Author's Note: Hey, this was just an old story that I decided to post. It was my first Law and Order: Special Victims Unit fic, and it has some femslash undertones, so if you don't like that, don't read past my note.
Want For More
It's two hours into Christmas morning and you're wondering why you're still sitting at your desk when everyone else you know is home doing something else. Well...that's not entirely true.
Sure, your partner is off with his family, enjoying Christmas the way it was supposed to be enjoyed, but others you aren't so sure about. It's obvious Munch will be sitting at home, alone, cynically mumbling about how a holiday he doesn't even celebrate has become too consumer-driven to be taken seriously anymore. And his partner Fin will be off doing whatever he does...his personal life only joins the squad room in the form of an arrested relative...which is incredibly sad now that you think about it. And the Captain is off at the local community center, celebrating with his AA buddies, which is equal parts depressing and sweet. But you're here, going over a cold case that's been sitting in your desk since last February.
Because you have no one to celebrate with. Sure, you've tried to celebrate with your co-workers (unable to deny their sympathetic eyes...their heartfelt requests), but each time had left you feeling more pathetic than before.
Eliot's family dinners just made your life seem even emptier than usual. Watching him play with his children...kissing his wife...enjoying himself...it only made you want for something you didn't have and couldn't get. And you'd rather spend Christmas alone than subject yourself to another night full of Munch's conspiracy theorist ideas. (Secretly because you know you're starting to think like him...and that scares you more than anything.) The one holiday you spent with Fin was awkward because you knew he had ditched his plans to accommodate you. And you'd rather drink yourself into a stupor than listen to the Cap and his buddies talk about how much better the holidays are when you can remember them. Plus they just remind you of your mother and all of the disappointing holidays of your childhood.
Like the times you came downstairs on Christmas morning to see your mother passed out awkwardly on the couch, her spilled bottle of vodka soaking into the few presents you had under the tree.
That happened until you were fifteen...after that she had forgotten holidays all together. So you forgot them too, because it was just easier to let them pass by instead of acknowledging the bitter loneliness you felt.
But there was one Christmas; one Christmas that didn't seem so horrible. One year ago, when Alex had invited you to dinner.
You remember it vividly, no matter how much you wish it would go away. She had invited you to her apartment for a late Christmas take-out dinner. She had asked with sincerity and enthusiasm, and for once it seemed like someone hadn't invited you out of pity. You were hesitant but took the offer, sick of being alone.
Before you went to her apartment, you stopped off at a local chain-branch pharmacy and got her a card and a white bear with a Santa hat on it to show your gratitude. You were nervous and hopeful that it wouldn't be as awkward as it had been with the others (as hard as they tried to keep things normal, bless them). She opened the door and smiled, pulling you into a hug, which caught you off guard.
She sensed your tension and pulled away, explaining her actions as she shuffled you inside. "Sorry...there's something about this holiday that makes me want to hug. Is that weird?"
You shrugged. "No...just unexpected." You showed her the bear and the card, and she laughed.
"Thank you, he's cute." She suddenly stiffened, her eyes wide. "I haven't gotten you anything."
You waved it off. "You saved me from another holiday spent playing catch-up with my paperwork. That's enough." She seemed to nod in some sort of understanding, and you wondered what she was doing alone, but decided not to pursue it. If she wasn't going to tell, you weren't going to ask.
The night had been wonderful. She had ordered almost the entire menu from a small Mexican restaurant she loved, and you talked, ate, and drank wine until three in the morning, and she had become your best female friend. It was the best Christmas you had ever had. At the close of the evening, when you were walking out the door, she suggested making this visit a tradition, and, without thinking, you agreed.
Now, as you sit at your desk, and the lines of the case you were reading have blurred, you realize that she's gone, and you are once again, alone. You wonder if you'll ever have a Christmas like the one you had last year. You wonder if it will ever stop hurting as much as it does. You know she's alive, but she isn't here, so it's the same.
You wonder why you were chosen to go through life alone.
Snapping the file shut, you click off your desk lamp and rub your temples, feeling the beginnings of a migraine. Nothing a scotch won't fix. You think to yourself, sadly wondering if a scotch is becoming the answer to everything.
