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


I was shocked when you dragged me away from the table. Shocked and mindful of the many pairs of eyes following us.

This is so much worse then when I was with Abbie. When I was with Abbie, it was easy. I didn't care. I knew at least one if not both of us would be in total control at any given moment. We were cool, calculated, and professional. We kept our love life private. We confined our sex life to our beds, every weekend, every court holiday, and maybe every other Wednesday to make up for the weekends one or both of us had to work.

Yes, Abbie and I were boring. If we were a married couple, we would have an apartment in the East Seventies, one of us would stay home and take care of our 2 daughters, 2 cats and 2 parakeets… We would be dysfunctionally normal, and miserably boring.

She and I most certainly would not be having sex in a public bathroom.

Oh my god, you're dragging me towards the bathroom!

My feet are moving, but I feel my world spinning out of control.

You push me into the sitting room, and back me up against the wall.

I hear you slide the lock, and my heart tries to hammer its way out of my chest.

"Liv…" I want to protest, even though I'm loving every moment of it.

You open your mouth, and instead of some amorous or crude, or amorously crude words, you tell me, "I went to a bar."

Whoa! What? You dragged me here to tell me that? "I know."

Suddenly, you seem surprised, or maybe confused, possibly both.

So I remind you, "O'Malley's, we talked about it earlier."

"No, I went to a different bar… afterwards."

I had expected, wanted you to yank out my shirt and pull up my skirt, and ravish me in a public bathroom, I wasn't prepared for a confession.

I wasn't, I'm not prepared for the knowledge that you went to another bar. Nor the way you're staring at my cheeks, just shy of my eyes. Definitely not the guilt written all over your face.

If you drank, I don't want to know. If you drank, please, please, please don't tell me. If you do, I'll have to leave you, or eat my words. You know it's not an option for me to eat my words, and it's got nothing to do with pride. If you tell me you let a drop of alcohol touch your lips, I'll have to leave you, no matter how much I don't want to. You know that, right?

I feel the sting of tears behind my eyes, and make myself look at you. And even though I'm silently praying for you to lie to me, I ask you anyway, "Did you drink?"

"No." You say guiltily. "But I really wanted to."

Is that too much guilt you're showing, for a detour? I wonder. But they told me you'd soon lie about going to church than admit that you were in a bar; any agnostic or even atheist alcoholic would. So maybe that's really all you've done…

Or maybe you're admitting to a lesser guilt because you can't bring yourself to tell me you did drink…

No. I stop my speculations. No. No. No.

I'm supposed to do nothing. I'm supposed to trust you, and show you that I do.

Instead of challenging you like my instincts want, I tell you I'm proud of you.

And because we're not exactly in public, because we're in the sanctuary of a small, locked room, I let myself lean into you.

Lightly, I graze my lips against yours. Not enough for the real contact I want. But neither is it enough for me to taste the booze you may or may not have consumed.

"I knew you can do it," I cheer for you, conjuring a smile, hoping my faith will help keep you on the wagon, if not this time, then the next time you falter.

Touching your cheeks with both hands, I whisper a gentle reminder, "I love you..."

282 Deviant

"Yeah, I did it," I say, staring anywhere but in your eyes. I can't believe I'm lying to you, but I can't imagine doing anything else.

You gently slide your hands up to my face. I can feel the coolness of your fingers steadying my eyes, forcing them to look into yours. I feel myself blush slightly as you whisper your confession. "I love you."

"I love you" I whisper back, as you lean in and give me a gentle kiss.


The guilt is enormous, coursing through my body. If I can just remember what this feels like for the rest of my life... If I can just remember this pain, this guilt, this horrible sinking feeling. If I can just remember the way my stomach is aching, the burning in my chest, the pain in my heart. If I can just keep this feeling alive, forever, I'll never do it again. Never ever again.

But wait a minute.

I got away with it.

I mean, not that I should be happy about that.

But look at you? You believe me? That smile tells me you believe me. You kiss me, this time slightly deeper than the first. I know you can't taste booze now because you're still smiling. Your hands are running up my body. I guess the spearmint from the gum erased the stench.

So that's it?

I'm that good?

I mean, it's bad. I'm bad. I should never have done what I did. But it was only one. Just a tiny shot, a few ounces. It's bad, I have to remind myself, but I handled it. I said no to more. I can do this.

Sure, sure, I did something stupid, yeah, and you'd be pissed if you really knew. But look? No harm done, really. I mean, yeah, the only one hurt here is me.

It's me who will live with the guilt. You're home free.

I slide you closer to me, now enjoying your contact. Your kiss is more insistent as you reach for the bottom of my shirt.

"Serena," I mumble between your kisses. "We left Serena…"


"Serena… We left Serena," I hear you mumble.

