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 want you, I want you so badly. I want to love you, touch you, make love to you, please you. The gentle tenderness you've shown me just now, I want to do the same for you. But my bruises and your gallantry conspire against me.

"Guess you're going to have to help," I decide, with a mischievous grin. You open your eyes, and cock your head at me. "Let your hand be my hand, your fingers, my fingers," I elaborate softly, kissing your face.

"I'm going to what?" You ask.

Come now, you want me draw you a picture? Or do you just want me to say it, to hear it from my lips? I swallow my sudden embarrassment, and rephrase my question, "Let me watch you?"

The expression on your face changes from comprehension to apprehension to shyness. "You want me to…" You say, your voice sounding more like a squeak.

Is it possible? That no one has asked this of you before? Or that you've never pleasured yourself in front of another person? Is this another first for me?

Carefully, I take your hand, and guide your fingers across and down your body. I watch you touch yourself the way I touch you, watch your legs open, and your hips rock to the rhythm I set for you. My phantom hand caressing you as I kiss your face, your lips, your throat.

I watch your eyebrows knit in concentration, watch your mouth open, your tongue sliding out briefly to moisten your lips… Your breathing is more ragged now; you take in deeper and deeper breaths as you raise your knees and buck towards the apparition of my body. I can almost feel your moist warmth surrounding me, holding me, pulling me in…

I can almost feel you clench around my fingers as you tense, as my name slips from your lips. I see you slowing down, and I whisper, "Don't stop."

"Alex, please," you moan, a sheen of passion spreading from your forehead down to your chest. "I can't…"

"Sure you can," I encourage, the tip of my tongue teasing the side of your breast. "Please? For me?"

You whimper, then arch your back again.

"Tell me, what you're feeling?" I ask softly, taking your ear lobe into my mouth. "Where you are?"

"Love you," you gasp, pushing against your hand, my hand, moving in frantic circles. "So close… so close…"

Like you've never done for anyone, I want you to, "Come for me?"

And I watch, as your chest rises and fall, as you shudder and tense and shudder again. And I imagine my fingers inside you, my mouth on you, exploring, seeking out the heart of your need. Riding your passion. Forcing you to cry out, to know my love for you, in desire…

I kiss you softly, your eyelids, your nose, your cheeks, until your breathing finally slows.

You open your eyes stormy with love and aftershocks, and you smile shyly at me.

And I take your hand, and hold your gaze, as I close my mouth over your fingers, licking and tasting you…

"Alex…" My name escapes your lips in a hoarse whisper.

God. You have no idea how much I love the sound of that, no idea just how much I love you… Somehow, suddenly, what just happened seems inadequate, not enough. It's not enough to be your first in certain things, it's not enough to let your touch be my touch…

"How are your knees?" I ask you with a soft smile.

"Fine…" You answer hesitantly. "Why?"

I roll onto my back, and look over to you. "Will you get up here?" I motion to the space above my face. "I want to taste you…"

422 Insecure

"I'll kill you," I mutter.


"I can't do that, I'll kill you." I say shyly.

I watch the confusion slip through your eyes. Suddenly, I feel too naked, too exposed. I would give anything to be hiding under a blanket. Instead, your eyes are on me, loving me, and that makes my sudden unease even worse.

"You will not," you say with a mischievous smile.

"Yes, I will. I'll suffocate you, and then I'll have to explain to the entire squad that I killed you by sitting on your face."

"Olivia. Liv. Trust me."

I take a deep breath and turn to face you. Your blue eyes sparkle as I stare into them trying to find out why you want this from me. I search for the answer for why it is that everything I've always hated about my body seems all the more exaggerated? I know you can see it, see me, see my faults, and see my assets. I mean, it's not all bad, is it?

I wish I didn't feel so…entirely ridiculous, and turned on, and entirely confused.

"I can't, Alex." I just, I want to explain. I don't have the words.

"It's okay, sweetie." You stare into my eyes. You take a deep thoughtful breath. "You…you're blushing."

"Yeah." I say, which of course, makes the already existing heat in my face rise even more.

"You don't know how beautiful you are, do you?"

"Alex," I say, desperate for you to stop talking.

Your fingers trace a line down my face. "You have beautiful eyes, and a beautiful nose." You say kissing it gently.

"Okay, that's enough."

"Can't you just take a compliment?"

"Fine, thanks. Okay? Can you stop now?"

"No. You are beautiful Liv. Whether you want to be or not."


"I'll kill you," you say again, still blushing furiously.

Unlike last time, I don't feel the need to stifle my laugh. For this time, this time I see the insecurities buried underneath the shyness, the arousal, the confusion. I reach out, touch your face gently, and remind you, "I've gone face-back riding on you before, and you're still alive."

"But, Alex," you almost whine, "that's different."


"That's something… that's something a girl does."

