A light drizzle was just beginning to fall as Jack McCoy stepped out of the black town car. He followed the other mourners up the gray stone steps and into the apartment. From his vantage point inside the front hallway, he could see his wife, Carrie, standing by the kitchen door talking with some friends. He was amazed at how beautiful she looked, even in her black mourning dress. She looked up from the group and their eyes locked across the room. Excusing herself, Carrie walked over to her husband and gave him a kiss. He pulled her into a warm embrace somehow still feeling disconnected.
"Are you okay?" she asked looking up at him and seeing the sadness in his eyes.
"I'm fine. How are you?" he asked, noticing again how red and swollen her pale blue eyes were. Jack knew that Carrie hadn't been sleeping at all these past three nights and the effect was beginning to show. He worried that she might collapse from exhaustion, but didn't express his feelings out loud knowing that she would deny her emotional state.
"I'll break down tonight when we're at home. There's too much going on now," she explained. "Why don't you go and visit with your friends. I'm going to see if I can help in the kitchen."
"I love you," he said kissing her tear-stained cheek.
"I love you, too," she replied and handed off towards the kitchen.
Jack watched as Carrie walked through the kitchen door. He was surprised at the intensity of the love he felt for her even after four years of marriage. Jack poured himself a glass of scotch and silently toasted the deceased. After swallowing the amber colored liquid, he poured another and walked into the living room. Somehow he managed to find a place to sit in the crowded room. He sat, staring into his glass and was startled when he felt a light touch on his arm. Glancing up, he found himself looking into the beautiful, but concerned face of Jamie Ross.
"Jamie!" he exclaimed. Jack stood up and hugged his former associate.
"Jack. It's good to see you again. Where's Carrie?"
"In the kitchen lending a hand," McCoy replied.
"How are you holding up?" Ross asked the concern returning to her face.
"I'll be fine. Where's Richard?"
"The twins are sick so he stayed home to take care of them."
"She starts high school in the fall," Jamie remarked.
"Already? It seems like only yesterday..." his voice trailed off.
"I heard that you were there..." she paused to wipe the tears away that were beginning to fall down her cheeks. "That you tried to save him."
Jack nodded his head and handed Jamie his white monogrammed handkerchief. As Jamie dried her tears, he looked around at the people gathered to mourn Adam Schiff. Every walk of life was represented. Adam's drivers, cleaning ladies and his dry cleaners were present. Several other district attorneys, judges and even the mayor had joined the family in recognizing the passing of the beloved man. McCoy nodded a greeting to Captain Anita Van Buren and her husband who were talking with Rey Curtis. In another part of the room, Paul Robinette, Ben Stone and Don Cragen were talking in hushed tones.
"I'm sorry," Jamie said as she regained her composure.
"I didn't expect to see this many people," he remarked.
"Adam was greatly admired by all of us."
As the two former associates talked, Abbie Carmichael and Lennie Briscoe made their way to the apartment. They had parked a block away and were walking under the large black umbrella Lennie was carrying.
"So, Jack's really okay?" Abbie asked, her voice cracking slightly.
"He'll be fine," Briscoe assured her as he guided Abbie up the steps of the building. They paused for a moment on the landing as Lennie collapsed his umbrella.
"But after the bender he went on..."
"He had to in order to deal with Adam's death. Don't worry, Jack will be able to handle his new job."
"When did you get to be so wise?" she inquired.
"Retirement will do it to you every time," he teased allowing a smile to spread across his face. They entered the apartment and were surprised by all those who were present. Briscoe spotted McCoy talking to Jamie Ross and made his way towards them.
Jack and Jamie were deep into their conversation. She happened to glance up and what she saw caused her face to suddenly light up.
"Jamie! How long has it been?" he replied as they shared a hug.
"Not since Jack and Carrie's wedding four years ago," Jamie reminded him.
"You look great."
"Thanks, so do you. But, when did you go gray?" she asked.
"About a year ago. One morning I looked in the mirror and there it was."
