up, offering her his hand. "Next time, you trust your gut…and your ADA a little more. Ready to get some Chinese?"

She grabbed her purse and took his hand. "You buying?"

"You're the hot shot Bureau Chief. Besides, you make more than I do," he said as they walked towards the door.

"I don't get alimony" she countered.

"Alright, but I'll drive." he said reaching for his helmet and jacket.

Donnelly looked down at her suit skirt. "Sure, Jack."

"You've ridden the bike in a suit before, Liz," he reminded her.

Yeah, twenty years ago, she thought. When I was young and stupid.

"I don't have a helmet," she countered.

He grinned. "With a head as hard as yours, that shouldn't be a problem."