DISCLAIMER: Characters are owned by Shed Productions and Dick Wolf. No profit is being made.
SPOILERS: This story is set season 3 of both shows. Forgive me for my shocking lack of legal expertise.
FANDOMS/PAIRINGS: Law and Order: SVU/Bad Girls Helen/Olivia, Alex/Olivia, Helen/Nikki
CHALLENGE: Submitted for the 5th Anniversary Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Best of the Worst Choices
Olivia left Alex to deal with all the irritating details, and followed the prison officer through the various barred doors. He unlocked one, locked another behind them, then another. He did the same motion over and over, like a monkey clanking symbols together.
"I hate how you Americans always ponce about like you own the whole bloody world."
Olivia made a noncommittal noise and watched the principal officer narrow his eyes.
"Better be careful, love. Your sort'd be snapped up in five minutes by some of the girls in 'ere."
Olivia smiled coldly and glared towards the door of the Governing Governor's office.
"Thanks," she waited with her arms crossed. "I appreciate your concern,"
"Right" he hesitated for a second. "Right," then he rapped on the door with some more monkey action. Olivia gladly left officer Fenner and marched directly up to the brunette woman, who was leaning over the desk.
"Have a seat, detective," she said distractedly.
Olivia stood. "You people are making this extradition harder than it needs to be."
Helen sighed and closed the file she'd been reading. "Unfortunately, paperwork's a pain in the arse."
Olivia couldn't tell if the woman was apologetic or irritated at the criticism.
"Our ADA's being given hell. We've got better things to do than wrestling with British bureaucracy."
"So do I," Helen cut in. "It may surprise you, but I'm gettin' it from both ends, here."
Olivia looked at her warily. "Yeah, I'm sure."
"Is that all?" Helen opened her file again. "I really wish I could make things smoother, detective Benson. But your prisoner-"
"She's a British citizen. She's in your charge!"
"Even so, she's been overstaying her American visa for a good long while. She was married, wasn't she?"
"Yeah. It was annulled, she's not American."
Helen looked away at some portion of the prisoner's file. "And her tendency to .maim male genitals "
Olivia exhaled in irritation.
"Look," Helen snapped. "At least we can agree that it's a difficult situation. You should be aware that she makes some of the women in here uncomfortable."
Olivia wasn't sure how true that was. "You people have been treating her like an animal," she crossed her arms. "Two weeks in isolation? That's your solution."
"The Seg unit is our only option at this point."
"I don't give a damn." Olivia snatched the file. "Did you even read her childhood history? The multiple occasions of abuse "
"You're telling me how to do my job, now?" Helen stood up, but Olivia still towered over her.
"Miss Stewart, this woman needs professional help."
"And she'll get it!" Helen gestured towards the door, her teeth clenched. "As you can see, I've got my hands full with this."
Olivia didn't budge. Helen's face was flushed, and for a second, Olivia let her eyes travel down over her body, before she thought the better of it. When Helen's office phone rang, she saw the intensity in Helen's expression whither to something resembling exhaustion.
"Hello? .What? She didn't? Well, what happ .Jesus." She ran a hand through her hair. "No, that's fine, Karen. Send her up to my office. No, my office. I'll deal with her."
Olivia was escorted to the door by the flustered-looking Helen Stewart.
"Problem prisoner?" She asked, but Fenner intercepted her at the doorway. He took one look at Helen's expression and smirked back at Olivia.
"You mean Wade?" He seemed to enjoy Helen's sharp expression, but he managed to contain himself. "She acting-out again, ma'am?"
Helen's lips were drawn thin, and Olivia found herself shooting Fenner a warning glare, though she wasn't sure exactly why. She simply told him to take her back to admissions, and watched the relief flood into Helen Stewart's face.
She found Alex arguing with a number of Larkhall staff and a member of the British consulate. Olivia was always happy to sit back and watch Alex acerbically cutting people down. Once she'd even made a defense attorney cry.
She strode up to Olivia afterwards and gave the people a final, exasperated appraisal.
"It's almost like they don't speak English, here."
"Don't be ridiculous, Alex."
"Thanks for your support down here, by the way," Alex said coolly.
"Hey, I went to argue with the damn warden for you."
"Well, I'm sure you were very persuasive." Alex drew her glasses off and rubbed her eyes, tiredly. "We'll have to book a hotel, I suppose."
"You mean separate ones?" Olivia muttered. "Or just separate rooms?"
Alex looked nervously about, her eyes lingering on a disinterested prison officer across the room. "Can we please discuss this elsewhere?"
Olivia grudgingly nodded, and motioned for the prison officer to escort them out of the prison.
