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. 26

Upon entering her apartment with David, Alex really didn't feel like following through with the plans she'd formulated in her mind earlier that night. She thought about sending him home and forgetting about this whole evening and starting over with her life tomorrow. Seeing Olivia and Anya together threw her for a loop; more than she had expected it to and she didn't understand why it concerned her. It was Olivia's business to do whatever she wanted with whomever she wanted. The woman deserved to have a life outside of SVU, and quite frankly she didn't think she had one until tonight.

She never once assumed that Olivia dated women though. She wondered if everyone else knew about Anya, remembering when Cragen had corrected the pronunciation of her name, and whether she was the only one that was not privy to that information. Why would that be? Not that it was any of her business to know, but she wanted to get along with the detective and it bothered her to be excluded. She realized just how little she truthfully knew about her colleague. That raw comment from Anya certainly didn't help her mood either. What a bitch. She thought to herself.

When her apartment door closed behind the two of them, David started in on her immediately, kissing the back of her neck with his arms wrapped around her stomach, pushing her towards the bedroom. Although she was mildly participating, her mind was truly elsewhere, drifting far from the man in her apartment to seeing Olivia on the subway car so passionately lost in a kiss with Anya. The swift manner in which David was forcing himself on her led her to believe that his mind was elsewhere too and that was something she would not tolerate.

"Why do I get the feeling that you're not thinking about me right now?" She asked, stubbornly standing in place to stop his forage to her lush bedroom.

"Don't be like that." He said, rummaging his hands down the front of her body, finding the button of her pants and undoing them. "You do have some beautiful friends though."

"That's what I thought." Alex moved out from under his hands and stepped away. She re-buttoned her pants. If he didn't want just her, then he wasn't going to have her. "You can leave." She pointed to the door.

"What?" He begged, approaching her again with open hands.

"You heard me." She said, taking a step back.

He thought for a second, trying to prevent this golden opportunity from slipping out of his fingers. "I was thinking about you, Alex."

"No, you weren't. You were thinking about my co-worker, who is a highly respected detective I'll have you know, and her girlfriend!"

"That European woman was stunning, I'll admit that and you may hound me about it if it would make you feel better, but I wasn't thinking about her and your 'respected' detective." Alex heard a little more cynicism in his voice when addressing Olivia than she would have liked and it ticked her off just a smidgen more. "I was thinking about the detective and you."

Alex scoffed, slightly disgusted, but couldn't stop the flash of imagery of Olivia's lips kissing her own. She dismissed it. "Please don't go there, David. I have to work with her almost everyday."

"I know; it's just a harmless fantasy." David defended himself. "She's beautiful; you're beautiful. You can't be angry with me for just having a thought."

Try me, Alex thought, crossing her arms, still waiting to be convinced that he should be allowed to stay.

"You mean you've never once thought about it?" He asked.

You mean except for just now? "About Olivia? No! I work with her. We're barely acquaintances and she apparently hates me."

"No, not just Olivia. Humor me, will you?" Alex was growing more offended by her date by the second. Who the hell was this person anyway? "I know you were in a sorority at Columbia. Stuff had to have happened in that house."

"Yeah, with men, David. I don't know what kind of sororities you had at your university, but that's not how things worked at mine." Now Alex was lying, but at least she was a good and believable liar.

"Okay, I get it. I apologize." He said taking a different approach. "I didn't mean to offend you, Alex." He said, walking towards her.

"Well, you did. So goodnight." Her words were sharp, as was the sound of her heels clicking against the hard wood floors when she made her way to the bedroom alone and closed the door behind her.


Ch. 27

Spoiler: Season 2, Consent (some material used from the actual show – no profit, just fun).

The next morning, Alex was due at the Grand Jury regarding a young sorority woman that had been drugged and then allegedly raped by another student. She wasn't very confident about the charges against the suspect, but never once let on because Olivia pressured her to pursue the case. Because she was trying to get on her good side, she had flipped through her rolodex of legal ethics and theories to come up with something that would hopefully stick and lead to an indictment.

Alex and Olivia sat together on a hard and uncomfortable wooden bench, waiting for the Grand Jury to render their decision. They were both completely insecure sitting next to one another. Alex was a little hung over from the night before, but noticed that Olivia was more nervous and fidgety than usual, changing which legs to cross over the other, biting at her lip, checking the time on her watch a thousand times, and folding then re-folding her long coat on the bench beside her. It was as if they were both still on the subway car together, both slightly embarrassed from witnessing something so supremely personal about the detective that Olivia had tried so dreadfully to keep private. She needs to just relax, Alex thought.

"Olivia," Alex finally said to pierce the silence. "I'm not going to tell anyone."

"Let's not talk about it, okay?" Olivia said defensively, glaring at her with furrowed brows.

