DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Melting the Ice
By sunsetwriter



"Why haven't I heard back from you after the Dixon search? I've been calling both yours and your partner's cell phones for over an hour." The ADA's not so cool voice came through loud and clear on the detective's cell phone.

"Sorry, Alex. I turned my phone off inside the hospital. I just turned it back on."


"I would have called you earlier, but I-"

"Are you OK? Where's Olivia?" The voice was starting to sound more unsettled.

"Dixon ambushed Liv. She got beat up pretty bad. They're still checking her out. "

Oh God. "What hospital?"

"Bellevue. Dixon's in the wind. We just got a call that he may have been spotted near the apartment. I'm on the way there now. I wanted to stay with Liv, but she insisted that I go. She wants me to make sure, uh… that he's apprehended." He started to say the real reason, but decided that wasn't the best thing to tell an ADA.

"You do that, Detective." Alex hesitated a moment before continuing. " And make sure he's treated… appropriately."

"C'mon, Alex, he beat up my partner for Chrissakes. I'm not gonna kill him, but don't expect me to handle him with kid gloves." The exasperation in Elliot's voice was obvious.

"Elliot." Alex enunciated her words very deliberately. "What I said was I expect you to treat him appropriately for someone who just beat up your partner." Her voice then returned to its normal cadence. "Just don't do something I can't get you out of."

Elliot smiled. "Roger that. I'll check back with you later, Counselor." Well, well, maybe the Ice Queen has a heart after all.

Alex cleared her afternoon schedule, much to her secretary's dismay, and headed straight to Bellevue. After flashing her ADA credentials and trying to sound very official, she was finally directed to an ER exam room. The door was slightly ajar, and Alex peered in cautiously to make sure she was in the right room. She almost gasped when she saw the battered and bruised detective lying in bed with her eyes closed.

The detective had a split and swollen lip, a bandage above her left eye with the beginnings of quite a shiner, and a bandage around her right hand. Alex still thought she was beautiful. Olivia opened her eyes at the sound of Alex entering the room. She smiled a lop-sided smile due to her injured lower lip. "Hey."

"Hey, yourself." Alex smiled warmly at the detective. She wanted to rush over and embrace the injured woman, but she settled on calmly walking to her bedside and giving her uninjured hand a gentle squeeze. "What on earth happened?"

"Elliot didn't tell you?" Any other time, Olivia would have questioned why Alex was there. But under the circumstances, she simply found herself very glad to see her.

"All he said was that Dixon ambushed you."

"Dixon and another guy were just leaving the building when we got there. When they saw us, they took off in different directions. We gave chase on foot, but they got a good jump. Dixon headed down a dead-end alley and I went in after him. I guess when he realized he was trapped, he went to plan B. He ducked behind a dumpster and waited for me with a two-by-four. Thank God he dropped it after the first hit or I'd be in worse shape than I am."

Alex cringed. "How bad is it?"

"I'm not sure yet. I'm waiting on the doc to give me all the test results. But, I'm pretty sure I won't be running in the Department 10K this weekend."

"I didn't realize you were planning to."

"I wasn't, but now I have a good excuse." Even with a split lip, it was easy to see that the Benson smirk was still functional. She reached up and touched her lip. "Probably won't be winning any beauty contests either."

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Alex really didn't intend on saying that out loud, but it slipped out, and she watched Olivia to gauge her reaction. The detective cocked her head as she absorbed the statement, but a nurse stepped in before she could offer a reply.

"Here are your clothes, Detective." She placed a plastic bag on the small table beside the bed. "I put your pants in a zip lock bag like you requested. I'm afraid they're ruined."

"That's OK. They may be evidence now anyway if the chain of custody isn't in question. Thanks for doing that."

Alex looked at Olivia as the conversation she was hearing started to sink in. No. Oh no. Olivia gave Alex a curious look when the ADA gripped the bedrail as if she needed support.

Unaware of Alex's odd reaction, the nurse continued talking to Olivia. "The doctor is on her way to talk you about your tests. She should be here in a few minutes. Just press the call button if you need anything." The nurse smiled as she left.

Alex swallowed and gently placed her hand in Olivia's uninjured one again. "Olivia…" Her voice shook with emotion. "Were you…? He didn't…?" Alex took a deep breath and struggled to get the words out. "Please tell me you weren't… assaulted." I'm a sex crimes prosecutor and I can't even say the word raped?

Olivia was somewhat confused by Alex's stammering and the fact that she had just begun holding her hand. "I just told you he ambushed me with a two-by-four."

"But you just said your pants were now evidence."

Olivia finally realized what Alex was trying to ask. "Oh! No! No, I wasn't sexually assaulted." Alex breathed a visible sigh of relief. "Not unless you count a kick to the groin by a steel-toed boot accompanied by an insult to my femininity." Olivia winced as she adjusted her position. "I told Elliot to string the son of a bitch up by his balls." She glanced cautiously at Alex. "You didn't hear that."

Alex smiled. "I told Elliot he could treat him 'appropriately' as long as he didn't do something I couldn't get him out of." Olivia looked at Alex like she was speaking in a foreign language. Was the ADA actually suggesting bending the rules on her behalf? And was she really standing here at her bedside holding her hand?

Seeing the surprised look on Olivia's face, Alex shrugged. "Something tells me that Dixon didn't come out unscathed in his round with you."

"That's where most of the blood on my pants came from. After he kicked me in the groin, I returned the favor. When he doubled over, I'm pretty sure I broke his nose with my knee. I also got off a pretty good right hook before that." Olivia held up her bandaged right hand as evidence of the blow she landed to Dixon's face.

"Well, there you go," Alex said matter-of-factly. "As long as Elliot doesn't kill him, any injuries he sustained can be attributed to his own assault of a police officer." Alex tried not to smirk as she trained her blue eyes on the speechless detective. As Olivia contemplated the fact that ADA Cabot was so easily willing to overlook the potential for police brutality in this case, and the fact that the same ADA had still not let go of her hand, Alex's cell phone buzzed. She pulled it from her purse with her free hand and looked at the display as the doctor entered the room. "It's Elliot, I'd better answer it. Be right back." She gave Olivia's hand another gentle squeeze and then let go so she could move into the hallway to take the call. The doctor nodded a greeting to Alex as they passed each other.

"So, how are you feeling?" The doctor smiled warmly at Olivia as she moved to the side of the bed.

"A bit roughed up, but I'll live." She looked suspiciously at the doctor. "Won't I?"

"Well, you do have a mild concussion, but the good news is your CT scan didn't show any bleeds. The bad news is we probably should keep you over night for observation just to be safe."

"But, other than a few aches and pains, I feel fine, and my partner's coming back to take me home."

The door cracked open and Alex stuck her head in. Seeing the doctor still at Olivia's bedside, she said, "Sorry, I'll just wait out here."

Olivia stopped her. "No, Alex, it's fine. Come help me convince the doc to let me go home."

Alex stepped into the room and gave the doctor a questioning look. The doctor extended her hand to Alex in greeting. "I'm Dr. Ryan."

Alex shook the hand. "Alex Cabot."

The doctor continued. "I was just telling your partner here that due to her concussion, I would really like to keep her over night for observation." She eyed Alex carefully. "But, since her CT is clear, if you're willing to keep a close eye on her tonight, I'll let you take her home."

Alex's eyes widened slightly and she looked at Olivia. The detective was looking at the doctor as if she had just sprouted wings. She frowned as much as she could with the bandage above her eye. "Uh, Doc-"

Alex recovered from her surprise and interrupted Olivia. "I think I can handle that." She looked back at Olivia who was now giving her the same look she had just given the doctor.

The doctor nodded. "Good." She turned back to the detective who was still gaping at Alex. "If your headache becomes sharp or gets remarkably worse, or you experience nausea or become disoriented, you need to seek treatment sooner than later." She then turned to Alex. "If you notice any marked changes in her mental status or unusual changes in behavior, get her back to the ER as soon as you can. I don't really expect any problems like that, but it's always a possibility after a closed head injury." She turned back to Olivia. "You can take some ibuprofen for your aches and pains, and ice packs are always a good idea. About 20 minutes at a time."

"Anything else I should watch for?" Alex asked.

"We used Dermabond on the wound over her eye, so no stitches, but keep an eye out for any bleeding – we don't want the wound to open back up. She does have stitches on her hand that will need to come out in about 10 days. She can come back here or see her regular doctor. She has a grade-one ankle sprain, but we've given her a splint to wear for support. Again, ibuprofen and ice packs would be a good idea to keep the swelling down." She glanced at Olivia. "You should stay off of it and keep it elevated as much as possible for a few days. It will be tender, but you should be able to weight-bear when necessary if you keep the splint on. We can set you up to see an orthopedist if it continues to bother you." She turned back to Alex. "She also has some bruised ribs and some fairly significant bruising to the groin area. Again, I don't think there will be any lasting problems, just some discomfort for a few days." She glanced at Olivia and gave Alex a smile. "So no hanky-panky for a while, OK?"

Olivia looked mortified. Alex saw the expression and tried to suppress a smile. "I think we can manage."

The doctor smiled and gave a nod. "OK. Any questions?" Alex shook her head and Olivia was still too speechless to respond. The doctor nodded again and said to Olivia, "Good. I'll have the nurse bring you a set of scrubs to wear home when she brings in your discharge papers." She pulled a pad out of the pocket of her scrub shirt and scribbled something on it. She tore off the page and handed it to Alex. "Here's my personal pager number. If you run into any problems, don't hesitate." Alex must have looked surprised, because the doctor shrugged and said, "I have a soft spot for the boys and girls in blue. My dad was a cop." She turned back to Olivia. "And because of that, I know how much you're gonna hate hearing this, but I'm keeping you out of work for a week." Seeing Olivia about to protest, the doctor held up her hand. "Trust me, you're gonna feel much worse tomorrow than you do right now. So, stay at home and rest and let your girlfriend here take care of you." She smiled at Alex and looked back at Olivia. "OK?"


"No buts, Liv." Alex seemed determined to keep up this charade.

The doctor shook her head. "Don't give me a reason to keep you here."

Olivia looked from Alex to the doctor. "I guess I'm staying home for a week," she said dejectedly.

Dr. Ryan chuckled. "Good. Now that we have that settled, my work here is done. Take care of yourself, Detective." She turned to Alex. "I trust I'm leaving you in good hands." She smiled and exited the room.

Olivia looked at Alex. "I'm the one that got hit on the head. Why did you let her continue to think we were… you know… that you were… my girlfriend?"

Alex tried to suppress a smile at Olivia's bumbling. "Because, I didn't think she would let you go home, otherwise. If you'd rather stay, I can call her back in."

"No! I didn't think of it like that. Thanks."

Alex smiled. "Besides, the first time she referred to me as your partner, I actually thought she meant professionally."

"Sorry about that," she said sheepishly. "I guess when I told her my partner was coming back, she misunderstood."

Alex shook her head. "No need to apologize. I was holding your hand when she walked in – it was a logical assumption on her part."

Olivia's cheeks flushed slightly as she remembered the ADA's hand in her own. "Don't worry though, you're off the hook. Elliot's coming back to take me home."

"Actually, he's not. That was another reason I played along. That was what Elliot was calling about. They got Dixon. He was taking him in to book him for your assault and then he and Cragen were planning a detailed interrogation on the rapes."

"Oh. Well, I can just wait until they're done."

Alex scoffed. "Nonsense. That could take hours. I'm already here, you'll be ready to go shortly, so I'm taking you home."

"Alex, you really don't have to-"

"Would you rather stay here?"

"Well, no, but-"

"Then I'm taking you home. Besides, Elliot has his family at home. It's no problem for me to stay with you tonight."

Olivia gaped. "Stay with me?" She cleared her throat when her voice sounded about an octave too high. "I don't need you to stay with me."

"Didn't you hear the doctor? You have a head injury. I'm certainly not leaving you alone." She tried not to laugh at Olivia's deer-in-the-headlights expression. "I assume you have a couch I can sleep on?"

"Yeah, but-"

"Good. It's settled then." Alex gave a curt nod. "I have my gym bag in my car, so I don't even need to stop at my place. I can take you straight home and get you settled."

Olivia swallowed. Alex Cabot was going to take her home and 'get her settled'. Wearing gym shorts – or spandex. And then sleep on her couch. And she didn't even seem phased by the doctor assuming that she was Olivia's girlfriend. Olivia almost swooned at the thought. She didn't notice the look of concern that crossed Alex's face as she watched the detective, having no idea of the thoughts running through Olivia's head.

Alex took a step closer to the bed, the movement catching Olivia's attention. She saw the look of concern Alex was giving her. It was downright amazing how blue her eyes were. And her lips are so pink, so kissable. Olivia blinked. I must have gotten hit harder than I thought. The injured detective reached up and touched the bandage on her head wondering how she was going to make it through the evening if she continued having thoughts like this.

"Does your head hurt?" Alex asked softly when she saw Olivia touch her head.

"Huh?" The voice snapped her out of her thoughts.

"Your head. Does it hurt?"

Olivia realized she was touching the bandage and moved her hand. "Oh, no, not really."

"Are you OK? You kind of spaced out there for a minute."

"I just…" really wanted to kiss you. "…I'm really thankful that I have a pretty hard head."

Alex smiled. "I guess this is one time I should be thankful for that too."

A nurse hurried in and handed Olivia a clipboard and pen. "Here are your discharge papers per Dr. Ryan. I need you to initial the first page and sign at the bottom of the second." She put a pair of folded green scrubs on the foot of the bed. "Here's a set of scrubs. I'll be back to help you change as soon as I can. We have three new traumas pulling into the ambulance bay from an MVA, so it may be a while. If you get ready to go before I get back, just press the call button and ask for an escort." She quickly disappeared, closing the door behind her.

