DISCLAIMER: Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For my Mistress and for all the reviewers of Magnetic Resistance (esp. clomle44). Here is the sequel you have been waiting for!
SPOILERS: SVU through season 12 (including Loss, Ghost, and beyond)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To raedmagdon[at]yahoo.com
By Rae D. Magdon
"You can't go tomorrow, Alex," Olivia protested, fumbling through the items on the crowded shelf that housed their bathroom supplies. Most of them belonged to Alex, but some of Olivia's shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and a cheerful yellow loofah had migrated to the attorney's shower over the past few weeks. "Aha, there it is! Gotcha..." She held up her razor, striking a triumphant pose. The curtain between them was a light tan color, and Olivia suspected that her lover could make out part of her silhouette.
Alex, who was brushing her teeth over the sink while Olivia showered, did not seem impressed. "Enlighten me, Olivia. Why can't I go to the Congo this time?" Over the past few days, the normal reasons that Olivia gave for wanting Alex to stay at home ('I'll miss you', 'you could get hurt', and 'we can't have sex if you're several continents away') had become crazier and crazier. Alex figured it was Olivia's way of trying to prepare for the inevitable.
"Because... you might be pregnant."
There was a muffled gagging sound and Olivia peeked out from behind the shower curtain to make sure that her girlfriend was all right. Alex had choked on a mouthful of toothpaste and was coughing over the sink, gasping for air and trying to regain her composure. "What did you just say?" Alex sputtered, wiping the white foam that covered her lips with the back of her hand and trying to clean her face with water from the sink.
"We didn't use protection."
Alex snorted. "Well then, why aren't you pregnant? Why does it have to be me?"
Olivia ducked her head back behind the shower curtain. "Because I'm the butch one. Duh."
After washing out her mouth (and cleaning part of the mirror that she had sprayed), Alex rinsed her toothbrush and set it beside Olivia's in their toothbrush cup. The domesticity of that simple act made the blonde attorney tear up a little, and she blinked to clear her eyes before unfastening the tie of her robe and letting it fall to the floor around her ankles. "Uh-huh, right. That wasn't what you were saying this morning. Please, Alex, fuck me harder," she quipped, pulling back the shower curtain to join her lover under the spray even though she had already taken a shower that afternoon. A wet, naked Olivia was too much for her to resist, especially especially since I'm leaving tomorrow...
Forcing those thoughts out of her head, Alex took in the gorgeous sight of her lover, who was bent over as she ran the razor along her right calf. The picture was just too tempting. She grabbed two handfuls of her lover's gorgeous, firm behind, smirking when Olivia squeaked and dropped her razor onto the floor of the shower. "Hey! I could have cut myself!" she complained.
"You big baby," she cooed, not giving Olivia time to straighten up before cupping the exposed folds between her legs. The detective gasped, the task of shaving her legs completely forgotten as clever fingers probed forward, sinking into familiar warmth. Obviously, Alex wanted to play, but Olivia had other ideas.
"Mm-mm," she said, straightening up before Alex made her lose her concentration. "You already had your turn this morning, as you so eloquently reminded me."
Alex would not be deterred so easily. When Olivia's position forced her to remove her hand, she immediately reached for the brunette's slick breasts instead. "I can't have more than one turn?"
"You can have as many turns as you want, Lexie... after I have my turn." Olivia's lips slanted against hers in a rough kiss that caused Alex to forget her course. Eager hands slid over soapy skin, exploring open flesh, lingering at well-learned spots that made the attorney's knees weak.
Sexually, both of them were usually flexible, taking their cues from each other's words and body language. There were times when Alex wanted nothing more than to use her mouth on Olivia for hours. There were times Alex played the seductive tease, turning her lover into a helpless, shuddering mess. There were times when Alex took charge and made Olivia see stars. There were times when they made love tenderly, giving and receiving equally and just enjoying each other's touch.
And then there were times when Alex really just wanted to be taken fast and hard, restrained or pinned in some way so that she couldn't escape as Olivia dominated her.
Those were the signals that the detective was picking up tonight. Alex's eyes were half-closed. She was letting Olivia guide their frantic kisses, only breaking away to let out small, soft cries of pleasure. She kept her hands at her sides, not trying to regain the advantage she had lost, and Olivia wondered if this was what she had been aiming for all along. Well, far be it from her to disappoint.
Olivia's mouth blazed a warm trail down Alex's neck, causing the blonde to tilt her chin up, ignoring the water that sprayed across her face. Meanwhile, her hands traveled down the front of Alex's stomach, stroking her sides and the tops of both thighs. "You are stunning," Olivia murmured into Alex's damp shoulder, brushing aside wet strands of hair to tease the attorney's collarbone with her lips. Alex hummed in response. "Absolutely beautiful. And all mine..."
With those possessive words, Olivia's teasing fingers slid between Alex's legs, finding her lover swollen and wanting. "Ah, Liv..." Alex mewled, pumping her hips and trying to find purchase on her lover's hand. Olivia refused to let her, continuing to tease as her other hand squeezed one of Alex's breasts.
Now that she was firmly in control, Olivia flipped her lover face first against the wall, pinning her there with her own weight and nipping at the lobe of her ear. "And you thought you had me in the palm of your hand, didn't you, you little tease?" She punctuated the statement by circling Alex's entrance with her fingertips, coaxing her higher. She felt her lover shuddering against her chest and nuzzled the crook of her neck reassuringly, but didn't stop the verbal or physical assault of Alex's senses. "No one at the DA's office would believe me if I told them that I know just how to make the Ice Queen melt... all over my fingers."
