Author: Regency

Title: Detective Strangelove (or How Liv Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the [Strawberry] Blonde)

Fandom: Law & Order: SVU

Pairing: Casey/Liv, implied Casey/other

Rating: PG-13 for innuendo

Word count: 11,203

Spoilers: Anytime Liv has ever worn a top with ruffles. Takes places when Liz Donnelly was still Bureau Chief.

Summary: It begins with an admission of guilt; then, Egyptian cotton sheets, breakfast, and curry. It ends with breakfast, too, because that's how they work.

AN: It started in a rather meta!tastic fashion, but became a serious story by about the second segment. Keep that in mind while you read. Also, takes place predominantly in Liv's POV until the end where the shift is obvious.

Disclaimer: I don't own any characters recognizable as being from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. They are the property of their respective producers, writers, and studios, not me. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made in the writing or distribution of this story. It was good, clean fun.

Casey was looking at Liv like she'd murdered her dog and blamed the crazy next door neighbor.

"What," Liv asked, finally sick of being looked at that way.

"I'm sorry about those shirts," Casey grimaced, staring at Liv's ruffled collar and cap sleeves.

Liv looked down at herself, suddenly a little self-conscious. "Why? You gave 'em to me."

Casey just kept grimacing. "I know. That's why I'm sorry."

Liv straightened up, defensive of her wardrobe being called into question. "If you didn't like them, why'd you give them to me?"

"Honestly, I just wanted to get them out of my apartment. They were my ex's and you two seemed about the same size, so…," Casey trailed off with a shrug.

Liv had to bite her lip to keep from saying the worst of what she was thinking. She had to bite her tongue to keep from saying the best of it. "So you gave me your ex's clothes—for my birthday?" There was a backwards sort of intimacy in that gesture and Liv wasn't so sure how she felt about it.

"If it's any consolation, my ex hated them, too."

Liv folded her hands and rested them under her chin. "I can't decide if I'd be happier if your ex was a woman or not."

Casey scanned her pensively, keen eyes taking in the ruffles and the fit, the fabric and the neckline. "All things considered, you carry it off well."

"All things considered, you gave me your ex-girlfriend's blouses for a birthday present. Does she even know you gave them away?" Liv had enough experience with spurned former lovers not to want to get involved. She and Casey weren't lovers, so the last place she wanted to be was caught in the middle.

Her ADA shrugged. "I doubt she cares. She hasn't called me in months. Like I said, she hated them more than you do. At least you wear them. I gave them to her and they sat in the closet for four months before she up and left; then, she left them behind when she packed up her stuff."

"She probably forgot they were hers," Liv muttered.

At that Casey could only nod in concession. "Yeah, probably." She swished her Cuba Libre a few times before she looked at Liv again, this time with a tentative smile. "They really do look great on you."

Liv could only stand to glare at her so much—but she glared as much as she could. "I look like a confused Liberace."

Casey grinned. "I think Liberace confused just about everyone, so you're right on track."

"Haha," she returned dryly. Only to herself, Liv would admit that it did sting a bit that Casey only thought of her as someone good enough to pawn an old lover's stuff on and not someone worth shopping for. She wasn't sensitive about it, but she'd actually believed Casey had bought these shirts for her, so she'd worn them and faced the raised eyebrows of pretty much the entire precinct. In the future, she was just accepting cash; this gift business was a little too rich for Liv's blood.

"Listen," Casey started to fill the silence, "I really did want to get you something nice for your birthday—and I did—but I chickened out at the last second, threw the shirts in a bag, and voila. You seemed like you liked them so I let it be." She gave Liv another brief inspection. "I was wrong. I de-fabulized Butchy McFabulous. I'm pretty sure there's a fine for that."

"There will be if you don't show me what you meant to get me instead," Liv said and wasn't kidding. She'd been wearing these ridiculous tops for four months without realizing that they were meant for someone else and she wanted a little compensation for time served. Admittedly, she mostly wanted her dignity back: it was hard to rough up a perp when he was busy cracking up about your baroque collar. Sad thing was she'd started to like the damned things. She thought the damage to her fashion sense might be permanent.

She gave Casey's leg a nudge with her booted foot. "Seriously, I want to know what you got me that was so shameful you had to give me your girlfriend's leftovers instead."

Casey sucked the lime from her drink and shrugged. She wouldn't meet Liv's eyes anymore.

"Come on, Case, nothing's that bad." She reached over and plucked the lime from Casey's lips and gave it a suck herself. That stopped her ADA cold. Smiling, she pulled the withered citrus husk from her mouth and dropped it onto a napkin. "Still waiting."

Her strawberry blonde slouched back in her chair and sulked in stubborn silence, leaving Liv to her disbelief.

"You would really rather sit and not talk to me than tell me what you got me for my birthday? Really?"

Casey stretched and folded her arms behind her head. "Can I just say that it's something you would have liked and have you be satisfied with that?"

Liv mimicked her posture and shook her head. "Nope."

"Then, I'll say it's something you would have liked and I'll be satisfied with that."

The detective chuckled and hummed, "If you think I'm gonna let it go that easily, you don't know me very well."

Casey sighed. "See, that's what I'm worried about. I do know you."

"Never should have confessed," Liv teased.