Olivia signed the papers and started fiddling with the bedrail. "Can you help me with this?"

Alex frowned. "What are you doing?"

"She said I could go, so I'm going. Help me lower the rail."

"Maybe you should wait for the nurse to help you change."

"I don't need her help. But I do need help lowering this thing so I can get up."

Alex reluctantly found the release button and lowered the guardrail on the side of the bed. Olivia threw off the sheet she was covered with and swung her legs, including her splinted ankle, over the side of the bed. She winced as she moved.

Alex cringed. "Liv, are you sure you shouldn't wait?"

"I don't need help!"

"OK, OK. I'll just wait outside while you change." Alex hated to leave the injured detective alone, but she wasn't sure she was prepared to see the woman in all her glory just yet. She had certainly fantasized about the lovely detective, but none of those fantasies quite fit this scenario. Olivia couldn't help but notice the strange look that crossed the ADA's face. It looked something like concern, but there was something else in it that the detective couldn't quite put her finger on. Alex had almost made it to the door by the time Olivia put her weight on her injured ankle.


Alex spun around and was immediately sorry. She was now faced with a perfect view of Olivia's bare ass shining through the back of the hospital gown. She was tempted to simply stop and stare, but the large purple bruise that seemed to be spreading across the detective's back about mid torso reminded her of Olivia's injuries. Alex reached the bedside about the time that Olivia quickly sat back down on the side of the bed to take the weight off of her ankle.

"Are you OK?" She noticed the detective's face had paled slightly. "Let me get a nurse."

"No. I just stood up too fast. I'm OK."

Alex sighed and picked up the scrub pants and kneeled down in front of the stubborn detective.

Olivia frowned. "What are you doing?"

"Helping you get dressed." Olivia looked down at her curiously. Alex took the pants and gently picked up Olivia's injured foot and threaded it through one leg of the scrubs. She then held them for the detective to pick up her other foot and put it through the other pants leg. "Now, put your uninjured hand on my shoulder and stand up on your good leg." Olivia, surprisingly, did as she was told. Alex slid the soft pants up her legs and underneath the flimsy gown. Her thumbs brushed along the detective's upper thighs and butt causing Olivia to shudder slightly. Alex looked up. "You OK?"

Olivia cleared her throat. "Yeah. Thank you."

Alex stood and quickly realized that the pants would not stay in place unless the drawstring was cinched and tied. "Hold up your gown and I'll tie them for you." Seeing the look Olivia was giving her, she smiled. "You can't very well tie them with your hand all bandaged. And I don't think you want to walk out of here with your pants around your ankles, do you?"

Olivia rolled her eyes and gathered up the gown. "I hate being helpless."

"You're not helpless, Olivia, you're injured." The loose-fitting pants began to slip as Alex moved her hands, and the detective's tanned, flat stomach was exposed. Alex swallowed. She quickly grabbed the pants before they slipped any further, cinched the drawstring and then tied it. "How's that?"

Olivia smiled. "Fine. Thanks."

"What are partners for if they can't help you get dressed?" There was a twinkle in Alex's eye as she tried to relieve the tension a bit.

Olivia looked at her curiously and then laughed. "Please don't ever say that to Elliot."

Alex smiled. "Sit back down and I'll help you with your shirt." Seeing the look on Olivia's face, she added, "I promise not to look." That may be one of the hardest promises I'll ever try to keep.

Alex picked up the scrub shirt and stepped in front of Olivia, who sat on the side of the bed again. She leaned forward and reached around her patient's neck to untie the gown. Olivia couldn't help but breathe in the subtle scent of Alex's perfume in such close proximity. She let out a ragged breath. Alex dropped the loose ties on the gown behind Olivia's neck and stepped back to look at her. "Do you need to rest?"

Olivia shook her head. "No. I'm good." She took a deep breath and smiled.

Alex nodded and slowly pulled the shoulders of the gown forward. She tried her best to keep her promise, but her peripheral vision was quite good. She gasped at what she saw. Not only did Olivia have almost perfect breasts, but the bruising that she had seen on her back was also present on her side and the front of her torso, creeping up onto her right breast. "Oh, Liv." She spoke almost involuntarily.

Olivia tried to smirk. "You said you weren't gonna look."

Much to Olivia's delight, Alex's cheeks reddened. "No. I'm not-" She quickly held up the shirt to allow Olivia to insert her arms. Olivia then lifted her arms over her head for Alex to pull the shirt down over her torso. The ADA couldn't help but notice that, bruising aside, this woman was spectacular. "I didn't mean- I wasn't looking- It's just the bruising-" She pulled the shirt down to cover her and found Olivia smiling as she listened to her stumble over her words.

"And I thought you were just impressed by my… assets."

Alex reddened a shade darker. "Well, I must say, those are pretty impressive too." Olivia's one functional eyebrow skyrocketed.

"So you did look!"

"I'm sorry. It really was unintentional."

"It's OK, Alex." Olivia smiled. "I'll just make sure to watch you undress later…"

Alex returned the smile. "No hanky-panky, remember?" She picked up the call button remote and handed it to Olivia. "Call for your escort and I'll go get the car."

Alex walked out of the room and stopped for a moment outside the door. She shook her head and wondered if Olivia had any idea of the sort of inappropriate thoughts her ADA was having about her at the moment. She took a deep breath and started down the hall.

Back inside the room, Olivia pressed the call button and requested a hospital escort. While she waited, she pondered what had just transpired with the ADA. She felt the faint stirrings of arousal as she thought of actually watching Alex undress as she had jokingly threatened to do. She shook her head and chuckled to herself. Wow, Benson, what have you gotten yourself into this time?

They made it to Olivia's apartment without incident. The detective had a bit of trouble walking on her injured ankle, but with Alex's help, she managed to get up the stairs and into her apartment. Olivia decided a sprained ankle was a small price to pay to get to walk arm in arm with the ADA.

Alex walked Olivia over to her couch and watched her gingerly sit down. As hard as she tried not to, Olivia couldn't help but grimace as she sat. Alex watched with concern as the detective tried to find a comfortable position. She finally turned sideways and leaned against the arm of the sofa, stretching the leg with the injured ankle along the length of the sofa. Placing her good foot on the floor, she adjusted her seating to take the pressure off her bruised groin area.

"I think the bruising you didn't get a look at is worse than that you saw," she offered in explanation to Alex. "And don't even ask, because I'm not gonna show you," she said with a smirk.

Alex returned the smirk. "I wouldn't dream of it on our first date." Then without missing a beat she asked, "Do you want to sit on a pillow?"

Olivia smiled at the banter. "No, I'm OK. But if I were a man, I'd probably be speaking an octave higher than usual."

"Well, I'm glad you're not a man." Olivia looked curiously at the ADA, trying to decide if that was an innocent reply or if there was deeper meaning behind the statement. If Alex noticed the scrutiny, she ignored it. "Do you have any plastic bags? I'll make you an icepack."

Olivia directed her to the kitchen and a few minutes later, Alex returned with two zip lock bags of ice and a kitchen towel. She picked up a throw pillow from the end of the sofa and gingerly lifted Olivia's splinted ankle, placing the pillow beneath it. Then she carefully placed one of the bags of ice on top of the splint. Olivia watched with fascination. She never expected such tenderness from the normally cool attorney.

Alex seemed to sense the detective watching and looked at Olivia. "What?"

The detective smiled. "My very own Florence Nightingale."

Alex rolled her eyes. "Maybe I should fix one of these for your head, too." She took the remaining ice bag and wrapped it in the towel. Then she hesitated. "This is for your…" She gestured to Olivia's lap and then handed her the towel-wrapped bag. "I'll just let you put this where you need it."

Olivia took the bag and placed it on the bruised area, adjusting her legs to allow the ice to rest in her groin area. She shifted around gingerly and then found a comfortable position. "Well, that's an interesting sensation," she said after a moment.

Alex smiled. "No more than twenty minutes, remember? You don't want to freeze anything… vital."

Olivia rolled her eyes and scoffed. "Like I'm gonna need that anytime soon. What a sight I must be. Bandaged, bruised, and a bag of ice in my crotch."

Alex bit her tongue to keep from telling the detective that she thought she was beautiful, no matter what. Instead she said, "You may be bandaged and bruised, but you're alive and kicking."

"Only with my good foot," the detective said with a pout.

Now Alex gave an eye roll. "Just be glad you have a good foot. This could have been so much worse, Olivia. You're injured, but your injuries will heal."

Olivia nodded sheepishly. "It's not that I'm not grateful for that. You just get this mental image of yourself and how you want others to see you, you know? I'm sitting on a bag of ice here. So much for suave and debonair."

Alex suddenly realized that Olivia's pride was injured as much as her body. And she also found it interesting that Olivia had used the traditionally masculine 'suave and debonair' description when referring to herself. "You know, you're not super-human, Olivia. And even if you were, Superman had his Kryptonite, so even he was not invincible."

Olivia scoffed. "I think I have more in common right now with Clark Kent than Superman."

Alex smiled. "But don't you see? They're one in the same. I never understood how Lois Lane couldn't see that Clark Kent was Superman. He wore a flimsy disguise and acted clumsy, but underneath he was still Superman. Strong and handsome and good-hearted – the hero she loved."

"Maybe he didn't want her to see him as anything less than a hero. Faster than a speeding bullet and all that. Not as a mild-mannered reporter who tripped over his own feet."

"But there's so much more to being a hero than just brawn. Brains and heart are pretty important too. And just because someone is down or injured, doesn't make them any less of a hero. It just makes them human. And humans, unlike Superman, get hurt. But in the eyes of those that love them, they're still heroes."

"So if you were Lois, you'd have fallen for Clark?"

"If I were Lois, I hope I'd see through Clark's disguise and realize that my hero was right beside me all the time."

There was a bit of an awkward silence as Olivia contemplated the ADA's words. Alex continued to watch Olivia and wondered if the detective was thinking along the same lines that she was – that somewhere along the way, their conversation had taken a turn away from fictional characters and moved a little closer to home. She took a deep breath and tore her gaze away from the detective. She felt like they both needed to break the tension.

"Well, if I can borrow your bathroom, I'm going to go change. Do you need anything else before I do?"

Olivia cleared her throat as she suddenly felt something akin to being nervous. "No, I think I'm set. Thank you." She pointed toward the back of the apartment. "The bathroom is down the hall on the right. Help yourself to whatever you need." She watched Alex pick up her bag and make her way down the hall as she wondered what had just happened between them.

Not long after Olivia heard the bathroom door close, Alex's cell phone began to buzz and vibrate on the coffee table. Olivia looked down the hall, but realized there was no way Alex could hear the phone set to vibrate. She was about to call out to Alex when the buzzing device began to skitter toward the edge of the table so that she could read the small LCD display on the phone. Stabler. Steadying the ice bag with one hand, she leaned over and reached with the other to grab the phone. She pressed the button and put the phone to her ear, glad for the distraction from her thoughts.

"Hey, Elliot."

It took him a moment to respond. "Liv?"


"Where are you? What are you doing answering Alex's phone?"

"I'm at home. Alex is changing and left her phone on the table. When I saw it was you, I answered."

"Oh. I didn't think you'd be home already. How're you feeling?"

"Alex brought me home. And I've felt better, but they tell me I'll live. Now please tell me you strung our perp up by his balls."

"Don't think I didn't want to. But I don't want that bastard getting off on account of me. He resisted a little, but you did a pretty good number on his nose, so he wasn't too hard to subdue. We booked him on your assault and a resisting charge, but he wouldn't budge on the rapes. We'll have another go at him after he's had time to stew in his cell. Funny how the thermostat in the holding cells keeps getting stuck." Olivia smiled at that thought, but Elliot kept talking. "Changing what?"


"You said Alex was changing. Changing what?"

"Her clothes."

"At your place?"

"She insisted on staying with me since I have a concussion and they really didn't want to let me come home. But Alex promised the doc she would look out for me tonight." She saw no need to go into the whole partner misunderstanding with Elliot. She would never live it down.

"All night?"

"I tried to tell her I didn't need her to stay, but she insisted."

"Huh. Well I'll be damned."

"What does that mean?"

"I do believe the Ice Queen is melting. Thanks to you."

"What makes you say that?"

"Think about it. She dropped everything and rushed to the hospital the minute she found out you were there. She readily agreed to take you home when I told her to tell you I'd be tied up for a while. And, did you know she all but gave me permission to rough up Dixon?"

"She did not."

"Did too."

Olivia took another tact to avoid the childish back and forth that was about to ensue, especially since she knew Elliot was telling the truth. "Well, he's a rapist."

"She's never OK'd it on all the other thousands of rapists we've brought in. Only the one who put you in the hospital."

"Elliot…" Olivia started, but she really wasn't sure how to argue her point.

"You gotta admit, it's a little out of character."

"Maybe. But I think she'd do that for any member of the squad who was hurt. I don't think it has anything to do with me."

"Whatever you say, Liv." But Elliot was pretty sure it had everything to do with his partner. "Well, take it easy and call me if you need anything. I was gonna offer to come check on you, but it sounds like you're in pretty good hands tonight."

"Thanks. But, I really think you're reading way too much into this."

Elliot chuckled. "Say 'Hi' to Florence Nightingale for me."

Olivia rolled her eyes, even though she had called Alex the very same thing moments earlier. "Bye, Elliot."

"Sweet dreams, Liv."

Elliot hung up the phone and smiled. He thought again to how quickly Alex had volunteered to take Olivia home if needed when he'd called her to say that they had apprehended Dixon. And now she was staying overnight with his partner to keep an eye on her while she was injured. Interesting. He also knew there was such a thing called the 'Florence Nightingale Effect' where patients end up falling in love with their caregivers. Given the fact that he suspected his partner was already smitten with the ADA, yes, this could get very interesting indeed.

