DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a Conviction+SVU AU. Contains spoilers. Any deviation from canon is intentional.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES/SEQUEL: Sequel to Out on the Line.
Out of the Game
By Adrienne Lee
As the last traces of the afternoon sun disappeared from the horizon, a familiar scent filled the room. Alex looked up from her paperwork. She put down her pen, and smiled. "Hi."
"You lied to me."
The frosty accusation rendered the prosecutor almost speechless. "What?"
"You lied to me," Olivia repeated.
By the way the detective paced around her office with her heels kicking into the carpet, Alex knew she was in for a confrontation. Was it a relic from the years they worked together and all the departmental head-butting? She wasn't sure. Just how many times did they have to fight before they would learn? She wished she knew. "About what?"
"What about him?"
"You two did have a history."
"Who told you?" Were you spying on me? Alex almost asked, but she held the full force of her righteous indignation in check. "Never mind, what difference does it make?"
"You should've told me."
"I didn't see the relevance. I still don't; that was a long time ago."
"Well, if that's the case, why didn't you tell me?"
"Because I knew you'd act like this?" The prosecutor said, even though it wasn't true. She didn't know why she withheld the truth. Out of shame for her lack of professionalism maybe? No; she wasn't embarrassed by her similar relationship with Olivia Perhaps it was to avoid any sort of possible comparison Whatever the reason, at this moment, she only cared about one thing: "Do you just not trust me?"
"I don't know that I should. You lied to me."
"Fine, you know what? You win. Yes, Jim and I screwed, and then I dumped him. Happy?"
Something in the tone of the attorney's voice when they fought always made Olivia bristle. What irked her more, however, was the laissez-faire way Alex treated the affair. The man seemed to genuinely care for Alex at least that was something the brunette intuited. "Why?"
"Why did you dump him?"
"Olivia, what's gotten into you?"
"Why did you dump him? Did he not satisfy you in bed or something?"
"Olivia You're out of line."
"Am I? Don't I have the right to know?"
"That depends," Alex uttered without thinking.
"Seriously. I wanna know," Olivia said, failing to notice the brief change in the blonde's tone.
Incensed by her lover's lack of care, Alex demanded, "Why?"
"So I don't make the same mistakes?"
"Oh, you're making a mistake all right!"
"Get out of my office. Better yet, get out of my life."
"I knew you would do this," Olivia replied between her teeth.
"You're not giving me a choice. I'm tired of this. Whatever 'this' is between us."
"Yeah? Well "
After coming back from Witness Protection, after all she and Olivia had been through to get back together, Alex had wanted to seize the day, 'carpe diem' as they say, and move forward. Instead all they did was fight. She was too prideful to remind Olivia what they had talked about, and what she wanted: for them to build a life together, or at least start. Meanwhile, Olivia Half the time she didn't know what went through Olivia's head. The detective seemed to be hesitating, always holding something back. But what? And most importantly, why?
It was moot now, wasn't it? Why they acted the way they did, the motivation behind, and all the things they did or did not do, the promises they may or may not have made to each other and which they did not keep. In the end, it was all moot.
Now Alex looked around the dimly lit bar, and took another pull from her drink. For days, weeks, even months, she sat here, at the bar where most of Manhattan's ADA's went to drown their senses, and half waited for Olivia to show up, to look for her and apologize. Hell, the detective didn't even have to do that. All she needed to do was pretend that nothing had happened, and Alex would willingly, spinelessly fall into her arms again...
"Hello, Ms. Cabot?"
"Hello," she followed the voice and looked up.
"May I join you?" The man in blue smiled charmingly and motioned to the empty seat next to hers.
"Uh." She tried to place the somewhat familiar face.
"Perhaps you don't remember me. We met at the Mayor's Ball last year?"
"Oh, of course." She smiled and extended her hand. "Robert, right?"
"Yes. I've been hoping to see you again."
"Oh?" She asked, even though she could see his intention written in his eyes, his body language. Silently, she finished counting all the hours and days she had been waiting in vain for her heart's desire, and decided it might be nice to have company for a change. She wanted to forget, didn't she?
