This is a story which has been festering in the back of my mind for a long time but I've hesitated to actually put it together. I don't know why I finally am getting this out there but I am. It's not quite finished yet although I do have the drafts of several chapters laid out.

The story starts after the conclusion of the first episode of season 20, "Memo from the Dark Side"

Standard disclaimer; I own nothing except the plot of this story.

The orange glow of the sunset reflected off the tall buildings of the New York skyline and filled the oaken DA's office with an ethereal glow. Jack stood, arms crossed, gazing out at the city before him.

Not for the first time he considered rearranging the office so he could sit with his feet up while looking out as he was prone to do in his old office. 2 years and an election made those days seem like a long lost lifetime ago.

Jack snorted to himself; it was close to 7pm and not only did he still have his suit pants on but he hadn't even loosened his tie. He thought fleetingly of the reception he just had to make an appearance at later that evening and reflected on how he couldn't remember the last time he left the office in his jeans and beaten leather coat. It seemed that so much had changed; he was a politician, elected and everything. He had to play the part; something he found himself not entirely willing to commit too.

He smiled to himself. It had taken some time for him to readjust his priorities again after the election but he was beginning to feel more comfortable in his own skin again now that the campaign nonsense was over with and he only had to focus on litigating. In fact, he mused, he was actually kind of having fun flexing his legal and political muscle.

Even though he never really thought it would get too far he had enjoyed the hell out of subpoenaing half of the previous administration. Sure, he had probably burned some bridges and nearly given Mike an aneurysm and sure it was all for nothing as justice was literally yanked from the hands of the jury...But still; it was fun. He always enjoyed a good David and Goliath type fight.

He would be lying if he didn't acknowledge that he also enjoyed making a statement in the political arena. The city knew now; hell the country knew that this office would not allow ANY crime to go unprosecuted. If that gave anyone from the lowliest street thug to the most elite member of society pause before they broke the covenants of society; that had to be a good thing. He'd always held the conviction that the law was sacred and blind and it was nice to have the power to push the issue.

Yes, despite the changes and the challenges he was feeling pretty good. In fact there was only one thing bothering him. He shook himself, unwilling to allow a small, spiteful comment to derail his good mood. Unfortunately the thought wouldn't stay gone and he couldn't help but allow it to fester in the back of his mind as he watched the sun's receding reflection over Manhattan.

"Not a bad view, Counselor." Jack turned from his musings to see Anita Van Buren standing a pace to his side. He smiled a welcome to her and turned away again looking back out the window.

"No, I don't suppose it is Lieutenant."

The two civil servants stood in companionable silence for a few moments longer. Jack wasn't sure why Anita was there; it wasn't infrequently that she visited on business and odd hours but it also wasn't unheard of for her to come to his office with a more personal angle, opinions and observations which would cause Jack to stew and reconsider his handling of a particular matter at hand.

Seeing as she was standing next to him quietly and not pushing to get down to business he assumed this visit was of the latter variety. He didn't mind, he liked and respected the officer and often appreciated her input when she felt strongly enough to voice her mind. The two shared a unique history and standing with her, looking out to the city he couldn't stop certain memories from swirling to the front of his mind.

"You know," he began quietly, without moving, "I've been looking out this window or the one next door off and on for over 30 years. Even though it's been nearly a decade, sometimes it still surprises me when I look up and the towers aren't there."

Anita was quiet for another few moments and then she shifted, turning to face McCoy. "You and Mr. Cutter certainly have been making waves."

Her tone was light but he knew the comment was anything but casual and hardly a non-sequitur. McCoy nodded slowly, taking his time to decide how to respond.

"I assume you heard that the trial is over." He could feel her eyes on him but did not break his watchful surveillance of the window.

Anita nodded. "Yes, I imagine the whole city has. Stopped by federal order just short of the verdict." She pinned him under the kind of watchful gaze that only a detective and a mother could perfect. He didn't flinch at her comment, nor grimace. He didn't even shrug his shoulders, merely raised his eyebrows.