"You shouldn't have come, if I piss you off so much," Olivia said, after they'd exited into the car park.
Alex let out a long breath. "You're not going to do this to me here."
"What am I doing?"
"Oh, please." Alex snapped. "You always jump on me when you know I can't possibly argue back." She glanced up and down the street, looking for cab-drivers. "It's just work, Olivia. I didn't have a choice in the matter."
"Fine," Olivia managed to hail one. "You tell me which side of London you're staying in, and we can draw a line through the middle."
Alex glared at her as she entered the backseat, "Look, I only said we should take a break."
"Oh, I remember what you said."
"You're taking this too personally. I just want to consider my options."
"I'm not a long-distance company."
Alex winced, and the driver sped down the road. He gave her a knowing smile and she glared at him. "Could you please have the decency to do the speed limit?"
"That's all I'm doing, ma'am."
Olivia breathed through her teeth. "We were only dating six-months. What the hell was the matter with that?"
"You know nothing was wrong " Alex bit her lip. "We were just moving so fast, and " She jolted backwards as the driver hit a pothole. "Jesus Christ! Could you slow down?" she gave the driver a look that chilled Olivia. "We're on the wrong side of the damn road, here."
Over the couple of days, Olivia decided the difficult Larkhall Governor was a simpler option to deal with. Ever since Alex broke it off with her, she'd been reminded of why she usually had such a firm rule about dating co-workers. Especially miserable, repressed ADAs with narrow-minded political agendas.
She was surprised when a drained-looking Helen Stewart cornered her towards the end of her shift, on Thursday. Helen didn't apologize for their on-going disagreements, exactly. But she was smiling, inexplicably.
"Look, I know it's been a difficult few days .I don't suppose you feel like discussin' a few things over a pint?"
Olivia was hesitant. "Uh, sure .is that a drink?"
Whether or not this would lead to further arguments, was for later examination.
Alex regarded her with a steely gaze back at their hotel. "To hear people in that place talk, you'd think they couldn't stand the woman." She wasn't even pretending to read over the paperwork in front of her. "I can't believe you're going on a date with that pig-headed, Scottish troll."
"I'm not asking for your approval," Olivia snapped, enjoying the way Alex's expression stiffened. She hesitated, then she sighed. "And it isn't a date."
But Olivia was putting on the tightest of her turtlenecks, sliding into her sleek leather jacket. Alex slammed the door to her adjoining room as she marched out.
Helen had obviously started drinking without her. When Olivia found her in the pub, she was met with a bewildered expression. She sighed, concluding that Helen probably didn't even remember inviting her out.
Helen squinted, then patted the seat next to her. "Oh Come, sit ."
Olivia sat, eyeing her warily. "I think I should call you a cab."
"Ach, no." Helen looked at Olivia again, a little too closely. "Shit ya look like her. I mean, ya don't but ." She swallowed the rest of her lager. "Maybe it's the hair."
"What?" Olivia sat on the chair, rigidly. "Who do I look like?"
"She's a bloody pain in the arse, like you."
Olivia narrowed her eyes. "You're out of line ." Then she shook her head, wondering why she was still there. "I'm getting you a cab, ok?"
Helen shrugged, looking up. "Ya want me to get the next round?"
"What'll ya have?"
You could be forgiven if you initially thought that woman was kind of plain, but Olivia found herself staring as Helen smiled, her tongue between her teeth. It was so adolescent, being stunned by the smile of an otherwise irritating woman.
"I'm such an arse, letting her go down like that " Helen swallowed. "Nikki should never have ."
"You're kidding." Olivia began staring at Helen with a different expression. "You're getting drunk because some prisoner got herself thrown into segregation?"
Helen managed to look pissed off. "If she had any sense about her .you'd think she'd want to keep her nose clean. Her appeal? All that crap about Femi. And now this?"
Olivia watched her closely, finding she didn't have anything to say. Helen looked like she was having trouble breathing. "Does she do it to hurt me?"
"What?" Olivia held her hands up. "Ok, has this woman been threatening you?"
"It's not that I don't love her," Helen closed her eyes. "All this macho crap. I can't stand this, rubbish."
Then before Olivia knew to avoid it, Helen leant in and kissed her, making a small noise as she tried to stop herself from crying.
"Shit," Olivia tried to pull away. But only at first. Helen looked so shattered by whatever Olivia had or hadn't done, that she found herself holding the side of Helen's face, to calm her. Then she kissed her. She kissed the miserable prison warden who'd fallen in love with an inmate, just a few blocks from where Alex was sleeping.
