DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is the property of NBC and Dick Wolf, and being used without permission or intention of profit.
SERIES: Fourth part of the Desktop Confessionals series following A Plain Morning, The Choice I have Come to Fear the Most and The Passenger.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
As I step off the uneventful flight from SeaTac to Dulles I am greeted by my handler. His hair line has receded more since the last time I saw him and his belt cannot be seen below his protruding belly. He wipes an imaginary piece of lint from his jacket as I approach him.
"Nicki..." He holds out his hand and I place mine in his, correcting his choice of names as I do. I don't ever want to be called that again I point out and he questions me on whether that life was ever so bad. I admit that it wasn't. He ushers me through the terminals quickly and I again ask him why I am here and not in New York yet. He tells me this is transitional time. I apparently still have time to change my mind. I assure him my decision stands.
I notice him glancing around the terminal making eye contact with people that are trying hard to blend in but are not quite succeeding. I ask him why I still have a detail if I'm supposed to be safe now. He tells me we're just testing the waters. I thank him for allowing my life to be put in jeopardy without telling me that it is. He points out that according to me I didn't have a life until today. I concede his point.
He ushers me past the baggage terminals, through the back doors, and into a non-descript black sedan. I slide into the backseat, the smell of heavy smoke nauseating me immediately. I forgot how much Evans loves his cigars. He slides in next to me and orders the driver, whom he never introduces, to take off. Out of the rearview mirror I notice three other cars pull out with us. When I question them he tells me it's just a precaution. I am not reassured.
After making it out of the parking garage and into the dark night he flips on an overhead light and pulls out a large file folder. My name is written across the top with my alias written below, I wonder what all is in there about me. He clears his throat as he hands it to me and I cautiously flip it open to the front page. A headshot of me is the first thing I see. It's of me three years before and I run my fingers across my hair on the page.
"God, what was I thinking?" I murmur and he laughs knowing what I'm referring to. He explains it was all the rage and we chuckle slightly before we grow serious again. He explains to me everything that will occur in the next thirty-six hours and reminds me that I still have a chance to change my mind. I shake my head silently and that is the last time he mentions it.
We pull into what I can only describe as a gaudy apartment complex and I feel myself hoping that this is not my new "home". He must sense my discomfort since he turns to me and assures me it's only for a few weeks, a month at the most. I hear sirens in the background and see a group of young girls standing on the street corner, one is hanging her ass out toward a car. I tell him I hope I can handle this. He tells me I have no other choice.
We make our way up to the top level of the two story building and enter into a well lit corner apartment. The layout is more like a motel room than anything and I fling myself onto the bed with a sigh. Evans sits across from me at the only table in the room, trying hard to dry his always sweaty hands on his pants. I think I make him nervous though I'm not sure why. I hear him spout off directions and demands that I'm not really listening to and when he's done speaking he finally asks for my questions. I take a deep breath before looking up at him.
"How long until I get back to New York?" He shrugs his shoulders and tells me there's still some things they need to do. When I point out that they've known for three months I was coming back he points out that even I wasn't sure until the last minute whether I'd go through with it. I nod in understanding. He asks me if I have any other questions and I stall before voicing my one concern.
"Does...do they know I'm coming back?" He pauses for a moment obviously choosing his words carefully before he responds.
"She knows you're able to come out of hiding, yes." I feel my heart start to speed and I choose to calm myself before speaking again.
"She does?" I hear my child like voice come back; I hate this voice. Evans rubs his hands over his legs again while nodding.
"Yes. We contacted her before Christmas...All she said was that she'd be waiting for a call from us...." He trails off and I wonder if that's really everything you said. Another part of me is scared that he's telling me all there is to tell. Why wouldn't you have asked about me? I can't control the slamming of my heart against my chest any longer and I stand to look out the window in an attempt to change the setting.
Evans senses my discomfort and he clears his throat with an offering of a drink. I shake my head and ask again if he's sure it's okay for me to venture out on my own. He repeats the okay as he pulls a set of keys out of his pocket and places it on the table. He lets me stay in silence for a few minutes before he gets back to business.
"Alex...I know you're probably going to get frustrated with me for asking this again..."
"My decision stays Evans." I cut him off forcefully and he puts his hands up in a surrender position. I apologize with a smile and he shrugs it off with a tilt of his head.
"If that's the case, we need to take care of a few things." When I ask him what type of things he tells me to turn over my credit cards, ID, passport, check book, and any and all photos I may have. I zip open my bag and hand him my wallet and day planner. Everything he needs is in there. He flips open my wallet, thumbing through it to make sure I've given him everything. He pauses as he sees a tear slip down my cheek. Silently he makes his way to the bed and places himself down next to me. The old mattress sags under his weight and I have to keep myself from tipping to one side.
"What's wrong?" I hold up a picture that had slipped from my wallet. It's a picture of me and her. I don't know why I'm crying, I'm the one that had the option to stay. He pulls the picture from my hand and slips it under my pillow with an order to not tell anyone I was allowed to keep it. I wipe a few more tears away and wrap my arms as best as I can around him. He smells of cheap cigars and old spice. I pull away quickly.
As the rest of the formalities wrap up he stands to exit. He reminds me that this will only be for a little while and that the hardest part is over. I nod my head not really believing his words. As he turns to leave I remember one thing I haven't given him. He pauses at the door when I hold up my cell phone. He tells me to keep it for now and explains that if his wife suddenly moved 2000 miles away and he wasn't able to get a hold of her he'd start doing some searching and that's something we don't want Ash to do. I nod in understanding and slip the phone into my bag without another thought. I know her too well and she never questions me. I doubt she'll even try to call me, no matter how much she wants to. He bids me good night and pulls up his collar as he exits into the night. I sigh with the closing of the door.
For what seems like hours I do nothing but sit there on the rickety bed in shock. How can it be that just yesterday I was somebody else? Now, in this hotel room I'm nearly nobody. Just a person, a life, in transition. I stand to look out over the city around me. Downstairs more girls have made their way to the corner. Many more cars are starting to roll by checking out what may be their dates for the night. Watching those girls, I realize that while I seem so out of place here, I may not be any different than them. Every night they stand out there pretending to be whomever they need to be in order to survive. That's really no different than what I've done for the past three years. I suddenly feel cheap and deceptive and contemplate picking up the phone and calling her, confessing everything, purging myself of it all. Before I reach for the phone I realize how unfair that would be to her and I don't want to put her through more than I already have.
I watch from my window as one by one the girls get picked up. Some even find their way back a few times. I see the bar across the street flick off it's lights and decide it's time for me to try and go to bed. I don't even bother to change out of my jeans and sweater before flopping on top of the sagging mattress. Sleep does not come easy to me here. The noise from the cars and the calls from the girls keeps me up and finally I stand to watch out my window again. When my watch beeps three I notice that it's been awhile since any car has passed by and there's next to no girls left on the corner. I sigh deeply and flop back onto the bed. I wonder if everyone in DC has managed to find someone to sleep with tonight. And I wonder if I'm the only one in this damn district sleeping alone.
As my watch beeps four I hear the chattering of voices and slamming of doors in the complex and I realize the girls have made their way home for the night. I turn over on my side and long for the nights spent in your arms where the only thing that would keep me up was your hands and the cathedral bells chiming away our time together. As I feel my body start to fade into the tiredness inside I shut my eyes tighter and hope against hope that when I return you'll welcome me back and I won't ever have to spend a night without you again.
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