DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you to JB for the beta. This is a companion piece/sequel to "Awakenings" which was originally posted in 2005. This sequel has been a long time coming.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: for "Guilt"

By Imaginus75


Lifetime: Pt. I – Realizations

To thine own self be true. Isn't that how it goes? I'd been fooling myself for long enough, allowing myself to live within the world of denial I had created. I was good at it too. I had myself convinced I could be happy, that I was happy. I was with someone who wanted to be with me and was there for me everyday. Love the one you're with. Another saying. Jesus, make it stop. Enough with all these mundane cliches festering in my brain. I could've probably gone on for the rest of my life believing in the lie I told myself everyday, but I couldn't do it to her. I knew what I had to do, but knowing what you have to do doesn't make the action any easier.

Why couldn't I have met her years earlier? Maybe things would've turned out differently. After the crap of a relationship I had had with the narc cop gone junkie, I could've used a girl like her in my life. Fresh, young, idealistic. Everything I was not. I had the opportunity too, when Serena had tried to set us up on a blind date. I had no idea who she was or what she could've meant for me in my life at the time. And to think that years later, we did end up meeting and our work relationship turned into something more. One could argue that it was fate -- that it was meant to be. That despite the obstacles that stood in the way of the first attempt at a set up, we still ended up together. People call that kismet.

I watch the early winter breeze snake through the trees in the park. All the trees have lost their leaves, their naked branches exposed to the elements of mother nature. I too feel exposed and bare now that I've allowed myself to look deep within my heart. The past year or so, I had felt full and complete, much like the trees here in the summer. But in the last few months, just as the woods here became more porous everyday from the falling leaves, my soul began to feel less fulfilled with each passing day. It wasn't her fault. She didn't do anything wrong. It was just a repressed truth that had threatened to surface and I had grown tired of fighting it.

Casey Novak was good for me. She was smart, passionate, sometimes unconventional in her job, and most of all, she had a huge heart. I loved her. I loved being with her and knowing that she was with me because she wanted to be and wasn't afraid to be; that meant the world to me. We understood each other and the stresses of our work. It should've been a perfect pairing. And it was for awhile. I had learned to put the past behind me and began to live in the present. I had put the memory of Alex Cabot away in a tightly sealed corner of my mind. And when she came back to testify against Liam O'Connor, her disappearance afterwards only reinforced the knowledge that her memory was where it belonged.

But then that day, that windy day, she showed up across the street from my apartment building and told me she loved me. I had always hoped that day would come but never in my wildest dreams did I believe it would happen. But as much as it filled my heart to hear the words spill from her lips, those same words tore my heart in two. That day began the unlocking of the memory of her and how I felt for her. The memory that I had so long ignored. And day by day, it ate at me and wore me down. And I fought it. I fought it every day, every hour, every minute.

"Hi." The words break through my thoughts and I look up. The breeze blows through her hair and she brushes the golden red tresses back from her face. "Elliot told me you'd be here."

"Hi," I greet her in return, trying to muster a smile. She sits down on the wooden bench beside me and leans back against the back rest.

"I can see why you come here," Casey says, looking out at the bare trees. "It's beautiful. Peaceful."

I simply nod.

"Liv," she begins, looking down at her hands which are enveloped in her favorite pair of wool gloves. "I can feel that things have changed between us. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it is or what I've done - "

"Casey, it's not you," I say and cringe inwardly at the lame cliché.

"I know," she says looking at me. "I know you care about me and I cherish the time we have spent together. I love you and I know you love me too. And as difficult as it's been for me to admit this, I know it's not enough for you."

"Casey, I..." I start to explain, trying to find a way to let her know that none of this was her doing.

"When I first met you, I knew I was attracted to you," she cuts me off. "I also knew that Alexandra Cabot left a huge shadow, professionally, and I guessed personally. Despite my efforts, I fell in love with you. And over time, I saw the way you looked at me changed from colleagues to something more, and I thought that maybe one day you'd overcome your loss and see that I could be for you what you wanted her to be. When you told me you loved me, I believed it, but deep down inside, I still felt like I was competing with a ghost, a memory. But now I know she's not a ghost. She's still alive, and you still love her. I know that there will always be a part of you, a part of your heart, your mind, your soul that belongs to her."

"You deserve to be with someone who can give all of themselves to you," I tell her.

"You're right," she says and wipes away a tear that had fallen from her moist eyes. "I do. And you deserve to be with someone to whom you can give all of you."

"I'm so sorry, Casey," I offer, holding back the tears, a skill I had practically perfected over the years. "I never meant to hurt you."

"I know," she accepts and reaches over to grasp my hand. "I know."

I pull her to me and I feel her shudder as a small muffled cry escapes her lips. We pull apart and instinctively I reach up to wipe her tear streaked cheeks. With a breath, our lips meet in a soft kiss, our last.

"Take care of yourself," she whispers.

I nod. "You too." She stands and slowly turns and I watch her walk away. As difficult as it was and would be as we'd continue to work together, we both knew that it was better this way.

If I have learned anything from my past relationships, it was that a difficult break up was better than hanging on out of desperation. I had been in Casey's shoes before. I had loved someone whose soul was possessed by something else. And I hung on desperately. Seven years off and on. I didn't want what Casey and I had to turn into what I had gone through. I guess Casey was stronger than I was and she knew she didn't want to be in this situation anymore.

It didn't make things any easier that we still had to work with each other practically on a daily basis. We tried our best to be professional and kept our emotions in check, but at times, our armor would crack and harsh words would slip out. Despite our break up, I still loved her and cared deeply for her. But I think that that was what would throw her over the edge at times. I couldn't say I blamed her. I'd be fucked up and confused too if I someone I loved acted like they cared for me but at the same time, know that they didn't love me enough to be with me.

I remember that night at the Kastner Center for Juvenile Offenders after Shane Mills was raped and Casey was manhandling the center's administrator. I wanted to prevent her from getting herself into any worse trouble than she had already caused for herself but instead, she threw back at me that she didn't need my help. "I'm a big girl," she had said and the words had stung. But like I said, I couldn't blame her. Here I was, caring for her on the heels of our break up. A break up caused by the fact that I couldn't love her the way she deserved to be loved. That thought alone made me want to slap myself.

