DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Based around the episode 'Guilt'.

By Eyah


Part 11

Elliot shifted on the hard wooden bench of the courtroom. He glanced again at Olivia, who sat beside him. He watched her eyes track Alex as she walked towards the witness on the stand. Olivia quickly slid her eyes towards the jury and then around the courtroom before coming to rest back on Alex. Elliot tried not to chuckle to himself, but he could not hide a self-satisfied smile. She was trying not to be obvious about it, but she was definitely watching Alex.

Elliot's own gaze drifted over the ADA. He could see why Olivia was interested. Alex was classically beautiful. She had great features, bright blue eyes, and legs that just went on and on. She seemed to know just what color and cut of suit to wear to perfectly show off her body, but he had seen her in jeans and a sweatshirt with her hair pulled back in a ponytail and she looked just as good. Today she wore a simple black suit. He even thought she looked kind of sexy when she wore those little black glasses like she often did in court.

The way Olivia was acting, he had a pretty good idea that something was already going on between the two women. He had been watching Olivia for several weeks now, especially in the last week—since Alex had come back to work after her suspension. Alex found little excuses to come to the squad room, giving him plenty of opportunity to see them trying not to look at each other. But he had caught several lingering glances when they thought no one was looking.

He had waited a few weeks until he was pretty sure he had them figured out before he had told Kathy about his suspicions. She had been ecstatic, and he had to threaten her to keep her quiet.

As the judge called a recess, Elliot and Olivia stood and exited the courtroom. As they started to walk down the hall towards the door, they heard Alex's voice behind them.

"Detectives, are you leaving?" They both turned back towards her.

"Yeah, we've got to go try to talk to a witness in the Jefferson case. He's supposed to be at work at one o'clock, so we're going to head over there." Elliot spoke first.

"Okay. Well, let me know if he gives you anything that will help us." They had been trying to find enough evidence to convince Alex that they could get a search warrant. Elliot knew their suspect was the perp, but they hadn't been able to find anything on him yet.

"Yeah, I'll —um—we'll call you," Olivia said quickly, locking eyes with Alex before they turned and left.


Part 12

Olivia read the same page of the file in front of her again for the fourth time. She still didn't absorb anything. She looked up over her file at Alex. The two women sat at either end of Alex's couch, facing each other, with their backs against the arms of the couch. They both wore only over-sized t-shirts and boxers. They had cooked dinner together, and then, vowing to get some work done, but not wanting to be away from each other, they had settled on this arrangement. They forced themselves to opposite ends of the couch to avoid temptation. They were mirror images, both pulling their knees up and resting manila file folders on them.

Olivia watched Alex's eyes scan over her papers, her forehead creased in concentration. Alex idly rolled a pen in one hand, maneuvering it around her fingers. As she began to entertain fantasies that involved those fingers, Olivia stretched out her legs, touching Alex's toes with her own. Alex's eyes lifted, looking at Olivia over the rims of her black glasses. The detective fixed an innocent expression on her face, even as she played her toes over the top of Alex's bare feet.

"Liv, if you can't behave—" Alex warned.

"Have I ever told you how sexy you look in your glasses?"

Amusement sparkled in Alex's eyes. The corners of her mouth twitched as she fought a smile—as the hint of mischief in Olivia's eyes betrayed her angelic expression.

"It's why I wear them," she joked. "Chicks dig 'em."

"Hmmm—really? How many chicks are we talking about here? 'Cause I thought I was the only one." Olivia feigned jealousy as she laid her files aside and crawled towards Alex's end of the sofa. She took the folder from Alex's hand and threw it on the coffee table. She pulled Alex's glasses off her face and set them on top of the file.

"Oh, did I forget to tell you about the others?" Alex joked, laughing as Olivia grabbed her and tickled her. Alex struggled to get away from Olivia's quick hands. She let Olivia control her until she felt the detective get overconfident. Finding some leverage with her right leg, she grabbed Olivia's arm and pulled at the same time as she pushed off with her foot and lifted her hips. When she smoothly flipped Olivia onto her back on the couch, she saw a look of surprise cross her face. "Amazing what a well placed self-defense class can do. Not to mention you got a little cocky," Alex teased.

Olivia pretended to struggle. She let Alex pin her shoulders. While Alex's hands were busy, Olivia let hers roam over Alex's back.