"O-liv-i-a..." Alex dragged out all four syllables of the detective's name, a plea for some kind of relief. Her wish was granted, and she gasped as Olivia claimed her with one swift, upward thrust, her inner muscles shivering wildly at the sudden, welcome intrusion.
"And they would all be so jealous if they had any idea how beautiful you are, how amazing it is to make love to you, how wonderful you feel from the inside..." Alex could feel Olivia sucking at her pulse point as her fingers started a slow, heavy rocking motion that lifted her onto the balls of her feet. Heat blossomed in her lower abdomen, vibrating all the way to her toes.
"Liv... Oh god..." Olivia's fingers left her wanting, halting their rhythm long enough to flick the tip of the hard bundle of nerves that she had purposely neglected. The contact was like completing an electrical circuit and Alex's entire body stiffened, pressing back into Olivia's hips. "Bed, please-"
Realizing that she had tapped into something completely unexpected, Olivia supported Alex's weight against her side as she turned off the shower and helped her out of the tub, wrapping her in a fluffy white towel and pressing tender kisses to her wet hair.
"Damn it, Olivia, I don't " Alex started to protest. Part of her was hurting and unsettled, and the last thing she wanted right now was Olivia's sympathy. What she really wanted was to forget. She wanted the blissful numbness that came when Olivia drove her mercilessly over the edge.
Shocked that she had so thoroughly turned the tables on her lover, Olivia knew that something was wrong. Alex was veering between submissive and demanding, as though she couldn't decide what she wanted. Olivia resolved to deal with it later. Right now, she was confident that she knew exactly what Alex needed.
Taking Alex's lips in another forceful kiss, she walked her backwards into the master bedroom until Alex's legs hit the side of the mattress. Both of them sank onto the bed, letting the towel fall onto the floor, not caring that they were only half dry and would probably get water all over the sheets.
"Could you I..."
The detective understood the words that Alex couldn't say. She dropped a soft kiss on her waiting lover's lips, stroking her thighs as she got up from the bed. "Wait here."
For a moment, Alex looked heartbroken and vulnerable in the large bed even though Olivia was only doing what she wanted. Luckily, it only took her a few seconds to find what she was looking for, and less than half a minute to adjust the straps around her waist. They had done this before, but Alex was still somewhat uncomfortable asking for it, and with her emotions running high... Somehow, Olivia wasn't surprised that this was what the attorney needed.
Olivia hesitated at the sight before her Alex, her body still damp from the shower, skin flushed, eyes soft and so willing. But when she spread her legs, inviting Olivia's touch, outer lips glistening with wetness, she let go of her doubts. For now, she would play Alex's game, but afterwards, they were going to talk.
Hooking one of her lover's legs around her waist, Olivia kissed Alex's chin, curling one hand in golden hair as the other guided the toy to her lover's wetness, murmuring reassurances and endearments instead of the harsh, possessive words she knew Alex probably expected.
Olivia came to a decision. She was going to make Alex lose control tonight. She could tell that the blonde needed it, if the pleading look in those blue eyes and the amount of wetness between them was any indication. She was going to make the lawyer fall apart. Olivia adjusted her position, rising slightly onto her knees between Alex's legs, making her breath catch as she thrust inside of her with one long, smooth motion. Alex's head tipped back, exposing her throat to Olivia's warm kisses as the brunette held her hips still, waiting for her lover to adjust to the fullness, the tightness.
When she felt the stiff muscles of Alex's legs smooth over and settle more firmly around her waist, Olivia pulled out and thrust in again, coaxing a soft sigh of pleasure from the woman beneath her.
Although Alex had not expected this encounter to be tender or gentle, she accepted Olivia's tempo, letting her guide the give and take of their hips, the rhythm of their slow, rocking thrusts, sliding her hands up along Olivia's back and holding on tight. Even though she knew it was impossible, a small part of Alex was afraid that her detective would dissolve into the air and disappear from the circle of her arms.
"Liv, please..." Olivia could hear the thin, strained wire of need in her lover's low voice, but there was something else behind it. Fear. Fear and loneliness. She recognized those emotions. She had heard them in Alex's tone before, but never while they were making love.
Olivia was so wrapped up in her thoughts that the steady rub of the toy's base had less of an effect on her than usual. This put her in a unique position and allowed her to study Alex's movements, the flickering shadows of pleasure and love and worry that bled over onto her face, without distraction. She really is beautiful... so beautiful. I can't believe this woman is mine. And I can't believe I have to leave her this now that I have her...
The blonde began to chew on the plump curve of her bottom lip, eyelashes lowering until they were just dark smudges over the points of her cheeks, her jaw tensing as her heartbeat began to speed up, and Olivia knew that she was close. "That's it, sweetheart," she whispered, offering the encouragement she knew her lover needed. "I love you. Come for me."
Those words released her instantly. Olivia was prepared for the deep shudder that ripped through Alex's slender body, the cry of pleasure, but the tears that followed surprised and worried her. Instinctively, she knew that she hadn't hurt her. She could guess what was bothering the attorney probably the same thing that was bothering her.
"I-I'm sorry," Alex said in a weak voice. "I didn't mean for that to happen... on our last night together..."
Olivia knew that she meant the tears, and did what she could to offer comfort, not removing the toy or leaving Alex's arms, which were still clinging to her like a lifeline. "It's not our last night together. We're going to have lots more nights together when you come back. I promise."
"Make me not go," Alex whispered from somewhere beside Olivia's arm.
