Disclaimer: I do not own these characters in any way. Simply borrowing them for my own pleasure.

I did not use a beta reader, so all mistakes are my own.

This is my tongue-in-cheek response to the news that the USA Network has changed the Season 8 premiere of L&O:CI from November 7, 2008 (as promised) to sometime in the first quarter of 2009.

The Announcement

The bull pen at the Major Case Squad of the NYPD was humming with activity.

Detectives Alex Eames and Bobby Goren were seated at their shared desks, passing file folders back and forth and as they tackled some long overdue paperwork.

Detectives Megan Wheeler and Zach Nichols were also hard at work, he tapping on the keys to his laptop and she on the phone trying to secure a search warrant from the D.A.

Various other detectives, civilian workers and assorted legal professionals bustled in and out of the squad room and its connecting hallways, in short a normal busy day at the office for NYPD's finest.

The door to Captain Danny Ross' office suddenly flew open and the Captain took three steps into the common area before announcing in a loud voice, "OK. The actors can pack it in for the day. I just got the call. The USA Network, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to push back the premiere of season 8 until sometime next year instead of this Friday as previously scheduled, so we all get a week's break before we start filming again." He held out his arm, pointed to his watch, tapped it and added, "Starting right now."

A hush fell over the entire room for a few seconds, before everybody got back to work and the din returned to its normal loud level.

Goren and Eames passed a look between them that clearly said, What the hell is he talking about?

"Uh, Captain," Bobby began, rising from his chair. "Could you repeat that? I am not sure I heard you correctly. You want all of us to go home?"

"Yeahhh," Ross said patiently. "But it's Eric." Raising his voice again, he addressed the whole room in general. "I am telling you guys that we are done for the day. I got a call from the Director and he asked me to come out here and make the announcement that the actors could go home, enjoy their families and have a week off."

His explanation spawned another complete silence.

"Am I speaking Swahili here?"

Goren began walking slowly toward Captain Ross. "OK Captain, why don't we go into your office." When the shorter man made no move toward it, Goren continued with, "Yeah, yeah, let's go to your office."

Captain Ross reluctantly returned to his office followed by Goren and now Eames. Once the door was closed, Ross tried again to talk some sense into the two people before him. "Vince," he said, clearly exasperated. "You can step out of the role. You do not have play Detective Goren right now."

Goren cocked his head and looked at the Captain for a long minute before saying, "Who else would I be if I wasn't Detective Robert Goren."

"Vince. I am not Danny Ross, I am Eric Bogosian. Geez, method actors, he thought to himself.

"Have we all slipped so much into the world of make-believe that we do not know where we are?"

Eames walked over to the clearly puzzled man and laid a hand on his forehead. "Captain are you OK? Are you having trouble seeing? Does your head feel funny?" She turned toward Goren and said in a loud stage whisper, "Could he be having a stroke or a psychotic break?"

Ross shrugged off Eames' hand and blew out an aggravated breath. "There is nothing wrong with me!"

Bobby put on his most neutral facial expression and took a half step toward Ross. "I'm sorry. You are just not making a lot of sense, Captain."

"Oh for the love of Pete! For the last time, my name is not Captain Ross, its ERIC! What part of

we-are-not -producing-these-episodes-right-now are you two not understanding? Am I the only one here who knows that we are making a TV program and that none of this is real?

"Okay. Alright," Bobby murmured, regrouping, deciding how to best handle this situation. Suddenly he turned to Eames, gesturing broadly. "That's right Eames. How could we be so stupid." He hit his forehead with the palm of his hand and undulated around for a moment. "Of course. We are making a TV program!"

"What did you just call her?" the Captain said, pointing to Detective Eames. "Her name is Kate Erbe and yours is Vincent D'onofrio."

"Okay. It's Kate. You are absolutely right." Goren turned to face Eames before addressing her. "Kate, we are actors. "

Eames smiled brightly at Captain Ross, hoping her smile was convincing. "That's right Gor..., I mean Vincent. We are indeed."

"Right," Goren continued. "And we don't need to work on the show right now, so..." He turned to the Captain again before asking, "Then what exactly are we supposed to be doing right now, Sir?"