"Uh-uh." Alex grabbed her hands and held them above her shoulders. "Leave them there," she ordered, and waited until Olivia nodded. She was on her knees between Olivia's legs on the couch. She leaned back on her heels. She took Olivia's thighs in her hands and wrapped the brunette's legs around her waist. Leaning forward, she brushed her lips over Olivia's, and then across her cheek to her neck. She barely touched Olivia's skin as she teased her neck, her touch feather light.

"Mmmm….you enjoying being a top, baby?" Olivia growled. She watched Alex explore her newfound power. Alex's fingers slipped under the hem of her shirt, brushing her stomach as they roved higher. When her hand found Olivia's nipple, she rolled it between her fingers and thumb, feeling it respond. Olivia's back arched. Alex leaned back again. She lightly ran her fingers from Olivia's knees up her thighs. When Olivia's hips lifted as Alex neared the tops of her thighs, she brushed her fingers back to her knees.

"Patience, darling, I'm in charge now," Alex purred when Olivia practically whimpered. Alex continued teasing her until neither of them could stand it any longer. Then she finally slid back on the couch and lowered her mouth between Olivia's thighs. Olivia's legs shook with the effort of holding still, while Alex's mouth hovered inches from her warmth.

"Oh, God, Alex—please—I can't stand anymore teasing." Her words ended on a moan as Alex's tongue traced through her wet folds. "Ah—yes—Alex," Olivia writhed beneath Alex's wonderful mouth. Alex's hands gripped her thighs, holding her in place. Olivia buried her hands in Alex's hair, feeling the silky blonde strands slide through her fingers. As Alex's tongue drove her up, Olivia's hands fisted and she lifted her hips. She squeezed her eyes shut as her body exploded. Her world narrowed to the ministrations of Alex's mouth and tongue.

When Alex felt Olivia's body peak and then begin to relax she lifted her head and crawled up Olivia's body. She lowered her body on top of Olivia's. Olivia wrapped her arms around Alex, enjoying the feel of the weight of Alex's body on her own. She simply held her, kissing her gently as her own heartbeat slowed and her breathing returned to normal.


Part 13

"Hey, are you still coming to dinner Saturday?" Elliot asked, as they walked through the hallway on their way to court.

"Yes, six o'clock, right?"

"Yep, feel free to bring a date," Elliot said with a sly smile. "We'd love to have you and Alex join us." The look of shock on Olivia's face as her eyes flew to his was worth it.

She considered trying to deny, but she knew it was pointless. Instead she grabbed Elliot's arm and pulled him further down the hall, out of earshot of anyone else.

"Who else knows?"

"Nobody that I know of, Liv. I think it's cute. You guys look good together."

"Is it that obvious?" She and Alex had fallen into a routine over the months, spending several nights a week together. They had not defined their relationship beyond its casual beginning. Alex seemed perfectly happy with their "friends with benefits" arrangement.

"I'm your partner," Elliot said. He grimaced as he remembered something. "Liv, I might have mentioned my suspicions to Kathy."

"Aw, damn, Elliot, I'll never hear the end of it this weekend."

"Bring her, Liv. Kathy will behave if Alex is there." Olivia seemed to consider this. She liked the thought of including Alex in her dinner with Elliot's family. After all, they were the closest thing she had to a family.

"I'll talk to her about it. Come on, we're going to be late." Olivia gestured towards the courtroom.

They slipped into the back of the courtroom in time to see Alex striding across the front of the room. She spoke in a carefully measured voice as she posed a question to the man on the witness stand. At his answer, Olivia recognized the pause Alex's step. When she spoke again, there was a chill in her tone. Olivia did not envy this witness. She knew Alex was setting him up for the question that would extract the information that she wanted from him. Olivia enjoyed watching her—the way she worked the courtroom.

An hour later, the judge called a recess. Alex turned and saw Olivia and Elliot sitting in the back row. Her eyes met Olivia's and she smiled. She forced her gaze to Elliot and nodded a greeting. She waited a minute until the courtroom emptied out, and then she approached them.

"Detectives, can I buy you lunch?"

"You ladies go ahead. I've got some errands to run." He turned to Olivia. "I'll meet you back here in an hour."

Olivia and Alex walked the short distance to the café they decided on. They talked about the current case. Alex spoke passionately when she was involved with a case that she particularly believed in.

After they had ordered, and the waiter headed for the kitchen, Alex spoke.

"Okay. Spill it." Surprised, Olivia met her gaze and then looked away.


"Come on, Liv. I know you. You've been fidgeting since we left the courthouse. There's something on your mind." Alex was becoming quite adept at reading the detective.

