DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to Dick Wolf and NBC who also own the rights to Law and Order, Special Victims Unit. No money is being made from this story. The lyrics from "Breathe" are those of Faith Hill. The lyrics from "Forever and For Always" and "You're Still the One" are those of Shania Twain.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you to my two betas, Lori and especially Ashlea for all your input! Your suggestions were invaluable. This is my first effort.
SPOILERS: Post "Loss" and "Ghost". References to other episodes.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Forever and For Always
By Marymartin

Chapter Five

New York

The Next Day

Alex was channel surfing while waiting for room service. She stopped when the words, 'Special Bulletin – Central Park Stalker Arrested', caught her attention. Seconds later, ADA Casey Novak appeared on the screen. Flanking her and to the rear were Elliott and Olivia.

"The District Attorney's office has charged Jason Masterson, a law student at NYU, with multiple counts in connection with the rape and assault of eight women in Central Park. He has also been charged with the murder of Barbara Mason. All indications are that the accused acted alone." Casey's clipped voice was brisk and all business.

As Novak answered questions from reporters, Alex focused on Olivia. Her hair was longer than it had been in February, collar length, and shot with highlights. The familiar leather jacket was missing, a casualty of the very warm day, unusual for May. She was dressed in a red v neck top and low rise black jeans that showed off her trim, muscular form. Her chocolate brown eyes were alert, watching the crowd. There were deeper lines around her lips and eyes than Alex remembered but Olivia still radiated absolute confidence and power.

Oh Liv, I missed you so much.

The ringing of the phone and the doorbell occurred simultaneously. Calling out "Coming" to the door, she lunged for the phone. "Hi. Can you hang on just a second? Someone's at the door."

Moments later she was back. "Sorry."

Olivia's voice was stern. "Did you keep the chain on when you opened the door?"

"Hello, to you too. Yes I did."

"That's my girl." Olivia lowered her voice and turned her back to her co-workers, trying to find a little privacy. "I didn't get a chance to say thank you for the flowers. They're beautiful. I can't believe you remembered how much I like tulips."

We were kind of busy.

"Olivia, there's very little about you that I don't remember. You're welcome. I wanted you to know how I felt each month I was away from you."

"I do know. I felt the same way. It's the most incredible gift I've ever gotten."

Actually you are but I can't say that here. Too many ears.

"So, who was at the door?"

"Jealous, Detective?" Alex's tone was teasing. "A twenty-something, room service guy with a chicken Caesar salad, sparkling water and fresh strawberries. Care to join me?"

Olivia leaned back in her chair, "As tempting as that sounds, I still have about six hours of work to do before I can get out of here. There's a party tonight for a certain former ADA in case you'd forgotten."

"And after?" Alex's voice was a caress.

"Well, I'm hoping to get lucky with the guest of honor."

"I think you can count on it."

Olivia could hear the smile in her voice. "We should have plenty of time for our talk. I'm off until Monday afternoon."

"That's the best news I've had all week." She shifted gears. "I was just watching you on tv at the press conference. You look awfully cute."

"Cute?" Olivia shook her head in amazement.

"Benson, I need you and Stabler in my office as soon as you're through." Alex could hear Cragen's voice through the phone.

"You need to go?"

"Yeah." Olivia sighed heavily, overcoming her natural inclination to withhold her feelings and leveled with the blonde, "Alex, I hate this. I don't want to be here and you there. I don't want to spend the evening at a party with a bunch of people vying for your attention. All I want to do is lock myself in a room with you and be alone."

Alex heard the longing and frustration in Olivia's voice. "I want that too, love. But we've waited this long. Surely we can last another 12 hours."

"I guess." She wasn't convinced.

"Will you be my date for the party you don't want to go to?"

Olivia laughed. "Well, you don't think I'm going to let you go without me, do you? You've been here almost a week and we've spent what, maybe thirty minutes together. I'll be by for you around 7:30. I'll call if there's any problem."