Then there was awkward fumbling for the check, and they were outside. She put Helen in a cab, and closed her eyes when she couldn't get the woman to give comprehensible directions to the driver.
"Your apartment? Tell him the address."
"My flat?" Helen slurred, as if the notion of living somewhere was entirely alien. She slid back into the backseat, looking positively ill. Olivia clenched her fist and got inside with her. She muttered directions to her hotel, and ignored the smug look the driver gave her when Helen curled up next to her, an arm tucking around her waist.
Olivia intended to sleep on the upholstered chair, at the other end of the hotel room. She'd basically carried Helen Stewart inside, with an arm draped over her shoulder.
After she lowered Helen onto the bed, she cringed. Why hadn't she noticed the woman's purse? She glared down at the driver's license, which displayed Helen's address perfectly. She quickly glanced back at the woman, who was sleeping peacefully on top of the covers. She felt suddenly tired. Swearing under her breath, she threw a blanket on the chair.
When Olivia awoke on her make-shift bed, her leg went into a spasm.
"Shit shit," her eyes snapped open and she found Helen standing over her, looking disheveled and uncomfortable. It was still dark outside.
"I'm sorry detective. Are you....alright there?"
"Olivia," she slurred, trying to get comfortable again. "It's Olivia."
Helen tucked her arms around her chest, even though she was still fully clothed. "I'm sorry This is so unprofessional."
Olivia wanted to roll her eyes. "I couldn't find your address. That's it. End of mystery."
Helen glanced down at her open wallet, and looked up again a little sharply.
"Look, I should go."
"It's fine," Olivia yawned, wishing - not for the first time- that she'd sent Elliot on this trip instead. "If you'd just go to sleep It's late. I'm beat."
Helen didn't move. "Do you want to-"
"I'm fine here," Olivia suppressed a wince.
Helen sighed. "I feel awkward enough. You can have your bed back, ok? I'll call a cab."
Olivia got to her feet, but not without a short spasm of pain. "I really don't care, Miss Stewart."
"It's just call me Helen, please."
"Fine. Helen. Got it. But I need some sleep."
Olivia slid into the bed, and Helen's eyes lingered over Olivia's tank top and boxers, before she shut the light off. There was another hesitation, before she laid back, her shirt still tucked into her skirt. Olivia sighed.
"Do you wanna borrow a t-shirt?"
Helen stayed perfectly still. "This is making me incredibly uncomfortable."
"What? The work clothes?" Olivia couldn't suppress a grin.
Helen exhaled, slowly. "You're perfectly comfortable, like this?"
"Why shouldn't I be?"
Helen turned away from her, and Olivia could hear her unfastening her bra, pulling it out from beneath her clothes. Then the skirt was zipped opened a notch, very carefully, as if Helen wished to pretend Olivia had no way of observing such obvious undressing.
"Look Helen?" Olivia glanced over at her. "You don't need to be in such a state."
"I'm perfectly calm," came the bitter reply.
Olivia was trying not to feel the movement of Helen's body, as she breathed in and out. She was trying to talk herself out of this perfect little scenario. She reminded herself that Alex was in the next room. But when Helen turned over, and Olivia could see the outline of her breast in the dim light, she remembered that Alex was to blame for this. She'd broken it off, before it had even started. She deserved any outcome that eventuated.
Neither of them said anything for a few minutes. Olivia could hear Helen's attempt to slow her breaths. Olivia smiled, and put a hand to the other woman's left breast, briefly.
"Holy-" Helen jerked away.
"Shhh. Your heart's beating fast."
"It certainly isn't," Helen tugged at the blanket, but seemed to decide against that kind of closeness. She stayed on top of the covers, until Olivia pulled them over her. Olivia kissed the back of her neck, enjoying the way Helen's breath hitched.
"Ok, I get it." Olivia began to turn over.
"Detective?" Helen whispered.
Helen reached out for her. After the drawn-out kiss, Helen let out this great sigh, like Alex had sighed when she'd ended things. The same sigh, repeated.
"Are you ok?"
Helen must have nodded. She didn't pull away when Olivia pressed a hand to her abdomen, when Olivia slid her fingers under the material of the loose top, then slowly caressed Helen's breast. Helen's breath hitched again, and Olivia swallowed. She flicked Helen's nipple and slid her free hand over Helen's underwear. Helen met her eyes and kicked off the skirt, still tangled around her legs.
"Detective I-" Then she gasped, remembering. "Olivia."
"I can stop," Olivia murmured.
She heard Helen let out another shaky breath. "Don't."
Helen laughed a little awkwardly and guided Olivia's hand lower.
