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. 31

Alex consciously removed herself emotionally from her work and from most people. For work, it was just a necessary evil in order to effectively do her job. Reading the reports, viewing the evidence, or describing in detail the occurrences in a motion or in addressing the court didn't make the crimes less horrific for her than viewing things first hand as the detectives did. She saw the same things that they saw; just not usually in the flesh so it offended her that the detectives viewed her as being cold and indifferent to their cases because she felt quite the opposite about them. The fact of the matter was that she had to protect herself from her own job and her methodology in succeeding in this vein was to keep her emotional difference and her gut reactions at bay. It was what worked for her in homicide and so far it was working with special victims.

She had decided to take on SVU cases for a purely political reason; although, understanding at the same time that the cases were some of the most difficult to stomach as well as getting convictions. Even though Cragen, Stabler, and others accused her of trying to boost her win/lose ratio when she first started, the truth of the matter was that rape cases often went without conviction. It was something she was well aware of, but it was because of this reason that she pursued the challenge. If she could bring the conviction rate up, she would find herself a seat as the District Attorney and eventually be able to move to a higher level of a government office. Ultimately, she wanted to be a Senator of New York. She believed with her soul that a position of such caliber was her destiny and she would stop at nothing until she had achieved everything she'd ever wanted.

The Cabot family was comprised of judges, professors, and doctors so the pressure had been placed upon Alex from a very young age to do something with her life. Instead of rebelling against her family's wishes, she accepted it. She wanted a lucrative career just as much as her family wanted it for her. Discussions about college started at the age of 11; solid career goals were established by 15. She had been dedicated from birth to pursuing a career with societal significance and that left little room for personal relationships. She had a few friends left over from law school, one or two from undergrad, and enough networking acquaintances to fill the Bowery Ballroom, but she generally didn't make time for anything other than a happy hour or two. Much of her free time, when she had it, was spent with her family in upstate New York.

Alex never realized that she had been missing out on something other than work and casual relations until she had witnessed Olivia and Anya's passion for one another on the subway. She never made time for serious romantic involvement with men. She dated some, but because she was so dedicated to her job, they usually gave up on pursuing her beyond a few months of dating. She wondered if men would always be playing second fiddle to her career for the rest of her life.

She thought again about Olivia and Anya's relationship, and wondered how two people could see each other for seven months and then just cut it off mutually as if they had meant nothing to one another. Something about that didn't seem right to her calculated mind. She recalled seeing the kiss the two had shared on the subway. There was no mistaking it; something else was going on that Olivia was not comfortable with addressing. It couldn't have been just sex. She was curious about their relationship even though it was none of her business.

She also wanted to get to know Olivia more, but was unsure of how to make it happen. She had those tickets that the DA had given her as a thank you, but she didn't want to insult her by asking her attend with her, knowing Olivia probably wanted to be alone as she'd just gotten out of a relationship and likely didn't want to talk about it. Then again, they had already gone out to a harmless dinner so maybe Olivia would be up to spending more time with Alex since their time together that night was mutually enjoyable.

The dinner had served as an appropriate icebreaker in their working relationship, just as Alex had hoped it would. The two were much more amicable with one another when they met in court, in her office, or at the precinct. They still maintained enough distance as to not step on the other's toes, but at least they were able to meet and discuss their cases without as many arguments or disagreements as they had before their dinner together. Sometimes Olivia got railroaded in arguments between Alex and Elliot, but she felt that if they got to know each other better, then eventually she could get along with Elliot as well.

A gentle rub on her shoulder disrupted Alex's thoughts as she had been waiting on a courthouse bench outside of the courtroom. She looked up to see Detectives Benson and Stabler standing above her, but wasn't sure who had touched her. She noticed that Elliot was dressed nicely, as he was to appear in court only moments from now, and she was pleased to see that he had arrived on time.

"Good afternoon, detectives." Alex said respectfully and refocusing her mind back to work. "They're not quite ready for us to go in. Always a delay, you know." She shrugged.

Olivia sat down beside Alex, realizing that their wait could be longer than thirty minutes until their case came up on the docket. Elliot stayed standing, waiting a little more impatiently. Alex reached into her briefcase and pulled out a file to pass the time. She paged through a legal pad, going over her notes when her eyes stopped on the two tickets the DA had given to her that were clipped to the yellow-lined paper. She thought for a moment, and then turned to Olivia, realizing that there wasn't any harm in just asking.

"Uh, Olivia?" Alex asked, a little hesitant. Olivia looked back to her and raised her eyebrows quizzically. "The DA gave me a couple of tickets to ABT next Saturday because he wasn't able to go." Olivia took a deep breath and held it. "I heard that you like the ballet, so would you be interested in going with me?"

"You're kidding, right?" Olivia snapped, unable to hold back her bitter and hurt reaction, as the memories of being with Anya flooded her mind all over again. She thought about the night that she had gone to the ballet the first time and the passionate night that followed, and it reminded her of how lonely she was with Anya now out of her life.

Alex was shocked at her reaction, and her eyes widened. "No…why would I be kidding?"

Olivia shook her head and rose from the bench, walking heavily across the marble floors until she disappeared into the ladies room down the hall.