"I'll leave a key for you at the desk. Liv?"


"Bring a bag."

Olivia nearly fell out of her chair.

Even though Alex had left her a spare key, Olivia's anxiety level had risen considerably since their earlier phone conversation. She chalked up her nervousness to the fact that their first official date was going to take place with 50 to 100 people in attendance, and let herself into the suite.

"Alex?" The room was softly lit and there was light jazz playing in the background.

"I'm just about ready," Alex called from the adjoining bedroom. "Make yourself comfortable and I'll be out in a couple of minutes. There's wine in the bar area."

Having gotten farther than the doorway this trip, Olivia helped herself to a glass of wine and took in her surroundings. The sitting area was decorated in reds and yellows with identical couches positioned on opposite walls facing each other. The bookcases and tables were cherry. A red Oriental style carpeting covered the floor. A baby grand piano was in a corner, near the floor to ceiling windows overlooking a spectacular view of Central Park. Overall, the suite oozed classy elegance and no doubt cost a small fortune.

Wow. Nice digs. This place could hold two of my apartment.

Olivia was silhouetted against the windows looking out at the park as Alex exited the bedroom. Alex drew in a breath when she caught sight of Olivia. The detective was wearing a jade green mid-calf length silk dress that plunged in a v down her back where it was fastened with three buttons. A slit up the left side allowed a glimpse of Olivia's muscular thigh and sculpted calf. Pearl drop earrings and sling back heels completed the ensemble. Alex swallowed hard. She could count on one hand the number of times she'd seen Olivia in a dress and she'd never seen her looking so beautiful or so desirable.

Oh my love, you are exquisite. Thank you God -- for Olivia, for letting us find each other, and for bringing us together again.

A slight movement caught Olivia's attention and she turned around to see Alex watching her. "You look incredible." Olivia had seen Alex dressed to the nines on many occasions, one of the most memorable being a killer red silk dress she'd worn on a date with Trevor Langan, but all those earlier memories paled in comparison to the very real vision before her. She was wearing midnight blue, so dark it almost looked black. The dress was strapless, attached with two rhinestone clips at each shoulder. It nipped Alex's slender waist, fanning out to just above her knees. Her hair was upswept and piled atop her head. Diamond dangle earrings sparkled, reflecting the lights in the room, and a matching diamond choker was around her throat. Olivia was mesmerized. To Olivia's mind, Alex Cabot had always been the most beautiful woman she'd ever known and that had not changed one bit during her absence.

"So do you."

They met in the center of the room for a gentle kiss.



For minutes they just stared, once again drinking in the sight of one another after a long drought. Olivia's eyes fell on the scar visible at Alex's shoulder. She pressed her lips to it running her tongue along the length. Alex caught her breath at her touch, liquid fire coursing through her veins. "Liv, as much as I'd like nothing better than to stay here like this, if we do we'll never get to the party." She took a deep breath, inhaling the combined scents of musk, mandarin, magnolia and sandalwood that Olivia was wearing. "I can't be a 'no show' twice to my own welcome back party."

Brushing one light butterfly kiss on the scar, Olivia stepped back, breaking contact. "Before we go, I have something for you." Taking Alex's hand, she led her to one of the twin sofas and sat down beside her. "I've had it since the Connors trial. I wanted to give it to you then but I didn't get the chance." She presented Alex with a small box wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with a blue ribbon, watching nervously as Alex opened it. Inside was a white gold medallion on a delicate filigreed chain.

"It's St. Michael, he's the patron saint of police officers," Olivia explained. "Lots of cops wear something with him on it. He's our protector. I want him to be yours too. He can help watch over you." When I'm not around.

Alex turned shining eyes to Olivia. "Liv, you're incredible. Thank you so much. This is terribly special. Will you put it on for me?" She reached up and removed the diamond choker, laying it on the coffee table.

