A/N: This idea has been bouncing around in my head since I watched "Choices." I have so much love and respect for these beautiful characters and am eternally grateful to Barbara Avedon, Barbara Corday, Barney Rosenzweig, and, of course, Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless. I hope to update semi-regularly, but don't hold me to that. Please feel free to leave a comment though!

Christine Cagney had never really thought of herself as the mothering type. Her own mother had died when she was nineteen, and she hadn't even flown home for the funeral. She told anyone who asked that it was because her study abroad professors were impossibly strict about missing classes and that she hadn't had enough money to afford a plane ticket home. Neither were true. She just hadn't wanted to be there for the funeral.

Her mother had been a staunch Irish Catholic whose parenting style consisted of imposing fear and guilt upon her children, especially Christine. She vividly remembered having to keep the door to her bedroom open at all times and her mother's insistence upon smelling her fingers if she got up to use the bathroom during the middle of the night. At the time, she didn't realize just how disturbing that was. She wanted to make her mother happy. She wanted to be the perfect daughter.

Her mother hadn't always been so controlling and holier-than-thou though. When Christine was little, she and her brother, Brian, had a baby sister. That is, until she contracted polio and subsequently died from it. After that, their mother became obsessed with making herself into a martyr. She blamed herself entirely and wanted to punish herself for her daughter's premature death. At the same time, she desperately wanted another baby. It became a somewhat sick quest for her. Chris' father, Charlie, was hardly ever home, but when he was, Mrs. Cagney made sure to take advantage of it.

Chris could recall coming home from school to find her mother sitting in a pool of blood with tears streaming down her face on more than one occasion. Of course, she thought the miscarriages were God's way of punishing her still further for her daughter's death.

Looking back, she couldn't blame herself for not rushing to fly back for the funeral, especially given what she discovered about herself while abroad.

"Hey Chris. Will ya snap out of it, huh?" Mary Beth Lacey reached out and touched her hand. "You've been in a daze all morning, and we have to be at the top of our game if we want to solve this case."

"R-right," she nodded. "Right. Sorry. Let's get outta here and go talk to Mrs. Ghirardelli again. Maybe she's a little more certain this time." Chris quickly stood, only to have to sit right back down.

"Christine, you know you have been acting awfully peculiarly lately. Are ya all right?" Mary Beth studied her partner.

She expected her to fire back with a wisecrack, but she just nodded and slowly stood again.

Mary Beth knew something was off about Chris. She had certainly been easier on her in the past year and a half since Harvey had died, but it just wasn't like her to be so quiet and seemingly uninterested in a case.

The blonde could feel the brunette's eyes on her. "I'm fine, Mary Beth," She insisted. "I just haven't been getting a lot of sleep."

"Oh," Mary Beth said and set her jaw. "Dory been staying over?"

Chris stiffened at the mention of him. "No," she said. "It's not that. I've just been kind of restless. I want to solve this damn case."

"Well I do too," her partner agreed. She wanted to know more. "I needa use the Jane before we head out," she told her and moved in the direction of the bathroom. She was relieved to hear Chris' high heels clacking on the linoleum as she followed behind her.

Chris sat down on the bench and picked at her nails as she waited for Mary Beth to come out of the stall. "Did you fall in?" She asked after a little while.

"No, no. I'm just thinking," the brunette answered.

The blonde glanced at her watch. If they stalled for another ten minutes, then they could get lunch before they questioned the witness. She was starving and decided to humor Mary Beth.

"What about?"

"About you."

Christine hadn't been expecting that response, and she paused in the middle of picking off her nailpolish. Every nerve ending in her body seemed to be on fire. Goosebumps erupted on her skin, and a red blush crept over her cheeks and neck. She put her hands to her face to feel the heat radiating off of her cheeks. She quickly reached for a paper towel and ran it under cold water before applying it to the base of her neck. "Why are you uh thinking about me?"

"I'm thinking about you because I know you, Christine Cagney. I feel fortunate to know you better than just about anyone, and I know that there are many complicated, conflicting emotions going on inside you. I also know that you'll let those emotions eat away at you and that you won't tell anyone what's causing them. That's no way to be, Chris." She flushed the toilet and came out of the stall to look at her partner. She noticed that Chris was red-faced, but she couldn't place why. "Chris, come on. You can tell me anything."

Anything. Chris wanted to believe that she could pour her heart out to Mary Beth. She wanted to believe that she could tell her every last painful, beautiful, complex emotion she was feeling. She really considered it. But she just couldn't. She couldn't do that to Mary Beth.

