Author's Note:

Warning: This is my first fic! I'll try to update once a week. I'm still getting a hang of this. Thank you DaisyDay for your continued support!

I relish in constructive criticism, if you feel so obliged.

Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing.


Early morning, May 7, 2013.

She had spent the last year in LA. It was hard for her to move away from her friends and career in New York City, but her ailing mother needed her care. Since her placement in the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, Connie had adapted pretty well to her new job. However, she could not resist thinking about those late nights when she and Mike would work well into the late hours, pouring over their cases and eating the unhealthiest take-out they could find in the Big Apple. Now, as she sat down, after cleaning throw-up from her mother's trashcan, she would allow herself to think about that life. In her new job, she was working ten to twelve-hour workdays and, then, she would go home to tend to her mother. That routine left her physically exhausted and mentality drained. Her current circumstances left her with no opportunity to socialize outside of the DA's office, and those at work are either gossips or focused exclusively on work, and, in both cases, small talk is the only deviating subject. Consequently, only artificial friendships are built from these feigned rapports. Of course she and Mike had the "working relationship", but they also had something more….

Her reflections on Mike offer an emotional escape—it allowed her to appreciate the different life she used to have. The deep conversations, and the way his blue eyes would pierce her in those twilight hours, still sent chills down her spine. It made her feel...special. As with most nights, her stepfather, José Cruz, entering the house interrupted her reverie and brought her back to the moment in LA.

"Hey", he greeted, pointing up stairs, "How is she? Did she get to sleep?"

"Yeah, just about a half hour ago", Connie responded tiredly, "It was rough, most of the night she couldn't keep anything down—again."

He walked up to her and kissed her on the forehead, "Thanks darling, you can go home and get some rest."

Standing up, she shook her head in protest, "I think I'll just sleep here. Anyway, it's almost five—I'll need to leave for work in a few hours"

"Okay...I just want you to have some space from this", he said, gesturing, around them, to the living room that was full of medical items, medications, blankets, and laundry, yet to be folded.

"Na, it's fine…. I folded my laundry earlier, those piles are for you." she teased, as she headed upstairs. "Goodnight."

"Good morning" he replied, chuckling to himself and the mound of laundry.

Connie awoke a few hours later and continued her regular routine: arrive at work 8 AM sharp. Regardless of her personal life, she had to excel in her professional life, and that meant she would arrive early and stay late, until 9 PM (or until her stepfather had to go to work). She had to prove herself to her new bosses and that meant she had to be at the top of her game at all times. The one thing that allowed her to maintain her routine was the nap she took during her lunch break. Her uncle managed a hotel a few blocks from her office so, at lunch, she would go to his room, as he also lived there, and sleep for an hour on his couch. Even though she loved her job, she was just, simply, tired. Her zealousness was still there but it had been dampened. The thrill of the courtroom dynamics between the judge, jury, witnesses, and the two opposing sides, had lost her enthusiasm. She trudged through her day. She put so much energy into her work because she recognized that something had to give, she just did not know what, and when it did, she needed her career to endure any rough patch.


New York City later that night:

"Come on, Jack!"

"Mike! Do you know how much money that would cost! Let's see", he said counting on his fingers, "A round trip plane ticket to LA, the hotel expenses, a rental car, and not to mention I would have to arrange for someone to prosecute your cases and that means they would not be performing their duties!", DA Jack McCoy sat at his desk exasperated at his junior district attorney.

"Come on! You don't actually believe this is a coincidence?" Mike Cutter questioned rhetorically, leaning over the chair across from Jack's desk. "After his release he came to see me, Jack, he waited for me at my car! And now, his blood turns up at a murder scene in Los Angeles-he is going after Connie!"

"Their lieutenant in charge as spoken to Lt. Van Buren and I just got off the phone with District Attorney Hardin. With the revelation that Connie had prosecuted Spencer, he assured me that safety precautions are being made for her.", Jack tried to explain, "However, they don't have enough on him to arrest him—legally there were no threats made against her or you."

"He asked me when I last saw her. That is a threat. Especially, if he has been stalking us! And apparently, Spence feels strongly enough that he followed her across the county!"