Helen came almost quietly, tentatively, as if she was surprised that it was even possible to do so. And afterwards, Olivia wanted to ask if she was the first woman Helen Stewart had slept with. But she almost didn't want the answer, didn't want to know about Nikki Wade. Then Helen had fallen asleep, as if the alcohol had finally gotten the better of her. Olivia felt sick all of a sudden, feeling the curves of this woman against her skin. Alex was in the next room still, and Olivia did her best not to think at all as she drifted off.
Alex made a lot of noise in the morning. "Great," she took in the sight of Olivia, sprawled on the bed. "You're certainly being mature about this." She picked up Olivia's suitcase.
"What are you doing?"
"You never returned my Christian Dior lipstick."
"This matters now?" Feeling the empty side of the bed, Olivia turned over, "Alex "
Alex didn't look at her, "Terrific, found it." She held up the lipstick and narrowed her eyes. "Just sleep, ok. Fool around. Let me take all of the responsibility for the department we represent."
"Jesus." Sitting up, Olivia draped the sheet around herself. Alex's eyes strayed involuntarily, and this impulse seemed to irritate her.
Olivia sighed. "You done with your pissing contest?"
Olivia turned around. "Can you give me a second?"
Olivia pulled her t-shirt over her naked upper-half. Alex blinked in the opposite direction.
"You can't have it both ways, Alex."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Alex's expression hardened when she saw Helen's bra twisted up in the bedclothes.
"You all but accused me of it a second ago."
"Yes, but " Alex's eyes narrowed. "Just, please - stay here this morning. I don't give a damn."
"Get out," Olivia glared. "Let me get dressed. I'm coming with you."
"You're hardly much assistance in that place, in any case," Alex muttered.
"Great. Mature. Are we done?"
"We're more than done, Olivia." Alex marched toward the door. Olivia laughed in disbelief.
"You're such a child, counselor."
"I'd take a look at my own behavior, detective."
Olivia got out of bed and nodded towards the door.
"Just knock, next time, ok?"
Olivia didn't do it on purpose. She had to go to the segregation unit anyway, and then she remembered about the other prisoner down there.
She paused at the door to the holding cell, as if it might be somehow flammable.
"Oi, what do you think you're doing?"
Olivia didn't answer, and the woman Helen could easily lose her job over marched towards the door.
"I said, what are you after?"
The brunette was tall. And yes, beautiful. But she had one of those faces that got on Olivia's nerves. That challenging look in her eye, the set jaw.
"Or are you just lost?" the woman's eyes stared at Olivia through the slot in the green door. "Miss?" she added, bitterly.
"Watch your mouth," Olivia said slowly. "I'm a police officer."
Nikki was having difficulty hiding her sneer.
Olivia ignored her, and walked past to the other holding cell and her extradited prisoner.
"I don't care about some cop-killing British woman," Alex said tiredly.
Olivia had been talking about Nikki Wade for fifteen minutes.
"Helen seems to."
"You mean Miss Stewart? Miss."
Olivia shook her head. "That prisoner hardly seems worth all the attention."
Alex sighed. "Big deal. So, she's doing her job efficiently."
"It seems unhealthy, that's all."
"Since when do you get so hung up on your one night stands," Alex muttered. Olivia could see the signs of an argument building in Alex's clenched jaw.
"Fine. I'll drop it." Olivia held her hands up. "We're out of here tomorrow anyway, right?"
"One can only hope," Alex sighed. She was giving Olivia a measured expression. "Have you fallen for her?"
Alex gave her a steady look. "The Scottish one night stand."
Olivia looked up at the ceiling and shook her head. "This is getting exhausting."
"Listen, I have the right to know."
"No no you gave up that right when you chose your career over me."
"That isn't fair."
"Well, it's true, isn't it?" Olivia clenched her right hand, and decided she was too tired for this. "If you wanna ask me something really ask something, not just this bullshit about a woman I had sex with once then say it. Honestly, you're impossible."
Alex paused, then she looked Olivia in the eye.
"I want to date you."
"What?" Olivia narrowed her eyes in suspicion. "Alex, give me a break."
"Look," Alex held her hands up. "This is difficult, Olivia."
Olivia nodded, "I know."
"We're hardly in the position to date normally, you know? Sometimes, when I think about all the shit that could hit the fan. When I think about my job your job. It makes me want to hurdle myself against a wall."
"This isn't helping," Olivia sat back and waited. "You're telling me all this, Alex. And I know, ok? I was in the relationship as well." She muttered the rest. "You hardly gave it a chance."
"I know, Olivia."
Olivia watched her struggle with her words. When Alex couldn't come up with anything, she shrugged.
"You really think so, huh?"
