DISCLAIMER: They only belong to me in my dreams and Unfortunately I don't sleep well, the only thing that is mine is Angela, whom I created with great love.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Big Thank you to my good friend Sarah who made it readable for everyone 99% of the full stops and other punctuation are hers, Also I never told her this but she influenced the plot a great deal from conception every word to the end of chapter 6 was taking the story in a tragic direction but your love for Angela saved her life … and … just a big thank you for helping me through a difficult time the last few months, you're a Star and a very good friend. And that is why I give this story to you with great love!
WARNING: This story deals with the aftermath of rape.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

L'angelo con capelli rossi
By Kirsty1181


Prologue – the beginning or the end?

A cat meows mournfully in the night with an understanding of tragedy born only of instinct and regret.

But the darkness has engulfed her as the pain spread through her; she felt the warm sticky liquid that was her own blood dampen her clothes and mould the material to her body. Sounds became muffled and she felt her life force ebb away with each beat of her slowing heart. The black cat silhouetted against the seemingly distant street lights the last thing her eyes see.

She was dying. The knowledge did not instil fear or anger in her, simply warm comforting acceptance that her harsh, painful and eternally lonely life would be over and she would never have to listen to another painful case or wake up once more alone. She felt the comfort wrap around her like her mother's arms when she was sick and she drifted into the darkness where pain was a distant memory and the future was uncertain.


Chapter 1 – We meet Angela and break her…. A little

Memories filter firstly into my drug-filled brain, remaining foggy around the edges; my name, my life.

Then as if by invitation, sensation clambers in behind filling my brain with more and more information; my temperature, sounds of bleeping muffled by my lack of comprehension, the dim light in the still out of focus room, the smell of the sterile surrounding, and the sudden knowledge that I'm in a hospital.

That I had lived.

If my body had not felt like a burning flame of red hot pain I would have laughed at the irony my living brought. These thoughts, too much for my fragile brain, seep away as the darkness takes me once again.

Waking up was quicker the second time, and it only took a few seconds for me to understand that I was not alone in my room. Quiet voices came from behind the curtain that had been pulled partially around my bed.

"Doctor I'm not sure you understand, she has no family, she is a liaison with the DA's office, ….. she's my friend!"

It took me a few seconds to recognise the hushed voice, my mind gathering the short list of people who would have called me friend and eliminating them quickly down to one red headed ADA I knew. A small smile crept onto my lips and a joy blossomed in my thoughts that Casey would call me friend. Before the unidentified doctor could answer another female voice spoke, the second voice was richer and held underlying authority.

"Doctor, ADA Novak is a specially trained Special Victims Unit member. She knows how to speak to victims."

The still unidentified doctor must have muttered an approval because the curtain was pulled back slightly and the gap was filled by the tall slender figure of Casey Novak.

"Hi," she whispered with a small smile as she entered my cubical.

"Hi." I managed a struggled reply, my throat dry. Noticing my discomfort she reached for the jug of water beside my bed and poured a glass, then held it out for me to take. I reached for it with my left hand and noticed for the first time the white plaster that covered my left forearm from elbow to knuckle, looking at it surprised for a few seconds before eventually reaching for the glass with my right hand. The water hadn't been cold for quite some time but the liquid was still welcome in my system.

"Thanks," I say more clearly, and manage a small smile of my own.

"What happened?" I ask after a few moments of silence. She has trouble making eye contact and I know the answer before she speaks it.

"I was raped?" I ask the question knowing that it would make the situation slightly more bearable for both of us.

"Yes…. I'm so sorry Angela."

I shake my head, more so that I can break eye contact and I don't for a second have to see the pain and pity in her eyes.

"It's not your fault…. I'm not sure I remember what happened… " The silence stretched out and I took comfort from her presence.

"Do you know if this is the worst of it?" I gesture with my encased left hand. Casey seems slightly more comfortable with this line of topic.

"Well they broke your wrist, and your forearm in two places, they had to insert a metal plate in your forearm but the doctor can explain all that… The x-rays are impressive though… Also some cuts, lots of bruising, a few stitches. But as I say the Doctor will be able to tell you more." I nod my head.

"Any evidence on who did it?" I ask, knowing that she might not have much.

"Your case is being handled by Detectives Benson and Stabler. They're the best in the Unit. They'll find out who did this to you, we just need to get you better."

Another pause and I glance away again so she won't see the tears in my eyes or the need I have for her to hug me. And also the need to never be touched again.

I now this revulsion will pass with time, but even with that, I know I would not resist that type of comfort from her. Too afraid to ask for what I want I substitute it with another more mundane question,

"I take it Detective Benson was the person outside with you?" She nods again.

"Yes, she's going to want to talk to you, but she said I could speak to your first." She reaches for my good hand and hesitates before dropping her hand back to her side and I don't have the energy to reassure her or tell her everything is going to be okay. Because even before the attack all was not right in my life, and even the pain and disgust I feel does not diminish the disappointment that I did not die, or even the shame I feel for being disappointed.

My thoughts make me suddenly tired but I resolve not to sleep until I have spoken to the detective. I turn my eyes to Casey and imagine for a moment she can see every thought and feeling in my head. The slight surprise that shows on her face makes me think that she may have seen more than I normally allow but she doesn't question me.

"I'm ready," I say in a voice stronger than I thought was possible and I consider that maybe I'm borrowing some strength from her.

Detective Benson enters my small cubical a few minutes later. Her posture is non-threatening and for someone as tall as she is I know it can't be an easy thing to do, but I remember that she's had a lot of practice. She smiles but doesn't at the same time and I'm surprised that she's so different to the tough confident cop I've met a few times in Casey's office.

"Angela…. I'm sorry to see you in these circumstances." As she speaks she reaches into her pocket and retrieves a notebook and pen.

"I know Detective, it's not ideal for me either." I try to keep my tone light thinking that it will make the whole thing easier. She gives me another smile but not a smile look before opening the pad.

"Ready?" she asks finally.

I nod once. "As I'll ever be."

She asks me the usual starting questions my full name, address and date of birth etc and we get through it quickly. She doesn't even smirk at my middle name like most people do, simply transcribing my life onto the small sheets of plan white paper.

"So tell me about your day yesterday?" She eases into the painful part of the interview and I'm glad she's treating me like a victim and not the rape councillor that I am. I feel suddenly nervous, knowing I'm about to give another part of my life to this person and by extension to Casey.

I look towards the still pulled curtain. "Where is Casey?" I ask. Detective Benson follows my gaze.

"She went to get coffee, I'll send her in when we're finished."

"She's going to find out everything isn't she?" I ask, avoiding the question again.

"She's the ADA for sex crimes so she'll know what we talk about, or I could request that the DA's office assign someone else but we both know Casey. She's stubborn and persistent and inquisitive."

I laugh at her use of words. "That's a good word for nosey isn't it?" I joke and that brings a real smile.

"I guess it is… what don't you want Casey to know?" I take a deep breath and realise it hurts. I take a few more breaths, more shallow this time.

"I guess I was always going to tell her, or maybe I wasn't… I'm not sure." A quiet moment passes and then finally the detective speaks.

"I don't know what your secret is Angela but I do know Casey and whatever you think will change the way she thinks about you, well it won't change."

I stop myself from saying, 'that's what I'm afraid of'. Instead I nod once.

"My day yesterday," I pause for a moment expecting music to play and the scene in front of me to fade or at least shimmer away and a flashback to start but nothing happens, so in the absence of Hollywood special effects I speak.

