AN: A follow-up to A Thing for ADAs. Tried for funny, dunno how well I did. For those who watched the show Las Vegas, yes I used the Montecito on purpose.


Assistant District Attorney National Conference

Las Vegas, Nevada

Two hundred and fifty Assistant District Attorneys from all across the country had converged on the Montecito Hotel and Casino for the annual conference. The Conference was open to any prosecuting attorney working in the United States. Regardless of division, ADAs from all walks of life were invited to attend, usually due to scheduling conflicts, not all were able to make it, but some of them planned their schedules around the conference when they could. It was two weeks of fun and learning. During the day, the attorneys sat in lectures on the latest case law and were updated on the cases that set precedents that could be later used in their own cases. At night, however, the amenities of Las Vegas were fully available to the lawyers...provided they didn't show up to the next day's lecture hung over, or otherwise incapacitated.

On the third day of the conference, six ADAs were singled out and placed in a room. The room was very basic. Six chairs arranged around a long wooden table, a sideboard with a breakfast buffet laid out for them, adequate lighting and a few windows to let the light in. Looking around the room, though, the lawyers all realized one thing: the room resembled a police-issue interrogation room—minus the mirror on the wall that held a one way glass. There was no mirror and as the lawyers looked around, they noticed that there didn't appear to be any surveillance equipment in the room.

After standing around confused for a few minutes, the only door in the room opened and a young man in his late 20's entered with an envelope.

"Excuse me, which one of you is Casey Novak?" The young man asked, only a slight tremor in his voice as he faced a room full of pissed off lawyers—all women.

"I am." A redhead spoke up and stepped forward, wanting to find out what this was all about. The young man smiled, he'd known of course all their names and had studied their photos for a week before they arrived in Las Vegas. His ploy had been designed to see if the real Ms Novak would step forward. She had and he could now give her the envelope.

Casey Novak took the offered envelope and was about to ask what was going on but when she looked up, the man was gone and she and the other five ADAs were alone in the room again.

"Casey, what's going on?" A tall blond wearing dark rimmed glasses asked, obviously thinking that since the envelope had been for Casey that she knew what was going on.

Casey turned to the blond and addressed her by name. "I have no clue, Alex. But I am guessing it has something to do with what's in this envelope. Anyone object to me opening it?"

No one in the room protested. They were all very smart women but none of them had a clue what was going on and they were eager to find out.

Casey opened the envelope and unfolded the single sheet of paper inside. As she read, her anger grew but at the same time, she was amused that someone would go to such lengths. "What does it say Ms Novak?" A tall brunette with a deep, slightly raspy voice asked. She didn't know Ms Novak as well as Alex obviously did so she didn't use her first name.

Casey looked up at the brunette and said, " Ms. Carmichael, right?"

The brunette just nodded.

"Ok, and of course you," Casey turned to face a shorter brunette, "are Tracy Kibre." This garnered a nod from the other brunette."And, I already know Alex Cabot and Serena Southerlyn. Which means that you must be Kathleen Eastman, correct?"Casey turned then to the only other red head in the room, having just addressed the only two blonds. The other redhead nodded.

"Now that that's settled, I'll read the letter out loud, ok?"

All five women nodded, content for the moment to let Casey take the lead. Casey cleared her throat and began reading, "Truth, Trust & Deduction Exercise number 23. The six of you, Casey Novak, Abigail Carmichael, Tracy Kibre, Alexandra Cabot, Serena Southerlyn and Kathleen Eastman, all have one thing in common. One thing that is not glaringly obvious and might even be painful to reveal and hear about. The purpose of this exercise is to determine whether you each have the skills, intelligence and trust to tell the truth and hear the truth from others. It is also to determine if you are able to spot when someone is lying. There is no time limit for this exercise, however, you won't be allowed to leave until the exercise is completed to the judges satisfaction. Good luck ladies. The Conference Planning Committee."

When Casey finished reading she folded the paper up again and passed it to Alex. Alex, in turn read the letter for herself before passing it on, before long all six ladies had read the letter. It was there in black and white clear as day but they were still no closer to figuring anything out. Casey, tired of just standing around, pulled out a chair and sat down, resting her forehead on the tabletop. This entire scenario was giving her a headache.