Serena who? What? Oh fuck. Immediately I pull away from you, and run my fingers through my hair. Turning around towards the mirror behind the door, I straighten my clothes, and make myself presentable.

Alongside me, you're doing the same thing.

How long have we been gone? I try to guesstimate. Five minutes? Ten minutes tops? Long enough for a little make up chat, but not long enough to warrant suggestive comments? Knowing Serena though, she'll make them anyway.

With your hand on the door handle, you ask, "Ready?"

I lean in to make sure my lipstick is still on perfectly, then straighten up and give my lapels a final pull. "Yeah." I smile, and follow you out the door.

On our way back to the table, we chat like two friends would, keeping a respectable distance.

I hate this.

I hate having to hide from the world.

I hate feeling like I can't trust you, even though I want to, I really, really want to. Even though I should.

"So, all's well in the world now?" Serena quips as soon as we sit down.

I blush and you smile.

"Guess that's a yes."

I can tell she was going to say something else, but our food arrives just in time. We're saved.

For the next hour, I listen to her fill us in on what happened at work, and in the city in general. I didn't realize we kept ourselves so isolated at my mom's house.

During this same hour, you and I barely look at each other. Well, at least I'm not looking at you. So if you're staring at me doe-eyed, I have no idea. I don't like the pretense any more than before, but at least it's not taking as much efforts as I had originally envisioned.

Maybe we've found our happy line after all.

After dinner, we walk Serena back to the office. We say goodnight to her, and keep walking, in utter silence.

I don't know what's going on in your head right now. I only know how hard I'm trying not to think, not to feel anything, or say anything…

At the street corner, where we have to decide which way to go, we both say at the same time, "Do you…" We laugh. You motion for me to go first.

"I think I'm going to leave the car parked until we go back to mom's for Thanksgiving." I tell you, looking up towards the starless sky.

'That's a good idea." You agree, smiling.

Next, and just in case you're still having issues of any sort, I give you a choice, "It's a pretty night. Do you want to walk me home, back to my place? You still have clothes there, so you won't have to worry about what to wear tomorrow…"

284 Walking

You look at me like I'm not going to want to go home with you. Maybe you don't want to go home with me?

"I can, you don't want to stay together?" I ask you, hurt, as you ask me gently if I want to walk you home.

"No, I do, I just wanted to make sure you wanted…"

"I do." I say, filling in your blanks.

You smile at me, even bigger.

I reach out to grab your hand, pulling you close, but you let it go quickly.

"What's wrong?" I ask you.

"I just. I don't think we should…"

"Someone say something to you today?"


I can feel the shock spreading over my face. District Attorney Branch? Shit.

"He thinks we need to practice discretion."

"I guess we do." I say, letting my hand fall to my side. "Elliot was going to kill me today with the phone."

"Is that why you turned it off?"

"Yeah." I sigh. "He was pissed."

You giggle. "I can kind of understand why."

"Yeah. I missed you. I just, yeah."

Why does knowing I'm not supposed to touch you make me want to do it that much more?

I smile at you and quickly look around. The street is mercifully empty and quickly, I pull you in for a deep kiss and then quickly let you go...

I hear your involuntary moan, "Let's hurry," you say, suddenly pulling me down the street…god I love you.


Just what qualifies as behavior in public? I wonder as we walk towards my apartment. It's so not fair. Why do we have to hide from the world?

Oh, but I'm again making the assumption that Branch's comment was based on who I'm dating, and not just because I behaved badly in public. Why am I doing that? Even the heterosexual married couples in the DA's office don't suck face in the middle of the streets. It's all about respect for others, for our jobs, I remind myself.

How come these thoughts never crossed my head when I was dating other people, male or female? Even in high school, I behaved like an adult, not some lustful hormonal teenager with no regard for discretion.

Is it just because I love you more?

And I want the whole world to know we're together?

We still haven't talked about your question for me earlier. Should I let it slide? And hope that it was just a reaction from whatever Elliot said to you? That whatever he said stems only from his frustration over our out of control phone calls?

Or should I bring it up? When? Your kiss earlier was genuine. You wanted to hold my hand in public. Maybe I should just let it slide… But can I stand the questions hanging over my head? Can I live without the reassurance that you're not going to let labels affect you… and us?

I look over at you; you're staring ahead, in a world of your own. I wonder what you're thinking.

The streets are quieter now, and we're far enough away from our jobs, maybe a little closeness will be okay. After all, it's about finding and not crossing that fine line, isn't it?

I weave my path closer to you as you remain absorbed in your thoughts. I think my hand sliding around the crook of your arm surprised you.

You jump and still your steps. "Alex? I thought you said…"

"We're blocks away from the station and the court house, and we're not doing anything friends or sisters won't do, I think we're okay."

Your smile widens. "Great!" You say and press a quick kiss to my cheek. And we resume our walk.