"Okay." Alex said, backing off and agreeing to Olivia's request. The silence became deafening between them again. She couldn't take it. "I just…I don't want you to think that I'm judging you or anything."

Thanks, Alex. I feel better now having your highness' approval. Olivia sighed, fumbled again with her coat, and looked at her watch to see that only 45 seconds had passed since the last time she'd checked the time. "What is taking them so long?" She asked impatiently about the Grand Jury's decision.

"Don't read too much into it." Alex said, taking the hint to drop the subject. "They have a lot of evidence and testimony to go over."

A man came out of the Grand Jury room and handed Alex a tri-folded piece of paper that had the decision on it. It wasn't good news. She handed the paper to Olivia, who read it, then dropped the paper to her lap, defeated. This just wasn't going to be her day.

About a week later, Olivia left Anya's apartment early in the morning to go running in Central Park. It was a luxury that she didn't have nearby at her own apartment and she took advantage of it every time she spent the night with Anya. She was bundled up a little, protecting herself from the coming winter chill.

"Olivia!" A familiar voice called out to her. She turned around, knowing it wasn't Anya at this early bird hour. It was Alex wearing worn sneakers, blue running pants, a gray t-shirt and a similarly colored blue jacket. She looked kind of cute dressed so causally it was definitely a different look from her always perfect, always pristine suits and skirts that Olivia was used to seeing her in. Her hair was even in a tiny ponytail rather than twisted halfway up or flat ironed perfectly straight. When she approached the detective, she was out of breath. "You don't take many breaks, do you?" She said in between heaving breaths.

Olivia smiled, not even close to being worn out. "I don't get the chance to take a break when I'm chasing a perp, so why should I allow myself to break now?"

Alex put her hand over her heart, still trying to catch her breath. "Well, I need a break." She started walking to a nearby bench to sit down. "I saw you running waaaaay back there," she said pointing to the far distance, "and I've been trying to catch up with you ever since." Alex fell onto the bench and pulled her gloves tighter around her fingers.

It's not that cold out here, Olivia thought, noticing Alex's gloves.

"Slow down for a minute for my sake." She said patting the empty space on the bench next to her.

Olivia sat down next to Alex, putting her hands into her pockets. Okay, so maybe it's a little chilly, she admitted to herself.

"I didn't know you lived around here." Alex continued to talk out of nervousness, but she didn't want to put her off so she started with general small talk.

"I don't." Olivia answered. "I live in Chelsea."

"You come all the way up here just to run? I know there are other nice parks down where you live." Alex pointed out.

Olivia laughed, nodding behind herself. "Anya lives over on Amsterdam."

Alex opened her lips, mouthing 'oh' but not actually saying it. "So you two must be pretty serious then?" She asked, curious. She thought again about her question when Olivia didn't immediately answer her, and attempted to retract it. "I'm sorry. It's none of my business."

"No, it's okay, Alex." Olivia interrupted, but still didn't answer the question. "I've been meaning to apologize to you."

Alex scrunched her eyebrows, baffled. "For what?"

"Uh…for a lot of things, I guess." Olivia sighed, rubbing her hands against the tops of her thighs. "For starters, I haven't been the nicest person since you started representing our cases." She really didn't want to go into details about what she was apologizing for and hoped that Alex would just accept what she had given her as enough. She had gotten into such a familiar pattern of unspoken but understood conversations with Elliot that she was now more comfortable with that method of communication than actually talking.

"It's okay, Olivia." Alex said, knowing that the detective was never forthcoming and was uncomfortable about doing so.

"I'd like to make it up to you in some way, if I can." Olivia said, searching for an appropriate way to follow through with this suggestion.

"That's not necessary. Really. We're different people. I'm sure we'll figure out how to work well together as time passes." Alex said, although she was hoping that Olivia would ask her out for a few drinks or something.

"Would you be my date for dinner anyway?" Oops, that came out wrong. Olivia cringed at her words. I hope she didn't read that as me asking her on a date-date.

Alex smiled back at Olivia and nodded. "Okay, how about this Friday after work?"

Friday…Friday… Olivia thought, scanning her brain. Do I have plans with Elliot or the guys? Probably not and Anya is going out of town again, so Friday is okay. "Yeah, I think Friday would be fine." Olivia answered. "Just come by the precinct after you're finished at work."

"Sounds good." Alex said with a smile. "I have to get home before I go in this morning." She stood from the bench, but turned around to face Olivia to say goodbye. "It was nice chatting with you, Liv. Have a nice Monday."


