DISCLAIMER: I don't own these women. NBC and Dick Wolf hold that honor. Let us say though that if I did have any control over it, the world of SVU would be a bit different than we now know it. Also, Late September Dogs is a real band and I hold no legal rights to their lyrics. I just borrowed them for this story 'cause they are so damn sensual.
CHALLENGE RESPONSE: Submitted for the Passion & Perfection Xmas Challenge 2005
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Christmas Present
By Foolish Heart



Christmas had always been a mixed bag for New York Special Victims Unit detective Olivia Benson. There were years that held nothing but fond memories of overplayed Christmas songs on the radio, warm food on the table, and presents under the tree. But it seemed that she had as many bad memories as good as there were frequently years that her mother had been so drunk by noon that the turkey had burnt to a crisp and Olivia had ended up eating cold cereal that she had fixed for herself. Those were the years she wished she could just forget, the ones that made any future Christmas celebrations slightly bitter on her tongue.

Since she had joined SVU there had been very few people who had gotten far enough into her life to have seen any part of her on the holidays. More often than not, at least since her mother had died, she spent a little bit of time with Elliot and his family then headed back to her own apartment with some takeout and a constant loop of A Christmas Story on the television. She didn't consider herself to be against Christmas and she certainly wasn't some 21st Century Scrooge, she simply didn't have the desire to really celebrate a holiday that had caused her so much pain in the past.

These thoughts floating in her mind, along with the incessant variations of Jingle Bells and Silent Night made her wonder for what seemed like the thousandth time why she had agreed to be part of the squad's secret Santa celebration. It was bad enough that she had to go to the yearly Christmas party, more often than not ending with Munch more than a bit drunk and arguing about the Capitalist economy and the state of youth this day in age. As a group they had never attempted to exchange gifts, favoring instead to come together over a few drinks, some cheap food, and a lot of laughs.

Cragen had decided this year though that maybe a "secret Santa" would be fun and had fairly much ordered his detectives to drop their names in his oversized mug to determine who was buying for whom. How she had ended up with Casey Novak's name she would never know, but as she stood under the blinding lights and oppressing heat of the department store she wished she had gotten one of the guys. A quick trip to the liquor store and I could be home with a warm cup of coffee right now…

She had already been to at least five different stores since she had left the squad that afternoon. She wasn't sure what she was looking for as a gift for the new district attorney, but she was sure that she hadn't found it yet. The thought had crossed her mind to take the easy way out and get Casey a friendly and funny card with a nice gift certificate to one of the thousands of restaurants in the sprawling city, but she had ultimately dismissed the idea hoping for something a little more personal and a lot more thoughtful. Now, if I just knew what in the Hell to buy her my life would be a lot less stressful.

Whatever research team decided that playing nothing but Christmas music causes customers to spend more money more quickly needs to be drawn and quartered, Casey thought to herself as she scanned yet another isle looking for the perfect gift for the detective she had drawn in the secret Santa event Cragen had decided to spring on the squad. I don't think I've given this much thought to a gift since I was five and looking for the perfect gift my three dollars could buy for my Daddy.

Having grown up in a military family, Casey had spent much of her childhood moving from one base to another, never being in one place long enough to truly make friends. Because of this, her family had been everything to her, no matter the time of year, but especially during the holidays. She had loved to see her father smile down at her when he opened the gift she had personally picked out for him. It seemed that no matter what she gave him, he acted as if he had been presented with the only thing he had ever wanted. Inevitably she would end up curled in his lap in the over stuffed chair watching It's a Wonderful Life while her mother finished with the turkey and started baking the pies.

Her fondest memory was when he had taken her sled riding on the hill behind their house. They had stayed out in the snow until her snowsuit was soaked through at the knees and butt and her nose was so cold she barely knew it was there. Her mother had been so mad at him for keeping her out there that long, but he had just laughed and pulled her into his arms, swinging her happily around in the kitchen as Casey laid her soaking snowsuit across the radiator to dry. That had been the best Christmas she could remember, not because of the presents, but because of the time she had spent with him.

This would be her third Christmas as part of SVU, and also her third Christmas away from home. The demands of her job made it more than a little impractical for her to hop on a plane to go home for three days, only to have to be back in New York bright and early Monday morning for arraignments and other decidedly un-holiday like activities. While this year would be better than last, neither she nor her parents were overly excited about the situation. Their only consolation was that she always spent at least two weeks at home in the summer. The fact that she was going to be attending the annual Christmas party with the squad and her mission to find the perfect gift for her secret Santa filled her with a bit of the excitement she had so often felt as a child as Christmas day came closer and closer. Now, if I just knew what in the Hell to buy her my life would be a lot less stressful.

Casey happened to look up just as Olivia rounded the corner, ready to head to one last shop before going home to a heavy sweater and a steaming cup of coffee.

"Liv! Hey, hi…how are you?" Casey said quickly, hoping she didn't sound too overly excited at the detective's unexpected appearance.

"What? Oh…hi Casey. I'm good, how are you?" Olivia responded softly, effectively concealing her surprise that she had run into the attorney.

"Good. A little annoyed with this music," Casey answered, gesturing to the speakers above them. "I mean who in the world, other than small children that is, considers The Chipmunks rendition of Jingle Bell Rock enjoyable?"

Olivia laughed gently at the attorney's comment, nodding her head in agreement. "Yeah. I'm not sure who is in charge of the music here, but I think I'd rather listen to country than this stuff for another minute. So what brings you out to this wonderful example of commercialism this evening?"

"And just what is wrong with country music detective?" Casey asked playfully, resting one perfectly manicured hand on her hip.

"Well, nothing I guess if you don't mind all the twang and the fact that most of the songs are about girls named Charlene and boys who drive tractors," Olivia responded, smiling broadly.

