'What began at Rikers, ends at Rikers,' Casey thought, as she was being escorted to the conference room by Hector and Neville.
She had just seen the body of Charles Beauchamp in the prison morgue, and while Casey had to admit to a certain pleasure at finally seeing that smug smile permanently wiped off the bastard's face, it had still been a gruesome sight. Beauchamp wasn't so much stabbed to death as he had been practically vivisected with a home-made knife in the prison shower. The look of terror in his last moments was still frozen on his face in a perpetual grisly death mask.
While Casey had pondered the horror of this vicious murder, Alex Norton--Beauchamp's attorney--had walked in, took one look at her deceased client, and merely said, "Shit."
Norton then promptly took out her cell phone and made a call to her secretary. "Lizzie? Yeah, tell Ronnie that my current appointment has just become available. I can meet with him now, if he wants to. Say in thirty minutes at Reynard's? Great."
As if making a new appointment while standing over the body of her former client wasn't tacky enough, once she was done with her call, Norton even gave Casey a cheerful little wave as she left the autopsy room.
"It's people like her who give lawyers a bad name," Casey said, after Norton had left.
"True," Neville said, as he stood with his arms folded across his massive, barrel chest. "But it's people like you who renew my faith in attorneys, Ms. Novak."
"I couldn't agree more," Hector told her.
"Thanks, guys," Casey replied, touched.
She truly appreciated their kind words, since she needed the boost right then, especially since she was about to meet the man who had so brutally killed Charles Beauchamp.
Neville opened the door to the conference room, where an intense-looking man with a shaved head and a goatee sat at the table, dressed in prison orange with his wrists handcuffed in front of him to a chain around his waist. Two more prison guards stood directly behind him, watching him tersely. Another man sat at the table beside the prisoner. Casey recognized him as Warren Gerstein, a legal aid attorney whom she had encountered in and out of the courtroom many times.
"Hello, Warren," Casey said, as she took a seat directly opposite from the prisoner.
"Casey," he said by way of greeting. He gestured at the prisoner. "This is my client, Marvin Weidman."
"Mr. Weidman," Casey said, "I understand you were the one who killed Charles Beauchamp."
"Forgive me if I don't shake your hand…Casey," Weidman said, as he rattled the handcuffs. "But I'm a little restrained at the moment."
Amid Weidman's braying laughter, Hector leaned against the desk in a threatening manner and said, "Watch it, scumbag!"
Weidman glared defiantly back at him. "Or what? There'll be no more ice cream served to me anymore? I'm already serving five life sentences, what the fuck more can you morons do to me?"
Casey looked over Weidman's arrest file. He had been convicted of breaking into the home of a known drug dealer and killing five of the people who were in the house at the time. He bound them and tortured them to death, and then helped himself to the cocaine they had stashed--which proved to be his undoing; for when the sixth resident--the drug dealer himself, as it turned out--escaped and called the police, the responding uniforms found Weidman still in the house, stoned out of his mind from the coke, lying amidst the bodies of his victims.
"Why did you kill Charles Beauchamp, Mr. Weidman?" Casey asked, as she placed the file back in her suitcase.
"Because the motherfucker deserved it, talking the way he did," Weidman said coldly. "He was always going on and on about what a badass he was, raping all those chicks. I got tired of listening to him, so I offed him."
'A vicious monster is killed by yet another vicious monster,' Casey thought, as she glared back at the cold-bore intensity of the murderous hatred that dwelled in Weidman's eyes. Casey didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the absurdity of this situation.
Then, with a slight shrug, she said, "Thank you for your time, Mr. Weidman."
"No, thank you, Casey," Weidman replied in a sneering tone. "You want me to kill anybody else in here, just let me know. But my help comes with a price: you'll have to show up here naked next time!"
"Oh, for Christ's sake, Marvin," Gerstein said, dismayed. "You're just digging a deeper hole for yourself here!"
