A/N more drunk!Jack angst.

And he drinks. He doesn't drink because he likes to-even though he does, he drinks because he has to. Because it keeps the wolves that are always howling at his door at bay. Because it makes the world that much easier to deal with. Abbie, Jamie, Adam, Nora, Serena, Arthur-they all swear that the hint of whiskey is just a note in his aftershave or his cologne, so constant is it's presence. There's a reason he avoids the doctor, because he knows already what they will say.

It isn't until his fifth year serving as the district attorney that the truth comes out, and not by his will. He finds himself bleeding out on the courtroom stairs. He's vaguely aware of the bullet that has torn through his shoulder, glad that the shooter was myopic, not wearing glasses, and unable to aim for center mass. And for the thick, heavy, woolen coat, which helps absorb the impact. His left arm isn't good for much anyway, even if he loses any ability to do anything with it, it's not much of a loss. He is, however, concerned as titers of blood are drawn in the ambulance, afraid of what they'll say.

He already knows the results of the tests. He knows when he feels knowing hands poke his right side. He's known since the first odd-shaped, star-like bruise that he remembers seeing on his father's back appears on his own, and he asked Dr. Rodgers what the cause was, fearing that somehow he'd inherited more than his father's drive and ambition. But what Rodgers told him, even as an ME who wasn't used to dealing with living clients had left a sinking feeling in his gut.

He knows better, as other symptoms appear and are ignored. It's not worth it to go to a doctor. He'd get the same response from anyone he went to. A chiding about his drinking, a handful of referrals to dry-out clinics. A tsk-tsking from any of the professionals who he'd see. They'd only be telling him what he already knew. He knows what's happening, and he makes no move to stop it. Rather, he hurries it along with bottles of cheap whiskey, downed in long, slow gulps straight from the bottle.

He'd been this way before '96. It was easier to think of it in terms of years, although he has trouble coming to the realization that it has been over a decade and a half since he'd given up trying to control it. It's easier to pretend as though there's nothing wrong. After all, he wears the mask, and wears it well. It's easier to think of it as a year, and not an event, not a person. After all, people called 9/11 by the date.

It's easier to just say that things went downhill in '96. It's easier to say he changed that year rather than tell people why. The people who would actually care about it were all other lawyers. They knew how to study, research, dig. If they cared enough to question him about it, they could simply look it up. After all, it was in the papers for almost a month. Made that day's headlines, the early editions having been yanked off the shelves and replaced. "ADA Killed!" they'd read, in big boldface type, with a picture of her demolished sedan, and the crumpled SUV that had barreled into her.

He knows that his reaction to her death had been over the top and he was still paying for it, was still faced with overzealous defense attorneys that tried to hold his past against him. He got himself in check quickly enough, but there was still a year of his life that was making his reelection bid hell. It was easy enough to get elected the first time, but the economy refusing to pull itself up by it's bootstraps had led to an increase in crime. There wasn't anything he could do about that, but the public only saw rising crime rates, less victims getting the justice they deserved.

He doesn't drink much in public. He never has. Most who know him know he's fond of whiskey, but none of them suspect a thing. There's no reason to. He learned in undergrad, when he'd sit in his most boring classes with a bottle of coke that had been opened sometime prior, half drank, and refilled with Jack Daniels in it's place. No one knew a thing-he had figured out how to appear as sober as a judge. Which was a completely false sort of idiom—he knew plenty of judges that made him look like a lightweight.

And right now, he could really use a drink. It's all he thinks about on the seemingly never-ending ambulance ride from One Hogan Place to Downtown Hospital. He could have walked it quicker than the sirens are going. It's not even four blocks, although he knows that they're waiting at the light by the bridge-its a light that always takes forever, and he's used to ignoring traffic laws on his bike to get through it in less than five minutes. He wants nothing more than to be stitched up and sent on his way.

The pain isn't even that bad. Then again, he's still in shock. He just got shot, and the only thing he can think about is that a gulp or two of whiskey would really do him a solid right now. So when he gets wheeled into the OR, after a five minute long pit-stop in the ER, and the titers of blood get rushed to the lab, he considers asking the doc for a pint instead of he anesthetic they're supposed to give him. He doesn't get the chance to before they pump him full of sedatives and pain killers, and he's out like a light.

