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

By Katherine Quinn

Prologue: 14 Years Earlier

I sigh as the most pompous nurse in the whole ward sits down across from me. It never surprises me that I get stuck with the resident bitch. They say I'm difficult. They don't even know what difficult is. "You ready?" she asks, as she shoves a tray of hospital food in front of me.

"Do I have a choice?" I ask, as she frowns at me.

I slide my fingers around my wrist. I can get my fingers around it. Good. I sigh as I look into the mystery meat. I wrinkle my nose as the smell hits me. I don't think the color of these vegetables even exists in nature. I watch her, rolling my eyes, as she slides into the chair opposite me, staring me down. "You don't have to watch me," I mumble to her.

"You know I do," is her response. Cold bitch.

Slowly, I pick up the fork and push the meat around, trying to figure out what it is. Then I push around the vegetables, slowly sliding them around the tray, pushing the overdone peas away from the overdone carrots.

"You can't do that." I hear. I sigh, and look up at the nurse, poison in my eyes. "You can't move it around like that. You have to eat it how it is."

I pick up the knife and start to cut it into small pieces, knowing that counting out the pieces will give me a reassurance that this will eventually end. "Stop that," I hear, as I glare up at her again. "Those are too small. You can't do that either."

"What can I do then?" I ask her, sarcasm dripping from my voice.

"Eat it."

I wish. I wouldn't eat this on a good day, and today isn't a good day.

"I'm not eating it." I say, firmly putting the fork down.

"You don't have a choice." The nurse says, sitting straighter in her chair, staring back at me intensely.

"Yes, I do, it's my body and I'm not eating it." I say defiantly.

"Alexandra Cabot." My mom. Damn it. "You'll do what they say."

"Mom, this isn't even edible."

"Alexandra. You know you have to eat."


"This isn't a debate, Alex."

"You never listen to me," I yell at her, standing up and pushing the tray.

The nurse catches it.

"Sit down," she says.

"Fuck you," I yell at her.

"Alexandra," my mother yells at me.

I see them coming, the nurses, and I know what's going to happen. "Don't fucking touch me," I scream, as they close in around me.

I feel the first hand on my shoulder, and then another. I kick whoever I can, before I feel the floor's cold tile against my face and the sting of the needle in the back of my thigh. Slowly, I feel myself drifting away into a state of drug-induced oblivion.

When I finally feel myself drifting back from unconsciousness; I'm first aware of my mother's voice in the distance.

"I'm so sorry," she's telling one of the nurses. "She's such a sweet girl when she wants to be."

"It's okay, Mrs. Cabot," she says. "Alex has a lot of stuff going on in her head right now, and with all the starvation, she's not thinking particularly well."

"I just don't understand what we did that caused this."

"Don't blame yourself," she says. "There are a million reasons things like this happen."

"I just, well, I don't know what to tell people. I mean, I don't want to tell them that my baby is in a psychiatric hospital because she refuses to eat. It's so embarrassing."

"This happens to lots of girls, Mrs. Cabot, but right now, Alex needs your support."

Part 1: Decomposition

My mother is going to drive me insane. Slowly and surely, she's managed to worm her way into my head, making it impossible to get her out. You'd think that after thirty years of living with the woman constantly calling me and badgering me I'd have a thicker skin than this.

"I'm so glad you came down this weekend, Alexandra, you looked great. We're glad to see that you look so healthy."

"Mom. I'm fine."

"Well, dear, we never know. You did have that eating thing."

"Mom, that was fourteen years ago."

"I'm just reminding you, can you blame me for worrying about you?"

The woman has a point. A poor point, but a point. I'm not that same teenager anymore. I'm a grown woman.

Damn her.

Don't get me wrong; I love my mother. Since my father left us she's been the only family that I've had around. Well, besides my Aunt Helen, her sister, who is even more irritating than she is. No, my mom loves me. She's just so utterly infuriating sometimes. She knows how to press my buttons and more than anyone, how to take me down a notch. Most of the time, just when I don't need that kind of help.

I see you smile at me from the door way, leaning into the frame and I smile up at you with my finger extended. You smile a nod and slide inside the door, gently locking it behind you.

"Mom, I've got to go. One of my detectives just walked in. Yeah, mom, bye." I say, far more engrossed at staring at you staring at one of my book shelves than bidding my mother a proper farewell. I slide the phone into the cradle as I sneak up behind you and put my hands around you waist.

"Whatcha looking at?" I ask you, gently kissing your neck.

"I was just wondering if you ever read any of these books." You say, and though I can't see it, I can hear the smirk in your voice.

"Of course I do," I protest, as you run your finger over the shelf exposing a thick line of dust.

"Sure you do," you grin at me showing me your finger which is black with a fine covering of dust. Slowly, you turn in my arms and kiss me gently on my lips. Slowly, after only a moment, you pull back, breaking our contact to ask me "How's mom?"

"Fantastic as always," I say, holding you close.

"Good to hear. I was worried she'd eat you alive."

"She means well," I say, trying to at least pretend that's true. "She's just a tad bit misguided."

You lean in and kiss me again. "I missed you."

"I missed you too," I say, feeling your warm body pressed against mine. I step away from you, knowing that if I don't, this will go quickly from a gentle reunion to a porno in about ten seconds.

