DISCLAIMER: sadly we cannot have everything-- therefore, I don't own the ladies or other characters, I merely use them as I wish and get a great deal of enjoyment out of it.
SPOILERS: This is all post-loss. Occaisionally flashbacks will involve details from various episodes (ex. Abuse, and a few others)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Chapter Twenty-One: Intimate
I wasn't planning on this. The change from innocent to romantic is instant, and unexpected. You kiss the top of my head, almost as if I'm a child, and then you settle into the bed, into my body, your head so close to mine that our noses are almost touching. This is a different kind of start than last night. We don't feel the same urgency that we did yesterday, and while there is a palpable sense of passion as I tilt my head to kiss you, for some reason I feel as though this is a sacred moment, somehow this is more intimate than before, more important.
Our movements are slower, but there's no teasing intended in our speed, only gentleness. For a moment I'm reminded of our first time together, but somehow that too, is different.
We haven't shifted our positions, still head to head, breast-to-breast, toe to toe-- well, close anyway. Our kisses are soft, quietly permissive. There is no probing, no forcing, no wrestling of our tongues. Only the quiet flutter as we find each other behind our lips. Our hands are bound together, fingers alternating: yours. mine. yours. mine. yours. Our palms are pressed together, and I can feel you slowly wiggling your fingers, occasionally tucking your thumb between us to stroke my palm, tracing my love line, life line both of them belonging solely to you. Your skin is soft against mine, but I want to be closer to you, closer to your body, closer to your heart. I pull away from you to take off my clothes, and you follow my lead.
The shedding of our clothes is no strip tease, but there's also no rabid urgency like before. It's just a means of drawing closer to each other. A way to satisfy the need to be near you. We settle back into the bed, resuming our previous position, kissing delicately, lovingly, without any need to hurry.
My hand lazily travels the length of your body, finding the tender flesh of the back of your knee, traveling back up and tracing the feminine line of your neck, then cupping the base of your head, my fingers weaving through your hair. I bring my hand down, smelling my own shampoo on your locks, and it's this blending of our routines that first makes me conscious of my wetness.
Even my arousal doesn't inspire me to increase the pace of our time here. There is nothing pressing about this time. Tonight, I don't want to taste you. Tonight, I don't want you to make me come.
Tonight, "I want to love you."
You whisper the words against my lips, and it takes a moment for me to understand what you've said. The sudden breath of your speech is ticklish against my tongue, and I realize for the first time since we've settled naked into each other, that I'm genuinely aroused. Not by the kisses, or by the touch of your nakedness next to me. And although the feel of your hand tracing my contours sent gentle shivers down my spine, it's this moment, this closeness to you, completely unrelated to your physical proximity that's made me notice the wetness that's appeared between my thighs.
Your lips continue to brush against mine, barely making contact, our breath mingling softly, tongues caressing each other slowly, gently like everything else our kisses are tender, altered somehow from our usual heady passion. My hand rests on the side of your breast, my fingers curled slightly, touching your side where your back meets your front, my fingers straddling the distance, my thumb the only part of my hand that has contact with your perfect soft breast. Because of our closeness, my breasts nestle up against yours, my white roundness against your brown, and I'm struck by the beauty of our contrast.
Your hand is moving again, finding that spot in the small of my back where I love to feel you resting. You pull the lower half of me towards you, closer still, and as I shift to allow one of your legs between mine, I quiver at the sensation of your skin sliding delicately against mine, amazed at the tenderness possessed in such a muscular physique. Your knee grazes my sex and I can't help sighing against your lips. The intimacy with which you've replaced your usual frantic passion is erotic in a way I hadn't expected. This is what I've wanted all along.
It's not that I didn't enjoy sleeping with you before. Our sex-life was always full of passion, and yes even love. And on the occasions when we felt driven by the urgency of our desires, I loved the feeling of fucking you. But as I've always suspected it would be-- this slow, constant, almost fragile feeling of our lovemaking tonight is more beautiful than anything I've ever felt before. Still feeling no real sense of urgency, but wanting to be even closer to you, I lean to whisper in your ear,
"please Livvy, I need you."
