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


"Are you sure you want to do this?" Serena asks again as I slide my key into the lock. The entire time I tried to work, the entire time we were on route, she kept badgering me. Kept trying to talk me out of my decision. Trying to make me feel things I don't wish to feel.

"Look, I've made up my mind."

"But you still love her, right? You can't just shut it off like that, you're not a tap."

I don't see why I can't be a tap. Somebody's got to be able to control their emotions in this relationship. It's sure as hell not you.

There I go again, thinking of us in relationship terms. We don't have a relationship. Not anymore. I remind myself.

I push the door open, and walked into the darkened apartment. "See? You were wrong. She's not here. The answering machine's still blinking. Which means she hasn't been here all evening." Somehow Serena thought you'd hurry your ass home, after I hung up on you. This just shows her how wrong she is.

"Maybe she's tied up. You don't know why she was at a bar. Maybe she was responding to a call." She tries again, repeating her theories. "Maybe she had to go the washroom or something, and the bar's the closest place."

"You should just save your breath." I stop in front of the fish tank, and stare at the only light in the apartment.

I stare at the fish, swimming blissfully towards me, and waiting for food. Somehow we manage to have Pavlovian goldfish. Only us.

Us. Our fish.

They were supposed to be us.

Happily ever after. That's how things were supposed to be. That's how our life together was supposed to be.

Not this.

Suddenly, I feel the veneer cracking. The wall that I tried so hard to keep up all evening, they're falling. I suck in a ragged breath. No more tears. Remember? You're not worth my tears, I remind myself. Still, the teardrops fall.

"I hate this…" I sob to no one in particular.

I hear Serena gasp.

I feel movements towards me.

Before I can turn around, I feel your arms around me.

"I'm so sorry, Alex," you say.

And I only cry harder…

562 Traveling

Staring into the dark, the only light in the whole apartment is the one in our fish tank. Us. A representation of us, at least in theory. As fish, we live our happy coexistence, but as people, we can't seem to get it right. It would be much easier to have two second memories and not be laced with so much history… so much mistrust.

I acted like a jerk.

You acted like a jerk.

And here we are again.

Will we ever learn? All the therapy, all the work we've done to trust each other?

I hear noise in the hall, people arguing. As they get closer I can distinctly hear your voice, and I recognize Serena's too. You always turn to her, turn to her when you can't turn to me. I remember the bitter jealousy, I remember the horrible guilt that I wasn't able to provide you the same stability that she can.

Your key in the lock. My heart beats in my throat, as I stay still, waiting to see if this is just my imagination.

The door opens, and I see you framed in the light, Serena behind you. "See?" You say to her. "She's not here."

Your eyes flash onto the fish tank, the same one I've been staring at for an hour.

I watch you, watch your face changing as you see the swirling colors of our fish, watching your face scrunch as you whine that you hate this.

You start to cry and I can't sit in the dark anymore and watch. I get up quickly and cross the room.

Serena gasps as I wrap my arms around you.

You cry harder.


You start mumbling…"How could you, how?"

"Alex," I say, quickly hoping to stop your racking sobs. You flail your fists at me, weakly pushing against my chest, but pulling yourself into me at the same time.

Serena stares at me uncomfortably, but I can only focus on you. On you pulling me closer and pushing me desperately away


"How could you?" I fight you, fight against my heart and body's desire to take solace in your arms. It's your fault I feel like this to start with. "I hate you!" I hate you, I hate you!

"Sweetie, you don't mean that."

It's not fair, so not fair that just because I'm sitting in your arms, and you're calling me by an affectionate name, that my resolve would slip. "I hate you, I love you, and I can't go on like this," I say, and bury my head against your shoulder.

"Like how, Alex?"

"Hating how you hurt me," I sob, pulling at your shirt. "And loving you at the same time."

You sigh. "Look, sweetheart, I didn't mean to…"

"You ignored my calls!" I wail at you. "You made me worry about you. You wouldn't even call me back, even when I begged you."

"I didn't get that message until late, and when I did, I called you back right away," you explain gently.

"Why didn't you call me back before?" I inhale deeply, trying to calm my breath. Then the repulsive scent assaults my nostrils. "And why do you smell like a chimney?"

"I'm sorry, I was stupid. I was mad at you, I wasn't ready to talk." You explain, kissing me on the head, trying to sooth my sobs. "And I smoked."

"You did what?"

"I smoked. My act of rebelliousness." You shrug, looking somewhat sheepish. "Thinking you wouldn't approve."

I narrow my eyes and wrinkle my nose at you. "So you didn't drink?"

"No. I didn't drink." For a moment you seemed hurt, hurt that I would ask you the question. Or is it guilt. Did you want a drink? I'm sure you did. That you didn't though, is a good thing.

"Then why were you at a bar?"

"I wanted a drink, I even ordered one," you answer slowly, fearful of my reaction. "But I made the bartender take it back," you add quickly, and clasp me to you tighter.