Casey showed no emotion as she got up and left the room with Hector at her side, who gave Weidman one last hard look over his shoulder. When she was in the hallway, Casey was about to say something to Hector when she was interrupted by Gerstein, who ran up to them.
"Sorry about that, Casey," Gerstein said sheepishly. "Look, I realize I may be wasting my time here, but as Marvin's attorney, I have to ask: is there any chance of a deal?"
"Your client didn't ask for a deal, and I'm not inclined to give him one," Casey told him curtly. "When I get through with him, he'll be serving six life sentences. See you in court, Warren."
"At least Beauchamp is history," Hector said, as they continued walking down the hall. "There will be a lot of women who will now breathe a sigh of relief knowing he's gone."
"Not to a mention a little girl," Casey added, thinking of Lilly. "But if you'll excuse me, I'm off to deal with Charlie's psycho girlfriend Claire."
"Here we are," Olivia said, as she led Linda and Lilly up the walkway of the house, "home sweet home."
Linda's parents--whose house this was--were there to greet them with huge hugs on the massive front porch. Olivia smiled at how content Lilly appeared. With the exception of the bandage that covered the bruise on her head, she looked like any carefree little girl.
As she stood on the porch steps, just off to the side of the family reunion, Olivia couldn't help but feel a little sad. The break up with Eric had really sunk in as Olivia watched the joyful greetings between Lilly and her family. While she dated Eric, Olivia had often wondered if he had truly been the one for her. But now, she had to start all over again with the dating game.
'Maybe it's just as well that I don't have a family,' Olivia glumly thought. 'I wouldn't want to pass on the genes that I have, anyway…'
Still, Olivia could help but feel melancholy, as well as a little envious, of the warm family scene that unfolded before her, and of the fact that she wasn't truly a part of it.
Olivia was just about to make a discreet exit when Lilly's great-grandmother abruptly turned towards her and gave Olivia a big hug. "Come have tea and bagels with us!" the old woman told Olivia. "Come, come!"
"Tea and bagels--it's a family tradition," Linda said. "You're more than invited, Olivia."
"Oh, that all right, I don't want to intrude, especially since it's a family tradition," Olivia said. "You guys go ahead."
Right at that moment, Linda shared a knowing look with Lilly. Linda then moved toward Olivia and said, "Grandma, let Liv go for a second, please? I'd like to speak with her."
The old woman smiled as she nodded her head in understanding. She took Lilly by the hand and led her inside the house.
"What's up?" Olivia asked, noticing the subtle smiles on everyone.
"Liv, I've been meaning to ask if you would consider being Lilly's guardian," Linda said. "It would be a great relief to me knowing--should anything ever happen to me--that Lilly would be in your care."
Olivia was stunned at what she just heard. "Oh my God, Linda, I-I don't know what to say…."
Lilly stuck her head out of the front door and pleaded, "SAY YES!"
"Lilly, I thought we agreed that I would speak to Olivia about this alone," Linda chided. She turned back and smiled at Olivia. "As you can see, I've already spoken about this with her, as well as my folks and grandmother. And we're all in agreement, Olivia: we'd love it if you say yes."
Olivia was still shocked to the point where she had trouble finding her voice at first. And as hard as she tried not to cry, the tears came freely down her face. "Um, I-I'm honored," Olivia finally manage to say in a whisper, "but I'm hardly a good guardian for Lilly. She saved herself, Linda. I didn't even do anything for her this time."
Linda leaned forward and gently said, "Bullshit. You did more for Lilly than you'll ever know. Do you have any idea how hard it was for Lilly to go through what she did, Olivia? She talked to me about it last night. Being held hostage in a dark, dank room with no food or water, can you imagine how horrifying an experience that was for a little girl? But do you know what got her through it? Thinking about you, Olivia. Lilly told me that the one thing that helped to get her through her ordeal was the thought that you were coming for her. Even when you weren't physically there, you still kept my daughter safe and alive, Olivia. And that's a person whom I want looking after Lilly if I'm not around."
