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

New Beginnings
By cajun70503



"Elliot and Olivia." Cragen peered out his door and called the detectives into his office. "I just received a call from Trevor Langan's office. Langan and Kaley Sellers' mother are holding a press conference in one hour."

"What?" Elliot asked surprised. "Why are they holding a press conference without involving us?"

Cragen returned to his desk and sat down. "Langan seems to think he doesn't need us to have a press conference."

Elliot looked at his partner. "Did you know about this?"

"This is the first I hear of it." Olivia replied, annoyed by Elliot's implication. She had been avoiding Langan and had not spoken to him since Alex left town.

"What do we have so far?" Cragen leaned back in his chair and looked at the detectives.

"We don't have much, Cap." Elliot frowned. "Kaley Sellers, 18-years-old, missing since last night. Her mother received a call from a man on Kaley's cell phone. We assume the man who called is the same person who kidnapped her. We're following some leads, but nothing we want to take to the press at this time."

Cragen shifted in his chair and leaned forward. "Olivia get over to Langan's office and make sure they don't release any information that will compromise this investigation. Elliot, you keep working those leads. I want to find this girl." Both detectives nodded in understanding and exited the office.

Elliot sat down at his desk and began looking through his notes. "I'll call you if we come up with any thing."

"Okay. I'll be at Langan's office." Olivia dreaded meeting up with Trevor, but since Cragen told her to go to his office, she had no choice.


Olivia turned to her partner. "What?"

"Give my best to Langan."

She started to get aggravated, and then realized Elliot was grinning. "I'll tell him you said hi. Maybe we can all do lunch together." Olivia laughed and walked towards the door of the squad room.

"Only if it's at an expensive restaurant and he's paying." Elliot shouted after her. He chuckled to himself then picked up the phone.

Olivia met up with Trevor as he walked out of his office. "Why didn't you get with us before scheduling the press conference?"

"I had my office call to inform you." He continued walking, making his way to the room where the press conference was scheduled.

"As an afterthought." Olivia responded angrily. "We are the one's handling this investigation, we should have been contacted before you scheduled the press conference."

Trevor stopped and faced Olivia. "Kaley Sellers is an employee in my firm. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get her back."

Olivia stared at him for a moment then took a deep breath. "Where is Mrs. Sellers? I thought she was going to be here."

"She was upset and went to the ladies' room. She should be here in a minute." Trevor caught a glimpse of Mrs. Sellers walking towards them and waved her over. "There she is."

"Mrs. Sellers, are you sure you want to do this?" Olivia wanted to make sure Trevor hadn't pushed her into holding a press conference in order to get publicity for himself.

"Yes … I just want to get my daughter back."

"Mrs. Sellers … they are ready for us." Trevor directed them down the hallway and the three of them started walking to the conference room.

"We should be holding this press conference, not you." Olivia turned to Trevor as they continued walking.

"This isn't about who gets the most airtime," he replied.

"Do you have any news?" Mrs. Sellers asked, hoping Olivia had more information on her daughter's disappearance.

Olivia hesitated before answering. "I'm sorry …"

Trevor cut the detective off before she could finish. "There's really no other option then to appeal to the public for help."

"I agree with you, but we need to control which information gets released."

Langan shook his head. "And you just told Mrs. Sellers that you don't have any and given the 48 hours statistic …"

"Well what's that?" Mrs. Sellers asked the detective.

"It's the stat he's confusing on the abduction of much younger children."

The realization of what they were talking about dawned on Mrs. Sellers. "You think he's going to kill her?"

Olivia tired to reassure Kaley's mother. "We don't know that, Mrs. Sellers."

"He's had her for at least 16 hours and you people haven't done anything. I want to do this now." The woman snapped. Olivia knew not to take it personally. Most parents tended to take their frustration out on the detectives involved in the case.

Langan opened the door to the conference room. "Right through here."

Olivia sat at the bar staring at her drink, thinking about Kaley Sellers. During the press conference, Langan's office manager informed the detective they could trace Kaley's activities from the previous day. They eventually found the girl's body; she had been raped and murdered. Olivia took another sip of her beer, wanting to forget about the day.

Olivia felt someone standing beside her. She glanced sideways, then took another sip of her beer.

Trevor sat down and signaled the bartender. "Budweiser," he looked at Olivia's nearly empty bottle, "and another one for her."

"Thanks." Olivia looked at the bottle in her hands and started peeling the label.

"You still mad about the press conference?"

