Summary: Alternate scene during "Serendipity" when Olivia goes to Casey's office. Casey falls apart as her past starts to come back to haunt her.

Pairing: None, just a forming friendship between Olivia and Casey

Publish date: Oct. 17, 2005

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or the first two lines of dialogue. The rest comes from my overly dramatic head.

Disclaimer part 2: This is my first L&O fiction and I've only been watching reruns since about July. So be nice! J

Olivia was on a mission. She was furious with Casey Novak. The poor little girl couldn't identify the man who attacked her. Casey knew beforehand the girl was too young to pick a man out of a line up. Yet she kept pushing her and pushing her until the child just chose out of fear and frustration. She was so afraid of making mistakes on her first job, that that was all she was doing. Alex would not have handled it like that. Alex was tough, but still had a gentleness about her. She would have been calm, encouraging, and patient with the kid, not harsh and badgering like Casey. As she got off the elevator, she saw Casey sitting on her office couch, books and papers spread out on the table before her, presumably trying to figure out what the hell to do next. She walked into the office without knocking.

"Could you have been any tougher on that little girl? Like she hasn't already been traumatized enough?" she asked.

Casey took a few seconds before she looked up. Olivia was surprised to see tears in her eyes. "Sorry," Casey whispered.

Instead of recanting her comment, her response flipped a switch in Olivia. "Sorry isn't going to cut it, Miss Novak."

"Excuse me?" Casey asked, confused. She closed the book and got to her feet. Olivia shut the door.

"What makes you think you can just waltz in here and do whatever the hell you want? What gives you the right to walk into a crime scene unannounced and start your own search? The assistant district attorney does not do that. That's what we do. Oh, and another thing the ADA doesn't do is badger an eight year old who has been raped! Do you understand what that little girl has gone through? Do you understand how traumatized she is, and how you didn't make her fears any better by forcing her to pick out a guy out of a lineup? She's eight, for gods' sake! She was so afraid she'd get it wrong and she did, and you let her see how upset you were about it. Couldn't you see how terrible she felt, that in her eyes, she made a gigantic mistake and let people down? She kept apologizing to me for getting it wrong. You know, adults have a hard enough time doing that, what made you think a kid could? You can't treat innocent children the way you do a criminal."

Casey couldn't think of how to respond to that. She brought her hand to her mouth and squeezed her lip in an attempt to not cry. She refused to let her colleague see her cry.

"This isn't a game."

"I never said it was a game," Casey interjected.

"You've continually second-guessed us," Olivia continued, acting as though she didn't hear Casey. "You act like you know more than we do, that we haven't covered all the bases. It's our job to do what we do. It isn't yours. Don't make us feel stupid because you don't know what the hell you're doing and try to compensate by pretending to know. It isn't going to cut it."

"I'm completely new to this. I'm just doing what I'm used to doing."

"Right. Show up like you did and try to take over? Is being ADA not good enough for you that you have to pretend to be a detective as well?"

"Detective, I'm stepping into some very big shoes. Don't you think this is intimidating for me? To have to fill the job that Alexandra Cabot had? Right now, it seems impossible. I'm just trying to do my best."

"Yeah well your best really sucks."

Casey paused, afraid her voice would break. "Look, I never wanted this position. I was assigned to it. This isn't something I think I can do."

"You got that right. How you were ever considered competent for this job is beyond me." Right away she knew she crossed the line.

The words cut through Casey like a knife. She was so hurt and surprised that she was at a loss for words. "Olivia…" Casey said, her voice so full pain and disbelief it stopped Olivia in her tracks. Casey could no longer hold back her tears. This last comment was more than she could handle, especially at that moment. She was already feeling so insecure and out of place. She stared at Olivia with tear-filled eyes, trying to meet her gaze, but Olivia looked away, uncomfortable. Casey sat back down on the couch and covered her face with her hands.

After a few seconds, Olivia spoke. "Listen, uh, Casey. I'm still trying to get used to the fact that my best friend is gone. It's really strange to have someone new in her position who acts completely different from her. Who handles cases completely different from her. It's like I was expecting you to be just like her and you're nothing like her."

"Well, Detective, I'm sorry to disappoint you. Again," Casey said, lifting her head from her hands, her cheeks wet with tears. She looked so miserable, and Olivia felt terrible for the things she said. She sat next to her on the couch.

