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 certainly wasn't expecting you to have to go back to the station. The scene is still being processed. There's not much for you and Elliot to do besides wait until the report comes in, and try to match the MO to any past or open case, then hope that witnesses will come forward.

Maybe you're leaving with Elliot because you don't want to be seen leaving with me. Or more likely, you're afraid Elliot would tease you.

Or maybe you just have work you need to do…

I unlock the driver's side door. The one beep echoes in the night. Strangely, I keep expecting the second beep that unlocks all the other doors, even as I'm sliding into my seat, and pulling the safety belt over my chest.

That's yet another example of me getting used to your existence in my life.

I wonder if you notice the same things I do…

I didn't even flinch when you referred to my place as home just now. All I felt was disappointment that you wouldn't be going home with me…

How long has it been since our talk about moving forward? Days? Weeks? Am I already ready for the commitment you want?

Should I initiate a conversation? Or wait for you to bring the subject up again?

Funny how Elliot called you on my land-line tonight. I wonder if he even bothered trying your home or your cell. Or did you tell him to call you there?

As I approach my apartment, I feel a sense of loss, of loneliness. For the first time in weeks, I'll be walking into a darkened apartment, by myself. All right, the light in the aquarium will be on, but I'll still be by myself. There will be just one set of footsteps treading up the stairs. You won't be there waiting for me with the warm aroma of dinner, or scented candles.

I will be in the apartment, alone.

Flipping on the radio, I try to focus on the music drifting through the speakers. The different makes of cars and their drivers sharing the streets with me. How some lights change slower and faster than others. That some person down the street from me still has their Christmas lights up, even though Easter's almost here…

I think about the stack of files on my desk. The never-ending always growing pile. If only I had 48 hours a day. Suppose I could go back to the office, and I could call you from there, to let you know so you won't wonder when you come back, whenever that might be…


I'm going to do this. I'm going to park the car. Get upstairs. Maybe I'll take a long relaxing bath. Maybe I'll read a book, or see what's on the television. Or I might just take a nap. I'm sure you'll wake me up when you get in.

Yes, this is what I'm going to do…

482 Trusting

"You don't have to…" Elliot says to me quietly, watching you walk away heading to the car.

"I know," I say back quickly, wanting to quiet him so you don't hear his offers.

"Trouble in paradise?" He mutters into my ear, as both of us watch as you wave pulling out of the parking space I had haphazardly picked for us.

"No, no, it's…I don't know."

"What's wrong Liv?" He asks me, pulling me aside, his eyes flashing with concern.

"I'm thinking about it, El." I say slowly, as he looks at me puzzled for a second, but then recognition flickers across his face.

"What happened?" He asks, looking up and around us.

"Nothing, everything, I don't know, don't you ever just want to do something stupid?"

"I'm the king of just doing something stupid." He says, chuckling to himself. My serious face makes him stop, "So you'd rather…be here?"

"I can't talk to her about this El," I say slowly.

"Why not?"

"Because, if I say the word, say anything about it in front of her, she gets mad, or scared, and thinks I'm going to leave her, or slip up, or whatever."

"Do you think?"

"No, but I could."

"Why do you want to hold onto that?"

"Because it's realistic. What happens one day, one day if I just can't do this anymore."

"Then you'll go to her."

"I can't."

"Then you'll come to me."

483 FEAR

Slowly I walk up the stairs to my apartment. I fumble for the keys outside the hallway. Finally, the lock comes undone. I take a step in, and scan my soundings. Familiar. Quiet. The fish are still swimming. All's normal.

I turned the deadbolt, and slide the latch closed. Guess I'll have to stay up to let you in.

Next thing, I feel the urge to check all the windows, to make sure they're all still locked. You're living on the top floor, Cabot, get a grip, I try unsuccessfully to convince myself.

Finally, when I'm certain I'm completely alone in the apartment, I sit down on the couch. I realize I do have a problem.

This is not about you. Not about my fear of codependency.

I told you I don't blame you for what happened to me that night. But do somehow I blame myself? I should've paid more attention. I should've stayed here, and waited for you, instead of running out.