"It doesn't really matter now … does it?" Olivia hated loosing someone so young.

Trevor shook his head. "Any new leads?"

"Elliot has someone in mind. If it pans out I'll let you know." Olivia hesitated before continuing, "I'm sorry we weren't able to get to Kaley in time." She reached for the fresh beer the bartender placed in front of her and took a long sip.

Trevor paid the bartender and reached for his own drink. "I know … just get the person responsible for this. Kaley was a good kid."

The two sat in silence, drinking their beers.

Trevor shifted on his bar stool, turning to Olivia. "I was surprised you left a message for me to meet you here. I was beginning to think you were avoiding me."

"I was."

The attorney let out a hearty laugh.

"What's so funny?"

"I didn't expect you to be honest. I thought you were going to make up some excuse as to why you haven't returned my calls." He laughed softly and took another sip of his beer. "That's what I like about you, Benson. You're straight and to the point."

"I'm not straight." Olivia replied seriously.

"Excuse me?" Trevor wasn't sure he had heard her correctly.

"I'm not straight … I prefer women." She looked down at her bottle and scratched the label. "That's one of the reason's I've been avoiding you … I don't want to get involved with you." Olivia wasn't sure why she decided to be honest with Trevor.

"Well, don't be shy … tell me how you really feel, Olivia."

Olivia could tell from the tone in Trevor's voice that she had hurt his feelings. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to blurt it out like that."

Trevor remained silent for a moment, absorbing the information he had just received. "So what's the other reason?"

"What?" Olivia asked puzzled.

"You said that's one of the reasons you have been avoiding me … what's the other."

Olivia hesitated, taking another sip of her beer. "Alex."

Trevor had heard the rumors about Olivia and the former ADA. Up until now, he did not know if they were true. It all made sense now. "That must have been hard when Alex had to leave again," he said sincerely.

Olivia shrugged her shoulders. "I just wanted to let you know why I haven't called you. I haven't really been in the mood to be around anyone. I go to work and I go home."

"But you're here tonight … and you invited me," Trevor replied.

"It's been a difficult day, I needed a drink. I thought maybe you could use one too after the news about Kaley."

"I wouldn't be surprised if half the office were out getting drunk tonight. Kaley's murder hit everyone pretty hard.

"I know what that's like." Olivia thought back to the night Alex was shot. Everyone believed she had died; the entire squad was in shock. She glanced at Trevor, thinking he might say something, but he remained quite. "It's been a difficult month. I didn't feel like going home and drinking alone in my apartment."

"I'm glad you called me. Have you eaten yet?' Trevor asked.

Olivia shook her head. She hadn't eaten all day.

"You want to join me for dinner?"

"I don't think dinner is a good idea. I'm in a strange mood tonight." Olivia was feeling on edge, her emotions teetering between anger and sadness.

"Why?" Trevor asked.

"Have you been paying attention to anything I said?" She answered him sharply.

"I've heard everything you've said, Olivia." Trevor's tone was harsher than he intended. He knew they were both on edge, so he took a deep breath and calmed his voice. "I understand more than you think I do. You love Alex, but you can't be with her."

Olivia looked at Trevor when he mentioned Alex's name.

He held Olivia's gaze and continued talking. "You isolate yourself from friends because you don't want to have to pretend that everything is okay. You haven't returned my calls because you don't want to deal with my attraction to you." Trevor continued looking at the detective. "Did I leave anything out?"

Olivia shook her head and took a long sip of her beer. "Well," she cleared her throat, "don't be shy, Trevor, tell me what you really think." Her jaw clenched as she fought to hold down her emotions.

"Olivia … it's only dinner. Maybe we can talk. Believe it or not, I know how you feel." Trevor replied seriously.

"Really … you have a girlfriend in witness protection?" Olivia meant her statement to be a joke, but one look at Trevor's expression and the detective knew she had said the wrong thing. "I'm sorry, Trevor, I know you're trying to help."

"No problem." Trevor finished his beer and signaled the bartender. They sat quietly, waiting for the bartender to return with their drinks.

"I was engaged several years ago. My fiancée, Diana, wanted to go Christmas shopping so she begged me to go with her. We must have gone to over a hundred stores that day." Trevor laughed to himself, remembering the day. "Of course, I gave her grief for dragging me all over the place, but we had a lot of fun. We spent all day shopping, ate dinner, and then headed back home."

"Christmas shopping with a woman … you must have been in love." Olivia smiled.

