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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Coming Out, Staying In
By Katherine Quinn

Chapter 3: Alex

I slide the door closed behind me as I start the shower, not to close you out, but to close me in. I slip my hand onto the faucet and turn the shower on, letting the water pound against my hand as I find the perfect temperature. I am trying to keep your eyes from haunting my memory. You were looking at me with a look that said something between "You shot my dog" and "Why am I standing naked in front of this large group of people?" Talking to my mom and watching you dejectedly pull clothing on is breaking my heart, and even though I can throw off platitudes about how we're still safe, I'm no where near as calm as I'm trying to play off. So I do what I do best, I withdraw from you to sort things out in my own mind. I slip away, trying to pretend that nothing is wrong, and that it's only time for a morning shower, but I can hear walls crashing around me, and your hurt is stabbing me painfully in the side.

The water feels good, pounding against my back as my mind races through the last few moments. I can feel tears threatening the corners of my eyes and I'm not entirely sure why. I think it's because I can sense you're hurt. Because we were threatened, our happy solitude is threatened, even if only for a moment. But I know our solitude isn't happy by seeing your face, and watching how I find it ridiculous to have made it through law school and become so notoriously tough on the most deviant sexual criminals in the world and still fear my mother's reaction to my love life. I don't know why her suspicion of me is so bothersome.

And I know that once again I'm lying to myself. I know exactly why her suspicion is so troublesome. I was raised to be a good girl. Good girls went to great schools, got great grades, got successful careers, wealthy husbands, and had children who they raised to repeat the cycle of wealth and privilege. I did the first three. I worked so hard for so many years, and I shut out the feelings that I wasn't supposed to have. I was concentrating on being so successful that I could tune out my mother stamping her foot in the background to the beat of my "biological clock". I can feel tears of frustration slipping down my cheek, that I can feel both so in love and so afraid at the same time.

I hear you slide the door open and clear your throat to let me know you're in the room. "Sweetie?" you ask, quietly. I quickly rub the back of my hands over my eyes and stick my head out of the curtain. You're still dressed and suddenly I'm the one who feels too naked. You give me a patented half smile. "Can I, umm, get in there with you?"

I nod my head and smile and with fluid movement you strip the shirt and boxers off and slip into the shower. You're behind me, and I can feel your strong arms, slippery in the water, slipping around my stomach and pulling me into you. We stand that way, you giving me strength, in the warm spray of the water.

"I love you," you whisper in my ear. I let my head fall back onto your strong shoulder and smile, "I love you too."

You gently spin me around and grab my loofah sponge, filling it with shower gel as you start to massage it in your hand. "How is mom?" you ask with a mischievous look.

You press the soapy sponge against my stomach and start to gently apply tiny soapy trails against my abdomen. "She's great."

"Really?" you ask as you slip your soapy hand over my chest.

"Uh huh."

Your smile is contagious and as suddenly as the pain started, it ceased. We're happy and together, and entirely alone.

Chapter 4: Elliot

Okay, I get that you think I'm just another guy who doesn't notice anything involving the women's domain. And so you usually are the one pointing out those things to me, so what? And yeah, so there are things I can't do with you. I can't talk about freshness with you on the beach, but we've been through a lot and stranger things have happened. I have three daughters, for chrissake, and I've seen that look in their eyes way more than I ever thought possible. Even though you're like my sister, you still seem to think that because I have a dick I must be a big ape in a suit when it comes to women. You think I've got no common sense, like you walking around with that shit-eating grin is hard to figure out. One day you'll figure out I'm not a fucking moron.

I know you well enough to know when you're getting laid on a regular basis. Not that you get laid on a regular basis, well, on a regular basis. But you walk in here over a half hour late, with that smile on your face? It could only be worse if you were humming or drawing little hearts on the case files. Jesus, you don't even have coffee in your hand. I think I'm gonna be sick.

It's not that I mind seeing you happy. It's about time, for God's sake. You usually spend your Saturday nights going over case files and that's lame. Even after I've shoved this stuff away and gone home, I know you're here looking for some kind of justice. However, I also know that some of those files that are stacked on your desk haven't moved in six months and there's only one thing that can mean. Liv's got a boyfriend.

You're smiling like an idiot, and asking me questions about some case, and I'm just looking at you like you're nuts. When you ask me if there's something wrong, I know this is my chance.

"Are you going to tell me what's going on with you?" I ask.


"When do we get to meet him?" You look down and for a second, your smile fades.

"What are you talking about?"

"Okay, let's review the facts. You just walked in here at eight am without caffeine and you're still smiling. At night, you run out of here like you're on fire to go, of all places, to your rat hole apartment."

"Hey," you start, but I want some answers here, and I'm on a roll.

"You're obviously seeing someone."

"El," you say, "You're right, okay. I just want to keep this quiet for awhile. You know, between me and them."

I'm rolling my eyes at you and then I hear it, the click-clack sound that is unmistakably our lovely blonde ADA. Those damn heels, letting us know that she is slumming it over here on the SVU side of things. She usually shows up here to tell us we fucked something up.

You look over my shoulder and smile at her, which as far as I'm concerned is pure butt kissing because I'm pretty sure you don't like her anymore than I do most of the time. I mean, she's okay, but she's hard to read. She can be fiery as hell or the village ice princess. She may be a goddamn good lawyer but sometimes the woman can just be a bitch.

I look at Alex, and smile. "You're just in time, we're talking about Olivia's new boyfriend. Maybe you can get more from her than I can." Alex looks at you and then at me with a quizzical smile. Munch appears, out of nowhere. He's beside me and he's asking Liv all the same questions that I have. She doesn't say anything, but demurely says that she's keeping things quiet until it's more serious.

Oh, Liv, I'm a detective and now I want to know and damn it, I'm going to find out.

Part 5

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