"Alex, I don't think it exactly goes with that outfit." At Alex's determined look, Olivia complied with her request, her hands trembling slightly when they came in contact with Alex's neck. Once in place, the medallion rested gently in the curve of Alex's breasts and Olivia had a hard time tearing her eyes away. "I still don't think it goes with your outfit," she mumbled, distracted by Alex's close proximity.

"I don't care." Alex threw her arms around Olivia and gave her a tight hug. "If you think I'm ever taking this off again, you're crazy."

They rode in companionable silence to the party, sharing one brief kiss in the elevator on the way up. When the doors opened, Olivia felt like she was going to be sick. Agent Jack Hammond was standing in the hallway, waiting.

No. Oh, God no. Not again. You're not taking her away again.

To her utter amazement, Alex turned a beaming face towards the agent and was engulfed in a hug. "Jack, thank you so much for coming. I really appreciate it."

Jack Hammond had been the only constant in Alex's life in recent years and they'd grown close during that time. "I wouldn't have missed this party for the world, kid," he told her. Any further conversation was forestalled by shouts of 'she's here,' as people converged on them. Alex was swallowed up by a crowd of well wishers and Olivia and Hammond were left alone in the hallway.

"I'm surprised to see you here," she said warily.

He chuckled. "I could tell. You looked like you wanted to shoot me when the elevator doors opened." Olivia felt her cheeks grow hot. Her automatic response to his presence had been to reach for the normally present Glock, now locked in the hotel safe for the evening. At her sheepish expression, he grinned at her, one of the few times that Hammond had ever revealed a human side in Olivia's presence.

"I wanted to be here. We don't get too many happy endings in my line of work." He looked over at Alex, surrounded by a group of friends, with a bemused expression. "You know, she was a real pain in the ass – one of the most determined and stubborn people it's ever been my privilege to know -- with a temper to boot. She fought us every step of the way to have a voice whenever she could in the decisions being made for her. Insisted on coming back to testify in that damn Connors trial even though it meant revealing that she was still alive."

He shook his head. "That one has character and a hell of a lot of courage. Those are two qualities that I've always admired. I think that single-minded stubbornness of hers is probably the main reason that she didn't hesitate for one second to come back here when she could. It helped her stay grounded, connected to Alex Cabot and her life through all of this."

He turned to Olivia. "Many don't you know."

Olivia was puzzled. "Excuse me?"

"Many people in Witness Protection for prolonged periods choose their new lives over their old. They don't return."

The possibility made Olivia's blood run cold, but Hammond carried on without noticing the color draining from her face

"Not that one." His voice held pride. "The entire time she focused on one goal --reclaiming Alexandra Cabot. That and coming home -" he looked directly at Olivia "- to you. You and Detective Stabler were a big reason she came out of hiding and testified against Connors. She was worried that you'd lose your jobs and your pensions because you'd lied about her death."

Olivia swallowed convulsively. How could I have been so blind?

"She's not the only one with courage, Detective," he added. "I think you're both very lucky."

So do I.

She hooked her arm through the agent's. "Why don't we see if we can't find some champagne? I definitely feel like celebrating tonight."

He smiled at her. "Lead the way."

The place was packed. Most of the squad was there – Huang, Munch, Fin, Don Cragen, M.E. Warner and her husband, Elliott and Kathy? Olivia smiled delightedly at the two of them and worked her way through the crowd to join them.

"Hey partner. Kathy, it's great to see you. It's been too long." The pretty blonde squeezed her arm. "You're right. I've missed you." She surveyed the room. "This is some turnout."

Many of Alex's former courthouse colleagues were in attendance. Olivia recognized several of them – ADA Jack McCoy, and former ADA Jamie Ross, who had gone to the dark side, criminal defense after leaving the DA's office several years ago. Casey Novak was there with, attorney Trevor Langon; the two were talking with former judge Mary Clark and Judge Peterson, the presiding judge at the Connors trial. Alex was in the midst of a powerful political group consisting of Arthur Branch, Liz Donnelly, and Judge Lena Petrovsky, who Alex had had a "love/hate" relationship with during her time as an ADA. Alex was frowning adorably at something Petrovsky had just said to her.

