DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf. Title is from an *amazing* Gord Downie poem.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: So, I always stumble onto couples *right* when they've hit the skids. Super ability I have, I know. This is my first L&O fic, so the cannon may be a little sketch, I'm sorry.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

No More Wishing On the Never Star
By C.


Part One

You have become
a ghost for me
I only hold your shadow
since the day I drove
your nature away.
   - Michael Ondaatje

Olivia Benson swung her bag over her shoulder and watched the taxi drive off.

Here she was, drowning in fresh air and blinding sunlight and space.

Green space. Wide space. Benches on sidewalks kind of space.

And her ride was no where to be seen.

Then again, Olivia thought, seating weary self onto a bench, Rebecca always ran on her own schedule. Shifting, she examined all the people who walked around her, men dressed sharply in suits and women in twin sets and pearls. A place removed from New York. Richmond, Ohio; a town full of the living, minus one, of course. This would be the fourth funeral she had attended within the past year.

It was kind of warm, under the sun. And peaceful. The past 24 hours had been anything but for the done in detective. A moment to close her eyes, a chance to adjust herself to her surroundings. Just a moment. She closed her eyes but it was no use - her body had moved beyond the need for sleep, it just kept humming with nerves. Throwing her eyes open, Olivia blinked at the bright sunlight again. And blinked once more at the couple crossing the street. A man like every other she had seen so far, linking arms and engrossed in conversation with a woman in a twin set and pearls. Olivia blinked again, the hair was a little darker, a little longer, the body a little softer - but without a doubt, the woman before her was no one other than Alexandra Cabot. Her mind processed this fact as she suppressed the urge to leap up and embrace the woman. She could not approach her - she would have to sit back and be content to know Alex was alive.

Across the street, Elizabeth Adams was laughing with Josh Morgan over a juicy tidbit of salacious office gossip when he nudged her side, "That woman," He said, "Keeps looking at you. Do you know her?"

"Who?" Elizabeth asked, her heart leaping in her chest, panic filling her eye as she sized up her surroundings: office workers to her left, old couple in front of her, and Olivia Benson sitting on a bench on the side of the street. Staring. "No," Elizabeth chuckled, praying her voice didn't come out as high as it sounded, "I don't think I do." She said, unable to deny herself eye contact with the first memory of home she had in over a year. Olivia hadn't changed, still the same jacket, the same disenchanted air, and same unrelenting gaze. Elizabeth was surprised to see that Olivia's gaze still drew the same effect it did on her at home. Ribs contracting and heart expanding. Olivia said nothing as she and Josh passed. Merely stayed seated. Letting her decide what happened next.

Elizabeth Adams knew she should stay with Josh and go to lunch. Alexandra Cabot, on the other hand sent a confused Josh ahead turned back to the bench.

"Mind if I sit down?" Alex asked, standing before Olivia, blocking the sun.

"Since when did I ever have any say in what you did?" Olivia shot back, as if the past year were no more than a day.

Alex sat down on the bench. She felt the energy vibrating from Olivia. "It's great to see you, Liv." She began softly, staring into her lap.

"You too." Olivia replied, staring at her own lap as her hands fished in her pockets for her crushed pack of cigarettes. Finding them, she tapped one out and lit it.


"I thought you quit?" Alex asked. Her voice quivering. This memory from home unrattled her. Had it been Elliot, or Fin, or even Munch, she doubted she'd be this shaken by it. She would have walked by as if they were just another stranger on the street. But it was Olivia. Her Liv. Or, she reminded herself, not her Liv.

"This is my fourth funeral in a year." Olivia explained, as she took a drag of her cigarette. She held it between her thumb and her pointer finger, palm facing up. "After that ."

She shrugged, squinting in the sun. And what may have looked like indifference to Alex was simply Olivia's attempt at organizing her incoherent thoughts into a semblance of order. On the other side of the bench's divide, was Alex Cabot - who was examining what the appearance of Olivia Benson would mean. It would mean so many things - least of all, it might mean a tomorrow. She always thought she'd have a tomorrow with Olivia. To do what, she wasn't quite sure. To clarify their relationship? To start a relationship? To end one? It seems that tomorrow was always a given. The lingering looks, the brushed hands, the unintended innuendo. All things they had brushed aside to deal with tomorrow. But when the last of tomorrows finally arrived that night along the side of the road - Alex found she was helpless to do anything but stare at Olivia.