"Sweetie, you want to go. You need to go." Olivia recognized the truth in this. Alex did want and need to take this job, even though it was only temporary. It had touched part of her that had become cold, re-kindling the spark, empowering her and helping her rediscover her desire to help and protect those in need. But that didn't mean it wasn't going to hurt.
"Come with me."
"I can't leave my job for six months..."
Alex sighed, pressing an open-mouthed kiss to the ball of Olivia's shoulder. "I know," she sighed. "It's just... we're finally together now, and I have to leave. I'm afraid..." her voice trailed off. She was unwilling to put her fears into words, afraid of bringing them one step closer to the real world.
"I'll be waiting right here for you when you come back. I'm not going to run off with the first pretty girl I see while you're playing superhero, fighting for truth and justice."
"I love you. I promise."
No more words were needed as they started moving together again, and this time, Olivia allowed herself to share in Alex's pleasure as both of them memorized the taste, touch, and smell of each other, storing up memories for the lonely period of separation that they knew was coming far too soon.
"Don't go," Olivia whispered sadly, clinging to Alex in front of the security line. The blonde tried to unwrap herself from her detective's embrace, but eventually gave up and allowed Olivia to hold her for a few more seconds. She put on a brave face, knowing that it was her turn to offer comfort and support while Olivia was feeling vulnerable.
"I'll miss my flight..."
"Don't care. Stay here. Move in with me. Marry me. Have my children. Just don't go."
Alex laughed. "Ask me those questions again in six months, a year, and when the thought of reproducing doesn't make me hyperventilate. Besides, you're staying at my place while I'm gone and you already bought out your lease, so you can't ask me to move in with you."
The attorney tried once again to extricate herself from Olivia's arms, but she just held on tighter. "No," she said stubbornly. "Living in your apartment without you is going to suck. You have to stay."
"You'll be fine. This way, you can adjust to living in my apartment without me singing in the shower or letting laundry pile up."
That finally coaxed a small smile from Olivia. "I let laundry pile up worse than you, I think it's cute that you sing in the shower, and I don't even mind that you leave towels on the bathroom floor or that your coffeemaker has a million buttons that I can't figure out how to use."
In all honesty, Olivia did miss apartment 4D a little bit, but she knew that she was going to miss Alex a lot more. At least at Alex's place, she would be surrounded by reminders of her absent lover and they could stay together when she came back to visit.
"Liv, I really need to get going," Alex said, frowning as she glanced at the growing line over Olivia's shoulder. "I'm sooo excited to try the new full body scanners they just installed."
"Not everyone goes through them." Reluctantly, Olivia loosened her hold. "I love you," she said as Alex re-gripped the handle of her carryon.
"I love you, too. I'll be back in seven weeks."
The detective sighed. Seven weeks was a long time to go without seeing Alex, but she would have to make do. "If I die from withdrawal, it's your fault, Cabot," she grumbled. As Alex tried to turn and head for the end of the line, Olivia dragged her back for one last, deep kiss that made the attorney drop both her carryon and her purse. Finally, the need to breathe forced them to separate.
"Wow, you're not making this easy," Alex said, still reeling from the pleasant assault.
Olivia grinned as she looked down and noticed one of Alex's legs, clad in stockings and a Prada heel, was tilted up. "You watch too many old timey movies," she said, giving her lover's hip one last squeeze.
"I do." Alex smiled indulgently. "Okay, this time I really have to go... I'll call you when I land. Promise."
With one last soft caress of her cheek, Olivia fought back tears and released Alex to the long security line, giving her a final, melancholy wave and turning around to leave. If she didn't put some space between them, she would follow Alex through the line and bother the security personnel.
Olivia managed to hold back her tears through Parking Lots A and B, but when she hit C, they spilled over her cheeks and chin, forcing her to wipe them away with the back of her hand. "Come on, Benson, get a grip," she mumbled to herself, picking her way carefully through the gray slush spread over the concrete and piled along the edges of the sidewalks, all that remained of New York City's first snowfall of the year. "At least you'll get to talk to her this time..."
Alex's years in witness protection had been awful for Olivia. Even though their feelings remained unspoken, they had developed a certain emotional intimacy a nebulous connection that was more than friendship but not quite romantic. But now that their connection had been given the chance to grow and blossom into a relationship, Olivia knew exactly what she was losing, and the knowledge stung.
Before she realized it, the detective found herself sitting in the front seat of Alex's Lamborghini, sighing and resting her head on top of the steering wheel as she remembered one of her lover's parting comments during the drive to the airport...
"Be sure to take care of my baby, okay?"
"Christ, Alex, sometimes I think you love that car more than me."
Alex paused to give her a soft kiss at the stoplight. "I could never love anything more than you, even a car as sexy as mine. Even my job."
The ringing of her cell phone interrupted her thoughts. Even though she knew that it was probably not Alex, she scrambled for the phone anyway and hit the 'Talk' button. "Benson."
"Well, howdy there, stud." Olivia instantly recognized the teasing southern drawl of Abbie Carmichael. She was a little disappointed that it wasn't Alex calling to say that her flight was cancelled, but hearing Abbie's voice was a lot better than receiving a work call from Elliot or the Captain on her day off.
"Hey, Abbie." She hoped that the former ADA did not notice the slight catch in her voice. Her brief shower of tears had dried, but she was still depressed at the prospect of spending seven long, lonely weeks without her lover. "I just dropped Alex off at the airport. I'm pulling out of the parking lot."
Abbie tsked at her. "Should you be talking on your cell phone, then?"
"No, not really. When are you going to get here?"