What did I say that upset her so quickly? Maybe today was another bad day, but she didn't seem upset two seconds ago. Alex turned to look at Elliot. She shrugged her shoulders and raised her hands a bit. "What did I say?" She asked him.

He cocked his head to the side and folded his arms over his chest; unable to fathom that she didn't know what had upset Olivia. "The ballet? Not your best idea, Cabot."

"Why? I heard she'd gone before and enjoyed it. Did I hear wrong?" Alex was getting frazzled, but really needed to calm down. She had to present Elliot to court moments from now and yet Olivia was visibly hurt about what Alex had said. She had to know why.

Elliot looked towards the bathroom. He wanted to check on his partner, but knew he couldn't go into the ladies room. He turned back to Alex. Obviously, she didn't know that much about Anya so he decided to enlighten her. "No, you heard correct. But you might not have gotten the whole story."

"Then what? She is obviously upset at something I said. If you know, then please tell me, Elliot." She insisted.

Elliot straightened his tie. "Anya is a dancer with ABT, Alex."

Alex's eyes closed and her shoulder sank, feeling completely defeated. She sighed heavily before opening her eyes again. "No one told me that." She ran her fingers through her short hair. "God, I didn't mean to upset her, but I honestly didn't know."

"Well, why don't you just go and tell her?" He offered, feeling that Alex was being sincere. "We've got some time before we go into court anyway. I'm sure that if she knows that you didn't mean anything by it, then she'll be okay."

She nodded and unclipped the two tickets from her file and handed them to Elliot. "Here, I don't want them." She got up from the bench.

"I appreciate it, Alex, but I don't want them either."

"Give them to Kathy or your daughter. Hell, give them to Munch or Fin. I don't care." Alex walked to the bathroom and took a deep breath for bravery before pushing the door open. She wasn't sure how Olivia would react, but she had a feeling it wouldn't be pretty. Olivia was already upset enough, and Alex hoped that if she just explained that she didn't know about Anya being a dancer, that Olivia would forgive her faux pas.

Olivia stood at the mirror and her eyes were glossy, but she dabbed at each tear forming in her eyes with a paper towel, stifling them back. She glanced up to see Alex standing behind her, her hands coming up to carefully speak with her friend.

"Olivia, I'm so sorry." Alex pleaded. She didn't want Olivia to interject, so she spoke again quickly. "I didn't know about Anya being a dancer." She took a step forward, seeing Olivia flinch at the mere mentioning of Anya's name. Damn, what did that woman do to her? "I'm truly sorry, Liv." She clasped her hands together, wringing them nervously before putting them down at her sides to regain her composure.

Olivia sniffled. "You didn't know," she acknowledged, brushing her knuckle against the tip of her nose. She knew that Alex hadn't meant any harm, but she had managed to pierce an old wound and it was a wound that Olivia could not seem to heal quickly enough. "I'm sorry for snapping at you." She threw the paper towel away and looked back at the mirror to ensure that the tears had dried from her eyes.

"You had every right to. I feel awful, Liv." Alex looked away, still being careful with her words.

"It's okay. You didn't know. But don't tell Elliot about this. He worries enough about me. He doesn't need –"

"I won't tell him." Alex interrupted. Olivia walked towards the door to exit, finished with the conversation, but Alex wasn't. "Will you let me make it up to you? I feel like an asshole."

"It was a misunderstanding. You don't owe me anything." Olivia protested.

"Please?" Alex asked. Olivia smiled, knowing it was not common for Alex to be begging for forgiveness. Alex thought quickly, trying to think of something similar to take Olivia to, but unsure of what kind of cultural things she enjoyed. "Do you have objections to the symphony?"

She smiled. "No. My mother and I used to go…when she could." Olivia said, rolling her eyes to herself with a sad smile. "I miss it actually." Olivia stepped up to Alex and reached behind her for the door handle. She turned back around to look at Alex directly. "But really. No hard feelings, Alex." She said, opening the door.

"I still want to make it up to you, Liv." Alex insisted.

Olivia sighed, walking out. "Come on." She led Alex out of the ladies room and back to the bench where they awaited their hearing.


Ch. 32

Spoiler: Season 2, Countdown (this scene leads up to some material being used from the show (no profit). I'm not taking a detour. Everything will be okay. I promise, but a particular cell phone conversation needed an explanation.)

Olivia did not want to associate her night at the symphony with Alex in anyway with her night at the ballet with Anya, so she took the time to do a little extra preparing for the evening. She found herself shopping at Bloomingdale's, looking a new dress before she and Alex were to go to the symphony this coming weekend. She couldn't even remember the last time that she had bought a dress. She looked around, and all the cocktail dresses seemed too fancy and out of her price range. She thought better than to buy another expensive dress that she'd rarely wear and decided upon a nice suit-like ensemble instead. The pants she found were black with tiny silver pinstripes and the shirt she found was a deep navy color and had lacy etching and a nice v-neckline. She felt confident in it and a little sexy; which was something she needed a high dosage of with the events of late.

