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. 21

Sunday morning crept through Anya's bedroom window. Cathedral bells clanged outside and traffic rolled on as usual, interrupted only by car horns and screeching breaks. The sun caught a cut crystal dangling from the window above the headboard, which created beautiful rainbow prisms that danced all over the room. Olivia didn't remember falling back to sleep, but she remembered being woken up. She felt little impressions in the bed at some point in the night, but was so tired that she didn't open her eyes to see what Anya was doing. When she woke, she felt a small unfamiliar object beside her arm and as soon as the sun broke through the window, it started to purr. Olivia tentatively opened her eyes and was immediately caught in a staring contest with a poor and sad one-eyed cat. She wasn't sure if the cat was friendly or not, being that it looked like it had seen better days, so she reached around it to nudge Anya awake.

"Anya," Olivia whispered, keeping her eyes on the purring gray cat.

She inhaled deeply as she awakened to the sound of Olivia's voice. The cat let out a frustrated meow as Anya rolled over in the bed to face Olivia. "Oh, good morning, Katka." She smiled, petting her cat. "I'm sorry, Olivia, did she wake you?" She reached under the cat's belly, picked her up (much to her dismay), and put her on the floor.

"Yeah, but I should probably get up anyway." Olivia said, sitting up in bed and leaning back against the headboard.

"So you were able to go back to sleep?" Anya asked, yawning, then looking up at Olivia, who was trying to flatten her very tousled hair. Olivia nodded. "Good. Can I make you some breakfast before you go?" Anya asked, sitting up next to Olivia. "Or do not have the time?"

Olivia thought about her offer for a minute. She didn't technically have to go anywhere, but wasn't sure if staying for breakfast was moving too fast with Anya or not. She liked the idea of having breakfast, but was not looking for a relationship with Anya and if she stayed, she was certain that it would leave that impression with the woman. Before Olivia was able to voice her decision, Anya's cat jumped back onto the bed with a trilling meow and started pacing back and forth between the two of them, meowing.

"I didn't know you had a cat." Olivia stated. "Why didn't I see it last night?"

"Because you were a little more than distracted, Olivia." Anya joked with the other woman. Olivia laughed and bit her lip, dropping her head down against her chest admitting she was right. "Actually, Katka doesn't usually come out when strangers are here." She said beginning to pet the cat in order to stop her from pacing all over the bed and potentially getting on Olivia's nerves. "She's a little paranoid and rightfully so. She was abused in her former life." Anya looked sympathetically at her sad little cat, scratching her behind the ears.

"Do you know her story?" Olivia asked, patting the cat's back.

"No," Anya said, "I didn't really want to know. I just knew it was bad and that was enough." She gave the cat a scratch under the chin. "But we're okay now, right?" She said to the cat. Olivia thought it was strange that she used the word "we". Had Anya been in an abusive situation too, or was she just saying that to be endearing with the cat? She thought it best not to ask.

The cat meowed loudly again, staring right at Olivia. "I think she's hungry." Olivia acknowledged.

Anya rolled out of bed and the silver cat immediately took off, bounding playfully out of the room. Anya went to her closet to tie a lavender robe around herself. "Oh, she's definitely begging for her breakfast. It's a bad habit that I can't seem to get her out of." Anya said, taking a glance in the mirror at her dresser and running her hands through her hair. "Poor thing. I've had her two years now and she still thinks that every meal will be her last." Anya emerged from the closet with a second robe over her arm. "Speaking of…are you staying for breakfast?" Against what Olivia thought was her better judgment, she nodded a "yes" to Anya as she got out of bed. Anya tossed a blue robe to Olivia to wear over her t-shirt. Anya passed Olivia on her way to the bathroom and gave Olivia a quick kiss, "Good."

While Olivia was washing her face and brushing her teeth with a toothbrush that Anya had set out for her, Anya went out to the kitchen to feed Katka. After Katka was satisfied and quiet, Anya went to the refrigerator to pull out some items to make breakfast for herself and for Olivia. She was pleased that Olivia had decided to stay for the morning, although she had expected her to leave. Olivia soon came into the kitchen and had a seat in one of the bar stools.

"Can I help with anything?" Olivia asked, feeling restless and wanting to do something with herself.

"No." Anya said, organizing two eggs, a couple of pieces of bread, some bacon and other items out on the counter so she could manage all of the tasks at once. "Actually, would you mind getting the paper for me? It should be just outside the door."

Olivia got up and went to the front door to pick up Anya's copy of the Sunday Times. I should be really uncomfortable about being here this morning and maybe I am a little bit, but whatever this is…it's kind of nice. Olivia thought to herself.

"I assume you want coffee, Olivia?" Anya asked from across the apartment, interrupting Olivia's thoughts.

"Yes, please." Olivia called back, closing the front door as she came back in with the paper. The fact that I am here this morning means something. I've only gone out with her a handful of times, but I'm going to be sharing a Sunday breakfast with this woman. She hasn't even mentioned last night. I think we need to talk about it, but maybe we don't. Maybe she doesn't need to talk about it, but I think I need to talk about it.

When Olivia came back to the kitchen, there were two pans on the stove sizzling with oil and a kettle of water warming up. She sat at the bar again, pulling the paper out of it's plastic wrapper to look at the headlines, which were never pleasant. Anya leaned over the bar, gave Olivia another kiss, and thanked her for getting the paper.

"I'll have to pick up a Post on the way to the studio this afternoon." Anya said, dropping an egg into the simmering water to poach them.

Olivia furrowed her eyebrows. "You read the Post?" She was surprised; given that her other political magazines were fairly liberal.

"Of course. First of all, it's usually only 25 cents. And second, I never actually get to read the Sunday Times on a Sunday because I always have to work. I read it on Monday, but I want to be current, so I pick up the Post." She dropped a few pieces of bacon into the skillet and removed the eggs from the boiling water. "It of course ticks me off to read it because the opinions in that paper are just ridiculous, but…it gives me more perspective, I guess." The coffeepot started to gurgle as the black liquid seeped down into the carafe. "By the way, I hope you like really strong coffee. I'm not very fond of coffee to be honest and never drink it, but my father brings his own over here so he can have it when he's here watching Katka when I'm out of town. It's really, really strong."

"Actually, I prefer it that way." Olivia said simply. She got up. She couldn't not help Anya, so she picked up the pieces of bread and dropped them into the toaster for her. Such a trivial task, but at least it was something. Olivia was curious to know more about Anya so she asked if she was close to her father.

Anya nodded as she split up the bacon and poured the pieces onto two plates. "Very." When the toast shot up, she used a fork to put the poached eggs onto the toast. Olivia took the plates over to the kitchen table. She turned around to get her coffee, but Anya stopped her telling her to sit down and that she'd get it for her. She prepared Olivia's coffee to her liking, and when the teakettle whistled, she made her tea before joining Olivia at the small table.