"Oh no Olivia. I know you didn't just lump all country music into that one general, and I'll admit terrible, stereotype. May I ask then where your taste in music lies?"

"Um, nestled safely between Buddy Guy and Metallica, with a bit of Enya thrown in for good measure."

"Metallica? You call Metallica music?"

"Sure I do. Haven't you ever heard Turn the Page? That's one of the most haunting songs I've ever listened to. It never fails to give me goose bumps," Olivia responded, a bit surprised at her easy disclosure to the younger woman.

"As a matter of fact Olivia, I have heard that song. But there are two issues with your argument. The first being that Turn the Page is not originally a Metallica song, and the second is that it is by no means the norm for that group," Casey said, smiling confidently.

"Well, aren't we the little music buff then," Olivia stated sarcastically. "I'm gonna guess then that you are here tonight to buy some CD's?"

"No, not really. I'm just doing a little shopping. Looking for that perfect gift, you know a task that is about as easy as questing after the grail."

"Yeah, it is a difficult undertaking. And there's no thousand year old knight to guide your choice," Olivia said sadly, wondering if Casey would pick up on her Indiana Jones reference.

"That's very true detective. But I also don't have to worry about the floor crumbling under my feet," Casey continued the banter easily. Somehow, running into her has made this trip a lot more enjoyable.

Olivia regarded the younger woman for a moment, more than a bit surprised at how much fun she had had in the few minutes they had been talking. Didn't see this one coming, that's for sure. "So would you like some help in your quest?" What? Why did I just volunteer to submit myself to more of this self imposed Hell?

Did she just offer to stick around here and shop with me??? "Well, sure, I mean, okay. If you're not busy," Casey said haltingly, it being suddenly difficult for her to look Olivia in the eye. Wait…shit. I'm shopping for HER. How is that gonna work out???

"Okay then. Who are we shopping for?" Olivia asked cheerfully, surprised at the fact that she didn't have to pretend to be excited about the prospect of spending the next few hours trolling around department stores because she really was excited about it. And damn, she's cute when she's stumbling all over her words.

A little more than an hour later Casey had bought both her mother and father two more presents each, and had walked away with a set of hat and gloves for herself that Olivia had convinced her to buy, explaining that it got so terribly cold in the city in the winter and that she would hate to think of Casey's hands getting dry and sore. After that statement, Olivia had become very interested in the various trinkets residing on top of the jewelry case and Casey would have sworn under oath that she had seen the detective blush just a bit.

Now they were standing on the snow dusted sidewalk waiting for a cab, an awkward silence falling between them for the first time that evening. Well, it's only a little after eight. I guess I could ask her if she'd like to get some coffee or something, Liv thought to herself as she regarded the attorney's classic profile.

"Did you…" both spoke at exactly the same instant, effectively breaking the bit of tension that had crept between them.

"You go ahead," Casey said, inclining her head in the detective's direction.

"Well, I was just going to ask if you'd like to go get some coffee or something," Liv responded softly, surprised at how nervous she felt asking that simple question.

"And I was just going to ask you the same thing," Casey replied with a soft smile. "Where would you like to go?"

My place. "Well, there's a café just down the street. They have pastries that are to die for," Liv answered happily, her brief bit of nervousness fading quickly.

"Sounds good, lead the way detective."

The two women walked in comfortable silence, both looking casually around, enjoying the softly falling snow and slight rush of people heading from one store to another, toting both children and packages. The air was getting colder though and as Liv pushed through the doors of the café both women inhaled the sweetly scented warm air with delight.

"What can I get you ladies?" the slightly boyish waitress asked, smiling broadly and not so secretly checking every inch of Olivia out.

"Um, I'll have a latte with one of those cherry turnovers," Casey answered, surprised at the jolt of jealousy as she observed the waitress's undivided attention on Olivia. Where'd that come from???

"And I'll have a coffee and one of the apple turnovers," Liv answered, aware of both women's eyes on her and feeling more than a bit uncomfortable under the close scrutiny.

"Sure thing," the waitress answered cheerfully. "Would you like whipped cream on your latte?" she added, directing her question to Casey but not breaking eye contact with Liv.

Casey felt her heart jolt in jealousy again and as she took in Olivia's profile, she realized she wasn't the only one unhappy with the waitress's attentions. Oh, I'm so bad… "Sure. That'd be great. Honey, do you want to get us a table?" she said softly to Olivia, brushing her free hand possessively over the leather clad shoulder, standing close enough to smell the dark haired woman's perfume.

Olivia smiled to herself, enjoying both the tender caress from Casey and the not so veiled embarrassment that crossed the waitress's features. "Of course. Here, I'll take the bags," she responded, smiling sweetly at Casey and leaning just a bit closer to the attorney's body than necessary to grab the packages off the floor. She threw one quick smile over her shoulder towards the waitress and headed for a table in one of the corners facing a large window.

A few moments later Casey slid into the seat across from her, resting the tray of coffee and pastries between them. As she let her eyes come up from the table to meet Olivia's, both women broke into huge grins.

"That was great Case," Olivia said, laughing softly. "I was beginning to think I would burst into flames if that girl looked any harder."

I really can't blame her for looking detective, especially when you're wearing that damn leather jacket. "Yeah. She was definitely showing some not hidden interest. I hope I didn't offend you by stepping in like that. It's just that you didn't look very comfortable in the situation."

"Honestly, I wasn't. I mean…well…it's not the situation so much as the fact that I'm old enough to be her mother," Olivia conceded quietly, hoping Casey caught the huge clue she had just tossed through the sugar scented air.

"Ah ha. I see. Well, I can understand that," Casey replied as she stirred the whipped cream into her drink, suddenly very aware of the detective's legs in close proximity to her own under the small table. "I'm sure you're quite accustomed to situations like that though, huh?" she added softly.

