Title: Winter Solstice
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 8 December 2004
Fandom: Law & Order : SVU
Summary: A melancholy reminisce.
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Disclaimer: "The Division", "CSI: Crime Scene Investigators," "Birds of Prey," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," the characters, and situations depicted are respectively the property of Lifetime Television, Kedzie Productions, Viacom Productions, and Paramount [The Division]; Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Alliance Atlantis, and CBS Productions [CSI: Crime Scene Investigators]; Tollin/Robbins, DC Comics, and Time/Warner via the WB [Birds of Prey]; and Wolf Films, Universal Network Television, and NBC [Law & Order: SVU]. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "The Division", "CSI: Crime Scene Investigators," "Birds of Prey," "Law & Order: SVU," Lifetime Television, CBS, the WB, NBC, or any representatives of the actors.
[Please do not fold, spindle, or mutilate. Thank you. Shatterpath]
The winter had been endless.
Icy and snow clung to my heart long after the tears had stopped.
It didn't make sense, really. This ache that made my chest and throat hurt. She had only been a coworker, a valuable ally of the team. She had made me so damn mad sometimes, ordering us around like brainless lackeys, driving us to impossible goals. But… but we had watched as more and more scum was taken off the street, we had watched her go to impossible lengths for us and for the victims. Oh sure, she still had her selfish moments, sure we were only a rung in the ladder of power to her lofty goals.
But she made a difference in the trenches.
She made a difference.
Spring had loosened the tight ball of pain, like the ponds and lakes and streams cracking and creaking back to life. Summer had almost felt normal. Then the weather began to change…
My hands were once again blood-red as the trees.
I'd tried so hard to hold in that thick, dark blood, hot against my palms in the balmy night. The gunshots rang in my ears, Elliot's footsteps as he chased the black SUV. Her skin, so pale, her eyes gone wide and sightless against the shock and pain.
Tears pricked my eyes and I rubbed my palms into them, hard. Maybe my painful tears could wash away the blood only I could see. I wanted to bawl, missing her so bad and tied up into confused knots of emotion. This was a bad place to do this. Too many pixels of the blue line frequented here. The last thing I needed was for the others to see me so raw and vulnerable.
I had no clue what the hell made me ask, but here I was, standing next to her table, and that was indeed my voice that had asked the monosyllabic question. Great, now was the fun accomplishment of telling my favorite lust object telling me to fuck off. It wasn't like me to put myself out like this, and I can't imagine what the hell made me do it now of all times. Dumbass, my inner voice informed me darkly and I had to agree.
But then those deep, deep eyes rose to mine and I knew exactly why I had come over here in the first place. There was a crease of confusion between the fine, dark auburn brows as she seemed to have no clue who the hell I was.
The ache of pain in her dazed gaze rattled me deeply. This was not the unshakable Detective Benson I knew.
“They say,” her voice rasped painfully up from her chest, like sandpaper on skin. “The holidays bring out the best and worst in people. If you'd like to commiserate, sit down. If not, I suppose you'd better go.”
Shocked by the unexpected invitation, I tossed briefcase and jacket into the booth and followed them in. Olivia stared out the front glass wall of the hole-in-the-wall bar tucked amidst the flotsam and jetsam of law enforcement neighborhoods. Snow whirled and danced in the icy wind outside.
“You never met her, did you?”
My brain scrambled to decipher the vague question. Who? Was this a rhetorical question? My confusion earned a small grin, laced with agony.
God, that sounded like it hurt to say. There were tears in the dark eyes. I recognized the name, remembered the placard on what was my desk now with those letters etched into it. The woman's ghost was a nearly palatable thing those first couple of months. It was terrifying, frustrating and invigorating to me, the ghost of this dead woman.
“No,” I answered lamely and signaled that bartender that I needed a drink.
Poor Casey was marshalling her inner resources for what she saw as a long night ahead. There was a chuckle of dark amusement that grated up from my chest like coughing up glass. “I was rough on you,” I mused, letting my thoughts ramble out loud. “There was no way you could have compared to her, no one could.”