"You're a girl…"

"Yes, but I'm not, not a femme-y girl."

"I've seen you in skirts, and heels," I recall the time you tried to get the suspect to confess to killing the woman, and cutting off her foot, and how inappropriately and desperately I wanted to jump you in the interrogation room. "You're definitely a woman, an extremely desirable woman." I lean in, and let my words caress your lips. "Even in jeans and teeshirts, you are."

You fight valiantly against my seduction. "I, I have a bigger ass…"

I take your justification seriously. "No, you just have slightly wider, more feminine hips than I do."

"My thighs are fat."

"I'm not sure you have an ounce of fat on you, okay, maybe except here," I tease your full breasts with my fingers, careful not to scrape you again with the band-aids on my palms. "Your thighs, they're so, so… toned, and strong, I'm getting hot and bothered just thinking about them. Thinking about them on either side of my face."

"Why, why do you want this, from me?"

"Why not?" I ask, searching within myself for clues to your reluctance. "It is because… are you afraid? Of feeling exposed?"


"I think I know most of your flaws, at least your biggest, and I'm still here, still want to make you happy, to pleasure you." What more can I say? "We talk about my trust for you… Do you not trust me? Do you not trust my love for you?"

You furrow your brows briefly, to think. After an eternity, you respond, "I do trust you, Alex."

Guess I really wouldn't want a rash, insincere answer. I smile, and lean in to kiss you softly. Slowly, I run my tongue across your parted lips, sensually darting in, then pulling back, I breathe, "Then let me make love to you. Come on, Liv, do I have to beg?"

Slowly, you get onto your knees. I hold your gaze as you position yourself above me. Carefully, I reach up, and taste your arousal, and feel the sharp intake of your breath. "You're beautiful, Liv, to a lot of people, I'm sure," I tell you with a rush of emotions.

"And you…?"

I smile a deeper smile. "Especially to me," I respond, and dive into the sweet salty ocean of you…

424 Timid

Everything that's wrong with me is magnified in this position. I stare down my own body, your face stares back at me. You look so delicate, so small. I concentrate on balancing, forcing my own body weight onto my legs, careful not to let it drape on you. I'm going to kill you; I'm really going to kill you. All it's going to take is one false move—a muscle twitch, a cramp, a spasm. And it will be me explaining to the paramedics just how your neck got broken.

How exactly did I let you talk me into this again? Oh yeah, those big blue eyes and you begging me to trust you.

I wish you could understand that this is me and not you. That trusting you has nothing to do with this.

Well, I do trust you. I really do.

But this isn't me. I'm not this kind of girl. Hell, I'm not even close. I'm almost too vanilla, something I know that you'd laugh at since you've seen the contents of my bedside stand. Not that I bought that stuff thinking about it's possible uses, most of it has sat in that drawer for as long as I can remember. Sitting on top of you, watching your face, watching my body, this isn't erotic, it's almost horrifying.

I know you don't want to hurt me, or for me to feel exposed, raw, and entirely too naked.

I'm trying to close my eyes. I keep trying to focus on the sensation of your tongue and not on the feel of my awkwardness. I want to come, I want to just get it over with, but the more I force that thought into my mind, the further from orgasm I get, without hope of it ever returning.

I take a deep breath, again, trying to concentrate on my body's response, your tongue darts against me.

I realize that I have two choices.

Neither of them sounds right.

I can lie to you, scream your name and collapse on top of you. Telling you that you're the best lover I've ever had, like I've done so many times before with men who couldn't find the rhythm I needed, the pacing that would pull me closer.

Or I could stop you. Stop this.

I could tell you, tell you that this makes me feel…wrong.

And I can pray you understand.

I take a deep breath and make my choice…


I slide my tongue over and around you, tasting you, loving you. Unlike you when our positions were reversed, I keep my eyes closed, knowing how self-conscious it would only make you feel. One step at a time right? Something tells me you've taken a bold step just agreeing to do this. I'm still not sure I understand why, however.

Is it really a perceived femininity thing? It doesn't feel like a trust issue. Are you really that vanilla, despite your teasing? What do they say about people who protest too much? But… Okay, this isn't exactly the missionary position, although… Suddenly, I'm remembering the jokes you made at the toyshop, and how you avoided Trevor's box, or any mentions of its contents.

Is that it? Simple, good old fashioned inhibitions?

Or are you not comfortable really because you don't trust me? Don't trust me enough to be so exposed, and in a way so vulnerable? Even though if you look at it differently, you're the one on top, the one in control. You can ride my tongue and create your own rhythm, and take your pleasure.

But that's not what you're doing at all.

In fact, you're tense. I know you, I know your body enough to sense that you're distracted. That you're really not enjoying yourself.