Over time, I was careful in how I showed that I cared for her and the bitterness slowly faded. Every once in awhile we'd have heated debates and arguments but we accepted that it was just who we were, how we did our jobs, and not because of any feelings we may have had for one another.

A year and a half I spent wandering around aimlessly in my mind and finding no answers, at least none that were satisfactory to me. I decided that it was time to swallow my pride and bitterness and go to the one person who had understood me in the past. Even when I behaved angrily and down right bitchy towards her when we met again years after she had left my life, she had proven to be forever the professional and was not the bad guy I had made myself believe. It was a quiet evening so I told Elliot I had an errand to run but that I'd be back to cover until the night shift came in. I found myself knocking on her door, no longer bitter or angry, but rather resigned. She looked surprised when she opened the door, but graciously invited me to come in.

"I think I'm codependent," I say, flopping down onto the leather couch. I look around the home office. It was warm and cozy yet at the same time professional and detached. I finally meet the brown eyes sitting across from me, on the other side of the coffee table.

"Are you asking me to interpret that as a shrink or as your friend...or..." Rebecca's question trails off.

"Or as an ex-girlfriend?" I finish for her.

She gives a small smile. "Yeah."

"All of the above?"

She nods, folding her hands on her lap and sits back. "So why do you think you're codependent?"

"I'm cursed with striving for unattainable love," I start explaining, "I think my life has been one huge experiment on codependency by some higher power. Here, let's see how much crap a person can handle in one lifetime and see what her breaking point is. I'm thoroughly convinced that's why my life is the way it is." I pause, "Do you even realize how many sleepless nights I have spent reflecting on this? I've come to the conclusion that the most significant relationships in my life have all had one thing in common - unattainable love." My shoulders slump with the sigh I let out. She pulls out a yellow legal pad and begins to write on it. I look up with a half hearted smirk.

"What, you gonna start shrinking me now?"

She smiles, tilts her head to the side. Elliot gives me that look whenever I ask an obvious question.

"It's what you came here for, right?"

"Not exactly." I see her eyebrow raise as she continues writing. I cut right to the chase,

"Why did you leave me?" I ask, not waiting for her to finish writing. The question has been with me for eighteen years

The black Mont Blanc pen stops mid-word. She puts the pen down on the pad and looks over at me. "I didn't leave you, Olivia," Rebecca answers softly. "I left the Academy."

"You left the Academy and went to Medical School, I remember," I say. "I also remember that you never even talked to me about it. Just one day 'Oh yeah, by the way, I'm going to med school instead." I take a deep breath and exhale, letting go of feelings I had so closely guarded over all these years. "It felt like the trust fund kid was done with slumming it with the blue collar crowd."

"I'm sorry, Olivia, that was not what happened at all," Rebecca apologizes, leaning forward, her forearms resting on her knees. "It was one of the toughest decisions I ever had to make. I never wanted to leave you. But when you wouldn't return any of my calls, I didn't know what else to do."

"So, what did happen?"

She takes a deep breath. "I was scared. I was scared to become a cop because I was scared of dying. And I didn't tell you about medical school because what if I had failed the entrance exam? I was scared of you seeing me as a failure. You were always so strong and sure of what you wanted to be. I wasn't. And I was afraid you'd think I was weak."

I nod my understanding. I had been so angry with her for so long, feeling like I had meant nothing to her, that I was just an experiment - a social one and a sexual one.

"I'm sorry I was so harsh with you when we ran into each other over Miranda's case. I thought I had gotten past the hurt and anger, but when I saw you again, as a doctor, everything just resurfaced."

"I know. I knew you needed to exorcise the anger towards me - something you never got a chance to do," she says and then slowly I see a smile on her lips. "But I also knew that once you got it out of your system, we'd be okay again."

"How'd you figure that?" I ask, curious and annoyed by her lingering smile.

She sits back in her chair. "Because you were still wearing the watch I had given you."

My annoyance turns inward. I'm annoyed at myself for being so transparent. And as quickly as the emotions had risen to the surface, they began to recede. "Well, you always did have good taste." I give her a smile.

"So do you think our relationship was codependent?" she asks as a part of her slips back into psychiatrist mode.

"Well, let's see," I say, sitting back. "A working class kid from a Catholic college and a single parent home meets the offspring of an Irish Protestant real estate mogul. We were doomed even before we started. But no, I had to take it on as a challenge."

"So I was just a challenge to you?" she asks with a raised eyebrow. I know a trap when I see one.

"You were everything my world was not. You brought a sort of peace into my life," I say. "The fact that never in a million years would your parents approve of you bringing me home just made it more exciting."

"Forbidden love."

"Wanting what I couldn't have. Unattainable love," I reiterate. "And it didn't stop after you."

"Detective Heather Samuels," she resurrects the name I haven't heard in a long time. Apparently she heard about that train wreck of a relationship.

I nod. "I loved her. She loved getting high. I came out because of her, because she accused me of being afraid of being myself. So I came out and stood by my woman. And then she disappeared without a word. I thought that if I did whatever she wanted me to do and if I loved her enough, she'd quit the drugs and just be happy with me. I've lived with an addict most of my life. I should've known better, that trying to make an addict love you is about as fruitful as pissing into the wind."

"That's the thing with codependency, though isn't it?"

"Yeah, I know," I sigh. "It all boils back down to Mom."


Lifetime: Pt. II – Recollection

As I discuss my relationship history with Rebecca, I finally voice what I have secretly known for years. My entire life has been marked by people who loved me "in their own way". At least those were my excuses. Sure my mother loved me. She just didn't love me in the same way as all the other kid's moms did. Even through the beatings and the neglect, I told myself that deep down inside, my mom still loved me. She just had a hard time showing it. When I was told of how I came to be, I understood why she looked at me the way she did sometimes, especially when she was drunk. I looked nothing like my mother - which only meant that I looked like him, her rapist. Sometimes she'd go for days without ever laying her eyes me and I kept telling myself that she couldn't help it, that it wasn't her fault. As hard as it was, I came to accept that a part of her hated me because I was a constant reminder of the evil act that was done to her. But I also knew that part of her struggled to overcome the hatred and resentment and did love me and cared for me. Why else would she have given birth to me and kept me instead of giving me up for adoption?