"I was." Trevor smiled then fell silent. He took another sip of his beer and continued talking. "Diana fell asleep on the way home. I didn't realize how tired I was and I dozed off while driving. My car hit the guardrail and flipped a couple of times. I walked away with only a cut above my eye … Diana was paralyzed from the waist down."

Olivia sat there quiet, not knowing what to say. Listening to Trevor, she realized she knew nothing about him. "I'm sorry, Trevor … I didn't know."

Trevor cleared his throat and continued. "She was in the hospital for a couple of months then her parents moved her to a rehab center closer to them … about 3 hours away from me. At first, I went to see her every weekend, then it got harder and harder to get there … with work and everything else. We talked on the phone, but we hardly ever saw each other. One day I went to visit and Diana asked me not to come back."

"Why?" Olivia blurted out, wanting to understand.

"You would think if two people loved each other they should be able to be together. Diana still loved me … she knew I loved her, but everything changed after the accident. I still wanted to marry her. I was going to quit my job and move closer to her, but she told me not too." Trevor looked at the beer in his hands. "I left that day and didn't go back. We kept in touch by phone for awhile."

"That must have been hard." Olivia thought about her relationship with Alex. "To love someone that much and not be able to be together."

"For a long time I felt guilty for leaving her, even thought I knew she was right. She didn't blame me for the accident, but I blamed myself. At first, I did the same thing you're doing now." Trevor nodded to Olivia. "I went to work and I came home. I stayed away from the people who cared about me. I drank too much. I put my life on hold."

"Is that what you think I'm doing … putting my life on hold for Alex." Olivia asked quietly.

"I can't answer that for you, Olivia, only you can."

Olivia took another sip of her beer, wishing she could talk to Alex. "Did you ever see Diana again?"

"Yes … about five years ago I attended her wedding."

"Her wedding?"

"After rehab, Diana went back to school, met a great guy, and got married … they even have a daughter."

"Really?" Olivia said surprised. "How did you take the news?"

Trevor leaned forward, his elbows on the bar. He turned his head and looked at Olivia. "I thought I had ruined her life. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty and feeling sorry for myself. I wasted so much time. Diana let go of our relationship a lot sooner than I did. After her wedding, I realized I needed to forgive myself for the accident. I hadn't ruined her life … she made a different life for herself and she was happy."

Olivia thought about everything Trevor had said. "Do you think you'll fall in love again?"

"Yes." He answered without hesitation. "When Diana got married, I realized it is possible to fall in love again … she did. I think you have to open up your heart to allow someone else in."

"So why aren't you married?" Olivia knew most women would consider Trevor a "good catch." He was a successful lawyer, good looking, and as she was discovering, a decent man.

Trevor shrugged his shoulders. "I haven't met the right woman yet." He smiled and finished the rest of his beer.

"I never imagined I would be sitting with you having a serious conversation," Olivia confessed.

"You seem so surprised. I'm really not the jerk everyone thinks I am."

Olivia took a sip of her beer. "Looks like I was the jerk tonight. I'm sorry about earlier."

"Well, don't be too hard on yourself, I'm sure it won't be long until I piss you off again."

Olivia laughed. "I'm sure you will."

Trevor grinned. "I should be insulted … but at least I made you laugh. So, can I ask you a personal question?"

"Why not … this seems to be the night for us to get to know each other." Olivia was enjoying her conversation with Trevor.

"Have ever slept with a man?"

Olivia nearly choked on her beer. "Why do guys always ask that? Yes, I've slept with a man. And before you ask your next question, yes, I enjoyed it."

"Hmm …" Trevor thought for a moment.

"Remind me again why I am telling you about my personal life." Olivia swallowed the rest of her beer.

"You're drunk." Trevor said flatly.

Olivia tipped her empty bottle at Trevor. "That must be it."

"Face it, Olivia … I'm growing on you." He smirked

"Uh huh." Olivia rolled her eyes.

"So, back to my question."

"What question?" Olivia inquired.

"The one I was going to ask before you interrupted me."

"Oh, well … what is it?" Olivia laughed.

"If you enjoy sex with men, why not have a relationship with a man." Trevor asked seriously.

Olivia considered the question. "Let's see if I can explain it in terms you can understand. I have sex with men ... I make love to women." The detective almost laughed when she saw Trevor's stunned expression. "Any more questions?"

Trevor thought for a moment then grinned. "So what you are saying is … you won't date me, but you might have sex with me?"

"In your dreams, Langan."

