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 knock on Branch's door hesitantly, not looking forward to what he has to say. Maybe he'll just fire me, then I won't have to deal with Petrovski ever again.

"Come in," he calls from the inside.

I step into his office. Somehow he manages to keep it dark even during the day. Maybe it's all the cherry wood shelves and the tomes of treatises creating an optical illusion. I just feel like I'm walking into a coffin. Although, considering the circumstances, I might not be that far off.

"You want to see me, Arthur?"

"Close the door and have a seat."

I do as I'm told. "Look, I'm sorry about Judge Petrovski…"

"Good, then you'll have no problem going to her chambers after you leave here, and apologize."

Must I? "I'm sure she doesn't…"

"She insisted, and I told her you will. Don't make a liar out of me, Alexandra."

Lovely. Simply lovely. Now I have to go watch her gloat, and listen to her lecture on something. Whatever that something might be. "Yes, Arthur," I resign to prostrating before his royal highness. After all, the sooner I suck it up, the sooner I'm out of here. "Is there anything else?"

"Sit back down, Alexandra. As a matter of fact, there is."

I shift in my seat, and look at him expectantly.

"Let's see the ring."

What is this? Is that all people care about now? The ring on my finger?

"Why the reluctance, Alexandra? My daughter couldn't stop showing hers off when her husband proposed." He grins at my hand twitching like a dead fish on his desk. "Nice. Very nice. Congratulations."

"Thank you." Now can I get out of here?

"I just had a nice chat with the Police Commissioner."

Something tells me to run like hell. Maybe it's about new procedures. You didn't do anything wrong. We're not doing anything wrong. "Would you like me to give another seminar?" I offer.

"In a matter of speaking." He presses his lips together for his version of a smile. "You know how hard the NYPD's been trying to improve their diversity, right? They even resorted to placing recruiting ads in the Village Voice, and gay establishments."

"No, I didn't know that." Where is he going with this?

"Unfortunately, their efforts have all but come to naught. I'm sure you can understand why."

"I suppose."

"Seeing how you were willing to stand up for yourself in Petrovski's courtroom, we believe you and your detective would be wonderful examples…"

"For what, Arthur?"

"You'd be the perfect poster girls, so to speak."

Whoa. What? Fuck! I can just see our faces plastered on the sides of buses. I can just see my aunt's face. Fuck. I try to stay calm and unrattled. "Is anyone talking to Olivia about this?"

"Her captain is supposed to be." He looks at his watch. "Right about now."

542 Model Behavior

I glare at Elliot as Cragen walks out of his office. "Olivia, I need to talk to you."

"What's wrong?" I ask, getting up from my desk slowly. I feel like I'm about to be marched into the Principal's office. I guess it's not a totally off base analogy.

"I think we should talk in here." He says, and Elliot looks at me with a questioning glance. I follow him in and stand at the door with my arms crossed. "Come in," he says, and gestures at the chair in front of him.

I don't think I've ever sat in the chair. This can't be good.

"What'd I do?" I ask quickly.

"You didn't do anything," He says back. "Why, you want to confess something?"

I smile smugly. "Nope."

"I just got a call from the Commissioner of Police."

My eyebrows shoot up. "Really?"

"Yes. It seems he's very interested in you."

"It's about time he notices the bust record down here. We do pretty good for ourselves."

"Yes," He says slowly.

Damn. I can tell by his face that's not why the Commissioner's interested in me.

"He wants you to..." He says slowly…too slowly.

"He wants me?" I say slowly prodding him to continue.

"He wants you to do some ads for the department."

"What, as the token female cop?" I ask, getting a sinking feeling in my stomach.

"Sort of." Cragen says, avoiding my eyes.

"He wants you and Alex."

As soon as I hear your name, I almost fall out of my chair. How did this become? How did we become the token lesbians?

"He wants you to do some ads for diversity in the force. The two of you. As, lesbians." He coughs obviously uncomfortable.

"There's no fucking way." I say, quickly.

"I don't blame you. I just. I had to ask." He says, looking relieved.

"Is that it?" I say, anger in my voice, filling my chest.

"Yeah, yes, you can…go." He says. Before he finishes I'm out the door. I grab my coat off the back of my chair and mumble to Elliot that I'll be back. I push open the squad room doors too hard, and tumble out onto the street.


"So what do you say, Alexandra," he asks me, with an expectant smile on his face.

What is this? Am I the sacrificial lamb, given to the NYPD for their cause? In exchange for a favor for the DA to call in at a later date?

"It's, that's not entirely up to me."

"But you could use your influence on Det. Benson, if you're agreeable. Are you?"

"I'm not sure… I'm not sure I want to parade my private life around in public." There. Let's see how he responds to that.

"Yes, I'm very aware that that's what I previously told you, but this is different. You'll be doing it for a cause."

