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: Third prequel series to the Lemon Seed Orange Tree series. This is the final of seven stories
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Falling For You
By Adrienne Lee
7. NEXT TIME I FALL
"I'll come back," Alex mouthed silently. Maybe it's just as well. I really shouldn't be doing this She was about to walk away from the entrance when her friend called out.
"Hold on a sec. Hey Cabot."
Well, so much for running away. Letting out a silent sigh, she stopped, and leaned against the wooden frame.
"Let me call you back this afternoon," Serena told the person on the other line. "Love you too," she said, made kissy noises, and hung up the phone. Turning to the other blonde, she rolled her eyes. "Sheesh, you don't have to look that disgusted."
"I just " Alex took a seat, and shook her head. "Nevermind."
"One of these days, Cabot, you're gonna break out of your ice princess veneer " Southerlyn smirked, and closed the door. "So, where on earth have you been? I was beginning to wonder if you've moved your office to the 1-6 or something."
"Just busy with work, Serena."
"Uh-huh." She gave Alex a knowing smile. "Are you here to take me to lunch or is this just a casual visit?"
"Well," the older blonde hesitated.
"I need your help," Alex finally admitted, embarrassed.
Serena grinned wickedly at her friend's unease. "Now what could the cool, calm and always in control Alex Cabot need from me?"
Alex blushed slightly and pretended to be distracted by something on her shoe. When she looked up again, she found the other woman staring at her intently.
"Now I'm really curious." Serena lifted a brow, and tapped her fingers impatiently.
"I need your help picking out a bathing suit," Alex confessed.
"Yeah? For swimming or seduction?"
"What was that, Cabot? I can't hear you."
"Both," she said, a little louder this time.
"Oooh. This gotta be good. Who are you trying to impress? Oh no," Serena shuddered at the thought. "Please don't tell me it's Trevor Langan. I refuse to have anything to do with that poor excuse of an I-don't-know-what."
"No!" Alex replied with righteous indignation. "Please give me more credit than that."
"I don't know. You're the one who's been dating him, not me."
"I really wouldn't call them dates. Our families are old friends; we sort of grew up together," she tried to explain it away.
"That's not what people said; you two were really cozy."
"Look, Serena, I used to be engaged to his older brother."
"Really? How come you never mentioned this before?"
"I was in college. Ancient history."
"It just didn't work out, okay?"
"What? So you're just keeping in touch with Trevor for the heck of it?"
"Something like that. Jesus. We just went out to dinner a few times. Do I have to call in witnesses or sign an affidavit?"
"I know you're not the kiss and tell type; it's okay."
"I'm serious, Serena."
"Aren't you protesting a little too hard, Cabot?" Southerlyn egged her friend on.
Ignoring the bait, Alex demanded instead, "Are you going to help me or not?"
"Fine. You're no fun." Serena shook her head, then her smile turned mischievous. "So why do you need my help? You're a big girl, I doubt you really need seduction tips from me. I'm kinda rusty, you know."
"Yeah, right, you must be doing something right to keep your girlfriend that way."
"I believe the word you're looking for is 'pussy-whipped'."
Alex looked away uncomfortably. "Serena, please."
"How do you try the cases you try, and be such a prude?"
"It's different, and I'm not a prude."
"Sure, sure, and Mother Teresa's not a nun. So who's the lucky guy? Do I know him?"
"It isn't a guy," Alex muttered.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Serena asked, her eyebrows reaching for her hair-line.
"It's not a guy, that's why I need your help." Alex shifted in her chair, to mask her discomfort.
"You mean..." Serena spluttered, "I don't believe it, you're switching teams?"
"Nevermind," she spat, and started to get up.
"Oh sit down, don't be such a drama queen." The younger woman admonished her friend. "You have to admit I have a right to be surprised."
"It's why I came to you, I'm a little out of my element here." She explained. Well, that's the understatement of the century.
"Wow. I still can't get over "
Interrupting, Alex implored, "Will you help?"
"Yeah, I guess, but I'm not sure you need it. Seduction is pretty much the same either way. Are you going to tell me who's cracked the Ice Princess's shell?"
"Just go to hell, Southerlyn. I don't need this crap from you; I need some advice."
"Touchy aren't we. If you want my help... give."
The two blondes regarded each other. Each hoping for the other one to break. In the end, Alex sighed. "Fine, you win."
