Summary: The team tries to work through their two high-profile cases while Brian Peluso and Christina Finn try to deal with the personal ramifications of the confession taken place in Hostage. Neither proves to be an easy task. Ensemble, with strong B/C slant.
Spoiler: For entire series, specifically the series finale Hostage.
Disclaimer: Nope, I don't own the characters and am not making any money.
Note: I wanted to write this ever since the season finale, before I realized timing and RL did not allow any room for it. But I do want to get it out there and have some resolution before the show is (sadly) entirely forgotten, so here it is.
"...Then Jack...was on top of me and...and..."
The girl stopped, hiccupping in between crying and trying to talk at the same time. Christina obligingly picked up a kleenex and handed it over while exchanging sympathetic glances with Detective Kelly, who sat across the table looking appropriately pained at having to hear the incident reiterated.
Billy leaned forward, his best soothing persona in place. "Denise, I'm sorry you have to talk about this again, but your deposition is crucial to winning the case and putting him away. Whenever you can, please relax and tell us slowly how it happened."
Denise nodded, still trying to get hiccups under control. Tear streaks were running down all over her youthful face, what little makeup she had on her face completely obliterated.
A few minutes later, however, Denise was using up her tenth kleenex without any sign of recovering. The girl was near hysteria, Christina decided, and they weren't going anywhere today. She exchanged a look with Billy, who shook his head and sank deeply back into the chair. He wasn't happy, but he was seeing the same thing she was seeing. Christina wasn't all too happy either, but she was careful not to reveal any of that emotion on her face as she asked, "Would you rather continue your deposition later? We can afford to schedule it again in a couple of days, if you think it'd help."
Denise looked up, relief completely written on her face. She nodded, sniffling and slightly calmer, but she was still crying when Detective Kelly stood up to escort her out.
"Think she can make it good at the witness stand?" Billy turned to Christina as soon as they collected their file and headed out of the interview room. "If not in time for deposition, at least for the trial."
Christina had already given this some thoughts. "With a lot of work, possibly, and practice. There's going to be a lot of pressure on her, and anyone who's going to do this needs guts."
"She's being shielded from the media?"
"I asked Detective Kelly." Billy nodded in approval, and Christina continued, thoughtful, "On the other hand, we don't want to drag it too long either, when there's always a chance that she'll lose her nerve."
"A-aaand think we're about to get more help on that one. Look," Billy said, stopping on track and nodding his head toward a few men waiting at their office door. "The army of Crichton's lawyers. No doubt coming at us with more motions they want to file to delay the trial."
"Personal delivery?" Christina arched her eyebrow. Motions were usually mailed, not hand delivered. "Must be really desperate."
Of course, the defense lawyers, the representatives of Jack Crichton from the Harkman and Doyle, did nothing to hint at any possible desperation. Instead, they sat smugly in front of Billy and Christina as they argued for a very early, very quick and very light settlement.
"Did you have a very good dream last night?" Billy asked, after they had basically asked Crichton to be let go after a slap on the wrist.
One of the young ones from the entourage of the lawyers - one of many associates assigned to this case, no doubt - blinked. "I don't see what that has to do with --"
"Ah, but then maybe you were reading Cosmopolitan horoscope and thought you'd get lucky today. Otherwise what would possess you enough to try to pass insane troll logic on us?"
The young lawyer, taking offense, all but fumed, but before could put a word in edgewise, Lawrence Kane, one of the older and presumably more experienced lawyers, took over the conversation - grimly and primly. "You don't want this dragged into the court. Media's gonna be all over this, and that can't be good for you, can it?"
"Like they haven't been already?" Billy practically snorted.
"This isn't a news to us, Mr. Kane," Christina added calmly. "All the sport channels have been keeping taps on this case even before he was arrested."
"Ah, but this is right after the hostage incident in the court house and after the DA's Office's public admission that there were some misgivings about the evidence that almost led to the guy's conviction. Every defense lawyer's gonna jump at the chance to use this and get their cases dismissed on the charge of lack of evidence, malicious and unjustified intentions against--"
"Thanks for the reminders, man," Billy snapped, none-too-amused. "We only work for the District Attorney's Office, so of course we can't possibly know anything about how laws and media politics work."