Olivia smiled inwardly at the hesitant compliment. Truthfully, while she was used to it, she wasn't entirely comfortable with it. It wasn't that she wasn't flattered; it was just that she never knew how to react. What exactly is the proper reaction when one is looking you over like a prime cut of meat? "I guess you could say that," Olivia allowed quietly. "But being accustomed to it doesn't mean you enjoy it."

"Right, of course not. I wasn't insinuating that. I just, well, I thought that, um…Oh I don't know what I thought," Casey finished lamely, a vivid blush coloring her features. Smooth Novak. Really, really smooth.

"Casey, it's okay. I know what you were trying to say. I didn't take offense or anything," Olivia stated softly as she rested her hand on the attorney's forearm. "I just don't like being in that situation. Especially not when I'm out with someone," she added, trying to be sure her hand on Casey's arm wasn't trembling as fast as her heart was beating.

Did she just suggest that we were "out" together? Holy shit… Not wanting to break the moment Casey slowly brought her gaze up from the table to meet Olivia's coffee colored stare, surprised at its unwavering intensity. "I'm sure that is very awkward for you detective," she murmured softly, hearing the arousal in her own voice.

"Oh it is. But I'm sure it's even more awkward for the person I'm with. I can only imagine what is going through her mind," Olivia replied slowly, smiling slightly, her gaze still locked with Casey's.

Well, ten minutes ago it was what flavor turnover I wanted, now it's how many different ways I want to make love to you. "I'm sure it's not pleasant. But I'm also sure you're very good at letting the person you're with know how you feel about her."

If I kissed you right now, would it tell you how I feel? "I would like to think so. I'd hate to think that she would second guess my intentions."

If I kissed you right now, would you feel what I do? "Somehow detective, I don't think that would be a problem," Casey stated as she exhaled slowly, trying to steady her racing heart and at least slow the throb that had settled between her thighs.

Olivia smiled again, just enough to make Casey's heart skip an entire beat, then removed her hand from Casey's arm and reclined into her chair. "So who do you think is going to make it into the super bowl this year?"

The two women had stayed in the café until very nearly closing time, talking about everything and nothing with a little bit of work thrown in the mix. Neither was overly anxious to leave the other's company, but both knew that six in the morning came awfully early when one stayed up into the wee hours. As they finally exited the café into the crisp night, Casey couldn't keep herself from lacing her arm through Olivia's and snuggling a bit closer than necessary. Gotta make it believable for Miss Hormones over there…

Normally an action that was so obviously possessive would have sent Olivia's hair to stand on end, but she found the movement surprisingly endearing coming from the younger woman. Rather than pull away as soon as the doors closed behind them, she pulled Casey closer to her and they walked in step together to the corner of the street to hail a cab.

"I had a really good time tonight Liv," Casey said hesitantly as she brought her eyes level with Olivia's. "Would it be too bold of me to ask when we could do it again?"

Olivia smiled a painfully sexy half smile and shook her head no. "If you hadn't asked, I would have," she admitted softly. "Would you have considered me too bold then?"

Somehow I doubt you could ever appear too bold Olivia. "Not at all."

"Okay, good. I'm glad we have that settled," Olivia said, laughing gently. "How does one night later in the week sound? We could do dinner or something."

We could watch paint dry and I'd be happy. Of course, I would try everything in my power to occupy you with other activities. "That sounds good to me. I guess I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Of course, I'll be there bright and early. Here, you take this cab. I'll get the next one," she said quietly, motioning at the approaching cab.

"Okay. Thanks. Have a good night Liv," Casey stated quietly, her heart clenching in her chest as she wrestled with the urge to just brush her lips against the older woman's.

As if she could read the attorney's mind, Olivia leaned slightly into the younger woman, her arm naturally threading around Casey's waist and pulling their bodies closer together. Brown eyes quickly searched green for any signs of second thoughts before slowly sliding closed as lips met lips in an achingly gentle caress.

A few seconds passed before Olivia gradually pulled away from the embrace, resting her forehead against Casey's and smiling softly. "You have a good night to Case," she said as she finally pulled completely out of the warm arms of the attorney and opened the door of the waiting cab.

Casey held the detective's eyes for a few seconds longer before smiling slightly and stepping into the cab, allowing her hand to brush over Olivia's leather covered arm in a touch that lingered a little too long to suggest only friendship.

Olivia let the younger woman get situated in the cab before slamming the door and pounding on the top of the car to signal that the cab could leave. Taking a deep breath of the chilled air she watched the tail lights fade to nothing. What exactly are you getting yourself into Benson? But even as she considered all the negatives to being involved with the ADA, her heart remained fixated on the feeling of Casey's lips against hers and she realized that at this particular moment, the negatives didn't mean as much to her as that sensation.


The next days floated by relatively uneventfully. The usual cases that highlighted the atrocities of human nature keeping both detective and attorney busy enough that neither had time to dwell on the growing feelings or more commonly occurring fantasies. It seemed though that in any moment of downtime both women easily slid into remembrances of that first kiss and the promises it held.

"What are you thinking about Liv?" Elliot asked as he stopped beside his partner's desk and noticed her distracted look.

"What? Oh, um, nothing. Just zoning out I guess. Is it just me or does it seem like this week just doesn't want to end?" she said in response, smiling up at her partner.

"No. It's not just you. It feels like we've lived through three weeks already and it's only Thursday," Elliot said with a sigh as he settled onto the corner of her desk. "So who'd you get for the secret Santa?"

"El, you've asked me that a hundred times now. You're as bad as a kid the week before Christmas. I'm not going to tell you who I got. That is after all what the word secret means, is it not?" Olivia responded, laughing at her partner's obvious excitement.

"Aww, come on Liv. You could tell me who you didn't get," Elliot tried one last time, smiling broadly.

"Uh huh. Elliot, do I look particularly gullible today?"

