DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are
property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: According to this story, "Loss" never happened. Thank you so much to Banana for the beta; this was written as part of the SatterStorm Productions FemSlash Advent Calendar 2004.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"Oh no!" I heard the cry beside me.
Quickly, I rolled over and turned on the table lamp. "What, what is it?"
She held up the object, or rather, objects of her distress. Her sadness was genuine. "Dory's leg came off." She held the tattered teddy bear in one hand and the bear's leg in the other. The damn bear was so ragged that the pajama'd body was close to tearing apart, so she had dressed it in a baby's sleeper to keep it from falling apart.
I couldn't help it. "Maybe I should pull Dory's other leg off too. Then he won't limp." I was tired of that bear. I was tired of sharing our bed with that bear. I was tired of sharing her with that bear.
Her dark brown eyes told me that if I so much as touched the fuzz on his head, she'd cut off my hand. I ignored her look and reached out my hand slowly, a small smile playing on my lips.
"Alex," she said, her voice deep with warning. "Stop it."
"Just one quick tug," I teased her.
"Stop it!" she tried to say sternly, holding the bear closer to her chest, away from me. I could tell she was close to breaking out into laughter over the situation.
"I promise it won't hurt," I said, trying to contain the giggling that was threatening to surface.
"No!" she whined, and turned her back to me as I leaned in and started to tickle her. My reward was her laughter as she tried to fend me off while keeping the bear out of my reach. Finally, after finding the weak spot at her sides, I got my hands on the bear and his leg and it was my turn to hide the stuffed animal from her. She continued her whining, and tried tickling me to get the bear back. She should've known better. Growing up with an older brother, I learned at a young age to resist the effects of being tickled.
I quickly stuffed the bear's leg back into the vacant sleeper leg and turned back to her. I held him out to her and she quickly snatched him away from me. "Hey, you fixed him!"
"You're welcome," I said as I settled back down under the covers.
"Thank you," she said and leaned over, giving me a kiss on the cheek. I reached over and turned off the lamp. She snuggled up to spoon me and then I felt it. The damn bear was there, right between us. He was snuggled against her breasts, where I should've been, and his hard plastic eyes and nose were pressing into my back. It was the same thing every night. He was always there. Even when I spooned her, she would clutch him to her chest.
I don't know what it was about that bear, but even in his sorry state, she never once talked about getting a new bear to replace him. I never said anything about the bear because she had him before I came into her life. I figured that eventually she'd just need me to hold onto at night and Dory would find a home on the shelf or in the drawer. Four years later, his eyes and nose were still pressing into my back. In all honesty, I didn't mind the old thing so much. It was just the knobby little eyes and nose that bothered me. Whenever we'd fall asleep naked after making love, it was that much worse because his eyes and nose were cold, especially during the winter. I made a mental note to go to FAO Schwarz and find a new bear, one with stitched eyes and nose.
The next day, she told me that she was working late. Normally, that kind of news would've disappointed me, however, this time, I was happy for the extra time to go teddy bear hunting. After two hours of browsing, I finally found the perfect bear. It was the right size for cuddling with, the fur soft, thick and short and its body was actually pajama fabric, like Dory, as opposed to being all plush. I hoped Olivia would like it. I was going to wait until Christmas to get her a new bear, since it was less than a month away, but that night when the bear's leg fell off, I couldn't wait any longer. Dory had seen his last days and needed to be shelved instead of slept on every night.
I came home, deposited my purchase on the bed, and changed into some pajama pants and a tank top. The phone rang; it was Olivia calling to say she was on her way home. She asked what I wanted for dinner and we agreed on our comfort food of choice: burgers and fries from a little mom and pop shop around the corner. After I hung up the phone, I put the shopping bag under the bed. I wanted to give it to her later while we got ready for bed.