"I'm at the train station. I'm gonna take the subway to the upper seventies." Despite Olivia's assurances that she would be fine on her own, Alex had invited Abbie to stay in the guest bedroom for a few days and keep the brunette detective company. Olivia had grumbled and sulked, complaining that she did not need someone to look after her (even though she liked spending time with Abbie), until Alex reminded her that Abbie needed excuses to come to New York and spend time with Serena. "Do you think we can invite a guest for dinner?"
"That depends. Are you cooking?"
"You might talk me into rustling up some grub for tonight."
"You got yourself a deal then, Carmichael, because I don't feel like doing anything time consuming today. Do you want to call Serena, or should I?"
"She might take it better from you," Abbie said breezily, but Olivia sensed the undercurrent of worry in her voice. Even though she and Serena were now on speaking terms, the dark-haired Texan wanted their relationship to progress further. At times, Serena seemed interested, but Abbie had hurt her very badly in the past and she was wary about giving her a second chance.
Olivia tapped on the gas to glide into the lanes of traffic leaving JFK International Airport. "Couldn't have been LaGuardia," she sighed, drumming the fingers of her free hand on the steering wheels impatiently.
"Oh. Sorry, Abbie. Sure. I don't really feel like company right now, but that will probably change once you get here."
"Good. Since you can't spend all of your time sexing up Cabot anymore, I'm recruiting you for matchmaking duty. Just because you won't be getting laid doesn't mean I can't. God, I think I'm gonna die."
The detective grinned to herself even though Abbie couldn't see. "How long has it been now? I thought you were supposed to be the last of the red hot lovers or something like that."
"Six weeks, two days, and seventeen hours," Abbie recited.
"Well, congratulations, Tex... I think?"
"Well, you'd better hope Serena is susceptible to a little courtship, or you might have to clean up the mess when I explode."
Pausing, Olivia said, "Abbie, I don't think Serena will be ready for that step for a while... you hurt her pretty badly. Falling back into bed together hasn't worked out well for you two in the past."
Abbie sighed. "I know. I was planning on taking it slow. I'd just like some kind of positive sign so I know I'm not tilting at windmills."
The expression reminded Olivia of something Alex would say, not Abbie, and for a moment, the loneliness resurfaced, a sharp, bitter pain in her chest. She forced it down, knowing that she would have to get used to being on her own for the next few months. "I should hang up. It'd look bad if a cop got pulled over for breaking traffic laws. Listen, ring Serena and invite her over for dinner once you get to the apartment. If you're serious about this whole courtship thing, you should be the one to call. I'll meet you at home."
"Sounds good, sugar. But just a warning, Benson, I usually cook naked." Olivia let out a loud groan before hanging up the phone, shaking her head in disbelief and running a hand through her hair. That was a thought she really didn't need in her head.
"Holy shit, Abbie, who is going to eat all that?"
Abbie frowned, looking at the table covered with food. There were barbequed steaks cooked just enough so that they no longer mooed, sweet potato biscuits with chorizo cream gravy, grilled vegetables, chili con carne, and tortilla chips and hot sauce. A pot of Texan-style gumbo was still simmering on the stove.
"I don't even think those dishes go together."
The dark-haired attorney smiled sheepishly, suddenly realizing the amount of extravagance she had taken in preparing dinner. "Well, I wasn't sure what Serena wanted, so I just made..."
"Well, she might have wanted Barbeque, but then I thought, what about Tex-Mex? And then I wondered if I should just make my mother's Gumbo instead..."
Olivia's stomach gurgled and she sucked on her teeth, swallowing the extra saliva that had gathered in her mouth. Whether they went together or not, all of the plates on Alex's counter looked delicious. Eyeing the steaks, Olivia could not help asking, "do I want to know how you barbequed these in Alex's apartment?" While her lover was certainly an excellent cook, she tended to prepare Mediterranean dishes most of the time, particularly Italian and Greek. Her kitchen reflected this. As far as Olivia knew, Alex didn't have an indoor grill.
Abbie snorted, lifting the lid on the gumbo pot to check its contents. Wafting some of the aroma towards her nose, she inhaled deeply before dipping in a spoon for a taste test. "Here, try this," she said, popping it into Olivia's mouth.
"Mmm. Thassgud," the detective mumbled around the spoon. While Abbie left the gumbo to fuss over her chili, she reached for one of the hot biscuits. Before her fingers made contact, the spoon that had been in her mouth rapped across her knuckles.
"Not yet! Oh, and to answer your question, I went over to Elliot's. Thank God for that man, he's a Saint."
"You seriously drove all the way over to Stabler's house in Queens to barbeque those steaks? How did you keep them warm? I'm sure you could have found an indoor grill somewhere a lot closer..."
Abbie shook her head stubbornly. "You're talkin' blasphemy there, Benson. My folks would disown me. And as for the steaks, a magician never reveals her secrets."
Staring longingly at the spread of food, Olivia only tore her eyes away to give Abbie a pleading look. "Did you call Serena? When is she going to get here? Maybe you should call her again..."
The federal prosecutor smiled at Olivia's impatience. She was like a kid on Christmas morning before the presents were unwrapped. Abbie congratulated herself on successfully distracting the detective from her missing mate. Both of their cell phones rang at the same time, and the two women jumped, sharing a surprised, nervous laugh. "Serena," Abbie mouthed, checking the display on her phone while Olivia answered hers.
"Hi, sweetie," Olivia said into the phone, her face lighting up. "You landed safe? ... You're where? Oh, but that means... tomorrow? Okay. What time is it there? Really? You have a hotel, right?"
