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 get in the shower; I get out of the shower; I dress; I call Cragen to postpone the meeting to this afternoon; I even drink the orange juice Serena shoved in my hand. Before we step out of the door, I pause. Is she going to kiss me? Are we going to hug? Should I say something about last night? Probably. What though?

Uh, Serena, did you give me a pity fuck?

Or, hey, Serena, thanks for being such a great friend. Did we screw?

She just smiles and waits for me to step out into the hallway. We walk down the stairs, our silence drowning out the clicking of our heels.

"I think this shirt looks better on you than on me," she says while we wait for our cab. "You should just keep it."

Before I can respond, a taxi pulls up. We get in. Soon, she's chattering about the latest cases. It's almost as if nothing has happened.

Maybe nothing happened.

God, Olivia, what has loving you made me do now? Get drunk and possibly slept with the best and only friend I have? I can't believe I'm so out of control. I'm turning into you.

I go home with the nearest warm body and jump into bed with them.

Fuck me. Just fuck me.

Oh, god, is that really what happened?

I look over at her, and she's still smiling and chattering. Occasionally, she touches me on my knee, on my arm, on my shoulder, to make a point.

Is that something she does normally? Somehow I can't seem to remember…

I can't ask her in a cab if we screwed. Oh god, please somebody just shoot me.

Is this how you feel when you wake up the next morning and not remember what, or in my case, who, you've done the night before? How do you live with yourself?

And how do you ask your best friend, oh by the way, did we do the naked pretzel thing last night? Because, you see, it's really funny, I can't for the life of me remember.

God, is this a one night stand? Was she drunk? Wait, does she even like women? Somehow it never occurred to me to ask. I just know she's not dating anyone. We never discussed it because… Exactly why have we never discussed it?

Are we there yet? I wish I were in my office now. Then, I could just crawl under my desk, and hope for the building to collapse or something.

Oh, wait, that sounded like something you would say.

God, Cabot, you need to get a grip.

302 Reprieve

I stumble up the stairs to the precinct, fully aware that my feet aren't moving quite how I want them to. At the top, I stop. I need to pull myself together, because I can't go in there tripping over my own feet.

I take a deep breath of the cold air and run my fingers through my hair. Slowly, I let myself lean against the building. I'm already late, I might as well have a second. I watch the people walking by, the slow parade of personalities wandering in front of the station.

I feel sick. My body aches, my head pounds. I know I'm half drunk, but knowing and admitting aren't quite the same thing.

What the hell am I doing?

And to make matters worse, as if matters needed to get worse, I can see you, slowly walking towards me. Oh for the love.

Maybe if I sit real still, you won't notice me. I see your eyes meeting mine, the cycle of emotions that run through them, shock, and then loathing, and maybe for a brief instant, love. The same love I saw there when I held you close to me and you would whisper that you loved me with all your heart. The same love that was there when you sat next to my bed in the hospital and held my hand, while I tried to be tough and pretend that it didn't hurt.

You put your head down, determined to walk by me without saying a word.

"Alex," I call over to you.

For a second, I think you'll walk by an ignore me. Serves me right, after all.

"Alex," I call to you again.

You stop, and put your head up. "Hey," you say slowly.

"What's up?" I ask. From the look on your face, I can tell my words aren't totally clear. Jesus, how many did I drink? It can't be that bad.

"What?" You ask me, confusion on your face.

"How's it going?"

"Are you insane?"


"We haven't…we're not even…and then you ask me?"

"Hey, sorry, I thought we were supposed to get along. And I'm sorry about the way I've been…" I say pushing myself off the building and into you in one quick movement.

You look at me and move. Pulling yourself quickly out of my reach, causing me to almost lose my balance again. The cold blue steel of your eyes eats my soul. "You're drunk, Olivia."

"Just a little," I say with a half smile.

You look at me, and you look around.

"You can't go in there…like…"

"Gotta work," I say with a half smile.

"I can't believe I'm doing this," you mutter as you reach out and pull me off the building. "Come with me."

303 NULL

"Hey, are you okay?" Serena asks as we pause outside the court house.

I lie, "Yeah, sure."

"Right. Tell me you heard even one word of what I said in the cab."

I wince.

"Sorry." She reaches over and touches my hand. "It's going to take time, but you'll be okay."

"Hope so." I try another smile; maybe this one won't look so much like a grimace.

"What's wrong, Alex?" For a moment, she looks thoughtful. "You didn't think. Oh, my god, you did, didn't you?"

"I, uh, I..."

"Just what kind of friend do you think I am? Besides, rebound or no rebound. God, no."

"Hey! I should feel insulted." I joke, feeling the huge wave of relief washing over me. Honestly, I could have done much worse than Southerlyn, but I'm just not ready for another relationship. Maybe I should go back to celibacy. It worked before you came along...

"Listen, I need to get going before you-know-who gets his shorts up in a wad. Let's talk again, soon, okay?"

I smile non-committally.

"Take care of yourself, Cabot."

"Yeah. I'll give you a call later," I reply, and walk down the corridor to my office.

