DISCLAIMER: The original characters are ours; the rest we're borrowing from Dick Wolf. This is a love story between two consenting female adults, and may contain adult material. Caveat emptor.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the 2nd half of the diptych "Fallacy" set around the SVU episode of the same title. Any and all variation from canon is intentional. This is also a prequel to the Lemon Seed and Orange Tree series; and companion to "Verity".
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Fallacy: Understanding Olivia
By Adrienne Lee & Miranda Rafferty

I can see your shadows against the lights from the streets. You're facing the wall and tucking your shirt into your pants. You didn't even get undressed, I think on some level I knew that. On some level I must have stopped myself from undressing you. I knew you needed the extra layers of protection, to shield yourself from your demons, to remove yourself from the carnage you inflict.

Sometimes we're so alike, it's scary.

You're leaving. You're just going to walk out of here without a backward glance at me, after what you've done to me, after what I've let you do.

I shouldn't let you leave. I really shouldn't. But I have no strength to come after you, to try to get you to stay. Try as I may to get up, I fall back helplessly. I might as well be chained to the bed for all the good my body is to me right now.

So I call after you weakly, to try to stop you the only way I can. You really shouldn't leave.

You keep fumbling with your shirt, your shoes. Maybe you didn't hear me. Soon, you're out the bedroom door.

Do I leave you like this? Feeling helpless and weak and fucked senseless? I know I asked you to stop, but you and I both know I didn't mean it. My body betrayed me so loudly.

Is that why you never ask me to stop when I fuck you like this? Because you love the adrenaline blitz, the surrender of control as much as I just did? But why? Let's face it, there is love between us, I know there is, but what we did, that wasn't love-making. I'm not sure if it was even sex…

Maybe because you know I need you, just like I knew you needed me tonight. Maybe because you love me so much that you willingly let me use you, as the anchor-buoy that keeps me grounded and afloat? A girl can hope, right?

I feel so horrible, you're getting sick in the bathroom, and I can't help you.

And I can only sigh when the front door closes.

Was the alcohol finally working its way out of your system? Or did you get sick because of this, because of what I let you do to me?

Do you understand now on some level, why I do what I do to you?

The need to control is so totally overpowering. The visions in your head won't stop haunting you and you have to exorcise the demons somehow, some way. Stopping the images at all costs before they drive you mad.

You took me again and again, but there was no pleasure in it for you. It was mindless and filled with rage, I know, I've been there too many times. Mindless, maniacal sex, controlling, owning, possessing, driving out the filth, the sickness you feel in your gut, in your soul, whatever way you can.

The whole night, save from the phone call, you never said a word to me. You acted like you didn't need me to help you out of the bar and into the cab. For a moment there, I thought you really didn't need me. You even had the presence of mind to tell the driver my address. But when you kissed me in the cab, the way you kissed me, I knew, I knew you did need me.

The whole night, you barely looked at me, taking what you wanted and thought you needed with your hands and mouth and teeth, and I let you.

Just as you do so often for me.

You took me to the edge of exhaustion and left me. You left me with nothing. A carnage visited on my body in your pursuit of forgetfulness. I hope it helped you, but so often it doesn't.

Will you regret your actions as I do, whenever I flee from your embrace?

Solace isn't what you want, amnesia would be a better answer. Your mind wiped clean of the self-loathing you feel inside. Did you think I wouldn't understand? I feel it more often than I care to admit.

You tried to help Cheryl Avery. Despite all of the things you tried to do for her, the unthinkable but completely expected happened. And it isn't your fault. You can't change people. It's human instinct to destroy what they don't understand, what they find threatening, what they find helpless and fragile.

I know you wanted to do so much more, but how could you? You can't change the law, at least not in time to help. Change moves so slowly, and there's only so much one person can do. Yet you still keep up the good fight, and I know you will for as long as you can.

There are always going to be things you wish you could change. People you want to help, knowing that you have to prosecute them regardless of how you personally feel. That's never going to stop, but you can't let it eat you up inside. As much as I know that's true, I can't even practice it myself, how can I expect you to?

I come to you when the demons get to be too much, I take what I need and leave you with regret. I don't drown my sorrows in alcohol anymore. Don't make my mistakes Alex, drowning your demons in alcohol doesn't help. They're still waiting to torment you as soon as the haze wears off.

