Another update for another day. Comments are love people. Comments are love.
I've never yet solved a case without getting to know the victim. It's part of what makes the job so hard for me and, yet, at the same time, it's the key for me when it comes to actually getting the case straight in my head.
When Councilman Jackson leads us upstairs, I'm not sure what to expect. He leads us down a corridor and through a door. Suddenly, Alex and I are standing in the most light-filled room I've ever been in: the windows are huge and seem to be everywhere; the paint is a very light yellow; and the whole room is practically glowing with sunlight. The room is filled with things to do - it's the most glorious play room any child could wish for - and right in the middle is a lady and someone who is unmistakably Kasey.
If it weren't for the posturing, the mannerisms and the noises, you probably wouldn't be able to tell she was disabled, but it's clear, even from the doorway. She's finger-painting with the lady standing with her, who's wearing an apron covered in paint and laughing.
"Anna," the councilman says, "this is the detective from SVU, and you remember Alex Cabot."
The lady turns to us and I realise that she must be Kasey's mother.
When I first heard the story of this case from Cragen, I had to admit that there were many assumptions that popped into my head - rich family, disabled daughter, flinging her into a country asylum so that no-one knows but what I didn't expect was this: a family who clearly love and desperately want to protect their daughter; a family who don't seem to be hiding anything. This is a family who are hurting.
It makes me feel guilty for actually having thought those things.
"Alex, so good to see you again. I'd give you a hug but…" Mrs Jackson holds up her hands with a smile.
"Of course, Anna. So good to see you again."
"And welcome, Detective."
"Olivia, please." I smile at her, eyes still on Kasey. The happiness on her face, as her fingers mix green and blue and orange to make some kind of goopy brown colour, is unmissable.
"Kasey, this is Olivia and Alex," Anna says to her daughter. Kasey doesn't look up, utterly enthralled with her work.
"Sorry," Councilman Jackson says with a smile. "She's hard to distract when she's determined."
I wouldn't distract her for the world.
We slip away, back downstairs, and I chance a look at Alex's face. Her expression, never easy to gauge, is more unreadable than ever. There's a reason the boys down at the precinct call her an ice queen.
When we reach the office again, we're offered our seats, but I decline.
"We'll need to interview your staff," I remind him.
"They're at your disposal."
"And your forensics service will have a sample of my DNA within the next day, Detective Benson," he adds, his voice suddenly steely.
"Olivia," I hear Alex's warning tones.
"That's very forthcoming of you, Councilman."
"I have nothing to hide. The sooner everyone knows that, the better." He sits behind his desk, even though Alex and I are still standing, and I'm entirely uncertain as to what to do next. It's typical, though, that Alex knows exactly what to do.
She goes to him, sits on the chair she was on before and pulls it up to the desk.
"Tom, we'll figure out what happened."
He gives us both a wan smile. "I wouldn't trust anyone more."
"And I promise you to see justice done."
He just nods.
"And I promise to stop Detective Benson from wielding her questions like a weapon."
At this point, I have to interject, "Hey!" If anything, it breaks the uneasy mood that's been hovering over the three of us since our arrival. Councilman Jackson chuckles while Alex raises an amused eyebrow at me and I growl at her.
"I know Don Cragen well enough to know he's sent me the best," Tom Jackson says simply. "I'm not particularly used to leaving things in other people's hands but sometimes you just need an expert. I wouldn't operate on one of my children if they needed surgery and I can't find justice myself. If the two of you will forgive me my… impatience, I'll try my best not to get in your way."
Impatience? If this is Councilman Jackson being impatient, then he must be the most laid-back man on the planet. He even volunteered his DNA. Usually, I have to coerce people into that with the best weapon I know: Alex Cabot.
I can't help being thoughtful as we leave, having given our assurances and goodbyes. Now is not a good time, for either me or Alex, to interview the rest of the Jackson household. I've set up a chance to see the brother and the carer tomorrow. I suspect the sister and the mother will be of little use. From the little that I've seen of Anna Jackson, she was in no way involved in this.
Although, those kind of assumptions have made us look like fools before.
As I clip my seatbelt into the holder, I hear Alex clear her throat gently. "I suspect we'll have more to find at the respite home."
I bite my lip before I reply snappily. I suspect she's right, but the comment still gets a rise out of me, even if I don't verbalise it. "How about you leave the detecting to me and you get me a warrant to see their files?"
She chuckles. "We'll have to find some pretty major probable cause before we can go looking through patient notes, Detective Benson."
I hate it when she treats me like an idiot. I hate it when what I've said is so stupid that she's justified in treating me like an idiot. I know well and good how hard it is to get access to patient files.
This is what Alex Cabot does to me: she turns me into an idiot.
I spend the rest of the trip burning with quiet indignation at my own stupidity, and her taking advantage of it. Couldn't she just have failed to point out my idiot nature?
She probably thinks I'm a lunatic. She certainly seems to think I'm a blunt-headed detective with no finesse. I hate that she thinks that of me. I'm not the suavest person in the world, and certainly don't have the cultural refinement to move in the same circles as Alex Cabot, but I'm not some bumbling fool.
I drop her back at the DA's office at Hogan Place and say goodbye before she can start anything more than a conversation. I may even be guilty of driving off on her.
I still can't stop myself from watching her in the rear view mirror, standing there so very beautiful in her dress suit. Does she know that she looks like a super-model every second of the day? Probably not.
It's too late to go back to work. I'm not likely to be expected back; anyway, Elliot's on take and I'm far too edgy to get paperwork done. Instead, I head to the gym to try and work off some of this energy I seem to have acquired.
I don't know who I'm punching as I take on the bag but, after half an hour, all I've achieved is sore knuckles and a more keyed-up body than ever. My shower does nothing to ease my tension and dinner gets left half-eaten on my kitchen counter.
I hate when I'm like this.
I hate what I do when I'm like this.
I'd hate to think what people who know me would say if they knew what I did when I'm like this.
But I can't not. I can't help myself. I need it, like I need her, and I don't understand that any more than why I start fights with her because they're something, not nothing. I can't think straight when I'm like this.
Same old bar, same old place.
And it will end up the same.
But I just can't help myself.
Because I'm on fire.