"Hey, Donnelly!" Elliot Stabler jogged up alongside the Bureau Chief. "Are you busy right now?"
Liz tucked her briefcase underneath her arm. "Do I look idle, detective?"
"Listen; I need a big favor." He motioned for her to follow him into the bullpen. He was moving quickly, directing her into Cragen's office. "We got a lead on a suspect. Munch and Fin are upstate for a parole hearing and Liv's in court. I'm the only person here." Elliot opened the door to the office where two young children sat on the floor, surrounded by papers and crayons. "I need someone to watch my kids."
Liz smirked. "You're joking, right?"
Stabler turned to his children. "Daddy has to go arrest a bad guy. Stay here with Ms. Donnelly and do whatever she says." He moved toward the door, throwing over his shoulder, "Olivia should be back in a couple hours and she can take them off your hands."
"Damn it, Stabler," Liz yelled after him. "What the hell am I supposed to do with two little kids?" Elliot was already out the door. She swore underneath her breath as she turned back to the children; two sets of wide eyes greeted her.
"You said a bad word," the little boy informed her seriously.
"Who made you the hall monitor?" she retorted.
The blonde, pigtailed little girl stood up and put her hands on her hips. "Are you a cop?"
Liz regarded her with amusement. "Are you a midget?"
"No, I'm Lizzie Stabler and this my brother, Dickie," she announced, motioning to the boy. "You don't look like a cop."
"I'm not." Liz moved out of the doorway and into the office. "I'm Bureau Chief to the Manhattan Special Victims Unit."
Dickie frowned. "What's that?"
"Well, I'm a counselor to the District Attorney, mostly on political matters, though generally not appointment related. I organize and oversee a group of attorneys that deal predominantly with violent crimes, and while my functions are perceived to be politically skewed, it's important to remember that it's not the government, but rather your tax dollars that pay my salary." She paused for a moment, then backtracked, "Although, I suppose you don't pay taxes yet."
"So, probably not." An awkward silence hung in the air until Liz amended herself, "I'm a lawyer."
"My dad says that all lawyers are spineless jellyfish," Dickie informed her.
Liz arched an eyebrow. "Oh, really?" She crossed her arms and looked around the small office. "This hardly seems like an appropriate daycare center. Why are you here?"
"It's Take-Your-Kid-To-Work Day."
The Bureau Chief looked completely perplexed. "Is that some sort of school function?"
"Yeah." Lizzie nodded. "Every year, we follow our parents around and watch them do their job. Then we have to do a report on it."
Dickie wrinkled his nose. "What does tedious mean?"
"It means boring." Liz looked down at her watch, then back up at the children. She was frowning. "How quiet can you two be?"
"I can hold my breath for twenty seconds," Dickie boasted.
"That's not what I mean." Liz stood up and gathered her briefcase. "I'm due in court and I suppose I can't leave you unattended." She moved toward the door. "Well, come on. Grab your crap and follow me."
Dickie scowled. "You said another bad word."
"I'm an adult," Liz retorted. "I'm allowed." She quickly scribbled a note for Olivia, then ushered the kids out of the office. "Come on. Little legs aren't an excuse to be that slow." Five minutes later, the group entered the courtroom. Liz ignored the curious stares from the other lawyers and searched for a place for the kids to sit. Much to her annoyance, the gallery was completely filled with seedy looking people and reporters. She muttered a curse as she ushered the children up the aisle, through the barrier, and up to the prosecutors table. They both took a seat; Lizzie in second chair. Dickie in third.
Liz sat in her usual place, quickly unpacking her briefcase and getting ready for the proceedings. She turned to the kids and lowered her voice, "You must be absolutely quiet. Stay seated and stay silent. Understand?" Both kids nodded. "Good."
"All rise," the bailiff yelled. "The honorable John Brentwood presiding." Liz rose to her feet, as did the rest of the room, except for the children. She turned to them and whispered harshly, "Up. Now."
Dickie frowned. "But you said-"
"I know what I said," Liz snapped. "Just stand up." They scrambled to their feet just as the rest of the courtroom sat back down. Liz lowered herself back into the chair, turning to the still-standing children. "Down." They plopped back into their seats.
"Ms. Donnelly," The Judge regarded the prosecutors table with a mix of confusion and amusement. "Are my eyes playing tricks or has the D.A.'s office started recruiting out of grade school?"
Liz rose to feet, grimacing when the children followed her example. Snickers of amusement could be heard from the gallery. "Your honor," she tried to ignore the fact she was standing beside two children, one with pigtails and the other wearing a monster truck t-shirt. "I offer my apologizes to the court. However, I can assure you that their presence will in no way effect the integrity of the proceedings."
Judge Brentwood smiled at the kids. "Have you guys ever been inside a real courtroom before?"
"No." Liz gave the girl a sharp look and she quickly added, "Your honor."