She rarely shopped for herself, but doing so relaxed and distracted Olivia's mind off of work for the time being. Being away from the precinct and from Elliot, she took the time to rummage though the caverns of her thoughts to come up with some kind of solution as to what was going on with her. She felt cheated with Anya. Despite Anya's disloyalty, she had lost an addictive lover and desperately wanted that contact back, but she also knew that she didn't want it from Anya. Additionally, she didn't know who she wanted to be with, if anyone at all. She wasn't sure if she wanted a relationship per say, but she badly wanted those tender moments in the bedroom. Anya had been the only woman Olivia had dared to even think about sexually let alone sleep with and living without their lavish romps was becoming increasingly difficult for Olivia to bear. She had been spoiled rotten, knew it, and hated being cut out of it. She didn't know if she wanted to try and date other women or if she want to return to men, which was easier and acceptable for her. Except that no man had ever made her feel the way that Anya had.

She walked over to the jewelry counter, wondering if it would make her feel better to buy something else. She spotted a unique necklace with multiple strings of white gold wrapping around itself, with each strand dangling down in hoops and lines asymmetrically and at varying lengths, some having dark, sapphire gems dangling from the end of a strand, others not. A man at the counter approached her, seeing that the simple, but expensive piece, had stolen all of her attention.

"That necklace would look beautiful on you." He said, pulling it out from under the counter.

Olivia looked up at the tall suited man, his hands holding out the necklace on a velvet platform for her to look at closer. "I'm sure you say that to everyone." She scoffed, unamused, but nonetheless looking at the necklace closer and touching its intricate details.

"Not true. It's a very unique piece and one that not every woman could wear." He said. "Here. Try it on." He reached his hands around Olivia's neck and secured the clasp for her, letting the necklace fall naturally over her collarbones. He angled a mirror on the counter for her to look at herself.

It does look beautiful, Olivia thought, but the price tag is going to be hard to ignore.

"Just as I thought." He continued, his soft eyes catching her own. "Beautiful."

Olivia looked away and undid the clasp to return the necklace to the associate. It was too soon to be flirting with anyone, she thought, but he was making it so easy. "I'll think about it." She said.

"But I haven't even asked you yet." He replied with a smile. Olivia scrunched her eyebrows, afraid of where the conversation was headed. "I'm Michael." He leaned over the counter to look into Olivia's eyes, trying to attract her attention off of the sparkling necklace and onto himself.

"Olivia." She said, noticing the light reflecting off of his cufflinks. She wondered if this was what she wanted to do or not.

"Would you have dinner with me sometime, Olivia?" He asked.

She didn't know the answer to such a simple question. She didn't know who she was anymore. Was she still attracted to men? This associate was nice and somewhat attractive, but he didn't appeal to her in the way that Anya had. It had been about two months since she and Anya had broken up, but she feared that it was still too soon out of her relationship to date. She was still consumed with her thoughts about Anya and worried that she'd be pinning everyone up against Anya's standards. She thought again about the idea of holding everyone against Anya and felt it gave Anya far too much credit and didn't like the idea of doing that. She nodded a yes to the man, thinking that perhaps she could go out with him just to see what happened. Maybe she wasn't gay. Maybe Anya was just a fluke.

He reached into his wallet and gave her his business card. She smiled and put it into her jacket pocket. "Are you sure you don't want the necklace? You could break hearts in it." He asked again.

She looked down at the bright sapphires and shimmering gold again. She couldn't help but want it; it was so distinctly different and it had been such a long time since she'd done something nice for herself. She chose to ignore the price tag and went ahead and bought it.


Ch. 33

Spoiler: Season 2, Countdown (some material and dialogue is being used from the actual show – no profit, just fun.)

Within the next day or so, the precinct was investigating a child abduction/rape case. When the child managed to escape, the mother was being difficult in allowing Detectives Stabler and Benson to interview the young victim. Without her recount of the events that took place while she was abducted, things were going to hit a stand still in their investigation. Olivia was given a short window of time to speak alone with the young girl and received messages through an earphone from Elliot in order to assist with the interview. When the mother started to come undone about her daughter's traumatizing experience, Alex snatched the microphone from Elliot and called into Olivia's ear to expedite the process. However, despite Olivia's attempts, she was able to get any crucial information before the mother yanked the interview to a screeching halt.

Elliot got a call from Fin asking him to come back to the precinct in order to give Cragen an update. Olivia said she wanted to stay behind with Alex just for a moment to see if they could reason with the mother as women. They both tried, coming at her from different angles and strategies, but the mother insisted that her daughter go home and rest, that she had been traumatized enough, and to leave her and her child alone. They had failed and Alex and Olivia had no choice but to let the woman leave with the little girl.

Before heading out to catch up with Elliot, Olivia heard her phone ring from the inside of her coat pocket that was slung over the back of a chair in the interview room. She joked to Alex that it was probably Elliot telling her to hurry up and get back to the precinct. She reached into her pocket and answered the phone.

"Elliot, we're on our way." Olivia said, impatiently.

"This isn't Elliot, Olivia."

Olivia's facial expression dropped to a disbelieving frown and she brought her other hand up to her brow, and rubbed her forehead.

Alex noticed Olivia's change in demeanor and wondered if she'd just received bad news about their case from Elliot. "What is it, Liv?" Alex asked, taking a cautious step forward.

Olivia sighed and raised her index finger to Alex, asking her to wait. "What do you want, Anya?"

Alex didn't know what to do when she heard Olivia address the woman over the phone with such bitterness. She knew Olivia would want privacy, but she wondered if Olivia would actually take the call or just hang up on her, considering what had transpired between them.

