DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Trial By Jury and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Tracey/Kelly established relationship. Can be read as a continuation of Just Be Close At Hand
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

If Ever I Fall
By EponinesGhost


"... One of the things you might hear, were you ever to go 'behind-the-scenes' of the prosecution's trial preparation, is that we can't choose our victims. That we must prosecute each case we are given with the same conviction, the same professionalism ... the same motivation. And ... we generally follow that course. We stand in front of twelve people -- much like yourselves -- and we remind them, as clearly as we know how ... that no matter what the person who was victimized may have done in their own life, they did not deserve what the defendant did to them. That whatever sympathy we may feel for the emotions that prompted such an act, we cannot condone individuals taking the law into their own hands ... dispensing their own punishment. In the eyes of the law, murder is murder. Despite who is sitting behind that defense table. Despite who is lying in the morgue or in a cemetery ..."

Tracey paused thoughtfully, taking another step that brought her to the edge of the jury box. Her voice was quieter when she spoke again, and Kelly noticed that several jury members unconsciously leaned forward.

"But I'm going to tell you ... in all honesty ... as a human being, not just as a prosecutor ... sometimes it's just not that easy. Following the law can be a maddening exercise ... throwing every thing you feel or think you know into conflict. I've seen it affect everyone in a courtroom. I've struggled through it myself. " Again Tracey halted, placing one hand on the rail, briefly looking down before resuming her statement.

Listening to the closing remarks, Kelly was fully conscious of Tracey's talent. She'd heard every word multiple times as she'd helped Tracey prepare and practice, knew the next phrase before it was said aloud, could mouth along if she'd chosen to do so. And yet ... she was still hearing it as if it were the first time. Experiencing the full affect of Tracey's delivery and presentation. Nothing sounded rehearsed, felt false. She was impressed.

"This is not one of those cases." Tracey's voice grew a fraction louder, her emphasis strong. "I have nothing to struggle with this time. I can barely look at the defendant, much less muster any sympathy for him. If ever there were a victim that epitomized all that was good and decent in this world, Myra Rubio is that person. You've heard her friends and family try ... try to convey how special this woman was in their lives, to all around her. They barely scratched the surface. I regret that I never met her, never had the chance to know someone who made such a difference in such a short amount of time. I regret even more deeply that we'll never know what she may have accomplished, how many others she may have touched ..."

Kelly scanned the faces of the jury members as they processed Tracey's words. She was reaching them ... she was winning. As personally as Tracey had taken this case, Kelly knew that this verdict was not just another day at the office. She was gratified that it appeared that all of their efforts were about to pay off, and she was damn proud of her partner. Her heart swelled as she watched Tracey work, heard her speak from deep within.

God she loved this woman.

How could she not have told her that yet? How could she have kept it to herself? Technically, she rationalized, it wasn't exactly a secret. Still, the words had remained unexpressed. She told herself she'd been waiting for the right time, the perfect moment. When it would matter the most.

Sitting at the prosecution's table, surrounded by strangers and colleagues, she was suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to shout it. It mattered now. The compulsion was so strong, so powerful, she didn't want to go another minute without letting Tracey know. The right time, the perfect time, she realized, was when she couldn't contain herself.

Her fingers practically itched as she picked up her pencil and began writing the letters. Firm, sure and bold, she printed the words across the bottom half of her yellow legal pad. She hadn't totally lost her mind. This was still between the two of them.

"... If Myra Rubio's case ... Myra's life ... doesn't move you to vote for a conviction ... ladies and gentlemen, I can't imagine one that would. If we cannot secure justice for Myra, then our justice system has no meaning." Tracey seemed to make eye contact with every juror. "Justice itself ... has no meaning. Thank you."

As soon as she rounded her side of the table, Tracey's hand moved to angle Kelly's notepad toward her. Even as she'd finished her closing she'd been aware of Kelly's actions. The blonde almost shook her head, admonishing herself for her surprise. Of course she had. She was Tracey.

Alert for any reaction, Kelly watched her face as she read. Only the slightest widening of Tracey's eyes revealed her response to the written declaration. Otherwise her courtroom composure remained intact. Swiftly she tore the paper across it's width, folded it efficiently in half and slipped it into the pocket of her blazer. Then she turned toward Judge Petrovsky and received the day's final instructions.