Despite trying to stay sympathetic, Casey bristled a bit. Girl lost her game face at the most inopportune moments.
“Nothing personal. No one could. She…” A wave a agony broke my voice and the tears blinded me. Burying my face in a napkin, I ground out, “she changed me.”
There was a swirl of memories like dry snow in the wind. I let myself get caught up in the whirlwind, let is strangle me with the intensity for what felt like an eternity. When the storm let up a bit, I was face-down into my crossed arms and a hand was tentatively stroking my head. It felt good, comforting, so I stayed where I was.
“Alex was an arrogant, pushy bitch when I met her,” I reminisced fondly, my eyes blind to the present. “God, but she pissed me off. 'You work for me,' indeed. But we got under her skin, the squad, the job, the victims. There were times I thought she was gonna break, but she never did. Stubborn, smart, aggressive and gorgeous. It was a lethal package. But that was only part of her layers. She had a strong heart and a deep soul. I have to admit that I was fascinated. She fought like a pitbull, and made me and the guys work so damn hard. But she made a difference.”
Dammit, the pain blinded me again. Alex out for drinks with us, her warm smile, the sexy, dark glasses perched on her nose. There it was, that impossible pulse of energy I'd ignored for to long.
Ignored for to long.
Until it was to late.
Blindly, I raised my head, barely cognizant of Casey and her concern. “I'd grown to adore her, and neither of us even know it…” My palms looked red through my tears. “She bled out right there in my hands… There was nothing I could do… There was nothing I could say.”
I ignored the barkeep as he set down my drink, instead reaching out to grasp Olivia's shaking hands between my own. Of course, I knew the story, about how Velez's men had gunned down Cabot right in the street with Olivia and Elliot only steps away. “I'm sure it was a comfort that you were the last thing that she saw.”
Where the hell that had come from was beyond me. Cringing that it sounded kinda unsympathetic and that's not what I meant, I scrambled for something else to say.
Then the strangest look came over Olivia's face. Her trembling hands stilled where I had them pressed so tight between my own. She looked oddly thoughtful, a faint trace of childish hope fighting to show on her slack features. Something profound roiled there, behind the clouds of Alex Cabot's violent death.
“Do you think that's true?” Frozen with indecision on how to help, I only squeezed tighter, helpless to do more. “That she was comforted by me being the last thing that she saw?”
“Yes,” I said with absolute conviction. Olivia had obviously been deeply attached to the woman who died in her arms. Alex must have known that, as the life faded from her. There was nothing else that I could believe.
Somehow, it was the right thing to say, and my heart clutched as the most beatific smile spread over Olivia's face. It was like a blazing rainbow sunrise after a lifetime of rain. If I'd ever seen anything more beautiful, I had no recollection of it now. It lingered there, that incandescent expression, until it faded into a fond smile, this time for me, I realized with a start. “Thanks, Casey. I think I actually feel a little better now.”
Bamboozled by the smile, I managed to make conversation with a much lighter-hearted Olivia. We eventually wandered out into the breezy snow, dancing lazily in the streetlamps. I squeaked like a startled mouse when Olivia grabbed me up in a suffocating bear hug. The second squeak was one for mercy. With my feet back on the ground, Olivia gave another of those fond grins and I cringed inside. Like I wasn't already fighting to act like a lovesick teenager around her…
“Thanks Casey. You made a big difference tonight. Have a good Winter Solstice.” Kissing me on the forehead, Olivia drifted into the dancing snow. Scrubbing at the warm spot where her lips had touched my skin, I sighed like a adoring puppy before shaking it off and flagging down a cab.
“You were one lucky woman, Alex Cabot,” I whispered to the ghost. “I just wish you had gotten a chance to realize just how lucky. Maybe someday I'll even be able to fill your shoes.”
Something told me that the ghost of Alex was smiling.