Author's notes: Thank you and good bye from the Lilac Elf.
Well, here it is. The final chapter in the story, complete with Wilson and Cassie's wedding. Not bad for a solo ending.
I want to thank all the readers who gave this story a shot.
A special thanks to those who sent reviews, including jeevesandwooster, lovewildfire, livetoeat06, SimpleNClean92, KatelynnLynn, CherokeeLaday, Le Diable Blanc, and Detective Livvey.
And an extra, extra, special thank you to readers Ara, Goddess of the Broken and Lily Smith, two personal friends of mine. (Sorry I haven't been in touch, guys. Real life and more stories than I can stand kept me busy.)
I never imagined that this story would be so popular, or that so many people would get involved. I want to personally thank my co-writer, MsOrange21, for helping me get out of a writer's rut and for jumping in on this crazy endeavor with me. Half of this story is yours, my friend. I just helped.
And last, and by no means least, I must acknowledge a reviewer whom affected a great change in the start of this fic: Gillhoughly. I'm a meat-and-potatoes writer. Very rarely do I see the need for backstory because I believe the blanks will fill in themselves along the way.
This individual sent a review, along with a revised opening for the story. An opening which I admit is much better than my own.
I freely admit that I am not a genius writer, though I know fan fiction authors that are. Sydedalus and Tracy137 spring immediately to mind.
But I write what I think will entertain and hopefully make people smile a little. I never want to be a perfect writer. That's boring. I just want to write what comes into my mind.
That being said, I hereby present the final chapter of 'When Worlds Collide'.
Ch. 15 Endings and Beginnings
"So how goes it with you and Dr. Wilson, Cassie?" Detective Munch asked as he entered Cassie's apartment the next afternoon.
"John, what are you doing breaking into my home?" Cassie asked, as she limped out of the kitchen holding a mug of tea and leaning on her cane.
"Just stopping by, Cas." Munch said as he sat down at her kitchen table.
"James and I are fine. He's staying in town a few days," Cassie said, as she sat down opposite Munch. "House went back to New Jersey. Now tell me what you're really doing, here, Munch. I know you're here for something."
Munch pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket. "Trenton PD is forming a new SVU department. You got a letter this morning. They want you to run it."
Cassie took the paper and saw that it was a formal letter from the Trenton Chief of Police. "They… they want me to be captain of the new unit. I can't believe it. This is great," Cassie said, looking up. "I mean, I'll have to move and everything, but…"
Munch smiled. "Hey, don't worry about the rest of us. We'll do fine without you."
Cassie smiled. "I guess that means you guys have already accepted on my behalf?"
"Naturally," Munch said, smirking. "We all want you to be happy. And if that means leaving all of us behind in New York, well, then that's a sacrifice we're all willing to make."
Cassie set her mug down and gave Munch a one-armed hug. "Thanks for being there for me, John."
"Hey, don't go making me out to be a softie," Munch said, hugging her back. "I'm still a tough guy."
Over the next two weeks, Cassie spent her time in her old office, packing. It was strange to think that she was finally leaving the place that had become her home. But it was time to seek out new futures and Cassie knew that as much as she wanted to stay, it was time to move on. In the middle of loading up some of her old case files, Cassie heard a knock and looked up to see Leo Roberts leaning against the doorframe. "So you're really leaving?" Leo asked as he looked around at all of the partially packed boxes.
"James and I are moving in together next week. I'm just packing up all my office stuff."
"You still coming to our hockey games?" Leo asked as he started organizing some of Cassie's books.
"Whenever I can," Cassie promised. "Besides… the Trenton SVU? The department's been trying to get a unit up and running for years, but they wanted me and apparently the state of New York wasn't going to let me go."
"No kidding?" Leo asked, intrigued. "Well, good for you. By the way, when do you leave?"
"Three days," Cassie said with a note of sadness in her voice. "Then I'm gone for good."
After a minute, Leo said, "Well, come by the rink tonight. We're throwing you a farewell cookout. Besides…. I don't think anyone really believes you're leaving."
Cassie nodded as she picked up her desk plaque. "I still don't believe it myself."
Cassie shook her said. "Just… wondering about… stuff. I've lived in New York all my life. I was amongst the top 5 in my class at the police academy. It's hard to change my whole life."
"Hey, I know what you mean," Leo replied, smiling. "Military brat, remember?"
"Want to help me with this stuff?" Cassie asked, grabbing her cane. "Seeing as how I can't lug squat?"
Leo grabbed a small stack of boxes and took them down to Cassie's car, Cassie bringing up the rear. Once they loaded the boxes up, Leo stood up and sighed. "Brooklyn's going to miss you, Captain."