Maybe I'm thinking too much, maybe my being overly analytical is contribution to your unease…

I will myself to stop rationalizing, and focus on your body. Focus on your movements, the cadence of your breathing, the tiny tremors that are running along your legs. I try to concentrate on the way you taste, and how deeply I could reach and caress you with my tongue; the erotic feel of your thighs against my head; the touch of your firm ass under my fingers.

The small, subtle clues that tell me you're abandoning yourself to my caress, the many familiar tell-tale hints that you're moving towards climax, they're not there. You're not even close.

It's not me, right? Right? Somehow, without warning, all the insecurities and the uncertainties just leap out and grab me…

And I open my eyes.

And I see that yours are closed in concentration. In fact, your entire face is tense. Are you trying to come? To provide me with what I want? When it's becoming clearer and clearer to me that this is giving you anything but pleasure?

Or are you trying to figure out a way to extract yourself from this situation? Fake an orgasm perhaps? It's not like I haven't done it before, just not with you…

I'm not sure which would hurt me more, the rebuff? Or you lying to me, even though it's to protect my feelings… Or worse, you assume that I don't know you enough to realize you're lying, that you don't care enough to tell me the truth…

Maybe I should stop now, and tell to you I understand, even though I don't. At least I can save myself from the sting of total rejection.

I'm just about to stop when you open your eyes, and our gaze meet…

426 Breaking

"I…I can't do this Alex." I say, as I pull myself off of you. I feel ridiculous, standing in front of you, my breath coming in gasps. As soon as I'm free from your grasp I desperately start grabbing my clothes off the floor and sliding them on, covering my naked body from your eyes.

The clothes make me feel less naked, but I still feel entirely exposed. Your eyes search me for answers, answers that I'm not sure that I know how to give. I don't know why I can't do this. I don't know why it makes me feel so strange. I don't know how to explain it to you, explain that I love you and I trust you, but that my brain won't shut off and let me just enjoy the way you your tongue feels against my skin, the way my body can respond to you.

"What's wrong?" You ask me, pulling yourself up on the couch, grabbing at your clothes too, covering yourself with them instead of putting them on.

"I'm, I'm sorry." I mutter. "I'm really sorry." I'm not sure what else to say. I feel like I've let you down, but at least I haven't lied to you. I haven't pretended. It's what I would have wanted from you. To be told not tonight instead of having an Academy Award winning performance.

"Liv, what's wrong?" You ask me again, your voice breaking into my consciousness.

"I just can't." I stare into your eyes which are looking for answers, answers I'm not sure I know how to give.

"It's okay." You say slowly. I search your face for hurt, for signs that you're angry. Signs that you're disappointed in me. Signs that you're never going to forgive this. But none of those are there. You're staring at me with nothing but concern on your face.

Your hand reaches out to me, "Come here." You say slowly, carefully, inviting me to have a choice.

Reluctantly, I slide back across the room, sitting next to you on the couch.

You reach for me, and pull me close to you. "It's okay…" you whisper into my ear.

"I trust you," I say, desperate for you to believe me. This isn't a trust thing. As stupid and cliché as it sounds, I want to say 'it's not you, it's me.' I feel tears starting to bubble in my eyes and I will myself not to cry.

"Liv…it's okay. I don't want you to do something, something that makes you so obviously uncomfortable."

"I don't know what my problem is."

"It's okay," you say hugging me close to you.

I let the tears fall freely now, as you hold me, rocking me gently, telling me it's okay, telling me to be calm and that you love me…


I hold you, shivering and crying in my arms. I'm at a loss. Why are you so distraught? Why are you acting this way? So you're not comfortable with what we just did, so, what's the big deal?

Okay, I just a few minutes ago, I thinking a lot about it, and I was fearful of how my insecurities might have taken the rejection. Suppose I was guilty of making a big deal, too. But when it came down to it, my love and acceptance of you won out...

Besides, it's not about rejection at all, is it?

So desperately you try to tell me it wasn't me, that it was you. No, you didn't say those exact words, but you keep apologizing. You're still apologizing.

"Come on, Sweetie, it's okay," I try to tell you again. Maybe you'll listen this time?

You cling onto me, and wail. "No, it's not, Alex. I don't know what's wrong with me!"

It's taken me almost everything to ignore the pain, ignore your hands clutching at my bruises, as I try to ease your hurt. "Why do you think that? I don't see anything wrong..."

"I just do... There is... I don't know why..."

Oh great, just great. Maybe you're having one of those moments, moments where you just need to cry. God knows I've had enough of those lately...

"Liv, honey..." I sigh internally, not knowing what else to say. Suddenly I feel like I'm your mother, and you're an overgrown child. Is that how you feel when I burst into tears over reasons unknown? No wonder you act so helpless and agitated. I'm sure you were as clueless as I am now...

"I'm sorry..." You sniffle. "So sorry..."

"It's all right, really. You don't have to be sorry." I brush your hair out of your eyes, and place soft kisses on your face. " You have nothing to be sorry about."