That would explain my behavior about the whole thing. Me, a prosecutor, refusing to file a police report. How I didn't want mom to find out. If nobody knows, then I don't have to deal with it?

Yep, it's definitely an issue to address during the next therapy session. What did I tell you? No one as religious as the newly converted? I chuckle, and stare up at the fish, temporarily letting their carefree movements distract me.

Do I tell you about this? I obviously need to get over this issue. I can't spend the rest of my life living in fear, constant irrational fear. That would just be another example of the bad guys winning.

What if part of my treatment is to be alone? I'm sure you'll think I'm pushing you away again, that we're taking backward steps. And what if you start to blame yourself? Or you'll overreact, and in trying to become my protector, you turn into my jailer? You're a cop, you know better, right? Maybe I should trust that you won't go overboard.

Maybe I should learn to trust you in other things besides staying away from booze.

Besides, I need to take back my head-strong, risk-taking fearlessness. And in more than just dealing with criminals.

I check my watch, and sigh. Wonder what you're doing, if you're on your way back, or if you will be anytime soon. I wish you were here. I wish I were sitting in your arms right now, and I'd let you tell me, let you convince me what a silly little girl I'm being, that I have nothing to fear.

It's not wrong of me to want that, is it? Sometimes people need people, right? Serena and I talked for hours and days after she came back from her vacation about the incident at the bar. If it's okay for me to be there for her, I don't see why it wouldn't be for me to need you.

Sitting back, I turn on the television, and try to engage my imagination with the Lifetime movie of the week…

484 Partners

Sitting at my desk, I stare at the wall, staring at the pictures of the dead girl from the scene tonight. Seeing her, seeing her dead makes me feel silly for feeling sorry for myself. I watch Elliot stalk between our desks and the fax machine.

He flops down across from me. "Why are you still here?" He asks me.

"Because we have a vic who needs our help?"

"Yeah, but I can stare at the fax machine without you." He says slowly.

"Thanks, glad I'm important." I say back to him, giving him a half smirk.

"You know that's not what I meant."

"Yeah, you want to know why I'm not begging to be out of here." I say slowly, knowing that I'm not sure I want to talk about any of this, not here, not now.

"Yeah," he says slowly, "are you sure you and her are…"

"We're fine. I mean, yeah, there's nothing wrong."

"You feel guilty."

I look up at Elliot. It feels like he just read my mind. "Yeah, I guess I do."


"Because she'll think this is about her not being enough, not loving me enough, or not protecting me enough."

"Is it?" he asks.

"Of course not."

"So? You don't trust her."

"Of course I do."

He looks at me, his eyebrow raising. His silence is enough to make me reflect.

"I guess I don't trust her, not about this."

"How can she support you if you don't tell her?"

"I guess she can't," I say slowly. "Do you mind?" I say, hitching my thumb towards the door.

He smiles at me gently, "Sure, go ahead."


The ringing of the phone jars me from the television. I glance at the clock. Wow. Talk about tube coma. I check the caller ID and pick up the line. "Hey."

"Hi, Beautiful. I'm on my way back, I mean there, to your place."

I take a deep silent breath. "It's all right, Liv."

"Just thought I'd let you know. I'm almost at the subway station," you rush on, then stop. "Wait, what did you say? Did you say it's all right? What's all right?"

Your nervousness lessens mine, and makes me smile. "Just hurry back."


I decide to let you mull that over on your own. "But be careful," I feel necessary to say.

"I will," you chuckle. "I'm a cop, remember? Um, can we talk? When I get there?"

"Yeah, I think we need to."

"Yeah. I'll see you in a few then."

"Love you," I tell you, trying to sound casual.

Meanwhile you pause, and I can hear the catch in your breath. "I love you, too, Alex, very much."

I know. I'm pretty sure I know.

After hanging up the phone, I check the clock again. It'll be at least another half an hour before you get here. Before you get home. I test the sound of that in my head. All right, maybe not tomorrow, I decide. But definitely not 'unforeseeable future' like before.