Why did love have to be so difficult?
All the heartaches, everything you do, all the concessions you make, in the end, you end up with nothing.
Just what was love anyway?
Nothing but illusions.
After Alex had returned to her apartment, and before she could finish changing, her intercom rang again. Now what? Probably Jim, again, she sighed as she picked up the phone. "Yes?"
"Ms. Cabot, you have a visitor."
"Would you tell Mr. Steele I'll be right out?"
"Actually, it's Ms. Benson."
"Yes, Ms. Olivia Benson."
"Yes. Would you like me to ask her "
"Tell her to wait," she almost shouted as she slammed down the phone. Not bothering to put on shoes, she ran out of her apartment and down the hallway, her heart racing ahead. "Liv!" She did all she could to slow down, to not fly towards the other woman. As she got closer, she saw the look on the brunette's face, and it stopped her cold. "Hello, Detective," Alex greeted Olivia, her walls raised.
"Can we talk?"
"Sure," she led them towards the bench which only moments ago she had sat. "What would you like to talk about?"
What would she like to talk about? Olivia stared into the blonde's clear blue eyes and got momentarily lost.
Oh how she wanted to tell Alex That even though she could never give her any of the things Robert could, that even though Alex deserved everything this chic penthouse must contain and represent, that she had to tell her. Tell her how much she loved her. Needed her. That she wished her all the happiness in the world if she chose to stay. But if she didn't, if she would run away with her, that she would love her forever. And offer her the purest, most unconditional love that no amount of money could buy
"Olivia?" Alex asked, her voice softening. "I'm listening."
"Nice place. A concierge on every floor?"
"Must cost a fortune to live here."
"Is there a reason why you're here?"
Olivia looked at the woman sitting next to her, really looked. Her eyes swept downwards from the elegant line of her throat, and for the first time, she saw the pink negligee underneath the white coat. "Did I interrupt?" She started to ask.
In response, Alex's lips moved; she said something. Whatever it was, the brunette couldn't hear. Her ears deafened by the raging of her blood, she felt the jab in her chest, and she reacted to the pain like most humans would she lashed out. "I've got to hand it to you, Alex."
"Didn't take you long, did it?" Olivia fired, not allowing Alex any chance to rebut. "What'd you do, auction yourself off to the highest bidder?"
"Should've known you're such a power hungry whore."
"Detective," Alex warned, "You're "
"Yeah, whatever." The brunette laughed bitterly and stood. Before Alex could say another word, she got onto the elevator and left.
"If you even cared a little, you'd stop this."
Olivia looked up from the stairs she was climbing to the terse sounding voice. For a minute, she just stared, not expecting to ever talk to this man, her downfall. If he hadn't acted like a wounded puppydog around his boss, she would never have thought to doubt Alex If she weren't so hung up on the truth, if she could allow herself to live in happy white lies, she and Alex would still be together. She wouldn't be here, to congratulate another man on getting the woman she loved
"Did you hear me?" Steele demanded.
She thought about moving passed him, or more truthfully, turning around and leaving, but a look in his eyes held her still. Finally, she heard her own voice ask, "Stop what?"
"You're still stuck on her," she stated, partly to remind herself, as if she needed any reminder of the scene she saw outside the Bureau Chief's office when she stopped in to apologize. The way they pawed at each other, she couldn't ever forget if she tried. Instead of trying, however, she let it play over and over in her head, perhaps in some sort of futile masochistic attempt to accept 'goodbye'. She was angry with the man, yes, but she felt sorry for him as well. After all, he too was a loser in this game. "I can see why. She gets under your skin," she added with a sad smile.
Steele shifted uncomfortably in his shoes. "Well..."
She could see herself sharing a drink with the prosecutor, comparing battle scars until they were both shit-faced. This picture of the two of them was beyond wretched. It wasn't like they were ever going to be friends, and she was going to make damn sure of that. "Does your girlfriend know?"
"That you're screwing your boss?"
"Are you threatening me?"
