DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Conviction and their characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf. Although I doubt he wants to claim the latter. I mean, would you? Other characters belong to some guy named Jim. The golden opportunity to include them was too hard to pass up. Y'know what? I *AM* claiming the characters for fanfictiondom. I mean, think about it. After what he did in the last ep to...oh, take your pick...they all went so far out of character, NASA added them to the space program. DW and his loony writers don't deserve them anymore. Fanfic authors do...they treat them better.
AUTHOR'S NTOE: In the fanfic world, there are some really good stories and, well, then there are mine. With any luck, the fanfic police will send a fanfic detective resembling Olivia Benson to investigate my heinous writing crimes and a fanfic ADA resembling Casey Novak will prosecute me into submission. Whoa, hold it. Actually, I need to amend that a little. While they are in this story, along with lots of your other favorites, they aren't really the stars of this one. Let's try it again, shall we? <.cough, cough.> In the fanfic world... there are some really good stories (I can point them out to you if you ask nicely) and then there are mine. And mine are just so incredibly _______ (since you are still with me after the other three stories you get the one time good deal offer of choosing your own word to put in there. Whoo hoo, what a deal - let me know what you pick, 'k?) that we are moving straight to trial. The fanfic justice department will be sending in the "A" team... Abbie Carmichael and Alexandra Cabot. Hmmmmmmm, the strut and the glasses of justice. Whoo, is it hot in here? <.ahem.> Anywho... these are my latest crimes. You have been warned. <.g.> This is story number four in the series. THE LAST ONE. No applause is necessary... really. This one actually follows immediately after the last one (MISchief) and should answer all your burning questions... well, except for why did she write these stories to start with. That you would have to ask my beta, she's the one that was nagg... umm begging for them. Now after reading all four, she is begging me to stop.
WARNING: This story contains a couple of "awwww" moments. The first was totally unintentional. This is a freakin' comedy for goodness sake. My beta flipped over it and requested, quite forcefully, the second one. <.sigh.> Two in two hundred pages... I guess I can live with 'em.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

(story 4 in the Miscommunication Series aka It Sucks To Be You Series)



Cabot Residence

4 months later-February 14, Wednesday, Valentine's Day 6:20pm


Alex Cabot walked hurriedly out of her bedroom still fussing with one earring. "I'm coming," she yelled at the door.


She reached for the knob and pulled the door open. "I said I was coming," she said breathlessly.

"Just what I like to hear... and breathlessly too." The voice came from a face behind a shield of a bouquet of roses. "Could you add an 'ooh Abbie' to it?" The speaker was leaning casually on the door frame.

Alex put her hands on her hips and smiled indulgently. "Carmichael."

Abbie lowered the bouquet a bit and winked. "Cabot." She offered it to the blonde.

They both broke out in laughter. Alex took the flowers and brought them to her nose. She closed her eyes while she inhaled their fragrance. When they reopened, she found a pair of brown ones at close range, staring intently at her.

"Thank you." Alex pecked Abbie nose. Then turned to go back in the apartment. "Let me put these in water."

"Wait a doggone minute...." Abbie caught up to Alex and snaked her hands around the blonde's waist. She pulled her back against her body. Leaning in toward her ear she whispered. "I haven't seen you for weeks and that little kiss is the best you got?" Alex tilted her head and Abbie took advantage and kissed her neck.

Alex turned in Abbie's arms. Her own circled behind Abbie's back.

She leaned in for a proper kiss. When the kiss broke Abbie wrapped her in a big hug. Abbie's hands moved to the back of Alex's pants and she started to pull the garment away from the Bureau Chief's body. She looked down over Alex's shoulder.

"Hey!" Alex backed up out of the embrace and slapped at Abbie's hands. "Stop that."

"But Al-lie...." Abbie whined. "We have been dating for months now. When are you going to let me see the tattoo?"

"We have not been dating for months," Alex disagreed.

"Sure we have."

"No we haven't. Stalking and dating is not the same thing."

"I wasn't stalking. I was charming my way into your heart." Abbie started alternating between pinching and tickling Alex's body in various places.

Alex snorted as much from the explanation as from the tickling. The blonde mock struggled and at one point whacked Abbie on the shoulder with the bouquet. Finally, she just wrapped Abbie up in an embrace to pin her arms down. This time she thoroughly kissed her.

"You," she poked Abbie on the nose, "have a one track mind."

"I prefer focused... and your point is?" She reached again for Alex's ass.

Alex moved out of her reach and again slapped at the roaming hand. "You are a very bad girl."

"And you just love bad girls, doncha?" She lowered her sunglasses down her nose and looked over the top. Abbie assumed what she hoped would be a tough, cool looking stance. "Again, your point is?"

Alex laughed. "I shouldn't encourage you by laughing but you are just too damned cute." She kissed Abbie gently and then looped arms with her as they continued walking through the apartment.

"Oh, encourage me, encourage me." Abbie grinned and bumped hips with Alex. "Y'know, I still have a few ideas left in my 'win Cabot over with pure Carmichael charm' arsenal...."


Bureau Chief's Office

October 17, Tuesday 9:30am

Alex Cabot stood behind her desk, bent slightly over with her weight on her hands. She was perusing the latest case files, flipping through some of the pages. Her face held no expression, considering how disgusted she was with the contents of those files. Hearing a knock on her door, she straightened up, grimacing as the movement pulled on her sensitive skin. She tossed her glasses on her desk and looked toward the closed door.

"Come in."

"Ms. Cabot, a messenger just delivered this." She placed the item on the desk in front of Alex.

"Thank you, Melissa. Could you send Ms. Rossi in here when she comes back from the arraignment?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Alex waited for the door to close and then pulled the box towards her. She picked it up. It's really light. Alex shrugged, then shook it. She heard nothing move inside. She held it to her ear. Well, it isn't ticking. She grinned. So it can't be from Jim.

Alex looked over the box for a return address and found none. Her brow scrunched partly in concern and partly in intrigue. Well.... Alex pulled a pair of scissors from her desk drawer and commenced with opening the box. Inside she found a mound of pink tissue paper. She moved the tissue paper aside and then stopped. Alex closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Shaking her head in disbelief she pulled the item out of the box.

Setting the item aside for a moment, she rummaged back around in the box. She found a simple note card at the bottom. She put her glasses back on.

Allie... (it said)

Got a pain in the ass? Want me to kiss it and make it better?


Alex bit her lip trying not to laugh. The pillow was pink satin and had an appliqué of big red lips on it. She rubbed it on her cheek. Oooh, soft. She pulled out her desk chair, dropped it on the seat and gingerly sat down. Finally. I was not looking forward to standing up for the next few days. How sweet. She mentally slapped herself. What am I saying?

Alex pulled her rolodex over and flipped through the listings. Finding the one she wanted she quickly dialed the phone.

"Carmichael." The voice answered.

"I got your little gift. Thank you. And to answer your questions - Yes, I do have a pain in the ass. YOU. And NO, you may not kiss it. Come anywhere near my ass and...." Alex got flustered at the laughter on the other end of the phone. "I'll... I'll... aaarrrggghhhh. And don't call me Allie." She slammed down the phone receiver and pushed the phone away. Alex blew out a calming breath, then wiggled happily in her chair and smiled.

Abbie chuckled as she closed her cell phone. "Oh, yeah."


Bureau Chief's Office

October 18, Wednesday 2:45pm

Alex Cabot had just finished eating a late meal at her desk. She tossed the takeout containers into the trash and reached for the case files. With a sigh, she picked up her glasses and went back to work. The interoffice phone rang.

"Yes. Melissa."

"Ms. Novak is on line one, Ms. Cabot."

"Thank you." She removed her glasses again and punched the button for line one. "Hey Casey, what can I do for you?"

"I hate to ask but, I was wondering if I could borrow one of your juniors to help with some research. I'm swamped with other cases and the Harris trial is approaching rather quickly."

"Uhhh, sure. Any one is particular?"

"Whoever is the best at pulling case law. I drew Larsen as the Judge and you know how much of a stickler she is...."

"Okay, I'll see who is available and send them over. Do you want them today or will tomorrow be okay?"

"Tomorrow's fine. I appreciate it.' She paused a second. "Uhhhhh, by the way...."

Alex cut in. "I'm okay Casey. I had a huge hangover yesterday but I am feeling much better today. How are you doing?"

"No hangover but the tattoo hurts like a bad sunburn. How's yours?"

"You know I have a tattoo?" Alex closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Of course you do. You were there." She sighed. "Abbie has one too."

"I know I saw it." Casey regretted saying that a half moment later. She bit her lip.

"Did you see mine?" Alex asked frantically. "Please don't tell anyone."

Casey paused for a second. "Yes, Alex I know you got a one. We all did. But you were behind a locked door when I went to check on you both. Abbie's is pretty ironic when you think about it. Have you seen it?"

Alex blew out a breath. "Yeah, she stopped by to see Liz around the same time I did yesterday."

"How is Liz? I haven't heard from her."

"She's not exactly thrilled with Jake at the moment. His choice of an addition to her body art... well, let's just say she needed it like she needed another hole in her, umm... head." Alex bit her lip to stifle the groan of the bad joke. Well, it's the truth. She mentally debated with herself for a moment. "Ummm, Casey? Would you like to go out for lunch sometime this week?"

Casey held the phone out and stared at it. Aliens have taken over the Bureau. I need to call Munch.


"Oh, right, sorry," she squeaked out. Lunch, she wants to do lunch. She cleared her throat. "Sure, I'm always up for lunch. When did you want to go?"

Alex pulled her appointment book over and stared at the listings. "I'm free tomorrow around one, can you go then or do you have court?"

"I only have a couple of arraignments in the morning, so unless I catch a new case, I should be free after eleven."

"Great. Do you want me to meet you somewhere? Or, even better, why don't you come by here after court. You can meet your loaner and get them started on what you need."

"Sounds good. I'll see you tomorrow and if anything comes up, I'll call."

"Looking forward to it. Bye, Casey."

"Bye, Alex."

As she was absently replacing the receiver, there was a knock on her door. In startlement, Alex juggled the phone. "Yes, Melissa." She replaced the receiver and pushed the phone back into place.

The door opened and her assistant entered carrying a box. "Ms. Cabot. This just came for you."

Alex's brows knit, then she smiled when she saw the logo on the side of the box. "Just set it on the table there. I'll get to it in a minute." She nonchalantly shuffled some papers on the desk.

Melissa did as she was asked and turned to leave. "Ms. Cabot?" She stopped.


"Is it your birthday or something?" She pointed to the box.

"No." Alex said without looking up. She moved some more papers around.

"Oh, okay." Melissa closed the door behind her.

At the sound of the click, Alex pushed her chair back and was up and moving to the table and the box. She picked up the package and looked for a return address. A big childlike grin broke out on her face when she saw the store logo.

The box was carried back over to her desk and she proceeded to rip into it.

Her eyes grew large as she reached into the box.

"Oh my...." She held it up. "You are so cute." The teddy bear was light beige with brilliant blue eyes. "And so soft." She cuddled it to her. "Oh look at you."

The bear was wearing a tank top and a pair of boxer shorts. She turned the bear over and what she saw made her shake her head. Across the back of the shorts was a giant band-aid. "Well, now we know without a doubt where you came from, don't we?" Alex asked the bear.

She set the bear on her desk and went digging through the box for the note she was sure was going to be in there. She wasn't disappointed. In the bottom of the box she found a large envelope. She slid her finger under the seal and opened it. Inside she found a note and another smaller plastic bag. She set the bag aside and opened the note.

Allie... (it said)

My Mama always said that kissing a boo-boo makes it all better. So how about you kiss the bear's butt and I kiss your... bare butt. **BEG**


PS I enclosed a couple of accessories for the bear and one for you.

Alex refolded the note and laid it down, she reached for the plastic bag and pulled it open. She dumped the contents on her desk. "I'm going to kill her." Alex unfolded the material to find a pair of human size boxer shorts in the same pattern the bear wore. They were dark blue with the letter 'C' all over them. She shrugged. "I guess the 'C' is for Cabot." She checked the size tag and they were her size. "Geez, Carmichael, either you are a good guesser or you've been studying my ass for a long time." She wasn't sure why, but the latter of those possibilities didn't seem to be all that annoying. She mentally shrugged and filed that thought for later.

Alex then looked at the other contents that were dumped on her desk. She grinned while she unfolded the tiny pair of black framed glasses. She placed them on the bear. Alex laughed aloud when she saw the little briefcase accessory.

"I see; so this is supposed to be me, huh?" Alex reached for the phone and dialed. It rang once and was picked up on the other end.


"I got the bear. She's cute. Thank you. The answer to your question this time is the same as yesterday. NO, you may not kiss it. I'll just suffer in silence. You should consider doing the same." Alex disconnected the call.

Abbie grinned as she closed up her phone. "You are wearing her down, Abbie-girl, she didn't say anything...." The phone rang again.

"And don't call me Allie." Click.

Abbie laughed.


Bureau Chief's Office

October 19, Thursday 11:40am

Alex Cabot, at the sound of a knock at her door, looked up from the case files she was perusing. "Yes, Melissa."

The door opened a crack and a head appeared. "Ms. Cabot, ADA Novak is here."

Alex took off her glasses and set them on the desk. "Send her in. Could you hold any interruptions for a short while? Oh, and find Mr. Potter and ask him to join us. Thank you, Melissa."

"Yes, ma'am." She turned back to the office. "Ms. Novak, Ms. Cabot will see you now." Melissa opened the door wider and stepped out of the way.

Casey entered the office. She nodded her thanks to the assistant and then turned her attention to Alex. "Good morning."

"Casey. Hi." Alex got up from behind her desk and greeted the ADA. She began to put out her hand for a hand shake and thought better of it. She wrapped the surprised redhead in a light hug.

Casey's eyes widened in surprise but she returned the hug, her eyes darting all over the office. Warning... warning. Pod person alert... pod person alert. Munch was right - aliens do exist on Earth. "Hi Alex, how are you?" She uttered when the embrace ended.

"I'm good. You?" Alex moved back around her desk to sit. Before Casey could answer, Alex continued to ramble. "Where are my manners? Would you like some coffee? Of course you would. Let me get a carafe brought in. Maybe some cookies too, yes?" She looked expectantly at Casey.

"Um, I'm fine. Coffee would be great. No need to fuss with cookies, unless you are indulging. Thank you."

Alex hit a button on the intercom. "Melissa, could you bring us a carafe of coffee?" She mouthed to Casey. Sugar? Cream? Casey shook her head no.

"And did you track down Mr. Potter?"

"Mr. Potter will be here momentarily. I'll have the coffee for you in a couple of minutes."

"Thank you." She let go of the button and sat back in her chair. She clasped her hands together and laid them on the desk. "So, Casey." She hesitated searching for something to say. "How was court?"

"Two simple arraignments. Judge Bradley. I lucked out." She cocked her head at the Bureau Chief - something was just not right. "Is everything okay, Alex?"

"Ummm...." Alex was interrupted by a knock. "Come in."

"You called, Chief?" Potter said with a grin. His eyes darted between the two women.

"Nick Potter, this is ADA Casey Novak from SVU. I'm going to have you work with her on a case."

"Ms. Novak." Nick shook her hand. "I've heard a lot about you. Your high conviction rate is what Chief Cabot here keeps beating us over the head with."

Casey straightened up in her chair while Alex sat stone-faced. "Really? Who knew I had a fan?" She smirked, highly amused.

"You do have a very high win ratio and these young pups could do worse than to emulate you." Then, turning her attention to Nick, she added in an even tone, "Although I could try beating them with a rolled up newspaper to see what effect that has on their conviction rate." She raised one eyebrow. He gulped.

"Well, Nick, I asked Chief Cabot for the ummm...." She paused as she chose her words. "...pick of the litter." She smiled. "She is graciously offering you. I have the case file here with me." Casey picked up her case and opened it. She retrieved the file and handed it to him. "I need you to read it and pull as much case law as you can find for each of the points outlined."

Nick began leafing through the case file. "If I...."

"If you have any questions, I can be reached at the office and after hours my office calls get redirected to my cell."

"Got it."

"If you have any ideas on anything not covered, please feel free to share. If they are good ones. we'll see if we can... oh I don't know... give you a cookie or a pat on the head." Casey and Nick both laughed.

"How about a scratch on the belly?" He waggled his eyebrows. He sat on the arm of her chair.

"I should warn you - my girlfriend, the detective, does carry a gun."

He jumped up as if burned. "A cookie is good." He looked at Alex, who just cleared her throat and then looked back at Casey. "I'll go get started on this," he slapped the file on his thigh. "I'll call you later today or at the very least in the morning. Will that be all right?"

Alex got up to help usher him out. "Get to work Mr. Potter." She opened the door.

"That would be wonderful. Thank you again." Casey said without turning around. Her eyes caught sight of a bit of pink on Alex's vacated desk chair. She narrowed her eyes for a moment and then had to stifle a laugh when recognition hit.

"Sure. Thank you for the opportunity. Have a good day ladies."

Alex closed the door.

Casey chuckled. "Cute ass."

Alex turned around quickly. "Excuse me?"

"Potter's. He's kind of cute in a puppyish way." She looked at Alex's expression. "Although yours is fine too."

"What!?!" Alex moved back behind her desk.

"I'm kidding, Alex. You just looked so dumbfounded there for a second."

Casey smiled. "I do greatly appreciate the help here, Alex."

Alex nodded once. She looked down at her hands, then around the room. Then Melissa knocked and her attention was drawn to the door. "Come in."

"Your coffee, ma'am." Melissa set the tray down on Alex's desk. "Do you need anything else?" At Alex's head shake Melissa added, "Okay, I'll hold any non-emergencies until you give me the word."

"Thank you."

Alex poured two cups of coffee and handed one to Casey who had scooted her chair closer to Alex's desk.

She took a sip. "Ahhhhh." She looked over the rim of the cup. "Okay, Alex, you want to tell me what's really bothering you?"

"What makes you think something is up?"

"Well, you get more and more fidgety with every knock on the door. Are you expecting someone else?"

"It's...." Alex jumped at the knock.

Melissa stuck her head in the door. "Your lunch is here, ma'am."

Alex looked at Casey, confused. "I didn't order any lunch. Casey?"

"No, I thought we were going out."

"Well, the delivery boy just dropped this off." She walked in carrying a couple of bags and an envelope under her arm." He said it was already paid for." She set the bags on Alex's desk. "Oh, and he brought this too." Melissa handed Alex the envelope.

Alex closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. She let out a breath. When she opened them, Casey was rooting through the bags.

"Alex, this is from the best barbeque place in town. We could do much worse for lunch."

"Thanks Melissa, I guess we will be eating in."

"Yum, there is all kinds of stuff in here." Casey began opening containers. "Brisket, ribs, chicken, pork... wow, and side salads. Who loves you this much?" Casey took a deep breath, inhaling the wonderful aroma of the barbeque.

"I seemed to have picked up a stalker."

"What?" Casey put down the container. "Let me call Liv and Elliot." She reached for her phone.

Alex put her hand on Casey's arm. "A Texan stalker."

"You know who it is?" Realization dawned on Casey. "Abbie?"

"Yes. She's been sending me stuff." Alex stood up and pulled the pillow out and showed it to Casey.

"A pillow? For your tattoo?"

Alex's eyes widened. "You know?"

"I guessed. You are sitting on it."

"Right. And she sent that bear." Alex pointed to the bear sitting on the file cabinet.

"Look at the little glasses. It's supposed to be you, isn't it? That's sweet." She looked at Alex's face. "Isn't it?"

"NO... yes... maybe... I don't know." She said with an exasperated sigh. "I'm so confused."

"I thought you were getting along pretty well the other night, weren't you?"

"NO... yes... maybe... I don't know. I really don't remember much of that."

"O-kay. Uhhh, do you want to be getting along better?"

"NO... yes... maybe... I don't know." She worried with the envelope.

"Alex, what is bothering you so much about Abbie? Do you want me to have Liv talk to her?"

"NO!" Alex answered quickly. "Please don't tell anyone." She held the envelope up to her chest.

"Well, at least you picked one answer that time; it's a start," Casey snarked.

"Cas-ey," Alex whined. She tore into the envelope and looked at the contents.

"Al-lex," Casey whined back. "I can't help if I don't know what's wrong."

Alex leaned over the desk and whispered. "She sent me underwear... again."

Alex held up the boy shorts. They were bright rainbow striped with the white letter "A" on the leg.

Casey burst out laughing. "Again?"

"It's not funny Casey; it's the right size and everything." Alex read the enclosed note aloud.

Allie... (it said)

Enjoy the lunch. I wish I could join you but I am on my way back to DC.

As for the short-shorts…I look forward to seeing you model them for me on my next visit. Try not to miss me too much.


"She's just trying to get your attention and it looks like it's working. The question is, do you want the attention?" Casey held up her hand to stop Alex from answering. "Let me guess – no... yes... maybe... I don't know."

"Definitely, positively, I think so, maybe."

Casey smiled at that answer.

Alex mirrored the smile thinking of the ridiculousness of it all. "I guess it could be worse." She paused. "It could be Trevor."

"Oooh Alex, not while we are getting ready to eat here."

"It does smell good. I love barbeque."

Alex and Casey picked through the containers and made themselves each a plate. Moans of appreciation floated about the room.

"Tell Abbie she can stalk me anytime. This brisket is fantastic." Casey took another bite.

"I like the pulled pork better."

Casey looked up, a twinkle in her eye. "Of course you should."

Alex looked back puzzled.

"It's Boston Butt."


Benson/Novak Residence

October 24, Tuesday 8pm

Casey paced the apartment while she talked on the phone. "Alex. Calm down. What happened?"

Alex sighed and took a deep breath. "I got more underwear delivered. Friday brought me a pair of panties in neon pink with a 'L' on them and then Saturday's were French cut in a really soft baby blue and those had an 'L' on them too. Yesterday. I got a thong."

"Nothing on Sunday? I guess even stalkers have to rest, huh?" Casey joked.

"That's not funny. What was I saying? Yesterday's was a black thong with a red pair of lips and the word 'Me' on them."

"Uh... okay."

"Don't you see the underwear spelled out 'Call Me'. The woman is deranged."

Casey chuckled. "The woman is acting like a little boy."

"Well, the boy needs to be spanked." She paused. "Don't say it."

"You're no fun."

"Casey, this is serious. She really crossed the line today."

"What did she do?" Casey listened as Alex explained the latest delivery. "Oh, Lord. In the conference room? What possessed you to open the package there?" More ranting. "Oh Alex. They saw the note too? What did it say?" She listened to Alex describe what happened. "Do you want me have Liv talk to her?" She paused and listened. "Look, Liv has been upstate for a couple of days. She is due back tonight. Let me tell her what's going on. I'll leave out some of the more personal details, okay?" She waited for confirmation. "Alex, it will be fine. I'll...." She paused when she heard the door opening. "Look, Liv is home. Let me talk to her and I'll call you back in the morning." She walked closer to the door. "I gotta go. Bye, Alex."

Olivia dropped her bag by the door and turned toward the coat rack. She started to remove her jacket when Casey, still on the phone, walked up. She heard the end part of the conversation.

"Alex?" She hung up her coat and turned around. Liv leaned in and gave Casey a kiss. "Is Alex your new BFF? Should I be jealous?" Olivia joked.

Casey punched Liv's arm. "You are my BFF; it says so right on my heart." She pointed to the tattoo.

Olivia used one finger to pull Casey's blouse away from her body and she looked down in the gap. "I dunno... maybe I better check you didn't put a huge X over my initials."

Casey slapped at her hand and then wrapped her in a hug. "Nope, wouldn't help. It's tattooed on the inside as well. You're stuck with me, BFF." They kissed again. "How ya doing, Detective? I missed you, y'know?" Casey put her head on Liv's shoulder.

"I missed you too. It wasn't my idea. It was supposed to be an up and back." She grimaced. "I can't believe they put him in general population. Three days playing babysitter in a Buffalo hospital. We spent all our time waiting on the perp's medical condition to stabilize enough to transport him back here."

"How did you end up getting sent with Munch?"

"I'm just that lucky." She rolled her eyes. "I learned more useless stuff on this trip... not anything I can put to practical use but we should be able to at least hold our own with Rachel and Sam the next time we do the Trivial Pursuit thing." She squeezed Casey. "Have you eaten? Do you want to go out somewhere? I'm starved; Munch wouldn't stop on the way back. I think he had a hot date."

They both turned and started moving toward the kitchen. Casey replaced the phone on the table.

"Nah, we don't need to go out. I have some soup heating on the stove. If you are really nice to me I might just make you a super deluxe grilled cheese sandwich to go with it." Casey bumped Liv with her hip.

"Oooh, spoil me." Olivia attempted to tickle Casey but she darted out of the way.

Walking backward to the kitchen, Casey said, "I do need to talk to you about Alex though."

"Sure, what's up?"

"A female admirer sent her some chocolate today." Casey was turned, her back to Liv. She missed the cringe that crossed Liv's face.

Casey took some bowls and plates from the cabinet and put them on the counter. Liv bit her lip and waited for Casey to continue.

Casey busied herself stirring the soup. "Anyway, Alex figured since it was Godiva chocolate, she would share it with her ADAs during the afternoon conference." Casey put the spoon down and stepped to the fridge to get out the sandwich supplies. She set the items one at a time on the counter. "Mustard?"

Liv swallowed hard and muttered to herself, "Oh no."

"Okay, no mustard... gotcha."

Casey pushed the fridge door closed and moved back to the counter to assemble the sandwiches. "When she opened the box, the chocolate... well, it wasn't your typical truffles." For emphasis, Casey waved the knife she was using. "The chocolate was molded into several different representations of the naked female form. It was embarrassing to everyone to say the least. Alex was mortified." The sandwiches were then put in the pan to grill. "She said she opened the box and then slammed the lid back on when she realized what the chocolate looked like. It was too late; the other people saw them."

"She wasn't supposed to open it in the conference room. It's not really Abbie's fault."

"What?" Casey turned around. "You know about Abbie?" She cocked an eyebrow. "Spill. No wait. Let me get dinner finished before I burn these. Sit." She motioned Liv to sit. Olivia remained perfectly silent.

Casey flipped the sandwiches. While she waited for them to finish, she ladled the soup into bowls and set the bowls on the table. Liv didn't look up at Casey until the sandwich plate was set in front of her.

"Thanks, Casey. Looks great."

Casey smiled. "Eat; you'll need your strength."

"I recognize that look in your eyes. I'm going to be subject to the Novak cross-examination, aren't I?"

"Do you want to be?" Casey asked, coyly. "Eat up."

They ate in total silence. Each would try to steal a peek at the other to see if they could figure out what the other was thinking. After the dinner was finished, Liv got up to clear the table. As she put the dishes in the sink, she started her story. "Abbie called me yesterday...."

"Benson." Olivia answered her phone.

"Hi ya, Yankee."

"Carmichael." Liv said gruffly. "I don't think I want to talk to you right now."

"Who pissed in your cornflakes today?" Abbie asked and was rewarded with dead silence. "Oh, I see. Casey is keeping you on a short leash?"

"Casey is perfectly capable of fighting her own battles and I can handle mine."

"Okay, I get it. You're still a little miffed."

"Miffed? Miffed doesn't begin to cover it. What you and Alex did was... was... arrrggghhh! Do you have any clue what crap I have had to endure from the guys this week?"

Abbie blew out a breath, then her voice softened. "I know. I apologize. I can't speak for Cabot but I just wasn't thinking. It started out with me just pushing your buttons and I let it get out of hand. I am very sorry."

"Yeah, yeah." Olivia said. "I know - apology accepted." She paused. "Now what do you want, you big troublemaker?"

"I need some help." Abbie stammered. "I'm trying to... well, get someone to notice me... romantically."

"Notice you? You never had that problem before. You want my help? In the romance department?" Olivia laughed. "You?"


"You? The same you who dumped me because this blonde intern noticed you, romantically?"

"I did not dump you. As I recall we decided we made much better friends. We are too much alike. We weren't called the Terror Twins for nothing y'know?"

"You do not recall correctly, and yeah, we do make better friends, so okay."

"I mean, as much as it is going to kill me to say this, you must know something more than me. You have Casey and...."

"I said okay."

"What? You'll help me?"

"Sure. If you hadn't dumped me..." Liv chuckled at the snort on the other end of the telephone conversation. "...I wouldn't have met Alex and if she hadn't dumped me, I wouldn't have met Casey. So yeah, I'll help you. Who's the unfortunate subject of your misguided affections?"

"Well, funny you should mention Cabot...."

Olivia broke out in laughter. "Oh, that's rich. The Texas Terror and the Ice Princess."

"C'mon Benson, this isn't funny."

"It is from where I am sitting."

"You know Cabot - just give me some pointers. What is her weak spot?"

Olivia's mind began plotting. Oh, two for one, Benson, you lucky dog you. She was so glad that this was a phone conversation and not a face to face. She would never be able to hide the growing smirk. "What is every woman's weak spot? Chocolate."

"I can do that. I'm sure I can find one who...."

Olivia looked at Casey. "At that point I told her that I knew of the perfect place to get them from. I told her about an online store called GoDiva."

"Don't you mean Godiva?"

"That's what she thought too, but no, the online store is actually called GoDiva. They get most of their business from folks who mistype in search engines. It's a knockoff that specializes in molded chocolates. Anyway, I sort of told her that the chocolates were...." Liv's voice softened to a whisper. "Au naturel"


She cleared her throat. "Au naturel." Liv grinned sheepishly. "She might have heard it as 'all natural' because she mentioned that it was a nice touch that the chocolate was actually good for Alex." Olivia rubbed her ear, nervously. "Anyway, she pretty much fell for it. I completely sealed the deal with offering to order the candy for her. I asked her if she wanted me to include a note. She told me she wanted it to say...."

Allie, (it said)

I understand melted chocolate makes great body paint. Call me; I'll bring the brushes.


"Let me get this straight. You convinced Abbie that giving Alex risqué chocolate was not only romantic but healthy too?"


Casey shook her head and grinned. "Damn, you're good." The ADA patted Liv's hand. "Remind me not to piss you off."

Olivia sat back relieved and smiled. "You aren't mad?"

"Nah. No harm really. You're right. Alex has been getting weird gifts from Abbie all week. She should have known better than to open up the box in front of anyone else. I'll come up with something to tell Alex tomorrow." She paused while an idea popped into her head. "Hey Liv, how about we have that Halloween Costume party we talked about? We can invite the squad and a few neighbors and, of course, Cabott and Carmello."

"I know that look. You," she pointed her finger at Casey, "are thinking evil thoughts." Olivia chortled.

"Well, what if I am? It's a good excuse to get together and have some fun."

"Why not?" Olivia shrugged. "I'll invite my half of the terrible twosome; you get the other one."

"Done. Don't forget to spring it on the guys. Tell them to bring dates. Oh and Melinda, George...." Casey began to count off the people on her fingers. "Rachel and Sam and Evie...."

"Whoa! We can discuss all that in the morning. I have a really important question first."


"Do we have anything for dessert? I'm still hungry."

Casey got up and walked across the kitchen to the fridge. She opened the door and peered in. Her eyes lit up. "Well, look what we have here." She removed the bottle and turned quickly, keeping the item behind her back.

"Hey, Benson." Liv looked up. Casey held the Hershey's syrup out and waggled it. "Picasso me, baby."

The giggling ADA took off running for the bedroom with a grinning detective not but a few feet behind her.


Benson/Novak Residence

October 28, Saturday 7pm

Olivia took one more look around the apartment and smiled. She couldn't believe how Evie's magic, with some help from Casey, transformed the place. All the furniture had been moved toward the walls or moved into the bedroom to open up space to walk and talk or, if the spirit moved someone, dance in. The remaining chairs were draped in sheer black fabric with orange or lime green bow sashes. Gotta love Casey. The tables with the food were killer. Okay, Liv, killer is not a way to describe food. Well, unless you cook it. Liv snorted to herself. Good thing Evie did.

She walked down the length of the buffet table. The dry ice in the sangria punch was a nice touch and it was wafting just a bit of eerie fog down the rest of the table. The table itself had spider webs and plastic creepy crawlies decorating it. The food was something else. She marveled at the clever food items. Everyone is going to think it was a typo on the invitation. Heh. The detective shook her head. After one last glance and she made her way to the front door and picked up one of the extra invitations laying on the side table and a thumbtack. She opened the door and pinned the paper on the outer part of it.

Groan-up Halloween Party

Dress up as your favorite TV character


October 28th, 7pm-until

Benson/Novak Residence

Olivia closed the door and headed toward the bedroom. "Casey? You ready yet?" She yelled. "Folks should be coming in soon."

"Chill," came the reply through the closed door. "Keep your shirt on." A giggle. "Or come in here and take your shirt off and we can vo-dee-oh-doh."

Olivia laughed. Her intended reply was interrupted by a knock on the door. "They're here," she yelled back, doing her best to mimic that famous horror movie's tagline.

Olivia opened the door to find her partner and his wife standing in conversation with their backs to her. They were looking down the hall at the Evie's door.

"Kath, was that woman dressed like, I dunno... one of Robin Hood's guys?"

"No, I think it was more Amazon-ish. I think she was supposed to be the sidekick chick to that warrior woman on TV."

"You think the twins will be okay with her?"

"Yeah, Liv said she does a party for the building's kids every year. Did you see the video game systems she has? We'll be lucky if they want to come home with us. They'll be fine, El, and we are right next door if they need anything."

"Okay," Elliot turned to knock again but Liv caught his fist in her hand. "Whoa – sorry, partner." He looked Benson up and down, from the top of her slicked back hair to the motorcycle boots on her feet. "I thought you said this was a costume party." He indicated his and Kathy's clothing. "You are wearing your normal outfit."

Olivia smacked his arm, hard.

"Ow." He winced. "What did I say?"

"I AM dressed as one of my favorite TV characters." She removed a comb from her back pocket but stopped short of actually using it. She threw her arms out to the side. "Ayyyyyyyyyyyyy."

"Ooh, Fonzie... just ignore the cowboy. I think his mask is on too tight." She elbowed him in the gut. "I think you look very authentic." Kathy stepped into the doorway and gave Liv a hug.

"So do you Rhoda. I love the head scarf." She returned the hug and stuck her tongue out at Elliot. "So, how come you aren't Tonto to his Lone Stranger?"

"That's Lone Ranger... Ranger, you dork."

