DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters, but oh, if I did...
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
After the Rain
She stood there, gun trembling in her hands, as she tried to reason with him. "Please, Mr. Plummer," she said, "don't think I won't."
"I'm counting on it, Detective." He shoved his captive to her knees and looked at Olivia as he whispered, "There are no bullets in my gun." He tightened his fingers around the trigger as he put the gun to the hostage's head.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
She watched the bullets as they floated toward their target, slamming him backwards, staining the walls with his blood. She stared at the S.W.A.T. officer when he held up the perp's gun and said, "It wasn't loaded." Suddenly, Eric Plummer looked up at her, his dead eyes grinning as he said, "How does it feel, Detective Benson?"
BAM! BAM! BAM!
Olivia woke with a start; her heart pounding as she slowly realized she had been dreaming again. She sat up from the couch and looked around, forcing herself into consciousness, when she heard the knocking at her door.
Assuming that Elliot was making another attempt at resolving their differences, Olivia ignored her unwanted visitor. When he came to her door earlier that day, she had been sitting there, in the dark, watching the storm as it battered the city. After she heard him walk away, she had turned off her phone and returned to her vigil until fatigue quietly overpowered her.
She looked at her watch. It was almost midnight and the rain was still falling. She watched the lightning as it illuminated the night sky, and jumped slightly when she heard the knock again.
"Olivia, it's me. Please let me in."
She turned toward the door, almost rising out of her seat. Then she heard those words in her head again, and she sat back down.
How many drinks did you have?
I wasn't drunk!
Olivia ran her hand through her hair and sighed. Alex was her friend and there had been many times before when the boundaries between their work relationship and their friendship had been blurred. Olivia once thought that there was a possibility of something beyond friendship between the two, but not now. Not after this morning. She settled back in the couch and fixed her eyes on the window.
'Was it only this morning?' Alex thought, as she knocked louder on the door, refusing to be dissuaded from her mission. She and Olivia had argued. It hadn't been the first time and it surely wouldn't be the last, but this time Alex knew she had hurt the detective. The words had no sooner left her mouth than she saw the pain pooling in her friend's eyes, yet she said nothing as Olivia stormed out of her office.
"Olivia, please. Don't make me sit out here all night. I forgot my umbrella and I'm drenched." Alex pleaded as she rested her palm against the apartment door. She was not above playing on Olivia's sympathetic nature if it meant a chance to talk with the woman, to explain.
When there was no reply, Alex slowly slid down the doorframe and leaned against the barrier. "Olivia," she began softly, "I'm not leaving until I see you."
Olivia let out a deep sigh as she looked toward the entryway. Alex Cabot was the most stubborn person she had ever known. She also knew that unlike Elliot, who had a family waiting at home, Alex had no one. Not since Abbie left. The only way Olivia would get any peace tonight would be to let the woman in.
She walked to the door and undid the chain and deadbolt. Slowly opening the door, Olivia looked down and saw Alex sitting on the floor, soaked to the skin. She offered her hand, helping the blonde to her feet and looking directly into ice blue eyes.
"I don't want you here, Alex," she said, barely keeping the sting from her tone.
"Could I at least borrow a towel, Detective? I had to park two blocks away."
Olivia scratched her head as she moved aside and let her uninvited guest in. She went to the linen closet and grabbed a couple of towels, tossing them to Alex before stepping into her bedroom. Returning with a pair of sweats, Olivia suggested that Alex change and hang her wet clothes in the shower to dry.
Alex walked into the bathroom while Olivia entered the kitchen and turned on the burner under the kettle. She pulled down two mugs, a box of tea bags, and a bottle of bourbon. The tea was ready by the time Alex had changed and Olivia held a mug out to her as she walked over to the couch.
Alex smiled gratefully as she accepted the drink, one taste telling her that Olivia had added their secret ingredient. She allowed the drink to seep through her body, warming her up, sip by sip. Alex sat down on the opposite end of the couch and began to speak.
"You turned off your phone."
There was no response.
"I was worried."
Olivia looked at Alex with disbelief. "You were worried? About me? You didn't seem to be worried about me this morning. Just your win/loss record."
"That's not true ---," Alex started before Olivia interrupted her.
"Really, Counselor? I killed a man today, Alex. We could have had Plummer this morning. Alive. If you ---' Olivia struggled as her throat tightened with emotion, '--if you would have just believed me."
"Olivia, I have never doubted the veracity of any information you have brought me."
Angry tears spilled from her eyes as Olivia questioned, "Then why did you ask me if I was drunk?"