How can he be so smug about it? So two-faced. God, if this is what it means to be a politician, I'm not sure I'm really cut out for it.

"Can I be honest with you, boss?" I don't usually call him that, in fact, I never call him that, not to his face anyway.

He narrows his eyes briefly, and picks up his drink.

That would be my cue to continue. "I, we, I'm not exactly out to my family."

"Really." He seems genuinely surprised. "You don't seem the type to hide."

"Well, usually I don't. But you see, I have this aunt, she's a born again Christian." I reveal, silently thanking god for my self-righteous, fundamentalist Christian aunt. And if I get hit by lightning for it, at least my face won't be on a billboard. "I haven't, I just cannot tell her."

"How unfortunate." He leans back in his chair and presses his fingers together. "But I understand…"

"Thank you, Arthur."

"But I do wish you'd reconsider. You would be doing such a wonderful thing for your community."

"And what community is that?"

"Why, the gay and lesbian community, of course."

What? Now I'm a spokesperson for the ten percent? "Just because I'm involved in a lesbian relationship, doesn't mean I'm really a lesbian," I feel obligated to argue, although I'm not sure why, considering what I told Petrovski.

"Ah, semantics, my dear." He clicks his tongue. "Anyway, run along, Lena's waiting for you," he says, and turns his chair around.

So I'm dismissed? Just like that? Just because he's the DA… I stare at the back of his head. Face with no other choices, I get up from my seat.

"Close the door on your way out, will you?"

I wonder what kind of punishment I'm going to receive for this little act of defiance on my part. I simply can't wait to find out.

And I wonder how you're reacting to your captain's news… Knowing you… I shake my head, turning just in time to see you barreling down the hallway. Ah, today's apparently my lucky day…

544 Frenzy

You stare at me like I have two heads. "You're…bleeding," You say, picking my hand up carefully.

For the first time, I see my knuckle, scraped from hitting the door. "It's fine," I say impatiently, pulling it back, suddenly very conscious that we're in the hallway full of people who seem to all be really interested in what we're talking about.

"Oh, Liv," you say, "Don't tell me you hit your Captian?"

"What? Of course not."

"Thank God." You say with a deep sigh, staring at my open cut. You seem to notice that people are staring, and you gesture for me to follow you into the bathroom.

"Wait. How did you know that's why I was here?" I ask, as you gently take my hand and run it under the cold water in the faucet.

"I just got out of Branch's office."

"And he asked you the?"

"Same stupid question, yes." You answer, things clicking suddenly into place.

"That's so fucking irritating." I say, pulling my hand away from you again. You take it back, and shove it back under the water.

"What'd you say?" You ask me.

"Hell no, why, do you want to?"

"No." You say quickly. "But if I wanted to..?"

"I really don't think it's a good idea, Alex."

"Okay," you say, looking almost sad.

"What's wrong?" I ask you quickly, taking my hand back again. This time you don't reach for it.

"Nothing. I mean, I don't want to either. I think you need stitches," you say gently, distantly.

"So then why do you look like I killed your puppy?"

"What is it with you and puppies?" You ask with a forced smile.

"I don't know. I just, Alex, seriously, what's wrong?"

"I don't want to do it, but I didn't think, I mean, it wouldn't be…"

"They're using us Alex. Using our love to promote something they don't even believe in."

"How do you know they don't believe in it?"

"I'm a cop Alex. I know them."

"What happened to your hand?" You ask me, changing the subject again.

"I hit a door."

"It made you that angry?" You ask me.

"Well, yeah. They're violating our privacy."


"Are you mad at me?" I ask, gently dabbing a paper towel over my open knuckle.

"No," you say pulling my hand back. You look at my knuckle and sigh.


A few minutes ago, I thought Branch was out of his mind. To think I'd be his sacrificial lamb, to be the Poster Girl for a lost cause. God knows I wouldn't want my picture plastered all over the city like that. I still don't.

For some reason though, I'm disappointed in your reaction. I mean, it's not like it came as a surprise. I didn't think you'd agree to it either. That line I gave Branch about it not being up to me is just that, a line. I knew you wouldn't want to, not in a million years.

Then why am I feeling like this? Like someone's killed my puppy...

It is because of your violent reaction? You got so angry that you hit a door, and you didn't even realize you were, you still are, bleeding.

Violation of our privacy, you say. Is that all? Is that your only problem with this whole idea?

I saw how you stared at your shoes when I held your hand in the corridor. And the way you pulled your hand back before that. Did you do it because I had told you I didn't want any public display of affection? Or did you do it because you didn't want people to know?

"Are you sure you're not mad at me?"

"No. I mean, yes," I sigh. "I'm just a little upset."

"About what?" Immediately you take on a defensive tone.

"I'm upset that you got so angry that you hurt yourself. I don't like to see you hurt."

"Oh." You shrug, a little sheepishly. "Guess I wasn't thinking."

