DISCLAIMER: The characters in the story are the creation of Dick Wolf and I'm using them without permission for entertainment and not for profit. The story is my own as are any errors that may have slipped past my beta readers.
SPOILERS: Set after Alex comes out of witness protection, so there may be some spoilers for those who have not seen the show (or L&O) to that point. I've taken some literary license with Elliot's marital situation and Olivia's educational background, among other things, so fair warning to the keepers of the Canon. Oh, and this is my first L&O story, so your patience is appreciated and feedback of all kinds is welcome.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Open to Persuasion
Their hands were clasped together tightly on the seat between them as they rode up the FDR drive toward Alex's apartment. There'd been a hasty debate as they'd waited for the livery service to pick them up. "My place is closer," Olivia had mumbled against Alex's mouth.
"It's only one o'clock. Traffic will be heavy in on Canal Street and in the Village. Be faster to stay on the east side "
"God, you're delicious." Olivia's non sequitur hadn't seemed odd to Alex.
"So're you. And you smell so good "
The lights of the car coming around the corner had made them pull apart. New York City was pretty liberal about public displays of affection, but it had been late and they'd been in an unfamiliar area and had no idea how conservative or psycho their driver might be. Having given Alex's address and the terse directions of "Manhattan Bridge, FDR to 59th", the air between them had become charged with almost unbearable sexual tension and they hadn't dared to sit close enough for their arms or thighs to touch. Eventually, Olivia had said "This is silly" and reached for Alex's hand.
"Alex?" Olivia spoke quietly even though the driver seemed to be engrossed in a talk radio discussion and was making occasional noises of disgust or agreement.
"You know that I didn't sleep with Abbie, right?"
Alex looked surprised. Olivia didn't lie so she knew that what she'd said was true, but she hadn't expected that twist on their situation. "It wouldn't have mattered," she replied honestly. "I dropped a bombshell on you and, looking back, I could have told Arthur and Theodore that I had to discuss it with my partner first. I'm just not used to sharing my life."
"I don't think bombshells entitle me to sleep with someone else, but I'm glad you didn't fly off the handle even if you assumed "
"Oh, and you gave me no reason to assume." Alex sounded more amused than annoyed. "Making a date with her in front of me and coming to work in the same clothes the next day, but with no underwear, after having had a shower in her room "
"Would you have been less suspicious if I'd borrowed a pair of panties from her?" Olivia's grin made Alex snatch away her hand in mock irritation.
"I hope you had a hangover."
"Did I ever." She took Alex's hand again. "You know, Miss Cabot, you have a cruel streak."
"Who was it that let me think she'd been having unbridled sex with the long-legged Texan again .?
"Well, I did kiss her."
There was a genuine snatching away of the hand this time. Olivia leaned closer and whispered in Alex's ear. "You weren't mad when you thought I went down on her, but you're pissed off because I kissed her?"
Alex considered the logic of this and then reached out and offered her hand so that Olivia could take it again. "Was she a good kisser?"
"Not as good as you."
"Don't be patronizing."
Olivia sighed. I never had these types of conversations when I dated men. "I barely remember. I was drunk, hurt, missing you; she was helping me get undressed. She was half naked and it made me feel half horny in a drunken sort of way. I kissed her, she kissed me back. She wasn't you and I wasn't Serena, so we stopped by mutual consent."
Alex stared at her in the flashing lights from passing vehicles. It seemed to occur to her how easily Olivia could actually have slept with Abbie. "It might happen, you know, Liv," she said seriously. "You could be working undercover, we could be separated because of work, or illness who knows?"
"Are you saying that that's something you want? An open relationship?"
Alex shook her head. "No. I don't think so. I was jealous of Abbie. But even if she'd had your body, I still have your heart. I wouldn't want to lose you over a night spent having sex with someone else. Although it would bother me if you did it in an unsafe way."
"I wouldn't deliberately do anything to hurt you, Alex. And coming to your bed after having unsafe sex with someone else could more than hurt you. The reason I was tempted that night was because, in a way, I thought I'd already lost you, so it was the first night of the rest of my miserable life. I was never tempted when you were in witness protection, until you came back for the trial and "
"And I told you I was having a relationship with someone else."
"We were just friends," Olivia ran her thumb over the back of Alex's hand in a comforting gesture. "You couldn't have known how I felt."