I check my calendar to make sure I'm clear the rest of the morning. Looking down at my watch, I wonder if I shouldn't just stop by the precinct. Maybe Cragen would be free, and we can get started on the review; if not, I could always go over my notes with Elliot. It isn't hard to make up my mind. Soon, I'm on my way to the station...

As I approach the precinct, I see you, sitting on the steps. You look like hell. My steps slowing as I dread our interaction... Oh, for the love of God, Cabot, you're not going to let her do this to you, are you? Oh, no, you're not!

Heeding my own scolding, I resume my normal pace. Our eyes meet. Yours look bloodshot. I guess the rumors are true; you've gone back to drinking. Or have you been crying? Finally come to your senses? Either way, it's not my problem anymore. I tell myself, and put my head down.

I hear you call my name, softly at first. For a moment, I thought it was my pitiful imagination.

"Hey, Alex!" You say again, much louder this time.

I keep my head lowered for another second, gathering and preparing myself for yet another confrontation with you. Wonder what I've done this time to aggravate you. "Hey," uncertainly, I respond.

"Wanna fuck?"

"What?" Did you say what I think you said? How many bottles have you had?

"Wannit? Goin', goin'..."

Drunk or not, you actually have the gall to proposition me? "Are you out of your mind?"

"Wannit?" You smile lasciviously.

God, suddenly, I feel so cheap. "You broke up with me, remember? Now you ask me..." I start, then stop. Why do I even bother reasoning with a drunk?

"Hey, Hot Stuff, isn't this getting along? And I'm sorry we haven't been..." You shrug nonchalantly, and grab for me.

I move quickly out of your reach. "You're drunk, Olivia."

"Just loosen up a lil."

"Do you even realize what you're saying? You can't..."

"If I gotta work..." You smirk, your eyes focused on my lips, your intent apparent.

"I can't believe I'm doing this." I shake my head. "God help me!" I sigh as I pull you off the building and into a cab. "One Ho..." Wait, what the fuck am I thinking? You can't show up at my office looking like this either. So I tell the driver your address, thankful that I still have your keys. You can sober up there.

304 Home

Before I know what's happening, you've pulled me down the stairs and into a cab. In a haze, I hear you giving the address of your office, and then my address.

No, no, no, no, my head screams. It took me a hell of a long time to make it downtown. I've got to get inside, I'm already going to be in enough trouble for being late, I can't just not show up. "Alex, I've got to work." I try to open the door but I feel your hand grab mine.

"Olivia, knock it off." You say, as you pull my hands together and hold them still.

What the hell? Who the hell do you think you are? You continue giving directions to the driver. "Alex," I say insistently.

"Just shut up," You say, with enough anger in your voice to make me think twice. I stare out the window, and you continue to talk to the driver.

I hear the cabbie's voice asking you, "Isn't it a little early to be that drunk?"

"I'm not drunk," I say, indignantly. "Maybe just a little."

"You're a good friend," he says to you, totally ignoring me, "lots of times they just end up in the cab here alone."

"Yeah." You say.

I try to smile at you, but you shoot daggers at me. I see you watching me, staring at me and then shaking your head. I reach for your hand but you pull it away. Fine. "We're close," I say, as I lean into you, snuggling my head into your shoulder.

I feel your body tense up.

"Sit up." You say insistently.

"Come on Alex, it's okay…"

"Get off me." You nearly yell.

"Okay," I say, pulling myself off you.

We pull up in front of my building and I watch as you throw money at the cabbie and yank me out of the back of the cab.

Somehow, I get the sense you're not having fun as you pull me up the stairs. "Walk, Liv" you demand, as I lean into you again.

"I am," I grumble, but my feet aren't working so well, and it's a long walk.

305 FED UP

What the fuck was I thinking? Really, what the fuck was I thinking?

I look at you, and I feel sick to my stomach. "You're disgusting. I'm not sure what I ever saw in you."

"Come on, give a girl, your girl, a break."

"You're not my girl, Olivia. You never were."

"Aleeeex! Aleeeeeex!" You whine like a puppy. "I'm sorrrrry. Please, please don't hate me. I didn't mean what I saaaaid."

"Shut up." I tell you, as I half push, half drag you up the stairs.

"I was juuuust angry. You can't hold me to my angry woooords."

"Just shut up, Olivia, or I'll leave you here, right now."

"You're soooo mean. Why are you so mean to me? I love you. I loooove you, Alex."

I swallow hard. "It's a little late for that, Olivia," I tell you, I tell myself, and stomp up the last flight of stairs, letting the sounds of my heels drown out whatever I might be thinking or feeling.


"Just shut up! God. What's wrong with you?" What's wrong with me? Again, what the fuck was, or am I thinking? How can I be feeling the pain I'm feeling?

"Come on, baby…"

"Olivia, this is your last warning, shut the fuck up." I tell you, and slide the key into your lock. How come I still have your keys? How come you never asked for them back? After three whole weeks, these questions suddenly see fit to present themselves?

"What the…" Fuck. I stop myself as I scan your apartment. Yep, you're a pig. A disgusting pig. Actually, what do I have against pigs? You're just… ugh. I thought I had seen the worst the last time I was here, before your temporary sobriety. Boy, was I wrong. "How can you live like this?"

