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.
Alex drifted in and out of sleep. Sometimes she was in bed, but more often than not, CNN lulled her into a stupor as she rested on the couch. She was feeling like shit and bored out of her skull. The courier had yet to show up, and after watching Oprah and Ellen, she gave in to the guilty pleasures of the soaps. That depressed her though. Everyone on there was getting laid. She tapped the remote despondently and landed on the Weather Channel. It was even starting to look interesting with its snowfall forecasts. Daytime television reminded her why she was happy that she worked all day for a living.
Last thing she knew, the WNBC early news was coming on. Now, there was an insistent knock at her door rousing her from a dream she didn't want to leave that had some mysteriously sensual, brunette female as its lead. She slowly got up, and grumbled about the courier and why the hell he couldn't have been there sooner. Looking through the peephole, her chest tightened.
"Alex, it's me."
Alex took a step back from the door. She suddenly looked around the apartment, embarrassed at its disheveled nature. She had been "living" there for 72 hours straight and it was a "travesty of neglect" by her mother's standards. Certainly not ready to entertain guests. Especially not Olivia Benson.
"Alex?" the knock came again.
The blonde slowly opened the door.
Olivia, who had started to lose her nerve, turned around to see the ADA in a pair of blue and gray plaid cotton flannel pants, and a faded "Harvard" heather college t-shirt. Her blonde locks were up in a careless twist. Olivia noted that even though these were Alex's "comfy" clothes, they matched right down to the navy socks.
"Sorry," she said, "I was in the other room." She lied in a hushed, throaty voice.
Olivia held up a set of file folders. "I think you've been waiting on these." Alex smiled. If the papers were going to be late, at least the courier was Olivia. She looked down to the bag in Olivia's left hand. The detective watched her gaze. "This?" she raised the bag and her eyebrows, "This is strictly for medicinal purposes." Alex smiled wide and opened the door invitingly. Olivia crossed the threshold, and the ADA drank in the detective's perfume as she passed by. Alex knew this was a dangerous game they were about play, but she couldn't not play. She was absolutely infatuated with Olivia Benson.
Olivia surveyed her surroundings. Slate flooring in the foyer, hard wood floors, French provincial kitchen. Geeze. Alex's main room alone was bigger than her whole apartment. At first she felt mildly intimidated by the trappings of the upper class, but some how there was a subtle undercurrent of warmth. Hard edges hiding a much softer interior, a façade that gave way to some deep reassuring truth, and, as Olivia expected, books were everywhere. It was casually decorated, and completely Alex: sophisticated, but understated and comfortable.
Alex watched as the detective surveyed and assessed her surroundings. The subtle smile that played across Olivia's features pleased the ADA. For some reason, she wanted the detective to like it.
Olivia brought her eyes back to rest on her blonde host, "How ya feelin'? You look tired."
"I haven't slept much." She confessed as she motioned for the detective to take off the leather coat she was wearing. "If you have time to stay?"
"I can hang out for awhile." Olivia self-consciously removed her jacket. She took in a couple of the black and white photos lining the main hallway that led off to what she supposed were the bedrooms. "I really just wanted to drop off the updates on the Coulter case." Yeah, right. "If you're feeling up to it."
Olivia smiled quizzically and pointed a long finger in the direction of the prints, "Yours?"
"Yeah," she confessed proudly as she came to stand close enough to feel the warmth of the detective who was peering into one of the scenes. "Just an old hobby now," Alex said with what Olivia heard as a twinge of regret and fatigue.
Alex was tired, but having Olivia in her apartment, kept her pulse racing. She took the files from Olivia's hand, and decided to shift the conversation before it got too personal too fast. "I think I can manage a little briefing." She turned and walked back to the couch, "You should feel guilty though, Detective. It's your fault I'm ill anyway."
"Mine?!" Olivia questioned as she made her way over to the kitchen. "No way. You can't blame your lame ass, fair-haired immune system on me."
