Chapter 2

The ride over to the hospital could not have been more awkward. Casey sat in the passenger's seat as Olivia drove with her legs crossed.

"I hope you don't mind me asking, but who's in the hospital?" Olivia asked, and Casey had expected her to ask.

"Um, it's my niece," Casey said quickly. "My sister's daughter is staying with me this week while her mom is on vacation. That was the babysitter who called me. Apparently she fell and needed stitches. My sister is going to kill me when she finds out." It killed Casey to lie to Olivia, but she knew that it was for the best. Olivia could not know that Sadie was her daughter, because she would then begin to interrogate her with more questions. After working with the Special Victims Unit for so many years, Casey felt like she knew each squad member too well.

"I didn't know you had a sister," Olivia's eyes widened. Elliot was the only one whom she'd shared that detail. Casey preferred to keep her family and work life separate. Elliot was also the only one she'd told that she was on the outs with her siblings, which was still the truth. For all anyone knew, she had reconciled with her siblings. Casey knew that once she got to the hospital, she had to do anything and everything to prevent Olivia and Elliot from seeing Sadie. All it would take was one look in Sadie's eyes.

"Yeah, she's twelve years older than me. We weren't talking, but we recently reconciled, and she thought it was a good idea my niece to get to know her aunt," Casey said, and the lie grew.

"Aw, well, that's sweet. I'm sure you're enjoying that. What's her name?"

"Sadie," Casey said, deciding there was no need to hide the child's name. When her own sister had learned of Sadie's birth, she had taunted Casey for giving her child a dog's name. Casey had always been fond of the name Sadie, and had wanted to give her daughter the name since she was a small girl. Other people's opinions did not matter to her, especially her sister's.

"That's an adorable name!" Olivia insisted. "I'm sure she's beautiful."

"She's a gem," Casey said, smiling weakly as Olivia parked the car at Mercy Hospital. She opened the car door and began heading toward the entrance, Olivia followed after her. Casey turned to Olivia and said, "Thanks for the ride. Now, I really need to get to Sadie…"

"Oh, yeah, I understand. Hey, if you need anything, let me know…"

"Thanks," Casey said, meeting eyes with the detective for just a moment. Her empathetic brown eyes gazed at Casey. That was something Casey always had admired about Olivia: her ability to emphasize with others. During Casey's time at SVU, Olivia's heart often caused conflicts. They both sought justice for the victims, but there was something different about Olivia. Casey often wondered that if she hadn't been there to make sure the law was played out, Olivia would create her own definition of the justice system.

Casey parted from the detective and was fortunate to make it to Urgent Care without running into Elliot Stabler. She took a decoy around the Emergency Room to make sure of that.

"Momma!" two-year-old Sadie squealed. She and Addie were sitting in the waiting room when Casey arrived. The two-year-old pushed herself off her chair and ran into Casey's arm. Casey scooped the little girl off her feet and immediately observed the mark on the child's forehead, just above her eyebrow. Casey gently hovered her hand over the mark, her eyes widened at Addie.

"She's fine, Casey. She just had a little fall, that's all. The doc stitched her right up. She just needs to come back in ten days to have the stitches removed."

Casey hugged her daughter, and the little girl gently squeezed her back. She nodded at the woman and whispered, "Thank you, Addie. I know it's not your fault. This is just her first serious injury, so that's why I freaked out on the phone."

"Hey, I understand. I'm a parent, too, remember?"

"You can go home. I'm taking the rest of the afternoon off." Casey looked at her daughter. "Sadie needs to be with her mommy." Casey lightly kissed the little girl's forehead, realizing how much she missed Sadie while she was at work. Maybe accepting her job back had been a bad idea. If she had not taken her job back, then she would have been with Sadie when she'd fallen. Or, maybe she could have prevented Sadie from falling. There was one person in this world who needed her unconditionally, and that was her little girl. Casey took a deep breath, realizing she had so much to think about. If she had not returned to work, then she would never have seen Elliot Stabler again.

"If that's what you want. Seven o'clock tomorrow morning, still?" Addie asked.

Casey nodded, "Yeah."

As much as she wanted to go back to it being just her and Sadie, she knew she had other commitments. She wasn't ready to breach the contract she'd made with the DA's office. As much as she loved her job, she also loved her job. That's why she'd been so quick to take it back when she'd received the phone call telling her that her censure was over.

Sadie buried her face in Casey's shoulder as she began to exit the hospital. She knew she couldn't ask Olivia for a ride again, so she'd have to call a cab; and Casey was just fine with that. The only favors Casey needed from people were when she needed warrants signed from judges. When it came to her personal life, Casey preferred to be independent.

She was in the process of calling a cab when she heard a man's voice behind her.

"Casey Novak?"

Her heart stopped when she turned around to find Elliot Stabler.

Oh shit, were the first thoughts that ran through Casey's head as she tried to make sure Sadie's face was facing away from Elliot.

Author's Note: I'm sorry this is moving slowly and the chapters aren't very long. I've been dedicating so much time to Second Chance that I've been neglecting this, and I really just wanted to update this with something. I have the story plotted out, so it's just finding time to write it. I'm also battling with about a dozen other plot bunnies running through my head that I'm trying to push to the side so I can finish the stories I've already started, because I feel bad starting a story then not updating it for ages, leaving readers in the dark. =(