Trevor Langan shot to his feet. "Judge Brentwood, I must object. The presence of those children will only serve to confuse and distract the jury-"
"Not everyone is as easily confused as you are," Liz retorted. She appealed to the judge and said, "Your honor, you have my word that they will remain quiet and seated throughout the proceedings."
Judge Brentwood nodded. "That's good enough for me."
Liz sat back down, shooting Langan a boastful smile. As the jury filed into their seats, most of them did a double take at the strange sight. Once everyone was settled, Judge Brentwood spoke directly to the jury, "I'm sure everyone has noticed there are two children in the courtroom. Their presence has absolutely nothing to do with the case before you and should not effect your feelings about either the prosecution or the defense." He paused. "Does anyone feel they cannot follow these instructions?" Silence followed, making the judge smile. "Wonderful. Let's get on with it."
Forty-five minutes later, both sides had delivered their opening statements. Liz had gone first and the kids had listened intently. However, by the time Langan stood up to speak, the children were becoming antsy and visibly bored. The sheer threat behind Liz's glare kept them quiet long enough for Langan to finish, and finally take his seat.
Judge Brentwood glanced down at his docket and asked, "Is the prosecution ready to call their first witness?"
Liz stood up. "Yes, your honor." A tug on her sleeve made her turn into the beseeching eyes of Dickie. She bent down and he quickly whispered something into her ear. Liz grimaced. Turning back to the judge, she announced, "I'm sorry, your honor. Can we have a short recess?"
Judge Brentwood grinned. "Does the Prosecution need a bathroom break?" The gallery burst into laughter.
"Yes, your honor," Liz admitted, utterly defeated by the whole situation.
"Alright." The judge nodded, still smiling. "I'll see everyone back here in ten minutes."
After the bang of the gavel, Liz quickly shoved her papers back into her attache and turned to the boy that was bouncing anxiously by her side. "Well, come on." She tore out of the courtroom with both children on her heels, expertly guiding them through the crowded hallways and down the stairs. She stopped abruptly in front of the women's restroom. "Go quickly."
Dickie frowned. "But this is the girl's room!"
Liz checked her watch. "We only have ten minutes and I don't know where the men's room is."
"Just go, Dickie," Lizzie argued.
He scowled. "Fine." Pushing open the door, he disappeared into the bathroom with a grumble.
Liz took a seat on a nearby bench and pulled out her cell phone. She checked her messages, only looking up when the girl sat close beside her. Lizzie gave a big smile. "I think I want to be a lawyer too."
"I thought lawyers were spineless jellyfish."
"That's what my dad says, but I think he's wrong." She smiled. "Can I write my report about you?"
Liz looked taken aback. "About me?"
"Yeah." Lizzie nodded. "Do you think I'd make a good lawyer?"
"Well," Liz seriously appraised the little girl. "Lose the pigtails and you could have real potential."
Lizzie smiled. "Wow."
"Lizzie!" The frantic voice of Detective Stabler jarred them out of their conversation. Liz and the girl turned to see him running toward them, with Olivia close behind, looking completely frantic. He reached them and dropped to his knees, pulling his daughter into a tight hug. Afterward, he pulled back and pinned Donnelly with a dangerous stare. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
Liz was instantly on the defensive. "Excuse me?"
Stabler frowned. "Where's Dickie?"
"He's in the ladies room," Lizzie supplied, pointing across the hall.
Olivia finally reached them and said, "I got to the station and the kids were missing."
"I left a note," Liz said, adding sarcastically, "And you call yourselves detectives?"
"You can't just disappear with my kids," Elliot argued, ignoring her objection altogether. "I was out of my mind when Olivia called me."
"Listen," Liz stood up with an aloof air. "I didn't ask to be the nanny. I have actual responsibilities, believe it or not." She glanced at her watch. "Speaking of which, I have to go. Court is resuming-"
"She's winning, dad," Lizzie piped up.
Elliot smiled at his daughter. He could see that she had obviously enjoyed her day with the Bureau Chief. "Look," Stabler turned back to Donnelly. "You obviously took good care of them and I appreciate the favor-"
Liz smirked. "I accept your appology."
"But you can't just disappear-"
"I left a note," Liz repeated, then added, "Besides, if you don't trust me, you shouldn't have left them in my care." She grabbed her briefcase and concluded, "They're fine. They were well-behaved. They haven't been exposed to anything unsuitable-"
Just as the words left Liz's mouth, Dickie walked out of the bathroom and up to his sister. Lizzie instructed him in an aloof manner, very much like a certain Bureau Chief, that he needed to 'grab his crap so we can leave'.
In response to Elliot's immediate scowl, Liz bit her lip and amended, "Okay, maybe they were exposed to one unsuitable thing..."
A/N: Reviews, pretty please!!