Title: Road Trip
Summary: Olivia and Casey run out of gas on the way back from interviewing a witness.
Disclaimer: Olivia Benson and Casey Novak belong to Dick Wolf. I wouldn't mind at all if he lent them to me, though. In the meantime, I'll have my fun and return them unharmed. I also apologize to Dobie Gray for misunderstanding the words to "Drift Away" for years.
Author's Note: The following was inspired by my boss's recent misfortune of running out of gas on the way to a lunch meeting. It is intended to be a cute little "between-the-scenes" type fic. Feedback of all kinds is much appreciated.


"I distinctly remember telling you to stop at a gas station before we got off the highway," Casey Novak said testily, "and I distinctly remember you telling me that oh no, you're fine, you don't need to stop for gas."

"Casey, I really don't need an I told you so right now," Olivia Benson sighed, trying fruitlessly to turn the engine over in her dead car.

"This is why I ride a bike to work," Casey grumbled, searching her purse for her cell phone. "Bikes don't run out of gas. I'm calling AAA. The squad has AAA on the cars, right?"

"Yeah." Olivia smacked the steering wheel, as if it was the steering wheel that caused her to be so obstinate when Casey suggested stopping for gas. The gauge had been hovering dangerously close to empty before they had even left the city to interview their witness, and Casey had warned her multiple times to stop someplace. Even when the needle was on the E, Olivia hadn't stopped, insisting that gauge was off a little bit. At first, she had justified not stopping by saying they couldn't be late for the appointment with their witness, but she didn't quite know why she had refused to stop on the way back. To say that she was beginning to regret it would have been an understatement.

"Thank you," she heard Casey say, then the ADA snapped her phone shut. "Damn it!"

"What?"

"They can be here in two hours at the earliest."

"Two hours?" Olivia asked, her voice verging on a whine.

"Well, we are in the middle of nowhere," Casey sighed, leaning her head back against the seat. "We're about an hour out of the city as it is, and they have a couple calls ahead of us."

"Suppose I should call Cragen," Olivia mumbled, picking her purse up off the floor and starting to dig through it.

"Here," Casey said, handing her phone over to the detective. "Use mine."

"Thanks," Olivia smiled. She was hoping that she could just leave a message for her captain; she knew that the ribbing he would give her would be severe, and she didn't want to have to listen to it, even if she did deserve it. Unfortunately for her, the captain answered the phone. "Hey, Captain, it's Olivia. Listen, Casey and I are going to be a little late . . ."

Casey glanced over at Olivia, wanting to watch her facial expressions as she tried to worm her way out of this one. She had been working with the squad long enough to know that running out of gas would get Olivia a serious teasing, and for once she wished she could listen in on the phone call.

"Well, we sort of ran out of gas . . . yeah . . . yeah, she did warn me . . . yes, I do know the E doesn't mean 'enough to get home'. Thanks a lot. But anyway, it's going to take AAA a couple hours to get to us, and . . . no, no, it'd take Elliot about the same amount of time . . ." Olivia stole a surreptitious glance at Casey and smiled. "Aggravated and annoyed, but I would be, too, if the situation were reversed . . . no, I don't think so, hang on." Olivia brought the phone away from her mouth a little to address Casey. "You don't have to be in court or anything, do you?"

"Luckily for you, no."

Nodding, Olivia turned back to the phone call. "No, her schedule's clear. But yeah, we're going to be a while yet . . . okay, see you then. Bye." She flipped the phone closed and handed it back to Casey. "Thanks."

"No problem," Casey replied, tucking her phone back into her purse. She set her purse at her feet, leaned her head back against the seat again, and sighed. "I actually have work to do that's sitting on my desk, not getting done."

"I know, I know, I'm sorry. If it makes you feel any better, I have work to do that's not getting done, too."

"Yeah." She turned to look out the window, watching two robins follow each other around the branches of one of the roadside trees. "So what do we do for the next two hours?"

"Find a way to make the most of it?"

"There are times, Detective, when you're way too much of an optimist."

Olivia sighed. It was shaping up to be a very long two hours.

