This is a story of trust, of diving the deepest the first time, of letting go inhibitions and regrets. It's especially about letting go of regrets. There is something to be said about trying new things, and in trying new things, it's about growth. Not a part of the Confessions series. A/U Casey/Alex fiction on request.
Steple – Thank you for the request for this story. It's the best compliment I have ever received. I hope this lives up to your expectations and hopes.
That said, I don't own anything Dick Wolf does. And, the basic plot belongs to Steple who allowed me to flush it out.
Enjoy the reads. And, as always, thank you for the reviews.
Harvard Law had always been the dream she had gone after as a small child. Ever since that first time she had stepped foot in the court room at nine years old on a school field trip, something about that place called her back. At fourteen, she had found herself an internship with the District Attorney's office, running around with files and papers, making sure attorneys had the appropriate files for court, disappearing down to the file room or the victim waiting room to fetch officers waiting to testify, soothing victims who were frightened of seeing their assailants again, and cheering with the rest of the office when they won a major case. Her first taste of crime was in the court room, pictures of dead bodies, blood, children with bruises and contusions, wives who had broken bones. Crime scene tape glittered her nightmares, and still she wanted more. She hungered for it. Actually, hunger was an understatement. She wanted it so badly it hurt.
And, when she was eighteen, she had discovered the world of economic crimes. White collar prosecution made her feel like a sadist queen, sticking it to liars and cheaters who thought they could get away with stealing from the little guy. She made it a point as she transitioned from high school to her undergraduate years at New York University to follow the economic crimes prosecutors almost religiously. She found her niche and she flourished. She thrived and made enough connections that several judges and the District Attorney wrote her letters of recommendation to Harvard Law. Not that her multi-lingual skills, 180 LSAT, perfect GPA in college, years of interning, and general hard work would not have gotten her a decent chance in the running of applicants, but the letters certainly helped.
So it was that she stood in the middle of Cambridge, fresh off the bus, green eyes wide as she stared around herself. The city was completely unfamiliar, and she was there a week early to attempt to settle in with the fifteen hundred dollars her parents had given her to start her life outside of the nest. It was the first time she was really away from her family. It was refreshing to not have three younger siblings hanging off of her. She was twenty one and two days. Her youngest sister was seven. She was still a jungle gym for her, though the other two were teens and thought they knew everything. She remembered that. The one thing she already missed, though, was her older siblings. She felt small and alone in the strange city despite having grown up mostly in New York, one of the largest cities in the United States.
Curling her arms around herself, she trotted away from the stop, her duffel bag clapping at her calves as she tried to flag down a taxi. Fortunately, some things were not that different from New York. One pulled up within seconds, and she tossed her duffel into the back, climbing into the cab. "Is there a youth hostel around here?" she asked.
"Ya, ya," the man said, and she picked up the Cambridge accent instantaneously. It was like a little radar went off in her head. But, she loved the accent. It was new and different, just like the entire experience was. The bus ride was different. It wasn't that she had never been on a bus before, but alone, across state lines, that was different. Her father was in the military, and she had long traveled with her family to keep up with his assignments, but it was a totally new wonder to travel alone, especially traveling so far. "How long ya been off the bus?"
"Um, excuse me?" She puzzled at the man in the front seat, trying to watch him through the rear view mirror the same way cabbies in New York watched their patrons when they talked in an effort not to take their eyes from the perilous roads.
"Your accent, it's New York, right?"
She nodded. "Yea. It is." She shook her head, chuckling as though she could not quite believe she had just thought him the out of place one when, in reality, it was all her. For once, she was the stranger, the weird one in the city. Then again, in so many large cities, everyone was a stranger. No one was really native, even if that was the city they were born in. The woman herself was not a native to New York. She was from Denver, had moved to Richmond when she was ten, and then to New York at sixteen after living in several countries overseas. The New York accent, she had thought, was barely noticeable. But, it seemed that farther from the city, it became apparent that she had picked up enough of the accent that others recognized it in her. "I'm sorry. I'm not used to being the one with the accent."
It was a very short drive, and she was not up for conversation at all. Instead, she stared, fascinated, out of the cab window, mouth hanging open. There were cobblestone streets and low buildings and trees that really looked like trees. It was different from the city, but not that different, and it held her in rapture. She could not take in enough during the drive from the Greyhound station, and she wanted to tell the driver to keep driving around the city so that she could see it. But, there was no way she could afford such frivolous things. Later, she promised herself, she would walk the city and find out how much the local bus cost.
"Hey, kid. You're here." The cabbie was looking back at her like he had been trying to talk to her for several minutes, but she had zoned out. She blushed, embarrassed to have been caught off guard. Her father would have been disappointed that she had lowered her guard. He had always said that she needed to be alert. If she were a woman in a city by herself, she knew she needed to start paying attention. It was important to her safety. College campuses could be scary, anyway. There had been enough crime at her undergraduate college that she expected nothing less, even from a prestigious school like Harvard.
