"Get you another?"
Casey looked up at the female bartender, then back down at her drink, which was now just a glass full of ice cubes.
"No, thanks." She pushed the ice around with the tiny black cocktail straw. "Well, yes. Yeah."
The bartender smiled. "You sure about that?"
She nodded. It had been like this all day, the indecisiveness. If she really wanted to be honest with herself, it had been like this since the day she'd been disbarred. Law was everything to her, because it had to be, especially once she was assigned to SVU. But now it couldn't be. Now, it had to be about everything but law. And Casey wasn't sure what that was. So far, it had amounted to finally watching everything on her DVR and catching up on non-work related emails. She couldn't even look forward to this year's softball season. Sex Crimes team would have to carry on without her.
It had only been a couple months since everything happened, which meant Casey was still lingering in limbo, not sure where to go or what to do about her career. It was only a year, but the chances of getting her position back after something like this... well, they didn't look too good.
So, here she was at a bar in Los Angeles, because a friend of a friend knew a guy looking for an advisor for a new law show. As if the world needed another one of those law shows. But it sounded kind of fun. Different, anyway.
But the meeting wasn't until tomorrow afternoon, which meant she had an entire evening to brood and reflect and worry about what could would and might happen if she didn't get this job.
The bartender returned and exchanged the empty glass for a fresh drink. Casey thanked her, then turned to survey the room. It was an upscale bar, the kind lawyers frequent after a long day in court. She'd been here a few times, whenever she'd been in town. It was the kind of place you might catch a classy celebrity if you kept your eyes open. There didn't seem to be any familiar faces here tonight, though. Except the one at the small table in the back corner.
She was sitting alone at a table for two, eyes focused on the paperwork in front of her. After a few moments, she reached up and pulled her glasses off, as if to rest her eyes. There was a martini on the table that looked untouched.
Casey watched, unsure of what to do. They didn't really know each other. But there were both here, away from home. It would be rude, really, not to say hello.
By the time she walked over to the table, the glasses were back on and the reading had resumed.
Alex looked up. "Yes? Oh. Novak. Hi."
It was probably odd, to be addressing each other like ball players, or worse, cops, with the absence of first names.
"I just saw you over here... thought I'd say... you know, hello."
"You want to sit down? Whether I like it or not, I could use a break from this." Alex began to pull the paperwork together.
"I don't want to interrupt if it's important."
"Trust me, it's for my own good." She slapped the papers into a file folder and dropped it into the briefcase at her feet.
Casey took a seat in the empty chair. "Big case?"
"Actually, it a manuscript." Alex picked up her martini. "A friend of mine is writing this book. Just wanted my opinion."
"Oh. Is it... like, a legal thriller or something? The next Grisham?"
Alex laughed. "No, it's actually a romance novel. A lady private eye and a cowboy getting it on."
Alex nodded. "Not my general forte, but I have an eye for grammar."
"Is that why you're here in LA?"
"That and I'm burning up some vacation time. Apparently, being in Witness Protection really screws with scheduling."
"Well, most people in Witness Protection don't close their own cases from the stand."
"You handled that case."
"I stood outside the box while you handed Connors his ass."
"Come on, you're a great ADA."
"Personally, that just shows how committed you are. We have our moments."
"Yeah, well, not everyone rises from the dead as elegantly as you do." Casey was already at the bottom of the second drink.
Alex leaned back in her seat and worked on her own cocktail. She knew how Casey felt, unsure of the future. Being disbarred and being dead definitely had their similarities.
A waitress stepped up to the table. "Another round for you ladies?"
"Yes, please." Alex handed her the now empty martini glass.
"Oh, uh, yeah. What the hell." Casey set her own glass on the tray. "Amaretto sour with a shot of Grey Goose."
The waitress looked to Alex. "Both on your tab?"
Alex nodded and the waitress was gone before Casey could protest.
"You like it sweet with a kick, huh?"
"What?" Casey realized she was talking about the drink. "Oh. Yeah. I never was that into the harsh tasting stuff. You can keep your martinis."