"But I did! I heard it in your voice the night I was shot. I saw it in your eyes when I made them take me back to tell you I was alive because I was already too deeply in love with you to let you mourn my death. I just thought It made no sense that you'd wait and I was so lonely. Then after I said what I did, it made even less sense that you'd wait. That you love me after all that is a gift that is infinitely precious to me no matter what you think about my accepting the job with Theodore."
Olivia merely squeezed her hand, unable to find words to express the emotions that crowded her heart. She still worried about the impact coming out would have on Alex's career, but the steel in Alex's spine was something that she had only respect for, so she had to trust her to fight her own political battles.
As her mind drifted to politics, she asked curiously, "So, d'you think the boys have recovered yet?"
The atmosphere in the car lightened and Alex laughed softly. "I'm betting those boys are going to be very, very persuasive tonight with their partners. Did you see how long it took them to stand up when it was time for dessert?"
Olivia laughed out loud and the sound warmed Alex's heart, as did the white flash of Olivia's smile as she continued to enjoy the memory of the aftermath of their unintentional floor show. They hadn't planned or intended it; they'd simply forgotten where they'd been.
After Olivia had agreed to take the extended vacation with her, Alex had whispered, "I was so empty without you in the last three days "
"Me, too. I kept on picking up the phone and pulling up your number but not placing the call. Sometimes, just looking at your number on the screen would make me feel better. I was trying to get used to "
Alex had lifted her head and put two gently fingers against Olivia's lips. "Don't Let's not say good-bye yet. There'll be time enough for that if it's what we have to do."
The feel of Olivia's soft lips under her fingertips had distracted her and she'd paused, looking into the open adoration in the wide, dark eyes of the woman she loved. Then she'd moaned, suddenly overwhelmed with physical want.
Olivia had immediately picked up on the heat in the blond woman's gaze and noticed the way her pupils dilated further in the subdued light on the dance floor. She'd parted her lips and allowed her tongue to trace the soft fingertips that covered them, all without breaking eye contact with the woman whose hand still rested on her hip. Alex's lips had trembled and Olivia had felt a surge of strength and love, marveling at her power over the beautiful woman in her arms. Slowly she'd leaned forward, her eyes drifting shut, until her lips grazed Alex's, brushing against them, sensitizing them further, but making no move to deepen the kiss.
Alex's hand was shaking as it gently trailed over Olivia's cheek. Her lips parted and a broken breath brushed Olivia's mouth. Olivia had squeezed her eyes shut and resisted the temptation to taste that soft mouth, instead she'd shifted her attention to the smooth skin of Alex's temple, brushing a soft kiss on the warm skin and inhaling the scent of her perfume and of her hair. She'd allowed her lips to drift over the delicate sculpture of Alex's ear, feeling the shudder that the touch elicited, even before she repeated the caress with her tongue and then gently bit the soft lobe.
Alex's head had tipped to the side in mute surrender and Olivia's open mouth continued its soft journey over flushed skin. She'd paused halfway down the slender neck for a longer taste, swirling her tongue against sweet skin, loving the way Alex had responded with a long moan as she'd grabbed a handful of Olivia's thin shirt in her fist. "Liv " The single word had been a plea, spoken softly, like a prayer.
Olivia growled in response and wrapped one strong hand in long, blond hair since Alex seemed to be having trouble raising her head. She'd slowly laved Alex's full bottom lip with her tongue and when Alex opened her mouth with a hoarse sound, she'd resisted for several interminable seconds longer, holding onto control by biting the lip her tongue had so recently mapped. Alex had moaned and the short nails of one hand had dug into Olivia's back as the other hand had drifted down to Olivia's ass, pulling the dark-haired woman's pelvis against hers and shifting so that a leather-clad leg slipped between her thighs and created a delicious friction that did nothing to satisfy the want that had threatened to overwhelm her.
Olivia had given a grunt of satisfaction and pulled back slightly to look into dazed blue eyes before giving in to what they both wanted and opening her mouth fully over Alex's. Despite her desperate need, her tongue was deliberate, not rushed, as it plundered the open mouth of the woman who loved her. Alex had reciprocated fully as her hands roamed over Olivia's back and her nails scraped Olivia's scalp. When Olivia's tongue would have retreated, Alex had drawn it back in to continue the dance with hers. That soft suction tipped the balance of power between them and Olivia had felt her knees get weak. She'd whimpered and her hips had moved restlessly in an involuntary, subtle thrust. The single, sensual movement made Alex gasp and she'd pulled back from the kiss.
