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"What do you want?'

A gin and tonic—no ice, no tonic.

"Casey, are you listening to me?"

Of course; yes, I'm listening, Liz. I'm always listening, always hanging on every word. What you need is a secretary to take notes or a daughter to follow, gushing, at your heels.

"Casey, you're making a mistake."

This was a mistake. You want someone to fuck, someone to meet at the end of the day and mindlessly fuck. Maybe Alexandra Cabot—oh, it's no secret you two took your mutual hate to the bedroom—was good for that, but I am not.

*****

Casey fidgeted—fingered the hem of her tweed skirt, and crossed and uncrossed her legs. Sure, she'd had the occasional summer job or two, but this was different. Elizabeth Donnelly had agreed to take her on as an intern—out of the hundred or so who, she knew, had applied. Well, there were two others, both guys a year or two older than she. They were sharing a small apartment in Greenwich Village; the location was random considering the commute to Donnelly's firm, but Casey couldn't complain—the firm was paying the rent, after all.

It would mean she'd have to arrange her softball workouts early in the morning and late in the evening. But this internship was what she needed; law school applications were due in December, and this was going to look good.

"Casey Novak?" The secretary called her name like Casey hadn't told it to her just a half hour before.

She stood, giving her auburn hair a final pat before stepping forward. Behind the secretary, Casey could see doors opening on one side of a long hallway. She was not surprised when several men in suits filed out. Then Elizabeth Donnelly emerged; her face was completely impassive. Casey found herself biting the inside of her bottom lip; the blonde didn't even crack a smile as she shook hands all around. Before Casey knew it, Donnelly was walking towards her.

"Miss Novak." Elizabeth looked her up and down. "I hope those clothes can handle a bit of dust."

"Well, um," Casey stammered, "I…there's a good dry cleaners a few blocks from the apartment." Shit. Shit. Shit. That is not how this is supposed to go.

Donnelly smiled, rather curled one side of her lip up in amusement. "Good. Corrine," she said to the secretary, "show Casey to the file room and get her started where the last intern left off. Happy filing, sweetheart."

*****

"Don't give me that crap, Alex." The disgust in her voice was so apparent it could have been tangible. "You did this to yourself; you single-handedly lost this case."

"Liz, it isn't…"

Donnelly held up her hand. "You should have been prepared for the motion to controvert the search warrant from the very beginning. A first year law student would have seen that coming; hell, a pre-law senior could have gotten that motion overturned. For God's sake, what the hell were you thinking?" She rounded her desk and sat on the edge close to where Alex was standing.

"The judge had absolutely no legal reason to throw that warrant out. You know that as well as I do, Liz. It's not my fault that's he has decided the Supreme Court needs to reexamine evidentiary procedures."

"It's your fault for not anticipating it, Alex; it's your fault for not proving him wrong. Nevermind; not that it really matters. You thought you could win it even without the warrant. Are you letting your political ambitions cloud your judgment, Alex, or is your ego just getting in the way?"

Alex felt a blush growing in her cheeks and on her neck. She opened her mouth to speak, but there were too many words—and she wanted to scream all of them. Instead, she stepped forward and cupped Liz's face in her hands. Before either of the women realized what was happening, Alex was kissing the older woman in full force. Liz grabbed the ledge of the desk for support.

When Alex pulled away, she dropped her hands before taking two quick steps backwards.

"Liz, I…Christ. I'm…I don't know…"

Donnelly tightened her grip on the edge of the desk until her knuckles were white. She finally released it and stood. Alex could feel her blush growing hotter as she continued to stammer an apology.

"Get out, Alexandra; get out of my office."

*****

"Well, if it isn't Casey Novak."

Casey was hurrying down the courthouse steps; she wanted to ride her bike through the park before grabbing a light lunch. White collar crime was proving to be a bitch on her exercise routine. Of course, she realized that routine had not been normal since her undergraduate days. Most people worked out in the morning or in the evening; she found the only time she could do it was lunchtime and late at night. With the new job a more regular routine would have been more than possible, but she could not get out of her old habits.

There were quite a few people around; so, Casey could have conveniently not heard someone calling her name. But the voice was too distinctly familiar to walk away from.

