'Impulsive' fic. Spoilers for 'Impulsive'

Guilt is a poison

Casey closed her eyes as she read the file... again. She must have read it ten times in the past hour. It never got any easier. Rape victim Jacob Delharde; right arm was shattered; facial wound required ten stitches; lacerated liver and... Casey couldn't read anymore. Her vision was too blurred by her tears for her to make sense of the words anymore, but she had memorized them already. Every time she read the file it hurt more, not less. This was her fault. She had sent Jacob to that hellhole. She had not bothered to check up on him or any of her other convictions. She had not bothered to look up any records on the rehab center, assuming any complaints were unfounded. How very wrong she was.

There was a light rap on her office door, and she quickly wiped her eyes and shut the file, hiding it under her briefcase before calling. "Come in."

Olivia stepped inside, giving her a small smile. "Hey there. She walked forward and produced two cups of coffee, one of which she gave to Casey. "Thought you could use this."

Casey accepted it, took a sip, then closed her eyes and leaned back. "God bless you, Liv," she murmured, clutching the hot cup with her cold hands. She heard Olivia chuckle slightly and opened her eyes to find her shaking her head and smiling. "What?"

"When you bless the coffee-bearer, it's a sign that you you're working too hard."

"Well, I've got a lot to work on."

Olivia frowned, then sat down on the edge of her desk and shook her head. "The Delharde case is over, and we haven't finished up any cases to hand over to you yet. What could you possibly be working on?"

"Um... just, you know. Finishing up some stuff."

"Right." Olivia continued to watch her, then she shook her head and moved to the chair across from Casey and said as a way to break the ice, "Elliot said this was a rough case for you."

"Yeah, well you didn't help much, saying you would arrest me... sorry. I know you didn't exactly have a choice in the matter."

She chuckled and mimicked Casey from earlier that week. "Well, you're a big girl. You certainly do know how to swim. I know you would have wormed your way out of the bullshit assault charge the same way would got that suite against you Elliot dropped last year- pull a murder confession out of the guy."

Casey smiled without humor before looking at Olivia again and saying, "It's fine. Really..." She sighed, then said, "Look, not that I don't appreciate the company, but why are you here? Don't you guys have a case?"

"Fin and Munch are on stakeout, which leaves Elliot and I to sit twiddling our thumbs down at the precinct until our guy's caught. And Elliot's moping about Kathy again, so I thought I'd hide out down here."

She rolled her eyes and forced herself to smile before saying, "Well, while it's very thoughtful of you to come down here and ruin my day because Elliot's sensitive side is showing... again... I really do have alot of work to get done, so-"

"Just to clarify, when you say 'work', you mean staring at Jacob Delharde's (I forgot the kid's name, shoot me) file until it makes you cry, blaming yourself for another twenty minutes, then reading the injury report again?"

She said this so cockily it stunned Casey. When she had recovered her speech powers, she snapped, "Well, now that that's settled, I would like to the very politely request that you get the fuck out of my office, Detective."

"Funny. Our little lawyer likes to play immature five year old."

"Did I stutter? I said to get the fuck out of my office, before I throw you out!"

She laughed softly. "Yeah, good luck." Olivia shook her head before walking over to Casey's desk and sitting on the edge again. "Look, this kind of went off in the wrong direction. But would you have reacted like that if I wasn't right about your guilt for James Delharde?"

Casey just glared at her, unwilling to admit she was right. "That's what I thought. Casey, I know that you think otherwise, but you had no idea what was going to happen to James. No one did."

"That kid's life will never be the same again, because I thought that the complaints against the facility were unfounded. I thought it was just the usual- you know, how every prison has inmates who complain that the guards are abusive, how every mental hospital has at least one claim of sexual abuse against them... I didn't even bother to read the complaints. I just thought..."

"I would have done the same thing. We all make mistakes, Casey, you couldn't have known-"

"If I had bothered to follow up on the rape allegations, then I would have been able to get James out of there before-"

"Shoulda woulda coulda, Casey? You know better than that. 'What ifs' won't change the past. Nothing can change that."

Casey groaned, burying her head in her hands and saying, her voice muffled, "I know. Doesn't stop me from wishing I could. That kid went from being a sex addict to a rape victim in one night. While he's probably never going to rape anybody else and it could take years for him to have sex again, the price is too great."

