DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Here in the US, income taxes must be filed by April 15. This year, due to the weekend and then Emancipation Day (apparently a government holiday in D.C. – who knew?), the deadline was moved to April 17. I actually started writing this one for Tax Day last year, but didn't get it finished until way after the date, so I saved it for later. I was hoping to adapt it to another holiday or just hang on to it until the next year. I never found a way to adapt and Tax Day is upon us once again. So, technically, I'm either right on time, or a year late. The good news (I hope) is, that even though my A/O inspiration seems to have dried up, I finally have a 'new' holiday short to post. And since this is being posted for Tax Day (no laughing matter), I went for a little comedy relief – at least that was the plan. Hope it doesn't disappoint… Oh, and guess what? They're in a bar again! :-)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To sunsetwriter[at]mindspring.com
SERIES: Part of the Holiday Shorts series.

Holiday Short – Tax Day
By sunsetwriter


"So, do you get an automatic extension on filing your taxes if the guy preparing them for you gets arrested?" Elliot asked as he sipped his beer.

"Prob'ly not," Fin answered. "That's why you shouldn't wait till the last second to file."

"I still can't believe that guy was a tax attorney," Elliot said with a shake of his head.

"Why? Just because he had a dungeon that would make the Marquis de Sade blush?" Munch asked rhetorically.

"Technically, he wasn't actually an attorney. He never passed the bar," Alex said in what could be considered a defensive tone.

Elliot smirked. "Oh, so he if was actually an attorney, he wouldn't be a sexual sadist? Is that what you're saying, Counselor?"

Alex rolled her eyes and Fin came to her defense. "I don't blame you, Alex. I wouldn't want to claim that guy as a member of my profession either."

"Good thing since you're a cop," Elliot said sarcastically.

"Lay off, Elliot, you know what I mean," Fin replied.

"Well," Munch interjected. "We should all know, better than most, that chosen profession and sexual proclivities are not as closely related as some may think." He looked across the table at his squad mates. "Take our latest case as a fine example. Mild-mannered tax preparer by day, sadomasochistic dungeon master by night."

"Gives a whole new meaning to 'the taxman cometh'," Fin added with a chuckle, eliciting several groans from around the table.

"My point is," Munch continued, ignoring Fin's comment, "you can never be sure of what's inside the chocolate until you take a bite," he said with a smirk.

Fin rolled his eyes. "Great. My partner is Forrest Gump."

Olivia snorted as she took a sip of her beer.

Elliot gave her the eye. "Why are you being so quiet tonight?"

"No reason," she replied as Munch gave her a curious look. She flicked her eyes to Alex causing Munch to do the same.

"From what I hear, it's the quiet ones that you have to watch out for," Munch said, looking from Alex to Olivia and then back to Alex.

Fin smiled. "I think the sayin' is 'lady in the streets, freak in the sheets'." Olivia glared at him and he shrugged, trying to look innocent. "Don't look at me, he said it," he replied, pointing to Munch. "I just provided the translation. Whoever you get your freak on with is none of my business." He turned his innocent look on Alex. "That goes for you too, Alex."

The ADA look shocked for a moment. "Are you implying that because Olivia and I are not as verbose as the rest of you tonight, that we're some sort of 'freaks' – to use your terminology?" Alex bristled, trying to give him her best cross-examination look and hopefully frighten him into changing the subject.

Fin saw the withering look and tried to blend into the woodwork. "Uh oh." He turned to Munch. "Run, Forrest, run."

Munch smiled. "You're the one that seems to have struck a nerve, my friend." Ignoring Fin's glare as he easily shifted the blame back to his partner, Munch continued, "Insinuating that our colleagues here have a secret darker side. Crusading detective and ADA by day, sordid sex kittens by night…"

Olivia scoffed. "In your dreams, maybe."

Munch smiled. "Ah, yes. My dreams are occasionally inhabited by sordid sex kittens. But, I must sadly confess, that neither of you have ever made an appearance donning any whiskers."