"I still think you need stitches."

"Just for a little cut? I'll be fine, Sweetheart."

"Well, then will you at least let me bandage it?" I rub gently around the already bruising area. "I think my secretary keeps a first aid kit at her desk."

"I suppose."

"Come on," I keep hold of your hand, and lead you towards the door. Before we reach it, you pull out of my grip. I look at you.


"You took your hand back."

"Yeah? I thought you didn't want, you know, to be blatant about it."

"Well, I don't suppose it matters now, considering what Branch said," I look at you, and watch your expression change from uncertainty to apprehension. I make a quick decision, and reveal, "Besides, everyone knows about us already, or I should say, the latest development in our relationship."

"They do?"

"Rumors travel fast in this office."


Turning around, I rest my back against the door. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, Alex. What's up?"

"Are you ashamed of us?"

546 Out

"Of course not," I say quickly, before I can even think about your question. I know what the right answer is. I also know what it's like to stick out, and to be ridiculed for your difference.

I was always the woman, when I was at the Academy, when I was first joining the squad. That made me different. Now to be the lesbian woman too? I mean, it's not loving you that I don't like. It's the other stuff, how other people act, how they react to us.

And it wasn't important, before, to you. You were the one pulling away, and I learned, adapted, to not touching you in public. Now you want me to French kiss you on a billboard over Times Square? Okay, so that's probably a dramatic overstatement of what they want from us. I doubt they want our pictures on buses or anything. And so what if they want us to make a speech, be available to talk? Am I embarrassed of you? Of course not. I just…I'm not sure I'm ready to be the department lesbian.

And should I care what they think? Of course not. But I do.

I look at my hand which is slowly starting to throb. The cut is deeper than I thought it was, and the adrenaline is wearing off. I see your eyes, pleading with me, and my heart melts. Like a postulant, I follow you down the hall, rubbing my hand which is slowly starting to throb painfully.

"Do you have that first aid kit?" you ask your secretary. "My friend cut her hand."

I look at you.

Your friend?

I follow you into your office and raise my eyebrow. "Your friend?" I ask you, when you secretary is out of ear shot.

"Did you want me to say 'my lesbian lover'?

"No, but…"

You sigh and pull me to the couch, taking my hand into your lap. You pull open the first aid kid and pull out a small alcohol pad. I try not to wince as the stinging seeps into the wound.

"Should we do it?" You ask me seemingly out of the blue.


"The spokesperson thing?"

"Do you want to?" I ask, swallowing hard.

"I don't know," you say. Well that's honest, at least.

"I don't want to." I say, resolute. You sigh and push the alcohol pad into my cut. "Ow," I say pulling my hand back.

"Stop being a baby," you scold me.

"What's your problem?"

"Nothing." You say, attacking my cut again.

"Alex!" I yelp.

"I've got to clean it."

"It's fine." I say.

"It's not fine. It's going to get infected."

"It will not." I yelp.

"I give up," you say throwing the alcohol pad away. "Let it get infected. I don't care," you say, slamming the kit closed.

"What's wrong?" I ask you.

"Nothing," you say, daring me with your eyes to say anything more…


"What's wrong, Alex?" You ask again.


"Then why are you yelling at me?"

"I'm not!"

"You just did, Alex."

"There's nothing wrong, Olivia," I sigh, opening the first aid kit again, and taking out another alcohol pad.

"No!" You yelp, holding your hand away from my reach.

"Please, Liv, it's going to get infected. Let me clean it, or we're going to the hospital."

"Fine." You stick your hand out, and wince before I even touch you. "Not so hard."

"I'm not doing it that hard," I say, dabbing at your wound. "I still think you need stitches."

"I've had worse scrapes and cuts." You mumble, staring at my hands while I finish cleaning the wound.

I unwrap a band-aid and place it over the wound. "There. All done."

"So why are you upset?"

"Let's just drop it, okay? Liv?" I sigh. "It's not a big deal."

"You're upset, and that is a big deal."

"I just… I'm not sure why you're so adamant against the idea. We might actually make a difference, you know?"

"Yeah, well, unless the Police Commission comes out and say he's gay, I doubt anything would change just because of something we may or may not do."

"Yeah, maybe you're right." I sigh again as I finish putting the kit back together. "Anyway, I'll see you later?"

"You're chasing me off?"

"I have to go apologize to Petrovski in person."


"Yeah, oh."

"Sorry you have to do this." You shrug helplessly.

Sorry enough to go with me, to make a statement in front of Petrovski? Somehow I doubt it. "Yeah, so am I. I just wish… I wish things were different, people were different."

"Me, too." You say, pulling me into your embrace. "Good luck."

I lean against your shoulder, and wrap my arms loosely around your waist. "Would you, would you reconsider your decision?"

548 Falling Apart

"Alex, no. This isn't, I just…this isn't my thing." I say quickly and I feel you pull away.