"Live? There's really no living without you, Alex…" You say quietly. For a moment, you almost look sober. Then you yelp with glee, "Now that you're here though, let's go to bed!"

I don't know that I can really deal with this. But I really don't have a choice, at least as a reasonable, decent human being, I don't. "Fine, Liv. Let's go."

"Really?" You say, and start tearing off your clothes.

"Why don't you wait to do that, okay? Just wait for me in there. I need to give Don a call…"

"You're calling the captain? Please don't… I'm in enough trouble already…" Suddenly, you turn and make for the door. "Shiiiiiit! I have to get to work."

"No, you don't. You can't, Olivia." I reach out and grab you by the collar. The disruption of your momentum makes you fall. Under a different set of circumstances, this would have been funny, really funny. Right now, I just want to cry…

"Just go sit down, Liv." I help you back to your feet and press you into the couch. Before you can pull me down, I jump back and out of your reach. "Be quiet, okay?" I say, and retrieve my phone from my coat pocket.

"Hi Don, this is Alex..."

306 Bottom

"No," I say, as I rush across the room to you.

You put your hand in my face. "Yeah, I've seen her. Don, she's…" I hear you sigh. "Yeah."

"What?" I ask you.

"Okay. Yeah."

Impatiently, I turn around on my heel. You're ignoring me, and that's not any fun. With as much drama as I can muster, I stomp back over to the couch and plop down. I feel like a child. A child who's in trouble with her mother…her incredibly attractive mother. God that's so wrong.

I look at the table and see a half empty bottle sitting amongst the clutter of empty ones. I grab it and stare into the dark liquid. I wonder how long it's been sitting on the counter.

Oh well. Head's up.

Then I hear your voice. "Jesus Christ."

I freeze.

Fuck. I can fix this. I really really can. It's just going to take some charm. I smile at you. "Want some?"

"You know what? I can't, I just…"

I see the tears forming in your eyes. Big tears, streaming down your face, in huge paths.

"I'm so sorry, Liv, but I can't…I can't get involved in this again. I love you too much to watch you destroy yourself."

"But Alex, I'm, I'm sorry, I miss you. I just miss you."

You put up your hand. "It's too late for you to start this now. You don't care, if you did, you wouldn't be doing this shit. It's just. I'm not strong enough for both of us." You wipe tears from your eyes, but they come faster. I watch as you start sobbing, your body shaking. I try to reach for you but you pull away from me. "You can't fix this Liv. You can't fix this."

I don't think I've ever felt worse than I feel this moment.

I can't believe…

"I'm sorry Liv, but, I just, I can't. I'll call Elliot. He'll come and stay with you, okay?"

I don't get to answer. The last sound I remember is the door slamming shut behind you.

Again I'm alone, I shut my eyes and close out the world.


I turn my heels and step out of your apartment. Your life, I swear to myself, slamming the door shut to punctuate the point.

Before I can think further, I find myself sliding down the wall. All the disappointment, the heartache, the pain I've been trying to deny, to block out with bitchy bravado, for three weeks. Three long weeks. They suddenly broke loose.

And I'm too tired to even try to stop it.

Making a conscious decision, I hug my knees, and just let the tears fall. Maybe afterwards, I'll feel better. Maybe afterwards, I can face whatever it is I have to face. Right now, the darkened corridor in your building is as good as any sanctuary. It certainly mirrors the way I feel.

God, now I'm a self-pitying queen of melodrama just like...

Before I finish my thought, I stop. Calling you bad names, being belligerent with you, whatever I might do... they're not going to convince my heart that it doesn't care. That it isn't wishing for things to be different. That it's not breaking right now.

The most fucked up, twisted, pathetic, desperate thing is, I still love you.

I can't stop myself from loving you. Even after what you've done, what you've said, what you're doing... Even when we're so obviously wrong for each other, or, according to you, even when I'm so wrong for you...

I wish I could turn back the clock. I wish I hadn't invited you to dinner, wish we had never gone out on our date, to talk. Didn't kiss you. Didn't let down my guards and allow you in. Then I wouldn't be here. I'd be happily oblivious to your problems, blissfully admiring your good points from afar, and be content with my secret school girl crush on you. I wouldn't be here.

Wouldn't have known what it's like to love you. The intense joy.

The deep despair...

I hear the front door closing. I hear footsteps coming up the stairs, and I scramble to my feet, pushing my skirt down, and trying to look halfway presentable. If whomever it is asked, I'd just tell them... Maybe they won't ask. For once, I'm happy to be in a city where no one cares... Maybe they'd stop on a different floor.

But the steps keep getting louder and louder. A man's gait. Making a quick decision, I lower my head, and start down. I should call Elliot anyway. Then I'll worry about what to do with myself then... Wish I had someone, somewhere to go to. Can't even call Trevor, he'd kill you...


"Elliot." My head snaps up. "What are you..."

"The Captain sent me." He answers and furrows his brows at me. "You look like shit."

"Thanks," I sob.

"Gee, I'm sorry. I don't mean to make you..."

"It's not you," I laugh and wipe my face with my palm. Just how does he manage with his wife and daughters? I wonder.