Kathy put her arm around his waist. "I think she had it right." She patted his belly. "Although you really aren't any stranger than most, honey."

Olivia laughed. "Why don't you both go look around? Case and Evie outdid themselves with the decorations. Oh and El, could you turn the stereo on? The CD is already in it."

Elliot tipped his hat to her. "I just mosey over there and do that for you."

He paused. "Sir."

Olivia went to kick him in the ass but he smirked and moved quickly out of the way. Kathy joined him and slapped his butt. She turned her head and grinned at Liv.

Olivia turned to close the door and jumped back in surprise. Standing silently in the doorway was Lieutenant Uhura and... Oh my God. "Fin?"

She looked incredulously at him. "What the hell?"

"Whatcha think, baby girl?" He pointed to his afro and then his outfit, long sleeve button down shirt, bellbottoms and dark glasses. He spun completely around. "You like? The bellbottoms are a bit hard to get used to but...."

"Who? What? Where?" Olivia stammered.

"Linc Hayes, Mod Squad." He leaned in close, "But shhhhhhhhh... I'm undercover." He winked at her. Looking past Liv, he spotted Elliot and began walking to him. "Yo, masked man...."

Olivia turned back to Melinda. "You look great. Closet Trekkie?"

"No closet involved. I love Star Trek." She hugged Liv. "Thanks for inviting us. Jeff couldn't come; he's out of town for the firm, so Fin was gracious enough to escort us. I think it's so nice of your neighbor to throw a party for the kids. My daughter bonded with her grandson the second she walked in the door. He's a cutie."

"Jimmy's very sweet too. C'mon in." She stepped back.

"Where's Casey?"

"Right here." Casey walked out of the bedroom and sauntered up to Liv. She wrapped her arm around her waist. "Hiya Fonz, miss me?" She snapped her gum.

Olivia looked at Casey's tight sweater, poodle skirt and loafers and then back to the 'L' on the sweater. "Hello, Laverne. You, me, Inspiration Point? Whoa!" She kissed Casey.

"Get a room!" was yelled collectively by everyone in the apartment.

"You two are just too cute together," Melinda offered. "Matching outfits."

"Yeah, but where I saw the shows on the original airing, the kid here caught it on reruns." She pointed her thumb at Casey.

Casey rolled her eyes at Liv's gibe, then linked arms with Melinda. "C'mon Doc, let me show you some of the body parts we have on display." Warner looked back over her shoulder at Liv and mouthed 'body parts'. Olivia just shrugged and smiled.

Olivia heard a throat clear. She turned back to the door. Her eyes widened in surprise. "I can't believe you both did it."

"We told you we would." Rachel stood holding Sam's hand. Both were dressed pretty identically. They wore school uniforms. Skirts, blue blouses, blazers with a crest on them and ties. Rachel's tie was barely knotted while Sam's was perfect.

"Well, Jo, why don't you take Blair and go introduce yourselves?" She pointed to the growing crowd. They moved further into the room.

Olivia turned back to the doorway and stuck her head hesitantly into the hall. She looked left and then jumped when she turned to the right. Standing perfectly still was a tall man dressed impeccably in a suit and tie. The only odd thing was that he was talking into his shoe.

"Maxwell Smart, I presume."

"Shhhhhhhh, you never know when KAOS might be lurking around. I need to inspect the premises for listening devices."

"Go on in. The food's out. Watch out for the corn - it has ears, y'know."

"Oooh, Benson. Bad one. I like that." John smiled and moved into the room to join the others.

Olivia heard the elevator ding and waited for the next arrivals. Stepping out was her Captain, George and someone who she assumed was George's partner.


"No, Lieutenant." He waved a cigar around. "Lt. Columbo." He smiled at Liv. "Thanks for inviting me."

"Well, go on in and interrogate everyone. The tall man with the shoe phone is very suspicious tonight."

Don grinned. "Yeah, well since when is Munch not suspicious?" He headed into the apartment.

"Hi George or should I say, Mr. Spock."

George lifted his hand in the familiar Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper. Hello Olivia. I would like you to meet Michael."

Michael, who was dressed as Batman, shook her hand. "I've heard a lot about you."

She cut her eyes to George. "I wish I could say the same. We started to wonder if you were imaginary or not."

"I'm an Investment Counselor; I travel a lot. I hate missing your squad get-togethers. Oh and don't worry - it's not that kind of stuff he tells me. He just tells me about how all the detectives like to rankle each other. It's entertaining dinner conversation."

"George can introduce you to all the main characters. Laverne over there is my partner. Be careful or she'll cross-examine you and coerce you into confessing all kinds of stock secrets."

Both laughed. Olivia heard the elevator ding again and waited for her next guests. Stepping out were Liz and someone she was guessing was Jake. Liz was wearing a buttoned up trench coat so only her Go Go boots showed, and Jake was dressed as Gilligan.

"Hello Judge."


"Sir. I'm Olivia." She offered her hand. "I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess you're Jake."

"That's me. Please to meet you and just call me Jake. Which one of those lovely ladies I saw that night is yours?"

"Casey, the redhead."

"Sort of." Liz added in a low tone with a smirk.

"Well, yeah."

Liv turned to Elliot's voice. "Hey Liv, could you come over here?"

"Case?" Olivia gestured to Casey.

The ADA excused herself from a conversation with Munch and moved to the door. "Yeah, honey?"

"Could you man the door and I'll go see what the *Lone way more Stranger than anyone* wants?" she snarked.

"Sure." Casey turned. "Hi Judge, Jake." She hugged them both. "How are you?"

"Good, why wouldn't I be?" Liz answered quickly.

"I haven't seen you since my inking. Just wondering." She turned her attention to Jake. "Please give Dite my best. Liv loved the tattoo. She's considering getting one of her own."

"Cool. Send her in. I'll take good care of her." He smiled.

"Can I take your coat, Liz?"

Judge Donnelly hesitated and looked nervously at Jake. Jake addressed Casey. "She wanted to dress as the Flying Nun but since she lost a bet, I got to choose." He smiled and bumped Liz's hip. "And Donnellys never welsh on bets."

"Fine." Liz shrugged off the coat and threw it at Casey. She juggled it since her mind was still trying to process Liz's costume.

"OHMIG...." Casey said in a much louder voice than intended, drawing the attention of the group.

"Shut up, Novak." Liz warned.

Catcalls started from inside. Munch whistled. Liz flushed red.

Jake looked at Liz lovingly, and said, "If ya got it, flaunt it and you still got it, baby." He held out his arm.

Liz held her head up high and took it. They walked passed Casey into the apartment.

Olivia made her way back to the door. She continued to glance, every few seconds, over her shoulder at Liz. "Ummm, Casey?"

"Yeah." Casey answered absently, her attention still on Liz.

"Is she wearing...?"

"A bikini? Uhh, yeah."

"And Go Go boots?"

"Uh huh."

"With slogans and images drawn all over her."


"Is she about to sock it to Munch?"

"Ooh." Casey cringed in sympathy. "Yeah. Looks like she did. Good thing we have a doctor in the house." She cringed again. "Ow, that had to hurt. I don't think that shoe phone was meant to go there."

Olivia stood next to Casey in the kitchen. Liv was drinking a beer.

"It looks like everyone is having fun." Casey pointed to Fin who was dancing with Rachel. "I caught him laughing before. Not just smiling, an actual laugh. I didn't think it was possible."

"Look over there." Liv nodded waved her bottle toward the window. Melinda and Sam were standing next to the fire escape, presumably talking doctor shop. Melinda absently straightened the bow tie they had dressed the skeleton in. She laughed as Sam pointed out the decoy ducks on the book shelf that had witches hats on them.

Munch was working his way down the buffet table, sampling and shaking his head. When he got to the ribs, he turned looking for Liv. "Hey Benson," he called out.

"Yeah, Munch."

The ribs were laid out exactly as they would appear on a body. A half of a red pepper served as a heart. He removed the pepper with the knife through it and held it up. "I think they would call this a homicide on the streets." He put it back in place.

Liv laughed. "Well, I call Adam's ribs there delicious. Did you try the chicken fingers?"

"Liv, those aren't...?" John lowered his glasses and looked over them.

Liv's eyes widened at the implication. "No, no. Omelet is safe and sound at PS 185."

Munch waved an empty toothpick in her direction as acknowledgment and continued down the table. He was quickly joined by Elliot and Kathy. Elliot whispered something in Munch's ear and all three began laughing. This drew the attention of the Captain, George and Michael.

Casey smiled and squeezed Liv's waist and then lowered her voice. "The only thing is - where are the terrible twosome?"

Liv unconsciously looked to the door, silently willing a knock. "I don't know. Abbie said she was flying up. Maybe her shuttle was late."

Evie popped her head in. "Knock, knock." She looked around until her eyes met up with Liv's and Casey's. "Some folks came next door by mistake. I thought I would bring them over myself and see how everyone is doing. I brought some more eyeballs." Evie opened the door wider to let them in. She followed their entrance, stepped around them and crossed the room to set down another tray of food on the buffet table. A shadow fell across the platter and Evie looked up.

"Hello, my dear lady. You must be the famous Evie O'Connor, neighbor and chef of all this incredible tasting food." He held out his hand. "John Munch."

She took his hand and he kissed her knuckles. Evie blushed and ducked her head. "Thank you."

"No, thank you." He smiled. "Very clever. Such pun worthy snacks."

He pointed down the table. "Chicken fingers, meat eyeballs, toe jam... oh and the Adam's ribs. Yes, very clever indeed. I see why it was a 'groan-up' party now."

"I'm just a big kid when it comes to Halloween." She tilted her head. "Are you the one who helped Livvy out with her cooking?"

John looked to make sure no one could hear them. "That would be me, yes."

"I got to try some of your lasagna. It was wonderful." She winked at him.

"I'm working on one more item - some Misfortune Cookies for the party. Why don't you stop next door? You can help me make up some of the misfortunes to stuff in them. I hear you have a very unique sense of humor."

"Lead on, M'lady." He offered his arm.

Olivia turned from her observation of Munch and Evie, then set her beer on the counter as she and Casey went to greet their new guests.

"Trevor, how nice of you to join us. Superman?" Liv joked.

"Well, I have Clark Kent's mild mannered good looks. How do you know I don't wear this under my suit all the time?" He grinned.

"T-M-I Trevor, T-M-I." Casey snarked back, causing everyone to laugh. "Hi, Serena." She gave the other lawyer a hug.

"Hey Casey, long time. I never get to see you anymore since I went into private practice."

"I know. You and I need to make time to do lunch or something so we can catch up." She grabbed Serena's arm and pulled her slightly away, leaving Liv and Trevor to talk. "Trevor does know you are gay, right?"

"Oh yeah. We ran into each other at Baron's the other night and got to talking. Found out we were both invited here. Since neither of us is dating, we figured we'd just come together." She shook her hair back. "I think he likes being accompanied by one of Charlie's Angels."

Casey grinned. "C'mon, I think you know everyone and if not, I'll introduce you." They headed off to the buffet table.

John and Evie excused themselves as they squeezed by. "Be back, Benson. This lovely lady wants to show me her cookies." He waggled his eyebrows, then ooofed when she mock elbowed him in the stomach.

"Don't kill him like the last one, Evie. I'm running out of room for burying the bodies." She grinned at John and then went back to talking to Trevor.

"Go get some food, Supe and," she waggled a finger at him, "no using X-ray vision to look under their costumes." Olivia moved to close the door when the point of an umbrella stopped her.

Liv stepped back. Alex stood ramrod still. Liv took in the perfectly tailored three piece suit, the wingtips and the umbrella carried just so. Alex's hair was tucked up under a bowler hat. She was smirking.

"Good evening."

"Have we met?"

"My name is Steed, John Steed" she said in a flawless British accent and tipped her hat. "And you, I believe, sir, are Mr. Arthur Fonzarelli, correct?"

Both started to laugh.

"Steed, Alex? No wonder you didn't want to tell Casey what you were wearing."

"I loved that show; he was so smooth and so unflappable. No matter what happened, you never saw him flinch. I liked that."

"Kinda like the Ice Princess we all know?" She smiled knowingly.

"Watch it, Fonz; I'll hit you with the brolly." She waved the umbrella at her. "It's good for more than just rain protection. Although, I'm glad I brought it -it's starting to look like we might be in for some rain." Her smiling eyes took in the room. "Is that Liz over there? In Go Go boots?" Her brows knit in confusion. "And a Ranger's jersey?"

"Yeah, believe it or not, she's wearing a bikini under that jersey." Olivia held her hands out in surrender to Alex's incredulous look. "Honest." She scratched the back of her neck, in nervousness as Alex continued to stare. "She lost some kind of bet with Jake and he picked her costume. She's all decked out like Goldie Hawn from Laugh In. It was obvious that she was grinning and bearing it just for the sake of the bet, so Casey went and got her the jersey. She wanted Liz to have a good time and feel a little more comfortable."

"Liz? In a bikini?"

"Yeah. Liz."

"The Judge? In a bikini?"

"Yes, Judge Elizabeth Donnelly."

"Oh, this is too good to pass up." Alex's eyes took on a distinct twinkle and she strolled across the room.

Liv was bent over getting another beer out of the fridge when the ADA struck. Literally. The detective jumped when the rather hard smack to her butt hit. She turned around to glare when she realized it was Casey.

She wagged her finger. "I'm gonna get you for that."

"Promise?" Casey popped her gum. "Got any milk and Pepsi in there?"

"Ewwwwwwww." Liv grimaced. "Why would you want to drink that? She handed her the milk bottle.

"Dare from Elliot." She grinned. Casey reached into the cabinet and removed a glass and poured a half a glass of milk then handed it back to Liv. "It's not that bad and then I'll get to dare him to do something. Pepsi?"

"Oh yeah, hang on." Olivia went rummaging back into the fridge. "Yeah, we got one." She handed over the can.

Casey popped the can and poured it into the glass. "Hey Elliot." He looked up at the ADA. "Cheers!" She chugged it down. "Ahhhhhh...that wasn't nearly as disgusting as it sounded."

"Milk mustache." Olivia leaned in and kissed Casey. She smacked her lips. "Nope, it tasted pretty good." She ran her thumb over Casey's lip to remove the last of the milk. "Okay, now it's your turn but remember if El gets sick, we have to clean it up, so be a little nicer than I would be."

Olivia looked over at the buffet table. Everyone was eating, drinking and laughing. Melinda was ladling out the sangria. Alex took a sip of hers and coughed.

"Geez, what's in this stuff?"


Abbie cracked the door and stuck her head in. "Hi guys."

"Hey Abbie, c'mon in. Join the party," Casey called out.

At the sound of the voices, everyone in the room turned to the door. Abbie walked in and unexpectedly all conversation petered out and there was dead silence.

Suddenly self conscious because of the silence, she looked over her shoulder to see if they were staring at something behind her. "Guys?" She waved her hand. "Guys? Is there something wrong with my costume?" She looked down at the formfitted leather bodysuit. She joked. "Well, granted Diana Rigg wore this better, but I didn't think I looked too bad."

Just then the lights flickered for a moment followed by flash of lightning. Alex jumped at the rumbling noise that followed and dropped her glass of sangria.

Casey found Liv. "Thunder?"

Olivia looked at the awestruck gaze on Alex's face as she continued to stare at Abbie. "Nope, I think what you just heard was the Ice Princess cracking."


Hudson University Stadium

November 11, Saturday 1pm

Casey shifted the strap from her equipment bag back up on her shoulder. "I'm telling you El, we're going to annihilate these pencil pushers." She grinned. "I mean really, how could we lose?"

"I hope you're right. It's just weird thinking about playing softball in November. Plus, having two regulars out with injuries isn't going to help."

"Yeah, but we have Melinda now and Maureen filling in."

"I still don't know how you talked Melinda into playing. How did you even know that she played in college?"

"Charm, pure charm." She paused at the incredulous look Elliot gave her. "Okay, okay, I volunteered Liv and me for babysitting duties for a few weekends so that Melinda and her husband can do the romantic long weekend thing."

Elliot smiled. "I'll remember that the next time I have something you want."

"Careful Stabler... you and romance could mean another child."

He slapped his hands over Dickie's ears. "Bite your tongue. We stopped at the twins."

Dickie struggled out of his father's grasp and hurried down the tunnel to the light. He stopped at the edge and looked over the domed field. "Whoa." His eyes widened in disbelief. "It's sooooooo cool." He turned around. "Hey Dad, hurry... look. Do the Mets really practice here in the off-season?"

Elliot and Casey picked up their pace to join the kid on the edge of the tunnel. Elliot slapped Dickie's cap visor down playfully then put his hand on the boy's shoulder. "Like that boy?" Dickie adjusted his cap and looked up at him. Elliot turned to Casey. "Your Aunt Casey's made this possible. I'm still not sure how she negotiated this."

Dickie threw his arms around Casey's waist in a hug. "Thank you, Aunt Casey. This is way too cool. Wait until my friends hear."

Casey returned the hug. "You're welcome, kiddo. I'm just glad we aren't playing outside. We'd have to wear skates instead of cleats." She smiled and patted Dickie's back. Why don't you take the equipment down to our dugout?" She pointed over towards it. "Get it all set up and then you can help me warm up, okay?"

He took Casey's equipment bag from her and the one from his dad and headed onto field.

Casey turned and looked back into the tunnel. "I wonder where everyone is? I thought Liv and John were right behind us."

"We're early Case. I'm sure they will be right al...." His sentence was interrupted by the sound of a golf cart. They watched as Munch and Liv drove up.

John braked to a stop. "How do you like my wheels, Counselor?"

"Where did you, ahem, borrow that from, John?" Casey asked, her hands on her hips.

"I got it from the groundskeeper." He waved his thumb over his shoulder. "You left us that huge cooler to carry, so I figured we'd do it the easy way."

Olivia stepped out of the cart. She took her coat off and shook off the snow and put it back on. Then rubbed her hands briskly up and down her arms.

"Cold, Benson?" John stared at her chest. "And what's with the dress, anyway?"

Olivia crossed her arms and glared at John. "Go to hell." She stomped off to the edge of the tunnel.

"Well, you'd be warmer anyway." John yelled after her.

"John." Casey warned.

"C'mon Casey, what gives? We hardly ever get to see Benson in a dress even on special occasions. Here we are at a softball game. In November. It's 30 outside and there is snow falling." He peered over the top of his glasses.

Casey blew out a breath and looked around to see if Liv was out of earshot. "The first time I asked Liv to come watch me play she thought I was going to try to recruit her for the team. I mean the woman runs, she climbs, she swims, she plays golf. She had athlete written all over her or so I thought. She showed up in a dress so there was no possible way I could coerce her to play. We won that game by a ton of runs. She did it again the next game, since I was still hounding her about playing. We won that one too. She finally relented and we went to the park and batting cages together one day. The woman has no softball skills whatsoever. Oh my God she sucks." Her voice raised on the last part.

"You better be talking about my softball skills and not our love life, Novak or there will be hell to pay," Liv jokingly yelled back over her shoulder.

"Yes, dear." She answered. "Anyway, I stopped hounding her and we settled on her being my good luck charm. So now when she can manage to get to a game, she wears a dress. She's freezing her ass-ets off because I asked her to, so lay off, okay?" Then she yelled down to Liv, "I love you. honey."

"You owe me big time, Sweet-ie." She turned and walked back to the trio. "We need to renegotiate that good luck charm agreement to only be valid in decent weather. It's still cold in here, brrrrr, and we are indoors."

Casey put her arm around Liv and smiled at her. "Have your people call my people."

Liv kissed Casey's nose. "C'mon Munch, let's get that stuff to the dugout and go pick out some seats. Maybe we can build a fire from old concession trash."

The rest of the team arrived within the next twenty minutes and were warming up on the field. Casey and Dickie were playing catch along the sideline when Abbie and her team arrived.

Abbie reached the end of the tunnel and looked around the field. Spying a 'C-No' on the back of a jersey, she called out. "Hey Novak?" Casey turned to the voice. Abbie waved. "You starting without us?"

"Wouldn't dream of it. We only got here a little while ago." She pointed to one dugout. "Your team can use that one." Then she pointed to the other dugout. "We have a cooler full of water and Gatorade over there. Help yourself. I brought plenty." She tossed the ball back to Dickie. "I'll be right back."


Casey approached Abbie. "I'm glad you could arrange to come out and play today."

"It's for a good cause."


"That too but I was thinking more about kicking the one-six's collective butts." She tilted her head and grinned.

"We have George playing left field. Do you suffer from these delusions often?" She chuckled.

Abbie looked around the field. "Okay, I see Stabler and Fin and O'Halloran." She used her hand as a visor. "Who are the others? The third baseman looks familiar."

Casey pointed, "That's Kenny Briscoe, Lenny's nephew." Abbie shook her head. "The guy in right field is Ruben Morales from TARU. Our normal second baseman was shot in a sting, so we recruited El's daughter Maureen to play. She played in high school. Oh and you know Doc Warner; she's our catcher."

Abbie whistled. "Nice team. But not nice enough. Heh." She bumped Casey's shoulder playfully. "Let me go get them warmed up. Some of these guys haven't exercised since our season ended."

"Making excuses?" They both turned to watch the field play. Casey winced as she watched a ball go through Briscoe's legs.

Abbie laughed. "Nah, I think we are even in that area."

The game was already underway when Alex arrived. She made her way up into the stands along the first base line. She took off her coat and folded over the seat next to hers. Once she was settled, she looked over and saw Liv, John and Don sitting along the third base line. She mentally shrugged and debated whether or not to move. Laziness won out rather quickly when she realized that Abbie was playing first base.

Abbie's attention was drawn to a coat flapping in the stands and she looked up momentarily. She recognized Alex Cabot. "Hey Allie." She waved her hat at her.

Alex glared at Abbie. "Don't call me Allie," Alex ground out between clenched teeth. Abbie just laughed and turned her attention back to the game.

A few minutes later Liz and Jake arrived. They looked up at the stands. Liz pointed over to Alex. Jake pointed over to Liv. Both made their way into the stands.

"This seat taken, Counselor?"

"Hi Liz." She looked behind the Judge. "No Jake?"

"He went to talk to Benson; she's been trying to decide on a tattoo."

"Liv? Really?"

Liz ignored the small talk and got right down to business. "So, you want to tell me what happened at the Halloween party that caused you to bolt so quickly?"

"Nothing." Alex looked away.

Liz frowned. "Try again."

"The thunder caught me by surprise; I dropped my glass, got embarrassed and fled."

"Alex?" Liz picked up one of Alex's hands in her own. "I have seen you stare down much bigger, scarier things without even a blink. You try it with me all the time." She grinned and got a mirrored smile in return. "You were having a great time joking and laughing. Right up until the time Carmichael...." She stared at Alex. "Are you and Carmichael not getting along? I thought we fixed that. Do I need to talk to her?'" She stood and looked over the field.

"Carmichael!" she yelled.

"What?" Abbie turned to the voice.

Alex pulled Donnelly back into her seat. "Nothing, go back to the game," she yelled back to Abbie.

Abbie shrugged and turned her attention back to the play.

"What. Happened. Alex?" Liz enunciated each word carefully. She looked into Alex's eyes for any indication of an answer. "Are you two...?"

"NO... yes... maybe... I don't know."

Liz pinched the bridge of her nose. "What?"

"Abbie has been sending me things."


"Yes and other things." Alex looked away.

"Care to elaborate?"

"It started after our visit to your office."

"A day that will live in infamy." She snorted. "Go on."

"She sent me a pillow to sit on. Then she sent me a bear with a Band-Aid on its butt. Then there was the week's worth of underwear." The last word came out in a whisper.


"Underwear." Alex sighed.

"She sent you underwear?" Liz looked from Alex to Abbie and back again.

"And exotic chocolate."


"Naked women."

"She sent you naked women?" Liz hissed out.

Alex looked at Liz like she had grown another head. "No, the chocolate was molded in the naked female form." She looked over at first base. "She sends me flowers every few days."

"Alex?" Liz picked up her hand again. "Is Carmichael stalking you?"

"Not exactly."

"Do you want this attention?"

"NO... yes... maybe... I don't know." She took a breath and blew it out slowly. "She always sends a cute note where she calls me Allie. I hate being called Allie." Alex said exasperatedly.

"Well then we'll put a stop to this right now." Liz stood up again and braced her hands on the railing. "Carmichael!" She screamed.

Abbie turned to the scream. "What?" She turned back just as she heard the tink of the bat. She managed to get her glove up enough to block some of the speed of the line drive headed at her head. But the ball glanced off the glove and caught her in the temple. She dropped with a thud.

"OHMIGOD, Abbie!" Alex leapt out of her seat and jumped over the railing to the field. Liz made her way down the steps.

"Abbie?" Alex carefully turned her head and hissed at the knot and bruise already forming on Abbie's face. She tapped Abbie's cheek. "Abbie? Sweetie?"

Abbie opened her brown eyes and squinted. "Am I dead? Is this heaven?"

Alex laughed in relief. "No."

"But I must be. You look like an angel." Abbie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She opened them again. Liz was now in her line of vision. "Oh, crap. I must have taken a left turn at Albuquerque. I'm in Hell."

Liz's eyebrow raised. "Alex?" Liz grabbed Alex's arm and moved her out of the way to give Dr. Warner room. They stepped back a few feet. "So, I guess we can rule out the *no, maybe, I don't know*, correct?" Liz asked sarcastically.

Alex looked down at Abbie and then back at Liz. She bit her lip and gave a curt affirmative nod. She grabbed Liz's arm. "But you can't tell her."

Melinda checked over Abbie. She probed the bump and checked Abbie's pupils.

"Hey Doc? I really am seeing stars." Abbie said amazed.

"Those are the ceiling lights, Abbie." Melinda replied drolly. "How many fingers am I holding up?" She held up two fingers.

"On which hand?" Abbie replied.

"I think we should take you for a little ride, just to be on the safe side." She moved to support Abbie's back. "Let's sit you up. Slowly, okay?"

Abbie insisted she didn't need a hospital but after a failed attempt to remain upright under her own power it was decided she would get one anyway.

"Okay, but no ambulance."

"I'll drive her." Everyone turned and looked at Alex.

"Actually, Counselor, I'll take her. I think my shield will get her looked at a lot faster," Don Cragen replied.

"Take the golf cart." Munch added and helped Don half carry her to it. "I always wanted to sweep you off your feet Counselor." He said to Abbie with a smile. They got Abbie seated. "Hang on, okay?"

"I'll call you when we know something." Don got in and started the cart.

Alex watched, worriedly, as they drove down the tunnel. Liz put her arm around Alex and directed her back to the stands. "She'll be fine, Alex. Let's face it, the only one with a harder head than Carmichael is you." Liz smiled.

Abbie's team grouped off to one side. The Sex Crimes team milled about wondering what was going on. Finally, one of the players walked over to Elliot.

"We'd like to finish the game but we're one player down."

Elliot turned and pointed to the stands. "We really don't have anymore players dressed to play."

Munch saw Elliot in conversation but couldn't hear what they said. He saw the hand gesture. John leaned over toward Olivia and whispered, "Can I borrow your dress?"

"We have a proposition."

"Okay," Elliot shrugged. "What?"

"We'd like to recruit your son to play on our team. We've been watching him handle the foul balls. He plays little league, right? So he knows how to play?"

"Yeah, he plays first base."

"Perfect. So how about it? Will he do it?"

Elliot rubbed the back of his neck. "One way to find out." He looked around and found Dickie near the edge of the dugout talking to Melinda. "Dickie? C'mere, son."

Dickie excused himself and ran over. "Yeah, Dad?"

"You know Ms. Carmichael isn't going to be able to finish the game." He waited for Dickie to nod he understood. "These folks flew all the way up from Washington to play today and they would like to finish the game." He placed his hand on his son's shoulder. "Son? They would like you to finish the game in Ms. Carmichael's place."

Dickie's eyes widened. "You want me to play? For the other team?"

"You have to promise to play to the best of your ability, okay?"

Dickie looked over at the other team. "For real?" They nodded. "Cool."

"Guess that settles that." Elliot looked at Dickie. "Get your gear boy."

The game was in the sixth inning and the Sex Crimes team was behind by one. Olivia's phone rang. She made her way down to the field and waited for a break in play. Olivia walked over to the home plate umpire and told him what was going on. She pointed to Elliot, Casey and Pete, the Fed's interim leader.

The Umpire called a time out and waved them in.

Casey and Elliot stood on either side of Pete. Liv stood next to the Umpire.

"I hate to interrupt the...." Olivia was cut off by Pete.

"Ooh, baby, you can interrupt me any time." He leered at her.

"That's my partner, you ass," was said simultaneously and backed up with twin slaps to the back of his head. Elliot and Casey smiled at each other.

Pete looked between them. Olivia shook her head and evilly grinned. "You three?"

Olivia moved Pete out of the way and insinuated herself between El and Casey. She put her arms around both. She leaned her head first on one's shoulder and then the other's. "Uh huh."

"Benson? Benson?" A disembodied voice was heard. "Are you still there?"

"Sorry Cap," she spoke back into the phone. "I'm here. Just gathering the troops." She paused. "Oh, hi Abbie." She listened for a few moments. "Abbie is going to be fine. She is staying at Cragen's. The doc wants her to stay awake for awhile in case of a concussion." She listened some more. "They did a scan - it was negative."

"We always knew there was nothing in your hard head, Abbie." Pete yelled out loud enough for the person on the phone to hear him. Everyone snickered.

"Abbie said...." Liv started and then stopped. "You sure? Okay." She turned to Pete. "Abbie said screw you."

Pete looked at Benson again. "All-Right! Thanks Boss," he yelled into the phone and went to grab Olivia.

Elliot and Casey both grabbed one of his arms and pulled him back.

"Touch her and die," Elliot growled into his ear. "I have a big gun and Casey here will make sure the paperwork goes missing."

"Aw c'mon, I was only kidding around. I get it, I get it." They let go of his arms.

"Oh, okay," Olivia handed Pete the phone.

"Yeah, boss?" Pete's face paled. "Got it." He swallowed. "I am very sorry Ms. Benson for my rude behavior."

Olivia exchanged puzzled looks with Elliot and Casey and then looked at the phone that Pete was handing back to her. "Abbie?" Her face creased in a familiar grin. "I'll have to remember that one. Is it physically possible?" She raked her eyes up and down Elliot's body. "That could come in quite handy. Okay, I'll call you back when the game is over." She snapped the phone shut. Both Elliot and Casey had raised an eyebrow in silent question. "Umm, play ball?" She leaned in and whispered in Casey's ear, "Go get 'em." Liv smacked Elliot on the butt then winked and wandered back to the stands.

"Uhh, Casey?" He looked back and forth between the two women.

"I have no clue." She walked back to the pitcher's mound to resume the game.

Casey had her arm around Dickie as they walked back up the tunnel. "You were great, kiddo." She smiled and hugged him a little tighter.

"You aren't mad?"

"Are you kidding? That was an awesome catch and a terrific double play."


Casey stopped and looked into Dickie's eyes. "I'm not mad, I promise. I'm very proud of you. You won the game for your team."

"Are you mad at Dad?"

"For hitting into the double play?" Casey thought for a moment. "Nah, its part of the game. But let's let him suffer a bit." She smirked.

Elliot caught up to Casey and his son. "Case... I...."

"Elliot, I was just telling Dickie he could play on the Sex Crimes team next season."

"But Fin plays first. He not playing next year?"

"No, Dickie has agreed to change positions." She winked at the boy. "He's going to change to shortstop." She continued walking down the tunnel.

"That's great, Casey." He adjusted his grip on the equipment bags. Then realization hit. "Hey, wait a minute. I play shortstop." He hurried down the tunnel toward the laughter. "You are joking, right? Casey? Case?"


O'Connor Residence

November 23, Thursday 7am

Evie O'Connor wiped her hands with a dish towel as she strode from the kitchen to the front door. "I'm coming, I'm coming. Keep your pants on."

She leaned forward and looked through the peephole. She smiled. She stepped over to the small mirror on the wall and touched up her hair.

Evie took a deep breath and opened up the door.

"Good morning, my dear," John doffed his hat to her. "How are you?"

"C'mon in, Johnnie." She held out her hand and gestured him in. She turned back toward the kitchen. "The girls just left. I made them a nice big breakfast and filled up a couple of Thermos' for them. I can't believe they are going to brave pneumonia just to watch the parade they could be watching on television." She headed into the kitchen.

John shook the snowflakes off his hat then hung it and his coat on the rack by the door. "Well, I think Benson is the only one of the group who has ever braved the elements and the crushing crowd before, although she hasn't attended for many years. Usually she volunteers to work on the holiday. I'm guessing a certain green-eyed Counselor batted her eyes at her and the big bad Benson caved like a house of cards." He smirked and followed Evie to the kitchen.

"Doesn't she always?" They both laughed.

"What can I help you with?" He playfully bowed and leaned back on the counter. "John Munch is at your disposal."

"Actually, you are at my stove. The disposal is over there." She pointed to the sink. "If you don't know that much, you aren't going to be much help around the kitchen today."

"Very funny." He rolled his eyes. "I can assure you I know my way around a kitchen." He placed his hands on his hips. "What would you like me to do first?"

"I need to be finishing up the breakfast dishes and then we can get to chopping. How's that sound?" She gestured to the coffee pot. "Why don't you have a cup? There are muffins on the table as well. Help yourself."

He lifted up one of the muffins and sniffed it. He closed his eyes and savored the aroma. "Mmmm. Real fruit. I'm in love. Will you marry me?"

Evie smiled and shook her head and turned back to the sink. "You are a nut."

Parade Route

34th Street/Broadway & 7th Avenue

November 23, Thursday 10:30am

The fantastic four were huddled close together as they stood on the curb watching the parade. Alex and Abbie stood in the middle of the group with Benson and Novak acting as bookends.

"Was that a snowflake? Did I just see a snowflake?"

"Either that or that Barney balloon is suffering from a bad case of dandruff."

Abbie leaned toward Alex and started to sing softly. "I hate him. He hates me. Let's hang Barney in a... ooooof."

Both Alex and Liv elbowed Abbie in the ribs.

"Thanks a lot, Tex. Now I am going to have that damned song in my head for the rest of the day. You suck, y'know?" A twinkle in Liv's eyes belied any real anger.

"Yes, yes I do." Abbie answered back. "But only if I am asked nicely."

She got elbowed again.

"Children." Casey mockingly admonished.

