Disclaimer: I don't own the characters you read before you. All rights belong to Wolf Films, and all that.

Author's Note: My first stab into the final fandom, having conquered the other two juggernauts. I wish I could do Mothership-style Don around here, but such things aren't possible. Ah, well.

Beta: Still looking.

Timeline: Halfway through "Ghost".


"I have lost my home…, my job…, my friends…. My mother died, and I couldn't go to the funeral. Liam Connors is not going to take my conscience, too," Witness-in-protection Alexandra Cabot pronounced indignantly to her two male visitors, D.E.A. Agent Hammond and Manhattan S.V.U. Captain Don Cragen in her furnished adobe.

"I was right the first time: you are a pain in the ass," Hammond barbed. "Alright, get dressed, while I make the travel arrangements."

"I have a filled suitcase for just such an occasion. But I need to, um, double-check." The now fidgety young woman hiked to an adjacent closet. The federal officer observed a fleeting glance from his policeman counterpart.

"You two look like you need to talk; I'll be in the car. Just try to hurry." Don ignored the departing man, eyes fixed on her.

"I don't even know where to begin," he verbalized, chivalrously hoisting her luggage.

"Thanks. Who has the right to speak more: the dead person or the mourner?"

"I'm not laughing, Alex."

She chortled mirthlessly. "Sorry, I've had time to perfect some of my morbid humor."

"I'm surprised you're making light of this."

The baggage onto a chair, she checked inventory. "Oh, I'm not, believe me."

He folded his arms. "You know, a decade ago, I could have found some humor in this, but, now, I don't. What's that say about me?"

"Well, aren't you getting deep."

"So are you. So, what do you say to a ghost?"

"Uh, you mean one that won't apparently rape and murder you?"

The elder gentleman snorted sardonically. "That's what I love about youth: the arrogance. Or, maybe I'm getting too out-of-step in my old age."


"There's a lot for me to say, but I can't think of a damn thing right now. Seeing you in the flesh — maybe I have turned senile."

Alex zipped up her valise. "Don, this isn't the time to get maudlin. Not with what we have to do with Connors, but afterwards…."

"I know, but how often do I get to talk to a person who I thought was dead? It's an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone like me. And if I didn't think it would get you killed, bragging rights to a select few."

She slumped upon another seat. "If it helps, the 'ghost' has plenty to say, too, but doesn't know where to begin, either."

"We always could play twenty questions."

She chuckled ruefully. "A cop asking that to a former A.D.A.? That's just asking for trouble."

"It's the easiest way to make small-talk without the tedium. Take it or leave it."

"You would make a good prosecutor."

Don scrunched his face. "Bite your tongue. Now, who wants to go first?"

"Your idea, you start."

"Okay. How is life, here?"

"Boring. You?"

"The opposite. Made any new friends yet?"

Her eyelid twitched. "Working on it. How's my replacement?"

"She's not bad, but…"


He sighed. "How would you want me to finish that sentence?"

Alex shifted mildly. "Truthfully."

"It's going to be ego-stroking, either way, so the answer is, 'she's not you.'"

"I hope she'll be good to interact with, then."

He traced his throat. "She's good enough. The biggest question — and the stupidest, probably — is: what do you miss most since leaving New York?"

The ex-A.D.A.'s eyes sparked. "Everything and everyone."

"I had to ask."

"It's part of the interrogation, so you had no choice. You should have seen me in the first two months and all the…loneliness."

Don placed his hand gently on her shoulder. "I'm sorry."

"It wasn't so bad, as I used the time to think. I thought about old cases, things I should have done, and, yes, S.V.U., and someone special that I never had the nerve to act on."

The cop seized tightly. "Again, I'm sorry."

"It's ironic in a way: I was finally ready to say something, and got killed," she quipped.

He interlaced his fingers behind his skull. "It happens too much in real life, I'm afraid. The fairy tales and the great romance novels don't have the exclusive rights to it anymore."

"Don, Snow White was only in a coma, it's not like she died."

"Well, you're half right: I was originally referring to 'Sleeping Beauty.'"

She beamed somewhat. "Enough about me, what about you? How's your love life been?"

"Basement level, but I haven't been looking. Besides, Alex, I already had my chance."

"Too invested in your job?"

"My job is busy, but not that busy. I'm sorry, but I fail to see the sudden interest, given the current circumstances."

"Still should be said. You don't think you'd want a second one?" Her tone was subdued.

His brow furrowed. "I get the feeling we're talking about something else now, aren't we?"

"Yeah. Better to finally say it, I suppose."

"The first question would be: 'how long?'"

"Oh, off and on for a few years. I used work and pointless dates as proper distractions, but they didn't last too long. The rest is what I said: had the epiphany, and the gunshot later."

"Good job, Counselor — I'm speechless twice in one day."

Alex cracked a despondent smile. "The first month was pure agony, and created a strange numbness for a while. During that time, I thought about you. In the late nights, well, let's just say I made good use of some mail order toys."

The duo blushed simultaneously. "Okay, make that three times in one day."

"I'm speechless myself — who wants to admit about a vibrator?"

A flushed Don eyed both the outer window and an impatient Agent Hammond. "We should get going. Compared to dealing with Connors, this conversation sounds so selfish and unimportant."

"I think the right to be a little selfish and unimportant is earned, here."

He clutched his forearms. "I guess."

"Don, if what I think you're going to say next is right, then don't worry about me. I actually am seeing someone, but I just couldn't seem to tell you for whatever reason."

"I think you know why."

The lady gaped downward, shuffling her feet. "I think you're right. It's not like we could do anything, anyway — not until Velez and his crew are dealt with."

The senior sucked in a breath. "It's just as well, because, Alex, you need this more than I do. I'm simply an old man who's past his prime."

She slid into a beige overcoat and a pair of sneakers. "I never did care for your negativity, Don."

He grappled her overnight case. "I guess we both have something to deal with, then."

"For the moment, but you never know what will happen next: Velez could be killed, I could return to New York, who knows?"

They both stepped outside, his bald forehead and her dishwater blonde hair gleaming in the sunlight. "Yeah, who knows?"

Hammond would later be slack jawed at the pair's comfortable daylong silence.


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