DISCLAIMER: Law & Order and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to my lovely friend, Debbie, for the beta.
CHALLENGE: Written for Passion & Perfection's Big 5000.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Friday 4:00 p.m.
"Please tell me you're joking?" Abbie pinched the bridge of her nose as she shifted the phone to her other ear. Her day had just gone from bad to worse.
"No, of course, you're serious. I just had to ask." Abbie sighed, "This is going to take forever; I'm going to need some help sifting through the boxes and boxes of files."
Abbie plopped down in her chair and stared across the room at the conference table. There wasn't as much as a spare inch of room between the boxes which lined the table's surface. "Sure, I'll take anyone you can spare. Thanks." Placing the receiver back into its cradle, she lowered her forehead to the desk and lightly pounded it against the smooth surface.
An hour later, a disheveled Abbie pulled another file from her first box as a shadowed figure watched from the doorway. Taking a deep breath, the woman stepped into the room, hoping her tone would belie her nervousness.
"I hear you're in desperate need of help."
Relieved, Abbie looked up with a smile. The person staring back at her soon turned her smile to a look of confusion.
"In the flesh."
Serena crossed the room and headed for the dark haired beauty, not missing Abbie's quick shift of focus from her blue eyes to her stocking-clad legs. A hint of a blush colored the US attorney's face as her eyes raked up and down the length of Serena's lithe body.
"What are you doing here?" Abbie lowered the lid on the box and turned her full attention to her visitor.
"I work here?" Serena's reply took on a teasing tone. Abbie, however, seemed to miss it altogether, instead concentrating on her initial answer.
"Since when?" Abbie couldn't believe her ears. She'd heard the news of Serena's recent dismissal and the subsequent rumors surrounding the reasons. Was it possible that Serena had been hired to work here without her knowledge? Granted the department was enormous, but Abbie had made it a point to know about each and every hiring.
"Day before yesterday; I don't think they've decided in what capacity I'm to be used." Serena glanced at the boxes. "I'm guessing today I get to play a game of finding the needle in the haystack."
Abbie followed Serena's gaze, landing on the seemingly never-ending sea of boxes. "I'm afraid you aren't far off the mark. Doctor Goldstein wasn't exactly the most organized in the way of note keeping."
Serena moved to the desk and surveyed the boxes, looking for any sign of dates or case numbers. The only notation she spotted was the doctor's name.
"So, what exactly are we looking for?" Serena removed the lid on the nearest box and peered inside.
"Any case which alludes to a patient's interest in the decapitation of anything; whether it be human or animal, and it'd be great if there's an actual note or two directly quoting the patient. We'll need to compile the notes, and then try to organize them into some sort of chronological order. Then, we have to figure out a way to tie them to the suspect."
"Can't you just get a court order instructing the doctor to hand over the files specific to this particular patient? I'm sure he'd know if there was some method to this madness." Serena gestured towards the boxes.
Abbie let out a frustrated sigh. "We did." She turned towards Serena. "At approximately the exact same moment the good doctor suffered a massive heart attack. We've had a court representative at the hospital all day, hoping to talk to Doctor Goldstein when he regained consciousness. He died a couple of hours ago."
Serena nodded. "Okay, then a needle hunt it is." She lifted several files out of the box and sat in a nearby chair, ready to look through the rather untidy looking folder as she pushed papers back into the file before they could escape their confinement. "How long do we have?"
Abbie hesitated for just a moment, but finally decided not to sugarcoat her answer. "The grand jury hears the case first thing Monday morning."
Serena's head snapped up. "You're kidding? You mean to tell me, we have," she glanced at her watch, "less than 72 hours to wade through all of this?"
"Yep, that'd be about right." Abbie grabbed a few files of her own and took the seat across from Serena, completely disappearing from the other woman's view; however, her voice managed to filter over the top of the boxes which separated them.
"Hope you didn't have any plans for the weekend."
Friday - 10:00 p.m.
The sounds of dueling hunger pangs filled the room causing Abbie to chuckle aloud as she lifted her head from the file she'd just begun to read. She'd finally made it through the first box and was halfway through her second.
