DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Here's a Christmas Eve short for the holiday series. It's set after Alex's time in WPP, but ignores most of the happenings in recent seasons. Thanks again to all the loyal readers and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To sunsetwriter[at]mindspring.com
SERIES: Part of the Holiday Shorts series.
Holiday Short Christmas Eve
"What are you doing here?" Munch asked as Olivia walked into the squad room.
"I work here," came the reply.
"Not tonight. It's Christmas Eve," he replied with an incredulous look.
"You're here," she responded as she took off her jacket and hung it on the back of her chair.
He rolled his eyes. "I'm Jewish, remember? Just another day for me. You, on the other hand, should be celebrating Christmas."
Olivia shrugged. "I just have a few things to finish up," she said as she took a seat at her desk.
Munch stared at his fellow detective for a moment. He truly wished that she could find someone to bring some happiness into her life. If there was a bright side, at least she wasn't completely alone tonight. Then something else registered with him as he watched her pull a report from a folder and pick up a pen.
"Nice haircut, by the way."
She looked up with a shy smile. "Thanks. Call it a Christmas present to myself."
"That's a nice style for you. It compliments your facial structure while at the same time is a great look for a detective. Not too soft, but not too butch either."
Olivia gave him an amused look, with one eyebrow arched.
He smirked. "What? I've been known to take a peek inside a fashion magazine or two."
"You never cease to amaze me, Munch," Olivia said with a smile as she returned her attention to her report.
The click of heels entering the squad room made both detectives look up to see Alex Cabot making her entrance.
"Aw, not you too " Munch said with an almost groan.
Alex stopped next to Olivia's desk and gave the female detective a curious look before she said to Munch, "Not me too, what?"
Olivia rolled her eyes and Munch replied, "It's Christmas Eve. The Jewish guy is supposed to be the one working. Don't you people celebrate the joyous occasion?"
Alex hesitated for a moment. "I- My last few Christmases have been non-traditional to say the least, so I'm not really sure how to celebrate any more." This would be her first Christmas back after her time in witness protection and her first Christmas after her mother's death.
Munch immediately felt bad for his choice of words. "Alex, I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry."
Alex shrugged it off. "Please don't be. Besides, I just had a few things to finish up and then I'm heading home." Then she looked at Olivia. "What about you?"
Olivia looked a little surprised. "I'm not much on tradition either, so I came in to finish up some paperwork."
Munch stood up and reached for his wallet. "Time to start a new tradition then." He removed a crisp hundred-dollar bill and placed it on Olivia's desk. "You two peas, get in your pod and go to dinner together. My treat."
They both looked shocked. Olivia spoke first. "Munch, no. We can't-"
He shook his head. "I don't part with my money easily, but I would be honored to treat you both to dinner and a bottle of your favorite wine. Consider it a Christmas present."
Alex gave him a skeptical look. "But you just said you don't celebrate Christmas."
"I don't. But you do. Or you should." He plucked the pen from Olivia's hand and pulled her leather jacket from the back of her chair. "Please. Make an old Jewish man happy on Christmas Eve." He picked up the money and tucked in it in the jacket pocket and then tugged on Olivia's arm until she stood up. He draped the jacket around her shoulders and lightly pushed her toward Alex. "Go show off your new haircut."
Alex looked at Olivia and smiled. "That's a good look for you, Liv," she said as Munch pushed them both toward the door.
Munch smiled at Olivia. "See? And that's coming from someone who knows what she's talking about." With a hand on each of their backs, he gently pushed them out the door. "Go. Eat, drink and be merry."
Olivia looked at him again and said with a chuckle, "You really never cease to amaze me."
Much just shrugged. "Call me crazy. Call me jolly old St. Munchalas. Just don't call me anytime tonight. It's Christmas Eve." Then he turned and walked back into the squad room leaving them looking questioningly at each other.
When he was just out of earshot, he shook his head and said quietly, "A yenta's work is never done."
Alex and Olivia were seated in a fairly private, round booth in the back of a quaint little restaurant that touted a special Christmas Eve menu complete with sugarplum pudding for dessert. They had a very attentive waiter who had introduced himself as Josh and made it his mission to keep their wine glasses full. He seemed a little enamored with the two women and even proclaimed their table to be his "most favorite in the restaurant." He had spent a good part of his time as their server, trying to figure out if they were on a date, a first date, or just there as friends.
He smiled to himself as he approached the table again. He would swear that they had been inching closer to one another in the rounded booth all evening. They were certainly sitting closer together than necessary and they seemed to have loosened up a good bit since their arrival. He was definitely leaning toward this being a date.
Thanks to Josh's liberal pouring, they finished up the bottle of wine in the middle of the main course. Olivia's eyes widened as Alex picked up the wine list and ordered a second bottle. A very pricey second bottle.
"Really?" Olivia said with obvious surprise.
Alex shrugged. "What can I say? I like wine."
Josh smiled and said with a wink to Olivia, "And she has very good taste."