Getting up from the couch, I stretch my muscles, and make up my mind. I'm going take the first step of returning my routine to normal. While I drag my feet across the living-room, I pep-talk myself. I can do this, I have to do this. I must, I must.

Finally, I'm at the door. I hold my breath, and flip the latch back. There. Now you can let yourself in, like always. Before I can change my mind, I rush into the bathroom, and turn on the shower. There isn't going to be any Psycho moments, I reassure myself. For starters, I don't have a shower curtain. I can easily see through the frosted glass, I remind myself while sliding the door closed.

Eventually, I feel myself starting to relax under the hot water.

Then I hear noises outside. I swear I can hear shuffling just outside, and the thudding of my heart.

"Knock, knock."

I almost jumped out of my skin as you push the bathroom door open.

"Did you leave me any hot water?" You ask teasingly, shedding your clothes.

"You're early," I state the obvious while trying desperately to calm myself.

"Decided to grab a cab instead."

"Why, miss me?" I smile and watch you slip through the door…

486 Move

"Why, miss me?" you ask with a silly expression as I pull the shower door open and throw my clothes off over my head.

I look at you and smile, slipping into the warm spray of the water behind you. "Yep, guess I did," I say, as I press myself against your back, holding myself close against your body. I let my chin rest on your shoulder and close my eyes the gentle tickling spray of water that covers my face.

"How was it?" You ask, turning in my arms, wrapping your arms around my waist and turning us both so we're standing in the spray together.

"Huh?" I ask you, forgetting that there's anything but the feel of your warm body against mine, the gentle spray of the water on my face.

"The report, did you guys get much?" You ask.

Oh, yeah, the case. My job. I forgot about that. I'm willing to forget about that to be warm in your arms. "No, not really. Elliot was still waiting around when I left."

"I'm glad you came home," you say.

I raise my eyes at you. I try to avoid that word, home. I'm carefully picking your place or my place, even if your house has started to feel more and more like home. You turn around and kiss me gently. "Why?"

"I want to talk to you." You say, a huge smile spreading across your face.

"I want to talk to you too." I say slowly, hesitantly. The smile on your face starts to fade.

"What's wrong?" You ask me quickly. I can sense panic in your voice, fear. The things that I didn't want to have there, the things I never wanted to cause you to feel again.

"Nothing, sweetie." I say quickly forcing a smile, watching as yours comes back slowly. "It's really nothing."

You kiss me, chastely and squeeze me tight.

"I want," you start, "I think.." you stammer.

I look at you expectantly, waiting for you to continue.

"I think we should think about being together."

"We are together," I say, kissing you on the nose gently.

"No, I mean, I think we should think about living together. In one place. Like the fish."

You look at me expectantly and I smile, "Is that why you asked in the shower?"


"So we could be more like the fish?"

"Liv," you scold me, still expectant…

"I'd love to…" I say kissing you deeply, only vaguely aware of the deep guilt pressing into my soul from not telling you about my cravings…for not telling you about my feelings, for not telling you so many things you probably deserved to know…

487 PAIR

"You sure?" I ask you after we break away and catch our breaths.

"Of course, Alex, why wouldn't I be?"

"I don't know." I look down at our breasts pushed together. "When we last talked about this…"

"You weren't ready." You remind me, and kissed me gently. "And I didn't want to be left out in the cold, so to speak."

"So, when do you want to start?"

"Start what?"

"Talking about it? What we're going to do, exactly? And when?" The excitement I feel suddenly becomes overwhelming. "Are you really sure you want to?"

"I'm the one who keeps calling your place home, remember?" You touch my lips with the tip of your fingers. Then you kiss me again. Still deeper.

Are you trying to convince me with the depth of your kiss? If you are, I think you're succeeding. "All right." I pull away, and rest my forehead against yours. "We're going to be like our fish."

You smile, and brush your knuckles along my cheek. "Are you sure about this?"

"I, I think so. Yeah, I am."

"'Cuz if you're not…" You offer bravely, just in case I should change my mind.