"We'll behave, Mom." They said in unison and then broke out in giggles.

Casey just shook her head.

Abbie bumped Liv's shoulder. "Seriously Liv, thanks. This was an awesome idea. In all the time I lived here I never got to come out and actually see this up close and personal."

"Thank the little woman over there." Olivia ducked a knowing swat to the back of her head by said little woman. She stuck her tongue out at Casey. "I don't get to do this very often. Until Casey and I got together I usually volunteered to work on the holidays so that everyone else could have the day with their families."

Benson saw the burnt orange and white uniforms a half second before the tune they were playing registered. She turned to Abbie who had already raised her hand in the familiar salute.

"Hook'em Horns!" She cheered loudly. "Whoooo Hoooo!!!!"

"You can take the Abbie out of cattle country but apparently you can't take the bull... ahem... out of Abbie."

Casey butted shoulders with Alex. "Be nice." Alex just smiled at Casey.

Once the band passed by and the noise died down a bit Casey put her hand on

Abbie's arm to get her attention. "Hey Abbie, were you part of the band?"

"Drum major."

"Really?" Casey's eyes widened. "Impressive, you were a drum major."

Abbie winked at Casey. "No, I dated her." Alex glowered at Abbie. "What?!?" She turned to face Alex. "So Alex, are you musically inclined? Did you march?"

"Yes and no." She paused and looked at the group. The follow-up question was evident on their faces. "Yes, I am musically inclined and no, I did not play in the marching band."

"Can't play and walk at the same time, Blondie?" Abbie joked.

"I play piano. I have for years. If you would be so kind to carry around my Baby Grand, I will gladly march behind you playing anything you like." She smiled sweetly at Abbie.

Their mutual unintentional staring contest ended when Abbie turned her attention to Casey. "How about you, Case? Were you part of a marching band?"

"Virginia didn't have the marching band when I went there. But I did play in their Pep Band. We played at all the games that no normal band who have braved." She laughed. "We were ummm...." She thought for a second. "Freeform."

"Y'all couldn't march to save your life, right?" Abbie grinned.

"That would be correct." Casey grinned back. "It was fun though. We weren't bound by normal," she made quote marks in the air, "'college marching band' rules. We had an incredible tendency to tick the University off with some of our antics and music choices. Go figure." She shrugged.

"Ooh, you little trouble maker you." Abbie waived a finger at Casey in mock admonishment. She turned to Liv.

"Uh uh... not me. The only tune I can carry is in an iPod." Liv snickered.

"So let me get this straight." She pointed at Casey. "University of Virginia."

Casey nodded.

Abbie pointed at Alex next. "Harvard."


She pointed to herself. "University of Texas."

Liv bit her lip and then got a devilish glint in her eyes. "Y'know, I was reading the US News this week and they did their annual ranking of Universities and University Law Programs." She turned to Abbie. "UT was number sixteen."

"Go Longhorns!"

"Virginia was number nine."

"Go Cavaliers!" Casey smiled smugly at Abbie.

"And Harvard was number two."

Alex buffed her nails on her coat and then blew on them.

Liv reached over and grabbed Alex's hand and lowered it. "And where I went, the School of Hard Knocks, was number one." She looked between the trio. "Sucks to be you guys."

They all swatted at Benson, who just laughed and ducked out of the way.

O'Connor Residence

November 23, Thursday 11am

He looked over the table once more as he continued to whisk the mixture in the bowl. Evie followed him out, straightening her apron as she walked.

"You know, Johnnie, you really shouldn't do that to me while we are cooking." She pulled on his tie. "We could have had a major kitchen mishap."

He tried his best innocent look. "What? It was a kitchen and we were cooking."

"Oh you," she took the kitchen towel off her shoulder and popped it in his direction. Evie looked at the clock. "I hope the girls are all right. The parade should be about finishing up."

Parade Route

34th Street/Broadway & 7th Avenue

November 23, Thursday 11:35am

"I can't believe they got called away. I thought this was Liv's day off."

"You know Fin wouldn't have called them in if it wasn't important. I'm sure they will be back for dinner. We'll just meet them at Evie's."

Alex's attention turned back to the parade. "Oh, look..." she pointed up, "Garfield. I love these balloons."

Abbie burst out in laughter. She sobered at the puzzling look Alex gave her and then burst out again. "Sorry." Abbie fought to catch her breath. "It reminded me of a story my drum major girlfriend told me."


"Actually, just a piece of Garfield." She rubbed her nose then continued. "They... the UT Band... marched here one year. She was so excited to be here. The weather frigid and the wind was kinda blowing that day so they lowered the tethers on the balloons to keep them closer to the ground. Anyway, they ended up marching behind the Garfield balloon. So for two and half miles all she saw was Garfield's butt. She said every once in awhile the breeze would catch his tail and swish it from one side to the other. She said it felt like an arctic breeze. By the time they got halfway through the route her teeth were chattering so hard she was hoping that he would hit a powerline just he would burst into flames and she could finally warm up. To this day if you ask her about her experience, that's what she remembers most."

Alex snickered. "Could have been worse." Abbie looked over. "She could have been marching behind the mounted police."

Alex pitched forward suddenly. She caught her balance before falling off the curb. She straightened up and looked behind.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I just got pushed. Some kid must have been pushing his way down the sidewalk, probably not looking at what he was pushing on." They turned back to the parade. "Yow!" Alex screamed and immediately whacked Abbie with her purse.

"What?" Abbie protested.

"Keep your hands to yourself, Carmichael. Stop pinching me."

"I didn't pinch you. Look." She pulled her elbows away from her body. "My hands are in my pockets. I forgot my gloves and I am trying to keep them warm."

"Well, if you didn't then who...?" Alex screamed again. She turned and stared at the man standing behind her. He was dressed as Santa Claus complete with white beard.

He just leered at her and blew her a kiss. Then he held up his fingerless gloved hands and squeezed his fingers together in a pinching motion. "Honk honk." He reached around and pinched her again. "Oooh, you are what Santa wants this year." He waggled his eyebrows. "Wanna move from the nice to naughty list this year?"

"Okay buddy, that's it." Abbie grabbed him around the chest to hold him.

"Alex, go get a uni...." He broke from her grasp and grabbed the purse strap on Alex's arm as he moved by her. "Alex! Nooooo...."

O'Connor Residence

November 23, Thursday 1:30pm

Casey, Olivia, Sam and Rachel were sitting in Evie's living room. Sam and Rachel on one couch and Olivia was sharing the loveseat with Casey. Casey had Evie's grandson Jimmy on her lap.

Casey softly riffled her fingers through his blonde hair. She leaned down conspiratorially, playfully touching his nose with her finger and whispered. "Where did you get such beautiful hair?"

Jimmy blushed and hid his face in Casey's neck.

"I've seen your Daddy." She tickled Jimmy. "He has dark hair, so where did all this light stuff come from, huh?"

"Stop... stop...." Jimmy squirmed in her lap and giggled. "Grandma says I got it from the milkman."

Liv, Sam and Rachel started laughing. Olivia looked at Casey. "Casey had blonde hair for awhile too, Jimmy." She paused to get everyone's attention. "She got it from a bottle."

Casey picked up a throw pillow and whacked Olivia with it, much to the delight of the others. That just started another round of laughter.

"You guys are just too cute to be around."

"Cute?" Liv pointed to herself. "Cute? I am not cute. I am... I am... intimidating. I have perps shaking in their shoes when I am around." She turned the patented Benson stare on Sam.

Casey wiped a smudge of chocolate from Liv's upper lip. "Lose the cocoa mustache, honey. It spoils the overall effect."

Olivia just shook her head and grinned. "It worked this morning."

"That it did," Casey replied.

"What happened?"

"Casey, Alex, Abbie and I went out to watch the parade. Oh, by the way, they'll be here for dinner later. So Fin called us and asked us to come to the station. Apparently, a Uni team brought in a suspect we have been trying to track down. They got him on a simple public intoxication charge. Anyway, I went in to question him and gave him my most intimidating look."

Casey cut in. "He caved and started confessing to everything."

"Yeah," Olivia said smugly. "I'm that good."

"She apparently looked enough like one of his dead victims. He thought she had come back to life. I guess the alcohol and his guilty feelings helped his mind convince him to give everything up."

"Well, yeah, I guess there was that too." Liv smiled sheepishly.

"You are still plenty intimidating, sweetie." Casey patted Olivia's leg. "You sure did a number on me when we first met."

"What happened?" Rachel sat up straight.

"I'll never forget what you said to me either."

"What did you say?" Sam moved to the edge of her seat.

"See what you started." She said accusingly at Casey. The ADA just grinned.

"We were working a crime scene. I heard the sweet voice first and then looked up and see the most devastatingly beautiful sight in my life. I said I think I'm in love." Casey pinched Liv's leg, hard. "Ow." She glared.

"Liar. Liar. Benson, that is not what happened."

"Liv? Casey? What did you both say?"

"It was my first day as the SVU ADA and my first crime scene. Since they only had *years* of experience and it was my first case, naturally, I had to tell them how to handle things. I told Liv to bag up what she was holding in her hands as evidence - that it was part of the search warrant. She replied...."

"Who the hell... o... tiny ears here." Liv stopped short and pointed to Jimmy.

Casey covered Jimmy's ears. "She said, 'who the hell are you'?"

Jimmy looked between his two aunts. "Aunt Casey? Did Aunt Liv call you a bad word?" The boy made a tiny fist and popped Liv on the shoulder.


"Grandma doesn't like people using bad words. Shame, shame." He frowned at Liv.

"It's okay Jimmy. I got punished already. I think I'm still being punished too."

They all snickered.

Jimmy looked around at the smiling adults. "Okay, all good." He jumped off of Casey's lap. "I'm gonna go to my room and play video games now, 'kay?"

"Have fun, kiddo." Casey tickled him one last time before he ran to his room. Casey looked at the others. "I think I'm going to go check on Munch and Evie. The kitchen is too quiet."

"You sure you want to do that?"

"Good point. I'll announce myself really loudly before I go in." Casey stood and called out loudly as she walked to the kitchen. "Oh Evie? Munch? I'm coming in. You both better be decent." She smirked. "Or at least fully clothed." Casey pushed through the door and disappeared into the kitchen.

"What's up with Mrs. O and Elwood anyway?" Rachel asked.

"I think he and Evie hit it off at the Halloween party. They are kinda sweet together. You should see him match wits with Billy. He may be eight but in some ways he is going on forty. He's fascinated with space, so Munch tells him stuff about aliens. He drives Evie nuts with that stuff."

"Too funny."

Liv's phone rang. "Excuse me." She pulled the phone from her pocket and looked at the caller ID. A puzzled look crossed her face but she answered. "Benson."

Olivia stood up and started pacing. "Calm down, you sound funny. Ab?" She listened. "Okay, I'll be right there. Don't move." The detective snapped her phone shut. "I gotta go." Liv grabbed her jacket and a scarf off the rack. "Tell Casey I'll be a back as soon as I can. I'll call when I know something."


"Don't worry. It shouldn't take long. In case it does and dinner is ready, go ahead and eat, okay? Don't hold everyone up waiting for me. I'll be back." Olivia closed the door behind her.

Sam and Rachel turned to each other.

"That was weird."

Sam slapped Rachel on the shoulder. "You go tell Red."

"Why me? You go tell her."

"Because if she goes after the messenger, you are going to need a doctor. That would be me."

"Logical." She raised an eyebrow. "I hate that." Rachel smiled, took a deep breath and moved toward the kitchen. She kept looking over her shoulder at Sam who was making shooing motions at her. She sighed. Just as she reached the door it swung outward.

"Hey Rach, need something?"

"Nuh uh. Everything okay in there?" She looked beyond Casey at the closed door.

"Yeah, it's good. The turkey smells fantastic and our little chefs are sitting at the table playing cards. Evie is beating the pants off of John at pinochle."

Casey continued to ramble, "Well, not literally... that wouldn't be good. Although he does have nice legs...." Her voice trailed off. "What?"

She looked around and only saw Rachel and Sam staring at her. "Hey, where's Liv?"

"Uh, about that."

"Spill." Casey crossed her arms and glared at the two.

"She got a mysterious phone call, said she had to go and that she would be back or at least call when she knew something."

"Who was the call from?" Just then Casey phone rang. She pointed at Rachel who was about to answer her question. "Hold that thought." Rachel closed her mouth.

Casey pulled her phone out of phone pouch. She looked at the ID and didn't recognize the number. "Novak." She began to pace. "Alex, calm down. Where are you? Okay. I'll be right there." She listened. "Don't do anything stupid. I mean it. Give me twenty minutes." She disconnected the call.

"Dammit." Casey looked down at her attire and nervously smoothed her hands over some non-existent wrinkles. "Well, it's not my normal stuff, but it will have to do. I don't have time to change." She turned to the girls. "Look, I have to go for awhile. I'll be back as soon as I can. If Liv beats me here tell her I'll call her." Casey grabbed her coat. "Oh and don't...."

"Hold dinner. We know. Go already."

St. Vincent's Hospital

November 23, Thursday 2:15pm

Olivia came running. She barreled through the ER doors and slid the last few steps to the desk. The detective pulled her badge from her pocket and flashed it at the nurse. She sucked in a needed breath. "You have an Abigail Carmichael here? Where is she?"

The nurse took a closer look at the badge and then looked down at the admittance chart. "She's in room four." She looked at the fear in Liv's eyes. "Oh honey, its okay." She put her hand on Liv's arm. "The doctor just wanted her to rest before he finishes her treatment."

Olivia briefly closed her eyes in relief. "Can I see her?"

"Sure. C'mon back with me, Detective." The nurse lowered her voice. "Is she a bad guy? Y'know, a criminal?"

Olivia smiled. "The worst kind. She's an attorney."

The nurse chuckled and pointed to an ugly green curtain. "She's behind there."

Olivia pulled the curtain aside and stepped toward the bed. Abbie was lying quietly with an icepack over her eyes. She heard someone approach.

"Bou'time you god here." She removed the icepack and gingerly sat up. Both eyes were ringed, barely open and her nose was swollen.

"Ohmigod Abbie, what happened?"

"Punch'd inda nose. Brok'n."

"Where's Alex?"

"Dunno. Gots sep'rated. Figure she's ada precin't givin' a stademen'."

"Cops? What happened?"

"Well, id kinda happen'd like dis…"

Manhattan Criminal Court

November 23, Thursday 6pm

"All rise - the Honorable Judge Stone residing."

"Be seated." The gavel banged twice. "Who's the first turkey of the day, Carl?"

"People vs Alexandra Cabot. Assault and battery." Carl dropped a file in front of the Judge.

"Cabot? I know that name. Ms. Malo…" Judge Stone looked up from the document that was placed in front of him. "Casey?"

Casey stepped through the gate and waved off the public defender. "Casey Novak representing Alexandra Cabot, your honor." She made her way to a spot in front of the Judge and joined Alex. She then whispered to Alex, "I t took awhile to track you down. Are you okay?"

Alex's eyes brightened at the sight of her friend and she nodded. She started to wring her hands in nervousness but stopped immediately. She decided to remain stock still with her left hand holding her right wrist.

Casey heard the low hiss and looked at Alex. Her eyes were drawn to her hands. She gave Alex a puzzled look.

"Little out of your norm, no Casey?"

"Yes, Judge." Her attention was drawn back to the bench. "Alexandra is a colleague and friend."

Alexandra Cabot suddenly found her shoes fascinating.

"You are that Alexandra Cabot."

"Yes Judge," was the whispered reply. Oh look, my sneakers match the floor tile.

"I see. This should be good." The Judge turned to the prosecutor. "Mr. Reynolds?"

"Ms. Cabot is accused of assault and battery on an undercover police officer."

"What?!?" Casey turned to Alex. "You didn't tell me it was a cop."

"It wasn't. It was Santa." Alex replied matter-of-factly.

"You beat up Santa? Ms. Cabot, you are never going to get that pony now."

"He groped me and made honking noises and... and...." Alex trailed off.

"You got a Christmas goose, complete with sound effects from Santa and you decide to go ninja on him. Is that correct?"

"NO... yes... maybe... I don't know." She sighed heavily. "My friend held him so I could get an officer but Santa broke away and stole my purse. I got mad and I ran after him and when I caught up with him I kicked him."

"Yes, Judge, apparently Officer Jackson can now reach those high notes while singing Christmas carols."

Judge Stone coughed. "All righty then...." He looked at the prosecutor. "If Officer Jackson groped and grabbed, then why are the charges against Ms. Cabot?"

"Officer Jackson was an innocent bystander. He was undercover as a sidewalk Santa. He heard her calling out that someone stole her purse. He managed to recover the purse even though the perp continued to flee. He was bringing it back to her when she caught up to him. Same red suit, same white beard... you do the math."

"Ohhhhh." He turned his attention to Alex. "Ms. Cabot?"

"I'm sorry?" She said sheepishly.

"Judge? It was a mistake not a malicious assault. Ms. Cabot will make a formal apology to Officer Jackson. There really isn't any reason to make this any worse for anyone. Please?"

"Mr. Reynolds?"

"No objection sir, I think Ms. Cabot can go on and lead a productive life in normal society. Given time I'm sure she can move back off of the naughty list to the good list," he said snarkily.

Alex looked up and glared at him. Reynolds stepped back.

"Fine. Case dismissed. You are free to go." He banged the gavel on his bench.

Casey and Alex turned to leave. Casey's hand was on Alex's back as she led her away. "Let's go get your stuff and get you out of here." She paused a second. "Alex? Is there something wrong with your hand? Let me see."

Casey held out her own hand and waited for Alex to place hers in it. She turned it slightly and winced at the bruising and swelling. "Alex? What...?"

Alex shrugged, "I guess I must have hit the perp too." She immediately straightened up and turned wide eyes to Casey. "Ohmigod, Abbie!"

"Alex? Abbie is probably fine and at Evie's. I'm sure she went there after you got separated. Which is where you and I will be going, but first we are going to stop at the nearest ER to get that hand X-rayed."

"No, you don't understand. I...."


Casey stopped walking. "Wait a sec, Alex." She walked back to the bench.

"Yes, Judge."

He ripped up the case file in half. "Happy Thanksgiving, Case."

"Thank you, Harry. I owe you one."

"I'll remind you the next game we play. You could try maybe to not kick my ass so hard."

O'Connor Residence

November 23, Thursday 8:30pm

Evie, Sam and Rachel sat around the living room enjoying their coffee and pie.

"I still cannot believe we got our butts kicked earlier by Mrs. O and Elwood, Sam. We never lose."

Evie smiled and buffed her nails on her shirt.

"I know but Munch seems to be a bottomless pit of useless trivia knowledge,"

Sam added.

"Do you want some more coffee, girls? Or something else to eat?"

"Good grief, no, Mrs. O. If I eat another bite I'll explode. Dinner was incredible."

"No kidding."

"Thank you, girls. I just wish Casey and Olivia were here. I hope nothing bad happened to their friends."

"I'm sure they would have called if it was something bad."

There was a knock at the door.

"I'll get it. Stay." Rachel pointed at Evie who sat back. She walked to the door and looked through the peephole. "Speak of the devil...." Rachel opened the door.

"Hi. Sorry, I'm late." Liv made her way into the room and leaned over the back of the couch. She kissed Evie's cheek. "I'm sorry, Evie. It couldn't be helped." She looked around. "Hey, where's Case?"

"Hungry, Liv?" Evie asked, answering Benson's question with her own. She stood and headed for the kitchen.

"Starving. I haven't eaten anything since this morning."

"Let me fix you a plate and the girls here can fill you in." She winked at Rachel and Sam.

"Thanks a lot, Mrs. O."

"What's going on?" Liv looked around the room for something amiss. "Where is Casey? Munch? Alex?" She sat on the edge of the couch cushion and waited for answers.

"Well about that...."

Sam interrupted. "Let's start with the easy one first. Munch is at the precinct. He took some plates to your friends Fin and Captain Cragen."

Olivia smacked her forehead in self outrage. "Dammit. I forgot. I'm glad he remembered. Those guys were stuck catching all day."

"Well, if they eat everything Mrs. O sent, they won't have to eat for a week."

"Okay, so where's Casey and Alex?"

"How come you didn't ask about your friend Abbie too?"

"Because, smartass, I know where she is. That's who called me earlier. There was an incident at the parade and they got separated. I figured Alex would have come here. She knew she was due here for dinner." She looked pointedly at Rachel. "Where is Casey?"

Just then there was another knock at the door.

"Saved by the bell... errr... knock." She waved her hand at Benson. "I'll be right back."

"Speak of the devil, part two." Rachel said after looking through the peephole. She opened the door and let Casey in.

"Hi guys. Hi honey." She smiled at Liv. She placed her hands on Liv's shoulders, leaned down over the back of the couch and kissed the top of Liv's head.

"Where's your coat, Case? Where have you been?" Olivia asked.

"My coat is next door. I stopped there for a second." She gave Liv a puzzled look. "Hey, waitaminute. If you are here, who is that hot brunette on the couch that I was just making out with in our apartment?" She sighed. "Man, what a kisser."

"Her nose isn't the only thing that is gonna be broken. I'll kill her." Olivia stood up and moved past Casey.

Casey grabbed her elbow. "Relax there, Benson. I was only kidding." She pulled her in for a kiss. "I flipped the light on when I saw movement on the couch and I saw it was Abbie. She looks like a freight train hit her."

"What?!?" Both Sam and Rachel replied at the same time.

Just then Evie appeared from the kitchen. "Casey dear, you finally made it."

"Happy Thanksgiving Evie. I'm so sorry I missed your dinner. It couldn't be helped." She gave Mrs. O'Connor a hug.

"There seems to be a lot of that going around today." She nodded her head at Olivia. "How about I fix you up a plate? I was just heating something up for your worse half over there." She smiled.

"Hey." Olivia objected.

"G'wan and catch up with the girls. I'll be out with the food in a few minutes, okay?" She wandered back to the kitchen.

Rachel watched the kitchen door swing shut. "About that broken nose...."

"I was getting to that," Liv answered.

"I can't believe Alex hit her that hard. Who knew blondie had it in her?" Casey laughed.

"She hit her?" Rachel and Sam exclaimed at the same time. They looked at each other and grinned.

"You know?" Liv fished.

"I was with Alex. I got called right after you took off this morning. I am going to assume Abbie called you, yes?" Casey responded.

"She and Alex got into a, ummm... scuffle and got separated."

Casey snorted at the word scuffle.

"Will someone tell us what happened, please?" Sam pleaded.

Olivia handed off the answer to Casey with a gesture. "Go ahead. I think you know more than I do."

"I can only tell you what Alex told me." She made her way to the couch and sat down. She took a breath and then bit her lip as she thought of the best way to start. "They were at the parade and someone dressed like Santa groped Alex. Abbie grabbed him to subdue him so they could get a Uni. He broke free and grabbed Alex's purse and took off. She chased him down. When she got him she kicked him...."


"Good for her."

"Yes, ow." Casey pointed at Rachel. "Bad for her." She pointed at Sam.

Casey continued. "The Santa she actually caught up with was an undercover cop who had snatched the purse back from the running perp."

"Oh boy."


Olivia closed her eyes and rubbed the back of her neck. "Alex assaulted a policeman?"


"Oh no." She looked pleadingly at Casey. "Tell me they didn't press charges?"

She winced, waiting for the answer.

"Casey Novak for the defense, your honor." Casey raised her right hand.

"Oh sonovabitch...." Liv began to pace. "They arrested her; no wonder I couldn't get her on her cell. Where is she now?" She stopped. "She isn't still in lockup, is she?"

Casey stood up and joined Liv. "I'm not that rusty on the other side of the lawyer fence." She smiled. "I got the charges dropped."

"Sorry, I didn't mean it that way." Liv apologized and gave Casey's hand a squeeze.

"Uh, about the broken nose...." Sam waved her hand at Liv to get her to explain more.

"Apparently when Abbie grabbed him, just before he broke free, Alex took a swing at him. He ducked under it and Abbie took the brunt of the punch."


"Yeah. Her eyes are blackened and because of the swelling, her vision is messed up. So I brought her home with me. I figure she could stay in the guest room until she can see clearer." She looked at Casey who nodded. "I left her sleeping on the couch. She's wiped."

"Well, Alex has a jammed finger which is now splinted. It should make her very popular with other New York drivers." Casey snarked and held up her hand showing which finger. "She didn't break anything which is really surprising considering how hard-headed Abbie is." Casey smirked. "I took Alex to the ER after court to check it out. That's why I was so late getting back here. Thank goodness for shiny little badges." She shrugged, semi-apologetically.

"Which ER?"


"We were at St. Vincent's." Olivia shook her head in disgust. "Casey, do you know who the officer was that Alex assaulted?" Her eyes softened. "Maybe I can get one of the guys to pay him a visit to smooth stuff over."

"His name was Jackson and I think he's out of the one-two but I'll check the file and let you know for sure. Thank you. Alex is feeling bad enough. She doesn't need to add embarrassment too." Casey shrugged. "I think that is why she wanted to go home instead of facing everyone here. I don't know what she is planning on saying to Abbie."

Just then Evie popped out of the kitchen with two plates in her hands. She set them on the table. "C'mon girls." Casey and Olivia made their way to the dining table.

"This looks and smells wonderful, Evie. Thank you." She turned to Casey. "I dunno Case. If I was her I think I would make the sign of the cross and back away slowly. Abbie reminds me of that cartoon coyote." Liv offered.

"Wile E. Carmichael." They both said at the same time.



Benson-Novak Residence

Parking Garage

December 22, Friday 7am

"Okay, Santa Liv, check your list one more time." She pulled the list from her pocket. "One: Luggage. Check. Two: Presents for Stablers." She looked over the brightly wrapped parcels and double-checked all the tags. "Check." Olivia took a pen out of her pocket. "Three: Take the booty to the Stabler tribe. Next stop Queens." She crossed off the items and slammed the rear closed.

She reached into her pocket for her keys and her hand came into contact with her cell phone which immediately started to vibrate. She looked at the ID. "Hey Tex," She answered. "Merry Christmas."

"Hi Yankee. Merry Christmas to you too. Whatcha doing?"

"I'm just about to head over to the Stablers to drop off some presents. You?"

Abbie ignored the question. "Queens, right?"



Liv pulled the phone away from her ear and looked at it, bewildered. "Wha...?"

"I gotta go, call me the second you get done and get back in the car, okay? Okay. Bye."

Stabler Residence


December 22, Friday 9:30am

Olivia stopped by her car door and gave Elliot a hug. "Merry Christmas El, and please thank Kathy again for those delicious cookies. Casey is going to love them... if I share them."

"How do you know I didn't bake them?"

"They don't have O-R-E-O stamped on them." Olivia laughed at the mock pout on his face.

"That's okay, manly men barbeque." He waved her off. "They don't bake."

"Hey, barbeque cookies. You might have something there, partner." She slugged his shoulder and got into the car. She immediately rolled down the window.

"Get out of here." Elliot patted the roof. "Drive carefully. Don't stop for any hitchhiking reindeers and don't sleigh sloshed." He grinned.

"Gotcha, Dad."

"Have a great time Liv and let us know how the trip went, okay?"

"You bet. See you next week. Merry Christmas," Olivia yelled back as she drove away.

Olivia stopped at the red light. She pulled the list back out of her coat pocket. "Four: mail Abbie's present. Abbie!" Olivia fished her phone out and hit recall.

"It's about time you called back."

"Yeah, yeah. So what was so important?"

"You still in Queens?"

"Yeah, I'm just about to head out, why?"

"Swing by the JFK. I have a present waiting for you."

"Ab-bie!" Olivia said with a bit of a whine.

"Right on the first guess."

"Waitaminute. You're at the airport?"

"Well, we may have broken our tradition of Christmas dinner last year since it was your first year with Casey but I figured the three of us could celebrate at least one day this weekend. No?" She was met with silence. "Liv? Do you have plans?"

Olivia thought for a moment. "I'll be by to get you in a few. I'll explain then."

Somewhere on the New York Thruway, going north

December 22, Friday 11am

Abbie bounced up and down in her seat, excitedly. "C'mon Benson, are we there yet?"

Olivia looked over, with raised eyebrow, at the grinning attorney. "You're doing this just to drive me nuts, aren't you?"

"Uh huh. I have to take my fun where I can get it."

"Oh, you're gonna get it all right."

Abbie leaned over and put her head on Liv's shoulder. "You love me and you know it."

Olivia pushed her back to her side of the seat. "Yeah, yeah... it's the only thing keeping you alive right now." She laughed.

"Are you sure Casey isn't going to mind me tagging along? I don't want to put you in the doghouse."

"She'll be fine with it. We ended up booking a two-bedroom suite because it was the only thing they had left. So it's not like the three of us will be sleeping in the same bed." She looked over at Abbie's mock lecherous grin. "Don't even think about saying it." She waved a finger in warning.

Abbie laughed. "Nope, not saying a word." Abbie made the gesture of locking her lips and throwing away the key. Her silence lasted about ten seconds. "Nice wheels, by the way. An SUV for the SVU."

Liv chuckled. "Thanks. I know - when we went to the dealership, I kept calling it an SVU. The salesman didn't have a clue." She paused. "Casey thought we should get something a little more grown-up. So we both got rid our vehicles and bought this one."

"Your Mustang was plenty grown-up." She grinned. "Vroom, vroom."

"Spoken like a twelve year old."

"What was she driving?"

"A ten speed."

"A ten speed what?"



Olivia began to laugh. "She used to ride to the courthouse on her bike."

"You're kidding?"


"But you gave up your 'Stang and all she gave up was a bike."

"Both bikes actually."

"What was the other one, a trike with a bell and basket?"

"No, a Harley."

Abbie's mouth dropped open and no sound came out. Olivia leaned over and closed it.

"Whoa." She finally uttered, impressed.

"Yup." Liv kept stealing glances at Abbie who was still processing that information. She shook her head. "That reminds me." Olivia pulled her phone out and dialed Casey. She frowned when it went to voicemail. "Hey Case. We have company for the weekend, so all that running around naked will have to wait for another time." She chuckled.

"No it doesn't," Abbie leaned over and spoke into the phone. "Naked is good. Nekkid is better." She waggled her eyebrows at Benson.

Olivia playfully shoved Abbie back to her side of the car. "Call me back when you get the message. See you in a few hours." She gave Abbie a look.

"Oh please, like that look works on me anymore. Drive." She made a shooing motion with her hand. She waited a few moments. "So, are we there yet?"

Olivia turned the radio on... loud. Abbie just laughed.

A few minutes later Abbie reached over and shut the radio off. "So what's it like - this Hunter Mountain area?"

"Casey and I come up here as often as we can. It's a really nice resort area for both summer and winter. Lots of shops and restaurants. That's why I left before Casey. I want to get some shopping time in. They have a handcrafted jewelry shop up there that has the most unique pieces in it."

"Whipped." Abbie said with a smirk.

"You should be so lucky." Olivia stuck her tongue out at Abbie.

"Oooh, I think I am getting sick." She threw the back of her hand up to her forehead.

"Just you wait."

"You know something I don't know, Benson?" Abbie looked over.

"No, but you know Casey and I will help you any way we can. Happy couples want EVERYONE to be happy."

Abbie nodded once and turned her attention back to the passing scenery.

"To get back to your question, Abigail...." This got her a glare from the attorney. "The lodge we are staying at, the Snowbyrd Den, is extraordinary. It has a huge fireplace in the central room and smaller fireplaces in each suite. They have a spa, exercise equipment and jacuzzis both indoors and out. Dozens of different runs - from beginner to expert, downhill to cross country." She turned to Abbie for a second. "You do ski, right?"

"Phft. I'm from Texas." Abbie dismissively waved her hand.

"Water skiing in the Gulf is not the same."

"Oh." She frowned and then brightened. "Putting roller skates on and grabbing a passing truck's bumper?"

Liv thought for a moment. "Skitching?" She mentally shrugged. "At least you are used to falling on your ass."

"Funny... not!"

"Well there are plenty of beginner slopes for you to start out on and I'm sure you will be able to find a lovely young ski bunny to give you lessons or to just keep you company around the fire." She smiled.

Abbie smirked. "With my luck lately, the ski bunny would have fangs and be rabid and come after me like a bacc... vampire."

Liv looked over incredulously at Abbie. "You watched Xena last light didn't you?"

"Umm, maybe."

Casey Novak's Office

December 22, Friday 12pm

Casey finished putting the last file in her briefcase when she heard her office door open. She looked up to see a blonde head poke in.

"Knock knock, you ready?"

"Just about. The arraignment this morning took longer than I thought. Judge Ebenezer Petrovsky was presiding." They both chuckled. "I appreciate you driving us up there. You sure you don't mind stopping at the apartment before we hit the road? I just need to double-check. I'm sure Liv forgot something."

Alex smiled. "It's fine. I appreciate the company. When I kept hearing about the weekend you had planned with Liv, I thought about the old Cabot lodge. I haven't been there since my Mother died. The rest of the family doesn't use it much anymore. We can't seem to coordinate schedules, especially this year. I was just going to hang out at home. But I figured why not get some rest, relaxation and a change of scenery? I could use the downtime. Plus I haven't skied in ages." Then she added, "It's been a strange couple of months."

"Good strange or bad strange."

Alex thought for a second, then shrugged with a half grin. "I'm not really sure."

Benson-Novak Residence

December 22, Friday 12:45pm

Casey keyed the lock and pushed open the door. "C'mon in, Alex; this will only take a second. I just wanted to make sure that Liv grabbed all the stuff she was supposed to take up."

Alex walked in and looked around the festively decorated apartment. "It looks great in here Casey. Very Christmassy."

"Thanks. I love Christmas and poor Liv, she just gets swept up in the Novak holiday tidal wave." She looked beneath the tree. "Ah, good. Liv must have taken the gifts for the Stablers to Queens today. They're gone." She moved the branches of the tree a bit and rooted around underneath. She pulled out a brightly wrapped box. Gotta take this one. It's Alex's. I knew Liv would forget it, she didn't know Alex was my ride up. She thought to herself and she put it in her bag. Hmmm, good. Abbie's present is gone too. She must have taken it to be Fedex-ed.

Casey walked back over to Alex and took one last look around the apartment. "I think we're set."

"Let's hit the road then." She turned to the door and then stopped abruptly. "Do you mind if we stop at my place first?"

Casey nodded no. "Of course not."