"Yesterday I got up at 7am, started work at 9. I had an appointment helping Casey to prepare a witness at 11. I've been having weekly meetings with Susan and I've been hoping to get her to join one of our group sessions, but her case starts on Monday so when Casey needed to talk to her we set up a meeting." Olivia interrupted me then.

"Susan?" she questions softly, trying to gain information without disturbing my monologue.

"Susan Jones, she was raped a few months back. I don't think it was your case, quiet girl, she's taken it all very badly. I'm not sure she'll be able to handle it on the stand. But she's determined, so Casey and I thought she could do with some extra preparation. When we were done I had lunch with Casey, then I took a few afternoon group sessions. Then I went home, had something to eat and decided to meet some friends at a nearby bar for a drink." I pause knowing that more questions will come and I try to remember beyond my time at the bar.

"Ok well let's work from there." Detective Benson is being gentle and she reads over some of her notes. "Did you notice anything strange through the day, anyone following you, have you been having strange phone calls?"

I shake my head. "No nothing strange happened to me…. Apart form being beaten and raped obviously." I try to make it a joke but neither of us laugh and shadows of memory start to enter my mind. The darkness of the streets, the cold as I pull my coat tighter to my body, the hands grabbing my face from behind me. The sudden jerk as my feet are lifted from the ground and I'm dragged into the nearby alleyway. The fear that I'm going to die, and the acceptance that maybe I want to.

The memory hits me so strongly I feel myself melt into the bed. I feel tears run down my cheeks as the full extent of my injuries, of what's happened to me hits me with the power of a bus. A sob escapes my throat and I lose my composure as I start to cry. Memories of him touching me, grabbing me, hitting me …. and violating me… all come flooding into my mind and a darkness of memory and pain and panic clouds my vision.

I feel hands grip my shoulders and I struggle free causing pain in my body. I hear my own voice saying no over and over and I wonder if my mind has finally broken. Then through the panic I hear a voice soothing and familiar slip into my whirling mind and I latch onto it like I'm drowning and I allow the voice to bring me to shore.

When my vision clears Casey is sitting on the edge of my bed, she is holding my shoulders and she's calling my name.

"Angela!" I finally look at her. I can still feel the wetness on my cheeks.

"Angela you're going to be ok shhhhhh," she soothes me. The look of pain in her eyes makes me cry all the more and I fall slightly forward, my forehead resting on her shoulder and I cry more tears than I thought my body could hold and she soothes me. Gingerly she rubs my back, afraid that she is causing me pain.

"I'm sorry." I feel my sobs lessen as I start to feel embarrassed. I don't want her to feel sorry for me, I don't want her to ever pity me.

She sits back so she can look into my eyes. "Don't ever be sorry! Do you remember visiting me in the hospital after my attack?"

I nod my head and the images cause the memory of a different kind of pain, of seeing her there beaten and bruised and so Brave. "I admired your courage," I say through tired lips.

She shakes her head. "I wasn't brave, I was terrified and it was only when my friends were in the room did I feel safe, and that's what I'm going to do for you! There is light at the end of the tunnel Angela and I'm going to get you there!

I feel my composure return and I take a cleansing breath, my eyes leave her face and I search the room for Detective Benson. An apology forms on my lips but stops when I see the curious way Detective Benson is looking at Casey and I. My words falter and I know she sees. She smiles slightly and I know she understands now.

I finally find my voice, "I'm sorry Detective."

She shakes her head. "Don't worry about it Angela, remembering can be hard at first."

I smile, "I know….. still you would think I would handle it better!"

Casey takes my right hand and squeezes gently. "Everyone is different Angela, you're doing well." Her smile is warm and comforting and I look back to the dark haired detective.

"Please go on Detective." Casey moves to get up and leave but I hold her hand tighter.

"Stay, please, you might as well hear it all from me." Casey searches my eyes and accepts that I'm okay with her staying.

"Okay I'll stay." I look away from her and back to the detective.

"I think it was your turn to question."

Detective Benson looks back at her notepad and catches her train of thought. "You said that you hadn't noticed anything strange, no one following you, no strange phone calls…" I nod my head in agreement and she notes it down in her pad. "Okay, who had you met for a few drinks?"

I take a deep breath. "I met my friends Diane and Sophie. They've been trying to set me up with a friend of theirs but I only agreed if we could have a double date - I hate blind dates." The room falls silent and I glance to Casey who shows no sign of emotion, no indication that she knows what's coming next, but I know the next question and I know the impact it could have on my life, my friendship with the very woman perched on the edge of my bed. Scribbling noises stop and the dark haired detective speaks.

"Who was the blind date with?"

There is a pause and I slip my hand from Casey's. She looks confused, and I look away and fix my gaze on the detective.

"Her name was Cynthia something, I'm not sure." I try to think of the surname but it didn't seem an important thing to remember.

Detective Benson looks up from her pad, her eyes hold no surprise. She knew from the interaction I had with Casey. I don't look at Casey and instead focus my attention on the detective.

"You two didn't hit it off?"

I shake my head. "No, not my type." I feel my face get slightly pink but I try to stay composed

"She agree?"

Suddenly I realise where Detective Benson is going with this and I try to reassure her I'm not the victim of a blind date gone wrong. "She agreed. When I left she was flirting with the waitress, she's not your guy." Another scribble on the pad.

"Can you describe what happened after you left the bar?"

I take a shaking breath.

"I said my farewells at around 11 and I left for home. I was walking down Hudson St. I don't remember hearing footsteps but as I passed the alleyway I heard rustlings, then a rush and a hand was put over my mouth. I was pulled back and lifted off the ground and carried into the alleyway."

I described what happened to me and what I could remember of the man who had attacked me. When I was finished I was crying again, the memories flooding my brain in vivid Technicolor. My memory had never been very good and yet I could recall every sound, smell and feeling in those 15 minutes before unconsciousness finally took me.

Detective Benson took down all my information writing quickly to keep up.

"Did he say anything?"

I thought for a second. "He told me to shut up, then I think I heard him mutter, 'against God's plan', 'abomination'. He whispered lines from the bible but I don't remember them exactly. I thought he was going to kill me." I shiver at the memories.

"Do you think you would recognise him again?"

The detective's question seemed so simple, remember the face of the man who raped me, but even as the face flashed in my mind it was contorted and changed; my mind making features too sharp, turning rage and disgust into something more evil still. The caricature filled my vision and I shrugged my shoulders.

"Maybe, I'm sorry Detective, I like to think I would but just now I'm so tired." the detective nods her head in understanding.

"It's late and you've been through a lot. Sleep. If I need anything more I'll get in touch."

I catch her eyes. "Thank you. I know it's not procedure but can you keep me informed of your progress?" The detective looks slightly uneasy.

"I'll do what I can." She is being elusive but it's late and I am so very tired.

"Thank you."

The dark haired cop looks towards Casey. "Councillor?"

The question leaves her lips and I look towards the ADA. Our eyes meet and my heart breaks when she averts her eyes and looks anywhere but at me.

I look towards the detective and she sees the pain in my eyes and shakes her head slightly. Her eyes try to reassure me that all is not lost but at this moment in my life hope is an elusive ideal that steps just outside my vision the harder I look.

"Thank you for visiting Casey. It's late and I'm sure you need to get going." I say the words and they feel hollow even to me. She looks at me and this time I avoid her gaze.

"I'm tired," I continue when she doesn't speak. I lay back in the bed as much as my pain and Casey's weight will allow and close my eyes. I feel her weight lift from the bed and I keep my eyes closed.

"I'll come see you tomorrow." I don't answer because I can hear the sadness in her voice. I listen as she moves away.