"Ms. Donnelly." Casey was genuinely surprised; she found herself smoothing her hair instead of unchaining her bike.

Liz raised one of her eyebrows at the sight of Casey's bike. "Planning on taking a lunchtime ride?" Before Casey could answer the older woman took her elbow. "It can wait; you're having lunch with me."

"Uhm, I…I'd…ok."

"Articulate as ever," Liz said as she practically pushed Casey into a waiting cab.

Casey found herself fingering the sleeves of her jacket; she felt like she was twenty again. In fact, that was the last time she had really seen Elizabeth Donnelly other than in passing. When she accepted the job at the DA's office, Casey knew Donnelly was working there. But their branches hardly interacted; it hadn't occurred to her that they might cross paths. It definitely had not occurred to her that she would be pushed into a cab destined for what promised to be an interesting lunch with her old supervisor. Then again, Donnelly was never one for subtleties.

"Well," Liz began as she settled into the cab, "I was surprised when I heard Branch hired your for white collar. You must have grown up a bit since your days as an intern."

Casey blushed. "Ms. Donnelly, I…"

"Casey, you're not twenty anymore; you can call me Liz. For all intents and purposes, I'm your colleague now." She didn't wait for Casey to respond. "Well, what do you think of the job?"

"I can't complain." Casey only hesitated a moment before going on, "They haven't relegated me to the basement file room yet."

"Touché," Liz replied with a slight smile.

*****

Alex was doing an incredibly good job at looking busy; she been at it for over two hours, and it was amazing how much she had not accomplished. The fiasco with Liz had completely unnerved her. They had always been given to getting into spats, sometimes full out battles, but Alex had never felt this undone. She didn't know whether it was Liz's comment about her ego or the impromptu kiss—she knew full well it was the kiss, but deluding herself seemed like the best option.

That is, until Liz sauntered through her doorway. Alex forced herself to remain seated as the older blonde walked in, placed both palms on her desk, and leaned in.

"Do you have any idea how much trouble you could be in right now?" she hissed. "Let me tell you, Alexandra. I could have you charged for sexual harassment, sued, fired, and disbarred."

"Then why haven't you?" Alex knew she should have been instantly sorry, but there was no remorse.

"Probably because I am so damned pissed off at you right now. It seems I've really underestimated your ego. I can see that you don't give a damn how inappropriate your behavior was and the kind of shit it might have gotten you into."

"Do you honestly think I haven't been sitting here thinking about just that." Alex took off her glasses and stood. "I'd prefer not to end up with a reputation for fucking my bosses. And, for God's sake, Liz, don't talk to me about my ego when your's is quite large enough for the both of us."

"Get your coat."

"What?" Alex nearly spit out the word; she had been preparing herself for another round with Donnelly, and the command caught her completely off guard.

"I said, get your coat. We're leaving."

Alex only hesitated a moment before grabbing her coat. She already had one arm in it before she thought better.

"Where are we going?"

"We're going," Liz said, already stepping out of the door, "to deal with this little problem."

"Well, I don't need my coat to walk down to Branch's office." Alex smirked. "Or were you going to take me out back to shoot me?"

"Put on your coat, Alex."

Before Alex had gotten the other sleeve on her arm, Donnelly was ushering her out of her office. When they neared the division receptionist's desk, Liz released her grip on Alex's elbow.

"Goodnight, Madeline."

The young woman did not seem surprised to see Donnelly leaving a bit early, but she gave Alex a questioning look.

"Just leave any messages on my desk, Maddie. I'm exhausted, "Alex explained confidently…she hoped.

It never ceased to amaze Alex how quickly Elizabeth could get a cab. They seemed to miraculously be waiting, empty, for her. Alex stepped in first, as Liz seemed to indicate without really giving any indication at all. Then the older woman slid in next to her. Alex did not recognize the address Liz gave the driver, but she knew enough about New York to guess that it was in a strictly residential part.

"Enough, Liz. Where the hell are we going?"

"Be quiet, Alexandra."

And she was. Alex did not like the notion of Elizabeth Donnelly bossing her around, but her instincts told her that this was a situation in which she should keep her mouth shut. She tried not to let the silence bother her for the rest of the cab ride.

