DISCLAIMER: Not mine. I promise I'm only borrowing them and will return them to their rightful owners whenever they ask for them back. My imagination took a flight of fancy.....my bank account stayed empty. (Seriously, the cast of SVU belong to NBC and Dick Wolf and I'm only borrowing them for some free daydreaming that I wrote down).
AUTHOR'S NOTE: No major spoilers. This is angsty, and involves some heavy issues, but I guarantee it all ends well.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
You can't choose your family
Exhausted, Doctor Warner sat down at her desk and turned on the desk lamp, bathing the small office in warm yellow light. It had been a long shift, but that wasn't what had resulted in this complete exhaustion she was experiencing. Whilst the shift had been long, none of the cases had been excessively challenging or arduous....except one. Taking a long swallow of her tepid coffee, Melinda checked through the office window that her morgue was indeed deserted, before picking up the phone. After a couple of rings, it was answered.
"Captain Cragen? It's Warner."
"Can you come down here?"
"Now is best."
"Thank you. Captain? Make sure your detectives don't know where you're coming?"
"You'll understand when you get here." She pinched the bridge of her nose in a forlorn attempt to try to alleviate the ache in her head that was seemingly determined to become a headache, or worse, a migraine.
"Thanks. See you in a few." Hanging up the phone, Warner contemplated what she was going to do. Her night shift had turned into a double shift when her relief phoned in sick. Saturday nights were always busy, but Sundays were generally quieter, explaining the deserted area of the morgue. The few techs that were working were in other areas, far away from the Medical Examiner's office; it was no coincidence. Absently noticing the time, she muttered,
"I just hope he hasn't had his lunch yet," before trying to spur herself into action. Despite everything else that she'd caused, Louise Lambert had died of natural causes. There was no reason not to start on the paperwork.....
"Hello?" Cragen's voice echoed around the quiet mortuary. For some reason, convention dictated that they were in basements, and so devoid of natural light. Normally, they were bathed in artificial light, making them appear stark but shadowless. Don didn't particularly enjoy mortuary visits; visits to a shadowy mortuary when he didn't know why he was here, he liked those even less.
"Captain" acknowledged Warner, standing in her office doorway, her figure silhouetted, adding to Cragen's unease. Why did Medical Examiners never understand that, whilst they were perfectly comfortable in their domains, visiting detectives were not?
"What's going on?" he asked, without preamble, threading through the tables to join her.
"Ah, a case, sort of." Cragen took the seat he was offered confused. There was only one reason he could be here, and that had to be a dead body. Warner was a seasoned M.E., used to all the morbid aspects of her work and normally confidently spoken.
"I had to do an autopsy on a Caucasian woman, mid thirties," began Warner, reverting to more impersonal language in the hope that it would quell her nerves. "She died in the home after a long illness. It would have been automatically signed off by the attending doctor if he hadn't heard the deceased's best friend accuse the husband of killing her."
"Right, and still illegal. An autopsy showed the accusation to be groundless. Louise Lambert died of natural causes at the end of a long illness."
"Ok." Don had a lot of respect for Warner, so he kept his questions to himself, trusting that she would explain why she needed him here.
"She looked familiar, but I couldn't at first place her. The name meant nothing to me, but she looked so...." Rather than trying to finish her sentence, she opened a file and passed a photograph to Don. The face was pale and lifeless, the hair limp and the eyes closed. But the jaw, nose and cheekbones...
"She looks just like..." Cragen was now unable to finish his thought, instead looking sorrowfully at Warner.
"She would...I ran the DNA: Partial match. She's her half sister."
"Given what we both know of Benson's family history, same father, different mother." Again, Warner tried to keep it impersonal, focussing on the medical facts and not their personal significance.
"Lambert's father?" asked Don, wondering if now, finally, years after he'd been sure Olivia had laid to rest that particular ghost, it was about to start haunting her again.
"Is dead. He died seventeen years ago, as did his wife, although her death was more recent."
