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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Coming Out, Staying In
By Katherine Quinn

Chapter 7: Alex

I call you for what seems like the fifth time to let you know that I'll be leaving in a little less than an hour. The sound of your voice calms me and allows me to focus. Even though, if I had my way, I would already be with you and would have left all this work behind me. Your voice reassures me that I'm doing the right thing. You're obviously excited; it shows in your voice, which is higher and faster. You keep telling me that you're already at home creating your masterpiece. Elliott, bless him, apparently took pity on you and your new "boyfriend" and let you sneak out well before you normally manage to pull yourself out of the bullpen. You ran home to make things special for me. You make me smile in spite of myself.

I hang up the phone and survey the scene in front of me. Every time I look at my desk, strewn with paperwork, I can feel my temples beginning to throb. It never ends: this endless march of justice. For every case that makes it past my desk, at least two don't. Whether I can actually bring them to trial or not, the work that goes into even the most open and shut case seems, at times, entirely overwhelming. Unfortunately justice starts somewhere in the disarray that is spread in front of me: motions to respond to lie on top of research on case law that I haven't looked at, which is stacked on information for trials that I still have to prepare for.

I pray for time to go by quickly and use all my willpower to get to work so I can finally finish some of the things that should have been done yesterday. Sifting through the papers, I find a case that grabs my attention and soon, I'm back to work, entirely engrossed in the details of brutal rapes and sexual deviance. I'm surprised that time does, indeed, go quickly and before I know it, the clock is telling me that my time here is finally done for today. It's time to go home to you. I throw a pile of files into my briefcase, knowing full well that is where they will stay until I take them out tomorrow morning when I return here. I grab my jacket from the back of my chair and bound out the door, walking as fast as I can and still be viewed as respectable. I can never get to you fast enough. Even when it seems that time is flying by, getting to you is always the slowest part of my day.

Traffic is definitely on my side tonight, though and soon, I'm standing in front of your building. I look up and see the lights in the window, the flickering of candles and your silhouette against the light. My heart beats faster as I watch you for a second framed against the warm glowing candlelight. I can't wait to be in your arms behind closed doors, even if they remain locked to the world.

I let myself in your front door, slipping my key into the lock. You gave me the keys to your place a while ago, and while I've become accustomed to using them, it always seems slightly strange to me. At times, you're so private. Your life and mine are so secluded from the lives around us. The key made me uncomfortable, and I refused to use it for so long, but you insisted that I share your space like you share mine: freely. Bounding up the stairs, I'm slightly out of breath as I reach the third floor. I scold myself for skipping my workout this morning, but if I'm lucky, I can get one with you as my personal trainer in the morning.

Again taking advantage of my key, I start to open your door, knocking gently as I turn the key slowly. I hear you inside, banging around in the kitchen.

"Hey, Liv, I'm here" I call out to you gently, not wanting to scare you. In your typical style, music is blaring from the kitchen at top volume and after a minute of no response, I call out to you again louder. This time, you hear me. In a second, I see you stick your head out from the kitchen door. Your eyes light up and you smile when you see me. You make me feel beautiful.

You close the distance between us in seconds, and you kiss me gently on the lips, and I feel the problems of the world slamming shut behind me like the cold steel of prison bars. I'm here with you, and we're both safe. In the quiet solitude of your apartment our love is safe and sacred.

"So," I ask, still wrapped in your arms, "What are you making me?"

"Ah, that's for you to see for yourself." You kiss me gently again and lead me down the short hallway into your small kitchen.

You've obviously gone insane; this time, it's too much. Candles line the walls, flickering gently against the darkness. They heat the air and fill the room with the scent of warm apples and cinnamon. The small kitchen table is covered with a deep maroon cloth with long stem glasses filled with what I can only guess is my favorite white wine. From behind you, you grab a bouquet of a dozen blood red roses, which you smile as you hand me.