When they pulled up to the building, Alex realized she was about to be taken to Liz's apartment. She knew the place—only because she couldn't quite afford it. And she was not surprised that Liz had one of the top floor lofts. She found herself silently glancing around the spacious entryway as Liz took off her coat.

"Let me take your coat." Alex slipped it off without a word. Liz hung it hastily beside her own as she asked, "Well, what can I get you to drink, Alexandra?"

"I'll," Alex began—she tried to focus on which of the plethora of alcoholic beverages that she would most like to down rapidly at that moment, but she was too preoccupied with trying to figure out why Liz had brought her there to really answer—tentatively, "just…"

Liz rolled her eyes, her impatience quite apparent. She put her hands on her hips before appearing to change her mind and planted them firmly on Alex's shoulders. Alex felt her back hitting the slightly opened door of the coat closet. The sound of the door latching seemed to be incredibly distant as Alex felt Liz grabbing her hip. The kiss Liz was giving her had even more force behind it than the one Alex had delivered. Soon Liz's other hand was firmly entangled in Alex's hair.

The moment was as intense as it was overwhelming. Alex wrapped her arms around Liz as she let herself return the kiss in full force. She felt Liz pulling at her blouse, working it out of her skirt. Alex sighed through the kiss when Liz's fingers finally touched her skin; she shifted her weight into the other woman, settling into this kiss and Liz's arms.

Then Alex realized she was in the middle of a hot, angry, and particularly sloppy kiss with her boss—who was working one of her lacy bra cups away from her nipple. She caught Liz's wrist and pulled away.

"Liz, what the hell is going on?"

"I thought that would be abundantly clear, even to you."

"Liz, what the hell is going on!" Alex found herself just short of yelling this time.

"Don't be obtuse, Alex. You started this, and now you're getting exactly what you wanted."

Alex sighed before wriggling out of Liz's arms. She furrowed her brow, walked into the living room and proceeded to pace. From Liz, she heard a chuckle, and out of the corner of her eye Alex saw her moving towards a sideboard where various liquor bottles were placed. Liz was pouring two drinks; Alex felt a cool glass being shoved into her hand before she could complete another revolution of the little path she was making on the living room rug.

Alex sniffed the dark liquid. Bourbon; it was not her usual choice, but she downed anyway. Its burn pulled her out of her thoughts back into Liz's living room. She palmed the class, feeling the cool crystal warm against her skin. It's intricately cut pattern caught the light at time. She knew it was probably Waterford—of course Liz would have Waterford crystal whiskey glasses.

"You don't seem like the self-sacrificing type, Liz. You wouldn't pull me halfway across town to offer your body up to my ego." She put her glass on a side table. which left her free to clasp her hands behind her back. It was a classic posture she fell into in the courtroom whenever she was dealing with a difficult witness or trying to break a criminal. "I have no intention of waking up tomorrow morning with you claiming this was entirely my doing."

Liz narrowed her eyes. "What makes you think you're going to be here that long?" She took a slow sip from her drink as she began to counter Alex, who had started moving indirectly towards her.

"Oh," Alex began, raising her chin a bit, "I doubt you would have bothered if you didn't think I could," she paused, "keep up."

"This is not a trial, Alexandra. And I am not a jury that is taken with your…charm." She settled one hand on her hip. "You've done quite a bit of talking since you got her, but, as usual, I don't hear you saying much."

Alex kept her hands behind her back as she sauntered towards Liz, closing the distance between them. With as much control as she could muster, she brought her lips to Liz's ear, minding not to actually touch the older woman's skin.

"Perhaps I should be more explicit," she said in a deep, husky whisper. Liz did not even blink, but the change in her breathing was enough for Alex to know what would come next. She found herself gritting her teeth when Liz coolly sipped the last of her bourbon.

"Are you sure your ego can handle this, Alexandra?"

"Worry about your own ego, Liz," Alex hissed before catching Liz's lips with her own.

When Liz grabbed Alex's hips there was the distinct sound of her glass falling to the rug then rolling onto the hardwood floor. Alex did not break the kiss as she pushed Liz's suit jacket to the floor; she began to unbutton he other woman's blouse, not even untucking it before pushing it off of Liz's shoulders.