You seem less distant now. Were you craving our proximity as much as I was?

Why am I thinking so much? Asking so many questions? Is it to prevent my mind from straying to where it shouldn't? So I won't dwell on your earlier confession, and start doubting you? I shake my head, and take in a deep breath.

"Hey," I say.

"Yes, Sweetheart?"

"You want to fill me in on the search? What all did you find?"

286 Discretion

It's not fair. It's just not fair.

We walk down the cold silent streets like friends; but we're not just friends, are we? I love you, and to hold your hand walking down the street seems natural. It would be, even, if we weren't full aware of what we want from each other.

I feel your arm slide into mine—my mind far away debating the perplexities of the issue.

"Alex?" I ask you.

You smile and tell me we're far enough away from work for it to be safe.

I hate that idea. Be safe.

Okay, discretion's fine. But we weren't making love on your desk while the Supreme Court of NY sat around—we kissed in a car. What's the big freaking deal?

You ask me about work, but I don't want to talk about it…not now.

"What did Branch want?" I counter you.

"He just, he thinks discretion is wise."

"Why? Because we kissed in public? That's so asinine."

You look at me confused. Wait a minute.

"That's what was up Elliot's ass; that I was creating a spectacle. Is that why Branch wanted to talk to you," I continue, expecting you to jump on board.

You look at me, and slowly exhale. "I don't think you remember."

"Remember what?" I demand.


"Yeah, I remember that, I was there tonight, what's the problem?"

"We, umm, sort of had a fight there."

"A fight?"

"A very public fight."

"Oh. About what?"


Suddenly, you're brooding about having to be discreet. You're looking a me like I'm the mean unjust dictator making the rules, or at the very least I should be fighting harder against Branch for our right to kiss in public.

To kiss in public? Wait, you think that's all it was about? A kiss in public?

"That's what was up Elliot's ass," you explain.

Wait, that was it? He challenged your sexuality because he saw us kissing in the damn car? I could kill this man.

You let the arrogant, judgmental sonofabitch tell you what you can and cannot do in my car? How dare…

Temper, temper, I remind myself. Your temper, Cabot, is what got you in trouble with your boss in the first place…

If Branch had called me into his office just about the kiss, I would have been really, really embarrassed, but that would have been the extent of my remorse. No. Somehow he had found out about our bar brawl. And I have to agree with him. That public display was not good for the office's image, or my own reputation. Had my mom found out, I'm sure I would have gotten a bigger earful.

Why are you acting like a spoiled child who didn't get her way? How can you not see the gravity of the situation?

Oh, wait. I look at you. "I don't think you remember. We had a fight at O'Malley's."

"A fight? When? About what?" You ask, with righteous skepticism.

Now that the worms are out of the can… I sigh, and begin slowly, "After our talk at the coffee shop? After you found out about Trevor and me, and he tried to talk to you about your drinking? You stormed off to O'Malley's, and I followed you…"

With your eyes downcast, you nod, and rub your forehead. "Oh, right… What happened? I can't remember…"

"When I got there, you were already drunk. You were with a man, a stranger, who had his arms around you." I close my coat collar around my throat, and cringe. Your drunken promiscuity, the lecherous look on the man's face, they're too deeply engraved in my memory.

"I'm sorry," you flinch, and take in a deep breath, perhaps to brace yourself. "And?"

"I tried to talk to you, to get you to stop drinking and leave with me," I continue, staring at the light that just changed from red to green and back to red again. "But then Trevor came in, and you started yelling at him. Pretty soon, you two were… Things just got out of hand from there. You said… things, to me, and finally, I just lost it. I tossed your drink on the floor and yelled at the man you were with. I was totally out of control."


"Someone must have recognized me, or you, or both of us. Anyway, that's why Branch wanted to talk to me. He wanted to make sure I won't let our relationship affect my work." Briefly, I debate whether or not to continue; your silence convinces me. "And he warned me about the social pressure and scrutiny we may have to face… because of our open involvement with each other."

288 Questions

I hear my voice asking you why long before my brain processes the question.

I've got to be a total idiot. I don't want to know the answer to that question. I don't want you to continue, to explain to me what I did when I was so gone that I can't remember. I flinch as you start to mumble an explanation—I was drunk, you were loud. We make quite a couple. We made quite a scene.

I can't remember what you describe; but for once, I think that might be a blessing. I see the blush on your face—the embarrassment in your eyes.

You tell me that I was drunk and hanging on a man, any man. I remember being so mad at you, mad at Trevor, the rest is a blur.

I feel embarrassment flush my face; I stare straight ahead and tense involuntarily where your arm touches mine.

"I'm sorry," I murmur.

You accept it with stoic silence. I don't know what I expect you to say, certainly not "it's okay" because most definitely, it's not.

