DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Set between "Loss" and "Ghost", originally written for a L&O 100plus challenge on LiveJournal. A million thank you's to my beta readers.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Taken Back
By Sterling Sky


"Emily. Emily."

She is taken aback, the hand on her shoulder and the voice repeating a now-familiar name startling her, pulling her out of an alternate universe that is, while neither happy nor perfect, better, at least, than the one she's stuck in right now.

"Sorry to bust in on your little daydream there," the voice added, the body it belonged to settling into her vision. "Where do you go, when you're off in your head like that?" Not a difficult question, posed by a smiling young woman, charcoal suit and lilac blouse off-setting her dark skin. A young woman with a nice, simple back story. Her parents, third generation Jamaican immigrants, worked hard to send her and her brother to college. She became an insurance adjuster, living in an attractive townhouse complex and taking her first steps into a blossoming romance with a claims handler in the office above her own. She was taking tomorrow off to attend church services with her family. Emily was covering her workload for the day.

Nice, normal Emily. With her nice, normal life. Her nice, normal friend taking her out for a nice, normal lunch before heading back to the nice, normal job and eventually, the nice, normal house in the nice, normal suburbs. Repetitive sameness, eliminating any trace of identity. Identity could get you recognized, and recognition, in Emily's world was to be avoided at all costs.

There was always something in her, though. Something that cried out, that screamed from every pore and every cell, NOTICE ME! You wouldn't see it in the way she spoke, or the way she dressed, or the way she worked, diligently, filing claims to get a new bumper put on Paul Brooke's 1998 Sunfire. Paul had been rear-ended on his way to work at the Community National Bank in Newport. Paul would only be able to keep living his nice, normal life, he was sure, if the insurance company Emily worked for would approve his claim, and send him a crisp cheque to pay for all the damages.

Paul saw no need in being noticed. Flying under the radar was how Paul lived his life. But Emily longed to be the centre of someone's, anyone's world again. She'd like to be back in her world. A world that, in many ways, wasn't all that far from Vermont. A world where the only woman who really mattered to Emily lived. A world that, on the map, wasn't really that far from Vermont. Meaning she wasn't really all that far from a city with a police force second to none, and a new assistant district attorney second only to one. She wasn't really all that far from any of it, except in every way that it mattered.

"Emily? You off in your own little world again?" The voice asked, its body sliding through the cracks in her peripheral vision.

Every day she wished, hoped, prayed to be back in that little world again. And every day she visited there, for just a few moments, in her memories. Because in memories, there is no such thing as Witness Protection.

The End

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