"That's actually a relief to hear, Munch," Olivia said with a look between amusement and feigned fright.

"And just for the record," Munch continued, looking from Olivia to Alex again. "If I were to picture either of you leading a double life, you would only be sex kittens of the highest caliber. Not freakish at all."

Fin rolled his eyes. "Suck up," he muttered to his partner. "Way to throw me under the bus."

"I don't buy it. Do you really think people can lead secret double lives?" Elliot mused.

Olivia looked at her partner. "Well, obviously they do, Elliot, or we wouldn't have guys like the tax man."

"But that's an extreme case. I not talking about things that are illegal, just things that would surprise their friends if they knew about them."

Another quick glance to Alex didn't go unnoticed by Munch as Olivia replied, "If you're asking me if I think that friends know, or even need to know, about every aspect of their friends' lives, then I don't think they do."

Elliot looked surprised. "You're telling me that you could have a completely different lifestyle off the job and you don't think I would know, or need to know, anything about it?"

"I'm saying that we all keep a part of ourselves away from the job. We have to. You know that."

Elliot gave her a skeptical look. "What does that mean? You have a sex dungeon in your basement I need to know about?"

Olivia sighed. "Don't be so dramatic, Elliot. Of course not."

He eyed her for a moment. "But you have a secret lover stashed away that no one knows about, don't you?" His tone was almost accusing.

Out of the corner of her eyes, Olivia saw Alex nervously pick up her drink and shift in her chair, and she suddenly felt the need to diffuse the situation. She hesitated for a moment longer and then shrugged. "Well, if I told you, it wouldn't be a secret, would it?" she asked with a smirk.

Elliot was flabbergasted. "Is that a yes?"

"When I'm ready to share, you'll be the first to know. How's that?"

John had been watching Alex while the conversation between Stabler and Benson had been going on. Detective Munch found it intriguing that the ADA seemed a little uncomfortable and was trying to appear a little too disinterested in the conversation, almost as if she already knew that Olivia had a 'secret lover'. But she couldn't quite control the slight widening of her eyes, when Olivia more than hinted to her partner that his speculation was actually true.

"So why the big secret?" Elliot asked his partner. "You ashamed of him or ashamed of us?"

"Neither," Olivia replied.

"Well, there's gotta be some reason you're keeping him under wraps," Elliot said as he settled his tab with the waitress.

Olivia sighed. "Get over it, Elliot. It's not like you've met everyone I've ever dated."

Elliot stood up and put on his jacket as he looked at his watch. "No, but I've at least heard you mention them. What's different about this one?"

"This one is just different and… when we're ready to go public, you guys will be the first to know," Olivia said, hoping to end the conversation.

Elliot frowned. "You're not dating another reporter, are you?"

"No!" Olivia said adamantly. "This one's just… special," Olivia admitted with a smile. "And I don't want to screw it up," she added quietly.

Munch would swear on a stack of bibles, if asked, that Alex took a sip from her glass at that very moment just to cover the smile on her face.

"Kathy's gonna kill me if I'm late again," Elliot said, backing away from the table. "But, this conversation is not over…" He turned and headed to the door, calling loudly over his shoulder, "I want to meet Mr. Right."

Olivia rolled her eyes and said, "Me and my big mouth. I took the bait and he just reeled me in."

"Don't worry, Liv, we've got your back," Munch told her as he handed the waitress some money. "That should cover mine and his," he said, pointing a thumb at Fin.

Fin looked surprised. "Why are you payin' my tab?"

"Because you're driving me home," his partner replied.

Fin rolled his eyes. "Would it kill you to take a cab once in a while?"

Munch looked appalled. "Those things are filthy. Do you know what some people do in the back of a cab?"

Another eyeroll from Fin. "OK, OK, don't start. I'll drive you. I gotta hit the john first, though," he said as he got up to go to the men's room.

"I really wish he wouldn't call it that," John said as he stood and put on his overcoat. He hesitated a moment and then said to Alex, "You didn't seem too surprised to hear that Liv has a new love in her life."

