DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For clomle44. You asked for a story with a sad-ish ending from me. La Belle Dame Sans Merci is a poem by Keats. Can you play 'spot all the references and metaphors'? For those of you who like my happy fluff, give this a try anyway, because I have a "secret mission" for you at the bottom.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To raedmagdon[at]yahoo.com
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
By Rae D. Magdon
She stood at my front door soaking wet from the rain, drenched pieces of hair plastered against her pale throat. Her large blue eyes reflected the dim light shining out from inside my apartment and magnified it. I was frozen with shock. Even after all these years, she looked exactly the same.
"Olivia?" she whispered, looking almost as amazed to see me as I was to see her. I breathed shallowly, tugging at the tie of my pajama pants and wishing that I were fully dressed.
I had sworn that I would never take her back, even if she swam across the Atlantic to find me. But the truth was that I had never actually expected her to come home. The threats had mostly been to distract myself from the hurt she'd left with me.
"Come in," I said before I could help myself, "you look like you jumped in a lake." I drew her through the door, enveloping her frozen body with my arms until I remembered that we weren't lovers anymore, and that she wasn't mine to hold. I pulled away awkwardly, and a brief look of pain flashed across her face before she was able to hide it.
"Alex, what are you doing here?" I blurted out, shifting my weight from one foot to the other.
"It was the only place I could go. I had to see you." Alex reached up, as if she wanted to touch my cheek, but pulled her hand back. "I missed you, Olivia," she said softly.
"If you missed me, why did you ignore me when you came back?" I asked, even though I already knew. A small part of me was hoping for a different answer, because the only one I could think of was one that would hurt me.
"Because I was afraid of being alone. That you had moved on. But being with Robert didn't change that. I felt so lonely with him, even lonelier than when I was in WITSEC."
For once in her life, my confident Alex part of me still thought of her as mine looked truly pathetic. Her cheeks were flushed with cold, but I could tell that she had been crying recently, probably before she knocked on the door. I remembered a time when those blue eyes were wild with passion, but now they, and she, simply looked tired. The two of us stared at each other for a moment, standing face to face, not sure what to do.
"Oh, I can take your coat..." I added, knowing I was several minutes too late.
"It's okay," Alex said, shrugging herself out of her coat and hanging it on the coat rack next to mine. My heart cracked. The simple domesticity of the action made my eyes sting bitterly. She wiped her shoes on the rug and slid out of them, nudging them away with her foot. It was almost like she'd never left...
But she had left.
The first time, it wasn't her fault. I passed through the stages of anger, grief, and finally acceptance when Hammond whisked her away. If it meant keeping Alex safe, I would give her up for a few years. I told myself that she would come back. I rejected any other advances, clinging to the dream that she would return and we would pick up right where we left off. Years passed.
I wasn't mad at her for leaving. I was mad at her for staying away. She had promised.
When I finally found out that she was back in New York, it wasn't from her. It wasn't even from one of our mutual friends. I didn't know she was out of Witness Protection until I read about her engagement in the paper.
"Why are you here? Is this some kind of game you're playing with me?"
She gave me a hurt look, but I reserved my sympathy.
"I owe you an explanation and an apology, at least."
She took another step forward. I stepped back. The thunder cracked. Lightning illuminated the dim entrance of my apartment with a painful light. Her skin was a strange, bruised color around her eyes. Once again, I was struck by the urge to reach out and touch her. "Are you hurt? Or just not sleeping?"
"Physically, I'm fine. But I am hurting, and I'm not sleeping." She groaned and hung her head, stretching out the muscles in the back of her neck and popping the joints back in to place. Even that grating sound was almost endearing because the movement was familiar.
She looked up at me, and the wordless plea in her eyes made my stomach knot. For a moment, I thought I would be sick. "Alex, I can't do this..."
But having her body so close to mine was making me react in ways I couldn't control. It had been years since I touched her, held her, kissed her... My hands tingled. They had mapped her body countless times, held her, been inside her. But none of that mattered now.
Whoever penned the adage "better to have loved and lost" had never loved like I had. Love was tender and full of life, but its disappearance left bitter, empty spaces where your heartbeat should be.
"Olivia, I make a living with words, but I can't even begin to explain how sorry I am. I should have contacted you the second I was released from the program. I should have told you how much I love you. Truly."
Love. Present tense, not past tense.
"I shouldn't have stayed away. I shouldn't have been afraid of our relationship. I was terrified that you had already moved on, that you didn't need me..."
I let out what started as a barking laugh of disbelief, but it came out more like a strangled, hopeless sob. "You thought I didn't need you?" I asked, my throat scratching painfully as I tried to summon the words. "I've always needed you! Every day. Every year. Every second. I needed you, I waited for you, and you threw me away like what we had was nothing. So if you're looking for some kind of forgiveness, don't hold your breath."
"I'm not making excuses for myself," Alex said softly, resignedly. I was so angry and hurt that I didn't even notice that she wasn't trying to win the argument. "I never should have gotten engaged to Robert. There are so many choices I regret making, Liv."
And just like that, I was under her spell again. This time when she stepped forward, I didn't back away. I let her touch my arm, quivering, but remaining where I was. Our bodies lined up again, and the way we fit together so perfectly nearly made me cry. I dug my fingernails into my palm hard enough to center myself. Focus through pain.
"I don't deserve your forgiveness, but I love you."
Moving without my permission, my hand unclenched, allowing my fingers to trail down Alex's neck, barely brushing the column of her throat, pausing at her pulse point. She used to love it when I kissed her there. Both of our heartbeats were so loud that I was surprised they didn't shake the walls.