"I figure we can raid the wine collection. I'll donate some holiday cheer to your weekend."

Upstate New York, Rt 23A

Just outside Hunter Mountain Resort

December 22, Friday 4:15pm

"It's been a really nice trip up here, Alex. Thank you again for driving." She looked out the window. "I hope Liv had a good trip up. I wonder why she didn't call when she got there?" Casey took her phone out of her bag. She waved it at Alex. "Guess it would help if I turned it on. I turned it off while I was in court."

"Been there and done that." Alex agreed.

Casey turned her phone on and it immediately chirped to indicate messages.

"Guess she did call." Casey grinned and retrieved her messages. Alex watched Casey's smile fade and she was sure somewhere inside Casey was stomping her feet.

Alex whispered, "What happened?"

Casey sighed. "The people staying in our suite decided to use the fireplace for something other than snuggling. Somehow or another some embers set fire to the rug which set off the sprinklers. The room is a disaster. They have no other rooms." She blew out a breath, disgustedly. "We were lucky we got that reservation. The area is booked solid for the holiday."

Alex put her hand on Casey's arm. "I have a solution. You can stay in the lodge with me. It's just a couple of miles outside the resort area. Still close enough to enjoy the resort."

"I can't impose like that."

"You aren't. The place is huge. I have already called the caretaker to get it ready and stock it with basic groceries. Please Casey, this way you don't have to give up your holiday."

"Big house, huh? I don't want us to be under your feet. This is your weekend too."

"It has four bedrooms, two have their own fireplaces, a huge living room and there is a hot tub out on the deck. You'd have to make a real effort to get under my feet. You know you want to...." Alex cajoled.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. It will be fun. I think we even have some Christmas decorations still in the basement up there. You can let the Novak holiday tidal wave go free. It will be nice to see the place decorated again. I miss it."

"How could I pass up an offer like that?"

Alex signaled and pulled into a gas station. "I am going to stop for gas now; that way I don't have to worry about getting gas on the way home." She got out of the car and then she leaned back in. "Call Liv and tell her of the change of plans."

Casey dialed Olivia's number. It rang once and Liv answered.

"Hey Case. Did you get my message?"

"I had my phone off. What's up? Did you get everything done on the list?"

"Everything but mailing Abbie's present."

"Well, we can do that on Tuesday. She'll just get it a little late."

"Not exactly."


"Abbie's here in New York."


"We are on Rt 23A looking for a convenience store." Liv put the phone up to her shoulder to muffle the receiver. She pointed to a place off the highway. "Pull in there; you should be able to get your Ring Dings, ding dong."

Abbie saluted and signaled. She pulled up on the far side of the store.

"Liv? We? Is Abbie with you?"

"Yeah, she came into town to celebrate the holiday. Surprise. I knew we had booked the two bedroom suite so...." Liv was interrupted by Abbie.

"I'll be back in a sec, Yankee." Abbie got out of the car and closed the door. She wandered backwards down the sidewalk to the front door. Abbie was playfully blowing kisses and waving at Liv.

"Casey? It's not a problem, is it? We have the room. I honestly didn't think you would mind."

"No Liv, I don't mind. Abbie is always welcome. But we don't exactly have the suite anymore. There was a fire at the inn. That's what I was calling to tell you. Our plans changed. Liv, the place we will be staying at is the Cabot lodge. Alex graciously offered her family's home for us."

"Oh." A pause then a panicked, "OH!"

"She said the lodge had four bedrooms, so sleeping arrangements are not the problem. I just don't know how to spring this on her."

Just then Casey looked up to see an exiting Alex, who was looking down putting her credit card away, colliding with the entering tall Texan. She opened the car door and ran for the store.

"Hey! Watch it!" Alex screamed as she fell to the ground from the collision.

Liv heard the scream and bolted from the car. She and Casey made it to the scene at the same time.

"ALLIE!" Abbie cried out the second she recognized the blonde and went to help her stand up only to have her hands batted away once Alex was standing again.

"I should have known." Alex snapped. "And don't call me Allie."

The Detective and the ADA looked at each other. "Case, I don't think you need to tell her after all."

Cabot Lodge

Upstate New York

December 22, Friday 6:30pm

"Just get the stuff on the list, okay?" Casey insisted as she practically pushed Liv out the door.

"What about some ice cream?" Liv asked, "And do you mind if I at least put my coat on?" Olivia set the list on the table by the door and grabbed her coat off the rack. She threw her scarf around her collar.

"Fine, get whatever else you want but make sure you get the items on the list." Casey blew out an annoyed breath. "Otherwise your Christmas dinner is going to be crackers and soup."

"Okay, okay. C'mon Abs, lets go attack the stores." She grabbed her keys.

"Hey Allie?" Abbie called over while she put her coat on. "Can I drive the Benz?"

Alex looked behind her. "You can't be talking to me. My name is not Allie." She glared. "And absolutely not. You cannot drive my car. Don't even breathe on my car."

"You want me to be seen in a... a... pseudo-truck with Butchy McFabulous here?" She waved her thumb at Liv. "It'll kill my reputation as a sophisticated, charming woman-about-town."

"If you refer to me as Butchy MacFabulous again, I'll kill more than your reputation." She grabbed Abbie by the shoulders and shoved her to the door. "Let's go, Slick."

Alex put her head out the door and yelled after them. "And get a Christmas tree." She closed the door and turned to a grinning Casey. "Okay, the decorations and things are in the cellar. That's down here." She unbolted a door that Casey assumed was a closet door. It was just slightly behind the front door. Alex jiggled the knob to pull the door open. "It's loose. I'll have to get someone to fix that. She hit the light switch on the light wall and started down the stairs. "Coming?"

"Right behind you, boss." Casey replied cheerfully. Her tone changed when she saw the condition of the basement. There were webs and dust everywhere. "I guess no one has been down here for awhile, huh?"

"I didn't think I would be either or I would have asked the mice to tidy up after themselves." Alex replied drolly.


"Field mice. We are on a mountain surrounded by trees. It happens."

Casey looked around the cellar. Her eyes darted everywhere searching for movement. "This place reminds me of those slasher movies. Except we aren't in our underwear."


"Y'know, the kids in the movies are always making out on the couch, they hear a noise and end up wandering in a creepy attic in their underwear only to meet their doom. So we have a creepy cellar but no underwear."

"T-M-I, Casey." Alex laughed.

"You know what I meant." They grinned at each other.

Abbie opened the front door and yelled back outside. "Keep your shirt on - I'm getting it." She looked around and spied the list on the hall table. She grabbed it and shoved it in her pocket. A horn honked. "Geez, she's the one that forgot it." Abbie slammed the door and the draft slammed the cellar door as well. The knob fell off.

Twin frowns temporarily replaced the smiles when they heard the door slam shut.

"Draft." Alex said reasonably. "I think the holiday decorations are in those trunks over there." Alex pointed and they moved to the far end of the basement.

Casey worriedly looked once over her shoulder to the staircase and then followed Alex. Casey took her time exploring the other items while Alex rooted through the trunks. There were all kinds of sports equipment, furniture, bikes and book shelves.

"There are some really nice antiques here, Alex." She moved a cover off of a rocking horse. "How cute. Was this yours?"

"Yes. My first pony." She smiled wistfully. "I got him for one Christmas."

"Alex?" Casey turned serious. "I apologize for the intrusion. If you would like me to take the trouble twins back to Manhattan, say the word. I'll find a reason and you can have your peace and quiet."

"No, no Casey. It will be nice having Christmas here again. I had some of my happiest holidays here." She took a breath. "We didn't come here much after my Father died. He was the skier. Then when Mother died, there really wasn't any reason to come up here and celebrate like a family. So now we just grab an odd weekend or week here and there." Her eyes softened. "I am really looking forward to this weekend. Honestly." She looked at a pile of boxes. "I think what we are looking for is in the trunk on the bottom. Give me a hand, please?"

Casey helped her lift the other boxes aside and Alex popped the latches on the trunk. She lifted the lid.

"Oh my... it's beautiful. Casey lifted a porcelain angel out of the trunk. "Was this your tree topper?"

"Yes. Most of the ornaments are glass. There are a couple in there that my brother and I made in school. Popsicle sticks and yarn mostly. We would sneak them onto the tree after the grown-ups got done decorating for real. They would ignore them, of course."

"That's nice. One year, when I was a kid, I decided we needed to go all natural at the house. I convinced my brothers to help me string popcorn and gumdrops and we hung candy canes and bubblegum."

"That sounds really nice."

"It was until we saw the lovely trail of pilfering ants the next morning." Casey laughed. "After that we stuck to non-edible."

Alex pulled out some light strands. "We may need to untangle these. Hopefully they will work." She set the lights aside. "Oh look, we have tinsel too." She looked up at Casey. "I think we are good to go here for a tree anyway. Hopefully, they will remember to actually get a tree."

"I'm sure they will. Now how big and what kind is anyone's guess. I'm going to go out on a limb here...." Casey joined Alex in groaning at that unintentional pun. "Sorry." She shrugged. "Anyway, I'll bet that Abbie goes for the biggest tree she can find and my Liv looks for a Charlie Brown tree."

"You are probably right. I'd expect nothing less from Liv or Abbie."

"Speaking of which...." Casey looked expectantly at Alex. "What about you and Abbie?" Alex opened her mouth to speak but Casey held up a hand. "Let me guess - yes, no, maybe, I don't know." Her tone was light.

"What was the question again?"

"You... Abbie?"

Alex closed the lid on the trunk, she wiped some dust off and sat down. She clasped her hands nervously in her lap. "I would like to try with Abbie but I'm afraid."

"Of getting hurt? Alex, I don't think Abbie will intentionally hurt you. The woman adores you." Casey put her hand on Alex's shoulder.

Alex looked up. "No, not me. Her." She paused. "She seems to have lots of accidents while around me. If we got together she would probably implode."

"If you keep teasing her, she will spontaneously combust."

"I'm not." She looked at Casey who just stared back. "Not intentionally. I just want to go slow. I want us to be real friends first. That's why I am glad you and Liv are around."

"I see and here I thought you liked the scintillating conversation we bring to every social gathering."

"That too." Alex deadpanned. "But you know what I am really glad to have you here for?"

Casey shook her head.

"You get to help me carry all this stuff upstairs." She stood and slapped Casey on the shoulder. "If you will go open the door again, we can start bringing all this stuff up."

Casey made her way up the stairs while Alex picked up a few smaller boxes.

"Uh, Alex?" Casey shook the door. "The door won't open." Casey twisted and pulled on the knob. "Whoa. The knob won't even turn." She walked back down a few steps. "Looks like we are stuck here until the twins get back."

Alex, who was making her way back to the staircase, stopped. "Well, I guess we can go through some more boxes. Maybe we can find some other decorations. Wreaths, garland, candles, that kind of stuff."

"Sure. At least we have ligh...." Just then the bulb flickered and sputtered and went out.

"You had to say it." Alex accused mirthfully.


"Just stay where you are though. There is a lot of boxes and stuff. I don't want you to trip." Alex felt around as she started to continue to make her way to the stairs. "Ow!"

"You okay?"

"Yes. I just stubbed my toe. Too bad we didn't find any candles before the lights went out." Frustration evident in her voice.

Casey sat down on the steps. "They'll be back soon and we'll end up laughing about all this."

"I'm sure." Alex replied reassuringly.

"Umm, Alex? Did you just put your hand on my thigh?"

"Casey, I'm still about ten feet away from the stairs."

"AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!" they both yelled simultaneously.

Hunter Mountain Resort

December 22, Friday 7pm

Olivia hit the alarm lock on the SUV keychain and it beeped. She and Abbie began crossing the parking lot to the mall entrance.

"Tell me again, why we are at this mall instead of the grocery store?"

"Because thanks to you getting us lost this afternoon we didn't get a chance to go shopping like I intended. I need to pick up something else for Casey. And if I make my guess right, you need to pick up something for Alex, yes?"

"You think you are so smart." She looked at Liv who stood with her arms crossed and a smug look on her face. "Yeah, I planned on shopping in Manhattan. Then when you invited me up here, I figured my best bet was to pick Casey's brain for an idea."

"What's wrong with my brain?" Liv held open the door so Abbie could enter the mall.

"What brain?"

"Just for that you're on your own." Olivia mock pouted.

"You don't have a clue either, do you?"

"Nope. Casey picked out Alex's gifts." Olivia pointed to the right and motioned Abbie to walk in that direction.

"What did she get?"

"A bracelet that Casey was sure Alex just had to have and some tickets."

"Tickets? Who?"

"No, not the Who. To Chicago. A concert."

"You are sending her to Chicago? Why?"

"She likes Chicago."

"But you are sending her all the way to Chicago to attend a concert?"

Liv scratched her head. "We are sending her and a guest to a concert at Madison Square Garden."

"Benson, the Garden isn't in Chicago."

"I know that, ding dong. But Chicago will be in Madison Square Garden in January."

"Oh. OH!" Realization dawned.

"Yeah, Casey got tickets for us as well. It's part of my birthday present."

"How old you going to be anyway? Eighty?" Abbie snarked.

"Watch it, ya whippersnapper or I'll beat you with my cane." She waved her invisible cane at Abbie. Both broke out in laughter.

They continued on in silence for a few shops. Liv kept shaking her head as they walked past the windows.

"What else did you get Casey?"

"Some clothing, some CDs, some toys." Then she mumbled, "Anewfryingpan."


"Get your mind out of the gutter. She collects movie toys. I got her some of the latest Star Wars toys."

"I collect toys too."

"Whoosh, right back to that gutter, I see."

"No, I do models. I like working with my hands." Abbie said matter-of-factly.

"I don't care who you date AND I just bet you do."

"Nice of you to join me in the gutter, Benson. No, I do car models and stuff. I have since I was a kid."

"Wow. I don't really have the patience for that. How come I never knew that about you?"

"I don't know. I guess I really don't share that information much." She shrugged. "I also like to...." her voice trailed off.


"Nevermind. I am not giving you that kind of ammunition."

"O-kay." Liv looked puzzled, but let the issue drop.

They continued their circuit of the mall.

"Oh, look. A pet store. Buy me a Christmas bunny?" Abbie hopped a couple of times and stopped at the first window which had rabbits and guinea pigs in it.

Liv laughed at her antics. "You get bunnies for Easter."

"What do you get for Christmas?"

"Reindeers." Liv deadpanned.

"I don't think my lease covers those. Nevermind." She walked to the second window.

They stopped and looked at the puppy in the window.

"He... she... it's so cute. It looks like a walking black pompom."

"I am pretty sure your lease doesn't cover that either." She turned Abbie away from the window. "C'mon Slick, there's a boot shop, if I remember correctly, right up here. It's more your style."

"Okay, okay, no need to handle the merchandise." Abbie shrugged off Liv's hands. They continued walking. "So do you have any idea what I can get for Alex?"

"Not a clue." She grinned at the attorney. "We are pathetic. Let's keep walking, maybe something will jump out and scream *buy me*."

"Better than it screaming *bite me*."

Olivia and Abbie sat in the food court nursing a couple of cups of coffee.

"Okay, we have been through the mall... twice. I managed to get a locket and chain for Casey and all you managed was to pick yourself out a new pair of boots and a ski jacket. We still don't have your Alex problem fixed."

"I still have a few days. Maybe talking to her at the house will give me a clue."

"It must either be late or they spiked the coffee." Liv looked in her cup. That actually makes sense."

Abbie cuffed Liv on the shoulder. "Okay, so we are done here for the moment. We need to go do the grocery shopping and then find a tree. The superstore we passed on the way here is open twenty-four hours, so I vote we do the tree first. It's getting late."

Olivia drained her coffee, pushed back her chair and stood up. "Shhhh, be vwery, vwery qwiet, we are hunting Christmas spruce."

Abbie stood as well and held out her hand for the keys. "C'mon Elmer, I'll drive."

Cabot Lodge

December 22, Friday 7:30pm

"You know, it's my mother's fault."

"What is, Casey?"

"My Mother caught me smoking when I was thirteen and... ahem... convinced me what a horrible mistake it would be to start smoking."

"O-kay. And this has to do with our situation, how??"

"If she would have let me smoke, I'd have a lighter or matches in my pocket and we wouldn't be sitting...."

"Standing." Alex interrupted.

"... and standing in the dark."

"Well, in that case you need to thank my family." Alex began to make her way carefully over to Casey.

"Umm, why?"

"Ow, damn." Alex's foot collided with a box.

"You okay?"

"Fine. I have more toes on the other foot," Alex replied drolly. "Anyway, if my mother hadn't married my father then they wouldn't have had me and if they hadn't had me... I hope those are a strand of lights wrapped around my foot." She tried to shake them loose. "And then I wouldn't be here and if I wasn't here...." She finally bent down and unwrapped her foot. She pushed the strand aside. "...you'd be sitting in the dark... alone." She paused. "Well, except for maybe a mouse or two."


Alex laughed. "Keep talking. I think I am almost over to the stairs."

"Would you like me to tell you a ghost story?"

"Not unless you want to sleep in the yard tonight." Clunk. Alex's foot hit the riser on the bottom of the staircase. She began to slowly climb up the stairs on her hands and knees. She felt around to see where Casey was sitting. She finally made contact.

"Alex? You touch me there again and you'll have to marry me," Casey snarked and pulled Alex's arm in, forcing Alex to sit next to her.

Alex playfully bumped her shoulder. "Okay, but you're having the kids. This body was not meant for childbirth." They both chuckled.

"How long do you think we have been down here?"

"I don't know. But I hope they get back soon. I'm thinking I'm going to regret having that last soda."

Casey pushed her body up a couple of stairs. "Higher ground."

"Very funny, Novak."

Spruce-It-Up Tree Farm

December 22, Friday 9pm

"Okay, let me get this straight. You want sixty dollars for any tree we pick out. Plus we have to cut it down ourselves. AND you want another fifty for the use of an axe to do that with?"


"That's highway robbery."

"That's supply and demand. You want a tree, I have the trees. It's only a couple of days before Christmas. How bad do you want the tree?"

Liv turned to Abbie and they walked a couple of feet away from the vendor.

"Oh and cash only." He called over to them with a big phony smile on his face.

"How much cash do you have on you?" Liv whispered to Abbie.

Abbie rooted through her pockets. "I have about fifty. I didn't think I would need cash. I always just use my credit cards."

Olivia did the same. Her wallet produced another twenty. "Okay, we have enough for the tree." She looked over her shoulder at the vendor, glared and turned back to Abbie. "But not the axe."

"So how do you propose, genius, that we get the tree out of the ground?"

Liv looked all around hoping for inspiration. She rubbed the back of her neck nervously. She snapped her fingers. Her eyes turned to Abbie. She handed her the twenty. "Pay the man for a tree. I'll be right back. I have to get something out of the car."

"Liv? Liv?" Abbie called out after her.

"Just pay the man, Abs. I'll be right back." Liv yelled back without looking. She continued walking to her car.

"Here's your sixty bucks." Abbie handed over the money.

"So, how are you ladies planning on getting the tree out of the ground without the axe?"

"Nevermind." Liv spat out as she returned. "You have your money. Now I am going to get my tree. C'mon, Abbie."

Abbie gave one last look to the vendor and followed Liv. Silently they looked at a few dozen trees before they could agree on the one they wanted.

"I do like this one Liv. Now what?"

Olivia kneeled down and pulled the bottom few branches off the tree. She tossed them aside. She looked at the size of the trunk. It was about eight inches around. She pulled a few more branches off. Satisfied that a good portion of the trunk was now exposed, she wiped her hands on her pants and stood back up.

"You going to cut it down with your laser glare?" Abbie joked.

Olivia looked over her shoulder to make sure no one else was nearby. She unzipped her jacket and pulled her gun out.

"Whoa, Benson." Abbie held up her hands in surrender. "I didn't mean it."

"Thank you, but this isn't for you." Liv walked a few paces away. She crouched down again and took aim at the trunk. She fired. The sound echoed but she took aim again. It took five shots and the tree fell over.

Liv, stood back up and put her gun back in the holster, then zipped her jacket back up. About the same time the vendor made his presence known.

"What? How?"


"You can't shoot off a gun up here!"

"Gun? What gun?"

"I'm calling the police." He turned away.

"What can I do for you?" When he turned back, Liv flashed her badge at him. "You do know that price gouging is illegal, right?"

He looked at Abbie. "I'm an attorney. Would you like me to quote the statutes?"

He looked back at Olivia. "But the gun...?"

"What gun?" She turned to her friend. "Did you hear any gunshots?"

"It's hard to tell. Could have been a car backfiring. Sound echoes up here."

He looked at both women. "Five times?" He tried to look past Abbie to see the tree.

Abbie stepped in his way and stared back at him. She smirked and a twinkled entered her eyes. "You know most guns hold six shots." Liv just nodded her agreement.

The vendor gulped. "Car backfires, I guess that's what I heard." He half turned as he walked away,looking nervously at them. The women unrelentingly stared at him. Olivia moved to put her hands in her pockets. His eyes widened in panic. "Ummm, enjoy your tree." He took off in a run.

Cabot Lodge

December 22, Friday 10:30pm

Liv grabbed the inside lever to pop the rear hatch. She and Abbie got out of the car and each grabbed a couple of shopping bags from the back. Olivia swung one of the bags at Abbie and hit her.

"I cannot believe you got us tossed out of the grocery store."

"It wasn't my fault."

"Ab-bie, you started a fight over a box of Twinkies."

"It wasn't Twinkies. It was Ring Dings." She argued back. "I didn't get my fix this afternoon since we got sidetracked meeting up with Alex." She stopped and glared at Liv. "It wasn't a fight either. I just convinced that other shopper to give up the last box."

"You stole it out of her cart when she wasn't looking and then took off in a run to the registers."

"Wasn't my fault she couldn't keep up. I'm faster and cuter." She smirked at Olivia.

"The woman was eighty if she was a day."

"Nah, she wasn't a day over seventy." She answered playfully. "And boy what an arm. She nailed me with that snowball in the parking lot." She shivered just thinking about that cold slush.

The Detective shook her head. "You." She juggled the bags so she could point a finger at her companion. "Are incorrigible."

"I prefer to think of it as charming."

"You would." Olivia raised her hand to knock and thought she'd try the knob first. A puzzled look crossed her face and she shared it with Abbie. "The door isn't locked."

Olivia handed her bags to Abbie and carefully opened the door. "Casey? Alex?"

"Down here," came twin muffled twin voices.


"The basement." Casey answered.

"The door is jammed; we couldn't open it." Alex added.

Abbie put all the bags on the floor. "I think I found the problem." She picked up the knob. "It must have come loose."

"Well," Liv looked over the door frame, "we can't take the door off the hinges they are on the other side."

"Let's just try placing the knob back, maybe we can get it to turn."

Abbie did just that and between the two of them they managed to jiggle it enough to open the door a crack.

Olivia reached her hand into the opening and grabbed the door by the frame. She pushed it the rest of the way open. The light from the living room shined down into the dark stairway. Looking up were the attorneys.

"Why are you sitting in the dark?"

"We wanted some alone time to make out and the couch seemed so clichéd," Casey snarked. She stood up only to be moved aside by Alex who jumped to her feet.

"The bulb burned out." Alex hurriedly pushed past them both. "Out of the way."

Liv looked at Abbie and then Casey.

"Big Gulp came back to haunt her." Casey shrugged. "What took you guys so long?" Olivia and Abbie exchanged nervous glances. "I don't want to know, do I?"

"Probably not." Abbie agreed. She slapped Olivia on the back. "Let's go get the rest of the stuff and the magnificent tree I picked out."

"You? You picked out?" She glowered at Abbie. "We picked out. And I felled it."

"Felled? Did you just use the word---felled? How very woodsy of you." She stuck her tongue out at Liv. "Well, I paid for it."

"I paid for part of it."

"Yeah, the bottom three branches."

They continued to bicker and argue the entire time they were making trips in and out with the groceries. Casey just shook her head.

Alex returned just as they went out to bring in the tree. Casey was in the kitchen putting the groceries away. "Where are they?"

"Getting the tree."

Alex walked to the front door just as the two reached it. "Why don't you stand it up right there?" She pointed. "Lean it on the house and we'll get the living room all prepared for it. Then you can bring it in."

"Good idea." Olivia clapped her hands together and rubbed them briskly. "I need to thaw out." She glanced around the room. "Where are all the decorations and things?"

"Still in the basement."

"Need help bringing them up? Abbie here was made to carry heavy things."


Olivia snickered. "Oh right, no light. Got a flashlight handy?"


"A candle?"




"Then I figure we can do a couple of things. We can expose Abster here to masses doses of radiation until she glows like a nightlight."


"That would take too long." Casey said reasonably.

Abbie just looked between the two of them.

"We can set Abbie on fire and use her like a torch."

"NO!" Alex replied immediately. Which cause Abbie to smile. Then Alex added, "We have no matches."


"Okay. Then I guess we use my last resort idea." She looked deadpan at each of the women. Then she raised her eyebrow in challenge to Abbie. "I'll go get the flashlight out of the car."

"You... you...." Abbie shook her finger at Olivia. "Oooh, I hate you."

Olivia just blew Abbie a kiss, then grabbed her jacket and keys. She laughed all the way out the door.


"Check. Boxes standing ready."

"Tree stand?"

"Standing by. Awaiting its tree."

"Okay, Abbie and I will lift the tree into the stand. Case, can you tighten up the bolts on the stand? Alex will you stand back a few feet and make sure we are holding the tree up straight?"

"Ready Abbie?" She waited for the nod. "On three. One... two...."

"Do you mean on three or right after three?" Abbie interrupted.

"Three." Liv lifted the tree. "Ooof."

For a few seconds she was the only one lifting, then Abbie joined in. Casey positioned the trunk into the stand and began tightening down the bolts to hold it in place.

"Liv lean it a little to your right," Alex directed. "That's it. Perfect."

"All done." Casey stood and threw her arms out in a flourish. "Nicely done."

They all took a few steps back and admired the tree.

Abbie nudged Olivia. "We did good." They smiled at each other.

"Liv, honey? Can I ask you a question?" Casey leaned into Olivia and put her arm around Liv's waist.

"Sure. You can ask me anything." She rested their heads together.

"Why does this tree have a bullet hole in it?"


Cabot Lodge

December 23, Saturday 8:30am

Olivia made her way into the kitchen, her nose following the scent of freshly brewed coffee. She stopped and leaned on the door jamb. Sitting at the breakfast counter was Alex and Casey. Both had part of the newspaper in front of them and a coffee cup. Liv looked at the part of the paper that was showing. She snorted silently. Casey has the sports page and Alex has business. Go figure.

She stifled a laugh when she watched them both turn pages in some sort of a synchronized display. The paper turned, they refolded and flipped it out and they resumed their reading. When they both reached for their cups at the same time, Liv lost it.

The papers dropped down and both women stared at the laughing detective. Then they both turned to each other and mirrored a shrug. Olivia stopped, pointed and then started laughing again. She bent over her hands on her knees to catch her breath.

"Good morning to you too." Casey uttered.

Olivia stood and walked over to the attorneys. She leaned in and kissed Casey then turned to Alex. Alex put her head on her hand and stared. She puckered, playfully, and shut her eyes. Olivia looked at Casey and then swiftly kissed Alex on the top of her blonde head.

"Chicken." She mocked.

"Chicken's girlfriend in right here." Casey answered dryly.

Olivia looked over the counter. "What's for breakfast?"

"There are bagels on the other counter. Help yourself." Casey pointed to the counter.

"Or I think Abbie left her Ring Dings in the cabinet." Alex added

Abbie came sliding into the kitchen, Risky Business style. She reached out and used the counter to stop her forward movement. The attorney put herself between the cake and the other occupants of the kitchen. "Touch those and die." She made a gun gesture with her fingers.

"You'd kill me over a chocolate cake?" Alex asked. She lowered the paper a bit to speak to the brunette.

"You? No. You can have anything I have." She smiled sweetly at the blonde. "But if Butch here takes one more step, I'm going to have to do something drastic."

Olivia had quietly sidled over to the sink while Abbie's attention was on Alex. "Will you stop calling me Butch, please?" She grabbed the sprayer off the sink and pointed it at Abbie.

"It's not loaded, Sherlock." Abbie snarked.

Olivia turned the water on. "Thanks for the reminder, stupid."

"Now Bu... Buddy... you don't want to do that." She lifted her hands in surrender.

Olivia grinned evilly at Abbie. "Oh yes I do. You have been driving me nuts."

"Olivia?" Alex's authoritative lawyer voice brooked no argument. "Put the gun down." She paused a moment. "If you get water all over my floor, even if it is a valid reason, I am going to bury you in the snow."

Abbie smirked.

"And also your instigating... buddy."

The smirk disappeared.

"Casey? Aren't you going to say something?" Liv pleaded, looking over at her girlfriend.

"Sure." She lowered the paper and looked over it. "I'll get started on the eulogies right after I finish reading about the Ranger game last night."

Abbie sat pouting in the back seat of the SUV while everyone else got out.

"Coming, Sundance? Or should we call you Snowpants?" Olivia laughed.

"Liv. Be nice." Alex admonished. "It was her first time." She patted Abbie on the knee and got out. "C'mon." Abbie opened her door and got out as well.

Olivia stepped up close to Abbie and whispered in her ear. "Was it good for you, baby?"

Abbie turned and glared at the brunette. "It could have been better, but I'm sure you've heard that before," she sniped back. "I can't believe you took pictures."

"Souvenirs." She turned away and walked toward the house door. Olivia was a couple of steps behind the two attorneys.

"Souvenir this." As Liv turned, Abbie let fly with a snowball. Unfortunately, Olivia turned, ducked and the snowball hit Casey on the shoulder.

"I am so sorry. That was meant for Butch here."

Olivia was jumping around in front of Abbie. "Neener, neener. You couldn't hit the broadside of a barn."

"Oh, Olivia." Abbie said sweetly. "I don't think of you as a broadside of a barn... yet. But you better layoff the donuts."

"Snowball fight!" Olivia yelled. She pointed her thumb at her girlfriend. "Casey and me against you and Alex."

"Oh, no. I am not getting involved with this." Alex argued back and turned to open the door.

Just then Abbie lobbed another snowball that nailed Alex in the back.

Alex took a deep breath and turned. Her eyebrow rose and she glared, evilly.

Casey looked over at the person standing at her shoulder and was sure she saw horns growing out of her head. "Oh you are in so much trouble now." She took a step forward.

"I want Casey." Olivia called.

"I want Casey." Abbie called out a second behind Liv.

"I want Casey." Alex called out as well.

"Oh what I wouldn't give to hear *that* in different circumstances," Casey closed her eyes and muttered to herself. When she opened her eyes again, everyone was staring at her. "What!?!"

"Who you going to side with Case?" Liv asked. "I luvuuvvvvv you," Olivia warbled.

"We colleagues need to stick together Casey," Alex replied.

"I can make it worth your while Casey." Abbie offered, waggling her eyebrows.

"Just what exactly are you offering, Carmichael?" Liv asked seriously; she stood with her hands on her hips.

Abbie visibly gulped. "Ummm. I'll share my Ring Dings?"

They all looked to Casey expectantly. "Abbie? Can I talk to you a second?" Casey asked. At Abbie's nod, she and the attorney walked a few feet away so they could talk privately. The other two looked at each other, puzzled.

"What's up, Case?" Abbie whispered.

"If you promise to give each of them a Ring Ding." At Abbie's immediate look of outrage, Casey held up her hand. "Let me finish." Abbie nodded in agreement. "If you promise to give each of them a Ring Ding as a gesture of good sportsmanship, I will side with you." Abbie's eyes brightened. "AND I will give you an added bonus that you didn't think about."


"When we annihilate them and you know we will - let's face it Liv can't throw and I doubt Alex can either - anyway, I will focus on Liv and you focus on Alex."

Abbie looked around Casey as she spoke and blew a kiss at Alex and Olivia.

Casey continued. "Once we start and they know they are outclassed, they are going to get a bit, ummm... exasperated. Liv is going to do the only thing that comes to mind - she is going to charge. Alex will follow suit. I am going to end up with a frustrated brunette all over me in the snow. Alex is not even going to think about it and you will end up with a blonde all over you."

"Oh Casey, I like the way you think." She leaned over and kissed her.

"Carmichael!" Olivia growled out.

Abbie ducked the snowball aimed at her head. "Let the games begin." She kneeled down and grabbed a few handfuls of snow. "You're going down, Butch."

"Sorry, honey, but she's offering chocolate." Casey called out as she ducked behind the SUV.

Olivia, clad in a pair of red sweatpants and a Ranger's hockey jersey, made her way back into the living room. She had a towel draped casually around her neck. "That hot shower felt great." The detective rubbed her hair with the towel.

Casey looked over the breakfast bar at her girlfriend and smiled. Liv winked at her. "Guess it's my turn next." She looked toward the hallway opening. "Where's the terror?"

"Probably using up the rest of the hot water," Liv quipped.

"No chance at that," Alex called over her shoulder, then turned around. She was stirring a pot. "My mother loved long baths, so father indulged her by putting in a huge capacity water heater." She gave one final stir to the pot in her hand. "Casey if you will get out some mugs, the hot chocolate is ready."

Casey opened the cabinet door and grabbed two mugs. She set them on the counter and turned to get two more. Alex poured the dark liquid into them, then set the almost empty pot back on the stove. Alex handed two mugs to Casey who strolled into the living room to join Olivia on the couch. Alex picked up her own mug. She brought it to her nose and inhaled the sweet scent.

"Mmmmm, it smells heavenly."

Abbie wandered out at that moment. She sniffed herself and replied cheekily, "Yes, yes I do. Thanks for noticing."

Alex set her mug on the counter and walked over to the brunette. She made a big show of sniffing her. "Eh." She replied, noncommittally as she walked back over to her mug.


She peered back over her shoulder, "Oh, you smell okay, but this chocolate is exquisite." She held out a mug for Abbie. "It's made up of the leftovers of the GoDiva chocolate you sent me." She waited for Abbie to take a sip. "I hope you are a leg person, because the guys ate all the other body parts."

Abbie coughed and sputtered. Once she caught her breath, she pointedly looked at the blonde. "You are evil."

"Thank you for noticing." Alex replied and set her mug back on the counter. "I'm going to go grab a shower now and warm up a bit. I'll make dinner in a little while. Casey, are you going to join me?" She blushed when she realized how that sounded. "In a shower." She continued to stumble, "I mean use the guest shower while I use the master shower. Not join me in my shower." The others snickered. "Oh you know what I meant."

