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By EponinesGhost

Tracey paced as she pored over the papers in her hand for the sixth time. Although it was virtually silent, there was an energy in the room that was palpable. She was sure she wasn't imagining it. In fact, she recognized it ... this vibe. Whenever she and Kelly got in the groove on a case, really dug in and rolled their sleeves up, it wasn't uncommon for the whole atmosphere of the office to change.

They worked so well together at this point that every discussion was rife with mental and verbal shorthand ... hell, sometimes it was practically telepathic. Somewhere along the line they had figured out each other's patterns and personal quirks. Kelly knew when to break her train of thought and when to let it run its course ... Tracey knew when to push and when to retreat. It was almost choreographed.

That didn't mean that they were so in sync that they agreed on everything ... far from it. Just that in tandem and in focus ... like tonight ... they rose to another level. The analogy that flitted through her mind was that of a read-through for a play or performance. Dress rehearsal. Tracey could feel her adrenaline kick up a notch. She flipped one sheet over, her eyes scanning the printed material intently.

"Okay ... she says in her statement that he came at her from behind ..."

Kelly pushed off the desk and took a step toward her. "Right ... she had just passed the newsstand ..."

" ...'I can't believe I didn't hear him ... that I had let my guard down that much' ... " Tracey read aloud. "So the first time she was aware of him was when he grabbed her ..."

She eyed Kelly abruptly ... skimming quickly to another page. "You and she are approximately the same height ... " Tracey scrutinized her footwear. "Or you would be if you took off the boots ..."

It took a few seconds for Kelly to realize that Tracey meant for her to do just that. Bending down, she began to unzip the left one.

"When the first investigators questioned her, they did a good job of walking her through the attack ... getting her to recall details, impressions ..."

Kelly swayed unsteadily as she tugged off the second boot. "That's how they approximated his height and build ... from her recollection?"

"Yeah ... she didn't see him, wasn't able to turn around, so there was no visual identification ..."

Tracey checked one last paragraph before she tossed the sheath of documents onto her desk. Motioning with her fingers she indicated that she wanted Kelly to walk across the office. "Okay ... you're casually moving down the sidewalk, on your way home ..." She paused as Kelly reached the desk in her stocking feet. "... you clear the newsstand and the next thing you know ..."

Stepping behind her, Tracey reached over Kelly's right shoulder with her right arm. "... she remembers that his arm came around her at this angle... she felt his chest against the back of her shoulders ... then his forearm came up and pressed against her neck ..."

As Tracey moved her arm to mimic her narrative, something tugged at her wrist. "Hey ... "

"Your bracelet ... it's caught ..." Kelly brought her hands up to Tracey's arm. "Don't move ... I'll get it ..."

Because of her own height, Tracey couldn't see much of what Kelly was attempting. Standing awkwardly behind her, draped over her basically, she struggled to be patient. With every passing second she was more and more aware of the texture of Kelly's sweater ... the smell of her perfume ... the warmth of her body ... the proximity of her own hand to Kelly's right breast ...

Unintentionally she jerked her arm back.

"Tracey!" Kelly was distracted and exasperated. "It's really stuck ... be still!" Her fingers picked at the thread and closed around Tracey's wrist.

"Hurry up ..." Tracey grumbled. This wasn't good. Not good at all.

Frustrated, Kelly exhaled. "You have somewhere you have to be? I'm doing the best I can ... It's kind of hard to see from this position ..." As she shifted to try to get a better look, she was suddenly conscious of Tracey's breath on the back of her neck. Her toes curled against the floor. Redoubling her efforts, she tried to concentrate on the task at hand.

"Should I come around? Would that be better?" Tracey could hardly stand still.

Kelly was intensely in tune with every motion behind her, against her. "If I could just ... dammit .." Her mind was racing. "I'm going to have to take it off ... "

"The bracelet?" Tracey saw a ray of light.

Sighing, Kelly answered, "Um ... no ... the clasp is snagged ... I can't open it with the thread twisted like it is ... I meant the sweater ..."

Dear God. Tracey was momentarily speechless. Clearing her throat she was finally able to mutter. "If you think that's the only way ..."

Kelly nodded. "Don't move ... seriously, Trace ..." She twisted to pull her left arm through the sleeve. "On second thought ... can you grab the hem in back and help me? Pull it up slowly ... and I'll back out of it ... try not to move the other hand, with the bracelet ..."

Unsteadily, Tracey did as she instructed ... all the while trying not to think about the smooth skin she was exposing ...

Ducking her head and turning slightly, Kelly carefully managed to free herself from all but the right sleeve. Before she could draw her arm completely through it, she was struck by the expression on Tracey's face. "What?"

Tracey was looking past her, toward the door. Warily, Kelly followed her gaze ...

Like a deer caught in headlights, Hector stood frozen in the office doorway, stunned. His eyes darted between the boots haphazardly discarded on the floor and the sweater that hung loosely between the ADA's. For a long moment, no one moved or spoke. Tracey recovered first.

"Hector ..."

His head swung toward the sound of her voice. Freed from his paralysis, both hands came up, palms forward, as he began backing away. "Hey, my bad ... I wasn't ... should've knocked ... it's late ... sorry ..."

Tracey started to take a step, but was hindered by the garment tangled around her wrist. "No ... we were ... my bracelet ..."

Mortified, Kelly yanked her hand through the sleeve and crossed both arms over her chest, blushing furiously. She didn't even have time to turn her back before Hector had disappeared down the hall. She looked helplessly at Tracey, her eyes wide. "Oh my god ..."

Her partner stood staring after Salazar, the blasted sweater dangling from her hand. When she noticed Kelly's traumatized expression, she tried to reassure her, grasping at straws. "He didn't see anything, Kelly ... he was in and out before it could even register ... " She stopped herself, realizing that the conclusion Hector had surely drawn based on even his most cursory observation was much more plausible than the truth.

She lifted the sweater with her free hand, extending both arms toward the rattled blonde. "Here ... "

With Tracey standing in front of her holding the sweater, Kelly was able to untangle the bracelet in a remarkably short time. Too short, Tracey thought as she surreptitiously admired the pale pink bra.

She flexed her wrist and toyed with her bracelet as Kelly quickly slipped her top back on. As the absurdity of the situation dawned on her, Tracey could scarcely contain the laughter that threatened to bubble to the surface. Instead she smiled wryly as Kelly tugged on her boots.

"Maybe Hector will remember one of the cardinal rules of investigation ..."

Grimacing at the mention of his name, Kelly muttered, "And what would that be?"

"Things are never as they seem ... don't take things at face value ... some version of that."

Kelly straightened up. "We can only hope ..."

Leaning back against the edge of the desk, Tracey continued. "If not ... it would behoove us to remember one of the fundamental rules of prosecution ..." She paused as Kelly waited expectantly.

"Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable."

The End

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