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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

One of the Family
By ralst

Alex pulled at her jacket, attempting to straighten an already razor sharp crease, and turned towards Olivia for inspection. "Does this look okay?"

"It looks more than okay," Olivia smiled, "just as it did the last time you asked."

Alex pushed a hand through her shoulder length blonde hair, wondering for the umpteenth time whether she should have had her fringe cut. Her father had always liked her with bangs. "Do you think..."

"Your hair looks perfect the way it is." If it meant following Alex to every one of her next hair appointments Olivia was determined to stop her from getting bangs. It was not a good look for the blonde. Olivia let her fingers glide through her own shorn locks, unsure whether or not it had been wise to let Alex's stylist loose on her shaggy mane; she liked her hair short but worried that her latest do would look too butch.

"It suits you," said Alex, proving that she too could read minds. "I like it darker; it brings out the colour of your eyes."

"It's not too butch?"

A half smile played across Alex's lips. "I like you butch."

"But will your father?" Olivia had thought her years of sweaty palmed trepidation at the thought of meeting her lovers' parents were behind her; you didn't get to be a thirty-eight year old veteran of SVU without developing a thick skin, but somehow none of her defences seemed to work when it came to Alex; or more specifically, winning over the approval of those Alex loved. It hadn't been so hard with Alex's mother, the older woman had already suffered through months of talk about the elusive detective before she and Alex had even discussed dating; but Alex's father didn't even know that his only child was gay, let alone dating someone from the bottom end of the social ladder.

Alex tugged on her hand. "It doesn't matter what he thinks."

With the way Alex kept checking her appearance Olivia wasn't so sure she believed the blonde. "I should have worn a dress."

"No you shouldn't." Olivia looked divine in eveningwear but as far as Alex was concerned nothing could top the sight of long legs encased in form fitting jeans, accompanied by a skin tight shirt with the first three buttons undone to drive her wild with anticipation. It was the look that had captured her attention years before when she'd first been shown around the 16th precinct and she still couldn't get enough. "I love that shirt on you."

Olivia smiled. Over the years many people had told her she was attractive but she had never quite believed them, seeing instead the troubled teenager with an alcoholic mother, haunted eyes and too few friends. Yet when Alex gave her one of her looks she felt like the most beautiful person on the planet. "Thanks."

Olivia pushed open the restaurant's doors, allowing Alex to enter first before stepping into the stifling atmosphere of one of the most expensive eating establishments in Manhattan. "They probably charge you to breathe the air," she mumbled, looking around at all the finely dressed clientele. "I knew I should have worn a dress."

The plan had been to meet with Alex's father and his latest girlfriend at their apartment for drinks before both couples went their separate ways for the evening; then twenty minutes before they were scheduled to leave Alex got a phone call telling her they would be meeting for dinner instead. After ranting about her father being a controlling, supercilious pig for ten minutes neither of them had the time to change before hailing a cab to the restaurant. Alex suspected it was all part of some mind game her father had drawn up, but she refused to let it get to her. She pulled at her jacket once more. Or to get to her more than it already had, she amended.

"There he is." Alex took hold of Olivia's hand and dragged her towards a table in the rear of the restaurant. "Don't be nervous," she whispered.

At that, Olivia's nerves were set on edge, until she got a good look at her future dinner companions. This is gonna be good.

"Father," Alex's voice was devoid of warmth, although she did make a valiant effort to smile.

"Alexandra." Alex's father was a tall man of slender build with drooping shoulders, the submission evident in his posture more than made up by the arrogance etched into his face. Olivia was eternally grateful that her girlfriend had inherited her mother's looks and adherence to sitting up straight.

His eyes bypassed Olivia and appeared to search the entrance of the restaurant before turning once more to his daughter. "I was under the impression that you were bringing your young man with you," his eyes did a lazy trawl across Olivia's body, "not one of your friends."

Alex stiffened at his tone. "I don't have a young man." She'd sat for hours working out exactly the right way to come out to her father; neither apologetic nor confrontational, a simple recitation of facts which he could either accept or deny, but she hadn't factored in a room full of patrons and a twenty-something redhead hanging onto her father's every word. "I have Olivia."