"I'm beginning to see that my brother was right: honesty is not the best policy," Casey declared forlornly.

Liv shrugged. "So, when do I get to see my real gift?" She really wasn't finished pressing the issue.

"So, when do I get to see you naked?" Casey came right back with a deviant gleam in her eye.

They answered each other at the same time, in very different ways.

"Never," said Casey.

"Whenever," said Liv. She grinned and thanked God for Casey's fair skin. That flush would be a long time in fading and she planned to enjoy every minute of it.

"Don't make promises you can't keep," Casey warned.

"Don't promise gifts you won't share," Liv retorted.

Casey initiated a staring match and Liv beat her at her own game. Bring it on, she thought.

"You said you liked cool sheets," Casey said, apparently seized by a moment of honesty.

"What?" Liv asked, confused.

"You said you liked sleeping on sheets that never got hot. You know, cool sheets."

Liv vaguely remembered them having a conversation covering remedies to insomnia once. The temperature of sheets had definitely come up in passing, but hardly as more than an odd personal admission.

"You remember that?" She couldn't help but to gape, she barely remembered that and she was the one who'd said it.

"I remember about seventy-five percent of everything you've ever said to me, especially if it was about you. Since you don't talk about yourself much, it's not nearly as much as it sounds like." Casey laced her fingers together on top of the small club table and met Liv head-on like she was ready for her day in court.

Liv had no intention of persecuting her for recalling something she liked. It was sweet—in a Casey Novak kind of way. "So, you bought me sheets?" she guessed.

Casey nodded. "I did. Egyptian cotton, 300-thread count."

Liv's eyes widened. They did not sound cheap. They did, however, sound heavenly. "And?"

"And, when it came time to give them to you, I realized how weird me giving you sheets would look. That's not normally something colleagues give each other."

"That's something someone gives to a girlfriend," Liv completed the thought for her.

"Right," her ADA confirmed. "And since we weren't—aren't—dating, I thought it best if I went with something safer like—"

Liv raised an eyebrow. "Like your ex-girlfriend's clothes. Yeah, I see how you could have come to that conclusion," she finished wryly.

"You're never gonna let me live this down, are you?"

"Not until I get my sheets back, no."

It was Casey's turn to look smug now. She crossed her arms over her chest and smirked. "Then, I guess I'll just have to put up with the put-downs."

Liv narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Why?"

"Because your sheets are quite happy at home on my bed." She took another sip of her drink. "And you were right about the temperature. Now, I sleep like a baby."

Liv reached out and snagged Casey's drink. "Good, then you won't be needing this." She took a sip before nodding appreciatively. "Not bad."

"That just goes to show that I have good taste."

Liv gestured towards herself in the polka-dotted blouse that housed her shift-ready physique. "In gifts?"

Casey growled, "Everybody has problem areas."

"Yeah," Liv scoffed, "I'm wearing yours."

"Oh, please. That's not even the worst of them. That's one of the nice ones."

"Really," Liv challenged. "Are you sure she didn't leave you because of these blouses and not in spite of them? They're pretty bad."

"Ah," Casey moved to object. "But you're wearing it and you've worn them—a lot. You're out of excuses. Regardless of where they came from, you wore them and you liked them and you defended them. Olivia Benson, you like frills—or, at least, ruffles. What would your little precinct fan club say about that?" Her ADA looked quite satisfied with her deduction and a satisfied Casey was always a pain for Liv to deal with.

"They'd say it's all the redhead's fault."

"Strawberry blonde," Casey corrected, but blanched all the same.

Liv chuckled, now satisfied herself. "Yeah, I thought you'd have that reaction."

"That's just cruel and unusual. You can't sic them on me. They'll tear me apart." She grabbed Liv's arm and pleaded.

"Well," Liv started, pretending to consider mercy. "You could make it up to me."

"How?" Her wide-eyed and hopeful look was just too appealing.

"Sheets, give 'em to me."

"You're still on that," Casey asked, incredulous.

"Yup. Like I said before, 'Still waiting.'" She tapped her nails on top of the table, impatiently.

Casey frowned and looked all ready to sulk again, until… "Okay. I'll show you the sheets."

"You'll show them to me—even though they're mine by giftright? Yeah, no, you're on your own. Good luck with the rabid Butchfans." Liv got up and prepared to leave.

"First of all, neither giftright nor Butchfans is a word. Secondly, you can't leave me like this. I know my terms are fair, Detective."

Liv placed her hands palm-down next to Casey's. "And I know I have the right to refuse your plea bargain. Better luck next time, Counselor." She left her drinking buddy with a sympathetic click of the tongue.

"Unfortunately, next time there won't be breakfast attached to the invitation."

Liv stopped short and turned around. "Come again."

Casey glanced at Liv over her shoulder and, rising, said, "You wish."

Liv was stunned at Casey's audacity. "Oh, really, you think so?" Maybe she was a little more stunned at her own.

Before her ADA could give an appropriately saucy answer, Liv's cell began to ring on her hip. She sighed. "It never ends, does it," she found herself saying—and remembering, and wishing. You really are too good for all this, Liv reflected.

"Not really," Casey answered back, sounding regretful.

"I'll see you in the morning," Liv asked, this time truly leaving.

"With bells on," she promised and Liv believed her.