"It's not enough and you know it!", Jack said, raising his voice.

"What exactly are 'safety precautions'", Mike asked with air quotes, claiming down slightly.

"I don't know, he said he was going to confer further with the police", Jack replied

"Well that's great", Mike was not happy and his sarcasm was pronounced.

"You know, Mike, I have a crazy idea. Why don't you just pick up the phone and call Connie to ask her yourself what the 'safety precautions' are?"

"Don't do that." Mike said in a hard hushed tone, as he turned away and began to pace the room.

"Do what? I would rather pay for the long distance phone bill than a plane ticket.", at his plead of innocence, Jack received a glare from Mike.

"I'm the one trying to get approval to go help them catch the bastard!" Mike's retort came out harsher than he intended, but he did not care.

Silence befell the room.

After several minutes, Mike sat down across from his elder and propositioned him, "Okay. Okay. So you don't want to pay the expenses, then I will. I will pay for the airplane ticket, lodging, car rental-everything. And I will use my vacation time, so my absence would not technically be made at the expense of this office."

Jack stared at him for a moment, leaned in against his desk, and asked, "What's the catch?"

"Nothing, other than I would like for you to tell our counter parts in LA, that I'll be there on your orders. Especially Hardin, I need him to work with me while I'm there, if he doesn't, at the very least, accept me, I would be stonewalled by everyone…. Put simply, you send me on 'official business', I pay the tab, and don't get paid.", Mike emphasized his last sentence.

They intensely stared at each other. Jack had a nondescript look on his face, but Mike knew he was internally weighing his decision.

"Okay."

"Okay?"

"Yes."

Slightly unconvinced, Mike lent back in his chair, "So, you'll talk to Hardin and get all of that worked out?"

Jack mirrored Mike in leaning back in his chair and put his hands behind his head, "Yes, Mike, I want her to be safe just as much as you, but I can't use this office's resources to protect a DA on the other side of the country who doesn't even work for me. That is Hardin and the LAPD's responsibility, now, she is out of my jurisdiction." Jack had completely changed his demeanor, he was quite softer. Mike knew it was because Jack had a strong paternal instinct when it came to Connie, as they worked closely together for several years. Jack had great professional respect for Connie, which was mutual, and his personal respect for her grew immensely when she decided to up root her career and move to take care of her ailing mother.

Jack continued, "Hardin owes me a big favor, I think I can get him to swallow a bit of his pride and temporally welcome, well, tolerate you".

"Then", Mike said, standing up and walking back around the chair, "I'll leave first thing tomorrow morning."

"It's almost midnight, Mike, I bet all the flights are booked for the morning", Mike turned slightly but did not make eye contact. "You already bought a ticket, didn't you?"

Mike turned to him, gave him a cleaver smile, and shrugged, "I figured, if I was prepared to take my vacation time, and pay my own expenses, I could go without your authorization. However, I held out for your support because I wanted the official backing of this office….And, you know, I kind of hoped that I wouldn't have to wipe myself out paying for everything."

Jack bounced back in his office chair and smirked, "You know, I can technically deny your vacation request because you didn't give me a week notice."

Mike's face fell slightly, "But you wouldn't do that…."

"No I wouldn't, because I think there is a better chance of Spencer being caught and nailed to the wall, if you were assisting them. I want Connie safe—regardless of jurisdiction. I would go myself, if I could", he stated quite simply. Mike nodded knowingly and Jack continued, "I was just about to call her before you came in, since you're so opposed to the phone, would you like me to tell her that you're coming, or could you get over your phobia long enough to?"

Walking around the office, Mike found a law-book on Jack's book self to divert his attrition. He picked at the cover but did not grab it, "Don't you think it's kind of late?"

"Time difference, Mike, it's only nine there."

"Oh, yeah. That's fine, go ahead. I'll see her tomorrow", suddenly wanting to leave he grabbed his suit jacket, "I should get going. My flight is at six and I still have to pack and grab a few hours of sleep before…", he trailed off.

"Okay, have a safe flight.", Jack said, as Mike began to leave, "And, Mike, be careful", the younger man was silent, but nodded in response, before he disappeared through the office door.