"I am, Liv, I am." This time I kiss you, to reassure you. Until you're convinced, and you ease away. Once again, I rest my forehead against yours, and twine your fingers with mine. "God, we're a pair, aren't we."

"Speak for yourself. I think I'm more an apple."


"Pair? Pear? Apple and pear? Ha-ha?"

I'm not sure what to say. So I just shake my head. "So, Liv?"


"What did you want to talk about earlier?"

"I think we should hurry and finish our shower, Alex." You loosen your embrace, and reach for the soap. "I don't know about you, but I'm not a cold water fish."

I take the soap from you, and slide it all over your body, creating a deep lather. "Why are you avoiding the subject?"

"I'm not, Alex."

"Then tell me."

488 Admit

"What's wrong?" You ask me.

"Nothing Alex," I say, trying to keep my smile.

"Liv," you demand, grabbing my chin and catching it in your glare. "You wanted to talk to me, right?"

"It's okay Alex, it's over now." I say, smiling again, or trying to. I don't want to ruin this, the happy feeling I feel now, the closeness, the warmth of your body standing next to mine. I don't want to see you sad, see you worry, see you looking…much like you're looking at me now.

"What is?" You demand again.

"It was just a bad night." I say slowly

"Why? The girl?" You ask.

I try to break you grasp. "Please Alex? I want to celebrate; I don't want to talk about this anymore, not now."

"Liv, sweetie, what's wrong?" You say, softening, your fingers turning gentle against my cheek.

"It's really nothing." I say slowly.

"Liv?" You say, with worry and warning in your face.

"It was just a bad night," I whisper, wishing the pieces would fall into place for you. They won't, I can tell from your desperate blue eyes that search mine.

"You said that," you whisper back to me.

"I just, I don't know why, I just, I think about, stuff, that, well, I think about drinking."

I expect you to drop my face, drop your hands and stalk off, but instead you kiss me gently on the lips.

"You're not mad at me?" I ask you slowly.

"How could I be?"

"Easily? I feel, like I betrayed you, by wanting it, it just proves how weak I am." I mumble as I turn my head away from you.


"Look at me," I say, as I gently turn your face towards me. It's up to you to lift your eyes. "Please? Liv?"

"Are you sure you're not mad?"

I duck my head, and look up. "Do I look mad? Do I sound mad?"


"Well, then."

"Why not?"

God. Guess I really am not the only one with all the insecurities. "You just thought about it right? You didn't do it. To me, that shows your strength, not your weakness."


"It's always harder to resist a temptation, Liv. I'm sure you know that."

"Yes, in general, but the fact that I even thought about it," you try to hold onto your guilt. "It's not like the case was even that particularly tough. I mean, it's always tough, but not like some others, you know?"

Yes, on the grand scheme of things… I nod in agreement.

"I just don't know why I'd want to…" You trail off, angry with yourself, your eyes casting downwards again.

"Who knows why you thought about it at all. That's part of the illness. It rears its ugly head when you least expect it." I cup your cheeks gently, and kiss your lips. "The most important thing is that you fought it. And you're here, sober, and talking to me about it."

"It is?" You seem genuinely surprised. "I mean, you want me to talk to you about it?"

"Of course, Liv. I mean, I might not always react well, at least not immediately, and depending on the topic. I'd be lying if I promise you otherwise. But," I add quickly, emphatically. "Part of being like our fish, is to be there for each other. And to help and support each other."

"Yeah, but what about codependency?"

"Friends help each other, right? I didn't worry about codependency when I was consoling Serena in jail," I support my reasoning with an example. "So maybe we just have to find that line between healthy dependency and codependency, and make sure we don't cross it."

"But you're gonna get upset, Alex, and I don't ever want to upset you again," you fret. "I don't want to disappoint you either."

"Or are you really afraid that I'd stay upset," I try to sound as gentle as possible. "That I won't find it in my heart to forgive you?"

490 Chaos Theory

"I don't know what I'm afraid of, really." I say slowly. "I'm afraid of being out of control, and being in control, and messing this up, and not messing it up. Everything's so complicated. I want both, and I don't want either, I don't know what I want." I say, sliding my sentences together as my mouth empties the thoughts swirling in my mind quickly.