"Why don't we order a pizza or something?"
Serena rotated her neck in circles, trying to loosen the knot that had developed a couple of hours ago. "Pizza sounds great." She rose and looked across the table, spotting Abbie for the first time since the dark haired beauty had disappeared behind the stack of boxes. "Why don't I call it in? Do you have a preference as to toppings?"
"No, I'll have whatever you're having. I'm so hungry I'd eat just about anything." Abbie closed her eyes and leaned her head back, displaying her long, smooth neck to the other woman. Serena swallowed hard and attempted to push her less than pure thoughts away.
"Um, I'll call down to Giovanni's and order one of their specials. I'll alert security to give us a ring when the order arrives." Serena turned and moved towards Abbie's desk, the welcomed distraction offering a much needed distance from the gorgeous US attorney.
"Oh, don't forget the drinks!" Abbie yelled out, and with a bit of regret, she clarified, "Just cokes though. I don't think alcohol's a very good idea." She looked at the boxes left to go through. "For now anyway."
Serena laughed and picked up the receiver, at the last minute, adding a six pack of cokes to their order. They'd need plenty of caffeine to make it through the next couple of boxes.
Forty five minutes later, the two sat side by side on Abbie's couch, each with a coke in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other. Both women had shucked off their blazers and shoes long ago, and Abbie had even gone so far as to pull her shirttail free of her skirt.
"So, how's Jack?" Abbie posed her question and then took another healthy bite of pizza.
"Jack? He's just Jack. He'll never change." Serena really wished everything Abbie did wasn't so damned sexy. And, was it really necessary to undo the first few buttons of her blouse?
Abbie chuckled. "Yeah, I know what you mean. Sometimes, I wanted to strangle him."
"Only sometimes? Boy, you must have gotten along great with him then."
"I wouldn't say that, but I do think that, deep down, he respected my view; at least, most of the time." Abbie stretched out her long legs on the table, revealing to Serena just how short her skirt really was.
Serena choked on her sip of coke, and Abbie immediately came to the rescue, dropping her feet to the floor and placing her drink on the table so that she could pat Serena on the back. The choking worsened when Abbie drew near, and Serena almost coughed up a lung when the other woman gently placed her hand on her back.
"Hey, are you okay?" The concern was evident in Abbie's tone. She pulled Serena closer and began to rub soothing circles.
Not able to help herself, Serena leaned into the warmth and closed her eyes. The coughing soon abated, and Serena pulled away slowly, her focus on the small space between them.
"Sorry about that. My drink must've gone down the wrong pipe."
Abbie patted Serena on the knee and sat back against the couch, resuming her earlier pose. This time, Serena kept her eyes firmly on the soft brown leather instead of allowing them to stray towards Abbie's long, sexy legs.
Saturday 2:00 a.m.
A groan filled the silence of the room, followed soon after by Abbie's tired voice.
"We're barely making any headway. There's got to be an easier way to do this."
Serena looked across the table through the small opening they'd made earlier. "You've been at it longer than I have. Why don't you lie down for a bit? Maybe the rest will rejuvenate you."
"I can't leave you alone to . . ." Abbie's protest was broken by a jaw-cracking yawn.
Serena stood and walked around the table. "You won't be leaving me alone. You'll just be over on the couch. I promise to wake you if I find anything that'll break the case."
"No buts. I promise to wake you in an hour."
Another loud yawn sealed the deal, and Abbie pushed slowly to her feet, making her way to the couch. She was asleep the minute her head hit the leather.
Serena took just a moment to admire the beauty that was Abbie Carmichael before she sadly shook her head and returned to the files. There was no sense pining after something she couldn't have.
Exactly one hour later, Serena sat with a smile on her face as she read the doctor's notes concerning a patient who seemed fascinated by the macabre. She never noticed the dark eyes watching her.
Abbie had come awake with a start. She'd sat up quickly but calmed immediately when she'd realized where she was. Her eyes slowly took in the room and settled on the blonde sitting at the conference table, her thoughts sliding to the rumors she'd heard concerning Serena's sexuality.