"Actually I think I have had that dream, Benson."

"Shut up and buy me another drink." Olivia signaled the bartender.

"How many of those have you had?' Trevor asked.

"Too many … not enough." Olivia answered seriously. "Bartender … another drink for me. He's paying."

Olivia sat in Trevor's car, staring at the outside of her building. She and Trevor eventually left the bar and stopped by a deli to eat. They continued talking, swapping stories, occasionally getting serious, but mostly laughing and enjoying each other's company. Trevor had insisted on driving Olivia home and now they were parked on the street in front of her building. It suddenly seemed cold and lonely and Olivia dreaded the thought of going upstairs to an empty apartment.

"Thanks for keeping me company tonight … I had a good time."

Olivia looked over at Trevor and smiled. "So did I."

Trevor grinned. "I told you I was growing on you."

"Don't let it go to your head." Olivia laughed.

Olivia got out of the car, leaned in the open door, and looked at Trevor. "You coming up."

They walked in silence to her apartment. Olivia knew she should stop and tell Trevor to go home, but she did not want to be alone tonight. "Have a seat if you want." Olivia nodded to her couch. Trevor remained standing and watched Olivia as she walked to the kitchen.

"You want a beer?" Olivia asked.

"No thanks." They had both drank several beers earlier, but Trevor stopped drinking when they left the bar, knowing he was going to be driving.

"Mind if I get one?" Olivia did not wait for him to answer. She opened the refrigerator, grabbed a beer, and took a couple of sips. She and Trevor stood looking at each other from across the room.

"What do you want from me, Olivia?" Trevor asked softly.

Olivia took another sip of her beer and walked towards him. "Honestly … I don't know. I miss Alex. I don't know what to do with everything I'm feeling. Tonight I just want to forget." She stared at Trevor. "Does that make me wrong?"

Trevor could hear the sadness in her voice. "No, Olivia. It makes you human." He took the beer out of her hand, placed it on the counter, and pulled her closer. Trevor hugged Olivia as she buried her face in his chest and hugged him back.

"I should probably go." Trevor said quietly, still holding Olivia

"Why?" She whispered.

He pulled away slightly to look at her. "If I don't leave now, we will end up doing something that you will probably regret."

Olivia released the hug. She picked up her beer, took one last swallow, and threw the bottle in the garbage can. "I have lot's of regrets already. What's one more?" Olivia walked past Trevor toward the bedroom. She stopped and turned to him. "You can sleep on the sofa … or you can sleep with me."

Trevor followed her to the bedroom.



Olivia woke up, feeling a warm body behind her. "Alex," she said softly, grabbing the hand gently draped across her hip. Something was different. Trevor. "Oh shit," she whispered. Olivia got out of bed slowly, careful not to wake the man sleeping beside her. She went to the bathroom, splashed water on her face, and looked in the mirror. "What are you doing?" she asked her reflection as she thought about the events from the previous night.

Trevor followed Olivia into her bedroom. She turned around and leaned up to kiss him, but he stopped her. Trevor took hold of Olivia's hand and led her to the bed. He pulled down the covers and nodded for her to get in. Olivia removed her shoes and pants and climbed in. Trevor sat on the edge of the bed and removed his shoes, socks, and belt. He untucked his shirt then slid in bed next to her, fully clothed.

"What are you doing?" Olivia asked confused.

"I'm keeping you from making a big mistake."

Olivia remained quiet and looked at Trevor.

"I'm sure I will kick myself in the morning for not taking you up on your offer, but if you really want to sleep with me, ask me again when you haven't been drinking."

"I'm sorry," she said quietly and looked away.

Trevor smiled and patted the pillow next to him. "Lay down and get some sleep."

Olivia did as he asked. She turned on her side, facing away from Trevor. He pulled the covers over them.

"Thanks, Trevor." Olivia whispered. She adjusted her body to get comfortable. Trevor pulled her closer and draped his arm around her.

"Good night, Olivia."

It was not long before Trevor could hear the soft sounds of Olivia crying. He held her tighter and they eventually fell asleep.

Olivia finished her shower and walked out of the bathroom in her robe. She could hear Trevor moving around in the kitchen. She took a deep breath as she walked over to speak to him. "Good morning."

"Hi." Trevor smiled at Olivia and held up the coffee pot. "I hope you don't mind … I made some coffee. Want some?"

"Please." Olivia took the steaming cup from Trevor and leaned against the counter. "Thanks."