The others followed suit and sat down though Casey was the only one to lower her head to the table. Alex, wanting to get this exercise over with was the first to break the silence, "ok, so what do we all have in common besides the 'glaringly obvious'?"

"You mean besides the fact that we are all female Assistant District Attorneys?" Abbie spoke up.

The other five women looked at Abbie before Cabot responded, "yeah besides all that."

Serena spoke up, "well... I currently work in New York City…I know Casey and Alex work there as well as Tracy. I also know I replaced Abbie, but I'm sorry Kathleen, I don't think I've ever seen you in New York."

After a half hour of comparing resumes, win-loss ratios, favorite restaurants, hotels, and shows in New York City, along with about a dozen other things, they were no closer to finding out what they had in common.

Something had been nagging at the back of Tracy's brain though. An idea that she couldn't let go of until she spoke it out loud. "What if it's not a thing per say but a person?"

That got everyone's attention. It also was going to make things harder. The sheer number of people that they encountered on a daily basis, even when narrowed down to just the people related to their cases, was not a small figure.

"Ok, a person, but who?" Kathleen Eastman asked, suddenly tired of just listening.

Serena was the first to speak after the brief silence that followed Kathleen's question. "well, it might be Jack McCoy or Arthur Branch."

"But I never worked with Branch." Abbie said.

"Neither have I." Eastman spoke up. The others were silent as they have worked and still work with Branch.

"I've worked with Branch but not McCoy, have you Alex?" Casey asked.

Alex shook her head, "nope, worked with Branch, Donnelly and Lewin but never McCoy."

"Lewin? Never heard of him." Abbie said.

"That's because Lewin was a woman, Abigail." Serena said.

"God, please call me Abbie I hate the name Abigail. Ok so bosses I guess aren't the answer here."

"Doesn't seem like it." Kibre spoke up, not willing before to mention who she had or hadn't worked with. "Who does that leave?"

Silence reigned as they all thought about it. Finally Casey said, reluctantly as memories of interrupting not one but two poker nights came back to haunt her. "Judges."

There were silent groans as they each thought about the judges they'd faced in their careers. Casey almost regretted mentioning judges but she knew they had to figure this out. Suddenly, before anyone could start listing judges, a chorus of hungry stomachs made themselves known.

"I suggest we take a break and have some of the food on the breakfast buffet the committee left for us, ok?" Casey asked, desperate for any excuse not to have to start naming judges. Casey also had the uneasy feeling that despite not noticing any surveillance equipment, they were being watched or at the very least recorded. The line from the letter came back to her 'completed to the judges satisfaction'... which meant their conclusions would be evaluated. Openly talking and possibly griping about judges they still had to work with when they returned to New York could prove to be damaging to a career.

The others returned to the table with their plates, Casey went to get herself some food. Silence prevailed again as the women ate and thought about what Casey had suggested, that they all had a judge in common. Abbie doubted it was a judge, mainly because she no longer worked in New York and she hadn't stepped in front of a New York judge in at least 5 years. She doubted she'd have any judges in common with the ladies who were currently in New York.

Kathleen's thoughts were similar to Abbie's. She'd left New York several years ago to work in Los Angeles and she didn't remember any judges when she had worked in New York. There were very few people from her time in New York that she voluntarily remembered.

Kibre's thoughts were not as calm. There was a chance that she had a few judges in common with Casey and Alex and Serena but she doubted it. From the rumors she'd heard at the time of Serena's departure from the DA's office, Serena had left criminal law altogether. But those were just rumors so she couldn't be sure.

Serena was thinking about the judges she remembered from her time in criminal law but was coming up blank. It seemed that none of the judges had left an impression on her.

Alex was too busy listing the judges she knew, both the ones who liked her and the ones who didn't. Petrovsky topped both lists somehow. Petrovsky, Wyler, Terhune, Bradley, Preston. The list could go on for hours but Alex narrowed it down to those five with whom she had the most contact.

Casey's mental list ran much the same except she had two names extra; Judge Taft and Donnelly. Casey wasn't eager to make her list public.

Before too long, the food was gone and the women were ready to continue with their task.

"Before we go start naming judges, I think I should make it clear that I haven't worked in New York for at least 5 years so I doubt that I have any judges in common with the rest of you." Abbie explained, the first to speak up.