"No, but you can't blame a guy for trying. I just hope Munch didn't get me. I really don't want another book on the crimes of the Gestapo," he replied quietly.

"Yeah, I'm sure that would suck El. You have those reports for Casey yet?"

"Sure do. You want me to run them down?"

"No. I can take them. Things are pretty quiet up here right now. I'll be back in a bit," Olivia replied as she stood and pulled on her coat. "I'll bring back some coffee."

"A woman after my own heart," Elliot responded as he stood and handed her the papers. "Don't forget the cream and sugar."

"Come in," Casey called in answer to the tentative knock on her office door, not looking up from the papers spread over her desk to see who was entering until she caught the familiar smell of Olivia's perfume. "Hi."

"Hi yourself," Olivia answered quietly, shutting the door behind her. "How are you?"

"Better now," Casey replied softly, smiling at the detective. It's amazing how quickly a shitty day can look better when you're around. "What brings you down here?"

"I have the DD5 reports from Elliot," Olivia said as she handed the papers to Casey. "And I wanted to see if you were still interested in going out again."

"Of course I am. What did you have in mind?" Casey asked, smiling at the detective as she reclined into her plush desk chair.

"Well, that would ultimately be up to you counselor," Liv replied as she moved around Casey's desk to rest her hips against the corner, close enough to rest against Casey's legs if she had given into the urge.

"And why is it up to me?"

"Because I have some ideas, but I don't know that you would be interested in them."

"Okay, well shoot and I'll let you know when you've piqued my interest."

"At this club I know there's a group playing called Late September Dogs. The lead singers are both women and they have a sound along the lines of Ani DiFranco. Is that something you would be interested in?"

"Sounds good to me. What night is it?"

"Tomorrow, the show starts at 9pm, I thought we could get some dinner first though," Olivia added quickly. "If you wanted to I mean."

Olivia, any woman in her right mind would jump at the opportunity to spend an entire evening with you. "That sounds wonderful. Where and at what time would you like to meet?"

"There's a seafood place a few streets up from the club called Little Charlies. If you want to meet me there, it's on Kenmare. The club is down on Bowery. We could meet at like six or so. That is of course if you like seafood."

"I spent enough time on various shores that there were summers when my parents thought I would turn into a crab. Seafood is great. I'll be there at six," Casey replied, smiling happily and suppressing the urge to lay her hand on Liv's denim covered knee.

"Great. I guess I should be getting back to the squad. I promised Elliot I'd bring coffee and he gets very grumpy if he doesn't get his caffeine fix for the day. I'll see you tomorrow night then," Olivia said as she stood and moved towards the door, smiling that sexy half smile that never failed to send Casey's heart pounding. "Bye Case."

"Bye Liv," Casey mumbled at the already closing door. Great, now I'll be really distracted in that arraignment.

By five after six Olivia had checked her cell phone at least fifteen times, certain that she had missed Casey's call explaining that while she had really wanted to spend the evening with her, something more pressing had come up and she was going to have to take a rain check. Just as she checked it for the sixteenth time she looked up to see the younger woman walking towards her with confident strides.

In place of her usual skirt and jacket combo, the attorney had opted for a pair of low slung Levi's and simple black v-neck top that showed hints of her muscled abdomen with every step she took. Olivia smiled to herself when she realized that Casey had pulled out a little leather of her own, in the form of a slim fitting black motorcycle jacket that looked as if it had been tailored specifically for her body. Her newly lightened hair was falling freely around her shoulders, swaying slightly with her strides, and framing a face nearly devoid of any type of makeup. I think she looks better like this than in those hundred dollar suits.

"Liv, hey, I'm sorry I'm late. It was harder than finding water in the desert to get a cab tonight. Have you been waiting long?" Casey asked as she finally came to a stop a few inches from her dark haired companion. Olivia had chosen a pair of simple black pants that clung to her in all the right places, paired with a thin doubled layered white and red body hugging long sleeved t-shirt that left little to the already screaming imagination of the blonde.

"Not really," Olivia responded trying to sound nonchalant and inwardly chastising herself for doubting that Casey had really wanted to spend time with her. "There's no line, do you want to go on in?"

"Of course. Lead the way detective," Casey responded softly.

The two women were seated immediately in a booth near the far wall, under a ridiculously large lobster pinned to the wall over a cresting blue wave. The waitress took their drink orders and placed a complimentary bowl of hush puppies between them, promising to be "back in just a few shakes."

"I never really understood why they called these things hush puppies," Liv wondered allowed as she popped one of the fried balls of bread in her mouth. "But not knowing why they call them that never stopped me from enjoying them," she added, laughing softly.

"Me either. But they always make me think of the shoes. You know the ones with that floppy eared hound dog as the spokesman?" Casey asked.

"Yeah, I know the dog. But I'd never thought of it that way. Thanks Case. Now I'll think of a slobbering pooch every time I bite into one of these things," Olivia responded teasingly.

"Anytime detective. Glad I could help with you imagination."

"Oh, you've done wonders for my imagination," Olivia stated quietly, blushing profusely when she realized that she actually spoken the words. Great, inside thoughts Liv, inside thoughts. She slowly brought her eyes up from the battered table, half afraid of what she would see in Casey's eyes and certainly not expecting the barely concealed attraction she saw smoldering in the green depths.

"That's good to know detective," Casey responded slowly, enjoying the bite of sexual tension that had settled tightly between them. "I take it as a compliment to know that I've had that affect on you."

Olivia, her mouth suddenly dryer than she had ever remembered it being was never quite so thankful to see a waitress in her life. As soon as the young woman had set her beer in front of her she picked it up and took a long swallow, hoping to both quench her thirst and quiet the slow ache that had begun to settle in the pit of her stomach and between her legs.

"Are you ladies ready to order?" the waitress asked, looking at Olivia expectantly.

"Um, sure. I'll have the crab cakes with fries," Liv answered quickly.