Two years ago, one year ago, even last night the breathy whisper of your plea in my ear would have made me pull away from you, sinking brusquely between your legs, delving my tongue, my fingers inside of you. But tonight is not last night, or one year ago, or two years ago. Things have changed between us now. And although I'm sure that someday we'll find ourselves fucking again in a fit of raw passion, I'm enjoying the sensation of taking my time, making my way slowly down the length of you, tickling your skin with kisses everywhere as I shift in the bed. The idea of my body hanging off the edge as I suckle you hurts me tonight, and as I trace the outer curve of your breast with the tip of my tongue, I shift in the bed, until I can feel you placing the softest of kisses on my thighs. I mimic your motions, kissing my way slowly up your thigh, until I can feel your wetness tickling at my lips. With one hand tucked under your leg, my elbow bent so that I'm almost clutching you to me, I gently stroke the back of your knee, and you know I'm ready for you.
The feeling of your lips on my thigh is intoxicating. I feel your fingers brush the skin behind my knee, and I know you're ready for me now. I try not to buck at the sensation of being entered by you as I lick your slit slowly, trying to anticipate the things you'll do to me, so I can follow you, so we can synchronize this intimacy, so we can make love in time, matching our motions, the push and pull of our tongues, the stroking of our fingers. We find a delicate rhythm, and as I pull out of you, you press into me, and as you slip from inside me, I enter you. My head rests on your thigh, our bodies still positioned on our sides, which is awkward but not uncomfortable. I can feel the weight of your head on my thigh at the other end of the bed and the sense of enveloping you and of being enveloped by you is heady, making me feel drunk as I continue to use my tongue inside of you, reaching all the places where I know you're most sensitive not trying to make you come, just trying to make you happy. Trying to make you feel the way I do.
As aroused as I know we both are, I feel as though we could do this all night. As if this new slowness, this new delicacy could continue until we both fade out from exhaustion. But I know that when I fall asleep, I want to be facing you again, tasting myself on your lips, as you taste yourself on mine . and for that reason only I begin to increase the speed and pressure of my tongue and fingers. For the first time tonight, I reach to touch your swollen clit, feeling you jump at the contact, then jumping as you copy my motions, using my initiative on my own sensitive clit.
The suddenness of your touch on my clit is electric, and as soon as my body is done leaping I mimic you, knowing that you must be as tired as I am knowing that like me, you want to fall asleep face to face, mouth to mouth, breast to breast. I pick up the pace of my tasting too, increasing the force of my fingers entry and exit by stages. It doesn't take much force to start our orgasm. Somewhere along the push and pull of our hands and lips and tongues we come together, clutching each others legs, our arms wrapped around each other, the cool, slick feeling of our skin together adding to the intensity.
When you finally climb back up to greet me your lips are wet with me, and my tongue still carries the taste of you as we kiss sleepily, almost sloppily. We settle into our pillows, heads tilted towards each other, our foreheads touching.
"Have I mentioned that I love you?"
"Yes, but you don't need to say it, Livvy I already know."
I watch as your eyelids droop, a smile playing on your lips as you fall asleep in my arms. I reach for the covers with my free hand, making sure to leave a little extra on your side hoping maybe the exhaustion of our intimacy will make my sleep less active, and maybe in the morning, you'll still be warm.
I whisper into the air between us, not caring that you won't hear me in your sleep,
"Detective Olivia Benson, I will never doubt that you love me."
I was almost asleep, walking the edge between unconsciousness and awareness. And in my last moments of awareness I can't help but respond to you,
"Good, because I always will."
Chapter Twenty-Two: Our Time
As I drift to sleep in your arms, cradled warmly by both the cover of your skin, and the soft heaviness of the down comforter you bought me all those years ago, I can remember times when things felt right between us. For all of our arguments and leavings, our pains and frustrations, we did have times in our relationship where things were mostly right between us.
And for almost a year we lived in peace, barely fighting, making love often and happily, meeting together after the job to discuss cases, and to fall asleep in each others arms as you told me stories about your life. Without the alcohol in my life, I had more room for you.
After you left me that first time, and I worked so hard, cleaning myself up and pulling it together, I was determined to get you back. Once the drinking was out of my system I could hardly stand to be without you at night. Your side of my bed was empty, and I couldn't stand the whiteness of my walls, the chill of my wood floor without your body in its space. We started up again slowly, taking it one phone call at a time, one meeting at a time. When I saw you at work I made a point to talk to you, to find out if you were doing all right, to ask about your caseload, taking extra care to make sure you knew I was trying to make your job easier for you. I thought not drinking would be enough to bring you back, and it was for a while.