I think I'm being unfair to her but then again I feel the pain from my attack, then add her elusive behaviour and I feel justified in my own hurt. I understand that I'm feeling sorry for myself but decide ultimately that even if it's just for tonight I can be self-indulgent this time.

I let my own hurt and sadness fill me and I cry; for the pain I feel physically and emotionally but also for the hope that had lingered in my heart until now. I grieve the love I will never know and friendship I will most likely no longer have.

I feel more sobs rack my already pain filled body and eventually I fall into restless sleep, haunted by distorted images of a man whose hatred for me seemed endless and also the averted eyes of my one true love.

And even in sleep tears fall from my eyes.


Chapter 2 – Casey gets angry and the glue holding Angela together still hasn't set

A little over 48 hours later finds me alone in my apartment gazing out of my window onto the street below. I have put myself into isolation and it only took a few white lies to do.

First was a call to Casey's secretary telling her to pass on the message that I was signing myself out of hospital and going to stay with 'friends'. Then when Diane and Susan had picked me up at the hospital and dropped me at home it seemed easy to tell them that Casey had offered to stay with me for a few days.

My friends knew about my feelings for Casey and seemed reluctant. Diane in particular seemed to think it was a bad idea, her argument that I was already emotionally drained and spending time with Casey may not be any good for my state of mind. A lot of reassurance and claims of being tired won in the end and they left me alone.

Now I stand in my apartment looking out of the window watching the world still turn despite my own life ending.

Detective Benson had called my cell once to make sure I was okay. She had spoken quietly and told me that Casey seemed troubled and she knew that the red head was feeling bad about what had happened.

I told her I understood and how it didn't matter. Another lie.

She also mentioned that they suspected my rapist was actually a serial perpetrator and that they had now at least 4 other woman raped by the bigoted homophobe. She seemed certain they would have him very soon and that Casey was pushing them more than normal for someone to prosecute.

I listened and spoke in all the right places, and even when she asked me how I was and I told her I was fine, we both pretended I was telling the truth.

I'm jerked out of my thoughts when the entry buzzer on the wall screeches. I look at it and assume someone has pressed the wrong buzzer. I ignore it, figuring that they'll check and press the correct one next, but to my surprise it screeches again. I go to the little box and press the answer button.

"Hello?" I question.

"Angela it's Casey." Her voice carried through the crackly line and there was something in her voice I had never heard directed at me. Annoyance?

"Casey it's not really a good time for me just now, I'll call you tomorrow." I know I'm being rude but a slight panic has filled me.

"Are you alone?" her voice is clipped.

I do the stupidest thing and look around to check. I feel my face go red and am glad no one saw.

"Yes," I reply.

"Then let me in I need to talk to you."

I look around my apartment once more. "Okay," I say reluctantly and I press the entry system. It makes a clicking sound and I hear Casey open the security door.

A few minutes later there is a rap at my door and I open it to find a very annoyed ADA.

"You lied to me!" she accuses and I don't know what to say.

"Sorry?" I get a feeling she may have found out about my little white lie but you never know so I continue looking surprised.

She moves past me into my apartment, her eyes moving around the open plan room that makes up my living room, dinning room and the kitchen.

It's clean and tidy. Almost too clean and tidy. I hope that Casey just sees me as a clean person and not as someone on the way to a mental breakdown obsessively cleaning over and over. I actually wondered myself and made a promise that I would not clean again this week - or at least for a few days.

"You lied to me," she says again. Some of her anger is gone and hurt creeps in.

"You said that. What have I lied about?" I think I'm going to be the one pushing this conversation forward and in reality I just want it to be over. If our friendship is going to end then I want it to be quick. My words and tone earn me a look that would have made even the toughest person squirm.

"You said you were staying with friends."

I nod my head. "How do you know I didn't just arrive back?" I answer.

I walk over to the sink and pick up two mugs that I have just cleaned. I pick up the clean towel and start to dry them for coffee. As I stand by the coffee maker and pour the dark liquid into the two mugs.

I stop momentarily at her answer.

"I went with Olivia when she went to interview your friends Diane and Sophie."

Oops. Now not only have I been caught by the ADA but I'm sure an annoyed call from one of my two best friends is now on the cards.

"Oh" is all I say. I deliberately don't turn to face her because my resolve to make a clean break with Casey will crumble and I will end up begging her to be my friend or even crying.

I spoon in the required amount of brown sugar into each mug and stir. As I move to the fridge I allow myself one glance at Casey and notice for the first time how tired she looks. Dark shadows haunt her normally radiant eyes and her suit although perfectly tailored doesn't sit right in her current posture.

I remove the cream from the fridge and pour an unhealthy amount into both mugs. I stir once and take the mugs to the centre island that separates the kitchen and the living room area. I place one of the mugs in front of her and hold my own in my hands. I look at her and her eyes are slightly brighter than a few seconds ago, her jaw set in a firm line - angry I note.

"Oh?….. Is that it?" she asks, but I know she can't be that mad because she picks up the mug from the counter.

"What do you want from me Casey?" I meet her eyes and cling to my resolve.

"I want the truth Angela." Her words are sincere but my memory floats back to the hospital… to the deflected gaze… to the hurt I felt…. feel.

"I've tried that before Counsellor and it didn't work out so well for me did it?" My words are cutting and I regret them but I guess honesty is the best policy at this stage anyway.

My words have an almost physical effect on Casey and I see her anger drain, her shoulders slump forward and she looks away from me. I place my own mug back on the counter afraid my emotions will let it slip from my grasp; a metaphor is seems for my life.

"I'm sorry about that." Her voice is barley above a whisper.

"I wanted to tell you, I did, but it seemed that the thinking you might reject my friendship was better than the actual rejection…" I trail off, not sure how to go on.

"You're still my friend Angela, I was surprised that's all."

I shake my head. "You don't need to say that Casey. I don't need your pity. This doesn't make you a bad person. You're not abandoning a rape victim.

You feel like I lied to you but I never did. I never claimed to be something that I wasn't, I just omitted to tell you who I like to sleep with. It's an easy thing to do, I've been doing it for a long time!"

I reach for my coffee with my plastered hand and stop, cursing myself for forgetting again and announcing the most visual reminder of my attack - although for me it's the smallest, the most insignificant side effect compared to the pain in my body, my heart, and my soul.

I abandon the coffee and move towards the sink, taking the cloth from it and start to rub the already clean surface. I look for a second at my distorted image reflecting back at me in the shiny surface and I wonder what others see.

"You should go. I'm sure you have lots of important things to do." I'm proud that I don't sob out the words but I do continue to clean.

"Angela the sink is clean."

I continue to wipe the surface, then I turn on the hot tap and reach for the bottle of bleach close by.

"Just because something looks clean doesn't mean it is." I answer quietly and pour bleach onto the draining section of the sink, moving the strong smelling liquid around with the cloth. The task is made more difficult by the fact I can only really use one hand but I continue.

Casey's voice interrupts my thoughts.

"Angela, stop."

I hear concern in her voice and it only makes my heart heavier. I continue to clean ignoring her command.


This time her voice is louder and closer than before. I spin round because I can feel her presence close to me and I know I can't let her trap me against the counter.

"Don't." I speak the words and she stops in her tracks a few feet from me. Her hands were reaching for me but they drop to her sides and I'm once again reminded about the night in the hospital; that once she held my hand to comfort me.

"Why could you look at me when you knew I was a rape victim but not when you found out I was gay?" I look at her and she's surprised.

"I… it wasn't that!" She seems lost for words.

"Before you found out I had been at a gay bar I was a victim. I was your friend who had been attacked. But when you found out… When it seemed more like a hate crime… Did you think I deserved it? Do you think I'm an abomination, a fault in God's plan? Do you think it taught me a lesson?"