"Okay," you say, as you turn to your desk, leaving me cold with a view of your back. I can see you tensing; see you straightening up before my eyes. Your body tells me that you're angry, or frustrated, but not happy with me or my answer.

"Now you're mad again." I almost whine at you.

"I'm not mad." You say back, with frustration brimming in your voice,

"Yes you are." I say, trying to get you to look at me.

"I'm not mad, okay?"

"Alex, I can see that you're angry. Come on, let's talk about this, okay?"

" Just drop it Liv."


"Drop it, okay?" you say again.

"Fine." I mumble, feeling the anger bubble in my chest. You didn't want to do this either, so why am I suddenly the bad guy? It's not you that has to deal with the consequences of this on the street. You get to stay here in this office with generally enlightened people. I've seen what happens to gay cops. You probably have too. But that's not even what's important here, you never wanted to do this. Is it just that I don't want to that makes you so insistent?

"I have to go, all right?" you say, pushing me towards the door.

"Fine Alex." I say, turning on my heel. "I'll see you later." I open the door to your office slowly, hoping you'll call me back. Hoping you won't send me away like this, angry.

"I'm going to be late tonight." You call after me.

"Fine." I say angrily as I slam your office door shut behind me.

You'll be late? I'll be later.

Two can play this game Alexandra Cabot.


I look up, just in time to hear my door slam. I almost call to you from my desk. I wasn't saying I'd be late just for spite. I had things to catch up on, after this morning's waste of time, after talking to Branch, and with you, not to mention I still have a meeting with Petrovski. And I wanted to go shop for your ring. I wanted to explain to you...

Oh, why bother? You'll probably twist my reasons all out of shape anyway.

I should be mad right along with you, considering my temper. But for once, I'm not. I'm actually sad... Sad and disappointed.

Guess we're having our first fight, as a couple, and so soon after you gave me this. I turn the ring around my finger. If I weren't wearing it in court this morning, the rest of this wouldn't have happened. We'd still be happy as clams in our own little insulated world.

Maybe I should just take it off. Then what? Do I do this for the rest of my life? Hiding from the entire world? That's probably what you'd want.

Why do things have to be complicated? You've been sober for over six months. Finally, we're planning for our future. Finally we've stopped living one day at a time. I can't believe I actually thought we could put it all behind us and joyfully march on ahead...

Now what?

I suppose I should go face the music with Petrovski. I really don't want to... Still, I force myself out of my chair, and out of my office, closing the door behind me.

"Ms. Cabot." Petrovski's clerk greets me at the door. Is it my imagination, or is he colder than usual?

"Is she in?"

"No. She just left for a late lunch. She waited for you."

"Oh." Shit. Could this day get any worse? "Would you please tell her I'll talk to her later?" He gives me a non-committal grunt, and turns back to his paperwork.

Guess I should get started on my work, I decide as I trudge back to my office. Maybe flowers would be good for apologies. Even an old crone like Petrovski could appreciate a little brightness in her life, right? While I'm at it, maybe I'll send you and me both some.

God knows, I certainly need cheering up…

"Hey." Serena pokes her head in.

I finish placing the order, and look away from the computer. "Hi."

"Trouble in paradise already?" She sits down in the chair across from me.

"Jesus, do we work with mutant locusts or something?"

"No, she stormed by me earlier looking awfully cranky. And you, you look like someone just ran over your puppy."

"What's with everyone and their puppies lately?"


"Oh, never mind."

"So, Cabot, you wanna talk?"

550 Slipping

I storm out of the courthouse and down the cement stairs feeling self satisfaction as my feet bang hard against the cold pavement. Why can't you listen to me? Why can't you just get it? Why do you have to be so mean? Why do you always need to be in control of everything? In control of me?

You told me that you didn't want to do this thing, want to stand up and be a poster child for justice and equality and gay rights. So what's the problem that I don't want to do it either? Why does this have to be about me being embarrassed of you or you being embarrassed of me? It doesn't matter, anyway. All that really matters is that now you're angry at me. Again. And as far as I'm concerned, I still haven't done anything wrong.

I storm down the sidewalk, my hands shoved deep into my pockets while thoughts race through my mind a mile a minute.

How unreasonable you're being.

How you're making me feel worthless.

How you're making me feel hopeless.

And because I agreed with you and said it was a bad idea?

Screw that.

I am determined to get you out of my mind. Each time I try to push you out, push out your passive aggression by telling me you'd be home late, it comes back and attacks me harder.

I want to be numb. Want to forget about you and forget about my problems.

This is ridiculous, I scold myself, walking through the cold wind.

I am so mad.

So angry.

So irrationally angry.

I want you to understand…understand how this hurts me.

Want you to know what it's like to feel like you don't ever do the right thing.

I want to punish you like you're punishing me.