I know she fought with her emotions and thoughts everyday. Her love for me showed itself when she was sober. She was a caring and loving mom when she was clean. but I also knew that when she lost the fight, when the darkness overtook her, that's when she drank. She tried to drown the demons with the booze, but what she failed to see was that the booze only served to feed the ghosts which haunted her. I resented her for being a drunk. But I also knew she was only human and it was the only way she knew how to cope. I found a way to understand, even if it meant misery for me when she was on her drunken binges.

I learned to repress the memories of my mother's problems and just accepted that she was an alcoholic. I stayed out of her way and learned that if I were to survive, I'd have to live my own life and get out of her house. Because she was all the family I had, I couldn't cut her out of my life completely. She was my mother after all and despite everything, I loved my mother and I knew she loved me. I decided only to focus on the good times and that helped to get me through the rough patches when she'd fall off the wagon.

My fondest memory of my mother was when I was six years old. I was in first grade and even at that age, I was already a latch key kid. My mother's teaching schedule didn't allow for her to be home before six in the evening so I learned to be independent and had a routine. She'd wake me in the mornings and I'd dress myself while she showered. Then I'd sit down to eat a bowl of cereal, rummaging through the newspaper while she got dressed. Of course I couldn't read very well yet, a few three letter words here and there, but I'd flip through the pages, looking at the pictures and made up stories in my mind about each photograph. After breakfast, I'd get my school bag ready and put on my coat and shoes and wait for her. She'd walk me to school, drop me off at the front door and off she'd go to the university. After school, I'd walk home and let myself into the empty apartment. I'd flip on the television, eat dry cereal or make a peanut butter sandwich and watch some cartoons. When the cartoons were over, I'd go next door to Mrs. Ostowitz's place where she'd always have a glass of milk ready for me. In the summer, the milk was ice cold and in the winters, cozy warm for my stomach. I'd sit at her kitchen table and "read" my made up stories to her while she made dinner. My mother would come home at six thirty every day and fetch me from Mrs. O's apartment. That was my life for a number of years before the elderly woman I had considered to be the mom I never had passed away.

But I'll always remember that one cold winter day when my mother came to pick me up from school. It was January, right in the heart of winter. The snow had been falling all night and all morning. School had let out and I was in the boot room with all the masses of children who were also getting ready to go home. I had my winter boots on, my coat zipped up tight and my scarf was snug around my neck. I had forgotten my mittens that day and so after throwing on my backpack, I stuffed my little hands into my coat pockets and made my way out the doors. As I did everyday, I walked past all the kids who were lined up for buses or piling into their parents' vehicles, and made my way across the schoolyard. In the distance, I saw a figure wearing my mother's coat standing at the fence at the end of the yard. Although my scarf hid most of my face, I couldn't help the grin that continued to grow with every step I took. My mother had come to pick me up from school. And no sooner did the grin appear it quickly faded as a knot began to grow in my stomach. Was something wrong? Was I in trouble? Was she angry at me for having forgotten my mittens?

As I reached my mother, she held out her arms and smiled. I quickly went to her and hugged her. Affection was not rare with my mother but it didn't flow freely either, so whenever it was shown, I took it. I had asked her if something was wrong and she told me that nothing was wrong. That she decided to take the afternoon off and spend it with me. I don't think I'd ever been happier in my life. Moments such as these are too often taken for granted by other kids. But not me. I relished in them and took everything from these moments that I could because I never knew when they'd come around again. As she straightened up from our hug, she held out her hand. I reached out and took it and she saw that my hand was bare. She grasped my hand tightly and then pulled both our hands into her coat sleeve. I looked up at her and gave her the biggest smile I had ever had. I told her thank you and she leaned down and kissed my head. She took me to a diner near our apartment and we drank hot chocolate and had apple pie. That day encapsulated the love I knew my mother had for me. After that day, whenever I knew she was in a good mood and we were out, I'd often take her hand, and when it was cold, she'd pull my hands into her sleeve. Despite being a Professor of literature, my mother did not easily express her love for me in words, but I knew that that simple protective gesture was her way of telling me she loved me and cared for me.

Throughout my adult life, through all the relationships I had had with both men and women, I would subconsciously search for those gestures that told me I was loved. With Rebecca, it was through her gifts. Expensive watches, jewelry, and cozy dinners at fine restaurants where the chefs knew her by name. I'm not a materialistic person so it wasn't the gifts themselves that I valued. What I took from these acts was that she loved me enough to want to give me things, spoil me and lavish me with whatever she thought I wanted, and that she loved me enough to take me into her world of champagne and caviar. She taught me how to live in her world. However, it was a world I would never fit into and she and I both knew it. In the end, the gifts were material reminders of a relationship that, while good while it lasted, was never meant to be. We were in love with the idea of being involved with someone from the other side of the tracks and the excitement of a forbidden love.

With Heather Samuels, the fact that she wanted to publicly declare that she was mine and I was hers, I thought it was the most romantic gesture. Although I wasn't used to being in the spotlight, which coming out about a lesbian relationship did, the only thought I had was that "She loves me enough to declare our relationship even though we both know it would bring on both positive and negative attention". My relationship with Heather was one that most closely resembled my relationship with my mother. The good times were few and far between, but when they were good, they were fantastically, mind blowing days where we didn't want to leave the apartment. But when things were bad, I wouldn't see her for weeks. We broke up and made up as frequently as I changed underwear, and even though my partner never said anything to me, God bless his heart, I knew Elliot hated what the relationship was doing to me. I was addicted to her and she was addicted to getting that next high.

I took a break from getting involved with anyone for a long time but then Casey, stubborn, fiery, annoying Casey Novak grew on me, and I let her into my life. I knew without a doubt in my mind that she loved me. But in my heart, I knew something was missing. My heart was missing, or at least a large portion of it. It had left with someone else on a cold and windy night on a dirt road as she was led away into an anonymous life.

I'd be an arrogant ass to imply that the fault always laid with my exes for not loving me enough. They did love me, but I think that for me, none of the relationships were "right". Sure I'd been in unhealthy relationships or been with someone whom I knew was not right for me. But the fault also rested on my own shoulders. I have never allowed myself to completely let anyone in before. Growing up, I became an internalizer, not allowing my emotions to run my life. As the years in SVU passed, I grew better and better at holding my feelings in check. After I found my brother, I learned to let go of my past and along with it, a lot of repressed feelings. I had slowly come to peace with my life, but I still maintained a strict control over myself. I learned to manipulate my emotions and use them in my job. Tears spilled when I wanted them to spill, like when I needed to draw a suspect to a confession through emotional interrogation. Anger flared when I needed it to flare to intimidate a suspect. My emotions were my weapons, and as with any weapon, I guarded them closely and used them wisely. Everything was under control. That was until Alex came back for the Connor trial.