"Is that anyway to greet me, Olivia?" Anya said into the phone.

"I think it's a perfectly appropriate response to you after how you've treated me." Olivia said. She glanced over to Alex, who looked concerned.

When Olivia continued to speak to Anya, Alex started to walk out of the interview room to give her some privacy. Olivia told Anya to hold on as she put her hand over the receiver and spoke to Alex, who turned around when she was addressed. "I'm sorry, Alex. We'll go in a minute. I have to take care of this and I'd rather just get it over with." Olivia was embarrassed that she needed to handle the situation with Anya now, but she knew that it needed to be dealt with and it might be easier for her to do so over the phone.

"It's fine, Liv." Alex said opening the door to exit. "I'll be out in the hall." Olivia thanked Alex and turned from the door. Alex meant to close the door all the way, but the latch didn't catch, so it popped back open, slightly.

"You're with Alex, aren't you?" Anya asked.

"Yes, I'm with Alex, but we're at work. Why the hell do you care that I'm with her?" Olivia snapped.

Alex intended to give Olivia her privacy until she heard her name come out of Olivia's mouth. She knew there was more to Anya's story than Olivia was letting on and she now had somewhat of a confirmation that it involved her in some way. Why would Anya care that Olivia was with me? She knows we work together. She took two steps back towards the cracked interview room door and quietly listened even though she knew she shouldn't, but she just couldn't resist the temptation.

"I don't." Anya said.

"Why are you calling me? I thought this was over." Olivia said, upset that Anya was drudging up their relationship after Olivia had come so close to burying it.

"I never ended it, Olivia. I thought I would just give you some time to think everything over while I was away. I was hoping that you would reconsider your feelings about us."

"I've reconsidered our relationship countless times, but my thoughts remain the same. I don't want to see you again and I don't want you to call me." Olivia said frankly, but felt the tears well up in her eyes.

"If that's how you truly feel…" Anya said.

"It's not how I feel, Anya, and I hate that it's not, but it's what needs to happen for me. We can't see each other anymore. I can't be with someone that doesn't want to be with me exclusively. I have to move on." Olivia sniffed back her tears and hoped Anya didn't hear her.

Anya didn't, but Alex did. She never thought of Olivia to be the type to be so affected by a relationship before, especially one that was supposedly a relationship of "convenience." Obviously, what she had shared with Anya meant more than just sex to Olivia, even if she wouldn't admit to it. It seemed impossible to believe that Anya had bewitched her so successfully, but she was relieved to hear that Olivia didn't want to see her anymore. Alex didn't like the idea of Olivia seeing someone that didn't have a conscience when it came to considering other people's feelings and their loyalty. For whatever reason, she felt protective of her new friend.

"I'll let you go then." Anya said. "It was a pleasure to have known you. You're a beautiful woman and I wish I could give myself to you entirely, but I just can't promise you that and I think you deserve that kind of honesty, Olivia. I'm sorry that I cannot be who you want me to be, but know that my door is always open to you."

Now she was killing her with kindness. Olivia couldn't take it. She bid Anya goodbye quickly and closed her phone, setting it on the table in front of her. Her head fell into her hands and she wept quietly. When Alex heard the soft sobs coming from the inside of the room, it startled her. And it broke her heart, but she didn't know what to do. She was not supposed to be listening in the first place, nor was she the comforting type. She knew that Olivia would not want Alex to see her crying so she stepped away from the door and walked back to the end of the hallway to wait for Olivia to come out when she was ready.

Minutes passed like hours until Olivia came out of the room, thoroughly taken aback by the conversation and thick emotions running through her veins. She looked up and saw Alex's concerned face looking back at her, and did her best to harden her heart in order to get back to work.

"Is everything okay?" Alex asked sincerely. Even though she knew the answer, she had to at least act as if she didn't know what happened.

"It will be." Olivia answered, swallowing her emotions. "I need to get back. Elliot's waiting."

Alex nodded. She reached into her briefcase and pulled out one of her business cards and a pen. She clicked the end of the pen and wrote down her home number on the back and gave it to Olivia. "In case you ever need anyone to talk to. You can call me."

After re-canvassing the crime scene with Elliot, Olivia looked at her watch and wondering if there was still enough time to meet with Michael. She needed a distraction from Anya and she needed it now. "It's 8:00 and we're fresh out of leads. Why don't we just call it a day?" She asked.

Elliot shrugged, "I've still got enough time to make it to the toy store. Kathy will faint when she finds out I got the twins' birthday present two days early."

Olivia grabbed her coat and put it on. Behind her, Munch put on his hat and they walked in line towards the elevator to leave. Olivia pulled her phone out from her pocket and dialed Michael's number.

"Hey, it's me. Are we still on for dinner?" She waited for his answer on the other end of the phone and smiled when she heard where they were going; it was a familiar restaurant. He asked her if she knew where it was. "I think so." He told her that he couldn't wait to see her. "Okay. See you then." She closed her phone.

"How's Mr. Perfect?" Munch asked from behind Olivia.

"Ah, he's good." She replied, knowing that Munch didn't have a clue as to whom she was speaking to. "Of course, I've only met him once and the only time I talk to him is when I'm calling to cancel, but other than that – great."

