DISCLAIMER: This is a love story about two consenting female adults. Can't handle it, don't like it, don't read it. We're just borrowing Dick Wolf's characters for fun; we aren't making any money from it.
AUTHOR' NOTE: When two writing heads get together in a round robin...
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
It's Gotta Be Love
By Katherine Quinn & Adrienne Lee
Seafood. She likes seafood. Fulton Market first thing tomorrow morning. What though? Baked? Grilled? Maybe some sort of sushi or sashimi nothing to get burnt while you're distracted. Don't think poor stove can handle too much more abuse.
Or maybe oysters? Oyster shooters would be nice with a salad.
Yeah, right, Cabot. "Hi, Olivia, do you prefer oysters or snails?" She'd probably make some smart alecky remark about your intent. Although a Roman bath Spartacus style sure would be nice...
Shit. Movies. What to rent?
Action? Romance? Artsy flick? Bruce Willis isn't very date-like. Sleepless in Seattle? Too overdone. An Affair to Remember? Right. Although she does like old movies. Rear Window. Crime, suspense, and a gorgeous blonde. Dead gorgeous blonde. Maybe. Fire? That's supposed to be good. Good and probably bore you to sleep, Cabot, you know you and subtitles.
Bound? Hmm Gina Gershon in a tank top and a red truck. Mmm
Intent, counselor, your intent! Fine, Disney movies. Perfectly safe. Nothing to read into. Although she'd probably manage to make something out of Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
Wait. Make her bring the movie! Yeah, that's a great idea!
Food, food, food You could always just order pizza, or make pizza. Order pizza and tell her you made it But maybe that's too casual
Apple and squash soup, calamari artichoke salad, and tiramisu. That's casual and easy enough to make. What's she going say to that? The forbidden fruit? Something about you being all arms and legs? Trying to get her drunk with rum? Oy.
That's a perfectly sound menu, Cabot. You're thinking and worrying too much. Although the rum thing's really not a bad idea
Come on, snap out of it!
Okay, what to wear? Remember the way she looked at you when you wore that little red number to Fin's party? Maybe she'd do something about it, too.
Oh, but that's not exactly casual. Why did you tell her it'd be casual?
Because you can't cook anything elaborate, Dumb Ass. Jeans and tee then. Right. How'bout that shimmery dark blue top with the deep vee neck! Yeah! And a pushup bra. Definitely.
With black slacks? Those new ones drape nicely.
Or jeans? Tight jeans? Although that's really more her department. Man, is it her department Mmm
Whoa! "Oh. Hi!" Great, there's that smirk. Cabot caught daydreaming again. Just great. "Have you been standing there long? What can I do for you?"
2. Day Dreams
I love watching you. I knocked so lightly; I don't think you heard, so I stuck my head in and realize that you are staring off into space. You didn't even notice me and I was stuck between not wanting to scare the hell out of you by making a noise, and getting caught standing here staring at you like an idiot. So I act like a deer caught in headlights: not moving, not making a sound, totally aware that I'm catching you staring out into space. I wonder what's going on in your head.
It's not often I can catch you off guard; private and alone. Quietly reflective, though I imagine that you spend quite a bit of your time lost in thought. I'm so used to sharing you with the world. I wonder if you notice that no matter where you are people are staring at you. Even the sound of your shoes in the hallway causes the entire unit to turn their heads. Whether you know or not, it's not simply because they're dying to hear about the newest legal discovery you've made. You're hot as hell.
So now I'm dreaming, wondering about what's going on in your imagination. I'd love to know if I'm in your thoughts, like I see you running around in mine. Of course, if you're thinking any of the horny things I'm thinking, then we're probably both in trouble. I smile at you, I can't help it. But I know that it's wrong for me to stand here, watching you. So with a small sigh, I stick my head back through the open door and knock much louder. I watch you as your whole body tenses; jumping to attention. I'm surprised you don't fall out of your chair.
I can't help but give you one of those looks, teasing you with my eyes. You jump and ask me what you can do for me. Jump up on that desk and take off all your clothes. Oh, wait. Damn. That's probably not what you meant.
I'm really here under false pretenses, and I can tell from the look you give me that my question about our latest case isn't impressive. You smile as you give me an answer, though, delighted to be talking about something that's not, well, the undeniable attraction that is running between us.
We haven't quite talked about it; the fact that when we look at each other electricity sparks in the air. I can feel my breath getting shallow. Our eyes catch each other in the bullpen, and I want to reach out and touch you.
You have asked me if I want to come over, dinner and a movie, a girl's night in. I almost said no, not because I don't want that more than anything in the world, but simply because I'm afraid of my own impulses. Sitting with you on a couch, staring into a TV, would I be able to control my impulse to jump you? I often imagine you to be lonely, since you're so solitary at work. I imagine you see in me the same thing, and we could be easy friends. I bet you have no idea that I want you. That's a dangerous game, especially in this business.
"So, umm, are we still on for tomorrow?" I ask, taking a deep breath, ready for you to say you've changed your mind. I wait for you to say that you have something better to do than hanging out with me; anything better than hanging out with me. I'm sure that this was all a mistake to begin with. You blush, it's subtle, but I swear I can see red creeping into your cheeks and you tell me you're looking forward to it. Then you tell me that I have to bring the entertainment. Damn you. I smile though and say, "No problem." Now my head's reeling. I have 24 hours to come up with something that's not totally inappropriately laden with my intent, and yet at the same time will entertain you. Something tells me you're not into the Terminator movies. Hmmm I wonder if you've ever seen Bound.
I smile and tell you that I'll be at your place at five, like you requested. I turn to leave, and I'm almost out the door when I feel your hand clamp on my shoulder. Your touch is electric, and I turn around
Why did you do that, Cabot, you idiot! You know why, you just had to touch her, feel her muscles move under your hand. Wasn't it enough that you spent the last entire forty-five minutes fantasizing about her in her black tank top? And you almost got away with it, too! You just had to touch, didn't you? Now what are you going to do?
