DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters
are property of NBC and Dick Wolf. I make no money, and I make no
claims. This is Mr. Wolf's sandbox. I just knock over his castle
for grins when he's not looking.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My deepest thanks to Naelewai and Weehawken for slogging through the drafts.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Olivia marveled at how quality champagne never left her hurting the next morning. She was at the station only a few minutes later than her shift called for. She ran her bidder's name through Vicap, Interpol and every other database she could think of, but Colin DeLorme came up clean. No priors. No anything. Just a twenty-something financier from a firm on Sutton Place. Looks like she would have to check her portfolio before dinner tonight just to make conversation with the kid.
Her cell phone rang and stole her attention from the computer screen on her desk.
"So, can I plan a weekend get away with Kathy skiing in Vermont, or do I have to work every Saturday next month?"
Olivia laughed. "Now, Elliot. Do you really have to ask?" She propped her feet triumphantly on her desk.
"Good. Cause I made the reservation a week ago. How much?"
"Some dumb ass forked over five grand just for hotdogs with me."
"Poor bastard. Wait 'til he finds out you like onions."
Olivia could hear Kathy and the kids in the background and it tugged at her. So many times Elliot's family had been her only connection to what was good. Without them, she was alone. Without them, the world blew her around like an empty bag in the wind, swirling down a dirty, lonely street. They were her anchor. Once in awhile, she felt a little guilty, like she was stealing their wholesomeness to fill some vacancy in her soul. She knew it wasn't perfect. Nothing was, but it fit. And until a few days ago, it was all she had. She smiled to herself, but now
"Yeah?" She knew she'd missed some of the conversation.
"I asked you when your date was, or if you even knew?"
"Sorry. Tonight. Something formal. I don't fuckin' know. All I know is that I probably need to spend more money than I have on another one night only dress."
"I'm tellin' you
wear the strapless."
She rolled her eyes, "Get over yourself."
Her partner laughed heartily. "You're the best, Liv. Call me if anything comes up."
"Nah, Elliot, you enjoy yourself. Give Kathy a kiss for me," she teased, "And for Christ sake, make it a decent one. You know I'm a better kisser than you."
Elliot grinned and winked at Kathy in their kitchen, "If I didn't trust my wife, Liv. I'd swear she knew that. Later."
"Later." She hung up.
Detective Benson started to sift through the files on her desk. Being on call in the bullpen meant she was stuck there unless a new case came along. She really wanted to focus on the one at hand, but her mind kept drifting. First, she was in the ICU of Bellvue, trying to fight for the victim. Right now, she didn't even know her name, but she would. The way this one went down, she would seek justice personally at all costs. She tossed the manila folder onto her desk in frustration. It was quiet today, too quiet. That's what kept distracting her, too much time to think. She got up to pour another cup of coffee, and walked over to the window. It was snowing again, and her thoughts squalled like the flurries outside. Tonight's date. The case. Alex. Everything swirled together. She sighed deeply, and felt every minute of her 37 years catching up to her. She sipped more coffee from her green mug. Finally the thought of Alex flushed all else from her mind. She felt like she was betraying the blonde somehow with this date tonight. She felt **guilty.** All she wanted was to be with the counselor. She knew better than to think that Alex could make everything right in her life, but she also knew how she felt whenever she was near the blonde. Just knowing that Alex cared deeply for her made her feel powerful, capable of doing anything. It made her want to protect the ADA, even though she knew Alex was just as strong as she was in many ways. Alex's last question outside the coffeehouse came creeping back to her mind, "When?" Olivia sighed and said out loud, "Soon, Alex." For the first time since joining SVU, she wished she was somewhere else, with someone else. She closed her eyes and imagined Alex's arms around her, supporting her. The counselor was whispering to her, telling her reassuringly that everything would be all right. Telling her that she understood obligation better than anyone. Telling her that Olivia's love of her job was part of what made her so desirable. Desire. Olivia got nervous. Is that all this is? Desire? She shook her head. It had to be more, she knew it felt like more. She let her mind wander first back to the word desire, then to yesterday's kiss and lastly all over Alex's shapely figure. She knew how she wanted to caress her with touches and kisses as gentle as the snowfall, and how she wanted to commit to memory every inch of the blonde's slender frame. "Soon " slipped from her lips like a prayer.