"And I'll have stuffed shrimp with a baked potato," Casey answered as she closed her menu.

"Great. Will this be on one check or two?"

"One," both women answered in unison.

"Okay then, I'll put it on one and the two of you can thumb wrestle over it or something," the waitress responded, laughing freely. "It'll be just a little while before I have that out to you."

"Thanks," Olivia murmured, her attention already back on the younger woman seated across from her.

Casey felt her companion's intense gaze before she noticed it and slowly brought her eyes back to meet the darker woman's, her breath catching just a bit at the obvious desire that simmered behind the brown irises. So that's what it's like to be turned to a pile of mush by a look. No wonder the perps can't hold their own with her.

"So indie rock huh?" Casey asked, her voice a bit more hoarse than she had expected.

"Yeah. Well, I thought after our discussion over music it would be good of me to show you that I do have tastes that don't involve screaming guitars and obnoxious drum solos,"

"I see. So this is about justifying your taste in music?" Casey asked, her voice light and teasing.

"No, this is about spending the evening with you," Olivia answered honestly. "The justification of my music is just an added bonus."

"Oh, you're a funny woman Olivia," Casey replied with a smile, finally letting her hand brush across Olivia's knuckles.

The rest of dinner passed easily. Casey kept Olivia entertained with stories about life on various army bases and hilarious recountings of over zealous suitors who had met the barrel end of her daddy's military issued rifle when they wouldn't leave the front stoop without a good night kiss.

"It wasn't that he didn't want me to date, it was just that no one was good enough for his little girl," Casey added as she finished a story about one particularly hair raising incident when her father had handed a college freshman a rubber grenade. The poor boy hadn't even realized it was fake and as soon as it was in his hand it was dropped on the porch and he was running as far away as fast as he could.

"So I'll bet he was really thrilled when you told him of your preference of the softer of the human species," Olivia said when she had finally stopped laughing.

"Actually, he took it a lot better than I expected," Casey answered softly, swirling the last of her beer in the bottom of the bottle. "I think he was relieved because then he didn't have to worry about any unplanned little Novak's running around."

"Well, I guess that is one way to look at it. Mom and I worked on the 'don't ask, don't tell' mentality. She didn't ask and I didn't offer any details. Needless to say none of my past girlfriends ever saw the inside of our apartment."

"That must have been hard on you," Casey replied quietly. "Didn't it cause problems in your relationship with her?"

"Our relationship was never meant to be smooth. My presence was a constant reminder of a terrible time in her life. She loved me as best she could, but I know that part of her could never see past my origin. From early on the bottle always held a steadier place in her heart. I learned to live on what little signs of love I could get," Olivia answered slowly, her throat tightening at the honesty of her statements.

"Liv, her problems weren't your fault. You know that right?" Casey asked gently, taking Olivia's slightly shaking hand in her own.

"I know that now. But it's hard for a child to reason through those things. I always thought that if I were a little better at sports or a little smarter in school things could change. I didn't want a story book family. I just wanted a mother who wasn't drunk by the time I left for afternoon kindergarten," Liv finished bitterly.

"I'm so sorry…"

"Oh Casey," Olivia started, taking a deep breath to settle the roiling emotions. "Thank you. But everything I went through made me who I am today. If my life hadn't started the way it did I probably never would have come to SVU. Everyone has their own problems growing up. No family is picture perfect. It's just taken me a lot of years to realize that. Come on though, let's go. The concert will be starting soon and I don't want to have to look over the masses to see the band."

"Okay," Casey said simply, realizing that she wouldn't get anything else out of the normally guarded detective by pushing. As she stood from the table to pull on her jacket though, Olivia threw her another curve ball by taking her hand and entwining their fingers then leading her out of the restaurant.

The small club was already fairly packed when the women made their way though the large double doors and onto the main dance floor. Olivia led Casey over to the bar and ordered a round of drinks, before drawing them both through the slowly moving crowd to the center of the dance floor. Just minutes after they found a space nearly big enough for the two of them the lights went down and the music started. The next rational thought that made its way past the pounding rhythms into Casey's brain was the sensation of Olivia's arm securely around her waist, the detective's body turned slightly towards Casey's, and her breasts pressed tightly against the attorney's back.

As the band shifted to a less driving and decidedly more erotic melody, Casey felt herself being turned within the crowd to face her older companion, her arms naturally threading around Olivia's waist, her hands coming to rest somewhere between the small of her back and the swell of her hips. Without even realizing it the two women fell into the rhythm of the song, their bodies moving sensually against each other, hearts pounding a continuous staccato that warred with the drumbeats.

"…Waiting for today, for her, for possibly me, hear me say come a little closer and teach me how to see. Hear me say come a little closer I've forgotten how to breathe. Baby come a little closer and whisper what you want from me. Come a little closer baby, I'll show you just what you need…"

"Liv…" Casey breathed before finally capturing the older woman's lips with her own, tasting the slight tang of beer as her tongue requested entrance into Olivia's mouth. Breathing became more difficult as the detective returned each caress, each slowly exploring the other, the other slowly moving bodies in such close proximity falling away.

Olivia gave herself over to the sensation, allowing her hands to gently glide over Casey's leather covered back, eventually sliding under the jacket, silently looking for more contact. She slowly pulled her lips from the attorney's, allowing them to trace a line down her jaw line to the fluttering pulse point and back up to capture a sensitive earlobe. She felt the younger woman's sharp gasp of breath more than she heard it as she ran the tip of her tongue over the outline of Casey's ear, eventually coming back to take Casey's lips with her own, pulling her more tightly against her body.

"Christ Liv," Casey sighed on a shuddering breath as she finally pulled away from the detective's kiss. "You're really good at that you know," she added as she tried to consciously slow her pounding pulse.

