Redemption Street

Author: Rysler
Rating: NC17
Pairing: Olivia/Casey (SVU) (First Time)
Warnings: Hurt/Comfort, Violence, Sex
Summary: When Casey asks Olivia to investigate something off the books, Olivia gets in over her head.
Notes: For Hope. Merry Christmas!
Explicit version off-site.
She stood in my doorway, at 10 o'clock at night, with that earnest, slightly troubled expression she always wore. Behind all that softball-playing, environmentally conscious bravado, I suspected she really was just the little girl everyone thought she was.

"Casey," I said. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Hey, Olivia. I was hoping you would investigate something for me," she replied. "Off the books."

My eyes widened. I stepped away from the door, allowing her inside. She glanced around my apartment, taking it all in, judging who I was in my private life. The bare walls and muted colors should tell her that I lived for the job. She turned around and faced me.

"Tea?" I asked.

She shook her head. "I should probably get right to the point."

"All right."

"One of the first people I ever put away just got out of prison," she said. "Purity Sandeaz. She served a year and half for possession with intent to sell, and assault."

"Are you afraid?" I asked, stepping toward her. "Has she threatened you?"

"No, no, nothing like that." Casey seemed appalled by the idea. "She got clean in prison. Says I saved her life." She laughed self-depreciatingly. "But she's back home now, back in her neighborhood, and she thinks her old friends will start looking her up." She stared at me, as if hoping I would understand.

There weren't that many variations on human behavior. I could make a guess. "She was in a gang?"

Casey nodded. "She put away some money, and wants to retrieve it, get out of New York, and start over. But her 'sisters'," Casey lifted her fingers to make quotation gestures, "Think they're owed."

"Drug money, Casey?" I frowned.

Casey exhaled. "I know. But I can't offer her a better alternative, can I? You know the recidivism rate. She'll end up on the streets, and--"

"We'll find her with a needle in her arm," I finished. "So, what, you want me to look out for your little pet gang member?"

"Olivia." Casey closed her eyes. "I just want you to watch her back for a few days. If she fucks up, she fucks up. But if she's on the right track... I'd just like to make things easier for her." She looked at me again, earnestly plying me with logic. Damn lawyer tricks.

I snorted. "Are you going to feel this sorry for all the gang members you put away?"

"I did, until I got assigned to you, and had to start looking victims in the face." She couldn't, though, look me in the face.

I sighed. "Tea?"

Casey closed the distance between us and put her hand on my forearm. "Thanks, Olivia." She glanced around again. "You have a lovely apartment."


So here I was, at four in the afternoon, sitting in my unmarked car in a neighborhood somewhere between working class and projects, watching a couple of loiterers handling drug deals. The streets were too mean for prostitutes, and the people hanging around were all locals.

I'd been waiting for Purity to show up for an hour, and my thoughts were starting to get out of hand. I took another sip of stale coffee. What the hell was I doing here? Casey and I weren't even friends. Were we? I didn't have any friends. Just bad dates and victims. Yet I'd do anything for Casey.

Anything? That was a dangerous thought. I'd said no to Casey before, though I'd never liked doing it. I wouldn't lie for her on the stand. I wouldn't put the law before the victim. I'd never compromise. So Casey wasn't even a friend. Not like--I set my jaw.Not like Alex. She'd been a friend. Someone to have drinks with after a case. Someone to push for a questionable warrant. I closed my eyes. My hands still felt sticky with blood. I could smell the gunshots. Knowing she wasn't dead didn't help when I remembered her dying. Fuck if I was going to do that again.

I opened my eyes. So why was I in a ghetto in the middle of the afternoon waiting for a dealer? Purity came out of a brownstone on the corner. Setting down my paper cup, I watched her cross the street in front of me.

Other females emerged from apartments along the block and the street was suddenly filled with people. A moment ago I had been the only one breathing in a block radius, and now eight women were there--seven circling one. I caught snippets of conversation as Purity's old gang surrounded her.

"...Betrayed us...Where's the money?...It won't happen again, we'll make sure of that..."