"So that's all," Alex asked, brushing an invisible speck of dirt from her pristine skirt. "That's all you have to say to me?"

Olivia didn't answer. She was struck by the fact that Alex's voice was deeper than her own. It didn't match the delicate details of her face and body. Her voice confirmed the strength she possessed whereas her body concealed it. It was disconcerting, really. She was struck by the fact that Alex's voice was deeper than her own and that she had forgotten this.

Somewhere across the street, a gaggle of uniformed teens waved their arms and shouted at Elizabeth, "Hi Mrs. Adams!" Squinting in the sun, Alex half-hearted waved back at her students and watched as they walked back to their building. Once they were out of sight, Alex snatched the cigarette from Olivia and took the final drag of it, savoring the burn in her lungs. It reminded her of the days of black coffee, bloodless corpses and the big city. With the bitterness at allowing herself to think of these things, she threw the cigarette butt on the street before her and crushed it with the heel of her sleek pump as she rose from the bench and turned to face Olivia and, from a distance, Josh Morgan, who had reserved for them a set of window seats at the small diner. "Nice to see nothing's changed between us, Detective."

There were so many emotions and thoughts and memories and regrets in her voice that in the end it came out flat. The way all the colours in light make white.

She walked away, cursing her weakness for stopping to talk to Olivia, for being angry at Olivia, for her body's reaction to Olivia.


Her mind raced now.

She needed a story for Josh, otherwise this little tidbit would be the water cooler gossip for next period.

Sister-in-law. Alex decided, pushing the doors of the diner open. Estranged sister-in-law, that's it.


Part Two

oh the salt inside my body ruins
everyone I come close to
my hands are barley holding up my head
i am so tired of looking at my feet
all the secrets that I keep
my heart is barely hanging by a thread

i miss you all
i wish i was
with you now
i wish I was
   - jann arden

Olivia Benson swung her bag over her shoulder and watched Rebecca drive off.

Here she was, drowning in fresh air and blinding sunlight and space.

Green space. Wide space. Picket fences kind of space.

Today was the day for Déjà vu it seemed.

She looked up and down the street. Each house was identical to the one it stood beside, barring, of course, the unique array of kitschy garden gnomes each white washed, immaculately manicured, and properly fenced in home displayed proudly.

Included in this display was a number 53 Library Lane, the home of one Sergeant and Mrs. Peter Adams.

Staring up at the house, Olivia took the time to note the security risk that Alex was already in. Without knowing her name, or her position, Olivia Benson was able to discover details of Alex's new life: Elizabeth Adams, High School Law and History teacher who occasionally substitutes for the French department. Wife of Sergeant Peter Adams who is currently overseas in Afghanistan. Lives at 53 Library Lane. Has last period off on Fridays and goes home early.

Benson knew she was stalling. Alex was home, she could hear music wafting out from the open windows. She knew all she had to do was knock. But then what? The mixture of sheer confusion and shock at seeing Alex again, coupled with the sorrow of attending the funeral of one of her best friends from school, coupled with the anxious state of mind her sleep deprivation had left Olivia in a very surreal state. She wasn't quite sure what she should do - for any of the situations? Should she go back to Rebecca's house and sleep? Should she be grieving for her friend she hadn't spoken to in 4 years? Should she be here in front of Alex's house? What would she say? What did Alex even want her to say? It had to be something, she was furious at the nothing Olivia offered her previously.

Shaking her head to try and clear the clouds from her eyes, Olivia moved to the front door and knocked.


She knocked again.


She tried the doorbell.

Benson turned her back to the house and sighed. A sign perhaps?

Noticing her distress, Wanda Marcus, Elizabeth Adam's elderly neighbor lifted herself from her front garden where she'd been weeding and shouted across to Olivia - "Try the back, dear. She'll never hear you from here."

