DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For my Mistress. I love you endlessly. There are also a few "tributes" to some of my favorite A/O writers hidden within the text. See how many you can spot!
SPOILERS SVU up to Season-11 (including Loss, Ghost, and beyond).
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Magnetic Resistance
By Rae D. Magdon


Chapter Six:

Olivia slumped against the door to the children's interrogation room, closing her eyes and rubbing her forehead with steepled fingertips. Even after all these years on the job, there were still times when the ugliness she saw threatened to overwhelm her. The black moments were less frequent now, or maybe she had just learned how to hide them better, but Olivia knew that if she ever stopped feeling them, it was time to retire or find a new line of work.

Huang was in there now, helping the seven-year-old girl that Olivia had been interviewing put away the precinct's toys. She was primary on this case, since Elliot was in Richmond informing James Preston's parents about his death. The questioning was done, and now the detective needed a few moments alone to collect herself. She opened her eyes, reluctantly raising her head and moving aside as Huang approached the windowed door and turned the knob, stepping out into the hallway.

"Are you all right, Olivia?" he asked, keeping his voice soft so that their conversation would not be audible to the little girl in the interrogation room.

"No," Olivia admitted. Granted, any normal person would be upset after questioning a child for over an hour about the repeated rapes she had endured at the hands of her teenaged babysitter. Based on the girl's recollections, it was pretty obvious that the rapist was a victim of abuse himself. "God, the perp is just a kid, too... how can someone so young be capable of so much evil?"

Huang placed a careful hand on her shoulder, looking for signs that the touch was unwelcome. Olivia gave none, simply accepting the silent comfort. "Darren Forbes needs to be punished severely, but he needs help as well. We'll make sure he gets it."

"Sorry, George. I'm fine now. Thanks for finishing up in there. My emotions have been getting too close to the surface recently, I guess."

"Anything you want to talk about? Off the record."

Olivia shrugged. "No, just some things I have to work out for myself, I guess. Thanks for the offer, though." Alex had been gone for three days and Olivia missed her like crazy. She had called twice, but Olivia had not had the nerve to call back. The messages were saved in her phone's memory, though, and she had listened to them several times in order to hear Alex's familiar, comforting voice. Cradled in a sleeping Alex's arms, it had been so easy to forget all of the reasons why getting involved with the blonde attorney was a stupid idea. In the sobering light of day, with Alex in another city, all of those reasons came flooding back.

"You should call her, Olivia," said Huang, removing his hand from the detective's arm before she could get defensive.

Olivia's eyes narrowed. "I'm not sure what you mean," she said carefully.

"You should know by now that cops are terrible gossips. Apparently, you showed up at a crime scene looking very pleased with yourself a few nights ago."

"Don't tell me Elliot started spreading that around or I'll have to kill him," Olivia groaned. "Hey, how do you know it's a her?"

Huang gave her a soft smile. "Gaydar?" Olivia scowled at him. "Lucky guess," he tried again, deciding not to add some of the other guesses he had made about Olivia's romantic life and the woman he suspected was intruding in it. "And since you were fiddling with your cell for a good ten minutes before the interview, I got the impression that you wanted to make a phone call."

Not confirming or denying anything, Olivia straightened her spine, supporting her own weight instead of continuing to lean against the wall. "I don't suppose you have any ideas about our other open case? The Preston rape/homicide," she clarified, deliberately changing the subject.

Allowing Olivia to retreat back into her comfort zone, Huang considered her question. "Perhaps I'm biased, but I doubt that your murderer and rapist is a gay man, despite the presence of fluids."

"What makes you think that?" Olivia asked, genuinely curious.

"I have some theories, most of them concerning the mutilation of the genitals, but right now, let's just call it a hunch."

"I hold your hunches in high regard," Olivia said. "I've learned that you're usually right. Elliot wanted us to ask around in the scene, simply because of the location of the murder and the fact that the vic was male. But..."


"This is going to sound stupid, but the victim didn't look gay. Granted, you can never really tell, and he was pretty torn up and mutilated, but... the pants. I just can't picture a gay guy wearing thug pants and dirty tennis shoes. Besides, he hadn't shaved in a couple of days and his messy apartment looked like a straight guy's bachelor pad. Don't hate me for stereotyping," Olivia added hastily.

Instead of looking angry or offended, Huang seemed amused. "At least you are thinking of good stereotypes. If you want to live with the delusion that gay men are neater than straight men, I am more than happy to let you." Glancing back towards the door, he observed the little girl waiting inside. "We've left her too long already," he said, "I just wanted to make sure you were all right."

"Yeah, I appreciate it. Let's get Katie back to her mother. She's had a tough afternoon."

The next night, lounging on the sofa with a bowl of buttered popcorn and watching TV, Olivia found her thoughts drifting back to Alex. The lawyer's second phone call had stated that her flight would arrive at LaGuardia sometime around 8:30 that evening. It was almost nine, and Olivia kept wondering whether Alex's plane had been delayed, whether she had caught a cab all right, whether she had forgotten anything... For some reason, the mere knowledge that Alex was coming back to New York soothed her worries a little.