"Ok." Don hated himself for it, but he somehow felt relieved. He knew Olivia had come to terms with the fact that, after her mother's death, she had no family. This didn't seem to change it. Warner's heavy sigh made him refocus on her.
"What else?" he questioned sharply.
"Louise Lambert died of Huntington's Disease."
"So she got it from her mother?" asked Don, quickly going into denial.
"No, her father. He also died of Huntington's Disease," explained Melinda patiently, feeling her emotional control nearing breaking point.
"Oh God " Cragen didn't have that same control .
"Alex? It's Don Cragen." Don was standing outside the 16th precinct, trying to work out what he was going to do. He knew that Olivia was working in the squad room, and he also knew that she would know something was wrong the moment she saw him.
"No, it's not about a case," explained Don, realising that that explained why Alex wasn't surprised to have him ring her at home on a Sunday afternoon.
"You and Benson are friends, right?" The minute he'd asked the question, he realised his mistake, as Alex began to panic, prompting him to interrupt her.
"No Alex, listen to me. She's fine, at her desk doing paperwork. She's fine "
"Is it ok if Warner and I come to your apartment? We need your help with something."
"Sure. I'm getting a cab now." Shutting off his cell, Don stepped into a waiting cab and directed it up to West 73rd Street, before ringing Warner and giving her directions.
"What's this about?" asked Alex, straight to the point once her two unexpected guests had settled down on the couch with coffee. Sharing a look, Warner began,
"I did an autopsy on a woman this morning, to determine if she'd died naturally or been assisted. Her death was due to natural causes, but she looked familiar to me. I ran a DNA test to see why." On seeing Alex's raised eyebrow, the M.E. stated, admittedly a bit defensively.
"In my morgue, I can run any tests I want to. Like I said, she seemed familiar. She was, but not for any reason I expected."
"What had you expected?" asked Alex.
"A family member of someone I'd had on my table someone I'd swabbed."
"But it wasn't that?"
"No. I'd never met her before, but we know her sister." This time, rather than passing the photograph, Warner handed Alex the DNA report, knowing the ADA was familiar enough with the print outs to understand what it was telling her.
"Partial match against the system. So her sister's in what .prison?" asked Alex, looking over her glasses at Warner, not having realised that she'd been handed two pages.
"Not prison; read the second page," prompted Cragen kindly.
Dutifully, Alex turned her attention to the second page. As she read it, her face went unnaturally pale. For a moment, Warner was concerned she might faint. After reading it a second time, Alex returned the pages to the coffee table, before asking in a surprisingly steady voice,
"Yes. Luke Georges. Born 1945, died 1988 age 43," explained Warner, no longer needing to refer to her notes.
"Cause of death?"
"Huntington's Disease it's " before she could finish, Alex had stood abruptly and finished it for her.
"Hereditary. 50% chance of inheritance by children if the parent is affected."
"Yes." If Warner was surprised at Alex's knowledge, she didn't ask. If Alex hadn't learnt it in high school science, it had probably come up in one of the many cases the ADA had prosecuted.
"Louise Lambert had Huntington's Disease?" asked Alex quietly.
"Yes." There wasn't anything much else for Warner to say.
"Ok." Hugging herself, Alex stood with her back to her colleagues, looking out at the city. For nearly ten minutes, no one spoke. Finally, Alex returned to her seat, her composure seemingly regained.
"Are there tests that can be done?"
"Yes, but sometimes people prefer not to know," admitted Warner honestly.
"50% chance she's got it?" asked Alex forlornly.
"50% chance she's not got it," amended Warner kindly, pleased when her comment forced a tight smile from Alex.
"She'll want to know," admitted Alex quietly.
"Yes," agreed Don gently.
"I will tell her," stated Warner firmly, earning her a look from Alex.