"Thanks for breakfast." Olivia said, looking up at Anya. She looked beautiful, even without a touch of make up or even brushing her hair.

"You're welcome. Thank you for not leaving in the middle of the night." Anya said with a smirk.

Olivia gave her a crooked smile back as she cut into the toast with her fork. "So I assume your dad lives here in New York?" Olivia asked.

"Yes, he's lived in Brooklyn his whole life. He loves it there. Only crosses the bridge to come and see me. I love Brooklyn too, but it's much more convenient for me to live here."

"So you were raised in Brooklyn. What part?" Olivia wondered. She had been raised in Manhattan. It was a relief to know that they didn't have to have a conversation about the night before. Obviously, it was a good time and Anya didn't feel the need to go into it so Olivia eased her mind and let the questions go away for the time being.

"Brighton Beach, but I was born in Russia and spent the first six years of my life there."

Olivia was trying to figure out the math in her head, but was unsuccessful and didn't want to assume anything, so she decided to just keep asking questions. "So your mother is in Russia?"

"I would assume so, but I don't really know." Anya admitted, taking a sip of her tea. "I don't know who my birth parents are and I quite frankly don't care to know." Anya looked up to gauge Olivia's reaction. It was true that she didn't know Olivia very well, but she also wasn't the type to hide her answers if asked. "The man who I know as my father adopted me. His wife passed away shortly after I arrived in America, so I didn't know her and don't consider her to have been my mother. She was unable to have children, which is why they brought me over from Russian. They are both Russian, so they naturally wanted a Russian child."

"No wonder you are close then." Olivia said.

As she thought about Anya's upbringing, she couldn't help but notice that she shared certain circumstantial similarities. Anya didn't know either of her birth parents and was only raised by one. Olivia was curious about the first six years of her life in Russia, wondering what kind of hell, if any, she went through growing up in foster or orphanage care. She was well aware of what the stereotypes were for children raised in Russia under those circumstances. She remembered her comment earlier about abuse to her cat, but didn't want to bring up any painful subjects. Anya revealed quite a chunk about herself as it was. She wanted her time with Anya to be without strife because the rest of her life was filled with so much of it. It frustrated Olivia that Anya's life wasn't as picture perfect as it had originally seemed, but it also made the woman more real to her. It perhaps explained why she had such an honest and "take it or leave it" attitude.

"So what does he do?" Olivia asked, taking a last bite of her eggs and toast before picking up her bacon with her fingertips to eat.

"He owns a restaurant. He spends almost every waking hour there too, although I wish he wouldn't." Anya said, rolling her eyes.

"Is it very traditional?" Olivia asked, taking her and Anya's empty plates to the sink. Despite the variety of cuisines available to her by living in New York, she wasn't entirely familiar with Russian or Slavic food in general. Chinese take-out was the preferred cuisine at her precinct and ultimately, what she ended up eating a lot of the time.

"Oh yes." Anya affirmed. "The menu is entirely in Russian, which I think was a poor choice on his part." She got up to help Olivia with the dishes. "Very exclusive to others, you know? But, he's been in business since before I came to this country, and it's a neighborhood favorite, so what do I know?" Anya stood away from the sink, leaning against the counter, allowing Olivia space to wash the dishes after Olivia wouldn't move aside to let her help. "What about you, Olivia?"

Olivia laughed, nervously. "What do you mean?"

"I mean…are you close to your father?" Anya asked. Olivia's hands slipped and a dish nearly fell out of her hands and into the sink. She managed to catch it, but she set it down and turned to walk away from Anya with the intent of avoiding the question. Anya noticed how shaken the woman was by what she had thought was an innocent question, and grabbed her hand to stop her. "Olivia." Anya whispered. "I didn't mean to pinched a nerve. You don't have to tell me. I'm sorry."

Olivia turned to Anya and nodded her head, giving Anya a strained smile, "I know you didn't mean anything." Anya ran her soapy fingers through Olivia's hair, and brushed her thumb around the edge of her face, bringing her chin up to meet Olivia's lips with a kiss. Olivia graciously accepted the woman's mouth and extended it by pulling her closer. Olivia was always trying to keep her violent impulses at bay, constantly questioning whether her own genetics brought on such intense reactions in certain situations. After Anya had brought up the one subject Olivia dared not to tread upon with anyone, she felt she had to work harder in order to hold back certain dark urges within herself.

Anya opened her lips slightly and only for a second, before curling them around Olivia's. Olivia felt compelled to be inside of Anya again and pushed her tongue into the exotic woman's mouth, playfully teasing the inner flesh. She took hold of Anya's hips and lifted her effortlessly from the floor and sat her down on the counter with her legs dangling over on either side of Olivia's hips.

As Olivia kissed her, Anya held Olivia's head in her hands, scratching the back of her neck and pulling her closer. Olivia brought her hands down to the cotton rope that held the woman's robe closed and loosened it enough to allow her hands to enter and touch Anya. She still wore the silver satin lingerie and touching it was almost like touching Anya herself. Olivia massaged the woman's breast under the lacey bodice but then moved her hand slowly down the side of her body as Anya softly moaned into Olivia's mouth. Olivia's lips moved to Anya's neck and kissed it as her hand traveled south.

"As much as I would love to see where this is going" Anya began, but did not want to finish her thought, though she knew she would have to. Just as Olivia's hand reached the base of the other woman's nightdress and started to lift it to reach between her legs, Anya pulled away. Olivia looked at her as if she'd been left hung out to dry. "I have to get to work." Anya said it as a matter of fact.

Now Olivia was the one with a look of disenchantment in her eyes. She let out a frustrated grunt, and begrudgingly lowered Anya back down to the floor. "Now I know what it feels like, I guess." Knowing she had done the same to countless men.


Ch. 22

Spoiler: Season 1, Slaves (some material used for the show) & Season 2, Wrong is Right (just establishing that the new season has started.)

Weeks turned into months and Olivia continued to see Anya, although she wasn't certain what their status was officially. It was never discussed, but whatever it was, it worked out for both of them. They went out or stayed in together almost weekly, sometimes more than that if their schedules allowed for it. Sometimes they spent the night in each other's apartments, falling asleep in each other's arms, but other times, they went their separate ways after a date. What Olivia did understand was that their relationship was very casual and comfortable; each of them getting the attention they wanted, when they wanted it, without the hassle of unrealistic expectations.

As fall approached, Anya had several touring commitments with ABT outside of New York and so she wasn't able to see Olivia as much as she would have liked. With Anya gone much of the time, either on tour with ABT or just doing educational seminars out of the city, Olivia easily distracted herself with work.