He awakes to a shitshow, and he hates it. He's known from the second he felt his shoulder get ripped apart that he was going to have to deal with the vultures that made up the press. In fact, that was his first thought as he crumpled to the ground outside his office-how this would help his re-election bid. He doesn't, however, expect a careless member of the medical staff let slip his test results, routine testing that had been done, that gave away very telling results. Results he knew were inevitable, but that he didn't want played out across the front page of every newspaper in the city. In the state.

Its a long time before anyone knows he's awake. Channel four is playing on the television, and Cutter and Rubirosa are trying to run damage control in the form of a press conference, trying to explain away the fact that the district attorney for New York County had a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit when he arrived at the hospital, and a liver function test with unfortunate results. He doesn't try to let anyone know. But he can't help it when a nurse comes in for rounds, and sees him watching the television. He tries to tell her he's in no mood to see the doctor, but she insists, and he's forced to yield when she ends the conversation by walking out of the room.

"Mister McCoy, glad to see you're awake." He frowns, wanting nothing more than to be at home, nursing his wounds the best way he knows how. "You were lucky. Bullet went through nothing but soft tissue, was easy enough to remove. You should have a full recovery within six weeks provided you keep up with physical therapy."

"Good, when can I get out of here?" The stern look and sigh he recieves tell him all he needs to know.

"I'm sure you've seen the news." She points at the television. "You can rest assured that the tech in question is never going to see the inside of a medical establishment ever again unless he's on your end of the stretcher." It's a small comfort, but not much of one. "You have a few options, here, McCoy." He doesn't really care what they are, because he knows what the end result of all of them would be. And he doesn't want the wolves baying at his door for the rest of his life.

"Don't care." He surprised at the unsurprised snort of laughter he gets in return.

"You're the district attorney. You have the ability to Steve Jobs your way out of this." At his inquisitive glance, she explains. "List yourself on every transplant list in the country, you have the money to go to any state a match becomes available in."

"Yes, but I'd rather not George Best my way through things." He's surprised to see her give him an inquisitive glance in return.

"Soccer player. Drank his way through two livers."

"There's medications. Treatments." He knows. He's known for almost two years. He knows his options, and none of them are appealing. The side effects from the medications are worse than the fatigue and general pain he suffers from. He can cope with fatigue. He's no stranger to pain.

"And if I opt out?" He questions, not liking the grim look on her face.

"Don't bother with campaigning." He nods, and signs out against medical advice. He shows up to physical therapy dutifully, knowing full well it's almost a waste. But if nothing else it's free under his health insurance and it gets him out of the office, out from concerned glances for three hours a week. He goes back to work less than a week after the shooting. After all, the gears of justice do not stop turning just because the district attorney has been shot. He shows up to meetings, playing the role of the penitent man, but never does any work. He tells Cragen and Lupo that he'll think about it, when each try to discretely slip him their phone numbers and meeting schedules. He looks at the schedules he's given for one reason, and one reason only-to avoid the circled dates, times, and locations.

He never drops out of the race. He thinks of all the times he's cheated death and thinks he can do it again without an issue. He knows, deep down, that drinking himself to sleep every night for fifteen years would catch up to him, but he pretends it doesn't. He pretends as though things are perfectly all right, and that the test results are a fluke. The office of the district attorney eventually falls back into it's familiar routine, and the others are able to pretend as well. Even his polling results stabilize. He's no longer the shoe-in to win like he had been, but he's still leading his competition by a considerable margin. After all, in spite of his personal life being. The played out across the tabloids, in spite of the recidivism rate, in spite of whatever his opponents try to leverage against him, they cannot refute his track record.

It's easier than the other option. After all, he keeps going, plays the tormented, troubled soul, plays the angle of someone who admitted they made mistakes. After all, the public is willing to forgive an otherwise god man who had his vices. they'd been willing to reelect Spitzer, had he not stepped down. The DA being a damned drunk wasn't a strike against him. If anything, if he wanted to stick with Cutter's constant baseball metaphors, it had been a ball.

And he drinks. Not because he wants to – although he does, but because he needs to. Because it's the only way to keep the wolves that howl at a his door at bay, the only way to make this crazy world make sense, the only way to survive.