We walk together in silence.

"Liv?" You ask me tentatively.

I look over at you, your hopeful _expression, fear in your face. I'm angry; angry that our lives have to be relegated to the court of public opinion.

"It's okay Alex," I say, the polite equivalent of I don't want to talk about it.

"Liv, why did you call me and ask me if I was a lesbian?"


"Why did you care if I was a lesbian?"

"Oh, Elliot said…"

I see anger pass behind your eyes, but you keep your temper in check. "What does it matter what Elliot says?"

"It doesn't, it's just, I hadn't thought about it."


"I mean, I don't know if I am really gay. Can't I just be straight and love you?"


You know, when I broached the subject, I wasn't sure how I'd react, to your answer. Anger? Maybe. Distress? Possibly. Or maybe somewhere deep down, I was hoping you'd tell me it was all just a misunderstanding, a temporary confusion on your part, that you've resolved whatever issue you might have had.

I wasn't anticipating this urge, this incredible impulse to laugh in your face. Can you be straight and love a woman? Doesn't being a detective require some level of critical, logical thinking? A certain ability to reason? Of all people, I'd expect you to see the absurdity in your question.

Instead of making fun of you, I just shake my head, and sigh. "You know no matter what you choose to call yourself, people are still going to look at us, and make certain judgment about you. They're going to pigeon hole you, regardless of what you tell them."

"What if I don't tell them anything?"

"Sometimes I think the harder you try to avoid it, the more people speculate, or they just think whatever they want to think."

You furrow your brows, and press your lips together a few times. Finally, you say, "That's just unfair."

As cliché as it may sound, Liv, life's unfair." Grow up! Get a grip! I want to yell, but I decide to curb my temper. "Don't you think you're a little old for me to be telling you this?"

"But I'm not gay, Alex. At least I don't think I am."

"This label thing, it's really important to you, isn't it?"

"Well..." Your instinct, I think, is to deny my allegations. You pause; then you ask, "Isn't it important to you?"

I have to be honest. "Yes, and no. I mean, I guess I care for self-knowledge purposes. I suppose I cared or care more than that, since, until recently, I never talked to my mom about the people I date... male or female."

"You dated men?"

"Yeah? Why are you so shocked?" I throw you an amused smile, trying to take this in stride. "Do I scream lesbian or something?"

"No. Do I?"

"Well..." How do I say this diplomatically... "I was hoping you like women, me, specifically. But I wasn't going to slap a label on you. I also knew you like men."


"You know, I've been dreading this... I've been feeling this Sword of Damocles over my head, like, are you going to leave me and go back to being with men." I stare up at the street lights. "And then I realize how silly, how irrational that fear is. I mean, yeah, sure you might leave me, but considering how much time we spend in bed, I'm not sure I really need to worry about whether I can satisfy you sexually... Or..." I make myself look at you, and smile, "Am I just being overly optimistic, or just delusional?"

You're quiet. Too quiet for my comfort.

"Look, this is not one of those 'do I look hideous in this dress' kind of trick question. You really need to think about this... because at some point, you're going to have to be honest with yourself, and get off the fence."

You maintain your silence.

I wonder if I should really give you this choice... I guess for your sake and mine, for the long run, I should. "Look," I begin, staring after passing cars, "Not all my relatives are going to be as accepting as my mom, if you don't think you're ready to face them next week... or if you just need time to think about it... all of it..."


"Think about what?" I ask, oblivious to the fact that you're trying to give me an out.

"Thanksgiving Liv. My family?"

"Oh." I stare into space. Your mother is so great; how can your relatives not be? "I want to go," I say, looking at you, wanting desperately to make you smile again.

"Don't do me any favors" you mumble, half under your breath.

"Jesus Alex, this is kind of new to me okay?"

"Liv," you say, with warning in your voice.

"I'll go and face it. If I can stop drinking I think I can eat with your family."

Oh. Bad example my mind screams. I wince as I say it, remembering the guilty drink in the bar.


"Huh?" I ask you.

"Why is it that every time you mention sobriety you look like you were hit by a train?"

"I do not."

"Do you have something you want to tell me?"


"Did you drink, Liv?"

Well that's straightforward. Panic fills me; I'm not ready to answer the question.

"Liv?" You ask again, stopping me from walking and holding my arms in your hands.

"You're not my mom, Alex."

"You did, didn't you?"

I stare at the ring on my hand. I don't deserve it. I can see the anger in your eyes.

"You don't trust me at all."

"Liv, that's not what this is about."

"Of course it is, all this is about you. I signed my life away for you, and you just keep demanding for me to change. Well, guess what? I'm done."

I slip the ring off my finger and hand it to you.


