Note: A late Christmas present for imp3ratrix. This might not be what you're looking for (sorry!) but give me some credit for effort? Maybe? Anyway, I don't actually include any characters in Law and Order: SVU, but I did steal one of their cases from Season 2.
An Ephemeral Affair
She was raised to believe that she could be anything she wanted. Money was never an issue and between her aunts, uncles and step-family, she was related to enough people to bypass the internships and dirty work. She was ruthless, equipped with a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue, no one ever doubted her imminent success. In New York, regardless of the scandal and the betrayal, the outcast hippies and wannabe queens, Blair Waldorf reigned over the most affluent part of New York.
But then she left.
She left herself and everyone behind her for the brilliant West, where she could bathe in the golden horizon of the setting sun and sink her toes into the damp sand at her feet. She let her hair down, crisp with the salty sea air and wore white halters and denim shorts. Her charm bracelet jingled when she turned the steering wheel and a pair of Dior sunglasses replaced her countless headbands. She was as uneasily free as they came, always running a hand through her curls. Always running.
She could be anything she wanted, but she hadn't felt like herself in a long time. The spark was lit again at a Constitutional Law class she took with her roommate. She rediscovered a gift, both feared and repulsed by those who disagreed with her in discussions.
Blair Waldorf could make people cry with her words.
She stayed at Stanford for law school when she graduated - a few more years in the place that she had grown to love, the place where she hoped her non-existent children would attend. A few more years with professors who appreciated her aggressive personality and skewed (she likes to call it 'original') sense of justice.
When she was done with all that, she slipped back into her tailored suits. For every Archibald who wronged her, every Vanderbilt who used her up and threw her away, she fought up the rank in renown as one of the toughest assistant district attorneys in Manhattan. The money wasn't great (or good, at all), but no one could say that she didn't get where she was by working her ass off. Her credentials, the sweat, the tears, the tough cases - no one could take that away.
Could she be blamed, then, for gritting her teeth and nearly shaking with anger when she found herself at William Vanderbilt's doorstep, once again, nearly begging for a favor? At 28, she still felt like a little girl in his presence, desperately seeking and craving his approval.
"I always did tell Nathaniel and Tripp to beware a woman scorned." He swirled a glass of '96 Chateau La Mondotte Saint-Emilion before taking a sip, his (undoubtedly forked) tongue rejoices in the flavor. "Help yourself. You always have."
She politely declined and kept both hands on her briefcase in front of her. Her Mad Men-esque emerald green dress and heels felt hot and constricting against her curves and the high collar made it difficult to breathe. "Mr. Vanderbilt, if we could please talk about the situation at hand..."
"Ah yes. I suppose there are certain things in this country that even an independent modern woman such as yourself can't handle." The bastard enjoyed this, she could tell. Just like he enjoyed baiting her with that stupid, useless Junior Committee for chatty housewives. There was something about slamming her into the ground, shame-faced and dress dirtied, that he sickly desired. "You understand, Ms. Waldorf, that I am retired."
"Both the DA and I would greatly appreciate your help, Mr. Vanderbilt. Not to mention, of course, the memory of the victims of the crime." She bit the inside of her cheek - if it weren't for the back-watered ways of certain countries, she wouldn't need to grovel. She wouldn't have had to barge into her boss' office, practically yell that she needed a man for this and he wouldn't have suggested that she gave his old friend a ring.
Friend - it was difficult to imagine that someone as cunning and manipulative as William Vanderbilt actually had any friends. Then again, the person who said the money couldn't buy friends was an idiot.
"Yes, the whole ordeal is very tragic. I read about it in the paper." He said this in his luxurious baritone and it was all Blair could do to prevent herself from trembling when he reached out a hand to brush a curl behind her shoulder. "It would be a very high profile case for you, wouldn't it, Blair?"
She raised her chin at him and shrugged his hand away. "That is true, Mr. Vanderbilt, but it's not why I'm pursuing it. The bastard deserves to rot in prison." It's a half-truth. More than he was probably used to.
"You must understand that different cultures have different-"
"Will you help me or not?" She spun on her heels, her eyes pinning him down as she was known to do with defendants on the stand. She wanted to remind him of every horrible deed he had committed, guilt him from the little soul hiding away behind years of disappointment and politics. She remembered whom she was speaking to. "It's not as though you won't benefit from this as well. A hero championing women's rights. Your family name could use a bit of polishing up after the combined failures of your grandsons. Unless, of course, you would like your gene pool to be known for adultery, fraud and womanizing." She took the offense. "Oh, and the part where it took Nate three tries to pass the bar."
He scowled for a moment, like the devil before he drew up his contract, before he poured another glass of wine and shoved it into her hand, the red nearly spilling over the rim and staining her dress. "I see you haven't changed a bit."
"I have no idea what you're talking about." She tilted her head and gave him her society smile and a cocked eyebrow, daring him to go further. She looked at herself again in the reflection of the window - the free, Cali-chick Blair would have been so disappointed at herself for falling back into her old tricks. At least she was wiser now, less worried about her reputation and more focused on her career. That part of herself was at least comforted by the fact that this was for a good cause.