"Yep," Casey handed her mug to Liv who set it on the coffee table. "I'll be right out." She patted Liv's knee as she stood up. "Keep my place warm for me, ok?" As Casey passed by Abbie she looked her over. "Nice jammies. Number thirty one, huh? Interesting." She looked down. "OOoh, love the socks."

Abbie looked down at her apparel and wiggled her toes. "Thanks." Abbie was dressed in a pair of dark blue flannel pants and a blue Giant's jersey. Her socks were red with sparkle stripes.

Abbie took her mug and joined Liv in the living room. She walked around silently for awhile looking at all the family pictures on the mantle and walls. She held one up. "You think she looks like her Mother?"

Liv took a sip and swallowed. "I met her mother." She paused for a moment and sighed heavily. "At her WPP funeral." Olivia looked away. "She was a very nice woman and yeah, Alex does." Olivia pointed to the switch on the brick. "Could you hit that switch please?"

Abbie put the picture back and did as the detective asked. The gas fireplace roared to life. "Nice." She stopped in front of another picture. "This must be her brother. They look very happy." She continued walking along perusing the shelves. "Nice collection of books, too." Abbie walked over to the piano and sat down on the bench. She hit a few keys softly. "You play?"

"Not even Chopsticks." Liv grinned. "Maybe you can charm Alex into playing something for you."

"You think?" Abbie smiled wistfully.

"More often than you do," Liv replied drolly then turned serious. "What were you thinking out there? Just because you got frustrated by Alex's prowess hurling snowballs, you tackled her." She frowned. "You could have hurt her you know?"

"It was...." Abbie stopped. She stood up and started speaking again, "Nah, the snow was soft and I aimed for the drift. Besides, she's already made me pay for it. Blondie is stronger than she looks. I can't believe she turned the tables on me so fast. She stuffed enough snow under my shirt to well, boy howdy, I understand the old saying now. No wonder witches are always in bad moods." She grinned at Olivia.

"Who's in a bad mood?" Alex ambled out from the hallway. She looked between the two brunettes. "I didn't hurt you, did I?" she asked Abbie.

"Just my pride."

"Oh, so no boo-boos to kiss then?"

"Oooh, oh, owie - the pain... the pain," Abbie began to moan and groan humorously.

"Nice try." Alex shook her head, disbelievingly.

"Oh and my lips... my poor lips... all chapped and stuff from the wind and the snow." She began to make kissy sounds.

"Let me see." Alex came over and grabbed Abbie's jaw in one hand. She squeezed and mashed the cheeks together. She turned the jaw in one direction and then the other as she looked it over carefully. "Ooh, you are right. Those are nasty. A little kiss would not do you any good." She patted her face lightly. "You need to rest them."

"So Dr. Cabot," Olivia asked sardonically, "does that mean the patient should remain quiet?"

Abbie just stood there with her arms crossed looking back and forth between the two.

"Well, she shouldn't overuse the parts in question so yes, it is of my medical opinion that silence is advised."

"Bless you, Dr. Cabot." Olivia bowed teasingly.

Casey reappeared. "Oooh, Alex is playing doctor? Can I be a naughty nurse?"

Abbie snorted her last mouthful of hot chocolate. She began to cough.

Olivia slapped her on the back a few times. "You okay, Slick?" The detective suppressed the grin threatening to split her face. "Overloaded on visuals?"

Abbie tried valiantly to stop the tears in her eyes caused by the hot liquid up her nose. She nodded vigorously.

Olivia leaned in and whispered. "Those visuals better all be of Alex; otherwise I am going to have to put you in traction."

"Ni-ice jammies yourself Casey," Abbie managed to squeak out once she regained the ability to speak. "It looks like we covered the big four."

Casey was wearing bright blue lounge pants and an old faded Met's T-shirt. She looked at the others. Liv had hockey, Abbie had football and Alex had on a Celtic's tank top and long, baggy shorts. "Aren't you cold, Alex?"

"Nah, naturally hot-blooded." She replied matter-of-factly. Alex didn't hear Abbie's new coughing fit as she moved off to the kitchen. "Who's going to help me with dinner?"

"No mas, no mas." Olivia held up both hands in surrender. She then pushed herself up from where she was sitting on the floor near the coffee table. Pacing over to the fireplace, she just kept shaking her head. The others just chuckled. She turned and pointed a finger at Alex. "I don't get it. You and Abbie whipped us three times now. I can't believe we lost... again."

"Face it Liv, you suck at Trivial Pursuit." Alex replied cheekily.

"What makes you so good at it?"

"In law school we have to memorize a ton of statutes, cases, details. Our brains are just trained to absorb bits of information."

Liv turned to Casey. "You're a lawyer," she said in an accusatory tone.

Casey physically gulped then smiled sweetly. "Umm, I was sick that day?" She shrugged apologetically.

Abbie got off the couch and walked over to Olivia. She threw her arm around the detective's shoulder and pulled her in for a hug. "Don't worry, Butch. I can help you."


"I'll get you lots of little notebooks so you can write your case notes. That way you don't have to try to cram anything into your pea sized brain."

Olivia threw Abbie's arm off and shoved her away. She stuck her tongue out at the laughing brunette, then turned to look at the fire. Alex and Casey continued to box up the game.

"How about we play cards now?" Abbie suggested. "Draw? Hold 'em? I got it - strip poker anyone?"

"I am not playing strip poker with you," Liv answered instantly. "Not a chance."

"What are you worried about Benson? I've seen it before." Abbie immediately regretted the words. She was pretty sure she was going to be incinerated on the spot from the glare Olivia gave her. She closed her eyes and cringed. When she opened them again, she looked remorsefully at Casey. "I'm sorry, Casey; that was uncalled for."

Casey cut her off. "It's okay Abbie, I've seen it too and I'm not sorry at all." She waggled her eyebrows suggestively. That was enough to diffuse the tension.

Abbie nodded her thanks. Olivia moved back toward Casey and held out her hand. Casey took it and Liv squeezed it and winked at her. Abbie turned to the wall and took the opportunity to peruse the bookshelves again.

"Oooh, lookie here," the Texan drawled. She tossed a book she had pulled from the shelves at Alex and it landed with a thunk on the table. "Can we look through it?"

Alex leaned back on the couch and laughed. "I can't believe you found this. Or that you are even interested."

"Aw, C'mon Alex." Casey looked at the title stamped on the book. "It's not every day that we'd get to see the evolution of an elusive and rare baby Cabot."

Alex whacked Casey on the shoulder with the album, then looked at the other two. Both wore identical exaggerated pouts.

"Fine. The next time we are up here, you all have to bring your baby pictures."

"Next time? You'd have us back again?" Olivia asked.

"Sure. I'm having fun. Aren't you?" Alex asked. All three smiling heads nodded. "Well then, is it a deal?" They nodded again.

Abbie flopped back on the couch to the right of Alex and Olivia squeezed in on the left of Casey.

Alex opened the book, then blushed and cringed.

"OHMIGOD." Casey exclaimed. "I knew people talked about photos like that but didn't think anyone really took those."

"Look it's a bare skin and a bear skin." Abbie pointed to the picture. She grinned at Alex, "You had a dimple. Does it still look the same?" She pushed Alex forward so she could look behind her.

"Stop that." Alex slapped Abbie's hands away. "You'll never know."


Alex cocked and eyebrow. She then turned the page.

"You started skiing young, I see," Olivia said. "Look at those tiny skis."

"Father loved skiing. Actually, all winter activities. I think there are pictures of me ice skating in here somewhere." Alex turned the page.

"Beautiful horse."

"That was Willow. She was my favorite. Such a gentle soul." Alex sighed.

"Hey, Abs, did you have a horse?"

Abbie laughed. "Horses, dogs, cats and anything that could follow me home or be dragged there."

"Is that's how you get your friends too? " Liv asked sarcastically, grinning. Abbie made a funny face back. "I had a bunny." Olivia offered.

"Let me guess - his name was Bugs?"

"No," Olivia answered indignantly. "Her name was Beatrix." All three looked at her. "My Mother was a professor of literature, what do you expect?"

"Alex, did you have any pets?" Casey asked.

"I wanted a dog. A big dog that I could run and play with. I think I asked for a dog for every birthday and holiday." She stared off into space. "My mother was allergic." She shook her head ruefully. "Then they found out that poodles were hypoallergenic since they don't shed. So father bought me a poodle." Alex flipped through the book until she found the picture. She pointed at it. "That's the dog."

Casey looked at the background of the photo. "It was a show dog?" She asked in surprise.

"Yes, what else would a Cabot have for a pet?" Alex answered with a bit of self loathing in her voice. She looked at Casey. "Once they started showing it, I never actually got to play with it... him. He was forever being taken to shows or in training. So while it was *my*..." Alex made quote marks in the air, "...dog, it really wasn't a pet." She shrugged. "I stopped asking after that. I did like spending time with the horses though."

"Well, you should have known me when you were a kid," Casey said sympathetically. "I wanted to save the world one animal at a time." She smiled. "You would have been up to your eyes in strays. It was a zoo at my house…dogs, cats, birds, rodents…"

"It was a zoo at Abbie's too. She was the head gorilla," Liv snarked.

Abbie leaned forward with her hands on her knees and glanced over at Olivia. "Real funny coming from someone who cage dances," she said matter-of-factly.

Alex's and Casey's eyes widened and they turned to look each other.

"Cage dances?" they simultaneously mouthed. Then they turned in sync to look at Olivia. Liv just smiled sweetly at the two attorneys then she suddenly burst out of her seat. Casey and Alex scooted back out of the way.


"Hey watch it. Liv?"

The detective took a shortcut across the coffee table on her way to Abbie's side of the couch. She just missed grabbing her sleeve.

"Whoops!" Abbie yelled as she sprang from her seat and ran down the hallway with one annoyed cop on her tail.


Cabot Lodge

December 24, Sunday 9am

"Got the stuff all packed in the car. You guys ready?" Olivia yelled as she entered the house.

"Just a sec. I can't find my gloves." Alex was looking through the coat closet.

"I have an extra pair packed if you need them, Alex." Casey said as she made her way down to the front door, adjusting her knit cap as she walked.

"Found them." Alex ducked back out of the closet and closed the door. She moved into the room. "Where's Trouble?"

"You rang?" Abbie answered, emerging from the kitchen. "I was just having some milk."

"I can see that." Alex reached up and removed the milk mustache with her thumb. "Did you get your fix?" She pointed to the cake crumbs on Abbie's sweatshirt.

Abbie looked down and frantically wiped them off.

"It's okay. There are worse things to be addicted to."

"I'm not addicted. I can stop anytime I want." She replied emphatically. "I just don't feel the need to stop anytime soon." Abbie turned to the detective. "Actually, I do need to stop. Liv, can I borrow the car this morning?"

"After last night you dare ask me for a favor?" Liv said sternly. "I mean really. You had to sic Alex on me?" She turned to Casey. "And where were you while they were ganging up on me? Hmmmm? They tossed me in the snow."

Casey looked bit her lip and looked away, sheepishly. "Well, you were looking really hot, so I thought a few minutes outside would cool you off."

Olivia arched an eyebrow at her.

"I did warm you back up again, didn't I?" Casey asked, hopefully.

Olivia fought the grin and tried to keep a stern look. Casey blew her a kiss and Liv lost the fight. She ducked her head, shook it and smiled. She then turned her attention back to Abbie.

"Ummm, yes? Favor? So can I?" Abbie half grinned.

"I thought you were coming skiing with us?"

"I'll catch up. I have some last minute shopping to do. It shouldn't take long. So how about it? Can I borrow the car?"

Olivia looked to Casey for any disagreement. "Yeah, sure. Drop us at the resort and don't forget to pick us up later. I'll have my cell, so you'll be able to find us if you decide you want to ski, okay?" She and Casey headed out the door. Alex followed with Abbie last.

"Great…" Abbie slapped her hands together. "Thanks, Mom."

Hunter Mountain Resort

December 24, Sunday 1:30pm

"Hey guys." Abbie got off the lift and skied awkwardly over to the trio. Liv grabbed her before she lost her balance. "Thanks."

"I told you we would meet you on the other slope."

"Don't think I can handle it?"

"I just don't want you to get hurt."

"I know y'all like to ski this one. C'mon, the instructor taught me how to fall safely. I just thought my ass could use a change of scenery." She put her hand on Liv's arm. "I'll be fine, really."

Liv pursed her lips and fumed silently.

Abbie eyes twinkled impishly at the challenge there. "Last one down is a monkey's un... aunt. OOOOOO OOOO AAHHH AAHHH." She pushed off.

"Dammit, of all the irresponsible...." Liv took off after her. "Abbie, Stop!"

Casey and Alex stood and watched as Liv gave chase and as Abbie veered to one side. "This is not good." She pulled her goggles down and started to ski.

Alex was right behind her. "Oh, Abbie... nooooooooooo!"

Cabot Lodge

December 24, Sunday 6pm

"Careful, don't jostle her arm." Alex directed as they helped Abbie into the house. She moved ahead to get the couch ready.

"If I promise not to touch her arm, can I whack her on the head?" Liv asked peeved. She was holding Abbie up by her good arm.

"Liv." Casey admonished. "She's injured."

"She's right here, y'know?" Abbie mumbled. "My ears weren't damaged."

"Good thing you didn't hit that tree head first," Casey acknowledged. She helped Liv steer Abbie around the end of the couch and sit her down.

"Good for Abbie or good for the tree?" Liv asked.

"LIV!" Alex scolded.

Olivia smiled apologetically at Alex.

Alex sat next to Abbie and put her hand on her knee. Abbie's head was down, the fingers on her good hand were nervously picking at the stitches on the seam of the sling. The blonde gently raised her chin so she could look in the bleary brown eyes. "Can I get you something? Do you want something to drink, eat? Are you hurting? Do you want to go lie down for awhile?"

Abbie shook her head. "Not hungry. The shot he gave me is kinda washing me out. Maybe I should just go lie down."

"Okay. Liv?" Alex gestured to the detective. Olivia helped Abbie back up to her feet. Alex continued talking to Abbie as they made their way to the attorney's bedroom. "I'll get some water and your pills. I'll set them on the nightstand. They will be there when you wake up."

Olivia gingerly set Abbie on the bed. Then she and Casey removed the tall brunette's boots. Casey unsnapped Abbie's jeans and Olivia helped her to stand again, so that she could step out of them. Casey was helping to pull up a pair of sweats when Alex came back into the room. She patted Abbie on the hip to indicate she was finished and Olivia helped her to sit down. They left her in the scrub top that the doctor's put on her at the hospital. Both she and Casey moved to the foot of the bed.

"The doctor said you would probably need them for a few days. You didn't dislocate the shoulder but you did bruise it badly." Alex helped Abbie lie back. She moved a bit of hair off her forehead. "Abbie what were you thinking?"

"M'sorry." Abbie whispered and closed her eyes. "I don't mean to be this much trouble."

"Oh, honey, it's not the trouble. I'm just glad you didn't hurt yourself really badly."

Hearing Alex's tone, Casey shot a look at Liv. She gestured with her head that they should leave.

Casey grabbed an afghan, spread it over the brunette and tucked her in. She leaned down and kissed Abbie on the cheek. "Get some rest, George?" She started humming the theme song from 'George of the Jungle'.

Abbie nodded, "Okay."

Casey put her hand on Alex's shoulder as she passed to leave. They exchanged a nod. Alex nervously fussed with the afghan a bit, her eyes downcast.

Olivia leaned over and kissed Abbie's forehead, then whispered in her ear. "Don't you EVER scare me like that again. Understand?"

Abbie opened her eyes and looked at the concerned brown ones right in front of her. She nodded slightly.

There was a moment of awkward silence as Abbie focused in on the blonde sitting on the bed. Alex was fidgeting.

"You gonna kiss me too?" She lightheartedly asked Alex, whose eyes shot up. "I mean, if I would have known I was going to get that much action, I would have kissed a tree sooner."

"Not funny, Abigail." Alex replied sternly. "You scared m... us. You are not skilled enough to handle that slope. You could have been seriously hurt or killed."

"I'm sorry. I was just feeling so good and having such a good time. I didn't think anything bad would happen." She closed her eyes and turned her head away from Alex. "I'm sorry I ruined everyone's holiday."

Alex gently turned Abbie's head back. "You didn't ruin anything," Alex explained softly. "We are all still here, tomorrow is Christmas and we'll celebrate just like we planned. Although your stunt today probably was the deciding factor as to whether or not you moved from the nice to naughty list."

She smiled down at Abbie. "Santa might only bring you some coal."

"With the price of heating oil these days, that might be a good thing."

Alex chuckled. "Get some sleep." She stood up and turned to the door.

"Ahem." Abbie cleared her throat. "Aren't you forgetting something?"

Alex made an effort to look around the room. "You have a blanket and the pills and water are on the nightstand. Nope, you're good." She turned toward the door. "We'll check in on you in a little while."

Abbie made kissy sounds.

Alex turned back. "Something you want?"

Abbie pursed her lips and closed her eyes.

Alex walked back over to the bed and leaned over. She pecked Abbie on the nose. "Go to sleep."

"Aw, man...." She opened her eyes and pinned Alex with a disappointed look.

Alex looked down at herself. "Nope, not since the last time I looked." She winked and shut off the light. "Pleasant dreams, A-bi-gail."

"Don't call me...." she yelled out, then quieted. "Oh who am I kidding? She can call me anything she wants." Abbie smiled and closed her eyes to go to sleep.


Cabot Lodge

December 25, Monday 3am

Alex awoke with a start and she sat up. She looked at the bedside clock. Three am? She wasn't sure what woke her up but it scared her enough that her heart was racing. She pressed a hand to her chest. Then she heard a noise out on her deck. She lay back quietly waiting to see if it was an overactive imagination or something else. Yes, Alex there is a Santa Claus and his reindeers are stomping on your deck. She silently chuckled. She heard it again. The thumping in her chest got louder. Okay Alex, calm down. She took a deep breath. Biting her lip, she internally debated. Wake Liv or not? It's probably an animal. And let's face it Alex, do we really need to see Liv and Casey in bed together? Right. Not a necessary visual. Can't wake Abbie. Okay... I'll go take a peek and if it's something bad, I'll get Liv.

Alex threw back the covers and put her feet on the floor. Quietly she made her way to the French doors. She pulled back the drapes and peeked out. Abbie?

She grabbed her robe, then thought better of it. She grabbed some sweatpants and changed out of her baggy shorts. A hoodie went over her tank top and she put on a pair of sneakers. Opening the French doors as quietly as she could, she stepped out onto the deck.

Abbie was standing by the barbeque grill, whistling. And dancing? Alex shook her head to clear it. Nope, she really was dancing. She tilted her head. Kind of. The brunette had an afghan loosely draped around her shoulders. Alex watched as she lifted the hood and moved something around and then closed it again and continued her gyrations.

"Abbie?" Alex called out gently. "Sweetie, why are you out here?"

"Hi ya, Al-lie!" Abbie turned to the voice. "It's about time you got up." She said cheerfully. "I thought you guys were going to sleep the day away."

"Abbie it's...." Alex hesitated a second. "... three."

"I know. Guess you guys were really tired from skiing yesterday."

"No Abbie, it's three am."

"What?" She tilted her head and looked at Alex. "Look at how bright it is." The covering slipped as she pointed to the yard. "It's daytime, silly."

"No, Abbie." Alex moved closer to Abbie and straightened the afghan on her. "It's the middle of the night. It's only bright out here because of the new moon reflecting off the snow." She turned Abbie to face her and looked into her eyes. "And the medicine is dilating your eyes."

"Oh." Her shoulders slumped a bit. "I woke up and I looked at the clock, then I took two of those pain pills. Boy howdy are those nice. Pain went bye-bye in a hurry." She leaned in close and whispered to Alex. "I'm not supposed to take those kinds of pills since codeine makes me a little loopy but I figured it would be okay just this once. I certainly am not going to be operating heavy machinery or light machinery for that matter." Abbie continued to ramble. "Nope, no machinery around here. You won't let me drive the car and 'sides, I got a broken wing." She flapped the sling. "Anyway, I wasn't sleepy anymore after that, so I got up but nobody else was up so I thought I would get dinner started. I know turkeys take awhile." She looked at the expression on Alex's face. "Did I do something wrong?" she asked in a childlike voice.

"No, it's okay. Your heart was in the right place."

Alex laughed when Abbie put her free hand over her heart. "Right c'here."

"Yeah. Let's get you back inside; you must be freezing." Alex put her hand on Abbie's back to guide her to the doors.

"Nope, I'm good." Abbie resisted moving.

"Well, I know I am cold."

She started walking toward the door. "Okie dokie; I will for you." Then she murmured softly, "Anything for you." Abbie stopped short. "What about...." She pointed to the grill.

"I'll take care of that in a few minutes. Let's get you warmed up, okay?"

Abbie agreed happily, her head bobbing.

"Actually, I think we just need to get you in bed."

"All right!" She grabbed Alex's hand and practically dragged her to the door.

"Whoa, Tex. You are going to your bed and I am going to mine." Alex and Abbie entered and then Alex closed the door behind them.

"You sure know how to spoil a mood." Abbie's lip poked out in an exaggerated pout. Then she brightened as a thought occurred to her. "Hey, will you tell me a story and tuck me in?"

"Sure." Alex took Abbie's good arm. "How about I tell you a story about two lawyers? One is a gorgeous brunette attorney from DC and the other is a blonde attorney from New York. The brunette attorney has been using every trick in the book to get the blonde to notice her. And though the blonde hates to admit it, the brunette is slowly growing on the blonde like a...." Alex paused, then grinned. "... fungus."

"Oooh, would that be a good fungus or a bad fungus?" Abbie asked as they entered the brunette's bedroom. Alex turned down the bed and helped Abbie into it. She sat on the edge.

"Good fungus."

"Cool. Happy ending." Abbie mind finally caught up. "You think I'm gorgeous?"

Alex just smiled broadly at her.

"Wow. I think you're beautiful." She said sincerely and touched Alex's cheek with the back of her hand.

"Thank you." Alex tucked the errant hand back under the blanket. "Now close your eyes."

"Are you going to kiss me good night?" The question was accompanied by a huge dimpled smile.

Alex leaned in and softly kissed the corner of Abbie's mouth. She tucked a strand of dark hair behind an ear. "Get some rest. When you wake up, Santa will have brought you presents." Alex got up and turned to the door.

"Allie?" a quiet voice asked.


"I'm not going to remember any of this in the morning, am I?"

"Not a chance."


Alex absently flipped through a magazine. She closed it and put it aside as she heard someone approach. The blonde glanced up at the clock. Eight thirty and the troops are finally stirring. She reached for her coffee cup and took a sip just as the detective appeared. Liv was in her jammies.

"Morning, Alex; Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Liv." She watched the detective yawn. "Did you sleep okay?"

"Yeah. I did get up a couple of times to check on Abbie but overall, yeah."

Olivia's tone became mischievous. "Did you?"

"Did I what?

"Sleep well?"

"Yes, fine, thank you." She was puzzled by the smirk on the detective's face. "Why?"

"Well, one of the times I got up to check on Abbie, she wasn't sleeping in her bed."

"Well, she wasn't sleeping in mine." Alex answered a little too fast.

"I know. When I found her missing, I went to wake you and when you didn't answer I opened your door. You weren't sleeping in your bed either." Liv's eyes twinkled. "So tell me, Counselor - where were you and Trouble not sleeping together?"

"Who's not sleeping together?" Casey entered the kitchen. She was freshly showered and dressed. She moved to stand next to Olivia and put her arm around her waist. "Morning, honey." She kissed her.

"Alex and Abbie."

"Well, duh."

The blonde and the brunette looked at each other and then Casey.

"Of course they aren't sleeping together." Casey continued while she poured herself some coffee. "Abbie is injured; it wouldn't be worth the effort right now." She winked at Alex. "But wait until she is healthy." She paused. "Then again, if she's healthy, I doubt much sleeping would be going on."

Alex coughed around her sip of coffee. Olivia burst out laughing which only made the blonde glare.

"I'm gonna go shower and get dressed." Olivia looked Casey up and down. "I'd ask you to join me but it appears that you have already...."

Casey grabbed her hand and pulled Liv toward the hallway. "You can never be too clean... right, Alex? Be back in a few. Maybe."

Alex laughed as they exited.

A short time later, the couple reappeared.

Alex was still sitting in the same place. She was enjoying a second cup of coffee. She looked up over the rim. "You both squeaky clean now?

Or just squeaky?" The couple looked at her and blushed.

Casey made her way over to Alex. "Thank you for having us up here and Merry Christmas, Alex." She leaned over Alex and hugged her neck.

Alex patted her arms. "It's been a lot of fun. I'm glad we did this too and you are welcome here anytime." Alex gestured to the oven. "There is French toast and bacon warming in there. I had some while I was preparing it."

"You cooked?" Liv turned to Casey. "I didn't hear the smoke alarm go off, did you Case? Well, unless you barbequed it."

Alex's eyes opened wide in surprise. She looked quickly out the glass doors to the deck. Then sighed. She tried to cover herself by joking back. "Just for that Benson, there is cereal in the cabinet. No French toast for you." Alex pointed at Liv and teased.

"More for me." Casey was peering in the oven at the food. "Alex. This smells and looks wonderful." She took a piece of bacon out and crunched it. "Mmmm."

"Thank you. I did learn to cook a bit when I was in WPP. It was that or starve. The little towns they kept putting me in didn't have all-night restaurants and soup, sandwiches and salads get really old after awhile." She stole another quick glance outside.

Casey made herself a plate and sat at the table.

"Hey, what about me?"

"Like Alex said, the cereal is in the cabinet. Help yourself." Casey dug into her breakfast. She looked across the table at Alex who sat with her head resting on her palm and an amused grin on her face. Alex was looking at Olivia. Casey finished chewing and looked over her shoulder. The detective was leaning on the counter playfully pouting, her bottom lip quivering exaggeratedly. "Come here, you big baby." Casey held a forkful of food out for her.

Olivia slid over to the table and took the food. She chewed enthusiastically. "This is really good," she said, surprise evident in the tone of her voice.

"I think there was a compliment in there somewhere, right?" Alex snarked back.

Olivia stood up straight. "Ahem. This magnificent breakfast you have so nicely cooked for us is delicious. Thank you for your time and for sharing your culinary skills." She bowed, then went to go fix her own plate.

"It's always nice to be appreciated." Alex's smile faded as she looked out the door again.

"Everything okay, Alex? You keep looking outside."

"Fine, Casey. I was just thinking. After breakfast why don't you two go play outside for while? We have the skis and there are snowshoes, sleds and the snowmobile in the garage. Go out and have some fun. I'm sure Abbie will be sleeping a bit longer. When you get back about lunchtime, we'll do an early dinner and then open presents. How does that sound?"

"You have a snowmobile?" Casey's eyes lit up. "Sweet. Vroom, vroom."

"I guess that answers that." Olivia chuckled. "Sounds like a plan."

"There are paths that cut through the woods and circle the property. Just stay on them and you shouldn't have a problem finding your way back when you are ready. If you go walking through the woods, keep an eye out. You should find deer foraging around."

"Cool. Animals." Olivia picked up her empty plate and Casey's and took them to the sink. She rinsed them and loaded the dishwasher. She turned to Alex. "Uhh, deer are vegetarians, right?" She asked seriously.

"City girl." Alex and Casey both said at the same time.

Alex Cabot closed the glass door. She finished wiping her hands on the towel and jumped when she looked up. Standing in the kitchen door jamb was Abbie.

She looked pitiful.

"Sleeping Beauty awakes."

"I feel more like Snow White and all seven dwarves are dancing in my head. What time is it? What were you doing outside?"

"Lunchtime. Go sit. Can I get you one of your pain pills?"

Abbie did just that. "No, thank you. Do you have any plain aspirin? Those pain pills make me loopy and they gave me some weird dreams last night." She waited a moment. "Where's the happy couple?"

"Oh?" Alex headed out of the room. "Hang on; I think I have some Advil."

"Outside?" Abbie asked again when Alex returned.

"I was cleaning the grill, Ms. Nosey; and Liv and Casey are out playing in the woods."

"I cleaned it after we used it the other night to cook those steaks." Abbie took the pills from Alex. "Thank you." She paused a moment. "Playing in the woods? On purpose?"

Alex laughed. "I gave them the keys to the snowmobile. Casey is a closet Danica Patrick, apparently. Would you like me to make you something light? I made French toast this morning but it would be charcoal by now." Alex didn't comment on the rest of Abbie's statement.

"Just a glass of milk would be great. I can wait to eat until dinner." Abbie looked around the kitchen and took a deep breath. "Speaking of dinner, shouldn't the turkey be in the oven by now?"

Alex turned her back to the attorney and went to the fridge. She poured a glass of milk. "We aren't having turkey." She paused. "There was a slight problem, so we are having pasta primavera instead." She took Abbie the glass and then retreated back into the kitchen.


"Ummm, yeah. I had to throw it out." Alex then changed the subject. "Tell me about these weird dreams."

"Did you kiss me?" Abbie asked. "I had a dream that you kissed me."

The blonde was silent for a second and she put on her best courtroom face before she turned back around. She leaned back on the counter. "Liv and Casey kissed you when we first tucked you in." Not exactly a lie, Alex.

"Oh." Abbie sounded so disheartened. "I also dreamt that I went outside."


"Yeah, and I was...." She quickly looked outside then Abbie closed her eyes as realization dawned. Her head dropped down and her expression fell. "I ruined dinner, didn't I?" She looked up at Alex.

Alex slipped into the chair next to her. She slid her arm gingerly around Abbie's shoulder. "No. Nothing is ruined. Come on. Admit it. Cooking a turkey dinner with all the trimmings was going to be an endeavor beyond all of our skills combined. Personally, I think you saved us from nasty bouts of food poisoning." She leaned her head on Abbie's. "It's fine. We are going to have a great dinner and then after we eat some killer dessert, we'll open presents." She looked deep into Abbie's eyes. "Okay?"

Abbie gave a half smile. "Okay."

Alex smiled back. "Believe me?"

They both looked up as the door opened and Olivia and Casey stomped in.

"Saved, huh?" Abbie asked.

"Who saved what?" Olivia asked as she took her coat and hat off.

Abbie and Alex looked at each other, then Abbie stood up. "OHMIGOD!"

She walked over and one-arm hugged them both. "I'm so glad you're back. And safe. Did you see it?"

"See what?"

"The bear."


"There was a big... ummmm... bear on the deck. And he ummmm... was hungry. I didn't want him trying to come in here so... uhhhh... so it was either give him Alex...."

"Hey!" The blonde objected.

"But she's so skinny." Abbie turned to Alex, then continued rambling. "I figured it would be hungry again in an hour." She turned back to the couple. "Plus, she is our hostess and that would not be a good way to repay her hospitality. And let's face it, I am in no condition to fight off a bear." She flapped her sling. "So I gave it the turkey." She paused as they looked at her incredulously. "Anyone for a pasta dinner?" She smiled brightly.

Casey and Liv just stared at each other and then back at the still smiling Texan. They looked past her at Alex who just shrugged her agreement with the story.

"With mushrooms or without?" Alex asked.

Abbie turned back to Alex and winked.

Lacy things... missin',
Didn't ask... permission,
Wearin' her clothes,
Her silk pantyhose,
Walkin' 'round in women's underwear,
Walkin' 'round in women's underwear,
Walkin' 'round in women's underwear!

Alex sat at the piano with Abbie next to her on the bench. Olivia and Casey were standing along side. All of them were shaking with laughter.

"I cannot believe you just sang that."

"It's a classic," Abbie replied trying to catch her breath. "I can't believe you never heard it before." She took a deep breath. "Whooo. My boss did that at a Christmas party dressed in an evening gown." They all looked at her. "He has the legs for it," she said matter-of-factly and then broke out in laughter again.

"Our turn." Casey leaned over and whispered in Liv's ear. Liv nodded and looked away. Casey gave her one last look. "Ready?" She frowned. "Ready, Liv?" No answer. "Liv?" Still no answer. "LIV!"

"Okay!" Liv turned and smiled at Casey.

They then launched into a warbling a cappella version of their selected song while the others broke out in gales of shaking laughter. Part of the way through, Alex caught up and started playing.

Christmas, Christmas time is near,
Time for toys and time for cheer;
We've been good, but we can't last -
Hurry Christmas, hurry fast
Want a plane that loops the loop,
Me, I want a hula hoop;
We can hardly stand the wait -
Please Christmas, don't be late.

Abbie then got into the spirit. "Okay guys, get ready for the next part. That was very good, Casey."


"Very nice playing, Alex."

"Ahhh, thanks." Alex ducked her head.

"Liv, you were a little flat, watch it. Liv... Liv... LIV!"


Want a plane that loops the loop,
I still want a hula hoop;
We can hardly stand the wait -
Please Christmas, don't be late.
We can hardly stand the wait -
Please Christmas, don't be late.

Liv and Casey collapsed on each other. Alex and Abbie playfully bumped each other on the bench.

"I got one," Alex offered. "I just need to remember how it goes." Her brows knit for a moment as she concentrated. "I got it." She started playing and singing.

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas;
Only a hippopotamus will do.
Don't want a doll, no dinky Tinker Toy -
I want a hippopotamus to play with and enjoy.

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas;
I don't think Santa Claus will mind, do you?
He won't have to use our dirty chimney flue -
Just bring him through the front door,
That's the easy thing to do

I can see me now on Christmas morning,
creeping down the stairs;
Oh what joy and what surprise
When I open up my eyes...
To see a hippo hero standing there.

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas;
Only a hippopotamus will do.
No crocodiles, no rhinoceroses
I only like hippopotamuses -
And hippopotamuses like me too.

Alex finished with a flourish. Abbie stood up and then realized she couldn't applaud. So she gestured at Casey and Liv who promptly started clapping. Abbie whistled. Alex playfully stood and curtseyed before she took her place back on the piano bench. "That was fun."

"I got another one. Play Jingle Bells, please."

"Batman better not be the star of this one, Abbie." Liv mockingly threatened.

"No worries, this one is... personal." She grinned evilly.

Alex started playing and Abbie began to sing.

Jingle Bells,

Stabler yells,

Benson snags a perv;

Munch debates,

Fin interrogates,

and Casey makes 'em serve.