I feel my voice rise in sound and decibel. Hysteria has crept in beside my demanding tone.

Her silence seems an almost tangible presence in the room and I feel the pain of my body seep through the anger I feel.

"Casey you can go now." The defeat in my voice hurts even my own ears.

I turn back to the sink and drop the cloth under the hot water, rinsing my hand and then turn off the tap with a sigh. Cleaning will not make ME feel clean any more than the countless showering.

Or the hours crying.

Or the endless searching for someone to blame.

"God damn it!" The words leave my mouth even as I feel the tears and a sob overwhelm me.

My body goes weak and I slump slowly to the floor until I'm huddled against the cabinet under the sink and I cry once more. I am angry at myself because I know losing control is not going to fix anything but even this knowledge does not stop the grief I feel and I sob so hard it makes my chest hurt.

As I sit there I feel Casey move beside me. Her arms circle me and she pulls me to her but I resist and try to pull away but that only makes her hold tighter. I fight a surge of panic that threatens to engulf me with a constant reminder that it is Casey, and despite my anger towards our relationship she would never hurt me.

I relax slightly and allow myself to be comforted by her. I tell myself it is just for a second until I can find the strength to stand and move away, but when I find my face buried in her shoulder I know I could stay like this forever.

Suddenly I feel so tired and she feels so warm… and my body drifts into normally elusive but welcome sleep.


Chapter 3 – Everyone sees the light, a reflection of each other and new foundations are built…. Of brick this time

I awaken in a cocoon of warmth and softness and I forget for a second everything that is wrong in my world. I do not even question where I am or how I got here.

I feel the deep breathing of the person under me and feel the warmed silken material under my fingers. My eyes open and I am lying on top of Casey.

Her body lies the length of my couch, it feels like she has removed her shoes and suit jacket but it's hard to tell because the room is dull and the blanket that normally sits across the back of the sofa is draped over us. My plaster encased hand is resting on her stomach and my fingers even now subconsciously rub softly over her blouse, a mere breath away from her warm skin beneath. My head rests on her shoulder and I can tell from her relaxed breathing she is asleep.

I try to remember what happened and images of sobbing and crying push into my mind. Great, I really have to stop crying. The thought provides a determination I haven't felt in a long time and I grip it with all my remaining strength.

My mind starts on the puzzle of how I got to be in this particular position and understand that Casey must have somehow lifted me here. The mechanics are not clear to me but then I could never grasp how the Egyptians managed to build pyramids so I don't let myself dwell.

It takes a few more seconds for me to work out what woke me in the first place and it's only the persistent buzz that finally infiltrates my mind that brings me back to reality.

Casey has a pager and a cell phone strapped to the belt of her pants and one or both is vibrating.

"Casey…" I move away from her so my back presses against the rear of the sofa and I create as much room as possible between us.

"Casey!" I say it louder this time and she finally stirs. She opens her eyes and looks at me. A warm smile plays on her lips before she seems to realise where she is

"Huh?" is the only sound leaving her lips.

"You're buzzing," I inform her in amused tones and the confusion on her face makes me laugh a little before I point to her belt. "Someone is looking for you."

She panics then and reaches for the devices on her belt. The movement and the room I've created means she has no anchor to the sofa and she slips to the floor. I laugh louder and watch as Casey's brain tries to click into gear.

She finds her feet and reaches for her pager first, squinting at the display as her cell buzzes again, and she reaches for it and flips it open without looking at the caller display.

"Novak!" Her voice is sharper than I've ever known it to be.

"When?" I watch her as she listens, nodding her head even though the other person can't see. She looks at her watch.

"Ok… I can meet you in my office in 20 minutes." She listens again and her eyes narrow. "How did you…" Her voice trails off and her cheeks shine pink.

"5 minutes then… I will… I will… fine." She flips the phone closed and places it back in her belt holder, the pager gets put back in its place next, then she looks at me.

"Olivia said Hi … she's picking me up at the front of your building." I look at the illuminated clock that sits on the side table and the time reads 11:54.

I speak, "It's late."

"Well, sex crimes never sleep." She looks at me then with a look of a person who has seen too much, and heard too much, and felt too much of the evil in the world. I see deeply buried the loneliness she must sometimes feel, a reflection of my own.

"I'm sorry it was a stupid thing to say." She shakes her head as she slips her shoes back on.

"No, you get used to it," she states and lifts her jacket from the chair.

"Do you?" I ask, and she stops and looks at me.

"No, I guess you never do...." her voice trials off.

"You guys get support though?" I worry about her. Despite her sleep she still looks tired and I understand now that when I've seen her before she had always worn a mask of coping and strength. Now I see just how much her job worries her and I can see how I've not been helping these last few days.

"We get regular psychological evaluations and George, he makes sure we don't burn out... and the squad are there." She slips her jacket on and fixes the lapels before buttoning it in place.

"Have you ever thought of going into private practice, or transferring to another department?" I question more. I wonder why I have never asked these things before.

"Yes, often," she replies and she sits back on the sofa beside me.

I haven't moved from my partly lying position so she sits on the edge of the cushion at my waist. "And yet you stay?" I feel like she should be the one reclining and me sitting as I feel my psychology brain click in.

"The occasional wish to be away from it all is nothing compared to the need to stay, to help. But what about you, you're a rape counsellor - have you ever felt you wanted to give it all up?"

I nod my head ,"Yes… twice."

She looks at me curiously. "When?"

I rest more comfortably on the sofa and I know we don't have much time left.

"About 6 months ago… then about every minute in the last 48 hours." I feel shame colour my cheeks red and I look away. I move on before she can ask questions. "I'm sorry," I say finally.

"For what?" She seems confused for a second.

"For lying to you... for crying all over you.... for not being the person you thought I was!" I don't cry this time, yay me!

She sighs.

"The first one is forgivable... the second understandable and the last one… well... there's no real word for it ... but I never labelled you as straight or as anything. You're my friend and I will support you, gay, straight, bisexual or otherwise.

"I was surprised, it hurt me to see you in so much pain and your revelation... it was a surprise that's all!!"

"There's a fourth option?" I make a joke and we both smile.

"Do you think we knew each other at all before 2 days ago?"

She shrugs at my question and smiles. "We knew enough I guess to be friends...but we have time right?"

I let a moment pass and wonder if I can do this, can I continue to be her friend if she knows? But then she doesn't know I love her - but can that be kept a secret for much longer? Detective Benson already knows, will she keep my secret? I don't know, but my mind is also filled with a need to have her in my life.

A bud of faith rises from the ashes of my pain and for the first time I allow myself to hope for happy times in my future.

I smile, "There's time." Her cell phone rings again and she rolls her eyes as she flips it open.

"Novak… on my way." She smiles and puts the phone back in its pouch. "When do you go back to work?" She meets my eyes.

"Tomorrow," I answer simply, hiding the feeling of anxiety I have over my imminent return to work.

"That's quick."

I shrug my shoulders and try to look nonplussed.

"Back on the saddle and all that," I try to smile reassuringly.

"When do you have lunch?" She stands as she asks and fixes her jacket again.

I get up from the sofa and we move towards the door.

"I'm starting back on half days for a little while so I finish at 1."

She stands by the front door and smoothes her trousers before picking up her briefcase. "Can we have lunch?"

I'm momentarily surprised.

"Sure." She smiles again and leans forward to kiss my cheek.

"I'll meet you at your office at 1 then." She opens the door and slips out.

"Good luck!" I call after her and I hear her call back a thank you.