"Hardly the same thing." He looked at his watch. "Your mother gave me the impression I was to meet someone of importance, you know how busy I am Alexandra, I don't have the time to waste socialising with your friends."

"She isn't my friend." Alex quickly looked to Olivia. "I mean, she is my friend, but she's also my partner."

Eyes dripping scorn, he gave Olivia a second look over. "Your partner?"

"Yes." She took Olivia's hand. "My partner, my girlfriend, my future wife - law permitting, and the woman who warms my bed every night." Alex took a deep breath. "My partner. Do you understand?"

Olivia thought the bed part had veered off into the 'too much information' zone, but Alex's father seemed to be handling it well. He hadn't fainted.

"What about Jonathan?"

Olivia and the redhead both looked at Alex, who seemed totally perplexed by the question. "Jonathan who?"

"I don't know." He began to wave his hand around in a 'whatever' gesture, reminiscent of the Royal wave on fast-forward. "The tall fellow you were dating."

The redhead scooted forward in her seat, half afraid that she was about to miss out on some gossip.

"That was years ago." Alex turned to Olivia. "He means Jon Peterson, I told you about him, remember?"

Olivia nodded even though she had no idea if Alex had mentioned him or not. "Mr Cabot, your daughter and..."

"Armstrong," he interrupted.

"Excuse me?"

"Sorry, Liv, I forgot to tell you, Cabot is my mother's maiden name." Alex couldn't look in her father's direction. "When my parents divorced I changed my name."

"Oh." There was nothing like stamping on a sore spot to really win over the in-laws. "Sorry, Mr Armstrong, as I was saying, Alex and I are together and have been for a while."

"Ten months fourteen days." Alex supplied.

"And we just thought you should know." Actually she didn't care whether he knew or not, but somehow they'd gotten sucked into the idea that telling him was the right thing to do. She couldn't quite remember but she thought it was Elliot's fault. "So, do we sit down and have a civilised meal or should Alex and I grab takeout on the way home?"

"You live together?" The redhead asked, speaking for the first time.

"Yes." Alex spared the woman a full smile.

"That is so sweet, isn't it Teddy?" She cooed, oblivious to her date's darkening mood. "My girlfriends Ginny and Amanda have been living together for years but they still tell their parents they're just roommates. I think that's so sad." She reached a hand across the table in supplication. "Not that I blame them. Ginny's father is an absolute pig and Amanda's mother is like Roseanne on crack. I wouldn't tell those people my name, let alone that I was shacking up with their daughter."

"Crystal." Alex's father stared daggers at his date, before turning his icy stare on his daughter.

"Thank you Crystal." Alex's smile faded as she turned to her father. "I presume that means we're for takeout. Too bad, I've always wanted to eat vastly overpriced chicken served by fops with fake accents." She turned to leave. "Goodbye, Crystal, nice meeting you."

Olivia waited until Alex was a few feet away before leaning across the table, her eyes staring intently into the older man's before flitting away to rest on the redhead. "Nice seeing you again Crystal. I'd charge him extra for having to sit through a scene if I was you." She winked at the prostitute. "'Night."

"Goodnight Officer," Crystal waved, before turning to pass her client a glass of iced water to cool his cheeks. "Aren't they a lovely couple?"

He didn't reply.

Olivia caught up to Alex just outside the restaurant, the blonde's head bowed in thought, her eyes unseeing. "I'm sorry," said Olivia, "I'm sure he'll come around, given time."

"I wouldn't bank on it." When Alex lifted her head there was a smile on her face. "Lets get something to eat, I'm starved."

"You're not upset?"

"Why? It went far better than I'd ever dreamed." Taking Olivia's hand she began to pull her down the street. "Wait until we tell my grandmother, she'll blow a fuse."

Suddenly Olivia thought it very unfair that she didn't have any relatives; she'd have to borrow Elliot's crazy Aunty Sadie and see how Alex enjoyed being one of the family.

The End

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