"So why did you and Casey break up?" Rebecca's voice breaks through my thoughts after my temporary case of verbal diarrhea subsided.

"She broke up with me," I correct her.

"Right," Rebecca says with a hint of sarcasm. "They always leave you."

"You know, your sarcasm is really starting to piss me off," I tell her point blank, knowing all too well how correct she is. "Fine, I was going to break up with her. She beat me to the punch."

"Why?" she inquires.

"Why was I going to break up with her or why did she beat me to the punch?" I stalled.


"She broke up with me because I had become transparent." I say vaguely.

"You fell out of love?"

"Not really," I answer, feeling myself slip into the old familiar patterns of closing off my emotions. Eyes on the floor, ceiling, table, anywhere but on the person I'm talking to. Body muscles beginning to tense. Heart beating loudly and then slowly calming with each deliberate breath. Mouth set. Hands still. I blink my eyes slowly, once, twice.

"Olivia, don't," she calls out to me and it sounds like she's on the other side of the room. I look at her, my focus glazing over even though I know my eyes appear normal, maybe even intense.

"Don't shield yourself," she clarifies. Damn. She's good. "Our talk won't do you any good if you do that." I know she's right. I take a deep breath and allow my muscles to relax again. I came to her for a reason. To reign in my feelings would be counter-productive.

"Someone I loved very much came back into my life," I confide. "For years, she haunted my dreams. Every blonde I saw, I thought it was her. Every time someone said her name, I'd turn and look to she if she was there. Every time I smelled her perfume in the air, my stomach flipped and my body ached."

"How long were you together?"

"That's the thing," I smile an ironic smile. "We never were. We shared one kiss before she left and a second one when she returned briefly. And now she's back. She's been back for awhile but never called. Just showed up one day at a crime scene."

"ADA Alex Cabot? She's your unattainable love?"

Was there anything that this woman did not know about? I nod. "Before she left, she was engaged. Then she disappeared. When she came back briefly on her own, she told me she loved me and disappeared again. I was content and in a relationship. When she showed up that day, the package where I had put away my feelings for her came unraveled. But the fact that she never made any contact since she's been back, I don't know....I don't know what to make of that. What if...what if I've thrown away a perfectly good relationship with Casey, my one chance at happiness, over something that never existed?"

"Would you have been happy staying with Casey?"

I bite on my upper lip. "I was happy once...when I spent three days with Alex."

"What about Alex made or makes you happy and not someone else?"

"I hope you don't have plans the rest of the night," I half joke.

"I have as long as you need," she says gently and I am reminded of why I had loved her a lifetime ago.

"I know this sounds very stereotypical lesbian and clichéd but I feel like she gets me and she makes me want to be a better person," I begin.

The first time I was introduced to her, I saw what everyone else saw - upper class, society girl, probably with a seven figure trust fund, who should've been a trophy wife or in private practice. The fact that she was a civil servant could've only meant one thing - she had political aspirations and we were a stepping stone. When I shook her hand though, I felt something else. It wasn't a limp handshake of a debutante who expected her audience to curtsy and kiss the back of her hand, but rather a firm and strong one. There was also a look in her eyes that told me that there was more to her than her exterior, which was cocky, self-assured and ambitious. But in her eyes, there was a spark that told a different story.

Her first couple of years with us, we really broke her in. I think the world she came from had a lot of black and white with clear lines drawn down the middle. SVU was a world full of grey. Sure there were the clear cut cases where the rapist was the bad guy and the little molested girl was the innocent victim. But within that array was the blurred no man's land. Victims who became perpetrators, and criminals who became victims. The easy parts of the job are the absolute cases where the clear cut action was to arrest, prosecute and convict. The part of the job that tears at you are the ones where there are no right answers or actions. Alex got a taste of that from the get go on her first case with SVU. She began prosecuting the case within the confines of her black and white world until it became obvious that the case wasn't so straight forward. Although I didn't like how she approached the case, in the end, she handled it well, or least in the best way for everyone involved.

I'd always been pretty intuitive about people, reading them and seeing more than what's on the surface, or sometimes, in some cases, seeing that there was nothing more than the superficial. I could tell with Alex that there was always something more, something hidden about her. Either she was very adept at separating her personal life from her professional life, or she was clueless about what lay beneath her perfectly manicured appearance. Something always told me that she was a complicated individual. What I wasn't ready for was to see how she was able to maintain that complexity with such ease and simplicity. I had been told on occasion that I was mysterious and sometimes even enigmatic. But I had nothing on Alexandra Cabot. I think that's what drew me to her - her unpredictability. Some people are creatures of habit - black coffee every morning, comb their hair the same way every day, take the same route to a destination every time. But this blonde lawyer, she was as random as the lottery. The only thing constant about her was that no matter her tactics, no matter her actions, they were always driven by truth and the will to do what was right. I admired that about her. She didn't care about doing what was popular. She'd piss off everyone. One day it would be her boss, the next day, it'd be Elliot or Cragen or even myself. She carried on as if she wasn't there to make friends, but I knew that there had to be more than what was on the surface. No one as cold and purely professional as she projected herself to be could have as intense of a gaze in their eyes as she did. No, I knew there was something simmering beneath, and it was this mystery that intrigued me.

The SVU world drew a certain type of individual. Some would say it required a morbid personality to do what we did everyday. After all, it was a unit based on volunteers - you had to be here because you wanted to be here. Average burn out rate they said was two years. I've been there for how long now? Ten years? What does that say about me? We tell ourselves that it's just something we're good at, something we're born to do. I'm sure people on the "outside" must think we're either as disturbed as the perps themselves, or that we've become desensitized to the violence and inhumanity of it all. The day I become desensitized to it all is the day I hand in my badge and retire.

I've looked into the eyes of my partner and fellow detectives and although we don't ever say it, we all see it in each other's eyes. We do it because somebody has to. Even if each case tears away at our soul bit by bit, and each day pulls us deeper into the abyss, we keep coming back. Someone has to speak for the victims; someone has to hold their hand and understand their pain. If we don't do it, who will? Maybe we each have the hero complex. Let's not kid ourselves - every cop does, that's why we became cops. But I truly believe that those of us in sex crimes continue to believe that we can save the day, we can save the next victim, and we don't get jaded by the ones we've lost.