Meanwhile, Abbie was holding her own conversation, phone tucked against her shoulder. Fortunately, she was used to taking calls while ignoring surrounding distractions. "Well howdy. Naw, she's already here. Yep, I'll tell her. She's dyin' for you to get here so she can stuff her face. Sure. Yep, I'll buzz you up. Make sure the front desk and security know you're not a burglar. I tried sneakin' in here once, and boy, was that a mistake not like breakin' in to Benson's old place, that's for sure "
A minute later, with a slightly melancholy "I love you" from Olivia and a "C'mon up" from Abbie, both of them ended their calls.
"Cabot's back on terra firma?" Abbie inquired, shoving the basket of sweet potato biscuits into Olivia's arms and giving her a helpful push towards the dining room. Alex's apartment was large enough that yes there was a separate room for dining. Olivia preferred eating at the counter in the kitchen. It felt less pretentious.
"Uh-huh," Olivia called out from the next room while Abbie hurried in with the steaks, only pausing to drop them off in the center of the table before running back for the chili.
"She landed safe and sound two borders away." Generally, flights directly into an area of conflict like the Congo were restricted, and although Alex's job clearly merited it, she had decided to take an easier, slightly safer route.
Seeing the almost frantic anticipation that Abbie was doing her best to hide, Olivia helped her grab some of Alex's plates and silverware before the Texan recruited her to transport the grilled vegetables. "Well, Serena's ETA is..."
"Right now," said a familiar voice from the entryway.
Realizing that their conversation had carried and been overheard, Abbie blushed even though they had not said anything incriminating. "How'd you get in? Only reason they let me come up here was because Alex informed them ahead of time."
"Charm and nice legs," Serena told them, wandering in to the kitchen before finally entering the dining room. "Oh my... that's a lot of food. Who else is coming, Abbie?"
"No one. Uh, Abbie went a little overboard."
"I think overboard is an understatement, Olivia. And hello, by the way." Among the four, Serena and Olivia were the least acquainted, but they had gotten to know each other a lot better since Olivia and Alex had started seeing each other. Aside from Abbie, Serena was one of Alex's best friends, and she and Abbie also shared a peculiar connection that neither of them could really define. Not yet, anyway, Olivia told herself, pushing lonely thoughts of Alex out of her mind. Maybe playing matchmaker would be fun.
Abbie, who was doing an admirable job of hiding her nervousness now that Serena was actually here, urged both of them to sit down at the table and practically shoved food at them. "Eat and relax while I get us some drinks, or my mother would find out, fly up here, and tan my hide for not being a proper hostess."
An hour later, all three women were slouched back in their chairs, pants undone, with content smiles on their faces. "I'm gonna have enough leftovers to feed all of us for a week," Olivia said dreamily, staring at the large amount of food that was still on the table.
"That was the plan, Benson. Alex told me you're helpless in the kitchen."
Olivia rolled her eyes. "She was yanking your chain. I can cook, I just prefer not to, and my repertoire isn't as... varied as hers."
"She even has you using big words now," Serena cooed. "How cute! You two are perfect for each other."
Olivia felt her face grow warm. "Yeah, well, one interesting thing I can make is boiled cabbage."
Abbie raised her eyebrows. "Boiled cabbage? Why would you ever want to make that? Oh, never mind I still remember the days when Alex couldn't cook to save her life. I had to feed her all the time."
A strange question floated through Olivia's mind. "Then why hasn't she ever learned how to cook Texan style food?"
Serena grinned. "Because Abbie doesn't share her recipes. With anybody. Ever."
"Especially the gumbo. My grandmama's cookbook is the only place where the Carmichael recipes are written down, and that thing's guarded like the Hope Diamond!"
That drew light laughter from Serena, and Abbie looked pleased with herself. "The only way to gain access to it is to marry into the family or be born into it, and even then, you gotta prove yourself first." She did not intend to give Serena a meaningful look, but their eyes met over the table and there was a heavy pause. Olivia had no idea what they were imagining: Serena as a part of Abbie's family, Abbie's own need to prove herself, or even past sexual encounters and she did not want to know the private details.
Clearing her throat so that she would not startle the other two women, she rose from her chair and sidled towards the kitchen. "Let me just grab the Pecan pie out of the oven," she said, disappearing right on cue.
"Thanks for having me over, Abbie," Serena said, groping for words. "It's... nice. And the food's delicious, of course."
Abbie smiled. "I'm glad we're talking again, Ser. I missed you after..." After they had split up. After all the brief, usually angry encounters they had shared in the years that followed. "Listen, making sure Olivia doesn't go all mopey isn't the only reason I'm staying in Manhattan"
"But I don't want you to think I'm here to... well... repeat history."
Serena pressed her foot against Abbie's underneath the table. "Abigail Carmichael, are you asking for permission to court me?"
"I'd have to ask your Daddy first," she quipped, but then she became more serious. "You have no reason to believe me, but if we decide that we have something here, things will be different this time."
The blonde lawyer sighed, but reached across the table, allowing her thumb to graze Abbie's knuckles. "I can't just jump in to some kind of relationship with you, Abbie."
"No! I mean... I I'd like that, but maybe we could take some time first to, um... so I can..."
"You really are asking to court me, aren't you?"
"Well, I've never done it before. Maybe Benson can give me some tips, once she stops listening from the doorway to see when she can come back in."
Olivia had a big grin on her face when she walked back into the dining room with the pie. "Sorry, Abbie. I did try not to eavesdrop. Not sure I can give you that many tips. I'm not a huge relationship person either, and Alex did most of the courting."
Serena laughed. "Why does that not surprise me? Bossy little minx."
That's my Alex, Olivia thought. "You'd think fancy restaurants and flowers would seem dried up and meaningless in this day and age, but they make you feel a little bit special. But you know what? My favorite thing is probably curling up with her, some Ben and Jerry's, and an old movie."