Olivia disconnected the call and sat staring at the phone for a moment. Surely Elliot was mistaken. Wasn't he? Olivia had always been attracted to the beautiful ADA, something that had not escaped notice by her partner even though she adamantly denied it, but she had never even considered that the attraction might be mutual.

The detective didn't look up when the ADA returned from the bathroom. Alex looked curiously at Olivia, who seemed lost in thought. "Everything OK?"

"Huh?" Olivia looked up to see Alex taking a seat in the chair beside the sofa.

"I asked if everything was OK. You seemed a little distracted."

"Oh, yeah. I hope you don't mind – I answered your phone." She held up the cell phone and then placed it back on the table. "I saw that it was Elliot, so I answered it." Alex nodded. "He was just checking to see what my status was."

"Did he give you an update on the Dixon interrogation?"

"They haven't really gotten anywhere yet. They're letting him spend some quality time in his holding cell and then planning to question him more tomorrow."

Alex arched an eyebrow. "Is the thermostat still broken?"

Olivia shrugged and tried not to smile.

"Good," Alex said smugly, much to the detective's surprise. "Maybe he'll be ready to let off a little steam by tomorrow."

Olivia chuckled and looked at Alex curiously. "I think we're rubbing off on you, Counselor."

"I prefer to see it as finding common ground," Alex said matter-of-factly. "Now, how about finding something to eat? I'm sure you're getting hungry."

"And I'm sure I don't have anything we'd really want to eat in the kitchen, but there's a bunch of numbers for take-out and delivery places over by the phone," Olivia replied, pointing toward the stack of take-out menus next to her telephone.

They settled on the deli around the corner that delivered and Alex placed the order. The food arrived and they enjoyed their dinner even though Olivia had a little difficulty eating with her split lip and injured right hand. She had ordered soup to make it easier on her lip, but didn't think about trying to use a spoon with her left hand. Alex offered to feed her, but Olivia had to draw the line at that. She was determined to keep some of her dignity intact – at least as much as she could with a crotch full of melted ice.

They enjoyed some light-hearted conversation while they ate, and, by the end of the meal, each woman seemed to be more relaxed in the other's presence. When they were done eating, Alex cleaned up the take-out containers and brought Olivia some ibuprofen.

"Thanks," Olivia said as she eyed the ADA for a moment. It had just occurred to her that Alex had changed into a worn pair of jeans and a casual shirt rather than the gym shorts she had envisioned in the hospital. "I thought you said you had your gym bag with you. That doesn't look like work-out wear to me." She hoped she didn't sound disappointed.

"I keep a change of clothes in my bag in case I need to run errands or something after I go to the gym." Alex smiled. "Are you disappointed I didn't flash you some skin like you did me?"

Olivia felt a blush creeping up her neck and she tried to ignore it. From the look on Alex's face, she was pretty sure it was noticeable. "I didn't flash you – you told me you wouldn't look."

Alex scoffed. "If I hadn't told you that, we'd probably still be in that hospital room trying to get you changed."

Olivia looked surprised. "So you never intended not to look," she said accusingly, but still with humor in her voice.

Alex tried not to smile. "It wasn't my intent to stare at your breasts, but I knew it would be hard not to – given the situation, of course." The last bit was said with a hint of a smirk. "Are you telling me you wouldn't have done the same if the roles were reversed?"

"No!" Olivia answered way too quickly. Alex simply stared, using her best prosecutor's glare, and Olivia began to fidget under the scrutiny. "OK, maybe – unintentionally. But, we'll never know because you changed in the bathroom and never gave me the opportunity." Olivia didn't mean for that to sound as much like a whine as it did and she cringed inwardly. She found it hard to believe that they were even having this conversation. And did Alex really just say she thought it would be hard not to stare at her breasts? The detective considered once again that maybe she got hit harder than she realized.

Alex smiled a satisfied smile and couldn't help but be amused at the almost pout she was getting from the normally stoic detective. "Well, never say never. When you're feeling better, maybe we can work something out." She winked at Olivia, enjoying the playful banter they were sharing. Then she saw the look the detective was suddenly giving her in return, and her amusement was quickly replaced with concern.

Olivia visibly swallowed as her thoughts almost overwhelmed her. The friendly banter had definitely turned flirtatious and then Alex had actually winked at her. Could Elliot have been right? Would Alex have done the same for any member of the squad, or was she taking a special interest in her? Snippets from her earlier conversation with the ADA ran through Olivia's head. 'In the eyes of those that love them, they're still heroes.' ' My hero was right beside me all the time.' What was Alex really saying? The thoughts suddenly made her head spin. Olivia closed her eyes and shook her head slightly, saying under her breath, "I must really be delusional." It only sounded like a mumble to Alex.

The next thing Olivia knew, there was a warm hand touching her forehead, being careful not to disturb the bandage over her eye. She opened her eyes and the hand moved to brush her cheek. She was startled to find that Alex had moved from her chair and was leaning over her with concern in her eyes. "Liv? Are you OK?"

"I'm fine." She focused on the attorney's lips, now so close to her own, and then closed her eyes again when the lightheadedness continued and she felt her heartbeat pick up speed.

The ADA frowned. "You look like you're going to pass out. Maybe I should call the doctor."

"No, Alex. Really, I'm fine. Just a little lightheaded."

The hand moved to her neck and she felt two fingers on her pulsing carotid artery. "Oh my God, Olivia, your heart is racing!"

"I know."

Alex moved her hand and reached for her cell phone. "I'm calling Dr. Ryan."

Olivia opened her eyes and grabbed Alex's hand. "No. I'm fine." The ADA didn't look convinced. "Really, I am."

"Olivia, she said to watch out for anything unusual, and if you're dizzy-"

Olivia smiled as her world began to steady itself again. "Alex, I'm pretty sure that this has nothing to do with my injuries. At least not in the way you think." She looked down at their joined hands and quickly let go.

Alex slowly returned to her chair, looking puzzled. "What are you talking about? What just happened?"

Olivia chuckled. "This is a little embarrassing." Alex cocked her head and waited for Olivia to explain. "I just got a little overwhelmed."

Alex frowned. "Overwhelmed?"

Olivia gave a slight shrug. "Yeah." She didn't really want to elaborate but she knew Alex wouldn't drop it. She decided maybe it would be better to just lay her cards on the table rather than risk another episode like she just had. Alex would certainly call Dr. Ryan if it happened again. She took a deep breath and began. "You actually seemed to be flirting with me and, I don't know, I started thinking about our earlier conversation, and then you winked at me, and then these thoughts just hit me, and, well…"

Alex stared at her for a moment and then started to smile. "You got dizzy because I winked at you?"

Olivia shrugged again and pointed to her head. "I've been hit on the head. I'm a little off my game right now," she offered in her own defense. Then she gestured to the ice bag, melted, that was now beside her on the sofa. "Suave and debonair, remember?"

Alex smiled. "I told you my thoughts on that."

Olivia nodded. "I know. Superman. Kryptonite."

"Well, at least your memory seems to be OK," Alex responded with a smirk.

"I would like to clear something up, though." Alex looked at Olivia curiously and waited for her to continue. "If we could go back to our earlier conversation… Let's say you're Lois Lane."

Alex looked surprised and said hesitantly, "OK."

Olivia hesitated and then asked, almost incredulously, "You'd really go for Clark Kent over Superman?"

Alex smiled at the question. "I already told you I thought it was obvious they were the same person."

"But if you had to pick one, which would it be?"

"I'd pick Superman because he was the real deal. After all, Clark was just a persona he adopted to stay close to Lois." Alex smiled at the surprised look on Olivia's face.

"So what was all that talk about brains and heart winning out over brawn?"

"I didn't say they won out, I said they were just as important."

Olivia shook her head. "This conversation is about to make me dizzy again." Then she quickly held up her hand. "Kidding. Just kidding."

Alex smirked. "So what about you?"

"What about me?"

"From our previous conversation, I'm guessing you would pick Superman over Clark Kent. Why?"

"I wouldn't."

Alex looked shocked. "You'd pick Clark?"

"I thought you said they were one in the same."

Alex gave her a wry smile. "So what are you saying?"

"I'm saying I'd pick neither."

Alex frowned. "Neither?"

Olivia smiled rather sheepishly and shrugged. "Actually, I was always partial to Lois." Alex raised her eyebrows at the admission, but Olivia continued. "So now you see my dilemma. I feel like the bumbling Clark Kent, and Lois Lane just winked at me. It caught me off guard." She looked cautiously at Alex. "And if I've totally misread the situation, I really will use the excuse of being hit on the head and hope that we can just forget that this conversation ever happened."

Alex hesitated for a moment and then started to smile. "And if you haven't misread anything?"

Olivia grinned. "Then I'd say I have a lot to look forward to – when I'm able to leap tall buildings again."

Alex returned the smile. "So when you're back to you're A-game, what's a wink going to get me?"

"I guess you'll just have to try it and see."

Alex chuckled. "Well then, I guess we both have a lot to look forward to." She looked curiously at Olivia. "Are you still feeling 'overwhelmed'?"

"No, just slightly embarrassed," Olivia replied with a shy smile. "It helps to know I'm not imagining things."

"Well, I'm sorry it took something like this to get us on the same page."

Olivia shook her head and smiled again. "Hey, as far as I'm concerned, getting beat up by a perp was a small price to pay to win the affections of Lois Lane."

"I don't know about Lois, but you won the affections of Alex Cabot way before today, so there's no need to play superhero to get the girl, OK?" She then added quietly, "You've already got her – if you want her."

Olivia gave Alex a look of wonder. "Oh, I definitely want her."

Alex smiled. "Good." Feeling the need to break the building tension, she got up and picked up the melted ice bag. "So let's get you on the road to recovery. Starting with more ice."

Olivia grabbed Alex's empty hand as she started to walk away and pulled her back. "Alex, I'm- I just- I really don't know what to say… Just…" she said as she pulled her down to sit on the edge of the couch beside her. "Thank you. For everything – bringing me home, taking care of me, caring about me…"

"You're welcome," Alex said softly. She moved to stand, but Olivia tugged her back again.

"There's one more thing I think you should know…" Alex watched her curiously and waited. "I've wanted to kiss you since you walked into the hospital today." Olivia slowly leaned toward Alex, but just before their lips touched, Alex stopped her.

"Liv, wait."

Olivia quickly pulled back and Alex saw the confusion in her eyes. "Sorry."

Realizing that Olivia misunderstood, Alex raised her hand to gently caress Olivia's injured lip with her thumb. She smiled tenderly, "Don't be sorry, I just don't want to hurt your lip." Alex saw relief in the brown eyes as she said, "So just hold still and don't move, OK?"

"OK." The relief turned to curiosity.

Alex slowly leaned toward Olivia and placed a very soft, tender kiss on her lips. Olivia's eyelids fluttered and she couldn't help herself – she moved to deepen the kiss. She quickly pulled back with a hiss as she crushed her swollen lip against Alex's lips.

Alex cringed for her. "Are you OK?" she asked as Olivia reached up to touch her sore lip with her fingertips.

"Yeah. Sorry."

"Stop apologizing. I know you're injured. I shouldn't take advantage of you now."

"It was my idea, remember?"

"Maybe just then. But, for the record, I've thought of kissing you since way before I walked into the hospital today. So, as I said, I shouldn't be taking advantage of you now," Alex said with a smile.

Olivia returned the smile with another crooked one of her own. "So will you promise to take advantage of me later?"

Blue eyes twinkled. "Absolutely. I'm not going anywhere." She leaned over and placed a soft kiss beside the bandage on Olivia's forehead. Then she stood up and held up the ice bag. "Except to the kitchen." She turned to go and then turned back to Olivia as if reading her mind. "And I don't want to hear any more grumbling about being less than heroic, OK? You don't have anything to prove to me."

Olivia watched her walk into the kitchen. She touched a fingertip to her lip again, feeling not only the pain from the injury, but the tingle from the brief encounter with Alex's lips. She shook her head in wonder as she contemplated the fact that Alex really did have feelings for her.

A few minutes later, Alex returned with two fresh bags of ice and handed one to Olivia.

"Thanks." The detective placed the bag back on her bruises while Alex placed the other one back on her splinted ankle.

Alex smiled. "They don't call me the Ice Queen for nothing."

Olivia's eyes widened. "Uh…"

Alex chuckled. "Don't tell me you really thought that was a secret among detectives." Olivia just stared and Alex continued. "Actually, I consider it a compliment. It really doesn't help anyone for me to lose my cool in the courtroom."

"I don't think it was ever meant as an insult. You just always seem so… calm, cool, and collected."

The ADA scoffed. "I think some might say 'cold and heartless', but I think I like your definition better."

Olivia smiled. "Well, I can only speak for myself, but I've never thought you were cold and heartless."

Alex eyed her curiously. "What have you thought?"

Olivia shrugged. "We all learn to compartmentalize. I just thought you were better at it than most." She smiled again, almost shyly, as she continued. "But every now and then, I see a flash of something else peeking out from behind the cool exterior – something that's the polar opposite of cold and heartless. And that's the Alex Cabot that most intrigues me. The one I'm seeing right now. And the one I'd really like to get to know better."

Alex was taken aback. She looked at Olivia and opened her mouth to speak, but couldn't find the words. She shook her head before a soft admission. "It's not often I'm rendered speechless. You have quite a way with words, Detective."

Olivia smiled. "Maybe I should get conked on the head more often then."

Alex shook her head. "Nothing to prove, remember?"

"You mentioned that," Olivia said with a smirk. Then she tilted her head and said, "That's too bad, though."

Alex gave her a curious look. "Why do you say that?"