"I will tell her so that if she wants to get angry and lash out at the messenger, she still has her friend to comfort her," explained Warner, reminding everyone that, whilst the majority of her 'patients' were silent now, she was still a doctor and had regrettably done this before.
"Ok," as the seriousness of the potential consequences finally sunk in for Alex, she felt her tears returning, only this time, she wasn't looking out of the window. Taking off her glasses, she covered her eyes with her hand, as she tried to find her calm again. To her surprise, she felt herself being pulled into a hug by Cragen.
"It's going to be ok Alex " he murmured.
"How can you say that?" she asked sharply.
"Because you love her." The simple response shocked her tears away, and startled, she looked at him.
"And she loves you," he continued, unable to stop the smile that her shocked expression brought.
"How did you know?" Alex finally asked.
"Gut feeling?" asked Cragen lightly, aware how much Alex hated it when her detectives based cases on those. It had the desired affect, as Alex tentatively smiled, appreciating the joke.
"Thanks Don " she extricated herself from the embrace, suddenly feeling better for some reason, perhaps because she could be honest now.
"I'm going to go back to the precinct. Why don't you call Olivia and get her to come over?"
"Now?" asked Alex in shock.
"She's going to know something's wrong the first time she sees you," observed Warner pragmatically, drinking some more of the rich strong coffee which was probably the only thing keeping her awake. Recognising the truth in the statement, Alex reached for the cordless phone, dialling Olivia's cell from memory.
"Liv? Can you come home?"
"Cragen's not bothered." As Alex started her white lies, she shied away from Cragen and Warner, not wanting to have to watch their reactions.
"I called his cell. He thinks it's trial prep."
"I love you." As Alex hung up, the tears fell in earnest once more. Turning back to her guests, she said simply,
"She'll be here in about 20 minutes."
Sharing a look with Warner, Don stood, understanding that it was best if he wasn't here when Olivia arrived. His movement drew Alex's attention, making him feel like he should say something, although what he wasn't quite sure.
"Alex? I'm assuming she's got the week off unless you call me. We'll use the pool for warrants." It sounded callous to be talking about work, but he wasn't sure what else to say. Thankfully, it seemed to be the right thing, as Alex's face softened, thankful that they didn't need to worry about the SVU.
"I'll see myself out." With a final smile, Don left the apartment, leaving Melinda and Alex sitting in silence. There wasn't anything else to say, they could only wait until Olivia arrived.
"Alex?" Olivia called out to her lover as she closed the apartment door behind her.
"Hey " Alex's answering call hailed from the couch and sounded weary. Concerned, Olivia headed towards her, intending to give Alex a hug and a kiss.
"You ok?" called Olivia conversationally as she made her way towards Alex, only to round the corner and see Warner sitting in a chair and a M.E.'s report on the coffee table. Adjusting her face and tone appropriately, she placed a comforting hand on Alex's shoulder and asked kindly,
"Who died sweetie?" deciding that Warner had probably already guessed about her relationship with Alex, given that Alex had called her home.
"Louise Lambert," answered Alex, reaching up to grab Olivia's hand and hold it, but making no move to force Olivia onto the couch. The name meant nothing to Olivia.
"Oh, good friend of yours?" enquired Olivia soothingly, deciding she had to have been, given how distressed and tense Alex seemed.
"I've never met her," replied Alex hollowly, sending a look to Warner.
"Ok " Olivia was confused, prompting her to send a questioning look at the Medical Examiner, who took the telegraphed hints. Clearing her throat, she began,
"Louise Lambert, daughter of Luke and Sandra Georges, died in the apartment she shared with her husband on East 56th Street at some point overnight. When she failed to wake this morning, the local doctor was called. As he was preparing to sign a death certificate, Louise's best friend arrived and began loudly accusing the husband of killing her. Since euthanasia is illegal, he was unable to sign the certificate, instead sending her to me for an autopsy." Still, Warner felt it was best to start as she would any other conversation with Olivia about a body. Whilst she had a friendly working relationship with Olivia, it was a slight overstatement to call them good friends.