"Aw, you're a real softie, Benson," Abbie said. She was pleased with her progress, but unwilling to embarrass herself any further. "Now, gimme a slice of that pie."
Alex sighed, staring at the glowing screen of her cell phone and wondering if it was too late to call Olivia. It was a little after six in the morning local time, but still almost midnight back in New York City. Although the time difference was smaller than she had expected, it was enough to throw her off. The room provided for her by the task force was not five-star by any means, but it was more than adequate. The temperature outside was relatively warm, around 75 degrees, but rain fell from the sky in long, shimmering ribbons, battering buildings, animals, and people alike, tossing up mud and drumming against the window-glass.
Deciding that it really wasn't that late, she pressed number two on her speed dial, number one being voicemail. At various times in her life, Elizabeth Donnelly, Arthur Branch, and Jack McCoy had occupied that space. Her erstwhile ex-fiancée, Robert, who also happened to be the second biggest mistake of her life (the first was not confessing her feelings to Olivia years earlier), never moved up past number five. Work and Abbie had always preceded him. Although Olivia had been on her speed dial for years, having the detective in the first available slot made Alex happy. It was a nice reminder that someone loved her someone who mattered more than her job.
I bet she doesn't feel that way right now, poor thing, Alex thought as she listened to the phone ring. Fortunately, the city of Bunia had cell phone reception. Olivia had been very relieved when she heard that Alex would be staying in an actual city instead of a tent in the middle of a torn battlefield. The attorney knew that she would be visiting some broken places during her trip, hopefully under guard, but her job was dealing with broken people and helping to put their tormenters in prison.
Her soft, tired smile grew wider and stretched her cheeks when she heard the soft 'click' of the phone being picked up. "Hey, gorgeous," a low, familiar voice purred. "Wanna have phone sex?"
The smile disappeared. "Abigail Carmichael, I will not have phone sex with you," Alex said primly, crossing her ankles at the foot of the bed and propping her shoulders against the headboard. "Give the phone to Olivia, please."
"She's... busy." There was a muffled thump in the background and some shouting.
Abbie let out a squawk of what sounded like pain as a new voice panted against the receiver. "Hel-lo... Lex..."
"Hi, Olivia. Did you get the phone away from Abbie?"
"Yeah." Olivia sounded pleased with herself, but out of breath. "Hold on..." More muffled yelling and a few loud thuds. Alex thought she could hear Abbie shouting something about revenge, or maybe just another of her infamous sexual innuendos, but she couldn't be sure. "Sorry. Hi!"
"Sounds like you won the battle," Alex teased. "You escaped?"
"Abbie escaped," Olivia corrected her, "before I whooped her ass." Alex was grateful that her friend had come to keep Olivia company during her first few days alone.
"Go easy on her. She's on her period."
"Ew, how do you even know that?"
Alex shrugged. "Because Carmichael bitches about everything and I've known her way too long. That's why we could never date. It would be incest. We're practically sisters."
"I thought you could never date her because you're madly in love with me," Olivia pouted.
"So, did you land in the Boonies or wherever it is they have you set up?"
"Bunia, not the Boonies. Why I had to come in the rainy season, I don't know... at least court is indoors. I just have to dig a tunnel from there to my building so that I won't get wet going down." Olivia stifled a laugh, which made Alex roll her eyes. "Ugh, you are such a child."
"Hey, I have to work with three guys all day. They've corrupted me. Yesterday, I had to explain to Odafin that, yes, girls do notice when you stare at their boobs, even if it's only a quick look. We're not stupid."
"Tell that to some of the judges I've worked with. Although..." she paused, considering, "I guess I'm guilty of the same crime."
"Crime?" Alex heard the eye-roll in Olivia's voice even though she couldn't see it. "If we locked people up for staring at women's boobs, the entire population would be in prison. Even straight women look for comparison. If you're particularly gifted, it weirds you out when people don't stare."
The attorney sighed, mostly because imagining Olivia's breasts made her miss the rest of the package. "The only thing I have to complain about is that I can't steal your bras if I don't feel like doing laundry. They don't fit."
"Pfft, my underwear isn't enough for you?"
"Your underwear is comfortable." Alex neglected to mention that she had purloined a few pairs to take with her to the DRC. She had also taken some of Olivia's body wash, her spare jacket, and several other random items.
"I wish you were here to steal them," Olivia admitted, sounding so lonely that Alex wanted to swim across the ocean and give her a hug. "Even with Abbie here, living in your apartment without you sucks. Living without you sucks, period."
Alex tried to ignore the burn of guilt. "I know..." The farther away she was from Olivia, the harder it was to remember the reasons she needed to stay away. But those reasons were still there.
"Listen, Alex, I miss you like crazy, but that doesn't mean I don't support what you're doing. Do you know how incredibly proud it makes me when I get to tell everyone what my awesome girlfriend does for her job?"
"Yeah, I do, because I feel the same way when I tell people about you."
"I love you, Lex."
"I love you, too, Olivia..."
There was a long but comfortable pause. "So, what are you wearing?"
Alex choked on her laughter. "Olivia Benson, are you trying to coax me in to phone sex? If you are, you need practice and a more original opening line."
Olivia chuckled. "Oh ye of little faith. Sometime in the near future, I will treat you to the best damn phone sex you have ever had in your entire life."
"I've never had phone sex before," Alex offered casually.
The detective's jaw dropped. "You've never had phone sex?"
"Non. Allons-nous faire l'amour sur le sofa ou le lit?"