Alex focused on the mug in her hand, carefully weighing her next words. "I asked you that question because of this case's history. In order to successfully prosecute Eric Plummer, I needed to make damn sure that there was absolutely nothing that could come back later and bite us in the ass. A primary detective claiming to see the suspect outside of a bar, in which she had been drinking, would have left teeth marks. Any prosecutor would have asked you that, Olivia."
"But you're not just any old prosecutor, are you Alex? You're supposed to be my friend! This man was stalking me! Then I find out that my so-called partner was having me followed. So what do I do? I go to the only other person I thought would listen to me, and you weren't there for me, Alex. You just weren't there."
Seeing the anguish on the brunette's face, Alex set her mug down and moved closer to Olivia. She wrapped her arms around her friend, pulling her close as she softly whispered, "I can't apologize for doing my job Olivia, but I am so sorry that I hurt you. That is the last thing I would ever want. I put all my faith in your abilities, as a cop and a friend. Please, don't ever think otherwise. You mean too much to me, Olivia Benson."
She pulled back from the embrace and saw the tears streaming down Olivia's face. Fighting to maintain her own composure, Alex reached up to wipe them away only to feel Olivia's hand stop hers.
"Just go, Alex," Olivia said, her voice hoarse with emotion. "Go home."
Alex reached for the older woman and held her as tears fell down her own cheek. She struggled to keep the sob from her wavering voice, as she quietly answered, "I can't do that Olivia."
An hour had passed since the tears stopped flowing. Olivia had stretched out on the couch and was using Alex's lap as a pillow. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the rain as it pinged against the windows, trying to vanquish the images of Plummer's victims from her mind.
"It's my fault they're dead," she said, breaking the silence.
Alex let out a small sigh as she casually ran her fingers through short brunette hair. "You are not responsible for the person Eric Plummer became, Olivia."
"Tell that to the families of the four people he killed, Alex," Olivia said, barely able to contain her passion. "Explain to them that their loved ones died because I put an innocent man in prison. Eric Plummer was the ultimate victim. I made sure of that."
"Olivia, you didn't put him in prison. Eyewitness testimony and a jury of his peers put him there," Alex stated calmly. "Regardless of what you may think, Eric Plummer killed himself. He just used you as his weapon. He wasn't the victim here. You were. Why do you think Elliot ordered a protective detail?"
Olivia sat up immediately when she heard her partner's name. "He didn't trust me, that's why. A protective detail is one thing, Alex. Not telling me, though- that's unforgivable."
Alex watched as a dark storm began to brew behind sable eyes. "How long are you planning to punish him for that?"
"As long as I want to," Olivia raged as she watched Alex roll her eyes. "What the hell am I supposed to do? If my partner doesn't have confidence in me to do my job, then fine! We can't work together. End of story, Alex!"
"You don't really believe that, do you Olivia?"
In a fit of exasperation, Olivia threw herself back into the couch. "Then why did he have me tailed? Why couldn't he tell me?"
Alex reached for Olivia's hand and caressed it softly with her thumb as she tried to calm the detective down. "From what I understand, both Elliot and Cragen tried to persuade you to take the protection."
"And I told them that I wasn't going to become Plummer's victim."
"But you did anyway, didn't you, Olivia? You became his final victim. You're just too goddamned stubborn to realize it. Eric Plummer got into your head and he played you."
Alex watched Olivia's eyes as she tried to gauge how her words mere being received.
"Elliot saw this happening and he did what he felt he needed to do to protect you. You are family to him, to all of them. The bottom line is that as much as he respects you, Olivia, Elliot Stabler knows you. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He was worried" Alex felt the single tear fall down her cheek as she saw the fury in Olivia's eyes slowly subside. She drew the other woman into her arms and whispered, "I was worried."
Olivia, her frustration dampened by the honesty in Alex's words, returned the embrace and softly said, "I know Alex, and I'm sorry." She continued to hold Alex, thankful for the first time that night that she had opened her door.
Releasing her hold on the older woman, Alex sat back as Olivia stretched out on the couch, reclaiming the lap that had once been her pillow. She rubbed Olivia's back in a series of small circles and asked, "Feel better?"
Olivia looked up at Alex as she let out a bitter chuckle. "I don't think I'll ever really feel better. Every time I close my eyes, I see his face. His face, and the faces of the people he killed."
"You're going to see someone, right?"
"Brass is making me, but I don't think it will help."
"Give it a chance, Olivia. You can also talk to me. You know that, right?"
Olivia yawned as she answered, "I know, Alex."
