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


Half way down the corridor, I stop. I can't believe I just ran out like that? How mature is that?

So you love me, or at least you think you love me. Yeah, I love you, too. But just from our conversation about friendship, I can tell we're not ready to get back together. You did ask me what I want. And I tell you. Something really reasonable, I might add. And immediately, you were looking at me like I had asked you to change, that I had demanded the moon.

You can compromise on many aspects of a relationship, but this is just not one of the areas. I'm not like you. You live a day at a time. I need stability, security. I'd like to plan ahead, like to know what I can count on. I need to know when and if the passion dies between us, we would still be together because we love each other, because how much we care about each other.

No. As much as I love you, as much as I also crave for the happiness and togetherness that we had, I can't subject myself to this. I can't compete with booze... I can't compete with you.

Besides, I can't tell you I love you anyway. You need to be doing this for you, not for me, not for the possibility that we might get back together someday. You need to be well just for you.

Taking a deep breath, I turn my heels, and walk back towards your room. Running away isn't going to solve any problems.

"Liv..." I say.

Your body tenses, but you remain staring outside the window.

"I'm sorry I ran out like that. I just, I just didn't know what to do. I'm still not sure I do."

"What's there for you to do? I told you I love you, and you split. That says enough."

"It's not like that..." That seems to be my phrase of the morning. "You picked booze over me, Olivia, not another person, not a higher calling. Booze. After all the promises you made me, that we've made to each other..."

"I'm sorry..."

"Something changed, at least I'm assuming something changed in you, that made you check yourself into here."

"Yeah, you."

"Well, then you should leave now." I have to be cruel, for your sake, I keep telling myself. "Because you have to do this for you. You have to want to get well for you. I love you, Liv. And as cliché as it may be, I'll always love you. But if I have to set that love aside just so you learn to love yourself and care about yourself, then so be it."


"I'm not doing this solely for you. I just can't go through what I went through during the last six weeks. Not ever. Not again."

"I'm sorry..."

Your tears, the sound of your voice, they break my heart. If I could kiss you and hold you make it all go away, I would. But I can't. So I have to be strong, for me, for you. "I'm sorry, Olivia. I really have to go now. I promised Serena we'd... Anyway, I gotta go. You take care of yourself, all right?"

I pause briefly for your reply. For a sign of understanding, something; getting none, I turn and head towards the door.

322 Passing

"Hey, Liv, look what I brought you?" Elliot stands in the doorway with a fake smile. He's carrying a huge bag of food, I can smell it from here. He hands it to me like an offering.

"Thanks, El, but I'm not really hungry."

"You've got to eat Liv."

"Yeah, later." I stare down, onto the street, trying to keep the tears out of my eyes.

"Heard you have a visitor today?" Elliot says distantly. As if perhaps his worst fears are confirmed.

"Yeah." I say, still staring out the window. I don't think I've moved in three hours except to wipe the tears out of my eyes.

"Everything okay?" He asks me.

"Yeah." I sigh.

"Liv. I'm sorry."

"What are you sorry for?"

"I tried to protect you…" You start to explain.

"You can't protect me from everything, El."

"I know." You sit on the bed and stare at me.

"I did this. I made these choices." I mumble.

"That doesn't mean I want you to be hurt. You really loved her, huh?"

"Yeah," I say, trying to smile, "I hurt myself. I did this."

"Liv…it's not…we're worried about you."

"I know, El. But I'll be okay." Somehow, I think to myself.

"It's been a week."

"Yeah, it has, hasn't it?"

It seems like the time doesn't move at all, but in fact, it's flying by. A week, of staring listlessly out this window. A week of stone cold sobriety. A whole week, which quickly, too quickly turns into two, and then a whole month. A whole month without you.

323 FALL

"All right. I will… Thanks for letting me know, Elliot," I say, and hang up the phone, and turn to my friend. "She's back at work, and she's bringing some files over."

"Guess that's my cue to leave," Serena smiles and starts closing her Chinese takeout container.

"Thanks," I smile, and get up from my chair as she stands. I walk her to the door. "I'm really sorry…"

"It's okay." She waves her free hand dismissively, and grins. "I should've been working anyway. It's was a nice break while it lasted."

Then, suddenly, it occurs to me how different she and Abbie were, even though they both worked with Jack. Well, maybe not completely different. Serena takes her job just as seriously, she knows who she is outside of the office. She's fun-loving, but not quite as wild as you…

"Hey, you going to be okay, Alex? You look lost to the world for a moment," she asks as we stand by my door.

"Oh yeah, just thinking about one of files she's bringing over. The Brancouzi case," I lie through my teeth. She's my friend, just my friend. I shouldn't be comparing her with my ex's.

"I still can't believe he did all those things to the poor woman before he…" She stops and shakes her head. "I'll see you later then?"

"Sure, I'll give you a call whenever."

"And tell me how it went down?"

I blush before my brain can react. "Don't worry. I think it's going to be okay."