"Ask James, Casey. He'll tell you he doesn't blame you. Elliot told you it wasn't your fault, I'm telling you it's not. What'll it take for you to believe it?" When Casey didn't respond, she moved to stand behind Casey and rubbed small circles on her back.

Eventually, the ADA said, "You know what I did yesterday? I went down to Central Park and ran ten miles. Even though it was twenty degrees outside and snowing. I didn't run in sweatpants either- short sleeves and shorts. Got home, didn't take a hot shower, just sat there in the cold and the dark until I got sick of it and took a sleeping pill. I only did it because I want to suffer like James did. I hated myself for taking the sleeping pill, because it made my life easier. I don't want my life to be easier, I want it to be harder. I want to feel what James felt and go through what he did, I want-"

"Casey, you know this is ridiculous. You didn't hurt James. You got justice for him. What you did yesterday is not because you want to go through what James did, it's because you feel guilty and hate yourself for not stopping it. And I'm telling you there's no reason for you to feel guilty or hate yourself. Guilt is a poison, Casey, it'll eat you alive if you let it. No one could have stopped it. If you hadn't put James there, he would have gone to prison, and god knows what would have happened there. This was the better option, Casey."

"So, what? He gets raped in rehab because of me, or he gets raped in prison? No option that allows to James to live on without ever becoming a victim? What kind of screwed up world is this?"

She still hadn't looked up at Olivia yet, but the detective could tell she was on the verge of tears. With a sigh, she said, "One that you and people like you are trying to make better. It's our job to catch the rapists and murderers, yours to keep people safe from them. Most of the time, we succeed. Manhattan's a better place because of you, Casey. You can't throw that all away because of James Delharde."

"What's stopping me?"

"Well, for one, I am, Casey. I won't let you blame yourself for something that's not your fault."

Casey groaned, then got up and started pacing around her office. After a moment, she said softly, "I know. I know it's not my fault, but I still blame myself... if that makes any sense."

"No. No, it doesn't, Casey. How can you know it's not your fault but still blame yourself?"

"Because... because..." Finally she looked up at Olivia and said, "Don't tell anybody what I'm about to tell you, but, when I was fourteen... my mother was assaulted. I, um... my father skipped out when I was born, so I was the one to take care of her. I didn't resent it, it was just... hard. A few days after I brought her home from the hospital, some people from her work- she was a prosecutor, just like me- came to visit. I went in one of the cop's bags and found a tape. Later that night, I watched it- it was a surveillance tape of her attack. When I watched it, I... froze. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't call out a warning or jump up to protect her. I couldn't move. Afterwards, I started to blame myself for her attack, even though I wasn't even there. I thought I should have protected her..."

"The guilt was eating me alive for three months until I was... until I was assaulted myself. I fought back. I fought him and wouldn't give up. Granted, it made things a hell of alot worse for me in the long run, but it made me stop blaming myself. I knew that if I had been there that night, I would have fought that bastard. I wouldn't have let him touch her." She looked back at Olivia, her fists clenched and a fierce light in her eyes. "But I know nothing would have made me stop blaming myself except for my attack. Which is why I know James's attack wasn't my fault- logically, at least. It'll just take awhile for me to stop feeling guilty."

Olivia had stared at her in complete shock the entire time she told the story of her past. She couldn't have imagined Casey coming from a history like that. "Casey... who attacked you?"

The ADA flinched, then looked away and shook her head. "That's not important, Olivia. What's important is I know my mother's or my own assault was my fault- and neither was Jason's. But that doesn't mean what you did- coming here to help me- doesn't mean something, Olivia. When I was a kid, right after I was assaulted my mother... well, she had just an appendectomy, so she was unconscious and had no idea. At that moment, when I had literally no one who gave a damn... if I hadn't been in shock, I don't know what I would have done. The fact that I have you and the rest of SVU now is... it means alot to me, Liv. Thanks."

She smiled slightly, patting Casey on the back. "Hey, that's what friends are for. Now, I probably have to get back before Elliot spirals into a black depression. You get some work done, okay?"

"Sure. You save our favorite Detective Blue Eyes from going insane, or I'll end up making him an insanity plea when he robs a store to take out his excess rage. Go on, get out of here!" She shoved the detective playfully towards the door, and Olivia rolled her eyes before heading out of Casey's office.

Kind of lame ending, and it went off in a completely different direction than I expected it to, but whatever. 'Missing Scene's is now on an indefinite hiatus because I can't think of anymore episodes to write about. If you have an idea, post it in a review and I'll take it out for a spin.