"Wow!" Serena shook her head in amazement. "All I can say is you can really pick them."
"What's wrong with Olivia?"
"Not a thing, absolutely nothing. Wow. People certainly can't accuse you of being an underachiever."
"What do you mean by that?" Alex demanded defensively.
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with a little aspiration, and a lot of challenge. If I weren't attached I'd give it my best shot too."
"So are you going to help me or not?" She pleaded once more.
"This is going to be fun. When I get through with you, Cabot, your detective won't stand a chance."
"I want to impress her, not look like the Whore of Babylon."
"Give me some credit and a little class."
"I don't know," Alex quipped, "Half the time, Casey looks like she dressed in the dark."
"Hey, I can't dictate what she wears, not completely anyway. I'm wearing her down one item at a time." She winked, and continued, "Besides, you don't know what she has on underneath."
"Ugh. Too much information, Southerlyn."
"You opened the door, Cabot."
"Can we get back on point?"
"Well, I suppose Whore of Babylon wouldn't hurt with Olivia."
"Are you serious? Dish!"
"Maybe, maybe not. What's in it for me?"
"What do you want?"
"Hmm I'll get back to you on that."
"Are you going to tell me or not?" Alex demanded, impatience edging her voice.
Serena laughed, and patted her friend on the shoulder. "Come on I'll tell you on the way "
At the edge of the pool, Olivia stretched her muscles, to warm up for the swim.
"Why are you so antsy, Benson?" asked Mick Normandy, the trainer and life guard on duty.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she denied, feigning nonchalance.
She sighed, not really expecting him to be that easily fooled. After all, they had known each other since she moved into the neighborhood and started using the gym.
"Just let me know, okay?"
"Yes, as soon as she walks out. You don't have to tell me so many times."
"Just making sure."
"Think you're ready, ace?"
"I don't know, Mick, you think I have time to "
He cut her off. "Jesus, Benson, you've only been here every other morning, doing the same thing for the last two weeks. You'll be fine."
"I guess you're right I hope you're right." Olivia hedged anxiously.
"You've really got it bad, Benson," he chided. Then giving her a knowing wink, he smiled. "She must be something special for you to want to go to these lengths to impress her."
"Okay, smartass, just let me know when she comes out." Rather than arguing with her friend, and inevitably losing, Olivia proceeded to climb up onto the diving board. Still, she couldn't resist one last jab, "You think you can handle that?"
"You know, if you had spent half the energy impressing those other guys and gals, we wouldn't be here "
Why don't I learn to quit while I'm ahead? She narrowed her eyes, and warned, "Shove it, okay, Normandy?"
"Jeez, Liv, what's got you so ..."
"Don't even say it. Just tell me okay? Please?" She asked and put on an innocent face. "Is that better?"
He just smirked. "Oh yeah, you're a real angel."
Biting her tongue, Olivia walked to the end of the board. First, she tried to relax by taking a few practice bounces to get a feel. Rolling her shoulders and shaking her arms didn't really help either. A swarm of butterflies was about burst out of her stomach.
God, Benson, get a grip. She told herself. Why do you let her do this to you? You're calm, cool. You've faced some of the sickest nastiest people ever to walk this earth. She's just a woman. Not an army. She pep-talked, no longer questioning why Alex had this effect on her. She just did. Whenever the blonde walked into the room, Olivia's stomach would start doing flips. She would feel lightheaded, and tongue-tied all at the same time. No one had ever made the detective feel quite like that.
Where is she? The brunette thought impatiently. Just how long does to put on a swimsuit? Will it be a two-piece? Or one? She wondered momentarily. Focus, focus. She reined in her imagination, took a deep breath and flexed up onto her toes and rolled back towards her heels. Okay, that's good. It's helping. Keep going, Benson.
In her mind's eye, Olivia saw herself executing the perfect swan dive. She visualized herself flying up and out, sailing into the air and slicing gracefully into the water. You can do it, Benson. You can do it even in your sleep.
Relaxing her gaze, the brunette concentrated on the gentle sounds of water lapping gently at the tiled sides of the pool. She tried to lose herself in the calm of the wide open space. She knew she could easily screw up the dive, if she were even just a little tense.
Looking through the clear blue water, she could imagine the laughter in Alex's eyes if she faltered again. This was her chance to redeem herself, to show the blonde her athletic abilities, her physical prowess, or simply, that she really wasn't a klutz.