"Oh," she said with a startled smile. "Thanks. What do I owe you?"
She handed him a twenty. "Thanks. I appreciate it. Where's Harvard from here?"
The cabbie pointed. "About fifteen blocks that direction. You can see the campus from here." She followed his finger, and, indeed, she could. She could get a room for the night and then go to the campus for the day. She still had a lot to do with registration and enrollment. Plus, she had to sign up for the mentoring program. As a first year law student, she had already been assigned a second year mentor, a woman who also wanted to go into prosecution if she remembered correctly.
"Thanks," she called as she closed the door behind her.
"No problem, kid. Good luck."
She went to the front desk of the hostel, registering for a room shared with three other people, one woman and two men. One of the guys was her age, the other considerably older. The woman was younger. She barely stayed long enough to say hello, shoving her duffel bag under the bed, putting her important things into the back pack she had stuffed in the bottom of the bag. In part, she had student loans to live off. In part, her parents, proud she was going after her dreams of becoming an attorney and the only child old enough to attend college who had, made the point of lending her what they could. Mentally, she had sworn that she would repay them double the moment she had the chance.
Back pack slung over her shoulder, she walked the fifteen blocks to the college, staring around her at the architecture of the city. There was so much to wonder about, so much she wanted to explore. It was a block and a half from the campus that she stumbled over a small cafe with a hiring sign in one of the windows. The first thing she would need was a part time job. Harvard would not like it since first year students were not supposed to take on jobs, but she needed the money to pay for food and supplies not related to school. She was really grinding it just to attend Harvard, but her parents had encouraged her. It was, after all, what she wanted, and she was no stranger to hard work.
"Hi," she said to the woman behind the register when the couple in front of her finished ordering their to-go pastries. "Um, I'm new to the city, but I saw the hiring sign. Is there any way I could pick up an application?"
The woman smiled. "Tell you what, kid, you look like you just fell off the bus. Come in tomorrow morning at eight and talk to the GM. His name's Mark."
"Awesome. I'm Casey. Uh, what's your name?"
"Terri," the woman replied, reaching forward and shaking her offered hand. "Nice to meet ya, kid."
"You, too. I'll be back at eight. Thanks so much for giving me the chance to talk to him."
The woman shook her head as Casey practically skipped out of the store. To be young and innocent was sweet, even though Casey was not as innocent as her age made her appear. She was only happier when she stepped foot on that campus, the grass just changing into its fall colors, and she bit her lip to contain the excitement. There was no way that she was the only one practically jumping out of her skin to attend Harvard, but then again, those people around her seemed so much more regal than she was. They wore suits and ties to school. She was in jeans and a green, long sleeved blouse that was cut just low enough to make someone look but not low enough to be a slut. Her father's cameo back pack over her shoulder made her look like some hoodrat who was lost.
Suddenly nervous, she fingered the charm around her neck, a soft ball and bat charm her brothers had bought her as a good luck gift. Her older brothers were all in the military, all four of them. She was one of nine children, one of three girls. One older sister, one younger. The rest, boys. Her two younger brothers wanted to go into the military, too. None of them had bachelor's degrees. Her sister came the closest with an associates, but she had dropped out to rehabilitate horses on a ranch upstate. Casey sincerely hoped her sister would attend a veterinary college. She would be such a great vet. But, until Stephanie made that move, Casey was the only one. Even her parents had not pursued higher education, much less a graduate degree of some kind.
"Hey, you look lost," a voice called over to her. Casey stared at the source of the voice. The woman had a high pitched voice than she did, but not by that much. Her blond hair was tied back into a pony tail that flopped from cheek to cheek as she jogged over to her. Tight, black spandex kapris hugged legs that did not seem to end, and Casey found herself staring. She wore a blue tank top under a zip up hoodie with a caricature of Mickey Mouse. The woman was not taller than she was. In fact, they were about matched in height. They probably wore the same sized clothes, but Casey found herself instantly envious of the stranger with blond hair and cavernous gray eyes.
Subconsciously, she dragged her fingers through her ruby red hair. She used dye from time to time to make it darker, but even her natural color was a deep red. Still, it was nothing like the blond that came to a halt beside her. The woman was hardly even panting. "A little," she admitted, feeling inferior once again to the women around her. In high school, she had been all too self conscious about her small chest, boyish mannerisms, and athletic affinity. She was teased as a lesbian by other girls not on the softball team, a team she had joined her freshman year. It wasn't just softball, though. She played soccer, tennis, ran track and field all for school, but on the side, she played football with the boys, hung out with the baseball crowd, and could spit like a guy. She wasn't a lesbian. She very much liked men, but staring at the blond before her, she had to admit she was not acting like she was straight.