She came home and brought the savory smell of greasy food with her. We were both famished and quickly finished our late dinner and settled down to watch some of the news before we headed off to bed. I was already in bed, reading over some case notes while she went through her bedtime routine. She finally came out of the bathroom and headed towards the bed. She pulled down the covers on her side and grabbed Dory as she crawled in. As much as I detested the bear, her routine of grabbing him as she crawled into the bed each night was endearing. It brought back a childhood innocence that we had both lost so long ago. Each night that she went through those motions, I saw the little girl inside the tough and hardened detective exterior.
Often times I wondered where the bear came from. I had asked her a couple of times, but all she ever told me was that someone had given it to her. At first, I wondered if it was an old boyfriend or girlfriend that she couldn't let go of. She promised me that it was nothing of the kind. All I could do was trust her assurances; after all, I was the one sharing her bed. I concluded that the bear definitely had some kind of sentimental value for her, so I wasn't going to ask her to get rid of him. I just wanted her to retire him and eventually retire the new bear as well. Yes, I was trying to wean her off of the teddy bear. I knew I was being selfish, but I wanted to be the only one she held on to at night.
As she settled down, I put my papers away and reached under the bed. I pulled out the bag and she gave me a quizzical look.
"I know I should wait until Christmas, but after last night's incident, I don't want to wait," I said shyly, hoping that she would like the new bear.
She opened the bag, removed the tissue paper and pulled out the stuffed animal. She looked at it, then at me and smiled. "You didn't have to do this."
"Sweetie, Dory is falling apart," I said, tossing the bag onto the floor.
"I know," she said, slightly defensive. "I've had him for a long time."
"I know, and I'm not asking you to throw him out or anything," I said. "I just thought that maybe we could retire him from the bed so that he doesn't lose any more limbs."
She pursed her lips and gave it some thought. She propped Dory up on our pillows, up against the headboard and removed the tags from the new bear. I turned off the light and settled into the bed. She leaned over and gave me a kiss. "Thank you. I love you."
"You're welcome, and I love you too," I said, kissing her back. She spooned up against me and sure enough, I felt the furry thing against my back. At least there weren't two lumpy eyes and a nose this time.
In the morning, as usual, I woke up first and slid out of bed to crawl into the shower. From the dim light of the bathroom, I could see her laying on her back, each arm around a bear. Great. Instead of weaning her off of the bears, I ended up bringing in a second one into our bed.
As the week went on, she continued to fall asleep with Newbie, as I began calling it, but in the morning, she ended up with Dory back in her arms. I guess she slept with Newbie because I gave him to her and she didn't want to hurt my feelings. What was it about that old bear that she couldn't let go of?
Then, I found my answer. I was writing Christmas Cards one evening while she was out on a call. I had asked her to give me a list of all the addresses that we were supposed to send cards to, but in typical Olivia fashion, she kept putting it off. If I had to wait for her to do it, our cards wouldn't have made it to the mailbox until the new year. I called her and asked her where she kept her address book. She told me where to look and I went to retrieve it so that I could at least send the cards out two weeks before Christmas. As I flipped through the pages, I found a picture of a much younger Olivia and a young girl, probably around 7 or 8 years old. The little girl was holding Dory. He was already pretty worn out in the picture but at least his legs were still intact. On the back of the picture was written "Allison Parker, 1998". I wondered who Allison Parker was, why Olivia had never mentioned her before, and why Olivia had the little girl's teddy bear.
The next day, I had my assistant pull up anything he could find on Allison Parker. What he found broke my heart. In 1998, eight year old Allison Samantha Parker was abducted from her father's home by her alcoholic and mentally unstable mother. Olivia and Elliot were assigned the case and found the little girl in a crack house that her mother frequented. Allison was returned to her father. Two weeks later, Allison was a victim of a murder-suicide.
I called Elliot and asked to him to meet me for coffee. I wanted to ask him about Olivia and Allison's case. Olivia had never mentioned any of this to me before and I didn't want to push her into talking about something she didn't want to. However, I still wanted to know what had happened.
"Thanks for meeting me, Elliot," I said as we got our coffee and sat down at a little table in the corner of the coffee shop.