Olivia smiled slightly and leaned into the younger woman's ear, placing another gentle kiss just below her earlobe, "you wanna get out of here?"

"I thought you'd never ask," Casey replied unevenly as she rested her hand on the back of Olivia's neck, tangling it in the short locks and holding the woman against her for another brief moment, resting her forehead on a leather clad shoulder, inhaling deeply of the mix of perfume, leather, and sensuality. I just hope I can walk out of here 'cause you've effectively reduced my knees to jello.

Somewhat unsure of how the two women had successfully made it back to Olivia's apartment, Casey none the less found herself securely pinned between the inside of the apartment door and Olivia's insistent touches. Try as it might, her mind was unable to record every new sensation as her body responded to the ministrations of the older woman, instead focusing on one repeating thought that was enough on its own to make standing difficult for the attorney: I'm going to make love to Olivia Benson.

"Casey," Olivia murmured as her brain finally voiced its concerns loud enough to be overheard by the pounding blood in her head and between her legs. "Are you sure about this? I mean, is this what you want?"

"What do you mean?" Casey asked, confusion evident in her voice as she tried to force Liv to look her in the eyes. "I thought it was fairly obvious that this was what I wanted."

"Well, yes, I mean physically it is," Olivia responded quietly, not yet willing to look the attorney in the eyes. "But the afterwards, the working together, the seeing each other every single day and remembering what may or may not happen tonight. Is that what you want?"

"Liv, look at me," Casey pleaded softly, pulling reluctant brown eyes from the ground to meet her gaze. "If you're asking me if I want to make love to you, to have you make love to me, then the answer is yes. But if you're asking me if I want a promise of forever from one night of passion, the answer is no," she finished quietly, somehow sensing that the older woman was trying to let her know that she wasn't able to make any promises beyond what they both wanted to happen tonight.

Before Olivia could come up with another reason they shouldn't go to bed together, Casey captured her lips in a bruising kiss, effectively wiping any truly coherent thoughts from her mind. The women stood there, in the doorway to Olivia's apartment, exploring each new sensation and each new touch. Taking the time to allow the need to slowly build until neither was sure their legs could still support them. When Casey felt Olivia's hands finally slide under the fabric at the small of her back, she thought her body would implode with the pleasure that touch had caused.

"Liv, which way is your bedroom?" she asked quietly, smiling shyly in response to Olivia's grin.

In answer, Olivia kissed Casey gently on the lips and took her hand, leading her down the hall and into her bedroom. Turning to face the younger woman, Olivia slowly slid her hands under the shoulders of Casey's jacket, sliding it from her body to land behind her on the floor. Leaning into the warmth of the attorney's arms, Olivia laid a trail of kisses from her ear to the expanse of bare skin in the "V" of her shirt. Her hands were slowly roaming the curve where hips met stomach and back, occasionally taking purchase and pulling Casey more tightly against her.

Olivia could feel Casey's breath quicken and heard a surprised gasp when she playfully bit an erect nipple through the fabric of Casey's shirt. Smiling to herself she pulled slightly back in Casey's arms and pulled the shirt from the younger woman's body, allowing it to fall to the ground with the discarded jacket. Allowing herself to finally take in Casey's form uninhibited by clothing or watching eyes, Olivia was surprised at how softly muscular she was. Letting her hands follow the trail of her eyes she gently cupped Casey's breasts in her palms, allowing her thumbs to brush over the already sensitive nipples through the satin and lace of Casey's bra. Looking at Casey's face she saw the green eyes slide shut and felt the pressure as the attorney pushed herself more into Olivia's hands, silently asking for more contact.

As Olivia leaned her body more fully against the attorney's to release the clasp of her bra, she forgot to breathe as Casey slid a well muscled, even if denim covered, thigh between her slightly parted legs, applying teasing pressure to the already more than aroused nerves at Olivia's core. Unconsciously rocking her hips against Casey's thigh, Olivia freed the younger woman's breasts and captured her mouth in a slow dance that was now familiar to them both.

"Liv," Casey breathed against her lips. "Can we please lie down? I don't know how much longer my legs are going to hold me, or you, up."

Olivia smiled at the unconcealed desire that laced Casey's words, reveling in the knowledge of the affect she had on the blonde. She quickly extracted herself from the tangle of limbs and discarded her own jacket and t-shirt on the growing heap of clothing, before pulling Casey closer to the edge of her bed. Settling the younger woman on the edge of the oversized mattress she bent to remove Casey's shoes and socks, allowing her hands to roam over the well defined legs until she reached the waistband of the low slung jeans, letting her fingers slide against skin in a tantalizing light touch before freeing the button and working the zipper loose, finally granting herself full access to Casey's body.

Laying a path of light kisses, brief licks, and gentle nibbles over the newly exposed alabaster skin of the A.D.A, Olivia eventually came to rest with her cheek on Casey's thigh, her mouth close enough to the barely there panties to send Casey's mind and body on a tailspin out of control. Reaching down to tangle her fingers in the older woman's hair, she gently lifted her face, pulling her body from the task she had thought to undertake.

"Not that way. Not tonight. I want to be able to kiss you while you make love to me," Casey answered Olivia's unspoken question. Once she had gotten the detective to her feet, Casey pulled her closer so that she was standing in the space between Casey's legs, allowing the attorney access to a beautifully toned space of flesh and muscle. Laying gentle kisses over Olivia's stomach, she slowly undid the button and zipper of Olivia's pants, allowing them to fall, pooling at the detective's feet.

"Lay down with me Olivia. I want to feel your body against mine," Casey pleaded softly as she made her way to the center of the bed, never breaking eye contact with her soon to be lover.

Olivia was used to responsive lovers, but never had one looked at her with such bare honesty, such complete and total desire. As she stepped out of her shoes and slacks, reaching behind her own back to unclasp her bra, she couldn't help but wonder what she had done to deserve such open admiration. She slowly moved across the bed to lie beside the younger woman, entwining their legs and gasping at that first feeling of flesh against flesh.