"Casey, I'm really sorry. I was totally out of line. I didn't mean what I said. I'm just really frustrated about – well, about a lot of things and I just needed to explode and you seemed like the right person. This isn't an easy transition for me. I just miss Alex so much. I know that's a shitty excuse, but I really am, truly, sorry."

Casey searched Olivia's face for a few moments before giving her a tiny nod of acceptance. What Olivia had said still hurt, but she knew the detective was being honest with her apology. She took in a deep, shaky breath and tried to regain her composure, but the floodgates had already opened, rendering it impossible.

"Let's start over. I'm Olivia Benson," she said, offering Casey her hand.

"Casey Novak," she replied, shaking Olivia's hand but not meeting her eyes.

"Welcome to SVU."

They were quiet for a few seconds. "I don't think I can do this. I wasn't cut out for it."

"This is a tough job, Casey. It isn't going to be easy. But you're tough –"

"I'm sitting here crying over what happened today. What makes you think I'm tough?" she interrupted. "Besides, you barely know me." Olivia placed a hand on the new ADA's back.

"But I can tell you have it in you. You have a lot of fight in you, and an air of authority that will make you a very successful ADA. Nobody comes into this job thinking they can do it right away, and you are no exception. And obviously the powers that be have faith that you can pull it off. If they had any doubt you couldn't do it, they wouldn't have assigned you to this position."

"You and your partner certainly had doubts."

"You were just doing it so different from what we're used to. In all the years we've worked together, or even in our positions, the ADA has never been such an active participant like you. It's great you're so enthusiastic but it kind of hinders what we're supposed to be doing. It's new and different and we're just set in our ways."

"God, I feel so stupid," she said, wiping her face with her sleeve.

"Why? Because of a few mistakes? I'm sure even Alex made some mistakes on her first case."

"No. Because you were right. I am completely incompetent for this job." Hearing herself say it made it real, and her own words brought forth more tears. She felt so embarrassed, falling apart in front of Olivia. Embarrassed she was appointed for a job she couldn't handle, and letting down everyone involved because of it. Years of failure came back to haunt her and she could hear the voices taunting, I told you so. All these thoughts and memories running through her mind only made her feel worse and she couldn't get them out of her head. She leaned over and put her head back in her hands. In an attempt to not be a blubbering baby she tried to keep her sobs quiet and internal, which only made her whole body shake. Olivia's heart went out to her and moved closer and tentatively put an arm around Casey's shoulders.

It had been too long – if ever – since someone had shown Casey kindness when she was upset. Her parents would comfort her with their fists. Her boyfriends would turn the other way and her friends would always have something "come up" whenever she needed to vent. Long ago she had learned it was best to never shed a tear in anyone's presence. Over the years, when she'd get upset, she'd wait until she was alone in her bed and cry with her face squashed in a pillow. Now, a stranger was comforting her, like she had known her forever. She could no longer hold in those years of repression and her sobs were no longer quiet and internal. She leaned in and let Olivia wrap her arms around her.

Olivia was taken aback by Casey's outburst. She knew there had to be other reasons for her tears besides her feeling of incompetency. For now, she just held the sobbing woman in her arms, stroking her hair and trying to brush away the tears. Finally, after several minutes, Casey sat up straight and wiped her eyes. Olivia got the box of Kleenex off the desk and handed it to her.

"I'm sorry," Casey whispered.

"For what?"

"For unloading all of this onto you."

"No, no, don't be sorry. You're having a hard time right now. It isn't an easy adjustment. I'm the one that's supposed to be sorry, remember?"

"I'm just embarrassed, I guess."

"Don't be." Olivia covered Casey's hands with her own. "Listen, I don't know what's going on in your life, or what has happened, and I know we got off on the wrong foot and don't really know each other, but if you ever need someone to talk to, I'm here, okay?"

Again, this sort of offer was a first, but this time she didn't fall apart when it came to her. "Thank you, Olivia. That means a lot."

Olivia gave her hand a small squeeze as she stood, then walked to the door. "You're doing a good job, Casey. I mean it." Then she left, closing the door behind her, leaving Casey alone with her thoughts.

Thoughts? Comments? Should I continue?

Next would be Casey talking about her childhood.