This time, I don't push away. "I'm glad." I tell you, and let you dot soft kisses on my face. "I still hate it when we fight…"

564 Protection

"I hate it when we fight." You say as your sobs start to subside.

"I do too," I whisper quietly.

I rock you gently and look up surprised to see Serena staring at us. She catches me looking at her and gestures for the door. I nod and smile at her, promising her without words that I will take care of you.

You cry gently against me, letting out your stress, as I feel mine growing. I feel like a child, I had to confess and stand up to your questioning.

I guess I deserve that, but still. Has anything really changed?

"I'm glad you came back," you say gently.

I smile. "I love you. Of course I came back."

"I wasn't sure."

"I can fight with you and still love you."

"I know, but I figured."

"You figured I just gave up on us."


"Do you really think I could do that?"

Your silence speaks volumes.

"I really wanted, I wanted to drink tonight. I was close Alex. I was really close." I admit, staring off at a point of light on the wall.

"What stopped you?" You ask, wiping a tear out of your eye.

"You did. And me. I wanted a life."

"I didn't… I didn't know if you would."

"Sometimes I just need to be alone, be in my head for awhile. I wasn't trying…"

"I know," you whisper kissing me gently.

I pull my head away. I don't want you to taste the smoke on my breath. Instead I hold your head to my shoulder and rock you there gently, kissing your head, your cheek. Gently and carefully making you feel safe, protecting you from the world, protecting you from me.


"Good morning, Love," I greet you when our paths cross between the bedroom and the bathroom.

"'Morning, Sweetheart." You walk up and place a soft kiss on my face, careful not to smudge my make up. "How are you?"

"Fine? And you?" I run my fingers along your shoulders, bringing you just a little closer. "Thank you for last night, by the way."

"No, thank YOU for last night."

I just smile, and let my palms drift down your front.

You suck in a deep breath, and grab my hands. "I've got to go get ready. Breakfast's in the kitchen. Strawberries and cantaloupe this morning, your favorite."

"You know, for the last week, you keep making my favorite everything, what about you?"

"Are you complaining?"

"I'm not." I give you my honest reply. "But I don't mind having what you like. Food is food."

"Well, fruit is fruit, too." You smile, and tickle me lightly on the ribs. "And whatever makes you happy, makes me happy."

"The same goes for me," I say, and kiss you on the nose. "I mean, whatever makes you happy, makes me happy."

"I'm glad. But I really should start getting ready, and you have to check your email."

"All right. I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you, too, Alex. See you in fifteen minutes."

I watch you walk into the bathroom, closing the door behind you. Then I head towards the study, stopping by the kitchen to get the smoothie you made for me. Just like the past seven days, the blender, chopping board, and whatever else you used are already rinsed out and sitting in the dishwasher. Even your own glass is in there, too, where normally, it would lay in the sink.

In the study, I'm not surprised to find the computer already turned on and logged into my email account. You even left a coaster on the desk for me…

"Hey, sweetie, I'm done."

I hear your voice from behind me, and I lean into you, feeling the steam of the shower coming off your skin. I swivel the chair around, and kiss you on your stomach. "Hey." I say, smiling up at you, while you reach to shut down the computer.

"How does it look today."

"Like every Tuesday," I tell you. "Crazy."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"It's quite all right." I kiss you again. "Liv?"

"Yeah, sweetheart?"

"Do you mind if I'm a little late tonight? Serena wants me to go shopping with her, and I've put it off all last week."

You think for a moment, and conjure a generous, almost indulgent smile. "Oh, no, not at all. You gals have fun."

"Thank you. I'll make it up to you, when I get home," I promise.

"We'll see." You shrug, and pull me up from my chair. "Let's go finish getting ready."

"All right." I smile agreeably, and follow you into the bedroom. While you get dressed, I go brush my teeth. Not to my surprise, the toothpaste cap is back on, and the tube is in the cabinet where it should be. You even squeezed from the bottom instead of the middle.

It seems like things really have changed after our fight last week.

We've become Ward and June Cleaver…

566 Paranoia

I'm paranoid. Paranoid to mess up, to make you angry.

Everything is the way you like it, since you confessed you were going to move out, move on with us, if I had broken down last week, broken down and drank.

I suppose I didn't expect you to accept it with open arms, but knowing, knowing that now there would be no mistakes, my paranoia has grown immensely. I'm afraid to upset you, afraid to make you unhappy. I'm careful with everything, getting up early to make you your favorites, careful to wash everything and put it away. I'm careful not to upset you, careful not to rock the boat.

When you ask me if it's okay for you to be late, I'm quick to say yes. A way for me to get a break from being perfect sounds good.

I drive you to work, my smile forced as we make pleasant small talk. Talk about nothing. Safe talk. Talk that won't get me into trouble. Dropping you off, I wave as you walk up the stairs to your office, see how you turn to me and wave, and I smile and wave back.