Liz was holding Alex's hips, pressing the younger woman up against her, as Alex persistently pushed her backwards towards the sofa. When Alex perceived that Liz's thighs had touched the cool leather cushions, she forced her weight against her. But Liz flattened her palms against Alex's hips and thrust her away.

"I'm not twenty-two anymore, Alexandra, and, let me remind me, neither are you. I've got a bed not ten feet away, and I assure you it holds more interest for me than this sofa."

"A bed didn't seem to be your first priority when you were shoving me against the wall."

"Do you honestly think I was going to fuck you right then and there?" She raised her eyebrows before sauntering off to the bedroom.

Alex took a moment to breathe before following; Liz was just turning a bedside lamp on when Alex caught her around the waist.

"You had every intention of fucking me right then and there. You hesitated," she whispered before turning Liz to face her.

Liz shook her finger as she slipped her other arm around Alex's waist. "You're memory is highly selective, Alexandra. You stopped me."

"Yes, and you just admitted what your intentions really were."

Alex ran her hands up Liz's sides to her shoulders; wordlessly, she pushed the other woman onto the bed, perhaps more roughly than she intended.

"Temper, Alexandra." Liz propped herself on her elbows.

Alex began to unbutton her blouse slowly. She had Liz where she wanted her, and she was going to get to her in her own good time. For the first time that evening, Alex felt like she had the upper hand. She slipped her shirt off and carefully laid it on a divan at the foot of the bed.

She glanced nonchalantly at Liz, ready to savor the look on her face. But Alex was greeted with a smirk.

"I do enjoy a good show, but, really, Alex, are you going to fold them too?"

In spite of herself, Alex was overcome by an intense blush that flared on her chest and arms as well as her face. She fumbled with her bra clasp for what seemed like an eternity before it came open; she clumsily let it drop to the floor. Even in her first time making love to a woman, Alex had not felt so exposed.

"I'm waiting, Alexandra."

Alex bit her bottom lip as she slipped her skirt off. Everything she had intended to happen had been turned around in Liz's favor. As she stood clad only in a simple silky thong, Alex was completely conscious of every curve of her body, but she felt as if she had no control over it. Liz patted the empty spot next to her in the bed; the look on her face was completely calm, and Alex would have had to look hard to find the desire in her eyes. The younger blonde found herself gingerly climbing onto the bed.

Liz gently cupped Alex's cheek in her hand and began to kiss her softly; Alex could not help but respond. She moved closer, molding her body against Liz's, taking advantage of the sudden tenderness. She felt Liz push against her—Liz partially on top of her and the soft sheets against her back. The kiss was getting more heated; Alex felt her nipples stiffening in response. Liz caught one of them between her thumb and forefinger. Instead of flicking her thumb across as Alex had expected, the other woman squeezed. Alex moaned into Liz's mouth.

Liz bit Alex's bottom lip softly before she pulled away. Still rolling Alex's nipple tightly between her fingers, she began to kiss along Alex's jaw down to her neck. With her cheek, she forced Alex's chin up and began to nipple at the soft flesh below her ear. Alex began to squirm; she unconsciously rubbed her thighs together until Liz pushed them apart with one of her knees. With a moan, Alex began to tug at Elizabeth's bra. Liz tried to knock Alex's hands away with her elbows, but Alex finally unfastened it—as if by instinct, Liz pulled her arms out of the straps.

Alex tried to touch Liz's equally erect nipples; however, Liz would have none of that. She brought her mouth to Alex's other nipple, roughly circling it with her tongue before biting it. Alex gasped; she ran her hands along the smooth skin of Liz's back, and the feeling of Liz's nipples just touching her stomach made her moan. She could feel her panties getting wetter with each moment. Liz, as if she felt it too, placed her knee firmly against Alex's vagina, making Alex press herself rhythmically into it. Liz lifted her head and stared into Alex's eyes. She gave a rueful smile as she placed her hand on Alex's pelvis to stop her.

"My faith in your ability to control yourself seems to have been misplaced."

For a moment, Alex seemed too stunned to do anything. Then she drew in a deep breath before pursing her lips together.