"Neither one, uh... Abbie's still here, um the couch is occupied and even if I went to the bedroom it would still be incredibly awkward."
Slightly disappointed and slightly relieved, Alex decided to let Olivia off the hook. "Another time, then. Actually, French is the official language of the DRC, so I'll have ample opportunity to practice more than just my bedroom phrases."
"As long as you don't forget the important parts of the language."
"Me muero de ganas, mami," a voice chimed in from Olivia's end.
"¡Muérdame, puta!" Olivia responded, slightly amused, but mostly exasperated.
"Not you, Alex. We've got a comedian over here."
"Oy vey," Alex groaned. "I don't even know what language we're speaking anymore. You and Carmichael can duke it out." Olivia was about to protest when she glanced at the clock and realized that, even though it was only midnight in New York, Alex needed to start her day. Olivia had checked the time difference several times on her cell phone and computer in order to remember.
"Okay, sweetheart... call me around dinnertime if you can. I'll probably be on my lunch break. I'd love to hear your voice."
Alex frowned. "Oh, honey, I forgot that you go back to work tomorrow. Um, today... you know what I mean. I should let you go..."
"It's fine. Have a good day, okay? And keep a smile on. It makes you look beautiful."
Back in New York, after the two women said their reluctant goodbyes, Olivia dropped her phone with a sharp cry as Abbie, who had been standing behind her, placed a sharp nip on the side of her throat. "Ow! Hey, what was that for?"
"You told me to bite you," she said, the picture of innocence. Her hands were clasped at the small of her back and she was grinning wickedly.
"Not literally." Olivia rubbed at the sore spot on her neck. Unexpected hickeys from Carmichael were not nearly as fun as hickeys acquired during intimate time with Alex. "You know Alex would kill you if she saw this, right?"
"Proooobably," Abbie sing-songed, retrieving the discarded phone from the floor and snapping a quick picture.
"Abbie! Give me that right now or I will kill you. Alex isn't here to protect you."
Abbie held the phone behind her back and prepared to make a run for it. "Protect me? Hell, Benson, she'd probably help you."
"Most likely," Olivia agreed before lunging for the phone. She didn't even realize that Abbie had successfully distracted her from the empty chasm of loneliness that usually opened in her chest after she and Alex said goodbye.
In case you were wondering, the translations are (approximately) "No. Do you want to do it on the couch or the sofa?", "I'm dying of horniness, mami" (sarcastically), and "bite me, whore".
The moment that Alex saw Olivia's face on her computer, she knew that something was wrong. "Oh, honey, are you okay?" Instinctively, she reached out to smooth the tired wrinkles from Olivia's face, but her fingertips could only graze the screen of her laptop.
Olivia sighed. "Relatively speaking. I have had the craziest two days... and you might have missed one of the most embarrassing moments of my life."
That made Alex raise her eyebrows. Olivia was not prone to exaggeration. "Embarrassing? What did Abbie do now?"
Olivia rubbed absentmindedly at her neck. "Um, Abbie is actually out on a date with Serena. She might have dropped your name to get in to Per Se..."
"Good luck with that. Serena isn't impressed with all the trappings of a wealthy lifestyle," Alex said, more concerned with why Olivia looked so strange. "Tell me what happened, lover."
The endearment drew a smile from the exhausted looking detective. "Mushrooms," she sighed.
"Um, well, this new case we're working, a woman was killed with toxic South American mushrooms. I was stupid enough to open a boiling pot in his lab, inhaled, and started having hallucinations."
Alex choked on air, swallowing to try and ease her sudden coughing fit. "You what? Are you telling me you got high on shrooms?"
"Kind of?" Olivia gave Alex a sheepish little shrug. "I might have asked our perp why he stabbed the captain with a pickle."
"Abbie would want to know whose pickle, but I'll just say that you should eat less vegetables and that Cragen should watch his back."
"Elliot tells me that I was asking for you in my delirious state."
The attorney blushed. "Really? You must miss me then."
"Like crazy. Then again, I don't trust anything Elliot says anymore. He faked being high like me to interrupt an arraignment hearing." That was even more surprising to Alex than the thought of Olivia mistakenly inhaling mushrooms.
"Elliot Stabler? Our Elliot Stabler? Please tell me you told Kathy."
Olivia winked. "Of course I told Kathy. Speaking of Kathy Stabler, she asked me to invite you over for a game of bridge when you come home... if you're not too busy during your time back in New York." Secretly, Olivia knew that Kathy was thrilled that she was seeing another woman. Not only did it mean Olivia was happy which made Elliot happy it confirmed that she was not trying to steal her husband. Love could be a jealous animal.
"Well, I have a strenuous lovemaking schedule planned for us, but I think we can find some time. Tell her that I accept on behalf of us both. It will be nice to spend some time with the Stablers."
"If our temporary ADA doesn't kill Elliot first," Olivia muttered.
"What was that?"
Olivia's sigh was both visible and audible through Alex's computer. "Vonn, a skirt from Chicago. Thinks she has what it takes to play in New York. More boobs than brains if you ask my opinion, but I've misjudged our ADAs before." She gave Alex a tender smile.
"You thought that about me?" Alex asked, keeping her voice coy.
"No... I thought you were a royal, stuck-up bitch. Which was partially true, but I didn't see the rest of the picture... which is how wonderful and amazing you are."
"I really miss working with you, Alex. Vonn had a showdown with El, but he wasn't fazed at all. She didn't even come close to your level of intimidation."
Alex laughed. "Well, I do have intimidating detectives down to an art form. I listed it under the 'other specialized skills' section on my résumé. Which judge did you draw for the case of the Deadly Shrooms?"