"She might be mad that you haven't gone to visit her since."

It's not that I didn't want to, I thought about going back to see you so many times… just to find out how you're doing. But then I remember what Elliot had said, that it would be better for you if I just stayed away. So I did… "Stabler told me she's in a good mood, happy to be back."

"That's good." She looks back, and pats me on the arm. "I'll talk to you later."

There it is again. The tiniest pause. Not even a whole second. When it first happened the other day, I thought I had imagined it. "Yeah."

I watch her walk back to her office, while making sure you're not coming down the hallway at the same time. It's too soon anyway, even if you took a cab here…

I close the door, and return to my desk, and my lunch.

While I'm eating, I try to focus on the file I have before me. I try not to look at my watch, or think too much about anything else besides the papers in front of me.

Out of nowhere, a Seinfeld episode pops into my head. Now how did it go? No phone calls the next day? Spending the night is optional? No kissing goodbye? We always see each other the next day, we work in the same office. And spending the night… well, it's just easier, especially with our schedule. No kissing goodbye is the only rule she and I have left unbroken…

Was that a pause before a kiss sort of pause?

"Knock, knock."

My heart jumps and I look up. When the door remains closed, I call out. "Come in."

The handle turns slowly, then you appear, with a shy smile on your face. "Hey."

"Welcome back." I smile, and before my brain catches up, I'm out of my chair. I want to hug you, to tell you how happy I am to see you. I wonder if the single hot pink gerbera daisy you're carrying is for me…

324 First Sight

It takes all I have to open the door. I hear your lilting voice beckoning me in, and I wonder if you're as nervous as I am. I don't even know why, we're friends at best and colleagues at worse. I take a deep breath, and then summoning my courage I push the door open.

You smile at me, and my heart melts. Immediately, you jump out of your chair and run over to me, and then shyly stop, staring at me, telling me how great I look, and how happy you are I'm back.

Okay, so it's been a month. A month where I haven't seen you except for that one day in the hospital. At first I was bitter, bitter that you never came, bitter that you never saw me through the hospital. I wanted to go from therapy into your arms. I was desperate for you, but then Elliot explained why you never came. He told you not to. He always means the best, even if it doesn't feel that way at the time. He told you that I was the most important thing…told you that I needed to heal.

I wonder if it was hard for you to stay away. If you ever thought about me at all, or whether I have been totally replaced by someone else. I don't want to admit how entirely possible it is, that you have found love in another source, and that I'm the furthest thing from your mind.

But I made it. I made it through by myself, without you there to hold my hand. And now I'm stronger for it.

And I still love you.

Now, sober for thirty days, knowing how badly I never want to go back to getting sober. It's a struggle; it will be every day for the rest of my life, but I want this too much. I've risked too much. I've given up too much.

You smile at me, as I thrust the pink daisy I brought for you in front of me. "They were selling them across the street," I smile.

"It's beautiful." You say and we stand together shyly.

"I have the…"

"The case…right" You say, as you walk around your desk.

And then you stop, and turn to me. Before I know it, your arms are wrapped around me, and you're giving me a huge hug.

"I'm glad you're back." You say, hugging me close.

"Me too," I say. "Me too."


"Thanks again for the flower," I say, as I tuck my hair behind my ear, and look towards the half bottle of water on my desk. I twist open the cap and put the daisy in. That took me what? Half a minute? I had half a minute to compose myself, to calm the beating of my heart.

Hugging you was the worst and best thing I could ever do. Friends hug friends when they haven't seen each other in a week. I hugged Fin when we first came back from the Hamptons, after six weeks. I kept telling myself when you were standing there in front of me.

When I touched you, though, when my body came alive, I realize I still respond to you. And that's just really bad. Really, really bad. To be falling in love, and falling out of love at least in theory, with two people, both supposed to be my friend. We're all supposed to be just friends and nothing more…

Oh, but it was good to touch you. To feel the vitality in you, to see the spark in your eyes. To see the pleasant surprise on your face, and your smile. I didn't want you to come out of the hospital, and hate me, for what I've said to you, for leaving you there alone.

Oh, but you weren't alone. You had the support system of your squad, I remind myself as I finally look up from my desk, and notice you're still standing.

"Have a seat."

"I probably should get going… I just wanted to drop off the file…" You say slowly. "Well, and to see you. Now that I've done both, I should…"

"Oh," I can't deny the disappointment sinking down to the bottom of my chest. "I'm sure you have a lot to catch up on… back at the station."

"Yeah, I think the files bred while I was gone. Suppose I can't expect the pervs to take a time-out along with me, eh?"

"No, unfortunately." I laugh at your humor. It's good to see you smile again. You seem… different. Maybe the past month has been good for you.

"Hey, Alex?"


"Um… nevermind."

"What were you going to ask me?"

326 Invite

I scold myself for being so damn shy. I mean, I know you. You know me. There's no need for me to be this…stupid. There's no need for me to feel like a teenager who doesn't know how to behave around the person they like. I'm old enough to handle this better.

