I own nothing but my imagination. These delightful characters were created by David E Kelly and brought to life by extremely talented people.

The timeline is out in terms of Denny's request for Alan to shoot him, but... blame the library, I had to watch all these eps out of order. And I wanted Tara in the picture, because I love the dynamic between her and Alan.

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"I need a lawyer. Can someone help me? I need a lawyer!"

Alan Shore came up to the man calling out in the main corridor of Crane, Poole & Schmidt law firm. "Yes, sir—what can we do for you?" he asked, intrigued and just the tiniest bit repulsed by the visitor's boldness. As he always did, Alan had already given the short, heavy man the once-over, and noted with no particular feeling that he used that distinctive Massachusetts accent—the one that made Alan a loy-a, instead of a lawyer.

"I need a lawyer," the man repeated. "Are you a lawyer?"

Alan put on his "mildly tolerant and amused" smile. "I am."

"I need a lawyer."

"So you say."

"No kidding, Mister, I need someone to help me."

"Certainly, sir. What's happened?"

"My sister killed my mother."

Alan's demeanor changed immediately and he forgot all about the man's presentation. "I'm Alan Shore. Let's have this talk in my office."

*BL*BL*BL*

Alan settled in behind his desk, facing the fifty-something man he had firmly planted in the chair on the opposite side of it. "Now, Mister..."

"George."

"Mr. George, why haven't you—"

"McLaughlin."

"I beg your pardon?" Alan asked.

"McLaughlin. My name is George McLaughlin. I—I like to be called George."

"Ah. Very well. Then George it is. George, why don't you tell me what's going on."

"Our ma was sick, you know? She was really sick. And she was old, losing her mind a bit, that kind of thing." Alan watched as the man twisted his hands unhappily. "She always said that when her time came, she wanted to go peaceful-like, you know? Before she went totally ga-ga. My sister—she knew this. But she didn't listen. She did it when she wanted to, not Ma. She killed her, Mr. Shore. She killed her!"

Alan leaned forward in his chair. "Calm down, now, George. I need to make sure I understand this. Did your mother ask for someone to end her life?"

"No, Mr. Shore—well, she always said she didn't want to be a burden on anyone. But how could she be a burden? She was our ma, you know? But Alice, she didn't listen! And one day, she just decided it was time, and she—she—"

Softly, Alan prompted, "She what?"

The visitor seemed to reorganize his thoughts. "Ma had to go to the hospital. She fell over and hurt herself... couldn't remember where she was... didn't even recognize me."

Alan nodded understanding.

"She was uncomfortable. She didn't like hospitals. And she was scared. She didn't like being by herself. So one of us would stay with her. Sometimes she was scared of us," McLaughlin added, with more than a tinge of sadness. "She didn't always know us, you know?"

"George," Alan asked gently, "did your mother have Alzheimer's?"

"Yeah," the man admitted. "But not bad enough that she didn't know us sometimes. Anyway, Ma's crying all the time. She's not really getting better. She's not coping. The doctor says she's going to need help all the time, that she's in pain. Alice tells the hospital that Ma can't stand it any more, that she needs to have her pain 'managed'. And then... well... Ma goes to sleep..." George's face grew even more distressed, and he slumped in his chair. "And she never wakes up."

Alan's head spun. For a moment, his mind flew to his best friend, a name partner at Crane, Poole & Schmidt, Denny Crane. He felt a pang of... something... when he considered that one day he was likely going to be asked to make this same decision about Denny. But he was sure he wasn't getting the whole story here; something was missing. He sat back in his chair. "George, where was your mother living before she got admitted to the hospital for her fall?"

"She was in a nursing home. They had to watch her."

"And did your sister have Power of Attorney for your mother regarding health matters?"

"Yeah. Alice is a nurse. Ma thought she'd know best."

"But you didn't."

"I did until now."

"I see. And had your mother talked about wanting to... go... when things became difficult for those around her? For you, and for your sister?"

"She never meant it, Mr. Shore. She always said she didn't want to be a burden, that she didn't want to live like one of those people you read about—you know, the ones that are strangers to their own families. But she wanted to be alive, Mr. Shore. She didn't want to die!"

"George, I—"

"She always said she wanted to be around to see Joanna get married. That's what she always said: 'George, I want to see Joanna get married. Then when it happens, it happens.' And that's how I knew she wanted to stay alive as long as possible."

"Joanna is...?"

"My daughter, Mr. Shore. The only girl grandchild. She wanted Joanna to wear her special pearls and things. You know, the stuff she wore to marry my dad."

"And did Joanna get married?"

"No—and she's not going to. That's what I'm trying to say, Mr. Shore. Ma always said she didn't want to go until Joanna got married. But she knew that was never going to happen—she was saying that she didn't want to go at all. And Alice killed her!"

"Did your mother leave a will, George?"

"Yes." Alan waited, prompted the man with the slightest nod. "If Joanna got married before Ma died, all the money went to her and her husband."

"And if not?"

"To me and Alice."

"George, do you think Alice let your mother die when she did for money?"

"No. She knew Joanna wasn't going to get married. It was just... she didn't want to put up with her any more."

"George, why didn't you go to the police?"

McLaughlin shifted uncomfortably. "It's my sister, Mr. Shore."