Upon entering the elevator, Fin turned to Munch, "You got any plans tonight, Munch?"

"No, but the night is young and full of endless possibility." He remarked.

The elevator doors started to close behind the four detectives when Cragen's hands met the doors in the middle, pulling them back open. "Everybody stays." He said with a stomp of his foot on the ground.

"Why?" Elliot asked, disappointed.

"Man in a white van grabbed another girl." Cragen answered.

24 hours later, Olivia's desk phone rang. She answered it and immediately recognized the voice to be Michael's. She sighed to herself, and apologized again for standing him up the night before and for not being able to make any future plans with him due to the urgency of the case they were working on. He wanted to know when he could see her and Olivia didn't have an answer for him. They were complete strangers and yet all she could think about was how needy he was already. She had to end the call and she hoped he wouldn't call again. She briefly thought back on how Anya hardly ever called her when she was working. She seemed to just know what the job required of her, and she certainly never begged to see Olivia. She missed the respectful space that Anya had given her.

By the third day, the detectives were more enemies than friends; none having had more than 20 minutes of sleep at a time and all of them had a ticking clock in their minds, knowing that a little girl could be murdered today. Everyone snapped at everyone else for trivial things and Olivia was no exception. She had no suspect, no leads, and no cooperation from the officers in Queens that knew certain details of previous attacks related to their case. She needed to relax and just do her job, but she was frustrated as hell, and still wearing the same clothes she's started in 3 days ago. She'd canceled on Michael 3 days in a row and just wanted him to stop calling her. On the other hand, she guiltily wanted to see Anya so she could get what she needed from her in order to relax. She couldn't stand not having her at her disposal anymore, but refused to give in to her.

By the end of day three, the detectives had successfully arrested their suspect and he was now in Alex's hands. Olivia knew Alex had gotten plenty of sleep over the past few days and would still want to go to the symphony as they had planned to do the following night, but Olivia knew that wasn't going to happen if she didn't get some rest. The second after they made the arrest and sent him to central booking, Olivia went home. She stripped herself of her filthy clothes, and slept for the rest of the day and all through the night.


Ch. 34

Little did she know, but the symphony was the perfect resolution to her problems. Olivia was able to settle into the velvet seat next to Alex and daydream her frustrations and anxieties away as the soothing music washed over her. The orchestra calmed her nerves to the point of reaching a near hypnotic state of mind for 2 hours. Despite how much she had rested the day before, Olivia almost fell asleep a couple of times, but was nudged with a lighthearted chuckle from Alex whenever her eyes got too heavy.

As they left Lincoln Center, Olivia looked over to Alex. Under her long black coat, Alex wore a stunning scarlet dress that caught the attention of nearly everyone around them, including Olivia's. She smiled to herself, picturing a fantasy of her being out with Alex on a real date and how proud she'd be to have Alex on her arm. "This was exactly what I needed after this week, Alex. Thank you."

"You're welcome. I'd invite you back to my apartment for some wine or coffee, but you've had such a long and stressful week that I'll understand if you want to go home and rest."

Olivia smiled. Alex was being so real with her, and she was having such a nice time that she couldn't come up with a good reason why she shouldn't go back to Alex's apartment. Olivia accepted the invitation and walked with the woman towards Columbus Avenue. She thought about how so many months ago she had been at Lincoln Center with Anya, leaving the theatre, but walking in the opposite direction towards Amsterdam. Olivia opened the door to the taxi for Alex and allowed her to enter the cab first, then closed the door after settling in next to her.

Alex instructed the taxi driver to take them to 68th and Lexington. Olivia had no idea where she lived until then. She wondered how an attorney working for the city could afford an apartment in such a nice location. That question burned even deeper in Olivia's mind when they actually made it to Alex's apartment. It was stunning. She was located on one of the top floors and her living room had floor to ceiling windows with an amazing view of the illuminated skyscapers around her. She had beautiful dark, hardwood floors and a fireplace, which was something exceptionally rare in the city. She either had a misunderstanding about what the district attorney's office paid their employees or Alex came from old, family money. It wasn't any of her business to ask though, so she didn't.

Olivia took Alex's coat and hung it up in a nearby closet. Alex then asked Olivia what kind of wine she preferred or if she wanted coffee. Options. Of course. Olivia thought. It was late, so coffee would have been more practical just so she could stay awake, but judging by how classy her apartment was, she figured that Alex probably had some really nice wines. "Wine would be nice. But I do prefer something dry." Olivia answered, following Alex to her kitchen.

"Good. So do I." Alex answered, crouching down to the small wine chiller she had in the pantry of her kitchen. She selected a dry Sauvignon Blanc and asked Olivia to open it for her while she got two glasses down from a cabinet.

After pouring the wine, Alex led Olivia back to her living room. Relaxing onto Alex's fine cream-colored couch, Olivia was comforted by being with the counselor, which surprised her a little. She had never gone out with any of the other prosecutors that she worked with over the years, but Alex was quite different from Abbie Carmichael and the others. Outside of her comfortable circle of cops and detectives, Alex was the first work-related friend that Olivia had been out with socially. She had assumed for such a long time that the two of them had nothing in common with one another, but things were turning out to be quite the opposite. Just knowing that there weren't any expectations bearing down on her from Alex, and that they weren't there to discuss work or anything serious was a nice escape and a complimenting continuation of their night at the New York Philharmonic.