"Take these off," Liz commanded as she ran one of her fingernails underneath the straps of Alex's thong. "Now."

Before she had time to finish composing herself, Alex felt her breathing grow shallow again. She quickly sat up and slipped the panties off while Liz watching approvingly. There was a moment where Alex sat still when they're eyes met. Liz held her gaze as she firmly pushed Alex back down on her back.

Without taking her eyes from Alex's, Liz slipped her fingers beneath the blonde's neatly trimmed pubic curls. She was not surprised that they were damp, and, despite the wetness lining Alex's lips, Liz slid one finger into Alex's vagina. She gave a satisfied smirk at the deep moan that slipped from Alex's lips.

As Liz moved her finger rhythmically in and out, adding one more, Alex began to lift her pelvis and whimper in response. Liz could see her grabbing at the sheets.

"Is there something you want, Alexandra?"

"What the fuck do you think?" Alex replied through clenched teeth.

Liz cupped one of Alex's breasts in her hand and began putting pressure on the nipple, rolling it tightly between her fingers. "Language, my dear."

Before Alex could gasp, Liz caught her in a kiss. She moved her fingers to Alex's clit and began to circle it lightly. Alex sighed softly when they broke the kiss; she ran her fingers through Liz's hair as she older woman began to lightly flick her nipples with her tongue.

Alex began to moan softly as Liz increased the pressure to her clit. She kept one hand in Liz's hair and began to tease her nipples with the other. Liz twisted so her breast was just out of reach.

"Not yet." She began to round Alex's clit with more force until she could feel the orgasm rising. Alex parted her lips, drawing in short breaths before her body went rigid and a moan rose from her throat.

Before Alex could completely go limp, Liz was kissing her again. Alex could feel her thrusting her fingers firmly and unrelentingly inside of her. She whimpered as Liz stroked her still swollen clit with her thumb, while keeping her fingers moving inside.

"Should I still be worried about my ego?" Liz's whisper was almost a hiss.

Alex wanted to answer; instead, she found herself moaning and twisting as she came again. Alex, eyes half closed, grew still; she was aware of Liz still hovering over her, but Alex assumed they were done. She let out a deep but pleasured groan when Liz began to flick her thumbs over her nipples.

"Liz, please…" Alex gasped as Liz settled herself between her legs.

The older woman gave a satisfied laugh as she began to run her fingernails along Alex's inner thighs. She nestled her cheek into one of Alex's smooth curves and nipped at the outer lips of her vagina. Alex breathing was again jagged, but Liz's hand on her stomach kept her from squirming.

Alex's eyes flew open and she sat up when Liz suddenly stopped. There was a faint tinny sound coming from another room. Liz, now propped on her elbow, smirked.

"Shit!" Alex said as she stumbled out of bed. She grabbed a throw from the divan. As Alex wrapped it around herself she gave Liz more of a questioning look than an apologetic one.

"Go on," Liz said, dismissively waving her hand.

When Alex pulled her coat out of the cloak closet, the phone had stopped ringing. It was incredibly tempting just to slip it back into the pocket without even looking at the caller ID, but she knew better. Olivia's number was on the screen; so, Alex immediately returned the call.

She was just finishing the conversation when Liz appeared, fully dressed, from the bedroom. Alex's tightened the throw around herself when she hung up; she could not decide whether or not to look Liz in the eyes.

"The SVU detectives need me to get a search warrant."

"Now?"

Alex looked at Liz directly and unconsciously straightened her shoulders. "Now."

Liz sauntered over to Alex and pulled away the throw that was covering her. She began to calmly fold it.

"Then I suggest you get dressed." She let Alex get halfway to the bedroom before saying, "Just remember, Alexandra, I'm not done with you yet."

*****

Liz blinked newly fallen snowflakes off of her eyelashes. There was slush on the sidewalk from earlier, but the fresh flurries had started almost the moment she stepped out of the subway station. She had only had to walk in it for a block; otherwise, if it had been snowing after the concert, she would have taken a cab home.

As she got closer to her building, Liz noticed a woman standing near the doors. She looked as if she were trying to make up her mind whether to go in. Liz noted that a fair amount of snowflakes were sticking to the woman's red hair, and she realized who it was.