"Really? After a long day, I'm all about a great big dirty martini."
"So, you like it... dirty." Casey couldn't help but giggle.
"Please, like I didn't hear that every time I was out with the one-six."
"Yeah, well, with them, if you're not down with the pitcher of beer, you're being a snob."
"Tell me about it. When I first got there, they had me pegged as a cold hard stuck up bitch." Alex leaned forward on her elbow. "Which, granted, I was."
"Please, that precinct had a hard on for you. Still does."
"So eloquently put."
"When I showed up, there may as well have been a big Alexandra Cabot sized hole in the center of the squad room with a flashing neon sign over it."
"And I'll bet you that, right now, whoever's trying to fill your shoes is looking at the same thing, only Novak shaped."
"I'll be lucky to get a cardboard cutout."
The waitress returned with their round of drinks.
Alex lifted her glass. "To the one-six. Those poor bastards are probably lost without us."
Casey smirked and clinked her amaretto sour against the martini. "I heard Greylek's up for the position."
Alex nearly spit out her drink. "Oh god. The Crusader? I hope Olivia decks her."
"There were a few times in the beginning I thought that might happen to me."
The blonde fiddled with the olive in her glass. "Liv takes a little time to warm up to certain people."
"You miss her, don't you?"
"You guys were close."
"We were a lot of things, but not what everyone thought we were."
Casey settled back in her chair. "Really? You two weren't..."
"Sorry, you're right."
The two women were silent for a moment, attention focused on their drinks and the low buzz of the activity in the bar.
"What did you hear?"
"About you and Olivia? It doesn't matter, it's just hearsay."
Alex glared over the top of her glasses. "Spill it, Novak."
"Mostly just that you were... involved."
"Sometimes it was that you came on to her after a big case. You know, one of those where she felt especially responsible."
"And the other times?"
"Other times it was that she came on to you after getting into a heated argument."
"That's a classic."
"And even Cragen was sure something happened the night before the Connors trial."
"Oh?" Alex held her drink close to her face.
"Yeah and..." Casey eyed the woman across the table. "Oh my god."
"What?" Alex took a sip.
"You totally did."
"You can't prove it."
"I don't have to. It's all over your face."
"Fine. Yes. But it wasn't the way everyone thought it was."
"I don't know, Munch and Fin laid out some pretty detailed and convincing scenarios."
"I mean it wasn't long term."
"So, you two were just hooking up in your office? The showers? Where?"
"It only happened a handful of times and that night at the hotel was the end of it."
"No domestic bliss, huh?"
Alex shook her head. When they'd first met, it seemed like a possibility. Olivia Benson was a sexy, confident cop who knew what she wanted and when she wanted it. And maybe it had been more than just sex for a while, even if they never really addressed it. But the moment had passed. It died right along with Alex, but didn't resurrect along with the ADA. That night in the hotel had been for closure, for comfort.
The blonde didn't feel a need to detail all this to the former ADA. Instead she just said, "She's complicated. The only thing Olivia knows, for sure, is that she wants to save the world."
Casey nodded. That sounded about right. "I didn't mean to open up a whole... thing."
Alex shrugged. "What else do you talk about over drinks but work and former lovers?"
"Did she ever..." Alex stopped herself.
"Come on to you?"
"Olivia? No. I mean, not that I could tell. I wasn't even sure if she was, you know, into women until now."
"You can't be serious."
"I am! Okay, I've seen pictures from before, when you were around. She looks different now. She probably acts different. You totally pegged it with the complicated comment."
"Would you have said yes?"
"To Olivia?" Casey contemplated her cocktail. "I don't know."
"Don't lie. And don't let your recently acquired knowledge of our past history influence your answer."
"I'm not! I really don't know. Yes, she's beautiful, but I don't really think she's my type."
"Really? That's interesting."
"Why? Why is that so interesting to you?"
"I don't know." She smirked then signaled to the waitress for another round.