I never actually told you I'd quit drinking, just like I never actually told you that I loved you. Just like I never actually told you about how I grew up. Just like I never actually told you about my time at the academy, or about anything else in my life other than the cases we were dealing with at the time. As with everything else, I just assumed you knew. I didn't get that that wasn't enough. Not until after we found the blood in Zapata's mattress on the boat-- when you'd finally had enough; enough of the job, enough of my pointless rehashing of the case, enough of my inability to really talk to you. Not until you'd had enough of me, of us. And even then I didn't understand until I watched a black SUV take the choice out of our hands, drawing you away from me, leaving me standing with Elliot, my mouth open, unable to stop my tears.
Watching you sleeping in my arms was always one of my favorite things. You're always so strong, so solid to me. You used to joke about how it was your job to be my hero, and in a lot of ways you always were. But when you're sleeping here beside me, curled up with your head on my left arm, my right arm slung over your side, rubbing your back, you look so delicate. I can remember all those nights in our good year when I'd try to stay awake until you'd fallen asleep, wanting to drift off with the sight of a child-like you clinging to me in your dreams. I always wanted to be there for you, to protect you in your sleep the way I knew I could never protect you in your waking.
How many nightmares did I soothe? How many times did your grunts and muted screams wake me at 2am, the sweat pouring off your body, as your eyes twitched behind their lids in some terror I couldn't see? How many times did I place my hand on your cheek, stroke your forehead, your hair, your chin, easing you back into a more peaceful state? How many times did I save your dreams?
You fought hard to win me back after I left you hung-over in your apartment, staring at the broken window and wondering how to get your life back together. As angry as I was, it was hard to drop my key behind me, hard to know that I had to do it to make you see that I wouldn't stick around forever. And even though your drinking really was a problem, I didn't realize until later that it was your unwillingness to talk to me about it that really upset me then-- the way your unwillingness to talk about other things upset me later.
Two months after I left you we'd achieved an uneasy simpatico, unable to ignore our attraction, but not ready to revisit the failure that was us together. You showed up at my office late one night with flowers. I was working on a nasty deposition and wondering if I'd ever be able to sleep after a day of talking to a particularly sleazy defendant. When you knocked I thought it was going to be Liz on the other side of the door, pestering me about the file I owed her, and wanting to know what exactly I intended to do about the new case. I was so relieved to see your short crop of hair peek around my door that I forgot for a moment that there was any discomfort between us.
"Hey. I saw Donnelly on her way out and she said that if she doesn't have that file on her desk in the morning when she gets back what did she say oh yeah, 'Tell Cabot that if that file isn't on my desk in the morning, complete with an explanation of her intentions, she'll be lucky if she can get an internship with Trevor Langan's mail-boy!'"
I groaned. Liz knew how it annoyed me when she threatened my career choices with a reminder of where I started out. My time at the Langan's firm was stressful, as Trevor was his father's golden boy who could do no wrong. Because we'd gone to law school together, Mr. Langan let his son have the duty of assigning my tasks each day, I suppose because he thought Trevor would know my strengths. The little shit never missed an opportunity to lord his supremacy over me. It accounts for a lot of the hostility we feel towards each other in general, thought not all of it.
"What did you do to piss of Liz?"
"Which time?" It's hard to pinpoint a moment this month when Liz hasn't been on my ass. The truth is I'm sloppy without you in my life, because I spend all my time wondering how you are, instead of putting extra effort into trying my cases properly.
"I, uh, I brought you these." You hand me flowers that you've pulled from behind your back, and I can't help but wonder what Liz thought of you walking towards my office carrying irises. As usual, you read my mind,
"I told her they were left over from a date. I figured it was close to the truth."
"Since when are we dating again?"
"Alex." Your tone is disapproving, and I answer you similarly,
"Olivia." There's a pause
"I miss you."
"I'm sorry." I was. I didn't like to think of you feeling alone.
"Look, just come to dinner with me. We won't even call it a date, we'll just call it "
"'Dinner?' We've done that before Detective. Somehow we always end up in bed afterwards."
"Not always." You sound petulant.
I sigh, then acquiesce, "I will go to dinner with you on two conditions,"
"Anything," you lean in to hear my stipulations.
"It has to be Italian, and you can't order any wine."
I'm surprised at the pleased look on your face as you respond, "No problem counselor. Just you, me, some irises and the best Italian food in the city."