"Casey, is there some reason that you're standing in the snow outside of my apartment at 11:30 at night?"
Casey started at the voice behind her. "Liz, I was…"
"You look like hell."

"I was going to buzz you, but I…wasn't sure if I'd be disturbing you. It's just been a long day, and…"

Liz shook the gathering snowflakes out of her hair before grabbing Casey's elbow. "Come inside, Casey; there's no need to stand in the snow. After an hour of Avante Gard jazz, I need a drink, and you look like you could use one too."

Casey settled herself onto Liz's cream colored sofa; she could not help feeling a bit uneasy—cream colored furniture did that to her. It was obvious to her that this apartment was not very lived in. She vaguely mused about where Liz actually spent her time.

"What will you have to drink?" Liz asked as she emerged from the kitchen with a bucket of ice to place on her sideboard.

"Just, whatever you're having."

Moments later Liz came sat down beside Casey and handed her a full tumbler. She had a devious smile on her face.

"Gin courtesy of your boss."

"It seems like the sort of gift Branch would give." Casey said as she took a sip. The gin warmed in her throat, but she tried not to make a face as it went down.

"I suppose he might…if it had been a gift. Branch has quite a selection of liquor in his office, you know. I doubt he's missed this bottle."

Casey stopped in mid sip and took a hard swallow. "You…stole it?"

"He wasn't going to drink it. There's no use letting a good bottle of gin go to waste, and this is an incredibly good bottle of gin." Liz watched a moment while Casey struggled to get another sip down. "You never were much of a drinker, Casey. Maybe I should get you some juice."

Casey narrowed her eyes before beginning to down the glass while Liz looked on, eyebrows raised. Liz didn't even crack a smile as Casey began to cough; she simply took the glass before Casey spilled the ice.

"Always have something to prove, don't you?" Liz was at the sideboard again, and it was only a moment before Casey heard a cork pop.

"Really, Liz, I don't think I need anything else."

"Nonsense," Liz said as she came back with a glass of wine so red it looked almost black. "Anyone can see you're a wreck."

"I don't drink reds." Casey fidgeted as she took the glass; the sofa seemed even more immaculate reflected in the dark liquid. Very cautiously, Casey took a sip. "What is this?"

"A reserve Brunnello that I picked up the last time I was in Tuscany. I had a feeling you'd like it."

"It's…I needed it."

Liz leaned back and made herself comfortable. "Now, are you going to tell me why you ended up on my doorstep so late?"

"Yeah." Casey leaned back stiffly, keeping both hands on the glass. "It's…" Casey swallowed. "It's just the last…" she let her voice trail off as she began to stare at the snow swirling outside of the window.

"Are you going somewhere with that thought?"

Casey drank deeply of the wine before focusing back on Liz. "It's SVU; I can't…I just can't do it, Liz."

"Shouldn't this be a conversation between you and your boss?"

"Branch was adamant about not transferring me. He was supportive, but utterly unhelpful."

"Well." Liz paused to take a drink. "Branch was right about not transferring you. Why come here?"

"How did you do it? You worked SVU longer than any of your successors have."

"I'm an unfeeling bitch, Casey; hadn't you heard? Besides, Alex would have outlasted me."

Casey tensed and stared into her glass of wine. "I shouldn't have come."

"Oh, come on, Casey, grow some backbone. There's no way in hell you're going to last in SVU if you don't."

"What the hell do you want me to do, Liz? I'm working, pushing as hard as I can, but my detectives hate me and the entire judicial community is comparing me to a ghost!"

"What did you expect?"

"I..," Casey began, standing up in a fury, "I…need another glass of wine."

Liz watched as Casey walked quickly to the sideboard. Even from across the room she could tell the redhead's hands were shaking as she picked up the bottle. She put her empty glass on the coffee table and strode to Casey's side.

"Christ, Casey, give me that." Liz easily pulled the bottle out of Casey's hand. She stepped between the other woman and the sideboard, making it so that their noses were almost touching. "Go sit down. You'll only spill this perfectly good bottle of wine all over my carpet."

Liz reached for the glass that Casey, as if by instinct, was holding away from her. Their chests touched as Liz's hand made contact with the stemware. She took hold of it and put her hand on Casey's waist, giving the redhead a slight push backwards.