Every once in a while, we'll all reach a certain point in our careers when we ask "why am I doing this when it never ends?" It's at those times that we need to step away from this grim world of rape and violence and recharge ourselves. And when we come back, the determination is back in our eyes. Not everyone makes it. Usually by the sixth month into the job, you can see the flicker in their eyes die and all that's left are tired lines on their faces, a slump in their shoulders and a look that says if there was a God, they no longer believed in it. I saw it happen to Cassidy and many other cops after him.

I honestly gave her six months. I figured by then, those fiery, eager eyes would be dull and grey and her frail figure would have been battered by the job. She wasn't cut out for our world. She belonged in a world of old money, brownstone houses with a weekend beach house in the Hamptons, and where stress meant not knowing which pair of shoes to wear for Sunday brunch. But she surprised me and she hung in there. When the six months I allotted her were up, I watched her more closely; waiting to see which case it would be that would finally break her. What I didn't anticipate was that when that one case did finally crack her that would be the point in my life when I realized I was in love with her.

When the Sam Cavanaugh case came across our desk, I was already at a point in my relationship with Heather where I had emotionally detached myself from whatever it was we still had. She would go on binges and disappear for weeks. I knew she had a problem and it was time to address the addiction. Serena had told me that the longer I stayed around waiting for Heather to come home, the more I was enabling her behavior. I just didn't want to be "that partner" that deserted her girlfriend when she clearly needed help. I hung in there to work with her partner and her Lieutenant to try to get her help, but emotionally, I was drained and needed to elsewhere, anywhere but home. I was spending more time at work than at my apartment, and at times would just crash up in the crib instead of in my own bed.

I don't think I ever tried to deny it. I had become attracted to the blonde attorney. Whenever I'd go to see Serena to go for lunch or dinner, I'd consciously look for Alex, hoping for a glimpse of her. She was beautiful, that was a given, and her voice soothed me, even when she would argue with me. Her smiles, which I wasn't often privy to due to the nature of our jobs, sometimes radiated an enigmatic glimpse of another side of her which I suspected wasn't as cool and collected as her exterior, but just as beautiful.

That night when I called her to the hospital after Sam attempted to take his own life, it was the private Alex Cabot that came running through the doors of the ER. The look on her face, pain, disbelief and guilt, it was a look I had never seen before. It was a look of vulnerability and it was out of pure instinct to protect her that I grabbed her by the arms and shielded her from Linda Cavanaugh. This was a side of Alex I had never seen before and I treasured it. As strange as it sounds, I finally saw her as human, and not some ambitious lawyer out to make a name for herself, and that revelation wedged a spot in my heart and stayed there. When we took her back to the station house, I took her up to the crib and to my surprise, she didn't object to my staying with her. She sat on the window ledge sideways, looking outside but not really seeing. I sat on the couch and watched her. Her hair was tied up with a few loose strands tucked behind her ear. Her head was tilted, resting on the glass of the window. Her right leg was bent, resting on the ledge, her right foot tucked in under her left leg. She looked small and fragile.

"It's my fault," she said quietly.

"No, Alex, it's not," I argued, just as quietly.

"Before he left my office, Sam came to the conclusion that Barnett was only abusing him and didn't love him or like him," she explained. "That boy truly cared for Barnett despite what he'd done to him, and he just wanted so desperately to feel loved, and I took that illusion away from him."

"That's just it, Alex, it was an illusion," I said. "Sam would've had to come to terms with that eventually."

"No, he was content to just leave the illusion alone and go on with his life. We forced him to face what Barnett did to him." She turned to look at me, anger simmering in her eyes.

I stood up and walked over to her, pulling a nearby chair over and sat down facing her. I rested my elbows on my knees and looked into her eyes. I could tell the tears were threatening to spill and I instinctively reached out and took grasp of one of her hands which was resting on her leg. "It's not your fault, Alex."

She licked her bottom lip and bit down onto it, holding back the tears. "I don't think I can do this any more."

"Don't you quit on me, Alexandra Cabot," I said to her, giving her hand a squeeze. "More importantly, don't quit on Sam."

"How do you do it? How do you get past something like this and come back day after day?" she asked, not letting go of my hand

"That's the thing," I answered, fighting the urge to reach up and tuck a strand of stray hair behind her ear. "You don't get past it. You let it feed your soul and use it to fuel your drive for the next case. We'll get him, Alex. We have to. We owe it to Sam."

She nodded and I finally reluctantly let go of her hand.

"Thanks, Liv," she said and managed a small smile. That was the first time she ever called me that, and it was that night that I fell in love with her.

She never did give up and if anything, the determination in her eyes, that look that we all have in this unit, it only grew with each case. As her drive over took her ambition, I fell in love with her more and more each day. Gone were the politically driven choices, replaced by personal motivations behind her decisions. She became a member of our SVU family and not "just the ADA". After Barnett was convicted and incarcerated, Linda Cavanaugh called me. She told me that an anonymous donor had setup a trust fund to pay for all of Sam's medical bills and asked if I knew anything about it. I had a sneaking suspicion as to who might have been involved, but when I asked her, Alex merely shook her head and said "Such an act would give the improper appearance of a pre-emptive strike against litigation by the DA's office on Linda Cavanaugh for my illegal search." I didn't push the topic any further, but I did once see a blonde visitor leaving Sam Cavanaugh's room when I came in to check on him months later.

It was obvious that there were two sides to Alexandra Cabot. The Cabot whom the squad knew was the strong willed, stubborn, smart, well dressed lawyer who was not above manipulating the law if it favored her case. The Alex I got to know led a separate life from the lawyer. She was more carefree and didn't try to carry the weight of the legal world on her shoulders, but at the same time, she carried the personal loss of the Cavanaugh boy with her.

The private Alex also struggled with a part of her identity but then again so does everyone. She finally came to me and told me of her struggle and dammit if it didn't take all of my will power to not confess my love and lust for her. But I knew she belonged to another - another person and then another life. I resigned myself to the fact that she'd never be mine in this lifetime. I was okay with that. And then one day, there she was. ADA Alexandra Cabot, standing at my crime scene.

"Olivia, you're not codependent," Rebecca say, putting down her legal pad and pen, finally making her assessment.

