Weak At The Knees
Characters: Jack McCoy, Abbie Carmichael, Lennie Briscoe, Rey Curtis
Summary: Abbie doesn't feel well. Jack's too busy to notice. Somewhere between Punk and Harm.Disclaimer: I do not own "Law and Order", nor any of the characters therein. I am making no profit from this.
Feedback extremely welcome
Abbey Tells It
Jack McCoy took the stairs of the courthouse two at a time. Abbie Carmichael struggled behind him. At the top of the stairs she had to stop, digging a hand in her side at the sharp pain in her gut, vision swimming.
"You coming?" McCoy asked.
"Right there," she said, and straightened up. Jesus, but she felt like crap. Maybe flu. Some stomach bug. She'd been nauseous for days, unable to keep anything but coffee and water down for the last twenty-four hours, and the lack of sustenance was making her dizzy.
And tired. So, so tired.
McCoy was holding the door for her and Abbie gritted her teeth and hustled across the portico.
"You okay?" he asked, frowning.
"Fine," Abbie lied. "Late night."
"A whole string of them," McCoy said, and Abbie knew he was referring to the heavy caseload that had them both burning the midnight oil in the office. She nodded, not meeting his eyes.
McCoy ushered her through the crowded corridors of the courthouse with a hand in the small of her back, sheltering her from the worst of the jostling, and when they reached the bar table he poured her a glass of water and watched until she took a token sip.
"Really, Jack, I'm fine," she said, and managed a smile that seemed to convince him.
The plea hearing passed in a blur. Abbie thanked god it was a high enough profile case that McCoy had wanted to handle it personally. She kept quiet and managed to hand him the papers he needed when he needed them. The room spun when she stood up to follow him out of the courtroom after, but she kept her eyes fixed on his back and kept walking.
They were on their way back to Hogan Place when her gut started cramping and rolling again. Abbie concentrated on breathing deeply, fighting the nausea, trying to keep up with McCoy. She was doing okay until the sharp jerk of the elevator stopping on ten made her stomach heave.
"Catch you up," she blurted to McCoy, and bolted for the washroom, shouldering aside the people waiting for the lift. She didn't make it to the stall and ended up retching into the sink, barely able to stand against the force of the spasms, hands white knuckled on the porcelain.
Nothing in her stomach but a little coffee and coffee grounds, testament to her bad habit of draining the very dregs out of the pot. Abbie ran the tap to wash the basin clean and splashed water on her face.
"Are you all right?"
Abbie looked in the mirror to see a slim blonde watching her with concern. She struggled to put a name to the face. Anna – no Alex something – Sex Crimes. "Yeah," she said hoarsely. "Something I ate." Then she looked at her own face in the mirror and realised why Alex didn't look convinced. She was white as paper except for her bloodshot eyes and the shadows under them.
"Do you want me to get someone for you?" Alex asked, coming closer.
Abbie splashed her face again. When she'd blinked the water out of her eyes she saw that Alex was offering her a handful of paper towels from the dispenser. "Thanks. No, there's no need. I've got a pre-trial to get to."
"You're Carmichael, right, from Trials?"
"Yeah, and you're Alex Cabot from Special Victims."
" Carmichael, you look like crap. You look like you should be in the hospital, or at least in bed. I've got a doctor I call when I absolutely can't afford to get out of the office. He'll come to Hogan Place, check you out, and if he can patch you up he will."
" Dr Margolis," Abbie said. "I know. You're not the only one who uses him. I'll give him a call." She straightened up, wiped the last of the water from her face. "I'm fine, Alex, thanks, it's just 'flu or bad Chinese or something." Gritting her teeth against the pain in her gut she managed to straighten up. "Hey, good luck with the Verensky case."
"Thanks," Alex said. "We're gonna nail him to the wall."
Abbie felt Alex's sceptical gaze on her back all the way out the door.
McCoy looked sharply at her when she came in late to the conference but Abbie couldn't spare enough attention from how bad she felt to really care. The meeting passed in a blur and she knew she'd have to find a way to ask McCoy later what the outcome was. Before she knew it the defendant and his lawyer were on their way out the door and McCoy was on his feet.
Abbie stood up and sat straight back down again as the room spun and slipped sideways. She fanned her papers out with numb fingers and gathered them back together, waiting for the greyness to recede from the edges of her vision.
"You coming?" McCoy asked, his voice barely audible over the buzzing in her ears.
"Yeah," Abbie said. "I'll catch up." Her own voice sounded distant and faint. Her face and hands were cold and numb and she had to concentrate to see the papers swimming in front of her.
"Abs, we're late already." McCoy was still waiting in the doorway. "What's the matter?"
"Sorry," Abbie mumbled. She swept the papers up and stood. The room spun again, got greyer and greyer …
Then there was a space of nothing but grey, and then McCoy was beside her, holding her by the arm hard enough to hurt. Her papers were scattered around her feet and the room was still slipping and turning. McCoy was a still point, the hard grip on her elbow anchoring her and she leaned against him, trying to pull herself together.
"Are you all right?" McCoy asked her, his voice softer and closer than she'd ever heard it. Abbie tried to raise her head from his shoulder to answer him but as she did the room lurched upwards and slipped away from her into darkness.