Hold onto those shoulders while you jump up and wrap your legs around her waist?
That damn smile again. Do you know when you do that, all I can think of is your lips all over me? Imprinting that smile? Do you do it on purpose, Det. Benson? Did you catch my blush and feel the pheromones I must be oozing, and realize I'm putty in your hands and decide to play with me?
God. Those hands One of which is now on my arm, and not moving
"I'm sorry, Olivia." I manage to act professional, and tell you, "I thought I had something just now, but I don't think it'll work on this situation. I'll get back to you when I think of something else."
"Okay." You say, but don't look too convinced, like you can see right through me. Damn.
"Oh, I almost forgot. If you like wine with your dinner, I already have red, gallons of it, so don't bring any." I try hiding under another pretext. I know you people think I'm sometimes so focused on something that I end up acting distracted about everything else anyway. "But if you're into formality, you might want to bring your own white."
"So we're having seafood or chicken?"
"Maybe." I try not to stammer. How do you make food sound like a proposition? "I don't know for sure yet. Actually, that's what I was thinking when you walked in."
"Really?" You ask with a raised eyebrow and lopsided grin.
Why did you tell her that, Cabot, you idiot? "Yes. Tomorrow's menu. Any special requests?"
"I'm not picky with my food. I'll eat anything you decide to serve me."
Including me? I want to ask you. I'm sure you don't mean it that way. "That's good to know. I should warn you I'm not a great cook. So it won't be anything fancy."
I feel a reassuring squeeze on my arm, and I look down. Am I imagining things? Did you steal a caress with your thumb? Before I lift my head, you pull away, and shove your hands into your pockets. When I finally meet your eyes, they are warm, like normal. Like when you look at Elliot, or Fin, or Munch, but nothing more.
"I should get back to the station." You say with a casual smile, oblivious to my heart sinking.
"And I should get back to work." I nod and smile back, and tell you something you already know, "Closing arguments on Monday on the Baxter case. Don't want it hanging over my head all weekend."
"Is it still all right if Elliot and I watch?"
"Yeah, sure." I'm confident my professional mask is completely back in place. So I give you my routine thin smile, and "I'll see you later then."
Without waiting for an answer, I close the door. You looked like you were going to say something. Probably something like 'Okay, I'll see you later'. What else can it be?
Sliding down into the couch, supporting my forehead in one hand, and hugging myself with the other, I ask for the hundredth time since I started with the squad, "Why do you keep doing this to yourself?" If you're not careful, Cabot, you'll turn into the kind of woman your parents warned you about.
Now what? Can't you people leave me the f&*# alone?
4. Jealousy Burns
I walk out of your office with my skin tingling where your fingers touched me. I feel like it's burning, the way your hand gently clamped on my shoulder. I don't want to lose the feeling, and I force my mind to concentrate on the phantom feeling. I slip my own hand over where yours was only second before to keep the memory flowing.
What I really can't believe is that I actually touched you back, my fingers gently sitting on yours, your soft skin under my clamming fingers. I wanted to slide my hand down your arm and under your shirt, but instead, I let my thumb slowly slide against your skin before letting you go. But I know it was something more. I swear that there was a connection between us, if only for a second. Something was alive, buzzing in the air between us. I looked deep into your eyes hoping for something to be there. I saw something there. Maybe it's part of my imagination, maybe it's only something I wanted to see. Something that I didn't think I would see. I thought I could see what was echoing through my head in your eyes. I'm standing right outside your door, thinking about your eyes and your face when I feel someone hit the shoulder that I am gently holding, trying desperately to keep the memory alive. I mumble an apology, even though I was standing still and whoever that was just powered into me. I don't get a response, and I look back to see who the asshole is. Ahh, well, that makes sense. Trevor Langan.
I remember the night that Elliot and I walked in on you and him in that restaurant. You wearing that red dress, your hair curled, you were so beautiful. I could feel the jealousy rising in my throat as we crossed the room. I wanted to grab him by the balls and tell him that you were mine. But you're not mine, are you? You're apparently his. I'll never get what you see in that guy, but I know what he sees in you.
I can feel your fingers on my arm receding into my memory as I realize that the asshole is carrying a huge bunch of flowers and he's knocking on your door. The door I just walked through. God damn it. I scold myself for my foolish thoughts. I should have known better than to think that you had anything romantic in mind for me. What I see in you, what I want from you, is only in my head. It doesn't float around in yours. You want a friend, and I'm just going to fill that void in your life. You don't have any idea what it's like for me to want you, so intensely, so secretly, so longingly. And I know you don't feel the same way. And I know that you'll never know. This is something I've learned the hard way. Don't date straight girls. Don't get involved when it means getting your heart broken.
So why is it that all the good advice in the world isn't making me want you any less? Damn it.
I think that's what hurts the most. My want is palpable. I can feel it, like it's a beast that's alive and healthy inside me, growing in your presence and even more quickly in your absence. I want to run back into your office now, and throw Trevor the hell out, and tell you that I love you. But I won't.
I do what I always do. Walk away, shoving the feelings down deep into my gut. I walk outside and let the cold New York air hit my face, and I can almost feel tears burning in my eyes, but I refuse to cry. Not over you. Not over this. Not now.
Can I just shoot myself? Wait, maybe it's her. Maybe she does feel something for me, and decided to come back!
Jumping up from the couch, I rush to open the door, "Liv" hanging from my lips. Instead of tall dark beautiful, tall dark handsome stands before me, with a shit eating grin on his face. "Oh, it's you."
"I love you, too, Alex Cabot."
"Don't say it so loudly!" I scold Trevor, while pulling him in and quickly shutting the door.
"Why? I thought you want people to think we're together."
"Don't be gross!" I reach for the flowers, suddenly seized by a bout of melancholy. "These are beautiful. I hope they're for me. I could use some brightness in my life right now."
"Gee, Alex, is it that time of the month again?"
"Bite me. Pig."
"We ARE obsessed, aren't we? Speaking of pig you want biting you, guess who I literally bumped into on my way in?"
