DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Post 'Loss'.

By Heathers

So, don't look for me in confession booth
I'm with my paints, and my pens, and my dry vermouth
Trying to uncover some small truth
With these cards close to my chest

—Sarah Slean, "Book Smart, Street Stupid"


Silence curls around her, a deceptively graceful dance. At one time she would have been grateful for the pause between the hustle and the bustle of her life—the tumultuous affair, the agonizing job, the tenuous familial relations—she melodramatically thought she was alone in the world before. She was wrong.

The silence is crushing.

Bruised and battered from the war, her wounds imperceptible to the people who surround her now. She wonders how these people have come to call themselves her friends. Cold and distant, she doesn't respond to her new name when they call out to her, she's just a shadow nestled in the corner watching with palpable disinterest.

Their favorite bar doesn't hold a candle to Maloney's. The liquor is cheaper but that's a non-issue for Alex, even now. The labels on the bottles are the same but it tastes different—soured. Perhaps it's not looked after as an expensive scotch should be, or maybe she's just the first person to order it in the little town.

The eccentric stranger who holds her head higher than most. She's destined for bigger things they tell her. Once upon a time she would have overzealously agreed but the compliment stings like antiseptic in an open wound. Every moment of every day is a comparison.

New York is better because…

She lists the reasons in her head—a never-ending game of pros and cons. It's the one thing that keeps her interested in her new surroundings. They tell her it will get easier, that she needs to embrace the transition for her new life to take shape. She can't. No matter how many forged legal documents the government produces to substantiate her new life she still knows it's just a paper trail of falsities. Her name is an unutterable mantra.

She can't bear to take on a new lover—she swears she's not staying and a sloppy relationship doesn't hold the same allure it once did. All that aside, she is sure that no woman in Minnesota could compare to Olivia Benson, or the deified version that she's reminisced about in the absence of the real thing.

New York is better because…

She stares at her blank expression in the mirror every day and with a grim determination. "I am going home," she says. Her inflection varies from day to day, but her resolve does not.

Time means nothing in her new life. Her birthday passes but she doesn't celebrate because it's not her birthday anymore. Her rebirth-day passes and she doesn't want to celebrate. The well-meaning people who call themselves her friends wrap trinkets and gifts that her alter-ego is supposed to like. She accepts them as she accepts their friendship: with a false smile and forged gratitude.

It's awful, she thinks of her behavior. They are decent kind people, they have accepted her into their circle but that doesn't change the fact that it's not her choice. She accepts her new life as she has all other obstacles in life—kicking and screaming.

I will not go quietly.

But she already has. Convinced that stealing away in the middle of the night doped to the gills was an acceptable course of action, she now fails to see the merits of the decision. She believes it was easier for them in the long run, whisking her away to Small Town, USA—her quiet, featureless, Midwestern hell—rather than dealing with the protective detail she would have otherwise had to endure within the City.

Even still, she thinks she let them off to easy; she'd rather be cooped up in her apartment with its deep comfortable reading chair and sweet-smelling sachets hidden in drawers still unknown to her (one of Olivia's stress-relief experiments—mildly annoying at first, but undeniably charming when the perfume still lingered months later.)

She clings to hope that their memories are as faithful as hers. That they remember the night she first laughed, care-free in their company (at one of Munch's jokes, no less), the way they chortled at her expression the time she sipped Olivia's Heineken in lieu of ordering another chichi drink at last call. She wonders if they still play poker Wednesday nights or, if Olivia goes dancing alone these days.

At least they have each other.

She relies on illusions to get her through the nights. Sometimes she could swear she's back in her apartment in the City with its dripping tap—that she was always too busy to get fixed—and ambient noise. It's too quiet now; the air is vapid and unsettling. She traces the years on her face, trying not to quantify the time since her brush with death.

If she denies who she was—still is—they have won.

I will not fade away.

The weight of her greatest sin coils around her in the darkness and she wonders when her penance will be done.

I am Alex Cabot. I am going home.

The End

Return to Law & Order Fiction

Return to Main Page