I tried to talk to you about the case. You refused to be consoled, and I can't blame you. I saw the look on your face when they wheeled Cheryl passed us.

At first I thought you were in shock, but it was your own personal hell you were in. I wanted to take you out of that so badly, but that's something only you can do. To top it off, I still had to process the case, so I couldn't even be there to help you, help you through what I've gone through so many times, too many times...

First comes the disbelief and the refusal to recognize how cruel and violent and souless humanity can be. Next comes horror and the rage against a world that could allow such a thing to happen. You wore that look so clearly at the hospital and I knew nothing I said would take it away.

I see it every day in one form or another, there's no escape from it, and as horrible as it sounds you have to go on. You know it's a hundred time worse for the victim. You're helpless to do anything for them. It's a part of their life they will relive over and over again. Until they can somehow come to terms with what happened. They have to try to put it behind them. Do they ever really move on?

Do we? I can't answer that question for myself, much less for you, Alex.

It doesn't get any easier, I won't ever lie to you about that. It's something we both know, have talked about endlessly. We've even fought over cases every step of the way, analyzing every little thing. Did we do enough? Did we follow every lead? Have we looked at it from every angle? Build a strong enough case? Did we do our best?

On some level, you have to move on, block it out of your mind. After a few years, you'd think you'd get jaded, that it wouldn't bother you anymore. For some people it's true, they simply short circuit, they don't feel anything and it becomes just a job.

I know that won't ever happen to you, Alex, you care far too much. I don't think you realized that when you first started. I know you didn't realize how much you would come to care for the victims, how desperately you want to be an avenging angel for justice, for the law, and especially for the victims and their families.

I know how hard you work, the hours you slave and the case files you take home. It stopped being a nine to five job after the first week. So often, I see you burning the midnight oil, doing your own research, carrying the workload of three instead of one.

I know you so much better than you think I do, or even want me to. I know what you are thinking and feeling. As much as you want to shut me out, I won't let you. You need someone there to catch you when you fall. Someone to hold you when you want to cry, because there's nothing else you can do.

As others have said in the past, you win a few and lose twice as many. For some, it becomes a percentage result, merely the number they put away to the number they don't, for others it's the bottle or drugs, sex or a bullet in the head. Everyone has their personal way of dealing with it. I don't want to see you choose any of those options.

You have to find something or someone to hold onto. I hope you will let it be me.

I'll be there to comfort you when the nightmares come and you wake up crying and screaming. Don't be alone if you don't have to, especially when I want to be there for you, to keep you safe and sane. You do that for me, let me do it for you.

You ran away from me tonight and I understand why. Do you?

It's one thing to exorcise the demons inside your head, it's another to have to deal with the people you use for that purpose. Do you realize now how I feel every time I leave your office?

Sick inside and the self-loathing for what you've done will never go away. But you can't help yourself because you know the other person will forgive you, and you know somewhere deep down they must love you a whole lot to allow themselves to be used like that. You know then there's some hope, somewhere. For what? I'm not sure. Your own worth as a human being?

Sometimes the purging actually helps. I go home and I'm so tired, I sleep for hours without dreaming. I'll tell you something though, it's rare, and the longer I do it, the less effective it has become. I dread the day when it won't work anymore. Where else can you go when purgatory kicks you out? Then what?

I never mean to use you that way, Alex. And I know if you don't already, you'll start hating yourself for using me tonight. But sometimes you need the human contact. You need to let the rage out before it overwhelms you and touches everything in your life. Before it seeps into every aspect of your life until it destroys everything you love and believe in.

I don't want that to ever happen to you, Alex, if I could help it in any way.

You deserve so much more for all of the hard work and dedication you put in. I know I sound like your very own cheer leading section, but it's true. You try so hard to make sure you get closure and justice for the victims and that those who would do evil are put away for whatever the law deems just.

I need to find you. Every fiber of my being screams at me. Find you before you sink further into the depths. I'm used to dealing with this, you're not. You shouldn't be alone right now, I need to be with you and help you through this. You may not want me with you, but I'll find you and convince you.