As you walk through the doors, I sigh deeply and pull away.

I slide into the office, stopping to pick up the cigarettes that have become part of my daily routine and smoke the first two like I've been under water and it's my air.

I storm into the station.

"Hey Liv," Elliot says, watching me make a bee line to the coffee machine. Filling an empty paper cup, I take a big swig before I even acknowledge him.

"Hey." Is all I manage to say.

"You okay?" He asks, raising his eyes at me.

"Yeah, I'm just peachy."

"Are you still smoking?"

"Elliot, get off my back?"

"Liv, you're going to get caught."

"I'm not ten years old. I can make my own decisions."

"You're just asking for it." He says shaking his head at me, while I stare at the case files on my desk with feigned interest desperate to get my mind off of everything….


"So, are we really going to get her ring tonight?" Serena asks while we get ready to take lunch in my office.

"Yeah, she's all right with me being a little late."

"Wait," she looks up from her chinese take out carton. "Did you ask for permission or something?"

I try to bury my nose in my lunch box. "Well…"

"You've got to be kidding me."

"I just, I didn't want her to think it's personal that I'm going to be late." I explain as casually as possible. "I'd like to avoid any future misunderstandings like the one last week." Where you thought I was going to be late just for spite, which sent you off to a self-destructive temper tantrum.

"What? You're going to walk around with a collar and a leash for the rest of your life, Cabot?"

"I hope not. Maybe until we figure out what to do with ourselves."

"So what did she fix you this time?"

"Something I once told her I liked, just to spare her feelings." I stare into the tofu eggplant lasagna leftover from last night. "Now she thinks it's my favorite. Well, food is food, right?"

"Do you want to share my noodles? There's plenty."

"No, that's quite all right." I'm really not very hungry, which is a first, well, maybe not 'first' since I haven't really felt like eating all week. Still, I dig into my meal. After the first bite, I put down my fork and lean back in my chair. "God, I miss my college days."

She asks around a mouthful of peapod chicken. "Why?"

"Oh, when everyone's gone for the weekend, and you could lock yourself up in your room with a bag of chips and a really, really good joint…"

"Excuse me?" She coughs into her napkin, her eyes wide. "You took?"

"That's probably one of the tamest things I did," I reveal for the first time to Serena. "She's still smoking, and she thinks I don't know about it."

"Are you sure? You do mean cigarettes, right?"

"Yes. And I'm not sure if I should be mad at her for doing it, or for not sharing."

She chokes again. "You smoked?"

"When I was in law school. Coffee and cigs. My two best friends." I confess. "When my mom found out, she made me go cold turkey. After that, for a while, I was smoking clove cigarettes, and chewing clove gum… Well, then Trevor ratted on me, and I had to go cold turkey again."

"So how do you know she's smoking?"

"Same way people tell the difference between weed and oregano. Or whether it's filtered or unfiltered cigarettes just from the second hand smoke." I shrug, ashamed of my wild days, but trying not to be. "You do it often enough, you know. Besides, the stench hangs on your clothes."

"Wow. Just when you think you know somebody…"

568 Breathe

I stick my hand into my desk and pull out the lunchbox I made scrunching up my nose at the smell of the tofu eggplant lasagna. Elliot leans over my desk and stares. "What the hell is that?" he asks, staring at it like I've exposed an alien carcass.

"Something that Alex likes." I mumble, poking it with my fork, wondering if putting it in the microwave will actually make it more or less edible.

"And you don't?"

"Tofu's not my thing," I say, slowly, "but she likes it, that's what's important." I decide that I'm not as hungry as I thought I was, and I dump it into the garbage beside my desk, leaning back in the chair and massaging my temples with my fingers.

"What about what you like?" He asks, as I stare longingly into the huge sub he bought that he's tearing into.

"It's just food. And she really likes it, so I just…" I sigh.

He stares at me and shakes his head. "I wouldn't eat it." He says with solidness to his voice.

"I know you wouldn't, you're an asshole." I smirk at him, and he laughs.

"Hey, I resemble that remark," he says, taking another huge bite of the sub.

"I'm going out." I say, pushing away from my desk. I can't watch him eat, and let the hunger gnaw in my stomach. That and the tension of the day is getting to me, and my mind drifts to nicotine.

"To smoke?" He asks me.

"Yes mom, is that okay with you?"

"No. But is that going to stop you?"

"Nope." I say, grabbing the half smoked pack from the top of my desk.

"That's what I figured." He says, shrugging.

I walk out into the cold spring air, and immediately fumble for the rush of relief that comes from the first puff of smoke. I sit on the steps and take a drag, wondering what you're doing.

I should call you. Call you and tell you that I love you, and ask if you'll be home for dinner. A dinner you'll expect me to cook, I'm sure. I stare at my phone as I smoke desperately, and decide not to call you. If you're with Serena, you'll be fine. I sigh as I let myself inhale deeply.