Before she'd even had a chance to speak to Tracey when court broke for the afternoon, Kelly's pager had gone off. She'd barely had time to point to it and motion that she was being called away before Tracey was swallowed up by a host of reporters, Rubio family members and other observers. Later, Kelly had received a text message from her that simply said, "see u @ home." Even in her disappointment that their face to face would be delayed, Kelly had grinned. The staunchly wordy Ms. Kibre had finally succumbed to "chat speak." Well, almost anyway. She'd have to point out later that it was quicker to use "C" for "see."

Home. For the past week that had meant Tracey's place. Without much discussion, they'd fallen into a vaguely custody-settlement-like pattern of rotating a week here and a week there. With a few random nights apart scattered in for good measure. Eventually they were probably going to have to make a decision that was more definite, but for now each of them avoided it. This was working and neither seemed ready to negotiate the details.

Kelly made it through the rest of her day in a state of minor elation and major impatience. She was bursting with a thousand feelings now that the "L" line had been crossed. She was dying to find out what came next. Nearly giddy that she could say it as often as she wanted from here on out ... naturally, easily, reflexively. Every time they were together it was special, and Kelly had tried not to over-analyze her good fortune, but ... the idea of an even deeper intimacy ... god. The combination of the forced separation of the last few hours -- and the anticipation of the next few -- was enough to drive her crazy.

It was all she could do not to run the last few blocks.

Their arrival at Tracey's apartment was nearly simultaneous. As Kelly pushed the door closed behind her, the first thing she noticed was the shoes Tracey had obviously just kicked off. Then their owner herself, standing in her stocking feet, removing her jacket and stowing her briefcase. Thrilled beyond reason to see her, Kelly shoved her belongings onto the hall table and closed the distance between them.

"How's this for good timing?" Her hands rested briefly on Tracey's hips before one of them felt for the tiny zipper pull at the back of her skirt.

Tracey resisted the embrace only long enough to fish a small scrap of yellow paper from the pocket of the blazer she had just hung up. Waving it between two fingers as Kelly freed her from her skirt and began kissing her jaw, Tracey cleared her throat.

"Speaking of timing ...." She rustled the paper until Kelly pulled back enough to meet her eyes. "As a trial lawyer ... I'm sure you've learned ... that you're fully aware ... " She allowed herself to be nudged backward as she spoke, seemingly oblivious to Kelly's hands on her body. "... that when you present information ... is as important as how you present it ..." She stopped moving when she felt the edge of the dining room table behind her.

Kelly pressed closer, her hands firmly cupping Tracey's ass, lips brushing near her ear as she murmured her reply. "Mmm hmm." She could almost feel Tracey swallow as she squeezed with both hands and, with little effort, lifted her onto the table.

"Way to cut me off at the knees, Kel ..." She raised her hips a fraction as Kelly peeled off her hose and underwear, both of her hands braced against the wooden surface. She tapped one finger against the note to make sure Kelly understood her reference.

Stepping back between the legs she'd just bared, Kelly ran her hands up from the ankles to the backs of Tracey's knees, massaging and caressing as she tucked them close to her hips. "Everything down here feels fine to me ..." She braced one hand at the small of Tracey's back as the other grasped the hem of her sweater and began to strip it up and off.

Raising her arms and her eyebrows, Tracey sounded almost as amused as she was aroused. "On the table? Seriously?"

The same table where they'd faced each other over dinner the first night they'd been together. Only that night, Tracey had been the instigator, the first one to push the envelope, pose the question. No matter how many times she'd experienced the sight since then, Kelly was struck by the jolt of desire that shot through her as Tracey's hair tumbled free of the sweater. "Yeah ... special occasion."

Tilting her head toward the paper as Tracey wrapped her arms around her neck, Kelly returned to the original subject. "Besides, you can hardly claim undue surprise." She nuzzled her face against Tracey's as she continued. "It's not like you didn't already know."

Sifting her fingers repeatedly through the short blonde hair in back, raking softly along Kelly's scalp just to elicit the sounds she craved from her partner, Tracey conceded. "True. Point taken ... but still ... I thought we had rules about that sort of thing."

Her eyes closing, leaning her head back into Tracey's hypnotic touch, Kelly exhaled. "Rules? We have rules? What kind of rules?"

"Uh huh. You know ... " Freeing one hand, she slid the yellow note farther away on the table, but kept it at angle where she could still see it with a glance. "... the unspoken ... unwritten kind."

Opening her eyes and following Tracey's gaze, Kelly pretended regret. "And now I'm in violation and you have proof. Evidence, so to speak."

"So it seems."