"Oh, no, not for me. I have a meeting tomorrow."
Alex checked her watch. It wasn't even ten o'clock. "That's over seventeen hours from now. Unless it's a three AM meeting. Which I would question."
"Fine. One more. But, unless you want to personally tuck me in, that's my limit."
Alex smirked. "We'll see how the evening goes."
Did Alex Cabot just hit on me? Casey wasn't sure, probably because of the three drinks she'd consumed. And now there was a fourth on the way.
Some regular small talk picked up for a while. Casey explained her reason for being in Los Angeles and her fondness for this particular bar. Alex had apparently been introduced to the place by a friend during a trip in college. They then marvelled over the fact they'd both been occasionally frequenting the same bar over 2,000 miles from home.
"That's too weird."
"Not weird," Alex waved her glass, "Serendipitious. Wait... what hotel are you staying at?"
"Uh, the Hypernicus. NO. Hyperion."
"Oh my god!"
"You're there, too!"
"No! I'm at The Standard."
"That would have been too weird."
Casey nodded. "Definitely."
"But this place. And being ADAs."
"And having a thing for Olivia."
"I knew it!" Alex leaned across the table. "You do like her."
"No! I mean, okay, I have thought about it. Did think about it. But we're just friends."
"I don't believe you."
Casey leaned in toward Alex to make her point. "Believe me! Yes, she's hot in that cop kind of way. But I prefer my women decisive. And usually blonde."
"So, you're into decisive blondes?"
"Yes. Oh, and smart. I like smart, decisive bl--"
On principle, Alex Cabot probably wouldn't make a move on another woman in a public arena. But, three martinis and a couple thousand miles distance between this current moment and her home turf were enough to make principle disappear.
When Alex's lips met her own, Casey thought that maybe the fourth drink combined with jet lag had caused her to doze off. Only she was wide awake. And being kissed. By ADA Alexandra Cabot.
After a moment, Alex pulled back. "Was that decisive enough? Or was it just errant behavior?"
Casey shook her head. "No, not at all errant. Definitely decisive."
Tabs? Settled. Cab? Called. In less than ten minutes, they were on their way to Alex's hotel. Casey hadn't been all that keen on staying by herself at the Hyperion, anyway. Something about it seemed creepy.
The Standard lobby decor was minimalist Mod decor. A live model sat in a window behind the front desk. Everything behind the window was white: the model's minimal clothes, the pillow she leaned on, the Apple computer on her lap.
"There's totally a lady back there!" The four Amaretto sours in Casey couldn't help but point.
Alex laughed. "I know. That's her job."
"She's just in there... checking her Facebook or something. I could do that job!"
The blonde led the redhead down the hall to the elevator, then stepped in side. Alex punched a button for a higher floor. They hadn't kissed since the bar and the cab ride and been a short session of nervous hand holding, like they were junior high students in the back of a school bus. The elevator doors slid shut and catapulted the woman forward in time, past the awkwardness of early teen years and back into adulthood.
It was Casey who proved decisive, this time. She took Alex's face in her hands and pressed their mouths together, this time letting her tounge trace the blonde's bottom lip. Alex whimpered, lightly, and grabbed Casey's waist. The elevator found its floor and came to a stop.
"Come on." Alex took Casey's and and pulled her down the hall toward her room.
Once they were inside, Alex barely had time to toss her briefcase and room key on the vacant chair before Casey began tugging at the blonde's clothes. It didn't take long until they were in bed, a trail of clothing dictating the path they'd taken to get there.
They resumed with a modification of what they'd started in the elevator. Now they were horizontal and wearing far fewer, to the point of zero, clothes. The kissing quickly escalted to touching, caressing, groping, and the inevitable fucking. Although, when it was over, neither of them would classify it as simply the latter.
In the morning, when the haze of liquor burned away from the harsh light of day, it wouldn't be that complicated. It would make sense, though it may not be perfect. But there were alike enough to know they both got what they wanted. And maybe, if they were really honest with themselves, they'd both realize they wanted more.