"I'm not?" I ask in surprise.

"No, you're not," she confirms but then adds, "At least not anymore. Your relationship with Det. Samuels, yes, based upon your childhood, but our relationship and your relationship with Casey, they were just relationships that didn't work."

"So I'm not striving for unattainable love?"

"No. When you and I were together, we were still young, still trying to find ourselves," Rebecca explains. "Casey was good for you, but she wasn't the love of your life."

"And Alex?" I ask. "I'm in love with a woman with whom I've never even had a relationship."

"It's my turn to throw out the lesbian cliché here," she says with a chuckle, "but I think Alex is your soul mate."

"She never even called when she came back."

"Olivia, you've been brought together, separated, and now brought together again. If that's not fate, then I don't know what is."

"Since when did you believe in fate?" I ask jokingly.

"It's the romantic in me," she says with a smile and shrug of her shoulders. "She's Castor to your Pollux."

"Say what?" She's lost me.

"Greek mythology? The Gemini twin brothers?" She can tell I'm not following. She explains entirely and then smiles. "Not even the death of the mortal Castor could separate the two, forcing Zeus to bind them together forever as stars." Then she adds more seriously, "Olivia, go talk to her."


Lifetime: Pt. III – Resurrection

When I return to the station house, Elliot tells me that Alex is up in the crib and has been looking and waiting for me for close to an hour. I ask him if she said why, but he only shakes his head and relays that she didn't say as he heads home.

When I get to the top step, I see her standing at the window looking down at the city. She's wearing a pair of jeans and a black ribbed turtleneck sweater. Her hair is pulled back into one of those loose ponytail/bun things she does, and those glasses, she's wearing those damn glasses. The sight of her wearing them has on occasion, more times than I'd care to admit, turned me into a bumbling idiot. I ache for her, to reach out to her, to touch her, feel her.

"Hey," I call out softly as to not startle her. "Elliot said you were looking for me."

She turns around slowly and sits down on the window sill, bracing her arms at her sides on the ledge. "Hey."

"Started snowing," she points out with a jerk of her head towards the window. I smile with a nod. I can't even form a simple sentence together because she looks as beautiful as the woman I had said goodbye to years ago, yet so different from what this life has dealt her. The street lights are sending a surprisingly soft glow into the shadowed room and I'm almost certain she's glowing. When she realizes I've been staring at her, she turns her eyes to the floor and hangs her head slightly, and I almost don't hear her whisper what she does.

"I've missed the way you look at me," she repeats and looks up as my jaw drops open. I fidget nervously.

"What way?" I finally find my voice which I'm desperately trying so hard to not let betray the stirring inside of me that had resurfaced the moment I first saw her again.

"Like that," she says simply. "You look at me like you see something others don't; like you can feel what I'm thinking; like you hear my most inner thoughts and secrets."

"Does it make you uncomfortable?" I ask.

"Of course not," she says with a small smile. "It makes me feel like no one else exists. I've missed that look."

For two people who had declared their feelings for one another through two kisses, we had been gliding through a dance of avoidance with one another ever since the day she step foot onto our crime scene. The past week had drained me. I had spent years repressing my feelings for her, denying them at times just to force myself to find a happiness that didn't involve her. But no matter what I did or who I was with, my heart always called out for her and only her. And when she appeared in front of me as if an apparition, I had felt a stab in my chest. Why hadn't she called? She told me she loved me. Why didn't she call? Had she gone back to Trevor? Did she decide she wasn't really gay? Or had she simply stopped feeling the same intense longing that I had seen in her eyes that time she sat across from me in the diner and told me she loved me?

"Why didn't you call?" I ask the one question that has been tormenting my mind the entire week.

She takes a deep breath, and stands up, turning back to look out the window. "When I last saw you, you were with Casey. I told you to be happy."

She finally turns around and faces me again. Even from the distance, I can see her eyes are glistening and she's trying hard to maintain her composure. "I wasn't ready to see you happy with someone else."

I feel my heart beat harder in my chest. "Casey and I broke up over a year ago."

She begins to move towards me in long casual strides until she's in my personal space. She starts to lean closer and I instinctively hold my breath. Then I realize what she's doing. She reaches down and picks up her coat from the couch beside me and then straightens her posture, but still inches away from me. Her eyes settle on my mouth and I see her swallow. She lifts her eyes and I hear her softly say, "Take me home."

I nod mutely, my eyes moving from her mouth back up into her dark blue eyes. As we make our way to the stairs I hear the guys settling down at their desks for the night. I stop at my desk to grab my coat off my chair and shrug it on. We walk out of the station house in silence, occasionally stealing glances at one another. When we get outside, the snow is falling harder than it had been when I had returned to the building earlier and the wind has picked up.

We stand side by side on the sidewalk and wait for a cab. I turn to look down the street on Alex's side and hold my hands in a fist up to my mouth and blew into them to warm them up. I'd forgotten my gloves at home. Alex looks at me and takes off the glove on her right hand. She reaches out and takes my right hand and slides her glove over it. With her bare hand, takes my left hand in hers and pulls her coat sleeve over top of our clasped hands. I watch her in silence as I feel my heart threaten to explode out of my chest. My eyes feel moist and I do all I can to control my emotions and prevent my eyes from welling up. She looks into my eyes and gives me a small and lazy smile. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a cab and hail for it with my free hand.

Without letting go of my hand, she climbs into the back seat, pulling me with her and proceeds to give the driver my address. I feel like I was sleep walking. I don't dare speak or make a sound lest I wake up from this dream. The entire ride to my apartment, we sit and look at one another wordlessly. There's so much to say yet neither one of us wants to disturb the silence. Her eyes are still as intense as the first day I met her, but in the cab, they're a dark shade of blue, her pupils dilated. She has a slight blush on her cheeks which I attribute to the cold temperatures we were standing in. Her lips are slightly parted, glistening with the lip gloss she's wearing. I see the minute movements of her chest and shoulders through her coat and can tell her breathing is growing heavier with each passing street block. I know my own heart is thumping in my chest and I have to concentrate on steadying my own breathing. She is the most beautiful creature I have ever laid eyes on.