Ch. 28

Olivia's skin was on fire as Anya dragged her long nails alongside her ribcage down to her thighs. She loved having Anya on top of her, her light and delicate weight pressing against her, her green eyes burning into her own, and her long strawberry curls falling over her shoulders and onto Olivia's face, gently flowing back and forth with every pulse of Anya's body driving against her own. She had been awake for fifteen minutes and only managed to get a bra and panties on when Anya sabotaged her attempts to dress for work by attacking her from behind and pressing her forward and onto the bed. Ordinarily, Olivia would not have been so spontaneous when she needed to get to work, but Anya was leaving for London today, where she was to be a guest performer with the Royal Ballet and would be gone for at least a month. Olivia wanted to savor every touch and every taste of the woman, knowing it would be all too long until she'd see Anya again.

Anya tore off Olivia's panties and tossed them to the floor before slipping her fingers between Olivia's legs and anticipated being inside of her detective. Olivia was warm and wet, and she moaned with every stroke of Anya's fingers against her clit. Anya lifted her hips and pushed her hand against the other woman and dipped two of her fingers into her, slowly forcing her way in and out while keeping her fingers curled up slightly to tease the inner, soft flesh.

Olivia lurched her head forward, seizing Anya's lips and brought her face back down, kissing her feverously, opening her mouth wide and thrusting her tongue into Anya's mouth. Anya sucked back on Olivia's tongue before pushing her own through Olivia's lips while pulsing her fingers inside of Olivia. She quickened her fingers, making circular patterns within her and Olivia released Anya's lips, her breath short and shallow, her eyes gazing up into Anya's, waiting and hungry. Olivia wrapped one hand around Anya's back, holding her, and pulled her down until Anya's head lay beside her own, breathing into Olivia's ear, and her naked body laying atop of Olivia's.

Olivia opened her knees wider and her thighs tensed. The hand that wasn't clasped around Anya found its way between her own legs and she held Anya's fingers inside, pushing them deeper. Olivia moaned and called for Anya, begging her to continue as she felt herself overcome with the rapture of Anya's sex. Anya pushed in further and harder into Olivia, following through with Olivia's requests and she felt the woman's hips buckle against her hand as she listened to her voice cry for her in short spurts of sheer pleasure until Olivia silenced herself and her breathing, gripping onto Anya's back and hand, her head arching back. Anya kissed and bit upon Olivia's neck until she heard the brunette let out a final elongated cry of ecstasy and felt the woman's hands relax and drop away from contact.

Anya rolled off of Olivia, propped herself up on her elbows, and looked over to Olivia. "Good morning." She said with a smirk, lowering her lips to kiss the lightly panting woman.

Olivia looked at her with a gratified smile and closed her heavy brown eyes, letting out a sigh. Good morning. Anya tenderly touched her cheek before rising from the sheets and walking towards the bathroom, picking up a set of clothes she'd laid out to wear earlier that morning.

Olivia sighed again, rolled over, and clutched the corner of the top sheet, pulling it over herself. She chuckled quietly to herself and laid in bed for a moment before getting up to start re-dressing for work. Olivia had her pants, her gun holster, and a bra on when the phone rang in Anya's apartment. Anya was still in the bathroom, gathering her things to finish packing for England. Olivia never answered the phone for her, always letting the answering machine pick it up so that Anya was the only person responsible for her own calls and messages. The machine was across the room from the bed, but within earshot so she heard the digital click when the message started.

"I hope you haven't left for the airport yet, Anya." The female voice on the message had a thick English accent. "I've moved recently and wanted to give you my new address so you can come over straight away. My number hasn't changed so call when you get in." Her voice lowered, "You know it doesn't matter how late it is." Olivia stopped buttoning her shirt and turned around to listen to the message closer. The woman spoke with a seductive trill, "It's been far too long, my love. We have so much to catch up on." She chuckled subtlety before hanging up, ending the message.

Olivia's mood quickly dropped from cloud nine to the ninth level of hell. She finished buttoning her shirt quickly, pulled her small duffle bag out from beside the nightstand and started to collect her things. She never kept very much at Anya's place anyway, most of it was dispensable, but she did grab her night clothes, shoes, and other small items and shoved them into her bag. As she was doing so, Anya came out of the bathroom and asked Olivia who had called.

"I don't know." Olivia said, trying to hide her anger. She just wanted to get out without confrontation. "She didn't say. Why don't you listen to the message yourself?" She knew her anger wasn't going to be able to be held back for much longer, especially if she heard the message again.

Anya walked to the machine and replayed the message. Hearing it again enraged Olivia more just as she had expected it to do. The woman's voice and its affectionate cooing confirmed her suspicions that she'd developed recently. When the message ended, Anya didn't even react. Not to the message or to Olivia standing in the bedroom, glaring at her. But rather, she went back to her dresser and sat in front of it to finish applying her make up and prepare to leave. Olivia was furious at her indifference and strode over to her, dropping her bag fiercely beside her feet. Anya turned around and looked down at the packed bag then up into the mirror to catch Olivia's eyes staring at her in the reflection. She smirked at Olivia as if she was daring her.

"Who the hell was that?" Olivia snapped.