"There was a time when interference like that would cause you to be outraged." She prodded.

That caused Jack to turn to the Lieutenant. "Is that why you're here? Are you checking up on me Anita? Worried I'd blow up the courthouse?" He smirked the little half grin which reminded Anita of the brash smart-ass who had hauled her in front of the grand jury 15 years ago. Back then she couldn't decide if that grin made her want to slap him or kiss him. Now it just filled her with a strange fondness which was what the older lawyer had grown to be to her. Although she could still imagine getting satisfaction from smacking that grin off of his face.

"I'd just hate to see you commit political suicide so soon after what we all went through to get you elected." She sassed at him.

The grin slowly slid off his face, replaced with slumped shoulders and the hurt puppy eyes which Anita promptly decided made her even more crazy than the grin. "Was I really that terrible?"

He turned away from the window and flopped onto the old leather couch with far less grace and dignity than one would expect from a man of his age and position.

Anita edged around the coffee table to sit next to him. "Election years are always tough for everyone; regardless of who has been in this office." She offered.

He rubbed the heels of his hands into his eyes, "So in other words, yes, that terrible, but it's okay because everyone's an ass in an election year?" He turned his head to face her without lifting it from the back of the couch.

She smiled at him; the biggest, baddest, scariest, most powerful man in New York law enforcement sprawled like a rumpled heap asking forgiveness for acting like a politician. Damnit if she didn't adore this man. Doesn't mean she wanted to make it easy for him. "Something like that."

Jack let out a rare chuckle and rocked his head back to look up at the ceiling. His fingers found the tie around his neck and unceremoniously yanked at it until it was loose enough to fit his fingers in and undo the top button of his shirt. Succeeding in his mission of comfort he dropped his arms to his side and sighed deeply.

Anita waited a few moments but spoke up when he didn't say anything. "So really, that's it?"

"That's it what?"

Anita squared off on the couch, "That's it as in you're not upset at the way the verdict was usurped?"

Jack shrugged his shoulders, "I can't be too frustrated. In all honesty I knew it was going to happen. I was actually surprised when it looked like we might actually finish it out. No, getting worked up over the realities of politics and law is best left to the young. I'm leaving it to Mike to be angry enough for all of us." He smiled conspiritoriously toward the adjoining door. He shuffled himself up into a more proper sitting position and leaned over to grab a folder off the table. He pulled his dark framed reading glasses from his breast pocket and perched them on his nose to read what was inside as he opened the folder enough that Anita could see from her position on the couch.

"He's already drafted a motion to release the jury verdict as a matter of record." Jack scoffed but looked at the document almost fondly. Anita watched as he scanned the paperwork and was suddenly struck by the fact that with his hair more white than grey or black and his reading glasses Jack looked more like the kindly neighborhood grandfather than the charismatic and fierce legal force that he was. It seemed to her the physical changes in him had occurred rather quickly.

She was about to make a comment, maybe tease him that his hair was thinning, when he put down the folder with a deep breath. The mother in her caught a something simmering beneath his facade of a wise and accepting elder statesman.

She hesitated to say anything; their relationship had always flirted with friendship but ultimately landed in the professional realm and she hesitated to push too far and break their long established pattern. A moment's thought gave her an idea as to what his bother must be and she knew it was worth pushing the issue.

"There is something that is bothering you though, isn't there?" She looked at him unwaveringly.

He turned his head sharply to look at her.

"Not really. Lord knows I have enough new coming at me every day that I can't afford to get hung up on something that is past and done." He nodded his head, the motion almost as a reaffirmation to himself than to Anita.

She paused and carefully weighed speaking again. "I read the opeds on this trial you know. I know the things that some people said. Some people called the trial unpatriotic; I think one even suggested this office was committing treason by trying to protect terrorists."