"Go sit down."

"Yeah," Casey said slowly before moving slowly to the sofa.

Liz returned with the full glass, handing it carefully to Casey.

"I'm going to change clothes. This dress wasn't meant for anything but sitting in a concert hall for two hours."

"Looks that way," Casey replied, noticing Liz's attire for the first time.

When Liz returned she was wearing fitted jeans and a white tee. Casey was surprised that she wasn't wearing shoes, and she noticed that Liz sat a little closer to her on the sofa.

"Casey," Liz began as she put her hand on Casey's arm, "you knew better than to come here for me to sugarcoat things. It's tough job, and I'm not going to tell you that it gets any easier. The crimes never get less heinous; the victims never cease to get to you. But you'll find ways to cope."

"I don't know if I can," Casey replied softly.

"You don't have a choice…not if you want to survive the job. You're not Alex Cabot either, and you never will be. So just get that out of your head. You have your own style, Casey, and I think it will work just fine."

Casey took another sip of the wine; she was beginning to feel a little too warm and little less conscientious about the cream colored sofa.

"I don't know, Liz."

Donnelly shifted, taking the glass of wine out of Casey's hand. "Now you can go home and sleep on it, or we can find something more…interesting to discuss."

Casey might have fidgeted, but she was too lethargic. Even so, she couldn't really believe Liz was suggesting what she thought she was suggesting.

"Liz, are…"

"Do I have to keep reminding you that you are no longer my intern?"

"No." Casey was already blushed from the wine, but felt herself flushing darker. "Thank God."

Liz smiled. "You know, Casey, what you really want hasn't changed. So, what are you going to do about it?"

Casey sat her glass firmly on the coffee table. She shifted towards Liz, before drawing in her breath. Liz was right—Casey had wanted her ever since she was a twenty year-old undergrad student. But, only for a moment, she wondered if, without the wine, she would be even contemplating what she was about to do.

When she was close enough to feel the warmth of Liz's skin, Casey took a shallow breath before kissing her softly. She was going to pull away, either from shock or fear, but Liz cupped her hand behind Casey's head, weaving her fingers through her hair, to hold her in the kiss. Casey had no choice but to lean into Liz, but she found herself off balance enough to fall into the blonde's arms.

She was wrapping her arms around Liz, who had already steadied herself against the back of the sofa. Casey let herself give into Liz's deepening of the kiss, but she was finally able to pull away.

"Liz…" Casey began, gasping as the blonde began to kiss her jaw down to her neck. "shouldn't we…think about…this?"

Without missing a beat, Liz looked into the other woman's eyes. She wrapped her arms around her, saying, "Shut up, Casey," before kissing her again. Liz felt Casey tense as she reached for the buttons of her suit jacket.

"It's only your jacket," Liz said as she pushed it off of Casey's shoulders. "You don't need courtroom attire here, and I'm not really undressing you yet. Relax."

Casey's muscles went rigid. She pushed herself off of Liz and grabbed her jacket as she got up to walk away. Looking as if she were going to shed tears of frustration, Casey stopped. Liz stretched out across the sofa.

"Casey," she began steadily, though, almost, tenderly, "calm down. Look at me, Casey; take a deep breath and try to calm down." That was enough to make the redhead look into Liz's eyes and take a deep breath.

"Good." Liz patted the sofa. Casey came forward tentatively and sat. She took another deep breath before looking at Liz, who was stretched out behind her.

"Give me this." Liz took the jacket out of Casey's hands, smoothing it where Casey had been twisting the fabric. She tossed it onto the back of the sofa. "Listen to me, Casey, you have to stop being too afraid to take what you want." She began to rub the younger woman's lower back reassuringly. "I'm right here…not going anywhere. But you have to make up your mind."

Casey leaned down and began to kiss Liz softly. She found herself stretching on top of the blonde and wanting to feel the skin under her clothes. Liz's shirt fitted loosely; so, Casey slipped her hands underneath it, running them along Liz's sides. She sighed contentedly at the warmth of Liz's skin. After a moment, she broke this kiss and laid her head on the blonde's chest chest.