"But I do, I don't know what's wrong..."

Okay, maybe we should talk about it. Maybe we could figure out what's going on. "Liv," slowly, carefully, I begin, "I wish I knew what you're going through right now. Unfortunately, I don't, and I'm sorry..."

Your tears seemed to be subsiding. Perhaps my talking is distracting you.

Encouraged, I continue, "Is it about feeling exposed?" I start with the most obvious. The way you pull your clothes on just now, you almost acted guilty, or maybe like I had forced myself on you... I didn't, did I? "Did I, did I ask you to, did I make you, make you do something you don't..." I can't even finish the sentence.

Oh god, did I...

428 Therapy

I sit nervously in the waiting room, my feet pounding a steady rhythm on the floor. I try to read a magazine, but I can't force myself to pay attention to the words on the page. Reading them same line over and over, as my foot thumps and my heart pounds in my chest.

You're finally here. At the counseling appointment I begged you to make. Finally here, at the appointment that you've canceled twice, and made me promise to be here for.

Every time a door opens, my pulse beats faster.

It's never the right door, it's never you.

I wonder what you're talking about. I wonder if it's me. I wonder if you're talking about my drinking, and how it changed you. Maybe you're talking about the other day, when I broke down, crying, and you held me tight in your arms. Or maybe it's not me at all. It could be anything, Serena, Trevor, your mom.

I hear a door open and I don't even look up this time, but then I hear your name. "How's this time next week Alexandra?"

"Fine." You say, under your breath as you look at me desperately.

I stand up, and shift my weight on my feet, waiting for you to join me.

"How'd it go?" I ask you anxiously.

"She says I have control issues."

"Really?" I ask, trying not to add a 'duh', under my breath.

"Can you imagine that?" You ask, storming through the hall and outside onto the sidewalk.

"The nerve," I say, mocking you.

You shoot me an evil glare and keep stalking down the sidewalk with me a few steps behind.

"Sweetie?" I ask you slowly, trying to catch up to you. "Are you...going to go back?"

You turn around on your heel and stare at me. "Yes." You say, quickly, and then add, "But only because I promised you."

"I appreciate that," I say, trying to hide my smile as I gently take your hand and walk with you down the street.


I fought the urge to move away when you take my hand in yours. Out of habit, I scan our surroundings. We're miles away from work, both yours and mine; a little public display of affection such as hand holding is fine, right? It's not like we're mauling each other at a street corner...

Is this another manifestation of my need for control? Perhaps the shrink is wrong, perhaps I'm the one with intimacy issues.

I loosen my fingers from your grip, and loop my hand through your arm, pulling you closer to me. "Are you going with me next week?" I ask.

"Of course, Sweetheart! It's part of the deal we made!" You respond cheerfully. A little too cheerfully if you ask me. Sometimes I wonder if you're going just to make sure I show up for my appointment.

"Good," I drag out my reply.

"Is something wrong, Alex?" Immediately, you're concerned, and you stop us in our tracks. "What else did you talk about?"

I start walking again, still with my arm in yours. "I told her about the... incident, you know, where I thought I made you..."

"But Alex, we already talked about that. I thought we were clear. You didn't make me do anything I wasn't perfectly willing. I just couldn't, didn't enjoy it."

"I know that!" I smile at you reassuringly.

You smile back, relieved. "Good, 'cuz it was really, really silly of you to think that."

"Yeah, I know." I smile again, disguising my sigh. Here goes... "Well, since you're going with me next week? She'd like to see you too."

"What do you mean?"

You've stopped walking again. This time, I just move us away from the streets, so we're not standing in the middle of the sidewalk. "She'd like us to see her, together. At least for the next session. At least once."


"Yes, Liv."

"As in..."

"Couple's therapy, yes," I try to break it to you gently. "She thinks you may have intimacy issues... And maybe some mild form of identity crisis, really, really mild, and she isn't even sure if that's really it…"

430 Peace

Immediately, after you tell me what's wrong with me I feel my anger rising in my chest. "So, wait, you went to therapy to talk about what's wrong with me?"

"No, but, you're a big part of my life, so you came up…" You say, your arm wrapped in mine.

"Alex, this therapy thing, it's not supposed to be about me." I can't resist. I don't want to fight with you really, but I hate being the one to blame. I have an identity problem? I have intimacy issues? I'm not the one who wants to spend time to the minute in each of our apartments because you don't want to share the space.

"I know that Liv." You say, slowly.

I stare at you, wondering if you really know that. I want to counter you, want to tell you that my therapist says similar things about you. That you're a desperate control freak who needs every detail her own way or she can't function and that when you see the slightest break down in that control, you freak, and take everyone around you down.

Instead I take a deep breath, knowing I have nothing to be afraid of. "Sure, I'll go."

"Good." You say with a deep sigh.