"We could get rid of it. No one would ever know. Like it never happened."

"Not on your life. It's mine." Tracey pulled her closer again. "And I'd always know, with or without it ... like you said, I already knew." Kelly was kissing her, cutting off any further comment.

The kiss seemed to go on for hours, Kelly was so lost in it. When she finally tore herself away, damning her need for oxygen, her only thoughts were why the hell did she still have all of her clothes on and how desperately she wanted Tracey's bra to disappear. She felt like she was about to literally shake apart, and it took all of her will to realize that Tracey was speaking softly, as if to herself. Kelly forced her racing pulse to quiet down so that she could hear her.

"The only thing I still don't know ... can't seem to figure out ... is why?"

It should have been the easiest question Kelly had ever had to answer. The reasons were so obvious, so plain, so self-explanatory. They were also complicated beyond description and so overwhelmingly vast, she scarcely knew where to begin. She knew that the teasing was over. Could tell from Tracey's eyes that she needed a genuine reply, not banter or shorthand. She had to get this right.

"Because ... you're everything ..." Seeing the skepticism wash over Tracey's face, she shook her head. "No, listen ... I mean it ... you ... are everything I've ever wanted. I could make a list that goes on for days, but it wouldn't matter ... it would all add up to you. Because ... you infuriate me and scare me and knock me off balance, but I need that ... and at the same time ... you give me calm and security and keep me centered ... " Her voice trailed off as she searched for the words.

"Because ... I've seen you, really seen you ... and you're beautiful. In so many ways. And you know me. The real me. And you're still here." Kelly could feel herself choking up and she abruptly shook it off. She needed to finish. "Because ... I know you have the power and ability to hurt me more than I've ever been hurt in my life, deal me a blow with more pain than I can stand ... and yet ... I'm willing to face that possibility every day ... rather than face your absence." Tracey was stroking her cheek tenderly now, but not interrupting.

"Because ... even if you never feel the same way about me, are never able to say it back ... I'll understand." She saw Tracey start to protest, and touched her lips gently to silence her. "Even if you can't ... ever ... reciprocate ... it's enough. It's enough what you share with me, what you give me. It's enough to be with you ... to tell you all of this. It's the thing I'm the most certain of ... the purest feeling that I have."

Though they were both blinking back tears now, Kelly made sure they retained eye contact. She wanted Tracey to read her thoughts as well as hear them. Her voice was thick with emotion. "Because ... you've touched ... my soul. Exchanged part of it with your own. And now that you have ... I have no choice. I can't help myself."

"Because ... I just ... love you."

She was crushed against Tracey then, clasped so tightly to her that it almost panicked her for a second. She could feel the violent tremors that tore through her partner, feel Tracey's tears wet her own cheek. She didn't need to hear anything.

As Tracey's grip gradually relaxed, they adjusted into a more comfortable embrace. When Tracey drew a long deep shuddering breath to steady herself, Kelly drew back again, wiping one thumb over Tracey's cheek. Her blue eyes searched the darker ones. "You okay?"

The brunette tried to pull off the "it's nothing, really" shrug, but couldn't quite sell it. "Since we're being brutally honest ..." She looked down, seeming to lose her nerve, but then fixed her gaze on Kelly's again. "I have to tell you ..."

Kelly nodded encouragingly, her hands still framing Tracey's face.

"From what I've seen ... what I've experienced ... " Tracey winced with the memories. "I don't believe in happy endings."

Her eyes grew wary once she'd admitted it. Kelly could see her bracing herself.

"It's okay ... it's okay ..." Kelly's expression never wavered. "You don't have to." She leaned forward and kissed Tracey easily, slowly. Stopping only as she felt the tension evaporate. Brushing a strand of hair back from Tracey's face, she gave her an alternative.

"Believe in me."

Tracey didn't hesitate. "Always."

"Hey ... Kel?"


"Tell me again."

"The whole thing?!?"

"No ... just the short version."

"I love you."

"I think I'm past my table tolerance."

Kelly sighed heavily in mock disappointment. "And it's all about you, I suppose."

Pushing her away and scooting off the edge of the furniture, Tracey leaned to collect her prize piece of paper. "Meet me in the bedroom?"

"Oh, all right." Kelly pointed at the note. "What are you going to do with that ... put it in your shoebox?"

"Hell no. I'm having it framed. Might even hang it up in the office ..."

"Promises, promises ... all talk, no action."

"Maybe. But you love me."

The End

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