DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Trial By Jury and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Missing scene from "Day." Written in response to challenge at tbj:ladies LiveJournal forum.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Before Dawn
By EponinesGhost


Tracey had her back to the door, staring at the window, staring at nothing. It was the same position she had been in when Novak had found her. This time, as she swung her chair and her head toward the knock on the door frame, she saw her deputy standing just inside the office. Wearing a neutral expression and carrying a small cardboard tray of cupcakes. All chocolate.

"I thought we'd decided to only have cupcakes on Wednesdays. A weekly reward, a nice break ... or small consolation." Still, she didn't take her eyes off of them as Kelly brought the tray closer.

"This is turning into a double cupcake week, I think." With quite a command of balance, she eased the tray onto Tracey's desk, but out of arms reach.

Scowling, albeit not too deeply because of the cupcakes, Tracey took the bait. "What's happened now?" She leaned her elbows on the desk. "I was about to say, 'What could be worse than what's already happened to this case?' but I know better than to curse it like that."

"Ravell and Salazar came up empty again on any corroborating evidence. The last lead they had was a long shot, someone who might have been on the same subway car that night ... turned out to be a false alarm. With everything that's been excluded and with the insanity plea working its magic ...." Kelly let the implication speak the rest.

Lowering her head into one hand and swiping it slowly over her face as she looked back up, Tracey exhaled. "Dammit. And I'm going to have to go after Liz on the stand tomorrow. This just keeps getting better and better."

Kelly leaned her hip against the desk. "She's a professional, Tracey. She expects you to do your job."

"Yeah, well ...sometimes I hate my job."

"Don't we all."

Tracey sank back into her chair. "This all seemed so clear at the beginning ... and I was chomping at the bit to get the guy for Casey ... and Nina. But now ... the Duvalls and their poor maligned maid, the media circus, paternity tests, the vanishing foundation of our case, Liz sympathizing with the rapist ..."

"Look on the bright side ..."

Raising an eyebrow, Tracey interrupted. "There's a bright side?"

"Larry King's 'people' called. Mrs. Duvall suggested to one of the producers that he might want to hear a rebuttal of her appearance from, and I quote, 'that pretty DA who works for Arthur.' " Kelly couldn't suppress her grin as Tracey's eyes rolled dramatically.

"Then you do it."

Kelly shook her head. "Nope, I'm positive she was talking about you."

"Call them back and use the gag order as an excuse ... but keep the number. It might be useful if we want to smear someone in the future."

"There's another bright side for us, as I see it." Kelly paused as she settled more comfortably on the edge of the desk. "As much as we hate what's going on right now ... after taking part in questioning Nina ... I can't imagine what Benson and Stabler go through on a regular basis. It's like you said, give me an old fashioned homicide any day. Reading the gory details in a police report, even hearing them from witnesses ... God, it's nothing compared to listening to the victim recount ... the horror and pain of the ordeal. Making them tell you ... relive those moments, over and over ..." She shook herself. "Then having to watch Nina struggle like that under cross ... Imagine if we had Casey's position permanently."

Nodding, Tracey gave her a small smile. "Just when you think you're completely jaded and immune ..."

Finally giving in and pointing toward the dessert at the opposite end of her desk, she prodded. "Are we going to eat those, or are they just for show?"

Sliding them easily in front of her partner, Kelly reached for one. "Have two or three ... think of it as 'cheer-up chocolate.'"

Tracey was already licking icing off her fingers before Kelly finished talking. "No vanilla? Don't you usually like the vanilla cupcakes?" She daintily peeled back the paper and took a huge bite.

Holding her cupcake in front of her, trying to determine how to eat it in the least messy way possible, Kelly murmured. "No ... I just usually let you pick first. I end up with vanilla."

The End

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