I slip into the warmth of a corner store and check my pockets. I pull out the paper twenty in my pocket and stare at it for a long time before slamming it down on the counter…


Do I want to talk about this? I suppose Serena would understand, she would be the most sympathetic of everyone I know. Oh, what the hell. "Branch called me into his office this morning."

"Really? Why?"

"I mouthed off at Petrovski in her courtroom."

"You did?"

"Yes." I sigh loudly. "I did. She saw the ring, and asked who the lucky man was, and Olivia happened to be there. So I introduced her to the 'lucky fellow'."

Serena shifts in her chair. "Okay…"

That's my cue to pony up the pertinent details. "To make a long story short, I said some things, and ended up in an 8 by 10. Donnelly came and got me out."

"Petrovski's actually going through…"

"No, she decided to let it go." I offer quickly.

"So that's why Arthur wanted to talk to you."

"No. I mean, yes and no." I sigh again. "He and the Police Commissioner had a talk. They want us to be poster girls for their diversity drive."

"You mean." She shifts again, holding her eyes wide open. "Wow. I'm glad I'm not dating a cop."

"Gee, thanks."

"So, are you gonna do it?"

I fiddle with the file folders on my desk. "I didn't want to."

"Something changed your mind?"


"She wants to?" She lifts her brows and widens her eyes even more. "Wow..."

"No, she doesn't. But when I found out she doesn't…"

"You changed your mind. Why? Just to be disagreeable?" She laughs.

I look at her dourly, and wait until she smothers her smirk. "It's just the way she acted. She said it was about the invasion of our privacy, but the way she was acting. How conscious she was about people looking at us, and how angry she was about the suggestion… It's almost like she…"

"Doesn't want people to know?" Serena completes my thought.

"Exactly." I sink my forehead into my hands. "Then I started wondering if she wasn't…"

"Ashamed of you."


"You really think so? I mean, who in their right mind would be ashamed? You're hot enough to make a straight chick gay. She'd only be the envy of the world." Then she grins, and add, "And so would you. I can see it now, 'New York's Fairest, Fighting Crime, Hand in Hand' along with your mugs, flashing in Time Square.

Suddenly, I feel very self-conscious. So maybe this really wasn't such a good idea. Maybe I was reading too much into your unwillingness to take a stand. I shook off the image of our faces on a giant electronic billboard. "Anyway, that's what started it all."

"So what are you going to do?"

"Well, I just sent her a cookie bouquet, maybe it'll help sweeten her disposition." I sigh again, really not sure what else to do. "Oh, do you want to go shopping with me? For a ring?" Just because we're fighting doesn't mean I'll stop loving you.

"Yeah, sure, just let me know when you want to head out." She gives me a knowing smile. "This is gonna be exciting."

552 Forbidden

I sneak out of the store with my guilty purchase in hand. I shove the change back into my pocket. Taking the few seconds to evaluate what I did, what I'm about to do. I haven't done this in forever, and I have no idea why I want to so badly now. The stress? The feeling of being betrayed?

The anger in me that's not resolved?

I stare at the brown bag, and shift it gently in my hands, before pulling the brown wrapper away and exposing it to the raw daylight of the street. I feel myself gasp in anticipation of what I'm about to do, how illicit, how wrong it is. How socially unacceptable.

I fight to open the package, pull out a thin cool white stick and light it with my newly acquired lighter.

I inhale deeply as smoke fills my lungs.

God that's better than sex.

Something else that you don't approve of, I'm sure.

Why does that make this feel so much better? That you'd stand here in front of me, mouth agape shocked and appalled at my lack of self control.

I bet you've never even tried it.

Not that I recommend this, mind you. No, smoking is a nasty habit, but as nicotine rushes into my lungs, my nerves go dead.

But not quite enough.

I want more. More of this forbidden thrill.

You're mad at me, I want you to be mad at me for something real.

I feel out of control. I know, my mind screams at least, that I should stop this.

That I should go back to the apartment, throwing away my illicit contraband and forget this wild rampage.

I don't want to do that though. Be safe. Be responsible. Make you happy.

I want to be irrational and wild…I want to be out of control…I want…


"Knock, knock."

"Come in." I look up from the file to see my secretary carrying a bouquet of flowers.

"Someone just delivered these, Alex," she says.

"Thank you." I take the flowers from her. Unlike normal, she lingers. Presently, she looks like she's ready to burst with curiosity. So I smile. "Yes?"

"They're beautiful. Are they from your friend, the detective?"

"Actually." I was going to tell the truth. Then, at the last minute, I change my mind, and pretend to check the card. "Yeah, they are."

"How's her hand?"

I shrug. "She doesn't want to go get it stitched up. Anyway, thanks again for the letting me borrow your first aid kit."

"Oh, you're quite welcome." She pauses, seemingly searching for words.

I decide to help her out. "Yes. We do live together." My demeanor adds, Is there a problem?