"I moved to California near the end of 2001, so I also don't think I'll have any judges in common." Kathleen added when Abbie was done talking.

"Well, since the letter said it's something we all have in common I think we can rule out judges." Casey said, eager to get past the topic of judges.

Alex, however, had other ideas. "Wait a sec, let's not be hasty. A fair number of the judges on the bench today have been around for several years. How do we know this isn't the link?"

The others, when presented with this argument, could not find logical arguments against it. "Ok then Alex, since you are determined to find a link among the judges, why don't you start us off naming judges and we'll see if any ring a bell?" Kibre challenged, wondering why Alex Cabot was clinging to the judges idea.

Alex took a breath and began, "ok. Let's see... there's Judge Wyler, Preston, Bradley, Terhune and lest we forget Judge Petrovsky. Those are the five I've encountered the most in my career. First with SVU and then as Bureau Chief."

No one noticed how Casey paled a bit at the mention of Petrovsky.

Abbie, Kathleen and Serena all shook their heads, indicating those names meant nothing more than Judges they'd heard of in passing but never had to argue in front of. Kibre dismissed the first four but the last one caught her attention.

"Judge Petrovsky? I've gone in front of her only once. Remember Casey? When I was handed that dog of a case from SVU? The um... the Duvall case right?"

Casey could only nod. She remembered that case...she'd almost been beaten to death by the brother of her star witness.

"When was that?" Alex asked, curious because she'd never had to hand any of her SVU cases off to another bureau.

"Um, about a year or so ago. Straight rape/homicide but the brother of Casey's star witness took a Louisville Slugger to Ms Novak's face and Branch took the case from her and handed it to me. I swear that was just the jinx of all cases. DNA evidence excluded, a murder charge thrown out, and a bogus medical condition to muddy up the works. But we pulled it out in the end and while he didn't get the max he also didn't walk."

"And Petrovsky was the judge on that one?"

"Yup. Tough old lady. I got the feeling she didn't like having prosecutors being changed up on her like that."

"Petrovsky never liked having the ADAs changed." Casey spoke then, in a quiet, slightly distracted voice as she stared at a spot on the tabletop. It almost seemed like Casey was distracted by something else…lost in a memory and talking not necessarily to those in the room but more to herself out loud. When no further seemed to be forthcoming, Kibre opened her mouth to continue when Alex cut her off.

"Wait, what do you mean by that Casey?" Something about what Casey had said was bugging Alex.

Casey didn't want to get into it with Alex. It wasn't her fault so, "nothing. I think we can safely cross judges off the list of common ground."

"Not until you tell me what you meant by that Petrovsky comment." Alex wasn't sure why she was pushing but she had a feeling this was something that had to do with more than just the judge who loved to hate her.

Casey sighed, realizing she'd have to explain if she wanted to get off the topic. "Fine, you want to know? Petrovsky looks at me like she wishes it was still you in her court. Do you have any idea what it's like having to work in the shadow of the late great Alex Cabot?"

Alex had nothing to say. There was really nothing to say. While it wasn't her fault if people wanted to compare them, she also knew there was nothing she could do to stop that. "I'm sorry, but it's not like I made the choice to get shot and taken away from everyone and everything that I care about."

"I know that...doesn't make it any easier living in your shadow though."

"Is Petrovsky the only one doing that? Or are there others?"

Casey chuckled then, "if it was only Petrovsky I wouldn't let it get to me. She's just one of a long line...starting with the SVU squad."

"The squad?" Alex was confused. Surely the detectives of the Special Victims Unit weren't clinging to her memory and making her into some kind of martyr for the cause. She thought back though to when she was forced to come out of hiding for the Liam Connors trial. Detectives Munch & Fin along with Captain Cragen had seemed genuinely shocked to find out she was still alive. "The whole squad or just Munch Fin and Cragen? Because Benson and Stabler knew about me being alive."

Before Casey could answer, Kathleen perked up. Until then she'd been listening with only one ear to the conversation, mainly because it had nothing to do with her. But upon hearing the name Benson she immediately looked at Alex and Casey. "Wait, did you say Benson? As in Detective Olivia Benson of the Special Victims Unit?"

All eyes turned to Alex and Casey. Alex was the one who answered, "yes. Why?"

