DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Those who are looking for a realistic timeline are likely to be frustrated with this one. I used this year's tournament info, but Alex and Olivia forever remain in Season 3 or 4 in my mind, so I'll ask you to alter reality a bit for the sake of the story. That being said, you can pretty much ignore anything that happened on the show after Season 4. I try to do that most of the time anyway… :-)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To sunsetwriter[at]mindspring.com
SERIES: Part of the Holiday Shorts series.

Holiday Short – March Madness
By sunsetwriter


"I hear you made an arrest in the Martinson case," Alex said as she approached Olivia's desk on Friday afternoon.

The detective sighed a weary sigh and said, "Yes. Finally! I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to a lazy weekend, now that we actually have one off."

Alex sat down in the chair beside Olivia's desk as she reached into her leather satchel. "That could be a problem," she said as she discreetly slipped an envelope onto the desk.

Olivia looked at the envelope and saw the words 'Happy Anniversary' in Alex's familiar handwriting. The detective's eyes widened as she realized that their third anniversary had completely slipped her mind during the chaos of the past week. She jerked her head up and looked at Alex with a look that did nothing to hide this fact from the ADA.

Alex couldn't help but smile. She looked around cautiously, to make sure no other detectives were listening in, and leaned a little closer to Olivia. "Liv, I know what your life's been like for the past week, so no worries, OK?" Then her eyes twinkled as she smiled slyly. "Besides, I'll let you make it up to me later."

Olivia tried not to blush and said quietly, "I so don't deserve you."

"Aren't you going to open it?" Alex asked, nodding toward the envelope.

Olivia picked it up and slid one finger beneath the flap. Peering inside, she found two tickets to the Women's NCAA Regional tournament in Philadelphia to see two-time defending champion UConn Huskies take on the Georgetown Hoyas.

"Oh my God!" Olivia exclaimed as she looked at Alex. Her look of delight brought a wider smile to Alex's face. She knew how much Olivia liked women's basketball. The detective looked back at the tickets and realized they were in the third row behind the Huskies' bench. "Oh my God!" she said again. "These are great seats! Alex, how did you get these?"

"A friend of a friend knows the SID at the University of Connecticut," she said, as if it was no big deal. "It's not the Final Four, but Philadelphia is within driving distance."

"Oh my God!" Olivia said again. Then she lowered her voice a little. "If we weren't in the middle of the squad room, I would kiss you senseless right now."

Alex grinned in response. "Hold that thought for later, then."

"Count on it," Olivia responded. Then a thought occurred to her. "But, Alex, you don't even like basketball."

Alex shrugged. "But you do," she said matter-of-factly. "And I like you. So I'm taking you to Philly this weekend." Her eyes twinkled again. "You watch the game, and I'll watch you."

Olivia tried again, unsuccessfully, not to blush.

Alex's expression turned a little more serious. "I did hit one snag though."

"What's that?" Olivia asked cautiously.

"I didn't get the tickets until this morning, so I couldn't book a room until today. The only thing left, within a reasonable distance of the game, was at a Hampton Inn." Alex tried not to cringe as she said the name of the hotel.

Olivia suppressed a smile as she imagined Alex 'roughing it' at a less than 5-star hotel. "It has a bed, right?" the detective asked.

"Supposedly," Alex replied, obviously not happy with their accommodations.

"Then, I promise you this," Olivia said, lowering her voice and looking around to make sure they were not being overheard. "Once I get you into that bed, I'll do my damnedest to make you forget your own name, much less where we're staying."

Alex's cheeks reddened and she looked slightly flustered. "Maybe we should stay two nights…"

Olivia and Alex slept in Sunday morning. Their basketball game didn't start until noon, and they had been up late the night before. Olivia was determined to do everything within her power to make good on her promise to Alex. And Alex, oddly enough, saw no reason to argue.

They showered and dressed and then made their way down to the breakfast area at the Hampton Inn. Olivia was sure that Alex would have preferred to be in a luxury hotel, but this one was actually very nice and they really had no complaints.

Thinking that their late arrival to breakfast would mean less of a crowd, they were surprised to find the dining area brimming with people. The tournament had obviously brought a lot of people to town, and from the various college basketball logos they saw people wearing, quite a few were staying at the Hampton Inn.

"Wow," Olivia said as they approached the dining area, "I guess everyone had a late night last night."

Alex gave her a look. "You think everyone was doing what we were doing last night?"

Olivia smirked. "Well, I'm pretty sure that guy over there wasn't," she said as she gestured toward one of the few men in the room.

Alex rolled her eyes and headed for the coffee machine. They got their breakfast and sat down at the last empty table in the room.

A few moments later, a tall woman, wearing a UConn basketball jersey over a gray t-shirt walked past their table. She had short, gray hair and appeared to be in her mid to late sixties. The woman looked about the room and then turned and called back to another shorter woman, wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words 'Huskies Basketball', waiting near the juice machine. "I don't see any place over here, maybe we could just sit in the lobby."

Olivia and Alex looked at each other, and experienced one of their 'unspoken agreements'.

"Excuse me," Olivia said to the woman. "We have two extra chairs. You're welcome to join us if you'd like."

The woman looked surprised for an instant and then smiled as she surveyed Alex and Olivia and their available space. "You're sure you don't mind?"

"Not at all," Alex replied.

The woman smiled warmly and said, "It's so good to know there are some nice people left in this world. Thank you." Then she turned and called to her companion, "Hey, Ernie, come on over."

The other woman walked toward the table and smiled kindly, but looked curiously at all three of them.