Alex's eyes widened slightly, and she was uncharacteristically at a loss for words. "Oh, well, we talk, you know. Girl talk." She cringed inwardly at her own babbling.

Munch tilted his head as he seemed to ponder her answer. "That could translate to 'sweet nothings'," he said as he turned to Olivia. "Because I couldn't help but notice that you kept stealing glances at Alex while you were evading Elliot's questions, and Alex here looked like the cat that swallowed the canary when you were admitting that there was, indeed, a new object of your affections."

Olivia took a deep breath as she realized that John had most definitely figured out their little secret. "You know, John, your propensity for conspiracies amazes me sometimes," she said evasively.

Munch acknowledged her non-answer with another tilt of his head and a brief lifting of eyebrows. "Maybe. But, I'm also a detective – a good one, I like to think – and I don't really think this is merely a conspiracy theory. Body language and unspoken words say a lot, wouldn't you agree?"

Olivia conceded his point with a sideways nod of her head, cutting her eyes to Alex again. The ADA returned the glance with an almost imperceptible shrug.

Munch smiled slyly. "And with that, I rest my case." He looked between them. "For what it's worth, I think it's great. You two are a perfect match – in a non-sex-kitten sort of way." He watched both their faces flush slightly and added, "At least publicly." Then he turned a little more serious. "But I do understand your reasons for keeping mum. So, don't worry, your secret's safe with me."

"But Elliot and Fin are detectives too. If you figured it out, what's to say they won't also?" Alex asked, finally confirming the absolute truth for Munch.

Munch smiled at the confirmation. "Well, I'd like to say superior detective skills, but you do have a point." He seemed to ponder the notion for a moment. "Fin knows all about the 'down-low', as he calls it, so I don't think you'd have to worry about him. He 'just knows stuff', but that doesn't necessarily mean he talks about it. And Stabler's a good detective, but when it comes to matters of the heart, he's a little more… thick-headed. Just be discreet around him, as you obviously have been, and you'll be fine. As I said, I've got your back, so if you need some help to throw him off the scent, all you have to do is ask. Because, as you said, I have quite the propensity for conspiracies," he said with wink.

Fin returned to hear the last remark. "Y'all didn't get him talking conspiracies again did you? Now I got to be cooped up in the car with him."

"Come on, I'll regale you with the latest on theory on the grassy knoll. It's fascinating," Munch said as he turned for the door.

"Awww, man…" Fin said as he shook his head and begrudgingly followed his partner.

When the two detectives were gone, Olivia looked across the table at Alex and said, "I knew it was only a matter of time before one of them figured it out. Especially since I can't seem to keep my eyes off of you."

"Well, I'm sure there are worse problems I could have." Alex said with a smile. "And, for future outings like this, no pun intended, it will probably be a good idea to keep the table between us like we did tonight." When Olivia gave her a smile with a questioning look, Alex added, "I may not be able to keep my hands to myself, and wandering eyes are easier to explain, don't you think?"

Olivia grinned and nodded. "You do bring up a good point," she said as she slid over to sit beside Alex. "But, we're all alone now…" She grinned even wider as Alex's hand promptly landed on her thigh underneath the table.

Before they could say anything else, a very handsome man, impeccably dressed, with perfectly styled hair approached the table and handed Olivia a small piece of paper.

"Could you give that to your friend who left earlier?" he asked with a smile.

"Which one?" Olivia asked.

"The one with the gorgeous blue eyes."

"Sure," Olivia said as she gave the man a curious look.

"I couldn't help but overhear what he said as he left, so…" He offered a smile as he gestured to the note and then turned and walked away.

When he was gone, Olivia looked at the note and laughed. "This is priceless."

"What?" Alex asked.

She put the note on the table for Alex to see: 'Mr. Right 212-555-9035'.

Alex's eyes widened as she looked up at Olivia. "You're not really going to give that to Elliot?"

Olivia chuckled. "You bet I am. And I can't wait to tell him that I'll show him mine when he shows me his…"

The End

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