DISCLAIMER: The original characters are ours; the rest we're borrowing from Dick Wolf. This is a love story between two consenting female adults, and may contain adult material. Caveat emptor.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: "Out of the Darkness" is the second of four stories in "The Name of the Game", prequel to our Lemon Seed and Orange Tree series. This story is set around the episode "Paranoia" (Feb 2001), and contains spoilers. Any inconsistency with canon is intentional.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Name of the Game -
Out of the Darkness
By Adrienne Lee & Miranda Rafferty
Part 1. Alex
Great, just great. Can't we go through a single, solid week without fighting like cats and dogs? What are we? Teenagers? I think teenagers act more mature than we do sometimes.
Wait, why am I admitting responsibility for our current dispute? I'm not the guilty party; you are. The worst I've done is refusing to let you get away with murder.
If you had murdered someone, I might be less angry with you. I'm sure it would have been a justifiable homicide; or there would have been enough reasonable doubts for me to at least absolve you in my mind. What you said to me just now was unforgivable.
Spying on you? I can't believe you had the arrogance or the audacity to accuse me of that! You forget Hank and I are friends, that I've known him since the day I started with the DA's office. I can't help it if your best friend decided to tell me you two share a birthday. Spying on you. Let me tell you, Olivia, you have real ego issues.
And just what's wrong with a friend wanting to do something special for another friend's birthday? We are supposed to be friends now, aren't we? Just last week, you told me how nice it was to have a friend at work who understands what it's like to be a woman in a man's world, doing a thankless job, and having no life of one's own. You were touching my arm and looking at me when you said that. So, unless John or Fin or Elliot had a recent sex change that I don't know about, I can only assume you were referring to me.
Sometimes you make me so angry, I could throw a book at you. Or more like it, a Con Law treatise!
We go to dinner together all the time now. What's the big deal about dinner, and then show of your choice? It's not like I have some unspeakable ulterior motive. I'm not going to try to get you drunk and seduce you. If you know anything about me, you'd know just how ludicrous an idea that would be.
Granted, you're a beautiful woman. Strong. Attractive. Some might even say you're hot. I'd have to be blind to not see it; but that doesn't mean I want to jump into bed with you. I swear to G
Before I finish the sentence, I stop, and I sigh. No sense in getting hit by lightning.
Who am I trying to kid, anyway?
Try as I may, I can't deny just how appealing I find you, and how much I've been fantasizing about you lately. Not a day goes by without me wondering what you might do to me, if somehow I manage to find an excuse to get naked in your presence. I really should be ashamed of myself.
Sure, I can blame you. As far as I'm concerned, you started the whole thing. You try to take over my calendar, I left yours alone. And the outrageous way you've been flirting with me, the way you've been staring down my shirt, there can be one thing and one thing only on your mind; and I'd have to be dead to not react.
Then, sometimes, on days like today, I question if I'm not just projecting, if it's not only wishful thinking on my part.
Maybe you said what you did earlier because you saw where I was heading, Maybe you saw where I wanted to go and decided to nip it, before I embarrassed myself completely. Maybe you were only acting barbaric for my sake, to save my emotions from irreparable damage. Maybe you were just trying to help my potentially fragile little ego out.
You certainly are capable of that level of consideration on most days, under most situations. Fundamentally, you're a caring, thoughtful person, I have to admit. That's probably why I'm so attracted to you.
Still, there is a wishful part of me that wonders differently. That part of me hopes that you do feel the same way I do, and that you're just scared like I am. Maybe we're snapping at each other every other day because of the tension between us.
Of course if this hopeful part would learn to shut up, I'd have fewer issues
Actually, maybe you're just under a tremendous amount of stress. I opt for the safest and most rational excuse. Your mentor just got brutally raped. I'm sure you'd rather be sitting in the hospital with her, watching over her, making sure she's all right. Instead you have to go out there and try to find the perv or pervs who brutalized your hero. That cannot be easy for you.