"Euthanasia? She was sick?" queried Olivia, thinking like the detective she was.
"Yes, hence no surprise when she was found dead in the morning. Autopsy was clear she did die of natural causes, in her sleep, after a long and at times probably painful battle against disease." Naturally cautious with her choice of words, Melinda wasn't sure she could recall a time when she had been concentrating this hard on picking her words.
"Ok." Olivia's ready acceptance of the explanation surprised Warner, having expected perhaps some sort of questioning immediately as to why the straightforward death of an apparent stranger warranted her presence in their home on a Sunday afternoon.
Olivia, satisfied that Alex wasn't in some grave or mortal danger all of a sudden, was happy now to get comfortable. Standing up again from her perch on the back of the couch, she crossed to the dining table, removing her leather jacket and hanging it on the back of one of the chairs. Considering her options for a moment, she finally removed gun, cell, and pager from her belt, carefully placing them on the table. Whatever was the real reason for Alex calling her, and she was now fairly certain it wasn't trial prep, it seemed more likely to involve snuggling than shooting, hence the relocation of her gun to the table. Crossing back to the couch, she prepared to sit down next to Alex, when the papers on the table caught her eye: pausing a moment, she decided that there was more to the death of Louise Lambert than was immediately apparent. Sitting down, she looked at Melinda, her eyebrow raised questioningly and stated simply,
"You ran a DNA test on her."
"Yes." Recognising that Olivia was wanting to work through the situation as if it were a case, Melinda waited for the questions to be asked, rather than delivering the information. That way, it would allow for Olivia to learn the information at a pace she was in some control of.
"Is that standard?"
"For an autopsy on a named individual, in these circumstances, no." Warner slid into her professional delivery effortlessly, although the tone was softer and warmer than if they had been having this discussion in her morgue.
Again, Olivia's eyebrow twitched in bemusement.
"You recognised her?"
"She felt familiar," clarified Melinda, watching as Olivia chewed on her lower lip for a moment, obviously wracking her brain for any reason why Louise Lambert should mean something to her. After a decent interval, Melinda continued,
"She was, but not because of a case."
"She was in the system?" asked Olivia, happy that there was a good reason why the name meant nothing to her.
"Partial match," amended Melinda, handing the first page of the DNA report across to Olivia, who gave it a close study.
"Family. She's got family where NYPD?" guessed Olivia, looking back at Melinda, and deciding from the uncharacteristic fidgeting that Warner was now doing, that her guess had been right.
"Yes. It seems she has a sister, works 16th precinct," explained Melinda softly, reaching for the second page of the DNA report, preparing to hand it across to Olivia.
"That's my precinct ." Concerned, Olivia looked quickly between Alex and Melinda, before settling a hard look on Melinda.
"Who?" she demanded, reaching out to snatch the paper from Warner; as her fingers touched it, she felt Alex shift nearer to her on the couch. In silence, she read the page, twice.
"My sister?" she eventually asked.
"Half sister," amended Melinda, mentally preparing for the next stage of the talk.
"Does it matter?" asked Olivia sharply, the shock of the news rendering her short tempered, but also unable to grasp the entire significance of what she was being told.
"Yes, it matters," confirmed Alex, reaching out to hold one of Olivia's hands, unable to contain the beginnings of her tears. The movement prompted Olivia to turn and look at Alex, wondering what else was going on.
"Alex?" she whispered, looking at her pleadingly, wanting to know what else was happening. Swallowing thickly, Alex started to talk, only for nothing to come out. She couldn't get the words past the lump that had seemingly grown in her throat. Squeezing Olivia's hand, the tears intensified as her emotions combined with frustration at her inability to be strong for Olivia to overwhelm her restraint.
"Olivia?" Warner recognised that Olivia was troubled by something else and so drew her attention to her. It was important that Olivia, if she reacted at all, reacted at Warner, and not Alex.