Everyone at the precinct was on edge due to each and every one of them being shrunk within the next day or so to see if they were capable of continuing their jobs with SVU. The psychiatrist and Cragen didn't say that in so many words, but everyone knew their jobs were on the line. The idea of losing her job with SVU was unbearable to Olivia and was brought to the forefront of her mind when the shrink asked Olivia what she would do if she couldn't work in SVU anymore. Her mind raced for an answer, but she came up with nothing. The harder she thought about it, the more she realized that she was nothing without this job. Sure, she had Anya, but did she really? She started to overanalyze their relationship and wondered if she did or not. They never said that they loved each other despite the fact that they got along so well and had been dating for months. There was no reason to suggest otherwise, but the words never came out of either of their mouths. It would be somewhat normal to have reached that phase in their relationship, wouldn't it?

The thought of Olivia's existence being worthless without Special Victims both scared and impassioned her. Tears welled up in her eyes when she grasped the truth, but she dared not speak a word to the doctor, should her answer be the wrong one and she were requested to transfer out of the unit. She was too co-dependant on her job to be able to bear such a loss. Her emotional state grabbed her from behind and she whispered softly to the doctor that she loved the job and couldn't imagine her life without it. That she needed to be with SVU to make her life worth living. It gave her a purpose and she felt it was her calling in life. Her head fell into one of her hands and she allowed a few of her tears to leave her eyes and drip down between her fingers, stopping at her wrist. She took in a deep breath and wiped her wrist onto her slacks and looked back up at the doctor, asking if the interview was over. The doctor nodded. Olivia feared the worst.

Olivia left her phone on the edge of the one-way window ledge as she and Elliot went into interview room one to interrogate a potential suspect. On the other side of the glass, Captain Cragen and the new assistant district attorney assigned to handle all of the unit's cases watched as the detectives walked on eggshells around their young suspect. Alexandra Cabot started working with SVU only a few weeks prior, but had already established somewhat of a rocky relationship with the detectives. Olivia could barely stand to even be around the woman due to their priorities being the polar opposite, and did her best to avoid communicating with her about anything other than the cases they handled together.

While Olivia and Elliot worked on sealing up the holes in their suspect's ever-changing story, Olivia's phone started to ring on the windowsill. It broke Alex's concentration and she quickly grabbed the phone to silence it, but not without glancing at the name and number that digitally flashed in the green backlighting.

"Is it Warner?" Cragen asked Alex without breaking his focus on his detectives' work in the room.

"No, I don't think so." Alex said, putting the phone back on the windowsill. "Someone named Anya?" Alex mispronounced the name, using a long 'a' as in 'Annie.'

"Oh, okay." Cragen answered. "Ah-nya." He corrected the attorney. "Damn, I wish we could get those lab results faster." He spoke to himself.

A few moments later, Cragen's phone rang at his desk. He left the attorney alone to observe the interrogation, hoping the call was from the M.E. When he returned, he knocked on the door before entering, nodding for his detectives to leave the suspect alone.

"What's up?" Olivia asked.

Cragen explained that the M.E. had called with an update. The suspect they had in the interrogation room was not the right person, but Alex didn't want to let him go yet in case more information came to light. Olivia grabbed her phone from the ledge and put it in her pocket without checking to see if she had gotten any messages. "Oh, uh, Anya called." Cragen mentioned, pointing to her phone.

She answered only with a small smile. She must be back in town. "Thanks."

Olivia rarely showed any emotion other than bitterness around Alex so even though it was subtle, she definitely noticed a change in Olivia's demeanor when Cragen mentioned the woman's name to her. Olivia went to her desk and dialed Anya's number while Alex stood at Elliot's desk to tell him and detective Munch what she needed in order to make alternative charges stick to their suspect in an effort to divulge more information from him.

Alex knew Olivia didn't agree with her on many subjects when it came to their cases, but she also knew that they would have to get along better to have a more positive working relationship. She knew nothing about the detective's personal life and was continually trying to find alternative means of learning more about her so she could cautiously chip away at Olivia's personal Berlin Wall. As the phone rang in Olivia's ear, Alex withdrew herself slightly from the conversation with Elliot and Munch to eavesdrop on Olivia.

"Hi, are you back in New York?" Olivia asked.

"Yes, I'm in town for several weeks before I'm gone again. I'm so exhausted. I'll be so glad when all of this touring is over for the winter."

"That makes two of us then." Olivia said, smiling into the phone.

"I noticed this call came from your work number. I assume that you didn't lose your job after all?"

"Yes, everything worked out, thank God." Olivia answered. She had nearly forgotten about the psych evaluations from a few weeks ago. Had it been that long since she'd seen Anya?

"I told you everything would be fine." Anya reassured her. "It may be way past due, but can I take you out for dinner to celebrate?"

"Yeah, I'd like that. Tonight?"

"Alex." Elliot interrupted the blonde's eavesdropping, giving her a suspicious look. She turned her attention back to Munch and Stabler, but was uncertain where the conversation had left off before Elliot broke her concentration. She slowly re-involved herself in the discussion of the case and where they stood in terms of evidence and probable cause, and left Olivia to her own business.

"Where would you like to go?" Anya asked Olivia.

"I was actually thinking that I'd like to try Russian. I've never had it before." Olivia responded.

"Well, I'd love to share that with you, but I'm pretty picky. There are only a couple places in Manhattan that I think are acceptable. The rest are all in Brooklyn."

"Why not your father's restaurant?" Olivia suggested.

"Well, of course I think his is the best, but even the menu is in Russian. Wouldn't that make you uncomfortable?"

"Not if you translate it for me."

"Okay. It won't be a very romantic dinner. It's a very lively restaurant, but if that's okay with you…"

"It's fine. If I'm going to try Russian food, I want it to be good and I trust your judgment." She half wondered why Anya didn't want to take her to her father's restaurant. Was that getting too personal? Or maybe she did want her to go, but was worried that Olivia would feel like an outcast somehow. She brushed her theories aside and told Anya to pick her up around 7, to which Anya confirmed.


Ch. 23

Anya was right: the restaurant was more than lively. It was practically a zoo with dozens of people eating, laughing, and drinking. Mostly drinking. People moved from table to table in order to greet friends, neighbors, and family. Olivia didn't have too much time to take in her surroundings upon entry of the restaurant before a very large and robust man approached them with a wide smile and open arms.

"Anya!" He called out to her. "Long time no see! Your father will be thrilled to see you!"

"It's good to see you as well, uncle." She said, giving him a hug. The man nodded to Olivia, realizing that he was in the presence of someone who was unfamiliar with his preferred language. "Where is he?" She asked.