"And you'll talk to Elliot?"
"I'm still pissed! He should have known he could come to me. I wouldn't have treated him like that. But, I'll think about it, okay?"
Alex nodded her head as she played with Olivia's hair. She hoped the two detectives would be able to work this out. They were too good together to let this come between them.
Olivia glanced at her watch and realized it was almost 3:00am. She looked up at Alex and said, "God it's so late. You probably need to go. Do you have court this morning?"
Alex smiled as she pulled a blanket off the back of the couch and covered the brunette. "I cleared my calendar. Let me stay with you tonight, okay? Let someone take care of you for a change."
Olivia didn't have the emotional strength to argue and simply nodded her head in agreement as she said, "I'm just so damn tired, Alex."
"I know, sweetie, I know," Alex replied as she slowly rubbed Olivia's arm. She looked at the exhausted face lying in her lap and softly asked, "Liv? Are we okay?"
Olivia looked up into eyes grayed over with emotion and answered, "Yeah, we're okay." She closed her eyes and fell into a welcome sea of slumber.
Alex laid her hand across Olivia's chest, matching her breathing pattern to the brunette's and resting her head on the back of the couch. She was asleep within minutes.
Olivia felt the warmth of sunlight on her face as she awoke. She shivered slightly as she opened her eyes to find herself on the living room floor, with a blonde head resting on her chest. A slow feeling of shock began to overtake her senses as she noticed the couch cushions and tousled blankets scattered around her. The last thing she remembered was closing her eyes while talking to Alex.
"Oh shit! Alex!" she unintentionally groaned aloud as possible scenarios began running through her mind. Her musings were interrupted as a throaty laugh reverberated against her chest.
"I assure you, Detective, I was a perfect gentleman." Alex grinned as she raised her head and looked into Olivia's questioning eyes. "The next time, however," she added as she leaned over and laid a gentle kiss on the brunette's forehead, "you may not be so lucky." She looked at Olivia and explained, "You had a nightmare a few hours ago. How are you feeling now?"
Olivia looked at the ceiling and answered plainly, "I'm fine, Alex."
Alex sat up and looked at Olivia. There were dark circles under her eyes, but the hint of a smile had made its way to the detective's mouth. It was a start. She turned her attention to the sunlight streaming in through the nearby window.
"The rain stopped," she said as she pulled the blanket tighter around her body.
Olivia got up from the floor and sat next to the younger woman. She wrenched a corner of the blanket away from Alex, wrapping it around her own shoulders. "Never saw you as a blanket hog, Counselor."
Alex smirked as she said, "That is the one downfall of sleeping with Alex Cabot, Detective."
"There's only one?" Olivia teased back. She tried not to think about the heat the younger woman emitted as they sat together under the blanket.
Tossing a nearby cushion at the detective, Alex returned her focus to the sunshine. She laid her head on Olivia's shoulder and quietly asked, "Will this always be a problem between us?"
"What? You stealing the blankets?" Olivia joked as she snaked her arm around Alex's waist.
"Seriously, Benson. Will differences at our jobs always interfere with our relation-- with our friendship?"
"I believe there will be times when we have opposing views on how a case is progressing," Olivia answered. "But, as long as we can agree to disagree, we should be okay."
"Yeah, I think we can do that," Alex said as she turned inside the blanket to face Olivia.
Olivia looked down and reached for Alex's hand, caressing it gently with her own. She raised her eyes to Alex's face and softly said, "Thanks for being here for me last night, Alex. It really means a lot to me."
"You mean a lot to me, Olivia Benson," Alex responded.
Their eyes met, locked in a bond filled with both hesitation and hope for what could be, silently daring the other to make the next move. Alex broke the gaze as she leaned forward, reaching to meet Olivia's lips with her own.
"Time for your feeding, Cabot?" Olivia chuckled as she sat back, acknowledging the broken mood. Things were changing between herself and Alex. They would find the right time to explore this, whatever 'this' was. She stood up and offered her hand to Alex.
Alex used Olivia's arm to pull herself from the floor. Not wanting Olivia to see the blush creeping up her neck, she walked to the window and looked outside. The sun was shining brilliantly over the city; there was no sign of the rain that had fallen through the night.
Olivia walked behind Alex and gave her a warm hug. "For what it's worth, Alexandra Cabot, you mean a lot to me as well."
She held the blonde tightly as they watched the new day unfolding. When she heard her companion's stomach growling again, Olivia left a tender kiss on the side of Alex's neck and released her grasp.
"Come on, Alex. Let's get you something to eat."
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