"Here," he pulls out a handkerchief. When I just stare at it, he adds, "It's clean. Kathy insists I carry one around with me. Comes in handy sometimes, with the vics, you know... You can keep it."

"Oh. Thanks... Detective." I say, and continue down the stairs.



"You gonna be okay?"

"Yeah, I'll manage."

"See you back at the station then."

"Yeah. Thanks Elliot."

308 Help

Slowly, I become aware of the sensations in my body. My muscles ache, my body protests even the smallest movements. My head throbs painfully. God, I feel so sick. I guess it's my own fault. I guess everything's my fault.

"Time to get up, Liv."

For fucks sake. The loud voice penetrates to my core. I hear my moan, a response which seems like it's coming from somewhere else. It's just loud enough to set off the pain in my head.

"Get up!" I hear again.

"Elliot?" What the hell? How did you get here? What the hell happened?

"Rise and shine, Liv."

Slowly I open my eyes. Bastard's opened every window in my apartment, and the sunlight makes my head pound.

"Made you breakfast," he says, way too close to my head.

The smell makes my stomach lurch. "Shhh…" I mutter.

"What's wrong Liv?" He screams at me, or at least that's what it sounds like.

"Elliot, go."

"Nope, come on, you wanted to drink. Now it's time to face the consequences. Have some eggs."

"Get out Elliot." My voice is too loud, and I wince.

"What'd you do to Cabot?"

"What?" My eyes shoot open, my body reacts a moment later.

"She was here last night. Do you even remember?"

Of course I don't remember. "Ummm…" is all I manage.

"Whatever you did, you fucked that up. She was hysterical last night."

Your tears. God, I remember your tears. I've lost you; I knew it then. I lost you; I lost you for this. Waking up feeling like shit, lost in a blurry hazy memory of things I might have done the night before. Your pain written on your face, written there because I was in your life. It's too late for us.

"El…I've got to… I've got to get help. Can you…can you take me to the hospital?"

"I thought you'd never ask."


Three days. Three long days since I was at your apartment, since I've seen you. Your desk has been empty for three days.

I walk into the station. Guess today makes the fourth. Where are you, I want to ask. But I don't. I told, no, promised myself I won't care anymore. Not now, not in the future. I don't need this shit from anyone, definitely not from you...

Wow, I actually manage to think the concept through without pause. Maybe I'm finally getting used to the idea of us being nothing more than colleagues.

Except, had it been Fin, or Munch, or even Elliot, I would have asked their whereabouts...

No, I'm not going to ask about you. You could be lying in the hospital from alcohol poisoning for all I care.

"Counselor? Here to see me?"

Huh? Oh. I lift my head. "Yeah, Don, I want to talk about the Barber case."

"Come." He smiles, and keeps his door open for me.

I sit down, and pull out my notes. "Yeah, about that case..."

"You could've called and saved yourself a trip, you know?"

"Actually, I want to talk to John, too," I tell him, smiling.

"I see."

"Shall we go ahead?" I ask, opening the folder.

"She's checked herself into a hospital."

"I hope it's nothing serious," I say, eager to get to business. You don't care anymore, Cabot, remember?


"That's nice. Now, shall we...?"

"Sure, Alex." He finally gives up, and sits back in his chair. "So what do you want to talk about?"

"Unless I have something else, Petrovski's not going to..." I begin. Oh, what's the point? Then I stop. "When?"

"The morning after you took her home. Elliot stayed and helped checked her in. She asked him to."

"That's good."

"I've been there, Alex, I know how it's like."

"That's nice. I'm glad she has you to watch her back."

"We end up pushing people away, people important to us..." His eyes wander to the photograph of his daughter. "I just..."

I sigh, and close my file, finally dropping the pretense. "I can't do this anymore, Don. I just can't."

"I know, after a while, you've got to look out for number one."

"Yeah." I return his sad smile, and get up from my seat. "Well, about this..." I motion to the folder.

"I'll tell Munch and Fin to get you something better."


"I'll keep you posted, Counselor."

"Okay." I reply. Was he referring to the case? Or you? I'm not sure; either way, I'm trying not to care.

310 Darkness

I lie in a bed in a dark hospital room, staring at the ceiling. The psych ward. Who'd have thought?

I feel like death. I stare at the small beside table that separates me from an empty bed. Elliot's done his best to make me feel good, brought me books, brought me a walkman, even, of course, I'm not allowed to have it because someone here might try to hang themselves with the cord…of all the stupid…

My body is shaking. My head is pounding. My stomach flips. And there's someone in the hallway screaming. I'm getting used to this.

I hear Elliot coming. It's funny, his voice in the hallway, asking the nurses where I am, and then his heavy footsteps in the hallway. It's like second nature, the signs that he's about to appear. I'd recognize him anywhere.

I turn my head, as the knock comes on the door. A hesitant shy knock, and his big smile.

"How's it going?"

I stare at him, like he's insane.

"That bad, huh?"

I want to cry, but I try to smile. He sits on the bed, slowly taking my hand. "You look better today," he says, trying to be positive. He grabs my hand, and gives it a tiny squeeze.

"Thanks," I mutter.