"Yeah," Olivia was forcing a sarcastic smile. "I think so. I think I'm not about to jump into anything with you again. Because that's what you're suggesting, isn't it?"
Alex shot her a defiant look, but the energy seemed to leave her.
"I don't know Olivia. I just want I mean, don't you?"
Olivia closed her eyes so she didn't have to look of her. "Of course I do," she said. But then she shrugged, as if the answer was simple. "You want me, I want you. But where does that leave us?"
Alex looked away.
Beyond formalities, Helen didn't speak to Olivia after that night. They worked reasonably well together, allowing Alex to do most of the talking. More importantly, Olivia didn't know how to bring up the problem with Helen breaking the law. The law. She was breaking the law with that female inmate. She should be an inmate. They should arrest her. But there didn't seem to be much point in reporting it, even if she did have a better knowledge of the British legal system. It wasn't as if London was in her jurisdiction, anyway. And for some reason she hated the idea of having to tell Alex.
"Great, so it's settled, then?" Alex nodded. Olivia didn't like the way Alex had started to gaze at Helen, like she was trying to pick apart what made Olivia tick.
Helen nodded. "We're done, Miss Cabot. You don't need to hang around here any longer."
Olivia watched Alex checking Helen out, when the Governing Governor's back was turned.
"Do you feel like a drink?" Alex asked, suddenly.
"What?" Helen's voice seemed to crack. Then she forced a smile. "Did you just ask-" She shot Olivia a look, then settled her eyes back onto Alex.
"I was asking you out, yes."
"Thanks," Helen kept staring. "But I'm .this is making me uncomfortable, as you can imagine ."
"Alex," Olivia stepped forward.
Alex shook her head. "My mistake."
Helen asked Olivia to have a word with her, in private.
"I can't believe you'd just..." She barked. "You told her? You just told your colleague we...Have you any idea?"
Olivia crossed her arms. "I didn't tell her anything," she produced Helen's bra out of her jacket pocket. "Should've returned it earlier."
Helen snatched it out of her hands, her face reddening.
"You don't have any idea about the position I'm in, detective."
"I'm not going to apologize."
"Well, neither am I." Helen seemed strained by the thought of continuing the conversation.
Olivia shook her head, "Nikki Wade?"
Helen's eyes fell to the floor. "Yes. Nikki."
Olivia winced. "You're supposed to be the one in charge here. What you're doing with that prisoner-"
"We're not doing anything, alright? I ended it."
"Look, bottom line is, I don't care. Not my business, not my turf. I don't care."
Helen looked at her closely. "You think I'm disgusting, don't you? You're a fine person to judge."
"You're taking advantage of someone in no position to fight back."
Helen exhaled. "I was not the one in control of this."
"You're assigned to take care of her, aren't you? You have the damn keys," then Olivia held her hands up. "But you know what? I'm not having this discussion. Ok? I'm not about to take you out for whatever you're doing."
"You mean you're not in any position to."
"No no I bet I could make things really hard for you." Olivia sighed. "You're lucky, remember that."
Helen slumped in her chair, putting a hand to her face. "I feel anything but."
Olivia watched Alex packing her suitcase, forcefully jamming items into wherever they'd fit. She made a noise of frustration, when it still wouldn't close.
"Here, give me a shot with it."
Alex shrugged. "Great." Then she smiled. "What, were you spying on me from all the way out there?"
"No," Olivia walked into the bedroom. "I wouldn't call it spying, exactly."
Alex twisted her lip at the sight of Olivia wrestling with the luggage.
"You're really quite good at that."
Olivia winced as it clicked shut. "I know."
She gave Alex a doubtful look. "Making a pass at the Governor of Larkhall? Jesus, Alex. I thought you were terrified of being outed."
Alex shrugged. "I thought it might make you jealous."
"You're that's so childish."
"Yes, utterly juvenile, I agree." Alex paused. "Did it?"
"Well, are you trying to tell me something?"
"Olivia," Alex let out a breath, then she took hold of Olivia, bringing her into a kiss. Softly, she stroked a hand down Olivia's back. She pulled away and shook her head.
"I don't like you seeing other people, ok. And before you say I need to shut up and deal with it, Olivia. Just hear me out."
Olivia smiled and started backing away.
"I have to pack."
"Olivia?" Alex narrowed her eyes. "Please, you're being unreasonable."
Olivia drew her in for another kiss. "We'll get to it. Trust me." She let out a short laugh. "We have a plane to catch in a few hours."
"God, you're not going to make me beg, are you?"
Olivia smirked. "Depends. What are you offering?"
Alex brought her lips to Olivia's ear.
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