"Really, Casey," Liz said as she ran her fingers through Casey's hair, "I wouldn't have taken you for a virgin."

Casey propped up on her elbow. "Jesus, Liz, I should have known you'd be impatient."

"Get used to it; I've been far too patient with you already," Liz nearly growled before pulling Casey back down and kissing her feverishly. She quickly unbuttoned Casey's shirt, not fumbling once, and pushed it open—forcing Casey out of it before she had time to react. "It's past time for us to move into the bedroom."

With a little push from Liz, Casey got up awkwardly. She was surprised when Liz took her by the hand, leading her into the bedroom.

When Casey woke, she was nestled against Liz's back. She was trying to untangle herself from the sheets when Liz stirred. The blond rolled over and wrapped her arms around Casey, pulling her close. Casey sighed sleepily and snuggled closer to Liz until she had nestled her nose underneath Liz's chin.

"You know," Liz murmured, eyes closed and lips barely moving, "Alex never got to spend the night."

*****

Casey dropped her coat, scarf, and briefcase as soon as she stepped in Liz's door. Liz hadn't made dinner reservation; so, that was a pretty good indication that she was going to be cooking. Liz had her back to the door and didn't turn around when Casey ran into the kitchen. Without thinking about what the blonde might be doing, Casey wrapped her arms around her and put her chin on her shoulder.

"What's for dinner?" she asked before happily kissed Liz on the cheek. Liz didn't acknowledge the affection; she merely indicated an open cookbook with a nod of her head.

Casey moved to the counter and glanced at the recipe. She raised her eyebrows before sliding into a sitting position on the counter.

"I won the Blake case. Indicted on all counts." She grabbed one of the carrots that Liz hadn't chopped yet. "Why don't we just throw these into a salad and call it a night?"

Liz put down the knife and swiped the carrot from Casey's hand before she had even gotten it past her lips.

"Go put your coat away, Casey."

The redhead took a deep breath, as if she were going to say something, only to exhale in a sigh. She slid off of the counter to put her things away, returning with her arms crossed and her face flushed with anger.

"Liz, I'm not a little girl," she said as she grabbed the last whole carrot and took a triumphant bite.

Donnelly continued chopping. "Then perhaps you shouldn't act like one."

Casey rolled her eyes and threw the carrot on the counter. She shook her head as she leaned against the fridge door.

"Really, Casey." Liz looked up, eyebrows raised.

Pushing off the refrigerator door, Casey headed for the kitchen door.

"Where are you going?"

Casey stopped. "To change. Jesus, Liz, I think I can be trusted to pick out my own clothes."

"Sometimes I wonder," Liz muttered.

"Don't you know when to stop?"

Liz waited till Casey was half way to the bedroom before yelling. "You're being petulant, Casey."

"And so what if I am," Casey stopped to yell back. "We can't all be as put together as you seem to be."

When Casey returned she was wearing sweats and a well worn tank top. She was visibly flushed across her chest as well as her cheeks, and she was clenching her jaw in anger. Liz was in the process of putting the carrots into a pot; she did not acknowledge the younger woman.

"Is this acceptable, or was I supposed to come back in dinner attire?"

"Since you insist on acting this way, I'm going to venture to ask what the hell is wrong with you tonight."

Casey spotted a bottle of wine that Liz had opened to breathe. She pulled a glass down from the drying rack and poured.

"Oh for Christ's sake, figure it out yourself," she said before retiring to the living room and throwing herself onto the sofa.

Moment later, Liz emerged from the kitchen. She seemed to loom over the sofa as she put her hands on her hips.

"What do you want?" Liz asked. Casey took a sip of the wine before placing it on the table and pushing it away. If she heard Liz, she did not indicate it as she stared out of the window. "Casey, are you listening to me?" This made Casey turn; Liz expected to see the hurt she found in the redhead's eyes, but she was surprised by the resolution that mixed with it.

Casey stood slowly, definitively. She turned towards the bedroom without a word. All she needed was a pair of shoes, her briefcase, and her coat. Knowing Liz, the rest of her things would be delivered to her apartment within twenty-four hours.

"Casey, you're making a mistake." Liz crossed her arms as she saw Casey shaking her head.