Elliott touched her shoulder. "Something to drink, Liv? I'm buying."

"Since it appears to be an open bar, that's very generous of you," she teased him. Elliott waggled his eyebrows at her. "I take it that's a yes. Kath, can I bring you something?" Both women requested glasses of red wine and Elliott took off.

Munch and Fin drifted over. "You're looking mighty fine tonight Benson," Munch said, running his eyes over Olivia's silky green dress. "Not everyone can wear that color." Olivia blushed. She'd bought the dress especially for Alex.

"Thank you, John. You clean up pretty well yourself. Is that a new suit?" He nodded, straightening his tie.

"And speaking of sexy -- not you Munch," Fin clarified before continuing, "check Cabot out." He gestured to the strapless dress that clung to Alex's curves like a second skin. "Pretty gutsy." He referred to the fact that the cut of the dress did nothing to hide the scars on Alex's shoulder and back, permanent reminders of the shooting.

Munch followed his gaze and gave a long low whistle. "Nearly three years away and she still looks like a million bucks. Pure sophistication and class all the way."

"Outa' your league, man," His partner responded.

As if aware she was being discussed, Alex looked over at the group. Blue eyes found brown and Olivia's heart began to pound violently at the look Alex directed at her. Passion and desire were in her eyes. Then, as if nothing had happened, she turned back to Elizabeth Donnelly and continued the conversation with her former boss.

Munch had noticed the smoldering look exchanged by the two women. "If I can't have her I can at least take comfort in the fact that no other man can have her either," he said archly, raising his eyebrows at Olivia.

You got that right. She's mine.

She rolled her eyes at Munch, trying in vain to conceal her smile. "Grow up."

"That's an interesting necklace Alex is wearing." Elliott had returned with her wine. Olivia felt herself blushing again. He lowered his voice so the others couldn't hear. "I take it you two have satisfactorily sorted things out?"

She nodded, "We're working on it."

"I'm glad partner. Alex is special. So are you. You both deserve to be happy."

Happy. Yep, that's what I'm feeling. Not too familiar with this emotion but I think I could get used to it given half a chance.

Alex circulated, her social skills reawakened after a long hibernation period. She worked the room, taking time to talk to each guest, reconnecting with friends and colleagues. All the while she was conscious of Olivia watching her with a predatory gleam in her eye and a controlled, affectionate expression that seemed to say 'mine', whenever she glanced her way.

Eventually halfway through the party Alex and Olivia found themselves elbow to elbow in the buffet line.

"Are you having a good time?" Olivia asked.

Alex was flushed with pleasure at the attention she'd been receiving from her friends and her eyes sparkled with pure joy. "Wonderful. You?"

Not exactly. I can't wait to be alone with you. Isn't this thing ever gonna end?

"Yeah. Great party."

Alex's plate was heaped with food. "Aren't you eating?"

Olivia glanced down at the plate in her hand, realizing she was nearly at the end of the food and her plate was empty. Alex transferred two shrimp from her plate to Olivia's.

"I've never known you not to have an appetite, Liv. Better eat something. Keep up your strength," she said matter-of-factly, as she continued down the line. Olivia watched as she walked away, admiring the sway of her hips, before setting down the plate containing the two shrimp and reaching for another glass of wine.

You know what I have an appetite for tonight Alex and it's not food.

The band had been playing mostly jazz and classical music but around midnight, the lead vocalist called for a fanfare, after which she took the microphone. "Ladies and gentlemen, we understand that Ms. Cabot is a fan of Shania Twain, so this final set is especially for her. We hope you enjoy." Amidst clapping and cheering, the band launched into 'Man, I Feel Like a Woman'.

"You are so dead," Alex mouthed to Elliott who was sitting across from her at a table of SVU colleagues. He raised his long neck in a silent toast and winked at her.