"Well—um—Elliot and Kathy—that is, remember when I told you I was having dinner with the Stablers this weekend?" Alex nodded, and Olivia continued. "Elliot asked me if I wanted to bring a guest, and—so, I was wondering if you wanted to go with me."

"Ah, Liv, I don't think—"

"Elliot knows," Olivia interrupted, hurriedly making her confession.

Alex took a deep breath. She guessed she had known at some point she would face this. She knew Elliot would not judge her. She was not worried about him. But if he had figured it out, it was likely that others would too, given time. She needed time to sort out her feelings about this. Olivia's heart sank as she watched Alex wrestle with her thoughts. Had she been hoping that Alex would suddenly be okay with this?

"I'm sorry, Liv. I can't. I have a lot of work to finish this weekend." Alex made the excuse for the weekend, but it was meant to buy time so she could figure things out.

Olivia nodded, knowing she was letting Alex off easy. But she felt unprepared to think about losing what they had been sharing. If Alex needed time, she would give it to her, for now.

They finished their meal in silence, and walked back to the courthouse. Once there, Olivia quickly excused herself to meet Elliot and head back to the precinct.


Part 14

Saturday night, Olivia sat at Elliot and Kathy's dinner table, pushing her food around on her plate. Kathy looked at her sympathetically.

"Maybe she'll come around." She reached over and laid a reassuring hand on Olivia's forearm. The kids had finished eating and been excused, but Elliot, Kathy and Olivia remained at the table.

"We haven't talked since that day. She's been too busy to see me. I keep hoping that if I give her enough time it will work out."

An hour later, Olivia stepped into a cab and gave her address to the driver. She leaned back in the seat and let her mind settle on Alex. She had to admit, she had probably known it wouldn't last forever. At least, not in its current state. There was a part of her that hoped Alex would someday realize what their relationship meant to her. And that she would want to be with Olivia on a more serious level.

She leaned forward and directed the driver to a different address. It was a bar around the corner from Alex's apartment. She dropped herself onto a stool and ordered a drink. As the bartender set the first drink in front of her, she picked it up and tossed it back. The liquid burned down her throat. Three more drinks followed, Olivia sighed deeply and headed for the door.

Alex had spent the past few days missing Olivia. She was probably having dinner with Elliot's family right now. I should be there with her, she thought. But every time Alex thought about how complicated their relationship would get if people found out, her mind rebelled. Even while her heart and body longed for Olivia's touch, her brain would not let her call.

She had decided that their situation had not been fair to Olivia to begin with. Olivia had been involved with women before. Alex knew that Olivia did not have the same issues that she did. She had been enjoying spending time with Olivia, but now she knew she needed to cool things off before someone got hurt.

When she heard the knock at the door, she knew instinctively who it was. She glanced at the clock: 11 p.m. When she opened the door, Olivia stood on the other side of the threshold. She expected anger, she expected Olivia to storm inside. When she just stood there looking uncertain, Alex gestured for her to come in.

"Hi, Liv. How was dinner?" Alex wondered if she should have brought up dinner, but it was too late, the words were out. Besides she didn't know what else to say.

"Fine." Olivia had stopped in the foyer and Alex stopped too, standing close to her. She stood close enough to smell the liquor and slight scent of cigarette smoke that told her that Olivia had been in a bar.

"I think we need to talk." Alex decided to broach the subject, mostly because standing so close to Olivia only made her want to take her in her arms and kiss her. She stepped away, walking into the living room. Olivia followed, but she didn't speak, so Alex went on. "Liv, I think we should take a break from—spending so much time together."

"What happened, Alex?"

"Nothing happened. I just don't think this situation is going to work out. We want different things. I'm not as strong as you are, Liv. I can't be comfortable being in an open relationship with a woman."

"That's not true. You are a very strong person, Alex." Olivia's mind reeled, trying to figure out the best way to handle this. While a part of her wanted to beg Alex to give them a chance—to give her a chance to make her happy, there was a part of her that said walk away with pride. Her pride won out, but not before tears welled in her eyes. "But if you don't want to do this, that's fine."

Alex's heart twisted at the tears in Olivia's eyes. She felt her own throat ache, but she did not feel that she had the right to tears, since she was the one hurting Olivia.

"Can we be friends?" She asked, hating the idea of losing Olivia completely.

