Cloud Number Nine

TITLE: "Cloud No. 9" pt. 1/?
AUTHOR: Alexandra K.
SUMMARY: Fluff, fluff and more fluff cleverly masked into something remotely resembling a lawsuit:)
DISCLAIMER: *Still* DEK's. Shucks...
RATING: So far - PG - 13, though heaven knows what it'll turn into later on *grin*
FEEDBACK: yes, pweeze...

AN: 'Tis here! I've been having a lot of fun writing this - I hope you'll have as much fun reading it:) Also, ummm, I included a little itsy-bitsy reference to Michelle's fic "Miracle" (the 'American Beauty' bit, which - as I recall - is from there) which I hope is okay! *puppy eyes* I just really REALLY love that fic (and especially "We were naked by the time Kevin Spacey appeared on screen..." - "Doesn't he appear in like the first two minutes?" - "Exactly..." LOL! Love it:))

Writing memos: everything inclosed in <---> are Ally's thoughts; inconsistencies with the script should be disregarded as usual... Please don't be too harsh on the legal stuff - I'm not claiming to be an expert on it, but I *am* having lots of fun writing it, doing research & etc. Plus, court cases are such a rarity in fics these days... *hint hint* :)

P.S. Nothing "yummy-yummy", but there's the silhouette of something *potentially* yummy:) Enjoy...

"Cloud No. 9"

Inspired by Jessa & Erik, who are still together through the good, the bad and very, very ugly, and will hopefully stay that way:)

*** part 1 ***

<... spring... sun... Boston... lunch break... Larry... Larry's lips... Larry's eyes... Larry's hands... Larry's arms... Larry's - errrrm, never mind. Anyway... it doesn't get any better than this...> A post-coital blush ran across Ally's face as she looked up at him and smiled, then giggled like a little girl, dropping her head on his shoulder.

"We should do this every day... like this... here... now..." she murmured.

"Oooor... we ditch work and do this 24/7..." he suggested, only half-joking.

"See, what's most exhilirating about this is that it's... I dunno... naughty..." Ally flashed him another smile. "As if we're breaking a rule..."

"Babe, *this* isn't me naughty. *This* is still me very much... errr, un-naughty... You haven't *seen* me naughty..." Larry answered her kiss with another one. "...YET..." he added. Ally again erupted with giggles.

"When *will* I?"
"My schedule's packed right now, but I'll let my secretary notify you when I have a spare minute..." Larry tried to look serious, but wasn't quite succeeding.
"A minute's not enough..." Ally said softly, wrapping her arms around his neck. He smiled at her, and she melted in his gaze.

He was truly amazing...

* * * * * *

Upon returning from her adventurous lunch break, Ally was surprised to find that the office looked like the running of the bulls from Pamplone. Not surprisingly, all of this was caused by that which appeared to be the biggest bull of all - Richard.

"Ally! Conference room! Now!" he shouted out from behind a herd of secretaries which were all desperate to shove their notes in his face. Before Ally was able to reply, Ling tugged her away into the conference room. Several seconds later they were all joined by Richard.

Silence settled over the table. Richard made his way to his place and placed his stack of files down with a thud. He looked frighteningly serious.

"We'll start with a quick quiz. Question number one - what did I establish this firm to get?" He pointed at Ally, who in a split second answered "Money."
"Excellent. Question number two - what do our clients bring us?" This time, he chose John.
"Money." the latter replied.
"Make that 'LOTS of money'. Can any of you guess where I'm going with this?"
"Give us a hint, will ya?" Nelle shot out sarcastically.
"Ray-mond Saul," Richard sounded out each syllable, "is about to bring us more money than *I've* ever seen, which means A LOT. Comprende?"

Everyone nodded silently.

"And besides being rich, he's also being sued. Which means...?" he pointed at Nelle.
"... money..." She said, yawning.
"Good. Now that we're clear on that, I need ALL of you on it. Every single one. Headed by Ally, because she's worked with the plaintiff. Here," he continued, handing out papers, "are the files, along with visuals of JUST HOW MUCH money is in this for us - aka me."

Ally rolled her eyes. Just when she was looking forward to free evenings *lots* of 'American Beauty' run-throughs with Larry and sleeping late afterwards, she's appointed on a case which Richard would kill for if mistreated.

"I want John & Ling in there with her, pulling rabbits out of hats and throwing stomach gurgles. Nelle's gonna be on tax expertise, since there's a tax case mixed into the brew, too. Mark is on background checks - be as much of an ass as you need to, there are *no* limits there." Richard continued, still unusually serious.

"What's it even *about*?" Ally asked the question troubling everyone.
"Alice Weaver is suing her ex-boyfriend, Raymond Saul, for intentional infliction of emotional distress - cheated on her, kidnapped their kid, caused her to go out of business - bundle of joy, isn't he? Plus, the revenue people are after him - don't ask why -"
"Last I checked, kidnapping was a criminal offense..." Nelle matter-of-factly stated, obviously lost as to how it got into torts law.
"Well, the prosecutors didn't find anything criminal in it because she seems to have okay-ed it in written form, so it was dismissed, but she still claims to be distressed because of it, which caused her to lose her job, which caused her to lose her profit, which caused her to go nuts, which... ugh, the explanation's about a page long, it's somewhere in there, just read it..." Richard himself was lost, since he had spent about 4 weeks actually *studying* in law school.

"Why is there so much money involved?" Mark continued with the questions.
"He's CEO of Saul Advertising, which is responsible for all the crap you see on TV today, and he owes her somewhere around ten grand, which heightened the IRS' senses, and which is also pennies compared to the other sum she's seeking - 2 million in damages..." This time, John answered.
"Anything else she might be seeking by any chance? A Rolls-Royce, say?" Nelle asked.
"She can answer that better than I can... talk to *her*... Off we go! Ally, you've worked with the plaintiff before - meet with Weaver & her lawyer - his name is somewhere in there..."