"Nothing in my life can ever be simple, huh?" Olivia asked the television, flipping through the lower channels with bored disinterest. Desperate for something to watch, she finally settled on Oprah, who was currently interviewing a couple about their marital and financial difficulties. For some reason, it made the detective feel slightly better. Apparently, there were some people in the world even worse at relationships than she was.

Olivia was almost disappointed when the doorbell rang. Although she would deny it under oath, watching Oprah rip into the dysfunctional couple had been somewhat entertaining. Figuring that Elliot had a new lead on their male rape/homicide, she resigned herself to another interrupted evening and headed to answer the door.

She was surprised to see Alexandra Cabot, looking fabulous even after an afternoon of travel. Her clothes aren't even rumpled... and how does she get her hair to stay so neat? Olivia wondered. Aside from her wheeled carryon and dark circles under her eyes, there were no other signs that the attorney had been cooped up on a plane for the past several hours.

Suddenly realizing that she was staring, Olivia backed out of the doorway to allow Alex into her apartment. "Uh, come in," she said awkwardly, irritated that she still had trouble forming sentences around the beautiful blonde lawyer. She had never experienced that particular problem during their time as colleagues (at least not after the first month), but it resurfaced whenever Olivia interacted with Alex in more intimate settings.

"Only if you don't have any other plans," Alex said, not wanting to intrude. "You didn't answer your work phone, so I figured you were either avoiding me or something had happened to you... I wanted to make sure you were okay."

Olivia smiled, pleased that Alex had been worried about her. "No, I'm fine," she said, spreading her arms to reassure Alex that she was okay. The lawyer raised her eyebrows, giving Olivia's body a long, slow perusal from head to toe.

"You look more than fine to me," she murmured, taking a step closer. Olivia swallowed nervously. "I'm very glad that you're in such good shape, Olivia, but that means you owe me an explanation. Were you avoiding me?"

Normally, Olivia's script of the 'why didn't you call me' conversation involved several accusations and a great deal of arguing. However, she knew that Alex had not done anything wrong. Two phone calls over four days could hardly be considered clingy or inappropriate. Alex's persistent advances made her uncomfortable, but only because of their shared past. However, she could not deny that a part of her wanted them...

Raised voices from the television distracted Alex from her line of questioning, and Olivia breathed a sigh of relief. A slow smirk curled around her lips as she glanced at the flickering screen. "Oprah?" she asked, arching one eyebrow over the frames of her glasses. "Not what I would have picked as your usual television fare."

Olivia blushed. "If you tell Elliot, I promise to let him know about your ghettolicious driving playlist." The tension between them broken, Olivia closed the door behind Alex and helped her maneuver the wheeled carryon suitcase beside the couch. Sitting back down on the couch, Olivia patted the space next to her. "Take a seat. I made popcorn. You can have some if you promise to leave a few crumbs for me."

"Sitting down sounds great right about now," Alex groaned, lowering herself next to Olivia and bending over to massage sore calves.

"Not tired of sitting after the long airplane ride?"

"I was, but then I had to walk out of the airport in high heels..." Alex slipped the aforementioned shoes off, rolling her ankles and wiggling her toes. Even without the shoes, Olivia could not help admiring the shape of the beautiful attorney's calves. Alex's legs really did go on for days...

"See something that interests you, detective?" a teasing, playful voice inquired.

Embarrassed at being caught, Olivia refocused her attention on Alex's face, which was also lovely to look at. Staring into Alex's brilliant blue eyes, the internal war inside of Olivia ceased. "I'm sorry for not calling you back," said Olivia. It was the first time she had ever apologized for keeping her distance. "I should have-"

"It's okay... you can apologize by giving me a welcome home kiss."


Chapter Seven:

As Olivia's lips brushed against Alex's, she realized that their first magical kiss – and the hungry kisses that followed – had not been a fluke. The stars, the fireworks, and the violins were back. How does she do this to me...? she wondered briefly before words slipped away from her.

She groaned as the blonde-haired woman teased a full lower lip with her tongue, deepening the kiss and begging for entrance to her mouth. Olivia had been kissed by many different men and women during her life, but none of them ever made her feel like this. With Alex, it was powerful. It stole her breath away and made her heart pound frantically against her ribcage. It was right.

Suddenly, Olivia's attention was torn away from Alex's soft, willing mouth and the curious hands that had begun exploring her denim-clad legs.

Bzzzzt. Bzzzzzt.

"Oh my god, not again. If that's Elliot, I am going to kill him this time," Alex whispered, her lips still centimeters away from Olivia's, allowing the detective to feel their movement as they formed the words.

"Maybe it'll go away," Olivia said hopefully before kissing Alex again.

Bzzzzt. Bzzzzt.

Alex frowned, regretfully pulling away from Olivia and resting her forehead on the detective's shoulder. "Answer it. If it isn't some kind of huge emergency, I'm going to be very upset."

Equally frustrated, Olivia flipped open the phone. "Benson," she snapped, resisting the urge to hang up as Alex's fingers trailed along the exposed strip of skin between her shirt's hem and the waistband of her jeans. Her would-be lover let out a whimper of disappointment when she realized that Olivia was wearing a white undershirt, but she did not let it deter her progress.