The detective grinned a cocky grin in spite of the busted lip. "Because, someday, hopefully in the near future, I'd like to prove to you that I have several ways to render you speechless without using words at all."

Alex's cheeks reddened slightly as her eyes widened. "Well that was definitely a giant leap in a single bound," she said with a chuckle.

"Well, you know, I don't want all of my superpowers to go to waste."

"I don't think you have anything to worry about in that respect. Your charm and magnetism seem to be quite intact. You just need to let your physical strength catch back up."

"Faster than a speeding bullet, remember?"

Alex arched an eyebrow. "Really?" Then she lowered her voice to a seductive tone. "Don't you know that the slower you go, the longer it lasts?"

Olivia's eyes widened and she felt her pulse speed up again as she took in the sultry tone. "I can do slow."

"I'm counting on it," Alex said with a smile. "Because once you've recovered, I plan on taking my time discovering each and every way you think you can render me speechless. And then, I plan to show you a few ways of my own."

Olivia swallowed as she stared at the ADA for a moment. "Well that's definitely the best incentive I've had yet for a speedy recovery. But could you do me a favor in the meantime?" She looked down as the ice bag in her lap shifted.

"Name it."

Olivia looked back up with a sheepish smile. "Bring me more ice?"

Alex laughed. "I just brought you some."

"Yeah, but I'm pretty sure it just melted."

Alex lay quietly in the dark, listening to the soft, regular breathing beside her. She wasn't sure if it was her concern for Olivia's well-being after a head injury that was keeping her awake, or the mere fact that she was actually in bed with Olivia that was the cause for her insomnia. My, how fast things change. If someone had told her when she awoke this morning that, tonight, she would be sleeping beside her secret crush, she would have been certain that they were crazy. Tonight, however, not only was the crush no longer a secret, she had learned that her feelings were reciprocated. It was enough to make her head spin. She chuckled to herself when she realized that was exactly the effect those same revelations had on Olivia.

In her mind, Alex played back the events that lead to her current whereabouts. After they had each admitted their attraction to the other, the playful banter only escalated. Olivia's injuries prevented any real physical contact other than a touch here, or a brush there, but that certainly didn't prevent the innuendo and sexual tension from taking center stage. Olivia even laughed at one point and noted that they were almost having phone sex without the phone. It was if the floodgates for bottled-up frustrations were wide open, and they were making up for lost time.

When Olivia's tough day seemed to be getting the best of her, and she began to yawn, Alex suggested that she turn in for a good night's sleep to help in the speedy recovery they were both now eagerly awaiting. An argument immediately ensued when Olivia insisted on sleeping on the couch and giving Alex her bed. Alex refused on the grounds that she was there to take care of Olivia tonight, and sleeping on the couch was not conducive to the restful night's sleep the injured detective so badly needed. They finally reached a compromise when Olivia suggested that her bed was certainly big enough for two, and if Alex were truly concerned for her safety, she would be much closer should Olivia's head decide to explode at some point during the night. And with that, and a laugh, it was settled. Alex borrowed an oversized t-shirt from Olivia and, after helping the detective into bed, slipped in beside her.

Olivia found it more comfortable to lay on the side with the least bruising, so that found them facing each other, side by side, in the dark. They talked quietly for a few minutes until the tired and battered detective drifted off to sleep. That left Alex alone with her thoughts.

Olivia shifted her position and rolled onto her back. As she moved, she let out a soft noise, that could best be described as a moan. Alex knew the bruises had to painful as she sympathized with the injured detective. Just when she thought Olivia had settled back into a comfortable position, the detective's breathing rate seemed to speed up. Alex's eyes were well adjusted to the dark and she could now see, more than feel, slight tremors moving through Olivia's body. Her rate of breathing continued to increase and she started making slightly audible noises. Alex debated as to whether she should wake Olivia or hope that whatever pain she may be experiencing would soon subside. The whimpers began to get a little louder, and Alex wondered if Olivia was having a nightmare about her attack.

Hoping to calm her without startling her awake, Alex reached over and covered Olivia's uninjured hand with her own. Olivia immediately grasped the hand and began softly clenching and unclenching her fingers. Her breathing was shallow and rapid, and her movements became more noticeable.

Alex remembered that the doctor said to be on the look out for any unusual behavior. She certainly didn't know if Olivia regularly experienced nightmares, but she was starting to get a little concerned that maybe she should wake the detective to make sure that this wasn't some sort of delayed reaction to her head injury.

She gently shook the hand that Olivia was grasping, hoping the movement would rouse the detective. No such luck. She then extracted her hand from Olivia's and, placing it flat on Olivia's stomach, applied a little pressure and gentle shaking in another attempt to wake her. Still not happening.

"Liv?" she said quietly. Olivia responded by moving her head, but still remained asleep, and apparently dreaming, since the rapid breathing, now almost panting, continued. Alex was really beginning to worry now.

She raised up and shook Olivia a little more forcefully. "Olivia?"

"Alex." It came out as a gasp, but the detective still didn't seem to be awake.

"Liv, wake up." She patted Olivia's stomach and the detective grasped her hand again and opened her eyes. She blinked a few times and seemed disoriented for a moment.

"Unh-" She turned her head toward the ADA. "Alex?

Alex took that as a good sign and smiled, still a little uncertain. "Are you OK?"

"Yeah," Olivia replied, as she seemed to be getting her bearings and her breathing under control. "What's wrong?"

"You seemed to be having a nightmare, or were in pain, and I wanted to make sure you were OK," Alex offered in explanation.

Olivia rolled her head back to a neutral position. "I wasn't having a nightmare," she replied as she now stared at the ceiling.

"Oh. Well did you hurt your ribs when you rolled over?"

"No. I was dreaming."

"But, I thought you said…" Alex's voice trailed off as the realization hit her. "Oh." Her mouth formed a perfect 'O' as she spoke.

Olivia chuckled. "Yeah."

"So… It was a good dream then?"

"Oh yeah."

"Sorry I woke you," Alex said rather sheepishly as she settled her head back on the pillow.

Another chuckle. "Not as sorry as I am." Then the detective hesitated before continuing. "So… did I say anything in my sleep?"

Alex looked curiously at her for a moment. "You mean like scream out my name and say, 'Oh God, yes, yes, yes'?"

Olivia snapped her head toward Alex, wide-eyed, but didn't comment. She was glad Alex couldn't see the blush she could feel warming her cheeks in the darkness.

Alex smirked. "No, nothing like that."

Olivia expelled the breath she was holding with a short laugh. "Funny." She had finally managed to bring her breathing rate back to normal. "So, if I didn't scream your name, how did you know you were in it?"

"Wishful thinking?" Alex said with a chuckle. "Actually, you did say my name before you seemed to be fully awake, so I just assumed…"

"Hmm. Well you were definitely in it."

Alex smiled. "So what was I doing?"

Olivia chuckled quietly. "Oh, I'm not telling you that. I'll need a cold shower, and I've got too many things bandaged right now to have to take extra showers." Olivia heard a soft snicker from the other side of the bed, but Alex didn't respond otherwise. "Sorry if woke you."

"I was already awake."

"What time is it?"

Alex turned and looked at the bedside alarm clock. "A little after one."

Olivia gingerly rolled back onto her side facing Alex. "If I didn't wake you, then why are you still awake?" When Alex didn't offer an immediate explanation, Olivia asked, "Is something wrong?"

"No. I just… I guess I just wanted to keep an eye on you. You know, in case your head really does explode or something." She attempted a joke to lighten things up, but her voice betrayed her. "I wanted to be sure you were really alright."

Olivia's heart lurched at the concern and tenderness in Alex's voice. "Alex… I'm fine. Really. But… thank you. I don't know how to tell you what it means to me that you're here." She leaned over and placed several feather-light kisses around Alex's face. Settling back on her side of the bed, she sighed. "God, I'll be glad when I can give you a 'proper' kiss."

Alex smiled. "Proper?"

"Earth-moving," Olivia said with a smirk. "Which reminds me, I have a dream to get back to." She reached over and grasped Alex's hand. "Promise me you'll get some sleep?"

Alex nodded but didn't let go of Olivia's hand. She knew from Olivia's steady, rhythmic breathing, several long moments later that she was sleeping soundly again. It took a while, but Alex finally drifted off into a peaceful, and unfortunately dreamless, sleep.

The alarm on Alex's cell phone went off at six am. She quickly silenced it and turned to see her bedmate beginning to stir. Brown eyes, still clouded with sleep opened and seemed to be searching for the source of the unaccustomed noise.

"Sorry for the early wake-up call," Alex said quietly. "I have to be in Petrovsky's court at nine and I need to go home to shower and change first."

Olivia smiled a sleepy smile. "S'ok. I rarely sleep past seven even on my days off."

"Yeah, but you haven't usually had a run-in with two-by-four. How do you feel?"

Olivia moved around a little bit more and frowned. "Stiff."

"Well, just stay put and I'll bring you some ibuprofen before I go."

"Are you sure you weren't a nurse in another life?" The question earned her an eye roll from Alex as she got out of bed.


Olivia turned to watch the ADA walk across the room wearing the oversized t-shirt she had borrowed to sleep in. "Well, then, how about a ballerina?"

Alex stopped and turned to look at Olivia with a questioning look on her face. "Did you have another dream?"

Olivia smiled. "No. Unfortunately."

"Then what on earth made you come up with a ballerina? Because if you'd ever seen me dance, you 'd know that I have two left feet."

"Maybe," Olivia said with a smirk. "But you've sure got great legs."

Alex rolled her eyes again and headed to the kitchen. She came back with a small glass of water and a bottle of ibuprofen. She set them on the table next to the bed and took a good look at the detective. She leaned down, cupped her chin and gently rolled her head to the side to get a better look at the bruised side of her face.

"I'm not trying to scare you, but be prepared when you look in the mirror today," she said as she continued her close inspection.

"That bad, huh?"

"Actually, it's not as bad as I thought it might be under the circumstances. But you do sort of look like you came in second in the title bout." Then she ruffled Olivia's hair. "The bed-head, however, is pretty scary."

Olivia chuckled and ran her good hand through her hair in an attempt to smooth it down. "Thanks for the warning."

Alex straightened up and went over to gather her clothes to change back into. "I really hate to leave you, but I need to get going."

"You're welcome to shower here and borrow something to wear, but I'm afraid I don't have any of those power suits you wear so well." She eyed Alex for a moment. "I wonder what Petrovsky would say if you showed up in court wearing jeans and a leather jacket."

Alex chuckled. "I probably don't need to push my limits with her again. Besides, I wouldn't look half as good wearing that as you do," she said as she headed down the hall to the bathroom.

Olivia considered that for a moment. "I'm not so sure about that," she said to an empty room.

When Alex reappeared a few minutes later, she was dressed in the clothes she had changed into the night before. She folded Olivia's t-shirt she had borrowed to sleep in and placed it on the chair in the bedroom. She had hoped that Olivia might go back to sleep, but she found brown eyes watching her move about the room. She was glad to see that half of the water in the glass was gone and the bottle of ibuprofen had been moved, meaning that the detective's stubborn streak had not come into play this morning.

"Robbed again," Olivia said as she watched Alex gather her cell phone and jewelry from the nightstand. When the ADA gave her a questioning look, she elaborated. "You keep changing clothes in the bathroom. When do I get to watch?"

Alex smirked. "I told you last night that we would work something out when you were feeling better, but then you almost passed out, so I figured maybe we should wait a bit longer," she said with a smile.

"I'm gonna have a hard time living that down, aren't I?"

Alex nodded with a glint in her eye. "Absolutely. I'll keep it between us, though." She walked back around to Olivia's side of the bed. "I hate to ask you to get up, but do you want to see if you can walk before I leave?"

"The ankle's sore, but I can walk on it."

"But you needed my help to walk yesterday."

Olivia looked sheepish. "I wasn't about to turn down an opportunity to walk arm-in-arm with you."

Alex arched an eyebrow. "Anything else you want to tell me?"

"Not at the moment," Olivia said with a smirk as she threw the cover back. "I'll hobble out with you." She moved to sit up and her breath caught as she strained her bruised torso trying to sit up. "Wow," she gasped. "Doc wasn't kidding when she said it would hurt worse today."

Alex reached over and pulled the cover back over Olivia. "Just stay put. I'll lock up as I leave." She realized that the detective must really be sore if she didn't argue. "Hopefully the ibuprofen will kick in soon and you'll be able to move around better."

Olivia reached over and opened the small drawer on the nightstand. She reached in a retrieved a key ring. Handing it to Alex, she said, "You're gonna need these for the deadbolt." Alex reached out hesitantly to take the offered keys.

Sensing her hesitation, Olivia grasped her hand as she handed over the key ring. "You can give them back later if you want, but take them for now."

Alex nodded. "OK. I'll call you later to check on you. And you have my number if you need anything."

Olivia nodded, but didn't let go of Alex's hand. "Alex, I don't know how to thank you…"

Alex smiled and squeezed the hand she was holding. "Just feel better. That's all the thanks I need."

Olivia tried to go back to sleep, but after half an hour of rolling around in discomfort, she decided it was time to get up. She did notice that it wasn't as painful to sit up this time, so Alex was right – the ibuprofen must be helping.

Her ankle was sore, but she was able to limp around OK. She definitely wouldn't be winning any foot races, but she was able to maneuver around her apartment sufficiently. She hobbled into the bathroom and steeled herself for her first look in the mirror. She smiled to note that Alex was right again. The bed-head was pretty bad – her short, cropped hair was sticking out in no less than twelve different directions. Then she focused on her injuries. Her lip didn't seem to be any worse than the night before, but the bruising around her eye was rather impressive. She debated about removing the bandage on her forehead and decided it was probably best to leave it place until she took a shower. It took some effort, but she managed to remove the scrub shirt she was still wearing and got her first good look at the bruising on her body. It was not a pretty sight. But, Alex was right yet again – it could have been so much worse. At least she had escaped with cuts and bruises instead of broken bones or much worse.