I close the door again and put all the locks in place. I clear away the coffee cups from earlier, take some painkillers and make my way to bed. I make one final check of the windows and finally slip under the covers.


Chapter 4 – a break through in the case ruins lunch but there is always dinner, and a talk from Olivia gives Angela hope

My first morning back to work turns out to be quiet and I'm glad my colleagues are making such an effort to ease me in.

My manager Frank insisted I spend the morning working through the meter high of paper work I had neglected over the last few months and after an hour or two I feel a sense of achievement at a job well done. Frequent visits from my well wishing friends don't even irritate as much as I thought it would, added to that the fact that every other visit brings the gift of chocolate in one form or another makes them even more welcome.

The time passes so quickly I'm surprised when a warm voice filters into my ear.

"Well If I knew you had chocolate I would have been early!" I look up and find Casey framed in the doorway; a lime green silk blouse compliments her dark trouser suit and a warm smile plays on her lips and in her eyes.

An angel in the dark. I smile in return.

"I don't normally have this much …… but you know what physiologist are like! If I hear a speech about endorphins one more time…" I roll my eyes.

"I just have two more report to sign off on then I'm all caught up. Do you have the time to wait?"

She doesn't even glance at her watch as she nods. "Sure."

She steps into the room and lifts the half open bar of chocolate in front of me and walks over to the dark red sofa that sits at the far wall of my office. Sitting down she takes a bite of chocolate and gestures with her hand that I should continue. I find it hard to pull my eyes away but eventually I manage to get back to work.

Ten minutes later I sign off on one report and reach for the last.

I glance over and see Casey sitting with her feet up on the sofa, having removed her shoes and lounging back, a report of her own resting on her bent knees. A pen in her hand occasionally reaches forward and marks something in the margin.

I stop myself from sighing at the relaxed sight.

"Not long now… are you sure you're ok to wait?"

She looks in my direction and it takes her a second to focus.

"I'm fine… I don't have anything pressing this afternoon."

I nod towards her report. "You look like you have."

She looks at the report and smiles. "This is just some stuff I was taking home with me. Although I think I got more done here in 10 minutes than I did in 2 hours at my office," she smiles.

"Busy at the DA's office?" I open up my own file and thumb to the page I need to read as I talk.

"Very. There's always someone to see or a phone call to take - or my assistant wanting to chat about her latest boyfriend!"

I laugh. "Well my office sofa is available for pre-booking."

She laughs too. "I might take you up on that!"

We both laugh and get back to our work.

I stretched almost 20 minutes later and felt my muscles strain and ache. I had decided not to take my pain meds today, a start of the process of getting back to normal, but as my pain grew I regretted my hasty decision.

I awkwardly signed the last report with the pen held barley stable in my still plastered left hand. I let the pen drop with a sigh. "Done."

Casey looked up from her papers and smiled as she started to pack up her own things.

I cleared my things away too and stood awkwardly.

"Are you in pain?" her voice is full of concern as she glances over.

"A little but it gets less everyday." I smile reassuringly and collect my jacket.

"Shall we?" I gesture towards the door, Casey is ready to go too and leads the way.

The restaurant Casey has chosen is quiet and according to her serves the best Italian food in the state. It was not as busy as some places could be at this time, but it was the most public place I had been to since the night of my attack.

I did not feel fear at being in a public place but I did feel an anxiousness I can't quite put my finger on and I find myself glancing around memorising the faces around me trying to match the features of the other patrons with the distorted images I still have of my attacker.

Casey sees my actions. "Are you ok? … We can go to somewhere you're familiar with… or even get take away at your apartment?"

I nod my head, "I'm fine I just need a second."

She reaches across the table and takes my hand in hers. "It's natural to be afraid."

I squeeze her fingers back and smile. "I know it's just I don't like being weak."

She smiles. "Being afraid is a natural instinct, a vital section of our survival instinct. If we don't have fear then the human race wouldn't have made it much past primal ooze."

I smile and laugh at her observation, "I see your point."

The waitress chose that moment to approach our table. I extracted my hand from hers as casually as I could but a slight hurt entered her eyes and I file that thought away for later. We order and I rely on Casey's recommendations.

The atmosphere is strange, of course we have had lunch before… in fact many times but this is the first time Casey has made the effort to pick me up from my office and the first time she held my hand across the table. It occurs to me then that the atmosphere is almost like a date… the thought is as terrifying as it is exhilarating and I think I must have gone pale because as the waitress places our starters on the table Casey looks at me with concern in her eyes.

"You ok?" I nod my head and concentrate on my food.

We speak little over the first course and the main meal but before we can consider coffee or desert the pager on Casey's belt bleeps. The ADA rolls her eyes and reaches for the device just as her cell phone rings. She presses the button atop the beeper and it stops at the same time she flips the cell open, she is muttering to herself.

"Liv, why do you page and call? The idea is you do one then if it doesn't work you do the other." She stops suddenly and listens intently she nods once.

"Here with me," as she continues her conversation I indicate to the waitress to bring the bill. Casey notices my gesture and mouths the word sorry. I smile reassuringly.

"About 2 minutes?…….. Ok see you then." She flips the phone closed and puts it back in place.

"You have to go?" I question unnecessarily and start to collect my things.

"We have to go!"

The waitress approaches, a small tray in her hand with a leather folder on top. Casey is already taking the cash from her wallet. She opens the folder, glances once and places the cash from her hand inside. She smiles at the waitress and says thank you, looking across at me expectantly.

"Where are we going?" I ask as I rise from my seat.

"The squad room, Olivia says they have our guy!" My mind blanks and I fall back into my seat.

Casey kneels in front of me bringing her eyes to my level. "Angela, sweetheart it's ok… it's the start of the end! Once we convict this guy you can move on… heal." I drink in her words.

"What do you need from me?" My brain starts to refocus and I meet her eyes. She looks worried and I hold my eye contact until she continues.

"They're still waiting for DNA and things to come back but they want to check as soon as possible they have the right guy.! They want you to identify him."

Her words lodge in my brain and turn everything cold. I feel my body start to shake and panic fill me. "I …… I can't....." I try to bring my body to a stop. Casey reaches forward and the tips of her fingers stroke gently down my cheek, the warmth from her body seeps into me and replaces my own lost heat.

"Yes Angela you can. You need to do this - if you don't face him today then you'll spend the rest of your life looking for him everywhere you go." I realise she's right that even today I have looked at the face of everyone around me and compared their face to his.

"You'll be there?" she nods but frowns.

"I'll be in the room but I can't be seen to be influencing you so I'll be standing at the back of the room, but Olivia will be there she'll be able to stand closer. She'll be there to support you…. she'll help you through." I nod and she smiles.

She stands and reaches for my hand and I take it, clinging to her strong grip and we make our way to the squad room.

I had never been to the squad room before but it was like most I'd seen in the past. There were a lot of people moving around and doing their jobs. My breath caught but I managed to keep my composure and was pleased by my own progress.

Casey stood beside me and put her hand on my shoulder, smiling warmly. Then I felt her fingers stiffen and her hand dropped to her sides. I wondered what had caused this sudden change. My eyes moved in front of us and a shorter man in a crisp black suit was walking towards us, a smile on his face that made you feel dirty by just witnessing it.

"Novak." Casey's demeanour changed and she held herself tall.

"Johnson, it's been a while. I though maybe you had gotten a proper job." Her voice is cold and I'm surprised how she doesn't seem herself at all.

"Actually I moved to family law, this is a one off." Casey looked as if she was filing away the information.

"Old friend?" she asked, her voice still cold and professional. His face betrayed something because a feral smile caressed Casey's face before disappearing - the lawyer ignored the question.