Yeah, that's got to be it.
I should have been more understanding.
Besides, it's your birthday. By right, you should be able to do whatever you want to on your day. As your friend, I shouldn't get so bent out of shape. I really should be more understanding. Maybe you'll let me do something for you next year.
Maybe one day we'll figure out how to get along. Maybe one day I'll be able to look back, and forget all the difficulties we're going through...
You know what they say about time.
Part 2. Olivia
I see the range of emotions play across your face after my outburst. The last one I see is the one that hurts the most.
You're furious, I can tell by the way you stalk off. You don't understand why I got so upset.
I'm truly sorry I yelled at you, but right now I don't have time to hunt you down and explain. I've got a lot more to worry about than whether I bruised your feelings.
You asked me about my birthday. How can you even think of something so damned trivial? I can't believe you did knowing about the case we're on. Were you just trying to cheer me up, or take my mind off something you thought was upsetting me? I'm trying to fathom what possessed you, but I truly am at a loss to understand why you thought it might be helpful. I had hoped you knew me better than that.
Besides that, just how did you find out about my damn birthday? Did you read my personnel file or did you worm it out of Elliot or Munch? I know Fin wouldn't tell you, he's got better sense. He minds his own business.
It's just another day, Alex, I have never celebrated it. And why should I? It's just a reminder of how I came about
I put up with Hank dragging me out to our favorite bar to commemorate another year of staying alive. After all, it's his birthday too. But I've never spent it with anyone but him, and I'm not about to start now Wait, maybe Hank told you! That meddling son of a bitch! If he did, I will ring his neck!
Maybe after you've had time to cool off and consider everything involved you'll realize why I got so upset.
One of the few people I really care about is laying in the hospital brutally raped. Karen's not only my friend, she was my mentor. She took an overzealous cadet straight out of the academy and turned me into the cop I am today.
Whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, I'll do it.
All of those things you say you admire about me when I'm caring for the victims, well, she taught me. Taught me that to protect and serve wasn't just a hollow motto. She meant it, and she drilled it into me until I felt the same way. She always had my back always, even when I popped off and got myself in trouble. When I needed to be called on the carpet she did. Like any good leader, Karen never hesitated to ream me out when I needed it.
Before I left the hospital she told me to find who did this to her, and she knows I won't stop until I do. I owe her so much, I'm not sure how I'll ever pay her back. I could spend the next twenty years trying and I would never be able to. But she would never expect me to even try, that's the kind of person she is.
Even to my own ears, I'm beginning to sound like I'm preaching about what a great cop Karen is. Why am I trying so hard to defend her? Especially in my own head?
Is it because I'm afraid she's no longer the person I thought she was? Has she gone over to being one of the bad guys too? One of the IAB Nazi's seems to think so. I don't want to believe it's true, I can't really be doubting her, can I? I feel so guilty, I know Karen would never wonder about me. What kind of half-assed friend does that make me?
And what kind of friend am I to you?
God, I can't believe I could be so stupid! To go off on you like that? I'll be lucky if you ever speak to me again, at least about anything other than work. I promise I'll make it up to you. Somehow. Some way.
Maybe it wouldn't be so awful to go out and celebrate my stupid birthday after all of this is over with, provided you still want to.
I hope I haven't blown any chance I might have had with you
Maybe it's like Karen said, rookie paranoia on my part; if they don't like you, they won't pick on you. So, if they want to celebrate your birthday, that means they must like you right?
It could be I'm just dreaming and you were just being nice. We're just co-workers and nothing more
Oh, God, I hope I'm wrong, I hope it's just some sort paranoia.
Please, just let it be that.
Part 3. Alex
What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to do my job? How, as an officer of the court, am I supposed to uphold the law and serve justice, when the victim doesn't want justice?
All right, maybe justice will be served one way or the other. The crooked cop will rot in jail much longer for drug and money laundering charges than for the rape. But what about the law? A crime is committed; and the correct punishment should be exacted.