Thanking her, Olivia made her way towards the side of the house and unlatched the fence's door and slipped in. The back was just as well manicured as the front lawn, complete with a small deck with a patio set. Olivia had to laugh. Elliot and Kathy had the same set. She didn't know why it was funny - but at this moment, it was. She noticed the patio doors were open and the long wispy curtains floated in and out of the house on the backs of the breezes. Rounding the corner, she was mildly surprised to see that the music was Alex herself, playing away on a small piano. She was just as flawless as she had ever been, Olivia realized, watching the blond woman's profile as she was playing and softly singing:

Why do we play with fire?
Why do we run our finger through the flame?
Why do we leave our hand on the stove,
Although we know, we're in for some pain?

Oh, why do we refuse to hang a light,
When the streets are dangerous?
Why does it take an accident,
Before the truth gets through to us?

Cages or wings,
Which do you prefer?

Not quite the Brahms Olivia expected Alex to be playing but the rapid and calming strokes were just as challenging. Not that Olivia woke up two days ago expecting to see Alex playing Brahms. `Perhaps,' Olivia thought, `I should get sleep before I do this'. But by this point, Alex had her eyes trained firmly on Olivia, while her fingers flew across the white and black landscape:

If we're so free?
Tell me why

Someone tell me why
So many people bleed
Cages or wings, Cages or wings,
Which do you prefer?
Ask the birds
Actions speak louder than Louder than, Louder than,
Louder than, Louder than words!

Alex finished with a flourish of loud chords and then the silence came, broken intermittently by the ticking of the metronome. Alex slowly raised her hand and silenced it her eyes never once leaving Olivia Benson's.

Pure silence greeted their ears.

"They told me where I could find you, Elizabeth." The name came out as awkwardly as the sentence did.

Alex didn't respond. She didn't move a muscle. She simply kept her eyes trained firmly on Olivia, who was obviously hesitating as she took a step or two towards the blond woman. "That's probably not the safest thing in your situation, you know." Olivia offered, taking a few more tentative steps.

"And just what is my situation, Olivia?" Alex shot back as she watched Olivia finally enter the house and close the patio doors behind her.

"I didn't know you played." The brunette replied, taking a seat beside her blond counterpart. The piano bench was much smaller than the street bench they had previously shared. There was no safety divide, only enough for two to squeeze together, thighs and arms and shoulders touching, their backs to the instrument now. And this, this contact between Olivia and herself upset Alex more than she realized it would. She felt nauseous now, and her head seemed to be spinning and her mind raced but - "Yes, all Cabots play." She managed to choke out. Where had that come from? She asked herself. She didn't want to respond to Olivia's question, she had wanted to run up to her bedroom and hurl herself onto her bed and sob like a 12 year old child. "You're not a Cabot anymore, Alex." Olivia offered gently as she unconsciously picked up the younger woman's hand and examined it - as if the answer to her identity could be found printed on her palm. "No, Olivia," Alex started, watching her hand being explored in great depth, "I'm still a Cabot."

"You know," Olivia started, chuckling slightly as she tried to rub away a stray mark of red pen from Alex's hand, "If anything, I thought you would've been playing Beethoven or Bach, not.what was that, anyways?" "Show tunes?" Alex sheepishly answered, understanding Olivia's attempt at lightening the mood.

"Show tunes?"

"Show tunes. Beethoven and Bach was what I was taught," Alex began to meander down memory lane. "But a roommate of mine would always take me out to see shows. She couldn't understand how I came from the city and never went." Alex was silent once again, reliving the rush of hearing the random strays of the orchestra warming up, the overture beginning, and the joy and elation she felt as her heart soared along with the singers during the eleven o'clock number. She would always be at the edge of her seat, throwing an occasional took to Katharine sitting beside her. And where was Katharine now? "I figured out of all of us-" her voice halted. She didn't realize that last statement was being spoken out loud. "Out of any of you?" Olivia asked,

"I figured out of all of us, she would've been the one to make it out." Alex was suddenly bolder now because she could say anything and do anything and go right back to being Elizabeth in a moment. It was at once exhilarating and terrifying to be able to pick up an identity at the slightest whim. "Out of what happened to her."