"The man who raped my mother married a woman called Sandra and had a daughter called Louise, who married a guy named Lambert" summarised Olivia bluntly
"Yes." Warner was impressed at Olivia's recollection, but hardly surprised.
"You're not here to tell me that my father was a man called Luke Georges. You could have sent the report over to the stationhouse." Olivia was staring intently at Warner, levelling a hard gaze on the woman, almost as if she was trying to intimidate a confession out of her.
"Louise Lambert had Huntington's Disease; it was what killed her."
"What's that?" asked Olivia, confused, not expecting such a precise, simple reply.
"A hereditary disease."
"And it's fatal?"
"Yes." Only Warner's professional training was enabling her to not start to cry as she watched Olivia's face crumple. Somehow, she managed to keep enough composure to ask one more question.
"Her father gave it to her, didn't he? And you think he gave it to me too?"
Swallowing deeply, Melinda took a split second to think. What did she think? This wasn't some patient she could give the stock answer to; this was Olivia, a colleague who, if things were only a fraction different, she would probably be friends with. This wasn't a patient in the ER that you broke the news to then packed them off home or to another department; this was someone she knew, someone who, if she did have the disease, there was a strong chance that Melinda would have to watch her live with it, watch Alex live with it. This was not someone who deserved the statistical sound-bite.
"He might have, but you have different mothers. That is very important and means it's not as clear." Watching as tears flowed freely now from Alex's eyes, and started to drip from Olivia's, Melinda felt moisture pooling in her own, but she willed herself to be strong, continuing,
"I'm not an expert, but things like this? It's not just the father's genes that matter, but the mother's too. Your mother was a different woman."
"If I have it, there's a cure, right? I mean, it's fixable?" Olivia was starting to sound a little panicked now, and her mannerisms reflected that, as she scrubbed her hands through her hair, shrugging off Alex's offer of comfort.
"No, there's no cure."
Olivia's frustration boiled over into anger. Abruptly, she pushed herself up onto her feet and started pacing across the room.
"What do you mean, no cure? There's always a cure, some treatment to make it go away .What do the rich folks do?" Melinda winced at that comment, wondering how Alex would react, knowing herself that this was exactly the reaction she had anticipated. Olivia was lashing out at whatever she could, whatever positive emotions there may have been associated with learning who her father was, the negative emotions surrounding his 'legacy' to her were currently dominant, and understandably so. Despite the seriousness of the situation, and potential consequences for Olivia and her friends and loved ones, Melinda couldn't help the small sarcastic voice inside her from observing that Luke Georges really knew how to screw people, fuck them even.
"Rich folks chalk it up to inbreeding and squander their family fortunes on living it up for as long as they can, but not before WE make sure that those they care about have the best possible treatment, care, life and love," stated Alex resolutely, putting on her glasses again and debating with herself about whether to give Olivia space or go to her.
"I said rich folks," came the bitter retort, Alex's words having surprised Olivia to such a degree she hadn't fully grasped the significance of the emphasis Alex had placed on the 'we'. Generally, Olivia's life had been marked by signposts highlighting what she didn't have, with the biggest and most firmly planted one being that she didn't have a father. She'd never really considered that Alex in her life could possibly bring her anything other than Alex's love.
"I heard you, but since when were they other people when I'm in your life?" Despite everything Alex was feeling, she decided it was perhaps best to practice a little bit of 'tough love' as the saying went.
"Excuse me?" Olivia turned to look at her outwardly composed partner who was now sitting primly on the couch, glasses perched on her nose, the ceiling light reflecting in the lenses, obscuring her red eyes from Olivia's view.
"I said, since when are 'rich folks' the other people when I'm in your life?" Alex augmented her statement with an expressively arched eyebrow, her only concession to the accumulating emotion that was building in her.
"I'm not a charity case," spate out Olivia in disgust.