"Hello there, Sunshine, I needed to ask you about-" Elliot paused, straining to hear the softer, muffled voice coming from Olivia's end of the connection...

"I am going to kill him, I'm going to kill the perp that made him call you, and if you don't hang up that phone right now, Olivia, I'm going to kill you, too," Alex growled, her words just loud enough for Elliot to overhear.

" – Olivia, is that Cabot? Where are you? Why does she want to-"

"Elliot, this is a really bad time," Olivia hedged, trying to dodge away from a very persistent Alex. The blonde lawyer had tucked her chin over Olivia's shoulder and was placing a line of open-mouthed kisses along the curve of her neck, nipping the sensitive flesh with her teeth whenever the mood struck. "Stop that," she said to Alex, her voice an octave lower. Despite her words, a wandering hand settled over one of the attorney's breasts, squeezing lightly through her shirt. Alex responded with a low groan.

Unfortunately, on the other end of the phone, Elliot could hear exactly what was going on. "You and Cabot, huh?" he asked, torn between amusement and surprise. Olivia could hear the conflicting emotions in his voice. "I mean, you always look at her like you want to bend her over her desk and do her, but I figured you were strictly dickly and she just had that effect on everybody..."

If Alex had not been kissing a sensitive spot beneath her ear while removing Olivia's shirt, phone be damned, she might have responded with a witty retort, but she was past caring. "I date both men and women, Alex is close enough to hear what you're saying, and unless someone has been raped or murdered, I'm going to have to arrest Alex for homicide..."

"No, but I needed to ask yo-"

"Then I'm hanging up. Good night, Elliot."

The phone and Olivia's outer shirt landed on opposite sides of the room. Alex's lips seemed to be everywhere at once, caressing a dark cheek, marking a shoulder, kissing the corner of her mouth. Two warm hands squeezed Olivia's hips, trailing along her sides and working her undershirt up along her stomach. Too impatient to bother removing the undershirt and bra completely, Alex lifted them just enough to expose the smooth curves of Olivia's breasts, immediately taking one of the hardened tips in her mouth so that her hands could begin working on Olivia's belt.

Meanwhile, Olivia's fingers were busy undoing the buttons of Alex's blouse. "Alex – gah!" The detective's train of thought was interrupted as sharp teeth scraped against her nipple. "We – we need to... slow down... I want this to be perfect for you, more romantic..."

Choosing to ignore Olivia's pleas, Alex tugged at Olivia's pants instead. "It will be perfect because I'm with you."

Unable to hold back any longer, Olivia tore the front of Alex's blouse, grabbing the blonde's wrists and pinning her to the couch. Alex froze, momentarily disoriented, only to let out a long sigh as Olivia's hands roamed along her thighs, teasing the skin with the edges of her nails. The detective's weight was comfortable on top of her and the hot tongue that teased the column of her throat made speech impossible.

"You are. So. Goddamn. Irresistible," Olivia purred, punctuating the words with nips and kisses to the vulnerable skin of Alex's shoulder. The blonde whimpered in protest when Olivia's face pulled away, but changed her mind when she saw that the detective was only removing the rest of her clothing. "The skirt has to go." Alex obeyed, removing her stockings as well. Olivia's hands explored her torso, cupping her breasts and stroking her arms and shoulders.

For a long time, the two women simply stared at each other, amazed that this experience – something that had only been a part of their dreams for so many years – was finally becoming a reality.

"Do you know how beautiful you are?" Olivia asked, outlining the shallow grooves of Alex's ribs, which were only visible when she arched her back. She paused to explore the swell of a hipbone, noticing Alex's shiver of pleasure and filing the spot away to kiss later. Finally, finally, her fingertips grazed the skin above a neat strip of blonde curls.

Alexandra Cabot was an artist with words, but as Olivia's touches roamed lower, the only one she managed to remember was, "Please..."

That was all the confirmation Olivia needed. With a low groan, her hand began gliding through soft, slick warmth. Her head spun at the sight before her – her gorgeous Alex, her friend, her lover, trembling beneath her, damp blonde hair plastered to one cheek and the side of her neck. Her face was flushed and her chest rose and fell with sharp, shallow breaths.

Olivia stopped worrying about the consequences, losing herself in the vivid feelings and sensations. The trust Alex displayed in her, the need, was more addictive than any drug. "Tell me what you want," she murmured against her willing captive's ear. Even though Olivia had released her wrists to explore new territory, Alex had not moved them.

"Take me."

And Olivia did. Alex had said please, after all. She claimed her lover in one smooth motion, making both of them gasp as clinging, velvety muscles gripped her fingers. Her thumb moved in slow circles over the straining bundle just above, a counterpoint to the steady stroking of her other fingers. Somehow, Alex managed to curl one knee around Olivia's waist, pulling her closer, tighter, deeper. Begging for more contact.

Warm lips returned to Alex's throat and shoulders, memorizing the taste of flushed, salty skin, leaving behind several marks so that neither of them could forget. In Olivia's mind, it only proved that what they were doing was real and not just another lonely fantasy.