Olivia actually jumped spilling her coffee when her cell phone rang on her desk. She hustled back to retrieve it.
"Good morning, Detective." Alex's voice fueled the fire that had been growing in her, and Olivia had to sit down as a sudden, rushing, warm sensation between her toned thighs brought her to her knees. She took a moment to try and gather her thoughts.
"Yes," she replied weakly.
"Are you okay? What's wrong?"
The brunette contemplated how much to reveal to the counselor, "You want to know what's wrong?"
"Yeah. You seem," she paused, "Distracted. Have I caught you at a bad time?"
Olivia leaned back in her chair and sighed. "Yes, Counselor. It's a bad time. Why? Why is it a bad time? Because, Alex. I'm here, and you're not. Tonight, I have to go out with some kid half my age, and pretend that I actually want to be wherever we are instead of with you. When all I want to do is end this game we've been playing, hold you in my arms, and tell you how much I "
"Olivia," the blonde interrupted her the way she did whenever the impassioned detective pleaded a case to her that Alex already knew too well. "What was it you told me? It doesn't change anything. I know how you feel. I know you. I understand, and I know that if you could, you would find a way to work things out." She sighed at the longing she heard earlier in Olivia's voice. "Detective, I've waited two years for you. I'll wait another twenty-four hours, if need be. Like you said the other day, 'I'm not going anywhere.'" She sat down on her couch and snuggled into the blanket Olivia had wrapped around her a week or so ago. A long sad silence ensued. Finally, Alex gave in, wanting to heal the detective's pain. "Liv, do you want me to come down there?"
"Yes," she answered impulsively, "I mean, no. Christ Cabot." She stood and started pacing the floor as she ran a hand through her short brown locks in frustration. "You know what I want."
It was Alex's turn to feel warm and weak as her body succumbed to the yearning she was experiencing. "Yes," she said breathlessly, "I do."
"Alex?" Olivia stopped in her tracks in front of the window again.
Alex was a little confused, "What about it?"
"Would it be okay if I came by tonight? Afterwards?"
She smiled at how gallant her detective was. "Yes, Olivia, I would love to see you tonight."
"No matter how late it might be?"
"Olivia " she whispered exasperatedly, but then not wanting to hurt the brunette's feelings, "No matter how late. I'll be here."
Olivia settled back down in her chair as some of the anxiety she had been feeling about tonight slipped away. It was replaced with the comforting thought of waking with Alex curled up in her arms. "I swear to you, Kiddo, I'll try to make it sooner than later."
"I know you will, Liv."
Olivia didn't want to hang up the phone, didn't want to break the ethereal connection between them. "Alex, I "
"Don't, Olivia." She leaned her head back into the pillows stacked up against the armrest. "Please, save that." She sighed. "For later, okay? I want to be looking into your eyes."
"As you wish, Counselor."
Alex grinned, "I love that movie."
Olivia was smiling at last at the upbeat turn in Alex's voice, "Really? I figured you for subtitles."
Alex shook her head. "There's a lot you don't know about me, Liv."
"We'll have to fix that."
Alex nodded and drew her knees up to her in a comforting gesture, "Starting tonight."
"I'll see you then, Detective."
Olivia smiled and sighed. "'Til then." She heard the line go dead and closed her eyes. Now if she could only get through the next ten hours. For a brief moment her nerves took over at the thought of the commitment she just made to the counselor. She laughed to herself. It had been years since she'd had any type of performance anxiety. Suddenly she wished Alex had come down to the station. Ten hours to think about how she would be romancing Alexandra Cabot well into the wee hours of the morning was going to drive her simply insane.