"I'll go and get him. Sit wherever you like." He handed Olivia a menu and went to the back of the restaurant to fetch Anya's father.

Anya took Olivia's hand to guide her through the maze of people to the back of the restaurant. She found a semi-circled booth for them, and slid into the seat after Olivia.

"What do you recommend?" Olivia asked not even attempting to read the menu.

"That depends." Anya responded. "Mostly, you select a few a la carte items to make your meal. Why don't you tell me what you won't eat; that might make it easier for me to decide."

"Veal." Olivia answered.

"That's it? Just veal?" Anya asked to double check. Olivia nodded. "What about caviar or lamb?"

Olivia looked up as if she were thinking about it. "No lamb, but I'll try caviar."

Anya nodded with a smile before looking down onto the menu to see if anything had changed since she'd been there last. Olivia looked around the room, noticing a tall, older man with salt and pepper hair and a beard approach their table with a proud smile. Anya put the menu down and rose from the table to embrace him.

"Anya! Light of my life, my precious child. What brings you home tonight?" He kissed her forehead before releasing her.

Anya sat back down at the table. "My friend Olivia wanted to try Russian food and this is the only worthy place in all of New York."

"Ah," He chuckled. "You know what I like to hear, my pet." He laughed and pet her hand roughly. Anya scooted herself closer to Olivia to allow her father to sit beside them.

"I'd prefer it if you spoke in English, father." Anya said pointing her nose down and her eyes up to push her point that they were in the presence of others and for him to not be rude.

He looked over to Olivia, "My apologies." He nodded at Olivia to greet her properly. "I am Dimitri." He nearly broke her hand with a powerful shake. "It has been a while since I have seen my daughter. She has been in Europe, you know. I must grill her for a moment and it is easier for me to do that in Russian; certainly you don't mind?" He asked.

"By all means…" Olivia said with a smile and a shrug. She raised one of her hands and offered it to him as if permitting him to continue to speak with Anya in Russian.

Anya prayed to her father with her eyes, hoping that he wasn't about to embarrass her.

Dimitri noticed the glare his daughter gave him and wagged his finger at her. "Now, now, Anya. You are not the one to be scolding me. Who is this woman? Is she another one of your girlfriends?"

"I only returned to New York yesterday and am still tired. Must I go into details about her now?" Anya insisted.

"I suppose it is a waste of my energy to hope that you will meet a man one day, yes?" He said embracing the much smaller woman with his arm, giving her a playful shake.

"You're the only man in my life, you know that."

"Yes, I know. But if you must be with women, why not be with a Russian at least, my child? That is so important to me, Anya."

"But it's not important to me." Anya rubbed one side of her face, trying not to roll her eyes at him, but getting annoyed at the conversation nonetheless.

"Whatever happened to Natalya? She is so beautiful." He said raising his hands to the sky, as if pleading with God.

"We're not going to talk about her again, are we?" Anya said, dropping her head back against the wall. She sighed before lowering her chin and looking towards Olivia with a smile. "Besides, I think that Olivia is beautiful." She took her hand and ran her fingers though Olivia's now much shorter locks. Olivia recognized her name being tossed out of Anya's mouth to her father. It was killing her that she didn't have Munch with her to translate, and it shocked her that Anya was being so affectionate with her in front of family.

"Well, yes, yes, of course she is beautiful. I don't blame you at all, Anya. Keep her away from me." He laughed at his own joke, nudging his daughter with his elbow. "But she is Greek, Anya." He protested.

"I don't know that she is Greek. Just because her name is Greek, doesn't mean that she is." Anya pinched his arm harshly with her fingernails. He gasped, getting a clue and backing off with his questions. "I've had enough lashing for one night, are you quite finished now?"

"Yes, yes, I'm finished." He said, exasperated, and rubbed his forearm where Anya had pinched him. "I hope she is not as violent with you as she is with me." He joked to Olivia. Rising from the table, he asked, "Shall I bring you something to eat and drink?"

"Yes, please." Anya answered. "Bring us some caviar to start and the rest is up to you. No lamb or veal." The man nodded and turned around before Anya interrupted again, calling out to him. "But don't overdo it. Our stomachs are in no way as large as yours and we don't want them to be."

"I know, I know." Dimitri waved his hands at her as he walked away. "Wait." He turned around again. "Are you drinking wine or vodka tonight?" He asked, raising an inquiring eyebrow to Olivia.

Anya leaned over and whispered into Olivia's ear. "The correct answer would be vodka."

Olivia gave the man the answer he wanted to hear. He continued to the back of the kitchen, barking at his staff to meet every need that Anya asked of them. Olivia sat back and looked to Anya, somewhat curious as to what had just happened. Anya rubbed her hand against Olivia's leg to reassure her. "He's upset that you're not Russian, but he didn't have any complaints other than that." Olivia nodded with a smile. "Although, I'm afraid that won't be the last time we're interrupted tonight."

"It's okay, Anya. I'm enjoying the change of pace." Olivia said, taking Anya's hand under the table.

Anya leaned over and gave Olivia a quick kiss, glad to see her after such a long parting, before sitting back against the booth again. Within moments, a caviar tray, two other cold appetizers, and two glasses of chilled vodka arrived at their table. Anya put a small bit of caviar onto a cracker for Olivia and handed it to her to try before making one for herself.

"Wow, that is good." Olivia acknowledged.

"I know." Anya said with a smile, biting down on her own prepared cracker. "I have missed out on a lot with you lately, I'm sure. Tell me what's going on with you and work and whatever else that may be on your mind."

"Not much going on with me, really, but definitely a lot of changes at work." Anya nodded, waiting for Olivia to go on. "One of our detectives is probably on her way out the door. She didn't do so well with the psych evaluation and has been on desk duty for weeks. I think she's either going to end up leaving or getting fired because she's noticeably upset about it." Olivia said, taking another caviar covered cracker from Anya. "Not that I blame her. I'd be a wreck."

"I'm sorry to hear that." Anya answered.

"I like the new detective that's been working with John though. I kind of hope he'll stick around." Olivia tried one of the other salads at their table and took a sip of vodka, shaking her head as she swallowed the strong, grainy beverage. She was not used to drinking such a harsh and overpowering liquor with something as light as a salad, but it did compliment the other flavors in her mouth. She consciously made a note to sip the drink very slowly or else risk collapse. "We have a new attorney named Alex assigned to all of our cases too."

"Oh, and how is he doing?" Anya asked.

"Alex is a she." Olivia said to Anya with a smile to correct her. Anya nodded and waited for Olivia to continue. "She does a good job, but she's about as pretentious as they come." Olivia said with a disapproving shake of her head.