Shaking her head, Casey blushed and looked down. "Sorry. I'm new to the state."
"First year, huh? Law?"
"Yep. Are you a student here, then?"
The blond nodded. "Second year law student. I had to come down to find out who my mentoree is. I'm hoping that they'll tell me something about him or her from the application. I want to put together a first year survival kit for whomever it is. You know, a welcome to law school kind of thing, you're in for a wild ride. Something to act as a pick me up on those late nights studying."
"So, a lot of vodka?" Casey asked with a smile.
Laughing, the blond shook her head. "Yea, something like that. Hey, do you know who your mentor is?"
Casey indicated the negative with a shake of her head. "I just got here. Literally. I think the bus left an hour ago." Casey shifted her bag to the other shoulder, holding out her hand once more. "I'm Casey. Who are you?"
"Alexandra," the blond replied, meeting her hand with a tight grasp. It was firm and powerful. From the handshake alone, Casey could tell Alexandra was accustomed to getting her way. But, as Casey met the woman's eyes, she found that even her eyes smiled. A perfect lavender gray which only added to the level of envy Casey felt about her. "Nice to meet you. You want a tour?"
"Would I ever," Casey grumbled. "I'm so lost already, and my hostel is only fifteen blocks from here."
Alexandra laughed. "You'd think it would be easier being from a big city, right?"
"Oh, God, absolutely right. I thought Cambridge would be easy compared to New York. But, it turns out, it's more complicated." Casey chewed at her lip, sighing with playful dramatics. Alexandra snickered. "I could use a tour guide. Not just for the school, but if you've been here for a year, you must know the ins and outs of the city, too, right?"
Alexandra shrugged, her hands on her hips. "Maybe," she said, her voice coy. "Guess you'll have to stick with me and find out."
Casey smiled. "Thanks. I really do appreciate it. I've never been out on my own before. I mean, kind of, but I lived at home for my undergrad."
"Me, too," Alexandra said. "This place was so scary my first year. That's why I wanted to make the survival kit. Come on, let's get you that tour. We'll stop by the Registrar as well. Have you signed up for classes?"
Casey shook her head. "Nope. I've got nothing."
"Newbie." Alexandra rolled her eyes.
Casey shrugged, hoisting the bag higher on her back as she followed Alexandra further onto the campus, the blond talking about what each of the buildings was called and the history behind them. Casey tried to pay attention and learn more about the history of her law school, but, in reality, she was just far too excited to be in the city than she was anything else. The architecture of the campus was breathtaking. She was absolutely in awe of the buildings, the grounds, and the jokes the woman walking beside her was cracking.
"Hey, you okay?" Alexandra asked. "Earth to Casey. What's up?"
The red haired woman shook her head, her smile lopsided before she sucked in her lower lip, the lip gloss she had put on smearing over her teeth and tongue in a burst of berry. "Just taking it all in, Alexandra."
"Alex. Seriously, Alexandra is what my parents call me. It drives me up the wall. That is far too formal of a name."
Casey laughed. "Alright. Alex, then. I like that better. Alex what?"
"Cabot. What about you?"
Stopping, Casey stared at the blond woman before her. "Alexandra Cabot? The Alexandra Cabot? Your uncle is a judge in New York. Everyone at my internship raved about you. The DA seriously hopes you'll apply once you graduate."
"Fuck. I haven't even graduated, let alone taken my bar. But, that would be cool to work for the Manhattan DA. I've always wanted to work for them. You interned there?" Casey nodded. "Small world. I interned at the court house. Officially since I was fifteen. Unofficially, since I was maybe five. I loved being in court with my uncle."
Smiling, the red haired woman pointed out, "I've been at the DA's office since I was fourteen. You mean we spent five years less than a block from each other and had no idea?"
Alex shrugged, closing her eyes as she sighed. "New York."
"Jesus Christ, New York indeed."
"So, you never answered me. What's your last name? I have to find some way to look you up in the student directory."
Casey laughed. "Novak. Casey Novak."
"Nice. Well, I'm honored, Miss Novak, to meet you and be your tour guide. It's about time our paths crossed."
She laughed again, Alex joining in. Shaking her head, Casey pulled her cell phone from the pocket on the strap of her back pack. "I'll do you one better, Cabot. What's your number?"
Alex gave her a phone number, New York area code. "Alright, you've been text messaged. I better hear from you after this afternoon, you got it?"
"I got it, Novak. Jeez, you're a pushy one."
Playfully, Casey pushed Alex's shoulder, the blond stumbling to the side, laughing as she returned the gesture. "Two can play at that, Novak," she said.