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Circumstance

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It had been a long day, but closing arguments had made it seem even longer. And it wasn't even five o'clock when Alex left the courthouse and made her way to the little coffee shop half a block away. She wished it was a better-kept secret, as it was especially busy...all the time it seemed. She ordered a nonfat mocha, both indulging herself and ruining the purpose by asking for whipped cream. And looking forward to that was some consolation for how long the line had been.

Alex sighed heavily, annoyed at the wait, which was becoming excessive even with the volume of customers. As she turned to look around the store she spotted Patrice LaRue and pursed her lips. The two had never crossed paths there before, but she supposed it was bound to happen eventually.

Patrice was still beside herself after her ExParte meeting with Donnelly earlier in the day. She had phoned her assistant to have an order sent over and had waited in person to make sure the clerk received it. Her boss was indeed pleased, as well as impressed; she had the distinct feeling her bonus this year would be substantial. She checked her watch, not quite time to call it a day yet. Besides, she had a summary judgment motion to go over tonight. The blond, by habit made her way to the coffee shop after leaving the courthouse, and she ordered her usual vanilla latte at the counter. She paid and tipped a full dollar for the $3 coffee. Pay it forward, she thought. She wasn't in the habit of noticing people in a crowd, however, she paused as she sighted the striking form of ADA Alex Cabot a few feet away. She wondered if she should say a polite hello.

"Counselor," Alex said, nodding as she caught the blonde's eye. She heard her drink called and plucked it from the counter, wrapping her hands around the cup.

Patrice did her best to keep work and the rest of life separate and generally succeeded, as such she had rarely seen Alex on such neutral ground. However, she couldn't deny that she had been impressed by Alex's presence. The woman had an aura of class about her that Patrice admired and subconsciously envied. She nodded in reply, reaching for her coffee and gave a compulsory reply, "Court today?"

"Just playing the waiting game," she replied. Alex pushed her hair back and turned fully towards the woman. Defending child rapists was hardly the thing to recommend one's morals, but Alex wasn't one to judge based on work. She would be the first to admit that the woman was damn good at her job, and in the most detached way, their meetings in court were a pleasure.

Patrice smiled slightly and took a sip of her latte. She was about to take her leave and make for the door when she paused, good reason leaving her for half a moment as she motioned to a few empty chairs by one of the windows. The last time she had been in court with the ADA it had been a monster of a case and, she would now freely admit, a monster of a client. Truth be told, she hadn't pushed her hardest for a mistrial and had been reprimanded by the senior partners for it. However, she needed to sleep somehow. She looked at Alex, "Do you have a minute?"

"Mm," Alex nodded as she swallowed the sip she had been taking. It could be good to know a defense attorney like Patrice outside of work. Alex had not, at least, lost that instinct, that edge. And if she had her pick, they might all have Patrice's assets, both mental and, Alex shamelessly thought, physical. She pulled out a chair and sat, interested in where this might lead. "I would be surprised if I was called back anytime soon," she admitted.

As they sat, Patrice suddenly realized she didn't know quite what to say to Alex. Something in her had just wanted to keep her from walking out the door just then. Luckily though, talking was one of her better skills. "I just wanted to congratulate you on the O'Donnell case. Not like I'm in the habit of saying such things, but I didn't mind losing that one." She took a sip and qualified the statement, "Much anyway."

That wasn't what she expected to hear, but Alex had the grace to simply smile instead of offer a self-satisfied smirk. "Thank you." She leaned back and crossed her legs. "I won't pretend I wasn't expecting a mistrial at any moment."

Patrice appraised the ADA, wondering what it took to get past that cool exterior. She tried forcefully to keep her face impassive, "Quite honestly, so was I. I'll admit that was the first time I've heard an expert for the prosecution yell at the defendant in open court."

"People can be so unpredictable when it comes to things like that," Alex replied coolly. She couldn't quite tell if LaRue was actually fishing to see if it had been planned--not that it mattered when all was said and done.

Patrice shrugged and took another sip, "I suppose, but enough about work. I don't suppose you get weekends with your caseload?"

"If I got them, I'm not sure I'd take them." Alex chuckled lightly. She wondered if accepting Patrice's offer to sit was about to pay off. "Are you asking if I've managed to scrounge up a personal life?"

Patrice choked a bit, she usually tried to be more coy, but Cabot was seeing right through it, "Well....I suppose tangentially perhaps."

"Why don't you tell me what you do with your free time," Alex said as she leaned forward a bit, "so I can try to live vicariously." There was something about her that brought it out in Alex--and now she was finding that it wasn't just in court. She was half finished before realized what she was saying, but she wasn't one to stop.

"I'll happily tell you, if you want to vicariously deal with a mountain of motions to dismiss and suppress, coupled with the everlasting joy of the billable hour." She couldn't help a small chuckle, "The 41st floor does however, have a nice view." She set her drink down and ran a finger over the top of the cup absently, "Though, I'm considering trying to live a little. I haven't done much but work since I moved from L.A., and I think it's about time."

Patrice's finger caught Alex's eye and she followed it for a moment before looking back up. She was willing to bet that her penthouse had an equally nice view, but Alex kept that card to herself. It had taken nearly three years to get her funds out of legal purgatory when she got back; the smell of mold and the view of a dumpster were still with her. "You've picked a good place to do it."

Her gaze lingered on the blond for a moment, her expression softening, "That's what they tell me." Her hand moved involuntarily to the pendant around her neck, remembering how she had been walked out on even before she had come back East, as she replied. She thought of leaving it at that, but the long week was making her reckless and she continued, "Don't suppose you'd mind showing me a little of it sometime? Honestly, this place gets beyond me a bit." The comment dangled, and she wondered how Alex would react, but she judged it to be innocuous enough not to come back to bite her should the ADA have no interest.

Alex let the comment linger for a moment, as if she were toying with it. "I'd be happy to," she replied, leaning back again, uncrossing and recrossing her legs. Maybe she was being a little reckless too, but she needed to start living again. It was past time.

Patrice raised an eyebrow at the response, trying not to let her eyes slide down to Alex's legs, which were not well hidden beneath the small coffeehouse table. "Just let me know when you're free." She smoothly pulled out her card, offering it to Alex. "I won't pretend to have a full social calendar."

Alex chuckled as she took the card, running her thumb over the embossed text. She took out one of her own and dug around for a pen. "This is my cell," she said, writing the number on the back after she found one.

Patrice took it and rose to leave, not wanting to overstay her welcome. She extended a hand to Alex, flashing the other blonde a rare warm smile "Looking forward to hearing from you soon."

Alex rose and took Patrice's hand, clasping it not with her professional handshake but with more of a blatant caress. Instead of a smile, she offered a smirk. "I'm free this weekend. I'll call you then."

It had been too long since Patrice had felt that particular energy, and she was surprised to feel her stomach quicken at Alex's expression. She reached into her bag and removed her sunglasses, though the daylight was beginning to wane, it was an old habit from the years of Los Angeles sun. "Sounds great. Glad I stopped for a third round of coffee today."

"Me too," Alex said, this time smiling. There was something about this that was refreshing, but Alex didn't have time to dwell because her phone was vibrating. "Enjoy your evening."

"You too." Patrice turned and made for the door, a slight spring in her step.

Alex glanced up, smile lingering still as she watched through the lightly tinted windows as Patrice walked away. The voice in her ear was telling her that her evening was about to get a lot more complicated, but she continued to watch until Patrice's back disappeared around a corner.