Alex began whispering in her ear, her words returning to her in a flood as Olivia made love to her, saying things that thrilled and terrified the normally stoic detective. "I love you, Olivia... I've always loved you. I need you. Don't – don't stop... Liv... Liv... I want you with me forever. I love you... Always. I'm yours. Mmm, more... Please, love – Olivia..."

When Alex came, sighing as smooth, silken muscles clutched rhythmically at her lover's hand, Olivia could not look away from shining blue eyes. Not able to stop, she coaxed the last shuddering pulses of pleasure from her new lover, soaking in the soft, helpless sounds that Alex made like a woman dying of thirst. She noticed the tear tracks on Alex's pink cheeks and kissed them away, trying to convey her feelings without words.

Draped over the couch with fresh marks on her throat and breasts, her hair ruined, her glasses crooked, Alex had never looked more beautiful to Olivia. Tenderly, she removed her hand from between Alex's legs, making both of them shudder. Reaching up, she straightened the frames of Alex's glasses. God, she loved those glasses, but most of all, she loved the woman behind them.

"You're glowing," she said quietly, trailing wet fingers down Alex's cheek, tracing the line of her lips. Alex took them in her mouth, closing her eyes as her tongue swirled, tasting herself. The soft, warm pull of Alex's mouth created an answering tug much lower.

Coming out of her soft, dreamy haze, Alex's eyes began to clear. "I love you, Liv. Give me a moment and I'll show you just how much."


Chapter Eight:

Baggage. If I were checking bags at the airport, they'd charge me extra for overweight fees, Olivia thought to herself. Way too much baggage. Now that the years were creeping up on her, it was starting to show. Her deranged attempt at marriage to spite her mother at sixteen, the string of broken, not-really-relationships that had followed, a history of bad decisions.

In truth, her friendship with Elliot had more longevity and stability than any romantic relationship she had ever had, even though it had only pushed over the line between platonic love and sexual love once. One mistake of a kiss later, that idea had quickly been ruined for both of them. Years later, they could joke about it, but at the time, it felt like another personal failure on her part.

She sighed, staring down at the honey colored hair resting on her shoulder. The color deviated slightly from Alex's usual pale blonde shade, and Olivia wondered if her hairdresser had added different highlights. How long have I been watching her, that I notice such subtle differences?

In all honesty, Alex was a much larger part of her baggage than she cared to admit. She would deny it until her last breath, perhaps even under oath, but the determined ADA's disappearance had broken her. Despite all the rest of her baggage, a small, secret part of Olivia hoped that someone would be able to love her someday. Those hopes did not show themselves often, silenced by the critical, logical voice that Olivia used to control her emotions, but they rested somewhere deep inside her, waiting.

Alex's time in WITSEC had almost been her undoing.

But now, here they were, sweat-slicked bodies pressed close, hearts balancing on the edge of something indescribably wonderful... together. Those secret, hidden hopes were stirring to life again.

It would be so easy to fall in love with Alex. Who am I kidding? I'm already in love with her. I have been for years. Olivia sighed, pressing a kiss to the dozing attorney's warm forehead. Her eyes were closed, her breath deep and even as she slept curled up against Olivia's side like it was the most natural place in the world for them to be. Everything felt so right...

Olivia shifted slightly in Alex's embrace, almost smiling as the blonde murmured something in her sleep and held her tighter, unwilling to let her go. The small movement made Olivia's heart ache. Was Alex afraid she would cut and run? She could not deny that she was thinking about it. Part of her wanted to sneak out the door and never come back. After experiencing Alex, no one else would ever be enough. Alex loved her. Olivia believed it. She had seen it in those sincere blue eyes, felt it in the gentle, reverent caresses that explored her legs and hips and breasts, the lips that had teased and taken and tortured hers.

She had believed it as Alex's fierce, scorching tongue explored her folds, only pausing when the counselor glanced up through the square lenses of those damn glasses and licked her lips, lips covered in gloss and a smile and Olivia. At the time, the look had been incendiary, even decadent. But remembering, the detective knew that there was love behind it. And that terrified her.

Before, Olivia had always been afraid that her lovers would leave her once they knew too much about her. Now, she was afraid of something completely different. She was afraid that Alex would stay with her forever when she deserved so much more... Alex should have given her heart to someone worthier of her. Someone without the extra baggage fees. Someone as beautiful as her, as passionate as her, as resilient as her...

"Shut up," a tired voice mumbled beside her, breaking over the words.

Raising her eyebrows, Olivia looked down at her sleeping... lover? Mistake? Girlfriend? Soul mate? ... whatever Alex was. "I didn't say anything," Olivia defended herself, still not completely sure if Alex was awake or talking in her sleep.

"In your head. Shut up," Alex repeated, only half-conscious.

The blonde's intrusion on her private thoughts upset the delicate balance of her emotions. Olivia tensed, preparing to leave the bed where they had finally ended up after several near-accidents between Olivia's room and the couch.

