DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES: Part of the Holiday Shorts series.
Holiday Short - Independence Day
Elliot Stabler fell in step behind Alex Cabot as she exited the elevator and headed toward the squad room. The ADA was talking on her cell phone and didn't realize the detective was right behind her. He couldn't help but overhear her side of the conversation.
"Sounds great. I'm looking forward to it." She paused while the person she was talking to replied, but Elliot couldn't help but notice the tone of her voice as one he had never heard before. He had no doubt this was a personal call. "Well, I'm just getting to the squad room, so I'd better hang up. See you tomorrow night." She disconnected the call and dropped her cell phone in her purse.
The ADA visibly flinched when she heard the voice so close behind her. "Elliot, hi. You startled me."
He smiled. "Sorry, I was coming down the hall as you got off the elevator." He held the door to squad room open for her to enter. He saw Olivia approaching, clipping her cell phone back to her belt, and waited to hold the door for her also. He continued his conversation with Alex. "I couldn't help but overhear you talking on the phone, Counselor." The ADA looked curiously at the detective, but didn't reply.
He gave her a sheepish look. "I really wasn't eavesdropping. Anyway, you have plans tomorrow evening?"
"Yes." Alex gave a hesitant answer as they arrived at the detective's desk. His partner had overheard his question and was watching them out of curiosity as she took a seat at her own desk.
"But not tomorrow afternoon?"
"Not in the afternoon, no." The ADA gave another rather hesitant answer.
Elliot smiled broadly. "Great!" His eager response almost caused Alex to flinch again. "Then you can join us for a Fourth of July cook-out in my backyard!"
Alex looked wide-eyed for a moment and Olivia began to smile. "Well "
"C'mon, you already said you didn't have plans in the afternoon and we'll let you leave in time for your date tomorrow night. In fact, bring your date. The more the merrier."
Alex shook her head. "I doubt that would be possible "
Olivia decided to step in when Alex started looking a bit panicked. "Then you can go along with me if you'd like, Alex. I have plans tomorrow evening also, so I won't be staying late."
Alex turned her surprised look on Olivia. "Well in that case "
Elliot beamed again. "Great! It'll be fun!"
Alex smiled and looked at her watch. "I have a 4:30 meeting with the Captain. Olivia, we'll work out the details before I leave." She turned back to Stabler. "Thank you, Elliot." She looked hesitant for a second. "Is there anything I can bring?"
Elliot shook his head. "Just an appetite."
Alex nodded. "OK. Well, see you later, then," she said as she walked toward the captain's office.
Kathy Stabler answered the door and welcomed Olivia and Alex into her home.
"Olivia, so good to see you," she said as she gave her husband's partner a quick hug.
"Thanks, Kathy." She gestured to Alex. "You remember ADA Alex Cabot, right?"
Kathy extended her hand to Alex. "Of course. I'm so glad you could join us."
"Come on in." She noticed the twelve-pack Olivia was carrying. "Elliot's out back with the grill and there's also a cooler out there for the beer. You two go on out. I was just informed that the coals are perfect, so I was just about to take the burgers out."
"Need some help?" Alex asked as Olivia headed toward the back of the house.
Kathy nodded. "Sure, I could use a hand." She motioned with her hand. "The kitchen's this way."
Olivia glanced back at Alex and smiled as the ADA followed Kathy into the kitchen. The detective stepped into the back yard to find her partner tending the grill wearing an apron that said "Grill Sergeant". Fin and his date were sitting in lawn chairs rolling their eyes at Munch's latest conspiracy theory. The Stabler twins were playing Frisbee in the corner of the yard.
Fin looked up to see Olivia. "Liv, thank God you're here!" He gestured to Munch. "If his skinny ass tells me one more reason why I shouldn't drink bottled water, I might need all of ya'll to hold me back from killin' him."
Olivia smiled and gestured to her twelve-pack of Guinness bottles. "Beer's OK though, right?"
"Hey, Liv," Elliot called to his partner. "Especially when you bring the good stuff!"
Olivia opened the cooler and began unloading the beer from the carton. "You can thank Alex for that."
Elliot raised his eyebrows. "Alex drinks beer?"
Olivia smiled. "Alex drinks good beer."
The burgers had all been eaten, most of the beer had been drunk, and Munch had exhausted his ideas on steroid-laden beef, when Olivia realized the time and looked at her watch.
"It's almost five," she said to Alex. "Let me know when you need to get going."
Alex nodded and Elliot's curiosity got the best of him. "So, Alex, big plans tonight?"
The ADA hesitated for an instant. "Fireworks." Olivia gave her a curious look, but didn't comment.
After a bit more conversation, Alex and Olivia decided they'd best drive back to Manhattan before the holiday traffic heading to the various fireworks displays got too heavy.
Elliot walked them out and was a bit surprised to see Olivia slide behind the wheel of Alex's BMW. He waved as they pulled away from the curb.
Olivia glanced over at Alex as they drove away. "So, are you glad you came?"
"Yeah, I am. It was nice to be in a relaxed setting with everyone." She looked over at Olivia. "How about you?"
Olivia chuckled quietly and shook her head. "God, it was almost painful."
Another chuckle. "Yeah. Do you know how many times I wanted to touch you or almost said something that would have given away too much?"
Alex smiled and reached over to place her hand on Olivia's thigh. "I know. And I hate that we have to keep our relationship a secret. But the repercussions-"
"I know. And I knew it going in. Believe me, I understand. It's just hard to keep something like this from the people I'm closest to. Especially in a casual setting like that."
"I know." She gave Olivia's thigh a gentle squeeze.
"So," Olivia cut her eyes over to the blonde again. "Fireworks?"
Alex laughed. "Sorry, I wasn't expecting the question."
Olivia smiled. "So you don't really want to fight the crowds down by the river?"
"Oh, absolutely not." Alex smiled. "Besides, I have a wonderful view of the river from my bedroom window." The hand that was still resting on Olivia's thigh slid a little higher. "And if we can't see the fireworks from there, we can just make some of our own "
Olivia smiled and pressed the gas pedal a little harder.
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