"Take me home," she'd begged. "Take me home or I swear I'll do you right here, right now, in front of all these people."
Olivia's eyes had slowly drifted open and focused on the woman whose face had been only inches away. Her hand, as unsteady as Alex's had been earlier, had reached up to cup Alex's cheek. "I don't think I've ever wanted anything more than I want to go home with you right now. But we're at an engagement party and when dessert is served there will be champagne and speeches and we really, really, cannot leave before that. Especially after carrying on like a pair of horny teenagers on the dance floor "
Alex groaned and tucked her face into Olivia's neck. "Oh god "
Olivia had chuckled, even though a shudder of sexual arousal had quaked through her body at the feeling of Alex's soft lips against her neck. "Is that oh god I can't believe we have to be polite for at least another half an hour, or oh god why didn't you tell me that we're giving every straight man in the room a hard-on? Because if it's the latter, I have to tell you that it had completely slipped my mind "
"Do you think Elliot, Munch and Fin noticed?"
"Front row seats," Olivia had confirmed, avoiding Elliot's sparkling blue gaze over Alex's shoulder. "We're just lucky Cragen agreed to cover the shift so we could all be here."
"I'm not sure I can "
"We have to brazen it out or they'll never, ever let us forget it."
They'd stayed on the dance floor for as long as it had taken for another two songs to play, willing their hormones to calm down and preparing themselves for the reactions of the SVU squad to their rather blatant disclosure that they were sexually involved with each other. They'd continued to hold hands as they'd eventually walked over to where the three men had been sitting.
"Detective, Counselor," Munch had greeted them as though they were formal acquaintances, "please join us."
"Thanks, John," Alex had accepted, collapsing into a love seat and pulling Olivia down beside her.
"Is there something you two want to tell us?" Elliot had got right to the point.
The champion bluffer, Alex had offered him a small, smug smile and then turned to Olivia. "I thought you said they were professional detectives yet they seem to have misinterpreted our announcement and still need to be told."
Olivia had shrugged. "I said they were detectives, their degree of professionalism can vary."
Fin had smiled, completely ignoring the jibe. "It's not that Shanai and I don't appreciate the Tiffany's gift certificate that the squad chipped in to get us but, personally, I enjoyed that 'announcement' a lot more than I'm gonna enjoy that crystal bowl my fiancée has her eye on."
Monday morning came around entirely too quickly. Olivia had been called away on Sunday night, but she'd come back some time after three in the morning, showered and crawled naked back into bed to spoon Alex. Alex had woken only long enough to put her hand over the warm hand that rested on her stomach as Olivia snuggled against her back and sighed into her hair.
When Alex got up for her morning run, Olivia persuaded her that there were other forms of exercise that didn't involve inhaling smog or, indeed, getting out of bed. By the time she walked into her office at seven-thirty, it would have taken a chisel to get the small smile off her face.
At seven thirty-five Liz Donnelly walked into her office with a wider smile. "Good weekend?"
"Better than most. Did you need something?" Alex asked pointedly.
"Looks like we're going to trial on Johnson, but Arthur doesn't think that's a bad thing. It's an election year and he doesn't believe you can lose."
"No pressure, then," Alex replied ruefully, even though she was reasonably confident of the evidence that they had against the Johnsons, not to mention the lovely array of pedophiles who might just be willing to have a few years taken off their sentences in exchange for an additional nail or two for the couple's coffins. Nevertheless, she was curious. "So is it that Jessup is in denial about the evidence his guilty clients left in their wake, or is Arthur simply not interested in saving New York taxpayers a few hundred grand?"
"You know Arthur wouldn't have turned down a plea request without talking to you first, Alex," Liz chided, "which is why you're going to do it at the meeting with the Johnsons and Jessup at ten-fifteen this morning."
Alex frowned. "What do they want?" She didn't like having the DA make her decisions for her when she hadn't yet had the chance to review the evidence upon which the decision was to be made. She also didn't like having anyone accept meetings with opposing counsel when merely listening to a request for a deal could imply that the request was being taken seriously.
