DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are
property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story can be read as a standalone original but something brought to mind the characters of Olivia and Alex from Law & Order: SVU.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To imaginus75[at]gmail.com
We meet to have a quiet dinner after work and he tells me that he's worried about me, worried that I don't talk to anyone about the difficult things that I see and deal with in my line of work. He's one to talk, given that he's often defending the scumbags whom I end up prosecuting. But, despite our positions on opposing ends of the judicial process, our familial bond keeps us from hating each other's guts and in fact, outside of the courtroom, we get along quite well.
I remind him that I talk and share with him on nights such as these but he points out, correctly, I might add, that we talk rhetoric, law and about our dysfunctional extended family, but we don't talk about work, which, obviously we can't. I finally acquiesce and tell him that I have been talking to someone.
"So you're seeing someone?" he asks, a serious yet curious look on his face.
I think about his question. We had never declared if we were dating, but were definitely more than friends. The number of times I have found myself at her apartment after a miserable day and waking up in her bed definitely qualified us as more than friends, but we had never really talked about it, about us. I suppose that "seeing someone" was an accurate description. I nod slightly.
He's relieved and happy that I'm seeing a shrink. Wait, a shrink? Oh good God, he thought I was seeing someone professionally. He proceeds to tell me how therapeutic it's been for him to see not one shrink but two, one psychologist and one psychiatrist to be exact. He's adamant that it's always good to have different perspectives and that second opinions are a wonderful thing.
"Never let it be said that Trevor Langan was anything but thorough," I tell him dryly as we finish our dinner.
I'm on her couch, nursing a glass of whiskey on the rocks, seething about my the laziness of a colleague of mine and his audacity to question me when I leave ten minutes earlier than usual. I wanted to kick his teeth in, but instead, I came here, to her place, which has become a safe haven for me where I can either let loose about my day, or simply forget about it. She doesn't say much, but instead, sits beside me, rubbing her hand along my back, asking minimal questions, allowing me to vent and rant until I'm spent and my whiskey is gone. The tension in my shoulders finally dissipates, and I turn to look at her and ask her how her day was.
She gives me the simple and cheesy line of how it's better now that I'm here and I can't help but chuckle. She knows how to do that - make me smile and laugh even at the end of the shittiest of days. I lean into her and kiss her, showing her how much better she makes me feel every time I come over.
I brush my teeth and then shower as she sleeps soundly. While we were making love in her bed, her phone rang and she got called out to a scene. She left with what I hoped was a look of regret on her face, promising that she'd be back as soon as possible. I didn't even hear her come back, but when I woke up, her arms were wrapped snugly around me. After I dry my hair, I go to change into a suit for work. I start to hang up my clothes from the previous day into the dry cleaning bag and then pack up my toiletries bag. She stirs and sits up slowly in the bed, watching me. She tells me to just leave my things here. I'd been lugging my small overnight bag back and forth every night this week; I might as well leave it here.
'Every night this week.' The words stick in my mind. She's right. Last night was the fourth night in a row this week that I had come over to her apartment and stayed the night. Was I coming over too often? Did she feel I was coming over too much? I can barely remember the last time we spent the night at my place. It was just convenient for me to drop by her place at the end of a crappy day as she lived closer to the office, not to mention that it felt more comfortable to be here than to go home to my own place. But maybe, I was getting too comfortable?
"If you drop by tonight, it'll be here and you won't be taking it with you to work and then back here," she says, slowly pushing the covers aside. She crawls on the bed towards me and puts my things aside. She pulls me to her and kisses me along my jaw and neck, and her touch chases away all thoughts from my mind.
With much insistence from my mother, I manage to sneak away from the office to meet her and my aunt for lunch. I dread the engagement for I know that the inquisition into my personal life and a reminder of my ticking biological clock would be a certainty, but saying no to my mother was always practically impossible. The thing about my mother is, she never actually asks you to do something, she simply tells you.
"Sweetheart, your aunt and I are coming into Manhattan for lunch tomorrow. You will join us at Le Grenouille at noon," she'd say. I'd tell her that I have work to do but she'd simply tell me that surely my boss would understand that a person needs to eat to remain healthy and productive and so on and so on to the point that I would fear her actually calling up Arthur Branch to inquire as to why her daughter wasn't allowed to go out and enjoy a meal at lunch.
And so I find myself sitting at La Grenouille with my mother and her sister, Aunt Grace, quietly and discreetly looking at my watch every so often to see how much longer I would have to endure their inquisition. The first half of the lunch is spent explaining to them that no, I did not have any plans yet to find a husband to marry or to produce any children and politely declining their offers to set me up with all the sons of friends that they knew.
