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 - Valentine's Day
By sunsetwriter


Alex retrieved her coat and briefcase from the chair beside Olivia's desk and exited the squad room without a word to anyone. Olivia watched her walk out and then turned and made her way over to her desk. Out of the corner of his eye, Munch watched Olivia watching Alex. He suppressed a smile and continued to read the open file in front of him.

Olivia breathed a heavy sigh as she sat down at her desk. Munch, the only other detective in the squad room at the time, looked up. "Are you two arguing again?" he asked.

Olivia rolled her eyes. "I really think that woman just enjoys arguing."

"Don't sound so surprised. She's an attorney, it's what she does."

"But she's not supposed to argue with us," Olivia huffed. "We're supposed to be on the same side."

Munch decided it was probably best not to point out that most of the arguing the ADA did with the squad, was done with Olivia. He also kept quiet on his theory behind this.

Olivia sat at her desk and shuffled a few files around. She suddenly froze, when she moved a file to find a foreign object underneath. She looked curiously at her desktop, file still in hand, hovering in mid-air. There, on her desk, was a tiny pink candy heart. The words 'Hot Stuff' were emblazoned on the surface. She looked around the room to see nothing else unusual. She put the file down, but continued to stare at the little piece of candy.

"Hey, John?"

Munch looked up from his file. "Yeah?"

"Did you see anyone else around my desk?"

"No. Just Alex. Why?"

Olivia slid the file back over the little heart. "No reason." For some reason she suddenly didn't want to tell Munch what she had found. "It just looks like these files were moved around."

Alex breathed deeply to calm her nerves as the elevator descended to the ground floor of the precinct. Olivia Benson had to be the most stubborn, relentless detective she had ever worked with. She knew Olivia cared deeply for the victims, but sometimes, she just wouldn't listen to reason. All the ADA asked was that the detectives bring her hard evidence. She refused to put her career on the line for a 'gut-feeling', even if it did belong to the beautiful woman with piercing brown eyes. Alex shook her head and sighed, wondering how long she could hold out before the brown-eyes won her over - again.

The ADA stepped out of the elevator and paused to pull her gloves out of her coat pocket before facing the winter chill. She felt something hit the top of her shoe as she pulled the gloves from her pocket. She looked down to see a small, white candy heart on the floor at her feet. How in the world did that get into her coat pocket? She reached down and picked it up, turning it over to reveal the words 'Sweet Thing' printed on top. She looked curiously at it for a moment, thinking that the only time she had left her coat unattended was on the chair beside Olivia's desk. She shook her head and dropped the candy in the trashcan beside the door as she exited the building.

The detective yawned as she looked at her watch. Ten-fifteen. She rubbed her eyes and marked her place on the lengthy printout she had been reading. She was determined to find the hard evidence the ADA had requested, but she was going cross-eyed staring at six-months worth of phone records. Her partner had called it a day two hours ago and Munch and Fin an hour before that. She shook her head as she tried to figure out why she wanted so badly to be the one to hand Alex the evidence she needed to get their warrant. To say 'I told you so' when the warrant turned up the murder weapon? To have the self- satisfaction of knowing that, once again, her gut instinct was right on the money? To see the flash of confidence in those beautiful blue eyes, when the ADA knew she had the evidence to nail the defendant to the wall? Whoa. Olivia shook her head again. Where did that come from?

"That's it, Benson. Time to call it a day," the detective said aloud to an empty squad room. She stood up and grabbed her leather jacket from the back of her chair as she pushed the chair beneath the desk. She gathered her scarf and gloves from her locker and pulled the jacket on as she exited the room.

Olivia openly yawned again as she waited for the elevator, then stepped inside and punched the button for the ground floor. She stuck her hands in her pockets as she waited for the elevator to make its descent. Her left hand felt something unusual. She grasped the object and pulled her hand out of her pocket. Her eyes widened as she found herself holding another tiny candy heart. This one was yellow. She turned it over in her hand and blinked as she read the words stamped on the other side – 'True Love'.

Her jacket had been hanging on the back of her chair all day. Anyone in the squad room could have put the little heart in her pocket. Including Alex. She didn't keep up with where the ADA was the entire time she had been at the precinct. And Olivia had certainly spent a lot of time away from her desk, and away from Alex, while they were interrogating the suspect. She realized just how distracted she had become when the elevator doors started to close again with her still standing inside the elevator. She stuck her hand out to open them again as the thought hit her. She was actually considering that Alex was leaving these little hearts for her to find.

