Casey sighed as she poured a cup of coffee from the pot on the stove. For the last six hours, her mind had played back the conversation with Olivia, as if on constant loop. Olivia's words echoed in her head, haunting her. "You and your office have lost your nerve," the brunette had declared, among other things that Casey was trying her hardest to avoid.

It was true that the attorney had not been the nicest person, either, but it was different. EVERYTHING was different. Elliot was gone, Huang was gone, and now her main reason for coming back seemed to have a personal vendetta against her. Casey shook her head, sighing once more as she opened the sugar jar. Just as she reached for a spoon, a knock on the door startled her. "Coming," she called out. Laying the lid on the counter, she made her way out of the kitchen and through the living room to the front door. Without bothering to peer through the peep hole (she knew that knock all too well), Casey unlatched the chain and opened her front door.

Despite the fact that she knew it was Olivia before she answered the door, seeing the older woman standing there in front of her still surprised Casey. She stood there blankly for some time, unsure what to say or do. Olivia finally broke the silence. "Are you just going to stand there or are you going to let me in?"

"I'm just-" Casey stopped, and without another word, she stepped aside, allowing Olivia to walk past her and enter the apartment. "What are you doing here?"

Olivia stopped in her tracks and looked at her. "I failed to realize that I wasn't allowed here. Is there a 'no Benson allowed' sign on the door?"

Casey closed the front door with more force than was necessary and leaned against it, folding her arms across her chest. "No, there is not," she replied, her icy tone resurfacing from earlier in the day. "I'm just surprised to see you, seeing as how I'm an incompetent ADA." She knew she should have refrained from saying that, but she was too irritated and hurt to care.

"I never called you incompetent," Olivia informed her, her brown eyes narrowed into a glare that could have frozen hell. "Don't go putting words into my mouth, Casey."

"Did you come here to argue more, is that it?" Casey asked. "Am I right in thinking that you probably gave Cabot a happy, love filled welcome back? And since she's back, you have no need for me anymore, right? Meanwhile you have been nothing but a bitch towards me!"

Olivia sighed as she sat down on the couch. "Casey, it's not like that, and please stop assuming things that aren't true!" "Why not?" Casey demanded. "I bet everyone else does. Ask your new detectives what they think of when they hear my name. They probably think liar and bitch, just like a majority of people at my office! They all know that I got in trouble with the Bar, but what they don't know is the truth. And yet…" Casey shook her head, biting back the tears that she had been fighting all day. She sat down in the recliner and faced Olivia. "They think I'm a horrible person, Olivia. I can see it in the looks they give me. Hardly anyone knows what really happened, and yet they still judge me, they still look down on me."

Silence fell once more on the room. For several long moments, neither woman sad a word. Finally, Olivia spoke. "I don't look down on you," she assured the redhead, looking into her eyes. "Because I know what really happened. And I am really glad you're back, so please do not think otherwise."

"Then why do we keep fighting, Olivia?" Casey asked, shifting a little in the chair. "You know why I left the office. I didn't have a choice."

"I know that," Olivia replied. "But you didn't have to leave New York, Casey. You have no idea how much it hurt that morning I woke up and found your letter saying that you were moving to California. You didn't elaborate WHERE, but that wasn't what hurt the most. The pain came from the fact that you never warned me, and you never gave me a chance to have a say in it."

Casey looked at the floor. The memory of the night she stayed up until four AM writing and rewriting the letter informing the woman that she loved that she was leaving flooded back to her in vivid detail. And the fact that Olivia had just admitted that she was hurting, which was something the detective never did, only added to the attorney's shame. "I'm sorry," she mumbled. "I couldn't handle the city anymore. I couldn't wake up every morning and not go to court. When the censure came from the Bar, I felt as if I was spinning in a tunnel with no way out. I was so ashamed of what had happened. I felt like you and the rest of the squad hated me for boggling the case and losing the conviction, and I cracked. I chickened out and ran away, instead of facing the problem."

Olivia nodded. "I understand. But you never asked if I was mad. You never gave me the chance to help you through the pain, Case. Together, we could have turned the mountain back into a molehill."

Casey continued to focus her attention on the carpet. "I'm sorry," she said again. "I came back to tell you that, to prove it, if that makes sense. When I was in California, every day without you felt like a year. When the DA's office hired me back when my censure ended, I had already started packing. That call cemented my decision." Casey stood up from the chair and walked over to the sofa where Olivia was sitting. She cautiously sat down next to her and turned to face her. "Can you ever forgive me for being so stupid?" she asked, feeling her heart lift hopefully.

Olivia didn't answer for some time. When she did, it was a better answer than Casey could have ever hoped for. "I forgive you, Casey. I know how desperate and scared you were. I wish you would have come to your own girlfriend, but I understand now why you didn't." She turned to Casey, who wrapped her arms around her waist, hugging her tightly. Olivia smiled softly, rubbing her back in small circles the way Casey had always liked. Casey exhaled slowly, grateful for Olivia's forgiveness.

"I missed you," Casey murmured.

"I missed you too," Olivia replied quietly.

Casey buried her head in Olivia's chest, finally releasing the tears that had been building all day. She knew they had to discuss where they stood relationship wise, but for now, that was the least of her worries. For now she was just glad to be home.