Slowly, carefully, I test my muscles, and feel the strength slowly coming back. I think I can roll out of bed without crumbling into a heap. Finally, I make it into the shower, hurrying as fast as I am able to. I'm sore, I'm exhausted, and my muscles don't want to work. What my body really, really wants is the sweet oblivion of sleep. That's going to have to wait until I find you and make sure you're all right.

God, I hope I don't leave you feeling like this every time. How do you make it through the rest of your day?

The hot water seems to help. I have more energy now than I did a few minutes ago. I get out, barely taking time to dry myself off. A few minutes later, I'm dressed. I run a brush through my hair, grab my jacket and keys and I'm headed out the door.

I stop by your office but you aren't there, that would have been too easy. I check the bars between there and the precinct, hoping against hope I don't find you at any one of them. I hope the powers that be are watching out for you, since I don't find you at all.

For the last two hours, I've looked everywhere for you. There's only one more place for me to check. Will you be there? I think about how often I had stayed away from my apartment after these purge sessions because I don't want to have the guilt compounded by the loneliness. But maybe it's different for you. Maybe your home is your safety net. Or maybe you're stronger than me, and you'd rather face your hell sooner. I wonder…

If you aren't at home, I don't know where I'll find you. I suppose you might have gone to your mother's or just checked in to a hotel. Now I realize how foolish I was to think you'd be that easy to find. I always thought you were predictable, full of routines and certainties. After tonight, I'm not so sure any more.

Finally, I'm on your street. I park the car and approach your building. Looking up, I see no lights on. Perhaps you've gone to bed already. Although you could just be sitting alone in the dark. That's something I'd do, and that's no good either.

I punch in the security code and let myself in, taking the elevator up to your floor. Quietly, I use the key you gave me, and open the door to your apartment.

It's a good thing I know the layout so well. With your curtains drawn, it's almost pitch dark. If you're sleeping, I don't want to wake you up by turning on a light. At this point sleep might be the best for you.

But the place is so still, almost uncomfortably still. And I'm starting to wonder if you're even here. I wait for my eyes to get adjusted. Then, I see the trail of clothes from the living room to your bedroom…

This really isn't like you. I've teased you mercilessly about being such a neat freak. So I find the trail of your clothing a little more than disturbing. I know I'm going off the deep end here, but I can't help it. My job has taught me to expect the worst, and right now, worst case scenarios are running through my head. Everything from you picking up someone from a bar, god forbid, I don't know if I could handle that. Or even worse, much, much worse, me finding you in the bathtub, bleeding into lukewarm water. And everything in between.

Please, please be all right. I hope you didn't do something supremely stupid, like I might do. You're so much brighter than that, Alex. You aren't nearly the drama queen I am, so please be okay. I pray in my head as I approach your bedroom door.

I breathe again when I see you laying in the bed. I don't see any empty pill bottles on the floor, or any other things out of place, and there's rhythmic movement under the covers so you're alive. You might actually be asleep. Thank god.

Instead of disturbing you, I thought I'd wait in your living room for you to wake up. As I turn to go, I hear a faint sniffle, then a long ragged breath.

I head for you immediately. Sitting easily down on the side of the bed, I place a hand on your shoulder and pull you into my arms. I'm not surprised when you wrap yourself around me and begin to cry as though your heart would break. It probably had already.

I hope when the morning comes, when you're ready, I can pick up the pieces and put it back together for you. Well, I'll at least be here, and I'll do everything in my power to help.

I really don't know what to say, so I do what I can to comfort you. Holding you, stroking your head and your back, trying to relieve some of the tension I feel in your body. When you don't stop crying, I console you, murmuring nonsensical things, and how much I care about you and understand what you must be going through. I even promise things would get better…

I don't know if whatever I'm doing is helping, I hope so. I feel so helpless when you hurt. If I could take away your pain by bearing it myself, I would.

After I don't know how long, too long, you finally stop sniffling. You're laying so still against me. Have you cried yourself to exhausted sleep, or did you run out of tears? Maybe you've finally sorted things out, and found a way to deal with it all? A girl can always hope.

I place a kiss on your head, and start to pull the cover over us. Then you shift in my embrace. Your arms around me, pulling you to me tell me your intent.

In a small hoarse whisper, you say your first words in hours, "Make love to me? Help me forget?"

I don't know if I can do the latter, but I'll try.

I'll spend my life helping you fight your demons…

If you let me.

The End

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