"Can we make this quick, I'd like to get my client out of here as soon as possible."

Casey tutted. "Robert you know you can't hurry the law even if you have golf scheduled." She hit another nerve and the lawyer suddenly looked out of his depth with the more confident younger woman and I wondered how long he had been sitting around family law and why exactly he had been put on this case. The shorter man ignored that comment too.

"Shall we begin the preliminaries?" he asked instead, adjusting the collar of his white shirt in an unconscious nervous gesture and a part of me felt sorry for this man. I wondered if Casey knew how much she was intimidating him and if she were doing it deliberately. If she was I wasn't sure how I felt about that.

"I'll be right with you," she said dismissively. The older man shuffled off back the way he came and I turned all my attention on Casey. She must have recognised my expression because she looked momentarily hurt.

"I should get this paper work started, make sure everything is done properly." She sounded suddenly young and vulnerable and before I could say anything she was moving away.

"Liv, can you look after Angela?" I noticed for the first time Detective Benson sitting at her desk, she had been watching us the whole time.

"Sure," but she spoke mostly to Casey's back as she left in the same direction as the defence lawyer.

Olivia stood up and gestured that I should follow her - I did. The noise of the station and my new uneasiness felt overwhelming and I was more than grateful when Olivia led me into a quiet interview room. Olivia pointed to the seats around the small table and I took the one at the far side so I could see both doors at opposite sides of the room. The tall detective closed the blinds over the two way glass that took up most of one wall and she clicked off a switch on the wall that seemed linked to the small intercom.

"How are you?" she asked in a quiet soothing voice.

"Fine, thank you." I place my hands under the table so she won't see them shake, but the simple act is enough.

She sits in the chair opposite me. "How are you really?"

I abandon pretence and bring my hands onto the table. They shake visibly. "Freaked out."

Olivia nodded in understanding. "It can all be overwhelming, but you're doing well," her voice is still soothing and I take comfort.

"I don't feel like I'm doing well... Sometimes I just feel such gripping fear, other times humiliation or anger… I can't seem to stop myself from crying."

"Angela you're still healing, these things take a lot more than 3 days to get over, but I think today will help. It will be hard but freeing at the same time, you'll do fine. We have faith in you." Her confidence makes me feel slightly better, supported in a way I've never been in my life.

"Thanks," is all I can muster

"I see you and Casey seem to have sorted out your misunderstanding."

I meet her eyes, it wasn't really a question but I nod anyway.

"She said at the hospital she was just surprised, I guess there's a lot we didn't know about each other." I look towards the door and imagine that I can see her standing defiantly over the small Mr Johnson. Detective Benson interrupts my imagination.

"You understand she was only doing her job just now, don't you?" Olivia gestures to the door with a nod of her head.

"I guess …… she just seemed so …. mean, to that poor man!" I struggle with words to describe my discontent.

"That poor man is trying to put a serial rapist back on the streets, it's a game… Casey plays her part - she needs to establish her dominance on the situation. Did you know she's the most successful ADA we've ever had? In fact she's the most successful ADA in the entire department."

I shrug, "I didn't know that... I guess it makes sense. But seeing her like that, it came so natural... how can you really know someone when they can be someone else so easily?"

The older detective's face turned serious. "Casey is my best friend. When she found out I was planning on visiting your friends yesterday she insisted on coming along. She was determined to see you to apologise to you and make sure you were all right. I've never seen her so upset! When your friends told us that you had stayed at home... told them Casey was looking after you..." she shook her head at the memory.

"She was very unhappy, she cancelled all her afternoon appointments and made me drop her off at your apartment. That is the real Casey." She smiled slightly then.

"I guess, we sorted out some things … got to know each other better."

Olivia takes a deep breath. "I don't want to speak out of turn…. but I saw your eyes in the hospital the other night... and I just have to say … the hope you thought was gone … it's not. The dream you thought you'd lost … you might just find it." She smiled and patted my hand as I processed her words.

I was about to ask her to explain her meaning when the door clicked open and Casey stepped inside. She noted Olivia's hand on top of mine and frowned for a second before it was hidden again.

"It's time."


Chapter 5 – Angela faces her demons and time passes as it always does

The room was dim and only lit by the light coming from the window showing the empty room beyond. The other room at the moment was thankfully empty and only the black lines marking out height suggested what it was used for. Detective Benson and Casey stood on either side, offering support and comfort as I got used to the new surroundings.

"Take your time Angela, you'll be fine." A small noise comes from the back of the room.

"ADA Novak!" the tone was one of warning and Casey sighs, looks at me sadly and walks to the back of the room to stand beside the speaker. It seemed that Mr Johnson had found some of his courage. Olivia moves behind me a little but stays close her voice once again soothing.

"I'm going to have them brought in. When they stop and face the front I want you to take your time, look at each one. If you want any of them to step forward or say anything then let me know, they can't see you Angela. Now take a breath."

She nods to the officer at the door and he in turn gestures outside. A few seconds later another officer opens the door leading into the bright room. He gestures to the slightly raised gallery and a line of 10 men shuffle into the room. I expected them all to be similar height but for a second they blend into one and I feel panic rise, my breath catches and I think I'm going to pass out.

"Counsellor!" The warning came from the defence lawyer and I turn slightly to see why. I notice Casey has moved forward as if to comfort me, but the warning has stopped her and I understand why. I try to smile and nod that everything is okay. Detective Benson still stands beside me but is careful not to touch me.

"I know it's hard Angela but take all the time you need." I take a new breath and look once more into the room.

I start at one as it seems logical and dismiss him without much of a second glance, then two .. then three.. my eyes reach the face of number four and I step back, suddenly afraid.

He stands almost 6 foot tall with dark slightly long hair, he is clean shaven, his build is average as it seems everything else but he has a coldness in his eyes, and I know he is the one. But I know I owe to myself to look at all the others… even though I know it in every fibre of my healing body.

I check the faces of the remaining 6 men and I dismiss each one as I did the first three. But I am satisfied.

I look to Olivia. "Can you take them away?"

Olivia nods and presses the intercom. "Take them out Officer Jones." The policeman walks to the door and opens it and the men shuffle out.

Once they are out of the room Olivia turns to me and asks, "Angela, was any of the men in that room your rapist?"

I nod. "Number four…… number four raped me." I glance at Casey and she seemed pleased. Mr Johnson seems resigned. He picks up his briefcase and turns to leave.

"I guess I'll see you in arraignment Casey," were his parting words.

The door clicked closed and I looked between my two supporters. "So I picked right then?"

Olivia looked at me seriously, "Are you in any doubt?"

I thought back to the line of faces. "None."

She smiled slightly, "Then you picked right."

I smile then cry, putting my hands over my face and I sob into them, relieved... vindicated... safe. Casey pulls me into a hug and I hear Detective Benson slip from the room.

"You did it Angie, I'm so proud of you!" The tears pass quickly but I hold on tightly to the ADA.

"It's not the end though." I pull back so I can see her answer, she shakes her head.

"No it's not … but it's the beginning of the end." I nod my understanding.

We walk back into the squad room, Casey stands close to me even as she addresses the room. "Liv will you make sure Angela gets home ok … I've got some things to prepare for tomorrow, I need to make sure this guy has no chance of bail." I look at the determined look on my young friend's face.

"I can make my own way home, you'll need Detective Benson I'm sure."

The dark haired detective was already on her feet jacket in hand. "I don't mind I'll pick up a late lunch for these animals while I'm out." I relent and turn to Casey to say goodbye.

"I'll call you later," are her parting words and I smile.