She made her way back to the bedroom to find a t-shirt that would be easier to get in and out of than the scrub shirt. The scrubs were quite comfy when wearing them, but didn't stretch very much. This made for difficulty in getting the shirt on and off when you were sore and stiff and one-handed. She spied the folded t-shirt that Alex had worn the night before. She picked it up and immediately caught the subtle scent of Alex's perfume. She held the shirt to her nose and inhaled deeply. With a smile on her face, she managed to slip the shirt over her head and then limped to the kitchen to make some coffee.

She spent the next hour trying to get comfortable on the couch and trying to find something interesting to watch on daytime television. She was unsuccessful at both. She found the paperwork she was given when she left the hospital and read over it. Showering was fine for her head wound, but she was instructed not to get the hand with stitches wet. Great. She wasn't sure she could stand not taking a shower all day. She limped back to the kitchen, grabbed a plastic bag and a roll of duct tape and headed to the bathroom. After removing the ankle splint, she stripped down and then went to work on a makeshift waterproof cover for her hand. Tearing the tape with her teeth, she stuck her bandaged hand in the plastic bag and then duct-taped it around her wrist. She examined her 'handy' work. Not the most high tech thing, but it would suffice for a quick shower.

"Just call me Detective MacGyver," she said to an empty bathroom.

Showering with only the use of one hand proved to be challenging, but she managed well enough. After toweling off and trying to avoid any pressure on her bruises, she managed to remove the duct tape with minimal skin damage to her wrist and then removed the wet bandage from her forehead. She was pleasantly surprised to find a nice, neat cut only about half an inch long angling over the corner of her right eyebrow. The stuff they had closed it with left a purple stripe on top of the wound. The odd color sort of blended in with the bruising around it. She ran her uninjured hand through her wet hair, taming it somewhat and then strapped her ankle back into the Velcro splint. She hobbled back into the bedroom and donned some soft sweatpants and her favorite, tattered NYPD sweatshirt. The thought of strapping on a bra over her bruises was not appealing in the slightest, so the sweatshirt would provide enough cover should her partner decide to check in on her.

Sure enough, as soon as she finished dressing, Elliot called to say he planned to stop in after work with a get-well gift from the squad. Alex phoned three times during the day, once before court, just to check in; a second time to inform her that she was having her lunch delivered – and not taking no for an answer; and a third time late afternoon before her final trial motion for the day. Between calls, Olivia had tried again – to no avail – to find something worth watching on television. She decided it was going to be a long week at home.

At six-thirty pm, the intercom buzzer rang, startling Olivia out of a late afternoon power-nap. She ran her good hand through her hair as she gingerly lifted her aching body off the sofa. She pressed the button on the wall intercom and spoke into the speaker.

"Yeah?" She still sounded a bit groggy.

Elliot's voice answered. "Hey, partner. Did I wake you? Is this a bad time?"

"No. Please come up! I fell asleep from the boredom," she replied as she hit the door release.

A few moments later, Olivia heard his knock on the door. She limped over to open it and found her partner smiling on the other side. He took one look at her and his smile diminished as his eyes widened.

"Whoa. Nice shiner!" He almost sounded impressed.

Olivia smirked. "Glad you approve. C'mon in," she said as she stepped back to allow him to enter.

He walked past her and then turned back to examine her face again as she closed the door and followed him. "So, how are you feeling?"

She gestured to the couch and answered him as they took a seat. "Stiff and sore, but probably better than I should."

Elliot smiled. "So, Florence Nightingale took good care of you, huh?"

Olivia rolled her eyes and refused to take the bait. "I think I've got a cold beer if you want one."

He shook his head. "Nah, but thanks. I really can't stay very long. Dickie has a soccer game that starts in about an hour, and since I missed the last four, I gotta be there for this one." Then he handed her the plastic Best Buy bag he had in his hand. "These are from all the guys. We were gonna get you flowers, but you just have to take care of them and then they die anyway, so we figured you might like these instead. We don't want you to miss the job too much while you're home this week."

She looked in the bag and laughed. She then pulled out three boxed sets of DVDs – the complete first seasons of Policewoman, Cagney & Lacey, and Charlie's Angels.

"You guys are life-savers! I'm here to tell you that daytime TV sucks."

Elliot beamed when he saw that she liked the gift. "Well, now you can hang with your girls." He then chuckled and said, "Speaking of… How did your little sleepover go last night?"

Realizing that she was not going to be able to keep avoiding the question, Olivia took a deep breath and said, "Fine."

Elliot raised his eyebrows. "Fine? That's it? Just fine?"

"What do want me to say?" She wasn't about to share any real details with him, so she hoped she could run circles around his questions until he gave up.

Elliot shrugged. "I don't know. Did she cook you dinner, massage your feet, give you a sponge bath?" He laughed when Olivia's eyes bulged. "Come on, Liv, you were playing doctor, or nurse, with Alex Cabot. Ya gotta give me something here."

Olivia hoped she wouldn't sound as flustered as she felt. "We didn't 'play doctor'. She actually took really good care of me."

"I'll just bet she did," Elliot said with a smirk.

"Get your mind out of the gutter, El."

"So, my prediction was right. You melted the Ice Queen."

"She actually knows about that nickname, so don't think she doesn't."

Elliot's eyebrows skyrocketed again. "You told her about that?"

"Nope. She already knew – don't ask me how. I about swallowed my tongue when she sprung that on me."

Elliot laughed again. "What else did you do with your tongue?"

Olivia glared at him and tried to look appalled. "I'm injured, remember?"

Elliot grinned and his eyes gleamed. "So you admit that if you weren't injured…"

Olivia could feel the blush creeping up her neck and she willed it to stop, but if Elliot's expression was any indicator, she was not successful. "I'm admitting no such thing." It wasn't a lie. She really wasn't admitting it.

The sound of a key in the door lock startled them both and they turned simultaneously to look at the door. Elliot looked back at Olivia, his eyebrows approaching his hairline.

Olivia sort of shrugged. "It must be Alex."

His eyebrows rose even further to what seemed an impossible height. "You gave her a key?"

Olivia glared again. "You have a key."

"But only for emergencies."

The door finally opened and Alex craned her neck to look for Olivia as she stepped inside. She stopped in her tracks when she saw Elliot. "Oh. I didn't realize… I should have called, but I thought you might be sleeping. I'm sure I have enough for three though," she sounded almost nervous as she closed the door behind her and the scent of Italian food wafted in with her.

Olivia smiled, but protested anyway. "Alex, I told you earlier that you didn't need to bring dinner."

Alex returned the smile as she took the overnight bag that was draped over her shoulder and tried to inconspicuously lower it to the floor near the door. It didn't go unnoticed by Elliot or Olivia. "I know. That's another reason I didn't call. I knew you would refuse, so I just didn't ask again," she said with a smirk.

Elliot chuckled. "So I see you've met my partner, Olivia I-Don't-Need-Any-Help Benson."

Alex smiled as she took the bags of food over to the small dining table. "Oh, yes, I spent a great deal of time with her yesterday."

Elliot looked back at Olivia and waggled his eyebrows. Olivia shot daggers at him with her eyes, but didn't comment.

Elliot stood up and patted Olivia on the shoulder. "Well, I should get going and let you two enjoy your dinner."

Alex turned back to look at the two of them. "Please don't go, Elliot. I really do have enough for three." She turned back to the table and started pulling take-out boxes from the bags. "Probably even four. I figured Liv could save the leftovers for tomorrow."

Elliot smiled again at his partner, but spoke to Alex. "Thanks, but I really do have my son's soccer game to get to. I just wanted to stop by and check on Liv and let her know we missed her."

Olivia had managed to stand up and followed behind Elliot as he walked to the door. "Thanks again for the DVDs, partner. Tell the guys I said thanks."

"I will. You take care." Then he lowered his voice so that only Olivia could hear. "Maybe I should have brought you some DVDs with hot, female attorneys." Then he looked pointedly at Alex's bag sitting by the door. "Or maybe you have one of those already." He couldn't help but laugh when his partner's face turned crimson. Then he called over her shoulder to Alex who was still unpacking their dinner, "Thanks for taking good care of my partner, Alex."

A little surprised at the sincerity in his voice, Alex looked at him for a moment from across the room. "My pleasure, Elliot. Have fun at your son's soccer game."

Under his breath, he whispered, "Melting," to Olivia and he then spoke loud enough for Alex to hear him also. "G'night, ladies."

Olivia practically shoved him out the door and then turned to look at Alex. She could still feel the heat emanating from her face. Maybe Alex wouldn't notice.

The ADA tilted her head as she looked at Olivia. "What did I miss?"

"Nothing. Why?" the detective answered as she started limping toward Alex.

Alex smirked as she continued setting out the food boxes. "No reason… except that you're blushing to the tips of your ears."

Olivia rolled her eyes. "Elliot's just being a smartass. You'd think I'd be used to it by now."

"I take it he saw my bag by the door."

Olivia nodded. "Yeah."

"Did you tell him… anything?"

"No. Only that you took really good care of me last night." Olivia hesitated. "He knows that I… Well, he thinks he knows that I have a little crush on you. Even though I've never confirmed it."

Alex smiled. "Have you denied it?"

"Not exactly. I've mostly tried to avoid his questions. But if you're worried, I don't think he'll say anything to anyone else. I think he just likes tormenting me."

"I'm not worried, Olivia. It's probably not wise to broadcast that we're… seeing each other." Then she hesitated and looked curiously at Olivia. "We are going to be seeing each other, right?"

Olivia nodded and smiled. "I hope so."

"Good," she said almost smugly. Then she picked up with her previous thought. "As I was saying, it's probably not wise to broadcast that we're seeing each other, so that we don't jeopardize any cases if that information were to land in the wrong hands, but I'm not ashamed of anything."

Olivia nodded again. "Then I think we're on the same page."

"Good," Alex said again. "So, how long have you had this 'little crush' that Elliot thinks he knows about?"

Olivia laughed. "Maybe 'little' isn't the best word to describe it."

Alex tilted her head and smiled. "OK, but you didn't answer my question."

"You're right. I didn't," Olivia answered with a sly smile. Then she gestured toward the door with a sideways nod of her head. "So what's in the bag?"

Alex looked amused and even a little surprised at Olivia's blatant sidestep of her question, but she didn't press for an answer as she would have in her professional life. She hesitated for a moment, trying to get a better read on the detective. "A toothbrush and change of clothes… something to sleep in." When Olivia's eyebrow arched, Alex almost felt nervous. "I brought it in case you… needed me to stay again."

Olivia nodded as she seemed to consider the offer. "Well, I don't think I need you to stay…"

Alex felt deflated. "Oh-"

"But I certainly want you to," she continued quickly, interrupting any reply Alex may have had.

Alex smiled with relief. "Then we're definitely on the same page."

"Are you sure you left some food at the restaurant?" Olivia asked jokingly as she pulled a fifth plastic container out of the cabinet to hold the leftovers from their meal.

Alex finished scooping the last of the manicotti into another container. "I wasn't sure what you liked, so I just ordered a variety." She shrugged. "Besides, I figured this way you'd have lots of leftovers and wouldn't have to worry about food tomorrow."

Olivia smiled. "Or the rest of the week."

Alex chuckled. "Of course, you may get sick of Italian food."

Olivia feigned a look of shock. "Not a chance." She put the lid on the last container and turned to put it in the refrigerator. She hopped on one leg to keep from twisting her ankle, but doing so made her grimace in pain as she twisted her bruised torso instead.

Alex quickly moved to take the container from the detective's hands and place it on the refrigerator shelf. She turned back to Olivia with a concerned look. "Are you OK?"

Olivia nodded and tried her best to shrug off the pain. She placed her uninjured hand along her ribcage and grimaced again as she tried to stretch. "Yeah. I just need to remember not to move so fast for a few days."

"Let me take a look at your bruises." Olivia's eyebrows shot upward and she tried not to smile. Alex caught the look and rolled her eyes. "I meant on your back." When Olivia didn't object, Alex moved around behind her and slowly lifted her sweatshirt. She suppressed a gasp, but Olivia still heard her quick intake of breath.

"How bad does it look?"

"Well…" Alex hesitated. "Let's put it this way. I'm surprised you're as mobile as you are given the amount of bruising you have. I'd say it's a miracle you don't have any broken ribs."

Olivia nodded. "Especially since he was swinging that board like a baseball bat. He caught me right here with the first blow," she gestured to her side along her ribcage. Alex noted the darker area of the bruise where Olivia indicated. "Luckily, when he connected, it knocked the board out of his hand, even though it sent me head first into the side of the dumpster."

Alex cringed at the thought as she gently lowered the hem of Olivia's shirt. "Maybe you do have super powers – I can't believe that didn't knock you out."

Olivia turned to face her and smirked. "Hard head, remember?"

Alex returned the smirk and nodded. "Hard to forget."

"Ha." Olivia gave Alex a sarcastic smile. "But it must have had some effect because I totally forgot to ask Elliot how the second interrogation went today." She shook her head. "And I can't believe he didn't tell me about it." Olivia stopped short of revealing that her conversation with Elliot had centered around the ADA. Then, that same ADA's very obvious entrance had distracted Olivia to the point that she didn't even ask her partner about their case. The detective tried very hard to ignore the implications of that.

"He probably didn't want to discourage you. Unfortunately, Dixon didn't give them anything on the rapes," Alex offered in explanation. Olivia sighed an exasperated sigh and Alex held up a finger. "But… He did slip up and give them a lead on the guy he was with when you and Elliot went to pick him up yesterday. Fin and Munch are looking for him now."