"Stay." Although her eyes remained closed and the black-rimmed glasses were resting over on the nightstand, Olivia felt like Alex was watching her. "Can't fuck and run when it's your apartment," she pointed out, adding to her argument by draping a possessive arm over Olivia's hips.

Reluctantly, Olivia settled back down onto the bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering what the hell was happening to her life. It certainly wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, but it was hers, and now Alex had upended it. She wasn't sure whether to be grateful or resentful.

"That wasn't fucking," Liv murmured, so softly that Alex almost couldn't hear her with her ear pressed into the pillow and her face buried in Olivia's neck.

"You're not running."

Closing her eyes and giving in, for the moment, Olivia reminded herself never to argue with Alex, even at – she squinted at the digital clock beside the bed, trying to make out the bright, blurry letters – 2:11 in the morning. Of course, she just had to get involved with a lawyer.

Feeling something in between fear and hope, both women allowed themselves to drift into a warm, comfortable sleep. For now, they were together. For now, their world was at peace.

Alex stared down at the number pad on her cell phone, debating which speed dial button to press. Common sense warring with her desire, she finally punched the number five and listened to the ringing of the phone.

Click. "Hello, you've reached Pleasure To Your Ears, I'm Abbie and I'll be your phone sex operator this morning," came the long, slow drawl from the other end of the connection. "What's your pleasure, gorgeous?" Alex covered her eyes with her free hand, shaking her head. Of course Abbie wouldn't answer her phone with a crisp, businesslike "Carmichael" today... that would be too easy.

"You're lucky I'm not your boss calling," Alex grumbled, scooping up her discarded clothing from various places in Olivia's living room. She had to hide a smile as she removed her underwear from where it was draped over a lampshade. "How did you know it was me?"

"Psychic." Alex could hear the eye roll all the way from D.C. "Caller ID, Alex. Someone sounds like they haven't been out of bed long yet... and I'll bet it wasn't your bed." Alex frowned, but forced herself to smooth out the wrinkles that were creasing her forehead. She hated when Abbie was right. "Let me take a guess. You've been eating supper before you said grace, and I suspect it was with a certain heart-stopping detective. Was I right about her riding you hard and putting you away wet? You've got the morning-after voice."

"How do you know what my morning-after voice sounds like? You've never slept with me," Alex said, deliberately avoiding the question.

"Only because you're too hung up on Olivia to look at anyone else. I must say, she's probably prettier in the morning than that Jim fellow or the Toad."

Alex rolled her eyes at Abbie's not-very-kind nickname for her former fiancée, Robert. "I told you about WITSEC," she sighed, really not wanting to revisit that conversation. "You know I tried to see people who were as... unlike Olivia as possible afterwards..."

"In other words, wealthy, pompous men. Thank heavens you came to your senses and hopped back over to my side of the fence. Picturing you with a man makes my skin crawl. But if you got your lasso around Benson's neck, why the hell are you calling me? Shouldn't you two be fooling around in the shower or something?"

Trying to keep her words as calm as possible, Alex finally confessed. "I guess I didn't aim the lasso too well. She's gone..."

Several hours away, Abbie could hear the tiredness and the disappointment in Alex's voice. She wasn't even trying to cover it with her usual aloofness. Since Alex rarely came to anyone for comfort or advice, the federal prosecutor knew that that this was serious. "Don't assume anything until you talk to her," said Abbie. "She might have caught a case or gone to get breakfast or went on a walk to clear her head... Hell, she might have just gone back to her apartment to change clothes."

"I'm at her place."

"It's morning and you're still at her place? Then stop worrying. Benson never lets her bedmates stay the night."

"How do you know?" Alex asked suspiciously, not liking the tone of her friend's voice.

"Put those claws away, kitten. I've had my share of one-night stands and some of our ladies of choice have overlapped. So, you still haven't told me how it was..."

Perfect. Magical. Everything she had ever dreamed for as a shy, studious teenager, back when she had still believed in romance. "I'm not giving any tidbits to fuel your active imagination. You already have a dirty mind."

"Aw," Abbie pouted, but she did not protest any further. Beneath the cool mask that Alex kept in place, the Texan knew that her friend had a very tender heart. She only hoped that Olivia would realize this as well and offer some reassurance before it was too late. "Sweetheart, hang up the damn phone and go find your woman. Insecurity ain't flattering on you."

"Isn't," Alex corrected automatically, but she was smiling a little.

"Call her, Alex. Finally making love after mooning over each other for God knows how long gives you a free pass..."

Alex relaxed, feeling slightly less insane for wanting to call Olivia, but her muscles immediately seized up again at the sound of a key in the lock. "The door," she said in a rush, snapping the phone shut. She knew that Abbie would give her hell for it later, but she couldn't bring herself to care. Olivia was home.


Chapter Nine:

"Who was that?" Olivia asked, staring at the closed cell phone clutched in Alex's white-knuckled fist. She did her best to keep her voice calm, unsure how she felt about Alex's presence in her apartment. It was unsettling, but also sort of... nice. This was something she could get used to.