"I know that, Mary Beth. I just…I don't want to get into it right now. I'd like to grab some lunch and interview Mrs. Ghirardelli." Chris wadded up the paper towel and threw it into the waste paper basket before she looked at her reflection in the mirror. Her face was still a little red, but it didn't seem too abnormal given the fluffy sweater she was wearing and the lack of air conditioning in the bathroom.

"Have it your way, Chris. I'm here when you wanna talk about it," Mary Beth sighed as she checked her hair in the mirror. "You wanna grab a sandwich on the way?"

"No," Chris shook her head as Mary Beth washed her hands. "I want to stop at that little hot dog cart on my jogging route. I want two, maybe even three hot dogs with mustard and onions." Her mouth watered just thinking about it.

"You are a strange woman, my partner," Mary Beth shook her head and glanced at her watch. "Does it have to be that hot dog cart? There have to be hundreds closer."

"Yes, Mary Beth. I feel very strongly about this. Marco is the owner of that little hot dog cart. He's just a kid, but he's out there working to support his sick mother. I know you may find this hard to believe, but I do happen to have a soft spot in my heart for him."

"Alright, alright, Detective Cagney. We'll get hotdogs in SoHo and then somehow make it to Mrs. Ghirardelli's before we're supposed to chalk out. I just...I don't know if I'll have time to study for the Sergeant's exam tonight if we do that."

Chris stopped in her tracks and bit the inside of her cheek to keep from blurting out something she would regret.

After a few seconds, she cleared her throat. "I guess I don't have to go to that hot dog cart."

"'Atta girl," Mary Beth smiled. "Marco will still be there tomorrow after your jog."

"Huh? Oh yeah. Right," the blonde looked over her shoulder at the brunette as she grabbed the keys. "I can drive, Mary Beth."

"No, you can't. You're too preoccupied with whatever it is that you won't tell me about. Besides, you've done more than your fair share of the driving the last...well years really, Christine."

She couldn't argue with that. In truth, she was glad not to drive. Her partner was right. She did have a lot on her mind.

Mary Beth drove them to a hot dog stand less than two minutes from the 14th precinct. She knew that her partner was hungry, and she was proud of herself for finding one that was so close. At first, Chris was excited and enthusiastically climbed out of the car and over to the stand. However, her excitement was quickly replaced with nausea when she caught a whiff of the smell of boiling hotdog water. "Never mind, Mary Beth," she said under her breath and stumbled her way back to the car.

"Never mind?! Chris…" Her partner watched her as she retreated to the vehicle.

"Two dogs, please. One with mustard and onions and one without." Mary Beth handed the woman a five dollar bill and told her to keep the change. Within a minute, the hotdogs were wrapped in foil. The brunette shoved a handful of napkins into her pocket before she trudged back to the car.

"Chris, c'mon. What's the matter with you? Don't you want some lunch? You just said you were hungry enough to eat three hotdogs back at the precinct."

Christine pulled the neck of her sweater up over her nose. "Get that thing away from me, Mary Beth!" She insisted.

"You are the most exasperating woman I know," she sighed and tossed the hotdog at her before she peeled back the foil containing her own hotdog and started to eat.

The blonde sat there motionless, hoping to God that the bile rising in her throat would somehow stop. She sat still for a few more seconds before she opened her car door and started to gag.

Mary Beth's eyes went wide as she watched. After a few minutes, it seemed to be over so she scrambled over to the passenger side door to help her partner. She reached into her pocket for the napkins and started to wipe Christine's mouth for her. "Aw Chris, I didn't know you were coming down with something. Why didn't you just tell me?"

"I...I didn't know," Chris said weakly.

"Just kinda came over ya, huh? Any time Michael gets sick, it's just like that. There's no warning or nothin'. Are you okay to come with me to Mrs. Ghirardelli's apartment or should I drop you at home and chalk you out?"

"I'll be fine, Mary Beth. I just need you to throw those hot dogs away. They smell rancid."

Mary Beth furrowed her brow. She had eaten half of her hotdog, and it was perfectly okay. "They smell fine to me, Chris. I never knew you had such a sensitive nose."

She stepped outside of the car and finished eating her hotdog before she threw away the unopened foil package and climbed back into the car. "Feeling any better?"

"Yes. I'm fine, Mary Beth," she insisted and popped a piece of gum into her mouth. "Let's just go interview Mrs. Ghirardelli so we can get back and get studying for the sargent's exam."

Mary Beth looked over at her partner and watched as she shut her eyes tightly and furiously chewed her gum. Something was definitely up, but she just didn't know what yet.