"How so?" Anya said, taking a sip of her own vodka and looking over to Olivia with her bright eyes.

"She just rubs me the wrong way, I guess. Her motivations are purely political as opposed to simply getting justice for the victims. She wants to achieve all of these 'firsts' so that she can move up the ladder quickly. I don't see her hanging around SVU for long."

Olivia went on critiquing Alex until the waiter came by the table to pick up the appetizer trays, letting the two women know that their entrees would be out shortly. Olivia asked Anya about her trip to Belgium, what it was like while she was there, how the performances went, etc. As she spoke, Olivia couldn't help but notice a tall brunette woman with striking features walk into the restaurant with the same poise and grace that Anya possessed. She couldn't hear what she and Dimitri were talking about, but she watched as he approached her with the same bravado that he had displayed with Anya. He lowered his face to her ear as if he was whispering something to her, and then he nodded in the direction of their table. The woman swiftly looked in their direction, and her eyes stung into Olivia's. Olivia looked to Anya quickly to avoid a prolonged glance, but saw that she didn't notice who had entered the restaurant. Olivia looked up again to see the woman heading to the bar to hand off her long coat and get something to drink.

Their food arrived at the table, and within seconds the brunette captured Olivia's attention again by inviting herself to their table.

"Good evening, Anya." The woman remarked, pulling up a chair and sitting opposite of the two women with a martini in hand.

Olivia glanced at Anya from the corner of her eye to determine whether this woman was a friend or foe. She saw that Anya's eyes narrowed and her lips tightened as she tried to act nonchalant towards the woman that sat opposite of them and continued to eat her dinner, without looking up.

"You look stunning, as always." The woman complimented her, which brought Anya's eyes up quickly, but she lowered them again to avoid looking at her for too long. "And your date…" She looked to Olivia and raised her eyebrows in approval, "Well, you've always had good taste."

"What are you doing here?" Anya asked her without emotion.

The woman laughed a little, ignored Anya's question, and looked through Olivia, sizing her up. Coincidently, Olivia did the same to her. The woman extended her jeweled hand to the detective to introduce herself. "Natalya." Olivia shook the woman's hand, and in an effort to be polite, she introduced herself as well.


Ch. 24

It didn't take Olivia very long to notice that Anya was drinking more than she was eating after Natalya joined their table. She never knew that such a thin person could consume so much vodka and manage to hold it so well, but she wasn't about to tell the woman what she should or shouldn't do. Especially when she'd drank just as much and was in no position to talk.

She also didn't feel any obligations to ask Natalya to leave their table. After a rocky start, Natalya was being more than kind to them by engaging in friendly conversation. She eventually moved from her chair across from them to sitting next to Anya in the rounded booth. She joined in the sharing of their food and told fond memories of the two women growing up together in ballet classes after Anya arrived in the States. Whenever Natalya asked Olivia a question about herself, Olivia kept her answers general, but left out the shielding sarcasm that she normally availed to others. She was fond of Natalya's company and enjoyed her side remarks of flattery.

"Do you dance with ABT as well?" Olivia asked Natalya, noticing the woman had a tall and lean frame, similar to Anya's. The way she carried her hands, like they floated in mid-air to reach her martinis also led her to believe that the woman had done more than take a few dance classes with Anya.

"No. I used to, but I prefer teaching to performing. I'm on the staff of New York City Ballet." Natalya said with a smirk towards Anya.

"When did you leave the company?" Olivia asked, taking another bite of food and chasing it with a sip of vodka on ice.

"A few years ago." Natalya reached her hand around Anya's face and folded one of the stray hairs behind her ear. "After Anya's breathtaking performance in Giselle," she said whimsically, moving her fingers to the woman's cheekbone and softly touching the skin at the dancer's neck. Natalya's eyes followed the twists and turns in Anya's exotic hairstyle. She had it pulled back into a messy, but purposeful knot with multiple strands curling down her neck with some spiking out around the pencil-like stake that held it all in place. "I love how you've done your hair tonight. Don't you, Olivia?" Feeling the heat of Olivia's glare, Natalya removed her hand from Anya's neck. Changing subjects, "Have you seen her perform?"

"Yes, but it was a few months ago." Olivia said, shifting closer to Anya. Even though their relationship had always been very informal, she was suddenly feeling a little possessive of Anya after Natalya's brazen flirtations right in front of her. Instead of dealing with it, she blamed her uncharacteristic reaction on the vodka flooding her system. She moved her hand from the table and rested it on Anya's lap, to which Anya turned to her and smiled, taking Olivia's hand in her own to reassure her.

A younger man, assumed to be a friend of the family, approached the table. "Two gorgeous women surrounding Dimitri's angel, chatting over drinks and fine Russian cuisine." He wagged a finger at Anya. "You are your father's daughter, there's no doubt about it." He chuckled. Anya, who was now drunk, smiled proudly at both of the women before winking at the family friend. He walked away, leaving the women alone in the corner booth.

Wait a second...what's going on here? Olivia thought to herself. She didn't know what the man said, naturally, but his mannerisms towards the three women gave her an idea about what he had said. She was confused and wasn't able to piece things together as quickly as she normally would have been able to with the amount of vodka spinning in her brain. She looked a little closer at the situation and her eyes darted from Anya's to Natalya's. They were all sitting rather close to one another and Olivia hadn't noticed until Anya shot her that mischievous look. It was one thing for her to be sitting close to and touching Anya, but it was quite another for Natalya to be practically wrapped around her as well.

A server arrived at their table, collecting the empty plates. "Can I get anything else for you ladies this evening?" The server asked, in English.

"The check." Anya blurted out, feeling Natalya's arm reach around her shoulders and her other hand fingering her small stomach carelessly. Olivia's attention returned to the waiter and didn't notice Natalya's advancing gestures.

"You know this is on the house. Dimitri wouldn't have it any other way." He remarked, waving his hand at her. "What about you?" He spoke to Olivia. "Would you like anything else? Some cheesecake or our hazelnut mousse?"

"Mmm...that hazelnut mousse is wonderful here." Natalya answered. She nodded to the waiter to give them a minute to think about it and he left the table.

Using the hand that was behind Anya, Natalya reached around to Olivia and gently massaged the base of her neck, curling her fingers around her short hair to get her attention. The combination of alcohol and the enchanting massage at her neck had the detective relaxing into what she thought was Anya's hand. She moaned into the intoxicating touch and looked over to Anya, her eyes heavy. However, as she did so, she quickly noticed that it was Natalya's hand that was rubbing her neck. Seeing the other woman's arm around her girlfriend in order to reach her lit her temper like wildfire and she aggressively pulled out from under Natalya's hand.