"Life is complicated," You say, diplomatically, smiling at me, your gentle hands against my face.

Damn you for being so rational, not when the thoughts swirl through my head at a million miles an hour and I can't concentrate on any of them.

"Anyway, let's drop this, okay?" I say desperate to change the subject.

"Liv, sweetie, it's okay. It's okay for us to talk about this. As a matter of fact, it's important that we talk about it, that we trust each other enough to be able to…it's okay."

I hear your voice reassuring me, but I don't want to hear reassuring words. Part of me wants desperately for you to lash out at me, scream and yell and rail against me. And when you don't, I'm almost disappointed, unsure, unclear of what to do next or what to say. "It's not okay, it's not at all."


"This is what I was talking about. This is what scares me most. One day, what if I'm not in the right place? What if it never stops? I don't think I can do this every day for the rest of my life, but I know I have to. And it sucks."

You look at me, into my eyes, gently, and you kiss me. "I'll love you, still."

I look at you questioningly, "I don't think so."

"I'll love you, but I'll hate the disease."


"Part of us being together, part of us living together, and trusting each other, is reliant on me too, Liv. You can mess this up, but so can I. I think that's something that therapy's been teaching me. You can't control every variable all the time."

"I guess." I smile at you.

"I still like things in order," you say, quickly, "But we can work on making our own brand of chaos."

491 FISH

"What do you say, Liv?" I smile and kiss you again. "Shall we start trusting each other, I mean for real? And really share? Our joys, our fears? Everything? And see what happens?"

After a moment of contemplation, you ask, "You wanna start flapping?"


"You know, Alex, what happens when a butterfly in Brazil…"

"Flaps its wings," laughing, I completed the sentence for you. "You can start."

You lift your arms, but instead of pretending to fly, you wrap me in a loose, but sweet embrace.

Sighing lightly, contentedly, I lean in, hugging you close, and rest my head against the crook of your neck.

"So we're really gonna be like the fish, huh?"

"Yeah," I say slowly, containing the happy bubble. Then I look into your eyes. "Are you sure you're all right?"

You pause for a long moment. "I think so."

"If you want to talk about it…"

"Let's not. Not right now." You smile cheerfully, and pull me to you. "Right now, let's celebrate."

"How?" I ask unnecessarily. The expression on your face, your half smile, they tell me exactly what's on your mind. Already, I can feel my body coming alive in anticipation.

"Well, you're naked, and I'm naked…"

I can't believe I'm saying this, "Let's not."

"Why, Alex?" You whisper, the shock in your voice still evident. "You're not gonna cloister…"

I cut you off with a warm kiss, then explain, "We need to finish our shower before the water really gets cold."

"We can start." You insist, taking the soap from me, sliding your slippery hands across my body.

Involuntarily, I moan and tremble to your touch. Gathering my resolve, I still your roaming hands. "Are you done, done for the night?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean with work. Do you think you'll have to go back?" I ask, then explain. "I don't want to start something, and then to have to stop. It was absolutely frustrating earlier…"

492 Frustration

"It was absolutely frustrating the last time, I'm not sure I can handle that happening again." You moan against me. Your wet body pressing against mine, your arms wrapped carefully around my waist as I slide my hands over your back, making small soapy circles appear.

"I'm still on call," I say, with a sheepish grin, "but it should be okay, I mean, I hope."

"We could unplug the phone."

"I took an oath to protect and serve."

"You can serve me. Just for a few hours." You say kissing me deeply.

"A few hours?"

"I have plans," you say smiling at me deviously.

"Sounds good to me," I smile back. "You know Alex, it was pretty funny." I supply as I watch your face change to horrified.

"It wasn't funny at all." You demand, hitting me in the shoulder.

"It was from where I was sitting. You should have seen your face when the phone rang the third time. I think that was the first time I ever heard you swear."

"I swear."

"Yeah, like my grandma. Gosh Darn it." I laugh at you.

"It wasn't funny," you say with a pout.