She half expected Alex to put on something more comfortable than the red dress she wore, but she was happy that she'd left it on; she looked dazzling in it. The way the sparkling aquamarine necklace settled at the center of her throat caught Olivia's eye as well. She heard what Alex was talking about (something about living upstate versus living in the city) but couldn't help but fall into a slight reverie while gazing into Alex's strikingly beautiful blue eyes. She noticed how perfect the seams of the dress hugged her small curves, and she readily admitted to herself that she was a little more than drawn to her. Without a doubt, Alex was one of the most beautiful women Olivia had ever seen.

She tried not to dwell on it too long, knowing that Alex was a co-worker and any relationship outside of a professional one would be a hazard to both of their jobs. She also firmly believed that Alex was probably not the type into dating women. And to complicate things further, she was still in a personal whirlwind of emotions at present. Still, she found herself lost in those eyes. She didn't want to do anything regretful, so she drank her wine slowly. Thinking about these things forced Olivia to acknowledge, however, the fact that she actually wanted to try and date other women other than Anya. She had almost convinced herself that Anya was an exception, but in looking at Alex, Olivia couldn't deny her attraction to the attorney. She now had to reconsider the original assessment that she had made of her own sexuality.

Olivia was forced out of her daydream when Alex reached towards her with one of her graceful hands and lightly touched at Olivia's necklace. She wore the one she had bought last week at Bloomingdale's and was suddenly very happy that she'd gone through with the purchase. She didn't recall when Alex scooted herself closer to Olivia, but she felt herself melt at the touch of her fingertips as they tangled their way between the silver colored gold strands, admiring the handiwork of the necklace.

"This is very nice." Alex said, complimenting the necklace and looking up to Olivia's eyes before dropping the necklace back onto her neck. She sat back with her elbow leaning on the back of the plush couch. "Where did you get it?"

"Bloomingdale's," Olivia said with a shrug. She realized at that moment that she hadn't heard from Michael in over two days. He'd given up on her and she was thankful for it.

"It's very 'you', Olivia." Alex said.

Olivia smiled. "Thank you." She looked down and took another drink of her wine. Alex had nice taste and her selection for them that evening was perfect. "I like yours as well. It looks like an antique. Is it?" She asked.

"Sort of. It was my great-grandmother's." Alex said, proud of her family's ability to keep their heirlooms in the family.

I knew it, Olivia thought, confirming her feelings about the Cabot's history. Thinking about what Alex's family was like only brought her to memories of her own family. Her mother had passed away only a few months ago and Olivia tried not to think about it too often. However, the one thought that kept recurring in her mind after Serena passed was that she was now completely alone in the world. She assumed that Alex probably had no idea what that felt like. Her family was obviously affluent and proud of one another. Any dirty laundry the Cabots' had; they probably had enough money to bury and forget about it in order to focus their attention on the positive and successful things among the family members.

One of the few fond memories that Olivia had of her mother was when she took her out to the symphony. Sometimes her mother got little perks from the university and tickets to the New York Philharmonic was one of them. Serena always took Olivia with her because she knew that Olivia liked it so much. Going with Alex was somehow a form of closure for her on so many levels and she wanted Alex to know how much it had meant to her. "Thank you for taking me with you to the symphony, Alex. I'm really glad we went."

"I'm glad we did too. It was fun." Alex commented. When she leaned over to pour herself another glass of wine, a few blonde strands of hair fell from behind her ear and she tucked them back again to look to Olivia, offering her some more wine.

Olivia pushed her near empty glass forward on the coffee table for Alex to refill the glass. "My mom used to take me to the symphony on a rare occasion. It's one of the nicer memories that I have of her."

"How have you been doing concerning that, Olivia?" Alex asked. "I didn't know you very well at the time, but I am very sorry for your loss."

"Thanks." Olivia dropped her head and played with the rim of her wineglass with her fingertips. "I'm doing okay. Tonight helped."

"You've had kind of a rough year, haven't you?" Alex asked.

"They all kind of blend together to be perfectly honest." Olivia said with a dismayed laugh. "This year was okay…most of it was anyway. It's just been difficult within the last few months."

"Why didn't you take any time off, Liv?" She asked, leaning over the edge of the couch to remove her shoes so she could tuck her feet underneath herself on the couch.

"What would you do with yourself if you had all that time on your hands, knowing how important your job is?" Olivia asked Alex with a smirk, knowing she would have kept working just as she had.

"You've got a point." Alex conceded with a smile. She took another sip of her wine. "I don't mean this to be rude, but can I ask you something rather personal?" Alex asked.

Olivia's eyebrows rose suspiciously. "Might as well. If I say no then I'll wonder what it was that you wanted to ask."

Given permission, Alex bit the bullet and asked the question that she had been curious about since she'd seen Olivia on the subway car with Anya. "Do you only date women? Because I could have sworn when I met you that you were straight."

