DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Other than Anya, I don't own anyone from the L&O universe. This story starts in Season 1, which means pre-Alex. Also, I'm not going to even attempt to translate Russian into English, so if I indicate that the language is Russian, but the typing is in English – use your imagination. :-) Feedback is welcome and encouraged.
SPOILERS: Starts in Season 1, after/during Contact. Many other spoilers later.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Delicate Balance
By brighteyedcat



Ch. 1

She felt a little better about herself after leaving his office, handing him the file of a cold case that bore a striking similarity to the stunt he attempted with her at her apartment a few nights prior. It made her sick to think about that night again. She tried not to believe his despicable hands were all over her, meanwhile she tried to tell herself that it wasn't her fault, but she knew that it was. She had let her guard down and in doing so she not only jeopardized her dignity but also the confidential file, which very well could have lost everything for the victims. She got herself out of an unpaid suspension, but did not escape the guilt she felt when confronting this case everyday at work.

Her work at the precinct was finished for the day and Olivia wanted a drink even though no one had planned a happy hour for this drab Tuesday evening. Craving a drink reminded her of her mother and she didn't want to drink for the sake of drinking: to weakly give into that need. Drinking for the sake of quieting her guilty mind wasn't what Olivia wanted either, but there was a bar on nearly every block of Manhattan and if there wasn't a bar, there was a bodega with liquor or beer for sale and she knew she would give into the temptation before she reached her apartment on the way home.

And she was right. She found herself in a different, non-descript lounge in Chelsea, further from the precinct, but closer to home. It had been a while since she'd gone to a bar that wasn't filled with cops. Instead of sitting at the counter feeling sorry for herself slinging back shots of Jack Daniels, she sat in a tall stool and slowly sipped a Hard Core cider by the front sliding windows that were cracked open to let in the crisp spring air. The fresh air felt nice against her skin, especially when the wind flipped and tossed her hair that rested at her neck. Although she had profusely washed herself of that sleazy reporter, she still felt dirty; but the breeze was helping to clear her mind and her conscience. Maybe she should just be celibate, she thought to herself. By diving deeper into my work, I could drown out the desire for human contact. It was true that dating in the last year had proven to be wildly unsuccessful, coming to a climactic end with the date she had gone on with the reporter that wanted to play a rape game with her. Rock bottom. She thought to herself, furrowing her brows. She shuddered, remembering the evening again and ran her fingers through her hair. It pissed her off that he had somehow gotten the upper hand on her. He had outsmarted her somehow, and it enraged Olivia. She needed another cider.

She turned in her seat to signal one of the cocktail waitresses for another drink. She nodded and headed to the bar while Olivia turned her attention back to the window, looking out onto the street watching couples walk by or people walking their little dogs on the sidewalk. Maybe I should get a dog from the ASPCA. I drive by at least once a week while running errands or following a case, and it does cross my mind. Having a dog would take my mind off of things and bring something positive into my life…except that I'm never home. She sighed, unable to find an easy solution or escape from her inevitable sadness and frustration. The waitress approached Olivia and handed her a new bottle. Olivia was digging into her leather jacket to pay for the drink when the waitress stopped her waving her hand at Olivia.

"It's already been paid for."

"What do you mean? I didn't start a tab." But the waitress had already walked away with her empty bottle.

"I paid for it," said a tall, slender woman that was now standing beside Olivia.


Ch. 2

Without thinking, Olivia rolled her eyes and sighed heavily, swiveling herself back towards the window. "Thanks, but I'm not interested."

"Who said I was interested in you?" The woman said, brazenly taking a seat beside Olivia without an invitation, and watching her intently. She had a slight, but distinct accent. Judging by her height, build, and attitude, she guessed the woman was of Russian or similar descent. Olivia glanced in her direction and gave the woman an awkward smile before starting to nurse her new drink while it was cold. It wasn't news for women to flirt with her; it happened all the time, though Olivia could never figure out why. She wasn't gay, and she didn't think she emanated that "vibe" at all, and yet more and more it was becoming obvious to her that women flirted with her more frequently than men. At first she thought it was just the cop thing, but she never wore a uniform and she wasn't in a cop bar tonight but still, the first person that had approached Olivia was a woman – again.