"Oh come on sweetie, one day you'll look back on it and laugh"

"I'll remember that when our positions are reversed." You say, changing my mind about the humor of the situation.

"Okay, so maybe it wasn't so funny," I supply, kissing you gently.

"Now you're only just saying that because you don't want me to do it to you."

"It's not like I told them to call," I grouse.

"I don't know, you might have," you say, obviously teasing me. I lean into kiss you but you pull back, handing me a sponge instead. "Shower first."


You hang up our towels, and lean into me, pressing your shower warmed body against mine. "Well?"

"Well what?" I ask you, pretending I don't know the intent behind your wagging brows. Meanwhile, an idea occurs to me.

"Well..." You lean in further, sliding your palms down my back. "Where were we?"

"Hey, have you eaten?" I ask, bringing your hands forward, and lacing our fingers together.

"I was." You bring my hand up to your lips. "And I'd like to continue where I left off..." You whisper, and flick your tongue at my knuckle.

God. Do I really want to do this? I'm cutting off my own nose to spite my face here. But then I remember yours and Stabler's teasing. "I mean food, real food."

"No, but I'm not hungry," you breathe against my lips. "Not for food."

Pushing my palm in your face, I stop your progress. "Well, suddenly I am. So I'm going to go eat."

Throwing up your hands, you sag against the wall to demonstrate your exasperation, or maybe to vent your frustration. "God, Alex, you're always hungry. It's a miracle you fit through the door."

"I have a fast metabolism, okay?" I counter as I put on my robe, tying the knot loosely.

"Can you make that quick? I want dessert," you whine as you slide a tank top over your head, and pull on a pair of lounge pants.

"Talk to the belly," I tell you, and grab your hand, leading you away from the bedroom.

"So, whatcha gonna eat?" You ask, resting your elbows on the kitchen counter.

I pull my head out of the refrigerator. "Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, unless you're cooking."

"Do you want me to?"

Wonder if you're doing it just to be nice, and hoping I'd say 'no'. "That's okay, I actually feel like peanut butter." I twist the lid open and scoop out a spoonful. Hmm... I lick the almost empty spoon slowly, sucking on it while I finish making my sandwich.

I think I can hear your breath catch.

Finally, looking up, I smile. "Would you like one?"

494 Teasing

"You're such a bitch," I whine at you.

"Yep." You say smiling at me, slowly leaning into me licking peanut butter off your long delicate fingers. "Do you want one?" you say staring at me, trying desperately not to smile. You know you're driving me insane. You know that you're in my head, in my heart, and you can tell how badly I want you. I tell myself to calm down, but your grin, the knowing look you give me is driving me to the brink of sanity.

"You're so mean." I mumble, as I pull bread from the bag and grab the knife from you hand slowly spreading a massive amount of peanut butter onto the bread.

"Do you want bread with that peanut butter." You snip at me, taking the knife from my hand and licking it slowly.

"I wasn't done with that," I say, looking at you seriously.

"Use your finger," you say, stifling a laugh. I choose to ignore your continued sucking of the peanut butter covered knife. "I hate you."

"Ah, you do not."

"Just wait…"


"Never mind." I mutter in response, watching you pull a plate out of the cabinet. "What are you doing?"

"Getting a plate?" You ask me.

"No, no, if you do that, then we'll have to do dishes." "You are not that lazy."

"I really am."

"That's so sad. I'll do them." You offer.

"You so will not."

"I do dishes," you say defensively.

"I didn't say you…oh forget it. Just eat the damn sandwich," I say scowling at you.


"Oh no, you can't do that!" I hold out my open faced sandwich.

"Can't do what, Alex?"

"You can't just say 'forget it'. Not like that."

"What? You're gonna assault me with a deadly peanut butter sandwich?" You smirk. "I thought you're hungry."

"I am." I take a bite of the bread, and hold the rest out threateningly again. "But what were you gonna say about me and dishes? Are you implying I can't even operate a dish washer?"

"No. That's not what I meant."

"Then exactly what did you mean, Olivia Benson!"

"Well, you're kinda… delicate?" You respond sheepishly.