I look at the floor for a second, before I start talking. "Well, I was just wondering if you…well, if you wanted to eat something. Sometime. With me." Yeah, that was fantastic. Smooth, Benson, real smooth.

"When?" You ask me, smiling.

So your first response isn't no. That has to be good, right?

"How about tonight?" I ask. No time like the present, right?

"Sure!" you say, way too quickly. Are you interested or is this just my overactive imagination? I've want to show you I've changed, I want to believe you can see that too…

"Great." I say with a smile as I turn to walk out the door.

And then I hear you calling me, "Oh, wait, Liv, I can't. I forgot."

"Oh." I say, trying not to sound as disappointed as I feel. "That's cool." Don't be too disappointed…she didn't say no, she said not tonight.

"I promised Serena…"

I stare at you.

So you're…with…then what's up with the hug? Why would you agree to go out with me?

Oh that's right, we're friends.

That's hard to remember—hard to accept.

I want to ask you, ask you if you're serious about her. If you love her like I believe you loved me, but instead I smile, and mumble, "Well, let's just do it another time then." As I turn on my heel and shut the door.

327 TORN

You were so cute when you were so nervous. I was, too. Despite everything I've told myself, I was hoping you'd ask me out. Maybe not a date, date. But it would have been wonderful just to spend time with you…

I can't believe I said yes without thinking. Then I mentioned Serena without thinking. I'm sure by now you think we've moved in together or something…

It was hard to watch you, watch the excitement leave and your face fall. Then you're out of my office, before I could even figure out a solution.

Just what would have been a reasonable solution though?

I touch the flower you got me, and I wonder what was going through your mind when you bought it. From the look on your face when I mentioned Serena, I'm sure it wasn't a friendship token.

I know what you want.

And I know what Serena doesn't want. At least I think I do.

But what do I want?

I know I don't want the pain I just lived through. I know I want your friendship. I have Serena's friendship. Can I possibly be wanting more? I know I do from you. But from her, too?

I can't believe I'm sitting here thinking about this. Me, Ms. Monogamy, torn between two women? What do I do? How am I going to… I know I'm supposed to live one day at a time, and seize the day, but this… this…

Argh! I wish somebody would just shoot me!

The ringing phone saves me from myself. "Cabot. Hey. Yeah, she left a little while ago. Sure, see you in a bit."

A few minutes later, Serena comes through my door. She plops down in the chair directly across from me. "Nice daisy." Immediately, she comments.


"So how did it go?"

"Okay. She asked me to go to dinner with her, but then I remember you and I made reservations…"

"Yeah, and I don't wanna give it up. Who knows when the next time will be?"

"I know. Me neither."

"Say, Alex?" Her smile turns into a wide grin. "Why don't you ask if she wants to come with us? A girls' night out?"

"I'm not sure if that's such a great idea. I just don't know…"

"Come on, you two are supposed to be friends now, right? My friend's friend is also my friend. We should all get to know each other. We'll form our own Group."

"I get to be Candy Bergen."

"Yeah, sure, whatever you say, Cabot." She rolls her eyes, and makes a face. "Anyway, you going to call her? Or shall I?"

"Are you going to sit here and make sure I call?"

"If you need me to."

"That's okay." I say, try not to think too hard. Wonder how you'd react to another girls' night out.

"Hey," she checks her watch, and stands up. "I gotta get going. Voir dire on the Barnum case. I'll stop by again later."

"Okay." I look up. Our eyes meet.

There's that pause again. It's not my imagination at all. It she just reacting to me though? Or maybe she feels the same way I do?

My questions are answered when she bends down, and touches my lips with hers…

328 Honesty

I run down the steps of your office determined to not look back. I feel my face burning, with embarrassment for assuming that I could simply walk back into your life with a flower and a smile and you'd be there, with open arms to accept me back. What the hell was I thinking? Of course you've moved on. Of course you're with someone else.

And it's Serena? I can't believe that…no, I don't want to believe that. I guess you have a penchant for your co-workers. Abbie…Serena…me?

I want to hate Serena, rip her head off, but I guess I can't blame her. I mean, it's not her fault that you turned to her, or at least I assume you did. Did you go after her the same way you went after me? Did you want her to hold you close? Do you feel the same way in her arms as you did in mine? I guess, really, I can only blame me. I made the choices, and now I have to learn to deal with the consequences.

I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket and I sigh. It's good to be back, but this phone has to be one of the worst inventions of man. No matter where I am, or what I'm doing, it can find me. It's Elliot, of course. He knew I was coming to see you, and…

"Hey El," I say into the phone without even looking at the caller ID.

"Liv? This is Alex."

"Oh, hi," I mumble. Need you rub it in more?

"I was wondering, if you'd like to, umm, join Serena and me? Tonight?"

"Wouldn't that be awkward?" I ask.

"Well, no, I mean, Serena and I are just friends."

"With benefits?"

