Here is just an idea I had for a story. Takes place during Casey's censure. I wanted to post and see what you all thought of the idea. It's unrelated to my other story "This Glassy Surface" or its sequel. Just a side-project. I won't update it as often as I update my other ones but I will try for once a week or so.
Told from Casey's POV
Anyway, here it is. And yes; it's meant to start abruptly. Will get into more inner thoughts and explanations next chapter. Just wanted to set the stage with this one. Enjoy!
I can't believe what just happened. I mean, something like this was bound to eventually, but it's been a year now that I've been working here and have not seen a familiar face. I thought I was in the clear.
And then Alex Cabot strolled into the restaurant, with a group of her henchmen. She saw me the same time I saw her, and at that exact instant I wanted to melt into the carpet and become a part of it. Alex Cabot – the Alex Cabot of ADA folklore – saw me with a tray in my hand, wearing my lovely polyester work uniform with a name tag prominent displayed on the front.
I had stood there like a deer caught in a car's headlights. I never in a million years expected to see Alex Cabot walk into this casual Italian eatery. From what I know of Alex, she frequents the upscale, reservation-only locales. Not the "two people eat under fifty dollars and we talk walk-ins" locale like this one.
My boss then asked me to seat Alex and her party, which furthered my humiliation. Here I was having to lead the woman I replaced in the DA's office to a table and take her order.
Alex had asked me how I was doing. I had wanted to spin around in my uniform and come back with, "How do you think I'm doing? I'm working in a restaurant instead of prosecuting Manhattan's scumbags." But instead of that sarcastic answer, I had only smiled at her and told her I was doing well.
What else could I say, really? That I was struggling to pay my rent and depressed every day of my life because I failed at the one thing I loved? That all my friends abandoned me and every night I come home to an empty apartment and cry myself to sleep? That I have a girlfriend who makes me feel more alone when I'm with her than when I am actually alone? Somehow that didn't seem like an appropriate topic. Plastering on a smile and lying seemed to be a much better idea.
I was careful not to make eye contact or talk to Alex any more than was necessary. But I could feel her eyes on me…judging me. And probably laughing at me on the inside.
Thankfully her party left a good tip and I was able to get back to my work without any ugly confrontations with her. She was decent to me, but I can just picture her at the office tomorrow, telling everyone she saw the great Casey Novak working as a waitress…and they'll all get a good laugh over it during lunch. Especially Lena Petrovsky and Liz Donnelly.
They won't have any idea that I spend every free minute I'm not at work volunteering my time at the animal shelter and tutoring high school kids for free, because it's something I've always wanted to do and never had the time until now. Just because I don't work at the DA's office any more doesn't mean I still can't make a difference.
I don't have long to dwell on my feelings about what just happened. The day becomes very busy and I throw myself into my work, running around constantly for six more hours until it's finally time to go home.
As soon as I walk out the door, I'm hit with a drop of rain. I look towards the sky and silently curse the fates for not holding off the rain – don't they know I have to walk three blocks home?
I wonder if Rebecca will be at my apartment when I get there.
My girlfriend Rebecca supposedly loves me. She tells me this often. When she's not yelling at me about something she thinks I've screwed up or coming to my apartment and waking me up out of a dead sleep to tell me I don't spend enough time with her. She tells me she loves me when I spend money I don't have on her and take her on trips that put me further in debt.
She treats me horribly sometimes, in a way I wouldn't wish on anyone. But at least I'm not alone all the time. And who else would want a perpetual screw-up like me, anyway?
I pick up the pace a little and I'm nearly out of the parking lot when a voice calls my name. I turn around to seek out the source of the voice – and I see her again.
Alex Cabot is standing next to a parked Lexus. She quickly closes the driver's side door and quickly approaches me, wearing a smile. "Hey. I'm glad I caught you; I was on my way to see you."
A bewildered expression creeps onto my face. "Coming to see me? Why?"
"I just wanted to apologize for making you feel uncomfortable," she says seriously. "I can only imagine what that must have been like for you…I'm sorry."
I force myself to smile. "Don't be. You can eat anywhere you want. And it's not your fault I work here; it's mine. So please don't feel badly for me."
The rain is coming down harder now, and Alex looks me over before asking, "Do you need a ride?"
I shouldn't. I don't want her pity. Getting in Alex's Lexus and having her drop me off in front of my crappy apartment building is even more humiliation I don't want to endure.
But the rain keeps pelting down harder and I am fighting off a cold, so I nod solemnly and we job back to Alex's car.