* * *
He was smart - brilliant, in fact. It was obvious that his Yale education wasn't bought - or at least, it didn't have to be. She watched from the interview room as he negotiated with the Afghani representative. It was a difficult sell. To him, there was nothing wrong with the way the defendant slain his wife for testifying in open court. Now that the daughter was dead as well though, the old diplomat had nothing to offer them and the conniving Vanderbilt didn't hesitate to stress the fact.
In the end, with subtle threats and goading, the ambassador consented and she made the call to have the man, now stripped of his diplomatic immunity, arrested once and for all before he flew home. Extradition for what they would have considered a petty crime would have been near impossible.
"You owe me a dinner." She turned around to see him standing there with a wide smile, a hand in his pants pocket and the other around the handle of his briefcase. He was clearly still enjoying the high of his victory.
"I'm afraid it will have to be another night. Thanks to you, I have a landslide of paperwork to go through and a case to-"
"You know better, Blair. I don't take no for an answer."
"I was a lawyer once. I can deal with takeout. I will call the order in." She listened in the limo as he ordered for the both of them, only mildly shocked that he knew her office number by heart and remembered her favorite French dish from childhood.
* * *
He was distracting. The way he crossed he ankle (navy socks) to his knee (Herringbone) and read through the files (now that she roped him in, he all of a sudden talked her boss into letting him sit first chair in the case) in her office across from her desk. In a rare moment of adolescent thought, she had to ask herself: was this real life? Even in her uncomfortable wooden chair in the dim light of her desk lamp, he still looked as though he were perched on a luxurious throne.
It seemed that, despite his age, his eyesight still beat hers. She watched his eyes scan through her write-up, the defendant's financial statements, the transcript from the preceding trial and she watched the way his lips pursed at a certain sentence. It made her chew her lip and wonder if he approved (what the hell? She won that case.).
She had read the same paragraph six times and still had no idea what it said.
The next time she peeked at him from above her reading glasses, he met her gaze. His forehead showed his age but his suit cut an impressive figure and his eyes were more lively than she had ever seen on his grandchildren.
She cleared her throat. The collar of her shirt chafed. "I'm going to take the trash out into the hall. My whole office is going to smell like duck." She bent over to tie the knot on the trash bag and it was impossible not to feel his gaze like a laser down her exposed cleavage.
"Allow me." He stood and grabbed the odorous bag from her, the pads of his fingers caressing her wrist just lightly before he left the room. She was tempted to flee (her own office, god damn it!).
When he returned, she still stood in front of her desk - immobile, tongue-tied, dizzy. All the things she shouldn't feel for a man who had grandchildren. Grandchildren who were older than herself. He closed the door silently and stood for a moment, facing her, his hands on the handle behind his back, head down.
Then, very solemnly, as though each step was weighed down with obligation and shame, he walked toward her. She could smell a faint whisk of cigars, mint and a subtle cologne as he gathered the papers he abandoned and stacked them neatly into his briefcase. He was hardly a step away.
"Good night, Ms. Waldorf." He cupped her chin and kissed her lightly just below her cheekbone. The muscle on his face twitched lightly before he finally turned away and left her alone for the night.
"Good night," she whispered when she her the far away 'ding' of the elevator.
* * *
He liked to pace during direct, then charge during cross examination. He let his own witnesses tell their stories and wander as they recited everything he fed them, but charged at the defense's witnesses. He cornered them until they said what he wanted with no chance of resurrection and then, like the devil who sympathized with the soul he just purchased, lowered his tone just so the jury perceived him to possess a genteel nature.
It was mesmerizing, practiced, and well executed. And it had nothing to do with her.
Since that first night, he had taken charge of the case. Her second chair status was more a formality than anything, as he refused to meet with her privately to discuss the case and would only grant her audience when the other detectives were present as well. Of course, he was nothing but polite. Encouraging, even, in the way he complimented her tactics and suggestions. There were no more late night dinners, however, no more kisses on the cheeks. Just stiff 'see you tomorrow's and 'good work.' Sometimes, faintly, she would make out a 'good night.'
He was disciplined, if nothing else. Unlike his professional work, however, he sometimes just couldn't help himself. She woke up a few times to little gifts at her door. They escalated slowly by value, until finally, he slipped a brochure under her door with a post-it: Get a building with a doorman.
When the jury announced the guilty verdict, he just sat with his stare fixed to that one spot on the desk. He never looked up - never doubted that they'd win - and only rose when the judge exited the courtroom. She turned to him finally, even as his eyes stayed on all the irrelevant papers he was putting away, and took that first step. "Thank you."
"Of course, Ms. Waldorf. You were right from the beginning, my name's been in the papers quite a bit."
She stopped for a beat, mustering up the college to do something she hadn't done since college. "What do you say to a celebratory drink?"
He paused, his hands restless on the golden clasps on the leather, before turning to her slowly. "I... don't think that's a good idea, Blair." The sting of rejection still smarted as it did when she was fourteen. What was with the men in this family? "It's for your own good not to get entangled with an old man like me."
In that moment, she wanted him to kiss her again, even if it meant that he only brushed his lips against her cheek. But then she saw the people milling about them in her periphery and the sad look in his eyes and realized how wrong she had been. Whatever credentials she had, however many cases she won, it could so easily be taken away or credited to something as base as...
She nodded, shook his hand with a watery smile, and left with a stiff spine to keep herself from keeling over.
She was Blair Waldorf.
She could be anything she wanted, but she couldn't be with the one she wanted too.