"Miranski. Vonn messed that up, too. Made a few disparaging comments about plants"
The lawyer groaned. "She didn't! Everyone knows about his prized roses..."
"Well, everyone but Vonn. She also keeps talking about her sun-drenched loft in Chicago. Apparently, she wants to sell the place."
"Don't judge to prematurely, Olivia. She might do something to change your mind."
The detective shrugged. "Anyway, we're still working on the case... I'm just not going to sleep for the next couple of days so I can still find time to talk to you."
Alex shook her head, taking off her glasses and folding them in one hand, directing the full intensity of her gaze at the woman listening half a world away. "Olivia, if you ever need to get some sleep, just say the word and I'll let you go. I want you to be safe when you do your job."
"It's okay. I can't sleep without you anyway."
Olivia almost seemed like she was pouting, and it nearly broke Alex's heart. At the same time, she was grateful that Olivia was willing to show her vulnerable side. She knew that it was difficult for her. "I promise I'll be there soon."
"I know you will. And until then, I'll be okay." Now, Olivia thought, she just had to believe her own words. Somewhere in the background, her cell phone rang. For a moment, she was tempted to ignore it, but Alex waved a hand.
"Go, Liv. It might be important. I'll talk to you soon, okay? And I'll tell you all about my day tomorrow." Before Olivia could protest which Alex knew she would the attorney clicked out of the window without a long goodbye, staring at the empty screen for several minutes afterwards.
Back in New York, Olivia picked up her phone. "Benson. What really?" With the phone still tucked to one shoulder, she grabbed her coat from where it was draped over the back of Alex's couch. "No, okay, I'm heading out."
"Come on, let's get ice cream!"
Abbie nearly jumped out of her skin as Serena's soft hand made contact with hers. "W-what?" she stuttered, surprised by the unexpected touch.
The smaller blonde woman shot her a mischievous grin. "What, do you have a hearing problem, Carmichael? Ice cream. I want some."
"Dinner was very nice," Serena said, not letting go of the federal prosecutor's hand. "And now I want to spoil it with two scoops of double mint chocolate chip. I figure you could go for some rocky road."
"You didn't forget," Abbie said softly, surprised and a little touched that Serena remembered little details about her, like her favorite flavor of ice cream, after so many ears.
Serena was equally surprised and touched by this glimpse of a softer, almost timid side of Abbie's personality. She was scared of screwing up, and if she was scared, she obviously cared. The dark-haired Texan was clutching her hand a little too tightly, but she didn't mind. "C'mon. There's a place a few blocks away. I think the paycheck you get from Uncle Sam can finance two cones, right?"
"You betcha, little lady," Abbie said, trying to get a hold of herself. "Ice cream it is."
Ten minutes later, they were squeezed into the same side of an old-style ice cream parlor booth, digging in to separate ice cream cones and people watching through the window. "Damn, I miss New York," Abbie said as two guys with enormous, brightly-dyed mohawks passed by. "Washington has its fair share of crazies, but it just isn't the same."
Serena glanced at her over the top of her double mint chocolate chip. "Do you miss New York, or the people in it?"
"Both. Not those two losers, though, but Alex and Olivia and... and especially you."
Dipping her finger in Serena's ice cream, Abbie smeared a white line over the tip of her nose, laughing when Serena started going crosseyed while trying to see the damage. "Abbie!" she scolded, reaching for a napkin to wipe the ice cream away.
Abbie stopped her. "Here, I put it there, I'll get rid of it."
Serena sighed as Abbie wiped her nose clean. The tall, lanky Texan was being incredibly sweet, but overcoming their past would take a lot of time. There was trust that needed to be rebuilt. "Abbie, what do you want from me? What are you asking for? Because I need to know if it's something I can give..."
In that moment, Abbie was faced with a choice. She could take it easy, give Serena time to get more comfortable with the idea of entering some sort of relationship, or she could take a chance and tell the truth, even though it might scare the ACLU lawyer away for good.
Well, Abbie thought, I've always been a gambling sort of woman.
"Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are relationships. And I know I've done a pretty damn good job of demolishing the thing we had... but even though I have my stupid moments"
"Monumentally stupid moments"
"Stop interruptin' me, woman. As I was saying, I've got a fast learning curve, and if you're willing to be my teacher, I'm willing to try and learn how to give this whole relationship a real shot." Noticing the serious expression on Serena's face, she was tempted to add a crack about their ticking biological clocks, but decided against it. She wanted Serena to know that she meant what she was saying.
"Alex and Olivia seem really happy, don't they?"
Completely confused by the change of subject, Abbie nonetheless had to agree. "Yep, love looks good on them. Olivia's been a wreck the past week, but I think she'll hold it together. Time will help." She knew that the detective was already counting down the weeks until Alex could come back for a visit. One down, six to go.
"Honestly, watching Cabot get up off her ass and chase the impossible dream was kind of inspiring. I figured if she could star in her own romantic drama, maybe I should give mine another try... My heart's already pretty banged up."
Serena leaned closer to Abbie's shoulder, stealing a lick of her Rocky Road. "Like a well-loved pick-up truck?"
Abbie let her head fall back against the seat of their booth with a soft 'thud'. "You don't have to try so hard, Serena. I like you as a Yankee just fine." Noticing that some of her ice cream was gone, she leaned in to take a lick of Serena's, but was stopped by a pair of soft pink lips. For a moment, her eyes got really wide, and then closed in automatic reflex as she allowed the soft first kiss to linger.
Two flavors of ice cream, and Serena tasted better than both of them.
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