The way the prosecutor postured, with his fists shoved into his coat pockets, like a spoiled whiny little boy caught with his hands in the cookie jar, Olivia wondered what Alex ever saw in him. Maybe the blonde was being honest about her feelings for her Deputy; maybe she didn't think the relationship important because they had nothing but the DA's office in common Rather than beating herself up anymore than she already had, the detective challenged, "No. Why would I do that?"
"You know, Benson, if you'd worry less about who she screws and more about who she loves "
"Oh, so you're still screwing her. Wow, I'm "
"You're pathetic," Jim fired, to stave off Olivia's venom. "You just don't get it, do you?"
"What's there not to get? You two can't stay out of each other's pants."
"I might've been in her pants, Detective, but I'm not in her heart."
She tossed her head towards the future groom, and couldn't keep the surprise or the bitterness from her voice. "You mean she really loves that pompous ass?"
He clenched his fists and reminded himself he shouldn't hit another officer of the law, definitely not a woman. "It was your name she screamed."
Ignoring the question, he brushed passed her shoulder, and resumed his climb down the stairs.
The clicking of her office door lock and the faint perfume triggered Alex's senses. She spun around to face the assault. "If you've come to apologize, Olivia, it's too late."
"That's not why I'm here."
"Then why are you here? Why?" Alex demanded, her legs moving backwards beyond her control as the detective approached.
"To take back what's rightfully mine," Olivia declared as she reached the bookshelves and wrapped the tense, trembling blonde in her arms.
"What are you doing?"
"This," Olivia said, before catching painted red lips in an urgent, desperate kiss. Her stomach tightened as the connection deepened. How could she ever live without this? She couldn't. Her time away, the distance she placed between them - all her actions served only to sharpen the pain, to remind her how much she missed what they had, their friendship, and their love
Meanwhile, Alex's hands cupped the brunette's jaw, wove through long hair and caressed her skin underneath, and roved under her clothes. Her fingers moved frantically, as if to find all the threads that held the two of them together and tie them into knots that could never be unbound. When the kiss finally ended, her breath sighed from her. "Liv "
"Liv " The blonde had been waiting for this moment, for how many months now? How many hours and days had she been hoping for her Princess Charming to sweep in, kiss her and wake her, and rescue her from the concrete tower she had trapped herself in? Now that Olivia was here, holding her in her embrace, she wanted to drown herself, to just lose herself, but she couldn't. She shouldn't let the detective off so easily. Her shoulders straightened, but she didn't pull away.
Olivia felt the stiffening of Alex's stance, and recognized the tight line of the woman's lips as a sign for her to explain herself. "You told me to leave, to get out of your life."
"I was angry. You made me mad with the way you acted," Alex argued. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Jim, and I should have," she conceded. "But have I done anything else to make you not trust me?"
"Then why did you stay away? You know I have a temper, and that I didn't mean what I said." And you also know I'm too prideful to come apologize to you, she added to herself.
"Well, maybe not that time."
"Maybe, but maybe the next time I didn't want to face that day."
Surprised by the unexpected sentiment, Alex searched deep troubled brown eyes for enlightenment and came up short. "Run that by me again?"
"You're a bureau chief now. You're gaining political standing. You were invited to the Mayor's Ball."
"What if you What if I " Olivia didn't know how to justify her actions, or to make Alex understand her reasons. Finally, she shook her head, and gave voice to her fears. "I just didn't want to stand in your way. You could be the governor one day. And I'm I'm just a poor, lousy cop."
"God," Alex growled.
"Sometimes you make me so angry " She wrung the detective's nose.
"Ow! What was that for?"
"Calling yourself a lousy cop," she replied, crossing her arms. The gesture inadvertently bridged their already small distance, and both women jumped at the heat radiating through their clothes.
Olivia willed her eyes to stay open, and suppressed her sigh. She let her hands slide around Alex's waist and focused on their talk. "Well, I can never buy you a castle in the sky."
"I don't want a castle in the sky."
"We never talked about this, but my parents left me enough money, I could buy myself one."
"With a concierge on every floor?"
"Political war chest?"
"I could start a pretty decent one myself."