"Die, you son of a Nevermind!" Grabbing the red polka dot tie by the ends, and hoping to see bulging eyeballs and blue face, I demand, "What do you mean by literally?"
"Exactly what I meant. She was touching her shoulder all weird, so I decided to have a little fun with her. She was so distracted, she even apologized to me for bumping into her."
Really? I wonder if she's thinking about me. If she's touching her shoulder because I touched it. Oh, please, please, please, let it be so, I pray silently. "Why are you so mean to everyone I ever liked?"
"Hmm I didn't realize I was. Why don't you enlighten me, Alex?"
You know damn well you were. I'm surprised Olivia hasn't torn off your balls and put them in a blender. "For starters, you're arrogant and rude with her."
"I'm only trying to help you."
"Help me, how?"
"One of these days, she'll try to rescue poor little you, if not from yourself, at least from a big mean dangerous wolf like me."
"I hate to tell you, Trevor, women don't think that way."
"Maybe you don't, but I know she does."
Somewhere deep down, I'm sure I'm hoping he's right and I'm wrong. Why else would I try so hard to keep the detectives from the courtroom on the rare occasions Trevor's clients waive conflict and we face each other in court? Why else haven't I told her the truth about him and me when I suspect all along she's jealous of him? How will she act if she finds out Trevor and I compete out of habit, not necessity? That we only bicker like we're lovers, but our bond goes even deeper?
"Yeah, well, what if that day never comes?" I sulk.
"You'll still have my undying devoted love." He heads for the closet, and grabs the hanging coat. "And you can cry me a river then."
Begrudgingly, I let him help me with my coat. "You know there's no law that says I have to love you back."
"But I'm your brother."
"Half. And at the rate you're going, I don't have to love the half I'm related to."
"We can talk about that later, little sister. I don't know about you, but I'd hate to sit through another one of mom's lecture on tardiness. Oh, grab the flowers, will you?"
For now, I do what I'm told, and let him lead me out the building by my hand.
I sit on my couch and down another shot of vodka. That's to you Trevor. And fuck you too. I look lovingly at the bottle and I pour another one. Okay, pouring indicates that I still have some coordination. I'm more like sloshing it over the top of the glass until it's dripping down the coffee table and onto the floor in a small puddle. I'm far beyond my limit, now, and I'm well beyond being rational about it. I can't take this, anymore. Wanting you so badly, and knowing that I'll never have you.
I saw you with him. Fucking holding his hand walking down the front steps of the courthouse like lovers in heat. Him laughing and you're holding those damn flowers with one hand and his with the other. The hand you touched me with. And then I remember that he touched me too. Almost knocked me to the floor, too. He's such an arrogant
I wanted to run back to you and tell you that you were making a mistake. That it should be me. That I'll love you like you deserve, and he wants you as a prize in his trophy case. You should be loved like I love you. For who you are, what you mean, the wonderful things about you.
I cant' believe you can't see that. I can't believe you're so damn naïve.
Instead of growing some and telling you anything at all, I stood off to the side, out of your line of sight. I could feel my mouth open as you followed him hand in hand. As you got into the passenger seat of his car, swatting him playfully. He was laughing that arrogant cocky laugh. And you never see me. Yep, that's me with the tears in my eyes. Out of your way. Out of your life.
That calls for another shot.
My throat burns from the alcohol as I swallow. "Fuck the glass," I tell the TV, as I throw it across the room, smugly satisfied with myself as I hear the glass break into a million pieces and fall against the wall. I take a swig right from the bottle.
The only reason to use the damn glass was to try to keep count. But who gives a fuck? I'm here alone, and I always will be. What difference does it make if this is five or seven?
I can hear all that training running through my head. What a good cop says to someone when they're drinking to numb the pain. Drinking isn't the answer to your problems. Remember what it did to your family. Remember what it did to your mother. Remember the Alamo mother fuckers. I take another swig.
I hear my phone ring. It's gonna be Elliot. I told him to leave me the hell alone tonight. But he's like a roach. He never dies. He says he's worried about me. Worried because the last time I saw you with Trevor I went on a bender like this one. He asked to come over. To baby sit me. I don't need another mother.
"Elliot, leave me the hell alone," I slur into the phone.
But it's not Elliot. It's you. God damn it.
So you do care about me. I can hear from the slurring of your speech that you've been drinking. Drowning your sorrows like Elliot said you would be, because you saw me and Trevor leaving my office. Like you did last time you saw me dining with Trevor. Why didn't you just tell me you cared? We could be in each other's arms right now, rather than you drinking yourself to oblivion.
And do I have a bone to pick with you when you sober up. I don't appreciate Elliot waking me up at midnight and yelling at me, calling me bloodless, insensitive and other things. He and I never get along; we try to be civil with each other because we have to work together. And because of you. Maybe on some level we see each other as threats, in competition for your attention, for your friendship. I can tell it killed him to have to call me because you had shut him out; but he did call me. Maybe I should try harder to like him, after all, he is your partner and best friend.
"Don't go anywhere, Olivia," I tell you, and hope that you listen. You're in no shape to leave your apartment. "I'll be right there." You need someone there with you. Without giving you a chance respond, I hang up. Or maybe it's also for my own sake. I don't want to give you the opportunity to shut me out like you did Elliot. I want you to need me.
"Hey, Trev," I dial the first ready chauffeur I can think of. "Can you give me a ride?" I can tell he's groggy, he's miffed, but he's also concerned. Like the good big brother he is, he agrees to come over. In less than an hour, I'm at your place, pounding on your door.
"Go away," you tell me.
"Please, Liv, let me in." I plead with you, trying to keep my voice down, trying not to wake up your neighbors and cause a scene. You keep telling me to go away, I keep pleading. I can feel tears of frustration burning my eyes. "I need to know you're okay." I finally let you know.
"Because I care about you, Olviia. And I know you care about me."