"Oh yeah? Let's examine the evidence shall we?" Alex asked as she sat down with her knees tucked up under her and turned to fuss at Olivia over the back of the sofa. "You were the one who set me up for drinking Friday night."
"Ah, but you didn't have to show up. It wasn't coercion, counselor."
"I'm going to plead the fifth on that," she teased as she put on her glasses and started to review the files Olivia had brought over. She became serious, "This looks good. We should be able to convict on all counts." She looked up to watch as Olivia moved into her kitchen and started rifling for supplies. "What are you looking for?"
"A pan. Don't you cook?"
"Of course I " she started to get up, but Olivia waived her off.
"Just tell me and stay put."
"Look up. It's over the island," she felt like teasing, "Detective." She said coyly as she settled back in to her seat, willingly giving up her kitchen to Benson. "Can I ask what the hell you think you are doing anyway?" The blonde feigned annoyance.
"Tomato soup and grilled cheeses of course. Not exactly high class, but a proven antidote to the flu. When was the last time you ate?"
Alex closed her eyes and offered a silent "Thank you" to whatever god had been listening to her, and had sent Olivia Benson in answer to her unspoken prayers. "I think I had some toast on Saturday."
Olivia tsked and put some water on for tea. "Then this is exactly what you need."
You can't begin to know. Alex smiled, wrapped the blanket back around her, took a deep breath and nestled in more to the couch. It wasn't often that ADA Alexandra Cabot would relinquish control of her world to anyone, but having Olivia take care of her seemed so comforting and real that there was no way she would offer any resistance. In fact, she welcomed it. Moreover, a part of her deep inside yearned for it.
Olivia turned to see the younger woman watching her with an approving smile, and felt her chest tighten and her nerves kick into high gear. She knew she was taking a big risk by coming over here, but she also knew that Alex was feeling badly, and her protective nature couldn't bare the thought of the blonde suffering alone. She tossed Alex a casual smile, and turned back to the stove, grateful to have something to distract the butterflies in her stomach.
The lights were coming on in the city. The snow was softly falling and Alexandra Cabot was content for the first time in months. She had thought herself stupid for not taking better care of herself and coming down with the flu, but it was this little misfortune that had brought Olivia Benson into her home. She felt safe and cared for, a sensation that no one else had been able to stir in her in an extremely long time. She tossed the files on to the coffee table, let her hair down and surrendered to her emotions. Nothing in her feared Olivia. She took a deep breath and let go. Whatever happened, happened. The glow from the gas fireplace began to play across the walls as the dull gray sunlight faded outside her windows. Alex smiled to herself upon realizing that she, Olivia and the city were all settling down for the night.
Olivia Benson could throw a 250lb man across a room, but she could not compete at all with the image that faced her now. Alex Cabot was snuggled deep in a wool blanket, the fire light flickering across her fine features and reflecting in her glasses. Her breathing slow, relaxed and steady seemed the perfect counter melody to the detective's pounding heartbeat. Olivia stopped stirring the soup and watched her resting. Alex opened her eyes and caught the detective starring, which made the brunette blush, but not look away. Then, the kettle started to whistle, pulling Olivia back to her work.
Alex grabbed the remote and switched the television off, opting instead for her mixed jazz and classical cds. She resisted the urge to go into the kitchen and be near the detective. Instead, Olivia came over to her ushered in by the beginning strains of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
"Here, this should ease the aches." Alex took the steaming mug from Olivia, letting her hand linger on the other woman's just a little longer than necessary. She sniffed at the inviting aroma. Honey with...bourbon?
"Why detective. Are you trying to sedate me?" She teased with a beguiling smile.
Olivia wasn't in the mood for games. She returned to the kitchen. "It should help you sleep." She said matter-of-factly as she rifled for a soup bowl and plate. Finding what she needed, she brought the whole meal over to Alex, who shifted on the couch to make space for her companion.