"Cabot." I answer, knowing from the caller ID it's you.

"Hi Sweetie. Didn't you know it's me?" You whine.

"Sorry, I was looking at a file, and I didn't check…" I use another variation of the same lame excuse I've been using all last week and yesterday. Well, not every time you called, sometimes I do answer with a warmer greeting.

"I love you." You say quickly, almost like a little kid fishing for approval.

"I love you, too." I respond sincerely. "Very much." And if we don't stop this soon, I'm going to love you to your early death. God. I hope the therapist will come up with a good solution for us this week.

Oh, god, that means I'll have to tell you the truth… Maybe that's not the best idea…

But do I really want to start our relationship off with a lie? Even just to keep peace? Sooner or later I'm going to implode or explode.

"So what are you doing?" You ask.

"Talking to you," I reply. Suddenly I feel like I'm in high school again, with my first crush. God. "What are you doing?"

"Talking to you, Sweetheart."

I hear traffic in the background, and I wonder if you're out on a smoke break. What I wouldn't give for a nice long drag right now. God… Okay, Cabot, stop thinking this way. Your mother's going to kill you if she finds out.

"So, what's up?" I ask you.

"Does anything have to be up? Can't I just call you and tell you I love you?"

"Of course you can. I'm sorry, Liv. I love you, too, and I always love hearing from you. Breaks up my day, and you always make me smile," I say, while fighting the urge to bang my head on my desk. I'm really not sure how much of this I can take.

"Actually, I did call for a reason."


"Are you coming home for dinner?"

If you're going to make more tofu eggplant lasagna, or tofu or eggplant anything, hell no. "I haven't really thought about it, I mean Serena and I haven't discussed dinner plans. Why? Would you like me to come home for dinner?" Please say no, please say no, please say no!!

You sigh loudly. "It's up to you."

"I'll come home for dinner if it's that important to you…"

"It's okay. You stay out and have fun."

Now you sound hurt. God help me. "No, I'll come home. It shouldn't take that long for Serena to get whatever it is that she wants to get…"

570 Happy

Desperately, I tell you to go out with Serena as I see my chance to find a good dinner by myself slipping away.

"If you're sure you don't mind," you say with sickening sweetness.

"No, really Alex, it's okay. I can stop on the way home and pick something up."

"Are you sure?" You ask. "I think there's more lasagna in the fridge?" You supply.

"Yeah," I sigh, great, maybe I'll have to remember to lose the recipe.

"Liv?" You ask, "are you okay?"

"Yeah, why?" I ask too quickly.

"You sound…sad?"

"I'm not sad." I say, stressed, yes. Sad, maybe a little, but not like you mean.

"Are you happy?"

"Is this something we should be discussing over the phone?"

"You didn't say yes."

"I didn't say no. Are you?"

"Am I what?"


"Sure, Liv," You say, trying to sound convincing. "But you're not."

"Alex, I have to, I want to tell you…"

"What is it Liv?"

I look at the cigarette in my hand and sigh. "Nothing."

"You wanted to…"

"It's just silly," I say, snuffing out the butt with my foot. "So, I guess I'll see you...later?"

"Yeah." You sigh into the phone, sliding it back into the cradle, leaving me alone with the dial tone…


I stare the phone, and sigh. Honesty is the best policy, right, Cabot? Why don't you just tell her the truth. Now. Before everything gets out of hand. I tell myself.

You're not happy, I'm not happy. Yet, in less than five hours, I'll be going to shop for your ring. Should I even be doing that if I can't tell you the truth? If we can't talk to each other, and resolve our problems like grown ups?

I pick up the receiver again, and dial your number.

"Hi Sweetheart. Miss me already?" You try to sound cheerful.

Here goes. "You know I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, right?"

"Yeah?" Suddenly you sound concerned.

Maybe directness isn't the best tactic, but I think we should stop manipulating each other. "Can I tell you something?"


I can tell you're bracing yourself for the world to end. "I, I really am not too crazy about tofu eggplant lasagna."

"You're not? But I thought you said, I thought you liked tofu, and eggplant…" You trail off, then sigh.

God. Why do I feel so bad? "I'm sorry." I apologize and explain in a hurry. "I just didn't want to hurt your feelings. I do like tofu, and eggplant, but not necessarily together, and not quite so often."


"I'm really sorry. Please don't be mad at me?"

You sigh again. Then your sigh turns into a chuckle. "Good. I hate it, too."

"You do?"

"Yeah. I kept making it 'cuz I thought you liked it."

"Oh, god. We should've had this talk days ago."


"So, Liv, I was thinking, if you don't mind waiting, I'll come home and have dinner with you."

You pause, for a long moment. Maybe a little too long.

"What's wrong?" I ask you.