"What did happen to her?"

"Her very handsome, very connected and very wealthy husband managed to put her in Bellevue. You can only offer help so many times Olivia, before you get tired of being rejected. It's funny-" Alex was rambling now. The floodgates were open and out came a deluge of memories, sensations, urges and thoughts she had put aside a year ago. "I always thought out of any of us, that it would've been me."

"Alex, I'm lost. What?"

And rather than answer that question, Alex Cabot turned her head, closed her eyes and captured Olivia Benson's lips with her own.


Part Three

yesterday is dead and gone
and tomorrow is out of sight
and it's sad to be alone
help me make it through the night
   - sammi smith as sung by gladys knight

Night had settled into the living room.

Shadows stood still and silent against the walls and Olivia Benson cradled Alexandra Cabot in her arms on the couch.

They hadn't talked much over the past couple of hours. A word here, a comment there. Like the shadows, they stayed as perfectly still and silent as they could, hoping that if they stayed like this - perhaps time would leave them alone with one another.

Occasionally, Olivia would hear a slight sniffle from the blond woman in her arms or Alex would feel a tear land on her hair.

"Olivia?" Alex eventually murmured, staring straight ahead, "Tell me about the city."


"Please, Liv? What's it like? What was your last case?"

"I don't-"

"I don't care. Just.just tell me." Her words took on that flat tone again - one Olivia hated because it was foreign to what Alex was in her mind. That voice belonged to Elizabeth.

"Well, it's just as grey and dark as ever." She began, resting her chin on the younger woman's head, and gazed into the crystal candy dish on the coffee table, "When it rains, the sidewalks spill over with city juice and the elevators leading up to your office are still being repaired. It's still as filthy as ever. The hot dogs are still made of rat meat, the coffee's still scalding and strong and the people are still as vicious and vile as ever." She paused, unsure of weather or not she should continue. She heard a sigh from Alex, "Sounds wonderful."

A moment passed.

"Can I tell you something funny?" Alex asked, settling herself deeper into Olivia's embrace, lowering her voice as if she was sharing a confidence. "I miss it. The city. It's so claustrophobic here, Liv. All this space, this sunlight. I can't breathe. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with all this space. It's extravagant and ugly and I look at it and think: what a waste. I miss the city juice ruining my shoes. I miss the filth and the street meat and the motor oil coffee. I miss you - and Elliott and the squad. My squad. I miss you."

"You said that already." Olivia mentioned, on edge now. The chaste kiss Alex had offered had quickly been dismissed by the jaded Detective as a knee-jerk reaction; a physical act to accompany the sense of homesickness and loss felt by the former ADA. Olivia wouldn't presume that it held the same meaning to Alex as it did to her. For Olivia, that kiss was over four years in the making.

"Well," Alex began, noticing the change in her companion's voice, the stiffening in her body. Perhaps she shouldn't continue with this course of action. "Maybe I missed you that much. Maybe," She yawned. It had been so long since she had slept peacefully. "I miss you even more than the city."

"Alex, you're tired."

"Yes, Olivia, I am."

"You need sleep."

"Yes, Olivia, I do."

Another moment passed.

"Alex?" Olivia whispered, trying to see if her companion was awake. "Yes?" Alex whispered back.

"Why did you do it?" Olivia's voice wavered for a moment. Blood and bile, she could handle, but it was moments like these, the small moments weighing heavy with emotions, which threw our Detective for a loop.

"Why did I do what?" Alex asked, confused if Olivia meant the kiss or the comment about missing her.

"Why did you leave?"

A short round of staccato passing for laughter broke the peace of the room.

"Because at the time, Olivia, I thought it was better than dying. Remember," The bitter chuckle returned, "I am a natural blond after all. That was when I thought leaving was better than watching those around me get killed for my principals. That maybe I might be able to stop Velez. That was before I knew I would be moving around every year. That was before I realized that even if they get Velez, I'll never be able to go back to where I left off and that Velez will get off. That was before I knew Rafael was found even when he was in the program."