"Carmichael," Alex said as casually as possible, wondering how much of the conversation Olivia had overheard from the other side of the door. She suddenly realized that she was only wearing a blue bathrobe that she had found hanging on Olivia's bathroom door, and her underwear was clutched in her other hand. A hot blush spread across her cheeks. "Um, I was just..." she held up the underwear, offering it as an explanation.

Not for the first time that morning, Olivia smiled. "You were just..? I see. So, why were you calling Abbie Carmichael?"

"Girl talk," Alex said, stuffing her panties in to one of the bathrobe's deep pockets and trying to collect herself.

"Girl talk?"

"Stop repeating everything I say. You sound like a parrot." The teasing tone took the sting from the words and Olivia's smile remained. "If I didn't know any better, I would think you were jealous."

Recognizing the statement for the fishing expedition it was, Olivia decided to calm Alex's nerves. "Abbie's slept with at least half the women in the DA's office, even the straight ones. Hell, she's probably slept with half of the lesbians in the entire city. Maybe that's why I'm so curious about your phone conversation with her."

Alex took a step closer, regaining some of her wavering confidence. She had never been one to shy away from uncomfortable situations. Had Olivia just implied that she was interested? "I asked Abbie if she had slept with you. She cleverly changed the subject without really answering the question, kind of like we're doing now." Both of them knew exactly which question the blonde was referring to. The question of "them"... if there was a "them".

"Technically, I've never slept with Abbie," Olivia said, taking a cue from the absent Texan and avoiding the unspoken question that still lingered between them.

"Me neither, although she keeps asking." Olivia's frown made butterflies erupt in Alex's stomach. She felt like she was back in boarding school, passing notes with a secret crush. "I think if I ever said yes, she'd turn me down... after she fainted from shock, of course. Carmichael doesn't usually chase taken women."

Olivia managed not to let the soft gasp that caught in her chest escape, but Alex noticed the tightening of her throat and the slight widening of her brown eyes. She took a second step forward, bringing her closer to the uncertain brunette, and carefully reached out a hand to cup Olivia's hip. The detective allowed herself to be pulled into a loose embrace.

"Exactly which woman has a claim on you, Counselor?" Olivia whispered, pleased when her voice did not shake and she did not stumble over her words.

"I think you know." Alex raised the hand that was not stroking Olivia's hip and rested it on the warm skin of her neck. "I should have told her ten years ago, but life has a funny way of correcting its mistakes." My mistakes, she added silently with her eyes. When Olivia did not respond, Alex tried again. "I take making love very seriously, Liv. Except for a brief period of time when I was emotionally unstable, I have never taken someone to bed that I didn't have feelings for... but what I feel for you is so much stronger than anything I've experienced before. I can't even describe it."

"I don't deserve you." Olivia's tone was flat and accepted no argument.

"I get to make that choice, not you." Any other protests that Olivia might have made were lost in Alex's lips as she brought their mouths together in a kiss. Olivia sighed, the internal battle inside of her heart pausing as she focused on how good kissing her lover felt, on how wonderful it was to finally hold her in her arms. She had never been able to resist Alex before, but this new dimension of their relationship only made saying no even more impossible.

Without conscious thought, Olivia's hands searched for the knot at the front of the borrowed bathrobe, wanting nothing more than to feel naked skin. Alex trembled in her arms, her breathing ragged, her eyes dilated and unfocused behind the lenses of her glasses.

"I want to taste you," Alex whispered, her breath tickling Olivia's cheek. "I want to drown in you. I want to feel you trembling against my tongue as you come in my mouth..."

Her inner muscles twitching sharply at the soft, intense suggestions, Olivia's fingers finally managed to untie the knot of Alex's bathrobe. Slowly, the soft blue fabric drifted down the attorney's shoulders, revealing several more inches of pale skin.

"You already did that last night," she whispered back, easing the front of the robe open and cupping two soft breasts, their tips straining against the cool air and Olivia's touch.

"I want more," Alex answered in between kisses. "I could spend years doing that for you..."

Olivia didn't doubt it. A large portion of their time in bed the night before had been spent with Alex's head between her legs, a warm, clever tongue teasing several orgasms from her sore, straining body as she wove her fingers in blonde hair and held on for dear life. The memory brought a flood of wetness and heat with it, and Olivia suddenly felt overdressed. "Help me," she growled, shoving the bathrobe to the floor and reaching to undo her own pants.

"No, I want – let me..." With one last lingering kiss, the blonde dropped to her knees and backed Olivia up against the wall beside the front door. Quickly unbuckling Olivia's belt and unzipping her pants, Alex pulled them down to mid-thigh with an impatient tug. Wasting no time, she nuzzled Olivia through her underwear, purring as she felt the patch of wetness that had seeped through the fabric. The note of desire in her lover's voice caused Olivia's breath to catch and the insistent strokes of Alex's tongue and lips over her underwear made stars explode behind her eyes.

"Off," she groaned, tugging at the elastic waistband and helping Alex to remove her underwear, hips bucking at the first touch of the attorney's tongue. With her pants caught at mid-thigh, her movement was somewhat constricted, but her hips arched against her lover's mouth, seeking more pressure, more heat, more of Alex.