Kane visibly took a step back. Rightfully so, Christina thought ruefully, if the man knew what was good for him. Any lawyer worth his dime should know not to face Billy's wrath when he was on a warpath; such high profile media case like this was Billy's pet project, one he'd like to chew on until something cracked, preferably the defendant. Billy Desmond became a bit known for such cases, after the rapper case.
Kane hastily reassembled his sentence again, "I'm only suggesting that if you might want to take this opportunity to get one of I'm sure your many headaches out of the way --"
"Your client drugged and raped a barely legal-aged girl in drunk stupor. If you have so little confidence in American justice system to think that we cannot prosecute and convict him, we'll take it as a personal insult."
Billy stood up, looming over them with his full height. Christina, who probably was the only one in the room who wasn't intimidated by Billy's gesture, flashed a bright smile at the defense lawyers and waved them toward the door. "Rest assured that we'll respond to any motion as quickly as you can file," she said, as she opened the door. "Thanks for dropping by, and have a nice day."
She closed the door as soon as the posse of the lawyers scrambled themselves up and left, and turned around.
Billy scowled. "Damned lawyers."
Christina almost grinned at the irony and decided not to point out that they, too, were lawyers. Unfortunately. "At least they were sufficiently scared. They'll definitely think twice about filing even more unnecessary motions if that would get them off from having to talk to you again."
The prospect of less paperwork was usually enough to lighten up any mood, but this time, it lasted only a second. Billy looked thoughtful. "He won't settle for our terms, will he?"
Christina knew this was coming. She shook her head. "No, not when his public image is at stake. He would rather face the jail time than admit his guilt publicly."
"Or bribe the media into thinking that even when he gets convicted, he was innocent all along." Billy frowned in distaste. "Well, he will get what's coming for him."
Christina smiled, just a little, because Billy predictably said when he got convicted, not if. She eyed several newspapers currently crowding her desk space. All the headlines colorfully decorated the name of Jack Crichton, the professional soccer player and perhaps one of the most well-known celebrity athletes, who was just accused of rape and sexual assaults. They were also uniformly stating the lack of evident against Crichton, and they were also pointing out the Wade debacle, how the DA's Office proved itself to be extremely unreliable and rather too flexible in their morals in acquiring convictions. The goons from the Harkman were unfortunately right - this was not going to be an easy case.
Crichton was flashing a winning smile in every picture, and Christina inevitably thought of Denise, her wrecked tears.
Yes, she thought, he'd get what he deserves.
A few hours later, the prospect of sticking Crichton with what he deserved looked a little more abysmal. She and Billy had gone through about five long, senseless and useless motions filed for dismissal of the case, but there were still about five more to dissect. They were good, very good, at trying to come up with every straw of reason to call for dismissal. They had to be good, Christina thought, thinking of all the poor paralegals and associates who must be stuck in the deepest parts of the Harkman and Doyle and trying to come up with more of these creative excuses for dismissal using every means possible.
Chris stretched a little in their little kitchen and stared at the coffee machine, just to will it to work faster. It was already past the lunch hour, and she probably needed more than just coffee, but she had nothing in the fridge and there wasn't enough time to go out and grab something --
"Hey," a familiar, a very familiar voice suddenly said, and there was a wrapped sandwich in front of her eyes. "No lunch yet, I suspect."
Christina gratefully took the sandwich and turned to the owner of the hand that was offering it. She was already smiling. "Your suspicion is alarmingly correct."
Brian Peluso smiled and shrugged. "Then it's a good thing that I'm very good at reading minds."
The sandwich was pastrami on rye, exactly how she liked. "Very. Thanks."
He shook his head like it was nothing. And he turned curious, and maybe concerned. "How's Crichton thing going? Heard a bunch of his lawyers trying to gang up on you and Billy in the morning."
Right, this brief and shining interlude with Brian did not mean the case could be completely forgotten. She tried not to sigh. "It's going. In crawling speed."
"Need any help?" he asked casually.
Christina almost smiled again. It wasn't as if she hadn't noticed a mountain of case files on his own desk. "We might, but not yet. Thanks for the offer, though - we might have to take up on that."
Of course. Anytime, he offered genuinely. It was so Brian, and suddenly she didn't know what to say. She turned around to reach for a cup and poured coffee for Brian along with her own. She knew, without him telling her, how he liked his coffee. This was comfortable, easy, and happy. Yet...
Yet, they still hadn't talked about what happened back in the courtroom, on that fateful day.