"Well, that's something, I guess."

Alex nodded and said, "Why don't we go sit down so you can prop up your ankle?"

"Probably a good idea," Olivia said as she limped toward the couch. Alex followed and watched as the detective carefully lowered herself to a sitting position on the couch.

Alex was waiting for Olivia to get comfortable before she chose a place to sit. She watched her closely as she asked a little hesitantly, "How's your… other bruising?"

Olivia shrugged a little. "Eh, still hurts. I think the ribs might actually be worse in terms of the bruises, but I guess the more 'sensitive' the area, the more noticeable the pain." She chuckled quietly. "Let's put it this way, increased blood flow to some places is not really a good thing right now."

Alex's eyebrows rose a notch as she picked up one of the throw pillows and positioned it on the coffee table for Olivia to rest her foot on. "And what exactly have you been doing all day to know that?"

A slight blush tinged Olivia's cheeks. "I had another dream while I was napping." She placed her ankle on the pillow and then she gestured to the stack of DVDs on the coffee table. "And now Elliot brought me all those, which I think he considers lady-cop porn, so I could be in trouble…"

Alex gave an exaggerated look of surprise, and she picked up the DVDs as she sat down beside Olivia. She laughed as she shuffled through them. "I'm glad to see his job hasn't tainted him too much."

Olivia acknowledged the comment with a quirk of her head and a chuckle. "I'm not sure it's what he would watch, but he thought I would like them."

"So which will you watch first?" Alex asked with a smirk.

"I'll probably start with Pepper," the detective answered with a twinkle in her eye. "Because, you know… I kinda have a thing for blondes."

Alex arched an eyebrow and contemplated that thought for a moment. "I'd probably start with Cagney and Lacey myself."

Intrigued, Olivia asked, "And why is that?"

"It's a little more realistic… and I was always sort of drawn to Christine Cagney."

Olivia looked curious. "In what way?"

"She seemed like, what I imagined at the time, a real female detective would be like. She always showed compassion and heart with just the right amount of bad-ass and butchiness thrown in." She cut her eyes over to Olivia, wondering if she caught the parallel.

Olivia smiled. "And that drew you in, huh?"

Alex nodded. "That, and the fact that she looked really hot in a leather jacket."

Much to Alex's amusement and delight, Olivia couldn't hide the smirk that appeared on her face.

They had the same sleeping arrangements as they had the night before, only this time they didn't argue about it. It was just assumed that they would share Olivia's bed. Alex had been pleased to tell Olivia that she didn't have to make a court appearance until early afternoon, so there would be no six a.m. alarm to jolt them awake the next morning.

The ringing of Olivia's phone at seven a.m., however, was something they had no control over.

Olivia reached over and fumbled to pick up the phone beside the bed, groaning as she stretched her sore ribs. "H'lo?" she answered groggily.

"Liv? Sorry to wake you."

"S'ok, El. What's up?"

"I thought you would want to know. Munch and Fin found Dixon's accomplice and he rolled over on Dixon like a pig in the mud. He told us there are even videotapes of the rapes. Munch is calling Alex for a new search warrant as we speak."

Before Olivia could reply, the loud ringing of Alex's cell phone on the table on the other side of the bed broke the silence.

"What was that?"

"Cell phone."

"Do you need to get it?"


"Wait… Is that Alex's cell phone?" Elliot questioned, putting extra emphasis on the name Alex, as he obviously heard the ADA as she answered her call in the background.

Olivia sighed. "Elliot, I swear to God-"

"Is she there? Now?"

"-if you give me a hard time about this…"

"So that really was an overnight bag?"

"I mean it, El. I haven't had my coffee yet-

"Is she in your bedroom? Or better yet, in your bed?" The amusement in his voice was really annoying.

"-and you know what a bitch I can be before I've had my morning coffee."

"OK, OK." But he couldn't stifle the chuckle he was having at her expense.

"And, Elliot, if you know what's good for you, you will not talk about this with the rest of the squad. Do you hear me?"

"Oh, I hear you."

Elliot Stabler sat at his desk in the SVU bullpen with a smirk on his face. Not only had the Ice Queen melted, she had melted all over his partner.

John Munch hung up his phone and looked at Stabler. "So what's with the smirk? You look like the cat that got the canary."

Elliot shook his head silently. Then with a quiet chuckle, he said, "Ohhhh, nothing."

Munch was intrigued. "Which usually means it's definitely something."

Fin looked up from his paperwork. "So is Cabot gettin' our warrant?"

Munch nodded. "She's coming in a little late today, but she said she'll go ahead and make a call. It should be ready by the time she gets to her office." Then he turned to Elliot. "Strangest thing, though. I could have sworn I heard Benson's voice in the background."

Elliot suppressed a smile. "Alex has been looking in on Liv since she got hurt."

Fin looked at his watch. "At seven in the a.m.?" he asked skeptically.

Munch looked over his glasses at Elliot. "Didn't you just talk to Olivia?"

"Yep," Elliot answered matter-of-factly.

"So? Was Alex there?" Munch's eyes held the gleam of a conspiracy theory being born.

Elliot shrugged animatedly. "I… will have to plead the Fifth on that."

Munch glanced at Fin, who now seemed as interested as he did, and then back at Stabler. "Last time I checked, the Fifth Amendment guarded against self incrimination."

"Well, in this case, I'm invoking it for self protection."

Munch looked at Fin again and then back to Elliot. "Elliot, are you suggesting a little Sapphic soiree between the lovely Miss Cabot and our own detective of the fairer sex?"

"I'm not suggesting anything."

Fin spoke up then. "So you're telling us that Benson and Cabot are bunk buddies?"

"No! I'm not telling you anything either," he said with a smirk. "Zip. Nada. Zilch. My partner would kill me if I told you that," he added with a smile.

Fin blinked. "Damn."

"So, exactly how long have you known about this?" Munch asked.

Elliot shook his head. "In all honesty, I don't really know anything."

Munch quirked an eyebrow. "But you obviously suspect something."

"I know that Alex's Ice Queen persona disappeared as soon as she heard that Olivia was hurt." He hesitated while they other two anxiously waited. "And I know that she's been staying with Liv since she got home from the hospital."

"Stayin' with her?" Fin asked. "As in overnight, bring your jammies, kinda stayin'?"

Elliot answered him with a quirk of his eyebrows and a half shrug.

Munch smiled. "Do you really think Cabot and Benson wear 'jammies' to bed?"

Elliot held up his hands. "Whoa. That's my partner, and there are some things I just don't need to know."

Munch continued to smile. "That's your very attractive partner and our equally attractive ADA, and you're a red-blooded, heterosexual male. You're not even curious?"

Elliot shook his head adamantly. "No. No I'm not. And I'm not discussing this any more."

Fin smirked. "You're just scared Liv's gonna bust your balls if she finds out you were talkin' about this."

"There is that," Elliot conceded.

Munch shook his head. "Huh. Who would've thought that Alexandra Cabot shopped at the softer side of Sears?" he mused.

Fin rolled his eyes and looked at Elliot. "Now look what you started."

Olivia looked over at Alex as she disconnected the call. "Munch?"

Alex nodded as she dropped the phone back on the table and ran a hand through her hair. "Yeah. How'd you know?"

"That was Elliot. He told me Munch was calling you for a warrant."

Alex flopped back down, her head softly thudding on the pillow. "So much for sleeping in."

Olivia carefully rolled over to face Alex. "You know, Elliot heard your phone ring and started giving me the third degree. He may try, but I seriously doubt he can keep his mouth shut to Munch and Fin now, especially if they overheard his side of the conversation. Never let anyone tell you that men don't like to gossip."

Alex chuckled quietly. "Not that I enjoy being fodder for the gossip mill, but I don't mind them knowing if you don't. Although, I hope, for professional reasons, we can keep it in the family, so to speak."

Olivia smiled, secretly glad that Alex had referred to the squad as a family. "Well, we do like to talk amongst ourselves, but we're a pretty protective bunch too, so I wouldn't expect them to go spreading the 'family business' around." She hesitated a moment. "But, we do a lot of talking amongst ourselves, so you should probably be prepared for that."

Alex smirked. "I think I can hold my own with those guys."

Olivia returned the smirk. "I'm quite sure of that. And Elliot may surprise me and not spill the beans, but I highly doubt it."

Alex gave her a curious look. "What exactly does Elliot know at this point?"

"He knows that you've spent the last two nights with me, and I'm pretty sure he knows that we slept together." Olivia stopped suddenly when she realized how that sounded. "Well, not slept together, but, you know, shared the bed. He knew he woke me up just now, and then he heard your phone right there, and, well he assumed-"

Alex began to smile at Olivia's sudden nervousness. "Olivia?"

"-that we, you know, slept together…" She seemed to realize that Alex had spoken. "What?"

"Are you going to get that nervous when we actually do sleep together? And I mean not just sleeping when I say that."

Olivia's cheeks flushed slightly. "God, I hope not." Then she laughed. "I guess I'm a little out of practice with the suave and debonair. I'll have to work on that."

Alex was still amused. "Olivia?" she said again.


"You don't need to work on anything." Then Alex leaned over and gave Olivia a soft kiss, still being careful of her lip. "Except getting better," she said as she pulled away and looked into warm, brown eyes. "Soon," she added as she dipped her head for another kiss and then quickly pulled away and got out of bed. She heard what sounded like a slight whimper from Olivia as she did.

Olivia closed her eyes and rolled onto her back in frustration, putting a hand over her face. She must have moved a little too quickly because Alex saw her grimace. "Ow."

Alex cringed. "Are you OK?"

The next sound was more like a subdued growl, followed by, "Just dandy." Olivia breathed in deeply through her nose. "Bruises still hurt."

"You should probably stay off your back if you can."

Olivia didn't move. "I wasn't talking about the ones on my back."

It took Alex a moment for the meaning of that to sink in, and she tried not to smile. "Well, I've heard that increased blood flow promotes healing."

Olivia moved her hand and looked at Alex. "In that case, kiss me again."

Alex chuckled and said, "Let's not push your luck. Besides, I'd better get dressed. I have a search warrant to obtain."

When Alex emerged from the bathroom, she smelled coffee brewing. She gathered her belongings from the bedroom and made her way to the kitchen to find Olivia taking two coffee mugs out of a cabinet. The detective turned and smiled when Alex walked in and leaned against the counter.

"Do you have time for a cup of coffee before you go?"

Alex nodded. "I told Munch I would be in a little late today, so they're not expecting me right away."

Alex watched as Olivia turned back to the coffee maker and poured two cups of steaming coffee into the mugs on the counter. Olivia had put on a pair of soft cotton lounge pants to accompany the faded NYPD t-shirt she had slept in. She was barefooted, except for the splint on her injured ankle. While it was obvious she had tried to tame it, her hair was styled in what Alex was learning to be her usual morning look – sticking out in multiple directions. Alex stifled a smile as she realized that she had added another item to her mental list of things she adored about Olivia Benson.

Olivia pushed one mug toward Alex and said, "You drink it black, right?"

Alex nodded as she picked up the mug and wondered how Olivia knew that. She must have looked curious because Olivia said, "I've seen you drink it in the squad room." Then she gestured to the small table for them to sit.

Alex looked closely at the detective as she sipped her coffee. "I don't think your eye looks quite as purple today as it did yesterday."

Olivia ran her tongue over her injured lip. "I don't think my lip is as swollen today either."

Alex shifted in her chair as she watched. "I noticed that earlier," she said almost shyly, which elicited a smile from Olivia.

"I guess I was a little too distracted to notice," the detective said with a smirk. Alex found it amusing that, throughout her injury ordeal, Olivia never lost the ability to display her trademark smirk. That mental list continued to grow.

"I wanted to remind you that the Anderson trial starts first thing in the morning," Alex said. Then she continued almost apologetically, "It will probably go on the rest of the week, so…"

Olivia picked up on what the ADA was trying to say. "Alex, really, I'm fine. I certainly don't expect you to stay here all week. As nice as that would be, I know that you have a life to get back to." She reached over and placed her unbandaged hand over Alex's. "I really can't thank you enough for all you've done for me."

"You don't need to thank me, Olivia. I'm glad I could be here for you." She turned her hand over and laced her fingers with Olivia's. She continued speaking as she looked at their joined hands. "And while I'm certainly not happy about the reason, I'm glad we got to spend some time together away from work." Then she slowly raised her eyes to look directly at the detective. "And I'm really looking forward to us spending even more time together," she added quietly.

Olivia felt an involuntary shiver run up her spine at the quiet declaration. "So am I," she replied with a warm smile. "More than you can imagine."

Alex returned the smile. "Oh, I don't know about that. I can imagine all sorts of things."

At eleven a.m., Alex walked into the SVU bullpen to find John Munch the only detective present. She walked over to his desk, placed the folded blue warrant in front of him, and said, "Find those tapes, Detective. I really want to nail this guy."

Munch looked at the warrant and then looked up at Alex. "Not half as much as we do, Counselor." A slender eyebrow arched over a clear blue eye as Munch watched. He smirked and tilted his head as he said, "Or maybe you do." He waited briefly for a response, but Alex remained silent. "So how is our wounded warrior this morning?"

Alex hesitated for an instant, but then decided the direct approach might be best. No sense in trying to hide what they obviously already knew to be true. "Feeling a little better, I think."

A little surprised that he didn't have to try harder to get Alex to talk, Munch smiled as he tilted his head in the opposite direction. "She'll make you think that anyway. Stubborn, that one."

Alex nodded. "Very true, but I really do think she's on the mend."

Munch smirked again and just couldn't resist. "Probably all that special care she's been receiving. She has her own private nurse, I hear."