"I keep demanding you to change?" I ask you automatically, staring at the ring you hold in your fingers. The flash of anger I felt dissipated as quickly as it appeared. If I keep my hands in my pockets, you can't physically give it back. "I just, I just want you to be whole, to be well…"

"Yeah, right. You want me to be gay for you. You want me to be sober for you. What's next, Alex? What do you want me to be next?" You grab my arm and shove the ring into my fist. "Take back your damn ring."

"No," I tear my hand away. "I don't care if you're gay, or green, or whatever. I just don't want you to decide one day that public opinion is more important…"

"Who says I was gonna…"

"You called me this morning, frantic, just because Elliot saw us kiss in the car and made some comments about us. Can you imagine what other people, people not your partner, people who don't like you, might say behind your back? Or to your face?"

"I'm not gonna…" You start to say; then you're silent.

None of this matter now, not anymore, anyway.

I don't know why I asked you whether you drank or not. The question just flew out of my mouth. The guilt on your face, your defensiveness, made it very obvious.

It's too late. Everything's too late.

Just for the record, I ask you again, "Did you drink, Olivia? Please, tell me. I need to know."

"It's really none of your business, Alex."

Ouch. Guess that works, too. I try to push my tears back with little success. "If that's the way you feel…"

"Yes, it is."

"All right," I choke.

"Here's your ring back."

"No. You keep it. A souvenir. Or, throw it out, if you want." I look up from the ground to find you staring ahead.

Quickly, I lean forward. I close my eyes and press my lips to yours.

Amazingly, you don't push me away.

Suppose this will be the last time I kiss you like this…

I want to say goodbye, I want to tell you I'll always love you, but then I realize the irony of the situation: I still have to work with you; and we still have to deal publicly with our much less than public break up…

Good night, I was going to say, but I don't really want you to have a good night… Would you really have a good night anyway?

"Take care of yourself." I tell you, brushing my fingers against your cheek. Guess this is the last time, too. "I love you."

"Obviously not enough," you mumble to yourself.

"I, I…" I turn, wiping the moisture from my eyes, and I run the last block to my apartment.

292 Fight

It was hard that first night, after you kissed me, sliding the ring you had given me into the pocket of your coat. It was hard to not think of you. It was hard to stop myself from feeling where the cold metal had pressed against my finger. I couldn't keep it. Keep the reminder of all the things I wasn't able to be for you.

Things I couldn't give you, things you wanted from me. Each new task, each new item, added to the things I had to do to be with you, and well, I, I…I'm not even honest with myself.

I felt guilty as hell. I'm done with this, done with you. Done with feeling bad for being who I am. I'm angry at myself; angry that I would drink behind your back and angry as hell that you could make me feel so god damn guilty for it. And you don't even know, I mean, I never told you. I am sure you guess…sure that you assume, but who are you to make those assumptions about me?

And it's worse, so much worse. We have to work together. That night, as I walked down the sidewalk, I realized how much I see you. How often, each day, you are a part of my job, a part of my life. With the guys, the guys I'd find in lonely bars, I could fuck them easily and never see them again, but with you? Every day I have to see you and talk to you. I refused to at first, begging Elliot to handle our cases but he told me to grow up.

I can feel you standing by Elliot's desk without looking up. I can hear you, telling him to change the first paragraph of his report…telling him to change, just like you want me to change. I want to scream, but instead I slide into my snide commentary which has become our daily routine.

"Watch out, El, you change that sentence and next she'll want you to…"

I look up to see the ice blue dagger shooting at me from your eyes. "We're not talking to you," you say, with a chilly air.

"Fuck you." I mumble under my breath as I stick my head back down, pretending to be engrossed in my paperwork.

"Oh for God's sake," Elliot moans.

"Excuse me?" You say, indignantly.

"Nothing," I say, with a smile.

"Oh grow up." You say, refusing to let me stick my head back down.

"Oh look who's talking. If the princess can't get her way..."

"That's uncalled for."

"Want me to change?"

"Olivia." Elliot interrupts.

"Yeah, I do want you to change. You can start by not being such a bitch."

"Alex." Elliot says.

"Stay out of it," we manage in unison.

"What was I thinking?" I ask, out loud, pushing myself out of my chair.

"What were you thinking? What was I thinking? A confused alcoholic who would rather be numb than feel anything real."

"Says the control freak. If it's not your way, it's wrong."

"That's so unfair."

"Unfair? Why don't you wait till I get shot or something and then you can make me sign another contract. Hey, why don't you get your mother to repaint my…"

"You ungrateful…"

"Alex. Olivia." I turn to see Captain Cragen. "This has to stop."

293 WORK

"Don," I turn around to face the man. Before I can say anything else, he puts up his hand.

"Can I see you in my office, Counselor," he says. "You, too, Olivia. Now!" Then he walks back to his office, holding the door for us, and daring us to disobey.