He sighed and took off his glasses as he scrubbed his hands over his face before leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees.

"So, I guess there is something." Anita sat back and smirked.

Jack turned his head to the side to offer a glare before relenting and sitting back.

"I learned a long time ago not to pay much attention to the papers. No, they've always been a thorn in my side no matter what the trial."

Anita nodded, she knew the cops had to operate in much the same way when a crime caught the public's attention. "Still, can't be easy trying to conduct business surrounded by that kind of sentiment."

Jack let out a huff. "I won't pretend it is." He paused in thought, "You know, my mother had a cousin or something who was actually a DA in rural Georgia during the civil rights movement. When the papers or public sentiment get too rough around here I just think of what he must have endured when he was prosecuting civil rights offenders down there and I realize I don't have it that bad. No one is burning a cross on my yard."

Anita appreciated his sentiment but she wasn't about to let him off the hook, "Well, it may not be a burning cross but someone said or did something that got to you. I can see it written all over your face."

He sighed and looked down at his interlocked hands. After a few moments he looked at her, "Do you remember David Jeffries who used to work here?"

Anita thought for a moment; "I think so; kind of round? I think he helped out the boys frequently with warrants. He moved to Washington, right?"

Jack nodded. "Yup. That's him. Good guy. I worked with him frequently through the years. Always thought he 'got it'. I was really happy for him when he joined up with the campaign and now the new administration." Jack paused and Anita wisely did not interject. "The opinion writers and the talking heads on tv I can deal with. Half the time they don't know a quarter of what's really going on. They just blather and it doesn't bother me. But David knows better. He knows what was being done. He knows the case. He knows me! And, well...David just about outright accused me of providing aid and comfort to terrorists. He called me a traitor to my face. I know he was talking with blinders on and I've rationalized it away to myself...but I can't shake it. I guess you could say it's been eating at me."

Jack locked eyes with Anita and shrugged sadly. It was easy to see it really was bothering him.

She never pretended to really know Jack McCoy as a person outside of this role but there were some things about him she did know with absolute certainty. His patriotism and absolute devotion to the country and the men and women who fought for it was not to be questioned.

She remembered a case shortly before he was named DA. Over the course of the investigation he and Connie discovered the deplorable conditions in the local VA hospital. They had been ordered to keep the discovery quiet, a ruling that actually helped the people's case. Yet, despite great professional risk he shed light on the issue anyway. He brought it all out in open court when the defense attorney had been silenced. He knew it was the right thing and the patriotic thing to do. Yet the next week there was op-eds calling his actions into question. She knew she had been a factor in his decision after she came to his office late at night talking about her father; but McCoy was the one who had to bear the consequences of their shared moral high ground. It was one of the bravest things she'd seen him do.

She thought of another brave thing he had done and sighed. This man did not deserve to have his patriotism called into question. He did not deserve to be labeled a traitor. She looked at him and knew she needed to say something to assuage his own festering doubts.

"Give me your hand." She spoke quietly, but firmly.

Jack's eyebrows arched up, a curious look on his face. "Why?"

"Jack, just give me your right hand."

Jack sat still for a moment and then apparently finding no reason to deny her request he proffered his hand to her.

She grasped it gently and turned it over; she didn't have to look hard or long until she found what she was looking for. She knew there would be a scar. The wound had been too deep and left untended for too long for it to have healed without leaving a mark.

She ran her fingers lightly over the faded white mark stretching nearly two inches along the pad of his thumb. She felt him tense and then grow very still. She met his eyes which were staring at her with unblinking intensity.

"David Jefferies and everyone else who thinks they know something about you is an idiot." She spoke with a finality which left no room for any argument. "A traitor wouldn't have this scar. Someone with this scar would have no interest in aiding or comforting any terrorists. Someone with this scar would be passionately dedicated to protecting this country and everything it stands for in any way he could, as best he could. The person with this scar is a patriot."