"You been reading?" He asks. He can tell the stack, which he left in its exact position the day before, that I hadn't. I'm not in the mood for small talk.

"Did you see Alex?"

He looks at me, deep into my eyes. "No, I didn't."

I try to tell if he's lying. If you think telling me you don't see her makes it easier for me, you're wrong. "Does she know I'm here?"

"I don't know, Liv. Honestly, I haven't…"

"It doesn't matter." I interrupt, "She's done with me anyway. I can't expect her…" I will myself not to cry. Being sober hurts so badly, in my soul. But I need this, I need it for me. I don't deserve you anyway, I don't deserve the happiness you bring me. I don't deserve to live.


"Knock, knock."

Before I could answer, my door opens, and I hear Serena's voice, "Hey, you ready?"

"Just about." I don't bother to look up from the brief.

"I can't believe we're going to see the Nutcracker." She laughs lightly, and flops down in front of my desk. "Even more amazing, on Jack."

"Guess another date fell through for him, eh?" I smirk, taking pleasure in his latest disaster; he's always chasing the unavailable skirt.

"Thanks for going with me, Cabot."

"Well, thanks for inviting me, Southerlyn."

"It'd be fun, girls' night out. At least promise me you'll try…"

"Knock, knock."

"Gee, I wonder who it can be, at this hour. Expecting anyone, Alex?"

"I don't…" Before I can finish, Serena gets up and moves towards the door. "Guess, we'll find out," I mumble, and make the final changes to the document.

"Alex… Counselor, I'm sorry for interrupting."

"Hi, Don." I close the folder, and take off my glasses. "I was just finishing with the Bennett brief. Then we're going to head out. Oh, Serena, this is the Captain. I don't think you've been formally introduced."

"Serena Southerlyn." She smiles, and shakes his hand. "Nice to meet you."

"Ms. Southerlyn." He nods dourly.

"So, what brings you here?" I decide to jump in. "A break on the Barnaby case, I hope? Do you need me to get a warrant?"

"Um. No, Alex, can we talk?" He says, then looks at Serena, and back at me. "Maybe I should wait."

"We have time, don't we, Southerlyn?"

"Sure, Cabot, I'll wait for you back at my office." She picks up her briefcase. "Nice meeting you, Captain."

"Good night, Ms. Southerlyn."

"If you'd please excuse me, Don," I say, as I begin packing up my desk. "Serena and I are going to a concert, assuming you don't need me to interrupt a judge's dinner, that is."

"I don't know how to say this, Alex, but Olivia… she's not doing so well."

Suddenly, I'm disgusted. Can I not think about you, can I not feel bad about what you're doing to yourself, or about our breakup, even just for a night? "Don't tell me she managed to find booze in a hospital."

"Um. No. Worse than that. She's been depressed. I mean, really, really depressed. They say she…"

I don't want to hear any more. I can't. "Well, rehab isn't all fun and games." I shrug, and put on my coat. It certainly isn't my mother's house in the Hamptons, and I'm sure your nurse isn't doing what I was doing for you. "She knew what she's getting herself into. Both the drinking, and the rehab."

"Everyone's been to see her."

Oh, yes. "Everyone except me."

"Yes. And I think it'll really help her if you'd…"

"I'm sorry, Don," I gather up my things along with my bluster, and walk him out the door. "I can't." He seems like he's about to say something else, so I preempt his efforts, "I don't want to keep my date waiting."

He pauses. For a second, he looks like I had hit him on the head with a treatise. "Counselor?"

"Good night, Captain. I'll see you tomorrow." I say, and turn towards Serena's office…

312 Despair

My eyes open slowly, and I hope that things will be different this time.

I don't want it to be the cold grey of the wall that I know will actually greet me, the one that I have been facing for the last week. I want to be back in your horrible pink room, with you just beyond my reach. I want to let myself snuggle into you, holding you close.

I never want to let you go. I want to get a chance to apologize to you; I want to tell you that I do love you, and that I want to be with you in your life. I couldn't change for you, but not because I didn't want to. Not because I didn't love you, but because I'm a failure.

This is all because of me, this is all so wrong.

Instead of you, I face this damn room, the cold walls, the cold ceiling.

I hate this place.

There's nothing but the blankness—the window is even covered in a cage. I'm alone. And locked in this room. And without anyone and I have nothing.

I lie on the bed, not moving. Staring at the ceiling; feeling like death. Feeling like the world is caving in on me. I alternate between tears and anger.

The pile of books Elliot left me stands next to my bed, along with all the other various and sundry items that have found there way into the hospital to provide me with amusement.

All of them go untouched.

I can't make myself get out of bed.

I can't make myself go to the groups that are supposed to help me, or the meals, or anything. I've barely moved for five days.

I don't care.

I just don't care.

All I can think of is how I fucked up.

All I can focus on is how I lost you.

I want to take it all back, fix everything, change the way things are. I feel the tears bubble in my eyes, and the sobbing begins again.


"You did what, Cabot?" Serena laughs, her eyebrows lifting.

"I might have led Don to think I've moved on!" I repeat my last sentence, also laughing. God, it feels good to laugh. To giggle like carefree school girls with a friend. A friend who cares, who's relatively well adjusted, and sober.