A sudden long, low wolf whistle shattered Olivia's calm. She turned towards her friend, and followed his eyes.
Wow. She was momentarily stunned by the vision, of Alex gliding towards the pool, casually, seemingly oblivious to the effect she had on the detective or Mick.
An angel in red? Olivia mused, while she took in the curves and swells, accentuated by the playful two piece suit. The white trim might look sportive on some, but somehow on Alex, it became the epitome of class.
Forgotten was her swan dive. All Olivia wanted to do, was to drown in those approaching blue eyes, in that bright smile.
"Hi," Normandy muttered.
"Hello," Alex returned the greeting.
That exchange jerked the brunette back to reality. She wanted to cold-cock Mick, knock him out, so he'd stop staring at her girl-friend slack-jawed.
In her haste to get off the board, and reach the blonde, Olivia misstepped and slipped. While trying to regain her footing, she lost her balance. She tried to compensate by pinwheeling her arms, somehow, that didn't work. Once again, the detective found herself falling, this time belly flopping into the water with a loud and undignified splash.
The impact knocked the wind out of her and she sank like a rock. Before she reached the bottom, she felt a hand on her arm, felt the hand moving across her body to her shoulder.
"Alex?" She uttered in shock, and inhaled a lungful of water. She felt a surge of power in the arm holding her. Then she broke the surface.
"Liv? Are you okay?"
Leaning against the cold tile, Olivia could only nod, while launching into a coughing fit.
Finally, she could breathe again. "You're strong," she wheezed, refusing to look at the woman holding her up.
"It's just the water, making you weightless." Alex smiled. "And the adrenaline, I suppose."
"I was afraid you'd hurt yourself."
"God, I can't believe I'm such a "
Alex didn't let the brunette finish. Instead, she asked gently, "Are you sure you're all right?"
"Yeah." Olivia sighed dejectedly. "Just a little chlorinated water in my lungs. I'll live."
"Maybe we should just cut this short?"
"But " She started to argue, but thought better. "Sure, whatever, Counselor. You must think I'm a complete klutz anyway. How do I ever manage to catch a perp, huh?"
"Liv? Look at me," Alex requested, and waited until the brunette lifted her head. With a soft smile, she reassured her friend, "I know you're good at your job and I know you're not a klutz. I just think you get a little distracted sometimes. We all do."
"Yeah, well, you're not the one falling all over the place."
"I do it more often than you realize." The blonde chuckled. "Just relax. Although I admit I like you this way."
"What? Making an absolute fool of myself?"
"No, not being the tough New York cop. I like the human side of you."
"As opposed to the jackass side?" Olivia was ready to slither down the side of the pool, and sink to the bottom. But that would mean giving up their proximity, which she wasn't quite ready to do.
Instead, she searched for and easily found Mick's prying eyes. "I'm fine, Normandy, you can stop staring."
"Yeah, go ahead, laugh, just don't do it here."
Finally, the old friends reached a silent understanding. After Mick disappeared from the edge of the pool, Olivia turned back to Alex. "Anyway, thanks for saving my ass."
"Has anyone told you how cute you look when you're embarrassed?"
"I am? I just thought I looked like a jackass."
"An adorable jackass."
Olivia smiled hesitantly. "Thanks, I think."
"So you ready to get out?" Alex offered, "How about we catch a movie instead? My treat."
Maybe this time I'll find the courage to do something besides putting my arm around the back of her seat Yeah
"Are you sure you're all right?"
"Yeah. Can we stay here for just a few more minutes? I'm still a little winded," Olivia fibbed. She liked being where she was, held in Alex's embrace, their naked skin separated only by water and thin pieces of fabric... No, she didn't want it to end. She never wanted it to end.
Alex smiled sweetly in reply, "Sure, Liv, take all the time you need."
"Hey." An idea came to the brunette. "We're not that far from my place."
"Maybe we could drop the suits off there?" She gathered her nerve and justified. "So we're not lugging them around?"
Really? That gave Olivia the courage to invite Alex to her apartment, into her space. "Maybe you'd like to come up?"
"Are you actually offering a tour?"
"Sure, I can be a docent for a day."
"Oh, I didn't realize you live in a museum." The blonde laughed, and teased, "Or are you planning on teaching me something?"
"To find out, you'll have to come up and see."
"Very well, Detective."
"Liv," the brunette insisted with a smile. "Especially since we're not working."
"Very well, Liv."
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