"I don't exactly feel like cooking."

"That's it?" I feel a laugh coming on. "God, Liv, if or whenever you don't feel like cooking, just say so. We can always order out or something. I can stop by the pizza place you like and pick one up, or anything you want."


"If you want the time to yourself, that's fine too, and I'll go grab something with Serena. Think about it, you don't have to decide right now. Just call me later, all right?"

"All right."

I think I heard a smile in your voice. Well, maybe I should seize the moment while it's good. Yeah, I will. "Can I tell you something else, Liv?"


"I know you've been smoking."

"You do?" You start to ramble. "How, I tried so hard to hide, I mean, I'm sorry, are you disappointed with me now, you must be…"

"It's all right, Sweetie. I know from experience."


You sound so shocked. Should I really tell you? I don't want you to think less of me because of this… I sigh, and tell you anyway, "I lived on cigarettes and coffee during law school."

572 Hiding

I can't hide anything from you, I shouldn't even try. Instead you laugh, and tell me you used to live on coffee and cigarettes. I can't believe that you would ever, that you could ever do something that I would usually assume you would frown at.

The idea of you smoking is almost funny to me. Why is that?

I just guessed you'd never understand. That you couldn't understand. "I don't know why I picked them up," I sigh into the phone. "I haven't smoked since I was a kid."

"Hey, it relieves stress."

"Yeah, I guess so." I say slowly.

"Are you going to keep doing it?"

"I don't know, do you want me to stop?"

"If you want to," you say, leaving it my choice with no demands, no clear right and wrong for me to easily discern.

Somehow, I'm disappointed, disappointed that you understand.

Why do I want you to be mad at me?

Why does knowing you approve make it taste less sweet?

You take a deep breath, "Well, I'm going to get back to work. Let me know about dinner?"

I agree and hang up the phone.

So you don't like eggplant lasagna?

You were afraid of me too.

Huh. I never would have thought that you'd simply try to please me. That's what I do to you, desperately seek your approval. I thought you did what you wanted and I adjusted.

It's interesting to know you're insecure too, just like me.

I slide off the city steps slowly and take a deep breath of the cold air. I feel the air catch in my throat as I start choking on the freezing air. Smoking is already catching up to me.

I stare at the pack trying to decide what to do with what's left. I slide it into my back pocket, and promise myself to think about it when I don't feel so confused.


"So you think she'll really like it?" I ask Serena.

"It suits her, and it kind of matches yours."

"Yeah, isn't that odd? Kismet, I tell you." I giggle, and take another sip of my wine. It's really too bad you decided you wanted to have dinner alone. I hope you're enjoying your time to yourself.

"You know, Cabot, I believe you're loaded."

"No." I stare across the table, incredulous. "I'm still on my first glass. How can I be drunk?"

"Then why are you giggling like a loon?"

"I can't be happy? I mean, can't I be happy?" I ask her, then wipe the smile off my face. "Seriously, I think we have issues."

"Why? Are you guys still fighting over the diversity thing?"

"No. We haven't argued over anything for a week." I take another sip, and feel the warm flush growing on my cheeks. "Whew. Maybe I should just stick to water. We're both trying so hard to be perfect, I'm not sure how much longer I can take this. It's almost easier when we fought. At least there was make up sex."

"Judging by the size of that," she points to her neck, "I'd say you aren't living like a cloistered nun."

I cover the hickey automatically, and blush. "I didn't say I was. It's just, this being perfect is driving me insane."

"You can't fight constantly or be always perfect. You have to reach a middle ground somewhere. Probably just take time. You know, like most normal couples."

"Normal?" I say slowly, concentrating on the next syllables. "You're talking to one half of the most dysfunctional couple on earth."

"Yeah." She chuckles. "They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Meanwhile, Alex Cabot's from Pluto…"

"Hey!" I protest, then mutter. "And Olivia's from Ceres the Dog Star."

Serena laughs. "Yep, in a totally different galaxy."



"You're not supposed to make fun of the love of my life."

"Yeah? You said it, and you're laughing."

"That's different. I'm entitled." I drain my glass, and stare at my empty plate. "Where did the food go?"

"You inhaled it earlier, remember?" She motions for the waiter. "I think we should take you home."

"You know what, Southerlyn? I think you're right."

Hmm... I wonder if you're gonna kill me for coming home tipsy, or if you're gonna take advantage of me... You can't be too mad at me if I give you the ring tonight, right? And then we'll celebrate? Or…

"Hey, Serena, I think maybe we need to stop somewhere for coffee first…"

574 Pretend

I stare blankly at the TV, watching what seems to be an endless parade of commercials which interrupt the mindless TV show I've found myself sucked into. I only vaguely watch the clock, stretched out on the couch wearing sweats and a t-shirt, I feel stress melting away.

