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Life, If You Could Plan It
Restarting wasn't an option. But that was simply because nothing had really happenedat least nothing serious. Alex was trying to remember her reasoning behind it, but it was tangled up in the career she'd expected to have. That political career she'd planned when signing up as the Special Victims ADA. God, it felt longer ago than it wasthe separation between old selves making a fissure between the before and the after. The before? She hadn't been a different person, exactly. She'd just had her eye somewhere else, somewhere far outside the mundane details of a life you could build with another person in a one bedroom apartment. Olivia hadn't understood, of course. Or perhaps she had and that in itself was what made her furious. Did they count as one night stands if they were all with the same woman? If anyone was capable of that, Alex sure as hell had been. She remembered the calls from Olivia, afterwards. Not the day afterno, Olivia was much smoother than that. She'd once let a week lapse before calling Alex.
That was all Olivia had said, leaving Alex to take up the slack.
'Can I help you, Olivia?' was her reply. It came out sounding casual, unbothered by the sigh that expelled from the woman on the other end of the line. And maybe she hadn't been bothered. She'd done it enough times to Olivia before.
'You really are a piece of work, Alex.'
She'd laughed in response.
'Save it. You act like you're made of steel. I wish you could see yourself, sometimes.'
That had been the last time. Alex remembered the sound of the receiver in her ear after Olivia had hung up. Remembered thinking, well, don't keep sleeping with me then. There's your solution.
God she'd been smug, hadn't she? And then along came the Sandoval case. That's all it took. Piss off one psychopathic killer and there goes the life you'd expected to lead. One moment.
The feeling of hot lead ripping into herbut that wasn't something she was conscious of at the time. No. All she'd felt was pain and the blackness of unconsciousness threading through her body as it bled out onto the concrete. The only thing keeping her sensible was the feeling of Olivia's hand, trying to stop the bleeding. The terrified sound of her voice, telling her it was ok. Her heart in her throat. Seeing the whiteness behind her own eyes as she faded in and out. Was it ok?
It wasn't ok. It wasn't going to be ok. She hadn't expected to miss Olivia as much as she had. But then, maybe having your life yanked from under you and being given a new name could make anyone sentimental.
But returning to New York for good hadn't brought her anything she'd planned. What had she planned? Lying there night after night, town after town. A few names to call herself by, but none of them anything that brought the breath of meaning back into her. Plans for her life? She'd gone over them in her head enough so that it seemed like a certainty, the same as her old political career had. She'd arrive back with Velez dead and long gone. There wasn't any reason for her to walk back into SVU right away, without a case to try. But in her mind she'd be pushing through those doors, a cockiness in her step. She'd see the old team. John would say something congratulatory with a hint of sarcasm that betrayed his affection. Fin would give her a nod, nothing more than that. Maybe a simple phrase that stated plainly how she'd been missed. Elliot would smile broadly, probably even showing teeth. Eyebrows raised. He'd call her 'counsellor' out of respect and the warmth in his eyes would show his relief. Cragan would let out a breath.
'Welcome home, Alex.'
And Olivia. Alex saved her till last, of course. Because she was the main rationale behind these return fantasies. What would Olivia look like, when she saw her? Alex imagined it over and over, changing it in small ways and feeding on the details the same way a starving animal sucks the marrow from a bone. One fantasy had Olivia laughing, throwing caution to the wind and wrapping her arms around Alex. The embrace would be rough, knocking the wind out of them both. Olivia would whisper something into Alex's hair, the warmth of her breath leading up to the kiss. In another scenario Olivia looked right at her, tears streaming down her face. She'd be frowning, but only because she'd be trying not to cry. Trying to keep herself together. At this point the rest of the squad would fade into the background in Alex's mind. She wouldn't find a place for them to go, exactly. They just ceased to exist. It was just her and Olivia. Olivia and her.
She'd never imagined the mundane possibilities.