As kindly as he could manage, Alan said, "You need to realize... George... that if we take this to court and get a wrongful death judgment, your sister could be brought up on murder charges."

"I'd have to prosecute, wouldn't I? For Alice to get in trouble, I mean?"

"The State can bring charges against Alice on its own, George. They can subpoena you to testify against her. You don't have to press charges."

George hesitated. Then he said, "She knew Joanna wasn't gonna get married. She knew."

Alan tried to hide a heavy sigh.

"So are you gonna take my case?"

Alan straightened. "Let me talk to the doctors, George. I'd like to meet with Joanna, too. Can you arrange a meeting?"

"She'll tell you the same as me, Mr. Shore. No marriage. Never."

Alan smiled tolerantly. "I have no doubt. I'd like to meet her all the same. Can you manage that for me?"

"I'll try."

"Good."

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Denny Crane frowned as he listened to Alan explain George McLaughlin's visit to his office earlier in the day. "So what does this guy want?" Denny asked. "Money?"

"He thinks his sister murdered their mother, Denny. Money wasn't important."

"Not that he's saying yet."

"He says his mother wanted to stay alive to see his daughter marry. But he swears his mother was quite clear-minded about the idea that it was never going to happen. If he's right, the woman may have been murdered."

"But why?"

"I don't know yet. Maybe she didn't want to wait until the mother passed away of her own accord."

"Is she pretty?"

"Who?"

"The granddaughter. Is she pretty?"

"I don't know; I haven't met her yet. I've asked George to get her in here."

"I want to see her," Denny told his friend. "But only if she's pretty. If she's not pretty, the sister is guilty."

A smile lifted the corners of Alan's mouth. "Denny, even you surely can't be that shallow—"

"Americans like pretty, Alan. We want to look at attractive things, and attractive people. We shun anything... repulsive to the eye. It's the American way."

"Even so, I think George declaring that Joanna will never marry is a bit extreme, and I want to meet her before I make any decisions here on how to proceed."

"You sound taken in," Denny observed.

"There's something... genuine about him, Denny," Alan admitted. "It seems like he adored his mother... something I just can't relate to... and while he doesn't have a problem carrying out his mother's wishes, he swears these aren't what her wishes were. I believe him."

"Let's just see if she's a pretty girl, or a dog."

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Later that day, Alan pulled up a young associate in the library. "Tara, the Curtis deposition has been moved up to tomorrow. I'll need your research about the college's history curriculum today."

"Certainly, Alan," replied Tara. Tara Wilson, her dark eyes looking straight into Alan's blue ones, smiled in a way that always made him shudder. "I didn't know you were interested in teaching."

Alan moved in very close to her. "Only for the discipline," he whispered. "I was always a naughty boy."

"Were you?" she asked knowingly.

"A very, very naughty boy."

"I suppose you liked corporal punishment," she breathed.

"Not so much in elementary school," he said, his voice growing rough. "But by the time I left high school, I was quite a fan."

Tara smiled, her lips parted just slightly as she moved in just inches from Alan's face. She held his look for a moment, then slipped smoothly away from him to the next shelf of law books.

Alan followed her, his body starting to feel that familiar ache he always felt when she was around. "Meet me in study hall after the bell rings? I'm a sucker for detention," he proposed.

Tara just continued poring through the books. "Why, Alan, I believe you're making a pass at me," she said, not at all surprised by his actions. Again, their eyes met. "An A for effort. But against the rules. I'll have to send you to the head master's office."

"Make it the head mistress and I'll be there before you can get out of your cute little school uniform."

Tara cast him a sideways smile and turned back to her work. "We both know you're all talk, Alan. But it was nice playing school with you." She closed the book she had been perusing and pulled it close to her body. "I have what you need on my desk." She brushed past him, making him feel as though he'd had the wind knocked out of him. "I'll bring it by when everyone else is gone... and you can give me..." Alan stared at her intently, something that seemed to unnerve most women... but not Tara. "... my report card."

She headed out of the library as Alan opened his mouth to reply. The appearance of senior partner Paul Lewiston stopped him from following her. "Alan, there's a woman waiting for you in your office. She says you asked to see her."

A smile spread over Alan's face. "And she so readily complied. Would that all women were so willing."

Paul shook his head. "You may find her less willing than most," he said. Alan raised an eyebrow. "Don't keep her waiting."

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Alan Shore entered his office and immediately frowned. He cleared his throat and came around to greet his visitor. "Good afternoon," he said to the lady. He smiled pleasantly, even as his eyes took in her habit, her veil, her troubled eyes. "I'm Alan Shore. I understand you're under the impression that I need to see you. And you are...?"

"Sister Joseph."

A small breath of delight escaped from Alan's lips. "Joseph."

"Yes, Mr. Shore. You were asking to talk to me."

"Was I?" he asked, still charmed.

He smiled. "Mr. Shore, I don't think you understand."

"I'm sure I don't."

"I'm George McLaughlin's daughter. I'm Joanna."

Alan's delight was abruptly replaced with disbelief. From behind him, he heard a sound at the door: "Woof."

Sister Joseph's expression turned to one of shock, and Alan turned his head quickly to see the source of the interruption.

His best friend stared back at him, then shrugged. "Denny Crane."