"I wouldn't do it again, Olivia. If I could go back, I'd take the bullet and happily die."

"You don't mean that, Alex." It frightened Benson to hear Alex Cabot, eternal realist/optimist to be so resentful. This was not the woman she had grown to know, respect - and in Olivia's weaker moments, love.

"But I do, Liv." Her voice softened. "`I have carried out my endeavors with great diligence and cast aside the body that I love'. I've done all I could've done."

A beat passed between the two women, and then Alex began to speak once again, unsure of where this would take her. "Well, almost all I could've done."

"What's left?" Olivia asked, hesitating. "The Empire State building? The Zoo?"

"No," Alex shook her head against Olivia's chest, "This." She tilted her head up, meeting Olivia's gaze with her own. "I would've done this."

Olivia had forgotten the depths of Alex's blue eyes. If she was prone to poetry, she would say it was like swimming. "Done what?" She asked dumbly. She refused to accept Alex's implications. Olivia was exhausted and addled and unwilling to expose herself in such a manner.

"Done what?" Alex straightened up and pulled away from Olivia. "Done what? Olivia, I practically threw myself into your arms - hell, I DID throw myself into your arms, and you caught me. I would have done this. I would have clarified what we are."

"Well, what are we, Alex?"

"We would've been great." She offered. "But I don't know what we are now. We really only have now. Tomorrow Olivia Benson leaves and Elizabeth returns and Alex dies again. In two months, Elizabeth receives word that her husband was killed in action and moves to Michigan as Carrie-Anne Wilson and Alex Cabot will still be dead in New York without ever getting the chance to tell Olivia Benson what she meant to her."

The moment of truth. Considering Olivia had waited for years for this moment, she was surprisingly collected. No matter what the answer was - the end result would be the same: one of separation and pain.

"What did Olivia Benson mean to Alex Cabot?" "Olivia Benson was a friend Alex Cabot respected and cherished." Olivia felt her heart drop and prayed that the disappointment wasn't evident on her face. She didn't realize that there was more to Alex's sentence, "A friend Alex grew to love in more ways than she knew how to express." "Olivia Loved Alex, too."

Alex's eyes clouded over with fury as she leapt up from the couch. "Don't PATRONIZE me, Olivia. Don't you DARE PATRONIZE ME!" She raged as she picked up the crystal dish and hurled it across the room and watched it shatter and rain down in thin shards. "Don't tell me what you think I want to hear! Don't talk about me in the third person. I'm still here, Olivia." Her voice broke and she sunk to the floor, tears streaming down her face, body buckling under her grief, "I'm still here. I'm still here." She kept chanting this mantra over and over to herself, breaking Olivia's heart. Unsure of how to react to Alex's outburst, Olivia finally slipped onto the floor beside Alex and tried to wrap her arms around the tearful woman. Having none of that, Alex scooted away from Olivia and ducked behind her blond veil of hair, wiping her face with the back of her hand. Afraid to approach her again, Olivia leaned back against the couch and listened to the gasps which was Alex's breathing. "I'm sorry." She eventually choked out, throwing her shoulders back and straightening her hair. "I'm sorry." She repeated, turning towards Olivia and smiling. "I haven't been sleeping well lately. I'm sorry. I should go to bed. It was good to see you again. Good night, Detective Benson." She stood up from the ground and extended her hand towards Olivia, who realized that it was her moment at rage. "You don't get to do that, Alex. You don't just get to say something like that and then leave."

"Something like what?" The smile faded from Alex's mouth (Or so Olivia presumed) as she saw that her guest wasn't willing to leave the conversation alone.