Later, she had no idea how much later, she realised she could hear McCoy a long way away.
"Abbie. Abbie. Abbie, can you hear me? Abbie. Abbie!"
His voice came closer out of the dimness around her. Suddenly everything was clear. Abbie realised she was sitting back in her chair, folded double like a rag doll. McCoy held her there with his hands on her shoulders, calling her name. His voice was patient but with an edge of urgency.
She tried to sit up, but McCoy stopped her. "Sit still, sit still." His voice was gentle and Abbie felt him stroke her hair. "It's okay. Sit still." Gratefully, she gave in. So tired …she rested her head on her knees and sat quietly, feeling McCoy run his hand over her hair. It was an odd gesture from the EADA but it was oddly soothing, too. After a moment McCoy's hand moved to her shoulders and he began to gently rub her back. Abbie felt tears start in her eyes, easy tears prompted by her fatigue and weakness.
As she sat with her head on her knees and McCoy's comforting hand on her back, Abbie tried and failed to remember the last time another human being had touched her gently, kindly.
Sometime later McCoy spoke again, again in that calm and reassuring tone she'd never heard from him before. "Abbie, do you think that if I helped you, you could walk down the hall to my office?"
"Sure," she said. He was Jack McCoy, EADA. There was only one possible answer to anything he asked of her. "Of course I can."
"Why don't you sit up - slowly now – there you go. How do you feel?"
Abbie sat up, fought a wave of nausea. McCoy was looking at her with none of the impatience she expected. His expression was one of concern, and his brown eyes had the warmth she saw sometimes when they sparred over a case.
"I think I'm OK, Jack. I'm sorry – "
"Sshh," he told her. "Put your arm over my shoulder – there you go – I've got you – up you get."
Abbie was surprised at how easily McCoy supported her, for a desk-bound lawyer. Slim as he was, the arm around her waist was inflexible. Abbie realised he would not let her fall.
Leaning against Jack McCoy, with his arm around her waist and him taking most of her weight, Abbie managed to walk out of the room. As they started down the hall to McCoy's office she saw Briscoe and Curtis coming towards them.
" Mr McCoy, we were coming to see you for the pre-trial on Tennati," Briscoe said. "Hey, kiddo, you okay?"
"No, she isn't," McCoy answered. "Can you ask Colleen to call an ambulance, please?"
"On it," Briscoe said, and turned back down the hall.
"I don't need –" Abbie said.
"Don't argue," McCoy said.
"Here we go," Rey Curtis said, coming around to Abbie's other side and supporting her. "Let's get you lying down, Ms Carmichael."
She greyed out again before they got to McCoy's office, had a confused recollection of the world turned sideways, then found herself on McCoy's couch, covered by something warm and heavy. Blanket. She opened her eyes to see McCoy looking down at her from a chair he'd pulled up beside the couch.
"The ambulance is on its way," he told her.
"I'm coming down with the 'flu," Abbie said. "Or what you had. I don't need an ambulance. I thought I'd be alright for the day – I'm sorry – "
"You passed out twice in ten minutes," McCoy said. "You're going to the hospital. Coming down with the 'flu, huh?"
"Fighting it off for a couple of days," Abbie said, and then felt her stomach turn over painfully and sweat start out on her face, "Jack – I think I'm gonna throw up –"
"Here." He grabbed the wastepaper bin and held it for her as she heaved herself up on her elbow and leaned over the edge of the couch. The spasm of retching was violent and left her dizzy and shaking, her mouth tasting of bile and copper. McCoy was talking again, a long way away, angry at her or at someone, and she tried to answer, because that was important, answering when McCoy asked her a question, if she wanted to keep this job, and she did. And she should remind him of the Tartosky deposition, and if she was going to the hospital someone had to go to the Murphy arraignment this afternoon – she tried push herself up but her arms wouldn't hold her weight and rolling over was suddenly more complicated than she could manage.
"Here you go," McCoy said gently, and Abbie felt his arms around her. He lifted her a little, turned her onto her back but didn't lay her down. Abbie leaned her head against his shoulder and fought greyness.
"Tartosky," she said. Her tongue and lips wouldn't co-operate and the name came out slurred.
"I'll handle Tartosky. And your arraignments. Don't worry about your cases. The ambulance will be here soon. Briscoe, put a hurry up on the damn ambulance, will you?"
"I don't feel too good," Abbie confessed.
"You've looked better, but you'll be okay," McCoy said. He smoothed her hair away from her face and she saw blood on his cuff. "Don't talk. Don't talk."
"They're in the lift," Briscoe said from the doorway.
"Listen, Lennie's going to go with you to the hospital, okay? Is there anyone you want me to call?"
"Got no one," she told him.
"Not true," McCoy said soberly.
Then the EMTs took him away from her, and a little while after that they took her away from him, away from the whole office, into a strange world of white walls and bright lights and sirens and people in blue and green pyjama suits. But Lennie Briscoe came with her and Abbie hung on tight to his hand all the way, hung on tight to the proof he offered that this wasn't where she belonged, hung on for dear life right up until one of the nurses stuck a needle in her drip line and sent her spinning slowly down into the silent dark.