Instead of protesting to get Olivia to come close again, Natalya sneered at the woman with a haughty snicker, and lowered her hand to Anya's shoulder, and Anya did nothing about it. Olivia couldn't decide whether she wanted to smack Anya or Natalya, but Natalya interrupted Olivia's conflicting messages with a proposal. "Are you interested in sharing?" She asked with a smirk.

What is she talking about? She's not suggesting what I think she's suggesting, is she? Olivia thought, looking into the woman's eyes to determine what her motives were. Her motives looked pretty damn clear. No, she couldn't. But I can't remember what we were talking about. Damn it, I drank way too much vodka. "What?" Olivia managed to ask, laced with attitude.

Natalya giggled, knowing she'd gotten Olivia to think about her second proposal without actually saying it yet. "The hazelnut dessert."

"Oh." Olivia remembered, but didn't give Natalya an answer. Trying to steady her spinning mind, she sat upright and away from the women with both of her forearms on the table. Anya took the opportunity to get up and use the restroom. Natalya moved out of her way before sitting back down, angling herself towards Olivia.

Olivia started to fidget with her hands, unsure where to put them other than smacking them across Natalya's face. She was angry and she was drunk, which was a bad combination all around. She turned to Natalya with a bitter sneer. "You know, I don't appreciate you hanging all over Anya."

"Why does it bother you?" Natalya said, moving closer to Olivia.

"Why does it bother me?" Olivia repeated the question, incensed by the woman's audacity. She couldn't answer the question though because that would mean that she would have to call Anya her girlfriend and she wasn't sure if that's what they were or not. She wasn't sure if she wanted Anya to be that to her, even though all the signs led her in that direction.

"You didn't seem to mind when my attention was on you, Olivia." Natalya shifted closer still. She spoke slowly and carefully, enticing Olivia against her will with every word. "That's a little...hypocritical, don't you think?" She reached her hand out to Olivia's and lightly touched the soft skin between her fingers.

"Except that it's not true." Olivia argued, pulling herself together and moving away from her. She rose from the table to go to the bathroom. She needed to find Anya and they needed to leave. Immediately.

As soon as Olivia entered the restroom, Anya returned to the table coming from another direction. She sat down next to Natalya and spoke to her in Russian. "You need to stop."

"Why?" Natalya answered with a pout, and beginning to play with Anya's knotted hair.

"Don't be coy with me, Natalya, we both know what you're trying to do." Anya said, not stopping the other woman's fingers from touching her.

Natalya curled her fingers around the stake in Anya's hair, locked her eyes on Anya's as if waiting for Anya to dare her, and then tugged at it until it came out. Anya's hair fell to her shoulders all at once and Anya shot her an aggravated glare. "Mmm…if only getting you undressed were that easy." Natalya joked, moving further into the booth, practically on top of Anya. Her left hand came down and rested on the inside of Anya's thigh, lightly caressing her. "Come on, Anya. Why don't we go and surprise the American detective in the restroom?" She proposed, moving her other hand up to fold back the collar of Anya's button-down shirt, teasing her neck with her fingertips and moving her lips closer to touch the skin without actually doing so, keeping her eyes up and focused on Anya's reaction before closing her eyes to kiss her collarbones.

Anya stopped her when she went to kiss the skin again, taking Natalya's chin in her fingertips and drawing her face up to her eyes in order to get her point across. "I don't think she's interested." Anya lost herself in Natalya's perfectly lined eyes and quickly let go of her face and looked away so that she wouldn't kiss her.

Not relenting, Natalya placed her index finger on Anya's chin and turned her face towards her again. "But you are. Besides, I think she'd change her mind if we gave her enough…" She moved her other hand up the outside of Anya's leg and tugged her close and against herself, "…attention." She moved her lips closer to Anya, who started to close her eyes and tilt her head to the side to kiss the other woman.

"Excuse me." Olivia snapped, having returned to the table after finding that Anya was not in the restroom. "Am I interrupting something?" Anya immediately straightened up and sat against the back of the booth, shoving Natalya's hand off of her thigh, but Natalya didn't move away from her one bit, keeping her hand at Anya's collar. When no one answered her, Olivia pressed harder, "Anya?"

"We were just discussing you." Natalya answered for the dancer.

Anya spoke to Natalya under her breath with venom. "I'm warning you."

"Yeah, that's what it looked like." Olivia replied with a derisive laugh, rolling her eyes. "I think we should get back to the city."

"She thinks she's the only one, doesn't she, Anya?" Natalya asked, turning her body to Anya with a laugh.

"Let's go." Anya said, rising from the table to meet with Olivia.

"You'll have to tell her one of these days. Come on, Anya." She pleaded. "If the American–"

"Her name is Olivia!" Anya roared at her. Olivia was taken aback by the woman's violent attack against Natalya, especially since her name had been thrown into it. Although she had screamed at her loud enough for at least half the restaurant to hear, Natalya didn't act like it had fazed her in the least. Anya laughed at the woman. "You're a piece of work, you know that?" Natalya shrugged, amused that she'd gotten both women so horribly worked up.

Anya turned to Olivia, who was visibly angry that they were speaking in Russian to one another, thus excluding her from the conversation. Natalya reached for Anya's hand and took it, but Anya snatched her hand back from the woman. "Don't touch me!" She stormed out of the restaurant without looking back. Olivia exited the restaurant as quickly as Anya, following close behind her.

They rounded the corner outside and headed towards Anya's car. "Fuck!" Anya screamed into the night air and quickly brushed the wetness from her eyes to keep Olivia from seeing. "I am so sorry, Olivia."

"You didn't look sorry until about five seconds ago when she finally said something you didn't want to hear." Olivia scolded her.

She sighed, slowing the pace in her walk. She turned to Olivia, who had been walking a few steps behind her, and tried to plead her case. "Okay, you're right. I was out of line, but I am sorry."

"What did she say to you?" Anya ignored the question and reached into her purse to pull out her keys. "You're not driving anywhere." Olivia ordered.

"Excuse me?" Anya challenged her.

"You're drunk, Anya!" Olivia snatched the keys from her.

"So are you!" Anya yelled back.

"Then I guess we'd better find someplace to sit for a while." Olivia stated, although she really wished she were in Manhattan where she could easily just hail a taxi and go home. She started walking towards Ocean Parkway. Anya followed, but kept her distance until Olivia turned around and asked her again what Natalya said that had gotten her so upset.

"I don't think you need to know Russian to know what she wanted."

"What? That she wanted to go home and fuck you?" Olivia asked with malice.

"Us, Olivia. She wanted to go home with us." Olivia rolled her eyes, trying not to think about it. "For a while, I thought that's what you wanted." She continued. "That's why I was going along with it." Anya said, passing the blame.