"That's not the…"

"I'm sorry Alex, but I can't…I mean, I can't sit there knowing you two…" I try to explain. It's not so much that you've been…together. It's knowing that you could love her. That she could already have replaced me in your heart.

"Liv, she's my friend. And you want to be my friend."

"But Alex," I whine. "It's not exactly that simple. I desperately want to be your friend. I want more from you, and I know that I have to rebuild that. I've made some bad choices, but I have to show you, show you that I've changed. I'm glad you have Serena, but, it's hard for me, to see you…and her, knowing..."

I hear you sigh. "I know."

"It's okay Alex. Go and have a good time."

"But I want to see you…"

"Well you can. I'm not going anywhere. Not this time."


Dinner with Serena was fun. The restaurant was adorable, if a restaurant could be such. And the food, the food was great, wonderful, superb. To top the evening off, we even came face to face with a celeb.

I can't even remember what she and I talked about now. Office gossip, I think. I'm pretty sure I wondered out loud why there hasn't been any about her and I. Guess it's because we're friends, and have always been friends. For whatever reason, it's really not such a bad thing.

I remember wishing you were with us. It's not fair to you, but I just wish we were all buddies. Joking, laughing, having a generally carefree time. Although if you were with us, we wouldn't have been drinking, and Serena wouldn't have tripped into Richard Gere…

Anyway, I told her why you didn't want to go, and she understood. That was the only time in the evening we talked about you.

We also never mentioned the kiss in the afternoon. Maybe it was just a random, spur of the moment thing. We certainly didn't kiss again when we parted tonight.

For the first time in a week, we actually went home separately…

I unlock the door, and immediately, I feel the emptiness of my apartment. I can't remember the last time I was here alone. All right, I do remember, but I'd rather not.

As I move towards the kitchen, I see the frantic blinking of the answering machine. Who on earth calls me on the land line? Wonder what mom wants. Probably still hoping for me to apologize about not being home for the holidays. Oh well.

"Five messages." The machine announces.

Good grief!

"Hey, Alex," your voice comes on, all business like. "I tried your office earlier, your assistant said you had left already, and I couldn't get through your cell… Just want to let you know we might need you to get a warrant tonight. I'll try you again on your cell later."

"Monday, 6:14 p.m."

Immediately, I check the phone. It's still on, and no one has tried to call. Hmm…

"Hey, Counselor, it's me again. Still can't get through to your cell. Just want to let you know the guy's alibi checked out, we don't need you after all. Have a good night."

"Monday, 7:05 p.m."

"Hi, Alex, this is Liv. Just want to apologize for the calls earlier. Good thing I couldn't get through to your cell, eh? Wouldn't want to interrupt your dinner… Anyway, talk to you later."

"Monday, 7:15 p.m."

"Hi, Alex, it's me again. Are you home? Just wondering. Bye."

"Monday, 8:43 p.m."

Wow, you actually waited an hour and a half for that one. It's kind of sweet, in a way…

"Hi, it's me. Don't know if you're home, or if you're even coming home… Listen, Alex, I'm sorry. I never actually called you on your cell. Didn't need the warrant either. I just… I'm sorry. I know I've hurt you, I've hurt you badly. I can't blame you if you decided to move on. But… Will you give me another chance? If we go slow, if we become friends first…? Or are you really in love with Serena? Do I stand a chance? Any chance at all?"

"Monday, 9:18 p.m."

I check my watch. That's less than an hour ago. What should I do? What can I do? How do I end up here? How do I get myself in this kind of mess? It had never occurred to me I'd be torn like this. God, what the hell do I do?

Wish I could call Serena, and talk to her. But, by now she's probably in bed, sleeping off the alcohol…

Besides, what do I tell her? Uh, Serena, I think I'm falling in love with you. So do you still mean what you said, about relationships? And, by the way, I really, really want to take Olivia back… When I see her, all I can think of, is how much I want her to rip my clothes off, and how good it'd feel… What do you think I should do?

Yeah, that would go over really well.

Guess I should call you back, so you know I'm home. Alone. Not sure what I'm hoping to achieve here, but you're going to wonder, and assume, and I don't want that. It's important you know the truth.

It's just a principle sort of thing, I tell myself, as I pick up the telephone.

Immediately, you pick up. "Hi."

330 Distraction

I'm trying to not think about you out with her. I try not to think about your smile. I try not to think about her making you laugh. I try not to think of you both, out together, and what you must be doing now—stumbling home together, in each others arms.

It's not working. I'm holding the phone, staring at it, debating whether to leave you what seems like the fifteenth message, and I make myself stop. Okay, this isn't healthy. This borders on stalking. When you get home, you'll call me, or you won't, and there's nothing I can do about either. What is that prayer, "accept the things you can not change?" It's making me feel miserable, and I need to focus on something else. I look around my apartment. Focus, focus.

I'm not sure what to do with a night to myself. I'm usually working, or thinking about working. Tonight though, I can only think of you.