Sure, it's technically the People's case, and the People would be happy as long as the perv gets locked up and kept away from society, the longer the better.
I sit in this same chair for the second time in as many days, and I still have yet to find my answers, still have yet to resolve my conflict. I'm looking at her, and I can see how much she doesn't want me here. Hearing her talk about her job, listening to her view on justice doesn't stop me from asking the same questions over and over again.
Why am I here anyway? I reflect, staring at the blank legal pad and pretending to weigh Karen's options and mine.
Am I here to try to convince her she should reconsider dropping the charges for the rape? To hear for my own ears that this is indeed what she wants, to preserve her career, and not merely out of fear?
Just what am I trying to achieve? I know when it comes to the IAB, the DA's office is going to bend over backwards. I know without her, I won't have a case. I also know that if I were in her shoes, I probably would make the same decision she's making.
So why am I really here?
Am I really here, under any justifiable pretext, so I could meet with your mentor again? To talk one-on-one with the woman who shaped and trained you into the cop that you are today? To perhaps find out what kind of person she is, to have that kind of hold on you?
Oh great, just great! Listen to yourself, Cabot, you sound like you're jealous of the victim.
"Look, Ms. Cabot, I'm sorry you can't appreciate my situation," Karen speaks again. "But there's really nothing you can say to change my mind. I won't testify."
I take a deep breath, and close the file. "I'm sorry we've wasted each other's time." I tell her, and tug the folder under my arm. Before I can get up from the chair, she reaches for me.
"You know you two are so much alike." Karen tells me with a smile.
"You mean " Olivia and I? I slide my glasses higher, as if the clear lenses will shield the surprise and unease in my eyes.
"She has a hard head, too."
I can't help the laugh from bubbling up my chest. "Tell me about it."
Then her expression turns serious. "She's a good cop because she cares. Sometimes she cares a little too much for her own good. I'm sure she hasn't slept since the other morning, when she fell asleep watching over me."
"Yeah, she never stops." I smile, remembering how involved you always are with your cases. I think that's one of the things l like most about you. "She is one of the best cops I've ever worked with."
Karen nods, smiling briefly; she's obviously very proud of you. Then, holding my eyes captive, she continues, "For as long as I've known Olivia, she's always been afraid to care about anybody, besides the victims. Because sometimes she loves too deeply and cares too much. She's so afraid she'll get hurt, once in a while, she'll even rebel against her own feelings. I imagine it must be difficult for the other person."
Shock, confusion must be written all over my face right now. I remain silent. Really, what can I say? Is she telling me what I think she's telling me? Is she trying to explain your behavior around me? Did she play confessor for you like Hank did for me? Or am I just this transparent? If she can see through me, then who else? Can you?
"I'm not sure..." I try to come up with something, anything.
Without letting me finish, Karen crosses her arms again. A sign of dismissal for me.
"You're going to drop my case, right?" She asks as I approach the door.
"I'll think about it."
Part 4. Olivia
Why am I here? I mean, why do you want me here?
I'm surprised you want to see me, much less talk to me after the way I acted. I was awful to you. I yelled at you, went off on you. All because you wanted to celebrate my birthday.
Am I here to get myself reamed out? I wouldn't really blame you if that's the case. If that's what you want, I'll sit here and take it. I definitely deserve it. So go ahead if it will help you feel better.
Oh, but right now you're on the phone with your boss. So all I can do is sit here and wait for the sword of Damocles to fall on me.
Sitting here, I can't help but wonder why you've decided to drop the charges. Is it because of what I said to you on the street, or did you go back to talk to Karen again like you said you would? Did she finally convince you that her way is the best for everyone? Maybe she did to you like she's done to me and so many others. She just listened, then blew you out of the water when you're through. If so, I hope you didn't take it personally. That's just the way she is.
Maybe you dropped the case as a favor to me? Or is it just my ego speaking?