"Why would you think that I wanted that?" Olivia asked, glaring at her.

"You were flirting with her, Olivia!" Anya exclaimed.

"I was not!" Olivia belligerently protested.

Anya insisted, "yes...you were."

Olivia thought back on the evening. Was I really? She couldn't remember.

"It's okay, Olivia." Anya said, interrupting Olivia's thoughts.

"Maybe for you it is, but it's not okay with me."

"And that's what I told Natalya, so don't worry about it."

Olivia sighed. She was in way over her head with Anya, but as angry as she was with her, she couldn't think of anyone else she'd rather be spending time with. Except for maybe Elliot, but Anya provided her with something no one else could: an escape from her own depressing reality. Elliot really only confirmed that reality because he had to deal with it as much as she did. He knew her secrets too, whereas Anya didn't. She appreciated that Anya knew when to back off and knew when to care. She never forced her for information related to her personal life. She just accepted Olivia at face value with no questions asked. And Olivia couldn't deny the fact that she cherished going home with the woman and making love to her at all hours of the night. The sex with Anya was never lacking and Olivia felt like she'd put up with a lot more from her than she would with other people she'd dated just to keep that insatiable addiction close at hand.

The evening was far from perfect, but it had been a while since they'd seen each other. Olivia kept telling herself that they would settle back into their own comforting rhythm soon. They just needed to relax.

Olivia asked if they could sober up in Anya's car rather than stumble around in circles in the dark. They turned around went back to the sleek, black car and settled into the stillness. Anya turned on the car, cracked the windows a bit, and flipped on the radio. They both needed to just cool off and deal with their reactions to the evening's events later. They sat in silence for a while, just listening to the soft music, until Anya reached her hand over and took Olivia's that had been resting in her lap. She pulled her hand up and gave it a small, apologetic kiss before settling it down between their seats. While Olivia didn't object to her touch, she was far from merciful. She turned her face out the window to avoid Anya, and closed her eyes in an attempt to disappear.


Ch. 25

A few weeks passed since their argument and misunderstanding regarding Natalya. The situation was never fully resolved, but instead they merely agreed to disagree and not bring up the sore subject again. Anya also made many sincere efforts to reassure Olivia of her place in her life. Even through Anya's assurances, Olivia couldn't let her suspicions go for superficial reasons. She was reluctant about giving too much of herself to Anya anymore after their encounter with Natalya. She was certain that they had shared some serious history and was far from convinced that it was over between the two dancers.

Despite her suspicions, she didn't stop seeing her. Anya still possessed quite a chunk of Olivia's heart as much as she hated to admit it. She loved spending time with her; getting away from the precinct and the normal routine she had fallen into. Anya was always in a good mood, was always ready to experience new things, and genuinely loved sharing them with Olivia. She made her feel special and almost always made herself available when Olivia had the time to get together. She also loved going home with her at night rather than spending every night alone in her apartment or at the precinct, but appreciated the fact that spending the night with Anya was not an expectation. The evenings they did spend together were electric and it was something Olivia did not want to lose.

The two women sat side by side in a near-empty subway car, making the trip uptown to Olivia's apartment after seeing a late-night movie. The clicking-clacking rails shifted back and forth methodically, acting like a hammock for the two very tired and exhausted women. "What time it is?" Anya yawned, dropping her head to Olivia's shoulder, and wrapping her arms around her waist.

"Around 11," Olivia said, checking her watch and yawning. "Stop yawning; it's contagious."

Anya closed her eyes and snuggled into Olivia's chest to get comfortable enough to try and take a nap on their way back to Olivia's apartment several stops away. "I shouldn't be so tired. I must be getting old." She sighed.

"What are you talking about? You're not old." Olivia had to laugh. She certainly didn't consider herself to be old and they were around the same age.

"Most dancers my age are pushing retirement, Olivia."

"Must be nice. NYPD won't let me retire until I'm being fitted for a coffin." She said with a smirk to herself.

Anya laughed. "You wouldn't retire even if they offered it to you tomorrow and you know it." Olivia nodded with a smile, knowing she was right. "Besides, the end of performing doesn't mean that I get a free ride for the rest of my life. I'll have to teach more or attend seminars, travel as a choreographer maybe. Who knows, really? It will be a whole new career to get used to."

"Is that the reason why Natalya left ABT?" Olivia asked, not knowing why, but at the very least knowing that she was older than Anya.

Anya smiled, knowing Olivia was not the type to let things go without full disclosure. She gave up on resisting Olivia's inquisition. She knew the woman was a detective that she had to get to the bottom of everything, no matter what it was and even if the subject was approached indirectly. "That was part of it, yes." She picked her head up from Olivia's shoulder and looked to the detective. "But she could have taught with ABT instead of going to the City Ballet. She chose to leave the company because of me." Anya stated honestly. She sat back against the subway seat, and ran her fingers through her long hair then tossed it over her shoulder. "We were together for a very long time, Olivia." She admitted.

"How long?" Olivia asked carefully, but as soon as she asked, she didn't want to know.

Anya took a deep breath and looked forward, away from the eyes she could lose herself in. "Twelve years. But I've known her since I was six or seven."

Olivia couldn't think of anything to say. She really wished she hadn't asked. Anya was clearly not over the relationship and Olivia felt she could in no way compete with that kind of history, and she wasn't sure if she wanted to try. She wondered if they should continue to see each other at all, but knew that Anya hadn't really done anything wrong to deserve such abandonment. She felt sorry for Anya and saw that she was more than just her lover, but a damaged casualty of loss, out there searching for what she knew she would never find again, but also knowing that the past was exactly that: the past.

"I don't really want to talk about it, if that's okay. I understand that you might have a right to know about my history with Natalya, but we've had such a nice night and I don't want it to go south like it did a few weeks ago." Anya took Olivia's hand. "I'm with you right now, Olivia, and I want to be with you." She kissed her hand, then each one of Olivia's fingers.

At the next subway stop, the remaining people on their subway car left, leaving the two alone. Anya angled herself to face Olivia, who was leaned back against the subway wall. Noticing that they were alone and thinking that Anya could use some comforting, Olivia extending her arms out for Anya to embrace her.

Anya leaned against Olivia, who accepted Anya's lips when she went to kiss her. Anya pulled her closer and opened then re-closed her lips around Olivia's, trying to convince her that she was the only one that she wanted right now. Damn, she's good. Olivia thought, losing herself in Anya's kiss. She knows what button to push, and when to push it.