Olivia was fretting. The black full-length gown, with the twisted neckline, fish tale hem and low scoop back was fabulous. Lorna had easily talked her into it despite the cost, and Olivia felt so beautiful wearing it, it almost made her cry. Her make-up was flawless. Her jewelry was perfect, as the pearls worked wonderfully again, but every time she fixed her hair, something was definitely wrong. Yep, she was fretting. Time was catching up with her though. So she gave it one more go, and then settled with the up swept style that lifted her bangs out of her eyes. She smirked seductively in the mirror. For tonight, she was the picture of old Hollywood glamour, and looked nothing like the over worked sex crimes detective she was by day. It was a transformation she had not seen in herself in a very long time. It was a transformation meant to turn heads and drop jaws. Olivia knew she was fully capable of achieving that effect when she wanted to, and tonight, she wanted to more than she had in decades. A tiny part of her felt bad. Five thousand dollars was a lot of money, and she should probably be focusing on that half of her evening, but it was the "after party" that she was obsessing over. Colin DeLorme may have paid for her presence, but Alex already owned her heart and soul. She glanced at her clock. 6:50. She grabbed her black wool coat, beige scarf and small black clutch, then headed downstairs to meet her date.
The December wind whispered that this was a night to remember. It kissed Olivia's nose and cheeks as she stepped out into the evening. Snow would swirl before the dawn came, and continue to blanket the city. She smiled. It suited her mood. The night was full of promise, and the few stars that peeked at her through the drifting clouds seemed to wink with knowing.
"Good evening Ms. Benson. If you would, please." The black-capped driver greeted her as he came around to open the door on the limousine that had been sent to pick her up.
Olivia was nervous. Her palms were even a little sweaty. She knew who she wanted to be sitting in the back seat, and she allowed herself a moment of heart fluttering fantasy. When the driver opened the door, she inhaled deeply and stepped forward into her fear. No one. There was no one there. It was completely fucking empty. Olivia sighed. Jesus, as if this isn't nerve wracking enough. She shook the frustration from her head, smiled at the driver who was professional enough to ignore her hesitation, and slid into the warmth of the leather seats as the door closed behind her.
Olivia settled in and crossed her legs as the driver pulled away from her building. She glanced around the interior and her gaze landed on a small, black velvet box and a beige vellum envelope nestled between the decanter of what appeared to be bourbon in front of her. "Detective Benson" was written in the same calligraphy as the previous night's note. She tore into the tight paper, and slowly opened the enclosed card. ---"And a star to steer her by." Wear this near your heart, Detective, and whenever you start to feel lost, or alone in this world, I hope it will always guide you home. --- She set down the note, and reached over to pick up the little box. Olivia slowly opened it. Her gaze traveled over the fine gold chain, and settled on the 1/2 carrat, asscher cut diamond suspended at its center. It sparkled in the passing overhead lights like the stars on a clear winter night. She shook her head. It was stunning, but she knew it was a gift she could not accept. She closed the box and tucked it, and the note, into her pocket. She would be sure to thank DeLorme for the gesture. It was a very kind thought, but she knew she would never wear it. She turned to look out the window. They were heading north on Seventh.
It wasn't until the limo glided to a gentle stop that Olivia opened her eyes again. Carnegie Hall was in a gilded glow of holiday lights, as an elegant crowd meandered into it. The marquee told the story. David Foster and the New York Pops - A Holiday Concert. She sighed and shook her head. The kid had class. She had to give him that. She knew that this was an event sold out since summer, yet here she was. If only. She stepped from the car and looked around, until her eyes met a young woman who was coming toward her at the signal of her driver.
"This way, please." The detective arched an eyebrow. A personal usher. They by-passed the usual entrance, and headed to the Issac Stern Auditorium. Olivia was escorted up the stairs to the first tier where the young blonde stopped outside the door to the seating area. She extended a hand. "Your coat, please."
Olivia reached into her pocket and removed the velvet box and note. She placed them in her black clutch, then handed her coat to the usher. The girl gave her a glowing smile. "I hope you enjoy your evening." She slowly opened the door. Olivia held her breath, and remembered the manners her mother had taught her. She stood up straight, ready to let Colin DeLorme know that while she appreciated this wonderful evening, it meant nothing to her. Olivia's eyes adjusted to the dim light of the theatre. She peered inward and took a slow, cautious step forward.