Having grown tired of being the center of their questions and attention, I turn to Aunt Grace to inquire about her husband's whereabouts, my uncle, Bill.
Apparently he's gone golfing, as he always does, every day ever since his retirement. She leans in closer over her plate, towards us and adds quietly that golfing keeps him out of her hair. Her tone tells me that golfing wasn't originally his idea and that she may have had a hand in his golfing schedule. I can't help but smile at her craftiness.
When I ask her if she isn't excited about his retirement and spending more time with him, she shakes her head and rolls her eyes. I have never seen her do that before in my life. Ever.
"The man does not stop talking," she says. "I knew he was a talker when I married him, but throughout his career, he worked so often that I didn't realize how much he likes to talk. And that's the thing - he LOVES to speak and speak and speak. And now that he's retired, he's reading more current news from around the world more often and every day, 'Grace did you know this, Grace did you know that?'. Every day when he goes out with his friends, I get four hours of blissful silence." She finishes her last sentence with a hand on her chest and a smile of contentedness her face.
My mother does not hesitate to point out the fact that like my uncle and all the other lawyers in our family, I'm just as talkative as my uncle. I'm indignant at the comparison but I know that despite being a lawyer, arguing with my mother and my aunt is futile, as well as the fact that perhaps she was partially correct.
"I do pray for whoever marries you, dear, that you don't talk his ear off," my mother says with a smile, as though it could take the sting out of her words.
"I love you too, Mother," I say sarcastically, taking a sip of water.
"Darling, it's okay to be a conversationalist," Aunt Grace adds. "Just make sure it's not one person whom you're always conversing with, especially if they're the introverted type."
As my mother and aunt continue to share their woes over their husbands for the rest of the lunch, my mind keeps wandering to the last few nights I had spent on that familiar and comfortable couch, venting out my frustrations of the day while she just quietly listened. My mother was right - I was a talker. Always have been, and mostly likely always will be. The truth of the matter was, as I began my professional career, the ability to speak well and in public without fear served me well. However, I had learned over the years to filter out what I was vocal about. I'd talk about work with coworkers. I'd talk about how my work was important to me with my family. I'd talk about my friend's lives with the few friends I still saw every now and then. But I never talked about my own feelings. My feelings were kept private and hidden.
I had learned to hide my feelings long ago when my family spent a summer with my Uncle Bill, Aunt Grace and my cousin Trevor. He was eleven and I was nine and we were inseparable. We spent the days wandering and exploring in the woods behind the family cabin, or swimming in the lake nearby, and the nights watching the stars and sharing a tent in the back yard. On the weekends, my father and Uncle Bill would take us hunting. For Trevor and me, it was the idea of spending time with our fathers, more than the hunting that appealed to us. We were both only children with attorneys for fathers who worked long hours and we didn't often see, so every moment that we spent with them was cherished.
One Sunday, we were out hunting, our fathers with their rifles, Trevor with a .22 and me with my bb gun. Trevor and I were more interested in shooting at the leaves on the trees than at animals but we trudged along just to spend some time with our dads. Uncle Bill had spotted a buck about seventy-five yards away. He aimed and shot. The deer ran away, but Uncle Bill, being adamant that he hadn't missed, ran after it, and so did the rest of us. We found the deer about another twenty yards away from where Uncle Bill had shot it. It was still alive, but barely, lying on the ground, gasping for breath. Uncle Bill stepped up to it and shot it one more time in the head. Its body twitched as the shot rang through the woods and its life disappeared from its body.
Beside me, I could hear Trevor sniffling and when I turned to him, he was trying desperately to wipe the tears from his face while his eyes were glued to the dead animal on the ground. Both Uncle Bill and my father pulled him aside, and I could hear them tell my cousin that crying was a sign of weakness and that hunters didn't cry. Trevor tried to stop and tried to be strong to make his father proud, but that night, as we laid in the tent, we were still both haunted by the look in the animal's eyes as it knew it was dying. From that day onward, I had never seen Trevor cry again, not even when he broke his arm a couple of weeks later while we were hiking out in the woods. That summer, the notion that "crying is for the weak" was etched into my brain and I learned to keep my feelings and emotions hidden.
But then I met *her* and over time, I slowly found myself letting my guard down when I was with her. The first time we bonded, for lack of a better word, was after the Roy Barnett trial. We had put the bastard away, but Sam Cavanaugh was still lying in a hospital. She found me nursing a whiskey at a bar near the courthouse, and instead of trying to sell me empty words to make me feel better or push me to talk about things, she had simply sat down beside me and ordered a drink. We drank in silence, but in that silence, I felt her support, her understanding and her strength.