"Uh huh. Is he going to talk? How many days should I give the rumor mill?"

"For what?" I try to maintain a straight face. "And no, he's not a gossip."

"Too bad!" She starts another string of bright laughter. "I was looking forward to hearing about how you did me on Donnelly's desk."

"Waitaminute! I didn't say you were my date…"

"But you implied it! I know you."

"All right, I guess I might have, just a little." I concede, laughing louder. "But you could have made the move on me! On Jack's desk!"

"Ewww! Gross!"

"But it would have been funny!"


"Yeah, I'm not sure it'll really be that funny," suddenly, it hits me, and I try to sound serious, "If people really thought we were, you know…"

"Dating?" She wheezes through another peal of laughter. "Or fucking?"


"Oh, don't be so serious. God, you're so uptight." Serena reaches over and shoves me on the shoulder. "Although, I must say you're a great kisser, even drunk."

"I didn't…" I gasp, horrified.

"Yep," she points to her lips, "Right here."

Okay, I've kissed many people on the lips. I kiss my mom on the lips.

"For a minute, I thought you were trying to lick my toes via my throat!"

Okay, I don't kiss my mother like that. "Oh, god. I'm so sorry." Can I fit under her couch? Maybe I could stay there until everything blows over.

"Don't be. You should be glad I'm such a good friend though."

"I know, Serena, I'm so sorry."

"Oh, but not for the reason you think." She says, her smile growing serious. "No offense, I don't think we should get involved. Nothing personal, me and steady relationship just don't mix. Besides, you're not ready to move on, and I wouldn't want to screw up our friendship."

I see… At least I think I see… I even think I feel a tinge of disappointment. Am I nuts?

"Have you decided what you're going to do yet, Alex?"

Somehow I know she'd change the subject. "About what?" I ask, unnecessarily. I know what about.

"Whether you're going to pay her a visit."

"I really don't think I can," I sigh, the spark leaving my spirit in a hurry.

"But you should. And you know you want to."

"I guess…"

"If you want, I'll go with you, and wait for you outside. Tomorrow's Sunday, let's do it first thing."

If somebody's going to twist my arm, and make the decision for me, I guess… "Okay."

"You know, Cabot?" The mischievous smile returns. "I must admit, you're nice to look at."

There is something else in her eyes, in her body language… Now it's my turn to get knocked over by a treatise. "I, uh, thank you."

"Maybe we can be friends, with certain privileges? Temporary, no strings attached privileges?"

Two months ago, I would think Serena's insane. But now… Live one day at a time, right? Walk one step at a time. It's not like I'm cheating on you, or anyone. We're both adults. We're friends, very good friends.

And I do miss the warmth of another human being…

And for a night, I'd like to forget…

314 Hoping

Staring out the window, through the bars, I stare at the cold street. I watch as people walk by, oblivious to me watching. Life goes on for everyone but me. My life has stopped and is merely standing still, standing still until I can get myself back together, and get back to the life that is no longer worth living.

I wait, patiently, for any break in the monotony. The weekends here are the worst, with nothing to do but wallow in my own misery, with small groups every few hours to remind me that I'm an addict. I see the people who are just getting sober for the tenth time—it's purely depressing. I don't think I can do this more than once. Oh, wait, I already have.

But with you, it wasn't like this. It was us fighting, not just me. There was more to live for. Maybe I wasn't changing purely for me, then, I was changing for both of us, for our life together.

I wait every day for Elliot; wait for him to tell me that he's told you and that you want to see me. Every day he dodges my questions, every day he tries to distract me. I wait for your face to appear around the corner, your eyes to sparkle at me, your lilting voice to raise my heart. Every time I hear the click of heels in the hallway, my heart feels lighter because it might be you.

But it never is.

I'm getting used to you not being there. Used to it enough that this time, when I hear the heels, I don't allow myself to get my hopes up.

And then I hear it—your voice.

"Hey, Liv."

I don't believe it's you at first, I refuse to believe you could be standing in front of me.

I keep staring out the window.



"Hi," you say shyly.

I don't know what to say, I want to run into your arms and cry, begging your forgiveness. I want to make you understand how sorry I am….I want to love you and hug you and never let you go. Instead, I mumble, "How's it going?"


As I walk up to the hospital, scenes and conversation from this morning replay in my head…

"Are you sure you're going to be okay?" Serena asked around a mouthful of breakfast.

I took a sip of my coffee. "About?"

"Last night, and going to the hospital by yourself?"

I'm not sure why, but when I woke up this morning, I felt stronger. That I'm back in control. That I'm my own person again. Maybe because it was the warmth, the acceptance. Maybe it was the just the release. I have no idea.

She's not you. I didn't feel the breathlessness, the desperation I do, I did, with you. But it was nice. I had actually enjoyed myself, even though I thought about you intermittently, during the night.

It's almost like I'm free. Free of you. Of what your actions might do to my heart. This was definitely good for me.

I don't think it did Serena any harm either. Come the morning, we were back to the way we've always been. Straight forward, no pretenses. Nobody had fears about their feelings getting hurt, or their world coming apart. I smile, a genuine, full of amusement sort of smile, when I recall the rest of our conversation…

"Yeah, are you?" I asked.