-----

Not a word had been spoken in the car for almost twenty minutes, and the silence was starting to bother Olivia. She glanced over at Casey, who had rested her elbow against the window and her head on her hand, her eyes closed. Even though she knew the ADA didn't want to talk, she couldn't stand the silence anymore. Clearing her throat, she spoke up hesitantly. "Hey, Casey? Tell me something I don't know about you."

Casey opened her eyes and whipped her head around to face the detective. "What? Why?"

"Because I'm bored and I was just sitting here thinking that I don't know very much about you."

"You've never asked," she argued, her tone somewhat bitter.

"Well, I'm asking now."

"So, just because you're bored, I have to reveal something about myself that--"

Olivia rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on. It's not like I'm asking you to reveal something horribly embarrassing. It can be that you like lavender scented candles for all I care. Just tell me something that I don't know."

"I like vanilla scented candles. That count?"

"No, because I just gave you that idea." Casey opened her mouth to protest, but Olivia quickly cut her off. "Stop being petulant, Casey. A little bit of conversation beats the hell out of sitting here in silence for the next hour and forty minutes."

Pausing, Casey realized that Olivia had a valid point. The past twenty minutes had felt extremely long, and a little conversation would make the time go by a little faster. She heaved a sigh and faced forward. "Okay, okay, but this information does not leave this car."

Olivia smiled. "You have my word."

"When I was in seventh grade, I sang Dusty Springfield's 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me' in front of the entire school in the junior high talent show."

"You sing?" Olivia asked excitedly.

Casey shifted in the seat, suddenly uncomfortable with her choice of revelation. "Sort of."

"What do you mean, 'sort of'? Either you sing or you don't."

Rolling her eyes, Casey faced the detective. "Well, it's not like it's something I do professionally or even anywhere outside my shower, but yeah, I have a little bit of a voice."

"Sing me something."

"No. I can't sing a cappella."

"Okay then." Olivia turned the key in the ignition just enough to turn the electrical equipment on and, taking a cue from Casey's original choice of song at the talent show, tuned the radio to the oldies station. "Now sing."

"Olivia, you're going to kill the battery and then AAA will have to jump us, too."

"No, I'm not, because it'll only be on long enough for you to sing me one song."

Casey turned to look out the window. "Well, then the battery's going to die because I am not singing."

Olivia looked Casey over, trying to determine if the ADA was refusing to sing out of embarrassment or just to be difficult. No matter what Casey's reason, Olivia was now curious as to just how good her voice was. After thinking for a few seconds, she had an idea of what she could say to force her hand. Grinning deviously, she just nodded and changed the radio station. "Okay, fine, you don't have to sing. Besides, I'm sure I'd just end up having to cover my ears anyway."

Casey looked over at the detective sharply, angrily narrowed her eyes and, without breaking her gaze, turned the radio back to the oldies station. "Cover your ears? Just wait."

A minute or so later, the current song ended and "Daydream Believer" by the Monkees started playing. Casey grinned and started singing along with the radio. Olivia smiled triumphantly; Casey had fallen right into her trap. However, Olivia only mused about that for a second before really listening to Casey's strong singing voice.

When the song was over, Casey smiled smugly at the awed expression on Olivia's face for only a moment before realization dawned on her. Olivia had known that doubting her abilities would get her angry enough to sing just to prove her wrong. She dropped her head into her hands and groaned. "I totally walked right into that, didn't I?"

"Yes, yes, you did," Olivia replied with a giggle. "But I'm glad you did, because I am damn impressed. You've got quite a voice there, Counselor."

"Thank you," Casey said as her cheeks turned a light shade of pink.

"Oh, this is just too good," Olivia continued, smirking. "We need to bring you to a karaoke night or something."

Casey shot the detective a menacing glare. "I swear, as God as my witness, if you even so much as mention this to anyone--"

"Casey, relax, I'm just teasing you."

Casey rolled her eyes at Olivia wearily. "If you couldn't tell, I'm not exactly in a teasing kind of mood."

Sighing, Olivia turned the car off, not wanting to drain the battery further, and decided to leave Casey alone for the time being. She had, after all, gotten the ADA to admit something and do something that she wouldn't normally. Considering that all she had wanted originally was to find out something new about Casey, she counted the events of the past couple of minutes as a complete success.