"Oh God Casey," Olivia sighed as a shudder passed through her painfully aroused body.

Any thought of coherent words soon faded from both women's minds as hands began a slow and teasing journey across newly exposed skin, eliciting ragged breathing and slight gasps. The first time Olivia's hand slid under the top of Casey's panties, both women moaned aloud at the contact.

"Please Liv," Casey whispered. "Please, make love to me."

And Olivia gently took the younger woman, allowing her fingers to slide into the warm wetness, stroking slowly over Casey's quickly tightening clitoris, eventually slipping lower to dip into the epicenter of the attorney's need. Olivia never took her eyes off the younger woman's face, wanting to watch every emotion, every sensation play over the perfect features, the flawless skin. When she felt Casey's fingers tightening on her shoulders then shifting to tangle in her dark hair, she allowed her mouth to be pulled to the attorney's, kissing her deeply as she continued her strokes, speeding up as Casey's hips began moving to meet her, the two finding easy rhythm. When Olivia felt the first tightening around her fingers, she slid her other arm more securely around Casey's shoulders, pulling the woman more tightly against her and kissing her more fiercely as the contractions of orgasm overtook the woman in her arms.

When she felt the younger woman relax in her embrace, Olivia eased her grip on Casey's shoulders. Allowing herself the luxury of watching the attorney's face while it was completely unguarded, eyes still heavy lidded with release, corners of her mouth turned up slightly in a satisfied smile, passion's flush still covering her skin. I've never known a woman who could take my breath away without even so much as a touch.

"Case? Hey, you okay?" Olivia asked gently, her fingertips just barely brushing over Casey's cheek.

Casey slowly turned her head to face the dark haired detective, smiling foolishly, but too relaxed to care. "Wonderful," she answered with a sigh, turning to lay with her face against Olivia's chest.

The two women lay there for a few moments, heartbeats returning to somewhere close to normal before Casey's fingers started making idle patterns across the very sensitive skin of Olivia's lower back. When she felt the detective arch into the touch, a sigh escaping between slightly parted lips, her touches became less idle, moving over Olivia's hips, tracing patterns over her stomach, down to the sensitive valley where hip meets body, eventually moving to rest over the moist warmth between Olivia's legs.

Unconsciously Olivia moved her hips towards the touch, hoping for more contact with the attorney. Her mouth sought out and found the swollen lips of her younger lover, tangling in a gentle kiss, silently asking Casey to make love to her. As if she tasted Olivia's need, Casey slid her fingers under the band of the slim cotton panties, dipping into the heat and wetness between Olivia's legs and teasing her clitoris to nearly bursting before easily entering Liv's body with two fingers, quickly establishing a rhythm that would send the older woman to release.

"Christ Casey. You feel so good," Olivia murmured softly, pulling the attorney's face to her breast, offering her erect nipple to Casey's waiting mouth. As soon as Casey's tongue reached out to caress Liv's nipple, she felt the first contractions of impending orgasm around her fingers. As Olivia arched into the touch, pulling the attorney's body more closely against her, she gave into the sensations, allowing Casey to drive her over the edge and into oblivion.

What could have been an eternity but was actually only a few hours later, a very relaxed Olivia Benson awoke from a deep sleep, surprised to find Casey's arm still possessively curled around her stomach, effectively pinning her in the attorney's embrace. Well this is certainly new. Most of them never stay long enough for me to even fall asleep, Olivia thought to herself as she quickly drifted back into a deep sleep, content with the feeling of Casey's body wrapped tightly around her own.


Casey and Olivia had spent the majority of the rest of the weekend together, making love and making memories. Olivia was surprised at the things the young attorney made her feel. She hadn't remembered laughing as much as she had in the past seventy-two hours for years and she hadn't spent nearly an entire day in bed since the last time she had battled a particularly bad case of the flu. When Sunday night had come Casey had simply shrugged her jacket over the borrowed NYPD t-shirt and sweetly kissed Olivia at the door before turning and heading towards the elevators.

Olivia had expected Monday morning to be awkward, or at least nerve wracking, but Casey had done a wonderful job of leaving what had happened between them outside the doors to One Police Plaza. The attorney's calm demeanor and easy smile put any concerns of their budding relationship complicating work far from Olivia's mind. Soon the week had passed and Olivia was hit with the stark reality that she had yet to buy Casey's secret Santa gift. Well, I have to give it to her in front of everyone, so that lingerie I saw is probably out.

Friday afternoon found Olivia back in the store that had started the entire journey, just as confused as that first night. As she walked through the many isles, hoping something, anything would grab her attention; she saw a display case of cashmere sweaters. Definitely over the set limit for the secret Santa, but not something I can't buy her on my own, Olivia thought as she fingered the buttery soft material. When she laid her eyes on one in a particularly rich shade of blue green that matched Casey's eyes she knew she had to get it. Taking the sweater under one arm, she continued to wonder what she could give the attorney at the Christmas party. When a particularly poor version of Silent Night invaded her thoughts she new exactly what to buy.

The Christmas party was scheduled for Saturday night at seven at one of the local restaurants that handled large gatherings. Casey and Olivia had discussed going together but had decided that was a statement they weren't quite ready to make and opted to leave early and meet at Casey's apartment afterwards. As Casey's cab came to a stop in front of the curb, she was gripped with a jolt of nervousness that was completely uncharacteristic. I hope she doesn't think my gift is out of line, or worse, silly.

When she entered the building she was immediately mobbed by a partially inebriated Munch and a cool as always Fin, pulling her towards the table she would share with them, the captain, Olivia, and Elliot. Casey casually scanned the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of the dark haired detective until she felt Elliot's hand on the small of her back, leading her towards the bar for a round of drinks.