Olivia was so choked up with emotion that she could only nod her head. "Yes," she said, "the answer is yes. And thank you so much, both of you."
Both Lilly and Linda came over and gave Olivia a hug, which made her cry even more. "Some cop I am!" she said, with a smile. "I can't stop blubbering!"
Lilly's great-grandmother came back out onto the porch and smiled warmly at Olivia. "Now that you are part of the family, you come in and have tea and bagels. Come, come on in!"
"Yes, ma'am!" Olivia said with a laugh.
As Lilly was escorting her into the living room, Olivia's cell phone went off. When she examined the screen, she saw that Elliot was calling. "Excuse me for one minute, sweetie," she told Lilly.
"Lilly, come help in the kitchen," her mother called.
Olivia took a seat on the sofa and answered the call. "Yeah, El?"
"Liv! Are you sitting down?" he asked.
"Uh, yeah, I am," Olivia said with a puzzled frown. "Why?"
"Because I've got some news for you!" he said. And then he told her.
Afterwards, Olivia ended the call, sat back on the sofa, and whispered, "Oh wow…."
Charles Beauchamp was dead. That smug, vicious little bastard, who had been an enduring nightmare to this poor family, was gone forever. Beauchamp had been knifed in the shower by a fellow prisoner simply because his killer had thought him to be annoying. It was almost enough to make Olivia burst out laughing. Yet she still needed to tell Lilly and her family.
Olivia walked into the kitchen, where she found Lilly, her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all busy preparing their meal. Lilly's grandfather, who sat at the counter, waved at Olivia. "C'mon, and take a load off, Olivia!"
It was Linda who was the first to notice that something was up. She paused in setting out the cups for the tea and stared at Olivia with concern. "What is it, Liv?"
Olivia tried to find a neat way to say it--until she realized that there was no better way to say it than to just come out with it: "Charles is dead."
Everyone in the kitchen now stopped what they were doing and stared at her in shock--save for Lilly's great-grandmother, who continued preparing the bagels, completely oblivious to what Olivia had just said, thanks to her poor hearing.
"How?" Linda asked in a whisper.
"In prison," Olivia told her. She glanced at Lilly, not wanting to get too graphic. "He was killed by another prisoner--no real reason was given."
"I might burn in hell," Linda said, shaking her head slowly, "but I'm actually relieved to hear this."
She and Lilly embraced tightly. Lilly also looked initially shocked at the news, yet she seemingly held it together far better than anyone else did. Lilly never cared for her former stepfather, and if she was at all bothered by his death, she didn't show it now.
"What?" Lilly's great-grandmother said, finally noticing there was something wrong. "What is it?"
"Charles is dead, Mama," Linda's mother told her. "He was killed in prison."
In response to this, Lilly's great-grandmother pressed her hands together in front of her face, and then she glanced up at the ceiling. "Thank you, almighty God! Thank you for answering my prayer! Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
"Grand-Mama!" Linda cried, stunned. "Did you actually pray to God for Charles to be killed!"
"Oh, yes," the old woman said with a sweet smile that was sublime. "Every night! And, apparently, He heard me last night."
It took everything Olivia had to keep from bursting out in laughter right there and then. Even Linda appeared to be holding back a laughing fit as she hurriedly got the food ready. "Ok, enough about Charles," she said, "let's all just enjoy a meal as a family together, shall we?"
Olivia watched as everyone hurriedly collected the food and brought it over to the table. She came up alongside of Lilly's great-grandmother, who gave her a broad smile.
"You know, you're a real pistol," Olivia whispered in admiration.
The old woman just waved her hands. "Just between you and me, Olivia, if I were a much younger woman, I would have killed that son of a bitch myself."
Olivia watched, wide-eyed, as the old woman went to get butter, jam, and other toppings for the bagels.
'I'd better make sure I always stay on her good side!' Olivia thought with a smile.
"Is she here?" Casey asked, as she entered the SVU squad room.