Olivia walked around to where Abbie was sitting and smacked the back of her head. "Ass."

"Good thing you weren't a doctor, Liv. That wasn't my ass; that was my head."

Olivia just shook her head and resumed her place by Casey.

Abbie took the opportunity while everyone's attention was elsewhere to sneak a peek at her watch. Then she leaned her head on Alex's shoulder. "Can we open presents now? Huh, can we?" She gave her the puppy dog eyes.

"Yeah, you've been good."

"You have no idea just how good I can be." She answered with waggling eyebrows and then leaned more heavily on Alex. When Alex stood, Abbie just about fell over. "Oof."

"I'll get some coffee up and the desserts out. Who wants what?"

"I'll help, Alex," Casey offered. "And I want pumpkin pie."

"I'll take a piece of that too and horn dog here will have a milk bone." Liv moved over to the tree and started sorting presents.

"Funny, Benson. Anything chocolate for me."

"What a surprise," Liv replied drolly. "You do know chocolate is bad for dogs... even horn dogs," Liv added seriously.

"Make mine pumpkin too." Abbie called out.

The fire popped lazily while the foursome finished up their desserts and coffee. Alex and Abbie sat on opposite sides of the couch and Liv was perched on the arm of Casey's oversized chair.

"Wow, that pie was delicious." Casey scraped her fork on the plate once more.

Alex gave her an amused smile. "There's more in the kitchen; have another piece."

"I couldn't."

"Sure you can."

"No honest, I couldn't. I think I'd explode."

"Please don't then. It took my mother forever to pick out the color on the walls. I'd hate to have to repaint." Alex ate the last bite of her pie and then pointed her fork at Casey.

"On that note...." Liv smacked her hands together. "It's present time. Who wants to go first?"

"I do, I do." Abbie volunteered. "Casey, that big green box is from me and Butch, that red plaid one is yours." She looked at them both and her eyebrow spiked evilly. "Liv, you open yours first."

Alex set her coffee mug on the table and scooted to the edge of the couch for a better look. She could tell by Abbie's tone that trouble was about to make an appearance.

"Okay." Olivia pulled the box into her lap. "Kinda heavy." She then proceeded to shred the paper off of it. She lifted the lid off. She gave a quick look to Abbie and then one to Casey. "All right," she exclaimed happily. "Look Casey, a complete set of Eastwood DVDs. Including all the Dirty Harry ones.

Casey squinted at Abbie. "Yeah, great," she deadpanned. "I now know what movie night just became for us. Shoot 'em ups."

Liv ignored Casey's sarcasm, she was practically bouncing up and down as she went through all the DVDs in the box. "Hey, there is something underneath." She moved the cases aside and pulled out a flat envelope. "What's in here?" she asked Abbie."

"If you open it, you might just find out," Abbie replied and rolled her eyes.

Olivia opened the envelope to find a personalized autographed picture of the man himself. "Whoa, not only is it signed, it's signed to me." She held it up for them all to see, then handed it to Casey and got up off the couch to cross over to Abbie. She looked down while Abbie looked up. "Stand up, punk," Liv said in her best imitation. Abbie complied. Olivia pulled her into a hug, mindful of her shoulder. "Thank you. I love them. Where?" She gestured to the picture.

"My boss played in a celebrity golf tournament in DC. Eastwood flew in to play. I asked him if the situation presented itself, if he could get a signed picture. I told him who it was for and he did the rest."

"You rock." She gave Abbie another light hug and went back to her seat by Casey. She was still smiling as she looked through the box of goodies.

"Okay Casey, your turn." Abbie gestured to Casey's box. "I figured fair is fair." She winked at Casey.

Casey gave her a puzzled look at Abbie's cryptic comment. The box was wrapped in lime green paper with a big purple bow. "Geez, make one fashion faux pas and no one ever forgets," she muttered to herself while she tore at the paper. The others snickered softly. They stopped immediately when she looked up to glare at each of them. She went back to unwrapping.

Casey lifted the lid and peeked under it. Olivia leaned over to get a look. Casey quickly closed the lid again. She smiled broadly at Abbie. "Oh, I take back every nasty thing I thought about you in the last five minutes. This is payback and a half." Casey threw the lid off and showed Olivia. "Look, a complete set of those cheesy Beach Party movies I love so much." She grinned broadly while Olivia cringed.

"How'd you know?" Casey asked Abbie.

"Actually, Butch there told me." Olivia shot her a look that said WTF. "You did Liv; you mentioned it in passing awhile back. I filed that bit of info away."

"You couldn't have lost it?"

Casey bumped Liv off the arm of the chair. Olivia stumbled to remain standing. "Be nice. We'll alternate movie night, okay?"

Olivia made the appearance to think about the proposition for a moment then leaned in and stole a quick kiss. "Deal." Casey moved to set the box aside.

"Casey, look on the bottom of yours too."

Casey pulled out an envelope.

"I couldn't get a picture to match up with your DVDs but I think... I hope... you'll like it anyway."

Casey slid the picture out of the envelope and turned it over; it was an autographed picture of Tom Seaver.

She handed the box and the picture to Olivia and practically hopped over to Abbie. "Seaver is just the best pitcher ever!" She threw her arms around Abbie and then kissed her. "You do rock!" Casey fanned herself. "Oh, I think I am gonna swoon." She hugged Abbie again and then turned around and leaned back against her. She looked at Liv. "I know just where I am going to hang that picture."

"Uh oh." Olivia turned to Alex. "Why do I think the apartment is about to get a blue and orange makeover?"

"Experience?" Alex replied, drolly.

Olivia lifted her cup in salute to Alex's reply. "All right Abigail. I think you need to open what we got you." Then she added in a low tone, "It can only help your disposition."

Casey smacked the back of Liv's head lightly as she resumed her seat. "Be nice."

Abbie picked up the long, thin silver wrapped box. She shook it but it didn't rattle.

"Careful, it might explode," Liv joked.

Using her knees to hold it steady, she managed to work the paper off one-handed. She removed the bow from the paper and set it on her head, then balled up the rest and set it next to her. She carefully opened the box.

"A Hot Wheels car?"

"Recognize the model?"

"It's my baby." Abbie's eyes lit up. "It's even the right color." She showed it to Alex.

"You drive a classic Corvette?"

"Yeah," Abbie said absently as she looked at the papers in the box. "Whoa, a detailing spa for cars. My baby is getting a makeover. How cool."

"So are you, Slick," Liv added. "Keep digging."

"A day at the most exclusive spa in Virginia." She looked at her companions. "I am going to be pampered to within an inch of my life and so is my baby." She winked at Alex. "I will be even more irresistible than ever when they get done."

"Hey Liv? Did they charge you extra for the ultra large ego they will be dealing with?"

Abbie tilted her head and gave Alex a look. "I'm from Texas, baby. Everything is big in Texas."

Alex agreed. "Bigger bulls, bigger bull....<.cough.>"

Even Abbie had to laugh at that but she still threw the wadded paper at Alex anyway.

"Thanks guys, this is wonderful. My Vette is gonna be the envy of guys at work." Abbie got up to give first Olivia and then Casey a hug. She kissed each of them on the head as well. Abbie puckered up and leaned in toward Alex.

"Not so fast there, Tex. Keep those lips to yourself." Alex squeezed Abbie's chin in her hand.

"Okay," the brunette squeaked out through her pursed lips. When Alex let go, Abbie went back to her end of the couch.

"Alex, you're up." Liv directed.

Alex looked at the brightly wrapped package. It was a square box wrapped in shiny gold paper with a huge white bow. "Casey, you will have to show me how you wrap things so nicely."

"Hey, what makes you think I didn't wrap it?" Olivia argued.

"You still have trouble tying your shoes, let alone a beautiful bow like this." Alex pointed down at Liv's sneakers. One was untied.

Liv looked down. "Okay," she conceded with a grin. "You may have a point there."

Casey patted Liv's knee. "It's okay honey; you have other skills." She paused. "And you are housebroken. Think I'll keep ya."

Alex opened the box to find another box inside. It was a narrow jewelry box. She lifted the hinged lid. "Oh, this is gorgeous. I love silver."

"I saw it and it literally screamed your name."

"Casey isn't kidding; I could hear it too. *I want to go home with Alex; I want to go home with Alex*." Liv added.

"That wasn't the jewelry - that was me," Abbie joked.

Alex shook her head at Abbie. "Incorrigible."

"Focused." Abbie replied.

Alex looked in the box at the envelope. She opened the flap and pulled out two tickets to a Chicago concert. "Oh my." She looked at the couple. "I tried to get tickets but they were sold out."

"I know the head of security at MSG." Liv shrugged. "Casey and I knew you liked them."

"Look Abbie - tickets to Chicago."

"They are sending you to Illinois, yes?"

"No, they are sending me to Chicago at MSG."

"No Journey?"


"You are going to see Yes?"

"No, Chicago."


"No Yes, no Journey, no Who, Chicago." She leaned over and rapped her knuckles on Abbie's head. "No brain."

Abbie looked in the box, "Do you even know what concert you are going to?" She laughed at the flustered blonde.

Alex pulled the box away. "Just for that, I'll take Serena." Alex got up and gave Casey and Olivia a hug and a kiss. "Thank you. I love them. I can't wait for the concert."


"Okay, well, I guess I am up next. Alex walked over to the tree and pulled an envelope out of the branches. She handed it to Casey. "I hope you like this."

Casey opened the envelope and showed Liv the contents.

Olivia's eyes widened. "Oh, Alex. I don't know if we can...."

Casey held up a couple of signed notes that were also in the envelope. She and Liv started to laugh.

She held them up for Abbie to see. "Alex is sending us to the Bahamas for a long weekend Valentine week. And she got Cragen and Branch to sign notes excusing us from work."

"Sun, sand, surf, bikinis." Liv sighed.

"No wind, no snow, no cold and no more dessert if I am going to put this body in a bikini," Casey agreed then sighed as well.

"Thank you Alex. This is more than wonderful." Olivia gave Alex a hug. Casey followed suit.

"Enjoy the trip; you deserve a little *us* time." Alex turned to Abbie. "Your turn, Carmichael." She got a flat package out from behind the tree and a small box from under the tree." She handed Abbie the flat package first.

Abbie gave Alex a puzzled look and started opening the flat package. "I'm guessing it's a framed picture, but...." She looked at the picture and then up at Alex. "Oh Alex. How?" The amazement on Abbie's face was quite evident.

"Do you like?"

Abbie nodded vigorously. "How?"

"I called your mama, Tex."

"You called my mother?" Abbie's mouth hung open in shock. "Oh Lord, am I in trouble."

"Pretty much. She really likes to talk about her baby girl. We talked for an hour."

"I'm dead."

"Show us what you got there, Slick."

"Oh." Abbie turned the frame around and showed them a Looney Tunes framed cel. "I collect cels and these guys are my absolute favorites. I feel a certain kinship to one of them. Especially lately - go figure." They all laughed.

"Open the other box."

Abbie tore into the smaller box and pulled out a Nintendo DS and a couple of games including a Looney Tunes themed one. She looked up at Alex. "Sweet."

"Every kid should get a toy for Christmas. Merry Christmas, Ab-i-gail."

Abbie set all her stuff aside and stood as well. "Merry Christmas, Alex," she whispered and she kissed Alex's temple as they continued to hug. Then the doorbell rang.

"I'll get it," Abbie volunteered, "Y'all stay right where you are. Well, except for Butch. I need her to carry stuff. This is Alex's present." Liv got up and followed Abbie outside.

Casey and Alex could hear voices outside but not exactly what they were saying. They did hear an "oh, boy" from Liv but couldn't tell if it was good or bad. Then they heard a car drive off.

Abbie yelled from outside, "Do you know what else every kid should get for Christmas, Alex?" Abbie stepped back in holding a black bundle of fur. Olivia was behind her with a crate and supplies.

Alex put her hand to her mouth and willed the sudden tears not to fall.

She managed to force herself to walk over to Abbie, who was getting a thorough chin licking.

"Stop that - it tickles." She squeaked out around laughter. Abbie held out the puppy for Alex to take. "Every kid should have a puppy. Merry Christmas, Allie."

Alex grabbed Abbie in a crushing hug with the dog trapped between them. It was only when the dog objected to being smooshed and tried to crawl onto Alex's shoulder that they broke apart.

"Oh Abbie." She took the puppy and held it up to her face, so that they were nose to nose. "He's...?" She looked for a nod. "He's adorable."

"He's a black lab. Big, friendly but protective and very playful."

"Look, he's wearing a little Harvard sweatshirt."

"Okay, so he's not perfect," Abbie quipped.

Alex slapped Abbie's arm playfully. "Ab-bie," Alex's voice was filled with emotion.

Abbie leaned toward Liv and whispered, "I did good?"

Liv took one look at the smiling blonde, who had taken the puppy over to meet Casey. "You did great," she answered.


Cabot Residence

December 31, Sunday 11:15pm

Abbie, humming, readjusted her sling as she waited for the elevator to make its way to the seventh floor. She tried looking at her reflection in the steel plates on the doors but the distorted image just made her frown. Finally, the bell dinged and the doors opened. Abbie stepped out and looked both ways down the hallway. She reached in her pocket and pulled out a piece of scrap paper. Double checking the number, she guessed that Alex's apartment should be to her left. She shoved the paper back into her pocket.

Walking down the corridor, the attorney was amazed at all the intricate and ornate details in the building decorations. She walked past a mirror, then stopped and backed up. She checked out her image. Not bad, Carmichael. She finger combed her hair, then leaned in closer and smiled broadly. Nope, no lettuce in those pearly whites. And how is she going to resist those dimples? She checked her breath. Mmmm, minty. Next, she looked for and brushed some non-existent fuzz off her jacket. She took one last look and continued down the corridor at a fairly quick pace.

She smiled and slowed as she reached her destination. Seven-oh-five... there it is, seven-oh-six. Abbie stood staring at the door for a few moments. Suddenly nervous, she gave herself another go-over. The attorney frowned at the dust on her dark boots. She quickly dusted off first one boot and then the other by rubbing them on the back of the opposite pant leg. Then she straightened her sling again. She removed the single peach rosebud that she *borrowed* from the arrangement in the lobby. Who knew a sling could be so handy? A quick sniff of its fragrance brought the smile back to the brunette's face. She reached to knock and realized she needed to put the flower somewhere to free her hand or risk damaging it. Geez, Carmichael, nervous much? It's just Alex. She put it in her teeth. Nah, too cheesy. After securing it back in the sling again, Abbie rang the bell.


The attorney rocked back and forth on her heels as she waited for Alex to answer. She continued to look around the hallway. After a few seconds, she rang the bell again.


A few moments of waiting brought the same results. The third time she rang the bell, she put her ear to the door. Yep, it's working. She went back to standing nervously. A minute later she tried knocking. No answer.

Abbie turned and leaned her back on the door. She closed her eyes in disappointment. Alex isn't home, genius. You wanted to surprise her and didn't consider that she might want to go out tonight. It *is* New Year's Eve. She rubbed the back of her neck in frustration. Dammit. Abbie lightly banged the back of her head on the closed door. On the third thump, her phone rang. She fished it out of her jacket pocket and checked the called ID.

"Where the hell are you?" She bellowed as a greeting.

"Excuse me?"

Abbie sighed. "I'm sorry. That came out wrong." She waited a second. "Where the hell are you?" came out of her mouth again in a very annoyed tone.

"Abbie? Are you all right?"

"Alex...." She blew out a frustrated breath. "I'm standing here outside your apartment door. I managed to finish up the trial prep and thought I would surprise you. I flew in for the day." Then a very quiet, hurt tone made its presence known. "But you aren't home."

"Oh, Abbie...." Alex started to laugh at the absurd situation. "Did your neighbors complain when you painted your apartment door UT burnt orange?"

"It's not funny, Cab... what?!?" Abbie slid down Alex's door when her brain finally realized what Alex just told her. "You're in DC." She absently picked at the carpet she was sitting on.

"I decided to surprise you too. We probably passed in the air."

"Oh, man...."

"Well, my flight back isn't until tomorrow afternoon, so I need to go find a place to stay for the night. I was hoping to talk the proprietor of Casa de Carmichael into letting me stay over. I understand my gir... friend knows the owner personally." Alex's voice was mirthful.

Abbie mouth suddenly went dry. "Your... uh... friend would love to have you as company." She swallowed hard. "Anytime."

"Moot point at the moment. I just hope I can find a place."

"Not really. Do you see that ornate flowerpot at the end of the hall?"

Alex looked around. "Is ornate a Texas word for ugly?"

"It's not ugly," Abbie protested.

"You bought it, right?"

"It matched the door."

"If you squint really hard... and what's that leather thing on it?"


"Okay, I obviously see the pot."

"Go over and unbuckle that leather thing - also known as a belt."

"I don't even know this pot and you want me to undress it? Abigail Carmichael, I am shocked," Alex mockingly protested. "Plus, that belt is so last year's fashions and doesn't at all match its shoes."

Abbie had to smile at Alex's joking. "It's not wearing shoes and just unbuckle the belt, please."

"Okay. Something fell out." Alex picked it up. "A key?"

"You can spend the night in Casa de Carmichael. But keep your hands off my Ring Dings."

"And here I thought you wanted my hands on your Ring Dings," Alex mumbled in a low tone.

"Alex?" Abbie's voiced, puzzled.

"Nevermind." Alex used the key to open the door and reached around inside the door frame for a light switch. She flipped it. "Oh Abbie...." She closed the door and stepped into the room.

"What? I didn't leave clothing hanging off the fan, did I?"

"It's gorgeous." Alex stood in the middle of the living room and turned in a circle to take it all in. "I love the décor. Southwestern and homey."

"Let me guess - you expected frat boy UT decoration?"

"Not exactly, but I did expect a set of horns hanging on the brick over the fireplace."

Abbie laughed. "I keep them at the office."

Alex sat down on the buttery leather couch and leaned back into its softness. "Ah...." she sighed.

"You must have sat on the couch."

"This is not a couch; it's a cloud." She leaned her head back.

Abbie chuckled. "Well, you are welcome to anything you find in the kitchen. The staples are there. Feel free to sleep wherever. Laundry day was yesterday, so there are clean sheets on the bed and extra blankets in the hall closet. Don't go through my sock drawer. It isn't pretty. I allow my socks to roam free to procreate more socks. I haven't had to buy new ones in years." She laughed.

Alex laughed as well. "You are nuts." An evil glint entered Alex's eyes when she spied a photo on the end table. It was Abbie with her prized Corvette convertible. "Anything? Where are your car keys?"

"In my pocket. Oh, no - you don't get to drive my baby."

"Ab-bie," Alex whined.

"You wouldn't let me drive the Benz, remember?"

"Didn't you have a concussion? How do you remember that?" Alex heard a snicker.

"Steel trap."

"Figures. I'd be really careful."

"I know you would. But it's New Year's Eve. There are a lot of loonies out on the road tonight. Look, we'll see the next time you are in DC, okay?"

Alex exaggerated a sigh. "Okay. I suppose I can wait." Alex ran her hand back and forth on the leather couch.

"It's worth it, honest. I got the car from a retiring detective at the one-four. She was the original owner. She bought it new in seventy-two and kept it garaged its entire life. It still has the original chrome and I had it repainted in the original yellow."

"Nice. I wish I could do the same for you, but there is no hidden key."

Abbie stood up. "I can probably get Butch to let me crash at her place. She fished around in her pockets. She pulled out a couple of objects. "I think I have the tools to...."

"Hey Ronnie, c'mere. Who's that?" The security guard pointed to the monitor.

"She came in with the Fishers earlier."

"The Fishers on three?"


"Then why is she up on seven?" He turned to the other guard then back to the monitor. "What's she got in her hand?"

"Looks like a pick. Hey, that's Ms. Cabot's apartment. She isn't home; she grabbed a cab to the airport earlier." He grabbed his hat as he exited. "Call the cops."

"No breaking and entering the apartment, Abbie. I don't want to visit you in the big house." A thought occurred to Alex. "Did you say apartment?"

"Yeah, I'm at your apartment."

"Not the brownstone?"

"What brownstone?"

"I just bought a brownstone. My apartment doesn't allow dogs, so Teddy Bear and I are moving. This will give him a small yard too."

"Oh, Allie. Where's Teddy, now?"

"He's at Casey and Liv's. Abbie you need to go. Now. Leave the building." Alex was getting upset.

"What's wrong?"

"The apartment building has strict security. Anyone coming in has to check in with them and they call up to the resident. How did you get past them?"

"I walked in with some of your neighbors."

"I'm sure by now they have picked you up on the monitors loitering around my door. You need to leave. If that overzealous cop wannabe Ronnie is on duty, he's going to over react."

"Hey you!" Over the phone Alex heard the ding of the elevator and then a male voice.

"Alex, I'm sure it will be fine." Abbie reasoned. "I haven't done anything."

"Hey you. I'm talking to you. You need to come with me," the guard demanded as he was walking briskly toward the attorney.

"Do you mind? I'm talking to someone." Abbie held out the phone to show him.

He knocked the phone out of her hand and it bounced off the wall. "I said you need to come with me."

Alex heard a high pitched squeal and then nothing. "Abbie? Abbie?" Alex's voice called out. She waited a few moments but got no answer. "Dammit." She hung up and dialed another number.

"Sonova...." Abbie muttered. She looked at her phone lying on the ground. "Listen to me. You need to calm your ass down, boy."

"Look, bitch, breaking and entering is against the law. We have already called the police."

"I am aware of that and I did not break nor enter anything." Abbie pushed on the apartment door to show it locked and secure.

"I saw you on the monitor. You had a lock pick."

Abbie retrieved the pen knife from her pocket. "This?"

Ronnie hit his radio mic. "She's armed." He then rushed Abbie.

Uptown Manhattan

December 31, Sunday 11:45pm

Elliot yawned for the third time in the same amount of minutes. He looked back over to the area they had staked out and saw no movement. "The lights are still off and no one is home."

"Same could be said for you, partner." Liv gave him a cheeky grin.

"That's funny, Bens...." Elliot was interrupted by the sight of his car mate jumping and squirming as if bit. "What the hell? Liv, are you okay?"

Olivia managed to pull her phone out of her front pocket. "I set it on vibrate," she replied sheepishly and held it up for him to see.


Olivia held up one finger to silence Elliot and she answered the phone. "Benson." Her brows knit as she concentrated on what the speaker was saying. "Alex? Alex, calm down." Another pause. "Where are you? What happened?" She listened. Olivia pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes. She wondered if she could will the instant headache away. Alex continued to ramble in her ear.

Elliot reached over and put a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see him mouth the words, "Everything okay?" She shook her head no.

"Alex? Alex, look, El and I are on a stakeout pretty close by. Munch and Fin are due to relieve us...." She reached over and grabbed Elliot's arm so she could see his watch. "... in about fifteen minutes. We'll head over there as soon as we can. Just stay calm. I'll let you know what's going on the second we know anything. I promise." An instant later she added, "No. Don't call Casey. I'll do it." She got Alex to agree. "She'll be fine. I promise, I will head over the second Munch and Fin take over here. I'll call you. Okay?"

Olivia ended the call and laid her head back on the seat.

Elliot looked over with deep concern. "What's up? Was that Cabot?"

She turned her head and looked at him. "Yeah. She and Abbie tried to surprise each other. Alex is in DC and Abbie is apparently here in the city."

"Doesn't sound like anything to panic over."

"It gets better. It always does with those two." She frowned. "Alex said she was talking to Abbie on the phone when she heard her apartment's security approach her and then the phone went dead. So she is imagining all kinds of trouble and asked if I can check it out. She is sure that Abbie got herself arrested for trespassing or worse."

Elliot shrugged. "Sure. We can check it out when we leave here. I don't see why not." Elliot tapped his chin as he thought for a second. "Alex's closest precinct is the two-one. Let me call up there. I know the desk sergeant. We were rookies at the same time. I'll get them to 'kid glove' her if she's brought in, okay?"

"Thanks - I owe you partner." Olivia closed her eyes and sighed. "I wish they would stop screwing around and just start...." She searched for the right phrase. "Screwing around." She didn't see El's eyes widen. "She and Alex are driving Casey and me nuts with their dancing around."

"Cabot and Carmichael?" He turned his head to peer outside. His eyes glazed and he smiled dreamily.

Olivia looked over to her partner. "You are thinking about them together, aren't you?" She punched his arm. "Pig."

"One hundred percent male." Elliot responded calmly. He rubbed his arm.

Olivia narrowed her eyes at him. With tongue firmly in cheek, she asked, "So, did you think about Casey and me like that when we first got together?"

He looked back at her and answered quickly, "Nope."

"Liar." She punched him again. "Why not? What's wrong with us?"

"Ow. Liv, Liv, Liv, you are my best friend and my partner. You are the closest person to me besides my wife. What kind of a person do you think I would be if I entertained thoughts of you two like that?"

"Male." She answered deadpan. A glint entered her eyes and her voice took on a purr. "Y'know, Casey and I have thought about it. About you. How nice it would be to have a male around the apartment for certain...." She paused for effect. "... activities."

He adjusted in his seat and turned towards Olivia. She had his undivided attention now. "Really?"

"You were the only male we considered. Well, we both know how handy a man can be to... y'know, do all those things that we just, y'know...." her voice trailed off and she blinked her eyes innocently at him.

"And you thought of me?" He smiled at the visual his brain just provided. "Wow."

Liv waited for him to get totally engrossed in his fantasy. "Yeah, we thought you would be great for lifting heavy stuff, opening jars and killing bugs."

His smile disappeared in a flash. "You suck, y'know?" Olivia bit her lip to keep from laughing. Elliot pushed on her shoulder playfully. "And to think I have a solution to your current A and A problem."


21st Precinct

January 1, Monday 1:15am

Abbie sat alone in the holding cell. She was surprised that the cell was not loaded to the gills with intoxicated revelers of the New Year. Maybe the Federal badge she turned in with her effects actually got her a bit of preferential treatment. She rubbed her shoulder. Damn that kid. That wall will never be the same. Abbie smiled. But then again, neither will Ronnie. Or maybe he should be called Rhonda - I'm sure he can hit those high notes now. Abbie scuffed her boots along the cement floor. I love these boots.

She looked up as she heard someone approaching.


"Officer...." She squinted to read his name tag. "Richard. Or can I call you Officer Dick?"

"Ooh funny - like I've never heard that one before." He rolled his eyes. "C'mon, some detectives want to question you."

"What for?"

"How would I know? They just said to bring you to the interrogation room. Let's go." He gestured for her to stand. The officer opened the cell door and Abbie stepped through. "Uh uh." He motioned her to stop. The officer removed a set of cuffs from his belt. "Hold out your hands."

"Oh for Pete's sake...." Abbie whined. "I'm a Federal Attorney. Are these really necessary?" She motioned to the sling on her one arm.

Officer Richard snapped the cuffs around one of her wrists and then struggled to include the other. Abbie held her one arm up even with the one in the sling. "I know; I wanted to bring the leg irons too but we were fresh out."

They walked along the corridor through the hallway to the interrogation room.

The room was small with a table and a couple of chairs but nothing else. A one way mirror was on one wall and bars on a small window on the opposite side.

The officer kicked one of the chairs out from the table. Abbie sat down. Officer Richard then jingled the keys in front of Abbie's eyes. He took the cuff off the wrist in the sling and reattached it to the table.

"What the hell?"

"The detectives wanted to make sure you were nice and secure. You are accused of assault, after all. Wait here." He chuckled. "Be a good girl."

Abbie sat back in the chair. Letting her head lean all the way back to look at the ceiling. She turned to see who was coming through the door. Her eyes widened in surprise.

"Butch! Stabler! Please tell me I can get out of here now?"

Benson threw a file down on the table and walked around to the window behind Abbie. She remained silent. Stabler pulled out the second chair and sat down opposite her. "Ms. Carmichael, I'm Detective Stabler; this is my partner Detective Benson. We are here to question you on some recent events."

"Knock it off, Stabler. Get me out of these." She pulled on the cuff, her eyes pleading with him.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Carmichael; we can't do that just yet." Olivia said, deadpan, still standing by the window.

"Butch, what the hell?" Abbie tried looking behind her at the brunette detective but the arm cuffed to the table would not allow her to turn fully.

"Detective Benson." Olivia corrected her.

Elliot, it was decided beforehand by the partners, was going to lead the interrogation. Olivia would just ask a few follow-up questions. He pulled out a small tape recorder and set it on the table. He pushed the start button. "Detectives Benson and Stabler, interview with Ms. Abigail B. Carmichael. Suspect has been accused of trespassing, breaking and entering, possession of a weapon and assault. Suspect was mirandized by the arresting officer. For the record, state your name please."

"Stabler, c'mon...."

"Your name, please?" Elliot asked politely.

"Abigail B. Carmichael."

"What's the 'B' stand for?" Olivia asked.


"Parents weren't good spellers?" Olivia commented and she walked back into Abbie's sight.

"Ms. Carmichael," Elliot continued, ignoring his partner's snarky comment. "Could you tell us what happened tonight?"

Abbie looked between Elliot and Olivia.

"I flew in from DC to surprise Alex at her apartment."


"Alexandra Cabot. Like you don't know that already."

Olivia slapped her hand down on the table making Abbie jump. "So you do know whose apartment you were trying to break into. It wasn't just a random burglary?"

"Yes... I mean no... I mean.... Yes, I know Alex lives there and no, I was not trying to burglarize anything." She looked between the two. "C'mon guys - cut the charade and get me out of here."

"Ms. Carmichael or can I call you Abbie?" Elliot asked with a charming smile.

"Fine." She narrowed her eyes at him. "I'll play too," she answered through gritted teeth. "Abbie is fine."

"So you went to the apartment and then what?"

"No one was home...."

"Well, that's always a plus for a burglar." Olivia said, sarcastically.

"Like I said, no one was home and then my phone rang. Alex called me."

"Alex Cabot?"

"No, Alex Rodriguez; he wanted me to give him batting tips. Yes, Alex Cabot."

"You want us to believe that Ms. Cabot called you the exact time that you were attempting to break into her apartment?" Liv cut in.

"Yes... I mean no. Will you stop asking questions like that?"

"Oh, Elliot - we got a live one here." Olivia walked back over to the window.

"Okay, so Ms. Cabot called you...?"

"She told me she was in DC."

"How convenient for you," Olivia snarked back.

"What Detective Benson means is that it just seems rather odd that Ms. Cabot picked that exact moment to call you and that she told you she was elsewhere. Are you sure she didn't tell you that earlier and that's what made you decide to burglarize her apartment?"

"No. I am not a burglar." Abbie grinned. "Y'know, you both got me good. Now cut the crap and get me out of here."

Elliot held up his hand to forestall a comment by his partner. "Ms. Carmichael... Abbie, I don't think you realize just how serious these charges are for you."

"I don't think you realize who you are dealing with." She answered back, smugly. "I am an attorney."

"An attorney who is cuffed to an interrogation table." Olivia came over and looked under the table. "Elliot? She isn't in leg irons. I thought all attorneys were put in leg irons too." Olivia walked back to the window and stared out into the night.

"Okay, you guys are good. You almost have me believing I'm in trouble." A thought occurred to Abbie. "Hey, wait - you are both SVU detectives, correct?"


"Then why are you interrogating a suspect for burglary?"

"You are also a suspect for a set of prior acts upon the victim here that do fall under our jurisdiction."


"Alexandra Cabot."

"What?!?" Her face took on a panicked look. "Is Alex all right?" She looked between the both of them.

"Let us ask the questions here, Abbie, okay?" Elliot said reasonably.

"What is your relationship to the victim?"


"So you admit she is your victim?" Olivia responded.

"No, I admit I know her." Abbie answered, peeved. "Nice try." She acknowledged with a slight head nod.

"Your relationship?"

"We were acquaintances. She followed me into the ADA position with SVU."

"So you barely know each other?"

"Not exactly."

"What exactly?"

"Well we have gotten closer over the past few months. We are friends."

"Friends?" Elliot repeated.

"Is that all? Is that all you want from her... friendship?" Olivia chided.


"I see. So it was a different Abigail Carmichael that sent Ms. Cabot a series of presents for weeks. Sometimes daily," Olivia reminded her.

"Well, no that was me."

"Inappropriate gifts?"


"Really?" Olivia leaned down by Abbie's ear. "Underwear is appropriate for *friends*? Risque chocolate is appropriate for *friends*?"

"Ummm, it was new underwear." She gave Liv a crooked grin.

"Look El, we got our first hygienic perp."


"I think you're right Liv; she's lying." He shook his head. "Where were you on October 28th?"

Abbie thought for a moment. "At a Halloween party."

"Was Alexandra Cabot there?" He continued.

"Yes. But so were you two."

"Irrelevant," they answered together.

"Where were you on November 11th?" Again, Elliot led the questioning.

Abbie thought back once more. "At a softball game."

"Was Alexandra Cabot there?"

"Yes. But so were you two."

"Irrelevant," in stereo again.

"Where were you on Thanksgiving Day?"

"At the Macy's Parade."

"Was Alexandra Cabot there?"


"What, no *you two*?"

"Benson was; she left."

"So you were alone with the victim."


"Is that when she clocked you? What exactly did you do to merit that?"


"Abbie, Abbie, Abbie, this is not helping you." He shook his head. "I want to help you. Where were you the weekend of Christmas?"

"At Alexandra Cabot's home upstate."


"Kind of."

"Kind of? By Ms. Cabot?"

"Not exactly. I didn't know I would be staying there. She was there too."


"Butch... Benson."


Abbie sighed and closed her eyes.

Elliot calmly leaned in. "You have a headache, don't you?"

Abbie nodded.

"You want some aspirin?"

Abbie nodded.

"All you have to do is admit it."

"Admit what?"

"You have been stalking Alexandra Cabot."

"I have not been stalking anyone."

"Gifts. Notes. You keep showing up at the same places. And now you showed up at her apartment. With no luggage. What do you call it?" Liv pushed.

"Poor planning? I was hoping Alex would let me stay at her place overnight."

Olivia leaned in to ask. "Didn't think you would need clothes? Were you hoping for sex?"

"Yes... no... I don't know. I just wanted to talk to her face to face with no one around."

"Sounds like stalking." Liv slapped the table with her hand.

"NO. I just want to spend time with Alex."


"I needed to tell her something."


"I think I am falling in love with her!" Abbie banged her head on the table.