Just being mindless feels good for once, but then again, I miss you. My eyes catch the light reflecting off the golden bracelet around my wrist, my sobriety marker. I smile. Soon I'll get my first charm. I turn it in the light, and smile deeper.

Smile because you're coming home to me.

Before you, there were endless nights like this, trying to get lost in my own mind. But now, I have something to look forward to. Something to believe in, something to wait for.

I hear someone walking down the hallway and I sit up. I hope it's you, but I hear a key slide into a lock further down the hall and I settle back down. I miss you. You're not here and I miss you. By the time I finally hear your voice in the hallway, I'm half asleep, my eyes heavy but my determination makes me want to stay awake long enough to see you home.

I hear your laugh first, and then your key in the lock. The door flings open and your voice peals with laughter, "Hi honey, I'm home."

I sit upright on the couch and look at you. You giggle senselessly and double over. Serena's right behind you, laughing just as hard.

"Alex?" I ask quietly.

"Hi Livvy," you slur my name causing Serena to lean into you and laugh harder. Your reach up and slide your arms over her shoulder.


There's no way you're.

You are.

You're drunk. Wasted. Out of your mind.

And you're coming home to me like this?

This isn't happening.

I know this isn't happening.

If I just close my eyes. If I just pretend that it's not true, it won't be…


"Hi Livvy," I walk into the door and see you sitting there. I'm so happy to see you. "Did you miss me?" I ask, as I stumble out of Serena's arms and into yours. "I missed you. A whole lot."

You flinch, and try to push me away. "How could you?" You say.

"How could I what?"

"How could you come home drunk?"

"I swear, I had one glass of wine. Just one. With dinner," I defend myself, trying not to smile. "Ask Serena, she'll tell you."

You turn and glare at her. I follow your eyes with my whole body.

"Seriously Olivia," she replies, looking all stern now. I like her better when she was laughing. "Alex had one glass of red wine." She goes on to tell you about coffee, or rather, how I wanted to go for coffee.

I tune out. "So… Did you miss me?" I ask you again when Serena finally stops talking.

"I can't believe you got drunk over one glass of wine," you say instead, looking none to pleased with me.

"Me either, I mean, neither. Maybe my tolerance went away since I haven't had any booze since, since," I try desperately to think, to sober myself up. "For months. Besides, I'm not drunk. I'm just a little tipsy."

"A little? If I'm not holding you right now, you'll fall over."

"Okay, so I'm a lot tipsy. But I'm not drunk."

"Hey, you two," Serena speaks up. "I'm going to take off, early day for me tomorrow."

"Byeeee!" I wave. I mean, "'Night, Swena," I focus on my syllables. "Serena." There. See? I'm not that drunk.

You watch for the door to lock behind itself. Then you sigh, loudly. "Look, Alex, we need to get you to bed."

Bed? Did you say bed? "I thought you'd never ask," I purr. "I've missed you, so much."

"I mean to sleep, Alex."

"Why? Don't you want to take advantage of me?"

"You're drunk."

"Exactly. You can do whatever you want. Absolutely. I'll be whatever you want me to be."

You sigh again, and pull my arm around your shoulders. "You're drunk, Alex."

"Yes, you said that already." I feel a major pout coming on. "And I'm not drunk. Besides, we need to celebrate."

"Celebrate what, Alex?" I can hear the impatience in your voice.

"Us." Now I suddenly feel weepy. Stop it, Cabot. I inhale, trying to control my state of mine. "I got you something." I tell you, and start digging into my purse.

"Why don't we wait until tomorrow, Alex." Now you're sounding like my mother.

"Noooo!" Finally, I pull the jewelry box out. "Here!" I shove it into your hand, then pull away, and fall into the couch. I look up, and watch you open the ring box…

576 Angry

I'm so angry that I can barely see straight.

You're throwing yourself at me. Throwing your body into mine, asking me to take advantage of you while your sloppy movements try to slide your hands under my shirt. I pull back, holding you up and letting your hand fall.

I know what I looked like now. It's disgusting. Hands and fingers are reaching for me, as you giggle uncontrollably. It's something that used to be music to my ears, but tonight, right now, it doesn't sound good. I watch embarrassed as Serena stares at you, your fingers lacing around my neck as you reach in to touch me.

You say you had one glass, but the look in Serena's eye tells me that might not be true. She whispers an apology over my head, and slides out the door.

You laugh some more, as I feel my stomach turning for you.

"We've got to get you to bed," I say with a sigh. What else can I do? Reason with you?

"But I wanna give you something," You say reaching intently for your purse. Whatever it is I don't want it right now.

"Tomorrow, Alex," I say spinning you on your heel.

"Let's go to bed," you say, reaching for me again.

"To sleep," I clarify, pulling you towards the bedroom.

You stare at me peevishly and reach for your purse. "I got you something, here." You say pulling a jewelry box out of your purse. I feel my heart sinking in my chest.

"Thanks sweetie," I say, and put the box on the table behind you.