"Don't worry, this one's on me," Alex said to Olivia as Josh left to place the order with the sommelier.
"That's not what worries me," Olivia replied with a smirk.
"Did you and Munch conspire to get me drunk?" Olivia asked with amusement.
Alex smiled. "Let's just say I'm beginning to feel the Christmas spirit."
Olivia chuckled. "Well, that makes two of us. Literally."
Alex continued to smile. "If you ever tell him I said so, I'll deny it, but Munch was right."
"This. Us." Olivia looked a little puzzled, so Alex clarified. "We should celebrate Christmas and not be alone on Christmas Eve. This is nice. Having dinner here." She hesitated for a beat. "With you."
Olivia smiled and reached over and gave Alex's hand a squeeze. "Yes, it is."
Josh returned just in time to see the exchange and smiled to himself. Definitely a date. Both women declined his offer of dessert, but he wouldn't take no for an answer, offering to bring one dessert for the two of them to share. That should keep them nice and cozy, he thought to himself.
They finished their meal, polished off the wine, and shared the dessert, all while sitting huddled together in their private booth, sharing memories of childhood Christmases. They each felt some sort of bond with the other over their current state of aloneness and neither was anxious to see the night end. Josh seemed to realize this during his frequent visits to their table.
Olivia groaned and leaned back in her seat. "I don't think I can hold another taste or drop of anything."
Alex agreed, adding, "We've been here for over three hours already. I'm sure you're ready to get rid of us by now."
Josh seemed almost disappointed that his evening with them was about to end. "Nonsense. It's been my pleasure to serve you tonight." He hesitated for a moment and then said, "Well, I guess that leaves us with only one thing to take care of then."
Olivia spoke quickly, "I'll take the check, please."
"No, I'll take the check, Josh," Alex responded.
Olivia gaped at her. "This one's on Munch, remember?"
"That's not going to cover it, and I ordered the second bottle of wine."
"Ladies, I'll let you two argue amongst yourselves, but it wasn't the check I was referring to," Josh said with a smile.
"Oh," Olivia said as they both looked at him expectantly.
He continued to smile. "Don't you want to know why this is my favorite table?"
"You mean it's not because we're sitting here?" Alex offered with a mock pout.
"Well, that's certainly the reason tonight, but " He glanced toward the ceiling above their table. "This is a special table."
They both followed his gaze until two sets of eyes froze on the little sprig of greenery dangling from the light fixture above the table.
He continued to grin as he looked back at the two of them, still gazing upward. "It's the only one with mistletoe above it. Our Maitre D' usually picks a lucky couple to seat here each evening during the holidays."
Alex finally tore her eyes away from the mistletoe and glanced nervously at Olivia before turning her attention back to Josh. "What made him think we were a couple?"
Josh shrugged. "He may not have since all the other tables were full when you arrived. So, you ended up at the lucky table. Funny how things work out sometimes."
Olivia blinked and then finally looked away from the mistletoe and was somewhat speechless. "We, uh wow."
A little confused by their reactions, Josh was beginning to wonder if he had totally misread their relationship. He decided to try and diffuse what was becoming an awkward situation. "You two seem close and you seemed to be having a great time, so I just thought I'd point it out." He seemed genuinely embarrassed. "I'll be right back with your check," he added before he left the table.
Alex and Olivia both looked up again simultaneously and began to smile. Alex was first to speak. "Well, that was a little awkward."
Olivia chuckled. "Yeah. I feel bad for him." When Alex raised her eyebrows at that, Olivia continued, "What? He seemed embarrassed."
Alex tilted her head. "So what? Do you want me to kiss you so he won't feel bad about his mistake?"
Olivia looked surprised. "You'd do that?"
Alex shrugged. "Sure."
Olivia looked at her for a moment and then said, "OK."
The eyebrows went up again. "You're serious?"
Olivia nodded. "I'm serious." She smiled. "C'mon, it's Christmas Eve. Let's make his night."
Josh was headed back to their table when he stopped short. He was surprised that he saw the two women leaning toward each other.
Olivia cut her eyes to the side without moving her head. "Is he looking?" she whispered as her lips were mere inches from Alex's.
"I think so," Alex responded softly without even looking at Josh.
They both hesitated a moment longer and then gently touched their lips together. They had each intended for this to be a rather quick peck, but neither one expected the other to have such soft, inviting lips. When Alex lingered a moment longer than expected, Olivia couldn't resist pressing her lips fully to Alex's and giving her a long, thorough Christmas kiss.
Josh remained motionless as he watched from a distance. I knew it!
When they finally parted, Olivia looked almost embarrassed as she smiled at Alex. "I guess I got a little carried away with the Christmas spirit," she said almost shyly.
Alex was almost breathless. "If that's the case, I'd love to see what happens after another bottle at my place."
Olivia grinned. "Maybe this really is a lucky table."
Alex returned the grin. "Like Josh said, it's funny how things work out sometimes."
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