For the first time all evening Alex and Olivia were part of the same group. Alex was relaxed and happy. Looking around at her SVU family with Olivia sitting beside her, Alex felt that she truly had found her way home.

As the band segued to the next number, Olivia noticed Alex stiffen slightly. Alert but puzzled, Olivia looked at her quizzically until she recognized the song that the band was now playing. Ah, perfect choice.

In your arms I can still feel the way you
want me when you hold me
I can still hear the words you whispered

when you told me
I can stay right here forever in your arms

Olivia reached under the table and threaded her fingers through Alex's, holding on tightly, their entwined hands resting on her knee.

Mmmm, baby
In your heart--I can still hear
a beat for every time you kiss me
And when we're apart,
I know how much you miss me
I can feel your love for me in your heart

As the song continued, Olivia felt Alex scoot closer and an ankle wrap around hers. Heat radiated from the blonde and Olivia felt her own body respond. She noticed the heightened color in Alex's cheeks and felt the dampness between her own legs. God isn't this party ever going to end?

In your eyes I can still see
the look of the one who really loves me
The one who wouldn't put anything
else in the world above me
I can still see love for me in your eyes

Alex leaned over and whispered, "Let's get out of here as soon as we can, okay?" Olivia nodded. Fine by me. It can't be soon enough.

And there ain't no way--
I'm lettin' you go now
And there ain't no way--
and there ain't no how
I'll never see that day....
'Cause I'm keeping you
forever and for always
We will be together all of our days
Wanna wake up every
morning to your sweet face—always

I'm keeping you forever and for always
I'm in your arms

When the last notes died out, Olivia echoed 'always' just loud enough for only Alex to hear her.

Chapter Six

Sunday Morning

Carlyle Hotel

Olivia floated between sleep and consciousness before fully awakening. Sunlight filtered through the drapes indicating late morning. Soft, even breathing in the vicinity of her right ear let Olivia know that Alex was still asleep. She rolled over, muscles protesting from recent activities, careful not to jostle the bed, and feasted her eyes on the woman beside her.

Alex facedown and wearing nothing but St. Michael, was glorious in repose, her hair splayed out on the pillow, her right hand outstretched towards Olivia. Her once milky white skin now had a healthy sun kissed glow to it, no doubt the result of hours spent at the beach. Even so, her skin bore evidence of their lovemaking, a mark here and there, and red welts on Alex's back.

Shit. Damn fair skin – easily bruised. Gotta be more careful.

She smiled at the memory. Alex Cabot in the bedroom was nothing like Alex Cabot in the courtroom. The normally cool and reserved attorney had practically attacked her once they'd returned to the suite after the party. Olivia still couldn't believe how quickly she'd managed to divest them both of their clothes before they were making full use of the king size bed, finally satisfying their long-suppressed mutual desires.

Olivia was confident that she and Alex had now fully explored every level of intimacy possible between two people. Alex had turned out to be both passionate and playful in bed. Time and distance had done nothing to alter the powerful connection that the two women shared – it was if each one instinctively knew the innermost desires and thoughts of the other - Olivia had never felt so physically and emotionally fulfilled in her entire life.

In between bouts of delicious lovemaking they'd talked at length, completely baring their souls for the first time. Like many new lovers, they'd shared amusing antidotes of each other's past, reminisced about their growing attraction and when it turned to love, and related some of the events during the time apart. Alex never mentioned Daniel Adler and Olivia didn't ask. She was secure enough in Alex's love to let go of all her feelings relating to the two of them. Alex was safe. Alex was with her. Nothing else mattered.

Slipping quietly from the bed, Olivia grabbed one of the luxurious bathrobes furnished by the hotel (retail value $250.00, she thought) and padded into the adjoining room. Moving as quietly as possible she began making coffee.

Probably should order food. Alex'll be hungry when she wakes up.

Olivia caught sight of the six oil paintings Alex had done of her spread out on the piano, thinking back to when she'd seen them for the first time the day before, when Alex had handed them to her in response to Olivia's teasing question, "Did you think about me as much as I thought of you while we were apart?" Her reaction had shocked her. She'd broken down, sobbing in Alex's arms, all of the emotions that had surfaced in Olivet's office, pouring forth again.

