DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are
property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: See what happens when someone points out something that you'd never seen! This whole Alex/Olivia thing? Never saw it. Now I can't un-see it. Now I see it all. The. Time. As for the story itself, it needs more, I think, but this is what I got.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
I know a thing or two about addictions. When you do the job I do, you see it every day. Pick up any file that's piled on my desk and take a look. I guarantee one out of five is the fallout of an addiction.
Some compulsions are easier to identify than others; you can hold them in your hand and say, "Yep, right here is your problem". Alcohol, marijuana, smack, coke, E. If you can smoke it, drink it, inhale it, ingest it or inject it, I've seen it. I've seen people kill for it and because of it and die from it. I've seen people give up their mother's car for "just one more, just one more". Of course, there's really no such thing, it's "just one more" until the next craving hits and then it starts all over again. The only way to come out of it besides in a body bag is to deny yourself the addiction. Cut yourself off. Take it away. But a lot of people either can't do it or don't want to do it. For some people it's easier to deal with the devastation so long as they get the high that goes along with it. Fighting it is just too damn hard.
Then there are other addictions that aren't that easy to see. Addicted to the thrill, the power, the control. Working in sex crimes, I see this a lot, probably more than most people would think. Rape, for example, is about control. So is pedophilia. For a lot of sexual predators, it's the thrill that gets them off long before the actual event. The real danger with these addictions is that it rarely does any damage to the addicted; the immediate damage is done to the people around them. The other thing is, line up ten people and I could pick out the crack head in a heartbeat. But you never quite know who the molester is. After all these years on the squad, after hundreds of cases and thousands of victims, I still can't always pick 'em out.
Though I guess I should be thankful we don't all have signs over our heads, because as much as it would make my job a hell of a lot easier, I'm not sure I'd want everyone within 20/20 range to read my signs. Scratch that I know I sure as hell wouldn't want that.
Yeah, I've got my addictions. Nothing off the deep end as pedophilia, thank Christ, and my fix doesn't rely on any kind of substance. Hell, I don't even smoke. Okay, so I smoked a bit when I was a teen. Took my allowance and bought cigarettes instead of make-up. Stood outside old man Dover's store with a handful of my guy friends and looked tough, and if anyone doubted it, we showed 'em otherwise. I remember that first drag of Mickey McDougall's rollie. I'm sure I went green when my healthy lungs rejected the intrusion of something so godawfully unhealthy. But I did it anyway and pretended I wasn't light-headed and nauseous. This went on until I joined the academy and couldn't run a mile without dying. I cut myself off from the cigarettes and took them away. Was bitchy as all hell for about a month and drove my roommate nuts, but I know I had it lucky compared to the DTs of these other addictions.
And yeah, I drink a little bit too, but I have a very wary relationship with the bottle. I see it for what it is and sometimes I appreciate it for what it can do, but I've also seen first hand the long-term ramifications it can inflict, so we dance a very guarded dance, alcohol and me.
No, my most damaging addiction is something well hidden. You wouldn't be able to pick me out of a line up. My compulsion is a long cool glass of water poured into a 5'8" frame, which is now sitting on the edge of my desk in a short gray skirt and matching jacket that covers a pale blue silk blouse. Or I'm imagining it's silk my task today is to prevent myself from staring. See, I can't cut myself off or take the want away; we work together and there's not much I can do except to announce my resignation and have Elliot keel over from a heart attack and Munch claim I've been replaced by a clone. So I give myself these little goals every time you show up in our office. If I can get through the entire visit by not doing whatever it is I've promised myself I wouldn't do, I reward myself with an extra Krispy Kreme. Yeah, ask me how that's working out for me. I think I've lost weight since I started this "program". Just as well, I guess. I don't need to replace one addiction with another, let alone one that involves doughnuts.
But I'm doing well today and I can almost taste the chocolate sprinkle that's waiting for me, when you decide to take that moment to uncross your legs and re-cross them, this time with your left knee over your right, which draws the hem of your skirt up even further. My eyes immediately shift to the left, taking measure of the exposed thigh. Technically, that's a glance and not really staring. Technically. The phantom taste of chocolate sprinkles abandons my taste buds. Shit.