The two talked about general things, avoiding work and anything too personal, Casey's eyes consistently searching for some sight of Olivia. On what felt like her hundredth scan of the room she was rewarded with the sight of the short brown hair and a sleek, long black leather coat. And unconscious smile colored her features and Elliot couldn't help but notice.

"Who's got you all lit up Novak?" he asked playfully, following her line of vision only to be eye to eye with his partner in the proverbial little black dress. Oh…well that would have me lit up too I guess, he thought to himself with a smile as he acknowledged his partner's presence with a slight nod of his head.

"Hi," Casey breathed softly, not able to pull her eyes away from Olivia's body. So much for playing it cool.

"Hey Case. How are you?" Olivia said slowly, drawing the attorney's name out, caressing Casey's body and soul without so much as a touch.

Elliot watched the exchange between the women with practiced indifference, not surprised that Casey was obviously enthralled by his partner, but nearly shocked that the feeling seemed to be reciprocated. Whatever makes her happy I guess…

The party passed with few surprises, everyone enjoying themselves and trying to forget the reality of their jobs. Everyone in the room had to have noticed the obvious attraction between Olivia and the A.D.A, but either they didn't care or weren't surprised or weren't willing to break the spell over the women.

When it came time to exchange the secret Santa gifts, the squad gathered around the large table, happily exchanging gifts with each other. Perhaps appropriately it turned out that Munch had drawn Fin's name and Elliot had drawn Cragen's. The four men exchanged gifts that were remarkably similar in size and weight. As they opened their gifts, the three detectives held matching bottles of Southern Comfort and Cragen was the proud owner of a new coffee thermos, guaranteed to keep coffee warm for at least twenty-four hours.

When the four men where finished with their gifts, expectant eyes turned towards the women who also held strangely similar packages. Handing the gifts across the table, their hands touched for a brief second longer than necessary and both fought to keep the smiles off their faces. Olivia slid one finger under the seam of the colorful wrapping paper and laid it open on the table, laughing loudly as she realized that Casey must have been thinking along the same lines as herself. As she removed the last bits of paper, she realized she was the proud owner of her very own Best of Country and Western CD with DVD bonus. As she lifted her eyes to meet the attorney's, she found herself laughing even harder as Casey displayed a brand new copy of Metallica's self titled album.

As planned the women made an early exit, explaining that they each had other functions they had to attend too and wishing everyone a happy holiday. As they left the restaurant, Olivia explained that she needed to stop by her apartment to get a few things then she would be over to Casey's. Smiling mischievously the attorney brushed her fingertips over Olivia's stomach and leaned close enough into her body to gently kiss the side of her neck.

"You better not be planning on changing out of that dress detective," she whispered hoarsely.

"And why is that counselor?" Olivia responded haltingly around the sudden lump of arousal in her throat.

"Because I have been fantasizing about taking it off for you all night," Casey replied simply as she stood and hailed a cab. "I'll see you in a little while Olivia," she added as she stepped into the cab and shut the door.

Olivia grabbed the next cab and headed to her apartment to pick up Casey's real gift and a few other necessities for the weekend. When she arrived at Casey's door nearly forty five minutes later she found a note taped to the door at eye level explaining that her real Christmas gift was inside. Olivia could just make out the sounds of a jazz infused Christmas album, but a thousand X-rated thoughts were running through her mind as she pushed through the doorway. Not even all the years of police work had prepared Olivia for the shock of what she saw in Casey's tiny living room.

A huge fir tree, possibly five feet in diameter and at least as tall was strung with hundreds of tiny, multi-colored lights and shimmering glass ornament balls of different sizes and colors. The garland on the tree caught the light and refracted it into a million little colored dots that seemed to blur in Olivia's vision. Across the mantle was more garland covering the bottoms of two stocking holders that supported matching red and white stockings. A fire burned in the fireplace and a handful of candles were spread around the room, giving it the undeniable feeling of home. As Olivia looked around the apartment in stunned silence, attempting to control the emotions that were battling for her attention, she felt Casey's arms slide around her waist and the attorney's head rest on her shoulder.

"Do you like it?" Casey asked softly, not wanting to break the moment but unable to read the set of Olivia's shoulders.

"Oh Casey. Did you do all this for me?" Olivia asked in response, her voice cracking with emotion.

"Yeah, I did," Casey replied simply as she moved around the older woman's body to stand in front of her, resting slightly trembling hands on silk covered hips.

The tears had escaped Olivia's eyes before she even realized she was crying. Realizing it would be a futile effort to stop them now, she shook her head gently, not sure that she understood exactly what Casey was saying.

"But this is all I got you," she finally stated quietly, attempting to hand Casey the perfectly wrapped box that held the sweater.

Casey couldn't help but smile at the innocence of that one statement. She took the box from Olivia's hands and placed it on the table in the hallway, threading her arms around the detective's waist and hugging her tightly. She waited on baited breath for Olivia to return the embrace and as she finally felt the older woman's arms envelope her she buried her head more firmly against Olivia's chest, inhaling deeply of the scent that she had learned to crave in just the few weeks they had been doing this precarious dance.

"Hey," she whispered, pulling her head back to look Olivia in the eyes and catching a few tears with her thumb. "You okay?"

"Why did you do all this Case?" Olivia asked, her voice so soft that Casey could barely hear her. Everything that she had learned to fear during the holidays was surfacing then sliding away, back into the recesses of her memories; to the brink of being forgotten, but not completely lost.

"Because I wanted to give you a Christmas you wouldn't want to forget," Casey answered just as quietly. The tentative smile all she needed as reassurance before she closed the gap between them and placed a painfully sweet kiss on lips wet with tears, hoping her actions could more accurately explain the things she felt for this wonderfully strong and beautiful woman who was beginning to mean far more to the attorney than either were quite ready to admit.

The End

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