Twelve Hours Earlier

"God, Alex, I'm sorry. I don't know why this is happening." Alex stroked her back gently as Olivia struggled to control the sobs racking her body. "Sh, sh, love, it's all right. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."

"I had nightmares all the time. He shot you. I didn't stop him. I didn't protect you." Olivia was babbling, crying uncontrollably. "You were bleeding – I watched you almost die in my arms. I couldn't make it stop. I tried to tell you that I loved you but you didn't hear me. They took you away. It was so much worse this last time. I never thought I'd see you again. Never thought you'd want me the way I want you." She sobbed, her breaths coming in gasps, hot tears running down her cheeks, trembling in Alex's embrace. Once she was spent, embarrassment surfaced and she struggled to pull away, refusing to look at the younger woman.

Alex's arms tightened around her, holding her close. She lifted Olivia's chin, forcing her to look at her. Olivia saw nothing in Alex's eyes but love.

"Liv, you are probably one of the strongest people I know. I know you think tears are a sign of weakness. They're not. They just show how much you care. I know you want to protect me just as I want to protect you – because we love each other."

"Sweetheart, one lesson I think we've both learned after Zapata is that fate doesn't give a damn about the wishes of two mere mortals. Events occur in life that we have no control over." She took one of Olivia's hands in her own, tracing her finger down the lifeline on Olivia's palm. "Death is part of life. You can't protect me from that inevitability any more than I can protect you."

Wiping away stray tears, Alex continued. "Now I'm not planning on running out in front of a speeding car, but I've lived with fear and the unknown far longer than I've ever wanted to during our time apart." Her expression was determined, ADA Cabot in full form. "I didn't like it. I don't ever want to live that way again. Starting today, I want to live my life to the fullest with no fears, no hesitations."

She stroked Olivia's face, her own expression and voice intent. "Liv, before I was shot I'd convinced myself that there were dozens of reasons why we shouldn't get involved but when I lay bleeding on that street none of them made any sense. This time apart has made me realize that you are more important to me than anything else in my life." Alex looked at her tenderly, kissing the hand she still held before continuing, "I don't expect anything. I just want you to know how I feel. I'm in love with you, Olivia. I want you to know that and never doubt it."

Alex smiled at her. "We've moved pretty fast here. When I left we hadn't even dated and now I can't keep my hands off you." Putting actions to words, Alex kissed Olivia's forehead, her temple, eyes, and mouth. "Liv, I know that my feelings for you aren't going to change. But, I don't want to rush you, or push you into anything you're not ready for just because I'm anxious to make up for lost time and missed opportunities."

A long silence stretched between them. Terrified that she'd said too much or pushed too hard, Alex anxiously searched Olivia's face to gauge her reaction.

Olivia had spent her entire life guarding her emotions; fighting against any show of weakness, but for the first time, she felt secure enough to reveal that hidden part of herself to another person. Alex's paintings of her had given her the courage to share both her feelings and her fears with the woman she loved and who clearly loved her in return.

Still, years of dissembling had become second nature to the detective. Olivia looked down at their entwined hands as the silence grew longer. "Alex, you're not rushing me. I love you too. It's just …. you… … me… … us …." This time the pause was much longer and Alex's stomach tightened in fear. Olivia looked up at her, still hesitating.

I promised I'd be honest with you.

Taking the final leap of faith, she plunged forward, "Alex, I'm almost forty years old. I've never been very good at relationships. In fact, I'd say I suck pretty badly at them." She bit her lip and sighed heavily. "I want us to work so bad and I am scared to death that I'm going to screw this up royally."

Alex exhaled the breath she'd been holding and gave her an encouraging smile. "I'm scared too, love."