"Just brought her in now," Cragen told her. "She's in the interrogation room, waiting for her lawyer. She won't say a word."
"Of course not," Casey said, who looked around for Elliot, but did not see him. 'He must be on break,' she thought. 'Good--he needs it.' She glanced at Munch and Fin and asked, "Did she give you guys any trouble?"
Munch shook his head in the negative. "Didn't even protest. Just went along quietly."
"Did you get the feeling she heard about Beauchamp?" Casey asked.
"If Stephenson knows, she doesn't appear broken up over it," Fin said.
"Trust me, she doesn't know," Huang chimed in, as he got himself a cup of coffee. "If she did, she would be an emotional wreck right now. And that's not the case at all."
"So she doesn't know, yet," Casey said with a thoughtful nod. "Good."
"You're gonna hit her with it?" Cragen asked.
"That was the plan," Casey replied. "Now we'll just have to wait until her lawyer's here."
"The wait's over," Fin said, with a discreet nod towards something behind Casey. "'cause he's here."
Trevor Langan entered the squad room with his customary displeased look. "Hello, Casey, I see you've finally done the unthinkable by having an innocent woman brought in for questioning."
"Spare me, Trevor," Casey muttered, as they both walked towards the interrogation room.
Trevor placed his hand on the doorknob--then hesitated. "Hey," he said, his tone softening. "For what it's worth, I'm very sorry to hear about Alex Borgia. What happened to her was terrible."
"Thanks," Casey said.
Once he opened the door and they entered the interrogation room, both Casey and Trevor were back to being all business.
Trevor went up to Stephenson and said, "Are you all right? You didn't speak to anybody, did you?"
"No, I'm fine," Stephenson told him. She then glared at Casey. "Are you the prosecutor?"
"Yes," Casey said. "Casey Novak; I'm an ADA with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office."
Stephenson nodded. "Thanks for telling me your full name. I can now add you to the list of people whom I'm suing over this travesty of justice."
"All right, Claire, ease off," Trevor said, as he took a seat next to her. "May I ask why did you bring my client down here today, Casey?"
"A witness has identified Ms. Stephenson as being present at the site where Lilly Beauchamp was held hostage," Casey said. "I just wanted to hear her side of that story."
"It's an outlandish notion," Trevor said with a shrug. "Who's your witness, one of the kidnappers?"
"You'll find out soon enough," Casey replied.
"I would never associate with scum of the earth like that," Stephenson said haughtily.
"Really, Ms. Stephenson?" Casey said. "That's interesting, because one of Lilly's kidnappers turns out to be a man whom you know quite well: Samuel Childs."
"Mr. Childs is a family friend," Trevor cut in. "And because of such, my client had certain obligations towards him, such as paying his rent and the like--yet she knew nothing of whatever criminal activities Mr. Childs may have been involved in."
Casey nodded. "And what about Charles Beauchamp?"
Trevor glanced at Stephenson, who said, "I took a class--a college course--that he taught many years ago. But that was the only time I knew him, and I didn't know him very well. Our relationship was merely teacher/student."
Casey noted that Stephenson sounded very phony just now, as if she had rehearsed that statement.
"But you told my detectives that you never met Mr. Beauchamp at all," Casey said.
"That class was several years ago," Trevor said. "My client obviously had forgotten all about it."
"I see," Casey replied. "And your relationship with Mr. Beauchamp never ventured beyond that of teacher/student?"
"No," Stephenson said firmly. "It was a big class; I barely knew the man."
'It's time to drop the bomb,' Casey thought.
"Yes, well, it's a shame that we can no longer get Mr. Beauchamp's side of that story," Casey said with a slight shake of her head.
Stephenson's eyes grew very wide at that remark. "What do you mean?"
Casey gave a casual shrug. "Only that Mr. Beauchamp was murdered in prison early this morning. Stabbed to death in the shower by another prisoner--it was pretty gruesome."