Alex stifled a yawn as she opened her briefcase. She was tired, but she wanted to go over her notes on their latest case one more time before she went to bed. Olivia had such a strong feeling about this one, and Alex had come to learn that the detective's instincts on cases like this one were almost always right. She just wished that Olivia would realize that she could only do so much without real evidence to back it up. She trusted her detectives, but no judge would allow 'gut instinct' as evidence in court. Now if she could just convince Olivia of that. Why did that particular detective have such an effect on her?

She pushed her glasses up and pulled a folder from the briefcase sitting open on the other side of the bed. She heard something fall out of the folder and back into the briefcase. She pulled the bag a little closer and peered in. There, between her Mont Blanc pen and her extra pair of glasses, she saw it. Another candy heart. She stared at it for a moment before picking it up. This one was purple and said 'Kiss Me' on it in red letters.

Alex's brain started running back through her day. The only time the briefcase was out of her possession was when she left it beside Olivia's desk. Olivia had been in and out of the interrogation room as Alex watched the team of detectives question the suspect. She could have had easy access to Alex's coat and briefcase without anyone noticing. Alex shook her head. Was she really thinking that Olivia had planted these little candy hearts for her to find? Her heart began to beat a little bit faster as the thought registered in her brain. Yes, she was.

Benson, Munch and Cabot all gathered by the coffee machine in the vending room at the courthouse. They had an unexpected delay in the court session where Munch and Benson were scheduled to testify. Munch handed each woman a cup and then took a sip from his own.

"Mmm. Nothing like the Hudson River blend," the sarcastic detective said. "It's a wonder we don't all have enormous amounts of river toxins floating through our bloodstreams. Or maybe we do."

Alex and Olivia both set their cups down, untouched, on the small table as they sat down to wait for the call from the bailiff when court resumed. They both stared wordlessly at Munch, who ignored their stares.

"So, ladies, any big plans for Valentine's Day?"

The two women continued to stare, although they both took a quick glance at each other first. Munch looked back and forth between the two. "Just making conversation. Sheesh. Tough crowd." He paused for a moment. "I just figured that two beautiful women like you would find yourselves with your pick of suitors on St. Valentine's Day."

Alex rolled her eyes and then a thought struck her. "I'm afraid I only have time for a couple of candy hearts this year. How about you Olivia?"

A fleeting look of surprise crossed Olivia's face. "I guess we have something in common," she responded turning her stare to Alex.

Munch looked curiously from Olivia to Alex and back to Olivia again. Alex's cell phone rang and she answered it to take a brief call. When she disconnected the call, she said, "Petrovsky's back. Court will resume in ten minutes." They all stood and wordlessly made their way back up to the courtroom.

The desk clerk walked in and handed Olivia an envelope. "Messenger service left this at the front desk for you, Detective."

"Thanks," Olivia said as she took the envelope from him. Her name was on the messenger slip, but the sender's name was blank. She opened the envelope to find a plain white, letter-sized envelope inside. She slid her finger under the flap and opened it. She pulled out a folded type written note and a small pink candy heart fell out onto her desk. The heart was stamped with the words 'Be Mine'. She stared at the candy for a moment and then unfolded the note and read it.

It was signed with a simple handwritten 'A'.

Alex reread the type written note that was signed only with a handwritten 'O'. She picked up the messenger envelope her secretary had handed her and examined it again, but the sender information was still missing. The little pink heart with 'Be Mine' stared up at her from her desktop.

At 7:30 pm on Valentine's Day, a pair of eyes looked through the window of Callahan's Bar from the sidewalk outside. Two women, one blonde and very striking, one brunette and rather dashing, sat together, sharing a bottle of red. They laughed as they talked and seemed relaxed and genuinely happy to be there. Breathing a sigh of relief as he looked at his watch, the man watching them smiled. Thirty minutes in, and they were still sitting there together seemingly enjoying themselves. He considered his plan a success - he had brought Olivia and Alex together, now the rest was up to them. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a bag of candy hearts. He shook one into his hand and looked at the word printed on it – 'Cupid'. He smirked.

"Indeed," he said as he popped the candy into his mouth. Then John Munch turned and walked away.

The End

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