"Delicate?" I squint at you. "I'm delicate? What? Too delicate to do dishes?"

"Well… Yeah!"

"Excuse me? Ms. Feminism is telling me I'm too delicate to do dishes?"

"That's not what I meant!"

"Wait, is it one of those deals where you're going to the laundry, cook, do dishes, take out the garbage, clean the bathroom…"

"You have maid service for that. But I wouldn't mind doing the rest."

"Hmm… maybe you're right. I am a little delicate." I stifle a giggle. "Would you like a bite of my sandwich?"

"Nope, I have my own."

"Nope," I swipe it from your hand. "Not anymore!"

"Hey, gimme back my sandwich!"

"I'm hungry, and you're the cook! Thanks for making me a sandwich." I laugh, and take a mouthful.

"Alex…" You warn, and reach out for my hand.

I pull away, and swallow the bread. "Oh, all right, you can have your peanut butter back," I say, and I lean in to kiss you full on the lips…

496 Different

You lean in to kiss me and I pull my head back. "Are you nuts?"

"What?" you ask baffled.

"I'm not kissing peanut butter out of your mouth, that's gross."

You look at me like I'm insane. "You kiss me all the time." You say laughing.

"That's different."

"How's it different?"

"There's no peanut butter."

"So peanut butter is the dividing line?"

"Yep," I say grabbing the knife off the counter and sticking it back into the jar.

This time I pull it out slowly and lick it the same way you did. This time I take pleasure on the look on your face.

"Are you serious?" You ask me.

"What?" I ask you, rubbing my hand over my face. "Did I smear it on my nose?"

"You'd eat it out of the jar but you won't kiss me with it in my mouth."

"It's different Alex."


"Would you use my toothbrush?"

"I guess so."

"That's so…wrong."


"You'd put…in your mouth?"

"You've put most of me in your mouth," you say, and that makes me blush.

"It's different." I protest, again, watching as you lean in…


I lean in, this time you don't pull away. You look like a deer in the headlights, and completely grossed out, but you don't pull away.

I should give you credit for that.

Smiling, I lean in closer, knowing for sure you can smell peanut butter on my breath. Your eyes get wide, then you slam them shut.

At the last moment, I take pity on you, and kiss you lightly on the nose. Then I take a step backwards, and watch you, watch your reaction.

Slowly, you open your eyes, your body still frozen. Then you furrow your brows. "I thought you were gonna kiss me."

"I changed my mind."

"Oh." You look thoughtful for a moment. "Why?"

"Because." I go back to eating my sandwich, trying to focus on it, and not on the sudden weepiness I feel. "You think it's gross."

"But it is, Alex!"

"Okay, so it is!" I stick my tongue out at you, and manage a smile. "Just more peanut butter for me!" I declare, and reach into the drawer for another spoon.

"Here, use this!" You hold out the knife in your hand.

"No, now that's gross."

"Why? I don't wanna wash another piece of utensil."

"You licked it."

"Oh, kinda like drinking orange juice out of the carton?"

"You got it."

"That makes no sense." You tease, "You were gonna kiss me with a mouth full of peanut butter."

"It wasn't a mouthful, I had already swallowed most of it," I argue. "Besides, it's different."


"You're sticking the knife in the jar, with the germs from your mouth," I explain, with all the reason in the world. "Then we're going to close the lid, and they're just going to multiply." I shiver to the thought. "Meanwhile, when we… Anyway. You see the difference now?"

498 Giggle

"Not really," I say, but I don't think I want to fight this out further. I'm pretty happy just letting you have your way on this one. You lean into me again and kiss my nose gently and insist you swallowed the peanut butter. You even open your mouth like a little kid and show me the inside.

"I still see peanut butter in there," I say, sliding my hand around your waist and kissing you on the cheek.

You giggle at me and pull yourself up onto the counter. You keep giggling, in fact, you don't seem to be able to stop. I get the sense that you're laughing at me.

I stare at you, and I can feel my eyebrow raising.

"What?" You demand, taking another huge bite of the sandwich.

