This story is just a little idea I have had bouncing around in my head for awhile. It's a little side project, and not related at all to my other story "Close Your Eyes But Don't Sleep". This is an Alex/Olivia story, with a twist of Alex/Casey. I know that's not everyone's cup of tea, but I promise the story will be good :) To summarize it - Alex and Olivia are a happy couple until Olivia takes a job out of state and leaves Alex alone and heartbroken. Alex finds comfort and even love in her friend Casey Novak and they fall into a happy relationship...until Olivia returns almost a year later. Who will Alex choose? And what happens along the way? If you want to know, read :)

The timeline on this story is the current season. Witness protection, Alex going to the Congo and Casey being censured all happened. And I made up my own reason for Casey and Alex both being ADAs at the same time, since the show failed to explain to us why they were both back.

It's amazing how quickly and how much your life can change.

A little more than a year ago I was in the Congo working for the International Human Rights Court. Stepping out of my city world and ending up smack dab in the middle of prosecuting sex offender war criminals almost a world away is quite a cultural shock. Dealing with sex offenders and their victims is nothing new to me, but doing it on as large a scale as I did in the Congo was something differently entirely. I worked with a team of prosecutors from all over the world and sometimes we tried as many as twenty offenders in a single week.

I learned a lot about international law in that year, and also worked hard to learn the local dialects used in the Congo. They speak a lot of French in that region which I already knew a lot of, but I also learned a little Swahili and Lingala. I love to confuse Olivia by suddenly switching tongues and saying something to her in one of those languages. She usually always gets irritated with me, which encourages me to keep it up longer.

The best change in my life is that I am back with the love of my life, Olivia Benson. I have never been happier in my entire life. Olivia and I are soulmates; every day I wasn't with her that year I was away I ached for her touch. We kept in constant contact via email and even phone calls, but it was never the same as actually being able to touch each other, hold each other tightly. We couldn't kiss each other or make love. Many nights I cried myself to sleep because of what I dealt with on a daily basis and the fact that Olivia wasn't there to hold me at night.

Olivia had waited for me, which is amazing. We'd been together for three years before I decided to spend a year in the Congo. Olivia hadn't wanted me to go and was concerned for my safety but at the same time understood what it is was I wanted to do and why I wanted the experience. She lost me before to witness protection and didn't want to lose me again. But she understood this was different. So she had allowed me to go, promising she'd still be mine when I returned, as long as I was still hers.

We both kept our promises.

Olivia is having a tough time at work. Elliot's departure hit her quite hard. He was her best friend and I always felt safe when she was out on a job with him. He protected her fiercely, as if she were just as precious to him as she is to me. She tells me that it feels empty without him and she isn't sure it's ever going to be the same again. Her new partner, Nick Amaro, transferred to the Special Victims Unit from Narcotics and he's having a bit of trouble finding his stride. Olivia hadn't exactly welcomed him with open arms; mainly because he's the anti-Elliot. I have had my share of horn locking sessions with him as well, but overall I get the feeling that he's a good, capable detective that needs time to adjust to the transition from the gritty world of Narcotics to the SVU.

One of the biggest changes is my work situation. I was reinstated as Special Victims ADA after my return from the Congo eleven months ago. Around the same time, the DA's office re-hired Casey Novak after a three year suspension of her law license and assigned her to work with me. Well technically under me. I'm her supervisor; I have direct orders to read all her reports and supervise her cases. So basically I'm a glorified babysitter. However, her probation ends in a little over a month and I'm confident I'll be able to lose my babysitter title then. I haven't had a single instance where she didn't do something properly or completely.

At first I was furious with this arrangement. I couldn't believe the DA's office would re-hire someone who lost their license as a result of committing a Brady violation. I didn't want to have to babysit anyone. The first couple of months were pretty awkward. We've been made to share an office, and I don't do well with other people's clutter in my way. We were constantly at each other about something, usually me being the instigator. But I gave Casey a fair chance, and she has worked hard to gain back the department's trust. She knew she had a lot to prove and she's proven it. It's actually nice to have someone to help with the caseload; I find myself getting out a decent time every evening, something that never happened before.

And when I started to back off Casey a little and started to get to know her, I realized I liked her a lot. She's dedicated and driven just like me; we share the same kind of work ethic. We've even started to be social outside the office a little; Casey has gone for drinks with Olivia and I several times and we're talking about going for a bike ride together.

I thought that was where the changes ended, at least for now. After all, I was back with my girl and back in the job I loved in the city I loved. Olivia and I had fallen back into our old lifestyle and habits as if it had never been disrupted. We're as happy – if not happier – than we were before I went away. What could possibly change to throw us into an upheaval again?

It was a Tuesday afternoon that I found out about our next change.

Olivia had gotten off work early and left me a message on my voicemail at the office letting me know she needed me to come home as soon as possible because she had something to discuss with me. This naturally made me feel uneasy, as Olivia never gets off work early unless something has happened. I had asked Casey to cover for me the rest of the day and went home to me and Olivia's apartment right away.

I had found Olivia sitting on the sofa with the TV off, wearing the same clothes she had worn to work that morning, just staring off into the distance. She appeared to be physically fine, but I could tell immediately that something was wrong.

She didn't become aware of my presence until I had called her name, and then she stood and wrapped her arms around me, holding me closely like she always does when I come home.

But it felt different this time. It felt hesitant and almost…insincere.

"What's going on?"

Olivia had taken both of my hands and guided me down to the sofa with those words. The serious stoic look on her face chilled me to the bone. Whatever was going on, I knew I wasn't going to like it.