"No, you're my lover, the person that I love and promised to spend the rest of my life with." Alex was too focused on Olivia to notice the look of shock pass across Warner's face on hearing how committed Alex and Olivia were.
Olivia's response was an eloquent silence. Sighing in frustration at her lover's characteristic stubbornness, Alex wordlessly headed towards the study, leaving Olivia fuming by the window and Melinda sitting silently in her chair, getting the distinct impression that her presence had been forgotten by both ladies. Moments later, Alex returned, holding a file which she tried to give Olivia,
"What is it?"
"Read it Olivia," repeated Alex, opening the file and holding a sheet of paper in front of Olivia's face.
"I'm a cop Alex, I don't do legal crap, remember? Civil liberties violator number one here? You threaten to get t shirts printed?" Melinda, now an interested spectator, couldn't stop herself from wincing at the cutting remark.
Ignoring Olivia's comments, Alex continued to hold the paper in front of Olivia and said calmly,
"It's my will, drawn up by the family lawyers six months after I came back from Witness Protection for good. By then I was the sole trustee of the Cabot estate. It's all yours. I couldn't legally become your wife, I know we'd have huge issues with the 'obey' bit of a marriage vow, but damn it, Olivia, I love you. Everything I have, everything my family has, is yours as much as it is mine. If money could fix this, we'd fix it five times just to be sure." By the time Alex had finished her plea, she was crying and her arm was shaking as holding up the paper seemed to become too much effort. As the paper was lowered, revealing Olivia's face, Alex saw through her tears that her lover was also crying, as either her words or the enormity of the situation sunk in. Reaching out, Alex cupped Olivia's face, cradling the familiar contour of the jaw that seemed now to be a Georges family feature in her slender hand, her thumb catching the tears as they fell.
"Whatever happens Liv, I love you, ok?" she whispered hoarsely.
"K " agreed Olivia in a near whisper, turning her face towards Alex's hand, pressing her lips to the palm, the simple act transmitting more to Alex than words ever could. Smiling through her tears, Olivia felt some of her tension and fears ease. She'd spent so long searching for her father, only to decide she was happy to never know, a decision perhaps taken in the last moment when she still had hope she could find him. Now, that information had emerged, bringing with it its own new challenges, ones that could be literally far closer to life and death than any she'd faced on the job. One thing was certain however, and that was that the important parts of life had to go on, no matter what. Right now, she was looking at the most important part of life, the best bit of it that she had ever had or, as far as Olivia Benson ever could have, and that was Alex Cabot's love.
Covering Alex's hand with her own, she removed it from her cheek, using the hold to gently ease Alex into her arms, glad when Alex automatically snuggled into her body. Closing her eyes for a moment, Olivia felt herself growing calm again as the shock wore off and reality confirmed its presence. This was for real and wasn't going to change or disappear. Life had to go on, along whatever route it had to. Maybe there was a chance that she didn't have it. Hadn't Warner made a fuss about the fact Louise was only her half sister? That there was a chance she didn't have it ..were there tests she could have? She'd ask Warner she'd .
Suddenly, the flurry of questions flying through Olivia's brain screeched to a halt as she remembered something else important. Opening one eye, it swivelled around in the socket so that she could look to her left, towards the coffee table and easy chair that she sat in to watch sports sometimes .the chair that currently had Melinda Warner sitting in it.
"You said there were tests right Doc? Tests to see if I actually had this Huntington's thing? I mean, you said there's a chance I don't have it right?"
Oblivious to the driving rain that was currently soaking into her leather jacket and hair, Olivia Benson strode across the manicured grass, following the instructions Alex had given her right before she left the car. Coming to a halt in front of a neat headstone, she read silently the bland statement,
"Luke Georges - born 12 February 1945, died 23 June 1988 after a long battle with a horrendous disease. Loving husband, incredible father: loved and missed by all."
After reading it a second time, Olivia couldn't stop herself from adding as a verbal postscript,
"Rapist and bastard," before she crouched down to study the headstone and simple grave with its browning roses, obviously left by a member of this small New York State town to which he had run after raping Serena Benson, a town in which he'd found a fresh start.