She took another quick glance at the woman beside her before deciding on whether she should say hello or excuse herself to find another quiet corner so she could be left alone with her anger. The woman had long, slightly curly sandy blonde hair. Every lock fell perfectly against her shoulders, some long enough to traipse down her back. Her face was delicate, but was strongly accented by long dark eyelashes framing bright emerald eyes. She had noticeably amazing posture, and her collarbones were prominent against the smooth skin below her long neck. She was very thin, and yet did not seem fragile at all. As she waited for Olivia to say something, the rings on her fingers clicked against her glass and the cut stones sparkled against the sun's setting rays coming in through the window. She was quite stunning, but didn't seem to be the type to be interested in anything other than a little platonic company, so Olivia decided to stay. If she had wanted to drink alone, she thought, she'd have gone home.

"What are you drinking?" Olivia asked the woman, bringing her eyes back to the window.

"Stoli and cran." The woman said, looking over Olivia's exotic face before landing on her soft brown eyes. "What beer did I get for you anyway?"

Olivia smiled a little and showed her the front of the bottle. Despite Olivia's attempts at ceasing some of her nervous behavior, Olivia was always fidgeting and had habits of twirling pencils between her fingers, tapping the sides of her coffee cup, and in this case, picking at her beer bottle's label. When she turned the label towards the other woman, she realized there wasn't much left of it. "It's a cider," she said to clarify.


"Yeah, have you ever tried it before?"

The woman shook her head and circled her lips around the tiny little straw, taking another sip of her own drink, but keeping her eyes on Olivia.

"Do you want to try it?" Olivia asked. The woman didn't answer, but Olivia handed her the bottle anyway. She tipped her head back and took a couple of sips and nodded her head. "It's pretty good. Kind of crisp and sweet." She said casually. "Perfect for this kind of weather, I guess. Is there alcohol in there?"

"Yeah," Olivia laughed, "it sneaks up on you." Olivia took another sip of her drink and watched as the woman sitting beside her swiveled her chair a little before leaning back against the wall. She wore a simple black skirt that showed off her very toned thighs when she crossed her legs and propped her feet up on the footstool attached to the table between them. Olivia tried not to notice the other woman's bare skin, but she did and quickly directed her attention to the woman's eyes instead. "I'm Olivia." She said reaching her right hand that had been hiding inside her pocket to formally greet the woman.

"Anya." She extended her hand, palm down and so delicately that Olivia almost believed that Anya wanted her to kiss her hand rather than shake it. She had smooth, silken hands, which made Olivia feel a little self-conscious, clasping her rougher ones around Anya's so strongly. "Thank you for allowing me to sit with you, Olivia." She said with a sarcastic laugh, again sitting back against the wall.

"I didn't mean to be rude. I've just had a bit of a rough week," Olivia explained.

"Well, we don't have to talk about that unless you want to."

"I'd rather not." Olivia paused for a minute to take another swig of her drink. She turned to Anya and asked her what brought her out on a Tuesday. She explained that part of her job was to travel to the public schools of New York to either conduct an educational assembly, or answer questions on a career day, or perform. Today, she said she had a career day at a nearby high school and was just stopping in for a few drinks on her way home. She said that she rarely had the time to think let alone relax somewhere with a drink, so she wanted to take advantage of the available time she had today.

"What do you do, again?" Olivia asked, thinking she had missed a part of the story.

"I'm a principal dancer with ABT." Anya said, finishing her drink.

Ah, 2+2 does indeed equal 4, Olivia joked to herself. No wonder she's so tiny, yet strong and poised. Not to mention her obvious grace. "Wow." That's all Olivia could come up with for the time being. She was impressed. It wasn't everyday in her life that she met someone like Anya; someone with class. Despite her esteemed career and possible fame, she appeared to be very down to earth. A working and thriving artist was rare, but Anya was far more than that as a dancer with American Ballet Theatre. Olivia had never really been to a professional ballet before, but she did remember the assemblies and mini-performances that ABT and NYC Ballet had done in her schools all those years ago. They were enjoyable, but far too expensive of a hobby to really get into on her detective's salary. "I should have known."

"Why do you say that? Have you seen me perform?" Anya asked, cocking her head to the side with a smile.

"No, but I'm a detective." Olivia answered, finishing her drink and setting it on the table. "And now that you've mentioned it, it's fairly obvious that you're a dancer." Olivia said indicating her body with her hands, but trying not to stare at the same time.

"Really?" She chuckled to herself when she thought of how Olivia must only be speaking with her because she believed Anya wasn't gay. She didn't want to push her luck, but Anya's curious nature was about to get the best of her as she leaned forward in her chair, squeezing out most of the air between them. "What do you mean by that?" Her eyes sparkled as she spoke, making it difficult for Olivia to deny how sensuous the woman was. She looked down at Olivia's drink, and then brought her eyes back up again. Olivia was uneasy by Anya's forward behavior, perhaps to the degree that she didn't know what to say in return. All she could manage was a shake of her head before pushing her second empty bottle onto the table, which also pushed a distance between them.

