DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't really know if anybody actually ships these two, I'm more of an A/O girl myself. But I figured you may as well work with what's in play.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To runawaykite[at]gmail.clom
The Bones Beneath
There are monsters in the dark. Olivia has seen them. Maybe not clearly enough to trace their outlines, to see each claw, scale and tooth, but she knows they're there. Knows the phones will ring soon, or perhaps a victim with a darkening bruise across her throat will walk in from the street. Then the inevitable will be pushed into motion again. And again. Time was it she could settle into a bar stool with Elliot and build a small wall between herself and the last case. Stay for a drink or two and they'd talk a little, or not at all. She misses that. Maybe it's the way he resigned that did it, that pushed this distance between them. She still finds herself thinking of the girl bleeding out on the floor of the squad room, of Elliot gaping like he couldn't believe this, didn't want this to be flesh and real because she was so young. She was so young and he'd killed her. Even the fact that she'd drawn his fire wouldn't have made a dent in his guilt. Olivia knows him, will always know him despite not seeing him in months. When she does, it's only the fragments of him she manages to catch. A drink and a hello and then he has to runthe kids. Or Kathy wants him back. Or he needs to be home for the baby who isn't really a baby anymore, but a little boy learning his words.
"I hate to guess what's up, because it looks like somethin' serious."
Olivia looks up across her desk and shakes her head, managing a smile at Detective Rollins. She takes the coffee from Amanda with a muttered thanks and watches as the other detective tries to decide if she's over-stepped the familiarity. There's a slight nervousness in the friendliness Amanda offers. It's much like the awkward shuffle of the new girl in elementary school, a careful smile that shows she's uncertain of whether the laughter from the other girls is directed at her.
"It's fine," Olivia says, taking a sip of her coffee. "This stuff's really goodI was lost in my head, that's all."
"It's from that sweet new place in Tribeca I was tellin' you about," Amanda says. "Everythin' ok?"
"Yeah. It's nothing really. It's just, y'know, the job. That last case."
"It weighs on you."
Olivia nods. Amanda lifts up her own coffee and leans back on the desk as if lost in thought herself.
"I can't say I know how you've done this, all of this, for so long."
Olivia lets out a breath.
"I'm not sure I know either," she says. "I guess I try not to dwell on it."
"You seem like a dweller, though," Amanda smiles a little sadly. "At least tonight. Sometimes you can't help but stew on what you could've done."
"I try and fix that by going out and nailing the next son of a bitch on our radar."
"A good policy."
"I think so."
The conversation stalls after that and neither of them can think of what to say next. Amanda nods towards her own desk and the pile of paperwork that awaits her.
"I better "
"Yeah," Olivia says. "Thanks. For the coffee."
They aren't friends, at least not truly, but Amanda Rollins is family. And Fin, and Munch. Nick as well. The Captain. There's a loyalty that runs deep in the squad, a knowledge that wars will be waged if anybody so much as hurts one of their own. It may not be family in the traditional sense, but Olivia can't fault it when she compares it to what she had when her mother was alive. But it isn't fair to blame the woman for that, not for her pain or even the bottle she disappeared into. Olivia knows better than most that you can't bury the past. If you could it would surely be the kind of burial that sits a couple of feet below the topsoil, so you never forget the bones of what you walk over.
Another case passes by, revealing strangers lives that intersect in the worst way. A new day brings a new set of things to pick apart and Amanda starts it off with a proffered coffee. It's become a thing, a regular thing that Olivia can't remember the start of. She swears she can smell it every morning wafting across the squad room, maybe because it is the one thing in the place that isn't stale or reheated.
"Name your price and it's yours," she mutters into her sip. Amanda smiles and holds onto her own cup, watching Olivia wince a little.
"You'll burn your tongue."
"Jesus this is good," Olivia says, her eyes closing. "Where the hell do you find this stuff?"
"This one's from a little ol' place on Mulberry street," Amanda says with a raised eyebrow. "Sometimes I can't very well tell that you live here."
Olivia laughs through her nose.
"Hey. I've been here over a year."
"No complaints from me," Olivia says. "Not if your enthusiasm leads to this liquid gold being delivered to my desk."
"There's so much out there. I mean, don't you ever just wanna explore the place? See it afresh after it's all sullied from work?"
Olivia smiles and looks up again, catching the tail end of whatever excitement has passed over Amanda's face. It's kind of adorable.
"If you've figured out a way to wipe the crap away from this city, I'm up for being educated."
Amanda manages not to look away or smile nervously. She doesn't even play with the lid of her coffee.
"It's about the right company, is all I'm sayin'."
"I take it you're the right company."
"I'm a little scared."
"Oh, I'll be gentle."
There's a buzz in the air that's not entirely from the coffee, and Olivia wonders how this turned into flirting. She feels a little bit of heat moving up from her neck. She can't forget where she is, in the squad room with a dozen other detectives moving around, talking and pushing papers and muttering down a phone. She doesn't move, because she's afraid that if she does she will break the spell that's settled between them. Amanda is the one to lean forward a little, not to do anything that would catch the eyes of the people nearby. She simply puts her hand on Olivia's arm. Her skin is bare and Olivia can feel it prickle slightly at the touch. Amanda moves swiftly, taking hold of Olivia's hand with a soft touch that seems to linger a little, her fingers playing in a circle. But in a moment it is over and Amanda pulls back. Olivia feels the seconds tick and wonders if she is the one who is meant to say something, but she can't seem to find the words. Amanda smiles like whatever just happened, whatever is going on between them, is something simple. Something easy.
"I'm ready when you are," she says. Olivia can hear the message behind it, and Amanda seems to be watching her closely for she says. "I promise, when I'm done you won't see the city the same way again."
Olivia opens her mouth to say something, but Amanda has already left to find Fin. It's strange, watching her make her way across the squad room without a hint of nerves. It is just dawning on Olivia what Amanda was nervous about.
Smiling, she drinks the last of her coffee.
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