I flip on the TV, determined to relax, determined to take my mind off you.

Within ten minutes I'm sucked into a Lifetime movie…definitely a guilty pleasure. I would never admit that these things fascinate me. I'm always determined not to watch them, and then within five minutes, I can't change the channel.

I'm so engrossed that when the phone actually rings, I almost fall off the couch. "Hi?" I mumble into the phone.

"Hey, It's Alex."

"Hey, look, I'm sorry about the…"

"It's okay Liv. I just wanted you to know that I was home…"

"Yeah. So how was your dinner?"

"Good. I wish you had been there…"


"Yeah." You say slowly.


"So what are you doing?" you ask, and I wonder what you think I'm doing. Well, I know what you probably think I'm doing, drinking myself to oblivion, but I'm not, I'm not because I can't, because I don't want to go back there.

I stare at the TV. Damn. Why aren't I reading David Copperfield, or solving world hunger. "It's embarrassing." I mumble.


"I'm watching a smutty made for TV movie."

"You too?"


"Those things are my guilty pleasures." You confess.

I smile to myself. "You want to join me?"

I hear your pause. "Yeah, yeah I would."


"Would you like to come over?" Oh shit. Serena's things. "On second thought, maybe I should go there instead." I quickly change my mind, and come up with an excuse, "Since you've been watching the movie, and you can fill me in when I get there, from the beginning."

"Okay!" You answer cheerfully. "I'll see you in a few then?"

Whew. "Sure, let me pull on some jeans, and I'll be right over."


"Have you eaten? Would you like me to pick up some snacks or something?"

"Umm… I've got soda, popcorn…" I can almost taste the enthusiasm in your voice. "And all the water you can drink!"

I can't help but laugh. "All right then."

"Hey Alex?"


"If you, um, if you decide to spend the night, I have clean jammies you can borrow… If you, uh, if you want to bring clothes for tomorrow. Or… we can stop at your place in the morning."

"Well…" Is this really such a great idea? It's one thing to be friends with privileges, and we already know how well that's working out… It's another to… with you.

Sensing my hesitation, you add immediately, "I'll take the couch if you want."

"Oh. I'll, we'll play it by ear, all right?"

"All right." You agree slowly. "Alex?"


"Thanks for coming over. I just, I just don't really want to be alone… and I've missed you."

"Yeah." I'm not sure what to say. That's what friends are for? I've missed you, too, I guess? "Hey, I should go get ready if I'm going to make it there at a reasonable hour."

"Yeah. Okay…"

"I'll be there soon!"

"All right… Be careful."

"I will."

332 Apology

Before I hang up, I'm already pacing. Back and forth, back and forth. I feel like I'm in a marathon, running back and forth, over and over again making sure that my place is perfect. You haven't been here in months, and I want to show you that it's not always littered with alcohol bottles. In fact, there's no booze here at all.

I run into the kitchen and make sure there are no dishes in the sink. I run into the bedroom to make sure my underwear isn't strewn on the floor. I throw some dirty clothes from the floor in the bathroom into the hamper, and just as I'm sure that everything looks perfect, I finally sit back down. I try to figure out what exactly happened…but I'm lost. I guess we'll have to find another movie, or something else to do.

I guess really we should talk. Probably not about the movie either. I have so much to explain to you. To tell you how I've changed. And I wonder how you've changed too. You and Serena, huh? I want to know if I ever have a chance with you again, or if I'm flying blind here.

I wait for your knock, and I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. I scold myself.

Why am I so damn nervous?

It's not like…it's not like you're, and we've never, and…why do I feel like a kid?

I sigh at my own silly nervousness. And then there's your knock, light at first.

How'd you get up here without buzzing in? Oh, I bet you still have my key. You kept it, and that makes me smile in spite of myself.

I slide across the room and open the door for you.

You look beautiful, and I smile at you in spite of myself.

"Hey," I say with a smile, "come on in."

You look around and I see the brief smile on your lips. "Looks nice," you say, approvingly.

Score one for me.

"Yeah, I like the new color," I say, motioning to the walls that are thankfully no longer a hideous pink.

"Yeah, it's nice."

"So what are we…?" you ask, walking by me and motioning to the TV.

"Oh, I kind of lost track, so we can change it. Or we can…turn it off."

You look at me shyly, and I smile.

"I've missed you," I mumble as I reach out for you hand, which you let me take into mine. "I'm so sorry…"


It's so strange, to step foot in your apartment again. Unlike last time, it's actually clean. The walls are a soothing shade of light blue, or green, can't really tell in this light, but the color is definitely more you. And the floors, your kitchen counter, coffee table... they're all starkly devoid of alcohol bottles...

You seemed surprised to see me. Oh, right, maybe I shouldn't have used the key... but I didn't really want to stand out there for you to buzz me in. At least that's the only reason I can come up with in retrospect. So, I ask you about the television show, just because.

"Oh, I kind of lost track, so we can change it. Or we can…turn it off," you say and reach for my hand.

