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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Coming Out, Staying In
By Katherine Quinn

Chapter 13: Alex

When you turn the corner, I can see the look in your eyes and I can feel my heart breaking into pieces. You're uncharacteristically disheveled for what is turning out to be one of the worst nights in recent memory for either of us. Even after 12 hours in the squad room, you're always put together. But now, your shirt's un-tucked from where I pulled on it earlier, a reminder of where our night had been headed. Your hair is wild. You have a habit of running your fingers through it when you're stressed and the lines from where your fingers have treaded their path repeatedly are notable. I see the tears; clear wet lines snaking down your face. I jump off the hard backed chair that has been my sanctuary while you were on the front lines. I need to be near you.

I pull you close to me and wrap my arms around your waist. I feel your heat, and the heady scent of you. With you here with me, I feel stronger. Safer. I hold your head to my shoulder, and I can feel your body shaking with tears. Slowly, I wipe them off your cheeks, and I see new trails created almost immediately.

Now it's my turn to be angry as hell. Just who the hell does he think he is? He stormed in here like a trooper to find us. He screams at us, he messed with our heads, and now, he's crossed the line. He has no right to make you cry. He has no right to judge us. This whole thing just brims with injustice. He has no right, and it's just not fair. Nothing's ever fair.

He wants to talk to us, you whisper to me, your head still heavy on my shoulder. You tell me he asked for you to get me. I look at you quizzically, looking for either his acceptance or denial written in your eyes. You're face is blank, which is strange. I'm used to reading you like an open book. This night is hell. Too bad we don't have a flavored coffee to celebrate this moment in our lives.

You lace your fingers in mine, but not before you squeeze me tight into you one final time. I close my eyes as we tighten our arms around each other and I hear you whispering that you're sorry that all this happened. The words cause your body to rack with quiet sobs, and I pull your head tight to me. You tell me that you love me with all your heart and that you don't want me to be afraid. My heart breaks a little more. I hadn't thought that was possible. I feel horrible that you feel like you have to apologize to me. I whisper to you that I love you more than life itself and that we'll get through this. We're a team, you and I. We're stronger than the entire world's prejudice, and as long as we stand together, we'll be fine.

I heard you defend me. I heard the love in your voice, the hurt you felt as he berated you for loving me. I heard you tell him to get out. You've risked more for me in the last hour than anyone else I can think of in my whole life. You love me more, you protect me when it hurts, and I love you more than even I thought possible.

With your hand in mine, we make the short six feet to the open living room. I feel your hand loosen, as you try to pull it away so he doesn't see. It's a familiar habit, but this time I hold your fingers tighter. I won't be ashamed. I see him look at you, and then at me, and back to you. I'm not sure what his look actually means. I realize how much of the time when the three of us are together I spend looking at you and ignoring him.

I can't read him. I'm not sure I want to. I remember the red heat in his eyes, but that's gone now. You've calmed him down. He is sitting on your couch and by the way you move gently around it, I can tell you don't want to sit next to him. You lead me to the oversized chair across from the couch, and I am surprised when you sit me down, and then sit down next to me. With both of us in the same chair, I can feel my skin tingling where it touches your skin. The sides of our legs touch, and your arm is comfortably around my back. I can feel you pressing yourself against me. You're trying to give me your strength. You're never for yourself, Liv, always for others, always for me, always for us.

You give me strength, and for the first time since this circus began, I know I can give it back to you. With your hand on my back, our bodies touching squeezed together on this chair for one, I feel your power and mine combine.

Elliot looks at both of us sitting so close, your arm wrapped around me, and I imagine the worst-case scenario. My heart is beating a million beats a minute, but I steel my resolve. This time I will save you. I will protect you against his anger and his verbal tirades. He looks at me, straight in the eyes. I see his mouth open, and I feel my body go on the defense. I'm shocked when I hear the softness in his voice. Staring me straight in the eyes, I hear him ask, "Do you love her?"

I wasn't expecting the question, but the answer comes anyway. "Of course. More than anything."

He looks at you, and he asks, "And you love her?"

You nod at him, again wiping the tears from your eyes. I look at you and see you looking at me. Our eyes meet and we know we'll both be okay. We'll be okay because we're together.

"Are you happy, Liv?" he asks.


I hear him sigh. "I'm having a hard time with this." He says with surprising honesty. "I mean, I'm not like, against gay people, or anything. But you guys, you're, you're just not like that. I mean, Liv, I've met your boyfriends, and I just never thought that...well, that you'd."

"I didn't know either, El," You interrupt. "I never thought this would happen. But it did, and I'm happy. Finally." I feel your arm tighten around me. Not enough for him to see but me to feel.

"How long have you two been...?"

"Six months," you answer before he finishes the question.


"We didn't tell anyone." I chime in. Elliot looks at me again, looking like he hadn't known I was here.

"We didn't want to..." You don't finish and Elliot nods. We all understand.

Elliot gives us a half smile and sighs. "God, I could use a drink."

Fortunately, you're not the only one.

Chapter 14: Fin

I'm not so close to you that I'd be all up in your business, but this shit doesn't take an advanced degree. Everyone knows that when any of us come in with a smile at an ungodly hour that there's something besides this job that's putting it on our face. We're detectives, after all.

I know how it is, keeping this sort of thing to yourself. With what we do? Hell, it's easy to compartmentalize your life. Make everything have its own little pieces, love in one box, rape in another. Being on the DL, keeping it to ourselves-it's totally understandable. I mean, I'm not like that, but if it makes you all happy, then you should go right ahead. When you're in the business, you don't need that shit out there. Too much to lose. But when you have someone to go home to, it makes some of this shit much more bearable.

So one day you come to me, you tell me we should talk. You and I have never had a "talk" before. You look all nervous, and you tell me that you want me to know, because you value my friendship or something like that. Just a helpful hint for the future, but when someone tells you that they value your friendship, the next shit they say is going to be good. So you take a deep breath and you tell me you'd been fucking Alex Cabot. Well, you know, not as eloquently as all that, but I'm good at summaries.

I look you in the eyes and say "And?"

You look back at me expectantly, like I'm supposed to do something. Jump up, scream, whatever. "That's it," you mumble.

"Good for you, kid." I say. So that's our big talk. Hope it was good for you too.

I guess you told Stabler and he flipped. Well, to hear Stabler tell it, you all gave him a pretty good show. He came to me before you did, told me that he behaved badly, but that he's trying to deal. I don't think Stabler's a homophobic prick; he's just not sure. He's not ready. He's got what he believes, and he lives in that world. He wasn't ready to see all that change. The man's got his routines. Old man like that, you gotta give him a chance to adjust.

I think that's why you bothered to clue me in. You figured I'd hear, that Munch'd hear and then we'd all be talking shit, and I guess you were trying to stop it. I don't know what you thought we'd be doing. Like we'd all freak out and run around screaming `Liv's a dyke.'

I think Munch cares less than I do. He asks me one day if I've heard the news. I ask him if he's referring to the traffic report and he gives me another one of those annoyed looks, telling me no, he meant whether I had talked to you. He tells me that you sat him down too. Then he says, "Mazel Tov" and asks me if I think Cabot can hold her liquor.

Guess she's going out with us Monday nights.

Part 15

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