"I think it will help us." I say, trying to make the best of it, knowing that therapy for us might be just as important as therapy for you.

"Do you think we really need the help?" you ask me, staring into the sidewalk as we walk.

"Yeah. I think we do." I say slowly.

You sigh. "I think so too."

"We've been through a lot." I supply.


"And I think some of it, some of its hurt us."

"Yeah." You say again.

"But what's important here," I say, turning into you, taking your chin in my hand, "is that I love you."

You smile, a deep smile, and kiss my nose quickly as we continue, arm in arm, walking down the street.


"Are you ready?"

I speak coldly into the opened file. "Don't you believe in knocking?"

"Listen, Alex, I'm fed up with your crap. If you want to throw your life away with an alcoholic whore, fine by me. Meanwhile, I'm your brother..."

They're just words; words can't hurt me. I close my eyes and remind myself. When I look up, I'm smiling, "Am I ready for what? Trevor?"

"Dinner with Mom! Don't tell me you've forgotten! What, too busy getting your brains fucked out?"

I take another deep breath, my smile still frozen on my lips. "You're my brother, you have to love me, right?" When he hesitates, I remind him, "It's just a variation of your own words: I must love you because I'm your sister."

"Fine. I love you, Alex. You know I do."

"Then why can't you accept the person I love? Why can't you just be happy for me?"

"She's no good for you, Alex."

"Coming from a person who's sleeping with his stepmother, and who has a crush on a dyed in the wool lesbian."

"You really think I don't stand a chance...."

Serena so owes me for this. "No, Trevor. N. O. No."

He seems slightly deflated. Unfortunately, it was temporary. "Have you told Mom?" He demands.

"Told mom, what?" I ask just to be obnoxious.

"About the other night, what she made you do."

"For the last time, Trevor, she didn't make me do anything. I walked out of the apartment on my own. It could've easily happened any other time," I explain calmly. Hmm... this therapy and anger management thing appear to be working very well. Had I known, I would have gone sooner. It seems to be doing us good, too...

"But mom..."

"Trevor, I'm not two anymore, I don't need mommy to put band-aids on my knees and kiss my booboos," I tell him, perfectly aware that's exactly what you did. "I'm fine now. Mom doesn't need to know about this."

"Fine. Have it your way. Why do I even bother arguing with you? You never listen to me anyway."

"Good," I respond, and pick up my phone. I can't help feeling I'm being set up, that he's giving up too easily... "Hey, Pookie," I greet you sweetly just to annoy him.

"Um, hi Alex," you respond, taken aback.

Can't say I blame you though. It really was nauseating, still I continue, "Whatcha doing?"

"Actually, getting ready to come pick you up."

"Oh, but Sweetie, I have dinner with mom tonight."

"I know. She called earlier and invited me."

She didn't. "She did? That's great!" I sound as pleasantly surprised as possible. "I'll see you when you get here then."


I should have known from the phone call, the way you called me 'pookie' with that sickly sweetness. That should have told me that there was more to this little dinner with mom than I had originally thought.

It was sweet of your mom to think of me, to spend time calling me and making sure I knew that I was invited to her dinner with you. At first, I was nervous when I picked up the phone to her voice, but she was so welcoming, so accepting, I couldn't help but tell her I'd be happy to join you both.

I watch you walk down the steps of the courthouse with your asshole brother in tow. For just a second, I think that I could actually just ditch you. Let you and Trevor go with your mom rather than have to deal with that asshole.

I just could walk away, turn on my heel and hide from you, hide from dealing with him. It certainly wouldn't do me any harm. He and I are never going to be friends, at the best, we might learn to tolerate each other.

"Liv!" you shout, however, pulling me out of my fantasy of running the other way.

"Hey," I say, with a smile. I may hate your brother, but I love you, and I know that fighting with him isn't going to help the situation. Part of my recovery is accepting my mistakes, and one of those was messing up your brother's very expensive sports car…so can I really blame the man for not liking me? Probably not. I'm determined to play nice, even if it kills me.

"Trevor," I say curtly, sticking my hand out to greet him.

"Yeah, right." He says, walking away from my outstretched hand, and turning his back on me. "I'll see you there," he says to you as he storms off.

"Sorry," you say as you take my hand and squeeze it quickly before letting it drop.

"It's okay, sweetie. You ready?"

"You're still going?"

"Sure, your mom will be there, what's the worst he can do with mommy watching?"

"True." You say, as a slow smile spreads across your face. "I'm still sorry he's such a jerk to you. He's just…well, you know how he is."

Yeah. I know how he is. Bastard. "It's okay," I force a grin, reminding myself that this is not for him, not for your mom, not for anyone but you. And you look happy, so I'll do this, whether I really want to or not.


Dinner with mom isn't nearly as bad as I imagined. At least not so far, and we're already on the main course. I mean, it's bad enough. Every time mom looks away, Trevor makes faces at us, or he tries to stare you down. I don't know what his problem is. Why can't he grow up? To think he's supposed to be my big brother.