"Look, none of this has any bearing on my client's situation," Trevor said. "So why don't you just--"
"You're lying," Claire Stephenson growled, as she glared hatefully at Casey.
Trevor looked stunned at his client's reaction. "Claire, take it easy. We don't--"
Casey leaned forward and asked, "Why would I be lying about Mr. Beauchamp's death? Trevor, you've got a phone: call Rikers yourself and find out. The name of Beauchamp's murderer is Marvin Weidman, a real nasty fellow. He's being represented by Warren Gerstein."
"YOU FUCKING BITCH!" Stephenson screamed, as she reached out across the table for Casey, her hands bent into claws. "You're a lying, stinking WHORE!"
But Casey was saved by Trevor, of all people, who deftly grabbed Stephenson and pulled her back down into her chair. "Claire, stop it!" he told her. "Claire, get a hold of yourself right now!"
The door burst open and Cragen entered the room with Munch. "Are you all right?" Cragen asked.
Casey nodded as she gestured for them to remain where they were.
"He can't be dead!" Stephenson wailed as Trevor continued to hold her. "Charlie can't be dead! Not after everything I did for him!"
"What did you do for Charlie, Claire?" Casey asked her. "What did you do?"
"My client is obviously very distraught, and I need some time alone with her," Trevor said, as he continued cradling the sobbing woman in his arms. "So, if there's nothing else here…."
"Actually, there is," Casey said. "Your client is under arrest for conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder."
Trevor shook his head. "You're making a grave mistake, Casey."
"No, Trevor, your client was the one who made the mistake," Casey muttered, as she collected her things and left the room. She heard Munch formally reading Claire her rights.
"Casey!" It was Trevor, who ran outside after her. "My client will be out of jail in a matter of hours. You know that."
"Yes, but that won't stop me from doing what I have to do, Trevor. In the meantime, Claire Stephenson will have to go through the booking process just like everybody else."
"You're trying to put a very sick woman in jail," Trevor said. "Claire suffers from a psychotic disorder which doesn't make her responsible for her actions."
Casey turned and faced him. "And by invoking the insanity defense, are you admitting guilt, here?"
"All I'm saying at this point is that Claire Stephenson is a very sick woman," Trevor calmly repeated.
"And thus laying the groundwork for your defense to come," Casey said with a shake of her head. "I can't really say I'm surprised to see you take this tactic, Trevor. But I'll look forward to seeing you use it in court. It should be entertaining to watch."
"If you'll excuse me, I must get back to my client," Trevor said stiffly.
"You go right ahead."
After he left, Cragen came up to her and asked, "You sure you're ok?"
Casey merely grinned broadly at him. "We just nailed Claire Stephenson to the wall, Don. I've never felt better."
When Olivia arrived back at the SVU squad room, she found Cragen, Munch and Fin huddled around the TV set along with several other officers--both detectives and uniformed--from the One Six. As she walked up to them, she saw the District Attorney, Arthur Branch, speaking on the TV in a live news conference regarding the death of one of his ADAs, Alex Borgia.
"Olivia," Cragen said by way of greeting.
"Cap, Lilly's safe and sound at her grandparents' place," Olivia told him.
"The hospital released her with a clean bill of health?" Fin asked.
"Yeah, she's a tough little kid," Olivia said with admiration. Her smile faded when she glanced at the solemn press conference on TV. Olivia felt a pang of sorrow when she saw the grim Jack McCoy--whose assistant Alex Borgia had been--standing just behind Branch. "Do they have any leads?"
Cragen shook his head. "If they do, they're not saying. This is just an acknowledgement by the D.A.'s office of Alex's death."
Munch pointed at the TV screen. "There's Casey."
Olivia nodded when she saw Casey standing just behind Branch, on the opposite side of McCoy. She appeared just as solemn as the rest of the ADAs who stood by their boss.
"When Casey was in witness protection last year, Alex Borgia took over Casey's workload," Cragen said, looking sad.