"No, Alex. If I have to answer that right now, I would have to say no, we can't. I can't be your friend, when all I can think about is touching you." At her words, images of Olivia's hands on her body flew through Alex's head. She turned her back to Olivia. She stood looking out the window when Olivia continued, "I can be professional. We still have to work together. And I can promise you civility and professionalism at work. But I cannot promise to be friends."

With that Olivia turned and walked out the front door. Alex stared out into the darkness. She leaned her head forward and pressed her forehead to the cool glass. She watched the street below as Olivia came out the front of her building, her dark head bowed against the cool autumn night. Her hands were shoved in her pockets and she walked slowly down the street, away from Alex's building, away from her heart.


Part 15

Wednesday morning, Alex found she could not avoid SVU any longer. She actually had legitimate business that she needed to talk to Cragen about. She had steered clear of the squad all week. Hiding in her office did not keep her from thinking about Olivia, though. She missed her already. She remembered the teasing look that sometimes came into Olivia's eyes when she was in a particularly playful mood. She could almost feel Olivia's skillful hands gliding over her body. She missed the familiar heat of her kisses.

She took a deep breath as she rounded the corner and walked through the door into the squad room. She needn't have worried. Detective Benson's desk was empty. Elliot sat at his desk leafing through a file. He looked up as she entered.

"Alex," he greeted her, somewhat coldly. She stopped next to his desk.

"Good morning, Elliot." She couldn't bring herself to ask about Olivia. But when she looked around guiltily, he answered her unasked question.

"She's not here," he said, sarcasm heavy in his voice. "In fact, she hasn't been in all week." Alex was immediately concerned.

"That's not like her. Is she okay?" She wasn't sure how much Olivia might have told Elliot.

"No, Alex. I don't think she is okay."

Just then Captain Cragen opened his door and saw her.

"Alex, come on in here," he called. She looked back at Elliot.

"Well if you talk to her, tell her—" she began, but Elliot interrupted.

"Tell her what, Alex? What should I tell her you said?"

"Never mind," she muttered, heading for Cragen's office.


Part 16

Thursday morning, Olivia woke to the insistent ringing of her doorbell. She had barely gotten out of bed in three days. She told herself she shouldn't be surprised that it was over. But when the mere thought made her break into tears, she decided she was not yet ready to face Alex and pretend everything was okay. When the doorbell kept ringing, Olivia dragged her self out of bed. She ran a hand through short brown hair that was already standing on end. Reaching the door, she impatiently wrenched it open.

"Do you have any idea what time it is?" She ground out angrily.

"Time for you to stop wallowing and get your ass back to work," Elliot replied matter-of-factly. When she turned away and headed for the kitchen as if she hadn't heard him, he followed. "We've got work to do. You're going to have to face her eventually."

He was right. She knew he was. She sighed deeply, pouring them both a cup of coffee.

"El, how do I just pretend it's fine?" She asked turning and handing him a mug.

"I don't know, Liv. But you have to," he replied. She nodded. He could almost see her spine stiffening. Olivia was tough. He knew she was hurting now, but he also knew what she had endured, and she was probably one of the strongest people he knew. "Get in the shower, get dressed, I'll wait and drive you to work." He turned her and pushed her towards her bedroom.

Forty-five minutes later, she sat in the passenger seat next to her partner. She stared out the window, watching the city pass by.

Another week had passed and Olivia had successfully avoided seeing Alex. She missed her terribly, but she was just stubborn enough to give Alex exactly what she had asked for: distance.

She and Elliot caught a case involving the death of a young Hispanic boy. They had tracked down the boy who was caught on video with Jose in the bus yard only hours before his death.

She sat across the table from the other boy, Ernesto. He haltingly told her the story of the man who had abused them, Brett Jansen.

"I'm afraid." Tears ran down his face.

"Honey, I promise you, nobody can hurt you as long as you're with us." Olivia felt tears sting her own eyes. Everything she had been going through had melted away at the pain in this little boy's voice.


Part 17

"You've been doing well," Elliot stated simply as they waited by a hot dog vendor outside of the courthouse.

Olivia did not pretend ignorance. She had just testified in court and had managed to be questioned by ADA Cabot while maintaining her dignity. Only Elliot, and probably Alex, knew her well enough to have seen the tell-tale tightening of her jaw, the narrowing of her eyes when Alex wandered a little too close to the witness stand where she sat. Alex had immediately stepped back when she saw it.