I fight the urge to pull away, and the equally fierce desire to pull you towards me. Somehow, I manage a smile.

"I've missed you," you mumble as stand in the middle of your living room. "I'm so sorry…"

"I know, Olivia."

"Tell me what I can do to make it up..."

"I, I don't know, Liv... I need time."

"Do you love Serena?"

God, you always just cut right to it, don't you? "Yes, we're friends. You love Elliot..."

"I don't sleep with Elliot."


"Are you in love with her?"

"I, I don't know."

"You don't know?" You throw your arms up. "Is she in love with you, then?"

Suddenly, without your hand holding mine, I feel... like I'm teetering on the edge of something, I feel so... ungrounded, exposed. "Can we sit down?" I ask, and move towards your couch.

You follow me, and remain standing. "Is she, Alex?"

"I don't know..."


"Please Liv, please sit?" I motion to the empty space next to mine. Your pacing is making me really nervous. I'm confused enough all by myself, thank you very much.

Meeting my eyes, you pause, sigh, and sink into the cushion. "Do I still stand any chance with you? Realistically? Be honest."

"To be honest, Liv..." Now it's my turn to sigh. "To be honest, I don't know. I mean, I'd love nothing more than to fall back into your arms, to believe that everything will be all right... But I'm afraid."


"Our job is crazy enough, we see enough madness, things that make us, make me feel bad, make me lose faith in human nature, on a daily basis..."

"Yeah? What does that have to do my question, Alex?"

"With Serena, even with not knowing how we feel about each other, there's still a certain sense of stability, safety, that I want, that I need. A sense of normalcy, whatever that means," I try to explain to you directly. You did ask me to be honest. "And I trust our friendship enough that I know we won't try to hurt each other... at least not intentionally."

"You're afraid I'll hurt you again."



I stop and truly look at you. I can see the pain written on your face. I can feel the pain burning inside my stomach. You think I'll hurt you again? I hope you're not right. I can't make a promise.

"Look," I say to you, staring into your eyes. "I can't ask you to trust me."

Your eyes get wide as you look at me, and then you turn away.

"I haven't been…exactly stable. And I can't promise you that stability. I wish I could. I wish I could tell you that everything is fine, and that now, it'll be all even keel from here on out, but I can't. Because really, all I can do is live this one day at a time. Some of them are easier than others, but, all I can tell you, all I can promise you, is that I want to try."

"You've said that before."

I sigh. You're right after all. "I have, but it finally got to the point where it couldn't be worse."

"Crashing my brother's car wasn't enough?"

"Crashing your brother's car was the start. Alex, I didn't think there was a problem, even then. I mean, yeah, it's funny how something like that can happen, and you don't see it. Even lying in the hospital bed, I couldn't see how alcohol was the problem. It was easy to blame it on a bad night, or on the car, or on anything but me and what I was doing to myself."

"I just don't get that,"

"I know it's clear to you, isn't it?"

You nod slowly. "I can't see how you couldn't understand. You almost died Liv. You easily could have."

"It's just…Alex, I didn't want to believe that it was a problem."

"I know." You say. You're staring at the floor.

"And so when I drank that night, after all that counseling and stuff…I knew it was out of control. I mean, not right then."

"So why'd you get help? I mean, the second time?" You ask.

I stare at the floor. If I'm going to be honest, I might as well go all the way. "The day you brought me home from the station. You started… you started to cry."

"I've cried lots of times," You mumble.

"It's the way…I could just tell you were totally frustrated with me. And Alex, even drunk out of my mind, I care about you, and what you think. And I could just tell, I could see in your eyes…that you were done with me."

"You broke up with me Liv."

"I know, but, I did that because I knew you would've if you had known…"

"You're right." You say.

"I know…and I couldn't bear for that…and then it totally got out of control. And then, those tears. I couldn't…I just…"

I feel you reach out and take my hand…

335 FAIR

Sometimes I wish my heart and my head would agree. All right, they do, just not when it comes to you...

I had expected you to revert to your old ways, to feed me lines you know I want to hear, so I'll find a way to fall for them. Instead, you admitted to your failures, your problems... The reason why you broke my heart.

You even told me you can't make any promises.

You look so sad, so lost, right now... You obviously feel bad about what happened between us. You obviously do care.

I wish we could start all over, wish we weren't both in so much pain... I take your hand.

"Alex..." You look down, tightening your grip, the corner of your lips twitching in the beginning of a smile.

And my heart quickens.

Then suddenly, my brain reminds me, you still might be feeding me lines. Telling me what I want to hear, just so I'll give you another chance. So you can break my heart again. Fool me once...

Can I afford to let myself be fooled again?

I wish I could trust you. I wish I knew...

"Will you give me another chance?"

"I want to, Liv. I'd really like to."


"I'm not sure... I think it's too soon." Maybe I just want to be selfish for a while, to not have to worry about my heart breaking, because you suddenly decide... whatever you might decide.

