“Jack, you didn’t see it! I’m telling you, Mike needs to be removed from this case!” I was pacing in Jack McCoy’s office, furious he seemed to not be concerned about the latest development.
“Connie, I’m sure Mike will realize this on his own, he’s a big boy. If he knows there is a conflict of interest then I’m sure he’ll…”
I interrupted, Jack just wasn’t getting it. “You didn’t see him! He was completely…not himself in her presence. I’m not sure he’s capable of anything right now…”
“Really?” Jack asked, a familiar look on his face which just fueled my anger more. “Are you worried about the case right now, or Mike’s feelings for another woman?”
“The case, Jack,” I snarled, insulted at his implication I had feelings for Mike. For some reason Jack always seemed amused at the idea of Mike and me. “Why aren’t you taking this seriously?”
Now Jack became so, as he answered, “I do take the cases seriously. But I don’t hold Mike in the same moralistic contempt that you do; you always seem to think the worst of him. I know he’s pulled some stunts to win cases, many of which I didn’t agree with, but if this is a problem I’m sure he’s going to…”
I almost wanted to laugh. I could count the number of times on one hand when Mike was given a choice to do the right thing on his own, and did so. So I decided to treat Jack like an uncooperative judge. “What about Judge Reynolds?”
“Judge Malcolm Reynolds? Mike put his reputation on the line, nearly getting blackballed for it. I don’t see…”
“But look how long it took for him to come around. His interest in the judge’s clerk was what started the whole thing, and who knows how long he would have let it go on?” Surely Jack could see my point now?
The voice from the door froze me to the spot, “As soon as I realized what Carly was doing, I immediately took the necessary steps to stop it. I’d like to think you’d have given me credit for that.”
I cringed; glad Mike couldn’t see my face. This would hurt him no doubt, but it had to be done. He couldn’t remain on the case. Forcing myself to turn to him, I was relieved to see he at least appeared to be back to his normal self, though obviously annoyed. “Mike, you know why I’m here.”
“Indeed,” he said, sounding very cold and formal. It wasn’t like him. Before I could answer, he turned to Jack, walking towards his desk where the older man was seated.
Jack looked like he knew what Mike was thinking. “Connie says you were previously involved with your star witness.”
“I was, she’s right,” he said, then looking at me directly, “on that.” I had to look away. “She’s also right that I will be removing myself from the case.”
I felt surprise that Mike was so willing to admit it. I wanted to approach the two of them, to get a better look at Mike and see if he was trying to hide pain. I remained in my place, though, not wishing to give Jack any more reason to believe my strictly professional curiosity in Mike was anything more than that.
Jack wasn’t concerned about that right now. He bellowed, “How the hell did this happen? How could you get so far without knowing she was somebody you used to…”
Thankfully Mike cut off Jack so we didn’t have to hear the end of that sentence. “We didn’t think we would need her until most of the evidence got thrown out. Her name was certainly nothing I’d recognize. She’s married now, and her first name was the formal spelling. I never called her Rosalie, just…Ro-Rose.”
Jack didn’t seem to pick up on Mike’s stutter, but I did, feeling irritated. What was it with this woman? Folding my arms I had to roll my eyes and look away, relieved I’d never have to witness Mike in her presence again.
I heard Jack respond, “Well, we’re in a mess now. We’re supposed to start the trial date very soon aren’t we? Switching attorneys like this is going to put what should be a slam dunk into jeopardy.”
“That’s why I wanted to take that walk; I had to think about who we could get to work on this.” I turned to look at Mike, not sure I could buy what he just said, recalling his face right after. He was torn up.
Mike continued, not looking at me. “I remembered that lawyer we have, Faraday? Isn’t that his name?”
Jack nodded, “Davis Faraday? He works for Johnson doesn’t he?”
“He’s worked on a lot of stalker cases, would know the experts to bring in to link how Brooks stalking Layton would escalate without necessarily needing the physical evidence.”
My mouth dropped open. Faraday was a good lawyer but he was nowhere near experienced enough to try the case himself. I stormed the desk to both men, clearly irritated they were not seeing the obvious problem. “Wait a minute. Are you really suggesting asking a guy who’s been out of law school for maybe two years to take over in the middle like this?”
“Not to take over,” Mike said flatly. “To second chair to you.”
Now it was my turn to be shocked into silence. For a few seconds I stared at Mike to make sure he wouldn’t suddenly blurt out he was kidding. His gaze never faltered. My face colored; I felt embarrassment mixed with a certain amount of shame. My intention of removing Mike was never to be promoted over the case.
“That sounds good to me,” Jack approved. “That okay with you, Connie?”
I couldn’t answer so I just nodded. Jack said. “Of course, you still work for Mike on the other cases you’ve been assigned, this case not withstanding”
Mike spoke up, “I don’t think so. Our case load has been light; I think I can handle the remaining stuff on my own since she will need to focus a lot of attention on the Brooks trial.”
“Well, if you wind up bored, you can probably help Johnson who will be rather irked I took away his staff.” Jack stood up then to shoo us out. As far as he was concerned the thing was settled. Mike and I walked out together.
Mike walked into his office through the side door. Standing at his desk, he began collecting the case file, gathering it up. I stood there, in the doorframe, watching him. I had no idea how to even come in; what he must think of me.
Mike glanced over at me, “Connie, will you stop standing there? I’m not angry. You need these files to take back with you. I’m afraid you are losing access to my large office but I bet you can use that conference table around the hall to spread this stuff out on.”
“Mike,” I said as I walked in, “I don’t know what to say. I’m flattered that you would recommend me to…”
Mike turned to me. “Why wouldn’t I? You’re a great lawyer, Connie. You’ve done great jobs in the actual trial work, and I almost lost to you when you became my adversary.”
“That was a weird fluke, with the strike at the time being assigned to be defense counsel. I felt really overwhelmed.”
He grinned, while leaning on his desk. “Oh, I don’t know. You kicked my butt a couple of times with your suppress motions. Jack was glad you were on our side once it was over. I was too.”
I stood there taking it all in. Usually when Mike complimented me, he would get embarrassed and look away. This time he held my gaze, making me be the one to blush and drop eye contact.
There was something else he had to understand too. “Mike, what I said in there. It was out of line. Jack was right; you would do the right thing on your own. I had no right to go over your head like that; I want to promise you, I’ve never done that before. I…”
“Connie,” his quiet voice forced me to turn to him. “It’s okay. I can’t deny that given my own track record along with the way I just…fell apart seeing her like that…you would be worried. I’m not…well, I tend to just look at where the ball will land, and not bother to see who it might hit on the way there. You’re good at helping me stay in a safe direction.”
Typical of him to use a baseball metaphor. I realized I had blushed again, so unnerved at Mike’s unwavering flattery. “I…hadn’t thought of it like that.”
He broke the eye contact, shrugging, “It’s why we make a good team.”
“Still, Mike, I do want to apologize.” I couldn’t leave until he accepted it.
“Thanks, Connie, but it’s okay. Really.” As he said this I smiled, until he added, “Besides, you’ve actually accused me of much worse.”
I did cringe at that. I remembered that insult I lashed at him, the one about losing his soul when he came to work. It was just two months ago. It was a cruel thing to say and I never did apologize for it. I had hoped he had forgotten.
“Mike,” I began.
As if he didn’t hear me, he picked up the information and started walking out of his office towards mine, “You really need to get this out of here. Let’s begin moving it to your desk, ok?”
Not sure what else to do, I followed suit, feeling rather depressed instead of excited over this new opportunity.