Why would she? How was dwelling on the dull, the bleak, the worst going to get her through life in Witness Protection? She never let herself think that when she returned to New York it would be with a lot of paperwork. Job interviewing. Phone calls. Securing a new apartment. Taping back together the remnants of her career.
She hadn't expected to see Olivia for the first time since the trial and simply smile politely. To ask her about work. Their interaction ending with a hand on her arm and a nod. She'd timed itfive minutes. Like she'd been nothing but a lost acquaintance.
It wasn't the life she'd planned.
All of her time in this new act of New York life was caught up in that career. The one she'd been so fixated on was now running her life instead of her being the one behind the helm. Bureau Chief was an impressive caveat to add to her achievements, but it wasn't at all within the realm of her imaginings. There were fleeting glances, when she came across Olivia in the courthouse. And she did, inevitably, every once in a while. Awkward small talk and smiles that were afraid to show too much of themselves. A pat on the back.
It wasn't until she'd wrangled her way back into SVU that she had the nerve to corner Olivia and meet her gaze squarely.
Olivia's smile was genuine, but she feigned confusion.
'Can I help you, Alex?'
Alex let out a short laugh through her nose.
'God, ' Alex blinked, gathering her bearings. 'I had plans for what this would be like. I did. But I still don't know what to say.'
'You had questions about a case?'
Alex made sure she paused. Made sure she had the other woman's attention when she raised her eyebrows, tilted her chin downwards.
'No, Olivia.' She leant back, leaning a shoulder against the closest wall. She found herself opening her mouth for a moment before she could summon the words.
It was all she said. She caught Olivia's eye and let her expression leave the question between them hanging in the air. Olivia closed her eyes at that moment, but only because a smile was breaking across her face. A small one, but a smile nevertheless. Olivia tilted her head sideways.
'I didn't expect ' she paused, glanced up. 'You're not asking what I think you are?'
'I just ' she felt a little foolish. Like a child having to ask why fairy tales weren't real. Why bad things had to happen to good people. Why people who loved each other couldn't make it work. 'I wanted to, you know. To see.'
Olivia shook her head then, but she had something in her eyes that made Alex remember a few things. A few things that resonated somewhere that made her hurt a little. Made her wonder if all of this was worth it. She stayed perfectly still as Olivia walked a few steps forward. They weren't so close, weren't touching. Weren't doing anything more than having a conversation, if that's what they decided this was. But Alex could feel the warmth of Olivia's body, could feel the close proximity as an ache she'd never really forgotten. Olivia lifted a hand and held it against Alex's face, thumb against her cheek. Alex let out an involuntary laugh and let her eyes fall to the ground.
'Hey,' Olivia said, getting Alex to meet her eyes. The word had a question behind it. Alex closed the distance between them by simply leaning forward. Then it was all hot mouths, their bodies pressed closer. They couldn't get any closer if they tried. Alex strayed to kiss Olivia's neck, hearing the small breath leave the other woman's body. Olivia was the one to pull away.
'Olivia?' Her voice barely had any tone to it. It sounded frightened, but she wasn't frightened. She knew what she wanted. 'Olivia can we just can we try this again?'
'Do you think we can?'
'I don't know,' Alex said. She tried to figure out what Olivia was thinking. But she was never particularly good at that. Olivia took a step away, which made Alex berate herself for hesitating.
'Isn't it worth trying?'
'Are you going to try?'
She could hear the challenge in Olivia's voice. The dig that brought back every small way Alex had hurt her. Alex gazed upward, trying for some way to sound sure enough to be convincing. In the end she steadied her nerves and strode forwards, wrapping her arms around Olivia.
'I've wasted too much time wondering to not give it a shot.'
She could sense the other woman's relief, feel the tension leaving Olivia's body. It wasn't much, but it was something. It couldn't be planned. Couldn't be kept safe from whatever stupid things she said or did in the future. But it was ok for now.
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