Four years since I last saw her and last kissed her. Six years since our first kiss and she was taken away from my life. Seven years I've been in love with her. And now I sit before her, words escaping me. All I can do is tell her with my eyes, my gaze, my smile what she means to me. Her eyes tell me she knows what I'm feeling. They tell me that she never stopped thinking about me, no matter where she went or who she was with. I finally register the feeling of her thumb softly rubbing over my knuckles, concealed in her coat sleeve and I am once again overwhelmed with the love I've kept hidden for so long.

Finally we arrive at my building and before I know it, she's disengaged our hands, paid the driver and is once again pulling me to follow her out of the cab. We continue in silence in the elevator, her hand still holding onto mine. I let us into the apartment and toss the key onto the counter and kick the door closed. She still has my hand in hers and turns to face me , moving closer to me. She takes off her glasses and tosses them onto the counter beside the keys. I feel her body press up against mine and ever so slowly, she brushes her cheek against mine and buries her face into my neck. I wrap my free hand around her and bury my face in her neck. God she smells as heavenly as I had remembered. I can't help but notice how our bodies fit together so perfectly. Despite how well trained I am at keeping my emotions in check, when it comes to Alexandra Cabot, I have no control. Tears fall from my eyes and onto the porcelain skin of her neck. It is at that moment that I feel her tears on my own skin. Our bodies shudder from the release of the emotions we've so closely guarded all these years.

She reaches up with her left hand and tangles her fingers into my hair. She releases my hand and places her palm on my chest, over my rapidly beating heart. She slowly pulls her face away from the crook of my neck and rests her forehead against mine. The hand that was on my chest is now caressing my cheek and her fingers dance over my closed eyes, my nose, my lips and my chin. It's as if she needs to feel and know that this is not a dream either. She slowly rubs her thumb back and forth over my lips. I reach up and touch her face with my fingertips and I swear I felt a jolt of electricity when I touched her cheek. Her skin is still as smooth as ever. I wipe away the tracks of her tears and dance my fingers over her soft lips.

"I've missed you," she breaks the silence between us.

"I've missed you too," my breath brushing against her thumb. "I've missed the way you smell."

"I bought your perfume and sprayed it on my pillow."

I smile at the confession and feel her lips smile under my fingers. Slowly, she replaces her thumb with her soft, slightly parted lips in a chaste kiss. I kiss her back, equally chaste. We take our time to reacquaint ourselves with the feel of one another's lips in a flutter of innocent kisses until I feel her lips part a little more and her tongue requests my lips for entrance. Our tongues join in our reunion, in slow delicate strokes and movements. I cup her face with one hand while the other slides under her coat and wraps around her waist. She tangles both hands into my hair as our kiss slowly escalates with more hunger. There is no rush or hurried actions as we continue to savor the taste of one another, remembering what it felt like to kiss for the first time and last time. Somewhere in the middle of our kisses, we shed our coats and languidly begin to make our way into the living room, our lips never parting. If we were to race with a snail, the snail would win. She was back and she wasn't going anywhere. We had all the time in the world. Years of lust and yearning could be celebrated within minutes, but between us, was a lifetime of love that was finally allowed to be expressed.

When we reach the living room, the back of the couch bumps into the back of her legs and she simply sits down on it and I slide my body in between her legs and press my body to hers again. Nipping, licking, sucking, we rediscover the joys of teenage necking. I slide my hands under her sweater. As there are seven gates of hell, there must be seven gates of heaven. The first gate is the scent of her perfume on her neck. Kissing her is the second gate. The feel of her skin is the third. I lift her sweater up and pull it over her head, revealing a black lace bra, a contrast to her milky skin. She stands up, her mouth fuses with mine once more and she begins to move again, hooking her fingers into the waistband of my jeans and pulling me with her. As if I needed force to follow her.

Somehow, she manages to relieve me of my shirt as we continue to move through the living room. We make our way to the hallway towards the bedroom and she presses me against the wall, pinning my arms up against the wall and I surrender to her everything that I am. For the first time tonight, she breaks our kiss and begins to kiss my jaw and then my neck. She pulls my hands together above my head and holds them there with one hand while the other snakes around and unhooks my bra. She lowers my hands and slides the undergarment off. As the bra slides off my breasts, her mouth covers a nipple and a low moan escapes from within me. She strips the bra away completely and gives the other nipple a slow swirl and suck. With my hands free, I glide her backwards and unhook her bra before her back is pressed up against the opposite wall. My mouth hungrily claims hers once more, our bodies pressed together, flesh against flesh. The feel of her breasts against me sends electric signals straight to my clit. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the fourth gate of heaven.

I reach down and unbuckle her belt and jeans and slide my hands under the denim to grab hold of her ass. She responds by grinding her hips into mine and I let out another groan. I push her jeans off her hips and I extricate myself from her long enough for her step out of them and my body and mouth instinctively gravitates back to her again. She raises her bare left leg and hooks it around my own leg, trapping me against her. My hand grabs at her raised thigh pulling her hips against mine and I slide my hand up her leg and around behind her to cup her ass, feeling the lace of her panties under my fingers. I suck on her earlobe and kiss her neck. I feel her nails dig slightly into my back and I want her even more.

If ever I thought Alex and I could be sexually compatible, the idea was confirmed when I bend my knees to get leverage and she intuitively lifts her other leg and wraps both legs around my waist and her arms around my neck. Using the wall for support, I brace my arms under her and carry her the few steps into the bedroom. I manage to get us to my bed and I try to lower her as gracefully as I can onto the bed.

She sits on the bed, my lips still glued to hers, my hands planted on the mattress on either side of her and I feel her pulling at my waistband again. I pull off my badge, gun and holster and haphazardly stow them away onto the night table. She pulls me to her again and begins to unbuckle my belt and unbutton my jeans, her manicured nails tickling my abdomen. Her hands slide the denim over my hips. I reach down to help her remove the article of clothing and then lean back into her, forcing her to lie down onto the bed.

Before I know it, she has somehow rolled me onto my back and it was her turn to hover over me, her eyes dark and intense, full of lust. She pins my hands down as she brings her lips to mine again and then begins to move downwards along my neck. I feel her lips brushing along my skin, her tongue dashing out to lick here and there. One hand cups a breast and I gasp at the contact. My nipples are rock hard by now, as they had been since our embrace at the door, and ache for contact which her mouth gave. Her tongue swirls around one nipple and her lips suck on it arousing me even more. Her hand continues to massage and entertain my other breast and nipple as her mouth did things to the first breast that I had never dreamt of. She continues on downward and pulls at the waistband of my panties with her teeth and then slides the underwear down my legs and off onto the floor, leaving me completely naked. I don't feel the slightest bit exposed or vulnerable under her gaze. I feel more safe than I have ever before.