"Jamie, you remember Abbie Carmichael," Jack re-introduced the two women to each other.
"Of course. We talked about our favorite EADA at your wedding, Nice to see you again, Abbie," Ross said while shaking the other woman's hand.
"You too, Jamie. You should know Jack's been talking about you again," Abbie remarked.
"Well, you know by now not to believe anything he says," Jamie joked.
"Hey! Look what the cat dragged in!" exclaimed Briscoe as he looked over to see his former partner walking towards the group.
"Hiya, Lennie," Mike Logan said as the old friends hugged each other.
"Abbie Carmichael, this is my ex-partner, Mike Logan," Lennie said.
"Now, I know to believe everything Lennie has told me about you," Carmichael remarked as she shook hands with Logan.
"I understand congratulations are in order, counselor," Logan said as he shook McCoy's hand.
"What's this?" Ross asked.
"Jack's been named to fill Adam's position," Carmichael explained.
"When did this come about?" Ross inquired.
"I got the phone call last night," McCoy replied.
"That's terrific! I bet Carrie's proud!" Ross said.
"What's the point?" McCoy mumbled.
He excused himself and walked outside. The cold drizzle felt good as it hit his face. Briscoe followed McCoy outside and found the new D.A. sitting on the stoop with his head in his hands.
"You just gonna sit here and wallow in self-pity?" Briscoe demanded as he sat down next to McCoy.
"I couldn't save him," Jack cried.
"Neither could all those docs and I don't see them wallowing. In fact, I don't see 'em here at all," Lennie commented.
McCoy sat in silence staring at the old brick apartment building across the street. The tears began to fall down his face and he made no attempt to dry them, figuring that the rain would wash them away.
"So, what now? Going to go and crawl into a bottle? You've already done that! Hey, I'm the one who pulled you out of the bottle last time! I don't plan on doing it again! If Adam was here, he'd be disappointed in you!" Briscoe paused for a moment as he stood up. "So would Claire."
Lennie had his hand on the doorknob and was just about to turn it when McCoy sat up straighter. He paused as Jack began to talk.
"I keep remembering that day. I play it over and over again in my mind," McCoy said through his tears.
Briscoe sat down next to his friend and put a reassuring arm around Jack's shoulders.
"We were debating the Winston case. Our debates were one of the reasons I enjoyed my job. I saw him go pale and then he clutched his chest. Before I could reach him, he fell to the floor. I started doing CPR. I shouted and pleaded for him to just breathe. He regained consciousness when the paramedics put him in the ambulance. I went to the hospital that night and he was fine. We joked about the old days. He was actually laughing when I left. I should have stayed with him!"
"What could you have done that those doctors didn't?" Briscoe asked
"Nothing...something! I don't know! I just know it wasn't time! Not for Adam!" Jack replied and then he whispered. "And not for Claire. I never got the chance to say goodbye to them."
The two men sat on the steps in silence watching the rain fall into puddles on the steps. Each of them reflecting on how much their lives had changed in recent years. Who would have thought that Jack McCoy would have found love? Or that Lennie Briscoe would actually be enjoying his retirement?
"How am I supposed to take this job?" McCoy said out loud breaking the calming silence. "How do I walk into Adam's office after everything that has happened?"
"With your head held high knowing that because of Adam's advice and friendship, you can handle it," Briscoe told him gently.
"Has retirement given you some kind of divine wisdom?" McCoy remarked.
"I think it's something I picked up from all those AA meetings," Briscoe replied.
"I'll have to remember that next time I need some advice."
"I'm only a phone call away," Briscoe reminded. He put his hands on his knees and then stood up. "Why don't we go back inside so I can at least say hello to that beautiful wife of yours?"
"I know Carrie would like that. She's probably wondering where I'm at."
McCoy and Briscoe stood up and headed towards the door. Just before they stepped inside, Jack turned to his friend.
"Thanks, Lennie. I owe you one."
"Don't worry, you'll have to pay up one day," he joked. Together, the two men walked back into the apartment and joined their friends in reminiscing about Adam Schiff.