"You mean I need to gain your trust first."


"Meanwhile, you might fall in love with Serena."

"I... I'm trying to learn how to live one day at a time, too."

"But that's not..."

Fair? Is that what you were going to say before you stopped? "I do love you, Liv. I really do. I guess, I just don't want anymore broken promises, from you, or me."

336 Reason

"I can't promise you that I won't break your heart. But you can't promise me that you won't break mine. What if you wake up one day and decide that you don't want to be involved… or that you want to be involved elsewhere."

"I'm not like that." You protest.

"But we're not talking about what is, we're talking about what if. What if you change? You decide I'm not what you want and run off with Serena." You pull your hand out of mine, but I continue. "I didn't always drink you know, and now, I'm, well, I'm trying hard not to. And I've done it without someone sitting here watching me 24 hours a day. I've been lonely and been tempted, and I still haven't..." I say, letting the silence finish the sentence for me.

"So what, do you want a prize?" You ask me, with anger flashing through your eyes.

"Huh?" I ask, confused.

"I tried hard to save you Liv. I did the best I could. I took you away from here, and got you all the best therapy money can buy, and I spent every waking moment with you making sure you were safe. I did everything I could for you, and you still walked out."

"I know, sweetie, I'm not trying to belittle that. I mean, I love you for all the things you've done for me. More than anyone has done before. It's just that, when you did it, I wasn't ready for help. I wasn't seeking it, and I didn't think it was really a big deal. I was just, taking it, as a condition."

"A condition?" You ask.

"Of being with you. But it doesn't work like that. I mean, it wasn't even really like that. You wanted my sobriety, and now I want it too. I couldn't do it for you, only for you, I had to do it for me."

"How do I?"

"How do you know that I'm not full of shit?"

"No!" You say quickly, and then you look into my eyes. "Yeah." You mumble slowly.

"Alex, look, I can't make you believe me. I can't fix it; I can't take back what happened."

"Then be my friend."

"I'll always be your friend, but you have to understand. I can't stand back and watch you…"

"With Serena."


"I wouldn't do that…to you…I mean, if she and I were together, I'd be…"

"I'd be crushed."

"You know, you don't have any right to do this to me."


"To walk back into my life and ask me to just take you back. I mean, Liv, come on. You walked out. You gave me back my ring, and you told me to shove it."

"I know, Alex, I was…"

"I know, I know, scared. Because of me. Because of how I…" You bolt up from the couch, and slowly I stand up next to you…

"I'm sorry," I say again, simply. "I'm so sorry."

337 FURY

Why is it suddenly I'm the bad guy? Because I didn't wait around for you to come to your senses? Because I decided to take comfort in the arms of my best friend? How dare you!

"What? Do you want a prize?" I demand. You have no idea how close I am to getting up and walking out your door.

Somehow, you just stare blankly back at me, completely clueless. How can you be so astute and so clueless at the same time?

So I do the only thing I can think of, I list all the things I did for you, so willingly, so stupidly. Suddenly, your "sweetie" sounded so patronizing… I take a deep breath, and try to even out my temper. It's not productive for me, or the situation. Is this how it's always going to be like with us? Up and down and up and down?

Are the ups really worth the downs?

I try to listen, to digest what you're saying. I try to focus on the contrition, the sadness, the regret in your tone, when you tell me how sorry you are that you can't take back what happened. I try not to dwell so much on your words. Words are so open to interpretation, not to mention cheap.

"Be my friend." I ask you. Friends would be mindful of each other's feelings. They would give another friend space, time, whatever they need to heal.

Again you bring up Serena. Who do you think you are? That you can judge me? How dare you to walk into my life and expect me to drop everything, knock down all the walls, and let you back in again? Just like that?

How about try bringing me flowers, plural, more than once. Asking me out? Slowly easing back into my life? We can't even sit and watch a movie together.

You're scared. Yeah, yeah. Sure. Whatever. I'm tired of this… this arguing. Right now, when there are no ups to speak of, the downs are just so much more obvious. So I get up.

And slowly, you stand to face me. "I'm sorry, Alex. I'm so sorry. I was just…"

"What about me?" I ask you. "Do I not have the right to be scared?"

"Yes, but…"

I shake off your grasp, and move towards the door.

This time you follow quickly. Suddenly, you're in front of me, blocking my way. Suddenly your arms are around me, your hands, your lips are on me.

"Liv!" I gather my strength and push at you. "What do you think you're doing…"

"Show you how much I love you, how much I need you." You tell me, your voice hoarse against my neck. Your thigh between my legs, your body pressing hard against mine.

"Liv," I pull my lips away from your mouth.

Your hands, your fingers back on my breasts. "Does Serena make you feel like this?"

I gasp. "This is not about Serena, Olivia; it's about you, and me."

"Is it?" You ask, unbuttoning my jeans and yanking down the zipper.

You have to... I can't. I must. "Stop!"

You stop.