Cassie paused, leaning against her car. "I don't think you've ever called me 'Captain' before."
Leo shrugged. "It's a title that's never needed to be said. You've always been a captain."
Cassie just stared at him as words failed her.
When Cassie finally decided to leave for the night, she found that the stacks of boxes seemed like a finality. She was really leaving. She'd never occupy this office again. She grabbed her cane and headed down to the parking lot and towards her car. After unlocking the door and sliding in, Cassie sat for a moment before closing the door, starting the engine, and heading down to the community ice skating rink where the Brooklyn Badgers usually held practices.
When Cassie pulled into the parking lot and parked, the scent of food tickled her nose. Getting out she saw the waves of grill smoke coming from the rear of the building. Cassie got out slowly and limped around to where she saw Laurie at the grill doing hamburgers, hot dogs, and what smelled like marinated flank steak. Jenna was at a picnic table mixing salads and Jesse was manning the drinks. Omar and Leo were talking with Rochelle Davis and Tim Hanson as well as the Manhattan SVU team along with Captain Cragen and Charles Ross.
Cassie didn't join in right away, preferring to stand back and watch. This was what she was giving up. What she was leaving behind. No one noticed her for a few minutes until Jesse looked up and smiled. "Hey! The woman of the hour!" Everyone looked at Cassie as she came closer. "Want a drink?"
"Sure," Cassie said as Laurie pulled the steak, hot dogs and burgers off the grill and started plating them up. "Can I get a bite to eat, too?"
Laurie fixed Cassie a burger, a hot dog, and some slices of steak and handed the plate over as Jesse held a beer out. Cassie leaned her cane against one of the tables and sat down. Popping the top on the beer, she started in on her meal, as Laurie did plates for everyone else. "So, Cassie," Jenna asked, biting into a hot dog with everything on it. "How is your oncologist? And I don't mean his welfare."
"Oh, God!" Cassie said, rolling her eyes. "That's why you asked me to come tonight? So you could interrogate me about James?"
"What?" Munch asked. "You thought we just wanted the pleasure of your company?"
Cassie laughed along with everyone else as Munch launched into what was admittedly a very good impression of House.
Back in New Jersey, Wilson was trying to finish his home ready for the future Mrs. Wilson #4.
"So when are you popping the question?" House asked after sneaking into the kitchen behind Wilson.
Wilson sighed as he pulled two beers out of the refrigerator and handed one to House. "I was thinking about doing it at the ceremony at the Police Department. What about you and Cameron?"
"I plan to do it in my own time," said House. "So you ready to go through another wedding?"
"I think so," Wilson said, as he drank his beer. "We love each other, and she's already taken that position at the police department."
"Just answer me one question," House said as he sipped his own beer. "If Cassie hadn't gotten this job, would you have moved in with her?" Wilson didn't response, but House read the answer in his friend's face.
"So now that we're all stuffed on beef and processed food," Stabler said, standing up. "We'd like to give you a proper send-off, Cassie. You're one of the craziest, incredible cops I've ever known. You've done a lot, and we're all going to miss you around here."
Munch stood as well, and said, "I remember mentoring you at the academy. You wanted to be a cop because you believed you could make a difference. And every time a case brings us into your territory, I know that we'll get the cooperation we need because that's the kind of department that you put together. You want to make things a little better. And even though you're going to New Jersey, we know you'll be back to visit. You're like a little sister to me, Cassandra. You're a wonderful police officer, and an even better friend."
"Hear, hear," Jesse said, lifting his drink. "To the only reason we're probably all still alive, Captain Cassie Ross."
"To Captain Ross," everyone intoned. Cassie didn't reply, preferring to just sit there, but everyone noticed the tears shining in her eyes.
After Cassie left that night, she went to the precinct and parked, sitting for a moment to think and reflect. Tomorrow, Munch, Laurie, and Jesse were going to take her stuff to her new office in Trenton and her other things to Wilson's house. After a moment, Cassie got out of the car, grabbing her cane and popped a vicodin before entering the building. No one was there, save for a few rookies who gave her a smile and a nod as she unlocked the door to her office and stepped inside.
'So pick up your bags
Look around at your friends
And know none of them
Would ever have the strength
To cross the bridge and lose control
I never felt this bold
Never felt this good
'And the day that you spin
From your little cocoon
Well you can't be prepared
For the beauty you'll find there
'And you'll find beauty
In the toughest of places
And I will be thinking of you
The room was almost bare now, except for the remaining boxes. In a few days, the new captain would be in this office and Cassie would be gone.