You, on the other hand, are a picture of social grace. Charming, attentive, I really couldn't ask for more. I wonder if deep down, or maybe just behind the façade, you're hating every single moment of this. If I ask you, would you tell me?

I half listen to the conversation between you and my mom. Both of you seem so engrossed in each other, I almost feel a little left out. Instead of glaring back at Trevor, and playing his little games, I focus on my food. Funny how dinner with mom used to be special, just for the home cook meal factor, if nothing else. I'm definitely getting spoiled. What would I do if you woke up one day and just decided you didn't want to play chef for me anymore? Suppose I'd just go back to the way things were before you come along… I won't starve…

"Ow!" Involuntarily, I yelp.

"Oh, gee, I'm so sorry Alex," Trevor apologizes immediately. "I misjudged our distance."

"Misjudged my ass!" I have had it up to here with his juvenile tactics.

"Alexandra, watch your language!"

"But, Mom!"

"Trevor, stop harassing your sister! And stop making faces; your face might freeze!"

Trevor blanches, "You saw…?"

"I'm your mother, I'm all seeing," Mom explains in all seriousness. "Now, if you two would please take your dinner and leave me in peace." She turns to you, "Olivia, please accept my apologies for my children's behavior. Sometimes they act like children."

Excuse me?

"Oh, that's quite all right, Mrs. Cabot." You smile sweetly. "I find their interaction with each other quite charming. I always wished I had siblings, especially an older brother like Trevor, who cares so much about his baby sister."

Excuse me? You actually looked and sounded sincere when you said that. What have you done with my girlfriend?

Trevor almost chokes on his food. Score one for Olivia!

The rest of dinner is actually pleasant. Before I know, it's time for dessert. "Alexandra, would you please help me in the kitchen?" Mom asks.

I look at mom, and I look at you. Should I really leave you here with Trevor? The look on mom's face though, says she wants to talk.

You squeeze my knee reassuringly. "It's okay, it'll give Trevor and me I chance to get to know each other, won't it?" Turning to him, you grin cordially.

Really, what have you done with Olivia? "All right," I smile and touch the back of your hand. "Mom and I will be right back with dessert."

434 Pleasantries

I watch as you and your mother recess into the kitchen, and then, it's just me and him. I smile at you and wave as you turn one last time to stare at me over your shoulder, looking for my signal that I desperately don't want you to go. I can handle him, handle this whole thing. I'm a cop, after all, a cop who deals with some of the most violent heinous predators that exist. I can deal with your immature brother.

"So, Liv," he says, stealing your nickname for me. I ignore it, forcing myself to smile, to be nice. "Don't you think a nice white wine would have been nice tonight?"

I suck in the air. Low blow. "Well, Trevor," I say as nicely as I can muster, "I've stopped drinking, so even if you want a nice white wine, I'd have to pass."

"Sure you've quit. I hear you've quit a few times now."

I sigh. "I'm trying."

He plows forward though, "You know, my sister seems so happy with you."

I look up at him and smile, wanting to believe this isn't a trap, but somehow, knowing better.

"It kind of reminds me of when you two broke up and she was with that Serena chick. Yeah, she seemed really happy then too."

He's baiting you, he's baiting you, he's baiting you. I force myself to repeat, over and over again in my head.

"Yeah, and you know, Serena didn't make her cry nearly as often. Neither did Abbie, come to think of it. You knew Abbie, didn't you?"


"She looked a lot like you. Did you know Alex was going to move with her for awhile?"

"No, I didn't."

"Where were you, by the way? You know, when Alex and Serena were together?"

"I was in the hospital."

"You were in rehab. That must have sucked. Knowing that you're locked up on the psych ward while your girlfriend is out fucking someone else. Someone better than you."

435 MOM

"So, how are you feeling?" Mom asks as we stand in the middle of the kitchen, staring at the pastries that are already laid out on trays.

"I'm fine, why?"

"Your brother tells me you were attacked, outside your apartment."

That son-of-a.. I should have known. "It was just a failed robbery attempt; and it was a block away."

"Ah." She puts her hand over mine. "Could have happened to anyone, at any time. I'm glad you're all right."

I wonder if she's just repeating what I told Trevor. I wonder what else he told her. "Yes, mom, I'm fine. I'm a grown woman, I just wish people would notice..."

"Well, I hope you're not including me in these 'people' you're speaking of." She smiles, still holding my hand captive. "I can also see that you're well taken care of. At least you're not skin and bones anymore."

"Yeah." I respond, looking away. I'm sure my blush matches the red of my mom's roses. "Liv's a great cook."

"I'm glad. So things are going well?"

"Pretty well. Just trying to live one day at a time, you know."

Mom just nods. I'm grateful she still hasn't said 'I told you so' about your relapse.