"I know her. I –I worked a few cases with her back in '99."

"So did I." Abbie piped up. "Back before I left New York, SVU didn't have a permanent ADA so we were all rotated through there."

"Well I was assigned to SVU in September of 2000 on a permanent basis. Until about 2003 when I was shot. Casey you transferred in then right?"

Casey just nodded.

"Well I worked with Detective Benson during the Duvall case." Kibre spoke up. "Serena have you ever worked with Detective Benson?"

"Worked? No...but we did become friends thanks to a common acquaintance."

"Really? Ok I think it's safe to say then that Detective Benson might be the link we're looking for."

"'But, that would mean that we all had a social interaction with her, since it has to be common ground." Eastman said, wondering if they had all slept with Olivia.

"Ok it looks like I'll have to be the one to ask. Raise your hand if you've ever had sexual relations of any kind with Detective Benson—and I don't mean just Bill Clinton's definition of sex."

Casey had bitten the bullet in asking and she willed herself not to show any emotion when five hands raised into the air, along with her own. Casey took a deep breath and turned to Tracy who was sitting to her left. "OK, I think we should all specify what the extent of your interactions were with Olivia Benson. Tracey, you want to go first?"

"Why not, though I would like to ask that, as the city's motto states, what happens here or rather what is said in here stays in here, agreed?"

Five other heads nod in agreement, Casey was the only one who seemed to realize that the judges on the committee might not be in agreement but she didn't say anything.

"Ok, well... shortly after the Duvall case, I snapped at my girlfriend Kelly Gaffney who is also my trial partner, and we broke up. During the week we weren't together, Detective Benson stopped by my office during lunchtime and...well...one thing led to another and we ended up having sex on the leather couch in my office. Thank god Kelly was out of the office with the flu that day. Afterward, I never heard from Olivia beyond a bouquet of flowers and the explanation that it was a one time thing. A few days later Kelly and I made up and I told her what had happened and we've worked through it. That's the extent of my interactions with Olivia Benson." Kibre turned to Serena on her left, "Your turn Serena."

Serena smiled, "well, I met Olivia through a mutual friend, Detective Eddie Green who works Homicide. Olivia and Eddie were out with the other SVU Detectives and Detective Fontana also of Homicide, when Eddie invited me to join them. I did and as the only two women at the table, Olivia and I sort of gravitated towards each other. By the end of the night, we were both more than a little drunk and we took a cab to my place which was closer and we fell into bed together. It was a one night stand and I knew that going in and in the morning, we parted ways amicably." Serena turned to Kathleen next to her, "Kathleen?"

Kathleen looked a little worried, "Well, I had rotated in to work an SVU case, I don't remember which one now, but Olivia had been lead on it and we spent a lot of time prepping her testimony and one thing led to another and we ended up at my place. It was a fun time and I admit I went back for a second go, which she was all too happy to provide, and then I ended it. I realized that I was going to be leaving New York soon and didn't want to prolong the affair. Besides which I was married at the time, my husband was in California setting up his business. I am not proud of my infidelity but I have no regrets over what I shared with Olivia." Kathleen then turned to Abbie, "Abbie?"

Abbie grinned a devilish grin, "Three months. My, I guess you could all it a relationship, with Olivia lasted three months. It was hot, heavy and no strings attached. She was very adventurous in bed and we had a good time. It ended when I got a better job offer in DC and left. We stayed friends though." Abbie turned to Alex, "Anything to add Ms Ice Queen Cabot?"

"How do you know about that nickname?"

"Olivia mentioned it when you first started in SVU."

"Oh, well... it's not very accurate anymore. Though I am still ice cold in court, Olivia managed to melt the ice. Shortly after I started there, after the Elias Barrera case actually, I asked Olivia out and that was the start of a romance that lasted until I was shot. We were very much in love and I look back on it now and I see how stupid I was to not just let that last case go. My love for her is what made me force the Marshalls to let me see her and Elliot before I was taken away. I couldn't let her think I was dead, I couldn't do that to her."

"No, instead you ripped her heart out when you came back for the Connors trial and told her you'd been sleeping with some claims adjuster in Wisconsin." The venom in Casey's voice was plainly evident.

"Excuse me? What would know about that?"