She began talking slowly and gently, as if I were a child that had to have everything explained to me. "Alex…I received an opportunity today. A chance for career advancement."

My face immediately lit up and the dread I had been plagued with since I received her message dissipated in an instant. This was good news! I had smiled my widest and hugged her tightly. "Liv, that's fantastic! What is it? A promotion?" She deserved a promotion; hell, she deserved to be Captain!

Olivia forced a smile and swallowed harshly. "Yes, actually, but it's not what you think. It's at a different precinct."

I had understood then why that upset her. Despite Elliot being gone, she still loved working with her squad. She loved the 1-6 and all the people there. It had been her home for so long. It was going to be tough to give that up.

"What precinct?"

Olivia had hesitated a full minute before she told me. And when she did, it was my turn to be speechless.

"In Sacramento California."

I had sat there dumbly, staring at her with my eyes wide, not believing what I had just heard come out of her mouth. Did she say California? How on earth was she offered a job in California?

I hadn't had to wait long to receive my answer. "It's a supervisory position for a homicide squad. All days and no nights or weekends. It's actually a set schedule."

"Why California? Did you apply for it?"

Olivia had looked away from my guiltily before answering. "Yes, I applied online a couple weeks ago. I didn't think I would get it, Alex."

I hadn't known what to say. I was hurt. Beyond hurt, actually. Olivia hadn't told me this at all. I was unaware she was even looking for a new job.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Alex…like I said, I didn't think I would get it."

"Did you accept it?"

She closed her eyes before she answered. "Yes."

I felt my heart drop even further. "Why are you looking for a new job? Are things really that bad with Amaro?"

Olivia had sighed and gotten up off the sofa and started to pace in front of me. "Alex, there have been so many changes…since Elliot left, I don't feel my heart in in SVU any more. I need to make a change. Like you did, when you went to the Congo."

"I took a temporary job there, Olivia, and I had enough respect to discuss it with you first before I officially committed to it!"

We were both upset and I knew the conversation wasn't going to go in a good direction, but that hadn't dissuaded us.

Olivia had tears in her eyes when she finally turned around to face me again. "I need to do something for me, Alex. For once."

I felt my own tears start to fall as I stood and took a step toward her, intending to wrap her in my arms. But she had taken a step back away from me and my heart plunged all the way down to my feet again.

"Olivia – what about us?" My voice was small and unsure and I barely recognized it as my own. I knew I couldn't uproot myself and move across the country. I had a career I was committed to and I had responsibilities. It was wrong of her to expect me to do that. "I can't go with you…"

Her next words had nearly broken me. "I wasn't going to ask you to."

The tears sprang to my eyes quickly. I'm not a frequent or easy crier, but that simple statement started a waterfall of tears that I couldn't stop. "Olivia…what are you saying? You don't want me to go with you?"

I had seen the tears shining in her eyes but she was somehow holding them back. Her face was set in a stony expression and I could tell it was taking a lot for her to hold herself together. "No, I don't. I know you can't go with me. It's too much to ask of you."

"But Olivia, we can still be. We can make it work. Long distance relationships suck, but we can do it." I had been desperate, grabbing at straws.

But her expression never wavered. "No. We can't, Alex. Part of this change I need to make is us too. I need to start over. We've been through so much…you going into witness protection, then going off to the Congo, Elliot leaving…for the first time in my life I feel things are unstable and I don't have footing. I walk around every day wondering what's going to happen next."

"Liv – "

She had thrown her hands up in the air and turned away from me. "It's better this way. We can both move on."

The tears hadn't stopped and I desperately grabbed her arm and tried to turn her around to face me so she could see how much she breaking me. But she wouldn't turn around. So I used words instead, in a desperate attempt to stop her from making the biggest mistake of her life. "Liv, you don't have to do this. You can't do this. You can't break up with me, not when we've been through so much together. I – I love you, Olivia. Don't you love me?"

She had finally turned around upon hearing my question. The tears were still there and still unshed. Then she said the cruelest, most horrible words I have ever heard. "Not the way I used to, Alex. I'm sorry. I don't love you in that way any more."

Even though I knew she was using stern words to cover her own hurt, and only made mine worse.

She had told me she was leaving the next morning, and that she had already packed what little items she wanted to take with her to her 'new life'. I could keep the rest.

I had desperately pleaded and grabbed at her as she headed towards the door with her bags, declaring my love and dedication to her, telling her I couldn't live without her. I searched for any combination of words that would weaken her enough to make her stop.

But I never found them.

She had finally allowed the tears to fall down her cheeks when she reached the door. She left me with only, "Goodbye, Alex. I hope you find happiness. Take care of yourself."

And then she was gone, and I collapsed onto the floor and rolled myself into a ball. I cried for hours, harder than I thought was possible. I cried until I was hiccupping and felt sick. And then I could lie on the floor on my back staring up at the ceiling, wondering why this was happening to me.

That was four days ago.

I haven't left the apartment since. I took a week's vacation; I can't face anyone, not right now. Not when they all know. I can't deal with their looks or their sympathies.

I've called Olivia every day. She doesn't call me back.

I now know what it truly feels like to have a broken heart. To be so completely shattered and devastated that you know you will never be whole again. Never trust anyone again.

So I just curl up on the sofa again and wait for the next round of tears to consume me.

Everything happened quickly, I know. Just setting the stage here. Review and tell me what you think so far. Even if you hate the idea...I want to know!