"How are you feeling?" Trevor took a sip of his coffee.

"Much better since I had my shower." Olivia smiled slightly and averted Trevor's eyes.


They were quiet for a moment drinking their coffee. Olivia glanced toward Trevor and noticed him grinning.

"What?" Olivia asked.

"Is it me, or does this feel kind of awkward … the both of us standing in your kitchen."

Olivia laughed lightly. "Yeah, kind of like the morning after sex."

"Except we didn't have sex." Trevor added.

"I was hoping you would be gone by the time I got out of the shower, so I wouldn't have to face you." She took a deep breath. "I'm not use to being vulnerable … in front of anyone."

"That's why you took so long in the shower … I thought you had fallen asleep." Trevor joked in an attempt to lighten the mood. "Honestly … I thought about leaving when you were in the shower, but I didn't want it to be awkward for us the next time we ran into each other."

Olivia looked at him. "I don't know what to say."

"Olivia, everything we talked about last night … stays between you and me." Trevor tried to reassure her. "You're human, Olivia … give yourself a break."

"Thanks, Trevor."

"Sure. But keep in mind … if you throw yourself at me again, I won't be such a gentleman next time." Trevor grinned and took another sip of his coffee.

"You're never going to let me live that down … are you." Olivia hung her head.

"Uh … no." Trevor smiled. "I should get going." He placed his cup on the counter and walked towards the door. "Olivia, if you ever need to talk or anything … give me a call." Trevor grasped Olivia's hand and held it for a moment.

"Thanks." Olivia watched Trevor leave then called after him. "Trevor."

He turned to face her.

"If I were into men … you would be my type."

"Thanks … I think." Trevor smiled and walked away.

Olivia closed the door. She sat down on the sofa and stared at her laptop, as she did every morning. Alex told her to wait one month before checking the e-mail address she had given her. It had been 32 days since Alex left. Olivia took a deep breath, turned on her computer, and waited. She logged into the account and entered the e-mail address. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the screen.

You have 1 unread message: Inbox (1)

Olivia's hands were shaking as she double-clicked on the entry.


Where do I begin? How do I put into words everything I am feeling? Words cannot begin to convey how much I miss you and think about you. I wish I could talk to you. Hearing your voice would instantly bring a smile to my face.

Antonio and I are finally settled. We are both adjusting to our new life as a family. Having him with me has been such a blessing. I did not realize how hard it would be to go back into witness protection once I left you. It is definitely harder than the first time, knowing how much I am giving up … my future with you. I truly love you and I would spend the rest of my life with you. If only it were possible.

There are days when I do not want to get out of bed. I find myself putting Antonio's needs before my own. He is my reason for existing. I did not realize it was possible to love someone so much in such a short period, but loving you opened me up to loving him.

Did you know that children hog the bed? I have a Queen size bed, but I end up sleeping on the edge because Antonio sneaks in my bed at night … nightmares. It has been hard for him; I do my best to help him feel secure. He is so sweet … he gives me hugs and kisses all the time. I think a part of him senses the loneliness I feel without you here.

Antonio asked me last week if he could stay with me forever. I have talked to Hammond about letting me adopt Antonio. Of course, Hammond is practical and says I should wait a few more months before making that kind of decision. Maybe he is right. What do you think? I haven't started working yet. They are giving me time to be with Antonio to help him with all of the adjustments. My official cover is "stay at home mom." I even have a husband, one of the agents is staying with us. My life is so different.

Enough about me …

How are you doing? I hope this e-mail finds you in good spirits. There are so many questions I have for you. Did I mention how much I miss you? Please write back as soon as possible. I want to know everything you have been doing since I left.

I miss you so much, Liv…



Olivia stared at the screen, tears streaming down her face. "I miss you too, Alex." She ran her hands through her hair, considering how to respond. There was so much she wanted to say to Alex … so much she wanted to ask. She stared at the screen for a long time before she started typing. She read over her reply, and then pressed the send key.


Where do I begin? I too am having difficulty putting into words everything I am feeling. I miss you so much, but I am relieved to know you are safe and well.

It seems as though you and Antonio have forged a strong bond. Go with your heart, Alex. Only you know whether you should seek custody of Antonio. From what you have written, he seems like a very special boy. He has been through a lot and he deserves a loving guardian in his life. I have experienced your love first hand; I know you would make a wonderful parent.

For now, enjoy your time off with Antonio. Right now he needs a loving and secure environment … so do you. I am relieved you do not have to do this alone. I can rest easy knowing there is someone watching over you and Antonio and protecting you. I wish it could be me.