Anya still waited for an answer. "You're very...elegant." Olivia remarked, crossing her arms and sitting back as a conscious way of trying to shield herself. From what, Olivia wasn't sure, but she felt the need to keep her guard up.

Anya smiled and sat back again, but not against the wall. She set her glass down on the table. "Can I get you another drink?" Anya asked while she looked around the room, trying to locate the waitress.

"No, thanks." She paused, thinking. "I think it's my turn."

"I thought you weren't interested, Olivia." Anya winked. The way she spoke her name with that Eastern European accent of hers was a little patronizing, but playful. It, combined with Anya's quick wink, made Olivia's hands fidget against her arms and she moved her hands back into her coat pockets.

"Do you want another one of those?" Olivia asked, deflecting attention. She pointed to Anya's glass half full of ice on the table.

"If you don't mind."

"It was Stoli, right?" Anya nodded, pleased that Olivia had remembered that small detail. She leaned back against the wall, smiling at Olivia as she walked towards the bar for their drinks. Damn, she's beautiful, Anya observed. She took the straw between two fingers and twirled the ice around and around in the glass, planning how she would break through Olivia's harsh exterior to get to the woman underneath. She's resisting, but I know she's attracted to me. I know her type. She's confused, but she won't be able to resist forever.


Ch. 3

When Olivia came back to the high table with their drinks, she saw that the windows were closed to prevent the colder evening air from coming in. It was only about 6:30, but the sunset was almost over so the cocktail waitress was in the process of loosening the ropes around the thick curtains allowing for some coverage of the windows. Olivia also noticed that Anya had taken off her light jacket now that the windows were closed. She was wearing a forest green knit top and Olivia had a hard time not noticing that it hugged the small curves the woman had, not to mention the top revealed her sharp collarbones at the base of her graceful neck. She erased the tense thoughts from her mind as she approached and handed Anya her drink.

Anya thanked her with sincerity before leaning back and crossing her long legs to face Olivia. In order to avoid appearing nervous to Anya as well as to redirect the attention off of herself, Olivia started asking her about her own life. Anya wasn't a fool and was aware of how every attempt she made to get Olivia to tell her something about herself was immediately turned into a question directed back towards herself. Instead of being turned off by it, Anya found it to be an amusing little game and she took advantage of it. If she wasn't going to get the information she was curious about through talking, she would have to be resourceful and get it in another way. As Anya answered every little question Olivia had about her life as a dancer, what it was like, and a few details about her personal life (without revealing even a hint about her sexuality), Anya gauged Olivia's every reaction to her ambiguous, but coy answers. She could tell that Olivia was entertained by her and even got her laughing when she explained to Olivia that whatever personal drama she might have seen in her department couldn't even come close to working with dozens of primadonna gay men constantly chasing and hating each other all at the same time. Olivia agreed that Anya was probably correct in her assumptions. The woman was beautiful when she smiled, but she was stunning when she laughed.

Olivia never thought she'd be closing out her happy hour with laughter. She had been so miserable and overcome with guilt and anger from the week's events, but Anya had helped to wash all of that away; at least for a little while. She'd only had three drinks and although she wasn't tipsy, she had a nice buzz at 7:30 when they decided to call it a night. She never did tell Anya why she was at the bar, and she appreciated that Anya didn't ask. She respected Olivia's privacy and Olivia took notice of that. She was by no means a shy woman, though. In almost every question posed to her, Anya had a sarcastic and usually flirtatious answer. As she spoke, she ran her long fingers through her hair to reveal her smooth shoulders or neck, or she rubbed her legs with her hands, twirled the straw in her drink, or flicked the bottoms of her shoes against her heels. As much as Olivia was trying to keep the attention off of herself, she knew that Anya certainly didn't mind all of it being on her. What is she trying to pull here? Does she think I don't know what she's trying to do?

Stepping out onto the sidewalk, Olivia looked downtown. She was only a few blocks away from her apartment. Elliot had their car, but instead of getting a taxi, she decided to walk to clear her mind. Had she not met Anya she would have felt foolish about going to the bar, having made it 20 blocks without stopping for a drink and with only three more blocks to her apartment, she submitted to temptation of a drink. But she had met Anya and was actually going home happy.

"Which direction are you headed in?" Olivia asked, somewhat hoping she'd be heading downtown.