Olivia opted for the nearby chair and accepted the hurt look for what it was. "Just eat," she said, as she pulled out a pen and began making notes on the Coulter file. Alex hadn't realized how hungry she was. She finished the soup and sandwich in minutes while Olivia worked. The young attorney sighed to herself. Everything just feels so right. She was warm, she had a full stomach and she was a little groggy from Olivia's "tea". Between that and the sleepy atmosphere of the fire and music, she was sure that she would be out like a light, especially now that Olivia Benson was here watching over her.
The detective removed the plates and returned them to the kitchen.
She was pleased that Alex was finally calm and resting. When she looked back over, the blonde was dozing off again. Olivia quietly cleaned up, not wanting to disturb Alex, but she banged a plate putting it in the dishwasher. Shit! Alex sat up slowly as Olivia was drying her hands on the dishtowel. She wiped down the counter and crossed the room to the couch.
"Well, my work is done here. I'm gonna get going." She reached down and brushed a lazy blonde strand from Alex's forehead. "Get some rest, kiddo." She smiled and turned to go, but felt a tug.
Alex caught Olivia's retreating hand, "Stay." It was neither command nor request. Just an undeniable whispered statement of emotion. Olivia closed her eyes. In a split second she was weighing the choice that was before her. Alex wasn't letting go. In fact, there was a slight pull back toward the couch. It was indeed a dangerous game. When Olivia turned to offer all the reasons why she couldn't stay, Alex's pleading eyes stole every bit of logic from her. Olivia tried to avoid the need she saw in the searing blue gaze of the younger woman, but there was no use. Another slight tug. God help me. She gave in and slowly settled on the couch beside Alex who tossed her glasses on the table in victory and curled up with her blonde tresses resting on Olivia's thigh. Olivia felt Alex release a deep, satisfied sigh. The detective tentatively ran trembling fingers through silken stands and slowly overcame her nerves enough to gently massage the tension out of Alex's neck and shoulder. She could feel the warmth of Alex's body through her t-shirt, but could not allow herself to actually touch her soft skin. The exhausted lawyer was sound asleep in minutes and eventually Olivia drifted off too, but every now and then, she would wake with a contented smile, whenever Alexandra would stir and give her a sleepy, unconscious hug.
The detective's watch read 3:25 when Olivia gently lifted Alex up from the couch and guided her groggy form into her bedroom. The young woman had clung to her like a rescued lost child. One of Alex's arms was wrapped snugly around the detective's trim waist and the other was draped around her neck. Alex's head was resting in the warm curve of Olivia's shoulder. The younger woman murmured sleepily against Olivia's flesh, and she nuzzled the brunette with her cheek right below Olivia's ear causing the detective's pulse to flutter at the slight touch of lips.
Olivia held her for a bit longer than she needed to, enjoying the soft, warm weight of Alex's body against hers. After a moment, she gently laid Alex down into the waiting comfort of the flannel sheets. Olivia felt the pounding desire to climb in next to the blonde, but she would not take advantage of Alex's vulnerability. She knew that the side she was seeing of the counselor was a precious gift Alex didn't just reveal to anyone, and if anything was ever to develop further between she and the ADA, she had better not violate such an offering now.
Alex rolled over immediately and hugged the pillow. Olivia smiled slightly and covered her with the thick goose down comforter. She brushed her soft open lips lightly across Alex's cheek and breathed "G'night, Counselor," in her ear, then sealed it with the hint of a kiss that brought a sleepy smile to the blonde's face. Olivia drew in a deep sigh as she straightened up and willed herself to walk the fifteen feet to the door with out looking back at Alex's sleeping form. Olivia shut the door quietly and leaned back against it. She gathered her strength, found her keys and coat, and left the ADA's apartment. She didn't know where she would go, but she knew she couldn't stay there; couldn't be that close to Alex. Sleep was impossible for the detective now. There was too much she needed to think about. Too many feelings she needed to process and define.
As Olivia closed the door to the apartment, Alex opened her sleepy eyes and sat up slightly in her bed. Realizing Olivia was gone, she exhaled her last remaining hint of hope for the night, and flopped back into the pillows in frustration. Perchance to dream...
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