Then you ask me what gave me that idea. That in fact you only care about me as much as one colleague does another. That you're nice to me because you think I'm lonely, that I need a friend in the squad. Maybe it's just the alcohol talking. Maybe you're just mad and hurt; and I can't blame you for either. You simply cannot be telling the truth. You just can't be. I don't think I can take it.
"But Elliot said... he said you were jealous of Trevor..." I argue desperately.
You pause. Suddenly your speech is no longer slurred, your voice almost tranquil. "Elliot doesn't know what he's talking about."
"Not everything has to be about you, Alex," you tell me simply, cruelly. "You should stop being so arrogant. For all you know, I could be jealous of you."
"No, Olivia..." You're just saying that, I want to argue; but my sobs are choking my voice.
"Go home, Alex. Good night." I can hear you walk away from the door. I can see the light go off in your apartment.
No, no, no, no! That can't be true. Simply can't be. Now it's my turn to run.
Trevor sees me and jumps out of the car with his arms out-stretched. My brother, my potential rival. His are not the shoulders I want to be crying on, but right now, they're all I have. He opens his coat and wraps me up in his embrace, and lets me drown his silk shirt. Maybe what they say is true, blood is thicker than water...
"Come, Baby, I'll take you back to my place," he wipes my face with his handkerchief, and kisses me on my head.
I sniffle for the last time, and let him usher me into his car.
Consciousness comes in layers. My first real sensation is the throb of every single blood vessel in my head beating in time with my heart. The pain radiates through my entire skull, and I hear myself moan. Secondly, I'm aware of how much my back hurts. I let my eyes open enough to allow the light to turn the tempo of my beating head up a few notches. I'm sitting in one of the kitchen chairs, and I can feel the cold glass of the empty bottle in my hand.
The light is making this much worse, and I slam my eyes shut again. I can hear birds chirping outside my window, and if I didn't think that it might kill me, I would get out my gun and kill the fuckers. But since opening my eyes is out of the question, shooting down birds is out of the question.
I know I have to get up. I need water. My mouth is full of dry cottony threads, my tongue is swollen and I know that it means that I'm dehydrated. I'd sell my mother for an aspirin. I try to push myself up, to stretch out the throbbing back muscles and I immediately realize that it's a bad idea to try to move. I feel my stomach lurch as a rush of warm saliva fills my mouth; the burning of bile slides up my throat. I move just fast enough to reach the kitchen sink.
I lean into the counter and I try to think as I feel my stomach continuing to churn. What the fuck happened last night?
I remember you screaming and I can hear my voice tell you to go away. I can also hear my heart telling you to come in. But right then? Then, I knew I couldn't handle you being there. Being near me. Somewhere in my drunken state, I'm almost sure you're Elliot trying to trick me, but even if you weren't. I couldn't let you see me in pieces, not like that. Not drunk and crying. Not feeling sorry for myself. I promised that I would never show anyone this side of me. The dark side. I'm just like my mother when I get wasted. Cruel and critical, unable to care about anything but my own pain. I remember what it was like; her verbal tirades followed with her crying apologies as I picked her up off the floor.
What did I say to you? What the hell did I do?
I remember you told me that I was jealous, jealous of Trevor. I didn't want to hear about you and your boyfriend. Come to my house and confront me with him. You care for me, you say. You care for me? What the hell does that even mean? Like you care for a lost puppy. You say I care for you too, but you don't know. You don't know what it's like to need you to breathe, and to know that I'll never feel that love in return.
Consciousness comes in layers. Through the shutters, morning is making its presence known. First I feel the white of the sun. Then I hear the noise of traffic. Traffic? That's unusual on my quiet block I stretch, and my muscles shriek loudly against the silk sheets. Silk sheets?
Suddenly, memories of last night come crashing back to me. I scrambled out of bed, and fling open the shutters, wood slamming against walls loudly. The bright late-morning sun obliterating all other colors. Yep. Central Park right in front of me. Tourist traffic. Street artists.
Trevor's apartment. My room in Trevor's apartment, one I haven't slept in since god and forever. Which means last night wasn't just a nightmare.
I turn, and sit down at the vanity, and stare into my own reflection. First I see my face, pale and stone-like. It takes entirely too much effort to smile and still it comes out looking like a grimace. Well, this must be what taking botox is like.
Then I look at my eyes. Daddy used to say my eyes reminded him of the blue sky, pure brilliance. I'd pay anything to see the sky streaked with so much red. I guess I did cry myself to sleep after all.
Daddy also used to tell me whenever he was sad, he would look at me, and he would stop being sad. Well, Daddy's dead, and I wish I were more like him.
If she were really jealous of me and not Trevor, than I suppose I should give her my blessing. He's not a bad guy. She deserves the best in the world; he can definitely give her that. Heck, if he weren't my brother, I'd consider marrying him. If they get together for real, we can be one big happy family. Maybe I'll even be godmother to their first born. If it were a girl, maybe they'll even name her after her Auntie Alexandra.
Who am I kidding?
I feel the sting of tears pushing against my eyes and I swallow hard. I'm not a walking one-person AA. I don't have time to cry for hopeless drunks. And if I really believe in what I'm saying about her, and what I'm telling myself, I think I can sell Vatican to the Pope.
So what's Alex Cabot's next step?
Fulton Market? Is she really still going to come over for dinner? Should I call and find out? Should I wait for her to call? Will she even call? And are we just going to pretend that nothing happened?
What if she's a no show? Well, I guess I'll have leftovers, or Trevor can help me eat it all.
What are you going to do on Monday, when you go back to the office. Business as usual? Why not?
First thing, Alex Cabot's going to hit the shower. Maybe the water pressure from the outside will stop the water inside from flowing out. Or maybe the calcium in the water will stop up the tear ducts.
And maybe the French would like to buy the Eiffel Tower from me.
10. Just Breathe
I slump into the couch, with the garbage can firmly in my hand. I'm pretty sure that anything that was in my stomach any time during the last week has already left my body. Even though there's nothing left; I can't get the heaving to stop. God damn it. Even a small sip of water comes ripping through my esophagus mixed with pure acid that makes my throat burn.