Purity's denials and attempts to walk past them, to whatever her destination was, only annoyed the mob around her.

"Got clean in prison? So you're pure now? Pure like snow? No. Pure like dust. Pure like ash. Pure like powder." The leader laughed. "Same old Pure."

Purity's name became a chanted taunt, and I saw a flash of steel in the leader's palm. I acted. "Backup requested at 4th and West. Altercation." I gave my ID and the off-duty code into the walkie talkie, before tossing it in the passenger seat and opening the car door.

One or two girls glanced my way when I got out of the car, but Purity and her rival squared off in the street, uninterested in the audience.

I lifted my shield, the gold electrified by the afternoon sunlight. "Police!" I announced. "Is there a problem here, ladies?"

Half the girls took off running. Purity turned to me, afraid. Probably terrified I'd reveal her status as a cop's friend. I knew that would get her killed.

The leader sneered. "This bitch," she waved a knife at Purity, "Stole my money. I'm just getting it back, is all. Justice."

"No justice today," I declared. "Everybody go home."

"This is our home," the leader said. She turned her expression on me, wild and confident, and I felt a chill. "You go home."

"I don't think so," I replied. I saw her wink, just as the back of my head exploded in pain. I fell forward, instinctively falling away from the anguish. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Purity dart, taking advantage of the distraction. My cheek hit the asphalt. Another blow against my ribs stole my breath. I hoped no one had the common sense to grab my gun. Before I blacked out, I thought I heard wailing.

Or sirens.


I opened my eyes. Only blurry whiteness with gray shadows was visible. I blinked. The light hurt. I wanted to close my eyes against the pounding headache prodding me into awareness, but I also wanted to see what was going on.

Stabler's voice, perfectly clear and impossibly loud, cut through my dilemma. "Olivia. What were you thinking?" I tilted my head in his direction, and winced as pain shot through my skull. The smell of the room told me I was in a hospital--why hadn't they given me drugs?

"Head injury, Liv." Disembodied Stabler again, reading my mind. Damn him. "They had to be careful," he added.

I squinted, and was finally able to see him scowling at me. I ran through a list of things to say that would lower his pissiness. I licked my lips and went with a list item at random. "It was personal."

Stabler twitched. I knew he was choosing his words just as carefully, because yelling at an injured woman would be unseemly. "It doesn't matter," he finally said. He enunciated each word. "If it's personal."

I sighed. "I'm sorry."

"So, what--"

The door opened and interrupted him. I saw Casey stick her head through, and Stabler pushed his chair back to join her. She flashed me a weak smile and they disappeared into the hallway together.


"What the hell happened?" Stabler yelled.

Casey looked down. "I asked her to look into an old case. Someone I put away for dealing--she just got out. She's clean." She paused. "I think."

"So you had Olivia watching her back?"

She bit her cheek. "Yes."

"And who was watching hers?"

Casey winced. "I'll tell her to drop it."

"She's not going to want to drop it. You're in now until it's done."

Casey parted her lips to protest, but Stabler cut her off. "And so am I."


I unwillingly opened my eyes again when I heard the door open. Casey entered, looking worried. She was silent until she settled into the chair at my bedside, the one Stabler had occupied for...God, how long had he been here?

"I'm sorry," Casey said softly.

I focused in her direction. "Don't be sorry. Just part of the job."

"But it wasn't part of the job." She looked at her hands. "I think I crossed a line."

"Casey--" I tried to head off her doubt.

"I mean, I don't think I know you well enough--" She lifted her chin and looked at me. "We're not even friends."

"It was okay to ask me for help," I said, and watched her shoulders sag. "Once."

She smiled. "How are you feeling?" Awkwardly, she covered my hand on the bed with hers. "You look okay."

I raised an eyebrow.

"You look great?" She grinned. "Beautiful?"

I rolled my head back against the pillow. "God, you should have been a defense attorney." She laughed, and it was the first sound I'd heard since waking that didn't make my head hurt. "You know," I ventured, squeezing her fingers. "There's nothing stopping us from being friends."

Casey considered this. "All right," she answered. "When this is all over, I'll buy you a drink."