I actually feel guilty as I climb in the passenger side and shut the door. Alex's leather upholstery is lovely and smells brand new – I don't want to be dripping water all over it.
Alex seems able to sense my apprehension. She laughs lightly and says, "It's okay; I'm wet too. Relax."
I simply nod and buckle my seatbelt while Alex starts the engine and asks where we're going. I just wait for her to make a comment or face when I tell her what apartment building I live in; but she doesn't.
We've been driving only a minute or so when Alex asks, "What happened to your car?"
"I had to sell it," I tell her quickly, looking out my window to avoid her gaze. I don't have to tell her the reason; I'm sure she can already guess.
I let us fall into an awkward silence because I don't want to say the wrong thing. We've just stopped in front of my building when Alex turns the car off and shatters the silence with, "Casey…I've been where you are."
I turn my head and look at her. She's looking right at me, her face set in seriousness. I can feel the emotion behind her words and see the sincerity in her eyes.
But there's no way she can know how I feel every day of my life. There's no way she's been where I am. Not someone like Alex Cabot. Someone like Alex Cabot would never let themselves become depressed or work at a restaurant. Or fall into a relationship with someone who treats them badly.
"You've been where I am?" I echo in amusement. "Really? You think you can really say that?"
Her expression doesn't change. "Yes. I can really say that."
I laugh bitterly. All my nervousness about being in her fancy car and fear of embarrassment is gone. Now all I want to do is make her realize how stupid her words are.
"I really doubt that, Alex. I really doubt you've ever felt the way I do or done the things I've done. I'm where I am because of myself. I put me here. Not a day goes by that I don't hate myself for it." I pause and swallow harshly, realizing I've said too much. Why am I saying this to Alex? It's not like she cares. "Someone like you has never been here."
"You're wrong," she tells me, no hint of anger in her voice at all. Her blue eyes are serious and she keeps them on my eyes as she speaks. "When I was in witness protection, I felt the same way. I put myself there too. I didn't back off the case like Olivia and Elliot and everyone else told me to. I thought I was this intimidating prosecutor that could put anyone's balls in a vice-grip; but I was wrong. I'm a mortal like the rest of you. I found that out the night that I was shot. I realized that I didn't possess the power I thought I did. One single little lead bullet ended my life. It took me away from my family and my friends and everything I loved. It gave me a new life I didn't want. Every day I lived as someone else; as 'Emily', a creation of the bright minds behind witness protection. Emily, who lived in Wisconsin and worked at an insurance claims office in place of the Manhattan DA's office that had become her home. I felt guilt every day just like you do. It was the worst time of my life." She finally looks away from me, outside her window. "Well, I guess it wasn't the worst time of my since I wasn't 'me' anymore, but you understand what I'm saying."
I'm shocked by what Alex has just said to me. I've always heard that Alex Cabot is a very private person, and for her to open up like that to someone who is practically a stranger is just amazing. I should feel honored; privileged even.
And her words do sink in. I understand what she has just said, and I sympathize with her. She lost her life when she became Emily, and I lost mine when my law license was taken away.
I feel I need to say something in response. If we were friends I would give her a hug right now. But since we're not even really acquaintance, all I say is, "I'm sorry, Alex."
She smiles at me. "I'm sorry about what's happened to you, too. It sucks to lose something you love so much."
I sit there and stare straight ahead out the windshield. Never has there been a truer statement than what she just said.
I'm about to thank her for the ride and her kind words and climb out of the car when she takes a piece of scrap paper from her purse and scribbles on it. She then offers it to me. "If you every need anyone to talk to, you can call me. About anything. I'm sure unlike me you have other people in your life, but just in case…take it. It's my cell number. I always welcome the distraction from work and life in general."
I hesitantly reach out to take the number, and when I do so, Alex's eyes go wide and shock and she grabs my arm. "Casey? What happened to you?"
I realize in horror that my sleeve has somehow rolled up past my wrist and I quickly roll it back down, panic rising inside me as I wonder how much she saw. "It's nothing…I got hurt at work…"
I take her phone number and tuck it into my pocket and I'm about to make my escape when she grabs my arm again. "That doesn't look like a work injury, Casey. You have bruises all over your wrist. What happened?"
I swallow harshly and shake my head, pulling out of grip and opening the car door. "Thanks for the ride," I tell her.
Then I quickly step out into the rain and quickly enter my building, not once looking back to see if Alex has pulled away.
Even though I desperately want to know.
So what are your thoughts? What do you think is going on with Casey? Do you want me to continue...or scrap the idea?