Liz shrugged. "Jessup hinted at multiple charges of contributing to the delinquency, in addition to accepting the max for distributing the pornography."
Alex relaxed. "If that's the best Jessup can offer then I agree with Arthur, but if he wants to have them plead guilty to the conspiracy charge am I supposed to take him to trial for sexual abuse anyway? We both know that my best chance for getting a guilty verdict on that is going to rely pretty heavily on an emotional response from the jury and, to some extent, conflating the offenses in their minds."
Liz smiled. "It's what you're good at, Alex, which is why Arthur is so confident."
"Jessup is also good. And Petrovsky knows me as well as you do and is likely to spend an hour explaining the differences between the various charges when she instructs the jury just to prevent me from getting away with that. Coming back from the dead has not been enough to make her forgive me for past transgressions "
Liz had obviously been expecting Alex's reaction. "Ok, if they cop to conspiracy accept it full allocution in open court and a request for the maximum sentence. If Petrovsky decides on consecutive rather than concurrent, your grandchildren will be sitting on the bench before either of them gets out of prison."
Alex couldn't help the rare grin that transformed her face. "And how will Arthur take the news that you're letting me have my way in terms of how the plea negotiations should be handled? After all, it is an election year "
"I'd already cleared it with him. I never imagined you'd let him, or me, tell you how to handle your final case for this office. You'd walk away first and we both know it." She stood up. "I'm going to miss you, Cabot. You're pig-headed and very close to arrogant, but you have a fine legal mind and genuine compassion for the people you represent. It's a loss for SVU and for this office that you've decided to move on." Alex looked embarrassed and Liz looked thoughtful. "Speaking of missing people, what about your SVU detective. Will you be taking her with you and depriving the squad of her talents as well as yours?"
"News travels fast," Alex said, feeling a blush heat the tips of her ears and threaten to stain her cheeks.
"It wasn't news to me, Alex, not in the way you mean. I've watched you watching Olivia Benson when you thought no one was looking. It's the reason I offered you the chance to cover when Casey moved on. And I knew it was she, rather than a desire for variety, that made you accept, even when you'd already been promoted to Bureau Chief. Taking a step back in your career was something I never thought I'd see Alexandra Cabot do for anyone."
"Well, perhaps getting shot and losing two years of my life gave me a perspective that you don't understand."
"You're right. I don't. And I don't understand why you would accept the job in DC unless you'd already persuaded her to come along or you'd decided to give up on your feelings for her ever going anywhere. So hearing that you were close was a surprise to me, but as I said, not for the reason you think."
The ADA refused to meet her boss's eyes. "It's complicated " And I'm not comfortable talking about this to you. I'm not sure I'm comfortable talking about this to anyone. I just want to be in denial until she tells me she's no longer going to be part of my life.
Noting the younger woman's discomfort, Liz smiled reassuringly. "Here are the updates to the Johnson file, including the request for today's meeting." She turned to leave and then hesitated by the door. "And if you need to talk, I might understand more than you think."
"Thanks," Alex said, strangely feeling as though she meant it, even though she knew that she would not be able to overcome her natural reserve to discuss her relationship with the woman who was technically her immediate boss. Yet she felt she owed Liz more than cursory thanks. "Liz?" And when Liz raised an inquiring eyebrow, she went said quietly "Olivia's her own woman and if you want to know about her career plans you'll have to ask her. You and I both know how good an opportunity the AUSA position is and professionally I'm sure you understand why I accepted, despite your interpretation of my decision to come back to SVU temporarily."
Liz smiled enigmatically and withdrew.
Who else knew? Alex wondered as she absently flipped open the file and tried to force herself to focus on the heavy responsibility of seeking justice for so many vulnerable children.
Just as she was gathering up her notes to take to the meeting with the Johnsons and their lawyer, her phone rang. For some reason, she knew it would be Olivia and she wasn't disappointed.
"Hi sweetie," Olivia greeted. "Are you having a good morning?"
"I think the best part of my morning was over by seven," Alex admitted huskily.
"Mine, too. I love waking up with you And I'm sorry if you didn't get enough rest this weekend."
"Baby, do you really think I'd rather have slept more instead of making love with you?"