"You didn't open it."

"I don't want to open it right now." I say, pushing you away.

"But Livvy," you slur.

"Stop calling me that," I say, letting my irritation show through. It's taking every ounce of control I have not to scream at you, not to tell you how I feel. Not to go out and get wasted myself, just because you did, just to show you…but you've already had to deal with that, and I know from experience that you're not going to be reasonable right now.

"Sorry," you frown. The frown quickly turns into a smile as you reach for me again.

"Alex, no," I say, pushing you away again. I pull you into the bedroom aware that you're feet aren't working at the same speed as mine. I pull your pajamas out of the bedside stand and demand you put them on.

"You're not my mom," you slur.

"I know Alex."

"Then don't tell me what to do," you say, flopping yourself onto the bed.

"Fine." I say, "Let me know if you need my help."

"Where are you going?" You ask, almost desperately.

"The couch." I say, slamming the bedroom door closed between us.


A sudden loud noise from the outside wakes me up, at least I think that's what just happened. Maybe I just dreamt it.

The silence in the room keeps me alert. Instinctively, I reach for you. You're not in bed.

I lean to look towards the bathroom. You're not there either.

Then I notice my covers on the floor.

Then I notice I'm still dressed.

Then I remember...

I remember crying myself to sleep. I remember the slam of the door when you stormed out. I remember you said something about sleeping on the couch. I remember shoving the ring at you. Asking you to take advantage of me, throwing myself at you in front of Serena.

I remember acting goofy on the way home to make Serena laugh, just because I missed hearing the sounds of somebody laughing. Finishing my glass of wine even though I knew I should stop, because I wanted the euphoric, carefree feeling.

I remember we used to be happy. Deliriously happy.

Now, those moments are fleeting at best.

Are you as unhappy as I am? You must be, since you're smoking to relieve stress. I wonder what happened to us.

I glance at the clock. It's 2 in the morning. I wonder if you're asleep. I wonder if you're even here...

I crawl out of bed, stretching out my achy bones. I'm still a little groggy, but at least I'm sober. Gently, I open the door, and see you sitting on the windowsill, staring out the window. Slowly, I move towards you, even though you refuse to acknowledge my presence.

"Hi." I say, my soft voice deafening to my ears.

You still keep staring out the window.

I see the box sitting in front of you, and I pick it up. "Did you look inside?"

An almost imperceptible flicker in your eyes tells me you did. Or was it just a trick of the light from the outside...

"Look, I'm sorry I got drunk. I don't blame you if you're still mad at me." I wait for your response. When you remain quiet, I continue, "I know I should have stopped when I first felt the effects of the alcohol. I just, I just didn't want to. I wanted to be out of control."

You're still silent, and suddenly I feel like I'm in the witness box, or my first time ever standing before a judge. I put the jewelry box back on the windowsill and reach for your hands; when you still refuses to move, I sigh, and let my arms drop.

"What happened to us, Liv?" I ask you. "I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I just, I don't know what happened, or how to fix this..."

578 Determined

I stare at the street, determined to not feel. Determined not to be hurt. Determined not to think about you in the next room, passed out. Or to think about you out with Serena, coming home well past buzzed.

Determined not to feel wronged or scared or cheated because I wasn't there, and am not allowed to feel that same happy buzz that you must feel.

I'm angry that I ache to feel numb like that, but I can't, because I can't stay in control. Control is something I pride myself in, staying calm, staying cool, but when it comes to alcohol, when it comes to you, I lose all that.

I'm angry because I have no right to be angry. I'm angry because I can't do that anymore, not if I want to spend my life here with you. But you can freely do it, because the beast, alcohol isn't your problem. It's not your friend like it is mine.

I feel like you cheated on me. As ridiculous as that might be, you stole my best friend, went out with her and had an affair that is now forbidden for me, and came home with her perfume on your breath. I'm jealous, jealous that you can do it, you can go out and drink and come home to me and I'm supposed to smile and love you, but if the reverse happened you'd throw me out onto the street and leave me without a second thought. It's not fair. It's just not fair.

But life isn't fair. I watch people walking happily below on the sidewalk, even in the dead of night, the streets are alive. I don't move, even though I can feel my back starting to spasm, my neck muscles twisting in protest of my curled position, but I still stare blankly out the window, sure that if I move my world will come crashing down around me.

I try to convince myself that it's okay.

Try to tell myself that it's not personal. That you did it not thinking, not thinking of me like I was thinking of you. Not thinking about what the consequences might be, not thinking or not caring.

I hear the door to the bedroom push open. I stare straight ahead, not wanting to face you.

"Liv," you whisper but it sounds like a scream in the cold darkness.

You start apologizing, but it's not about that. You shouldn't have to apologize for drinking. You're a big girl, you're responsible for yourself. And your apology falls onto my deaf ears, having used the same exact reasons and excuses and apologies on you, and remembering acutely how they never worked.