"She told me. She explained what had happened and I was the one who held her as she cried over that. I was the one who had to pretend that we were just good friends when I felt so much more. Yes, she still loved you and she would've willingly gone back to you if you had only asked."

"I—I didn't know. I thought she'd moved on and had expected me to so I lied about that guy. There was never another person for me but when I came back and saw how she looked at you when she thought I couldn't see her, I thought she didn't love me anymore so I made up a guy. So...how long have you been with Olivia?"

"The friendship started in 2004 but the romance didn't kick in until after the Connors trial. Before then she'd kept me at arms' length as far as anything sexual was concerned. There were kisses and dates but nothing beyond that because she was still clinging to her precious Alex. I thought she was clinging to a ghost and figured maybe in time she'd let go, when I found out you were still alive I thought I'd lost her completely. It was bad enough living under your shadow at work but to have you constantly hovering over my head when I was alone with Olivia was ten times worse."

Alex didn't know what to say. She did know that it was too late for her to change anything. When she'd returned to her life in New York, she was still hurting over losing Olivia. She'd foolishly allowed herself to become engaged to a man she'd known since childhood but had no romantic feelings for and worse yet, she'd married him. She was a married woman and she'd lost Olivia forever through her own actions and insecurities.

"I am truly sorry that you've felt as if you were living under my shadow. I would never wish that on anyone. I don't blame you for falling in love with Olivia, that's not hard to do. Take care of her ok?"

"I always do."

The four other ladies in the room held their breath as Alex and Casey talked, airing issues that probably hadn't ever seen the light of day. They all understood that Olivia was the common link and that the truth had come out and they'd not backed away from it. They had trusted each other to be honest and in turn had been honest with each other. They had deduced the link, using their investigative skills and were now connected.

Despite the fact that Kathleen would return to California, Abbie to Washington and the others to New York, the six women knew that there would always be a connection between them.

"Ok so, to sum everything up, the six of us have all had sex with Detective Olivia Benson at one point or another. She is the link that connects us, now and for all time." Abbie stated her conclusion. Somehow knowing that it wasn't enough that they all knew it, someone had to say it so the Committee could hear it. Five heads nodded in agreement.

Six heads then turned to the only door in the room and waited. When after five minutes, nothing happened, they began to wonder what was left. It was then that Casey realized something. Six women, locked in a room together, get in touch with emotional topics... the Committee was most likely comprised of all men and there was only one thing men wanted to see.

Casey leaned over and whispered something into Alex's ear. Alex turned to whisper in Abbie's ear and so the message made its way down the line. By the time it got back to Casey through Kibre, all six women were in agreement.

Standing up from the table, the women hugged each other. And then Casey and Alex surprised everyone by turning to face each other and sharing a long kiss. Halfway through the kiss, the door opened.

There was no one on the other side but the ladies knew they'd been released. They'd completed the exercise to the satisfaction of the Committee. Six ladies exited the room...smiling.


Epilogue

Three days later...

Olivia Benson came home after a rough shift tired as hell. She really wished Casey hadn't chosen to go to Vegas for the Conference. The ADA covering SVU while she was gone was woefully inadequate. Christina Finn just seemed way too young to be a lawyer. Olivia checked her mailbox and noticed a yellow padded envelope. There was no return address but the postmark said Nevada.

Thinking Casey had sent her something, Olivia smiled and went up to her apartment. After getting comfortably settled onto her couch in her faded sweats, Olivia opened the package and was surprised when a DVD slid out. It looked like a homemade DVD, definitely not a mainstream movie. Her curiosity definitely piqued, Olivia popped the DVD into her player and pressed play.

The screen soon came alive with what looked like an empty interrogation room. Before too long, the door opened and there, clear as day, six women walked into the room. Olivia had no problem recognizing the women. Casey, Alex, Abbie, Tracey Kibre, Serena Southerlyn, and Kathleen Eastman. Olivia swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat at the sight of the six women in the same room.

'Nothing good can come of them in the same room and talking.' Olivia thought. She watched patiently and as the DVD came to an end, Olivia knew that she would have to do some damage control with Casey. But right at that moment, she couldn't get the sight of Casey and Alex kissing out of her head.

THE END


AN: Hope you all liked that! Hehehehe... I'm evil, I know.