Olivia laughed, hoping that she'd drank enough wine to be candid, but not too much to be inappropriate. "I thought I was too, but I guess I can't say that with too much confidence anymore, can I?" She joked. "But, uh, I don't really know, Alex." She said, looking down into her wineglass before taking another sip. "I mean, Anya was the only girl that I've ever dated, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately since we broke up. But I don't really have an answer – for you or myself. I don't really think that I'm gay…" she said, thinking, then looking up to Alex. "But I know I'm not straight." Olivia took another sip of her wine before placing the glass on the coffee table in front of them. "What about you?" Olivia asked, turning the tables playfully. If Alex was going to poke and prod, she felt she had authority to do the same.

"What about me?" Alex said with a scrunch of her nose, avoiding Olivia's inquiry.

"Are you exclusively reserved for men?" Olivia asked with a cunning smirk, cocking her head to the side.

Alex snickered and ran her fingers through her hair before looking back at Olivia. "Do you want to go out with me, Liv?" She teased, recognizing a leading question when she heard one, but then looked away to avoid flirting any further with her colleague.

Olivia knew she shouldn't push her luck with Alex, but she had set herself up for it and Olivia couldn't back down from such an invitation. Olivia smirked, "I already have."

"Ah, good one, Benson." Alex wagged an accusing finger at Olivia, having been successfully pigeonholed. She snickered to herself for a moment, wondering if she should be so open with Olivia. Olivia had revealed so much personal information about herself already, so it would only be fair to throw her a crumb or two about herself. It couldn't hurt, she thought. "Actually, I liked a girl named Katie in college." She admitted.

"You what? I was just kidding around, Alex!" Olivia exclaimed, her eyes widening and her back straightening until she was sitting upright. "Now you have to tell me about her."

"You can't tell Elliot." Alex said putting her wineglass down on the glass table in front of the couch.

"Why the hell would I tell Elliot?" Olivia asked with a crooked face, perplexed by the idea of sharing anything of that nature with her partner.

"Because you're best friends." She insisted.

Olivia rolled her eyes with a shrug. "He doesn't know everything about me and my friends. Now come on. You said I could talk to you about this sort of thing. And now you've got me interested in talking about it. Besides, it might make me feel better to hear someone else's story."

Alex began telling Olivia about Katie, a girl she knew during her undergraduate studies at Columbia. They were both feverishly dedicated to their education and their futures so they were able to connect with one another because of it. Alex told Olivia that they had grown up in neighboring towns, but never met one another until they were enrolled in a general psychology class Freshman year and were assigned to be on the same lab team. Alex went on to say that they spent a lot of time studying together because they got along so well and eventually, they hung out socially, and went to parties together so they could look out for one another. Later, they started talking about how they were both attracted to each other.

"We never formally dated," Alex continued. "We had boyfriends the entire time we knew each other and they never had a clue. We didn't go out often or for very long." Alex leaned down to the table for her wineglass and took a sip, getting a little more nervous about telling Olivia such personal details. "But sometimes we would go to parties…and…" Alex fanned her hand out, hoping Olivia could just put the rest of the pieces together on her own.

"And? And what? You can't end it like that." Olivia persisted.

Alex rolled her eyes, and sat back against the couch. She watched Olivia and drummed her fingers along the arm of the couch, anxiously. "We'd disappear for a while." She finally said, waiting for Olivia's reaction. Olivia sat quietly, pondering the possibilities and sneered at Alex like she expected something else. "I'm not giving you the gritty details, Liv."

"That's enough. I have an imagination." Olivia said, sitting back and enjoying the playful imagery that came to mind. The idea of dating Alex was becoming much more tangible now, despite its inappropriate nature. But there was no harm in daydreaming, Olivia told herself. "Alexandra Cabot, I am shocked." She said turning her nose down and her eyes up at Alex, mockingly.

"So am I." Alex said, rubbing her fingers against her brow, not believing that she'd just told Olivia about her collegiate crush. "It was a long time ago and there haven't been any other girls since Katie."

"Sure." Olivia joked sarcastically.

Alex shook her head and pursed her lips together, barely curling her lip into a smile at the teasing detective. "I never should have told you. You're never going to let me live my one indiscretion down."

You're damn right I'm not. Olivia thought to herself with a smirk.

Olivia stayed at Alex's apartment for another glass of wine before calling it a night. When Alex walked her to the door, Olivia wanted so badly to kiss her goodnight. She almost wished Alex hadn't told her about her friend in college because the visions of a completely unprofessional relationship with the attorney now flooded her mind. She had also drank plenty of wine to warrant bad behavior, so she knew she had to get out of Alex's apartment before she did something unwelcome. She was so attracted to the blonde and felt that she'd pretty much been given a key to proceed, but Olivia knew better than to assume that a little sordid story was enough evidence to say that Alex returned her affections. She was probably just trying to make Olivia feel more comfortable about her own situation. So, despite the wonderful vision Olivia had of kissing the attorney goodnight, she thanked Alex again and made her way down the elevator and into a taxi to return home with a mischievous smile on her face.


Ch. 35

Alex took the last of her wine to the bedroom. She set the glass down on her nightstand and slipped out of her dress, hanging it up and tossed her hose to the laundry bin before pulling on a tank top. After washing up in the bathroom, she settled into bed, propping her pillow up against the bed frame and opened her nightstand drawer pulling out a copy of "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen and began reading where she had left off. She sipped her wine as she read and for a while, she was captivated by the story. As the hour passed, she realized that it was late, and that she needed to sleep. Alex put the book and her glasses aside and turned out the light.

