DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
SPOILERS: Contains information from Season 11, Episode, "Witness".
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Post "Witness" Unseen Scene
"Come in," Alex said, looking up from her computer screen and into the eyes of Olivia Benson.
"Burning the midnight oil," Olivia said, sitting down in the client chair in front of Alex.
"It's been a long day. I think my oil's only going to last until 7 or 8."
Olivia considered how to begin the conversation she was there to have, wondering how and when talking with Alex had come to require this much forethought.
"Quite a bombshell you dropped today. Do you plan on using witnesses to communicate all of your career comings and goings, or have you just forgotten my phone number?"
"I wanted to tell you in person. But after I made the decision, the whole thing kind of snowballed," Alex said. It was a lame excuse and she knew it. But it was the truth.
"Am I way off base, or isn't this the kind of decision we should have talked about before you announced it?"
Alex sighed. "Be fair Olivia. We aren't exactly in a place right now where that's a reasonable expectation."
"But packing up and heading to God knows where for God knows how long is reasonable?" Olivia was angry and exhausted in equal measure and part of her wanted to storm out and leave this untenable, intractable situation behind once and for all. But a bigger part wanted to stay.
"You act like I'm running away," Alex said evenly.
Alex shook her head, removed her glasses, and pinched the bridge of her nose. She was so tired of apologizing and explaining herself to people she felt should have been more willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Of course, who knew what the limitations were on benefit of the doubt these days. Maybe she had already overdrawn that account.
"When I was in the Program, I spent so much time thinking about coming back here. But I never really considered what would happen after I returned. I guess I figured that once I was me again, I'd just pick up where I left off. But things had changed. I changed."
Alex pushed up from her chair and wandered over to the window, and Olivia forced herself not to walk over, draw the other woman into her arms, and tell her that some things were still the same. Some things would never change, not with distance, or time, or whatever other crises fate could throw at them.
"I didn't fit anywhere," Alex continued quietly, not turning from the window. "Not at the Bureau. Not in appeals. Not even at SVU."
"Alex, it's just going to take some time. Your whole life was turned upside down," Olivia reasoned.
"This task force. This issue. It's the first time since I've been back that I've actually thought I could belong somewhere. And I need that. I need to feel like I'm part of something again."
"You're part of SVU," Olivia said, stopping herself from adding, "and you're part of me."
Alex faced Olivia and smiled ruefully. "Come on. My return to the squad has been more than a little bumpy."
Olivia shrugged. "You're not the only one who changed, Alex. Everyone's a little older. A little more set in their ways."
"I'm not making accusations. I just think we should be realistic about where things stand. Besides, this was never meant to be permanent," Alex said.
Olivia wondered if the "this" meant Alex's return engagement at SVU or something else. "Where do we stand?"
Alex let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. "Olivia. I care about you. I hope you realize that."
"I feel a 'but' coming," Olivia said, not unkindly.
Alex smiled and obliged. "But it's not as if either of us has made any declarations or promises. We live separate lives that sometimes intertwine. And when that happens, it's beautiful. And the rest of the time, I'm just not sure what we're doing."
Olivia sighed. Alex was absolutely right. They were still doing the push me-pull you dance, even after all of these years. And right now neither one was in a position to offer or ask for more.
"So, what happens next?"
"I'll tie up my outstanding cases and then head to Washington to get up to speed. That'll be home base for a while."
"And how long is a while? Six months? Six years?"
"Jack left it up to me. I'm just going to take it a day at a time and see what happens."
Olivia nodded, looking out the window at the darkening sky.
"Hey, it's not like I'm moving to the South Pole. Or that we can't be in touch this time," Alex added, sounding more vulnerable than she wanted to.
"At least we're making some progress."
"I didn't seek this out, Olivia. But I think the time and space will be good for us. Maybe provide some clarity about what we want."
Olivia swallowed hard, forcing down the anxiety that was making her throat tight. This wasn't goodbye. This wasn't the end. This wasn't a black SUV pulling away in the middle of the night. And if she wasn't mistaken, Alex had said "us" and "we." Which had to be a good sign. She honestly didn't know what she wanted in the long term. But she knew what she wanted in that moment.
"Do you have dinner plans?"
"No," Alex said, smiling hesitantly.
"Then let's make tonight beautiful."
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