I won't lie to you … it's been hard, not having you here. Everyone has been doing their best to help me in subtle ways. They don't ask questions, but I think most of them have an idea of our relationship. Fin even acknowledged that we were "tight" and offered to take me out for a beer. Elliot has been going out of his way to be helpful and to make me laugh. Poor Munch … he is the brunt of most of Elliot's jokes. Casey has started dropping by the station more and making small talk with me. She even invited me to lunch a couple of times. I declined. I haven't been in the mood to socialize, but I did get drunk with Langan. You were right … he is a decent man.

There is so much more I want to say. I hate that you are not here, but I am grateful you broke the rules and set up this e-mail address.

I miss you and love you,




Elliot sat at the crowded diner waiting for Olivia to arrive. It had been a difficult week for the both of them. They arrested a fake psychic, Sebastian Ballentine, and his wife for the abduction and brutal murder of Kaley Sellers. Ballentine was a disturbed individual who derived pleasure in playing mind games with the detectives. Even after all their years on the job, it never ceased to amaze them just how perverted and sick some individuals could be.

"Sorry I'm late." Olivia slid into the booth across from her partner.

"No problem. I ordered you a coffee and bagel." He pointed to the plate in front of her.

"Thanks." Olivia tasted her coffee and smiled. "Hmm … perfect."

"You're in a good mood this morning." Elliot took a bite of his scrambled eggs.

"It's amazing what a good night's sleep will do." Olivia replied.

"I wouldn't know about that."

"Having trouble sleeping?" Olivia looked at her partner concerned.

Elliot frowned and leaned back in the booth. "Married to Kathy all these years … it's hard to sleep alone."

"Have you talked to her recently?" Olivia wasn't sure if she should bring up the subject.

"About the kids. Not about anything else," Elliot stated. "What about you … how are you doing?"


"You and Langan set a date yet."

"A date for what?" Olivia asked confused.

Elliot sipped his coffee and grinned. "A date for the wedding."

Olivia shook her head and laughed. She wondered how long Elliot would make fun of her friendship with Trevor. "You'll be the first to know when we set a date. I'll even let you walk me down the isle."

"I'll be waiting for the part where the minister asks 'If anyone knows of any reason why these two people should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace'." Elliot chuckled.

"Do they still ask that at weddings?" Olivia smiled, getting a mental picture of Elliot standing up and objecting.

"I don't know." Elliot thought for a moment. "I haven't been to any weddings recently."

"Well, just so you can sleep tonight … I told Trevor he wasn't my type and I also told him about Alex."

"How'd he take the news?" Elliot asked, surprised Olivia had confided in the attorney.

"He was devastated … of course." Olivia joked.

"I bet."

Olivia cleared her throat. "Elliot …."

"What?" He took a sip of his coffee.

"I received an e-mail from Alex." Olivia confessed quietly, waiting for her partner's response.

Elliot stopped mid-bite and looked at her. "She doing okay?"

"Adjusting." Olivia sighed. "Alex set up an e-mail address for us to contact each other."

Elliot leaned forward and looked at her. "Are you sure it's safe?"

"I asked Archie over at Technical Operations to take a look at my laptop. He extracts data from the computers we bring in; I figured he would be the best one to question about security features for my computer. He checked it out and added some new programs." Olivia had promised Alex she would make sure it was safe to e-mail each other.

"Does he know why you wanted the security?" Elliot asked seriously, aware of how dangerous it could be if anyone knew she was in touch with Alex.

"No." Olivia shook her head. "You are the only person who knows."

"Why'd you tell me? You could have kept it a secret."

"You and I have been partners a long time." Olivia looked at Elliot, tears forming in her eyes. "You are my best friend, Elliot. I need at least one person to know what's going on with me … or else I'll go crazy."

Elliot grinned at her. "You want some more coffee." He signaled for the waiter then looked back at his partner. "I'm glad you told me about Alex … you're my best friend too, Liv. Tell Alex I said hi next time you reply."

"I will." Olivia smiled at her partner.

Olivia and Alex e-mailed each other frequently. It was difficult being separated from each, but the e-mail contact made their situation tolerable. The former ADA was beginning to adjust to her new life. She kept Olivia up-to-date on her daily activities and her life with Antonio. Alex decided to adopt him and the paperwork was in progress. She finally convinced the authorities in charge of her relocation to let her put her legal experience to use. She started working for a small legal aid office, concentrating in Family Law and Children's Rights. Olivia would often e-mail Alex at night before going to bed, letting her know how her day went. The detective would give Alex updates on her former colleagues and would often run cases by the former ADA to get her opinion.