As tired as she was, Alex was restless. All evening and without a tangible reason, she had been filled with the desire for sex. She allowed her thoughts to drift in the darkness, closing her eyes and moving her fingers down to touch herself over the soft cotton of her panties. Her mind wandered to the recent men she had dated, hoping to elicit fantasies of being with them again. Her mind flipped through the names and faces, skin and eye colors, trying to find one that would satisfy her waking desires. Alex roguishly toyed with herself, sighing into every touch, knowing what she wanted but unable to get the reaction she desired from herself. Had she drank so much wine that she was too tired? She hoped not as she bit her bottom lip and moved her fingers beneath the seams of her panties, needing to be more aggressive.

Her fingers found that she was as dry as a desert canyon and it frustrated her. She sighed again, annoyed that she couldn't achieve that which she had wanted so badly for the past several hours without having a distinct reason why. She had been on fire tonight and with no outlet around other than herself. A myriad of men and even celebrities passed through her mind, each doing dirty favors for her, but nothing could make her wet enough to accelerate her pleasure.

Alex relaxed her mind and her fingers. She tried to just let the fantasy come to her rather than forcing the thoughts into her mind. She breathed softly to herself, raising her other hand to her collarbones as her fingers below still tried to get her wet. Out of a tipsy unconsciousness, Alex's mind found herself seeing and touching Olivia's necklace on her couch. She touched her own collarbones as she had touched Olivia's, remembering how soft her skin had been. She quickly stopped her hand and opened her eyes to dismiss the thoughts she was having about Olivia, and looked around suspiciously as if some ghost could read her mind. Of course, no one was in her apartment. She lay quietly in bed, again considering the imagery that crossed her mind. Alex wondered what the harm was in just having a thought. It wasn't like anyone would know that she'd had it. She reassured herself that there wasn't any harm in thinking about Olivia sexually. It wasn't like she was going to act on the impulses.

She closed her eyes again and succumbed to the image of Olivia and her together on the couch, at first just seeing herself touch Olivia's collarbones, then reaching her hand behind the brunette's neck and pulling her into a kiss. The vision of her shorthaired colleague kissing her with those full, wonderful lips returned to her mind like it had when her date had mentioned it to her several months ago. Except this time, she didn't dismiss it. She wondered what it would be like to touch her and feel the strands of her hair through her fingers. She wondered what the inside of Olivia's mouth felt and tasted like. Alex intensified the fantasy by adding soft, innocent caresses to the detective's neck, shoulders, and back, all the while she played with herself, making herself hot and willing. She allowed the thought of Olivia's tongue to push through her own mouth, tasting the inside of her, and wrestling with the muscle within. Alex closed her eyes tighter and moaned to herself with the prohibited daydream.

Alex's breathing intensified when she felt her fingers get more and more moist from touching herself and she reached deeper to enter and leave herself, saturating her fingers with her own sex. Before she realized it, her mind had allowed her to let Olivia's body press against her, onto her own bed, leaving her wanting to know what it would feel like to have the other woman's naked breasts against her own. In her mind, Olivia kissed her madly and ran her hands through Alex's golden hair, which elicited a moan from Alex in her bed as she felt herself grow warmer and more wanting with each entry she made into herself with her long fingers. She breathed heavier and deeper, desiring something so forbidden that it made her hotter and wetter with every passionate touch.

How could she have missed such an obvious attraction she'd had towards the detective? Their work together was so intimate and their relationship was so rocky. The combination of these things in their relationship excited her. She wondered if the tension they felt between each other was more than mere work-related friction. Anything of a sexual nature between them seemed like impossibility on every level, but it enthralled Alex's mind and captivated her body. She desperately wanted to say Olivia's name into the silence of her own bedroom when she felt herself reaching ecstasy, stroking herself faster, but feared that if she said her name aloud that it would somehow no longer be just fantasy; that it would become real.

Her neck arched forward off of the pillow, bending her chin over her chest, and her thighs opened wider for her fingers to reach deeper inside as her leg muscles tightened, desperately wanting to come harder than she had in a long time. She clenched her teeth and groaned loudly as her fingers curled inside of herself, bringing forth such an orgasm that Alex called out Olivia's name in spite of herself. She breathed harder and penetrated herself harsher and waited again for a second orgasm to come over her like a trashing hurricane as she thought of Olivia's fingers being inside of her, fucking her, and locking those brown eyes with those perfectly arched brows onto her own piercing blue eyes. Alex's neck jerked forward in an aftershock of bliss before collapsing back onto the pillow. She opened her eyes and slowly removed her hand. She lay silently in her bed to slow her breathing and collect her thoughts.

Damn. Did I really just do what I think I did? She moaned, licking her lips and rolling over to her side, collecting the edge of her pillow into her hand. God, that was good. Perhaps a little too good. She said tightening her thighs to enjoy another aftershock between her legs. It could never happen, but the thought itself is amazing. Mmmm…Olivia is such a sexy woman. If only having her was as simple as this. Alex moaned again, closing her eyes and enjoying her secret, midnight reverie. Her eyes were too heavy to reopen. She felt the afterglow of her own lust drag her into a deep, heavy slumber.

Part 36

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