Alex scoffed. "Hardly. But I'm glad to be able to help a friend in need – when she'd let me."

Munch realized he shouldn't push too hard, but it was obvious from the softening of her voice and expression that Alex cared for Olivia. How much though, remained to be seen. "You know, Alex, Olivia's a tough nut to crack, but if she lets you see her when she's down, then I'd say you've at least put a big dent in the shell."

Alex smiled at the almost brotherly way Munch referred to Olivia. "The same could be said of me, John. The 'tough nut' part, that is. So I should probably be able to relate."

Munch smiled. "I guess we all have to be a little nuts to keep working around here." He looked up to see Elliot and Fin walking in. "And here come two more residents of the nut house..." Alex turned to see the detectives and smiled.

Elliot smiled when he saw her, and she braced herself for the teasing she was sure to come. "Hey, Alex."

"Detectives," Alex responded with a brief nod to both men.

Fin returned the nod and looked curiously at his partner. Munch held up the warrant and said, "Look what we got – special delivery."

"Good. Let's go tear up that dump he calls an apartment," Fin replied.

Elliot wanted to ask Alex about Olivia, but he didn't want her to know that he had talked to the other detectives about them. "So, Alex… Have you talked to Liv this morning?" he tried to ask innocently.

Alex smirked. "You know I have, Elliot."

"Oh," he said as he shot a look toward Munch who smirked also. "Well, how's she doing?"

Before Alex could answer, the captain came out of his office with a frown on his face. He saw Alex and hesitated briefly. "Sorry to break up the party, but we've got a new case."

Munch held up the warrant that Alex had delivered. "Can it wait until after we turn over Dixon's place?"

Cragen shook his head. "I know we're all anxious to pin those rapes to him, but we have him in custody, so he's not going anywhere any time soon. Have uniforms execute the warrant. I need you all on this. It looks like a bad one."

The captain's prediction had been right. The initial discovery of two bodies in different stages of decomposition, found almost simultaneously in two different brownstones in lower Manhattan, had eventually led to the investigation and capture of a serial rapist. But not until three more women were kidnapped, raped, and left for dead by the same deranged man who murdered the first two. The case was grueling and took many long hours of detective work and persistence, but the Manhattan SVU squad had been successful in finding and arresting the perpetrator three weeks after the first two bodies were discovered.

Olivia and Alex had only seen each other in brief encounters during those three weeks. Olivia had stayed home on doctor's orders for the remainder of the week after she was injured. Alex's court case had lasted the rest of that week as predicted, and her weekend was spent preparing for the next case that opened on Monday. They had talked on the phone as much as possible, but even that was limited to fairly brief exchanges. They had managed to have one rather lengthy conversation that started one evening at about nine-thirty p.m. and lasted until almost eleven o'clock. As Olivia had said, this time they had 'almost-phone-sex' while actually on the phone.

Much to her dismay, Olivia's first week back had been spent behind a desk. She was still bruised and sore, and certainly not able to run full speed, so Captain Cragen had assigned her to review the files from missing persons in an attempt to identify the first two victims. When victim number three had been found mid-week, still alive, Olivia convinced the captain that she should accompany Elliot to the hospital to interview the woman. It was hard for him to argue, since most rape victims found it easier to talk to a woman, and there would be no physical demands for Olivia to accomplish the task.

When the two detectives arrived at the hospital emergency department, the first person Olivia saw was Dr. Ryan standing in front of the nurse's station. The doctor was making notes in a chart, but she looked up when the detectives approached the desk.

She smiled when she spotted Olivia. "Well, hello, Detective. You're looking a lot better than you did the last time I saw you." She eyed the bandage on Olivia's hand. "Are you here to get your stitches out?"

Olivia smiled, but shook her head. "Actually, we're here to interview the rape victim that was brought in about an hour ago."

The doctor's expression darkened and she nodded. "She's in bad shape. We just finished the rape kit and they're taking her up to surgery."

"Is she conscious?" Elliot asked.

"Yeah, but-"

"Five minutes. That's all we'll need," Olivia said quickly. Seeing the doctor about to refuse, she added, "Look, we think this case may be connected to two other victims. The quicker we can talk to her, the quicker we can find the guy that did it."

The doctor sighed. "Five minutes. That's it."

Olivia smiled and the doctor turned and asked a nurse to take them to the surgery holding area. "Thanks, Doc," she said as they turned to follow the nurse.

"Stop back by here before you leave. I want to take a look at your injuries," she called to Olivia as they walked away.

Elliot smiled and cut his eyes over to his partner. "You've just got cute women falling all over you these days," he said quietly.

Olivia ignored him, but he saw a bit of a smirk on her face.

They interviewed the victim and picked up some crucial information about her attacker before the OR tech came to take the injured woman to surgery.

When they walked back toward the ER desk, the doctor was leaning against it as if waiting on them. Elliot chuckled. "Looks like somebody's waiting on you, Liv. I'll just call Fin with the new information while you get checked out by the cute doctor." Olivia glared at him and then smiled as they approached the doctor.

Dr. Ryan looked at her watch. "Right on time," she said with a smile.

"What? You didn't trust me?" Olivia asked.

The doctor smiled. "I told you I grew up with a cop. I know what they're like. Come on to an exam room and let me take a look. Just to make sure your partner took good care of you," she said as she gestured toward an open door.

Elliot stopped punching numbers into his phone. "I'm her partner," he said to doctor as he held out his hand. "Elliot Stabler."

The doctor shook his hand and said, "Nice to meet you, but I meant her other partner – the one that took her home after-" She stopped mid-sentence and looked quickly toward Olivia.

The light seemed to dawn on Elliot and he grinned. "Oh, you must be referring to Alex."

Olivia put her hand on his arm and pushed him toward the waiting area. "Don't you have a call to make?"

He gave a sideways nod of his head toward the row of chairs in the waiting room as he smirked at his partner. "I'll be over there when you're done."

The doctor looked cautiously at Olivia as the detective turned back around to follow her to the exam room. "Please tell me I didn't just out you to him."

"No, he just enjoys giving me a hard time at every opportunity."

The doctor gave Olivia a curious look. "Is he married?"

"Yes," Olivia answered, wondering why the doctor was asking.

"Do you give him a hard time about his relationship with his wife?"


"Then why does he tease you about yours?"

"Probably because mine is so new."

The doctor looked skeptical. "How new?"

Olivia gave her a sheepish look. "Well, if you don't count the two nights Alex stayed with me playing Florence Nightingale, we haven't even had our first real date yet."

The doctor stopped in her tracks and turned to Olivia before closing the door to the exam room. "You're kidding me."

Olivia smiled as she shook her head.

Dr. Ryan seemed incredulous. "You mean… you two were not…?"

Olivia shook her head again.

"But, you seemed so… I mean, neither one of you corrected me when I obviously jumped to the wrong conclusion, so I just assumed…"

Olivia looked a little embarrassed. "Yeah. Apparently we were the last two to realize that there was something going on between us."

The doctor smiled. "So there is something going on between you?"

Olivia nodded. "I guess I should thank you for the little push you gave us."

"I may have pushed," the doctor replied with a chuckle, "but she sure jumped at the chance to take care of you." She gestured to the exam table. "Hop up there while I get a suture removal kit and then I'll take a look at your bruises." Then a thought occurred to her. "Maybe I should order some home therapy for you."

Olivia looked surprised. "I don't really need that, do I?"

"Just a home program of gentle stretching and maybe some light massage." Seeing Olivia's serious face, Dr. Ryan tried to hide her smile. "You know, the kind of things you might need a 'partner' to help you with?"

Olivia rolled her eyes when she saw the doctor trying not to laugh. "Oh God, not you too."

A week later Alex walked into the squad room to find four detectives and one captain going over the evidence recovered at the latest grisly crime scene. The victim had been left for dead behind a dumpster, and was found by a city sanitation worker. She had multiple stab wounds, and the ME had conferred with the examining doctor and had concluded that the blade marks were consistent with those made by the knife used on the other four victims. Though severely traumatized, the woman had been able to give a description of her attacker and the clothing he was wearing. This information had led the detectives to believe the perpetrator they were looking for worked for some sort of delivery service. Further investigation had turned up a man who worked for Air Express Deliveries, had deliveries near each of the victims' residences on the day of their attacks, and matched the description given by the recent victim. Alex had come to the squad room to deliver search warrants to search the home and work locker of this potential suspect.

Captain Cragen ordered Munch and Fin to execute the warrant on the home, while he accompanied Elliot to search the locker. Olivia had been relegated to check in with the ME's office and the crime scene unit on any additional physical evidence or test results that may further connect all of the victims. She had strict orders not to leave the precinct unless Melinda or the crime scene techs needed to see her. Nothing other than light duty was allowed until she received her final medical clearance.

Alex sat down in the chair beside Olivia's desk as the detective made the calls to the ME's office and the crime lab. She could tell by her demeanor that Olivia was still frustrated at not being back in the field, actively pursuing the suspect with the rest of her squad.

The detective hung up the phone and looked over at Alex. "CSU says the rape kit showed semen present, and the victim says she and her boyfriend hadn't had sex in over a week. Maybe our guy slipped up this time or the condom broke." She sighed. "Hopefully we can get a DNA match or at least have something to compare to when we make an arrest."

Alex frowned at Olivia's lack of enthusiasm. "Isn't that good news?"

"Yeah," Olivia replied glumly. "It really is good news. I just hate being stuck on desk duty."

Alex smiled at the near pout on Olivia's face. "Think of it this way. You could do more harm than good if you got into a situation that required you to be functioning at a hundred percent when you're not." She saw Olivia nod, but she still didn't look any happier, so the ADA took another approach. "Besides, your attention to detail is so much better than your partner's, that I'm actually relieved to know that you've been doing the record reviews and following the paper trails. That can be crucial to a case, you know."

Olivia smiled a tiny smile, well aware that Alex was just trying to make her feel better. "I know."

Alex saw the look. "I'm not saying that just to make you feel better. I'm serious."

"I know." Olivia repeated, but still didn't sound convinced.

"So, how are you feeling?" She looked closely at Olivia's face. "I can barely see the bruises on your face, and it doesn't look like you'll have much of a scar on your head."

Olivia raised her hand and showed Alex the jagged scar running across her knuckles. "I got my stitches out last week, and Dr. Ryan gave me a return-to-work slip to go back to full duty next week. I'm almost good as new."

Remembering the plans they had discussed for after Olivia's recovery, Alex smiled. "Good. I'm glad to hear that."

"So," Olivia began, a slight nervous edge in her voice. "When this case is over, can I finally take you out for a proper date?"

Alex pretended to ponder the question. "Well, considering that a couple of weeks ago you defined 'proper' as 'earth-moving', how could I possibly refuse?" She looked at Olivia with the beginnings of a smile as her eyes drifted down and settled on the detective's lips. Olivia felt a shiver of anticipation run down her spine.

The detective started to speak and her voice cracked. She cleared her throat and started again. "Hold that thought…"

Alex raised her gaze back to Olivia's eyes. "What thought?"

Olivia smiled. "The one that just went through your head."

Alex returned the smile and tilted her head in curiosity. "How do you know what I'm thinking?"

"If the look you just gave me is any indication, you're thinking the same thing I am."

"And what is that?"

"Just one of the many ways we could make the earth move."

Olivia smiled as she watched the color rise in Alex's cheeks.

Three days later, Alex's cell phone rang. She looked at the display and saw 'Benson'. She smiled and pressed the button as she put the phone to her ear.


"Good news." She could almost hear the smile in Olivia's voice. "We got the bastard!"

"I heard. So… is this an invitation to join the squad for drinks?" Alex was secretly hoping to spend some time with Olivia even if she had to share her with the rest of the squad.

"No. We've been looking at each other's ugly mugs practically 24/7 for over two weeks, so we figured we could all use a break from each other tonight. Cragen ordered us all to turn off our cell phones and go home. He wants us back by seven in the morning to go over everything again and make sure we didn't miss anything before we hand it over to you to file formal charges." Olivia paused for a moment. "So… I guess the earth-moving may have to wait just a little while longer."

Alex smiled and tried not to sound disappointed. "I think I can wait, if you can."

"I'm not sure I can. That's why I'm calling… I wondered if maybe you were up for… a small tremor or something?"

Alex laughed. "A small tremor?"

"Yeah. Nothing fancy. I just thought maybe we could grab a bite to eat somewhere or something. I'm just too keyed up to go home." She hesitated. "And… I just… really want to see you," she continued almost shyly.

Alex felt her heart skip a beat at the detective's quiet declaration. "Well, I was trying not to sound disappointed when you said you weren't calling to invite me to join you for drinks," she admitted. "And… I'd love to see you too."


Alex could hear the smile again, and she asked, "So, what comes with 'a small tremor'?"

Olivia laughed. "Unfortunately, not us."

Alex felt herself blushing, even though she was alone in her office. She couldn't resist teasing back. "You never know… the mightiest of earthquakes begin with small tremors."

The detective laughed again. "My, my, my, Miss Cabot, I like the way you think."

Olivia entered the tapas restaurant and smiled when she saw the blonde hair and distinctive profile of Alexandra Cabot. The hostess ushered her to the table where Alex was seated, two glasses – one half full, and a pitcher of the restaurant's signature homemade sangria were on already on the table.

Alex looked up to see the detective approaching a broke out into a wide smile. The hostess stepped aside and made a sweeping motion with her arm for Olivia to continue to the table. She smiled as Olivia passed by and said, "Looks like someone is happy to see you. Enjoy your evening."