"Shouldn't we go back?" I suggest. "I hope they haven't killed each other."

"In a minute." Mom reply, still not done with talking apparently.

Wonder what's next...

"You know why your brother's acting this way, don't you?"

"No..." Oh, it's not because he's a giant jackass?

"He's just jealous."

Huh? I most certainly wasn't expecting that. "Of what, mom?"

"Not what, whom. Remember how often you two used to go to those social functions together? Now he sees you once a week, at most?"

Hm... I try to think. Is there any validity to what mom's saying? Or is she just being mom, anxious to make peace between her children? "I have a girlfriend now..."

"I know, and I'm glad it's working out between you and Olivia. Do try to consider what I just said." With that, she picks up one of the trays, and pushes it towards me.

Silently, I take the desserts from her. Guess I'm dismissed...

436 Antagonism

I can feel my mouth opening, my temper rising out of control. "You are such an asshole." I nearly scream at him. I don't care if he's your brother, no one treats me this way. No one ever has been so outright rude, outright mean to me.

"Truth hurts, doesn't it?" He almost whispers to me.

I want to slug him. Reach over the table, grab him, and knock him out with one quick swing, but I know the consequence of giving in to that. I pull myself up from the table.

"You'll have to tell your mother that I had to excuse myself."

"Running away?" He taunts me. "You do that well."

"What do you want from me Trevor? Want me to cut my leg off to prove I love your sister?" I ask him.

"I just want my sister to wake up and realize what you are." He says with hate flashing through his eyes.

"And what's that?" I hear your mother's voice.


I see panic run across Trevor's face as he whips around to stare at your mom. Open mouthed, he gapes at you both, standing with pastries in hand. "Mom, she, she hurt Alex." he says, staring between you both. Both of you have frowns plastered on your faces, sheer marks of disapproval of him…or of me.

Your mother looks at him expectantly, waiting for an explanation. "She forced Alex out, that night. She's the one who hit your daughter."

"I did not," I say, feeling my heart drop into my chest. I would never, I could never.

"Alex said she was robbed, but I never saw the guy. You should hear what they say about her," he says, point at me desperately, "She still drinks mom. She's…"

"Alex?" Your mom asks you.

"It's not true…mom, it's not." You say, angrily.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Cabot." I say, as I see Trevor turning to me, with simmering flames in his eyes. "It seems that Trevor would be more comfortable if I weren't here."

"Liv, are you okay?" you ask me, pushing the pastries onto the table and taking my hand.

"I'm fine Alex. And you stay, okay?" I say smiling at you gently, leaning in to kiss your cheek.

"No, if you're going I am too." You say, grabbing my hand.

"No, both of you, sit down." Your mother says, staring at both of us. "Trevor, go."

"What?" He asks baffled. I look at you with confusion and I see you staring back at me with the same kind of shock in your eyes.

"You've been antagonizing your sister all night. When you learn to treat mine and your sister's guests with respect, you can come back."


All right, maybe he's jealous, maybe I haven't been spending much time with him, but he was never like this when I was with other people. Granted, I never used to spend this much time with other people, at least not after college.

But we're just siblings, half. We're not married to each other.

Fine, there's familial duty. But that doesn't give him the right to be such a jack-ass to you. Had he just told me he wanted to spend more time together, I'm sure all three of us could reach some sort of amicable solution. He has no right to pick on you, to antagonize you like that.

If he loves me so much that he's jealous of you, doesn't he realize his behavior would only push me further away?

Or, is this not about his love for me at all. Is he jealous that once again, I've found someone, someone he wishes he had?

For me to wake up an realize what you are? Just what exactly is he implying? I know you're an alcoholic, a recovering alcoholic. I also know you haven't always been discreet about who you sleep with... What else is there? Does he know something I don't?

I can feel doubts and panic rising from my chest. Then I hear his accusation... You're the one who forced me out? I suppose he could work a technicality, he's a slime-bucket defense attorney.

His next lie though, takes me a while to even wrap my brain around. I can't believe he has the gall... can't believe he can sink so low... To make up an ugly lie like that, when he himself had chased the kid away? Just what the fuck...

And now mom's looking at me, waiting for me to provide an answer. Does she honestly think I would stay with someone who hits me? "No, Mom! It's not true!" I yell, angry at the world.

Somewhere through the red haze of emotions, I hear your voice. Your calm and reasonable voice telling my mom how you think Trevor would be more comfortable if you left.

Suddenly I realize while I'm raging, you must be hurting... I'm so sorry the one day my excuse of a brother decides to grow a backbone he pulls this shit... "Are you okay?" I turn to you.

"I'm fine, Alex," you say, and tell me to stay.

"No, if you're leaving, I'm leaving too." There. If I must make a choice between my brother and my lover, so be it. At least I'm picking the more reasonable person, the person with more honor and integrity than that son-of-a-blank could ever...