I'm half conscious, on the couch, feeling my entire body scream in protest every time my stomach heaves. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to die. Check that. I'm not lucky enough to die. That would actually involve quite a bit of divine mercy. Something I'm not sure I'm quite deserving of. Where the hell did I leave that gun? What the hell was I thinking?
Lying on my stomach, I realize that there's something in my front pocket that's poking into my side. With all that hurts in my body right now, my heavy aching limbs and burning chest, the poking is the final straw. I force my hand deep into my front pocket. It's just a God damn pen. And a piece of paper? Fuck.
It's the scrap of paper that you wrote your hasty address on, which made me suddenly feel all too sober. I am supposed to meet you tonight. But I don't even know, I don't, I can't remember what the hell happened. I can't remember if we're talking, or not. I remember sending me away, but why can't I remember what happened.
You were here. Were you here? Was it only in my head? A dream of you? A nightmare? And if you left, it can't have gone well. And I've got to know. I call your number and I hear it ring once, twice, and then six times. When I hear your voice telling me you're not there I slip the phone into the cradle. Fuck. I want to leave a message. A missive, but I don't know and it hits me You're with him.
I know you're with him.
I slip my fingers back over the phone and dial again.
"Hello?" comes a sleepy response.
My throat is scratchy, and tears are streaming down my face. "El, I fucked up."
"I don't remember."
"What, Liv, calm down? Are you okay?"
"I don't "
"Liv, what happened? How much did you drink, sweetie?"
"I don't know," I whine. "She, came, here." I gasp. "I don't remember." I'm crying too hard right now to even speak, and I hear you telling me that you're sorry. I can feel my body start to heave. I grab for the garbage can and I can hear you telling me to breathe, but I can't. There's not enough air.
"What are you sorry for?" I manage to sob out in tiny gasps, fighting the urge to choke on my own tears.
"I called her, Liv. I told her that you were upset."
"Liv, I thought, I thought if she knew, she'd be more, you know, she wouldn't let you see. Liv, she's not with Trevor. Liv, she wants you."
11. OUT OF CONTROL
I breathe, I exhale, smoothly. Repeat, repeat. Ah, finally. No more. Maybe the calcium theory worked. So I turn off the shower, throw a towel over me, and actually open the door gently like a civil person. I'm sure my earlier door abuse woke up the entire floor. Which would just be Trevor and Miriam, and Miriam would have been up hours ago. Too bad for him.
"Jesus, Trev! Don't you believe in knocking?" I almost jump out of my skin.
"It's my apartment."
"Yeah, well, it's my room. What if I walked out naked?"
"So? I changed your diapers. And it's not like there's much to see."
Uncontrollably, I heave. Uncontrollably the tears come streaming out again. Damn it. "I'm not a hunky man like you." I manage. "Damn you."
"What have I done?"
See, Elliot? There's someone else more insensitive than me. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You don't have to do anything besides being mean and arrogant and you have women falling all over you."
"Isn't it wonderful?"
"NO! She likes you, Trevor! Not me. YOU! Damn you!"
"You're kidding me right?"
"She said," I heave, trying to force the tears to defy gravity. Not working. "Last night, that for all I know, she could be jealous of ME."
"Alex, she didn't exactly say she liked me. Besides, wasn't she blind drunk? You remember how our grandfather was? He said things he didn't mean, things he never could remember when he got sober?"
True. Why haven't I thought of that? Because you've been too busy feeling sorry for yourself. "Still."
"Still it takes two to tango, Honey. Trust me, she's not my type. And even if she were, I wouldn't touch her with a ten foot pole."
"Why?" I launch to strangle him for insulting you. You hurt me. Still, why do I feel necessary to defend you?
"Because you'd kick my ass?"
I laugh dryly. At least the tears stopped, too. I keep my hands around his throat. "Fuck you, Trevor."
"Yuck." He winces. Is he turning blue yet?
"Excuse me, Ms. Cabot, Mr. Langan," I hear Miriam's knocking and her voice from the partially opened door. "Ms. Cabot, your cell phone rang, and I answered it. It's a Det. Benson."
Glaring at my brother, daring him to make a noise, I reach for the phone, trying to look dignified, composed and generally not like a teenager in love. "Hello, Olivia." Silence. "Olivia?" I move closer to the window. "Liv?" I check the signal. You've hung up. Damn you.
I guess I'll have to call you back and hope that you answer.
I'm stuck. What have I done? Ruined the best thing I've ever potentially had? Why do I find the answers to my problems in the bottom of a bottle? Elliot had made my hangover seem miniscule. Sure, I'm going to kill him for calling you. Sometimes, he treats me like I'm one of his daughters. I'm just another little girl in his life that he needs to keep safe from getting her heart broken. It's sad, what we do, partners helping the victims of the most heinous sexual crimes, and still you feel like you have to protect me. I'm not sure I'll ever understand. Why you try to protect me.
But what you tell me is probably the best news I've ever heard. That you called her, that she was worried about me. I'm embarrassed as hell that you told her I cared. But you insist that she's not dating Trevor; that I misunderstood. She likes me. She really likes me. Okay, why does that sound like I'm in the fourth grade? I would doodle her name in little hearts on a notebook, but for god's sake, I'm supposed to be an adult. Even though I feel lousy, I feel hope for the first time. Maybe I haven't fucked everything up as badly as I thought.
I feel my hand grasping around the paper. Her gentle narrow letters fill the page. It's a tangible link to her. An address. A time. I remember white wine and entertainment. Maybe I'll skip the wine tonight.
Peeling myself off the couch, I fumble across the room and into the shower. Water pounds down, around my body, and I finally start to feel better. The heat relaxes my muscles as the warm water runs down my exhausted frame. I slide my fingers through my hair, letting the feeling of the soapy suds slide down my body. I can feel my headache starting to recede as my body desperately fights to break down the booze.
As I shut the water off, I can barely hear the ringing. It's my phone. Breathless, I grab a towel and haul ass across the room. I can hear the ringing, where the hell did I leave it? The couch!
