Disclaimer: I own Steve, Allen, and Jess. Dick owns everyone else.
This is the sequel to Always and Forever. If you haven't read that one yet, this one won't make any sense. Trust me. If you want to read this, and I would love for you to do so, I encourage you to read the other one first. Seriously, it's for your own good…and sanity.
Six weeks after they returned from their cruise, Alex and Olivia found themselves sitting at the dinner table discussing wedding plans for the first time since Olivia had proposed.
"Who cares if we can't really get married," Olivia said as she shoved a forkful of salad into her mouth. "We can still wear wedding dresses and have a beautiful ceremony and everything."
Alex nodded and sighed sadly. She looked down at her untouched salad and frowned. "I know, and I am so excited to do this."
She looked up, but averted her eyes from Olivia. "I just wish the laws were different," she said quietly.
Olivia closed her eyes and swallowed. She felt exactly the same way. "I know. I hate them, too. But they are what they are and no matter how hard we fight, I don't see them changing any time soon." She held Alex's hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "I want us to have our own wedding – one where we can get dressed up and be with our friends and I can stress out for months about trying to find the right words to tell you just how much I love you."
Alex felt her eyes tearing as she returned Olivia's gentle squeeze. "I want that, too," she said. Then she closed her eyes and shook her head. "I mean I want to get all dressed up and be with our friends and stress out for months about how to tell you I love you."
Olivia laughed. "I figured that was what you meant."
Alex leaned back in her chair and sighed. As she looked down at the ring of her finger, she smiled happily. It was the most beautiful ring she had ever seen. She looked up at Olivia and grinned. "I can't believe we're getting married!" she exclaimed.
Olivia grinned excitedly. "I know! We should probably start thinking about the when and where, huh?"
"I guess so. When do you want to have it?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing," Olivia responded, laughing. "How about you go first?"
Alex shrugged. She didn't want to be responsible for making the decisions for this. It was terrifying enough trying to keep herself believing that this was all really happening. If she had to take on the responsibility of this wedding, knowing that she could disappoint Olivia at any moment, she wasn't sure she could do it. "I don't know," she answered. "When do you want to have it?"
"Whenever's best for you I guess."
"Any time is good, Liv. I don't care."
Olivia smiled, detecting Alex's nervousness. "Okay. Any ideas as to where we should have it?"
Alex shook her head. "It really doesn't matter. Wherever you want to have it will be fine with me, I promise."
Olivia laughed. "Okay, well, we're not going to get anywhere this way. How about we put a bunch of dates and locations on pieces of paper, then pull them out of a hat or something?" she suggested playfully.
"I am not deciding my wedding day by pulling a piece of paper out of a hat!" Alex said, laughing nervously. Even as terrified as she was of planning the event, she was adamant about not having at least some planning and discussion about the day.
"Okay then, how do you propose we decide?"
"Careful, thorough, and thoughtful discussion. We should list the pros and cons of each possible day and place…that sort of thing. We need to make sure the date we choose goes well with the place we choose and vise versa."
Olivia shook her head and rolled her eyes. "You're too much, Cabot."
"Yeah, but that's why you love me."
Olivia laughed and kissed her lightly. "It's one of the many, many reasons." As she pulled away, she noticed the nerves in Alex's eyes. She took her hand and squeezed firmly. "Are you okay?"
Alex nodded but said nothing. She didn't trust herself enough to speak. She was terrified that the very act of opening her mouth would bring a rush of tears full of her insecurity about everything. So, while she knew it wasn't going to be convincing in the least, she tried to nod again in an attempt to signal to Olivia that she wasn't in the mood to talk about it at the moment.
Always knowing when something was bothering Alex, Olivia smiled warmly and nodded. She leaned her forehead against Alex's. "I'm right here, honey, whenever you need to talk, okay?" When she felt Alex nod slightly in return, she gathered the dinner dishes and headed to the kitchen, allowing Alex some time alone with her thoughts.
Just as Jess was about to sit down to a romantic candlelit dinner with Allen, the phone rang. She flung her head back and rolled her eyes. "Why the hell do people always call at the absolute worst possible moments?" she yelled as she went to answer the incessant ringing. She resisted the urge to slap Allen as she saw him laughing at her. "Hello?" she said angrily.
"Do you know if Alex has had any luck finding a job?" Casey asked.
"Please tell me you didn't just interrupt my romantic dinner with my new husband just to ask me that," Jess said in a slightly annoyed tone.
"I didn't," Casey said firmly. "Have you heard anything?"
"Only that there aren't any SVU positions available in Queens, the Bronx, or any other area of this insanely large city. Why do you ask?"
Casey took a deep breath. "Homicide has two prosecutors."
Jess shook her head in confusion and annoyance, and wished that Casey could see her expression right now. "What?"
"Yep. So does Narcotics. So does Computer Crimes. Everybody has two prosecutors working for them. Here, it's just me; and quite frankly, I hate that I have to handle all of these cases on my own."
Jess raised her eyebrows in surprise and bit her lower lip eagerly, though she knew Casey couldn't see her reaction. "Casey," she said, trying to hide the excitement in her voice. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
Casey started speaking quickly, unable to hide her excitement. "I talked to Alex's bosses and everyone involved with this issue – which isn't an easy task, mind you. I'm a very lowly ADA. They don't exactly want to waste their time with me. They have much more important –"
"Casey!" Jess exclaimed.
"Okay, okay," Casey said, taking several deep breaths and trying to calm down. "I talked to them about how she had decided to quit in order to avoid the stress of the inquiry into her abilities and mental status. After I tried to present my case, they all smiled arrogantly at me, as if all my attempts were pathetic. At first I was scared, but then I saw how eagerly they were smiling, which of course only added to my nervousness, but I stayed put and awaited their decision."