Olivia leaned in; she kissed Abbie's temple and then whispered in her ear, "It's about time." She turned to Elliot. "Look, El, my baby girl is all grown-up now."

Abbie looked up between the two who were grinning broadly at her. "You both suck."

Olivia pulled the handcuff keys out of her pocket and freed Abbie. She grabbed her in a loose hug. "You needed to stop dancing around this, Abbie. It's for your own good. Time to stop playing and be a grown-up."

"You and Cabot, huh?" Elliot asked, with a smirk.

"Yeah. And Stabler?"

"Stop picturing Alex and me together or I'm gonna introduce your ass to my boots."

Just then the door swung open. Casey entered and threw her briefcase on the table. "Stabler." She turned to him. "Happy New Year." She leaned down and kissed his cheek.

"Happy New Year, Case."

She walked a couple of steps over to Olivia. "Benson." They stared at each other and grinned. Casey leaned in and kissed Liv on the lips. "Happy New Year, honey." Casey leaned into her partner for a hug. "You owe me for this late night call. I expect payment in full on demand. And you get to answer to Teddy's every need for the next few nights. He's exhausting. Deal?"

Olivia acknowledged her with a nod. "Deal."

Casey looked between the two detectives. "Now I say this with all sincerity -get out. This interview is over. My client is invoking her right to counsel and to silence." She saw the tape recorder. "Oh no you didn't...." She pointed at it. "I want a copy."

"Relax, Counselor. The recorder was empty." He popped it open to show her. We were having a friendly chat." Elliot stood up to leave. "Well, Ms. Carmichael, we leave you in very good hands."

Olivia joined him at the door. "I'll see you at home, Case." She turned her attention to Abbie. "You remember what we talked about." She pointed at her for emphasis.

Abbie mockingly saluted. Then smiled warmly. "I will. Thanks, Butch. Elliot."

Elliot opened the door and waved Liv through ahead of him. "Hey, who's Teddy? I thought I was the resident male."

"At least you're housebroken." She waited for him to turn to her. "I think...."


Abbie Carmichael's Office

Washington, DC

January 5, Friday 10am

Abbie reached for the phone and picked it up. Deep in thought, she tapped the receiver on her chin a few times and then put it back. She sighed and picked it up again, only to drop it back on the cradle immediately.

"C'mon Abbie, she won't kill you. Bite the bullet."

Her hand just made contact with the phone again when it rang. Abbie jumped and juggled the receiver and held it against her chest. Dammit. I hate that. After she allowed her heart to slow back down, she raised it to her ear.

"Carmichael," she growled.

"Don't you take that tone with me, young lady. I could kick your ass when we were kids and I can still kick your ass."

"First of all, I am older than you."

"By a couple of months - big hairy deal."

"Yes, you are."


Abbie snickered. "Secondly, I doubt you can kick my ass anymore."

"Sure I can, I can kick it more now than I could before. I've got an active job - not like you, you pencil pusher. I mean, what is the most activity you get these days... rising out of your seat to yell objection?"

"Watch it."

"Face it - you are a big marshmallow."

"I oughta...."

"Bring it on, Ace."

"I'll tell Mom."

"Oh, you suck. You'd threaten to sic Aunt Emma on me? I hate to break the news to you, sweetheart, but she likes me best anyway."

Abbie snorted and heard matching laughter on the other end of the phone. "How have ya been?"

"Pretty good, we wrapped up that case that was driving me nuts. Don't say it. And everything is pretty much back to normal. The new year seems to be starting out pretty good."

"I read about that. The story was picked up by the Post here. Well, now that you cleared the case - whatcha gonna do?"

"I'm going to Disney World!" she shouted on the other end.

Abbie shook her head and smiled. "Will New York work? We don't have scary amusement rides but we do have subways and taxis and those can be death-defying at times."


"Oh and you can probably find a rat in the city that answers to the name Mickey if you really look."


"Try to keep up here, okay? I was going to call you this week and ask if you wanted to come visit."

"Ummm, Ace you live in DC. You do know that, right? I mean I know geography was not your best subject, but...."

"Yes, you smartass. I was hoping that you could fly to New York though. We Feds have that long holiday weekend coming up this month and I'm headed there. Do you think you can meet me?" She put on an exaggerated drawl, "It ain't Texas but they do have some purty sights to see anyways."

"Do those sights include the blonde you have been mooning over for the past few months?"

"Yes... no... maybe... I don't know."

"And to think everyone thought you got the brains in this family." She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.

"I would like you to meet her, YES. You are the only close family I have besides my mom and I'm not ready to spring this one on her yet. NO, I don't know if she wants to meet you. MAYBE we can pull it off anyway and I DON'T KNOW how just yet. The last time we were together, she got... she got...."


"It seems that every time we are in the same vicinity," waving her hand around, "something weird happens and somebody ends up with a... a... boo boo."

"Boo Boo?"

"Yeah, Yogi?"

"Oh, for that one I am sooooo going to kick your ass. Let me check with my girl. I can get the time off; God knows I have accrued vacation time on my vacation time. I just don't know if she can get off."

"Losing your touch, cowgirl?"

"That's two. But I gotta tell you - you need to be careful around her. She's very protective. A fiery redhead... hot and spicy with a kick. Just how I like my women." The smile was evident in her voice.

"Pul-eeze - the only requirement you have for your women is that they be breathing. Well, find out if you can come visit. I'd love to meet her." She paused. "I'm glad you are happy, Cuz."

"Thanks darlin'; I really am. I'm sure she'd love to meet you. She's heard me talk about you before. Oooh, we can play show and tell... I'll show you mine and you show me yours."

"I hope so. Tell her I will give the native's tour of New York. We'll hit all the sights and I'll even take her ice skating."

"You just want to see me fall on my butt a few hundred times again."

"Well, that is always a bonus. But seriously, I'll show you guys around. And I have some PD friends you are just gonna love." Then she muttered low to herself, "Especially Munch."

"What's a Munch?"

"I can't believe you heard that."

"Ears like a bat."

"I thought you had those fixed right after college."

"You are so funny." Then a quick change of subject. "Hey, do you think we can meet that Jack person you worked for?"

"McCoy? Sure. Why?"

"I remember all those phone calls I got late at night where you cursed him, his ancestors and all his unborn children. I've been wanting to do an attitude adjustment on him for years. No one picks on my cuz but me."

"Ooh, how butch. I'm swooning." She exaggeratingly sighed. "We make much better friends than co-workers. I'm sure I can arrange a lunch with him." She paused in thought for a second. "Actually, I would pay good money to see his face when he meets you."

"Cool." Her cell rang. "I gotta go; my better half is calling my cell. I'll call you back later and tell you what we are going to do, okay?"

"Great. Give M a hug for me, okay? Later."

"Will do. Bye Cuz."


Bureau Chief's Office

January 12, Friday 10am

Alex was so engrossed in her legal brief that the person on the other side of the speaker phone had to repeat herself several times.

"Ms. Cabot? Ms. Cabot? Ms. Cabot, the reporter who called yesterday is here for the interview. Would you like me to send her in?"

Alex pulled her glasses off and threw them on her desk; she reached over and tapped the speaker button. "Yes, Melissa, give me a couple of more minutes to get this last part of my closing on paper and show her in."

Alex put her glasses back on and resumed her notes. A few moments later, the office door opened and her secretary ushered in the reporter. "Give her a few more minutes Miss and she'll be right with you."

"Thank you, ma'am." She watched Alex write a few more notes and then pause. Alex never looked up but was aware of another person's presence.

"Ms. Cabot, I'm Cindy Thomas," she said as she moved to sit down. She approached holding out her hand for a handshake. "We spoke on the phone yest...."

Alex, still engrossed in her writing, held up one finger in a gesture for Cindy to be silent for a moment. Then, absently waved and pointed her finger downward to the chair in front of her desk. The ADA finally ended her notes with a flourish and swiveled in her chair to drop them on a table beside her desk. She sighed in relief and straightened back up in her chair hoping to work out a kink.

Cindy took that as a sign that she could now speak; since she hadn't sat down yet, she held out her hand in greeting again. "As I said, Ms. Cabot, I'm Cindy Thomas. We spoke yesterday about a possible interview concerning your time in the Witness Protection Program. I was hoping to show the readers just how...."

Alex finally looked up. Her eyes widened. "It's you!"

Cindy Thomas nervously wiped her hand on her jeans and held it out again. "Yes, ma'am; we talked on the phone about an interview...."

"NO, it's you!"

A puzzled look crossed the redhead's face and she tilted her head to one side. "Have we met before? I mean, I don't have a picture that runs with my byline and I'm not on any book jackets. Well, not yet anyway but Lindz says maybe someday because I have some kind of imagination and I think it would be...."

Alex vehemently growled out again. "It's you!"

Cindy stepped back quickly in surprise and when the back of her legs hit the chair she plopped down with a dull thud. She pulled her bag in front of her defensively. "Look Ms. Cabot, if you changed your mind and don't want to do this interview, that's fine. I'll just be on my way and leave you to your...." She waved her hand around and her thought trailed off.

"Oh no; we need to talk." Alex tossed her glasses on the desk then slammed both hands down and pushed herself up to standing. "We have a lot to talk about. I have questions too."

Cindy regained her composure and straightened in the chair. "Well, if you have questions about the interview process I will be glad to answer anything I can. I'll try to make this as painless as possible."

"Painless?" Alex snorted. "You already helped break my heart... you cheater you."

"Whoa, lady - I am not sleeping with your husband. I don't do stuff like that."

"Not my husband."

"I'm not sleeping with your boyfriend either. I'm a one person at a time type and I have someone.

"Yes, I know; I saw you kissing."

"You have to be mistaken; I have a significant other. Her name is Lindsay. She's the only one I am kissing."

"I am not mistaken. Her name is not Lindsay and I saw you kissing her."

"What? Who? Where? Why? How?"

"I saw you two kissing."

"NO - that part I got. What do you mean her name is not Lindsay?"

"It's Abbie." She rolled her eyes skyward and then back to Cindy. "Not only is she robbing the cradle – you're what... twelve years old?"

"I am twenty-six. What is it with you people? Geez. I'm of legal age to do all kinds of stuff."

"Sure you are. As I was saying, not only is she robbing the cradle; she is lying about who she is too."

"I don't know who you think you are talking about, but it can't be Lindsay."

"Tall, brunette, deep brown eyes, gorgeous dimple, struts when she's dressed up and swaggers when she's in jeans and boots...."

Cindy interrupted; her voice cracked a little betraying the bravery she hoped to convey. "That could be lots of people."

"And don't get me started on the leather jacket. Oh and she has a Texas accent which shows up most when she is trying to be charming, which in her case is all the time."

"Okay, well that sounds like Lindsay."












"Ha! Gotcha," Cindy said smugly. "I saw that in a Bugs Bunny cartoon when I was a kid. Didn't know it actually would work though."

Alex glared back at her and arched an eyebrow. "When, last week?"

"Y'know, you and Jill would get along so well."

"Who is Jill?" Alex asked, confused.

"She's a lot like you. Jill's a DDA in San Francisco. She sarcastic and blonde with a brilliant legal mind but seems to jump to wrong conclusions... a lot." Then added in a whisper, "Especially about me." Cindy leaned in toward Alex and winked at her. "Would you like me to introduce you to her?"

Alex mockingly appeared to mull the offer over but changed back to the subject at hand. "I want you to leave Abbie alone."

"I can assure you that I am not doing anything with your Abbie person."

"You were kissing her!" Alex cried exasperatedly.

Cindy thought back for a second and then addressed Alex. "Let's see we covered the 'what' and 'who' already. So let's move on to the 'where', 'why' and 'how', shall we?"

"I saw you kissing Abbie. You were standing in Times Square."

"I was kissing Lindsay in Times Square."


"Oh, let's not start that again, Daffy Duck." She grinned.

"I would think I would know Abbie when I see her."

"I can assure you that I know Lindsay and I am not only seeing her but have seen her in... well, in the - you know what I mean." Cindy blushed. "Are you and Abbie together together?"

"Not exactly."

"So you haven't seen her...." she gestured as her voice trailed off.

"No, we haven't slept together." Then she added in a low tone, "Yet."

"So you don't know if this Abbie person has a...."

"Abbie has a tattoo."

"So does Lindsay." Cindy closed her eyes and grimaced. "Where is the tattoo?" She took a deep breath and held it.

"On her ankle. It's a snake with a tequila bottle."

Cindy let out the breath and sighed. She shook her head and smiled broadly. Everything just fell into place. She began to giggle.

"What are you laughing at? I am not finding this amusing."

Cindy dug through her purse and pulled out a digital camera. She flipped through the shots stored on it until she found the one she wanted. She handed the camera to Alex. "Is this Abbie Carmichael?"

Alex took the camera and looked at the display. She frowned at the obviously happy smiling face of the tall Texan standing next to the redhead in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Centre. "Yes, that's Abbie," she said in a defeated tone. "She usually wears her hair straight, not wavy, but yes, that's her." She handed the camera back. "Waitaminute, I never told you her last name."

Cindy ignored the last comment and flipped to another shot. "Actually, Ms. Cabot, that was Lindsay and me." She handed the camera over again. "This is Abbie."

Alex looked at the screen. Her eyes looked up in surprise at Cindy and then she looked back at the screen. "How?"

Cindy stood up and leaned over Alex's desk to point at the display screen. "That's Lindsay on the right, me in the middle and Lindsay's cousin on the left. Lindsay calls her Ace. Which I am guessing is for her two initials. That was the way Lindsay introduced me to her. I was told to meet her cousin Ace 'hang 'em high' Carmichael. I didn't know what her real first name was until now."

Alex set the camera down on the desk and fell boneless back in her chair. She sighed in relief. "They are two different people."

"Lindz' and Ace's mothers were twin sisters. The dynamic duo here are only a couple months apart in age. Lindz told me they used to have all kinds of fun messing with folks when they were kids." She smiled reassuringly at Alex. "For awhile there I thought we really did have some kind of problem. It's only when you described the tattoo that I knew for sure who you were talking about. Lindz has a tattoo as well, but not on her ankle."

"Where is it?" Alex asked with a twinkle in her eye.

"Ummmmmm, nevermind that." Cindy cleared her throat but couldn't stop the blush creeping up her face. "So about that interview?

"Sure, Ms. Thomas." Alex looked at her watch. "How about some lunch first?

Then when we get back I'll answer any of your questions. But at lunch, you get to answer mine. Sound fair?"

"Are you going to make me blush, make more age jokes, give me laser looks and make me tell you things I probably shouldn't be telling you?" She crinkled her nose and cringed.

"Yes," Alex, smiling, nodded her head in agreement. "Probably."

"Great; I'll feel right at home then."

1 Hogan Place

January 12, Friday 4:25pm

The brunette and redhead continued arguing as they walked down the hallway.

"Lindz! I can't believe you are pouting." Cindy gesticulated wildly.

"I'm not pouting." The tall brunette replied testily.

"Yes, you are." Cindy put her hand on Lindsay arm to stop her forward motion. They paused in the hallway. "If your lip dropped any lower it would have carpet burn on it." Cindy put her hand up to touch the object in question but Lindsay slapped it away.

"I'm not pouting." Lindsay turned to her companion. "Much." She gave her a half grin. "How come you got to meet the mysterious girlfriend first?" They started walking again.

"Ya snooze, ya lose, Boxer. Face it." Cindy bumped her with her hip causing Lindsay to lose her stride.


"I didn't pout because you got to go play with the cops today, did I?"

Lindsay's face brightened. "You would have liked them. Especially Munch. What a character. Besides, you'll see some of them this weekend. We were invited over to Casey and Olivia's on Sunday."

"Well, you are going to meet Alex tomorrow, y'know. Abbie did invite her to join us playing tourist. C'mon, I just wanted to check her out. It's what I do."

They stopped walking again. Lindsay looked down into Cindy's eyes. "It's what *I* do. Investigative Detective. Plus she is dating my cousin."

"Investigative Reporter, helllllooooo????" Cindy smiled, her eyes twinkling. "Technically, they aren't dating... yet," she mumbled and started walking ahead of the Inspector. "I think McCoy's office is down here."

Lindsay stared at her back. "Hey, what else do you know?" She started after her companion. "You investigated her too, didn't you?"

"Not exactly," Cindy looked away guiltily. "Isn't this an intriguing carpet color? It's not exactly beige but it's not tan either and the pattern is kinda subtle." Cindy refused to look at Lindsay.

"Worst. Liar. Ever," Lindsay muttered and rolled her eyes. "When?" She stopped their walking again. Lindsay gently turned Cindy's face up so she could look in her eyes. "Spill."

"Waitaminute." A realization dawned. "You said *too*." Her eyes darkened and narrowed. "You had her investigated?" The reporter poked Lindsay in the chest accusingly.

"Ow. Stop changing the subject."

"Same subject. When?"

"I asked you first." Lindsay stuck her tongue out at the redhead.

"And everyone thinks I'm twelve years old."

"When?" Lindz insisted and crossed her arms.

"Before we left home - when you mentioned her name. It sounded familiar. When I did a quick Google search, I got the idea for a story."

"You could get the idea for a story watching paint dry." Lindsay smiled.

Cindy smiled and mentally had to agree with that.

There was a second of silence and then....

"What did you find out?" they asked simultaneously.

"You first," in stereo again. They smiled at each other.

Lindsay cocked an eyebrow at her but Cindy wouldn't budge. "Fine. I'll go first." She paused for a second and started ticking off the information on her fingers. "Single, attorney on the fast track to the DA's office. Comes from money. Went to Harvard. Pissed off the wrong perp, ended up being shot and sent into WPP. She came back to put the bad guy away and then went back into WPP. You?"

Cindy bit her lip and grinned. "Same." She waited a second. "But Benson and Stabler knew she wasn't dead. She used to date Olivia, by the way. She has a black lab named Teddy Bear that your cousin gave her. She plays piano and skis, not at the same time but both equally well." Cindy smiled up at Lindsay who returned it. "She loves a game of backgammon, although she sucks at it. Alex drives a sweet Benz and just moved into a new apartment. OH and for some unknown reason, she finds Texan accents utterly charming. But then so do I. Go figure." Cindy leaned into Lindsay.

"What's her favorite color, smartass?"

"Red," Cindy looked up and answered back smugly. "This applies to wine too, so remember that when we go to dinner tomorrow night.

"Damn, you're good, Lois Lane." Lindsay was very impressed.

Cindy buffed her nails on her sweater. "Yeah, I am." She pointed out a door they were nearing. "That's her office but she said she had an appointment this evening. That's why you won't meet her until tomorrow." Then added with a big grin, "Neener neener."

Lindsay shook her head indulgently.

"I think McCoy's office is down this other hallway." Cindy grabbed Lindsay's hand and pulled her along.

A few moments later they were standing outside the office door of the EADA.

Lindsay checked her watch, then held it so Cindy could see it. "What time did she say she was meeting us here?"

Cindy looked at the time. "In about fifteen minutes. I'm sure we can wait inside." The redhead opened the door and motioned her partner in.

Lindsay entered first. Cindy was right behind her. The only occupant of the room was a small dark haired woman who was sitting behind a desk typing into a computer.

"Just a second; I'll be right with you," she said and continued typing. She finished with a flourish and looked up. "Now what can I...." her eyes widened. "As I live and breathe - c'mere you tall drink of water and give me a hug." She got up from behind the desk and scooted around the front. She wrapped Lindsay in a hug.

The woman was short and Lindsay had to hunch slightly but the brunette did not make an effort to return the hug. Lindsay gave Cindy a shrug and her face took on an extremely puzzled look. "Who is this?" she mouthed at her girlfriend.

Cindy looked over at the name plate on the desk. "Michelle," she mouthed back.

"I can't believe you are actually here." The secretary loosened the hug but kept her arms around Lindsay's waist, as she stepped back a half step. "Look at you. And your hair...."

Lindsay held out a strand of hair. "What's wrong with it, ummm... Michelle?"

Michelle paused for a second. "Nothing. It looks nice all wavy like that." She turned Lindsay loose, tilted her head and looked at her again. "Jack didn't tell me you were coming."

"Uh, he didn't know that... I... was coming." She gave Cindy a glance. "It's... we're a surprise."

"Well, he is going to love the surprise. He misses you. Those others just don't argue the same way with him." She backhanded the brunette playfully in the stomach. "You kept him on his toes." She looked over at the redhead.

"And who is this lovely person?"

"Where are my manners?" She put her hand out and pulled Cindy forward a step. "This is Cindy Thomas; she's a reporter for the San Francisco Register."

"San Francisco? I thought you were in DC?"

"Me?" She winked at Cindy. "Nope, I'm in San Francisco."

"I see. Can I ask you one more question?"

"Ummm, sure."

"Who are you? You aren't Abbie but damn if you aren't the spitting image."

Lindsay laughed. "I'm Lindsay Boxer. I'm Abbie's cousin." She exchanged glances with Cindy. "When did you figure it out?"

The secretary laughed. "You called me Michelle. Abbie always called me Mickey. She gave me that name. Said I was small as a mouse and it fit better."

"I didn't mean to lead y'all on. We get mistaken for each other a lot. Our mothers were twins."

The secretary took a good hard look at Lindsay. The perusal was actually making Lindsay uncomfortable and she started to blush.

"Amazing." Mickey shook her head.

"Well, Jack is over at Arthur's office wrapping up his last case. He should be back in a few minutes. Go ahead into his office and make yourself at home. He won't mind."

They entered Jack's office and shut the door, then broke out in laughter.

"Geez, the look on your face when she hugged you."

"I'm surprised I don't have bruises she squeezed hard."

"Oh you poor thing. Should I check?" Cindy reached for Lindsay's shirt.

"Not here. Keep your hands to yourself Thomas," Lindz slapped her hands away, "But later, definitely."

"C'mon, my intrepid reporter sense wants to explore this Jack person's office."

"Nosey, much?"

Cindy pretended to think for a minute. "Yeah, pretty much." She began to walk around and browse the walls and shelves. "Wow, how macho can you get?" She turned and looked at the complete room. It was all in dark paneling and wood. The chairs were deep brown leather.

Lindsay looked over Jack's desk while Cindy looked at all the plaques and certificates on the walls. "Hey look - a baseball signed by Lou Piniella." She held up the item.

"Piniella? Somehow that makes sense for a lawyer."

Lindsay tossed the ball up in the air but missed catching it on the way back down. It bounced and rolled to just under the desk. "Crap." She started to bend down to get it.

"Want me to get that, grandma?" Cindy bit her lip trying not to laugh.

"No, I can get it, smartass. Although, you are normally closer to the ground than I am," she snarked back. Lindsay bent over at the waist to grab the ball.

"Michelle!" Jack McCoy bellowed as he came barreling into the outer office. "I need you to take these and have them signed. They need to be filed with Judge Harris' office by close of business tonight." He put the file on her desk.

Mickey sat perfectly still with her hands clasped and resting on her desk. She just looked at him.

"C'mon, chop chop, what are you waiting for?" He checked his watch. You only have a half hour to get this done."

"A please would be nice."

Jack gave her a look.

"Yeah, I know. Why start now?" She stood and grabbed her purse from the lower desk drawer. "I'll take them and drop them off on my way home." As she made her way around her desk she added, "Oh Jack, you have a couple of visitors waiting for you in the office."

"Ah, Abbie is here already. It will be good to see her again."

"Not exactly." She mumbled with a mischievous grin. Oh to be a fly on the wall.

"What did you say?"

"Nothing. I'll just go get these off. See you on Tuesday, Boss. When you see Abbie, give her a big ol' hug for me, okay?" The secretary laughed as she exited the office.

"She could have done that herself." Jack opened his office door. Cindy had to step behind it to avoid being hit with it.

"My office always did have the best view in town." He waited for the tall brunette to straighten up and then moved to give her a hug.

Cindy saw what was about to happen and stepped forward between the two. She held out her hand. "Cindy Thomas. You must be Jack McCoy."

Jack ignored Cindy's hand and gently took her by the shoulders and steered her aside. "In a minute." He turned toward Lindsay again. Lindsay's eyes darkened when she saw him handle Cindy. She started to back up a step but was hemmed in by the desk. Jack grabbed her for a hug.

Lindz struggled to remove herself from the hold. When she finally pushed him back, she gave an apologetic grin to Cindy.

"Abbie? What the hell?" Before she could say anything he made a move to grab her again. Lindsay reacted and reached for her gun.

"I don't think so," Cindy put her hand on Jack's shoulder and turned him around. "Get your hands off my woman," she demanded.

"Go away, kid; nobody owns Abbie Carmichael." He turned back to the brunette.

Cindy grabbed him again and when he turned this time, she punched him. Jack ended up on the floor.

"Ow." She shook her hand.

"Are you okay?" Lindz asked. "Let me see." She examined Cindy's hand.

"Are you?"

"You could show a little concern for the man on the floor."

"Why, Jack? You pretty much deserved it," came a husky drawl from the doorway.

Jack looked over to find a second tall brunette leaning casually on the doorjamb. Her arms were crossed and one eyebrow was cocked. He looked between the two women. Lindsay moved closer to the doorway to make it easier on him.

"Who? What? How?" he stammered.

"Jack, meet my cousin - Lindsay Boxer. Lindsay is a decorated Homicide Inspector in California. Her mother and my mother were twins. And she's just lucky she got to look like me."

Lindsay elbowed Abbie in the side.

Jack made his way back to his feet. He rubbed his jaw. "And the little red freight train?"

"Hi, ummm sir. I'm Cindy Thomas - Lindsay's girlfriend." Cindy managed to get out. She held out her hand but Jack didn't take it. She wiped it on her jeans and grimaced. "I'm sorry, but I did warn you." She made her way over to Lindsay and wrapped her arm around her waist. Lindsay smiled down at her.

"My little protector."

"Don't apologize to him, Cindy. If he had tried that on me I would have done much worse." Abbie offered. "He should consider himself lucky he doesn't sing soprano. What were you thinking, Jack?"

"Yes, ahem. Sorry, Abbie and ummmm, Inspector Boxer."

"Lindsay is fine."

"It was so worth it to see your face. I wish I had a camera."

He ignored that and changed the subject. "So, I guess I'm buying everyone dinner?" He continued to work his jaw back and forth.

"That was the plan."

"What would you lovely ladies like to eat?" All three looked incredulously at each other and then Jack. "Right, steakhouse. Got it." He looked over at Cindy, then back at the other two. He pointed his thumb in Cindy's direction. "I'm assuming the little red pitbull takes hers rare."

Cindy grinned impishly then narrowed her eyes. "Grrrrrrrr."


Central Park

January 14, Sunday 12:30pm

Alex and Abbie walked side by side as they made their way into the park. The pathways had been cleared of the recent snow but the white stuff was still evident on the grassy areas.

"Butch was real subtle getting us out of the apartment, wasn't she?" Abbie snarked, watching her breath vaporize.

"I'm surprised she let me grab my hat and gloves." Alex pulled her coat tighter and shivered. "What was that all about?"

"I think she was going to try pumping Lindz for childhood stories. The better to blackmail me with later."

Alex began to turn back the way they came. "And I'm missing it. Let's go back."

Abbie grabbed Alex by the arm. "Not so fast there, blondie."

Alex grinned at Abbie. "No?"

Abbie shook her head. "You got to hear most of those stories yesterday while we played tourist. Plus I think your boy there would be really disappointed if he got this close and had to go back." Abbie pointed to a spot a few hundred feet ahead. The dog spied it at the same time.

"Teddy!" Alex cried out exasperatedly as the dog suddenly took off. "Come back here, you little rat."

Abbie laughed as she watched the growing lab bound down the pathway tugging furiously at the leash. The blonde on the other end of was trying desperately to slow him down.

Alex called to the brunette. "You could help, y'know?" She turned slightly while still being pulled forward.

"Maybe he has a hot date you don't know about," Abbie joked as she jogged to catch up.

"Great, my dog has a girlfriend." Then she added in a mumble, "He's doing better than me."

Alex finally reached the fenced in dog park area. Teddy was dancing from foot to foot as he waited for Alex to open the gate and let him inside to play with the other dogs. As soon as she unhooked his tether he dashed off without another glance back.

"You're welcome. Play nice." She called after him, then hooked his leash onto the fence. Alex motioned for Abbie to join her on some nearby swings. They were close enough to still observe the dogs playing.

Abbie reached the empty playground first and dusted some snow off of a swing. She gave a mock bow and gestured for Alex to sit. Alex accepted with a curtsy and a smile.

"Whoa!" she squealed in surprise as the swing began to move. Abbie was behind her slowly pushing her skyward.

Alex leaned back on every backswing giggling and smiling up at Abbie. Abbie mirrored her smiles and continued to push her. As Alex began pumping her legs, Abbie pushed harder.

"I'll have you know, that I was the queen of swings in grammar school. No one could swing higher than me."


"Uh huh. What was your favorite?"

"I was pretty good on a swing but my favorite was Monkey Bars." Abbie waved a finger at Alex who had looked back, "Don't say it."

"Spoil sport." Alex grinned. "C'mon Tex, saddle up and let's see if you can keep up." Alex pumped harder.

Abbie gave her another push. "I don't think so, Alex."

"It's time to see if your Texas size ego can live up to all its claims of being bigger and better."

"I really don't think it's a good idea." Abbie stepped out from behind Alex and moved to the swing next to hers. She sat then jumped right back up. "YOW!"

Abbie frowned at Alex's laughter, then swept some snow off of her own swing. She sat down and swung idly back and forth, her hands clasped in front of her. Her head was down.

"What's a matter, Abigail? Chicken?"

"I just don't...."

Alex looked at Abbie sitting looking so forlorn. She scuffed her feet to slow her own swing. "Abbie, what's wrong?" Alex leaned over and touched Abbie's arm.

"It's just.... The way things normally go with us – every time we are alone... together...." She paused for her thought. "This is where someone would be getting hurt." She looked sideways at Alex. "Where *I* get hurt. I'm jinxed, Alex."

"What?!?" Alex looked at the brunette's face. "Come on. Abbie?" Alex's brows knit. "You're serious?"

"Think about it. The ballgame - concussion; the parade - broken nose; skiing - a separated shoulder; New Year's - arrested and re-injured my shoulder."

"I was nowhere near you on New Year's."

"We were talking on the phone."

"Still. Abbie, this doesn't make you jinxed." She thought for a moment. "Wait, you aren't the only one who got hurt."

"You sprained *YOUR* finger breaking *MY* nose." She glanced at Alex. One look and she knew that Alex was not going to give in. "Fine." She threw up her hands. "*WE* are jinxed. Feel better now?"

"No, and there is something very wrong with your reasoning. You are forgetting one very important fact."

Abbie turned in her swing to face the blonde. "What's that?"

"We were never alone during those incidents."

"Yes we were."

"Ballgame - lots of people; parade - lots of people; skiing - lots of people."

"You can't blame this on various random people. The common denominator is us."

"Okay, what if it wasn't random people? What if there was another common denominator?"

Abbie looked skeptical. "Go on."

"Think, Tex. Ballgame - Liv and Casey; parade - Liv and Casey; skiing - Liv and Casey."

"New Year's?"

"I called Liv on the phone when yours went dead. She was there too. So you see... it's them."

"I dunno, Allie. That's kind of a stre...."

Alex leaned over and grabbed Abbie by her coat collar. "I can prove it." She pulled Abbie close and kissed her. Alex pulled back slowly. She laughed in amusement at the look of utter surprise on Abbie's face. "There. See. We are completely alone now and nothing bad happened."

"Do it again." Abbie whispered.

Alex leaned in again. Starting at her temple, Alex ran her gloved fingers through Abbie's hair and gently down her cheek. Abbie's eyes fluttered shut. The kiss was soft and sweet. When it finally ended, Abbie's eyes snapped open and she bolted out of the swing. She stopped a couple of yards away.

"Abbie?" Alex asked, puzzled at the attorney's action.

Abbie turned and looked at Alex. She grinned goofily from ear to ear. Her eyes rolled back in her head and then she fell over backwards in the snow.

"Abbie! Abbie!" Alex launched herself out of the swing and crossed to where Abbie was laying. She knelt down. "Sweetie, are you all right? Are you hurt?" She patted Abbie's cheek. "Honey?"

Abbie opened one of her eyes and stared up at the blonde. "Did I spontaneously combust??

"Uh, no." Alex giggled.

"Why am I so hot?"

Alex just shook her head and smirked. "Good genes?"

They grinned stupidly at each other, then Alex laid down beside Abbie in the snow. She grabbed Abbie's hand and entwined their gloved fingers. She held them up to look at them. "So, now that I proved to you that you <.ahem.> WE are not jinxed - are you finally going to ask me out?"

"I dunno," Abbie hesitated. "You still can be a dangerous woman." Abbie pulled their joined hands closer to her. "Bumps, bruises and broken hearts - I think we need to just take this a little slow."

"Any slower and we'd be standing still." Alex let go of Abbie's hand and rolled onto her side. She rested her head on one hand. She watched as Abbie's face took on a faraway look and a slight grimace. The blonde trailed one finger over the lines on Abbie's brow, then down her cheek. She gently turned Abbie's jaw so they were face to face. Alex then asked seriously, "Are you really worried I will break your heart?"

Abbie snapped out of her reverie and captured Alex's hand again. "NO..." she answered quickly and then followed it with, "yes... maybe... I don't know." She kissed the gloved hand and then grinned to take the sting out of her last admission. "But actually right this second, I'm worried more about whether or not if my insurance covers frostbite. I think my ass is frozen to the ground."


Somewhere in Greenwich Village

February 13, Tuesday 4 pm

Olivia pulled the small piece of paper out of her pocket for the third time and looked at the address printed on it. She glanced up at the next storefront and took notice of the number. Another block, I think. She stuffed the paper back into her jacket pocket.

The detective continued on along the walkway, dodging others who were busily on their way to other destinations and the slush being thrown up by the passing cars. She noticed a small coffeehouse and decided to stop in and get out of the cold for a few minutes.

After giving the clerk her order, she retreated to a corner table. She sat looking out to the snow filled street and grinned. Olivia pulled her cell out and dialed a number.

"Cabot." The gruff voice answered.

"Whatcha wearing?" She replied in a low voice then breathed heavily into the phone.

Alex grinned, took off her glasses and tossed them on her desk. She leaned back in her desk chair. "Why don't you come over and find out?"

"Because not only would your girlfriend beat me up but mine would kill me."