Anya's fingers combed insistently through Olivia's short hair, twirling around the ends. She pressed herself against Olivia, pushing her to a slouch in the seat. Olivia held Anya with her full lips upon her more thin and defined ones until the dancer forced her tongue between Olivia's teeth, enticing Olivia to prolong their contact. Anya's hand left Olivia's hair and traced down to her arm, gripping it gently to balance herself. Even though no one was in their subway car, the possibility of someone walking in on them kissing was slightly exhilarating to the usually conservative detective. She ran her hands across Anya's back, up through her hair and down again, holding her tight and delighting in their kisses and the feeling of Anya holding onto her arm.

The subway engineer called over the speaker that the next stop would be Spring Street. Anya had her upper body completely covering Olivia's, kissing and touching her passionately. Olivia was feeling especially bold and perhaps even a little lonely, wanting to believe that Anya wanted to be with her, so she didn't stop her when the subway came to a halt and the doors opened, allowing new customers to enter. What Olivia didn't expect was for someone she knew to have entered her subway car to see her hands and mouth all over another woman.

A couple entered the subway car, both tipsy from being out at a bar in Soho all evening. The man wore a casual gray suit and his tie was loose from the woman's flirtatious hands. The woman wore a slinky red top with a strategically placed teardrop incision. She also wore pressed black pants, accented by a silver chain link belt that her fingers toyed with playfully. As they laughed and snickered at one another upon entering the subway car, the man's eyes never left the exposure of skin at the woman's cleavage until he spotted the two other beautiful women kissing and pawing hastily at one another at the end of the car.

"Niiiice!" He slurred under his breath, too drunk to hold back his reaction and stopping dead in his tracks, looking at Olivia and Anya. After the familiar bell chimed, warning customers to clear the way, the subway doors closed.

"Oh!" The woman gasped, realizing what he was watching. She smacked him lightheartedly on the arm. "Leave them alone, David." She said, tugging him to the other end of the subway car. He resisted, but followed her while keeping his eyes wide and watching the women, capturing every detail into his memory.

I think I know that voice. Olivia thought to herself, a little paranoid, but still entranced by Anya's kiss. New York is a big city, she told herself to excuse the thought, it couldn't be her. She completely forgot about her speculation as she lost herself in the feeling of her lover's hands roaming up underneath the front of her shirt, which elicited a soft moan out of her mouth.

"Cut it out!" Olivia heard the woman whisper to her date with a laugh.

Olivia opened her eyes slightly and looked over Anya's shoulder in the hopes of squashing her assumption of who had come onto their train. Instead, she saw exactly who she thought it was. Alex. The Assistant District Attorney was standing in the center of her train trying to distract her date from the two lesbians making out in the corner. Fuuuck. Before Olivia could comprehend the weight of this disaster and panic or try to hide behind Anya from her co-worker, Alex caught her eye and immediately recognized the familiar dark eyes.

Olivia shrieked Alex's name, jolting under Anya's body, pushing her off of her, straightening her shirt, and quickly covering her mouth with the back of her hand, turning away to try and find a rock to hide under. Unable to hide her own reaction, Alex's eyes widened in shock, and she stood paralyzed, holding onto one of the subway poles. I'm not that drunk, am I? Am I really looking at who I think I'm looking at? My God, I never would have expected… Of all people!

Anya sat back a little, baffled. "Who is Alex, Olivia?" Her sharp accent cut through the tension in the air. She ran her fingers through her hair to try and straighten it out.

Oh great, Anya. Thanks a lot. There it is. My name. Out there confirming everything. Breathe, Olivia. Just breathe. So she caught me with another woman. Big deal, right? Oh Jesus Christ in Heaven there's no escaping this. My hands were all over her like a teenager – shit! She cursed herself.

"Hold on a minute." David said, looking at Alex then to the other women in the subway. "You know them?" He asked Alex, taken aback.

"Get a grip, will you?" Alex glared at him and walked over to Olivia and grabbed a subway pole across from Olivia to steady herself in the moving train. She didn't get too close to Olivia though; she knew she had already invaded quite enough of the detective's private life and could see that Olivia was overwhelmingly distraught about it. "I'm sorry, Liv. We didn't mean to, uh, well…" Alex, for once, was lost for words. "I think we'll just go to the next car."

"God, I'm so embarrassed." Olivia said quietly, almost to herself and keeping her eyes down and away from Alex.

"Don't be embarrassed." Alex reassured her, taking another step closer, but then backing up again, remembering to give Olivia some space.

"Why should you be embarrassed, Olivia? Who is this woman?" Anya asked, frankly and with furrowed eyebrows, pointing to Alex.

Olivia was hoping that Alex would just leave the subway car without introductions so that they could just show up for the Grand Jury hearing tomorrow as if nothing happened, but she knew that wasn't a realistic hope now that Anya had involved herself. "Anya, this is Alex." Olivia said, gesturing towards the tall blonde. Who looks damn good in that red shirt I might add, Olivia thought, looking away from the open slit in Alex's shirt. "Alex…" She offered an open hand to the woman beside her. "Anya."

"Ohhhh, Alex." Anya said, a light bulb going off in her head. She extended her hand grandly for Alex to accept. "It's a pleasure to meet you. I've heard so much about you." The words were simple enough, but Anya had laced them with such a biting sarcasm and Alex picked up on it instantly and was properly offended.

"I'm sure you have." Alex said, dropping Anya's hand and crossing her arms over her chest, straightening her back. She turned her attention to Olivia with an icy glare.

Olivia couldn't do anything but sink deeper into the subway seat, touching her fingers to her brow to hide from Alex. This was only getting worse and with Anya's big mouth, she knew it wouldn't be the last smart remark she made if she didn't seize control of the situation.

"Well, Detective Benson. I didn't know that you had such a distaste for me." Alex was hurt, but didn't let on other than to express her disapproval. She maintained her stoic persona even while slightly intoxicated, but she certainly wasn't going to let Olivia get away without learning what Anya had meant by her statement.

"I don't, Alex." Olivia said, in an effort to try and save herself. "I don't hate you at all." Olivia nervously fidgeted with the sleeves of her shirt. "You just…took some time to get used to. I think you do a great job. Really."

Alex wasn't convinced. Her date now came to her side, holding onto her waist. David sat down opposite of Anya and Olivia, pulling Alex backwards to sit down as well. Alex reluctantly sat beside him and he put his arm around her, but she kept her arms crossed in front of her and her eyes fixated on Olivia. "I'm learning more than my fair share about you tonight, aren't I?" She remarked with a laugh, attempting to ease both of their minds, which didn't help at all.

Olivia rolled her eyes before giving a spiteful glare to Anya, who still didn't understand what the big deal was. There was no way to dig herself out of this hole. Someone, other than her, needed to say something. Quickly.

"Well." Alex sighed, folding her hands into her lap. "This is awkward." She said stating the obvious.

Part 26

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