"Serena doesn't make me feel like I should prosecute her."

"Fine, do it." You back away from me completely. "Call Elliot, have him arrest me for attempted rape. Just do it. I'll even plead guilty, save everyone some trouble."


"I need you in my life, Alex… An 8 by 10 couldn't be any worse than this…"

"God." You actually look like you mean every word you just said. I sink my head into my hand. "What am I going to do with you…"

338 Return

I can't believe I…I'm about to lose you again. You're going to walk out of here, you're going to leave me, and this time, I know, if you walk out that door, then I know that you'll never come back. I needed to kiss you, to touch you. Yeah, it was probably…well, probably isn't the word, but you, I wanted to know if you, if you felt it too. I felt you respond, felt you kiss me back, just for a second, just for…

I watch as you slip your head into your hands. I listen as you sigh deeply, and shake your head. "What am I going to do with you…"

For just a second, I feel anger rising in my throat. I feel like I'm forcing you into something, something you don't want to do. If I'm such a disease…a curse on your life? "You know what…I don't want to…I don't want to force you into this."

"It's not…" You start to explain, but I quickly interrupt you.

"I want you to choose me, not pity me."

You look up at me, your brilliant blue eyes staring deep into mine. You say my name like it's musical. "Liv."

"No, I mean, I'm obviously going about this wrong. I need to learn to accept it if you don't want me around anymore. So if that's it, just let me know, and I can stop begging."

"It's not that."

"I know, friends."


"Alex, I'm not asking you to go from zero to married. I want to date you. Slowly. I want to get to take you to a movie, or out to dinner. We went from our first date to living with each other, and, well, I don't think it was good for either of us. I just want to get the chance to…I don't know, woo you, prove that I can be trusted."

"It's not that I don't want to trust you, Liv."

"I know, Alex, I know. I mean, yeah. I'm not trustworthy. But you have to give me a small chance. Just a little one, one to prove that I am not the same."

"I don't know," You mumble.

"Look, you don't have to commit. I just, just watch a movie with me."

You look at the couch like it's going to bite you.

"Okay…" you say slowly, as you follow me back to the couch.


"So, how was it?" Serena walks into my office without knocking, and sits down in the chair.

I don't look up from the folder. "How was what?"

"Okay, let me put it another way, who did who against the wall first?"

I'm sure I'm blushing as I defend myself. "Who said..."

"Come on, don't tell me you didn't see each other after I went home last night."

"How'd you…?"

"The smile on your face is kind of a dead giveaway."

I try to conform my lips to a straight line. "For your information, we just talked, and we watched a movie."

"And then you're going to tell me you slept on separate beds."

"As a matter of fact... She took the couch."

"God. You're so predictable."

"What do you mean?"

She shakes her head. "Guess we're back to being friends without privileges, huh?" She ignores my question. "Just as well."

Suddenly, I feel disappointed, disappointed and hurt. "What do you mean? I thought..."

"I told you relationship and I don't mix..."


"We were heading for a talk... I didn't know how I thought I could sleep with you and not start to feel something... Or vice-versa."

"Is that such a bad thing?"

"Yes, it is. You're a 'til death do you part kind of woman... and I'm... Trust me, it just won't work."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Look, some things you can't compromise... this is one of them."

"Why does that sound so familiar?"

"I'm sure you've said that to other people. Look, I know you're spoiled, you like getting things your way. I am, too. Why do you think we're such good friends? We know where the other one is coming from."


"So, for once, you'll have to learn to do things on someone else's terms."


"Come on, don't look so glum. Lovers come and go. We'll always be friends."


That's what I tell you, right?

Suddenly I think I know why you reject the idea so much...

340 Remember

"What happened?" Elliot asks me, as he walks into the bullpen. I know he can see my smile from across the room. I can't help it

"What are you talking about?" I ask him, slowly, smiling.

"You're smiling like an idiot." He says. Leave it to Elliot to be painfully blunt.

"Shut up." I mumble, still smiling..

"Thanks, Maureen." He grumbles back.

I look up at him and roll my eyes. I'm not that immature. At least, I hope I'm not.

"I'm not like that." I say, not even trying to hide my smile.

"So, what'd you two do?" He asks me.


"Don't play dumb. You know what I'm talking about."

"Nothing happened, El, it really isn't a big deal."

"Alex?" he asks.

I smile just hearing your name.

"That's a yes," he says, staring at me. "Did you two?"

"We're just friends." I say, quickly. I remember how great it was, to sit on the couch with your head in my lap again. It was wonderful to feel your body, warm against mine, even if it was entirely platonic. I could feel your heat, and I knew I wasn't entirely alone. We even managed to talk about something besides whether or not you'd accept me back. We laughed, and smiled at each other, and then I happily slept on the couch, happy to know that you were there with me somewhere.

"It's good to see you happy."

"Thanks, El," I say with another smile.

"Just do me one favor?"

"Sure," I agree willingly.

"Remember that she broke your heart too."

Part 341

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