"Oh. You make a cute couple."

Excuse me? This is coming from my no dancing no drinking Southern Baptist secretary? She looks uncomfortable, but she seems sincere. Besides, we've known each other too long for pretenses. "Thank you." I smile again, genuinely happy for the first time in hours. Maybe the whole world isn't against us after all.

"Well, I should get back to work."

"Thanks again for bringing these by." I pull out a vase, and put the flowers in, along with my bottled water.

Hmm… Wonder if you got your cookies yet. I pull up the website, and check the tracking info. Yep, you did, an hour ago. Why haven't you called? Are you still mad at me? Or are you out on a case? I dial your desk phone.

"What's up, Alex?" Stabler picks up.

"Oh, hi, Elliot. I wasn't expecting you to answer the phone. Where's Liv?"

"She isn't there? I thought she was with you. She never came back after she stormed out this morning. Lemme tell ya, the captain's none too happy 'bout it."

Where could you have gone? "Have you tried calling her cell?"

"Yeah." He says like I had just asked the dumbest question. "When she didn't answer, I just thought you guys were at it again."

"Let me try calling her at home." I respond, completely ignoring his remark. "Meanwhile, if you see or hear from her, will you have her call me, or let me know?"

"Okay. Say Alex?"


"Were the cookies from you?"

"Yes, and you can have one. Bye." I hang up, and dial our home number. Come on, Liv, pick up…

554 Lost

My back slides against the wall of the corner store while I take deep drags off the second forbidden cigarette. I feel committed to smoking the whole pack, a ridiculous goal since I don't think I've ever smoked that much in my life.

I haven't done this since I was sixteen, sneaking out of the house with cigarette's I had swiped from my mother. This feels just as good as that ever did. I don't even particularly like the taste of the dry smoke sucking into my lungs. I like the feeling of not supposed to.

So why do I feel guilt sneaking into my head? Your disapproval was what I was craving and you would not approve, not you, not Miss Perfect.

It's not like I'm drinking, or out here buying truly illicit substances. This is a perfectly legal…

I can feel my body relaxing, the warm feeling rushing through me of relief.

And then my phone rings. I pull it out of my pocket and stare at the caller ID screen. Elliot. There's no way I want to talk to him. No way I want to face storming out of the bullpen, no way I want to face Elliot or the Captain or any of them, especially since they probably all know that I was asked to be lesbian of the year.

I feel anger starting to pound back through me, poster child for gay rights. How dare they even ask. How dare they point us out like that and how dare they cause us, cause us to fight the way we did.

It's amazing how quickly I'm entirely incensed again.

Angry at the world and all over something so…

I feel my phone vibrate again. I pull open the phone to check the ID before I answer. It's you.

Elliot probably called you.

Tattled on me.

Like he's sending my mom after me, to check in on me.

The fact that you feel like you can do that, check in on me, make sure I'm behaving myself drives me over the edge. I throw the cigarette onto the sidewalk and put it out with my foot.

I pull myself off the wall and slowly walk down the sidewalk. I don't know what to do except to try to lose myself in the sea of people walking down the sidewalk. I drift off, letting myself get lost if only in my head…


The phone at home just rings and rings until the answering machine picks up. Where are you? Are you screening the calls? I debate leaving you a message.

Someone's got to offer the peace pipe, right? So maybe it should be me...

"Hey, just wondering where you are. Sorry about the way we parted this morning. Like I said, I'm going to be a little late, after this morning, I've got a lot of catching up to do. Then, unless you want me to come home right after work, I have a couple of things I'd like to pick up. Call me. Or I'll see you tonight."


I tried to be as diplomatic and conciliatory as possible.

Surely you know me well enough to know that you can't expect me to grovel for your forgiveness, especially when, this time, your temper is partially to blame.

Against my better judgment, I call you on your cell. Still no answer. I'm sure it's probably off. Guess you need some alone time to yourself, to think things over, or brood, or whatever it is that you do these days when you're unhappy.


You haven't gone back to booze, have you? Are you drowning your anger somewhere?

You wouldn't do that. Would you?

Not after what you put yourself through? Not after we actually celebrated your six month mark? Would you throw away what you've worked so hard to achieve? What we've achieved together?

You wouldn't, would you?

I try not to let my worry filter through my voice. Instead, I leave you the same message I left at home.

"Oh, I sent over some cookies earlier. Sweets for my sweet, you know. Anyway, hope there's still some left when you get back to the station." I add. "Love you."

I have to trust you. I'm going to trust you. Trust that you wouldn't self-destruct over such trivial matters. I mean, it's pretty trivial, on the grand scheme of things. It's not like anybody died or anything.

I'm also not going to worry. You have your badge and ID on you. If you get in trouble, someone will call the precinct. They'll call your captain, and he'll call me... He will call me, right?

