DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: These are the final chapters! As such, I thought it appropriate to give some credit to people who have helped me a lot in the journey this story became. First off, both Adrienne and Miranda of Adrienne_Miranda fame, who encouraged me first to post this, and also to continue posting it. Secondly, to all the people who edited/betaed/suggested things for this story, especially Lori, Calliean, Rhonda, and Kris. And lastly, of course, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write to me, either publically or privately, for your kind words and thoughts. That's what kept me going, when I wanted to quit. Thanks to everyone!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Coming Out, Staying In
By Katherine Quinn

Chapter 27: Alex

Numb. Dreadfully numb.

Every day since you left, every moment that's passed, I've been wrapped in a horrible anesthetized haze. I've created a routine that allows me simply to exist without thinking; without feeling; without acknowledging that I have any more life than arguing for judges and filing motions. I get up, pull on my clothes, still wrapped from the dry cleaner so I don't have to see yours still hanging in the closet. I trudge to work and make my way through briefs, and forms, and motions forcing myself not to tear up when I see your familiar scrawl on a report.

You send Elliot to me, to ask me your questions, to run your errands. He's obviously uncomfortable, and I know he must have heard your side of the story. Well of course, I remember vaguely. He came up to me; he gave me my choice. Now, I'm relegated to searching in his eyes for signs that you're okay. That maybe in his eyes I'll find your secret message to me. He's too good. He never betrays a hint of you.

I've lost my world. Every day on the way home, I stop and pick up the same dinner, comfort food that I more pick at than eat. Sitting there, in public, I'm saved for a few hours from having to crawl back to the empty apartment that is now only mine again. Our kitchen, my kitchen, is still filled with too many memories of you. The way you'd sit on the counter and talk to me while I cooked us dinner, your laugh as we joked about our co-workers, your smile as we sat together and picked off each other's plates.

The dark nights, when I'm finally forced into the solitude of the dark apartment, I sit with the files that provide me the career that I was so willing to give up my life for. It doesn't seem worth it.

I push open the same door, to the same restaurant where I get the same dinner, but something's different. I hear your laugh. At first I think it's what it's been every time I've heard your chatter; a cruel joke of my imagination. It must be a taunt from the insides of my psyche; the same one that sees your shadow on every corner and hears your voice while I lie alone in our bed crying over your loss.

I look up, in spite of myself, and I see you. Not a shadow of you but you for real. I can't help but smile; you're beautiful and alive. Everything I remember about you floods through me, and for only a moment, I assume you are here with Elliot, or one of the guys.

And then I see her.

The way you're smiling, the way she's laughing. I know what this is. You're here with someone else. You're not. You're.

I stare at you; horror written on my face. I can feel my body tighten; hear my mind slamming shut as I realize that you're not doing what I'm doing. You're not mourning my loss. You're not at home, miserable, sitting with case files, crying yourself to sleep at night. You're out with a woman. You're out in public, holding her hand, giggling over a table like a giddy child with someone else.

I think I'm going to be sick.

I can feel the bile rising in my throat. I run for the bathroom before I embarrass myself further right here and now. I pray you didn't see me. Just in time, I find myself retching over a dirty toilet, knowing I have to leave here, leave here and go out there and see you again. See you with someone else.

I can feel the tears starting to flow as I let my body slide down the wall after emptying what little was actually in my stomach. Before I know it, I'm bawling, tears streaming down my face, my body shaking. I can't believe that seeing you here; seeing you with someone else bothers me so deeply. You're mine; my soul screams, but you're not mine anymore. Not since you left me. Not since you decided that I wasn't enough for you. Every time the picture of you, walking away from me, walking out of the door and out of my life flashes through my consciousness, the crying gets worse. Harder.

I can barely breathe, knowing that there's someone else in your life. Now, I know that there's someone else sleeping next to you. Do you tell her you love her too? Do you tell her that you want to spend your life with her? Do you stay awake at night, watching over her like you used to watch me? Somewhere far away, I hear the bathroom door opening. I stay on the floor, but stop the loud sobs, trying to not entirely mortify myself.

I see feet, under the stall door. They face the mirror, and then turn around. I feel something pressing against the door. "Alex, come out, we've got to talk."

Chapter 28: Olivia

I can hear your sobbing from outside the door, just barely loud enough to reach my ears. I shove open the door harder than I mean to, like I'm going in for a bust, and quickly look for you. I can't find you, at first, and then I catch sight of you in the mirror, pressed against the floor in a little ball. I feel my heart breaking into pieces in my chest. Why did I want to make you feel like this? I thought you'd get mad; I thought you'd confront me. I thought you'd come out for me. I didn't want to destroy you.

I wonder if you know that my heart breaks every morning when I wake up without you next to me. I slide the door open gently and get onto my knees. You look into my eyes and I can see you starting to blush as you frantically wipe tears out of your eyes.

"Hey, sweetie," I say before I realize I probably shouldn't call you that anymore. I probably shouldn't want to. You look up at me, kneeling in front of you only for a second, and then quickly look away, staring at the floor rather than into my eyes.

"You okay?" I ask.

"Yeah," you mutter, still wiping at your eyes, and pulling your jacket down. "I'm sorry," you start.

"No, I'm sorry." At least I mean that. I'm sorry for doing this. I'm sorry for hurting you. I'm sorry that you hurt me.

"I didn't expect to see you here." You mutter, in some kind of lame explanation.

I don't say anything. I did expect you.

The silence quickly becomes uncomfortable and you try stand up, which makes me slide away from you. You cross the room and look in the mirror. You're back to your professional self. You stare into the mirror. Do you see what I see? The pale face? The eyes riddled with sleeplessness? You look like hell.

You run your fingers through your blonde hair, and before you can turn on your heel and walk out, I stop you. "Are we going to talk about this?"

"Talk about what?" you ask me, like you honestly have no idea what I could possibly be talking about.

"About all this?"

"I'm happy for you." You say, with a forced smile.

"I'm not, I'm not with her." I tell you and I can almost see your body relax a little.

"Oh really?" you ask a little too hopefully.


"I miss you," you say, gently.

"I miss you too." I say.

"I don't want us to end like this."

"I...I can't live my life in hiding."

"I can't live my life without you."

You lean in and kiss me, gently on the lips. It's a kissed filled with our history; our past. It's a kiss that gives me a promise for the future. It's a kiss that fills me with hope and promise; for us and our lives together.

"I love you, Liv." You say, leaning into me.

I love you too.

I love you too.

The End

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