What is it about you? What is it that sets my heart racing the second I hear the familiar cadence of your heels as you walk down the hallway towards the squad room? Yes, you're beautiful; stunning, really, and my fingertips burn and my palms itch at the very thought of running through your hair, of sliding up that long expanse of leg. But there's something more. Much more. It's in your eyes when you look at me. I go all stupid because I know I know that at that moment, you can see right through me, a gentle prodding past the tough shell, past the cop persona. And you don't turn away. It's as if for the first time, someone sees me for who I am, and I find that frightening and exciting and exhilarating all at the same time. And for the first time, I am the person who has to turn away, the tightness in my chest so painful that I can feel tears prick behind my eyes. This craving, this want, this need steals my breath and yet like any good junkie, I gladly sacrifice anything, even my breath, for "just one more". A glimpse of you is like a taste; an aching sample of the possibilities just out of reach.
I just about jump out of my skin when I feel your hand on my shoulder. You draw back quickly, an echo to my surprise, but after a steadying breath, it returns to my shoulder again.
"Hmm?" is the best I can get out, not even bothering to try and speak.
"Olivia?" When I don't respond, you pull out the trump card. "Liv?"
Oh, God, why did you have to call me that? I take a deep breath, plaster a smile on my face and look up. "Yeah?"
"I've been talking about the Owen case for the last five minutes and when I asked you if I should go to the moon and get some cheese, you gave me the exact same nod."
I can't help but laugh. "Sorry. I'm just " What? 'Addicted to you' doesn't seem like the best response.
You, as usual, come to my rescue. "Are you ill?" The hand that was still laid gently on my shoulder now moves up to touch my cheek, then my forehead. "You are rather hot. Are you coming down with something?"
I shake my head, not only as a response, but to feel your hand brush across my forehead again. God, I'm pathetic. "No, I just need " Great. Another open-ended sentence that my crazy mind is dying to complete, with words that definitely need to be left in my head.
"What do you need, Liv?"
My eyes jerk up. That's twice you've called me Liv. I love it and want to die all at the same time. Your hand drops from my forehead and your fingers curl under my chin. I see you take a quick look around the office and I wonder what you're up to. The brush of your thumb pad along my bottom lip is my answer. Did that startled moan just come from me?
"I know what you need," you declare softly, as if it's just come to you. How big can my eyes be right now, I wonder. I'm sure you must notice, because the grin on your face is unmistakable. "You need some tiramisu."
"Tiramisu?" I repeat, hoping to hell that my voice sounded just as clear to you as it did to me.
"Oh yeah," you all but purr. "Mascarpone cream cheese, espresso "
"Yeah, I know what tiramisu is, Alex."
"It's my secret addiction." Movements in the office catch your peripheral vision and you take your hand from my chin and place it on your lap. "I can't help myself. You know the feeling?"
And just as quickly as the confidence in my voice returned, it goes again. I cough, just to test out my vocal chords and kill for time. I'm frantically thinking back to the last hour. I've never, ever had a drink during work, but could it be possible that I had one today at lunch and just forgot? Or is it more likely that I've just lost my mind, because now I'm thinking all kinds of things. There's something in your eyes that I can't quite pin down, but I know I've never seen it before, and I should know I've stared into those eyes enough times. You seem to take my silence as encouragement to calmly carry on.
"I had some take-out from DiSanto's last night and brought dessert home. Why don't I bring you home?"
I can't even muster enough air in my throat to make a noise, which is okay, because you're not done yet. "It'll make you feel better, I promise."
Okay, there is no second-guessing that one. The tightness in my chest remains from your proximity, but now it's a different kind of feeling. My smile isn't as strong as I'd like it to be, but I think I fake enough confidence to say, "Just what I need, another addiction."
"Everybody needs one, Detective." I'd be convinced of the professionalism in your voice if you didn't have that smirk on your face. "Besides," you say, leaning in and whispering conspiratorially, "what I'm offering you has to be a hundred times better than those doughnuts."
A good addiction. In my line of work, there's no such thing. But as I watch you walk away, your head up and the smirk still teasing over your lips, I'm willing to prove myself wrong.
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