"Casey, please!" Jess pleaded. She was eager to hear what Casey had to say, but Casey wasn't really saying anything at the moment and her dinner was getting cold.
"Sorry. Anyway, they assured me that, while they would have had to have processed the complaint against her and that it would have been stressful, she was never going to lose her job. They all seemed to really care about her and respect her, which made it a lot easier for me to ask a huge favor…"
When Casey's voice trailed off, Jess rolled her eyes. Now Casey was playing with her. Knowing that by now, her dinner was going to have to be reheated, and that she was tired of arguing, she decided to play along. She could tell Casey was really excited about something, which she hadn't seen in the woman since before Alex's trial. "What was that favor?" she asked eagerly.
"I asked if Manhattan SVU could possibly have one more prosecutor."
"And what did they say?"
Casey took another deep breath and tried not to get too overly excited. "They told me that if Alex is okay working with me and splitting the cases, then they'll let her do just that." She paused, waiting for Jess' reaction. When she received nothing, she spoke again. "Well, what do you think?"
Jess rolled her eyes and tried to pretend to be annoyed, though she couldn't keep the shocked and excited grin off her face. "I think you could have saved us both a lot of time and effort if you had just told me that last part. Now my dinner's cold and the mood completely ruined."
Casey saw right through Jess' pretended annoyance. "I wasn't sure how to even go about trying to do this, and I really didn't want her to know that I was doing it because she would have tried to convince me not to give up my job and stuff."
Jess was happy to see this happier, excited side of Casey. Ever since things had gone crazy in the courtroom, Casey had lost that spark that everyone loved about her. Despite the fact that everyone constantly reassured her that she was still loved and was not to be blamed for anything that happened, she hadn't quite forgiven herself for everything. "It's good to hear you this happy, Case."
"Do you think she'll want to do this?" Casey asked nervously. "I know how she likes to be independent and do everything by herself. Do you really think she'll want to split this job with me?"
"Actually, I really do," Jess answered truthfully. "I know she's mentioned that she's sick of the hours she had to keep as Bureau Chief. Plus, I know for a fact that she would absolutely love working with you." Jess paused, letting that last part really sink in. "She's going to be so happy that you've done this, Case!"
"I hope so," Casey said as she sighed nervously. "It's the least I could do after all the hell I put her through with the trial and –"
"Casey," Jess interrupted, a warning tone evident in her voice.
"What have I told you about blaming yourself for that?"
She paused. "You…you told me to stop," she muttered.
"That doesn't mean it isn't hard."
Jess sighed sadly. "Is it getting any easier?" she asked gently.
"Yeah, every time one of you tells me to stop."
"Well then I'll say it again. Stop blaming yourself, Case. It wasn't your fault."
Casey closed her eyes and tried to allow Jess' words to sink in. "Thanks Jess."
"You're welcome. Now I would like to salvage something out of this evening with Allen, so I'm going to go. Just make sure you tell Alex as soon as you can. I know she's been desperate for a job and she's been feeling a little bummed lately."
"We're meeting for lunch tomorrow."
"Perfect. Good job, Case. I'll see you later."
"Bye, Jess, and thanks."
"You're welcome. Bye."
"Casey," Steve said softly as they climbed into bed that evening. "Do you have any idea just how happy you're about to make Alex?" He wrapped an arm around her and kissed the top of her head. "She is going to be so excited."
"I hope so," Casey said softly as she snuggled against Steve. "I really want this for her. I know how much she wants this job and believe me if she would let me, I'd give my whole job to her."
Steve smiled and combed his fingers through her hair as he rubbed his nose against hers. "She knows that, too, but she'd never let you do it. She knows how much you love it."
"Yeah she does, which is what makes me so eager to try to help her."
As he wrapped both arms around her and allowed her to lay her head on his chest, Steve let out a happy sigh. He locked hands with her and kissed the top of her head. "I love you so much, do you know that?"
"Yeah, I know. I love you, too."
They drifted off into a peaceful sleep, happy to be in one another's arms. Steve felt relief wash over him as he saw his wife truly smiling for the first time in months. This was by far the best thing that could have happened for her. As he felt her body relaxing and allowing sleep to take over, he smiled. He felt like the luckiest man in the world to have her as his wife, and he had never been more sure of that feeling than at this very moment.
"So what was so important that Casey had to interrupt a perfectly wonderful and romantic dinner?" Allen asked once they had reheated their plates and returned to the candlelit table.
Jess grinned eagerly. "She found Alex a job."
"Where she used to work."
Allen furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "But that's her job."
"Jess, you're confusing the hell out of me."
She laughed and took a bite of pasta. "Yeah, I know, and it's a hell of a lot of fun watching you try to figure out what I'm telling you."
"What is it exactly that you're telling me?"
"That Alex is getting her old job back."
Jess shook her head. "Nope."
"Then what the hell is going on?"
Jess took a deep breath. "They're going to be working together. Apparently everybody else has two prosecutors working for them and Casey convinced the powers that be to allow Manhattan SVU to have two as well."
"Wow. Alex and Casey prosecuting together?"
"Manhattan's not going to know what hit it."
Jess grinned. "Alex is going to be so happy."
"How does Casey feel about it?" he asked worriedly.
"It was her idea. She's going to talk to Alex about it tomorrow, and she's nervous as hell. She's kind of worried that Alex won't want to work with her because of what happened."
Allen shook his head sadly. "She's punishing herself too much."
"Yeah, she really is, but she's getting better. I think this was really good for her. She sounded a lot better today. I just hope everything works out."
Allen cleared the now empty dishes and put them in the dishwasher. "I'm sure they will. You know how much Alex loves Casey. They're going to work extremely well together."
"Yeah they are, and you're right."
"Manhattan's really not going to know what hit it."
So…any thoughts on the first chapter?