Nothing's happened to you, and nothing's going to either... I won't get that dreaded call. I'm determined to believe.

Taking out the next folder, I bury my head into my work.

556 Messages

My phone vibrates incessantly. I ignore it. Determined not to be responsible for anything right now. I don't know why I feel this way, slightly wild and dangerous. Like I want to be crazy, want to just give up on everything. I don't know what it was about our fight that's setting me off, making me feel like this.

Someone keeps calling me, a fifth call, obviously not getting the hint that I don't want to talk, not to anyone. I pick it out of my pocket and give a self satisfied smug smile at your name in the caller ID. Missed messages, five.

I don't know why I'm so mad…why I feel so…so, out of control.

I want to explain to you, I feel like you're picking on me. You are attacking me, treating me like a child because you can. You give me mixed messages…you tell me yes and no at the same time. But I don't really know what to do. What to say. I love you, I do. I'm just so…angry.

I don't know what to pick sometimes, don't know what to do. You make me feel like this, and it's only you hold this power over me. Thank God, because it were more I'd be certifiably insane. You make me feel like the most important person in the world, and in another second make me feel like the worst. Why can't you just take my no? It was your no to begin with, after all.

I flip my phone open and call my voice mail. The first message is from Elliot, telling me that the Captain was pissed that I never came back and that I should get my ass back as soon as possible. I look into the deep purples of the sky. Too late, the sun is already down, and I know that no one's expecting me now.

The next ones are from you. A series, the first non-committal, asking me to call you. The second asking if I got what you sent me, cookies, you say. You think you can send me something and make this all go away.

The third message is more desperate. "Call me, please, Liv, I'm worried about you."

Worried at what I'm doing, I'm sure.

The fourth is angry. Very angry. You call me a child, tell me how stupid I'm being, tell me that you're not going to tolerate me acting like this. That if I want to crawl off into a corner and feel sorry for myself I can just do that.


I will, I say, slamming the phone shut, not noticing the final message blinking there for me….


I promised myself not to call you. I promised myself to give you space, to let you cool your heels. For the first two hours, I kept my promise.

Then I found myself not being able to concentrate on my work. I was genuinely worried about you. I hoped you didn't get into some freak accident, or that somehow a case had gone terribly wrong. So I picked up the phone.

First, I talked to Elliot, to make sure he still hadn't heard from you. After that I called you again, not even bothering to hide my desperation. I told you how worried I am about you.

An hour later, you still haven't returned any of my calls. This time, I'm livid. I'm sure you're doing it on purpose, acting childish, being stupid. I tell you I'm fed up with you.

Before I know what's happening, I'm calling you again, in tears, apologizing and begging you to call me back. To let me know you're all right. To tell me that you care…

I'm staring at the phone, and willing it to ring; but it doesn't.

Obviously, you don't love me enough to care how your actions affect me.

I used to think you were acting like that because of the alcohol, because of the disease.

Maybe that's just how you are.

Selfish and spoiled.

Why did I even waste my time going to couple's therapy? It didn't do anything for you, or for us.

If you don't care that you're breaking my heart, then why am I still wearing your ring?

I shouldn't.

I slide the metal band off my finger, and I call you a sixth time. I'm not surprised that I get your voice mail again.

"This is the last time I'm calling you." I tell you calmly. It's amazing how quickly the walls go up. I almost don't feel the pain. Or maybe it's because consciously or subconsciously, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. All good things must come to an end, right? That's the benefit of living one day at a time, I suppose. I'm glad you made me do it, made me get so used to this concept.

"I'm leaving the office in about fifteen minutes, if I don't hear from you, then I'll talk to you whenever. Bye." I finish up the message.

Then I dial Serena's extension. "Ready to go?"

"Yeah, I'll be right over."

I take the next fifteen minutes to finish organizing my files, so the assistant taking over my cases can figure out where everything is. Soon, I hear the door knock.

"So where's the first stop?" Southerlyn asks.

"First stop, we're going back to my place, so I can drop this off." I show her the ring.

"Why? You're not wearing… Wait, you're not breaking up with her, are you?"

"You know? I lied when I told you we didn't talk about marriage. We did, sort of." I explain, still calm, and logical. "Someday, I might want a real wedding, a house complete with picket fences. I might even want kids."

"Yeah? And you don't think…"

"She got so mad at the Police Commissioner's request, that she attacked a door. She couldn't speak up for herself in front of Petrovski; I had to literally drag her forward, and tell Petrovki myself that she gave me the ring." I bring up examples to support my question. "Does that sound like someone who's proud of us?"

"Well, knowing the facts now…" She presses her lips together, torn between telling me the truth, and the universal desire to convince people their broken relationship is worth salvaging. "But isn't this like a promise…?"

"She promised to love me. You don't put someone you love through what she put me through this afternoon, no matter how angry you are at the other person. I left her six messages, Serena. Six. And that's just on her cell phone."