"Oh." Supposed she wasn't shocked. Most of Manhattan's prosecutors came from means, as they could never pay off their law school debts on a public servant's salary. So maybe Alex didn't need an investment banker husband to provide for her. "But I'm "
"I'm just gonna be in your in the way of your dreams."
"You mean my career aspirations?"
"Yes, and the people are never going to elect a lesbian, or someone in a lesbian relationship "
"Never say never." The blonde smiled. She knew Olivia was already convinced, and was simply looking for surplus reassurances. "Besides, that's a job. But you " You are my love, my life, she wanted to provide, but those words were too difficult to say. "I gave up my job with SVU, my life in the city. Hell, I could've died when I got shot!"
The detective winced. That wasn't a memory she ever wanted to recall. A gentle touch on her arm refocused her thoughts.
"Contrary to tabloid speculation," Alex threw in with a throaty chuckle, to lighten the mood. "It wasn't a calculated career move for me to live in nowhere Wisconsin, then work at a lousy souvenir shop, just so I can come back and be chief to a bunch of spoiled, immature yutzes who reminded me entirely too much of myself when I was their age."
"And me?" Olivia let Alex know she caught the omission. "You were gonna say?"
"You're much more important than a job. A lot more."
That was enough for Olivia. "Yeah?"
Slowly, Alex nodded, to confirm. "So " She stared at the detective's lips. Her finger tips traced the edges of her collar, indulging herself in the feel of smooth buttery leather, imagining it sliding against her bare skin. "What made you come here?" She wanted to know.
"A wise man told me to look into your heart."
"I'm in your heart." It was a statement, and also a question.
"Yes, you are."
"I saw you, with Jim, on your desk," Olivia professed, without furor.
Alex blanched. "You did. Then why didn't you "
"Barge in? It was your life. I thought I'd already lost you But why did you leave the door wide open?" The detective decided to ask. It didn't make sense; it was unlike Alex to be so careless.
"It was a risk I wanted to take."
"You wanted to get caught."
"Just not necessarily by you."
"So Robert would
"Call off the engagement, yes. I didn't want to be his " Alex let the sentence trail off. She stared down at Olivia's top button, hoping the detective would read her heart and understand her meaning.
"You want to be mine." The almost imperceptible nod made Olivia's heart leap. That there were better ways to handle the situation, she was certain Alex also knew. Suppose sometimes one could get so stuck in a situation and feel so helpless that one couldn't think logically of ways to get out. She had been there, many times, with her mother, for instance... Still, there was something else more important, more worth dwelling on. That maybe she should grow up and stop letting her past or her fears hold her back. "I love you. I'll spend the rest of my life loving you."
Alex swallowed her emotions, but a small smile playing on her lips and the tenderness in her eyes betrayed her joy. "What do we do now?"
"We could go pack up your stuff and go back to my place and make up."
"We could make up now, and then go pack up your stuff. Afterwards, we go back to my place."
Six months ago, the detective would've simply confirmed the statement, and be content. Now, she saw beyond her doubts and realized Alex, too, wanted more. "Until we find our place, unless you're fine with my place."
With Olivia, the blonde would've been fine with a paper box. Of course, she would never say that out loud. "We're moving in together?"
"Absolutely. I'm not letting you out of my life ever again."
"Hm. Good thinking."
"So tell me."
"Did you really scream my name when you were with Steele?"
"He told you? When?"
"Yep." She smiled at shocked blue eyes. "At your thing. I ran into him."
"You were there? Why didn't you " Alex faltered. Only Olivia could make her so flustered, she realized, and sighed. "I didn't think you'd actually show up."
"And I didn't think you'd invite me."
"I, uh, it wasn't my choice. I mean, of course I wanted you there, but I " Alex sighed again. "I just, I didn't mean it like that."
"Did he know? About us?"
"So he wasn't trying to rub it in my face."
"No, no, he just wanted all my friends "
"He's a nice man, I get it," Olivia said curtly, feeling the tug of jealousy and outrage before she could stop herself.
Alex, too, almost reacted. Maybe it was something they both needed to work on, she recognized. Maybe if she hadn't been so stiff-upper-lipped about her desires, Olivia would have fewer reasons to feel insecure. "It doesn't matter. It's not him I love."