Olivia tightened her hold on Alex's hand. "Being apart, I thought what was between us was only my imagination but the minute I saw you I knew how real my feelings for you are. I can't picture my life anymore without you being part of it." Brown eyes gazed lovingly into blue. "I never want us to be apart again. I want to spend every night falling asleep beside you and every morning waking up next to you." She shrugged helplessly. "You're everything to me, Alex."

"Oh, Liv," Alex breathed, overcome with emotion.

Afraid she had sounded too serious Olivia added a disclaimer, "I'm sure it's not going to be perfect. I can't imagine us not arguing." With that admission came the lopsided grin Alex adored. "Although… … the making up part could be a whole lot of fun." Olivia grew serious again. "I don't ever want to hurt you or disappoint you if I can help it. It's just that …" She again looked down at Alex's hand holding tightly to her own "…I'm not sure I know how to be happy though," she confessed.

Alex smiled ruefully. "Well, that makes two of us." She cradled Olivia's face, looking deeply into chocolate brown eyes. "But I'm more than willing to find out if you are."

Carlyle Hotel

Sunday morning

"Penny for your thoughts." Alex's seductive voice interrupted Olivia's musings and she felt long arms encircle her waist. When Olivia turned around, she saw that Alex was wearing the twin to her robe.

Alex's blue eyes shone with love and Olivia basked in their reflection, as she leaned in for a long kiss. "Hello, gorgeous."

Olivia's lips traveled to Alex's neck and she inhaled deeply. "I still can't believe this is real. That you're here, with me. We're so different. And…" Unbidden, old insecurities surfaced. "You could have anybody."

Alex looped her arms around Olivia's neck, ruffling her hair. "Silly girl," she chided. "Liv, we are so alike it's scary. We're fiercely independent, self-sufficient, intelligent, attractive, stubborn, passionate, and very protective of our privacy." Olivia was amused. Alex had ticked the list off on her fingers and reverted to her attorney voice, the one that she'd used so effectively in making points to a jury.

"Arrogant. You left out arrogant."

Alex raised an eyebrow. "I prefer confident to arrogant. I've never much cared for that word."

"Is that so? Well, I'd say you're looking pretty confident this morning, Ms. Cabot. Any special reason for that?"

Alex was on her in seconds, her blonde hair tickling Olivia's neck, her mouth inches from Olivia's own. "Must be the company I'm keeping." She leaned in for a long, loving kiss, walking Olivia backwards to the couch. In minutes matching robes were pooled on the floor and they were entwined on the cushions.

They explored each other leisurely. Alex flattened Olivia with the length of her body, moving against her hips, kissing her all over. In seconds, Olivia flipped their bodies so that now Alex was underneath. She rained kisses on a bare breast, growling softly as her tongue encircled a pebbled nipple. Alex arched her back in appreciation, urging Olivia to repeat the sensation on the other breast. Dark passion burned in Olivia's eyes. Alex's heart beat erratically as the detective's skillful hands plied their magic. As fingers probed, Alex lurched and gulped for air. Olivia continued to arouse her with butterfly touches, trailing kisses from her breasts down her stomach. Parting her legs, she plunged into Alex's wetness. "Liv, oh God Liv," Alex repeated her name with each thrust, rapidly losing control.

Olivia murmured "Alex, je t'adore, te amo, I love you," over and over again, as she brought her near climax, determined to give her as much pleasure as possible and sharing in the sensations she was evoking in the younger woman with her talented fingers. Alex in the throes of passion, wanting her, begging for release, was the most beautiful sight Olivia had ever seen and the brunette doubled her efforts to bring her to orgasm. Alex shuddered and arched first, but Olivia was close behind her, so close that the film of dampness dried from their bodies at the same time. Into her hair, Olivia whispered one last time, "Alex, I love you, Alex. Forever and for always."

They lay together, contentment having replaced need. Olivia lifted her head. Blue eyes found brown and Olivia was startled to see unshed tears. "Hey, you okay?"