"You sounded serious," he said. "What can I do for you?"
"I need to know about what happened to Allison Parker," I said slowly, gauging his reaction. His face grew solemn.
"What do you know and what do you want to know?" he asked.
"I know she was abducted by her mentally unstable mother," I began to recite what I had learned. "You and Olivia found her, returned her to her father and two weeks later, she was killed."
He nodded, confirming what I had learned. "The woman escaped from the mental institution where she was being held, found and murdered Allison, and then took her own life. It was Olivia's first SVU case."
"I found a picture of Olivia and the little girl last night in her address book," I revealed. "The little girl was holding a teddy bear..."
"She gave that bear to Olivia after we found her," Elliot explained. "We brought her back to the station and Olivia spent some time with her while we waited for her father. Before her father took her home, she asked Olivia if she had a daddy to take care of her like she did. Olivia told her "no", so Allison gave her the teddy bear, so that the teddy bear could look after Olivia."
"So that's why she won't give it up," I muttered and mentally kicked myself for trying to wean her off Dory.
"You mean she's still got it?" Elliot asked, eyebrows raised.
"Yeah," I replied. "He's in pretty bad shape, but she just won't give him up."
"I think Olivia fell in love with that little girl, even though she only spent a few hours with her," Elliot replied, looking into his cup. "Allison's death hit Olivia pretty hard."
I nodded. "Thank you, Elliot," I said, giving his hand a squeeze and we finished our coffees in relative silence.
As the days passed and Christmas approached, I began to panic. I wanted to surprise Olivia with her Christmas present, but it was practically impossible. There was no way I would be able to take Dory out of the apartment for a few days without her noticing. I had found a little shop that specialized in restoring stuffed animals but was unable to figure out a way to get it done secretly to surprise her. Finally, I gave into the old lesson I had learned about how money could buy you almost anything. I went to the shop and talked to the owner. I offered to pay whatever it took if they could fix up Dory on Christmas Eve if I brought him in the morning of that day. After a lot of begging and then explaining the origins of the bear, the owner, Laura, was touched by Allison's story and agreed to fix up Dory for me.
I took Christmas Eve off so that I'd have the day to arrange for Dory's "surgery". Out of habit, I woke up before she did and laid in bed, watching her sleep, with Dory clutched to her chest. I now understood that the ratty old bear had so much sentimental value that no amount of new bears or teasing from me would ever make her give it up. She was hanging onto the memory of a little girl that she tried to save. She was hanging onto Allison's strength and love, which gave her strength to go on helping others. Dory was a symbol of Allison and Olivia's guardian angel.
I kissed her lips and she started to stir. She opened her eyes slowly and smiled. Then she narrowed her eyes and looked at me speculatively. "What?"
"I love you so much," I said. I was rewarded with a grin.
"I love you so much, too," she replied and kissed me.
We made slow and passionate love in the shower before she left for work. I fell deeper in love with her that day. Just when I thought I couldn't love Olivia Benson anymore than I already did, I surprised myself and fell a little bit harder. I always admired her and loved the way she could reach out to the victims of horrible acts of violence. If a teddy bear was what gave her the strength to give her all day-in and day-out, I had no right to take that away from her.
After Olivia left, I gathered Dory and the picture I had found and headed over to the restoration shop. I showed the owner the picture of what Dory was supposed to look like, and left him in Laura's capable hands. I spent the rest of the morning shopping for groceries for our Christmas dinner. Instead of opening presents and having Christmas dinner on Christmas day, Olivia and I would begin our Christmas celebrations at midnight on Christmas Eve. We'd go to Midnight Mass and then return to the apartment for a post-Mass Christmas Dinner, a French tradition I picked up from my mother's side. After dinner, we would exchange gifts, and then snuggle in our makeshift bed near the Christmas tree and sleep in on Christmas Day, only getting out of bed to eat leftovers and then go out to catch whatever movie was opening on Christmas Day.