The torturous exploration seemed to last forever, and Olivia was surprised when her inner walls quivered with a small but noticeable orgasm. Instead of satisfying her, the quick peak only made her want more, her hips straining harder against her lover's mouth.

Olivia shuddered as Alex's lips wrapped around her, suckling the straining, sensitive bundle of nerves and lashing once, twice with her tongue. The smooth tips of Alex's manicured nails dragged over her inner thighs, only pressing hard enough to stimulate, not breaking the skin or leaving marks this time. "Tease..." she gasped as Alex pulled away, nibbling at puffy outer lips and savoring the taste of Olivia on her tongue. "Aah... you were – oh – serious... about doing... this for y-years?" she stammered, tensing the muscles in her legs so that she would not collapse on top of the woman that was pleasuring her.

"Mmmm..." Alex moaned her approval of the idea, the sound slightly muffled because of her position, but she managed to make herself heard without pulling too far away. "Stay with me." Kiss. "And you get this." Lick. "Whenever you want." Kiss.

"Yes – Yes..."

Not feeling the least bit guilty about using lovemaking as a manipulative weapon, Alex skillfully tipped her lover over the edge for a second time with a well-placed scrape of her teeth. This, she decided as her hands helped a shaking, whimpering Olivia to keep her balance, was now her favorite thing to do in the world. Winning cases and fighting for justice would just have to move down on the list.


Chapter Ten:

"I didn't mean to run out on you," Olivia confessed later that morning. "I freaked out. I won't do it again." Alex did not chastise her, merely accepting the apology with a smile. Olivia raised one eyebrow and gave Alex a strange look. "What's the big smile for, Counselor?"

"What, you don't smile after making love?" Alex defended herself, throwing a naked leg over Olivia's hips and rolling on top of her. They were lounging on the couch together, clothes scattered around the room for a second time. "I don't know about you, but it's been years since I had anything resembling decent sex – excluding last night and this morning." Olivia stared at her with curious brown eyes, silently encouraging her to explain. "It took several years, a failed relationship as Emily, a very distasteful one-night stand, and a sham of an engagement to force me to admit that I would never get over you."

"And that's why you came back?"

Alex nodded, the motion dragging the ends of her loose hair across Olivia's shoulder. "I was stuck on you." It amazed Olivia to see the normally reserved attorney staring at her with such open, honest emotion. Love poured from her eyes, softening the lines of her face.

Suddenly realizing that she was staring like a lovesick fool, Alex scrambled to redirect the conversation and gloss over her embarrassment. "So, do you want to explain what you meant when you said that you "technically" hadn't slept with Abbie Carmichael?"

Olivia blushed, the added heat rolling off of her skin and on to Alex's. "Caught that, did you? Why did I have to fall for a lawyer?" she mumbled.

Alex's body vibrated with excitement and hope, almost forgetting about Abbie. She decided not to draw attention to the detective's choice of words, afraid of frightening Olivia if she pointed them out.

"Abbie and I have never been, um, intimate, but we did... ah... share a woman once. A few years ago, I was seeing one of Abbie's friends. It was her birthday... we gave her what she asked for. I ended it a few days later. It wasn't the kind of relationship I was looking for."

"I don't share," Alex stated firmly, tightening her grip on Olivia's naked body. The possessive growl in her lover's voice made Olivia's skin prickle. "Not with anyone, and especially not with Abbie."

"I don't want to share either. Not you."

Realizing that this was the closest thing to a declaration of love that Olivia was going to give, Alex was over the moon. The rest would take time. She could be very patient and very persistent. "I have rules," she said, nuzzling the line of Olivia's jaw and rubbing a flat stomach with her knuckles.

Olivia arched her eyebrows. "Somehow, this doesn't surprise me."

Ignoring the dig, Alex forged ahead. "If something is bothering you – about us or about anything – you tell me. You don't have to say what it is if you don't feel like talking, but don't pull the strong and silent routine. I hate that. Second rule: if I call you, you answer the damn phone or call back later. In return, I promise not to smother you, but no more avoiding me." Olivia had the decency to blush. "The last rule is that we have to make love as often as possible."

Olivia grinned, her hand sliding up along Alex's thigh and cupping between her legs. She gasped at the surprising amount of wetness that coated her fingers. "I think I can handle those rules. In fact, I think I need a review of rule number three right now..."

When Olivia finally stumbled in to the precinct at 10:00 that morning, two hours later than usual, Elliot was already seated at his desk, bent over some paperwork. He looked up as she sat at her own desk across from him, giving her an unusually slow and thorough perusal with his eyes. Olivia glared at him as he stood up and walked over for a visit, dreading the inevitable confrontation.

"Go away," she snapped even though Elliot had not said a word. She was not sure whether he would choose to make fun of her or bombard her with questions, but either way, she wanted to head him off.

"Well, good morning to you, too," he said with a teasing grin. "I covered for you with Cragen, so you owe me. Jeez, most people go to work whistling after they get laid, but you're just being a grouch about it. Did the Ice Queen leave you high and dry?" Responding in kind to Elliot's childish attitude, Olivia stuck her tongue out at her partner. Elliot leaned forward, making a show of examining the tip, and then reached for her right hand to check her fingers.