As Alex moves back up my body, my hands wander over her body by their own volition. She continues to tease my nipples with her talented lips and tongue while my hands caress her silky skin and curves. My desire for her threatens to explode if she continues her assault on my breasts. I need to feel her inside me.

"Alex, I need you. Now," I manage to get out as my breathing grows ragged.

She doesn't even hesitate and moves downwards, licking and kissing down my stomach, lower abdomen and then settles herself in between my legs. I'm so wet, I'm certain she can smell my arousal and desire. She places kisses along each inner thigh and when my hand snakes into her hair, she places her mouth onto me and slides her tongue into my folds.

"Oh God, Alex," I cry out at the contact and I swear she's smiling smugly. She finds my clit and gently sucks on it and I feel a quick tightening in my lower abdomen. She applies steady but light pressure with her mouth and I can't help but move and grind my hips against her mouth. She continues her soft broad licks alternating with gentle suction while my hips grind rhythmically. As I move harder and faster against her, I can feel the increased the suction on my clit. My breathing comes in rapid gasps and she knows I'm on the edge and she slides a finger into me, pushing in as far as her finger will go. She slides her finger in and out in rhythm with my bucking hips and I let go of the tighten sensations in my body, letting my orgasm take over as I cry out in a loud string of moans. She slowly eases up on the suction she had on my clit as I ride out the waves. Finally, my hips are motionless, and I'm catching my breath. She slides her finger out and licks the juices off of the digit with a smile. If this isn't a gate of heaven then God needs to have more orgasms.

"C'mere," I tug at her and smile. I pull her down for a kiss and lick my own juices from her mouth and tongue. "I taste good on you," I say smugly.

"Yes you do," she agrees with a Cheshire cat grin and leans down to kiss me again.

With lips still pressed together, I slowly sit up and guide her to straddle my lap. The move puts me in the most optimal position to fully appreciate her supple breasts. I run my hands along her sides and break away from the kiss. She reaches up and pulls out the hair tie that's been holding up her long tresses. She gives a shake of her head and her golden blonde hair cascades down her shoulders. I think that was one of the most sexiest things I have ever seen.

I start to kiss the breasts in front of me, purposefully avoiding the nipples and areolas. I place gentle but firm kisses on the sides, the top and the underside of both breasts. My hands have been running along her lower back and I slide them under the black lace material of her underwear to cup her firm cheeks, I latch my mouth to one nipple, my tongue running slowly and flatly against the hard point. I slowly trace lazy patterns around and over the nipple which elicits quite a few moans from the woman on top of me.

I slide the lace panties down her hips and she moves momentarily to discard of the skimpy piece of underwear. The loss of contact for the brief moment makes me ache for her warmth almost immediately. When she returns to straddling me, my mouth instantly finds its way back to the second breast. I wrap my arms around her slim hips and relish the feel of her soft skin. Simply put, I cannot get enough of touching and feeling her flesh. With my mouth still closed over a nipple, I slide a hand over her ass once again, only this time, I continue to move my hand down along her buttocks and then in between her legs. As warm as Alex's body already was, I felt even more heat between her legs; heat and moisture. I slowly dip a finger into her folds. This must be the final gate of heaven.

How long have I imagined and fantasized about this day, and finally it's here. The feelings, the sights, the smells were more than I could've ever dreamed up. I pull my hand away from her pussy and bring the finger to my mouth. I slide the wet finger into my mouth and suck off her wetness as she watches me. I lift my mouth to hers, and she captures it hungrily, tasting herself off my tongue. I give her a feral smile and lick in between her breasts and lowered my hand in between us. I cup her sex in my hand and then slowly slide a finger into her wetness. Alex raises her hips as I fill her with one finger, than two.

"Oh, Liv," the words escape her lips as I penetrate her.

With my fingers inside the woman above me and hearing her call my name, I feel myself grow wet again. I feel her hot flesh surround my fingers, the silky smoothness that's slick with juices. I lift my chin and her mouth meets mine. Our tongues explore and dance as she starts moving her hips, riding my fingers that are curled and stroking her G-spot.

I flatten the base of my hand against her clit which brings out a loud moan from somewhere deep within her chest. I move my attention back to her breasts and start to trace patterns over one nipple and feel her pace pick up. I stroke her G-spot with slightly more pressure while she grinds her pelvis faster and harder into my hand. The moans build and when she cries out in ecstasy, I feel her silky walls tighten around my fingers, gripping them. She continues to grind into my hand and I continue to stroke her until her movements slow down. Finally she opens her eyes and looks down into mine. She collapses on top of me and I lie back on the bed, pulling her down with me, her length partially on top of me, my one arm still around her waist.

"I love you, Olivia Benson," she whispers into the crook of my neck.

"I love you, Alex Cabot," I whisper back into her hair. "Welcome home."

In the darkness, I sit in the chair beside the window, watching the moonlight stream through the glass panes and onto her sleeping form on the bed. If I strain hard enough, I can hear her even breaths in the still air. She's laying on the far side of the bed, facing me, her arms hugging the tangle of bed linens against her chest, one long leg draped over top of the covers. My eyes run along her length from her face, down her neck, over her shoulder, along her upper arm, down along the curvature of her waist and then up along her hip, down the smooth thigh and muscular calf. There isn't a thing that I don't love about this woman. From the blonde hairs on her head down to her perfectly pedicured toes. I could spend forever memorizing each curve, dip and swell of her body and still not get enough.

She stirs and I see her hand reach out to my side of the bed. She lifts her head and I can tell she's adjusting her eyes.

"What are you doing?" she asks in a hoarse whisper. God, even the sound of her post-coital voice turns me on.

"Just…memorizing you," I answer shyly.

"Come back to bed," she tells me and lifts up the covers. I don't need to be told twice. I slide under the covers and she nestles herself against me, her head on my shoulder, her hand on my breast.

"I'm not going anywhere," she tells me and plants a kiss on my cheek. I smile and close my eyes. I have waited so long for this day, and if fate means that we have to go through what we did in this lifetime to be here in this moment right now, I'd do all again in a heartbeat.

The End

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