Honestly, I'd like nothing more than to haul the bastard in, then sit in court and watch you nail him to the wall. He's a rapist and a dirty cop, right now I can't think of any other worse kinds. For me though, I can take solace in the fact that he'll sit in jail for much longer than he would for the rape, and Karen could keep her job.
I know it's not so easy for you. I know sometimes you have to make yourself see the different shades of grey. I know it's hard for you to not follow the law. You take the idea of justice so seriously. Sometimes a little too righteously, but I'd never tell you that to your face. After all, it could be worse, much worse. You could be a slimy deal maker who takes the easy way out.
And I'd have to get my head examined for feeling the way I do about you.
Anyway, I know regardless of the reason behind your decision, it is eating you alive. I can see it on your face as you talk to your boss about the math. You sound more like you're trying to convince yourself.
You're doing the right thing, I want to tell you, but I can't, not right now.
Although now you're quiet, and you're nodding lightly to yourself. The way your lips press together and part and press together again, and the way you heave your sighs speak of resignation. I wonder if the DA's giving you one of his famous chats. One of those life lessons he bestows on his favorites, that's supposed to teach you and help you feel better at the same time. So maybe whatever he's saying to you can help you feel better.
Judging by the slouch in your shoulders, somehow I doubt it
I know I've had my hand in making things difficult for you, with this case. I'm so sorry about that. I'm supposed to be your friend, and I didn't bother to listen to you, or even admit to you that you're right in your desire to follow the law. All I did was ask you to drop the charges, to stop pursuing this, or you'll blow my mentor's career.
I asked you to put my wishes before everything you believed in. If you had asked me to do the same, the answer would have been an emphatic no.
Maybe I'm giving how you feel about me too much credit. I'm sure the DA agreed with you dropping the charges as well.
You are one of the most dedicated people I have ever known. You are so good at this job. I know you sometimes don't sleep, you skip meals and keep a change of clothes here just in case you don't go home. How many nights have you slept on this couch I'm sitting on? I'm sure too many.
I think your dedication is what draws me to you. Well, and your beauty. Your smile. And so many other things I could write tomes of poetry about, but I'll spare you that aspect of me. Something tells me you don't appreciate mush. Although maybe I'm dead wrong
Anyway, I'm sorry I couldn't back you up on this one, Alex. I know I let you down, hurt you, and ignored you. I just expected you to agree with what I asked, do it and to hell with what you believed in. To top it off, I blew up at you about wanting to celebrate my birthday. And I don't even have the decency to apologize to you.
Well, actually, I just haven't found the guts to
Finally, you hang up the phone. I guess it's the moment of truth. Time to find out why you called me in here.
With a forced smile, you tell me it's finally over with. No one will know about Karen's rape, she'll be free to go on with her cover safely in place. I know you aren't happy about it. Truthfully, neither am I. Really, I understand more than you know.
Instead of telling you how much I do understand, I get up from the couch and come around to your desk.
"Thanks, Alex, thanks for dropping the charges, I do know how difficult it was for you." I say the lame words I'd been rehearsing on and off since our talk on the streets. And I try my best smile, actually getting a small one in return.
"I know there really isn't much cause to go out and celebrate, but let's do it anyway." I smirk at you, emboldening myself. "I'll even let you buy me dinner."
"Why would I buy you dinner?" You ask, I think a little amazed at my suggestion.
"Because you never did anything for my birthday " I grin at you, trying to tease you out of that glum mood.
Smiling brightly, you stand up and grab your jacket and purse. "You're on, but I'm choosing where we eat. And it's going to be someplace nice, with tablecloths, a good wine list, and a maître d'."
"You're buying, who am I to argue?" I follow you to the door. "But I do get to pick the movie you're taking me to afterwards, right? Maybe even a double feature?"
"Sure. Why not." You beam as you lock your door.
God, I love that smile.
I think it lights up my world.
Sequel Walking in Beauty
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