She was, however, feeling slightly guilty for tricking the younger woman into doing something she obviously wasn't entirely comfortable with, and she felt obligated to make her more at ease. After letting the silence continue for a few minutes, Olivia cleared her throat. "Want to know something about my geeky schoolgirl past?"

"You have a geeky schoolgirl past?" Casey asked evenly, refusing to let her voice show that she was a little intrigued.

"Well, it was only slightly geeky," Olivia said, qualifying her earlier statement. "But I'll tell you about it if you want me to."

"Why would I want you to?"

"Some conversation?"

Casey met Olivia's eyes for a moment and was surprised to find a little bit of remorse on the detective's face. Figuring that Olivia felt guilty for tricking her, Casey relented. "Fine, go ahead."

"I placed first in the school spelling bee in my grade every year from first through eighth grade. I actually won for the district in eighth grade."

"Wow," Casey said, smirking. "You were a spelling nerd."

"It was the only area of my school career in which I was a full-out nerd," Olivia nodded. "Used to keep the trophies on my bookshelf and everything."

"You got trophies?" Casey asked, somewhat jealously.

"Yeah. Did you get anything from the talent show?"

"A little bit of begrudging respect from a group of kids that made fun of me and the drama instructor begging me to be in the annual high school musical. Begged me every single year until I graduated."

"You were a drama nerd?" Olivia grinned.

"Oh, hell no." Casey ran her fingers through her hair and smiled. "Singing, I could handle. Dancing, not so much."

Olivia snickered. Glancing at her watch, she happily realized that an hour had passed. "Hey, we're halfway there! An hour's up."

"Oh my God, it's only been an hour?" Casey groaned. "I could have sworn we were coming up on two."

"Nope, just the one, unfortunately." The detective fidgeted in her seat and turned to look at Casey, who had once again leaned her head back against the seat and closed her eyes. Olivia let out a small sigh and, deciding to let Casey be, picked up her purse and started digging through it for her cell phone. She'd never understood the point of having games on a phone, but for once she was glad for them. A second later, she was playing video poker.

They had been sitting in silence for about fifteen minutes when Casey started to get hot. Knowing what was happening, she pushed her sleeves up and started taking slow, deliberate breaths. When that didn't stop the ensuing panic, she reached down and pushed the button to open the window, hoping to get a little fresh air into the car. Nothing happened and she groaned, remembering that the power windows wouldn't work if the car had no power. "Liv, can you open the window?"

Olivia blinked, surprised at the nickname. "Of course." She turned the key in the ignition, opened the window on her own side as well as Casey's, then glanced over at the ADA, suddenly concerned. All the color had drained from Casey's face, her breathing was labored, and her hands were trembling. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," she insisted, opening her eyes and meeting Olivia's gaze for just a moment. Cringing at the detective's worried expression, she closed her eyes again. "I just really need for AAA to get here right now."

Olivia bit her lip; she didn't believe that Casey was at all fine, but she wasn't sure if she should just leave her alone like Casey wanted her to or try to help. Suddenly, Casey let out a low, strangled cry and started wheezing, which only caused her to panic more.

Quickly deciding that what Casey needed overrode what she wanted, Olivia reached over and grasped the ADA's hands. Casey tried to wrench away, but Olivia just tightened her grip and started giving instruction. "Casey, listen to me. Take a deep breath in, count to two, and then let it out while counting to four. In to two, out to four."

Casey shook her head and tried to speak but couldn't. She tried again to wriggle out of Olivia's grasp, but the detective was insistent. "Everything will be okay, Casey, I promise, but you need to try to take deep breaths for me. Come on, I'll count it for you."

After a couple of seconds, Casey gained control of her breathing enough to time her breaths with Olivia's counting. Gradually, her hands stopped shaking and within a few minutes, her breathing had returned to normal as well. Olivia loosened her grip and Casey self-consciously pulled her hands out of Olivia's. It was another second or so before Casey found her voice. "Sorry to make you go into emergency cop mode," she said, blushing.

"Don't worry about it," Olivia said comfortingly. "What happened?"

"Nothing."

"Don't tell me that was nothing, Casey; you were hyperventilating. You're not asthmatic, are you?" When Casey shook her head no, Olivia looked her over then glanced at their surroundings. She looked back at the ADA with raised eyebrows as realization suddenly hit her. "You're claustrophobic."