"Sounds good." I stretched. "When will this be all over?"

She grinned. "You'll be released in two hours if your next three...um... brain damage tests are clear. They want you to stay overnight, of course, but I figured being on the case would help you heal faster."

"You're very smart for a lawyer. But...brain damage test?" I squinted.

"I'm nothing without an expert witness," she conceded. "It's good you're getting out. Your backup arrested Purity and brought her to the squad. She's waiting for us."

I blinked. "Casey. Pull some strings. Get me the hell out of here."


"You screwed up, Pure," Stabler said as he walked behind her. "And now you're going back to prison. Like all your other drug-using, scum-sucking friends."

"No!" She said. She was so afraid the whites of her eyes were visible.

"Yes. You got out once and went straight back to your gang. Were you fighting for leadership? Making up for lost time? We're not going to let that happen again."

Stabler was using a tactic I'd employed often while at his side. Provoke someone into such a rage they tell the truth. Indignation has been a tool for cops long before Jack Nicholson's impassioned, 'You're goddamn right I did!' Stabler was setting up the straw man for Purity to rail against, and we were all hoping she would take the bait.

Well, I was, and I was pretty sure Casey, standing at my side with her arms crossed with that damn earnest, pensive look on her face, was still hoping Purity was innocent. Stabler's anger seemed real. He'd seen his partner in the hospital and was reacting. On one hand, I was flattered. On the other hand, I didn't want him to muck up the case.

"I was going to my aunt," Purity insisted. "In Delaware. I already bought the bus ticket. I was just going for the money." She looked down at her hands.

"Drug money?" Stabler nearly spat the words. "Seed money?"

"No! I just--" Purity hunched her shoulders. "I don't know why. I just... thought it would help."

"Aunt?" I asked Casey in the viewing room.

"She wasn't at the trial or sentencing, but I've spoken to her on the phone a few times since Purity got out. I've been trying to convince her the girl has changed." Casey pursed her lips in a thin smile. "She wouldn't come up here and help, but she said if Purity went to enough trouble to drag herself down to the coast, it might prove she was strong enough to be worth a place to say."

In the interrogation room, Stabler slammed the table with his palm. "You nearly got a cop killed!" He accused.

Purity buried her face in her hands. "I wanted everything to be different when I got out." She wept. "I wanted it to be different."

I glanced at Casey. "We need to get that money out of that house."

"I can put in a call to the ADA in that preceint, and see if I can get the assault charges upgraded to attempted murder. That may get us a search warrant. Olivia..." Casey looked at the woman weeping under Stabler's hawkish gaze. "We can't bend the law. Not even for her."

I leaned against the glass separating us from the interrogation room. "She's a victim."

Casey put her hand on my back. "Not yet."


Stabler and I stood behind the two cops from the 12th precinct. Since I was the aggrieved party, we were allowed to 'assist' the serving of the search warrant. Purity had told us where she'd hidden ten thousand in cash. The money was our target.

Detective Arialaz from the 12th knocked a second time on the door. "Police! Open up!" After a pause, she nodded to the building supervisor quivering next to us. "Open it up."

"She's gonna be pissed," the super whimpered.

Arialaz rolled her eyes. "She won't know. Come on, already."

The door was opened and Arialaz and her partner charged in, Stabler and I behind them. Once the tiny apartment was cleared, Arialaz took a moment to look around. "Well, well," she murmured, pointing toward the syringes on the table. "I think we have cocaine in plain view."

I grinned. "Now let's find a blunt object with my DNA on it."

"Come on, Benson," Arialaz laughed. "She knocked you out with the tip of her pinkie."

I snorted, and we began the search. Stabler and I took opposite walls, with me at the spot Purity had allegedly hidden her drug money. I found the loose panel. Arialaz and her partner were in the bathroom. I could hear them lifting the lid off the back of the toilet, and exclaiming about another find. I reached inside the wall and drew out a plastic bag full of hundred dollar bills.

Stabler eyed me, and gave a little nod. I knew he would back my play. The cash could keep Purity clean forever. The cops would just drop it into a fund for a new chandelier at One Police Plaza, anyway. Screw them.

