Close Quarters

Liz Donnelly wondered how many of her shirt buttons she could undo before Jack McCoy made an objection. They had been stuck in an elevator car for nearly two hours and the heat was really starting to get to her. She grabbed the lapel of her silk shirt and tried to fan some air on herself. Jack, by sharp contrast, looked as cool as a cucumber. He was sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall, suit jacket removed and shirt haphazardly untucked. Liz envied his tolerance.

Finally, she untucked her own shirt and even considered kicking off her heels. The small movement caught Jack's attention and he grinned. "I didn't think anything could make you sweat, Donnelly."

"When they find us, I'm going to be a giant puddle." She tried to fan herself to no avail, stopping briefly to shoot him a sharp look. "And don't even think about making a Wicked Witch of the West joke. I'd welcome a bucket of water right now."

"I can see tomorrow's Ledger headline already," he teased. "Respected Judge Wins Wet T-shirt Contest."

She chose to ignore his crass joke and asked, "How long do you think until someone finds us?"

"I bet Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa wondered the same thing," Jack said with a chuckle.

Liz ran a hand through her hair, lifting it off her neck and shoulders. "God, I'm sweltering."

"Don't think about it," he offered lamely. "Focus on something else."

Against her better judgment, Liz decided to take his advice. She stood up and pulled out her cell phone. No signal, of course. She already knew that, but Liz distracted herself by searching for one. She held the phone up, to the side, to the floor and everywhere in between. Finally, her frustration outweighed her need for distraction and she snapped the phone closed and swore, "Damn it to fucking hell."

Jack chuckled. "Careful, Donnelly. Your Irish is showing." Liz turned and glared at him. "Come on," he laughed. "Just sit down."

"I have a bail hearing in five minutes." Liz impatiently stabbed at the elevator buttons. "I can't afford to just sit down and take a load off." She slammed her hand against the panel. "What the hell is wrong with this thing?"

"I don't know. I never paid attention during elevator repair class."

Liz stopped fanning herself long enough to glare at him. "Very funny." She leaned against the wall and sighed, then unbuttoned another button. "It's literally ninety degrees in here." She undid another button, exposing the top of her bra. "So don't you dare make any jokes about sexual harassment."

Jack hid his smile. "No jokes here." He looked away from the tempting view and distracted himself by asking, "Does anyone know you were taking the elevator?"

"I didn't know I needed to leave a trail of bread crumbs." Back against the wall, Liz slid down onto the floor beside him. She let out a long, drawn-out sigh. "It's rather incredible," she reflected. "A Judge and a District Attorney, and here we are. The system doesn't come to a grinding halt without us. In fact, we'll be lucky if anyone misses us at all."

Jack looked at her sideways. "I think the heat is getting to you."

Liz didn't argue. In fact, she was beginning to feel somewhat lightheaded. Opening her collar and fanning herself, she tried to stir up some breeze. But the air was thick and heavy, and refused to cooperate. She grimaced and finally admitted, "I feel sick."

His immediate concern was genuine. "Can I do something?"

"I'm okay," she lied, bending forward and putting her head in her hands. She took a series of slow, deep breaths. "Just heat-sick." Jack nodded and reached into his threadbare briefcase, producing a half-empty water bottle. She smirked. "You've been holding out on me." Liz accepted the drink but the bottle stopped right in front of her lips. "This is water, isn't it?"

Jack chuckled. "Would you care if it wasn't?"

"Not really." She shameless drained the bottle in one huge gulp. Liz's eyes slipped closed and she sighed in appreciation. "Oh, thank you."

"Feel better?"

"Yes, thank you." She leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. "What time do you have?"

Jack glanced at his watch. "Ten after two."

"Well, the bad news is I'm officially late for my bail hearing, but the good news is hopefully, someone will come looking for me."

"We shouldn't be here much longer," Jack said in an effort to reassure her. He could see that Liz was clearly hot and exhausted. "Not that it wasn't nice spending the afternoon with you, Donnelly," he added glibly.

She blew hot air out of pursed lips and laughed. "No offense, McCoy, but next time, I'm taking the stairs."

"You and me both," he agreed with a chuckle. It was truly sweltering in the small elevator car and even Jack had began tugging at his collar. "What exactly does a heat stroke feel like?" he asked, tongue in cheek.

Liz harrumphed. "Please." A small smile formed on her flushed face. "If you have to ask, you're not having one."

Jack opened his mouth to reply, but stopped short when the elevator made a strange noise. The car suddenly lurched, causing them both to startle. Jack gasped. Liz reached out for the nearest railing. Then, rather anti-climatically, the doors emitted a strange whine and opened up onto the forth floor.

Detective Stabler and Detective Munch were standing there, clearly confused by the scene in front of them; a respected Judge and D.A. sprawled out on the floor of the elevator, flushed and startled, both in various states of undress.

Munch leaned toward Elliot, lowered his voice, and said, "I think I speak for the entire squad when I say that you and Benson should consider taking a very long elevator ride together."

A/N: I know it's random, but I'm always random....REVIEWS, please!!!!