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 - Labor Day
Alex stood near the finish line, where the rest of the runners' friends and families had gathered, along with other spectators and supporters who had come out for the first annual NYPD Labor Day 10K.
The morning was warm, the temperature already climbing into the mid-eighties. The crowd started to cheer when the first of the finishers rounded the corner and headed toward the finish line.
Two women and a man stood near Alex, and she couldn't help but overhear their conversation. "Who's he?" the woman in sunglasses asked her friend who was wearing an NYPD emblazoned t-shirt.
The second woman squinted into the sun to try and get a better look at the man who was to be first across the finish line. "It looks like Dave Matthews."
"From the band?" the male counterpart questioned.
"No, Doofus, from the two-seven."
The first woman nodded. "I recognize him now. He's been training with Jules for the marathon."
Alex raised her camera and snapped a photo of the winner crossing the finish line. The crowd continued to cheer as more racers crossed the line. A few minutes later, the woman in the NYPD shirt elbowed the other one. "Here comes your girl!"
"Woo hoo! C'mon Julie, you can do it! First woman to finish!" The woman in sunglasses began jumping up and down as her friends started clapping and whistling. Alex snapped another photo as the woman she now knew to be Julie became the first female to cross the finish line. The woman in sunglasses ran to give her a big hug.
One minute and forty-two seconds later, Alex felt her heart skip as a familiar face rounded the corner and drew a bead on the finish line. Thankful she brought her telephoto lens, Alex raised her camera and framed the perfect photo of Olivia Benson. She was wearing blue running shorts with a blue and black jog bra. The light was perfect and made the light sheen of sweat coating her skin glisten in the morning sun. Her short, cropped hair was tousled and damp with sweat. Her tanned midsection displayed perfectly toned abs and the muscles in her legs were well defined as she ran. Alex set her camera for rapid-fire exposures and pressed the shutter release.
A quiet utterance from the woman in the NYPD shirt caught Alex's attention. "Whoa. Who is that?"
"The runner in the blue shorts."
The male companion turned to look at Olivia. "That would be Benson from the one-six."
"You know her?"
"I know enough."
"What does that mean?"
"Anybody with the panty police probably has too many issues of their own."
"Shot you down, huh?"
The man chuckled. "Went down in flames." He shook his head as if recalling the memory. "She probably plays for your team anyway. There was another chick with her that night."
The woman turned to the man and punched his shoulder. "You know, just because she turned you down, doesn't make her gay. It does make her smart, though."
Alex smiled and continued to take pictures as Olivia crossed the finish line and came to a halt. She was breathing heavily, which only accentuated her tanned abs. She bent forward and put her hands on her knees to catch her breath and Alex finally lowered the camera. A race volunteer came over and clapped her on the back as she handed her a bottle of water and congratulated her. Olivia stood upright and accepted the bottle. Alex could lip read the words 'Thank you' as the detective began to unscrew the bottle cap. She took a healthy drink and then poured half the bottle over her own head. The rivulets of water cascading down her body were easily visible in the late morning sun. Alex raised the camera and took a couple more shots.
"Jesus. She's gorgeous." The NYPD t-shirt could not stop watching Olivia any more than Alex could.
About that time, Olivia turned her head toward her mini fan club. Seeing a familiar face, she smiled and started toward them.
The man elbowed his friend. "Hey, she's coming your way. Look whatever way it is you gay gals are supposed to look." The woman punched him again.
Olivia's smile widened into a big grin as she approached. Alex felt herself involuntarily returning the smile. The woman next to her was watching the looks passing between them and turned to her male companion. She grabbed his arm and tugged as he gave her a confused look. "C'mon, partner, that smile's not meant for me. Let's go congratulate Julie." They disappeared into the crowd as Olivia came to a stop in front of Alex.
The ADA was the first to speak. "Congratulations!"
"Thanks. What are you doing here?"
Alex shrugged. "I wanted to support the event, and," she gestured to her camera, "I thought you might want some photos of your big finish."
Olivia then noticed that Alex had a camera hanging from a strap around her neck. "You took my picture?"
She looked at the detective and smiled. "I took a couple."
The detective looked surprised, but pleased. "Thanks." She looked at the camera. "Is that digital?"
Alex nodded and Olivia dropped down to one knee and began untying her shoelace to remove the timing device. "Let me just turn in my race timer and I'd love to see them."
It was then that Alex realized that Olivia would probably want to see all of the photos she had taken. She did have pictures of the first place finishers, but only one of each. She had taken probably fifty or more shots of Olivia using the rapid-fire shutter on her camera. Alex smiled as Olivia stood back up and held up the small device. "I'll wait for you."