The detective sat at the bar waiting for Casey to arrive, wondering how Alex would have handled her current case. Fifteen-year-old Carrie Eldridge had confessed to killing her mother, Denise Eldridge. Everyone assumed Carrie killed her mother because she wanted Carrie's twenty-one-year-old boyfriend charged with statutory rape. During the trial, Olivia learned Denise Eldridge was an alcoholic. Carrie and her mother argued about her boyfriend and Mrs. Eldridge slapped her daughter and began hitting her. Carrie lost control and struck her mother several times with a lamp, killing her. She did not tell the detectives the truth because she didn't want anyone to know her mother was an alcoholic. Olivia knew Carrie hadn't intended to kill her mother, now all she had to do was convince Casey.

"You shouldn't have talked to Carrie or her attorney without me." Casey sat down at the bar next to the detective.

"I know." Olivia turned to face the ADA.

"You did a good job, though. Jury will definitely convict."

"Plead her out, Casey."

Casey looked at Olivia confused. "You just won it for us. Why?"

Olivia leaned against the bar, debating on whether or not she should confide in her colleague. "My mother was an English professor. When I was 16 years old, I started dating one of her students. He was a senior. He was 21 years old and he asked me to marry him. I said yes because I wanted to get away from my mother."

Casey listened, but did not respond.

Olivia drew a deep breath and continued. "She found out and she told me that if I didn't stop seeing him she would have him kicked out of college. I told her I was moving out. She was halfway through a bottle of Vodka, she dropped it, and it shattered all over the floor. Then she picked up the jagged edge of the bottle and she came at me … screaming, 'I'll never let anyone else have you'." Olivia's voice was raw with emotion; she could see the shock on Casey's face as she recounted the incident.

"So I kicked her … hard. Then I kicked her again and she went flying across the room into the wall. Then she slid down to the floor." Olivia swallowed, trying to keep her emotions down. "I'd never hurt her before. I ran out … I was so afraid."

"Olivia … you didn't kill your mother." Casey responded, her voice shaky.

"I know what it's like to want to." Olivia held Casey's gaze, trying to gauge what the ADA was thinking.

"Why didn't Carrie say something?" Casey asked in disbelief.

"Because then the abuse becomes real." Olivia replied quietly. "If you keep quiet you can pretend that it's not."

The next morning Casey contacted Carrie's attorney, Simone Bryce, and offered her a plea agreement. They went before the judge to enter the plea. Olivia sat in the back of the courtroom to watch the outcome. Carrie was charged with manslaughter and received 5 years at a correctional facility.

Casey approached Simone Bryce after Carrie was lead away. "She'll be in a juvenile facility, no hard time."

"Why did you plead her out?" Simone asked curiously. "I polled they jury. Eleven thought she was guilt. You would have had your Murder 2 conviction."

"I know." Casey acknowledged then looked at Olivia sitting in the back of the courtroom.

Olivia stood up to meet Casey as she walked up to her. "Thanks, Casey."

"It's the right thing to do. Carrie didn't mean to kill her mother." Casey looked at the detective. "What you told me last night, Olivia … thank you for trusting me."

Olivia nodded her head in acknowledgement.

"Well … I'll see you later, Detective." Casey started to walk away.

"Wait." Olivia touched Casey's arm. "Do you have plans for dinner?"

"No." Casey waited for the detective to continue.

"I … um … I was going to get something to eat later." Olivia stated shyly.

"Are you inviting me to join you?" Casey smiled at her.

"Uh … yes." Olivia laughed lightly, embarrassed that she was stumbling over her words.

"Why don't you stop by my office around six. I should be finished by then." Casey answered.

"Okay. I'll see you at six."

Olivia arrived at Casey's office on time. They decided to walk to an Italian restaurant down the street. There was an uncomfortable silence at first. This wasn't the first time the two had spent time together outside of work, but Elliot or one of the other detectives was always with them. By the end of the meal they had both had a couple of drinks and were more relaxed with each other.

"I'm curious …Olivia, why did you invite me to dinner? I've asked you a couple of times before ...." Casey looked at the detective sitting across from her.

"I wanted to thank you for helping Carrie," Olivia replied.

"Oh." Casey responded flatly.