I can feel myself starting to blush as you lavish attention onto me. A good part of me wants to cry because I don't exactly know what I've done to deserve your sweetness. You seem to sense that insecure part of me, and before I can vocalize any of what's going on in my head, you're telling me about how much I mean to you and how happy I've made you, and I can feel my heart racing. I kiss you and you kiss me back passionately. You push me back against the wall as our tongues fight each other. Your hands are on me running up my body; pulling open buttons and unhooking my bra; gently sliding thumbs over my hardening nipples. My fingers are slipping between your legs as I feel your wetness on my hand. And then suddenly in the heady heat of the moment, I hear it, a man's voice interrupting our deep kisses:

"Jesus Christ, Liv, Tell me you're giving her mouth to mouth, and this isn't what it looks like!"

Chapter 8: Elliot

Okay, yeah, so in retrospect perhaps I shouldn't have just let myself into your apartment when you didn't come to the door. But I knocked. More than once. I swear I did. I knew you were here, I could see the lights from the street, and yeah, so what if I thought I might catch a glimpse of your new lover? There was no way in hell I expected to walk in here and find you French kissing a woman. And before you go accusing me of things, I had a good reason, to come by here anyway, because you had my file. This isn't purely a social stop. That would be inappropriate. I was merely stopping by so I could get that file. You know as well as I do that I need to finish the reports that are due in the morning. There was no way I could just go home without it knowing we'd both be in the dog house for them tomorrow. Besides that, this is really your fault. You listen to that damn radio so damn loud, it's no wonder you didn't hear me. Not to mention that you were, apparently, otherwise engaged.

But even if you had heard me, I stepped right into the middle of hell. So maybe I knew from the street there was something going on in here. I could see the flickering candlelight, and well, not to piss you off but you're not normally that kind of girl. I slip in the door and I can smell something sweet baking in the air, and I can see right into your kitchen table which is obviously set for two. There are candles everywhere. This looks like a god damn telephone company commercial.

Really, I was just trying to be nice, by stopping by here. I was trying to let you know that I'd accept anything you could throw at me. You know, within reason. I'm still trying to decide if this all falls into that category. I came in here, thinking this was my big chance to let you know that I was going to be there for you, and give you support. Even if I found Captain Cragen in here with you, I was going to smile and congratulate the two of you just like the gentleman I'm supposed to be. But a woman? And not just any woman, either, Liv, but her royal majesty Alex Cabot? The ice princess Alex Cabot? Mega-bitch-sucks-out-men's-balls-and-eats-them-for- breakfast Alex Cabot? Jesus Christ, you sure know how to pick them. I feel like I'm on TV, but then I remember that I'm not an alcoholic and you're not a bulimic cheerleader and this isn't some kind of sick after school special. This is real life.

I thought I was ready for all the possibilities, but I couldn't be more surprised if I found you in here with a gorilla dressed in a tuxedo. You've got your hands all over her, up her shirt and hers are obviously in your pants. Both of you, pressed against each other, against a wall. Seeing you look at each other, there's no mistake that this is the person who makes you blush that bright red color. All of it's hot as hell. I'm a red blooded American male and you're not bad looking, and the ice princess apparently does melt when it's your fingers running over her creamy white skin.

And then it hits me like a ton of brinks. Damn it. I get it now, why you didn't tell me and I'm hurt as hell that you thought I was going to act like a bigot about this whole thing. You hear me ask if you're giving her rescue breathing, because this doesn't look good. Both of you are looking at me with guilty deer-in-headlights expressions. As soon as you get some sense, you pull your hands off Alex's chest. She pulls her hands out of your pants and crosses her arms over her half opened blouse. I see her step back, almost trying to hide behind you, tears streaming down her face. You're yelling right back at me. You start with some lame "it's not what it looks like line."

I come right back at you with my teeth exposed. "It looks like you're fucking the ADA." I scream back at you, giving her an icy glare. I have no right to be this angry. You must feel her pressing against you and I feel bad seeing Alex's eyes start to tear and spill over. You take a deep breath and even though you calm your tone, your eyes are breathing fire. "Go sit down." You demand. "We need to talk."

No shit.

Part 9

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