Your chair skids across the floor loudly. "Great, look what you've got us into."

"Me? Fuck you, Olivia." I mutter under my breath.

"I'll bet you want to." You murmur as you march into Cragen's office ahead of me.

Taking a deep breath, I follow briskly. You will not make me look bad in front of your captain.

"I don't know what happened between you two," Don begins as soon as the door closes. "I don't give a damn what you do outside work, but you've got to learn to get along on my watch."

"Captain," you start to say.

"I'm not finished, Olivia," he cuts you off.

Didn't you notice what happened to me earlier? Don't you learn from other people's mistakes? Oh, wait, we are talking about you.

"You used to be such a good team." He continues, "Now you're constantly fighting. It's making everyone uncomfortable, and you're not doing any wonders for morale."

"I'm sorry Don," I try to sound contrite. He's right.

You glare at me and mumble. "I'm sorry, too, Captain."

I cross my arms tighter, and stare straight ahead. I don't necessarily want to fight with you. It's just… it's just easier to fight, to be livid with you. If I stopped and thought about our break up, I'm sure I'd, I'd… I take a deep breath, and do my best to keep my emotions in check.

"I can't tell you what to do, Counselor," Cragen says sternly. "But if this doesn't stop, I'm going to have to ask you to transfer out of my department, Olivia."

"Captain!" You yelp.

"I'd rather not lose one of my best detectives. Understood?"

"Yes." We both answer.

"What happened?" Elliot asks as soon as we're back at your desks.

"The princess always get what she wants." You respond with oozing sarcasm. "I hope you're happy, Cabot."

"You know what, Benson," I can't take this anymore. "I'll talk to Arthur about a transfer as soon as I get back to the office, okay?"

"Oh, no, you don't get to be the noble one and make me the bad guy. We're going to get along even if it kills you."



294 Immature

I watch you as you storm away, your heels clacking against the cold tile. I remember how that sound used to make my heart race. Knowing you were coming closer, but now, it's evidence of you walking further out of my life.

I could catch the pain in your eyes, the embarrassment. So I'm not exactly being totally mature. I'm angry at you…

I'm angry at me.

It's easier to be angry at you.

So I stand there, watching you leave, embarrassed at how much I miss you. I catch Elliot's eye. He's pretending to be busy, but he looks up to see if I'm okay. And then I see Fin, walking towards me at a steady clip. "Can I talk to you, over there?" he asks, as he grabs my arm and pulls me into a corner.

"What are you, 12?" Fin asks me, with a condescending glare.


"You could cut her some slack, you know. So it didn't work out, you don't have to be such a…bitch."

"You don't even know the story." I murmur. If I could tell you; if I could explain that it's my fault. My guilt that led to the fight. My issues that led to the breakup.

"Sure I do, you got a drinking problem. Alex isn't the kind of person who'd take that shit from you or anyone."

"Who told you…" Oh. Yeah. So no one has to tell you that, huh? You probably were there when I crashed the car.

"It doesn't matter, I don't want to be all up in your business, but you want to make sure you never see her again, then keep it up."

"I don't want to see her…"

"Okay, you keep telling yourself that. I can see in your eyes how much you love her…and she loves you too…but if you keep fucking up, you're gonna lose her for good."


I don't know how I managed to keep my anger until I made it back here. I'm glad I did. I even managed to tell my assistant to pretend I'm not here for the rest of the afternoon. In a calm voice, I might add. I should be proud of myself.

With my door closed, I could let my guard down. I could channel the pain all that hostility is, or was masking.

I slip my coat off my shoulders, and hang it up. Biting down on my lower lip, I slide my hand into my pocket, and take out the ring. The ring I gave you. That you've apparently returned without my knowing. I wonder when you did that…

Why didn't you just throw it away? Obviously you don't want to keep it. Why must you give it back when I told you I didn't want it?

Do you hate me that much?

Do you just want to see me hurt?

I can't believe I waited for you to come knocking on my door after I ran back to my apartment. I thought you would come and beg for my forgiveness, you'd promise not to drink anymore, and somehow I'd have to forgive you.

I can't believe I was so stupid.

I can't believe I'm still so stupid, to let you get to me like this.

Now, we'll have to be nice, to get along, to go back to business as usual. I have to pretend I don't think about you every minute of the day, pretend I don't miss you, don't need you in my life… Even if it kills me, you say.

Yeah, even if it kills me…

"Knock, knock."

Reflexively, I wipe my eyes and drop your ring in my desk drawer. Then I remember my charade. I'm not back yet. So I remain in my chair, nevertheless, trying to compose myself.

The knocking resumes. "Alex? Are you in?"

Oh, it's Serena. My heart lifts and sinks at the same time, if that's possible. Somehow I was still hoping you'd come to your senses. Maybe it's time I come to my senses. Yeah.