My head spun. Our faces were inches apart. A sweet moan escaped from her throat.
Well, I would show her. I would show her how angry I was, how empty she had left me, how much she had hurt me.
I used my teeth on her shoulder, biting down until she moaned in a mixture of pleasure and pain. She threaded her fingers through my hair, pulling me into a kiss that she tried to keep soft, but I didn't want gentleness. I was savage with her instead, claiming her mouth and making her submit. I was out of control, and I wanted to make her just as hurt and confused and mixed up as I felt. She groaned when I pulled away and released my head, her hands braceleting my wrists instead. I didn't let her keep her grip there either. I wanted her spinning and helpless, without me to comfort or ground her.
I pinned her against the door, trapping her body with mine, nipping at her bottom lip until her eyes closed and she threw her head back. Neither of us registered the crack of her head on wood. We didn't care.
I slid my thigh in between Alex's legs and brought my knee up, making her clutch at the doorknob for support. I didn't treat her lovingly or tenderly because she didn't deserve it. Alex didn't ask for it either. She let herself become a reservoir for my anger and pain, as she had done so many times before, but never before had my hatred been directed at her.
My fingers seized Alex's breast, gripping it roughly and twisting her nipple. Her blouse and bra dulled the sensation, but she let out a small whimper. The sound triggered a flood of painful memories, and for just a moment, I cradled her breast in my hand like it was the most fragile, precious thing in the world. Then I remembered that she had destroyed those good memories.
The taste of her skin was addictive, like honey and dew and all things sweet. I kissed her with starved lips, kissed her like I was dying, and we could have been dying, because I had never known that something could feel so beautiful and so agonizingly bitter at the same time.
I shoved my hand beneath her skirt, kissing her to swallow her cries as my fingers made contact with wet, clinging fabric that outlined her lips. The physical proof of her desire for me and the tilt of her hips as she strained for more contact reassured me slightly, and I was confident enough to kiss her a little less desperately. Her fingers relaxed their tight grip on the doorknob to try and undo my pants, but I pushed her hands away. She arched her spine instead, bending the small of her back to try and accommodate my fingers. I kept Alex exactly where I wanted her struggling beneath me, seeking more of me, almost drowning.
My mouth released hers in a desperate need for air as my fingers pulled aside her underwear and thrust inside of her, curling forward sharply and catching against the plump, ridged patch of wall inside of her. I had spent hours seeking that spot, rubbing it until she begged, but it only took a few moments this time. "Liv! Liv..."
It made me burn with lust when she panted my shortened name, but it made my heart sting with the empty ache of loss. I felt like what we could have had was dying. That I was dying.
I looked up to see Alex's wild, glazed eyes staring up at me, begging me, and I took pity on her, settling my thumb over her hard bundle and flicking up. I was harsh with her. I took her with three fingers instead of two because I knew it would be uncomfortable, but she was so desperate at that point that I don't think she even noticed. Or if she did, she was enjoying the painful stretch. Her hips rolled upward, wanting even more contact, wanting me to release her. I kept my thrusts shallow, wanting to leave her half-empty. I had been walking around empty for years. She could handle a few seconds.
Alex kept saying my name, just like I remembered even though I didn't want to. I couldn't stand it. She had brought me to this beautiful place and then taken it all away. Deciding to be kinder than her, I ended her torture. I kissed her and let her come all over my fingers in a warm, sticky river, her inner muscles clenching and releasing so fast that I could only register the contractions as harsh flutters.
She trembled against the line of my body, both of us still fully dressed but decidedly disheveled, and I noticed that her cheeks were wet again, this time with tears. I placed kisses on her closed eyes. One, two. Three, four. Her lips curved up in a small, pained smile.
"That was goodbye, wasn't it?"
I pulled my fingers out of her, and she flinched. I wanted to comfort her, but I backed away again instead. "I can't do this again," I said, not without sadness. My anger was all burned out. Now, I just felt empty. Alex was back, but we couldn't just pick up where we left off... that dream had already been crushed. I didn't hate her. I was just keenly aware of the grief that comes with the loss of something precious.
She reached out for me again, but thought better of it. I was grateful, because I knew if she touched me again, it would cement her hold over me a second time. I would fall under her spell again, even if it destroyed me from the inside out like a cold, black fire.
"I love you. Truly. I'm not going to let you go so easily, Olivia."
"You know I love you. And you know it doesn't matter."
I couldn't stand to look at her, so I turned away and stared at the couch until the door closed behind me with a click. I didn't sleep in my bed that night, I stayed on the couch instead, watching the pale, spectral shapes cast by the light of the television on the wall. The noise was muted, as though it was coming from underwater, and it did not comfort me.
It was impossible to fall asleep, but I tried anyway, bunching up the couch pillows like a small hill beneath my head and waiting. Waiting. Most of my life had been spent waiting. But now she had come and gone, and I didn't even know what I was waiting for anymore. Alone.
Author's Note 2: I know some of my readers might be disappointed with the ending of this tale. Clom specifically challenged me to write a fic with a sad ending. However, she didn't say anything about YOU GUYS. So I dare you/challenge you to write a sequel to this fic where they get back together. It can be directly related to this one-shot, it can draw on a few parts, it can be completely different. I don't care. Maybe you can spread the A/O love a little. Also, a big, huge thank you and hug to those of you who wrote me birthday stuff. I adore you all. And mocha, you gave me so many fics that I owe you one. Name the time, place, and position. Teehee.
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