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.

Proximity Control
By Cymberlea

Part 8

Olivia sat quietly as Alex worked out the Ramsey case. The detective slid easily in to her role of "sounding board." The coffee was strong and the company unbeatable. Alex ran a hand absentmindedly through her long blonde hair as she reviewed the details of the brief she'd constructed. Between sips of latte, she chewed on the tip of her pen.

After having refilled their mugs for the second time, Olivia settled on reading a left over copy of the New York Times, and answering questions or supplying details to the ADA whenever asked. She found herself looking over the ads in the travel section, and day dreaming of all the places she would love to escape to with the woman seated across from her. A snowy ski lodge in the Rockies. A sunny beach in the Keys. Paris, Hawaii, Tuscany, Ireland… anywhere. She looked over the top of her paper and sighed contentedly. Right here.

Alex felt eyes upon her and looked up to see Olivia gazing at her with approval and affection. She blushed demurely and turned her attention completely to the smiling detective. "What?" she questioned in a playful soft tone, as she took her cup into both hands.

Olivia shook her head, but kept smiling, "Nothin'."

Alex gave her the, "I'm not buying it. Fess up," look.

Olivia was surprised at the intensity and honesty of her own emotions, and how they would not be denied no matter how hard she fought them. Especially when she was being surveyed so thoroughly by those penetrating blue eyes. The truth. The whole truth. She shrugged slightly, "It's just… You are…" Say it! "So beautiful."
There, she'd done it.

Alex, who didn't think she could be any more flushed, felt dormant sensations stir deep inside her, a subtle warmth emanating from her lower back and up her spine. She closed her eyes, and concentrated on it, and suddenly felt almost light headed. The normally verbose lawyer couldn't put into words what Olivia was making her feel. She leaned her chin on her mug for support, drew in a long chai filled sigh and held on to it. She exhaled as she opened her eyes to find that Olivia was still holding her in a dark gaze as deep as a moonless night. She took a sip of the tea and then set the cup down. Using the motion as the means to rest her hand near Olivia's. She lightly ran trembling fingers over the detective's. After a few moments she shifted her focus from their hands, back to the gorgeous woman, who had been patiently letting the ADA process what was happening to her.

Alex licked her lips subconsciously, and felt the subtle rustle of a thousand doves' wings flutter as one inside her as she put words to her thoughts. "This could be," she paused to swallow, "complicated."

Olivia thought it over then nodded slowly, "I know." She gently took Alex's soft hand in her own and tenderly caressed it settling on the blonde's empty ring finger. She exhaled hard, and looked the lawyer in the eye, "But worth it."

Alex closed her eyes again and rested in the moment. She wanted to remember everything. Where they were. What she had been doing. How Olivia looked and sounded and felt. What Olivia had said. What she had said. Everything.

Olivia grew nervous. Had she said too much? Pushed it too far for the counselor too fast? Made a mistake that would haunt her for the rest of her life? Jeopardized everything just to be honest? Christ, Alex was so quiet. She fought hard not to interrupt the thoughts of the woman she …loved. She waited and tried to trust in the growing warmth of the hand that had not pulled away from her own. When she could bare it no longer, she finally whispered, "You okay?"

Alex gently squeezed Olivia's hand as she opened her eyes and nodded a silent "yes." The detective felt the weight that had settled on her fade away like morning mist in the warmth of the sun.

"So," the counselor finally found her voice again. It was low, nervously breathy, but full of desire, "What happens now?"

Olivia, who had been giving the counselor a smile of deep contentment, switched to a mischievous grin, "What ever you want."

Alex looked at the paperwork strewn around her. Suddenly the Ramsey case seemed insignificant. In fact everything seemed insignificant except Olivia Benson. She settled on the words that had led them to this very moment. Alex focused her piercing eyes on to Olivia, leaned in across her files and whispered, "Get me outta here, Detective."

Olivia had to remind herself to breathe. She reached in her pocket and pulled out a few bucks for the tip. Alex gathered up her papers and had to consciously will her self to organize them and not just shove them into her briefcase. She put on her coat and Olivia came around to push her chair under. Alex took the lead as they left the coffee shop and stepped up to hail a cab. She had no idea where they were headed. The ADA just wanted to get somewhere private with her detective before she lost all sense of decorum or worse, her nerve. She looked down the block, and of course there wasn't a cab in sight. She huffed in frustration, but then felt the strength of Olivia's body behind her, and one comforting arm slide deftly and discretely around her slender waist. The brunette spoke calmly into Alex's ear, "Relax. I'm not going anywhere."

It was at that moment that Alex's phone went off. She turned to face Olivia and closed her eyes momentarily in aggravated disappointment. The ADA pulled the offending cell from her pocket. "Cabot." Her voice was hostile, and Olivia felt for whoever it was that had the unfortunate timing of reaching Alex at that moment. Alex shut her eyes again hoping it would be something trivial, but she knew it wasn't. "Okay." She locked her gaze upon Olivia to show her the burning regret in her pale blue eyes, and the sad truth behind the attorney's next words, "I'll be right there." She flicked the cell phone closed and Olivia thought she might hurtle the intrusive technology down the street. Instead, the counselor closed her eyes and collected her thoughts. She could feel her professional façade trying to take control and put everything back the way it should be. But this time, for the first time in her life, Alex fought it off. The struggle was about to bring tears to her eyes.

"Verdict, huh?" Olivia queried in an understanding tone.

Alex could do little but nod at first. "You know, even though I've probably won this, I feel like I'm losing." Her voice trailed off to a sad whisper.

Olivia reached up and tucked a loose strand of blonde hair behind Alex's ear. She smiled soothingly at the ADA, "Nah, it's just the way things are. We'll work it out. If it wasn't yours, it probably would've been mine. Doesn't change anything."

Alex closed the distance between them and pressed her cheek into the soft wool scarf and leather on Olivia's shoulder. The detective wrapped her arms around her and held her in a comforting embrace trying to reassure the younger woman that her words were true, and that her feelings were more than just a passing thought. She tried desperately not to display how frustrated she too was feeling. She knew that in this moment she had to be the stronger of the two. She kissed the top of Alex's head. "Hey. C'mon, Kiddo. You've got to go kick some ass."

Alex pulled back slowly and let her old habit comfort her. She drew in a deep breath and Olivia watched as she seemed to grow taller and her shoulders set. The softness of her features shifted into a serious and calculating demeanor. If Olivia didn't know better, she would have almost been intimidated by the look that had come over the counselor. But she understood the "game face" all too well. After all, she was wearing hers as best she could in the moment.

"When?" Alex's whispered question was the last remnant of her vulnerability.

Olivia shrugged. "Hard to say. I should get back to the precinct anyway, and God knows what will happen from there."

Alex was forced to accept their situation. At least, Olivia understood that in a perfect world they would be somewhere quiet and alone by now. In the unsettled reality of this one; however, their demanding lives might just keep them apart for days. The thought of it made Alex's chest feel like it was full of concrete. She couldn't move and stared at her feet as if they were bolted to that very spot. When she looked up at Olivia, her eyes were threatening to brim over with tears. She swallowed hard in a dry throat. "Go." She whispered shakily, "Please. Just…go." Her harsh words were tempered by their raspy sadness, and her eyes told Olivia the truth, pleading with her to do what Alex could not. The detective leaned in and softly kissed her cheek. She let her lips linger there momentarily, then turned and set her jaw against the pain in her heart. As she started to walk away she felt the bitter release as Alex let go of her hand. Olivia let the tears come down her cheeks as she tried to confidently leave the ADA behind. She didn't want Alex to see how much it ached to just be apart from her.

Part 9

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