I take a deep breath, put my glasses back on, and go to the door. "Hi."

296 desperation

I slam the door on my way into my apartment. I'm so pissed. The world's a horrible place. The victims, the horror, the pain, the heartache, the loneliness. I don't know how anyone does it, how we all continue to survive. It's dark and lonely, both in my apartment and in my life.

For a second, I wish you were here, and then I remember how mad I am at you and at the world. I wish that this was all…different.

That you were here and we had never fought and I didn't feel this gnawing pain in my stomach reminding me that I'm alone and no one in the world gives a damn. And yeah, I've been acting like a teenager with a bad attitude, but you broke my heart and the world's not fair. And it's not fair for me to blame you; your demands on me, they're not wrong.

You want the best for me.

Why is it that I don't want the best for me?

I slide into the kitchen and grab a bottle off the shelf.

The first time I drank after we broke up, I actually felt bad, but I'm so far gone now, it's routine.

Three weeks, three long weeks without you, every day, fully aware that you're still not here, and not quite sure how to fix it. Three long weeks of spending my nights in semi-consciousness, and my mornings half alive. Three long weeks of struggling to get through the first few hours of work without dying only to find solace at the end of the night in another half empty bottle.

I've replaced the collection of booze that you threw out. That your mother threw out. My apartment is again littered with the empty bottles. I trip over them as I stumble through the dark hallway, not remembering how they've managed to become so many so fast. I don't have you and now it doesn't matter if I drink or not. No one cared. No one cares like you did. No one else got angry, or was hurt by this. No one should care. If I kill myself slowly, it's no one's business but mine.

The first few bottles go down quick, and soon I feel a familiar numbness. My brain filters out what's wrong with the world in proportion to my blood alcohol level. Soon, haze envelops my head, and the blackness becomes all inclusive.

Painlessness whips through me, and I forget why it is that I hate my life, and why I'm so sad.

Tears stream down my face, I cry, huge painful sobs, aware that I'm alive, but on the inside, that I'm long dead.

297 CARE

"Hey, you okay?" Serena asks, while depositing herself on the couch, and pulling me down with her.

"Yeah, why?" I force a smile, and back myself up against the armrest.

"You look like you've been crying."

Yep. That's Serena. Blunt, and to the point. Again, if we weren't friends, I'd think she's a raving bitch. Although I'm sure you think I'm one, too. Maybe you haven't used the exact word, at least not to my face, but I'm sure you'd... I take a deep breath and halt my mental path. Why does everything have to be about you? All thoughts lead to Olivia Benson like roads lead to Rome?

"Allergies. Got spoiled by the clean air back home," I lie, determined to force you out of my mind, if not my heart.

"Oh, yeah, nothing worse than city pollutants." She says, rolling her eyes, obviously to humor me. "So how long are you going to lock yourself up in your office?"

"I just have a lot to catch up on." After six weeks off. Six solid weeks with you. Six almost blissful... I change the subject. "Say, what are you doing over Christmas?"

"Same thing I do every year."

"Mind if I tag along?"

"Of course not, we could always use another pair of hands at the soup kitchen." Serena smiles, surprised.

"But if you don't mind my asking, why?"

"I don't…" How do I explain? "I don't really want to deal with my family right now. Thanksgiving was quite enough."

I can't believe I was so stupid. Less than a month ago, I was high on what we had, I was ready to face any oppositions, any obstacles. Now it seems like you've become my biggest enemy and greatest downfall.

"Look at it this way, you didn't have to come out to your aunt."

Yeah, my ultra conservative born again aunt who makes Justice Thomas look like a flaming liberal. Who's always bugging me about marriage and children. I'm sure you two would've gotten along like a house on fire.

Make that the Library of Congress. I manage to keep the bitterness from my laugh. "No shit."

"Hey, Alex," she smiles, putting her hand on my arm.

Suddenly I feel claustrophobic.

"Yes, Serena?"

"Can I be honest with you?"

Since when does she ask for permission? I brace myself. "Sure."

"You know she's drinking again..."

I snap, "You know what, Southerlyn? That's not my problem anymore."

"Just the other day, somebody saw her grabbing booze from the shelves like..."

"Look, Serena," I interrupt. "I really don't care anymore. I can't. I don't. She doesn't want me to. I'm through worrying about an irresponsible, self-destructive drunk. If she wants to rot in drunken oblivion, that's her perogative. I don't give a flying fuck..."

She puts a stop to my rant, "If that's the case, Alex, then why are you crying?"

298 The Morning After

Morning comes too soon—the glare of the sun pulls me off my couch and into my throbbing head. Pain radiates from behind my eyes, pulsing to the beating of my heart. I stare at the floor while I come into my head. I feel my stomach churning. I feel my muscles aching. There's one way to fix this. I see a bottle and grab for it, downing it quickly. It's the easiest way to stop the pain.