"I remember," Olivia replied. She had met Borgia just a few times, and wished she had known the woman better.
"First time I met her, Borgia went one on one with Charles Beauchamp's attorney right in my office," Cragen said, with a slight smile. "I was the referee for that one, and I've got to say that Alex gave as good as she got."
"Speaking of Beauchamp, did Elliot call you about him?" Munch asked Olivia.
"Oh yeah," Olivia replied with a broad smile. "That had to be the best news I've heard in a while!"
"We've also formally arrested Stephenson," Fin said. "Casey managed to break her down in the box."
"Oh, wow, I wish I could have been here to see that," Olivia said.
"We're all heading to Mulligan's later to celebrate," Munch told her. "Come with us."
"I will," Olivia said. "Thanks."
"You're not spending any lovey-dovey time with Eric?" Fin asked, looking shocked.
Olivia let out a heavy sigh. They would have to find out sooner or later, so it might as well be now. "Eric and I have spilt. He was cheating on me."
"What?" Munch said, shocked.
"And he even had the gall to make it out like I was the one who was cheating on him," Olivia said ruefully.
"Were you?" Munch asked.
"No!" Olivia angrily replied.
"That little punk-assed bitch," Fin muttered. "Listen, Liv, I know some people in the Traffic division. If you want, I can seriously fuck Eric up for you."
"Ok, I just didn't hear that," Cragen said, as he calmly turned around and walked back to his office.
Olivia shook her head uneasily. "Fin--"
"No sooner he gets his car out of the lot, it'll get towed again," Fin told her, grinning. "And who knows what shape it'll be when he gets it back?"
"This is the real reason we became cops," Munch said sarcastically. "Revenge is a dish best served cold, and while wearing a badge!"
"Ok, for one thing, Eric doesn't have a car," Olivia said. "And even if he did, I still wouldn't want anything to happen to him, all right? It's over, Fin, let's just leave it at that."
"You could still fuck with Eric even if he didn't have a car," Fin said.
"You're a very sick man, you do know that, right?" Munch asked him.
Fin held his hands up. "Hey, I'm just sayin' y'know?"
"I'll be at my desk…" Olivia muttered with a heavy sigh.
District Attorney Arthur Branch stood at the podium and spoke eloquently about the loss of Alexandra Borgia, and how she will be missed, and how the work that she left behind will go on. The press, who were gathered on the front steps of the D.A.'s office, ate it all up.
Casey was sure that it was a wonderful speech, but she wouldn't really know, since she had tuned Arthur out several minutes ago. She had desperately wanted to be a part of this press conference, as a show of support and love for her slain colleague. Yet as she stood silently with Jack McCoy, Ron Carver, Kelly Gaffney and the others, Casey couldn't help but reflect back on the past few days.
'Lilly was saved, yet Alex was not,' she mused. It almost appeared to be some sort of crazy balancing act at work--a malevolent ying and yang that cruelly chose between two lives. While Casey was grateful that Lilly was saved, she wondered why it had to be at the expense of Alex's life.
'Or was there any real plan at all?' she wondered. 'Was the universe just one big random game of chance?'
Casey let out a sigh as that thought made her feel even worse than she did before. Eventually, the press conference ended, and the ADAs all broke up, each going their separate ways. Casey, who had already closed up her office for the day, started walking down the street on her way home--until she saw a familiar figure standing on the sidewalk.
Rachel Gibbons stood watching the crowd of ADAs as they dispersed; her intense scrutiny had actually made some of Casey's colleagues nervous. This skittishness was easy to understand, since one of their own had recently been so horribly murdered.
"Rachel!" Casey called, as she waved to her.
"I got your message," Rachel said, as she came over. "I can't believe he's dead."
"Murdered in the prison shower," Casey confirmed.
"So what happens now?" Rachel asked.
"Nothing," Casey told her. "With Beauchamp dead, the case is formally closed. You no longer have to testify, although I'm still very grateful that you came forward."