Since it was just the two of us, a turkey would've been overkill so we stuck with roast chicken and some vegetable side dishes. I spent the afternoon preparing dinner and called my Mother to wish her a Merry Christmas. Since she retired and remarried, she had taken to migrating to warmer climates, like the Carribean, for Christmas. Most of the time, my brother and his family would join her. She invited me to join them over New Year's, like she did every year. I think she felt guilty for leaving me to spend the holidays by myself. She didn't know about Olivia and me and I didn't want to spend New Year's away from Olivia. I was never quite sure how my mother would handle finding out that not only was her daughter not going to marry some rich plastic surgeon, but that I was gay and living with a sex crimes detective.
After talking with my mother, I finished up with dinner. Laura called to let me know that Dory was ready to be picked up and brought home. When I arrived at the shop, I almost didn't recognize him without the baby sleeper. He was basically brand new, limbs all sturdily intact. I thanked her profusely and wished her a Merry Christmas. I headed home, wrapped up the bear and put him under the Christmas tree.
Olivia came home and we snacked on some soup before heading out for a walk to watch all the people scurrying about and to listen to the carolers. When the cold started to get to us, we got some hot chocolate and headed to Rockefeller Centre to watch the ice skaters. We headed home, changed and went to the church for Mass. After Mass, we came back to the apartment and had Le Reveillon, the Christmas Dinner. I put the food and dishes away while Olivia brought out our blankets and pillows and spread them out in front of the fireplace, by the tree.
We settled down on the blankets with our hot chocolates and like two little kids, eyed each other, waiting to see who would break first and go for their present. With a smile, she reached under the tree and grabbed a flat package. She handed it to me. I raised my eyebrows.
"I wanted you to open yours first," she explained.
Without responding, I gently removed the wrapping paper to find two tickets to Grand Cayman. I looked up at her, speechless.
"I hope you don't mind us spending New Year's with your family," she said, smiling that smile that I love.
"I'm not so sure that's a good idea," I said quietly. I knew that one day I'd have to introduce my family to my girlfriend, but I didn't know if I was ready to introduce them to Olivia all at once.
"Why not? Your mom thought so," she said softly.
"You talked to my mother?" I said, not sure whether or not I was supposed to be mad or happy.
"Yeah," she replied and smiled. "After we moved in together and I kept answering the phone, your mom realized that I wasn't the maid."
"And she's okay with...us?" I asked, my voice filling with hope.
"She called and asked me to convince you to come to her villa and to take me with you," she answered. "I believe her exact words were, 'I want to meet the woman who's brought sunshine to my daughter's face and voice'."
"Thank you," I said, not knowing what else to say. I leaned over and hugged her. "Thank you so much."
"Don't forget to thank your mom for clearing your schedule with your boss," Olivia reminded me.
"I will," I replied, pulling back and moving towards the Christmas tree. I picked up the box and handed it to her.
"It's no Carribean vacation, but I hope you still like it," I said and leaned against the couch, watching her unwrap the present. She tore into the paper and then opened the box. She looked down into the box and became very still. I started to wonder if I had made a mistake. When she looked up at me, her eyes were glistening and her mouth started to quiver, fighting between crying and smiling. The smile won out as tears rolled down her cheeks. She put the box down and leaned over and hugged me.
"How?" she asked into my shoulder.
"I found a picture of you, Allison, and Dory when I was looking in your address book. So, I found a place that restored stuffed animals and had them make Dory look like his old self again," I explained.
She pulled back and took Dory out of the box. "This really means a lot to me."
"I'm glad you like it," I said, wiping the tear tracks from her cheeks. She put the box aside and put Dory down at the foot of the blankets. She came back up to me and we started kissing. We laid down on the blankets and she pulled away slightly, but still hovered over me. "Alex?"
I smiled. "Yes, Dory can come to Grand Cayman."
"Thank you," she said and planted another kiss on my lips. "Merry Christmas, Alex."
"Merry Christmas to you too, Liv."
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