Alex smiled, brushing back a loose strand of hair from Olivia's face. Pure joy blazed in her eyes. "Perfect. I'm finally where I belong. I'm with you. Alex Cabot is finally home. Forever and for always."


(Eighteen Months Later)

Sergeant Olivia Benson burst through the emergency room doors of St. Anthony's Hospital, Elliott on her heels. She stopped at the desk demanding, "Alex Cabot. They said she was here. What room is she in?"

The attending nurse was on the phone and she held up a finger to indicate Olivia should wait. Olivia had no patience for waiting. She paced furiously back and forth, mentally urging the woman to end her call.

"Calm down, Liv. I'm sure she's fine." Elliott's hand was on her shoulder.

"Alexandra Cabot." Olivia snapped, her patience exhausted. "She was brought in about four hours ago. Where is she?" A badge flashed for good measure and got the nurse's attention. She consulted her computer screen before responding.

"Room 314. That's …."

"I'll find it." Olivia was off as if she'd been shot out of a gun.

Alex's doctor was exiting her room as Olivia arrived, Elliott a few paces behind. "Olivia. Good, you made it." At Olivia's anxious expression, she smiled reassuringly. "Everything's fine; just fine. Things happened very fast but there are no serious complications. She lost quite a bit of blood initially but everything's under control now and I don't anticipate there being any long term problems."

Olivia expelled the breath that she had been unconsciously holding. "We were at a scene in Brooklyn. I didn't get the call right away. I got here as soon as I could." Her heart rate seemed to be returning to its normal rhythm with Dr. O'Connor's assurance that Alex was okay.

"Well why don't you go on in? She's expecting you."

Elliott touched her shoulder. "Give her a kiss for me, okay? I'm gonna grab a cup of coffee in the cafeteria."

She could feel herself grinning like a maniac. "Thanks. I will." Her partner squeezed her arm affectionately, winking at her as he walked away.

Olivia tiptoed into the room. Alex was looking very pale and lying quietly on the narrow hospital bed. "Alex, honey?" Olivia whispered.

Brilliant blue eyes opened and a huge smile lit up Alex's face as she spied the beloved figure in her familiar leather jacket. "Well hello, Sarge. I thought you'd never get here. What took you so long?"

Olivia joined her by the bed, taking one of her hands and kissing each digit. "I think you got it backwards, sweetheart. We weren't supposed to have this particular date for another two weeks." She kissed her tenderly. "I got here as fast as I could. Are you really all right? Deirdre said you'd lost a lot of blood."

Olivia's face was plastered with worry and Alex was quick to reassure. "I'm fine. We're both fine." Alex wore an amused smile. "I think she must take after you in the patience department though since she was in such a rush to put in her appearance. I barely had enough time to get here."

A huge grin replaced Olivia's anxious expression. "She? It's a girl?"

"All evidence leads to that conclusion. Would you like to meet her?" Alex reached down beside her and offered the tightly wrapped bundle to Olivia. Cradling the child in her arms, Olivia kissed the top of the baby's head, crooning softly. "Hey there, Jordan. Welcome to the world."

They'd argued for months over the name and although Olivia found it hard to deny Alex much of anything when she turned those blue eyes on her, in her own way Olivia could be just as stubborn as her partner. In the end, they'd reached a compromise, something that they had learned to do on many occasions since their civil union earlier that year. The baby's name was Jordan, after Barbara Jordan whom Alex admired, and Olivia, after her grandmother and mother. Jordan Olivia Cabot-Benson.

Their daughter turned unfocused eyes towards Olivia's voice. Eyes that held a hint of Alex's deep blue.

Oh God, am I ever in trouble now. I won't stand a chance against both of them.

A thin fuzz of downy blonde hair peeped out of the top of the blanket. She smelled of baby lotion and powder. Olivia's heart constricted with love for this tiny, precious being.

"What do you think of her?"

"She's perfect. Just like you." And with that Sergeant Olivia Benson leaned across the baby to kiss Alex again. Her love. Her life partner. Her soul mate.

The End

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