You look out the window and realize it's snowing. You hadn't planned on snow. You don't even have a thick jacket. It was fifty-five this morning. Now, it's cold enough outside to snow, and you car heater isn't working. "Better and better..." you mutter, grabbing your jacket. You say goodbye to those you can see, wishing them well and a happy holiday, trying not to make it sound as half-hearted as you feel.
You plan to come tomorrow. Nothing like fighting crime to distract you from the pathetic road your life is traveling down. You decide to say that someone has to keep going. Crime never takes a vacation after all.
You leave, and mentally prepare yourself for the icy ride home, which doesn't work because by the time you get to your apartment your lips are blue and you can't feel your hands. At least you remembered to pay the heating bill...right?
You decide to take the stairs instead of the elevator, hoping the exercise will warm you up a bit. It doesn't work as well as you hoped, and now your chest hurts as you breathe in the cold air of your apartment stairwell. Just as you open the door to the hallway of your floor, you realize someone is leaning against your apartment door.
"What the hell..."
You can't make out the figure yet, and instinct tells you to reach for your gun. You go against it, instead just unsnapping your holster until you can get a clear visual. Inching quietly closer, you see that the figure is female, and she appears to be sleeping. For a second you believe in miracles and see Alex. When you get close enough to see, you realize it isn't Alex at all, but that doesn't stop your heart rate from increasing.
It's the next to last person you expected to see sitting at your doorstep.
A.D.A. Casey Novak.
She's leaning against your door, her arms folded across her chest. Her upper body is bundled tight, but her legs aren't. She's in a skirt, her stocking-clad legs stretched out in front of her, her knee-length black leather boots crossed at the ankle.
Snapping your holster closed, you step in front of her and crouch down, studying her features. She's sleeping...if hypothermia hasn't set in already. God, even in sleep she looks serious. There's a slight frown on her face, and her brow is furrowed. You've seen that face in court, when she's planning her next move...when she's been backed into a corner and is trying to figure a way out.
You realize it's cute...and that's a scary notion.
You finally notice the brown paper and black plastic bags lying on your doormat next to her. A wave of guilt splashes over you, but your heart melts at the gesture.
Which is also scary, considering the only thoughts you had for the new A.D.A, (up until a few weeks ago) were contempt. Somehow, without you realizing, she's grown on you.
She shivers and her breath comes out in a short, shaky burst, a cloud of steam flowing from her mouth. You place a hand on her shoulder and shake her slightly. "Casey."
She jerks away, shivering, looking disoriented for a split second before she realizes where she is. "Hey." She rasps, stretching. "What time is it?"
"Five to three. What are you doing here?" You sigh, standing up, offering her a hand. She takes it and pulls herself up, groaning as her frozen muscles begin to work.
"My foot's asleep." She grumbles, shaking. "It's freezing in here."
You nod, about to complain about the lack of proper insulation in a nearly 100 year old building when you realize the clever counselor has dodged your question. "Not so fast, what are you doing here Casey?"
She smirks, suddenly finding her shoes fascinating. "I...I don't know, really."
"What do you mean?" You don't mean for your motherly detective voice to come out, but it does.
She looks at you, her hazel eyes burning. "I was hoping not to spend Christmas alone...can we go inside?"
"Uh-yeah." You mutter, fumbling with your keys. As you open the door to your apartment, you wonder why, of all the places she could've...should've gone to, she chose to sleep at your apartment door. "When did you get here?"
"About an hour ago. I left the office and didn't want to go home to an empty apartment...not on Christmas anyway."
You turn on the lights and adjust the thermostat, throwing your keys on the coffee table. You vaguely remember her talking about her family. "Why aren't you with family?"
She smiles and starts to unbutton her coat. "My parents are on a cruise. My siblings are all married and going on vacation. They don't need the spinster third-wheel sister tagging along. Besides, I figured you could use the company. Holidays are hard when..." she doesn't finish her sentence, but you know what she means. ...when you're alone.
You go back outside and grab the bags off your doormat. "And what's this?" You ask, closing the door and locking it behind you.
"That was French onion soup...which I'm sure is now French onion ice." She drapes her coat over a chair, which annoys you a little. She's settling in. She's getting comfortable in your apartment.
"H-how did you get my address anyway?"
She shrugs. "I asked around."
I'm going to kill Eliot. "Huh...and so, what, you thought you'd come over and have French onion soup with me?" It comes out harsher than you mean it, and you see her inwardly flinch. You thought you'd stoop in and steal mine and Alex's tradition just like that?