The taller woman put down her food and took the food from the other woman and placed it in front of the other empty chair. "Don't worry, you don't have Alzheimer's, I don't know them either, but these two lovely ladies have invited us to join them."

The shorter woman looked surprised and said to Alex and Olivia, "How kind of you. Are you sure you don't mind?"

"We've got plenty of room," Olivia said with a smile. "Please, have a seat. I'm Olivia and this is Alex."

The older women sat down as the taller one made the introductions. "I'm Roberta and she's Ernestine." With a chuckle she added, "Also known as Bert and Ernie."

Alex almost choked on her coffee. "You're kidding."

"Serious as a heart attack," Ernie replied.

Bert looked at her companion, "Ernie, dear, at our age, you probably shouldn't use that analogy anymore."

Ernie rolled her eyes. "We're the original Bert and Ernie. We figured somewhere back there we must have smoked a joint with Jim Henson. He made us into puppets, but he screwed up and made us males." She shrugged. "But, I guess he might have a hard time explaining two women named Bert and Ernie to little kids."

"That would be the least of his problems if he turned us into puppets," Bert added. "Of course, people wondered about those two anyway, so it may not have made any difference."

Olivia found it amusing that they actually did seem to have similar characteristics of the famous puppets. She saw the same amusement in Alex's eyes also as she listened to the women chatter on.

"But enough about us," Ernie said as she sliced a banana on top of her cereal. "Are you two in town for the tournament?"

"We are," Alex answered as she scanned the room with her eyes. "It seems as if a lot of people are."

Bert smiled. "We've been to at least one game every single year of the NCAA women's tournament," she said proudly.

"And I don't even like basketball," Ernie said with a smile.

"Yes, you do!" Bert said.

"Not at first," Ernie said as she winked at Alex. "But, I liked Bert, and Bert liked basketball."

Olivia and Alex exchanged an amused look as Alex's words to Olivia when she gave her the tickets echoed back to them.

"I guess one of you can relate to that?" Ernie asked, as she watched the younger women.

Olivia nodded. "Alex is not exactly a basketball fan, but she got me the tickets anyway."

Ernie nodded. "Just give it a few years and she'll have you wearing her team colors and everything," she said to Alex as she gestured to her sweatshirt. "So how long have you two been together?"

Bert gave Ernie a cautious look and began talking through clenched teeth, as if that would make it less likely that Alex and Olivia would hear her speaking. "Ernie, you don't know that they're together."

"Oh, come on, she bought her tickets to a women's basketball tournament," Ernie replied, as if it were the most logical thing in the world. "Besides, they look so good together, if they're not a couple, they should be."

Olivia laughed. "The tickets were actually an anniversary gift."

"Three years," Alex added.

"Aw, they're still on their honeymoon," Bert said with a smile. "I guess March Madness has a double meaning for you two, huh?" she added with a wink.

Olivia smiled and Alex tried not to look embarrassed. "Something like that," Olivia said with a chuckle.

"Our March Madness is followed by April Love," Ernie added. "Thirty-three years next month, and it still feels like a honeymoon to me," she said smiling at Bert.

"Lucky me," Bert replied, waggling her eyebrows. "She thinks I like Connecticut just for the basketball, but I keep telling her we could move there and actually get married and have a real honeymoon."

Ernie shook her head. "But New York is home, and I haven't given up on it just yet. I think the tide is turning, slowly but surely."

Bert scoffed. "Well, it better speed up, or we'll be too damn old to enjoy it," she said before digging into her oatmeal.

Olivia took the opportunity during the break in conversation to take a sip of her coffee. She made a disgusted face, and looked at Alex. "I can't believe you're actually drinking this stuff. It's worse than the swill we make in the squad room."

Alex looked a little sheepish. "I was trying to be polite since we have guests at our table."

Bert's eyes widened as she looked at Olivia. "Squad room? Are you police officers?"

Olivia nodded. "I'm a detective. Alex is an ADA."

The eyes widened a little more. "What Ernie said before, about smoking a joint…"

Olivia tried not to laugh. "Don't worry, I'm not that kind of cop."

A look of relief crossed Bert's face. "Oh, good. I'm pretty sure our one little plant died anyway." Then she said under her breath to Ernie, "Remind me to weed the garden when we get home."

Ernie shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Like we even have a garden. But you keep talking and I'll probably have to sell our house to pay your bail. And you know how much I love that house."

"Aw, you'd sell our house to bail me out?"

"Well, I guess I could sell your Final Four tickets instead."

Bert shook her head. "I'll miss that house."

They chattered on like that for another half hour or so, keeping Alex and Olivia thoroughly entertained with their mock bickering and endearing banter. When they had all finished breakfast, the older women thanked the younger two for sharing their table and said their farewells.

Alex shook her head as Bert and Ernie disappeared into the elevator. "Well, they were certainly a couple of characters," she said with a chuckle.

Olivia nodded. "They really did remind me of Bert and Ernie," she responded with a grin. "But what a great couple, especially after thirty-three years."

"Do you think we just got a glimpse of our future?" Alex asked, a little more seriously than she intended.

Olivia was a little surprised at the question. They had never really discussed such a long-term commitment. "Does that frighten you?"

"Maybe a little," Alex said hesitantly. "But the thought of you not being in my future frightens me a lot more."

The detective swallowed the lump that suddenly formed in her throat. "Do you think you can put up with me for that long?"

Alex smiled. "I'm willing to try. What about you?"

Olivia hesitated. "Can I give you an answer later?"

The ADA was a little taken aback. "How much later?"

Olivia smiled. "Thirty years sounds about right."

The End

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