"Benson." I state, a habit from too many years of phone calls in the middle of the night. Even though I know it's Elliot, sure that he's going to be calling me every ten minutes until I seem okay to him.
It's not Elliot. Fuck. "Umm..yeah."
"It's me, Alex."
"Oh, hi." Awkward silence. I'm not sure what to say. Sorry for being a dickhead? I don't remember what happened, but I hope I wasn't too cruel?
"You called me?"
"Yeah I think we need to talk."
"Yeah, I think we do too." You say, quietly.
First I wondered why you hung up. Maybe you found out I'm at Trevor's and made certain assumptions. Or you got tired of waiting. Or you misunderstood Miriam. When Miriam explained, I realized I was the one who misunderstood. She was only bringing me the phone to show me. Why? I'm not sure, but at least that's one less thing I have to speculate and be prepared for, and that's a relief.
Then I wondered why you called. To cancel our date? If I could still call it that, if I should have called it that to begin with. Or dare I hope, to apologize? Dare I hope that you've come out of your drunken stupor and remembered what you said, and you were calling to tell me you didn't mean a word of it? That Elliot was right, that you do care deeply about me and want me? Or maybe it was a business call; you just needed a warrant. Sure, it's supposed to be your day off, but sometimes that doesn't mean a thing.
Does it matter? Do I really want to find out? Do I care enough? Am I brave enough?
Just why do I feel the way I do about you? I can't believe I've never asked myself until now. If I sit down and make a list, what's the first and foremost item?
Unadulterated Lust with a capital L? I hope not.
Not five minutes ago, I was crying my eyes out over you. How come I suddenly feel so blah? Self-preservation instincts finally kicking in? Self-deception? Pure and simple fatigue? Assuming this feeling shall pass, then what?
Alex Cabot knows what she wants, fights for what she wants. In the end, she gets what she wants, even if she has to die trying. Right?
Gimme an A, gimme an L Gimme a fool. A neurotic fool. Really, I can only pep-talk myself or beat myself over the head so many times.
What's my next step? How do I win this game, even though it's not really a game? It's all about winning, isn't it? If I don't win, can I afford to lose? Have I already lost?
These were the questions I asked myself, after chasing Trevor out of my room, while I was getting dressed. They were the questions I had hoped to find the answers to when I picked up my phone and returned your call.
Now I have you on the line, and my ear is still ringing from the awkward silence Clearly, you weren't expecting the caller to be me.
Yes Olivia, we need to talk. I'm so very glad you agree with me.
"Are you free now?" I ask you. I don't think I can wait until tonight. I certainly can't handle having you in my home right this moment, nor do I want to be on your turf. I also don't trust myself to not do something rash like throw myself in your arms and kiss you, and hope that you'll kiss me back and much more "Can we meet somewhere neutral? To talk?" I feel necessary to add.
I let out a sigh when you tell me you want to talk too. At least you want to talk to me. That's a good thing, right? I want to believe that I can change this. I want to believe that I haven't ruined my chance with you. If I even ever had a chance. But then you add somewhere neutral? Somewhere neutral? Ouch. I wonder if Switzerland's booked. Maybe you just want to tell me that this isn't going to work. That you'd prefer we never talk about it again.
I'm suddenly very conscious of ice in your tone. It's not icy, really, but distant. It's like you are hearing me through water. Is it hurt? Is it hatred? I wish right now for all the world I could remember what I did, but I can't, and an apology starts pouring out of my lips.
"Liv," you start. I'm surprised to hear you call me that. It's always been a term of endearment for me, the shortening of my name. I hated it at first, when it first flew off Elliot's lips. My mother certainly never said it that wayshe spoke my name with poison on her tongue. "I think we should meet and talk about this in person."
I can't expect you to throw open your arms and accept my apology, forgetting everything for the sake of the moment. Suddenly, I don't feel so great again. You ask me if I know the little coffee shop near where we work. I sigh. I agree to meet you in an hour.
I now have an hour to pull myself together. I pull myself into my bathroom and look at my eyes in the mirror. They're streaked with red lines, and I look like I've been through a war. I splash cold water on my face, running my fingers through my hair.
I slide into some jeans and I rifle through my closet to find a t-shirt that doesn't reek and slide it over my head. I'm not going to win the fashion awards, but I'm sure I don't care.
I slide out the door, taking a deep breath as the air hits my face. I'm not sure I'm ready for this. For a minute, I stop; maybe not going would be the best thing. It would teach you, teach you how I am. That you shouldn't get involved with me. That maybe, just maybe, you deserve better.
But I steel my resolve. I may have already lost you, but I won't know till I go. And this time, I just have to find out.
I'm sitting in Trevor's car on my way to the coffee shop I picked. The neutral ground. Near work, because I know Alex Cabot won't cry in public, especially a public so close to her normal battlefield. Except I'm also going into another battle.
You must know now if not from your memory at least from Elliot that I care about you, care about you much more than one colleague should another. If you've talked to Elliot, he would have told you I'm not dating Trevor, although I didn't go into details. After what you said last night, I'm glad I didn't tell him the truth. I feel bad doing this, testing you, but I must know if you really are jealous of me. If you are, I guess there's something poetic about my rival delivering me to my potential defeat.
Potential only because I won't go down without fighting. Alex Cabot never backs down from a fight. That much I do know, that much I'm certain of. I'm also certain what I feel towards you is not just sheer lust. That would be too easy for me.
I replay our brief telephone conversation in my head, trying to pick it apart, to pick out all the significant facts, evidence to support my theory, to justify what I'm about to do.
In the span of three minutes you sighed thrice. Each time deeper than the last. You paused when I asked to meet you somewhere neutral and then you started your apologies. I hope it wasn't just out of civility. I hope your remorse stems deeper from the fact that we still have to work together after all of this. You must have heard the distance in my voice and know you've hurt me on some level, or at least know that you're dealing with ice. You've seen the ice princess facade often enough, I hope you know it's just that, a facade.