I manage to say goodbye to my mother and my aunt without getting cornered into another lunch or dinner for what would undoubtedly be a set up with some doctor or lawyer who's the "son of a friend". Instead, I catch another eye roll from my Aunt as she gets into their car to head back to the Hamptons and her "loquacious husband". I wave them off and head back towards my office. On the way, I pull out my phone and dial the all too familiar number. I tell her about lunch with my mother and aunt and how they called me a chatterbox. She laughs at this and I tell her I'm offended that she seems to agree with them.
"But you have to admit...they're kinda right," she says and I can hear the teasing in her voice but also true agreement.
I ask her if she really thinks I do talk a lot and she pauses slightly and tells me that she thinks I speak as much as I need to. What the hell did that mean? The cab arrives at my office and I have to hang up, but I can't help feel like I had just asked her, "Does this dress make me look fat?"
I try to shrug the feeling off as I head up to my office. I stop by my assistant's desk to drop off some cookies I had picked up on the way back. She's at her desk with another one of the assistants and they happily dig into the treats, asking me to join them for a moment. Not quite feeling like getting back to work just yet, I stay and the other assistant continues on with her story that I had interrupted.
She and her husband carpool together into work every day, however, as of this morning, she had decided that she was finished with riding in with him and hopped out of the car and took the subway the rest of the way into the office. Apparently her husband had a habit of complaining while he drove. He would complain about the traffic, other drivers, and road construction. If he wasn't droning on about the driving conditions, he would start in on his job and the people he worked with. After two years of carpooling with him, she got fed up and decided that she would rather sit on a crowded subway train than to sit through another one of his rants.
"One day, just one day without any bitching and complaining," she says, holding up her index finger, "Is that too much to ask? I know that I'm supposed to be a supportive wife and all, but seriously, sometimes, it's too much. There's only so much I can take. I hate being the only one he gripes to."
First my aunt, now the assistant. Were all marriages doomed to turn into this state of exasperation? I excuse myself, lost in my thoughts as I head into my office. The assistant's last words stuck with me. 'I hate being the only one he gripes to.' *She* was the only one I griped to, the only one I go to when the day drags me down. And she basically confirmed that I do indeed talk a lot. Was I pushing her to the same point of irritation and aggravation that Aunt Grace and the assistant were voicing? Perhaps all my troubles and stresses were too much to put onto one person. I sit at my desk, my head in my hands. Four nights in a row I had gone to her with some negative story of the day or other. Surely she needed a break.
I shake the thoughts from my head and focus on getting my files and notes together. I have a motion to fight in Judge Petrovsky's chambers.
I can't believe it. I cannot believe that the defenses' motion to suppress the suspect's confession was granted. The confession was the foundation of my case. Evidence was found based on the creep's confession and with the confession thrown out, so goes the evidence. The detectives who brought him in for questioning told him that he wasn't under arrest, so he wasn't Mirandized, but they also didn't allow him to call anyone or let him leave, hence Petrovsky ruled that he was indeed in police custody. But because he hadn't been read his rights, his confession was obtained illegally. I have nothing else to take this guy to trial and he knows it.
I throw my satchel on my desk after slamming my office door shut. I'm pissed off and tired of how often cops think they can tread that fine line between legitimate interrogations and coercion. Too often they think that once they get a confession, their job is done and they dump the mess on my desk to deal with. There's only so many ways I can tell them that my job is to prosecute based on their findings, not fix their fuck ups.
I pick up my phone and dial her number. I desperately want to hear her voice and see her. I know when she's working, she can't say much on the phone because of curious ears around her, but even to just hear her breathing is enough to calm my nerves. She picks up and greets me professionally. I know her partner is around and she has to watch her words and tone.
I tell her I've had a shit storm of a day and ask if I can see her tonight. She tells me that one of the night shift detectives came down with the flu so she has to pull a double. I'm disappointed but I hide it. I don't want to sound needy, but who am I kidding? I do need her.
I head home, order takeout for one and sit and eat alone at my kitchen counter. I pour myself a drink and settle down at my dining table, pulling out folders of cases that need my attention. I work on them, feeling agitated and unsettled. After a while, I realize what's bothering me. My apartment is too quiet and empty, whereas her place is homey and envelopes me in an invisible hug every time I enter it. I miss her apartment. I miss her.
Return to Law & Order: SVU Fiction
Return to Main Page