"What happened to us?" You ask me, your hand on my shoulder.

I want to cry, want to scream, but I'm numb, and I don't know what to feel anymore, so I continue to stare blankly, my chin resting on my knees as I stare at the street below…


You continue to stare out the window, as if I don't exist. I don't know if I should cry, or scream, or just let you be.

Maybe I should just let you be. Give you time, like you asked.

But I feel like I've been giving you time, all last week.

I feel like I've been giving you time, since the beginning of this relationship…

What would you do, if I sit across from you and wait for you to talk? Will we be sitting here in silence until the sun comes up, until we both have to get ready for work?

Then what? What would we do?

Pretend that this never happened, and continue to live our perfect, passionless life? Or lives? Do we even have a life together? We act like a couple, we live like a couple, go through the motions of being a couple. Everyone we know now treat us like we're together, like a unit.

Somehow, right this moment, I feel like we're further apart than we've ever been.

We might as well be strangers placed in a hotel room together…

"You know? It's not fair," I begin slowly. Maybe you'll hear me. Maybe you won't. At least it'll be off my chest.

"I went out, and had a little wine with dinner, and you're not speaking to me, even though I apologized." I turn towards the window. If my words have completely fallen on deaf ears, I don't want to know.

"We have one little argument last week, and you almost had a drink. Instead, you decide to pollute your lungs with cigarettes..." Suddenly, it seems so cold in here, and I hold myself tighter.

"I'm supposed to pretend I don't care, pretend that it doesn't bother me when I kiss you, when you taste like nicotine, when all I want, is to raid your pockets. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to not drink, and I haven't for months, for your sake." I pause, taking in a shadow breath. "I'm supposed to take your words at face value when you tell me you're not ashamed of us, when your actions scream otherwise."

You take a sharp breath, and I wait for you to interject. You don't. So I continue, "I'm supposed to live life one day at a time, the way you want it, until you change your mind. Then I'm supposed to start planning for the future. I'm supposed to love you unconditionally, forgive everything you do that hurt me..."

I take in another ragged breath, desperately trying to remain calm. "I know I promised to love you for the rest of my life, but you made the same promise to me. I'm the one out here, trying to make peace, trying to talk to you, and find a way to fix us, so we can be happy again...

"What do you do? You won't even talk to me. You're treating me like I'm not here." I wish... I don't know what I wish...

"Do you even care anymore? About me? About us?" I wait for you to say something, anything, and you're silent. Your silence makes me angry.

"Is this just about you, Olivia? Is that it?" Now I'm angry and feeling sorry for myself. "Am I just a trophy to you? No, I'm not even that. People usually show off their trophies... Just what exactly am I, to you?"

I turn away from the window and slide down to the floor. "Just tell me..." Tell me I haven't been the biggest fool in the world...

580 Cold

I stare at the street until I can't anymore. Until reality forces me to come back to life. I listen to your blame, listen to your list of complaints with me. You're angry, but I'm hurt. I'm always the bad guy here, I'm always apologizing to you.

This all started with that stupid campaign. It obviously meant something to you, something more than it meant to me. I don't want to be the poster child for sexual identity. Is that so wrong? You said you didn't want to either, but yet, here we are, a week later, still fighting about it every day.

We can't even talk to each other about it without walking on egg shells. I hate this, I hate having to lie and pretend with you. But I feel like I don't have a choice, like I'm wrong. Like I'm always wrong.

I watch you sit on the floor, staring up at me as I stare into the street, the jewelry box you bought me still sitting in front of me. I haven't opened it. I didn't want a commitment, if that's what you were making, to be made while you weren't in control of yourself. I wanted it to be something from your heart, and I knew from experience, that's not what it would be.

I stand up slowly and walk across the room slowly. I pick up my coat and your eyes get wider. "Where are you…?" You ask slowly, but you see me sliding my hand inside the pockets and you sigh.

I pull out the half smoked pack and pull one out, lighting it quickly and taking a deep breath. I can see the shock cross your face, "Want one?"

"No," you say quickly, even though I can see the struggle in your eyes.

How righteous of you.

I move to my place back on the window sill, opening it to let the small tendrils of smoke out into the balmy night air.

"So? Don't you have anything to say?" You ask me.

"I don't know what to say," I say simply, honestly.

"What else is new?" You say, your anger bubbling again in your voice.

"What do you want me to say Alex?"

"I want you to say something."

"You want me to say what you want to hear. That I'm wrong and you're right." I say, taking a deep drag on the cigarette and letting it out slowly, focusing on the smell of the smoke which compliments the rising anger in my chest.

"That's not what I want…"

"Yes it is. Fine, I'm wrong and you're right. There's nothing wrong at all with what you did tonight. This is all about me, it's all about the things that I've done to you. You win okay? Are you happy now?"

Part 581

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