"Ok," is my only reply.

9pm arrives and I'm sitting on my sofa in comfortable pyjamas and my feet tucked underneath me. The tv is on low and I only glance at it occasionally. The intercom on the wall behind me buzzes and I move to answer it. I press the small button.

"Hello?" the line crackles. "It's Casey."

I feel my heart flutter in worry and excitement. "Come up." I press the entry button and hear the door click.

I wonder if something went wrong.

By the time I open the locks on the door Casey is already standing there. She smiles and I know if she was upset she would not look like that, so I return it. I move aside and she steps into my apartment.

"Am I disturbing you?" she asks looking at my outfit. I feel suddenly underdressed next to her still in her work suit.

"No … I was just watching tv … come in, let me put on my robe."

She gestures to some paper bags in her hand. "Do you like Chinese food?"

I make my way to the bedroom. "I do! Plates are in the kitchen."

I grab my robe from behind my bedroom door and slip it around my shoulders before tying it in front. I get back to the kitchen as Casey is spooning fast food contents onto two plates.

"I didn't know what you liked so I got two things I like and hoped you could eat at least one." She smiled and I picked up the plate of sweet and sour chicken.

"I like this."

"Good." She looks around.

"Where do you normally eat?" I smile and point to the small two person table set up beside one of the tall windows. She makes her way over and places her plate in front of one of the seats, I put my plate across from her.

"Would you like something to drink? I have tea, coffee, cola… orange juice, water… wine?" She takes a second to think.

"What are you having?" She is being considerate and I appreciate the sentiment.

"I'm going to have cola, I can't have wine on my pain meds … but you're welcome to whatever you want." I walk towards the kitchen as I wait for her reply.

"I'll have cola too." I retrieve the drinks and return to the table.

"So to what do I owe this pleasure?" I pick up my fork and start to eat my food.

"No reason, I just finished work and thought since our lunch was interrupted we could have dinner - I hope I didn't overstep the mark." Casey looks slightly worried and I rush to reassure her.

"No not at all. You're welcome here anytime you want, night or day, for any reason! Understood?" She blushes slightly and I wonder what she's thinking.

"You might regret that, I keep strange hours!" Her eyes shine with something I can't describe.

"Never!" is all I answer before conversation turns to idle chat and I realise I've never felt so comfortable with another person before, and I hold onto the warmth of our friendship.

One week passes and I return full time to work.

My first group session is hard and I go to my office afterwards in tears only to find Casey sitting on my work sofa waiting for me because she knew it would be heartbreaking and she holds me tight till the sobbing stops.

A second week passes and she takes me to the cinema. She holds my hand from when we leave my apartment till we get home, and even though I know my rapist is at least temporarily behind bars, being out at night with so many people makes me nervous and she understands.

Week six finds me walking to the bar alone. Casey offers to pick me up but I insist I need to do this alone. It is only just night and the bar is only a few blocks from my apartment, but I feel fear and only just manage to stop myself from calling Casey to pick me up after all. But I do it and Casey smiles at me when I arrive and tells me she's proud.

Week seven finds us curled up before the tv watching every romantic comedy we could find. Casey looks nervous and I ask her what's wrong. She tells me that the trial date has been set and she wants me to testify. I take in both pieces of information and agree to the last.

"You're sure?" Her nervousness is still there.

"Yes. Why?" She fidgets and I eventually turn the tv off, so I can turn and face her.

"You don't think I can handle it?" I ask. My progress I admit has been slower than I would have liked but I know that I am making progress. Even the removable support on my wrist is a welcome replacement to the plaster I had been forced to endure till only last week.

She shakes her head. "No I think you can … Johnson has been asking about our relationship … he's going to make sure the fact that you're gay comes out during the trial, and he's going to try and break you on the stand, because he knows the effect it'll have on me - he's going to use you to get to me… I'm sorry Angela." I take in the information.

"It's not your fault Casey!" I try to reassure.

"But it is! If I hadn't reacted the way I did during the line up..."

I smile and put my hand on her shoulder. "Any lawyer worth his billable hours would have been able to find out we were friends Casey, but I can testify, you can prepare me, I won't crack and you can put this guy away!"

She seemed more worried than nervous.

"What?" I asked again.

"I'm not sure I can prep you … I don't want you to associate me with the things I'll have to say and do."

I try to be reassuring, "I know it's not you Casey …"

I reach towards her and hug her tight to me. She leans back and I go forward so I'm lying on her side of the sofa, a lot like the first day she showed up at my apartment. She doesn't seem to mind the fact I'm lying on her and my head settles on her shoulder.

"Ok … but forgive me." I squeeze her tightly before relaxing back into her comfortable embrace.

"I will."

She stretches for the remote control and I start to move but she stops me. "Stay please?" I look into her eyes and still see the worry there and I settle back against her shoulder.


Chapter 6 – The Trial … but whose?

Another three weeks passed and the trial date is suddenly here. I make my way up the court steps with a feeling of dread, over the last three weeks I have spent many hours preparing, and many more crying.

But all of that was behind me now, today I would face my fears and then once the trial was over I would start my life new.

Olivia waited for me outside the assigned court. She smiled as I approached "Angela, how are you?" I shrugged and tried to seem casual.

"Ok I guess … nervous if I'm being honest!" She placed her hand on my shoulder and I took comfort from her presence and the fact she never lied and told me it would be fine. Casey had during my prep sessions roped Olivia into helping. Supporting both of us, and she had performed wonderfully, strong and encouraging.

The day passed and I sat anxiously waiting. I tried to be patient and wait outside the court in case they needed me but the sunny weather and suffocating atmosphere of the court building eventually drove me to the steps again and I sat perched on a step to the side and watched the people got back and forth.

I sat letting the sun warm me for more than an hour when a shadow fell over me. I looked up as the person creating the shadow and they moved out of the sun's glare. The shape and movement could belong to only one person and I stood, Detective Benson smiled reassuringly

"Now?" I asked and she nodded her head. I took a calming breath and we walked into the suddenly imposing building

The seat was uncomfortable I noticed this first, even as the severe man came forward to make me state my name and occupation and to swear to tell the truth, I nodded and agreed.

Casey stepped forward.

"Miss Chamberlain can you describe as best you can the events of September the 9th?" I clear my throat and actively avoid looking at the defence table.

"I was walking home when I was grabbed from behind dragged into an ally and raped, I lost consciousness and woke up in a hospital." Casey took a second to let my answer penetrate the jury.

"Is the man who raped you in this room today?" I nod and look finally to the defence table.

"Him." I point to the man sitting in a smart suit looking emotionless back at me. I glance away quickly and control my fear.

Casey allows my answer to linger before nodding once.

"Thank you … " she turns and takes her seat slowly before finally and reluctantly speaking again.

"….. your witness," the small attorney rose from his seat and walks towards me, he smiles and I don't return it.

"Ms Chamberlain …. What where you doing before the alleged attack?" I think before answering like Casey always suggested.

"I had met a few friends for a drink." I stop knowing not to give away too much information.

"Drinks?…just a few friends?. It says in your statement that you where on a double date?" he made his statements sounds like a question and I swallowed hard.

"Yes I was on a double date." I hold my breath.

"With a woman?" I see Casey about to object but our eyes meet and I silently try to tell her it's ok, she sits back in her seat.

"Yes it was," I answer and stop, he seems slightly annoyed that I'm making him work for his information.

"Had you had anything to drink?" Casey stands.

"Objection … the victim is not on trial." the judge looks to the defence lawyer.

"Your honour I'm just trying to establish the victim's state of mind, my client's defence hinges on the fact that the sex he had with Ms Chamberlain was consensual." the judge considers the argument.