She had waited for him to begin, but now it was becoming obvious that she might have to initiate the conversation. But then, what was there to say to him? What could she possibly tell him? That she loved him, too? But the words, mere words meant so little, when he was already giving her so much, when he already knew her this well, when he was already to give his life for hers.
What do you say to a person who could love you like that?
She still didn't know, and he hadn't asked for any. And in her hand was a cup of coffee made the way Brian liked his.
"Brian," she blurted out without thinking.
"...Yeah?" She might be imagining a hint of hesitation in his voice, uncertainty. Maybe, maybe not. But this couldn't go on.
She still had her back on him, so, mind made, she put on her best determined smile and turned around. "Brian, when are we going to --"
"Peluso," Jessica Rossi said, poking her head into the kitchen. "Hey, Cabot's looking for you. Something about the Mariano case?"
"Ah, uh -" Brian froze, then stopped, looking at Jess. He then looked back at Christina, raking his hair with his fingers. "I, ah, I've gotta take this. We'll pick up this conversation later, okay?"
"Ah. Um, of course." Christina nodded as Brian left looking quite harried.
His cup of coffee was still in her hand, and she stared at it for a moment, feeling rather inarticulate. Of course the Mariano case should take precedent. She recalled the drive-by gang shooting case which made a lot of people extremely unhappy before - before the daughter of a senator was raped and murdered, before Wade took over the court room on that fateful day and started talking hostages. But that was the thing of the past. Only two weeks, but past was past. Things were going back to schedule. Back to normal, business as usual.
Except...except she wasn't sure where that left her. Left her and Peluso. Brian.
"Okay, what's wrong?"
Christina almost jumped. Jess stood right beside her, peering in concern. "Nothing," Christina blurted out. "Absolutely nothing's wrong."
"Uh-huh." Jess looked less than convinced by her friend's performance. She grabbed her own mug and turned to her. "So how's it going with Brian?"
"What? Nothing." Christina made a little screeching sound and hoped Jess wasn't noticing blush creeping onto her cheek. "It's not what you think."
"Really? What exactly am I thinking?"
Jess raised her eyebrow, and Christina almost groaned. "Whatever your deranged mind is thinking up, that isn't what's going on."
Jess proceeded as if she hadn't heard her. "Then when's the big date?"
"There's...there's no date," Christina said, sounding miserable even to her own ears.
Jess almost coughed into her coffee. "The guy tells the world that he's in love with you yet still made no move?"
"He didn't tell the world--" Chris stopped and stared at Jess in horror. "Wait, did this get out? What do you mean, tell the world? Who's been talking? Did Potter, did he say what to --"
"Breathe! Breathe, Chris. Geez, no, no one's been talking, and no, I haven't heard anything about it. I was in the courtroom, too, remember? It was hard not to notice his declaration."
Christina started to breathe a bit easily. "Well, no. Yes. I mean, no. That's just it. We haven't talked about it."
Jess frowned. "At all?"
"Not...really." That was just it. What Brian had said that day was acknowledged, just not talked about. It was still hanging between them, but not necessarily creating discomfort. No matter what, she was still happy in every moment with him, and she knew he felt the same. Yet all these two weeks proved was that they could still be great friends and go on ignoring this unspeakable thing between them. Was it what Brian wanted?
"Maybe he doesn't want to talk about it," Chris ended up saying. "Maybe, maybe he thinks it's not a good idea to go out with a co-worker. I mean, wouldn't there a rule against fraternization?"
Jess stared, half incredulously. "Seriously, we're not in an army."
"But how do you know? Maybe there's a rule and it's really not a good idea--"
"Believe me, Chris, I checked."
Jess was looking at her meaningfully, and Christina instantly felt idiotic. Jess and Steele, of course. "Oh, right."
"But that's not the issue here, is it?" Jess put down her mug and looked at her quietly. "How do you feel? Just because he admits being in love you, doesn't mean you just suddenly love him back. It doesn't work that way, does it? So, how do you feel about Brian? Do you like him?"
"Of course," Chris said immediately. "It's Brian."
Jess paused, then continued, "Do you love him?"
Christina opened her mouth to answer, but this time mere yes or no could not suffice. "This is Brian," she repeated, because there was nothing she could say that could describe how she felt.
This was Brian. Somehow that made sense. Somehow, that was enough.
Jess knew. She put a hand on Christina's shoulder and gave her a small smile. "Then there's your answer."
To Be Continued.