DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'd been thinking about this for a month or so before finally sitting down to write it.
SPOILERS: None really. Maybe Serendipity and Loss.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Nic

Under any normal circumstances, Olivia would be complaining about the recent cold front that swept across the city. It didn't matter how long she'd lived in New York, come January, the detective's jacket would be pulled tight around her body, her hands stuffed in her pockets if they weren't wrapped around a steaming cup of coffee. She used to enjoy these days. Snow crunching and squeaking under her feet, her nose numb from the cold. This was the kind of day when she'd get home from running on a Saturday evening to find her girlfriend curled up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and a warm blanket. After a hot shower, Olivia would take up the rest of the couch and tug the blanket a little until her lover relented and moved over, fitting herself against the detective.

Things had changed.

Olivia knocked one boot against the other, watching the snow fall from the tread. She leaned forward, resting her elbows on her thighs and stared at the snow at her feet. For some reason the cold wasn't bothering her here. It was almost suitable. The bench she sat on had chilled her and the detective couldn't decide if she felt cold, or if she really felt anything. She'd lost track of how long she'd been there, sitting on the decorative marble bench. Donated by Louise and Martin Broadhead. Still with no idea who they were, Olivia read their names every time she sat there.

The detective held out her hands and turned them over and over, marveling in the purplish tinge her fingernails garnered. How many times had she seen that colour before?

"Is this seat taken?"

Olivia's head whipped to the side, her back straightening and her hand reaching for her gun. She had been about to get to her feet when the voice finally registered with the face of Casey Novak. Frowning, Olivia flipped her jacket back over her holstered gun and resumed her slumped posture. The rapid beating of the detective's heart betrayed her.

Casey sighed lightly, watching the detective through the haze of her expelled breath before pulling her hands from her pockets and taking a seat on the empty side of the bench. The solid stone had been placed as general seating for anyone passing through. It held a gorgeous view of a small garden that had been long covered with snow; the small bushes wrapped in canvas. Despite the landscape, however, it was obvious to the ADA that the garden wasn't why the detective sat there. The modest headstone was clearly visible from the bench and the main inscription of her predecessor's name was unmistakable.

The counselor sat silently, feeling her nose and cheeks slowly lose their heat under the cold breeze. She crossed her arms and watched a clump of snow fall from the branch of a tree across the cemetery's narrow road. It had been a few months since she'd joined the close knit squad at the 16th. And it didn't seem to matter how hard she tried, the wall surrounding them all was harder to crack than a Louisville slugger.

"How did you know I was here?" Olivia's voice was thick and Casey had to hold back her excitement that the detective was actually speaking to her.

"I called the precinct," the counselor replied. "Elliot said you came here often."

Olivia looked at the headstone. "When I can."

The conversation fell silent again. Casey watched the detective's profile before feeling a pang of guilt and studied her hands instead. There was so much she wanted to know about the people she worked with. So much that had always been so easy for her to discover. People found her approachable, friendly, fun, a good person to take out for a drink every now and then. She'd always been the confidant to so many and quickly realized that this group - despite their small numbers - wouldn't be so willing to share their problems. The nature of their work was enough to make anyone withdraw for the rest of their lives and Casey was beginning to understand it all too well.

She stared at the grey stone, pushing a few errant strands of red hair behind her ear. It would make a pretty picture - the grey against the stark white with the snow highlighting the large letters chiseled from the granite. Everyone seemed so influenced by this Alexandra Cabot that Casey felt decidedly left out that she hadn't had the opportunity to meet her.

Casey glanced at the detective's discolored fingers and noticed the silver ring on her right hand. Olivia's long fingers turned it around and around almost compulsively. "You were close, weren't you?" she asked softly. It wasn't really her place to assume, but she did. It was clear to her that Olivia was far more affected by the circumstances of Casey's assignment to the Manhattan Special Victims Unit and she had a pretty good idea why.

The counselor took Olivia's silence in the affirmative and shivered, pulling her long coat around her. She wasn't really sure why she felt compelled to carry on the one-sided conversation, but she was unable to stop herself. "I hear she was one of the best Special Victims Prosecutors they've had in a long time."

Olivia chuckled disbelievingly and shook her head at her feet. Casey couldn't help feeling hurt by her comments being cast aside. It was something she'd come to expect from the detective, however. Their relationship had been inauspicious from the get-go.

The detective's head turned, sizing up the ADA beside her. "Why do you keep trying to be my best friend?" she asked.

Casey regarded her seriously, her eyes darting to the silver ring on Olivia's hand. She shrugged slightly. "It looks like you need one." Olivia blinked as the ADA got to her feet and shook a few flakes of snow from her coat. "Come on," she said, looking down at the detective. "I'll buy you a coffee."

The End

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