"Nothing," I say, shaking my head at you as you wipe peanut butter off your face and giggle at me some more. I keep looking at you like you've lost your mind, and I think you probably have.

"What?" you say again, this time your voice muffled by peanut butter.

"You're nuts." I say.

"I am not. Why? Because I don't want your saliva to infect my peanut butter?"

"Well when you put it that way…" I say, screwing the lid back on the jar and putting it back into the cabinet.

"You're not going to eat one?"

"I already made one, you took it, remember?" You look down at your hand and see both of our sandwiches in them.

"You can have it back," you say with a slight smile.

"You took a bite out of it." I note.

"We're back to that?" You ask. "You're not mad are you?" You ask me, still extricating peanut butter from the top of your mouth.

"Over peanut butter germs?"

"Well, you could be." "I don't think so."

"Good," You say, as you lean off the counter and give me another peanut butter laden kiss.


"Alex!" You yelp as I slip my tongue out and kiss your nose. Frantically, you wipe your face with your hand. "You licked me!"

"Yeah? I thought you said you didn't have issues with peanut butter germs."

"I don't!"

"Then why are you freaking out?"

"I guess, I don't know."

"All right. I'm sorry." I sigh, and put down my half eaten sandwiches. Pulling out a new slice of bread and a fresh knife, I tell you, "I'll make you a new sandwich."



You turn me around to face you. "Now you're upset."

"No, I'm not." I say, and twist open the peanut butter jar. A small sigh escapes my lips as the lid comes undone.

"Look at me," you ask, and tilt my chin towards you. "I thought we're supposed to be celebrating. You were laughing just a minute ago. What happened? Just because I wouldn't kiss you with a mouthful of peanut butter?"

"It wasn't a mouthful," I insist. "Nevermind. It doesn't matter. Let's celebrate." I smile. "How do you want to do this?"

"Come on, Sweetheart. What happened to trusting, and making our own chaos?"

I look at you.

"Oh. I guess I wasn't very chaotic, was I?"

"It's all right, Liv. So you're more uptight that I ever thought you'd be, at least about certain things…"

Interrupting, you argue, "I'm not uptight!"

"You think it's gross that I'd even consider using your toothbrush."

"I'm sure I'm not the only person on Earth who feels that way, Alex. They made a whole Seinfeld episode around that."

"Okay, so I won't use your toothbrush, Liv. Can we just drop this?"

"Did you use Abbie's toothbrush? Or Serena's?"

What business is it yours? I want to ask you. Instead, I sigh. "What difference… yes, as a matter of fact."

"And you shared food with them?"

"Not Serena. We never got to that point. Abbie's the one who got me started on the food thing."

"Really? Abbie Carmichael?"

"Yes. Underneath that finishing school exterior, she's actually quite wild and raunchy." Kind of the opposite of you. On the outside, you're such a bad girl. I think that's just how you'd like to see yourself…

"I see," you say thoughtfully, and reach for the jelly.

"What are you doing?" I ask you as you twist off the lid, and grab a spoon.

"You forgot the jelly part of your PB&J."

I'm not quite sure what's going through your head… "Liv? What are you…"

500 Fun

"You're going to be sorry you did that!" You say, as you chase me back through the living room.

I laugh as I quickly put the distance of the sofa between us. "You have to catch me first," I say laughing.

"You suck," You yell at me.

"Only if you ask nicely," I return quickly.

"That's very mature," you say, crossing your arms, trying to chase me around the couch. "Where are you going?" You ask, pouting as I pull further away from you.

"Far away from you," I giggle back.


"Don't even look at me like that."

"Like what?"

"Like I killed your puppy."


"No buts, we're calling a truce or I'm going home."

"So that's it? You get to win? I don't get even a chance?" You ask.


"That's not fair."

"Life's not fair." I snort in reply.

"So you like to remind me," you say pouting again.

"Oh come here," I mutter, entirely giving into your beautiful face, and approaching you, letting my hands slide around your delicate waist.

"That sounds about right." You say, as you reach out and smear peanut butter down my nose

Part 501

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