Everyone exited, not at all delighted by the news recieved.

* * * * * *

Ally sat down and punched "1" on speed dial. Larry. She needed his help. Desperately. Otherwise she'd be ground beef.

"Hey sweetie," he said as soon as he picked up.
Ally smiled. "How'd you know it was me?"
"Uhhh, just... a feeling, I guess..." Larry replied, gazing adoringly at his newly connected caller ID.
"Mmm..." "You have a sec?"
"Darling, I'm up to my eyebrows in work, but... of course... anytime..."
"Okay. I need your help. I'm first-chair on this huge case, Richard's BEYOND insane about it, NO ONE has a CLUE what to do, and... basically, I lose - I die."
"Right back at ya. I have this terribly frustrating client, Alice someone... hey, you've worked with her, haven't you?"


"Ally? Any thoughts?"

* * * * * *

Ally stomped into Richard's office, herself looking like the bull she'd seen in him just an hour earlier. Before he was able to say "Ally", she slammed his laptop shut in front of him and dropped the case files onto it. "Here. I'm off the case!"
"Noooo, you're not."
"Richard, did you ever even *bother* to check who opposing counsel is?"
"Why should I? Whoever he is, we're better than him..."
"Aaah, well, this time you're wrong. LARRY PAUL. Ring a bell?"
"THE Larry Paul?! YOUR Larry Paul?!" Richard was puzzled.
"Yes, *MY* Larry Paul!"

<... hmmm, I like the sound of that... okay, never mind...>

Richard thought for a moment, then came up with a brilliant thing to say.
"So? Great. Rivalry ignites foreplay. Am I wrong?" He asked John, who'd entered a second before.
"Richard, I'm NOT going against my boyfriend!"
John's eyes widened. "*Larry's* on the case?!"
"*Larry's* opposing counsel!!!" Ally yelled back.
"Is there a mute button anywhere on you?" asked a frustrated Ling, interested what the shouting was about.
Ally decided to disregard that comment. "Richard!!!" she continued, then turned for support to John.
"How about "eject"?" Ling asked again, obviously enjoying the game. Ally lunged forward to choke her, but John held her back.
"What's the problem, anyway?"
"Disregard the fact that it might ruin our relationship - if not permanently, then at least for several weeks - but Larry is also - and I won't be afraid to say this - BRILLIANT. Richard, read my lips - WE WON'T WIN."
"Ally, whatever happened to our motto - "Win or win"?" Richard answered, not discouraged by Ally's warning.
"I could care less, actually, whether we win or not; the issue is that he's my BOYFRIEND, and I'm NOT going against him in court!"
"Then ask him to drop it. But we *can't* take you off. Think of it this way - it's a wonderful opportunity to test your relationship's durability..." Ling suggested.
"I've done enough TESTING to last me a lifetime, thank you very much!"
"Ally, you give up now - they win."

"Somewhere deep deep down you feel you might actually enjoy this. It's time to bring that feeling out onto the surface."

* * * * * *

"*You* drop it!"
"I've TRIED, and I *can't*! *You* drop it!"
"I *can't*, either! *You* drop it!"
"No, *you* drop it!"
"No! *You*!"
"Ally, this could last into the night..."

"FINE. I'm gonna be professional about this. It's a lawsuit, and I'm set on WINNING it. By the way, your claim is totally unreasonable. You'll be toast in court."
"Oh, and how so?"
"Puh-lease. She's got about a billion claims, all of which have been settled somehow in the past, and yet she still can't let go of the notion that she's gonna come out as the winner in all of this... She's suing him out of SPORT."
"You're saying *you* wouldn't sue *me* if I owed you an astronomical sum, caused you to go out of business, kidnapped your child AND cheated on you?!"
"Why? Are you *planning* to do that?!"
"It's an *example*, Ally..."
"So you *are*?!"
"Why else would you ask such a question?! It's only *natural* for me to assume-"
"I'm trying to prove a *point* here..."
"No, you're not! You're trying to get me to settle! You're throwing me off with your questions! It's your favourite tactic! I-"
"FINE. I'll prove the *opposite* point in front of the judge! Your Miss Weaver will be *crawling* out of that courtroom with her tail between her legs!"

Larry decided not to take his chances with continuing the discussion.
"Let's just drop the subject."

"Wine." Ally practically shoved a glass into his hand. "Drink."

She sat down on the couch next to him, still feeling the unbeatable urge to tear off his clothes generated from the proximity of his body. He, on his part, was feeling exactly the same thing. Both stared straight ahead at the TV.

"You know I love you more than anything and I'll always love you, no matter what the outcome of this will be, right?" Larry looked at her through the corner of his eye. She was fantastically beautiful in the dim halogen light, but he didn't dare tell her that for fear of igniting another flame.
"Yes." Ally deadpanned back. "I love you, too..." She softened her facial expression a little, dropping her head on his shoulder. He kissed her hair gently, so as not to make her think it was another "favourite tactic". "...but don't even *think* of persuading me to settle..." she couldn't resist continuing.
"Okay. But don't."

Both knew it was gonna be a tough week. There were still doubts whether HBO would be airing 'American Beauty' anytime soon.

"You have a "minute" to be naughty like you promised? ...Or must I wait for your secretary's call?" Ally's eyes twinkled as she looked up at him.
"Is this another favourite *tactic* to get me to settle, Ms. McBeal?"
"Shhh, baby.... don't screw with my fantasy..."

Those aforementioned doubts were now erased.

* * * end of part 1 * * *