Later that day, she managed to stay just as collected when the ADA walked into the squad room. She allowed her eyes to roam over Alex's blue suit, which revealed the perfect amount of long, lean leg. She looked away quickly, fixing a stoic expression back on her face. Only a raised eyebrow gave a hint to the emotion inside.

When she felt Alex's presence beside her desk she did not look up. Even when she heard Alex's softly spoken words, her head remained down.

"Can we talk for a minute?"

Olivia was silent for a moment. She stood and looked Alex directly in the eye and then brushing past her, she headed for an empty interview room. Alex followed her in and shut the door behind them. Olivia crossed the room and leaned against the far wall. She looked up at Alex. She felt as if she was seconds away from her insides melting and crawling across the floor towards the blonde. Instead, she forced indifference on her face and hardness into her eyes.

"How are you?" Alex spoke hesitantly. She fought her emotions as well. She wanted to go to Olivia and take her hand. She wanted to hold her. But she had no right. She had made this decision.

"I'm fine. Was there something you needed Alex?" At the chill in her voice, Olivia saw Alex's features harden as well.

"I—I guess, I just wanted to see how you were. And I want you to know that I still care about you, Liv." Olivia's heart ached when Alex spoke the abbreviated version of her name. It was too much—too familiar. "I just can't be what you want me to be."

"I never asked you to be anything except who you are, Alex. I never put any expectations on you." Olivia's anger rose to the surface, overtaking the hurt she had been allowing to reside there.

"When you asked me to go to Elliot's—I—I can't do that. I can't be that."

"I asked you to have dinner with my partner's family. I didn't ask you to take out a newspaper ad declaring you were a lesbian." Alex flinched at the words. She was quiet for a moment.

"I'm sorry, Liv." When Olivia refused to meet her eyes, Alex turned and walked out.


Part 18

She made Elliot call. When Cragen told them to get a warrant for Lynch's house, Olivia made Elliot call Alex. He spoke quickly into the phone, and when he hung up he grabbed his coat.

"Come on, we've got to go convince her."

Twenty minutes later she sat across from Alex trying to convince her that they had enough for a warrant. When they had walked into the restaurant and seen Alex sitting at the table, her knees went weak—that dress. She swore her jaw hit the floor as her eyes roamed over Alex's perfectly waved blonde hair, and down to a dress that seemed to have been made to fit her slim body. She had even heard Elliot swear softly from beside her.

Alex looked across the table at Olivia. Suddenly she wished it was just the two of them in the darkened room. She wished Elliot would go away and leave her and Olivia to share a romantic dinner. Reality intruded when she saw Trevor approaching the table. He had excused himself to use the restroom, and had not yet returned when the detectives arrived. She saw him stop behind the detectives and heard his cultured tones as he commented on what they were saying. Her heart sank when she saw understanding dawn in Olivia's eyes. The eyes that Alex had seen sliding over her body when Olivia thought she was not looking, full of appreciation, now filled with hurt. Seconds later, her composure was back, and her eyes were blank. Had Alex imagined it? Olivia glanced back at her before she spoke.

"Looks like Alex is dining with the enemy." The venom in her voice was obvious.

As Olivia and Elliot walked out of the restaurant later, Olivia remembered little about the encounter after seeing Trevor. She had barely managed to hold onto her emotions to finish the conversation about the case at hand. And now that they were outside, and the cold air hit her face, reality sunk in.

Olivia hadn't thought Alex could hurt her anymore than she already had. She was wrong. Seeing the woman who, only a few weeks ago had writhed beneath her in ecstasy, on what was obviously a date with a man. A man! And that dress! Tears filled her eyes.

Elliot took her arm and led her back to the car. When she climbed in and slumped against the door, he simply handed her a tissue from the glove compartment. He pulled slowly away from the curb, listening to her quiet sobs fill the car. He would let her get it out, because he knew she would pull it together by the time they reached their destination. She had a job to do, and she would do it.


Part 19

Alex stepped out of the elevator and walked slowly down the hall. She stopped in front of Olivia's apartment, knocking on her door. There was no answer. She had left the restaurant with the excuse of feeling ill, refusing Trevor's offer to escort her home. Instead, she climbed in a cab and without hesitation she gave Olivia's address.

Deciding to wait for Olivia to come home, Alex slid down the wall to sit on the floor in her hallway, still clad in her red dress. She buried her face in her hands, wondering how long she would have to wait for Olivia to return.