"Uptown." Anya answered, nodding to the north. "Upper West." Nice, Olivia thought to herself. "Are you going my way?" Anya asked with a smirk, clearly meaning two things.

Olivia laughed and scuffed the sole of her shoe on the ground and put her hands into her jacket pockets. "No, I'm heading downtown."

Anya walked a little closer to Olivia, reaching into her purse. "Well, I have a subway to catch then."

"You ride the subway?" Olivia was surprised.

"Sometimes. Is there something wrong with that, Olivia?" Anya asked as she snapped her business card out from an inside pocket of her purse. She stood only inches away from Olivia and held the card between two fingers in front of Olivia's face. Olivia felt her stomach drop as the other woman had practically pounced into her personal space. Why is my mouth getting dry? God, her eyes are gorgeous. And her flaxen curls are just begging to be touched. Olivia stopped herself. Wait, what the hell am I saying? Olivia didn't move as her mind and pulse (no doubt) raced, trying to come up with something to say. She was trying to trigger her brain to react to the woman's closeness and take a step backwards, but her body refused to listen due to the conflicting messages in her head. Just take the damn card and walk away, Olivia. Wake up!

Olivia managed to take a slow step back, but before Olivia was able to fully snap out of her trance, Anya cracked her out of it herself. She removed the card from Olivia's vision and hooked her pinky finger around one of the belt loops from Olivia's pants as she was stepping back and yanked her back against herself. Olivia's deep brown eyes flashed wide and her mouth opened as she felt the woman tucking the business card ever so gently into her front pocket. Anya kept her feline-like eyes fixed on Olivia's as she moved. She held three of her fingers on the inside of Olivia's tight pocket. "I hope to hear from you, Olivia." She smiled, removed her hand, and peeled herself away from Olivia. "Goodnight," she added quietly as she turned on her high heels and walked to the 23rd Street subway station.


Ch. 4

The following morning, Olivia had arrived to work early and was going through various files on her desk, reviewing minute details again and again. She took another sip of coffee and turned to her computer, clicking the icon that would bring up the Internet. Elliot isn't here yet, she thought, and I could use a little bit of a break before he does. She turned her attention back to the computer's screen. She typed up a search for the American Ballet Theatre and then clicked the link to the company's homepage. There wasn't much information on the website. A link to the performance calendar, how to purchase tickets, contact information, and then a link to exactly what Olivia was looking for. A link to the dancers. The list of names was in alphabetical order and Olivia couldn't remember Anya's last name from her business card. She'd left the card at home so she would have to just guess. Fortunately, and not surprisingly, there was only one Anya listed with the company.

The picture that popped up with Anya's biography was striking. It was a black and white headshot and her head was angled down just a smidge so that her hair fell loosely around her face and over her bare shoulders. The look in her eye was filled with confidence and desire. Olivia admitted to herself that it was a little sexy. Ok, more than a little.

"Good morning, Liv." Olivia jumped as Elliot called out to her, heading to his locker and then to the coffeepot.

"Morning." She said back, quickly minimizing the screen and rising to get a refill. She held out her mug awaiting Elliot to pour in the black liquid. As he did, he smiled back at her, noticing her light attitude, her mind wandering somewhere outside of the precinct.

"Did you have a good night or something? You seem to be in a pretty good mood this morning."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Olivia unintentionally snapped at him.

"Okay, I take it back." He said with a laugh while walking cautiously to his desk.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you." Olivia said while adding cream and sugar to her coffee. "I was, uh, thinking of something else. I guess I haven't had enough coffee yet this morning." Olivia said with a weak smile, heading back to her desk.

"Well, you look nice today anyway." Elliot said with a smile before grabbing a file on top of his desk to go through.

"Thanks." She said, sipping her coffee before getting back to her files.

She and Elliot were going through their own reports for a little while, waiting for Cragen to arrive with some kind of an update on the status of their cases. Olivia noticed that Elliot appeared to be pretty focused on one of his files so she took the opportunity to pull ABT's website back up and finish reading Anya's biography. She scanned the extensive resume and noted that she had traveled around the world with ABT and was profoundly dedicated to educating young people about the importance of ballet and culture in one's life. Her dedication and positive impact on young people was attractive to Olivia. She also discovered; however, that she appeared to be quite active with the GLBT community in New York and was one of the guest speakers at last year's Pride Festival. I knew it, Olivia smirked to herself. She scrolled further down the page to look at other photos of Anya. There was one picture that caught her attention. Olivia wasn't familiar with the ballet from which the photo had been taken, but she was in all black with diamonds in her hair. She imagined that she must have been at least 4 feet in the air in the photo, with her arms like sharp wings above her, soaring across the stage. Her legs were split across like scissors, and almost entirely parallel to the ground below her. It was pretty amazing, but Anya's expression was full of want and sadness. Typical of a ballet, Olivia thought.