Serena certainly didn't fit the mold of the typical stereotypical lesbian, but Abbie quickly reminded herself that she didn't exactly either. Plus, she knew better than to judge a book by its cover; it certainly had burned her a time or two in the past. So, here she sat, unsure what to think, but afraid to take a chance. Instead, she smiled and admired the beauty that was Serena Southerlyn.
A quick glance at her watch alerted Serena that it was time to wake Abbie, and she turned towards the couch to find dark eyes fastened on her own. Time seemed to pass in slow motion as each woman sought to put a name to their intense feelings, but the ringing of the phone shattered the tenuous moment before it could take shape. Abbie rose and headed for her desk.
"Carmichael." The signs of sleep were evident in her tone, and Serena looked over at the other woman with a frown of disbelief. She never would've believed that Abbie's voice could sound any more gravelly.
"Yes, around 10:30." Abbie shook her head. "No, that's okay. I'm glad you double checked. Have a good night." She hung up the phone and pushed off the desk, heading towards the conference table.
"That was security. They'd just changed shifts and wanted to double check the pizza delivery. The other guy forgot to note the time. So . . . I noticed you were smiling, did you find something?" Abbie walked over and stood behind Serena, peering curiously over her shoulder.
Barely able to control the shiver that was traveling down her spine at warp speed, Serena managed to answer. "Um, yes, I have, but more importantly, I think I may have found a way to cut our work in half."
Abbie placed her hand on the nearby shoulder and leaned closer to the file Serena was holding, her cheek millimeters from the other woman's. The shiver came bursting through, and Serena had to close her eyes.
"Er, I noticed a date on the packing boxes. Not a date noted by the doctor, but rather, the date stamped by the company who makes the boxes. It's so small, I almost missed it."
Abbie frowned. "How does that help?"
"Well, the boxes we were sorting through earlier were dated ten years ago, so I searched until I found the more recent ones. Oh, and I think I've found your guy." Serena opened her eyes. "Here, look at the doctor's notes from two years ago."
Serena expected Abbie to reach for the file, but instead, the brunette leaned impossibly closer; the move forcing Abbie to press her front against Serena's back. Serena's eyes widened, and her hands began to shake. Not to be deterred from reading, Abbie simply reached out to steady the other woman's hand.
Unaware of the distress she was causing, Abbie broke out in a smile. The notes described in detail how Mrs. Worthington had been killed. Releasing a yelp of joy, she kissed the nearby cheek. Serena turned towards Abbie with a stunned expression.
Abbie just smiled more broadly. "Great work, Serena."
Speechless, Serena continued to stare at Abbie as her focus slowly drifted to the soft lips that had just grazed her skin; briefly, she wondered how they'd feel against her own. Abbie watched Serena watching her, and knowing that she might not have another opportunity, decided to take a chance. She was tired of second guessing herself through the years. Ever so slowly, she touched her lips to Serena's in a gentle kiss of exploration.
Pleased that Serena hadn't pulled away, Abbie cupped Serena's jaw and deepened the kiss. Serena in turn, swiveled in her chair and rotated towards the other woman. She silently showed her approval by placing her hand on Abbie's hip and returning the kiss with fervor.
Just as slowly as she'd initiated the kiss, Abbie released the sweet lips and smiled reassuringly. "Now that we've gotten that out of the way, what do you say we find the evidence that'll put this son of a bitch away for the rest of his life?"
Serena returned the infectious smile. "Sounds like a plan."
Walking around the table, Abbie retrieved her chair and placed it next to Serena's. "So, which box did you get that file from?"
Pointing to the box in front of her, Serena asked, "How do you want to go about this?"
"Well, let's check all the boxes with the same year stamp and see what we come up with." Abbie moved her chair closer. "But, tonight, we stop and have a proper meal in a nice restaurant."
"Do you think we can shower first?"
With a devilish gleam in her eye, Abbie grinned. "Oh, I think that can be arranged."
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