She wasn't sure what she was doing sitting outside of Olivia's apartment. Neither could she define the way that she felt when she saw Olivia turn and realize that Trevor was her dinner companion. She could only guess at what Olivia was feeling, and she felt a strong need to talk to her tonight. She could not stand the thought of Olivia hurting over this, and she would have to figure out a way to make it better.

If she was being honest with herself, there was a part of her that also remembered wishing she and Olivia were sharing a romantic meal. Where had that thought come from? Even when Olivia sat across from her talking about the case—Elliot was sitting right beside her for crying out loud—yet, Alex still couldn't stop herself from thinking how beautiful Olivia was.

Olivia approached her apartment door slowly. It wasn't everyday she came home to find a beautiful blonde in the sexiest dress she had ever seen sitting in her hallway. As she approached, Alex jumped to her feet.

Alex took a step towards Olivia, then, realizing she didn't know what she was going to say, she stopped. Olivia turned and unlocked the door. She went inside her apartment, leaving the door open behind her. Accepting this as permission to enter, even if it hadn't been intended that way, Alex followed.

"Olivia, I'm sorry," Alex said, because she couldn't think of anything else to say. Her eyes traveled over Olivia's body. She wore a dark blue button up shirt, and black pants. It was a body she knew well, every tight, well muscled inch of it, and right then she longed to touch it. When Olivia turned to face her, Alex saw anger in her red-rimmed eyes.

"What are you sorry about, Alex? That Elliot and I interrupted your date?" Olivia raised her voice with each word.

"Yes. No. I mean—" They stood close together in Olivia's small living room. Too close—Alex couldn't think. She took a few steps away from Olivia. "Look, Liv, I'm sorry that I hurt you."

Olivia started to shake her head but at a look from Alex she stopped. She could not deny that she had been crying. Her eyes betrayed her.

"I was confused. Trevor has been asking me out for some time now. I was miserable—missing you—and I thought I could distract myself. I sat there with him, and I could only think about you. And then you were there, in front of me. But all I saw in your eyes was contempt. When you and Elliot left, I couldn't stop thinking about how you must feel." She had been rambling, gesturing wildly, trying to make Olivia understand, but Olivia interrupted.

"How I must feel? What do you know about how I feel?" Olivia ran her hands through her hair, frustrated. "Why are you here, Alex? What do you want from me?"

"I want—I want—oh, hell—" Alex crossed the distance between them. She grabbed Olivia's face in her hands and pressed her lips to the brunette's. Alex's mouth moved aggressively over Olivia's, conveying her own frustration. Her tongue pushed between Olivia's lips, possessing her. When Olivia's hands came up to grasp her shoulders, she felt a thrill of victory. Her body reacted to the touch with a flush of heat. She mistakenly thought she had won this battle.

Olivia's hands gripped Alex's shoulders, clinging for just a moment before she pushed Alex away from her. Alex stepped away, shocked at Olivia's rejection of her advance.

"No, Alex. You can't just come over here after leaving your date with a man and expect that I will fall into your arms." Pushing her away had been the hardest thing Olivia had done, but she could not go through this all over. She was by no means over Alex, but she was a lot closer than she had been, and she would not set herself up again.

"Liv, I left my date because of you—to come here to you."

"It's not enough. I am past the point where I can go back to being your fuck buddy." Alex flinched at her choice of words. "I want more than that from you, Alex."

When Alex didn't speak, Olivia sighed deeply. "I think you should leave," she said, turning her back to Alex. After a silent moment, she heard the door open and then softly close again. She wrapped her arms around herself and sank to the couch, tears gathering in her eyes yet again.


Part 20

Elliot Stabler pushed through the courthouse doors, loosening his tie. As he began descending the steps a figure caught his eye. Alex sat halfway down the steps. She had her knees drawn up, and on the step between her feet sat a cup of coffee. She glanced up at him as he stopped on the steps beside her. He considered passing her by, but when he saw the dark circles beneath her eyes, he lowered himself to sit down next to her.

"This has been a tough week for all of us," he said, only partly referring to the Jansen case—which he had just finished giving testimony in.

"What do I do, Elliot?" When she spoke, her voice was raw with emotion. He was torn between his ingrained gentlemanly need to comfort a woman in distress, and his fierce loyalty to Olivia.

"She doesn't need a public declaration, Alex. She just needs to know that you want to be with her—really with her," he said simply, deciding it was the best for both of them, he offered Alex the key to his partner's heart. It was up to her whether she chose to take it.

He stood and walked away.

Part 21

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