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Coming Out, Staying In
By Katherine Quinn

Chapter 9: Olivia

Okay, so I was going to tell you about this eventually. This isn't exactly what I had in mind. In my wildest dreams, I didn't expect you to storm in here like Godzilla attacking a small Japanese town. Maybe when this all started a few months ago, I should have sat you down and just said it. I've wanted to so many times, alone with you, driving to a crime scene or sitting across from each other in an empty squad room. But you see, now, my worst nightmare has happened. You acted like an ass. This isn't what I wanted, or even how I imagined it. Screaming and fighting and tears on the horizon, and the dinner I had prepared waiting patiently in the oven.

Your angry reaction makes my soul reverberate with the shame that I've secretly felt in hiding all this from you. It's not shame for loving her, or being with her, but shame from feeling that I have to hide for all these stupid political reasons. I know you're hurt; I know you're angry; I know that you feel betrayed. But I know you well enough to know that under that homophobic cop shit that you like to pull, you're not truly like that. I've seen your compassion. Now I wish that you would show it to me.

Anger, confusion, betrayal. It's written all over your face which I can read like a book. While I stand you down, both of us acting like angry dogs, I can feel the softness of Alex's hands on my waist and her chin as she presses herself into my shoulder. She's relying on me to keep her safe from you. She's sheltering herself behind me and away from your angry eyes. She doesn't know you like I do. She's scared of your loudness and of how you'll react and what this will do to us. Protectively, I hold her behind me anyway, because I can sense her fear. I'll keep her safe even if it means that you shoot me in the head right here.

You forget that I'm a detective too, and I can be just as fiery as you, and when I ask why the hell you're standing in my kitchen you tell me that I have your file. Fuck the file. You act like I'm some kind of idiot. I work with Munch too. I can smell a conspiracy ten miles away. This is some kind of set up. You knew god damn well that I was out of the office at running pace, and showing up here to see what you can see, no matter what you say your excuse is, it is nothing more than a cheap chance to find out who is sharing my bed. Well, now you know and you deserve all the shock and hurt you feel right now.

"Elliot," I say, as calmly as I can muster considering the red burning that is glowing behind my eyes, "go sit down. We'll be right there, okay?" You look at me with challenge in your eyes, but you acquiesce without further incident and retreat into the living room.

I turn around and face the beautiful blonde cowering behind me. "You okay?" I ask, but I can see the tears already streaming down your face. I hold you close to me and stroke your hair, letting you cry quietly on my shoulder. "It's okay," I say into your ear, "he's just hurt. He loves me, sweetie, just like his sister. It'll be okay." You fake a smile and pull your hands from around me, and cross them over your chest. I keep one arm wrapped around your waist as I gently push tears from the corners of your eyes, slipping your blonde hair behind your ears, and letting my forehead rest against yours. "I'm going to go talk to him, okay? Just stay here. I'll come get you in a minute, okay? I love you, sweetheart." You try to smile at me again and nod slowly, wiping your eyes with the backs of your sleeves.

I start my procession down the hall, looking over my shoulder one last time before I face the firing squad; I smile at you one more time, trying to be reassuring. You sit at the table and blow out the flickering candle in front of you. I sigh. It's going to be a long night.

Chapter 10: Alex

I wish you hadn't left me in here all alone. This room, still decorated for what should have been our night of passion, feels dirty. I've blown out the candles and pulled myself into one of your hardback kitchen chairs. My hand is shaking as I reach for the wine glass sitting on the table and down it in one swallow. So much for being a connoisseur.

I sigh as I realize this isn't going to do it for me right now. Nice wine is for romantic dinners, but I need something to really calm my shattered nerves. Now's when it comes in handy that I know you well, and that I know about your small hidden stash over your oven. Your penchant for hard liquor becomes an asset. I pull myself up on the edge of the counter and let my hand search above your stove when my fingers clasp around the neck of the bottle. I pull out the cheap vodka, and I frown at the bottle: sounds delightful. I grit my teeth and do what I imagine you do with this swill; take a huge swallow from the head of the bottle.

I look at the swirling contents and gasp as I feel my throat burn. I am about to take another swig to drown out the buzzing of the world, but I remember you and Elliot in the next room and being blitzed out of my mind isn't going to help any of us. I want to go back twenty minutes, to our happiness, and smiles, and long luxurious kisses. I stare at the wall I had been pressed into and feel my eyes tear up again.

For a little while, after you walked down the hall, I could hear the two of you yelling at each other. He was screaming and calling you a dyke and me far worse. You were screaming right back though, just as fiery. You were telling him he was being a bigot and that you saw more compassion from rapists than he was showing right now. I could hear the tears in your voice, and believe it or not, the tears in his.

My headache from work is storming back with a vengeance as my mind is screaming that these are my insecurities that are causing you this pain. If I had let you tell him, if we had been more careful, if I had stayed away from you in the first place, none of us would be here now, on the edge of the precipice dangling dangerously.

I can't ignore how happy you make me. I want to leave now and drive out of New York with you. We could go somewhere that there are no expectations of what we should be, and there's no one screaming. We can just be in love without this pain.

Your screaming has subsided, and I can hear you two gently talking. I stick my head around the corner of the kitchen, knowing that until you come for me, I will never have the needed fortitude to walk the six short steps into the living room where I can hear you debating the merits of our case against Elliott's preconceived notions of who and what we are. I can hear my name, and your soothing voice, and it calms my center to know that you're here, and you're defending me.

I sit back down at the kitchen table and sigh letting my finger tip slip around the top of the glass while I wait for you to want me back. It feels like forever, before I see your tear stained face appear from around the corner. You beckon to me and I follow you. I pace a step behind you, fearing the firing squad waiting in front of me.

Part 11

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