The person sitting there could feel eyes upon her and she smiled to herself knowingly. She took in a deep breath, and leveled her powerful shoulders to their full height, an unmistakably trademark move.
Olivia's eyes widened. Light shimmered off of golden hair. She whispered in happy disbelief, "Alex?" She walked forward on suddenly shaky legs, and stood next to the empty seat by the regal blonde. Brown eyes stared lovingly, but with surprise. "How?"
Alex finally turned to her, and she actually gasped at the sight of Olivia Benson. She swallowed hard at the dark beauty that stood before her, and then patted the velvet seat next to her. "Please. Join me." She smiled with confident affection.
Olivia was frozen in place. The midnight blue of Alex's velvet, low cut gown made the counselor's eyes dark and seductive. Her blonde hair was up in a whispy twist. Diamonds caught the stage light, and sparkled like a constellation of stars around her long neck. Olivia's heart skipped a beat or three. Alex looked like a goddess from some long forgotten Greek myth. The kind of woman men would go to war to possess.
She smiled and blushed under Olivia's appreciative gaze. "Olivia," she whispered as she stretched out her hand, palm up and wiggled her fingers enticingly.
The brunette sighed at the spell breaking gesture, and took Alex's slender hand into her own as she settled into her seat. Slowly, it all made sense to her. "You " she whispered back.
Alex smiled mischievously and turned to stare in the direction of the stage, "And no one else."
Olivia couldn't take her eyes off of her. "You knew all this time, and you let me "'
Alex turned back to lock her gaze on Olivia. She dipped her head softly in apology. "I told you Olivia, I would do my utmost to make this as painless as possible. I didn't say, that I wouldn't have a little fun doing it."
"But at my expense?"
Alex arched an eyebrow and smiled widely, "I believe, my dear Detective, it's at mine." The lights began to dim a bit, indicating the five-minute call.
The meaning of Alex's words settled on her. "I can't believe you paid five thousand dollars just to date me tonight."
Alex licked her full lips, and gave the detective a half smile. "Oh Olivia," she gently shook her head at the brunette's lack of comprehension, "I didn't pay five thousand dollars to date you. I paid five thousand dollars to make sure no one else would." She finished with a playful "so there" tip of her head.
Olivia wanted to be irritated, but the twinkle of her date's joy-filled blue eyes left her too spell bound to care. She was completely disarmed by the beauty sitting next to her. Olivia got goose bumps. She had never made anyone as happy as her very presence was obviously pleasing Alexandra. It made her feel more frightened and loved than she had ever been before. She turned to survey her surroundings and the stage itself. It was beautifully subdued and softly lit. The hush of expectation was falling over the crowd and energizing the very air. If Olivia didn't know better, she would swear that Alex had orchestrated everything, right down to the dimming of the lights. She could feel the blonde's gaze still holding her, and her smile widened. She knew there were almost three thousand people in the room with them, but it felt like they were completely alone.
As the curtain rose on Carnegie Hall, Alex slowly reached over and took Olivia's hand into her own again. Olivia's fingers closed around Alex's slender ones. The brunette closed her eyes. If this was a dream, and it surly felt like one, she did not wish it to end. She held the blonde's hand gently on her left thigh, and gave it a loving squeeze as soft strains of violins began to fill the air. Olivia reveled in the warmth of Alex's touch. She couldn't look at her. She knew she would cry if she did. She knew that she would let all the emotions she had been feeling spill out, and it would over whelm her. Instead, a solitary tear trailed down her cheek.
"Olivia " Alex whispered lovingly and with a hint of concern as she gently wiped away the watery trail on the brunette's check with her thumb. The detective leaned into her touch, and lightly kissed Alex's palm.
"I'm fine," she offered in a hushed tone and with a reaffirming smile. She took Alex's hand back into hers and held it tightly. "Just don't let go."
"Of you?" Alex leaned in and whispered deep and breathlessly against the brunette's cheek near her ear, "Never."
Olivia's chest swelled with the music, and her heart pounded like the tympani. The wind had not been wrong. This was indeed becoming a night to remember.
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