"That's good." A grin lit the detective's face. "Sorry I didn't say 'hello'," she offered her truce. "I didn't want to cause a scene, not after what Steele had told me. And I kind of had to digest the new information."
"Right." Alex brushed her thumb along the brunette's smirk, her eyes transfixed on the satiny curve of the woman's lips. "Is nothing sacred around here?"
"Yes. My love for you."
"God." She laughed and hid her blush against Olivia's neck. "I've forgotten how sappy you can be."
"Get used to it," Olivia whispered, her words husky. Her arms tightened their hold, vowing to keep her promise of never letting go
The detective looked around her. She hadn't wanted a tour of the penthouse, but when Alex insisted on showing her her sanctuary, she couldn't resist. The vista of lush green amidst grey concrete made her think about Eden, about times long passed. "It's beautiful," flew out of her mouth before she could check herself.
"It is, isn't it?" Alex chuckled. "You should've seen it before "
Her trained ears picked up the hitch in the other woman's voice. "Before?"
"Before I took it over. This is my space, you know? Nobody else ever comes up here."
In other words, Robert didn't. Probably didn't have time with his Wall Street schedule, Olivia gathered. Guess that was what he was, an absentee spouse providing the trappings of social graces. He wanted a trophy on his arm; meanwhile, Alex was her everything, the blonde has got to know. Suddenly, she felt silly for trying to match herself up to Robert. What she offered Alex was priceless, something he nor anyone else could afford. "I'm sorry you're having to give it up," she said automatically, then immediately corrected herself, "Actually, no, I'm not."
Alex didn't reply. Instead, she led the detective to a different corner of the garden. "I even bought this. Planted it myself. Not the other stuff though," she added, as if Olivia would for a second imagine her on her knees, under the blazing sun, with her fingers covered in dirt.
"What is it?" Olivia pinched her brows at the sapling.
"An olive tree."
"A what?" Olivia laughed. "Would it even grow? In New York City?"
"Probably not. It would've been appropriate, since I didn't think "
"That we'd get back together."
Alex nodded and gave the brunette's hand another tug.
Olivia followed, sliding in behind the blonde as she leaned over the railing. She rested her cheek against Alex's neck, and gazed across the Park. "Beautiful view."
"I used to come up here to forget the world. And think "
"You," Alex replied, staring ahead. "About what could've been. And how much I missed you."
"Ah." Olivia sighed. "I guess " She sighed again, not knowing what to say besides, "I missed you, too."
"That's all right, Liv."
"No, I really did. You hurt me, a lot. And I hurt you. We hurt each other."
Turning the trim body around and slipping her hands inside the blonde's jacket, Olivia appealed, "Can we start over?"
Alex shook her head, and draped her arms around the detective's shoulder to pull their bodies closer. "We should learn, and move on."
As long fingers caressed the frilly lace edges of her underwear, Alex thought about the worst case scenario, what she would be giving up. The powerful friends she made. The money, she supposed one could always have more of that. Respectability. Accolade. Her career, even
Then she felt the soft material slid down her legs. She stepped out of the garment carefully, and watched it disappear into Olivia's messenger bag. Before she could protest, a soft breath of warmth brushed against her skin, and she heard her name.
"Alex " Olivia said again, in a needful, adoring whisper.
It was very much like the way Robert and Jim and others had said her name in moments of desire. But her heart never jumped, or tightened, it never responded to their whispers the way it did Olivia's. She never felt the passion, the yearning the feeling that if Olivia didn't touch her soon, she would die. No, it wasn't even close.
And she listened to the moans coming from the brunette's lips as she kissed across her flesh. She thought of the best case scenario, what she would get in return. And she decided she had it, right here, the love of her life, at her feet, worshipping her It was better than any Garden. It was Heaven.
And she closed her eyes, and looked to their future together This was what love was about, and deep down, she had known all along comfortable, uncomplicated and full of hopes and dreams.
And she wound her fingers in Olivia's hair, and followed her heart
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