Suddenly, Olivia found herself talking aloud to the headstone that marked her father's final resting place. It wasn't something she had ever done before her mother's headstone didn't act as any kind of draw or anchor for her memories, and Alex's 'temporary' grave had been somewhere to keep neat and smart, an outward demonstration of continued love and recollection, but never a trigger for one-sided conversation.
"So, you're my father? Forgive me if I don't call you that, but you're not my father. You know who I am though, the bitter memory of that big night out at the end of that construction project ." Olivia tailed off as she remembered when Don had come round to the apartment a couple of days after Warner's visit. Alex was in court, something Olivia learnt that Don had been waiting for, having a suspicion that Alex might not approve of what he'd brought. He'd done some digging, found out everything there was to know about Luke Georges, and not all of it came from the conventional or 'legitimate' sources. Luke Georges, native of upstate New York, had, at the age of 23, been working as a construction worker. The day after a big project had been completed, he turned in his Union papers and refused to go back to work. A good worker who would be missed, his foreman had gone to find out what had caused his change of heart. Upset, Luke had explained how, after they'd been thrown out at closing from the bar that they had all been celebrating in, he set off home, only to meet a girl. He'd seen her a few times they used the same short cut home, but he'd never had the confidence to talk to her. Fuelled by elation at a large pay check, and 'assisted' by a few too many drinks, he explained to the foreman how he couldn't remember what had happened after he'd seen the girl. The next thing he remembered was waking up sober on his bed that next morning. Unable to remember his actions, he'd developed a guilty conscience, fearing that he might have done the unthinkable, and forced himself on her.
"You were guilty enough to fess to your boss, but not enough to ask around? Too scared to find out if what you feared had actually happened?" Olivia taunted the headstone, not noticing the driving rain as it turned the grass beneath her boots to a muddy mess.
"You quit, ran away, back to your folks here, pretended it never happened. My boss did some digging on you .oh, wait, you don't know what I do, do you?" Frustrated, Olivia pushed up out of her crouch so she could stare down the headstone as if it were the face of the nastiest piece of city scum she'd ever booked.
"No, you don't know that I'm a cop Olivia Benson, Detective First Grade, NYPD Special Victims Unit " Olivia's face was now streaked with a mix of rain and tears as all the emotions she had collected over the years, the resentment and anger she felt towards the man resting beneath this headstone, all that emotion spilled out now.
"It's my job to catch the bastards who force themselves on women, children all the innocent people who don't want sex the same moment that their partner does. It's my job to put the bastards who rape away .and I'm good at it, real good. But there's one case I always dreamed of closing, my first case .the rape of Serena Benson see, that was her name, that pretty girl who used the same short cut as you to get home? The one you were too shy to ask out when you were sober? The girl you don't remember raping, but know you must have? That's my mother ."
Pausing to take some deep breaths and try to stop her tears become gut wrenching sobs, Olivia looked up into the sky, letting the rain drum down on her now closed eyelids. Shoving her hands deep inside her coat pockets, she took a final steadying breath before speaking in a low, even tone, her gaze once again locked on the name etched into the headstone.
" but you're not my father. For so many years I dreamt of finding my father, the man who made me with my mother a man who would come and love me and my mother, make us a whole family. But I don't have that dream anymore I don't need it. Alex helped me understand .you'd hate Alex, she's ."
Smiling wryly, in spite of herself, Olivia remembered a note that Don had shown her, it was the only entry on Luke Georges criminal record.
" SHE is everything you'd hate .smart, funny, gorgeous and 100% female how's that sit with you your eldest daughter, growing up to be everything you dreamed of being, a big city detective but at the same time, being everything you hate .I'm gay, a dyke, lesbian....a homosexual, whatever you want to call me ."