"Funny. I never pictured you to be the type that would be into the ballet." Munch had somehow come in without Olivia noticing and had glanced over her shoulder to read about Anya. Olivia's shoulders sank with a sigh. Should she lie, tell the truth, or just ignore the comment? Was too early to lie? Wait a second, why should I lie? We just had a harmless drink together.

She turned to face him with a sarcastic sneer across her face. "I'm not. But I met one of the company dancers last night."

"Ah, so I assume you met Ms…" He was struggling to read to see what dancer Olivia had met until he spotted a picture of her standing at a podium, speaking. "Krilov?" He added and without missing a beat, "Really, Anya? She's quite good." Munch said changing his tune from nosy to awe. He said something else in Russian, but of course no one knew what he said, and Munch didn't feel the need to elaborate in English.

"I assumed that she was. You know her?"

"Yeah, I've seen her perform a couple of times. She had my ex-wife in tears from her performance in Giselle."

"Which one?" Elliot joked.

"Ha-ha-ha." Munch said dryly.

Moments later, Cragen came through the front doors. He went to his office to gather his thoughts and some papers before coming out to discuss the day's priorities with his team of detectives.


Ch. 5

It was a Saturday evening and Olivia was bored. She had taken home some files to go over for Elliot since he was taking a long weekend to be with his family, but she'd gone over them so many times without making any progress and she just couldn't think straight anymore. She hadn't called Anya since they had met earlier that week and was starting to think about calling her. Her business card laid where Olivia had placed it the night she got home on Tuesday: on an end table beneath a red-shaded lamp.

She reached for the card and flicked it against her other palm, trying to decide what to do. She tossed the card back on the table, figuring she probably had a performance tonight anyway, being that it was a Saturday night. On second thought, why am I debating this? I had a good time on Tuesday, I'm bored, and even if she isn't available, what would the harm be in calling? I need to get out. Even though I'm rarely home, when I am home, it just doesn't feel like home. The precinct is my home, but there's nothing for me to work on there tonight. Then Olivia remembered how her evening with Anya had ended, the evidence in writing, and pictures of her speaking at GLBT events on ABT's website. Despite the fact that Anya had expressed up front that she wasn't interested in Olivia like she had assumed, it became abundantly clear that she was interested in Olivia – like that. Olivia didn't want to send Anya any mixed signals. Wait, what mixed signals? I'm not interested in her like that. But if I call her on a Saturday night, she probably will get the wrong idea. I don't know if I want to deal with that. But I really do want to go out and I'm almost positive that I'd have a good time with her again. She was so honest – it was refreshing considering that Elliot and I are always playing the silent game with each other.

Olivia talked herself into countless circles until she realized how idiotic she was being. She picked up the card, reached around the couch for the phone and dialed Anya's number. The phone rang once. Twice. Three times. Maybe I won't have to talk to her; I'll just leave a message.

"Hello?" Anya answered with a confused inflection in her voice.

"Hi, Anya. Um, it's Olivia." Olivia said, rubbing the back of her neck with her hand. God, what am I doing?

I knew it, she beamed. "Hi. You're lucky you caught me, I was just on my way out for the evening—"

"Oh, I didn't mean to interrupt anything." Olivia answered a little too quickly.

Anya laughed, "You're not, Olivia. I meant that I was leaving the studio for the day."

"Oh. You don't have a performance tonight?" Olivia asked, not certain whether an affirmative of negative answer would please her more.

"No, I have tonight off. Tomorrow afternoon I perform, but not tonight." She paused to see if Olivia would say anything. She didn't so she seized the silence. "So, would you like to go somewhere with me?" Anya asked while wrapping white medical tape around each of her toes before slipping on some socks.

"I guess that depends on what you had in mind." Olivia answered, shifting her seat on the couch.

"I have something in mind, yes." Anya said with a wide smile to herself, setting back in her own chair, flicking a pen against the ends of her hair. "Can I pick you up?"

"I could meet you at the subway station if it would be easier."

Anya laughed out loud, "No, that won't be necessary. I'll drive. We'll need a car. I don't always take the subway; just when it's more convenient."

Olivia didn't ask where they were going, but she relayed her address over the phone to Anya. She told her she'd be there in about an hour because she needed to run home first.

Part 6

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