"No!" Casey exclaimed. Glancing over at Olivia, she knew the detective had her figured out. "Well, not really."

"Okay, first you sort of sing and now you're not really claustrophobic?" Olivia asked teasingly.

"I--it's complicated," Casey sighed, trying to explain. "I don't think the walls are closing in on me, and I can handle small spaces, like elevators and all that. But if it's someplace that I know I can't leave, it's like, panic city."

"It's a control thing," Olivia deduced.

"I think so," Casey nodded. She hoped she didn't look and sound as embarrassed as she felt. "I just don't like feeling trapped."

"Do you need to get out of the car, maybe stretch your legs or something?"

"No, it's okay now." She met the detective's eyes and smiled. "Thank you."

"Don't mention it," Olivia replied. She settled back in her seat and looked Casey over again. "So is that why you were so annoyed when we ran out of gas? Because you knew we were going to be trapped?"

"No, I was annoyed because I told you a billion times to stop for gas and you ignored me," she answered.

"Yeah, I did. I really am sorry about all this."

"I guess it's all right," Casey said with a small sigh. "I mean, all I would have been doing is the mountain of paperwork on my desk."

"Sounds like my desk," Olivia agreed with a chuckle. She was just about to say something else when her cell phone rang, startling both her and Casey. She was still giggling in nervous relief when she answered the phone. "Hello? Oh, hey, Elliot . . . yeah, we're doing all right. A little stir-crazy, but otherwise fine."

Casey smirked; "stir-crazy" was a very polite way of putting her near panic attack. She turned to look out the window, taking gulps of the crisp, fresh air. Her chest muscles were still aching and tight from the labored breathing, but the cool air felt good in her lungs. Content to leave Olivia to her phone call, she lost herself in her own thoughts as she tried to get over the humiliation of losing control in front of her colleague.

"Hey, Casey!" Olivia exclaimed five minutes later, covering the mouthpiece of the phone with her hand and looking up in the rearview mirror. "Look!"

Casey turned around in her seat, confused. A grin of relief spread across her face when she saw a tow truck pulling up behind their car. "They're early!"

"Yeah, Elliot, AAA just got here," Olivia said into the phone. "We'll see you guys in a little over an hour . . . I will. Bye." She snapped her phone shut and got out of the car to meet the tow truck driver. Casey followed Olivia a moment later, her relief making her giddy. Finally, she was going to be able to get on with her day.

She watched Olivia talked with the tow truck driver as he was pouring enough gas into their empty tank to get them to the nearest gas station. Casey vowed to make sure they got to that gas station, even if she had to drive there herself.

Ten minutes and a trip to the gas station later, Olivia and Casey were back on the road, making the hour-long drive back to the city. Olivia had turned the radio on, and Casey was quietly singing along as she watched the trees whip by on the side of the road, oblivious to the fact that Olivia was listening to her.

"Wait, he's not saying 'Beach Boys'?" Olivia suddenly asked.

Casey looked at the detective, confused. "What?"

"Isn't it 'Give me the Beach Boys and free my soul'?"

Casey laughed. "No! How does that even make sense?"

"The Beach Boys' music makes him happy?"

"It's 'Give me the beat, boys, and free my soul'."

"I guess you learn something new every day," Olivia said, a little embarrassed. "I swear, ever since I was little, I thought it was the Beach Boys. I always thought it was cool that the Beach Boys had a song written about them."

"It's not the Beach Boys," Casey assured her with a giggle. "Hey, Olivia?"

"Yeah?"

"I told you so."

"Okay, okay, I deserve that."

"Damn straight you do." Casey looked over at Olivia and smiled. "Though, this wasn't the worst hour and half I've ever spent."

Olivia glanced at the ADA long enough to return her smile, then returned her attention to the road. "Does that mean you forgive me?"

"Yeah, I guess so," Casey sighed. Secretly, she had forgiven the detective nearly half an hour before when she had taken charge and helped her calm down and control her breathing. "And just remember, what was revealed in this car stays in this car."

"We'll just see about that," Olivia said, grinning devilishly.

Casey groaned, pulled her legal pad out of her briefcase, tore off a sheet of paper, crumpled it up into a little ball, and threw it at Olivia. But she was smiling.