By this time, Captain Ross was bug eyed with incredulity over what he felt was absolutely bizarre behavior from the people he had worked with for going on 3 years now. "I have told you over and over, WE CAN GO HOME!"

Eames took a few steps back from the agitated Captain and shot her partner of 8 years a look that clearly said, Oh no buddy boy, this is your arena. You are the one who knows how to deal with the crazy people.

Goren took the cue. "Okay," he began slowly, using the tone of voice he used when he talked to children or jumpers. "Maybe if you just took us through it one more time we would all know what is going on here, Captain."

"Vince, my name is ERIC. You don't have to be 'in character' anymore. I am just trying to tell you I got a phone call from the Director about the network's decision."

"Uh huh, you got a phone call, I understand. Now, this phone call has upset you?"

"Uhhh, no. Well, I mean it might upset our fans, but it is nice for us actors. We are going to get an extra week's break from filming."

"Our fans," Goren echoed.

Suddenly Eames chimed in with, "You mean like groupies? I didn't know NYPD Captains had groupies."

"Kate. You too?" Ross responded in a stricken voice.

"My name is Detective Alex Eames, Captain."

"Guys, this isn't funny anymore." Ross ran a hand through his dark curly hair before continuing. "OK, I get it now. This is a rookie hazing. But I have worked here for 3 years now. 44 episodes. 22 with each team of detectives. I am not the new guy. If you want to pick on the new guy go torture Jeff Goldblum."

Eames and Goren exchanged another glance and this time Eames put both hands, palms out, in front of her in a you deal with it posture.

Goren tried again to make sense of what he was being told. "OK. You have been our Captain for 3 years, but I am not sure where you are going with this. I don't know a detective named Goldblum." He turned to his partner. "Do you?"

"No." Eames confirmed. "The only new detective to Major Case is Zach Nichols."

As if on cue, Detective Nichols opened the door and stepped into the office, followed closely by his partner, Megan Wheeler. Now the all lead detectives of the Major Case Squad stood in a semi-circle around Captain Ross and began staring at him.

The Captain lost his temper and spat out, "Whatever! If the four of you want to stand here and play these games, then that is up to you. I am gathering up my stuff and going home. I can tell you this though, I will never again be a message bearer for the Director."

Ross made a move toward his office door only to have Nichols step in front of him. "Wait a minute, just hold up a second. So you feel you have a message you need to pass on. I'm here and I'm talkin' to you. Let me hear your message."

"Are you all deaf?" Captain Ross shouted. "GO HOME. We are done with this shoot."

"Who got shot?" Wheeler spit out in alarm. "My god, has someone been shot?"

"Oh for heaven's sake. The film shoot! Jeff, Julianne, what are you two doing here anyway? Its not your week to work!"

"Captain," Wheeler said. "What do you mean? We work here every week." She looked bewilderedly at her partner, but Nichols only shrugged and smiled wanly.

"No." Ross retorted. "Only I work every week. You four trade off and only work every other week, ever since Vince got 'too tired' to carry the show every week and needed a break. The four of you spend your off weeks in Aruba for all I know. This is the A team's week, not the B team's week."

"All right. Let me see if I can summarize what you have been trying to tell us." Nichols held up his hand and started ticking off the points on his fingers. "You feel that we are on a 'shoot' and that our 'season' is being delayed, that we are making a 'movie' of some kind and that each of us only work every other week and then fly off to 'Aruba'. Is that correct, Captain?"

Ross just stared, open mouthed, at the lanky man.

"Frankly, I'm a bit confused," Nichols intoned, before addressing the other detectives. "Do you remember flying off to Aruba, Wheeler? I think I would have remembered Aruba. Goren, Eames? Aruba? Sound familiar? How about a movie set? Any of you been on one of those recently?"

All three Detectives began shaking their heads in the negative.

"Not a movie, a TV show. Law and Order: Criminal Intent. The show Vince and Kate have been doing for 8 years now, me 3, Juli 2 and you," Ross added pointing at Nichols, "well, just a few weeks."

Captain," Goren spoke up, taking back the questioning. "If we were on a TV show, shouldn't there be a crew?"