"Even that big brain of yours needs to rest."
"My brain is fine, although I do have a few inexplicable marks and I'm a bit sore in certain places."
"I promise to kiss them all and make them better whenever the City releases us from indentured servitude for long enough."
Alex sighed. "I can't see that being today. I'm on my way to a meeting with the Johnsons. Their lawyer wants me to plead them out on a misdemeanor on the sexual assault charges if they plead guilty on the pornography."
"That's nuts. None of those kids would have been raped in that house if they hadn't made all the arrangements. Heck, they probably wouldn't have been raped at all. Why are you even meeting them?" Alex could hear the scowl in Olivia's voice.
"Liv, trust me, I'm not going to accept that what they did, that what we have proof that they did, is a misdemeanor under the law. And Arthur has authorized me to take the case to trial. But I'm willing to accept guilty pleas on the conspiracy charges to avoid a trial that will drag on for weeks, if not months, and tie up resources that might better be used to help other victims. Would you rather sit around waiting to testify in People versus Johnson, or find the person who killed Benjamin Jefferson?"
Olivia knew Alex was right and that the only reason the system worked at all was because so many cases concluded before they got to the stage of trial, but she felt as though the Johnsons' victims deserved the chance to face them in court. "Liv?" Alex's voice cut through Olivia's conflicted thoughts. "I'll do my best to make sure they never see the outside of a prison until they're so old it doesn't matter any more. I promise."
"Alex, Douglas Jessup and his clients are here." The voice of Alex's assistant interrupted the conversation.
"Baby, I have to go," Alex said unnecessarily.
"I know. So do I. Elliot's walking over with our coffee now. We're going to interview Ben Jefferson's baby sitter." She paused. "How did you know about that case?"
"It's on my desk. I have to work on it until my successor " She stopped. It suddenly occurred to both of them that if the Johnsons accepted her offer, her obligation to the New York County District Attorney's office would be at an end and she'd have nothing more to do than mark time while her successor was chosen and then spend a couple of weeks helping with the transition.
"Will I see you tonight?" Alex hated the fear in her voice. She wanted to be strong, after all, it was her fault they were going through this.
"It might be late."
Before Olivia could say any more, Alex heard Elliot's voice in the background. "I'll call you next time we take a break. Maybe around lunch time," Olivia said quickly. "Bye."
"Ok. Bye. I love you." Alex wasn't sure if Olivia had heard the quiet declaration before the line went dead.
"Alex?" Her assistant was standing in the doorway and brooding time was over.
"I'm on my way," she said, blinking her eyes to stop them from stinging.
"Talking to your girlfriend?" Elliot asked Olivia as they got into the unmarked car.
"None of your business, Elliot," she tried not to snap.
Elliot picked up on the turmoil in Olivia's dark eyes. He wanted to ask what Kathy had asked after they'd had makeup sex on Sunday and he'd broken the news about his partner's love life. He wanted to ask her what was going to happen between her and Alex Cabot when the other woman moved to Washington DC, but Olivia was already brooding and he strongly suspected that the impending separation from the ADA had something to do with her mood. He chose instead to distract her by annoying her. As they sat in the car he said, "So tell me, Liv, is the sex as good as it looked like it was gonna be when we witnessed the foreplay on Saturday?"
Olivia turned to glare at him, but when she looked at the way his blue eyes crinkled in the corners and the corner of his mouth twitched with a suppressed smile, she knew that showing annoyance would be playing into his hands. Instead she sipped her coffee and asked blandly, "Have you ever had sex that was so mind-blowingly good that you would let her do you on Cragen's desk or in an interrogation room if she asked you and if you thought nobody was looking?"
Elliot's eyes widened and his cup tipped slightly to the side so that scalding coffee dribbled onto his hand. "Shit!" he said, transferring the cup to his right hand and trying to get his other hand out the car window before the coffee dripped into his crotch.
"Would you like me to drive?" Olivia asked innocently.
Elliot glared at her for a few seconds and then they both started to giggle. "God Stabler," she finally managed, "what is this, high school?"
"No, in my high school we mainly talked about it. You're actually doing it."
"Doing it and not talking about it," she reminded him. "Now unless you need me to take the wheel while you nurse your injury, we're going to Avenue A and Third."
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