"Alex, don't play games now. I have waited, I don't know how many years to hear you say what you just said - and you don't get to take it back. The kiss? I let you take that back, but this? Not this. I'm not telling you what I think you want to hear, I'm telling you what I want you hear because you're here, Alex. I've wanted to tell you for so long and I couldn't but now you're here, two feet in front of me, with no choice but to listen to me." Olivia's body shifted slowly as she rose to stand before her host, "So listen to me, Alex." It was too dark to see Alex's eyes. She could only see shadows and skin. Somehow that made this entire moment slightly easier. She wouldn't have to see Alex's reaction, she could simply say her piece and leave, knowing that she had done all she could do. "I love you. I loved you and I still love you, as a friend, and if you had let me, as a lover."

"Oh, Olivia." The younger woman whispered, lowering her head, hiding behind her hair again.

"I'm sorry, Alex. It's the truth. So now, Good Night."

Finishing what she had started, Olivia moved towards the patio doors.

Funny - it was bright in this part of the room, lit by the moonlight.

Behind her, Olivia heard a slight rustle, and the next thing she knew, Alex had flung herself at Olivia, wrapping her arms around her and pushing her against the doors. "Oh, Olivia," Alex murmured against the soft flesh of Olivia's neck, "Why didn't you tell me? I guess I know why you didn't tell me, but then, why didn't I tell you?" Her mind was racing now, "We could've been great," She repeated, pressing her lips against the woman she had pinned against the wall. In this light, Olivia could see every detail of Alex, from her grin as she went for the kiss to the glistening tears in her eyes as she came to grips with the reality of this situation. Alex finally pulled out of the embrace and took a step back. Making up her mind, she held out her hands in a silent invitation for Olivia to follow. Olivia accepted.

Hand in hand, the two women made their way through the house and up the stairs. Olivia clutching to Alex's hand like a child in the crowd, while Alex walked with an arm outstretched - groping for the way in the darkness.

Together, they climbed the stairs on tiptoe and walked through the darkened hall until they reached the closed door of Alex's bedroom. Turning towards Olivia, Alex smiled shyly. Olivia, on the other hand, had tears slowly streaming down her face.

"Olivia?" She whispered, bringing a hand to wipe away her lover's tears, "What's wrong?" The woman before her said nothing as she squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. "Olivia, please?" Alex pleaded as she tried to wrap her arms around her. "Alex, I-" A sob escaped from Olivia from somewhere deep within. "I don't want to do this like this." Alex took a step back, as though she had been slapped. "I have waited for this for so long, Alex," Olivia explained, hoping her words could bridge the gap they caused between their bodies. "I have waited and wanted this so much because it meant something to me. But I can't have it if it doesn't mean the same for you. I don't want to be - I mean - I" She was at a loss for words now as her mind and body began to shut down for the evening. Her declaration which had started so boldly had given way to babbling. Unsure of how to continue, she lowered her head and let the tears continue to slide down her cheeks. "Olivia?" Alex whispered, stepping closer and closer to the brunette with bowed head, "I understand." She raised Olivia's chin up with a finger and smiled, "You want this to be about Me and You. It is. I have wanted this just as long as you have, just as much as you have and I want it to be about Me and You too. Not because I miss my life, or you feel sorry for me. But because this is what You want, and this is what I want, and this is what we'll take with us afterwards." She smiled up at the brown eyes and watched as they changed from wide open with worry to cloudy with anticipation.

Finally they knew where they stood with one another. An exhilarating feeling.

A hand reached out and opened the door.

Together they walked into the room. It was large, with wide windows which let in the light of the full moon and the cool breeze of night. It was everything either of them could've asked for. Slowly they moved in the light, shedding clothes and tears. It was purely visceral and instinctive now - where to touch, where to kiss. They moved slowly, as if they had all the time in the world - committing every scent, every sound, every sight and every sensation to memory. The crisp, clean scent of linens, the guttural gasps coming forth from Olivia, Alex with arched back, the chilled air against their flushed flesh - all of these etched indelibly into their minds.

And when they finished, they began again, this exploration of uncharted desire.

Eventually, as the moon began to set, they fell into an uneasy slumber, tangled in each other's arms, knowing that now; their time together was counted in minutes, no longer in hours or days.

O insomniacs of the world, good night.
No more wishing on the Never star.

The End

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