"Who do you think all those people out there are?" Ross gestured out to the room full of police personnel.

Goren looked out into the squad area and then back at Ross. "I don't see anybody out of the ordinary."

"Ladies and gentlemen, are you telling me that you don't see the cameras and the boom mics and the gaffers? For pity sakes, the prop master just walked through here with a plate of food from craft services!" Now Ross was shrieking at the top of his voice, gesturing madly.

When the only answer he got was the blank stares of the four people surrounding him, he pinched the bridge of his nose and said, "I need to go get the Director."

"Wait!" Goren held up one of his big hands. "We may be on to something here. You mentioned a network and said they didn't want to put our episodes on the air right now. Well, that doesn't sound like good news."

"Well, no. They say they are going to run them at some point in 2009, it's just that they wanted to give us a chance to run all 16 episodes in a row."

"Sixteen episodes?" Goren repeated.

Yeah, you know, Every week we do another case. One week with you and Kate and the next with Juli and, well this year, Jeff. You know, people turn on their TV's and watch it.

"Oh, so now you believe we are being watched. That sounds paranoid, Captain." Goren looked at Ross with a look of pity.

"We are being watched! If people stop watching, our show will be canceled!"

"Canceled, by who? The 'people' watching you?" Goren was shaking his head slowly back and forth in disbelief.

"That's it. I have had enough! I am out of here!" and without another word Captain Danny Ross pushed past the four of them and stormed out of his office and straight out of the the bull pen area.

The four remaining actors stood there for a moment in complete silence before Julianne reached over and pulled the door to Captain Ross' office closed. Once the door clicked shut, they all burst into laughter. Well, Jeff actually only giggled a bit, secretly worried about the comment Eric had made about the new guy hazing. After all, if this is what could happen to a guy going on his third year, what chance did he stand.

"Oh Kate," Vincent finally chocked out through his tears, "That has to be the funniest joke we have ever pulled on him. I wasn't sure he was going to fall for it. Never let it be said that all of you are not great actors. Way to stay in character!"

When they had finished wiping the tears off their faces and had calmed down enough to speak, the actors left the Captain's "office" and thanked the rest of the cast and the crew for their help in the joke.

The director stepped out of the shadows and told the crew to start wrapping things up. "You know guys," he began, addressing Vincent and Kate. "One of these days you really are going to push him to a nervous breakdown, then we will have to re-cast the 'Captain' role again and you know how badly that would go."

Vincent gave a slightly bemused shrug before answering. "I know, I know. But if you can't have a little bit of fun with your co-workers..."

30 minutes later, once they were sure Eric had vacated the sound stage, Kate and Vince walked together toward the exit.

Kate spoke up first. "Vince, that was absolutely classic! Poor Eric. But seriously, I do sort of feel bad for our fans. They were all looking forward to this premiere and now they are being asked to wait for a couple of more months to see the new season. That's worrying to me. What if they decide they can't wait and find some other show to fall in love with?"

"Well, I hear that a lot of them write something called fan fiction – you know stories about our characters. Maybe someone will write a story about this and they can keep their own story lines going until we come back on the air. We've got loyal fans. I think it will be OK."

Kate thought about this for a minute, before looking at Vince sideways. "I do need to know one thing though. Since you were the one who set this all up, whose idea of revenge was this Vince? Yours or Goren's."

"Oh it was definitely Goren's," Vincent laughed. " I personally like Eric and think he's a great actor, but Bobby needed 'The Captain' to see, even if only briefly, what it feels like to be treated like the NYPD's own personal Whack Job."

"Hey!" he said, in response to Kate's raised eyebrows. "Bobby has had a bad year. Sometimes I just have to let him out to have a little fun."

"Remind me not to get on Bobby's bad side, OK?" She was smiling and shaking her head at her fellow actor.

"I don't think you have anything to worry about. Enjoy your break, Eam...I mean Kate."

END

A/N: I was really quite heartbroken to find out we all are going to have to wait possibly 5 more months to get a Bobby fix (no actual date on the new season premiere – just first quarter of 2009 which could mean anytime from January 1 to March 31, 2009), so I was trying to cheer myself up. I hope I cheered you up too!