What my mother says next stops my internal rant. What? Did she, did she just tell him to get out? I look at you, you look at me. I can see the shock on Trevor's face, the stern anger on mom's.

"Fine," he says, getting up and throwing down his napkin. "You win, Benson. Congratulations, you somehow managed to turn all the women in my life against me."

"Trevor," I try to call him back. He's the one doing this to himself. Still, I can see the hurt overcrowding the hate in his eyes, and part of me feels sorry for him. After all, he's still my brother...

"Let him go, he'll be back," mom says with a sigh, and sinks into her chair. "Maybe it is my fault. Maybe in trying to protect the two of you from all the bad things in life, I made you the way you are..."

438 Strange

I watch in disbelief as Trevor stalks off, watch the shock mirror on your face as you watch him slam the door. I can't believe that I'm still here. I'm still standing on this side of the door, with you and your mother.

"I'm the one who made you how you are…" I hear your mother sigh. I hope you didn't…

I see the look in your eyes… "Why do you say that, mom?" You ask her, with hurt in your voice.

"Alexandra. You and your brother. You're spoiled rotten. Neither of you know how to act like adults, especially not with each other."

"Mom," you say, sitting next to her.

"Don't, Alex. I'm embarrassed for both of you."

I feel entirely out of place, like the elephant in the room. I'd like to point out that I'm the reason you all are fighting in the first place.

She looks at me, into my eyes and I feel immediately uncomfortable. Like I've done something horribly wrong, like my hand is in the proverbial cookie jar.

"Don't lie to me." She says, with coldness in her eyes. The first time she's shown it to me since I've met her.

"Did you hit my daughter?"

"No," I say, staring back into her eyes.

"She didn't mom," you supply.

"Okay," she says, staring at me still. "So, who's for desert?"

I look at you, wondering if she's serious, but you're grabbing a pastry off of the plate.

This is weird.

This is really weird.

I take a deep breath and pull out the chair as your mother smiles at me and passes me a pastry.


In my mom's guest house, we get ready for bed. We're both silent, both preoccupied with thoughts.

"Are you ready for me to turn the light off?" I ask you, after you've settled under the covers.

"Yeah, sure," you mumble, leaning over to kiss me in the darkness.

I kiss you back, gently, briefly. It's clear that neither one of us wants much more than chaste affection.

"It was weird," you say, after rolling onto your back.

"Yeah. I hope Trevor's all right. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" You reply, a little too quickly.

I turn onto my side, and pull on your shoulder until we face each other. "What's wrong?"

"I can't believe your mom..."

"I know, but it's her house." What else can I say? This is her house; we are her children...

"Yeah, and what Trevor said," you draw out your sentence. "You know I'll never lay a hand on you, right? I'll shoot myself first."

Is that what you're upset about? Not his wrongful accusation, but how I might react? Reaching over, I kiss you. "I know, Liv. I trust you; you help people, you don't beat them up."


"Trevor's just a conniving liar," I try to reassure you.

"When you were in the kitchen, he told me about you and Abbie."

"Why would he...? I mean, it's so irrelevant." I sigh, not really wanting to know what lies he made up, but I ask anyway, "What did he tell you?"

"That you were happy; and you were going to move in together."


"Were you going to move in together?"

"What difference does it make? Oh, my space issue?" Your silence tells me I had correctly answered my own question. "We talked briefly about it... But then decided it was too complicated, and not very prudent, because of appearances, you know? My office?"

440 Thoughtful

"You and she…" I say, as I sense your body stiffening in the dark. "We don't have to talk about this," I supply, hoping that you'll let me anyway.

"It's okay." You say. I can feel the heat of your breath on my face, the warm smell of your lotion on your skin.

"You weren't out? Like, you didn't tell people, right?" I ask you slowly.

"No, we didn't."

"Why not?"

"It just wasn't…ever right really. We liked each other, but not enough to give anything up."

"She was nuts."

I feel you lean in to kiss me gently. "You're sweet," you say, turning over so I can spoon you close to me.

"People know about us, right?" I say slowly.

I feel you reach your arm out and gently wrap it over my hands that are holding you close. "You know they do." You say, squeezing my fingers into yours. I can feel you playing with the rings on my fingers, pulling them up and down my knuckle, spinning them around my fingers.

"Does that bother you?" I ask. "I mean, would you rather we were more like you and Abbie?" I feel you tense at the sound of her name on my lips.

I hear you take a deep breath. "Sometimes I do wish we were more discreet." You say, slowly, diplomatically. So like you.

"I know."

"But," you say, interrupting me quickly, "I also love that I can smile at you, or hold your hand, and our friends know about us.

"Would you ever…" I take a deep breath.

"Ever what?" You ask.

"Would you ever want, to, I don't know, move in with me?

Part 441

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