"Maybe she couldn't…"

"She'd better be lying in a hospital bed this entire time." Yes, I know I sound cold-blooded; but you're leaving me no choice. At some point, I do have to protect myself. The second time, I've got to say, is much easier…

Especially when I know it's the last time.

558 Catching Up

I walk into the bar and sit down, ordering a double.

I'm ready to do this, ready to finally just slip over the edge, when my phone vibrates another time.

You are the queen of bad timing, don't you know that?

I stare at the screen, as the bartender slides the drink in front of me. Guilt washes over me, horrible pounding guilt. I don't want this. I don't want this at all. Not over something so small.

I smile at the bartender, a forced smile, and slide the drink back. "Can I just get a soda instead?"

"You sure?" he asks, raising his eyebrow at me.

"Positive." I say, relieved as he pulls the drink back away from me. I sigh my relief.

I open the phone this time and notice that now there are two flashing messages…but only one call?

I must have…

I open the phone and quickly punch in the codes to my voicemail, listening to your hysterical sobs, begging me to call, begging me to respond. "If you love me at all, please call me." You cry into the phone.

I pick up the phone without hesitation and dial your number. I can't make you cry, I can't stand knowing that my stupid rebellion is hurting you.

"Hello?" You answer curtly. I know you know it's me.

"Hey," I say gently.



"Are you okay?" You ask quickly.

"Yeah." I answer.

"Where are you?"

I look around before I answer, remembering that the truth might not help me here. "Out."

"Out where?"

"Does it matter?"

"Yeah, it does." You demand.

"I'm in a bar."

"You know what Liv, fuck you."

"Alex wait,"

"No you wait. How dare you."


"We get in one fight? One? And you go out and do something like this? How could you?"


"I can't…" I hear you suck in air. "You can't just…I can't talk about this right now." And before I know it, the line goes dead…

559 RASH

"What happened?" Serena asks as soon as I slam down the phone. "Is she all right?"

"She's fine." I take another deep breath, and force back the tears, even the anger. You're not worth my wasting another ounce of emotion on you. "She's at a bar."

"She is? What are you going to do?"

"You know? I was going to take a couple of days off, to visit my mom, or go to Vegas, or something." I reveal my earlier plans. "I think I'm actually going to stick around, at least until the morning, and ask for a transfer."

"You're what? Aren't you being a bit rash?"

"If I don't get away, she's just going to be like a bad rash." I tell her. "I can't work with her everyday. Been there, done that."

"You're going to give up your career over this?"

"What career? Do you see Donnelly retiring soon? Meanwhile, if I get transferred, I might actually be able to move up."

"Assuming Arthur doesn't have a cow."

"Arthur will get over himself. I'm good at what I do."

"You really should sit on this, wait 'til you cool off. Take your little time off…"

"I'm not angry." I smile, and pull out my chair. "If you don't mind waiting, I've got a few things I should wrap up for the next person who sits at this desk."

"Alex…" She furrows her brows, and sinks into the couch. "How can you not be angry? I'd be livid. In fact, I think I am getting mad at her."

"You shouldn't, Southerlyn, she's not worth it."

"Wait, how can you say that? You were so happy. You've been so deliriously happy since you two got back together. You even moved in together. You're going to throw it all away? Over just one little fight?"

"It's not a little fight. It's about who we are. I can't be with someone who's ashamed of me."

"You really don't know that. Maybe you misread…"

"Serena?" I interrupt her.


"Whose friend are you anyway?"

"Yours, of course! What kind of question is that?"

"Then be my friend, and help me pack when we get to my place." I say, and begin the task of organizing the rest of my desk.

560 Desperate

I slam my phone shut after I realize you aren't there anymore.

"You sure about that soda?" The bartender asks me, "You look like you could really use that drink."

I stare at him, into his eyes. I can see the temptation there, see the things I want to feel, and this man can give it to me. I can't, even if you're mad, even if you're not there, I have to be sober for me, for my life. I don't really want this, not like that.

I have to get back. Eventually you'll go home, to our home, our apartment. I have to meet you there.

I throw the money from my pocket onto the counter. "Thanks" I mumble as I run for the door.

I run a few blocks before I find a cab and waving the cabbie over furiously, I nearly scream our address at him, and tell him to hurry.

The whole way home I stare out the window, unsure of how or what to feel.

I'm numb.

I guess it's what I wanted.

I reflect back on the anger in your voice.

You'll never forgive me.

Even if I haven't done anything.

I try to prepare myself to face your rage, but again, I'm woefully inadequate.

Like always.

I slide my key into the lock and hold my breath ready to face you, but as I open the door I'm faced with darkness, blackness.

You're not here.

I walk in, not even bothering to turn on the lights.

I feel numb, like I've already lost you.

I guess I got my wish.

Part 561

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