By Brittany Frederick

"It's all about lies, isn't it?
"To hell with the damn holiday. You know I don't like this holiday any more than any self-respecting citizen. And for the last time, no, I don't care if it's just a bunch of little kids in cheap costumes spoiling their dinners for the next year. There's a metatexual reference here you're not getting."
Jack McCoy shifted in the chair and kept his mouth shut. There were a lot of worse things he could have said, but he wasn't going to say them. Not to Olivet for one, who was just trying to help. He'd asked for her damn help, so he had no reason to perturb her. It just felt wrong. Disclosure had never been Jack's strong suit and he certainly knew it. Claire...Claire had been different. But this was an old wound, something that went way back to childhood. He hated talking about this.
"Metatextual reference, Jack?" Olivet seemed slightly amused, her eyes showing a bit of sparkle. She tried earnestly to maintain the impassive demeanor she had perfected over the years, but he couldn't blame her satirical mood. After all, it wasn't every day an executive assistant district attorney shows up at your office telling you old Halloween stories. "Why don't you enlighten me?"
"Fine. I will." Jack leaned forward, hands clasped together, his eyes flickering. The memory had been dredged from the back of his mind and it gnawed at him. He could almost remember clearly that dark October evening -- then the street lamp and the pavement became clear and Jack McCoy retreated back to October, 1970.
"I was fourteen then," he said, the words forming in his mind as he said them. "I was a vampire that year, going out only the third time without my mother. Me and Charlie and Bobby, just out and around the neighborhood. So young, so innocent. But it was New York. What the hell was I thinking?"
"It's a natural instinct for a child to want to separate from his or her parents as he or she comes of du certain age," Olivet reminded him soothingly, causing the replay in Jack's head to fuzz around the edges. He shook his head quietly and sighed with repressed anger, frustration and fear.
"Charlie insisted on going into the south end of the neighborhood. Stupid, stupid, stupid idea. Why did I even try to follow? Maybe to save him from himself. Not that. I'm too ignorant to claim to be that brilliant. All I remember...around the corner. Two shots. Charlie, I know. I don't need to see the blood. I see it anyway. Behind me. Bobby. Crying like a scared baby. He has reason to. The candy Charlie had ... stolen. Two of them, running into the night, us too scared to follow. Nothing left to do."
"Your friend was shot...over his candy?" Olivet said quietly, her voice reeking of disbelief. Jack is lost in his own world of hurt, his glance full of understanding. He'd think after her career she would have heard it all. But the senselessness of this death is a double-edged sword. She takes him in, this hardened man suddenly collapsing like a house of cards. It all begins to make sense. The last few pieces fall into place.
Jack's eyes begin to well with the tears of pain and anger. Olivet can see his body tense. His nerves are shot. She could never understand why he reviles this holiday but now she feels his pain. Saying anything else would be useless to him; he's shrunk into his shell. She stands from her chair, grabs her coat.
"That your metatextual reference, Jack?" she asks simply before crossing to the door.


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