Searching her memory, Olivia remembered the phrase he'd kept using in his police statement, made over thirty years earlier when he'd been arrested at a protest march
" an abomination, a perverted abomination that's what you'd call me, isn't it? A perverted abomination, just because I love Alexandra, not Alexander ." Again, Olivia raised her face to the heavens and closed her eyes as she took a deep, calming breath. She was determined to say everything she wanted to say without losing too much control. She was glad she'd left her gun with Alex in the car, so strong was the temptation to unload a full clip into the headstone, just to prove some symbolic point. But no matter how strong that temptation may have been, the desire to see Alex, to hold Alex, to love Alex, to forget about this man, that was the strongest desire of all, and the reason she was standing in the driving rain in front of this headstone.
"I'm never coming back here I visited the store, the family business I got the looks, the half glances of recognition because I looked both familiar and strange, with my city accent and cop's attitude but local jaw and cheekbones ..I'm never coming back, I've no reason to .you're not my father. Sure, we share DNA, but you're not my father. I thought for a while that you were, that I could think of you as my father, if I ever found you, but that changed. I don't have a father .I had a mother, who loved me but, unlike you, didn't have the luxury of not remembering what you looked like that night .and I had a man who gave me my DNA, provided some sperm .that man's not my father, you're not my father .you're no more my father than some sperm donor from the sperm bank would be if Alex and I ever have kids."
Satisfied that she'd said her peace, Olivia turned on her heel and took her first step away from the headstone, wanting to get away from the place, to close the memory up for good, only to pause as a final thought came to her. Turning back, she levelled a withering look at the headstone, before saying
"Oh, by the way, you're never getting grandkids. Louise? She's dead, you killed her. I don't know if you gave it to me, and I'm not sure yet if I'm taking the tests to find out. Alex and I are still talking about that, but we're talking about kids, see, she's incredible and thinks that no matter what happens, if I want to love them, we should have kids for us to love together, for as long as we're both able to. But you know what the greatest thing about being a perverted abomination is? We've got two wombs, and four ovaries I can have kids if I want to, but with her egg, her DNA .You raped my mother and, despite making me, screwed with both of us, killing her with the alcohol that became her only source of peace and maybe killing me with your disease, just as your father killed you and Louise. But it stops, right now. You can't mess with anyone anymore, not now I won't let you."
Unsure what else to say, Olivia turned once more and strode out across the cemetery to the waiting chauffeured car that Alex had organised. Her stride never faltered, her composure never crumbled as she left the man that was her biological father behind her. That was the past, ancient history as far as Olivia was concerned. Climbing into the back of the car, she was enveloped in a bone crushing hug and fluffy towel by her present and future. Olivia Benson didn't have a father, just the man who raped her mother, but that didn't seem to matter so much right now. Collapsing into the loving embrace, she felt her last vestiges of control fail and the silent tears became heart wrenching sobs as she settled into the one place in the world she felt safe and loved, Alex's embrace. Tomorrow would bring its own problems, with the job and with her health, maybe. Right now though, that was tomorrow. As the chauffeur put the car in gear and began the long drive back to the City, only one thing mattered to Olivia, and that was the blonde woman that she was currently clinging onto and crying on. As her sobs subsided, as exhaustion and relief overtook her, forcing her weary body into a light slumber, she heard the quiet murmur of the one phrase that guaranteed her pleasant dreams.
"I love you Liv."
Alex whispered the heartfelt endearment in Olivia's ear as she brushed a tender kiss against the damp skin, smiling as she felt her lover finally relax into a hopefully dreamless, or at least nightmare free sleep. Settling her now sleeping lover more comfortably against her, Alex ran her fingers through Olivia's drenched hair before whispering a solemn promise to whoever may be listening, be they in heaven above or hell below
"It's going to be ok Liv, we're going to be ok, you're going to be ok, I promise " before Alex too fell into an exhausted doze, her dreams full of the fears about what Luke Georges' legacy may bring .tomorrow.
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