"Yep. Most definitely. I don't see how anyone can choose booze over you. Whew! You're better than an acid trip."

"Okay," I blushed. I actually blushed, and smiled, and didn't feel bad about her reference. "When's the last time you had any? I'm sure that has something to do with it." I teased back. "You really did acid?"

"My mom's just like your aunt; they could've gone to nun school together. I did a lot of stuff in the name of rebellion."

"Yeah? Like what?" I asked then. Still can't believe she did all that. Can't believe how vanilla, uneventful my life has been, even including my experience with you. Honestly, I can't say I regret the lack of adventures… I think I like my relatively boring life just fine, I decide, as I receive my visitor's pass from the receptionist.

In the elevator, I feel a little apprehensive. More about my first visit to a psych ward outside of prison. I wonder how it's like for the people there. I'm sure most of them either know they don't belong there, or don't want to be there, or both. And for you… how is it like for you, I wonder.

I wonder how you're doing. I really should commend you on your decision to get help. How did you get to that point? What changed?

For a moment, I actually feel hope. Not hope for us, but for you. Solely for you.

You won't believe how liberating that is. I wonder what changed in me? Just because I had sex with Serena? I'm sure there's more, much more to it than that. Right now, though, is not the time for self-reflection.

Right now, it's about you. You, staring out the window, lost in your little world. I am almost reluctant to disturb you. "Liv?" I call to you softly. When you don't respond, I try again, louder this time. "Olivia?"

"Alex?" You turn around; you gape, as if you've come face to face with a ghost.

I feel bad. Not because of the pain I still feel, but because I had stayed away. I know in my heart though, I couldn't face you before now. It would have been so unhealthy and unproductive, for both of us.

"Hi," I say, wanting to reach out and show you how much I still care about you, but I don't. "How are you doing?"

"Fine." You mumble. How's it going?"

"Fine. I'm glad you decided to get help."

316 Chances

"How's it going?" You ask me. It's funny how a question that's so routine can be filled with so much more.

"It's…it's good to see you." I mumble.

"Yeah. You look good." You manage as I watch your eyes staring around the room.


We look at each other…silence fills the room. How do I apologize? How do I explain myself?

"It's good…it's good to see you." I manage.

You blush, a beautiful crimson fills your face. "You too."

Back to the silence.

You sit next to my bed, watching me in the chair, and flip through the books.

"Elliot brought those." I tell you, desperate to hear your voice.

"That was nice." You manage. You look incredibly uncomfortable, like you'd rather be anywhere else in the world. I don't blame you. How can I when I feel the same way? I wish that you didn't look like you couldn't wait to get away from me, as far away from me as possible.

"Alex?" I ask you, and you look at me, only for a second, before continuing your perusal of the room.


"I'm sorry…"

Your eyes turn to me, just in a flash I see them get wide, before you go back to your general attitude of disinterest. "It's fine Liv, you don't have to apologize."

"But, I mean, I'm sorry. For, for all of this."


"I didn't…I shouldn't have…I…I'm just sorry."


You're sorry? Didn't what? Shouldn't have what? Sorry about what? Fallen off the wagon? Acted like such a bitch? Okay, I too am guilty of that. Broken my heart?

"Okay." I tell you, and go back to reading your books. Really. What else can I say? What else can I do? I don't mind being here, now that I'm actually here. I'd like to talk with you. But about what? Whether you like the genres of fiction Elliot brought you?

Suddenly, it occurs to me how little I do know about you. What you really like to do when you're not blind drunk, or when you're not trying to please my mother and answer her twenty questions. I know you're not crazy about Scrabble. I know what's on your book shelves at home. But that's it though. Right? Or am I being forgetful? Selectively forgetful perhaps?

Or did we just jump from colleague to lovers too quickly, too soon? Maybe we should have been better friends first. Friends would have been more careful about each other's feelings. If we were friends first, maybe you would have been less skeptical about my intentions…

"I really did want the best for you, Liv." I look at you and smile briefly. "And just for you…"

"Yeah, I think I finally realize that…" you mumble. "A little late, I suppose, and I'm really sorry."

What do I say to that? No, it's not too late? That maybe when you're finally well, we can start all over again, and do it right this time? I don't think I can tell you that, not right now, even though it's how I feel…

So we fall into another stretch of awkward silence.

In a way, this is kind of hard, to be in this room, alone, with you. Even though I told you otherwise, you look like hell, Olivia. You've lost weight, you have dark circles under your eyes. The fire, the spirit that I found so charming, they're missing; just like your arrogant, I-own-the-world smile… You look like shell, a ghost in a shell, even. And my heart aches just looking at you.

Meanwhile, the noises outside just make the solitude in here so much more apparent. And the surrounding madness, seeping in from the walls… would one start to wonder if one were just a little mad, too?

"So what have you been doing? I mean, what do you do? Do you have some sort of regimen, besides reading in bed?"

"I go to counseling, meetings, small group meetings…" You begin dolefully. "I watch people," you say, and point to the window next to you. "Elliot comes to visit everyday. And the rest of them... well, Cragen sits with me sometimes. And those books… they got moved the first time, today, by you."

