AN: I can't remember the last time I wrote an SVU fanfic. All I can say is that it was too long ago. As always, I hope you enjoy.

I wait in hesitation, listening to the classical music play around me. I adjust my clothing and grip the item in my hands tighter. Only a few more moments, now, and it will begin. The double doors are opening into the bright lighting. I step out, hearing my heels click against the tiled floors, and inhale the scene around me. The hallway's fluorescent lighting gives off a dull glow. The elevator's doors shut with a metallic clunk. This is home, sweet home.

The dim smile on my face begins to grow smaller and smaller as I near my door. The key is the same as it has been for the past fifteen years, as has the doorknob and the creaking sound the floorboards makes as I sink into my apartment.

The same lonely feeling rushes upon me as my eyes dart around the interior. It feels foreign and familiar at the same time. I'm used to the hustle and bustle of the precinct, but here, noise is nonexistent. Some would revel in the thick silence. I am not one of these people.

Quickly, I escape over to the window and throw it open, allowing the city's smells to invade the privacy of my apartment. I close my eyes and imagine myself walking along the streets, being with other people, talking and laughing and sipping late-night coffee. Knowing I shouldn't fantasize about having a life outside of work, I shut the window as quickly as I opened it and back away slowly.

Time is standing still inside my apartment. I look around and all I can think of is the town of Pripyat, forever wallowing in desolation, the buildings and roads rotting away, allowing the contaminated soil to claim its rightful throne against humanity. Behind the clean surfaces and vacuumed carpets, my apartment resembles the same wasteland. It is psychological, though, instead of physical. The loneliness is the toxic waste, destroying the place I once called home. My fingers flick on the lights- all of them- to try and bring some of this life back. I click the television on and find a channel that will take my attention off my surroundings.

The refrigerator is empty, as always, aside from a few beers and a carry-out container of Chinese. I crack open a bottle and drain it at the counter, tipping my head back to suck out every last drop I can.

Loneliness heeds no warning. Unlike a hurricane, you can't see it coming on the horizon. You can't feel the air change; you can't hear the gale-force winds rushing at you. Loneliness is a silent killer, seeping into the fibers and grains of the carpet and walls, until it consumes the owner. It drags me to the couch and I lifelessly collapse onto the cushions.

Outside, the cars and citizens are flying and buzzing at such a late hour. I sit on my couch and drink myself until my eyelids start to block my sight of the television screen. Not that I'm paying attention to Leno, anyway, but they are becoming a nuisance.

I contemplate for a good three minutes about whether I should actually rise and go to bed or just spend another uncomfortable night on the couch. Three minutes later, I reach past a stack of old magazines to cover myself with a warm blanket. My cold hands snuggle deeper into the folds of fleece, my body molds itself against the cushions, desperate for warmth.

As Leno cracks another lame joke, I desperately wish there was someone I could call. Just to hear another person's voice that isn't coming through my television's speakers. A real human being with real thoughts and feelings and a true urge to speak to me. It is times like this I would take another swig, to shut the voices up that ramble on inside of my head.

Your life isn't that bad, I usually try to stress at this time of night, when the loneliness is winning the battle. You have a paying job; you're not out on the street. You have friends. Co-workers, I correct myself. Friends began to slowly disappear once I delved into my career. It's hard to bond with a fifth grade teacher or a veterinarian when all you can talk about is child molesters and first-degree murder cases. Acquaintances begin to drift off as the weekday calls turn into a once per month ordeal. Dates with available men simmer down as they realize that women do not age like fine wine, especially women in the police force.

I whimper, wanting to reach for the bottle so I can shut myself up, and give in. The skeletons rise out of the condensation that's been building around the glass. I release them one by one, sip by sip, and as I do so, they mold with the loneliness. Light slowly begins to filter in through the closed curtains, illuminating the room I've been wasting away in.

Light means another day outside. Light means people, things to do, things to be busy with until I have to come home to Pripyat.

The Captain calls me as I'm stepping out of the shower, saying that he's sorry, but it will probably be a late night tonight. He can't smell the last flavors of alcohol on my breath and he can't see the puffiness of my red eyes, a clear signal of all I've been doing until the early hours of the morning. He tells me I shouldn't plan on going home. Tonight, I will be safe.

\/

I wait in hesitation, listening to the classical music play around me. I adjust my clothing and grip the item in my hands tighter. Only a few more moments, now, and it will begin. The double doors are opening into the bright lighting. I step out, hearing my heels click against the tiled floors, and inhale the scene around me. The hallway's fluorescent lighting gives off a dull glow. The elevator's doors shut with a metallic clunk. This is home, sweet home.

A smile spreads across my face. This is civilization, not an empty house.

AN: Pripyat is a town in the Ukraine which was destroyed by the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster.