DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are
property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
CHALLENGE: Written for the 48 Hour Halloween Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
A Halloween Carol
Olivia tossed and turned in a fitful sleep, her limbs becoming tangled in the sheet as she fought to escape the terrifying visions of a dusty pink, frilly shirt. Her soft pleas went unanswered as the nightmare continued to plague her.
In the corner of the room, the pale-faced blonde sat, watching the detective struggle against the images. She bided her time until she saw the first signs of perspiration form on Olivia's upper lip. Slowly, she stood and moved towards the bed to look down at the distraught woman.
"Olivia . . . Olivia, wake up, it's time."
The detective's pleas for the nightmare to end suddenly changed to a questioning tone, but she still remained trapped in sleep. "Alex? Alex, is that you?"
The ghostly image smiled. "Yes, Liv, it's me. Open your eyes."
Slowly, the heavy lids lifted until dark eyes were staring into the blue ones Olivia had longed to see again. She sat up abruptly, startled into full wakefulness; she stared at the vision of her former lover.
"Alex?" She reached out to touch the other woman, but her hand past completely through the image. "Alex, are you dead?"
Alex smiled. "No, Liv, I'm still safe, but I've been worried about you. I had to see you; Agent Hammond's reports had me concerned."
"But...how...where...?" Olivia reached out again but pulled her hand back when she felt the coldness emanating from her lover.
"All in time, Liv; I just came to warn you." Alex smiled reassuringly.
Liv sat up straighter. "Warn me? About what?"
"You'll be receiving a visitor in a little while."
"A visitor? What are you?"
A ghostly hand cupped Olivia's cheek. Alex knew the rules, but she couldn't help herself. She had to touch her lover. Olivia felt only a cool sensation, but she closed her eyes and smiled, imagining the fingers were real.
"I'm just passing through; I can't stay. The other woman will spend more time with you."
Olivia's eyes snapped open. She didn't want another woman; she wanted Alex.
"Shh, don't say a word, Liv. You really don't want to upset her."
"Her? Who's her, Alex?"
Alex just smiled and leaned forwards to press her lips against Olivia's. "Just remember, I will always love you."
The next time Olivia woke, she threw back the covers and jumped from the bed, calling out her lover's name as she moved through the apartment.
"Alex! Alex, where are you?"
A low chuckle drew the detective's attention to the sofa. Olivia squinted against the darkness and finally flipped on the light switch to confront the intruder. The sight of her former self staring back drew the breath from her body.
The leather clad figure threw her head back and laughed. "Oh, Olivia, how the butch has fallen ..."
Olivia slumped to the ground in a dead faint.
Jerking awake, Olivia found herself stretched out on the sofa, and she took just a moment to try to figure out how she'd gotten there. Her last vivid memory had her bolting upright.
"You sure have gotten soft. What in the hell happened to you?"
Olivia blew out a shaky breath and turned towards the wing chair. Her visitor was still here, and she definitely wasn't Alex. The leather clad woman took another sip from her glass.
"Ah, I really missed the taste of whiskey. Those umbrella drinks don't do a thing for me."
"How . . ." Olivia started but quickly slammed her mouth shut. She didn't want to talk to this woman.
The ghostly Olivia held up her glass. "How am I able to drink from your glass?"
Olivia nodded; gestures weren't considered talking.
"Probably because it was once mine; kind of like the forgotten bottle of whiskey I always kept under the cabinet. Frankly, I'm surprised you haven't thrown it out; you've thrown everything else away."
Olivia forgot her plan. "I have not!"
"Oh yes, you have. Well, not thrown out I guess, but you've packed everything away and completely forgot it ever existed." The ghost shrugged. "Same thing."
"It is not." Olivia found herself staring at the other woman's short hair cut. She did miss how easy it was to care for. No hair dryers, no curling irons, no occasional rollers . . .
"Hey!" The ghost interrupted her train of thought. "Quit thinking about that girly stuff; it's making me nauseous."
Olivia's jaw dropped open, and the ghost rolled her eyes.
"Yes, I know what you're thinking," she added under her breath, "unfortunately."
"So, why exactly are you here?" Olivia pulled herself together long enough to get to the bottom of the ghost's visit.
"You're kidding, right?" The other woman gestured towards Olivia's yellow pajama bottoms with its matching top. "Look at you."
Olivia looked down on herself. "What? They're just pajamas."
The ghost stood and moved forward. "Exactly! What happened to the boxers and short shirts? You never cared if they matched. It was all about the butch."
"Oh my God, you really are thick. Yes, the butch; the leather jacket, the low riding pants, the layered man shirts, the wide belts, the boots. Now, you're nothing but a . . . but a . . . oh man, I can't even say it."
Olivia frowned. "A what?"
"A femme!" The ghost moved back towards her glass. "I need another drink."
Two figures sat across from each other, both looking down into their whiskey.
"I think I may have changed."
The ghost chuckled and took a sip from her glass. "Ya think?"
Olivia glared at the other woman. "Okay, I did change. There, are you happy?"
"It's a start." The ghost downed the rest of her drink and slammed the glass on the table.
"How do you do that?" Olivia shook her head in amazement.
The ghost shrugged. "Don't know. I guess since we're the same - well, used to be the same - I have more powers or something."
"Yeah, I guess." Olivia fiddled with her glass, wishing that Alex had had the same powers.
"I just bet you do." The ghost grinned.
Olivia's head snapped up. "What?"
"Oh." Olivia looked back down, her cheeks turning a nice shade of red.
"Hey, no need to be embarrassed. I've had the same thoughts; the only difference is that I have them on an hourly basis. When was the last time you'd thought about Alex before tonight?" The ghost leaned forward. "And remember, I'll know if you're lying."
"A couple of days, I guess."
The ghost raised an eyebrow.
"Weeks?" Olivia changed her answer.
The ghost glared across the table.
Olivia stood abruptly and moved to the sink. "Okay, months!"
"Have you fallen out of love with her?"
Olivia started at the question, but more so at the soft tone of the ghost. She turned around to face her former self. "No; it just got too hard."
"Life's hard, Olivia, but running from it by changing your image isn't the answer."
"I know." Olivia moved to retake her seat. Deep in thought, she traced the grains of wood in the tabletop. Finally, she looked the ghost squarely in the eye and voiced her thoughts.
"Is Alex coming back?"
The ghost shrugged and smiled sadly. "I don't know the future, Olivia."
A single tear formed in the detective's eye, and she went back to tracing the wood. A cold hand covering her own startled her back to the present. Olivia could actually feel the ghost's palm; she slowly lifted her head. It was what the ghost had been waiting for.
"For what it's worth, I believe Alex will be back."
Olivia smiled. "So, I guess I won't be seeing you again."
The ghost removed her hand and sat back. "It depends on where you go from here."
Olivia laughed. "Okay, fair enough. You know, if you should come back for some reason or another, what should I call you?"
"You mean besides the 'asshole ghost?'" The ghost chuckled. "Um, let see, how about . . . Butchy McFabulous?"
The two women looked at each other and burst out in laughter.
The sun filtered through the blinds, landing directly on Olivia's face. She groaned and turned away from the offending light. A few moments later, her eyes snapped open, and she jumped from the bed.
Searching her room and coming up empty, she raced into the equally empty den. Sighing, Olivia plopped down on the sofa and closed her eyes. It'd had all been a dream.
The sound of a distant alarm brought the world slowly back into focus. Pushing to her feet, Olivia moved back to the bedroom and switched off the offending noise. She hesitated for just a moment as she imagined she could smell the perfume Alex always wore.
"Get a grip, Olivia. You've got a long day ahead of you."
Thoroughly chastised, she headed for the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Everything would be back in its proper perspective after she'd had her caffeine fix.
Olivia grabbed the empty coffee container and headed for the sink to fill it with water, her steps faltering when she spied the two glasses sitting in the sink. The taste of stale whiskey immediately made itself known, and Olivia allowed her detective skills to take control as she moved her gaze throughout the kitchen.
Other than the glasses, more evidence was uncovered. First, the bottle of whiskey sat in the middle of the table, and second, a hint of the cologne she used to wear lingered in the air, but the clincher was the leather jacket draped loosely over the kitchen chair. Olivia found herself drawn to the soft leather. Sliding into the jacket, she reverently ran her hand up and down the sleeve.
"It wasn't a dream."
A smile slowly split her face, and she immediately headed back to the bedroom, coffee and caffeine long forgotten. Throwing the closet door open, she began to pull out box after box of stored clothing.
Butchy McFabulous, the ethereal form, wouldn't be coming back.
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