Anya laughed, amused at Olivia's uncharacteristic possessiveness. "She's just a close friend, Olivia."

"A close friend? What do you take me for? You've clearly set up plans to meet with her the second you get to London and it didn't sound platonic to me!"

"So what if it isn't? What's it to you?" Anya asked, defensively, putting down her powder and applying a dark brown eyeliner.

"Oh, I don't know, Anya. I kind of thought that since we had been seeing each other for months that we were…well…." Olivia's voice trailed off. She still couldn't say it. She maintained her distance and stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame.

"Well, what, Olivia?" She chuckled to herself, set down the eyeliner and pulled out the deep, burgundy colored lipstick that Olivia loved. After finishing with the lipstick, Anya turned around to face her, "Besides, I thought this was what you wanted, Olivia."

Olivia was paralyzed. She couldn't answer because she thought the no commitment thing was what she wanted, but now that she knew she couldn't solely have Anya to herself, she started to wonder if maybe she did want Anya to be with only her. "What I wanted was an honest relationship." She finally said.

"You can never claim that I wasn't honest with you. You knew what this was all about. I'm not the one who has changed. You are." She read the detective's crushed expression, centering at the crease between her eyebrows. Anya laughed caustically at Olivia. "Oh, Olivia. I had no idea you were such a hopeless romantic." She turned back to the mirror and took out her mascara. "You American girls are so obsessed with love and romance and monogamy. It's just not realistic."

"So what you're telling me is that I should have known somehow that you were going to cheat on me eventually?" Olivia crossed her arms. Anya rolled her eyes and shook her head, choosing not to go there, but Olivia caught her intentions and it infuriated her; her eyes burning into Anya's reflection in the mirror. "So you have?" Olivia shifted her weight, crossing her arms again. She was angry, but wasn't entirely sure if she was more angry with Anya or with herself for allowing herself to be taken advantage of in such a situation.

"Are you to stand there and tell me that you've been entirely faithful to me?" She stopped and looked at the detective in the mirror.

"Yes!" Olivia cried, her hands exasperatedly raising to the sky.

"You're not being very honest with yourself then." Anya put her make up away. It irritated Olivia that Anya refused to cease her activity and give Olivia her full attention.

"I haven't slept with or even kissed anyone but you since we met!" Olivia felt foolish saying it, having a sick feeling that Anya would not be able to confess the same loyalty to her.

"Perhaps this is true for now Olivia, but you will. I saw how you looked at that attorney friend of yours on the subway."

"Alex?" Olivia asked bewildered, but wondering if what Anya said was true.

"Yes, Alex." Anya confirmed. She stood up and approached Olivia in the doorway, hovering over her. "But if you don't mind, I would like to forewarn you about her." Olivia cocked her head to one side and glared up at Anya, afraid of what was to come out of her mouth. "She's a politician, Olivia. She will crush your heart for the sake of her career without even a second thought. So if love and commitment is what you want, you will not get it from her either." Anya stepped away from the detective and tucked her make up bag into her suitcase. "But, if you just want to fuck her, then I think you have a much more realistic possibility with that. She's quite a catch. Not my type, unfortunately," she shrugged, "but very much yours." She said with a sly smirk.

Olivia couldn't believe what she was hearing. She rubbed her eyebrows with the tips of her fingers, then dragged her hands down her face, tugging at the skin. The woman who she thought was her girlfriend was breaking up with her, and in the same breath was encouraging her to sleep with a co-worker. And not just any co-worker: Alex. "You never answered my question, Anya."

"What question?" She feigned ignorance.

"The one about you sleeping with someone else. Have you?"

"You work all the time, and I've been traveling a lot lately. What do you think?"

Olivia sighed, beaten. "Natalya?" Olivia had to know after the woman's callous behavior on the night they had gone to her father's restaurant.

Anya smirked, "No. What happened between Natalya and I is quite frankly none of your business anymore, but that business has long since passed." Anya put on her coat and bent down to pet her cat before rising again. "And while I have slept with other women, there has been no one else but you in New York." She spoke with no emotion at all: like she was just pointing something out as a matter of scientific fact.

Olivia picked up on the detail that she had said 'women' not just 'another woman', thus indicating that she'd been with at least two others abroad. She started to feel sick and she wasn't sure if she wanted to throw up or wring Anya's neck between her hands. She chose to do neither and swallowed every impulse running ragged through her nervous system until she could be somewhere private. She'd already been taken advantage of enough; she wouldn't allow this revelation to result in a loss of self-control.

Anya approached Olivia and spoke her name quietly, piercing her green eyes into Olivia's soul. "What is so wrong about what we have, Olivia? When you want me, you have me." Olivia didn't answer. She was right. There had never been a time when Anya had not made herself available to her whether the need was sexual or emotional, especially around the time of her mother's death, but she didn't like the idea of being another one of Anya's girlfriends.