You paused again when I called you "Liv". Even though it wasn't your turn to talk, I could hear the brief lull. I couldn't help myself, it just flew out of my mouth. Maybe it was a test for me, and for you. Maybe it was to show you I do still care. Your nickname is like a term of endearment for you, this I also know. You didn't correct me. That's good, right?
We're pulling up the curb, and I see you sitting at the back of the small café, facing the window. Perfect.
Like always, Trevor gets out of the car and opens the door for me. He gives me a smirky smile and wishes me good luck. Out of the corner of my eye, I make sure you're watching when I hug him and kiss him goodbye on the cheek. Out of the corner of my eye, I see your expression change from disgust to anger to sorrow.
Now I find out if my instincts were right all along, that your reaction, your jealousy are directed at him, not me. It's about time I tell you the truth anyway.
You're almost ready to bolt when I walk in and approach the table. You try to stifle a yawn when I sit down. Is that to justify the tears I see in your eyes?
You look like hell, Olivia. I'm sure I do, too. I order my coffee, and you ask for a refill and a menu, then you proceed to inspect the café's offering. You're stalling, aren't you?
"We both look like we've been through a war and lost." I laugh dryly, trying to contain the happy bubble from my heart that my mind still deems premature.
"Look," you take a visible breath and release it slowly. "I'm sorry about what I said last night, whatever it was. I can't remember." Then you cut to the chase, "I thought you told Elliot you're not dating him."
Oh yes, I hear the venom in "him". Yes, yes, yes, yes! "I'm sorry you thought we were dating. You're not the only one, many people do. For my sake, we let them." Now I see confusion written all over your face. I'm so glad you wear your emotions on your sleeve. Out of habit, I look around and make sure no one else will hear. "Trevor's my brother. Half. His dad and our mom divorced, then our mom married my dad."
He's your? He's. He's not your. He's related to? He's your brother? What the hell?
I don't know what to say, and I can feel myself cycling through emotions. Disbelief is followed by shock which is then followed by total relief. I feel weight lifting off my shoulders. Suddenly, I can almost breathe. So he's not and you're not, and that means But then, why the hell didn't you just tell me that in the beginning? Do you know how much pain I've gone through because of you and him? Why did you have to drag me through hell? Why can't I just get a break? But then again, when have I ever made things easy for myself? All this time, all this pain? Why didn't you tell me?
I look into your eyes and I can see puffiness around them. You've been crying. I know that I've caused you a world of pain too. I wish I could remember. I wish I could take you into my arms and kiss you and tell you that I'm sorry. This is all a horrible misunderstanding. I have to ask "Why didn't you tell me he was your brother?"
You sigh and look at the floor. "It's for me."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, politically, it's good for me to have a perceived boyfriend."
"But, you could, why would you do that? You could have anyone you wanted." I mumble. More than you think. You could have me. Right now. All you need to do is ask.
"I don't have much time for a social life, and honestly, I never found the need to go out and find someone. Trevor's the same way, into his career. It keeps others at arms distance to make it well known that both of us are committed."
I sigh. "Oh."
I don't know what I was hoping for. Some startling confession that you were a big lesbian and you always wanted me?
"Well," you continue. "It's more than that."
I take a deep breath. Please let it be
"If word gets out, it's potentially bad for business, for him, for me, you know, being related to the enemy." I try to explain why I keep my family relation a secret. "Neither one of us want people to think we help each other out..."
You release a breath, deflating like a leaky balloon. "Oh." You sigh. Again.
I could go on and on about the merits of our secrecy, but I can see that's not the explanation you're hoping for. Guess it's time for Alex Cabot to stop stalling. "Liv, can I call you Liv? I know very few people call you that..." Only people you care about.
"By all means." You smile, hesitantly, but your eyes brightened. I guess I'm on the right track.
"You know by now, at least for some things, things I believe in, I don't care much about what other people think..."
"Me and Judge Petrovski both." Your smile is wider this time. If I'm not imagining things, there's even a hint of tease in your eyes.
Here goes. "Like I said, Trevor is around to keep people at bay He's by no means a skirt."
"A skirt, as in..."
"I'm not looking to be involved with men right now." I tell you. Why is it so hard for me to just come out and tell you that I'm attracted to you, that I want you, that I want you so badly I feel like I'm losing my mind?
"Nor women either."
You look so disappointed. I'm so sorry to be doing this to you, jacking with your emotions. But if you're going to make me show my heart first, I guess I had to be absolutely positively sure. Before you sigh again, I reach out to touch your hand. "Just one woman." I explain, and run my fingers lightly across your knuckles.
The first time you say it I'm sure this is a dream.
Then, I'm sure it's something I've imagined. It must be coming from my quasi-alcoholic haze. I still feel the hangover from hell fighting my limbs and rocking my head. While I might have sobered up quite a bit since the wee hours of the morning, I'm not quite sure that my head has cleared. Is this just a cruel figment of my imagination?
Just one woman? I repeat to myself. It can't be me. It's gotta be someone else. She's damn lucky.
Wait a minute.
Just one woman. Just one woman. Then you touch me? On my knuckles, gently, at first but then slightly harder. Just one woman. Do you mean me?
You mean me?
You can't mean me.
It's not possible.
It's not. I look into your startling blue eyes. They're shining and there's a small blush creeping into your cheeks. You catch my eyes staring into yours and you look at the floor, but you don't pull your hand away.
I look down and see your fingers stroking my knuckles, and I can feel my skin tingle under your touch. Part of me wants to pull away. Part of me wants to pull away and run like hell from the room and back to my apartment which is at least safe. And then, a stronger, louder part of me wants to take you onto the table, strip you naked, and fuck you senseless.
"I don't, I don't have anyone either," I say, turning my hand over and grasping yours firmly in it. "But I have someone in mind."
Oh, god, did I just say that out loud?
You smile and squeeze my hand, and I squeeze yours back.
This has suddenly become everything that I would expect from a horrible high school romance. A nervous giggle, a small teasing glance into your eyes is all I can dare. I can feel my own face burning with embarrassment. I'm sure that I haven't felt this way in years.