When Rachel glanced down at the ground, she had a strange look on her face.
"Are you all right?" Casey asked.
"Yes, it's just that--" Rachel shook her head. "I'm happy--relieved, even--that I don't have to go to trial. But a part of me is disappointed. I actually wanted to face Beauchamp again. Is that crazy, or what?"
"That's not crazy," Casey assured her. "You simply wanted justice, that's all."
"And I've been denied."
"No," Casey corrected. "You received justice of a different sort. Look at it this way: at least now Charles Beauchamp will never hurt anyone else ever again."
Rachel nodded in understanding. "So what do I do now?"
"Whatever you want to," Casey said. "This chapter of your life is over, Rachel. It's now time to forget Beauchamp and move on."
"I will. Thank you, Casey," Rachel said, as she gave her a warm hug. "Thank you for caring."
Casey was about to say, 'It's my job,' but stopped herself. The truth was she was extremely grateful to receive the hug from Rachel just now. In light of Alex's death, Rachel's presence was a affirmation for Casey of what she was really here for: to help the victims. It was a dangerous job at times, but one that was well worth fighting for.
After she bid Rachel farewell, Casey resumed walking down the street.
She was expecting another lonely evening by herself tonight, since Elliot will probably be out celebrating the end of the Beauchamp case with the others at Mulligan's.
When a man stood in her way on the sidewalk, Casey glanced up at him with a frown. Then her frown disappeared when she saw it was Elliot.
"Hey there, gorgeous," Elliot said. He stood there with his hands in his pockets, his shirt collar opened, and his tie tucked into his suit jacket pocket. He stared after Rachel with a scowl. "Why does she look familiar?"
"That's Rachel Gibbons," Casey said.
"She was one of Beauchamp's first victims," Elliot said with a nod. "She must be very relieved."
"Yeah. What are you doing here?" she blurted out. When Casey realized what she sounded like, she quickly regrouped. "Um, sorry. I mean, I thought you'd be out celebrating the closing of the case."
"I am out celebrating," he said, "with you."
Casey shook her head. "I don't really feel like going to Mulligan's right now."
"Me, neither." He leaned close to her and added, "Remember what you said before about how you wanted more of a commitment from me? We got interrupted by that phone call, and I never gave you an answer. It's yes. I love you, Casey. And I want to be with you a lot more--even if that means moving in together, I'm prepared to do that. Why don't we start right now by enjoying a relaxing weekend; just the two of us?"
Casey was so moved she felt on the verge of tears. "You don't know what that means to me, Elliot, especially now. Thank you."
They kissed and embraced with passion just then, and in that moment, the rest of the world faded away for Casey, leaving only the two of them in the warm glow of their love.
"Are you fucking crazy?" Olivia asked.
Alex Eames gently shook her head. "I'm just asking for you to just consider the possibility, that's all."
They both stood in the women's room of Mulligan's--where they were the only two present.
"But of all people, Mike Logan?" Olivia said with shock. "Sweet Jesus, Alex!"
"Is it because he's a little intense?" Alex asked.
"A little intense? He got dumped in a Staten Island precinct because he slugged a politician!" Olivia said. "Look, I've dated my fair share of cops, and it's never worked out for me."
Alex's response was cut off when another woman entered the restroom just then. "Excuse us," Olivia said, as she and Alex left the room.
Once they were outside, Alex whispered, "Um, ok, just don't get too excited when you see Mike at the table."
Olivia stared at her wide-eyed. "You invited Logan here tonight? Wait, Munch told you about my break up, didn't he?"
"We're just trying to fix you up with a friend, that's all," Alex said defensively.
"And it's not that I don't appreciate it," Olivia said. "But I've broken it off with Eric for barely a day, and already people are trying to fix me up! I'd like a little breathing room."
"I hear you," Alex replied, as they walked back to the table.