I wish I could take you in my arms, and tell you, promise you that everything will be all right, that you'll be all right. It didn't work before. I doubt it's going to work now. "I'm sorry." I say, and put back the book I hold in my hand.

And I look down at my now empty hands, as time comes again to a standstill.

318 Revelations

I try to break our uncomfortable silence.

"So, how'd you find out I was here?"


Don? Oh, that's right, he's not your Captain. You look back down at your empty hands.


I see the sorrow in his eyes when he sees me, and I know it's because he sees himself in me. It embarrasses me to know how well he knows my weakness. I see myself in him, too. The haunting sorrow in his eyes when he talks vaguely about those he's lost. He knows I lost you.

His visits involve the long heartfelt talks about how great recovery's going to be for me, how I will eventually look back on this time here, thankfully, that I can move on with my life. He tells me things I know, that it will be a struggle every day. That I have to want it for me. That I have to change to save my own life.

I wonder what he told you.

I wonder if he made you feel guilty so you'd show up.

I wonder if you're here for me, or because you feel obligated to be. Like I'm a responsibility and not someone you claimed to love. Someone you promised to be with, to support. I guess I can't hold you to that, since I'm the one who shoved your ring back into your hand.

You have no idea what I'd give to have you still believe in me.

"Big plans today?" I ask.

"Ummm…" you look suddenly uncomfortable. "Serena and I are probably going…"

I don't even care where you're going, just the sound of your voice makes me smile. Wait a minute.

"Is Serena gay?" I ask you.

You almost fall off the bed.

Oh damn. Oh god damn it. You and her?


Oh God.


Is Serena gay? Is Serena gay. I have no idea… Waitaminute, did you, why, oh fuck. It's not that I feel guilty or anything, but is this knowledge good for your current state of mind? Maybe I can somehow divert this situation.

"I don't know if Serena's gay, Olivia." I start, choosing my words carefully. "We never talked about it. It isn't necessary, considering the nature of our friendship."

"Did you sleep with her?"

"Is not like that, Liv…"

"But did you?" You demand. Suddenly the fire is back in your voice, in your eyes.

I guess you still care about me after all…

It's really none of your business. You've given up your right to be jealous when you told me you were through with me, when you broke my heart. I want to tell you, to yell at you. But that's not conducive to the situation. At least I've learned to stop and think before I fly off the handle. That's a good thing.

"She and I, we're just friends."

"You're avoiding the question, Alex."

"Like you did when I asked you if you've had a drink, the night you broke up with me, Olivia." I tell you, controlling my voice, sounding as gentle and lack of anger as possible. I even try to soften it with a smile.

You stare down at the floor, and mumble, "So I guess you slept with her then."

"Just once." Why am I telling you this? It's really none of your business. "But, honestly, what's between Serena and I, it's a friendship, not a…" Romantic relationship, I want to say, but you don't let me finish.

You sigh loudly, then confess in a small voice, "I had a drink that night, too. I felt so guilty. I was so mad at myself, I took it out on you… I'm sorry."


"I've lost you for good, haven't I?"

"Olivia, Liv," I close my eyes to the sight of you, to the tears flowing down your cheeks. "I… I don't know how to say this…"

"Just tell me, Alex, tell me and get it over with."

Should I tell you the truth? Or should I just tell you what you expect, which would be easier on both of us? I weigh my options while your quiet sniffles fill my ear. In the end, I choose to be honest. "Things will have to be really different… for us to be back together again."

"I'll do anything, anything you want."

Great, here we go again… I sigh, which is quickly followed by your ragged breath.

"What I want…" I smile, as reassuringly as possible. "I want us to be friends, Liv, friends who care about each other. I want to know you, and I want you to know me, besides what's underneath our clothes... I want to be able to think of you as my best friend, before anything else."

Your hopeful expression disappears, and your brows furrow.

"Is that something you might want, Liv? I don't want to make you do things or want things just because you thought…"

320 Confession

Your friend?

You want me to be your friend? After everything we've been though? Your mother? Scrabble?

I look in your eyes and I see your resolve. The cold blue shines, not just with coldness and also with your love. I can see it there, vaguely, still. What I used to see when I held you in my arms and snuggled close into you.

I guess if I'm going to take you at all, it's going to be on your terms. But wasn't that the problem in the first place? It's always been your terms with us.

But being your friend…that's not such a penance. You could be asking me to do anything, since I'm practically throwing myself at you. Begging you not to let me rot here alone, and to be part of my life, even if I don't deserve that from you.

I guess maybe we hopped into co-dependency too fast.

Maybe going slow will give us something we didn't have—maybe it will give us our trust.

I smile at you, despite the tears on my face.

"I'd like to…be your friend."

You smile back.

"Look Liv, I know it's not going to be easy. I mean, I still find you…attractive."

I smile at that. "Yeah, me too…I mean, I find you…"

"I know what you mean," you say with a smile.

"I just, I love you."

You pause and look at me, and then the floor. My statement sits in the air, waiting for your response, but you don't have one.

"I just…I…I've got to go." You turn on your heels and run from the room.

What the…?

Part 321

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