The heavy, shuffling footsteps echoed down the empty hallway - their cadence reminiscent of a condemned man going to the gallows... or in this case, a woman. Well, except for the squish. Olivia walked reluctantly toward the apartment. She stopped and looked at the door.
“Apartment 3A, that’s me,” she muttered to herself. She took a deep breath and sighed. For a split second she considered leaving again. Dammit, I’m cold, I’m dripping wet and I live here. She raised her hand to knock and then stopped and lowered it again. Okay, do I knock or just go in? Suck it up Benson. Casey is in there and for better or worse, you need to be in there. Liz said she would take care of everything in the morning. All I have to do is survive the night. Of course, easy for her to say, she is waaaaaaaaay across town. Besides, I didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t think. Did I?
She lightly leaned her forehead on the door. Is that music? Oh, sonovabitch... she’s listening to heavy metal. She only listens to that before she does summations in death penalty cases. I’m screwed. Liv swallowed hard.
Olivia stood back up straight and pulled her keys out of her pocket. She listened as the deadbolt opened with a quiet snick. Then she switched keys to open the knob lock. She heard that one click open as well. It’s now or never. Taking another deep breath, she turned the knob and pushed on the door. Only to have it slam back in her face when it reached the end of the slide chain. She sighed and pushed the door open a crack.
“Casey?” She yelled above the music. “Can you come open the door, please? The chain is on.”
Casey padded to the slightly opened door and looked out into the hallway. Liv smiled sweetly at her. The attorney smiled back. Then she shut the door and relocked the deadbolt and the knob lock.
“CASEY!” Liv shouted and banged on the door. “C’mon, let me in.”
The music increased in volume.
The neighbor’s door opened and a petite gray head poked out. “Livvy?”
Olivia leaned her forehead back on the door and answered, “I’m sorry, Mrs. O’Connor. I didn’t mean to be so loud.”
“Are you locked out, Livvy? Do I need to call Mr. Thomas, the manager?”
“No, no, Mrs. O. I’m not locked out.” She held out the keys and dangled them. “Casey is in there. She has the chain bolt on.” Olivia sniffled and then sneezed. “Dammit, Casey.” she mumbled.
“Livvy? Are you okay?” the neighbor asked, noticing that Benson hadn’t moved from leaning on the apartment door. Mrs. O’Connor stepped quietly closer to the Detective and put her hand on Benson’s back. “Did you have a fight with your cutie?”
“No... yes... maybe... I didn’t... I think... I’m not sure....” Olivia stuttered out and then turned toward the woman.
“Oh my... you have a black eye! Did Casey do that to you? She HIT you? And don’t you tell me it was accidental, love. I know you and what you do.”
“No, no.” Olivia put her hand up to her eye. “Casey would never. Never. She loves me.” Liv glanced back at the door for a second, then back to the neighbor. She added in a very low tone, “I hope.” She shivered. “Elliot did this.”
“What!?! Your partner - that nice, good looking hunk... he did this?”
“Yes, I mean no. This was an accident at work yesterday. We chased a perp and while Elliot was trying to handcuff him, I got hit with a flying elbow.” Olivia sniffled again. “It’s okay, honest.”
“Oh Livvy, you are gonna catch pneumonia standing out here.” Mrs. O’Connor looked at the puddle forming at their feet. “She won’t let you in, huh?”
Olivia shook her head no.
“What exactly did you do, anyway? C’mon, you can tell me.”
Both she and the neighbor could hear the music get even louder inside the apartment.
“She kinda got hit with both barrels today.”
Mrs. O’Connor’s eyebrow rose in question.
“Alex and Abbie, you remember them, right? They stomped on her nerves. I mean she knew I had a history with both of them but it kinda became real today. They were ragging her bad.”
“Oh yeah. And it’ll stay that way... past.” Olivia sneezed a couple of times in succession.
“Okay, sweetie, dial your apartment and give me your phone.”
“Mrs. O, it will be okay. She’ll calm down and let me....”
“Humor the Mom in me, okay?” she said with a no nonsense tone and an arched eyebrow.
Olivia reached into her blazer pocket and pulled out her cell phone. She dialed the apartment and handed the phone over. Mrs. O’ Connor waited for Casey to pick up. A tirade assaulted her immediately and she held the phone out from her ear. “Wow!” she mouthed at Liv. Then her green eyes began twinkling as she got ready to pounce once Casey had to take a breath.
“Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” she said and gave Liv a wink.
Liv snickered in spite of the situation. She sneezed again.
“No, this is not Liv, it’s Evie. Look, your sweetie is out here dripping wet and she is going to catch her death.” She paused and listened. “You don’t mean that. C’mon, Casey. Hon, you can still be mad at her in your apartment once she dries off. Good girl.”
Mrs. O’Connor hung up and handed the phone back to Olivia. She then reached up and touched Liv’s cheek with the back of her hand. “You’re so hot,” she said, just as Casey swung open the door.
“AARRGGHH!” Casey said exasperatedly. “Not another one.” She turned her back and walked further into the apartment, leaving the door open.
Liv shrugged her shoulders and kissed the gray-headed woman on the top of the head. “Thank you, Mrs. O. Wish me luck.”
“It will all work out, dear. You’ll see. She’s a keeper.” Mrs. O’Connor made her way back to her apartment. She stopped in the doorway. “Please ask your cutie to turn the music down or change it to something a little nicer. Some of us need our beauty sleep, y’know?” Mrs. O waggled her fingers at Olivia.
Olivia waved goodnight. She squared her shoulders and made her way into her apartment. After turning around, for a moment, to relock the door, she was about to step further into the apartment when a very pissed off ADA made her presence known.
“Here.” Casey threw a couple of towels at Liv.
Olivia caught but juggled the towels. “Casey? I....”
Casey held up her hand stopping her. “Not now. Just get dried off and out of those wet clothes. I don’t need you to get sick. Your sweats are in the bathroom.” Casey turned and went to the kitchen.
Olivia went and took a hot shower and changed. She hung her clothing in the bathroom to dry and made her way back into the living room and over to the kitchen. She noticed the music had been turned off.
“There is water up for hot tea,” Casey said as she brushed past her on the way to the bedroom.
She turned to follow Casey, “Thank you. Casey, I....” her explanation was stopped as she was hit with a flying pillow followed by a blanket which draped itself over her head. She removed the blanket in time to see and hear the bedroom door slam.
The kettle whistled and she hurried to the kitchen to shut off the stove. She deposited her blanket and pillow on the couch along the way. She fixed her tea and picked up her mug. Making her way back to the living room, she thought about everything she and Liz discussed at dinner.
“I sure hope you know what you are doing, Liz.” Olivia set her tea on the low table. She fluffed the pillow and settled in for the night.