After a few minutes, Cassie left the room and locked her door for the last time.
The next Saturday, the Trenton Police Department was crowded with cops, and state and city officials. Cassie entered the building, dressed in her police blues, and wearing a brand new pair of sneaker-boots from Sylvia Hall who had brought them by the day before.
The chief of police, Liam McBride saw Cassie and smiled as he made his way towards her. "Captain Ross! There you are. Come along, now. We have a few photo shots to do first before we get this little production underway." After reporters took pictures and asked questions, McBride said, "This Special Victims Unit is important, not only to the police, but to the community. And it was because of that that I know I needed the best. And after years of fighting with the mighty state of New York, we finally got her."
The crowd laughed, and Cassie said, "I promise to maintain the same level of professionalism and dedication that I had in Brooklyn. I want to thank the Chief for giving me this opportunity, and I know that I'll be as good a captain here as I was in New York."
McBride handed Cassie her new badge, gave her the key to her new office, and with a flourish, pulled the tape off the glass door, revealing the words: Captain Cassandra Ross, Special Victims Unit.
As the crowd started to move into the department lounge for refreshments, Cassie opened her new office and found Wilson already inside, kneeling on one knee and holding a small jewelry box. "Captain Cassandra Ross, will you do me the ultimate honor of being my wife?" Cassie started to cry, but nodded. Wilson stood up and slid the ring on her finger, just as a few lagging photographers snapped pictures of the newly engaged couple.
The next day, when the pictures ran in the New Jersey and New York newspapers, Suz was at one of her father's hockey practices, reading the newspaper when she saw the photos and the heading 'New New Jersey Police Captain Engaged'. Suz held up the section as she shouted as loudly as she could, "Cassie's engaged to Wilson!"
The scrimmage stopped dead as everyone but Laurie pulled off their gloves and helmets, grumbling as they pulled out their wallets.
Cameron couldn't believe House was making her get his stupid vicodin refill. She had been so sure that with all the happenings in the past month or so House would have learned to respect her more, but no… He'd talked her not only into picking up his pills, but also into taking his clinic hours. Approaching the pharmacy counter, Cameron saw the pill bottle waiting for her. Snatching it, she headed towards the clinic, a monstrous headache forming. Fingering the bottle in her pocket, Cameron paused. She could always replace the pill and give House the painkillers after her hours. She opened the bottle and shook out, not a small, white pill, but a diamond engagement ring.
Cameron slipped both the ring and the pill bottle back into the pocket of her lab coat and headed towards the clinic, finding House waiting in exam room 1. "Dr. Cameron. I was wondering if you had a response for my proposal."
"I accept, House," Cameron said, smiling.
House smirked as he said, "Better get used to calling me 'Greg'. 'House' is about to become your last name, too. Now… may I have my vicodin? Pretty, pretty please?"
A few days later, Cassie's friends, along with Cuddy, collaborated to throw an engagement party for House, Cameron, Wilson and Cassie.
In a park near Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, tents were set up, with Laurie, Jenna, Chase and Foreman heading up the food and drinks, while Suz was in charge of the music.
Seated on the grass, Suz browsed through the music on her iPod, trying to find a good collection to play. Just as she finished the playlist, House limped up behind her and plucked the unit out of her hands. "Hey! Give that back or I'll kick you in the other leg!"
"Weird Al Yankovich?" House asked, his nose crinkling. "On what planet is that appropriate music for an engagement party?"
"Oh, yeah? And who would you prefer?" Suz asked, getting up and putting her hands on her hips, glaring at House. "Something sappy like Elton John? He is gay, you know."
"What about Kenny G?"
Suz snorted with laughter. "No frickin' way. Sarah Maclachlan."
House stared at her. "I don't think so. You want to put everyone in a coma?" After a second's thought, House sighed. "Look, how about Bryan Adams?"
Suz thought for a moment, then said, "Okay. Deal."
House nodded, pulling out his own iPod and plugging it into the stereo system and pulling up his playlist, secretly hoping that Wilson and Cameron would keep their comments to themselves.
Meanwhile, Cassie and Stacy were talking as they sat on one of the benches. Cassie had told Stacy about the scene at her father's home, and the argument between House and Charles Ross. "I mean, House thinks that just because my leg is messed up like his is I'm damaged. I have a bad leg. What's damaged about that?"
"Greg likes to think that everyone is damaged somehow. He thought I had issues because my father and I haven't spoken since my mother died," Stacy said as she sipped a glass of wine. "Besides, he gave you and Wilson his blessing, didn't he?"
