DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is the property of NBC and Dick Wolf, and being used without permission or intention of profit.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This series is a continuation/parallel to the Desktop Confessionals series. Although you don't need to read that series to understand this one, you may as well if you're bored.
SERIES: Part two of the While You Are Gone series, following Confessions in the Dark.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Substitutes

She sits across the bar from me. Her hair nearly the shade of yours. Her eyes pale in comparison to the blue you have, but if I squint hard I can pretend. I find myself squinting for all I'm worth and eventually she stands from her spot, grabs her beer, and plants herself next to me. I don't even bother to look up when she does. I know it's no use. She'll never be you no matter how much I want her to be. None of them ever will be. She asks all the usual questions that you hear in these clubs, I answer all the usual answers. Don't give away too much, just enough to let them think they're getting to know you. In the end we all know what we're here for. None of us wants to go to bed alone. I especially do not want to on this particular night. I slam back the rest of my drink and she orders me a new one as my mind starts to drift back to the reason I'm here. You.

I wonder if you're somewhere thinking about this particular night. I wonder if it crossed your mind this morning as you bit into your bagel and read the headlines for the day. Did you pause at the date on the top of the page? Did the thought ever play on your brain? Did your fingers tremble like mine did this morning? Or was it just another day for you? I know for me it wasn't. When the news team on t.v. announced the date I physically jumped and dropped my large glass of orange juice. Has it been a year already? Why does it seem so much longer? Yet, at the same time, why does it feel like this year has flown past?

I gulp down another shot and see that she's watching me. I can't handle this tonight. All I want is to be held. Or, at the very least, to hold someone. I look her over and nod towards the door silently. She smiles wide and tosses some money on the bar, I do the same.

In the cab we're silent. I keep my eyes closed for most of the ride. She doesn't seem to notice, her hand is too busy creeping up my thigh. I don't even try to stop her. We both know what we came for tonight. And we both know that there's never going to be another one like this again. As the cab pulls up to her building I open my eyes and let out an inner ironic chuckle. We're only a block from what used to be your place. I realize as I climb the stairs to her loft that if I glance out the window I can see what used to be your apartment. The lights are off and I wonder if anyone has rented it yet.

As she pulls me toward the bedroom and strips me of my clothes I shut my eyes and think of you. When she pushes me on the bed I let my eyes fly open to meet hers before I squint them nearly shut again. As I start to get lost in the moment I ask myself how many substitutes will come and go before it's your arms I'm back in at night. The drapes are open as she places herself above me and with the way the light plays on her face, I can almost pretend. I pull her down into me knowing that while she's not you, for the moment she'll do. And for now, she's the closest thing I can get.

The End

Sequel Against the Wind

Return to Law & Order Fiction

Return to Main Page