She thought back to the night at her father's restaurant and cursed herself for not seeing the writing on the wall that was blatantly obvious to everyone but her. Many beautiful and younger women surrounded Anya's father, and Anya was the perfect mimic of Dimitri's behavior. She relished the attention she received by so many of her probably former girlfriends that still vied for her attention and her father almost seemed to encourage it; that he was proud of his daughter for behaving in such a manner. She was a detective – how did this slip right through her fingers? Was she truly just another one of the infatuated women that encircled Anya? It made her feel weak…and dejected.

Olivia was so lost in thought that she allowed the woman to reach for her face and pull it into a kiss. It pained Olivia to know that Anya had such a control over her. "I have a flight to catch. Good luck with your attorney."


Ch. 29

When Olivia came into the precinct that morning, she carried her duffle bag over to her desk. Without looking up from his morning coffee, Elliot greeted her with his standard and indifferent "Good morning." Instead of answering him as she did every morning, she yanked her chair out from under the desk and violently threw her bag underneath. It hit the side of the desk's legs with a loud thump that shot up Elliot's attention. She turned on her heels and walked to the coffeepot without even so much as looking at him.

The coffee that morning tasted especially pungent and she dumped the entire full carafe into the garbage can before restarting another pot, making it the way she wanted it to be made. She hovered over it like a hawk and didn't let anyone near until it was completely made and blended; and even then, no one came close to the carafe until she had made her own cup to her liking and left to sit at her desk in front of Elliot. He looked up at her apprehensively, but didn't say anything.

After such a dramatic start to a Friday morning, Olivia decided to keep to herself as much as possible. Olivia could not hide her emotions very well and usually wore them on her sleeve. She also didn't have a problem with permeating the room, or infecting everyone else around her with her mood. A bitter scowl was present on her face nearly the entire morning, warning everyone around her to back off. The only person that was able to get a word in edgewise was Elliot and only because he had been her partner for a couple of years now and knew how to tread lightly, although he knew that the escalation that Olivia's mood had reached was definitely at a new level. No one asked and she didn't offer up any information as to why she was so angry, but everyone in the precinct knew to avoid her and give her space.

Later in the afternoon, she and Elliot were on their way to re-question a suspect in their most pressing child abuse case. Elliot really wanted to ask if she was okay. He'd sat on his hands and walked on eggshells for at least 4 hours already and the tension Olivia emanated was killing him. He assumed that it probably had something to do with Anya, but didn't know how to approach the subject without offending his partner. Nevertheless, he wanted her to know that she could talk to him.

"Are you going to be okay with talking with this guy?" He asked, turning the car onto 8th Avenue.

"Why wouldn't I be?" Olivia asked, looking straight ahead.

"Well, it's pretty obvious that you're having a bad day, Liv. I could take you home and I could go on ahead and talk to him myself if you wanted." Elliot offered.

"I'm fine, Elliot." She said it, but the acidic inflection in her voice deceived her and cut through Elliot like he had expected her to do.

"Okay." He stopped at the red light. The car rumbled low and sputtering. He looked over at Olivia, who still had that horrible scowl on her face. He leaned his elbow against the window ledge in the car and took the plunge, ready without armor to be attacked. "Did something happen with Anya?"

"You could say that." Olivia said, biting the inside of her lip. She didn't look at her partner, and instead kept her eyes down towards the floor.

Elliot sat up and rubbed her shoulder lightly before looking back to the road when the light turned green. In the corner of his eye, he saw Olivia nod, accepting his gesture, before looking out the window with sadness and betrayal filling her eyes. He continued to drive uptown, trying not to look at his partner out of respect when she cleared her throat and quietly took the end of her red scarf to her eyes, dabbing them dry.

The suspect was willing to return to the precinct with them to clear up the discrepancies in his story. When the questioning was getting a little more promising, Cragen called in Alex to see if they had enough to charge the suspect with abuse or at the very least an accessory after the fact. Unfortunately, Alex didn't find that the evidence against the suspect was enough to hold him and advised the detectives to cut him loose and get better information so they could get a search warrant, which would hopefully lead to something more solid. When Olivia and Elliot opened the door to let the suspect go, Alex asked to speak with Olivia briefly about other cases on her plate that she wanted to clear up ASAP.

Olivia pulled her aside outside of Cragen's office and answered her questions, relaying to her that she and Elliot had been so focused on this one case in particular that they hadn't had the time to revisit cases that were close to going cold. Alex stressed to Olivia to try one last time with one file involving an elderly woman in particular. She told Olivia that the DA was breathing down her neck about it and thus, the pressure was being passed onto her detectives for further investigation. It was just another pain in Olivia's ass in what was turning out to be a truly stressful day. Olivia sighed and gave Alex her word that she would pursue the leads one last time before turning it cold and Alex sincerely thanked her.