"Yeah, that's true," Cassie said, nodding. "Though I wonder if that was only because he was afraid of me hitting him with my cane again." After a second, Cassie asked, "So what is it between you and House now?"
"We're just friends," Stacy said, smiling. "Although Laurie and I have been dating a little."
"Oh, he's a great guy," Cassie said. "And such a way with words. Especially four lettered ones."
The day of Wilson and Cassie's wedding was warm and sunny. Cassie had spent the night at Cameron's apartment and awoke around 7, a good 6 hours before the wedding. Getting up, Cassie limped to the bathroom before taking a vicodin and opening the garment bag containing her dress. It was the dress of dreams, made of silk and lace and perfect for a bride-to-be who couldn't walk well. Closing the bag, Cassie changed into jeans and a t-shirt. Her hair would be done at the church by Jenna who was a professional hairdresser when she wasn't playing hockey. Looking at the engagement ring on her finger, Cassie had only a fleeting thought of Matt. He would want her to be happy. To find someone else who made her happy. Looking outside, Cassie saw Cuddy, Suz, and Jesse coming down the sidewalk towards the building. Jesse parked his van and the three got out, and headed inside.
"You ready to be Mrs. James Wilson?" Cameron asked from the doorway.
"I was born ready," Cassie said, smiling.
Cassie came down the aisle of the church of her father's arm as the music played over the church's stereo.
'Listen as your day unfolds
Challenge what the future holds
Try to keep your head up to the sky
'Lovers they may cause you tears
Go ahead, release your fears
Stand up and be counted
Don't be ashamed to cry'
'The life of a police officer is filled with questions about what's wrong and right: not for those we serve, but for ourselves.' Cassie's grandfather, Christopher Ross had told her that on the day she'd graduated the police academy. And over the past 5 years, Cassie has dwelled on those words every day. It had been wrong of her to take Adam Peters' victims so personally, like it made a comment on her abilities as a cop.
Falling in love with Matt had been right.
So did marrying James Wilson today.
Losing Matt had felt, and would always feel wrong, but sometimes, as Cassie realized as her father gave her to Wilson, the wrong thing can lead you to the right thing. Cassie wasn't afraid anymore—of happiness, pain… of questioning herself. Everything she had right now was right.
'You gotta be
You gotta be bad
You gotta be bold
You gotta be wiser
'You gotta be hard
You gotta be tough
You gotta be stronger
'You gotta be cool
You gotta be calm
You gotta stay together
'All I know, all I know is
Love will save the day'
"Do you, Cassandra Michelle Ross, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
"I do," Cassie said, looking into Wilson's milk chocolate eyes.
"And do you, James Andrew Wilson, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?"
"I do," Wilson said, smiling as he stroked Cassie's hand with his index finger.
The priest smiled at the two as he said, "Then please exchange rings."
Wilson took a thin gold band from House, saying, "I, James Wilson, do solemnly promise to love, cherish, and respect you in sickness and health, for better or worse, in life and death." Wilson slid the ring on Cassie's finger, and looked into her blue-gray eyes. "With this ring, I pledge my love and life only to you."
Cassie's voice choked for only a second before she said, "I, Cassandra Ross, do solemnly promise to love, cherish, and respect you in sickness and health, for better or worse, in life and death." She took the wedding band from Olivia Benson and slid it on Wilson's finger. "With this ring, I pledge my love and life only to you."
The priest smiled again, as he said, "If there is anyone in this assembly who believes that these two should not be married, speak now, or forever hold your peace." After a few moments' pause, he said, "Then I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride."
Taking Cassie in his arms, James kissed her long and slow as the crowd cheered for them.
Matt speaking again. So Cassie and Wilson got married, right? Well as soon as they left the church, House and Cameron up and leave to get hitched themselves… in Las Vegas! By Elvis! Gotta admit, I never saw that one coming.
So the two Wilsons went to Maine for their honeymoon and Allison and Greg House decided to go to Texas, after winning a nice amount of cash on the Vegas strip.
Now much to the surprise of Cassie's closest friends and family, she had a baby daughter nine months to the day after getting married! Apparently Cassie had said that she didn't want kids, but, hey… The girl's name is Matilda, nicknamed Matti. Cassie's own little tribute to me.
Allison and Greg House haven't had kids yet, but she's working on him. It ain't going to happen. Those two as parents is a scary thought.
Cassie's job is working out wonderfully, though she's said that she doesn't want Matti to go into law enforcement. I think she said something about maybe going into medicine.
On Cassie and James' second anniversary of the day they met Adam Peters got the death penalty. Kind of ironic in my opinion.
Well… that's all from this wandering spirit. It's interesting when two worlds collide, don't you think?