Olivia saw that, in addition to Munch, Fin, and Cragen, Alex's partner Robert Goren and Mike Logan were also now seated at the table. Logan didn't so much as sit in his chair as he was sprawled out in it, taking a swig from his beer bottle, and looking for all the world like a conquering Viking just home from the raids.
'And he's sitting right next to my chair,' Olivia thought. 'Oh, fuck me….'
"Olivia, you remember Mike?" Munch eagerly said, like a tacky game show host introducing the players on Love Match. "Mike, Olivia."
"Hey Liv," Logan said, with a nod in her direction.
It took everything Olivia had to keep from stabbing him through the hand with a butter knife. 'Liv' was a name that she allowed only her closest friends to use. And for somebody whom she barely knew to start using it right off the bat was, for her, the height of presumption.
"Mike," she muttered, as she reluctantly took her seat next to him.
"Olivia's just broke up with her boyfriend, Mike," Munch said.
"Um, John…." Alex started to say.
"She's back in the playing field, eh?" Logan said with a smarmy smile. "Well, I suppose the dating game should be pretty easy for somebody like you."
Olivia glared at him. "What do you mean by that?"
"Only that somebody as gorgeous as you must get her pick of the cream of the crop," Logan said, flashing her a grin. "Am I right, or am I right?"
Now it took everything Olivia had to keep from plunging a butter knife right into his eye. 'What did I do to deserve this?' she wondered.
"You must have a hell of a time fighting off all the babes, Mike," Goren jokingly said, "what with that dazzling personality of yours."
"I get by," Logan said with a shrug.
"I see you're still just as mild-mannered as ever," Cragen commented.
That prompted laughter from everyone, including Olivia. Yet she stopped laughing when she saw a familiar face walk up to the table.
Alex Cabot smiled as everyone bid her welcome. She then turned to Olivia and said, "Can I speak to you for a second?"
"Sure," Olivia said, as they both left the table.
When they found a private spot in a corner, away from view of everyone, Alex said, "I'm so sorry, Liv. I never meant to hurt you."
"Alex--no, you have nothing to apologize for," Olivia told her. "Like I said, we've both moved on. And if you're happy, then I'm happy."
"I heard your boyfriend broke up with you," Alex said, looking sheepish. "It wasn't because he saw us, was it?"
"Not at all," Olivia said. "My ex-boyfriend turned out to be a major twit, and I'm glad to be rid of him. I'll tell you all about it, but only if you promise to come back to the table and join us."
"Great, I'll also tell you about my fiancé," Alex said.
"It's a deal." Olivia escorted Alex back to the table, where Logan The Terrible immediately took notice of her. "And don't even think about it, Logan," Olivia told him, after she made the introductions. "Alex is engaged."
"Story of my life," Logan muttered, as he took another swig of his beer.
"Liv, we've been talking," Fin said, "and I've got just the guy for you!"
"Oh, here we go," Olivia said with mock-annoyance.
"No, no, he's perfect for you," Fin insisted. "But there's just one thing…."
"What's that?" Olivia asked.
"You don't mind it if a guy's got a record, right?" Fin asked.
Olivia merely stared at him with her mouth hanging open, dumbfounded.
Alex Eames fell forward against the table laughing. "You should see the look on your face!"
Fin burst into a large grin. "Just kidding, kid."
"Oh, thank Christ," Olivia said with a heavy sigh.
As she gazed at Alex, who sat next to her, amid the laughter from around the table, Olivia realized just how fortunate she was right now. She had her health and her close friends. And even now Lilly and her family were in her life on a permanent basis. 'These are the times we should cherish,' Olivia thought.
"Welcome back, Alex," Olivia said, raising her beer in a toast. This caused everybody else to join in on a welcome back toast to Alex.
"Were you away on a trip?" Logan asked.
"Uh, yeah, you could say that," Alex replied, with a twinkle in her eye.
When that provoked more laughter from around the table, a puzzled Logan glanced at Goren and asked, "What did I say now?"
A/N: My thanks to everybody who read this story, and to those who were kind enough to send me a review.