"What the hell are you doing?" she asked, snatching her hand back.

"Checking for frostbite." Olivia gave Elliot's head a well-aimed smack with the same hand. "Hey, ow! That hurt! No need to get violent. Cabot might like it rough, but I-"

Olivia shot him a glare and he swallowed his words. "Don't talk about Alex like that. She's been really sweet..."

"I'll bet."

"Drop it, Elliot," she growled, less than amused by her partner's jokes, especially when they were at Alex's expense.

Realizing that he had pushed her far enough for one morning, Elliot changed the subject. "I hope you got at least a little bit of sleep last night, because we have to finish up interviews on the James Preston homicide. Dad wants an update."

Olivia sighed. "Fill me in." While Elliot had made a drive to Richmond County to inform Preston's parents of his death, the Forbes babysitting case had consumed most of her time and attention over the past few days. Fortunately, seven-year-old Katie's rapist had been handed over to Marlowe for prosecution and was no longer her primary concern.

"Not much to update you on," he admitted. "I got the address of an on-again, off-again girlfriend from his folks. Name's Alicia St. Michael. We can start with her. The DNA evidence at the scene is overwhelming. We just need a suspect to match it to. Maybe she can tell us if anyone had a grudge against Preston."

Olivia nodded her understanding. "Okay then. Bring in the girlfriend and we'll see if she can give us anything helpful."

"I don't believe you," said the shaking voice of Alicia St. Michael. The short, slender woman was sitting across from Olivia in the interrogation room, and her expression was pained. "No one would kill Jimmy. This is some kind of practical joke, right?" Even as the words came, both women recognized the hollowness in them and allowed them to fade.

Dismissing the question as a reaction to Alicia's surprise and grief at the news of her boyfriend's death, Olivia shook her head, her expression sympathetic but unwavering. "I'm sorry, Ms. St. Michael. We would have told you sooner, but we just got your address from James' parents. We're doing everything we can to find out what happened to him," she promised. The detective had told Alicia only the basic details – James was dead and they thought someone else was involved. No reason to make things even harder and describe the rape and the dismembered penis, she figured. "Do you feel up to answering a few questions?"

Soft brown eyes, several shades lighter than Olivia's, grew wide. "Am I a suspect? On TV, the police usually question suspects..."

"No, you're not," Olivia hastened to reassure her, deciding to handle this one very gently. Alicia seemed horrified by what had happened to her sometime-boyfriend, and evidence at the scene clearly indicated a male perp. Even without the semen and skin samples, she doubted Alicia St. Michael was strong enough to subdue a healthy, tall male in his twenties and tear him to pieces. "I would like to get a clearer picture of his life. It could help us to find out who did this."

As Olivia had hoped, referring to the interrogation as "helping" made Alicia much less uncomfortable. "Of course."

"We just need to find out who he spent time with, what he liked to do, if-"

"-if anyone would want to hurt him," Alicia finished for her. Olivia's silence confirmed the accuracy of the statement. "I haven't spoken to him in a few weeks," she admitted, trying to collect herself. "We were on an off-period... Jimmy wasn't always the greatest guy."

"What do you mean?"

"He wasn't abusive or anything, just self-centered and a little... crude. He was kind of a poser. But that doesn't mean anyone should have killed him." Olivia remembered the messy apartment and the "thug pants", as she had so eloquently dubbed the deceased's last outfit for Huang's benefit. She was reminded of a white teenager at a wealthy, affluent high school pretending to be black.

When she had mentioned this to Fin, his response had been, "the money for that damn fool's pants coulda fed someone's kids for two weeks. If he really wanted to look like he was from the Bronx, all he has to do was keep the same worn out clothes for a couplea years instead of playin' dress-up."

Like Preston, Alicia looked to be in her mid twenties, but she dressed very differently than her boyfriend. Instead of dressing in expensive imitations of gangster clothes, she was wearing neat slacks, sensible shoes, and a blouse suitable for an office job. Not designer brand, but well-cut and respectable looking. Briefly, she wondered what the pair had in common. Realizing that she was making an awful lot of judgments based simply on clothing, Olivia continued listening.

A few more minutes of conversation with Alicia St. Michael did not reveal much more than they already knew. James Preston was twenty-seven years old, the only son of fairly affluent parents who still helped him with his rent and car payments. While Alicia worked as a dental hygienist in a local pediatric dentist's office, James had graduated college with a degree in 'business' without putting much effort into his studies. He had a part time job now, but preferred spending time with his friends. As a boyfriend, he was friendly, but slightly inattentive.

"He wasn't a bad guy," Alicia hastened to assure her. Olivia sensed that the slender woman did not want to speak ill of the dead, but kept her thoughts to herself. "He could be nice sometimes. He was just..."

"Not very grown up yet?" Olivia offered.


A knock on the door interrupted the interview. Olivia politely excused herself and made her way to the door, leaving it open a crack as she stepped outside to see Elliot waiting for her. The somber expression on his face told her that something was wrong before he had a chance to speak. "You'd better wrap it up early, Liv. We've got another one."

Part 11

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