"I'm so behind," I moan, staring at the pile of files that clutter together on my desk.

"That's what you get for going away for a weekend leaving me here stranded with nothing to do but paperwork." I feel your arms sliding around my waist, and I let myself lean back into you. You let my head rest comfortably on your shoulder. "Is there anything I can help you with?" You ask, hopefully, as you hug me tighter to you.

"Um" I mumble, as I think of multitudinous ways you could take me away from my paperwork. Being away from you was hard, harder than I thought it would be. I would love to spend time right now ravishing you on the desk.or on the chair, or hell, even on the stack of files.

Instead, I stay safe. "You can help me relax later," I say, feeling young as I blush furiously desperately to get the rampaging sexual images out of my head.

Your knowing grin melts right through my fine veneer. "You can make that a date. Your place. I'll have dinner waiting."

The freezing night air chills all the way to my bones. Slipping the key in the lock, I feel suddenly warm, remembering your promise to be here when I arrive, with food in hand. The door opens and nearly instantly I am fully enveloped in the warm scents of garlic and oregano streaming from deep inside the kitchen. It takes everything I can to not run to you, as I remember how I never thought I'd make it home tonight. It seemed like the cases were multiplying by mitosis and every one I looked over spawned two new ones; making long awaited trip home seem even more distant.

"I'm here," I call out to you, just for the sake of not scaring the hell out of you as I rampage into the kitchen. I'm happy to see you stick your head out from the kitchen and grin.

"Come on, you're just in time," you say, beckoning for me to follow your frame which disappears too quickly back into the kitchen. I drop my briefcase with a resounding thud and throw my coat over a chair as I follow you into the kitchen. I can hang it up later, right now, I want to be with you.

"I'm starving," I moan, as you take me into your arms and lead me to the table. I feel so safe with you wrapped around me.

"I made your favorite," you say, smiling madly.

I kiss you gently, lovingly, and I can taste garlic on your tongue. I know immediately that you've made your lasagna-a rare treat as you scarcely have the time to even buy the pieces let alone assemble them.

"Cheerios?" I ask you, with an innocent grin, knowing it will drive you insane. Immediately, I'm rewarded with your frustrated smile as you gently hit me in the arm.

"What is it with you and Cheerios?"

"It's the breakfast of champions."

"That's Wheaties sweetie. So fine, I made your second favorite."

"Lucky Charms?"

You sigh at me and smile at the same time. "I'll never understand your cereal fetish."

"It's not a fetish. There were lots of years that was all I would eat."

"Picky kid?"

"Something like that. So what'd you make me?"


"I don't deserve you." I smile as I stick my head near the oven, opening it just a slight bit to take a deep breath of the intoxicating smell.

You kiss the back of my neck and sit me at the table as you splay our feast in front of us.

"I'm never eating again," I moan, as I slide against you, my hand on my stomach, my head on your leg.

"Me either." You mumble, pushing hair off my face.

"I don't think I could move if you paid me."

"Me either," you moan.

I love the way you run your fingers through my hair. "I love you," I whisper.

"I love you too," you return, "and I missed you. Don't ever leave me again," you say.

I smile up at you. "You turning co-dependent in your old age, Detective?" I ask you.

"Guess I must be," you say as you lean in and kiss me gently on my forehead.

I feel myself getting sleepy, consequence of the full meal. You move my head and pull me to my feet. "Come on, sleepy, let's go to bed."

Happily, I pad behind you into the warm comfort of your embrace.

I hear you mumble as you wake to the same shrill scream of the phone that is pulling me out of a very good dream. I stick my hand out and grip for the offending phone and mumble a hello, with my eyes still tightly shut. I'm so tired, and I can barely concentrate on the sound of the voice on the other end of the phone. "Alexandra?" I hear through the distant fog of sleep.

"Yes," I say, forcing my mind to run through a rolodex of voices. I can't for the life of me place this one. The only people who call me Alexandra are my mother and.

"This is your Aunt Helen, dear."

"Oh, hi" I mumble, still half asleep. What the hell time is it anyway? I force my eyes open to look at the clock. 3:42 is blinking back at me. I feel you moving your body into mine.

"Who is it?" you whisper, kissing the back of my neck.

"Alexandra? Is there someone there?"

Now I'm awake. "No, I'm alone." I say too quickly. I hear you sigh into my ear gently. "Did something happen?" I ask.

"Yes, Alexandra, your mother was in an accident."

"What?" She sounds so matter of fact. So like my family. So like my mother's sister. I grew up in a house of strong women, with small emotional capacities. Matter of fact; no time for tears.

"She died instantly, Alexandra. I'm sorry."

"I'll, um, I, what, what can I do?" I feel cold numbness grabbing my heart, surrounding my body.

"Well, Alexandra, I figured you could come up tomorrow, perhaps? We can make the arrangements together. We'll get through this."

Absently, I agree, and put the phone on the hook.

You're right there, asking me what's wrong.

I feel so sick. "My mom died."

You wrap me in your arms and I can feel tears starting to form from inside my soul. You don't ask any questions, and silently I lean into you, gathering your strength.

I feel you rocking me gently, letting me cry against you. You pat my head and tell me it's okay. I wish desperately for you to be right.

The End

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