Olivia turned to walk towards the file room in order to retrieve the file Alex had been talking about when Alex abruptly asked if they were still going to have dinner together in a few hours. It was a good thing that she'd brought it up. Olivia had been so self-consumed all day regarding Anya that she'd forgotten all about it.

"Um…I don't know, Alex." Olivia thought aloud, shoving her hands into her pockets, looking to the ground, and scuffing the heel of her shoe into the floor.

Alex wondered if Olivia was withdrawing her offer because she had been insensitive in some way towards the detective and the nearly cold case file. She hoped that she hadn't offended her. "I didn't mean to be so harsh about that case, Liv. I just –"

"No, it's not that." Olivia interrupted her. "I would like to see that case closed too. You know I would." She shifted her weight. "I've just kind of had a rough day, and I'm not really feeling much like myself." It was true. She'd felt a cross of sadness, anger, but most of all, she felt a sense of displacement all day and really wanted to just go home and regroup her life around her work and nothing else. She didn't want to see Anya ever again, but she also didn't want to talk to anyone about it. Least of all to Alex, who she barely knew.

"Oh." Alex said, suddenly realizing Olivia's sullen mood. She felt selfish and guilty that she hadn't noticed until just then, but as soon as Olivia brought it up, it was completely obvious to Alex that the detective was troubled about something outside of work, and it upset her.

"Can I get a rain check?" Olivia asked, not wanting to totally cancel their dinner, just knowing that it couldn't be that night.

"Sure." Alex said. "Is everything's okay?" Alex added with a little concern, leaning in a little cocking her head to the side to try and catch Olivia's eyes, which Olivia evaded.

Olivia nodded. "Thanks."

"Well, you know how to reach me." She turned on her heels and walked out the precinct.


Ch. 30

Around 7:00 that evening Olivia was still at work, dedicatedly going over Alex's requested case file trying to find some detail that she had somehow overlooked months ago. So far, nothing was coming to mind other than the fact that she was starving. Everyone had gone home for the weekend. She wondered if Alex had as well. She closed the folder in front of her, turned off her desk lamp, and grabbed her coat and scarf on her way out the door and headed to the attorney's office.

The blinds had been drawn, as they usually were, but Olivia could see that the lights were still on. She knocked softly on the door and heard Alex's voice invite her in. She opened the door, and stood in the entryway. Alex sat at her desk with stacks of paper, open books, and binders all around her. The black-rimmed glasses she wore were barely able to stay atop the bridge of her nose as she read a passage from a law review. A few strands of her blonde hair fell over her face and she tucked them back behind her ear. Olivia couldn't help but wonder if Anya was right about her fancying Alex. She did look nice in that classic navy suit.

Alex raised her head to see who wanted her attention at that hour. "Oh, it's you Olivia." She said, both surprised and relieved, pushing her glasses back so she could see better.

"Who were you expecting?" Olivia asked, leaning against the doorframe with her coat folded over her arms.

Alex chuckled. "No one. It's 7:30 on a Friday night. No one works that late around here." She waved Olivia into her office and offered her the chair in front of her desk.

"It looks like you do." Olivia said, sitting down and pointing out the organized chaos between them.

"Not really. Just a little research." Alex sat back in her chair. "So, do you need a last minute warrant or something?" She said, interlacing her fingers together and setting her hands down on the desk.

"No." Olivia said, shaking her head. She felt a little embarrassed wanting to find out if Alex had eaten dinner yet, knowing she'd canceled on her earlier. Alex had probably already eaten without her. "I was actually getting pretty hungry and was wondering if you'd had dinner yet."

Alex smiled. "You're feeling better then?"

"Not really." Olivia sighed, cradling her chin in her hand with her elbow balancing on the arm of the chair. "But I'm hungry. So have you?" She asked again, her stomach starting to churn with the need for substance.

"No." Alex said, leaning forward on her desk. "Someone rain checked me earlier today. Can you believe that?" Alex smirked.

Olivia smiled for the first time that day. "Well, I'd like to undo that cancellation from earlier and take you to dinner if you're up to it." She cocked her head to the side and gave Alex a smile before shying and looking down to her desk. She kept her head down, but slowly raised her dark eyes suggestively to see if Alex would say yes. Did I just flirt with her?

Alex smiled and rose from her desk to put a few documents and small binders in her beige briefcase. "Where will we be going?" She put her coat on and slung the strap of her briefcase over her shoulder.

Olivia got up and put her coat on as well. "I'm not picky." She shrugged. "But I have a feeling that you are." Alex's mouth dropped open and she turned to the detective before exiting her office, aghast at her accusation. Olivia walked past her and exited the office to allow Alex to lock it up. "What? Am I wrong?" She asked, without even a hint of apology.

Alex arrogantly sneered to herself, "No, I guess not."

