Author:  J Stravinski / strav
Title:  Breadcrumbs
Fandom:  Law & Order: SVU
Rating:  G

Summary:  Casey's first days with the Special Victims Unit.
Author's Notes:  Set during season five's Serendipity.  Thanx to sangerin for the beta and kindly comments.  For thenewhope.
Disclaimer:  I don't own anyone who works for the Special Victims Unit. Their creators are much more talented.

First my left foot
Then my right behind the other
Breadcrumbs lost under the snow
Mother --Tori Amos

When Casey walks into Newlands' home she's expecting it to be like every other search she's supervised.  She's got the warrant and the standing to seek authorisation for anything new that springs up; she knows what documents are admissable and which are necessary.

But this isn't white collar crime, their stares point out, and it isn't documents they're after.  This is sex crimes, and those two detectives have done this every day for more years than she could guess.

She swallows the sudden hit of anxiety that threatens to overwhelm her and follows through on her demands to process all relevant areas, but in that moment Casey realises this is a new game she's playing, and she knows none of the rules.

***** ***** *****

A line-up, she decides.  A line-up makes sense.  She's lost in the world of human evidence and he-said-she-said crime, so when a chance for solid evidence comes, she jumps at it.  Something familiar to which she can cling, and of course an eight year old wouldn't forget the man who raped her only two months earlier - that would stay with you for life, right?

Two hours later and the girl's got ringlets and a face of pure innocence, but her eyes are scared.  Casey looks at the six men who all bear some resemblance to the investment banker she busted in her last case before SVU, and suddenly Casey can't even remember what it's like to be eight, but she suspects that all middle-aged white men look much the same, especially ones who look like corrupt investment bankers.

The girl shakes her head, but Casey can feel Olivia's disapproving stare and she thinks if this girl can come through for her now she might be ok.

The girl picks number two, and Casey feels like she raped her herself.

***** ***** *****

Olivia doesn't have answers.  Olivia has warm eyes and a gentle voice and a history of exes of undisclosed gender, but Olivia can't tell her why she's doing this, or whether she'll ever be able to sleep again.

She doesn't remember being scared at the start of all this.  She's a good lawyer -  she's won cases and won them well; this was meant to be just another step up that ladder.

She's a good lawyer, but she'd never seen Human victims.  Now she has, and the only people who know how to help her find her way through this mess are the people who won't even look at her.  She doesn't care about the others but she wants Olivia's approval, and right now, she needs Olivia's help.

Olivia walks out the door and the only thing Casey's learnt for certain is that it doesn't get any easier.

***** ***** *****

Another house, another search, another duel with the two SVU detectives.  She's not here to make sure they can do it, she's here to see if she can, and she tells him so.  It's her she wants to tell it to, but when Olivia asks Elliot why she's here, he just shrugs.

Last night has changed nothing, and Casey decides that if she waits for Olivia's approval to guide her home she'll be waiting here forever.  She realises, perhaps for the first time, that she really is going to have to do this alone, and so she sweeps her eyes around the room, hoping for something, anything, to help her get her bearings.  She finds it in the form of evidence - real evidence, this time, of where their missing girl is.

The detectives give her nothing but to her it's something.  It's a foot hold, tiny though it may be, into driving this case - into not letting it drive her.

***** ***** *****

Casey thinks she's worked out Rule 1 - it's the detectives' jobs to do the hands-on stuff, the ADAs' to prance around the courtroom.  It's their rules in their game and these two are good at what they do, but she still has to deal with the victims, and so she follows them down to the warfs.

Elliot's holding the guy's head under water and Casey wants to be horrified at the breaking of the boundaries of legal interrogation, but instead she can't get the eyes of the little girl with ringlets out of her head.  "What if," she's thinking, and she stares at the cooler for what feels like hours.

Olivia runs towards her as she cradles the girl in her arms and Casey wants to cry.  She thinks she's starting to figure this out, and in a nod from Olivia she gets the approval she thought she needed.  But the rules in this game are very different, and she's not so sure she likes them.

The law should be about paper trails of evidence, not little girls in coolers and haunted eyes that'll have to go up on a witness stand.

Now that she's found her footing, Casey just wants to retreat back to higher ground.

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