Even though we sit here, both professionals, both with careers, and lives, and accomplishments, at heart, we're both scared little girls right now. We sit in silence, as a waitress slips coffee in front of you. She raises her eyes at our hands, but still we don't speak and we don't move. I think we're afraid that if we let our fingers slip apart, we'll loose part of what we've accomplished.
I want to tell you, I want to tell you that I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I hurt you. I'm sorry that I fucked up.
You look at me with a hurt smile and, with a deep breath, you start
"This someone you have in mind," I take another breath, "I hope it's not my brother."
"No!" You deny, looking like someone had put dirt in your coffee. I didn't realize you dislike him so much. "I can't stand the guy. But I guess I'll have to learn to at least tolerate him, for your sake." You add, with a small but genuine smile. You're still holding onto my hand.
My hand. My hand in your hand!
I smile back, when all I really want to do is lean over and kiss you squarely on the lips. To keep my emotions in check, I tease you, "Not just because I'm your colleague, I hope."
A layer of dark clouds settles across your features. "What did I say to you, Alex, last night?"
Ouch. It still smarts, even though I know now it was only the alcohol talking. "Does it really matter?" I ask you, my voice comes out higher than I expected. I hate it when I sound like a scared, wounded little girl.
"It matters to me," you look down at our joined hands, and mumble, "it matters that I hurt you. I'm so sorry." With regret in your eyes, you apologize. "I really am. Can you ever forgive me?"
I guess I'm not the only one who's afraid.
"It's all right." I tell you; I tell myself. "Let's put it behind us and start fresh. Okay, Liv?" I smile and hug your fingers with my palm.
"Alex... This woman you're hoping to get involved with... It's..."
So softly, I can barely hear myself, I give you the verbal confirmation you need, "You."
The weight truly lifted from your shoulders and you smile. The smile that makes my heart skip. "Where do we go from here?" You ask me.
Get naked and have rabid animal sex? Luckily, my stomach chooses this moment to make its presence known to the world. "Excuse me." I blush.
"Well, you heard her. How about we go somewhere for lunch? Assuming you don't have plans."
"I was going to spend my day preparing for our date tonight."
Date. So you thought it was a date, too! Yay! "All day?"
"Takes time to pick the right entertainment."
I wonder what's going around in your head right now. I certainly know what's in mine. "Ah. Well," I give your hand a squeeze, then let go, and tear my fingers from your grasp. "Why don't you think about where to go for lunch. I need to stop by the washroom before we leave."
"Sure." You smile. I can feel your eyes on my back, watching my hasty retreat.
In the bathroom, I splash cold water on my face. Trying to breathe. To regroup. To plan the next steps. To stop my heart from pounding up my throat. Mostly to breathe.
Then the door opens, and I turn from the sink towards the intruder. Oh, it's you.
I watch as you dodge across the room towards the bathroom door. It's one of the rare times I've seen you in clothes and not a power suit. Even in just jeans and a sweater, you're by far the most striking person in the room. I look down at the rumpled black t-shirt that I found in the bottom of my closet and I sigh. Why couldn't I have taken five seconds to make myself look even partially decent? I've been told more than once that I clean up well. If I had just taken the time to clean up.
I can't believe all the things that have changed. I wanted this so badly. I wanted you. I want you. I never would have thought that this was going to happenthat we would sit here, hand in hand, shyly confessing an attraction that was undeniable.
While I was still sitting in my apartment, crying and feeling sorry for myself, I honestly believed that you would sit me down here and tell me that you could never see me again. You'd tell me that we would be nothing more than passing acquaintances. Working together and nothing more would have killed me. I'd have to live the rest of my life knowing that I had totally fucked up what could have been the best thing I had going.
It would have been so me. So like my life, to have everything meaningful to me end in shambles. I almost don't dare to let myself believe that this time will end differently.
I don't know what to say to myself to calm the intense beating in my heart. I stare at the table. I take a sip of my coffee. I feel my foot tapping against the floor. Every second you're away from me feels like a second that I'm drowning. I want
I want to touch you. I want to kiss you.
I want to be yours forever.
I shut out the desire. I can't. It's just. I could see in your eyes that you felt the same way about me. I've never done this before. I've never wanted a woman. Why you? I always threw myself into other things first. I've made my life my job. Sex doesn't hold the same mystique for me anymore, after what I've seen. The violent dark side of attraction makes the positive side seem a little less shiny. But at the same time, I've gotten drunk and stumbled into bed with more than one man. Just to break down the tension. Waking up hung-over with the musty scent of sex filling the air in the arms of a stranger has lost its appeal.
I never thought of myself like this. I've never thought about what I actually wanted. What I actually liked, until I met you.
I push myself back from the table. If I think about what I'm about to do, I'll never really do it. I make myself get up and follow you into the bathroom. I get to the door, and for a second, I think I should go back. I shouldn't do what I want. I should let you have your moment. I should use good rational sense. Naw.
I push the door open and see you leaning over the sink, splashing your face with cold water. Your head raises, and you look at me, smiling shyly. Is that relief in your eyes? Is it desire?
I walk over to you slowly.
I look into your eyes.
You look deeply into mine.
I let my fingers reach out, to touch your face. It still has the slightly damp feel from the water you just splashed on it.
I think I stopped breathing.
I think you have too.
I lean in.
You lean in.
Our lips touch gently.
A soft explosion.
Every nerve in my body comes alive.
My skin tingles where you touch.
My fingers in your hair.
Your hands are on my neck, pushing me into you.
My tongue slips past your parting lips, and it's met by yours.
Gently, they push against each other, slowly becoming more and more urgent.
If I die right now, I will certainly die happy and complete.
Your hands are sliding down my body. Your fingers are sliding down the sides of my body. I can feel them against the warm skin on my sides, where the little black t-shirt doesn't quite cover. You skin touching mine sets me on fire.
You take the lead, pushing me back against the cold tile wall. This is what it's supposed to feel like. This has got to be love.
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