Olivia returned the smile and thanked the woman as she continued the short distance to the table. Her view of Olivia now unobstructed, Alex took in the detective's appearance. Dark jeans, form-fitting red sweater layered over a white t-shirt, and topped off with her favorite black leather jacket. Her short, dark hair was slightly tousled, making Alex want to run her fingers through it. Her look was alluring, but approachable. Very approachable, Alex decided, as she felt helpless to control her grin.

Noticing that the 40-watt smile seemed to brighten another notch, Olivia gave Alex's shoulder a squeeze in greeting before shrugging off the jacket and hanging it on the back of the chair. "What did I do to deserve a smile that that?" she asked as she took the seat opposite the ADA.

Alex felt the heat rising in her cheeks and wondered how long it would be before she would stop blushing when Olivia seemed to be able to read her thoughts. She chuckled quietly and shook her head as she answered the detective. "You just look fantastic."

Olivia frowned skeptically as she looked down at her attire. "I just came from work," she said as if there was no way she thought she even looked presentable. "I couldn't look worthy of that smile."

"Trust me," Alex said. "No one wears a leather jacket quite the way you do."

Slightly embarrassed, Olivia shook her head. "I don't know about that."

Alex shrugged slightly. "Well, let's put it this way, no one else wearing a leather jacket has quite the same effect on me as you – wearing that." She gestured to the jacket with a nod of her head.

Olivia turned to look at the jacket as if trying to remember which one she had worn. She turned back to Alex with a small smile of amusement. "You like this jacket?"

"I like that jacket on you."

"So should I just scrap the outfit I had planned for our 'earth-moving' date, and wear that jacket instead?"

Alex shrugged again. "I wouldn't complain. Quite frankly, you could wear nothing at all and I still wouldn't complain."

Olivia's eyes widened and Alex seemed to realize what she had just said. Olivia could see the realization in her eyes and she laughed. "Well, I was hoping we might get to that stage eventually, but I didn't know you wanted me to show up naked."

Alex's cheeks reddened again. "I suppose that could be considered a Freudian slip. That's not really what I meant, but I can't say it's not the truth," the ADA admitted.

Olivia chuckled. "So you do want me to show up naked."

Alex's cheeked darkened another shade, but she had a gleam in her eye. "You could still wear the jacket..."

Olivia grinned. "Was that a tremor I just felt?"

"It's definitely a start," Alex replied as her mind's eye began to conjure up visions of Olivia wearing nothing but the jacket.

As Olivia sat watching the intriguing expression on Alex's face, the waitress came to take their order. She poured Olivia a glass of sangria, and topped off Alex's glass. Once they were alone again, Olivia posed a question. "Seriously, where would you like to have dinner next week? Assuming all goes well with wrapping up this case."

"I'll leave that up to you." Alex hesitated for a moment. "But, please don't think it has to be all 'wine and roses' or anything like that. Casual – like tonight – is just fine with me."

Olivia looked a bit surprised. "So you'd go for 'tapas and sangria' over 'wine and roses'?"

Alex chuckled. "I'm fine with 'beer and peanuts' too. I don't really consider the dinner the most important part of these plans."

Olivia smiled. "So maybe the offering should be 'leather and lace' then."

The gleam in Alex's eyes returned. "I've seen the leather. Do you mean to tell me there's lace too?"

Olivia grinned and gestured to her jacket. "I figured I'd be wearing the leather, so I'll leave the lace to you."

Alex quirked an eyebrow and the gleam in her eyes intensified. "Then it's too bad we're not going home together tonight." She smiled wickedly. "You'd be in luck."

Olivia stared for an instant as those words sunk in. She swallowed and suddenly realized that her mouth had gone dry. The images that were going through her head were causing very obvious reactions throughout the rest of her body. She squirmed slightly in her chair as she reached for her drink. Alex smirked.

"Stop smirking. I need a drink to cool off after that." She took a healthy gulp from her glass and then placed it back on the table, trying not to draw attention to the fact that her hand was shaking.

Alex watched her curiously, enjoying the reactions her words had invoked in the normally stoic detective. The ADA tilted her head and said, "So tell me again why it is that we're not going home together tonight."

Olivia's eyes widened as she contemplated her answer. "I… really have no idea," she said, and seemed to be surprised by her own words. She chuckled. "Other than the fact that I have to be back in the bullpen by seven a.m., I really can't think of a good reason."

"My apartment is closer to the precinct than yours," Alex said. "And… I do have an alarm clock."

"Is that an invitation?"

"When you called me earlier, you told me you weren't sure you could wait. Well," Alex said as she smiled, "now I'm not sure I can either."

Olivia smiled at Alex as the waitress reappeared with their food. She put a platter of assorted, delectable looking tapas in front of them, along with plates for them each, before topping off their glasses. As the waitress moved away from the table, Olivia finally broke eye contact with Alex, glancing at the platter.

"And now I'm supposed to think about food?" she asked with a chuckle.

Alex nodded as she continued to watch the detective. "You may need your strength later."

Olivia refocused her gaze on Alex and then blinked as the implications of Alex's words sunk in. She nodded slowly as a grin started to spread across her face. She picked up her glass and offered a toast. "Then here's to later…"

Never breaking eye contact, Alex picked up her glass and touched it to Olivia's. "To later."

They finished off the entire platter of food and emptied the pitcher of sangria. The conversation flowed easily, even though they were well aware of the low hum of anticipation they each felt for 'later'. A brief argument over the check finally found Olivia victorious since she had issued the invitation for meeting in the first place.

As they stood to leave, Olivia snagged the leather jacket from the back of the chair and put it on. She turned to see Alex watching her with a knowing smile. She smiled back and felt that low hum ratchet up a notch.

They exited the restaurant and looked up and down the city street. Alex huffed in exasperation. "Never a cab when you really need one."

Amused, Olivia turned to her companion and chuckled quietly. "Maybe it would be easier to find one at the intersection." She gestured down the street with her arm and they started walking in that direction.

The conversation had suddenly stalled as the tension level seemed to increase. They walked close together, shoulders bumping occasionally. Olivia's hands were in her jacket pockets and Alex had her briefcase slung over her shoulder. As she shifted the shoulder strap bag to the opposite shoulder, allowing them to walk even closer, Olivia asked, "Would you like me to carry that?"

Alex shook her head and said, "I just didn't want to keep hitting you with it." Then she smiled. "Are you offering to carry my school books?"

Olivia chuckled. "I guess I am," she replied. "Pretty lame, huh?"

Alex responded by linking her arm with Olivia's. "I'd say it's rather chivalrous of you, Clark," the ADA said with a smile.

Olivia glanced down at the hand now clutching the inside of her elbow. She would swear she could already feel the heat through the leather. "I'm glad you think so, Lois."

Seeing that they were approaching an alleyway, Olivia veered toward it, almost pulling Alex off her feet. Surprised at the sudden change in direction, Alex asked, "What are you doing?"

Feeling the hesitation, Olivia covered the hand on her arm with her opposite hand to trap it in place. "Just come with me."

Almost pulling Olivia to a stop, Alex said, "Liv, where are you going? It's dark over there."

"I know. Just trust me. I'm a cop and I'm armed, remember?" She tugged again and Alex hesitantly followed.

They stepped into the shadows and under a stoop. It was dark enough that no one could see them easily, but they still had enough light from the alley opening to see their surroundings. Olivia stopped and spun around so that she was now face to face with Alex. Bringing her hands up to cradle Alex's cheeks, she kissed her. Realizing this was their first 'real' kiss, she started out tentative, but it wasn't long before their arms found their way around each other and the kiss deepened.

When they parted, they were both breathless. Olivia leaned in for another light kiss, as if to say she just couldn't get enough. Then she pulled back and said, 'Sorry for doing this in a dark alley, but I just couldn't wait any longer."

Alex chuckled. "Clark Kent has his phone booth," she said, still trying to catch her breath. "I see no reason why you can't have a dark alley instead."

Olivia smiled. "I hope you aren't expecting to find a spandex suit underneath the leather."

"All I'm hoping to find is you," Alex said with a smile as she kissed Olivia again.

This time when they parted, Olivia tugged her back toward the street. "I just felt another tremor, so we'd better find that cab," she said as they practically ran toward the corner.

Olivia awoke to a brief moment of confusion. The room was dark, but she knew she was not in her own bed. As soon as she heard the soft breathing and felt the warm body snuggled against her she remembered her whereabouts with startling clarity. She also remembered all of the events that led her to this place.

She felt the fresh stirrings of arousal as her mind replayed her earlier lovemaking with Alex. The eroticism of seeing Alex in nothing but her lace panties had almost been enough to send Olivia over the edge. But all of the dreams, and all of the fantasies she had had over the past few weeks, paled in comparison to experiencing the real thing with Alexandra Cabot.

Olivia smiled in the darkness and adjusted her arm to pull Alex a little closer. Alex repositioned one of her legs that was tangled with Olivia's and pulled a little tighter with the arm that was draped over her body. Olivia realized, for the first time in longer than she could remember, that she felt utterly, and completely, content. She closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep.

At 5:10 a.m., the ringing of a cell phone startled Olivia and Alex out of a deep sleep. Olivia reached over and grabbed the offending device and looked bleary-eyed at the display.

"Bens'n," she mumbled into the phone.

"Hey, Liv. Did I catch you at a bad time?" her partner's voice sounded way too chipper for such an early hour.

"Jesus, Elliot, it's five a.m."

"Sorry. I thought you got up early for a run every morning."

"I usually do, but I'm not back to my regular routine yet," she answered as Alex blinked sleepy eyes at her.

"Oh yeah. Guess I shoulda thought of that."

"So why are you calling, Elliot?" she hoped he would forgive the bluntness considering the early hour.

"Oh. Just wanted to make sure you got Cragen's message."

"What message?"

"You know he told us to turn off our cell phones."

"Yeah. And I didn't. But I still didn't get a message or a call from him."

"That's cause he left the message on your home phone."


"Last night."

Olivia's brain was trying hard to wake up, but she just couldn't come up with a quick explanation. After an awkward pause, she asked, a little more forcefully that she intended, "So what was the message?!"

"He decided he didn't want us to report in until ten o'clock. Guess you can go back to sleep if you want. I'm glad I caught you before you headed in early."

"Yeah. Thanks."

He wasn't done yet. "Guess you didn't check your messages last night."

"No. I didn't." Alex was fully awake now and could hear the entire conversation thanks to their close proximity. She moved the arm that had been draped over Olivia and her hand began to wander over the warm flesh of Olivia's naked torso.

"Or hear your home phone ring when I called a few minutes ago."

"That's because I'm-" the wandering hand hit a particularly sensitive spot. "Unh… not at home."

"Well, it's a good thing you didn't turn off your cell phone then."

"Yeah." Another stroke of the hand. "Mmmnh." Olivia was now thinking what an idiot she was for not turning off her phone. "Look, Elliot, can I-"

"How about breakfast?"


"I'll bring in a late breakfast. You know… in case you don't have time to eat before you come in. At ten."

"Uh, thanks, but I'll make do-ooo..." She drew out the word as the hand continued its explorations.

Elliot tried hard not to laugh. "What about Alex?"

"What about Alex?!" The ADA grinned mischievously as she continued tormenting the frustrated detective.

"Would she like breakfast?"

"How would I know?"

"You could ask her… as soon as she comes up for air."

"Bite me, Elliot! Thanks-for-calling-see-you-at-ten," she said, running all the words together before she hung up the phone. She tossed it back on the table and turned her attention to Alex.

"You're evil, did you know that?"

Alex grinned. "I know." She punctuated the statement with another stroke of her hand, eliciting another audible response from Olivia. "Good morning, Olivia."

"I'll say," the detective responded as she pulled Alex to her for a good morning kiss.

Olivia was surprised not to see her partner already in the squad room when she walked in shortly before ten o'clock. Since she hadn't had time to go home and change, she grabbed her emergency change of clothes from her locker and changed quickly before heading to her desk. She had just sat down when Elliot walked in carrying three brown paper bags.

He looked curiously at his partner. "Wow. You look…" She shot him what she hoped was a threatening look. "Hungry." He offered her one of the bags and smiled. "I stopped for breakfast anyway. Consider it an apology for calling you so early this morning."

As hard as she tried, Olivia couldn't stop the blush she could feel warming her face as she accepted the bag from Elliot. "Thanks." She felt her mouth water as she smelled what she hoped was a bacon and egg croissant. She and Alex had not exactly been focused on food this morning, and suddenly her stomach growled loudly.

Elliot smirked. "Guess you didn't have time for breakfast after all."

Olivia continued to blush, but rolled her eyes at her partner. "You knew I wasn't at home when you called," she accused good-naturedly.

He smiled. "I had a sneaking suspicion." He shrugged. "I saw you grab your phone as soon as Cragen dismissed us, so…"

She chuckled. "So you called me at five in the freaking morning?"

"I honestly figured you might not have gotten the message to come in later, so I thought you would appreciate a few extra hours to… do whatever it was that you were doing when I called."


He smirked. "Right."

"We were sleeping when you called."

"Then I think you owe me a big thank you for waking you up." Olivia blushed again and Elliot laughed. "I'll take that as your agreement…"

He continued to smile at his partner's embarrassment as he sat a second bag on her desk. "This one's for you also. Today's Morning Special." Olivia peered in the bag to see a plastic cup with a lid and a straw. She gave Elliot a quizzical look as she reached in the bag. He kept talking as he moved over to his desk. "They called it an Ice Queen." Olivia narrowed her eyes at him, only to have him look innocent in return. "What? They said it was cold and icy. And you sounded like you might could use a little cooling off after your first Morning Special..."

She pulled the drink out of the bag to see that it was a transparent cup that appeared to be filled with only water. "OK, smartass, it looks like plain water to me."

Elliot feigned surprise. "Well, would you look at that? You melted another Ice Queen this morning."


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