They walked to the elevator together and Olivia turned to Alex when the doors closed. "So…" she said, waiting for Alex to decide. Alex didn't have an answer other than offering her a knowing smirk. "Alex, it's freezing outside and I'm starving. I'm not wandering around in the cold searching for food like a mouse. You have to choose a restaurant before we leave the building."

"I have. I didn't know I had to enlighten you about it." Alex said with a brief flash of her blue eyes to the detective.

Wow, those eyes can pack a punch, Olivia thought, quickly looking away so she wouldn't blush. "Ah." Olivia said, nodding sarcastically. "I see how it is. I take you out to dinner, but I don't even get the pleasure of knowing where we're going?"

Alex smiled, "Guess not." The elevator doors opened and Olivia waited for Alex to exit before stepping out. She walked next to her in order to slow her walk while she opened the front door, allowing her to exit out into the cold, winter air before her.

It became evident that Alex didn't have much of a sense of direction after it took them much longer to walk to Alex's chosen restaurant than originally anticipated. She'd said it was only about two blocks away, but it ended up being around seven and not without taking a couple wrong avenues because Alex got turned around in her head on where they were going. She chocked it up to the fact that she hadn't been there in a while. When they finally found the restaurant, Alex apologized profusely, but promised it would be worth the trouble. Olivia could only hope, but at least it was warm inside. It was a small Italian place with decadent homemade desserts in their storefront window, easily enticing customers to come in.

Olivia badgered her about the blistering wind relentlessly as Alex perused over the wine list. They agreed on a bottle of Pinot Grigio to share as well as some bruchetta to start on since they were both starving. They started talking about their cases, Olivia beginning with the bad news that she had not uncovered anything yet on the elderly woman's case, but that she would continue to try. Then, they discussed other cases, not really knowing what else they had in common with one another.

Olivia felt she needed to make amends with Alex and decided to try flattery. Instead of focusing on her political motivations and their completely different approaches to criminal procedure, she spoiled Alex with comments about how she was in court recently, how she was amazed that she got one defendant to plead out a case Elliot was convinced would never plead out, etc. From where Olivia was sitting, her strategy appeared to work with Alex, but Alex didn't completely indulge herself in her own accomplishments. Rather, she made attempts to compliment Olivia on her work as well. They were both trying very hard on being nice to each other, putting their past disagreements aside. They knew they would have to get along in order to accomplish their jobs to the best of their abilities and simply talking about their accomplishments was one method to help one to understand the other.

When the waiter came and took their orders, Olivia ordered lobster ravioli and Alex selected the chicken primavera. When the waiter left, they sat nervously in front of one another, taking in their surroundings, but not knowing what was deemed safe conversation other than talking about work. They knew that they were each pretty protective of their personal businesses and didn't want to intrude upon one another, but they also didn't want to sit in silence all night or discuss the oftentimes-inappropriate details of their cases over such a nice dinner.

Olivia was feeling a little better being out and a little further away from her thoughts about Anya and their now defunct trysts. The rug had truly been pulled out from under her. There were multitudes of questions running through Olivia's mind as she sat with Alex, as she tried to focus on their conversation. It was difficult for Olivia to keep her mind in one place when at the same time, she was trying to solve the mystery of who she was versus who she thought she was. She didn't know if being with Anya meant that she was gay or if that was just some temporary, enjoyable fluke. Meanwhile, she wondering why Anya had done what she did and why Olivia was so upset about it.

Olivia was getting lost in her mind, so she turned her attention to her dinner when it arrived. The ravioli was positively divine and everything around her melted away with the colorful flavors taking over her mouth. Olivia couldn't help but let out a little moan as she took another bite of her ravioli, thoroughly enjoying her choice, "Oh my god, Alex. This is so good."

Alex smiled, looking up at Olivia. She was glad to see that she was feeling better. At the very least, her taste buds and stomach were satisfied. "I'm glad you like it."

"It's incredible. You have to try it." Olivia said, cutting one of the raviolis in half, swirling it into the white wine-based sauce, and securing it on her fork to put on Alex's plate.

"It's all right," Alex said, "I've had it before." Olivia had already dropped the food onto the edge of her plate. Alex smiled, scooped it up, and ate it. "It is good though."

Olivia tried to think of a detour out of their work-related conversations and wasn't able to come up with much other than to ask about the man she'd seen her with on the subway. As much as she didn't want to remind Alex about her supposed promiscuity, it was all she could think about. It was, quite literally, the only thing she knew about Alex outside of work. "So was that guy on the subway your boyfriend?" Olivia asked. She took a sip of her wine after swallowing another delicious piece of ravioli.

Alex smiled, cutting into her dinner with a knife and fork. She was more than a little surprised that Olivia had brought that night up, considering how defensive she'd been about it before. "No." She smiled. "Just a date." She took a bite of chicken and continued. "Things were going pretty well too until we ran into you and Anya." She laughed.