Olivia took her timer to the finisher's station and had her time officially recorded. Alex contemplated deleting some of the photos so she didn't look like a total stalker, but she really wanted to view them on something larger than her camera display before deleting any of them.
A few moments later, Olivia reappeared wearing a new race t-shirt and carrying a medallion on a red, white, and blue ribbon. She held up the medal and said, "It's official, third place in the women's division."
"Congratulations!" Alex offered for the second time. She raised the camera and gestured to the medal. "Put it on."
"You're not serious."
"I am. Put it on." When Olivia still didn't comply, Alex continued, "I'm your official photographer remember? Besides, I can get a great shot of you with the finish line banner in the background."
"Alex, I look like I just ran ten kilometers," Olivia said as she ran her fingers through her still damp hair.
"Isn't that the point? Besides, you look great." Alex really wanted to ask her to remove her new t-shirt again, but she didn't want to push her luck.
Olivia rolled her eyes and put the medal around her neck and her hands on her hips. Alex took a step back, framed the shot and snapped the photo. She quickly looked at the camera display and smiled. "That's one to keep." The detective just assumed she was speaking to her.
"Well, I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of them. I'm supposed to meet Elliot and his family in the park around noon. He dropped me off at the start and he has my bag." Olivia looked at her watch. "We've got about an hour. I was going to find something cold to drink and a nice place in the shade to wait and cool down. Care to join me?"
"Love to." They started toward the park and Olivia snagged two more bottles of water as they passed a water station set up for the race. She handed one to Alex and they began a leisurely stroll toward Central Park chatting amiably along the way.
When they entered the park, Olivia spied an empty bench in a shady area and headed toward it. "C'mon, I'm ready to see what kind of a photographer you are." She smiled as she sat down.
Alex sat down beside her and turned on the camera. She pressed the button to bring up the photos on the small display screen and handed the camera to Olivia. She pointed to another button on the back of the camera. "Just press this to move to the next picture. You'll be going in reverse order." Alex hesitated briefly before almost shyly adding, "I took a few."
Olivia nodded as she took the camera. She glanced up curiously at Alex when she made the last comment, then looked back down at the camera. She looked at the last photo Alex had taken of her wearing the medal and then she punched the button. She was surprised to see a fairly close-up shot of herself after the race when she had poured the water over her head. It wasn't a bad photo at all, but she was a bit surprised that Alex had chosen to take one at that time. She pressed the button again and saw another image taken just after pouring the water, the bottle still held above her head. The lighting was perfect and she could actually see the water running down her chest and torso. Her head was tilted back and her eyes were closed, giving an almost sensual quality to the photo.
She looked at Alex with curiosity. "Interesting photo."
Alex offered a small shrug. "The lighting was perfect for that shot." She paused for a beat. "And the subject wasn't bad either." She decided that she was tired of hiding her attraction. They had bordered on flirting several times recently and she never got the impression that Olivia wasn't interested. And with all the photos of herself Olivia was about to see, she was either going to realize the obvious or think Alex was a nutcase. Alex was hoping for the obvious.
Olivia arched an eyebrow and pressed the button on the camera. She pressed it again and again. After about twenty photos, she looked back at Alex and smiled. "You took more than a few. If I keep pressing the button, I look like I'm running backwards."
"I was using the continuous shutter mode. There's also some of the winners." Olivia had continued to scroll through the photos as Alex talked.
"I see that now," she said with a smirk. "One of each."
Alex looked a little embarrassed and shrugged again. "Well, look at it this way. You have the benefit of being able to choose your favorite photo to help you remember this day."
Olivia laughed. "Thanks, I'm flattered actually. And thank you for coming out to support the race and me."
Alex smiled. "Believe me when I say it was my pleasure."
Olivia gave her a sideways glance. "If I didn't know better, Counselor, I'd almost think you were flirting with me."
"So what would I have to do for you to be sure of it?"
Olivia looked at Alex for a moment with a mixture of amusement and intrigue. "Accept an invitation to have dinner with me tonight. If you don't already have plans."
Alex smiled a little broader. "I'd love to have dinner with you."
Olivia grinned and Alex thought to herself that she would accept an invitation to do just about anything in order to see that smile again. The detective looked down at the camera. "So how do I take a picture with this thing?"
Alex reached over and pressed a button clearing out the display. "Now it's ready to use." Olivia held up the camera and pointed it at Alex. She snapped a picture and then turned the camera to frame another one. "Why are you taking my picture?"
Olivia smiled. "You said I could choose a photo to help me remember this day. I think this one will be the one I choose." She watched the genuine smile appear on Alex's face and then pressed the shutter release.
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