"I'm sorry. I guess I should've...asked you first." She looks down at her shoes again, and you can see her face flush red. She's embarrassed, and rebuffed...probably cursing herself for having the nerve to show up at the doorstep of a woman who up until a while ago wouldn't give her the time of day. And you realize, for all the awkwardness, it's still a nice gesture.
Plus, you can't stay mad at her when she looks defeated like that. Sighing, you roll your eyes. "It's okay." You place the bags on the counter. "I can assume that there's alcohol in the other bag?"
"Wine." She answers, the hope returning to her voice.
You go to the kitchen and grab a corkscrew and two glasses. "Well, at least it's chilled." You yell into the living room, and hear a throaty laugh. Before you return to her, you stop and think about what's happening. It's three a.m. Christmas morning, and you're about to have a glass of wine with Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak...who spent an hour waiting for you at your doorstep.
When you go back to the living room you find her standing in the same spot she's been in, but she's looking around, accessing your living situation. Accessing your life. She sees you, and a small smile graces her lips. "You have a nice apartment...much cleaner than I figured."
You're not sure if you should take that as a compliment or insult...you decide the former. It's too late to be offended. "Thanks." You deadpan, and motion toward the couch. "Have a seat."
She offers to get take the glasses so you have the hands to grab the wine, and you accept. She sits, and you pull the wine from the bag. You're not expert on vino, but you think the bottle looks expensive. Another nice gesture...one you can't interpret. It's too late to think.
Sitting next to her on the couch, you pour two glasses and take one, sipping slowly, watching as she drinks a little and then looks down, fiddling with the buttons on her shirt. "So..."you state, but trail off. You're not sure of what to say. What can you say? "Merry Christmas."
She laughs, looking down, twirling her finger on the wine glass. "Yeah, some Christmas. Fourth one I've spent alone." She mumbles, looking up at you, taking another sip.
You nod. "It sucks."
She agrees. "I just couldn't go home again. To their...prying." She begins to bitterly imitate what you can only guess is every family member at the dinner table. "So, Casey, how's your social life? Anything you have to tell us that doesn't involve a case you're working on? Have you met anyone yet? There are 8 million people in New York, why can't you seem to settle down with one?"
"A district attorney who can't handle tough questions...that's ironic."
She smirks at your joke. "I ask the questions, detective, I don't answer them."
You lean in a bit and put a hand on her knee. She doesn' seem phased by it. "They just care. You're lucky to have people who care." You can see the wave of guilt cross her face and you sigh. "It's okay. I accepted things the way they are a long time ago." You lie just because it's easier at the moment. The last thing either of you needs is for you to rehash every disappointment you've ever experienced.
"Well..." she starts, looking right into your eyes, "maybe things can change."
"What do you mean?"
You see her face flush and her gaze breaks from yours once more. "Look, I don't want this to come out the wrong way, but we're both lonely. A-and I was just thinking, maybe...we don't have to be."
You remove your hand from her knee and sit back. Of all the days to ask, she has to pick the one that means the most. You look at her, and realize that for all of your differences, you're both actually a lot alike. Tough, head-strong, work-oriented...lonely. But could you let go of one memory in place of another? Could you do that to Alex?
Somehow, and you don't know how, but she seems to read your thoughts. "Eliot told me about last year with Alex. I don't want to step all over something you hold dear, Liv. I was just hoping...to keep you company. And you could keep me company. That's all."
You sit quietly, trying to process all that she has said. She's patient, watching the look on your face as she finishes her glass and pours another, topping yours off in the process. You suddenly realize you hadn't eaten anything since this morning, and the wine is working faster than usual, but you don't care. The heat seems to have finally kicked in because a warm feeling is spreading through your body, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. What's company? Nothing serious. You like the idea. And you can admit to yourself that when you realized it was Casey at your door, you felt a twinge of relief knowing that you wouldn't have to enter your darkened, cold apartment by yourself...that someone else would be with you.
"Okay." You say, letting your smile reach your eyes.
She smiles back, hers genuine and full of unspoken hope. "Okay."
The rest of the night goes on, and by sunrise you've finished the bottle of wine. You've talked all night, like last year, but it wasn't the same,
She's not Alex, but that's okay. She doesn't have to be Alex. She's Casey. Alex shared one special day with you.
Casey seems to want for more.
And you know that you do too.