I couldn't.

My career was in a plastic bag in my left hand, and I couldn't hand it over to just anyone. Not even for Casey.

Shit.

I hefted the bag. "Hey, Arialaz!" I called, and she came out of the bathroom. Her eyes widened when she saw what I waved. "You're as blind as a bat," I declared. "Looks like the panty police nailed the motherlode."


"How's your head?" Casey asked me over a cup of hot chocolate.

"If you keep asking that," I complained, "You're going to give me a headache."

She laughed. I liked the sound. She rarely laughed at the end of a case, even if she won.

"How's Pure?" I inquired.

"With her aunt." Casey took a sip of her drink. "Calls me every other night. 'I'm still clean.' 'My aunt says I have to get a job.'"

I grinned. "What does she want to do?"

"She can't decide between police officer and lawyer," Casey winked. "But I put in a good word at the grocery store for her."

I lifted my mug. "To bagging," I declared.

She clinked glasses with me. "To Delaware."

I chuckled and took a sip of my chocolate. She smiled, seeming to take enjoyment in my laughter. Her bangs, a shade of unnatural red I always found intriguing, fell across her forehead. The cherry paneling and muted candlelight of the coffee shop accentuated her features and I found her, in the moment, beautiful. I opened my mouth to tell her but my tongue was dry. Saved me from myself. I shouldn't entertain those thoughts.

The awkward silence between us grew. Casey tilted her head, unwittingly breaking my perspective. "How's your--" She started to ask, but I cut her off.

"Don't go there," I warned.

She frowned. After a beat, she said, "I'm sorry--"

"Don't go there, either." I grinned. "All is forgiven."

She nodded. Her nose wrinkled with frustration. "I don't want you to think," she started, and lifted her hand when I tried to interrupt again. "That I asked you to help me to--take advantage of you. Just because you're my investigator." She brushed hair out of her eyes. "You're good with victims, Olivia. You bond. I--" She exhaled. "I wanted a piece of that."

"You do your part," I pointed out.

"The courtroom is more about attacking the accused. Sometimes the victim is a liability there. Just because of the way the law is. There's a disconnect." She smiled. "There's no wall between you in the victim. I want... to understand that."

I leaned back in my chair. "It helps," I said softly, "When you've been a victim yourself."

She seemed to study me for a long moment before questioning, "Your mother?"

"That's some," I conceded. I wrapped a hand around my mug, and studied the surface of the liquid. "And..." I trailed off. I didn't even share this with Stabler, except for a two-minute conversation my second year on the job.

Casey reached out and covered my left hand with hers. I quivered, startled, but managed not to yank away. She waited to see what I would do, and then gently turned my hand over. I watched her passively as she unclasped my watch. She ran her thumb over the small gray triangle the removal of the strap revealed. "I saw this at the hospital," she explained. "So the rumors are true about you being gay. Don't worry, I won't claim the betting pool." She studied the lines on my wrist.

"And?" I prompted.

"Well, I don't have it tattooed anywhere," she demurred, "But I don't feel so alone anymore."

She was still holding my hand, so I turned my wrist and clasped her fingers. "It's good to have sistas," I said lightly. "Pure's greatest regret, I suppose."

Casey rubbed my fingers. "Let's not let it be ours."

I swallowed.


We walked along the avenue toward my apartment, not touching, but talking, exchanging personal information we'd never offered in the squad room or the district attorney's office. By the time we reached my building I knew the nickname her father had given her as a child. Which was probably more than she wanted to share, but, hey, I'm a detective.

At the top of the stairs, she turned to face me. "Are we really--?" She asked hesitantly. "This could screw up a lot."

"When I woke up in the hospital," I said, placing my hands on her shoulders. "And Elliot was there. And you were there. I realized... I don't really get a say in how alone I am."

Casey smiled. I leaned down and kissed her. She lifted herself to press against my mouth. Her lips were soft. I closed my eyes as I cupped her face. She smiled against the kiss. "Just what I always imagined," she said, when our lips parted.

I knew what she meant. I invited her inside.


The End