"Very true." Alex laughed. "So, Detective, what are you up to other than making harassing phone calls?"

"I just wanted to thank you again. Casey and I are so looking forward to this trip."

"You're welcome. I heard she is up in Montreal with the McNally extradition. When is she due back?"

"Yeah, sucky timing all the way around. She's going to take the redeye back. I'll meet her at the airport in the morning and we'll grab our flight. She can sleep on the plane."

"I guess you're ready to ditch all this cold and snow?"

"You know it. A week of sun, bikinis, sand, fruity drinks, surf, bikinis, fun and did I mention bikinis?"

"I hope she packed her own bag. Knowing you, it only has those bikinis in it. You and Abbie are two peas in a pod."

"Yeah, well - pack light I always say." Olivia laughed. "Speaking of my best bud...."

"Yesssssss?" Alex dragged out.

"Got anything planned for Valentine's Day?"

"I have no clue." Alex sighed. "She's been working non-stop on that RICO trial for the past few weeks. We're lucky to get a ten minute phone conversation in. She fell asleep the other night while we were talking."

"Phone sex technique lacking?"

"Not funny, Detective. I'm really worried about her. She's driving herself so hard."

"You know Abbie and the whole dog with a bone thing, but I'm sure she will really try to make it up here for Valentine's. Even if it's just for the day. Maybe you should fly down and surprise her."

"Been there, done that. She was surprised all right; she was here in Manhattan and I was in DC. She has so little down time I don't want to add any more stress by forcing myself on her."

"She should be so lucky," Liv mumbled.


"Nevermind. So how about having dinner with a different adorable brunette tonight?"

"You want me to go out with Fin?"

"Cute. We can meet in the Village at that Thai place you like so much."

"We don't have to go all the way there."

"Well, I'm sort of in the Village now. I have an appointment and I figured we could meet up afterwards."

"New case?"

"Not exactly."

"Everything okay?"


"Liv?" Alex asked, concerned.

Olivia sighed. "What do you know about Jake?"

"Jake who?"


"Liz's ex? Wait, are you thinking about getting a tattoo?" Alex squealed excitedly. "I want to watch."


"Well, it's not like I got to see mine being done and Casey and Abbie were in other rooms. Come on Olivia - let me watch. I can be there in less than an hour. I just need to pack up for the day." She paused. "Think of it as moral support."

"Well, that wouldn't be too ba...."

"Or physical support if you lose too much blood." Alex cut in, chuckling. "I'll be there as soon as I can. Bye."

Pookie's Piercings & Body Art

Greenwich Village

February 13, Tuesday 4:45 pm

Olivia read the sign on the door. She took a deep breath and ran a nervous hand through her hair. You can do this. She opened the door and as she stepped in a buzzer sounded in a back part of the establishment.

Olivia glanced all around the room at all the tattoo art adorning the walls. There were posters of sample tattoos in every style and color. Her eyes were drawn to a poster of flower images and she smiled.

"Can I help y'all?"

Olivia turned to the voice and then turned and looked behind herself. "Y'all? Ummm, it's just me." She paused a second then added with a grin, "Scarlett."

Dite's eyes narrowed. "I can see that." She tilted her head and stared at Olivia. "You are one of those native Yankees, right?" She waited for Liv to nod. "All righty - let me speak your language." She mockingly cleared her throat. "Whasda problem? Can I help youse wit' anyting?"

Olivia smiled. "Point made."

"Good; otherwise I can make sure you get the point... literally. I have a needle gun and I know how to use it. I can pierce parts you never considered piercing faster than you can say ouch." Dite held her hand up like a gun and blew on it. "Now, what can I do for you?"

"I'm here to see Jake."

Dite walked over to the desk. She leaned over it and flipped through the appointment book. "Do you have an appointment?"

"No." Olivia replied as she tried looking at the book.

Dite closed the book and looked back up at Olivia. "Then you aren't getting in to see Jake. He only works by appointment."

"But he told me to come down anytime." Olivia pulled the business card out of her pocket. "Can't he squeeze me in?"

"I'm sure he can but he isn't here to squeeze you anywhere." She looked at the disappointment on Olivia's face. "How do you know Jake?"

"He's a friend of a colleague. Dammit. I really need to get the tattoo done today. My girlfriend and I are going away for Valentine's. I wanted to get the tattoo as a surprise for her. She got one a few months ago."


"Elizabeth Donnelly."

"You know Lizzie?"

"Lizzie? *NO* one I know would dare refer to her as Lizzie."

"So you do know her."

"She brought my girlfriend and two other of our friends in here a few months back. They all got tattooed."

"Waitaminute. Stop me if you heard this one - two blondes, a brunette and a redhead...."

"Redhead sort of...."

"Redhead sort of walk into a tattoo parlor blitzed out of their minds."

"That sounds right."

"Which one was yours?"

"The redhead sorta," Liv replied with a grin.

"I did your girlfriend." Dite exclaimed.

Olivia undid her jacket and pulled it back on the right side.

Dite's eyes grew large at the exposed gun. "Whoa, I mean I did her tattoo. Her tattoo." She held her hands up in surrender.

Olivia looked at the woman as if she had grown a second head. "What?!?"

She then followed her sight down to the weapon strapped to her hip. She shook her head and pulled her wallet out of her back pocket. "I was going to jog your memory. I carry a picture of the unholy trio in here." She laughed.

"Whew." Dite lowered her hands.

Olivia showed her the picture. She pointed them out. "That's my girlfriend Casey; Alex is the blonde and Abbie is the brunette."

"I remember them. I did Casey's tattoo. It's...." She tapped her chin. "... a red tulip with y'all's initials on it."

"Yeah, that's it. She got that for me... us... and I want to get one for her... us."

"You want the same thing?"

"No, tulips are my favorite flower. I want something that is a favorite of Casey's."

"Have any ideas?"

"Not a one."

"Well, that always helps... NOT!" Dite rolled her eyes. "Okay. Let's go into the booth and we'll see if we get any ideas. Follow me." She turned to walk away, then called over her shoulder, "Unless you want to wait for Jake to come back. But I honestly do not expect him back today."

"No. I really need to do it today."

"Okay, so you want a set of entwined hearts with your initials in one and hers in the other, correct?"


"Well, it's not original but it is right to the point. What colors you want?"

"Green and purple for her and blue and orange for me."

"Whoa, okay?" She tilted her head and looked intently at the detective. "I can understand the blue and orange but green and purple? I never did get to ask her about that when I did hers."

"I don't really know why. It's just a Casey quirk."

"Well, y'know what they say - love is blind but in this case, I'd say colorblind. Although I can do the heart outline in red with a bit of yellow and give you the whole rainbow effect, if you want."

Olivia mulled it over for a few moments and nodded.

"Okay. Let me get the stuff together and we'll get started." Dite took out all the equipment and ink pots. She donned a pair of fluorescent pink rubber gloves and began preparing the equipment for usage. Once she was ready, she turned to Olivia. "Where are we going to put this?"

"Same place as Casey's." Olivia tapped her chest.

"All righty then; you need to take off your shirt and while you're at it, take off the gun too. Please and thank you. You can put it in the drawer on your right."


Dite put her hands on her hips and glared at Olivia. "Because I said so. If you must know, I have to lean over you to do this. I'd rather not have a gun poking me in the ribs while I am poking you." She looked where her hands were. "Dammit, now I have to change gloves again."

Olivia stripped off her shirt and dutifully put her gun in the drawer. She sat quietly in her sports bra while Dite donned new gloves. She watched Dite pick up a small bottle of alcohol and a disposable razor.

"What are you going to do with that?" Liv pointed at the razor.


"You don't need a shave."

"Not me - you."


Dite pointed to the tattoo area.

"Excuse me? Shave? My chest?"


"I do not have a hairy chest," Liv replied, indignantly, then she crossed her arms over her breasts.

"I can see that. But we need to make sure the area being inked is clean and absolutely smooth." Olivia didn't budge. "Look, I did this to Casey. Does Casey look like a gorilla now?"

"Only when she gets really mad," Liv replied, grinning.

"I'll be sure to tell her that the next time I see her."

"You wouldn't dare."

They stared at each other. Finally Olivia gave in and lowered her arms.

"Umm, okay fine."

Dite finished her prep work and tested the needle gun to make sure it was working properly, then set everything aside. She just leaned over to start the image transfer to Olivia's skin when the door buzzer sounded. She closed her eyes and silently cursed. "Ill be right back." She put the paper down and stripped off the gloves.

Dite rounded the corner. "Can I help y'all?"

Alex turned to the voice and grinned. "I reckon so."

Dite rolled her eyes. "Oh, it's you. C'mon back. We were just getting started. If you want to sit, bring one of those chairs with you."

Dite arrived first and quickly pulled on a new set of gloves. She picked up the transfer paper again and then pressed it against Liv's skin. She was standing in front of Olivia and blocking Alex's view as the attorney arrived.

"Hi, Liv." Alex said as she walked into the booth. She set her chair down. "So, what are you going to get?"

"Hey, Alex." Liv leaned to the side to see her friend. She began to raise her arm to wave. Olivia stopped at Dite's admonishment.

"Uh uh. Stay still." The artist then removed the paper. She looked at the image transfer and smiled. "Okay. I want you to look and make sure you are happy with the placement."

Olivia swiveled her chair around and turned to the wall mirror. "Yeah, that will work." She turned back. Dite was ready with the needle gun and leaned over.

Alex stood and maneuvered closer. She looked down at the image then laid a hand on Dite's wrist, stopping her progress. "Oh, I don't think so. That's just not... not... you."

Dite looked down at the hand on her arm and then back up at Alex, she cocked an eyebrow.

"Sorry." Alex removed her hand with a slight grin. "Liv has no imagination. The hearts are nice but not very original. I'm sure I can come up with something better."

"You two discuss, while I go get another box of gloves. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna need them." Dite stood up, muttering something about feeding gators as she stripped off another pair of gloves. She tossed them into the trash and exited to go to the storeroom. When she returned a few minutes later, they were still bickering.

"What kind of a dumb idea is that?" Liv asked.

"C'mon Liv, it's a good idea. Casey loves coffee, so why not?" Alex reasoned.

"I am not going to have a coffee cup tattooed over my heart. You're crazy."

"I think it would be cute, plus you could have the coffee mug personalized with your names or something."

"No. No how - no way."

"Okay, then I am out of ideas." Alex scratched her nose as she thought. "I know. Give me your phone."

"Who are you calling?" Olivia asked but reached for her phone and handed it over.

"Ghostbusters. Just give me your phone and stay quiet." Alex found the number she was looking for and hit the speed dial she then set up the phone on speaker option.


"What's up, partner? I thought you were headed out on vacation with your better half."

"Actually, Elliot, this is Alex."

"Is Liv okay? Where is she?"

"She's fine. Honest."

"You're using her phone."

"I just borrowed her phone. I have a question. You've been partners for years, so you know her pretty well...."

"Yeah, but I wouldn't feel right discussing Liv without her knowing about it."

Olivia smiled smugly.

"I just wanted to ask you a question, that's all."

"Okay, but no guarantees I'll answer it."

"Understood. If your partner was to get a tattoo, what do you think it should be?"

"What? Liv's getting a tattoo?" Elliot apparently had pulled his phone away from his mouth and covered the receiver. Alex only heard a muffled voice and then nothing at all.

"Elliot, you still there?"

"Yeah, Alex. I'm going to put you on speaker. Kathy is here too. Tell her what you told me."

"Great," Liv mouthed.

"Hi Kathy, I was just asking your husband for an opinion about a tattoo for Olivia Benson.

"Liv's getting tattooed? Y'know, I always wanted one."

"You did?" Elliot asked seriously.

"Yeah, but it was never a priority." Kathy shrugged. "I always thought a flower like a rose with some filigree work around it would be really pretty, Liv could do something like that or maybe a butterfly."

"Too girly." Elliot replied.

"Well, she is a girl."

"No, this is Liv we are talking about here."

"HEY!" Liv exclaimed. "I am too a girl, you ass."

"Oh Liv, you're there." He chuckled sheepishly. "Ummm, I know that. Geez, I've seen the parts."

'What is that supposed to mean, Elliot Richard Stabler?" Kathy asked, peeved.

Elliot gulped. "Well, I have. Ummm, I've seen her in hooker get-up; it's hard not to notice she's a woman when she's dressed like that."

"Uh huh," Kathy replied.

"Nice save, perv."

"Don't help me here, Liv. Anyway, weren't we talking about tattoos?"

Alex chimed in, "So do you have an idea, Elliot?"

"Well, maybe you should get lips tattooed on your butt, so the next time you tell anyone to kiss your ass they have something to aim for. I'm sure they would appreciate the directional help."

"Kath...?" Liv pleaded.


"Hey!" Elliot rubbed the back of his head.

"Thank you." Liv replied cheekily.

"He deserved it." Kathy glared at Elliot. "I still think something lacy and feminine would be nice."

"Actually, what Alex didn't mention was the fact that the tattoo is kinda for Casey. She got one a few months back. It was my favorite flower with our initials on it. I thought I would get something for us."

"So you want something near and dear to Casey's heart, right?"

"Uh, yeah."

Kathy and Elliot turned to each other. Liv didn't see their twinkling eyes just heard the stereo reply. "A coffee cup."

Olivia rolled her eyes. "You two are of no help."

"C'mon partner - it's perfect." Elliot laughed.

"Hanging up now. Remind me to kick your ass when I see you in a week."

"Have a good time...."

Olivia disconnected the call and pointed the phone at Alex. "Don't say it."

Alex bit her lip to stifle the laugh and held her hand out for the phone. "Let me call someone else." Alex looked for the number and hit the call button. She again put the phone on speaker option and gestured for Liv to be quiet.


"Hey baby girl, wha' sup?"

"Baby girl?"

"Who's this?"

"It's Alex Cabot, Fin."

"Is 'Livia okay? Why are you callin' from her phone?"

"She's fine. I needed to ask you a question and needed your number. She let me borrow her phone."

"Oh, a'right. So what's the big question?"

"It's a hypothetical question."

"You called me to ask me a hypothetical question?"


"What's the real problem, Counselor?"

"Okay, look - here's the question. If you were a certain brunette female detective and you were going to get a tattoo...."

"Baby girl's getting inked? Cool!"

"I didn't say that, I said it was a hypothetical question."


"Anyway, if you were this person, what would you get?"

"Tough one."

"The decision?"

"No, the <.ahem.> hypothetical female detective." He paused. "She's as feisty and tough as they get. So she needs som'thin that shows that. Maybe a tribal armband with som'thin like 'fearless' on it. Yeah, that fits."


"Hell yeah. She's as fearless as they come. I know she always has my back."

"Aw, thanks Fin." Liv spoke over the speaker phone.

"Hey, Liv baby. You really gonna do it?"

"Yeah, but I want something more for Casey than me. You know about the one she got a few months ago."

"Oh, for Novak. Shoot, that's easy." He paused then laughed. "Get a coffee cup."

Alex put her hand over her mouth to stifle the laugh.

"You guys are real funny."

"Who guys?"

"You and my partner said the same thing."

"Damn, Stabler and I agreed? I need to go. I gotta go wash my brain. Later babe and I expect to see what you got when you get back, 'kay?" He ended the call before she could reply.

"I'm telling you...."

"And I'm not listening," Liv cut Alex off.

"Okay, you've heard from Elliot and Fin, might as well go for the Trifecta. Let's call Munch." Alex picked up the phone and dialed the number.

"Hey Liv, what can I do for you?"

"Hey John, it's Alex Cabot."

"Good evening Counselor; is Olivia okay? I see that you are calling from her phone."

"She's fine. I need your opinion on a very important matter. YOW!" Olivia kicked Alex in the shin. Alex glared back at her.


"Sorry, sudden sharp pain in the leg there." Alex moved to kick Liv back but Liv moved her legs out of the way. "Anyway, John, if you were a certain brunette detective and were going to get a tattoo, what would you get?"

"Well, I actually am a brunette detective and I already have a tattoo. The location of said image is top secret but suffice it to say, I got it during my rebellious period."

"You had a rebellious period?"

"It's a cannabis leaf."

"You little radical you. I bet you were real popular in the academy."

"Two words. Big band-aids." He then added, "But I don't think that would be quite right for Olivia. That is who we are talking about, is it not?"


"Is she there?"

"Right here, Munch."

"Good, because I wasn't going to suggest this unless you were there to hear it."

"What would that be?"

"How about Foghorn Leghorn in a FDNY uni?"

Dite and Alex looked at each other with identical puzzled looks.

"John," Liv warned, " Do not go there. Besides...."

"Let me guess," John interrupted. "The tattoo is more for your better half than for you. You want to surprise her like she did for you, correct?"

"Actually, yeah."

"Well, my dear, there is only one thing that the esteemed counselor holds most near and dear to her heart - that is, other than you."


"Really. Coffee. Get a coffee cup."

"Hanging up now." Olivia replied, tersely.


"It's just that you, El and Fin said exactly the same thing."

"I can assure you that it's not a conspiracy this time. It doesn't take a detective to know that Novak loves her coffee - anytime, anywhere."

"She doesn't drink yours."

"I didn't say she was a discriminating drinker. Come to think of it, I wonder why she doesn't? Maybe she knows something about the NYPD provided blend. Maybe I should bring a bag to Warner and get her to analyze it."

"The truth is out there. Why don't you call her right now? Gotta go John; the artist is getting antsy. Good luck with your investigation."

"Yeah, bye Liv."

The three women dissolved into giggles.

Dite stopped laughing first. "Okay, we've apparently heard from the nuts <.ahem.> peanut gallery and they were ever so NOT helpful." Another round of snickers. "Look, why don't you just describe Casey to me?"

"Well, she's about five foot ten with red...."


"Ow." Olivia rubbed the back of her head.

"No, you moron. I meant tell me what she is like. What does she like to do? What's important to her? That kind of stuff."

"I dunno. She likes all kinds of things."

Dite sighed. "All righty - let me ask a few questions and we'll go from there, okay?" She waited for a nod. "What's Casey's favorite animal?"



"Actually, Alex, her favorite animal is a duck."

"What? I saw the way she fawned over Teddy. She loves puppies."

"She does love puppies but her favorite animal is a duck. She had one named Dudley when she was a kid. Didn't you notice all the plush and figurine ducks all over the apartment? Do you remember those when we were dating? Those aren't mine, y'know."

Dite motioned between the two. "Y'all dated?" She shook her head in disbelief. "Oy vey."

Olivia and Alex both stared at the artist.

"What?!? I can't know a second language?" Dite brows knit in puzzlement and she directed a question to Alex. "Waitaminute. If you two dated, why do you know so much about Casey?"

"She's my friend and we've spent a lot of time together these past few months. Liv here may be a detective at work, but she is horrible at paying attention to life's little details. One of the reasons we don't date anymore."

"Funny, I seem to remember the main reason we don't date anymore is that you dumped my ass."

"See. You get the big picture and miss all the little pictures."

"Is that so?" Olivia's voice got louder.

"Ladies! Can we please get back to the matter at hand? I would like to go home to my family sometime tonight." She waited for each to nod. "Good. Now, let's try another one. What are Casey's hobbies?"



"Alex, the bike is a mode of transportation, not a hobby. She doesn't do it for fun."

"I'm guessing you don't want a book tattooed on your chest, right?" Dite tilted her head and shrugged. "How about her favorite sport's team?"


"Mets. Liv? C'mon. Casey went nuts over that autographed photo of Tom Seaver. I thought she was going to pass out."

"She *did* faint the time we met Joe Namath at a charity function."

"Well, this isn't really getting us anywhere. Favorite color?" Dite asked and then added, "Nevermind. I already know this one. Lime green and...."

"Purple," Alex added.

"Wrongo again." Olivia chuckled. "Blue."

"Casey sat right here and told me her favorite colors were lime green and purple."

"Yeah, Liv; she'll never live down that outfit."

"Outfit?" Dite inquired.

"Casey once wore a lime green suit with a purple blouse to court. They have been riding her about it since then." Olivia explained. "Those are the colors most people identify with her, unfortunately because of that, but her favorite colors are blue and green."

Dite thought for a second. "Come to think of it, she did say they were signature colors not necessarily her favorites. No wonder she liked my tats. The girl has taste."

"You wouldn't think that if you saw her in that outfit," Alex snarked. "C'mon. I'm not buying."

"Alex, think about it. The apartment used to have white walls. What color are they now?" She paused then answered her own question. "Various shades of blue and the bedroom is light green."

Alex sighed. "What's the next question?"

"What's Casey's favorite flower?"

"Oh I got this one nailed," Alex jumped in.

"Then you go first Alex," Olivia offered. "I'll bet you still get it wrong."

"Peach roses."

"A swing and another miss."

"Uh uh, no way. She absolutely went nuts over the peach roses Abbie sent me during her stalking phase." She waved a hand at Dite dismissively, "Don't ask."

"Her favorites are wildflowers," Liv said matter-of-factly.

"Nope, not this time Liv. I'll prove it." Alex took her phone out and dialed Casey's number.




"Hi Alex, what's up?"

"I just need to ask you a quick question, Casey."


"What's your favorite flowers?"


"Flowers? What kind of flowers do you like?" Alex leaned in close to Liv and held the phone between them so Liv could hear the answer.

"Well, I have always loved the scent of roses. I mean who doesn't love getting roses. I was so jealous when you got those peach ones from Abbie. They were incredible."

Alex moved back a bit and stuck her tongue out at Liv.

"But the first time Liv brought me flowers they were just a bunch of wildflowers. I think she raided Elliot's yard for them. But she picked them just for me and they came straight from the heart. So wildflowers are my favorite now."

Olivia chucked Alex under the chin causing her to bite her own tongue, then she smiled smugly.



Alex's attention was drawn to Liv's ringing phone.


"Oh, okay, thanks Casey. Sorry to bother you. I have to go now. The phone is ringing. Have a great time in the Bahamas. Bring me back a shell. Bye."

Casey looked at her phone and shrugged. "I don't think I really want to know."

Liv pulled out her phone and looked at the caller ID. She grinned widely. She pointed to the other two and held up a finger to her lips. She set the speaker option up. Alex and Dite exchanged glances.


"Hi Trouble."

"Hey Buddy," the caller answered. "I just wanted to wish you a safe trip. What time is your flight?"

"Tomorrow morning. Casey is out of town with an extradition. She won't be back until early tomorrow. Plus I had something to do today first.

"Stepping out on the girl?"

"Sh'yeah right. I don't have a death wish. "I'm at Jake's."


"I wanna get a tattoo for Casey - any suggestions? And if you say coffee cup I am going to smack you into next week when I see you."

"Coffee cup? What kind of looney tune would suggest that?"

Olivia snatched up the phone and took it off speaker. "A quartet of loonies, actually. Alex, Elliot, Fin and Munch."

"Uh oh, my girl? Ummm, don't tell her that I called her a looney tune, 'kay?"

"Your secret you calling your girlfriend a loonie is safe with me," Liv repeated grinning evilly at Alex. "I won't tell her." She stuck her tongue out at Alex. "So do you have another idea, Tex?" Olivia listened intently. "Wow, that's original. It's perfect. You're the best. I could kiss you."

Alex reached over and grabbed Liv's chin with one hand. She smooshed her cheeks together. "I. Don't. Think. So. Understand?" She shook Liv's head in a yes gesture. "Good."

"Ummm, Abs culd you r'peat wha you sad to Dite, peas?" Olivia mumbled out of her pursed lips. She handed the phone to the artist, then slapped Alex's hand away from her jaw.

"Just keep those lips to yourself Benson and no one gets hurt," Alex warned.

"Possessive little lawyer, aren't you?"

Before Alex could form a reply, Dite handed her the phone. "Someone heard your voice and wants to talk to you." Dite turned to the light box and started to draw.

"Umm, Abbie?" Alex queried.

"Hi, honey."

Hi, how are you?"

"Better now. You there giving my buddy moral support?"

"And a hard time." Alex arched her eyebrow and stared at Liv. "Absolutely."

"Good." Abbie answered. Alex then heard Abbie answer a question on her end. "Damn, I gotta go back in. They are calling the verdict. I'll see you tomorrow, ok?"

"You're coming up, sweetie?"

"You bet. I'm not going to miss Valentine's Day with my best girl. Be ready around six thirty. Dress up; we're going to paint the town and make everyone jealous." More muffled voices. "Coming. I really have to go. Bye darlin'; see you tomorrow."

"Bye, baby." Alex ended the call. She looked over to find both other women staring at her.

They then turned to each other and simultaneously uttered "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww." Olivia added a gagging noise.

"Shut up." Alex sat back and crossed her arms.

"How's this?" Dite drew Liv's attention to the light box and the quick line drawing. "I'd need to clean up the lines but you can get an idea...."

"It's perfect. Let's do it."


Atlantis Paradise Resort

Nassau, Bahamas

February 14, Wednesday 3pm

Casey finished unpacking and closed the drawer on the chest. She puttered around the room looking at all the decorating details, then wandered over to the balcony door and looked down on the beach. The attorney called out over her shoulder to the rooms other occupant. "Honey, c'mon; we're burning daylight here."

"I'll be out in a minute," was the muffled reply through the suite's bathroom door. "The strap on this suit is bothering me."

"I can get you a different suit. You packed a couple." She made her way back to the dresser.

"No, I ne... want to wear this one." There was a pause. "Be sure to take the sunscreen with us."

"I'm redheaded and freckle like a Dalmatian; I have several types of sunscreen in the tote. But we won't need them if the sun goes down, so get out here."

The door opened and Liv emerged dressed in a dark blue tankini. Casey looked puzzled at the suit choice. She looked down at her own bright print bikini.

"I thought...." she was puzzled. "You are making me feel seriously underdressed."

Olivia walked over and threw her arms around Casey's waist in a loose embrace. "Not at all." She tugged on the knot holding Casey's skirt wrap in place. "You look fantastic." She kissed her.

"What's with the tank top? I don't remember ever seeing that suit." Olivia bit her lip, then moved to step away but Casey would not let go. "Liv?"

"I was going to wait until later tonight to show you." Olivia stepped out of the embrace and turned her back to Casey.

"Show me what?"

"Yesterday afternoon I stopped off in the Village."

"To buy that suit?"

"Not exactly."


Liv took a deep breath and muttered, "IstoppedatJakesandgotatattoo."

The attorney had to run what Liv said through her mind twice until it actually sounded like real words. Casey's eyes lit up. "You did it? Really? Where?"

Olivia turned back at the sound of excitement in Casey's voice. She looked at the smiling face and mirrored it. "Same place as yours." Liv stepped closer. She kissed two fingers and ran them gently over Casey's tattoo. "That's why I needed the tank top. I can't expose it to sun until after it heals."

"I wanna see."

Olivia took a deep breath and began to lift the tank top over her head. She hissed and winced at the pain.

"Let me help. I know what that feels like." Once the top was off Casey's eyes were drawn to the tattoo. "Oh, Liv. It's... it's...."

"See, your initials are in the glove webbing and my initials are worked into the stitching on the ball." She looked at Casey. "I know you love softball and you did catch me...."

Olivia's sentence was cut off by a kiss and then another and another. "I." Kiss "Love." Kiss "It." Kiss "I." Kiss "Love." Kiss "You."

"Good, because I don't think it'll wash off," Liv joked. "Cause if I went through all this pain and it does, I'm going to go back and ring that southern belle."

"Dite did it?"

"Yeah. What a character. Okay, help me get the top back on and we'll head down to the beach." Liv looked at the clock on the credenza. "We can get a little sun in before it sets. Then tomorrow we can see the sights and do some island exploring."

"I have a better idea. How about I help you remove the rest of that suit, I see some of *your* sights and do some exploring?" Casey waggled her eyebrows. "Then later we can get some dinner and go for a romantic moonlight walk on the beach."

"Oohh." Olivia threw herself backwards on the bed and lay with her arms outstretched. She closed her eyes and put on her sexiest grin. "Mar-co...."

Casey, on all fours, crawled up Olivia's prone body, careful not to put any weight on her partner. She brought her lips down close to Liv's ear and whispered, "Polo."

"Gotcha," Liv gleefully replied as her arms closed around Casey.

Cabot Residence

February 14, Wednesday 11:55pm

It took a few tries but the giggling twosome managed to get the door open. After Alex keyed the lock, Abbie pushed open the door and held it while the blonde entered. She closed it behind them and locked the deadbolt while Alex continued into the apartment. Once Alex had placed her purse on the end table, she turned back to her companion.

"Oh Abbie, that was so much fun. A carriage ride to the restaurant. An incredible dinner and that decadent mocha chocolate dessert. Casey would have loved it. Speak of the devil duo, I wonder what they are doing now?"

Abbie took a few steps forward and embraced Alex loosely. "Probably having their own dessert." She grinned rakishly. "I'm glad we did the carriage ride first. I'm stuffed. I don't think my stomach could have taken the jostling now."

"Oh, well and here I was going to offer you some coffee, tea or mi... ow!" Alex broke the embrace and took a small step backwards.

Abbie smirked. "Meow?"

Alex slapped her shoulder playfully. "Stop pinching the Cabot goods, Carmichael." She turned to make her way to the kitchen. "And to think I baked you cookies today."

"You baked me cookies?" She asked in puzzlement. "You baked?"

"Better change that surprised tone or no cookies for you." Alex called over her shoulder on the way to the kitchen.

"<.ahem.> Wow, golly gee Alex; I didn't know you could bake." She answered brightly and followed her. "Why thank you."

Alex was standing near the counter with her back to the entering Abbie. She removed the plastic covering the plate of cookies. She turned, her voice suddenly quiet, "I tried to make them heart shaped first but that didn't exactly work out well." She held one up.

Abbie crossed to her and took the cookie out of her hand. Alex ducked her head shyly. Abbie looked at the cookie and smiled. She used one finger on her free hand to raise Alex's chin so they were staring blue to brown.

"Well, it might not be that tired overused commercial conventional heart shape but yours are anatomically correct." She turned the cookie slightly around in her hand until it resembled a real heart and she held it up to her chest. "See?"

Alex smiled. "And you know this how, Ms. Carmichael?" She tugged on Abbie's jacket lapel.

"I played doctor a lot as a kid," Abbie quipped. She took a small bite of the cookie and chewed. "MMMM, I love choco-chips." She took a closer look at the cookie. "Two kinds of chips... oh and macadamias. You wild woman you." She took another bigger bite. "These are delicious," she said around chewing.

"Slow down there Abs; there are plenty more." Alex turned and grabbed the plate. "Like I said, I tried making heart shapes but that didn't work too well. Then I decided to make letters. I was trying to spell out your whole name. But only one A-C-M and E survived intact. The others broke apart when I went to take them off of the cookie sheet."

"Well, it doesn't matter what they look like; they taste great." She leaned over and kissed Alex softly. "Thank you." She took another bite. A small piece broke off and fell to the floor. "Sorry, Alex, let me get that." Abbie bent to pick up the piece. "Hey, where is your canine vacuum cleaner?" she asked as she stood back up.

"Teddy is at Evie's having a sleepover with Jimmy," she took the broken piece out of Abbie's hand and took it to the trashcan. "I was hoping we could have a sleepover too." Alex turned back to face Abbie.

Abbie rubbed her nose as if she was thinking, then frowned. "All my jammies are at the hotel."

Alex stepped closer and leaned in to whisper in the brunette's ear. "This is a special sleepover - no boys, dogs or clothing allowed." She kissed the ear once and then continued to whisper, "I'm sure we can find some games or movies or something to occupy our time. What do you say?"

Alex leaned back and looked into Abbie's eyes. Abbie smiled. "What side of the bed do you sleep on?"

"Right, why?"

"Oh darn," Abbie snapped her fingers. "Me too." She sighed exaggeratedly.

Alex grabbed her collar and turned her around. She began to walk her backwards to the bedroom. She removed Abbie's jacket and watched it hit the floor. "That's okay." She began unbuttoning Abbie's blouse. "I really don't think much sleeping will be going on." She let her hand trail down Abbie's arm until their fingers met and joined. They walked together the rest of the way.

Alex and Abbie took their time removing each other's clothing. They alternated buttons and zips with kisses and caresses. Finally they fell together on the bed, giggling. Abbie propped her head up on one hand and stared at Alex. Alex mirrored the position.

"Before I let you have your way with me, Allie...."

"Excuse me, Abi-gail - *my* way with you? You have been chasing me for months."

Abbie kissed her deeply. She waited for Alex to open her eyes again. "I let you catch me."

"Your memory going there, Counselor?" Alex jokingly tapped Abbie's head with her fist. "You let me catch you?"

"Isn't that what I just said?" Abbie replied grinning.

Alex shook her head in mock disbelief, then ran her fingers down Abbie's face. "Let's get the facts straight. One, you chased me. Two, even with discouragement...."

"... and numerous injuries...."

"... and numerous injuries, you continued chasing me. Three, I felt bad for you expending all that effort and four, I let you catch me."

"That so?"

"Yes. But there is a more important thing."


"Now that you got me, what are you going to do about it?" Alex raised an eyebrow.

"First thing I am going to do is finally satisfy my curiosity." She grinned. "I have to know."

"Know what?"

"You know what." Abbie gestured to Alex's behind.

"One. Track. Mind." Alex began to roll over. "You know, you think you could have figured this out sooner. You had hints," she chided Abbie.

"Oh Allie." Abbie looked at the tattoo. "It's so cute. The blue and the purple feathers. And you put your sexy black glasses on it." Alex rolled back to face Abbie. "So if this is you," she pointed to Alex.. Alex nodded and smiled. "Then that makes me...." Abbie, pointing to herself, paused to think back over the past few months. "OHMIGOD!"

"Mee Meep."


The End

Christmas Songs used without permission:
Bob Rivers/Felix Bernard-Winter Wonderland Parody (Walkin' Round In Women's Underwear)
Ross Bagdasarian-The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)
John Rox-I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas
Abbie Carmichael/James Pierpoint-Jingle Bells Parody
Additional characters used without permission:
Lindsay Boxer and Cindy Thomas of The Women's Murder Club belong to James Patterson and ABC.
Judge Harold Stone of Night Court belongs to Reinhold Weege and NBC.
Well, that's all folks. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Four stories, over three hundred and fifty pages and a year's worth of my time from start to finish. WHEW!
Big Big BIG thanks to the Beta. It wouldn't have ever made it without her and especially wouldn't have been nearly as readable. You rock darlin'…now where's MY update? <.g.>

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