I stare at the clock, I'm going to be late. I sit up slowly. The room spins.


I slide off the couch and into the shower, letting the warm water pound on me, who cares if I'm late?

And then I hear the insistent bell, someone at the front door, making the headache worse. "Damn-it," I mutter, as I slip out of the shower, almost tripping on the rug as I hastily pull a towel around my body. "Who's there?" I growl into the intercom, wincing at the sound of my own voice.

"It's me." Elliot. Great.

I buzz him in, quickly glancing around the room.

This doesn't look good, and even half drunk and half hung over, I'm vaguely aware that I should be embarrassed at what I see littered around me. Oh fuck it. Quickly, I run into the other room and slide on some clothes. I hear him knocking, and I grab my badge and gun, quickly trying to get out the door before he has time to look around.

"Hey," he says, as I push him back, out of the door.

"What are you doing here?" I ask, the irritation clear in my voice.

"I didn't want you to be late. Again."

"Thanks, Dad, but I can take care of myself." I say, as I lean into him, my precarious balance failing me.

"You've been drinking."

"Spare me."

"Liv. You can't go to work wasted."

"I'm not wasted, Elliot."

"What are you doing?"


"Are you trying to get fired? You just got back from a six week suspension for this shit Liv."

"Elliot, I can take care of myself. It's not a big deal, just leave it alone."


I see you, you and me, running along a green field. It looks in part like my mom's garden. The leaves are rich green, the sky is blue, complete with a rainbow made out of Skittles. I know I'm dreaming. We're laughing, we're kissing, we're happy. I don't want to leave this dream.

Somewhere in the distant, I hear rain. Loud, incessant rain. But I don't see it.

Wait, I don't usually have dreams with sounds...

Then I hear a crash. Then an "Oh, fuck!" In the middle of the rain.

My eyes fly open. Immediately, my realization is confirmed. It's the shower I'm hearing. Serena swearing. Serena taking a shower. Serena's baggy t-shirt I'm wearing. Serena's bed I'm laying in.

Oh, fuck.

Maybe if I closed my eyes and go back to sleep, I'd wake up. I'd wake up in my own apartment, in my own bed... The incessant shower-rain, however, is keeping me awake. Serena's happy humming only adds weight to the evidence that I'm wide awake.

What the fuck did I do last night?

I remember leaving the office with her, after crying for god knows how long. I remember having dinner. I probably drank more than I should, considering how run down I've been feeling. Okay, considering my current state, I had a lot more than I should.

I remember talking, no, pouring my heart out to her. Getting into a cab. Crying. Climbing up the stairs. Crying in her arms...

"Hey, Alex! Are you awake?" I suddenly hear. I didn't even notice the rain, the shower had stopped!

Jerking up from the bed, and pulling the blankets around me, I turn around. Serena's smiling. She's wearing a towel and rubbing her hair with another.

"Here!" She grabs a shirt from her closet and tosses it to me. "You should wear this; maybe it won't be too obvious you didn't make it home."

When I don't move, she snaps her fingers. "You can use any of the towels on the rack in there, they're clean. Hurry up, or we're going to be late."

I look at the clock for the first time. Oh shit. She's right. Actually, I'm already late for my meeting with Cragen, to go over the new files with him. Oh shit.

Oh fuck.

God, Cabot, you're too damn old for this.

300 Reality

"This is a big deal Liv. You're out of control." He says to me, as he whips a key out of his pocket, sliding it into the lock on my apartment.

"Come on, El," I slur, as I pull his arm down the hallway.

He looks at me, and then at the door, and then back at me. "You can't go like this." He suddenly pronounces.

"Elliot." I mumble. I'm not in the mood for this. I lace my voice with warning as he pushes me back through the door. I try to push him back, but he's got my arm before I can get it close enough to him.

I see the look on his face as he surveys my apartment and then I feel the shame. He kicks a beer bottle over as he pushes me into the room.

"Jesus Liv."

"Fuck off, Elliot, I don't need a lecture from you."

"Fine, you don't want a lecture, fine, but you're calling out. You're calling out or I'll call you out and you won't like how I do it."

"Elliot, really. You're totally overreacting here."

"Do you have any idea how close you were to dying? How close you are to losing your job?"

"I'm not."

"You were suspended Olivia! That goes onto your record, remanded for alcohol treatment—either you fix this or you'll be out."

I sigh. Call out. Yeah, right.

I pick up my phone and dial my own number. I tell the busy signal that I won't be in, and Elliot stares at me approvingly.

"Clean this place up, Liv, and get it together."

"Yeah, El, you're right." I say, as I watch him leave.

I wait for him to leave and get ready to go in, finishing off a bottle while I dress.

Part 301

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