Ugh. I knew I shouldn't have brought up the subject. She knew Anya's name was bound to be brought up at some point in the night, but she really didn't like hearing the name on Alex's lips for some reason. "What do you mean?" Olivia asked, furrowing her eyebrows and taking another bite of ravioli.

"Let's just say his attention was no longer focused on me." Alex said, sipping her wine with a smirk.

Olivia laughed to herself, slightly embarrassed, but also a little sad. She had made the decision to not go out with Anya again when she returned to New York from London, but this also meant she could never touch or kiss her again. As much as she didn't respect Anya's lifestyle, she knew she was going to miss being with her. She already did.

"Not that I blame him." Alex went on, speaking more to herself, but Olivia definitely heard the comment.

Olivia looked up at Alex and raised an eyebrow to the attorney, curious about what she meant by that remark. She cleared her throat, choosing not to go down that alley. She's a co-worker, Olivia. Let it go.

"So how are you and Anya doing?" Alex asked.

"We're not." Olivia said it almost emotionless, but chewed her food slower and put her fork down to reach for her wineglass. "We broke up this morning."

Alex's eyes softened sensitively, now comprehending the reason for Olivia's sour mood all day. "I'm sorry to hear that." Although of course I'm not really. She seemed like a conceited bitch to me. However, Olivia is obviously troubled about it, and I can sympathize with that.

"I was really upset about it this morning, but I'm feeling a little better now." Olivia lied. She felt like she'd been beaten with a racket. She didn't want to bring Alex down though, so she kept up with the lying. "Maybe it's just the good food and wine, but uh…" She almost added Alex to the list, but changed her mind, not wanting her to take it the wrong way. "I'm trying to move on."

"I understand why you wanted to rain check our dinner." Alex said. "It would have been okay, you know."

Or I could be a little more truthful with her. Alex does look sympathetic. "I know. I am more angry about the way we 'broke up' more than anything." Olivia said using her fingers to outline the words "broke up" in quotes.

Alex took a long sip of her wine and placed the glass back on the table, pushing it forward for Olivia to refill the glass for her, which she did. "Why? What happened?"

"This does not leave the table." Olivia said seriously. Alex pursed her lips and gave Olivia a look as if to say that she knew that already. Olivia sighed. "To be completely honest, we weren't really girlfriends. We had a relationship of…well…convenience." Alex put the pieces together and nodded. "I knew from the start that the relationship was casual, but I guess I never read the fine print because I had no idea that she was sleeping her way across the European continent whenever she traveled over there for work. I didn't find that out until some tramp in London called this morning with a new address where they could hook up…um, well, it was just bad timing."

"Oh, Liv." Alex empathized, putting her wine glass down to give Olivia her full attention.

"And I might not have cared if Anya had just told me about these other women months ago when she started her tours, but she didn't and so I had to find out 7 months into our relationship and I only found out accidentally." Olivia paused again, taking another sip of her wine. "I'm just so pissed at myself for not realizing it sooner!. I feel like an idiot."

"You're not an idiot, Olivia." Alex said coming to her defense. "How could you have known if she never said anything?" Alex tried reassurance.

"Oh, there were warning signs. Trust me. I met her father once and it was like seeing a mirror image of Anya…or vice versa, as the case may be."

"What do you mean?" Alex interrupted.

Olivia sighed, "You wouldn't even believe it. Or maybe you would, I don't know. He had dozens of young, beautiful women hanging all over him all night and apparently, so does Anya. Except that she prefers to keep hers spread out all over the world rather than all at the same dinner table."

Alex took another bite of her food. It was a lot of information to process. It didn't offend her, but she certainly was offended for Olivia. She wasn't sure why Olivia had dared to tell her so much, but it made her feel for her even more that she had entrusted her with such personal information. She was sympathetic, but she also didn't like Anya to begin with so she wasn't that sympathetic. "Well, I'm sorry, Olivia. She obviously doesn't know a good thing when she sees it." Olivia looked up at Alex and cocked her head to the side, touched by Alex's perceived honesty about her. Alex paused for a second, taking another sip of wine. "And good riddance." She added bluntly. "You deserve far better than some European bitch." So much for being discreet.

Olivia's eyes widened and she couldn't help but laugh aloud at Alex's reaction. It was almost exactly what she expected her to say. "Damn, Cabot." She reacted.

"I'm sorry –" Alex started to take back her harsh judgment of Anya.

"No." Olivia interrupted her, reaching her hand across the table to Alex's, covering it. "Thank you." She sat back and raised her wine glass to her. "I knew I could count on you to smack me back into reality with some brutal honesty. Elliot never would have dared to pull a stunt like that, even if he was thinking it."

Alex raised her glass as well and smiled. It wasn't everyday that she was complimented for saying such things. They clinked their glasses together and each took a sip of their wine.

Part 31

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