"No … that's not what I meant." Olivia sighed and ran her hand through her hair. "I asked you to plead out Carrie … and you did. You trusted me, you didn't have to. You and I both know I haven't always trusted you."

"I noticed." Casey answered abruptly.

Olivia hesitated, startled by Casey response. "I'm sorry. It wasn't personal."

Casey rolled her eyes at the detective's statement.

"Well … it was personal, but you were walking into an impossible situation. In know we compared you to Alex. She was part of the team …." Olivia regretted the words as soon as they came out of her mouth.

"When do I become part of the team?" Casey asked harshly. "It's hard competing with a ghost. It's even harder now … everyone knows Alex is alive. I know everyone wishes she were here instead of me."

"That's not true, Casey." Olivia answered defensively.

"Bullshit, Olivia." Casey took a deep breath, trying to calm her voice. "We might as well get this out in the open. You haven't liked me since day one."

Olivia leaned forward in her chair and stared at the ADA. "You came in trying to tell everyone how to do their jobs. When we tired to give you the benefit of our knowledge and experience, you wouldn't listen to us."

"I realize I made mistakes in the beginning. After the first case, I went to Branch and asked for a transfer to a different department. He wouldn't transfer me. I had no idea what SVU was all about. I not only had to learn though trial and error, but I was constantly compared to Alex. Do you know what it's like to come to work everyday knowing that no one likes you?" Casey looked down at the table, avoiding Olivia's gaze.

Olivia could hear the pain in Casey's voice. "That's not true, Casey. Everyone likes you," she said gently.

"Maybe now, but not at first."

"I didn't realize …."

"No you didn't." Casey interrupted Olivia. "I tried to reach out to you … you were the only female member of the unit. I thought you might help me."

"I couldn't … I'm sorry." Olivia knew Casey was right. She found fault with everything the new ADA did.

"Had I known about you and Alex, I wouldn't have taken your behavior so personally … It wouldn't have hurt so much." Casey whispered.

"I had a hard time accepting you … you were taking Alex's place," Olivia answered honestly.

"You loved her … I might have felt the same way in your place." They both sat there silently for a moment. "You must miss her," Casey said sincerely.

"I do." Olivia whispered.

Casey studied the detective. "I can't imagine being separated from someone I love, not knowing if I will talk to them or see them again."

"Are you trying to make me feel like shit?" Olivia sighed.

"I'm sorry." Casey shook her head. "I can't seem to do anything right. I was trying to sympathize with you, I didn't mean to …"

Olivia waved her off. "It's okay. I understand what you were trying to do. Thanks."

"Do the guys really like me?" Casey asked seriously.

"What?" Olivia was confused by her question.

"Elliot, Munch, Fin and Cragen … do they like me … consider me one of the team." Casey asked again, her insecurities showing.

"Do we still make you feel like an outsider?" Olivia replied.

"Sometimes." Casey answered the detective. "I know I'm not as good a prosecutor as Alex. She even intimidated me when I met her. I would have loved to have seen her in action … she must have been something in court."

"She was." Olivia grinned.

Casey looked away from the detective shyly.

"Casey … I am a much better detective now than when I first joined the force. Experience, age, the people I work with, have all helped me to become a better detective. Had we not been dealing with the loss of Alex, we probably would have helped you and accepted you when you first joined SVU. We were each grieving in our own way and unfortunately you paid the price because of it."

"Lucky me." Casey replied dejected.

"You're right … you are not Alex. She had a style all her own … and so do you. You've come a long way since that first case. And to answer your question … yes, the guys do like you."

"Are you saying that to make me feel better?"

"Yes," Olivia smiled, "and because it's true."

Olivia reached over and covered Casey's hand with her own. "I'm so sorry, Casey. I could have made the transition easier for you and I didn't. It says something about you that you stuck it out this long. Believe me … I am really glad you decided to stay with SVU."

"Thank you." Casey smiled at the detective.

Olivia squeezed Casey's hand then let go. "You are part of the team … and just to prove it to you, the next time we go out for drinks you are definitely invited. We will even let you pay." Olivia said seriously, trying not to grin.

Casey laughed. "Oh … so now I have to pay for your friendship."

Friends. Olivia had never thought of her as a friend. The ADA was her colleague. Olivia realized she had never given Casey a chance.

Olivia signaled for the waiter. "Another drink for the both of us, please." She turned to Casey and grinned. "So, Counselor … would you like to help Elliot and I play a joke on Munch."

Part 15

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