"Overruled, please answer the question." I feel ruffled and slightly annoyed.

"I had 2 glasses of wine." the defence lawyer passed back to his table and looked at a sheet of paper.

"Where you on any medication at the time?" I pause then and Casey looks at me, she too is wondering where this was going. I thought for a second longer.

"Yes," I finally answer, Casey is surprised but anyone who didn't know her might not notice.

"And what medication where you on?" he looked at me, then to his paper then back and I knew the answer was there in front of him.

"Zoloft …. A mild dose of Zoloft." he ignored the last part of my comment.

"And what is that medication prescribed for?" I take a deep breath.

"Depression." he lets the silence fall.

"So you've been diagnosed from depression?" Casey stands up and takes a step around her own table.

"Objection your honour… the victim's medical history has no relevance here." she is angry and I'm worried for her but still she keeps her composure.

"Mr Johnson do you have a point?" the small man pulls himself to his full height.

"Yes your honour." the judge contemplates him with weary eyes.

"Then make it please." a quick decisive nod from the defence lawyer before he makes his was closer to me, Casey reluctantly takes her seat.

"How long have you been taking this medication?" I narrow my eyes.

"About 6 months before my rape." I don't even need to calculate or think about it. My rape had been the fitting end of probably the worst 6 months of my life, and I realise then I'd never gotten around to telling Casey about it …I had been so busy healing from that one event I hadn't told her how much she was helping me accept the event that happened 6 months before, now seemed the worst time to bring it out in the open … but it seemed Mr Johnson really had done his homework and I was in trouble.

"So you where taking medication for depression and drinking alcohol! Let me tell you my theory as to what happened… you where feeling down your female date and you had not hit it off and you where walking home you met my client and propositioned him for sex … an experiment on your part, is that what happened Ms Chamberlain?" As I emphatically shook my head Casey stood.

"Objection your honour … Mr Johnson could not know Ms Chamberlain's thoughts or feeling on the night of her attack …" the Judge did not even look to the defence lawyer.

"Sustained." the defence lawyer put his hands up in a fake gesture of defeat but really he had gotten his own theory out in the open and even though the judge had agreed it wasn't an acceptable question the theory was out and the jury where considering it.

"No more questions." he returned to his seat, I looked to Casey and she was stood from her seat and walked towards me, her eyes searched mine and I tried to tell her to ask the questions.

"Ms Chamberlain the medication you where taking, why where to taking it?" I take a deep breath.

"One of my clients had committed suicide. I was prescribed a very mild dose of anti-depressants and I was seeing an occupational councillor … in my work it's difficult to step back sometimes."

Casey looks at me with sad eyes.

"Ms Chamberlain did you consent to having sex with the defendant?" I shook my head.

"No I did not."

"Thank you … no more Question." I was not sure if I should be happy that it was over or worried that I had somehow made it worse.

"You may step down Ms Chamberlain thank you." I moved from my seat and made my way out. I kept my head down and didn't stop until I had passed through the doors to the court room. I heard the judge call an adjournment till tomorrow at 9.

I did not stop until I had made it to the ladies restrooms and even as I closed the cubical door I felt what little food I had eaten today being rejected and I threw up. When my stomach was empty and I was sure it had stopped I left the cubical on slightly weak legs.

I looked to the sink and leaning against it casual even in the dark blue skirt with matching purple blouse is my secret love. I move to the sink beside her and run the water, splash some on my face and use a little more to rinse out my mouth.

"I'm so sorry Casey," I say finally. She hands me several paper towels and I dry my face and hands.

"Sorry for what?" I take a breath and look at myself in the mirror, my eyes are bloodshot but it only seems to make them seem more blue, I sigh.

"I should have mentioned my anti-depressants it's just I stopped taking them when I got attacked and just forgot…." I let my sentence trail.

"The testimony was fine … I can work with that … I thought you where apologising for not telling me about your client who committed suicide." I'm surprised and meet her eyes for the first time.

"It …. It was difficult … I didn't know where to start!…. should I have sat in your office …'Oh by the way one of my clients committed suicide last night … how is your day?'" she looked hurt and I regretted my words.

"I'm sorry you don't deserve that … it's been a hard day." she nodded and reached for me, her arms wrapped around me in protective warmth.

"I know … lets have pizza at yours tonight … I'll even go as far as watching Star Trek DVD's with you." I smiled and hugged back.

"Sounds great."


Chapter 7 Angela looks towards the emerald city… Pizza, DVD and a kiss.. Oh my!

The half eaten pizza lay discarded on the coffee table and the DVD played quietly in the background, we sat on the sofa legs tucked in tight facing each other the conversation turned serious.

"Tell me about her," Casey's words are soft and gentle.

"There isn't much to tell, her name was Maureen and she had been referred to me through a friend of mine, she refused to report her ordeal to the police but she wasn't coping. I had been meeting with her for 6 months twice a week, she was a sweet girl, she came form a well off family. She had gone to a party, she thought that maybe her drink had been spiked … she blamed herself." I pause and Casey sits looking at me patiently waiting.

"The last session I had with her … I should have seen. The signs where there, she thanked me for my help, I told her not to be so silly it was my job…I should have seen." I feel fresh tears slide down my cheeks and I wipe them away.

"I guess it's stupid… I should be professional … distant." she reaches forward and wipes a tear from my cheek.

"Then you wouldn't be you," she smiles warmly.

"She sent me a letter … it arrived a few days after she died …" more tears fell from my eyes and I couldn't stop them or wipe them away quick enough so I let them fall.

"She thanked me for my help … said it wasn't my fault… she said that she had finally taken control of her own life… that she needed to make a decision and follow through… that this was the best way to save her … she said she knew how upset I would be … that I should be proud that I gave her strength and not feel that I had missed a weakness," sobs escape me and Casey moves forward and hugs me, I hold on tight to her.

"There I go crying on you again." Casey pulls back and lifts my chin so that out eyes meet.

"You can cry on me anytime… I just wish you had told me before… I could have helped, supported you… I just wish you had been honest with me." I shrug.

"Being open is not one of my strongest skills." Casey smiles.

"We'll have to work on that…" I nodded my head. I had more I could say … more of myself I could give her but it really had been a long day and I felt drained.

I guess it was my exhaustion that made the next moment seem so surreal, but when her lips first touched mine it took me a few moments to realise it was really happening and a few seconds more to tentatively respond, her lips where soft against mine, she pressed forward and ran her fingers gently down my cheek.

The kiss lasted forever but not long enough at the same time when I pulled back and took an unsteady breath, Casey spoke first her voice thick with emotion.

"I'm sorry … that was.. Inappropriate." I shake my head slowly and smile.

"No … not if you meant it." Our eyes meet and we both smile and she blushes slightly.

"Will you have dinner with me when this is over?" I smile at her nervousness.

"Casey we've had dinner together hundreds of times." she blushes more and I take more pleasure than I should from it.

"You're determined to make this hard aren't you?" I nod and smile.

"Angela will you have dinner with me … on a date?" she rolls her eyes at having to spell it out and I pretend to think it over …

"I'll need to check my diary … Yes I would love to." it's me who initiates the next kiss and she responds. I'm sure I'm not dreaming because even in my dreams our kisses where never this good.

When we break apart again I look into her eyes.

"Casey you understand I have to take this slow?" her smile is reassuring and she nods.

"Yes I do." with that she hugs me and we end up in our usual position, of her lying the length of my sofa and me on top my arms tight around her waist and my head on her shoulder, the only difference is the occasional kiss and the change is welcome.

The End

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