I didn't go back to your place that night, and I slept alone in my own bed at the loft. But it wasn't long before one dinner turned into two, and then three, and then five, and suddenly we were going out or cooking for each other every night. And while I didn't believe you'd stopped drinking completely, I could tell that at the very least, you'd stopped drinking all the time, and that was enough for me.
You never did say you were sorry. And until today we never talked about the broken window.
You didn't move back in right away. And I tried to be more open, which was a little easier with the alcohol out of my life, but I was never able to talk to you the way you could to me. I was too used to getting hurt, too used to getting left behind. By the time you did take back your key, I'd found what seemed to be a good balance of admission and omission about my life, and we found a sort of awkward harmony about our life together.
You stopped trying to draw me out all the time, and I stopped pretending I didn't care about certain things.
We were together almost without interruption in the year before you took on Zapata. And even though we still fought about the areas of my life that were closed to everyone, even you, it was a beautiful kind of existence, knowing that you'd be by my side when I woke up in the morning. Every day-break I stared at your sleeping face, framed by blonde locks, amazed at how I could possibly love one person so much.
That was the year we moved most of the things from your loft into my apartment, our styles coming together not quite seamlessly, but with a sort of eclectic grace. In that year you convinced me to paint the living room and bathroom, you bought me a TV and DVD player, and you conned me into letting you paint my bedroom lilac. My fifth floor walk up was warm and full with you in it. And it was as much fun to come home to it together as it was to beat you there and fill the rooms with the smell of fresh-cooked food, waiting to greet you in nothing but a black Williams-Sonoma apron and a smile.
We picked out a sofa, chair and loveseat to replace my dime-store recliner and mismatched armchairs, and you rearranged the bedroom furniture about 15 times. I got used to the feel of you in my apartment, and for the first time in as long as I could remember, I had a place that felt like home.
After you died I used to get up in the middle of the night and smell the living room curtains, letting the memory of you wash over me in the darkness. Sometimes I'd wake up for work to discover I'd fallen asleep on the rug in front of the television, hoping to pick up some trace of your snow-white toes padding around an apartment where you couldn't be anymore.
By the time I started to feel like I needed more from you than I was getting, we'd been living together for a year and then some. I still kept my loft downtown, fully furnished but lacking it's former charm, as most of my more decorative possessions were decorating *our* apartment here. On occasions when I had a particularly complicated case to try it was the perfect place to get away and plan my strategies without the distraction of your body floating around the apartment cooking, or waiting for me in bed. I always ended up catching a cab back at the end of the night though, unable to sleep without you by my side. Sometimes if it took too long you'd show up at my door, holding your pillow and a bag with your badge, gun, and change of clothes.
The night we had our last fight we were at your place our place. Your place. We'd been arguing for awhile and I'd started thinking of it as yours again. I suppose subconsciously I was trying to prepare myself for the leave I didn't want to admit was coming. I'd been spending more time at the loft, telling you that the cases we were handling were more complicated than usual, telling you that Liz was on my ass, that Branch was out for blood. They weren't lies exactly, but they weren't the truth either, and strangely I didn't feel that bad for my own omissions, since you had more than your fair share of your own. I regret them now. Or rather, I regret the timing of it all. Because we needed each other more in that last two weeks than ever before and neither of us could find a way to express it properly. For the first time in our relationship I found myself as tongue-tied as you always were.
Chapter Twenty-Three: Sunday
We slept later on Sunday morning than we did on Saturday. Maybe because we both knew we'd need the extra energy to talk about those last two weeks. For once you woke before I did, and this time I decide to join you when I hear the shower running in the other room.
We greet each other almost gingerly, having not entirely lost the tenderness of last night's ecstasy, and knowing that today may be even harder than yesterday was. Watching the water cascade over your arms and legs, I can see that you've gained a little weight in the last two years. It's nothing anyone else would notice, but I like the sight of your bones being fleshed out a little it gives me something to hold on to as I lick the water that mixes with your juices while I taste the juncture where your legs come together, below slightly thicker hips, and above minutely more muscular thighs. Your hands rinse water through my hair as I feel your walls clutching at my fingers inside of you, my tongue playing with the water as it falls around your clit. You massage my scalp, and then pull me up for a kiss before turning me around so you can wash my hair, then rinse and condition it before stroking my breasts and hips and butt with a soft terry washcloth. Your arms stretch around to my front, softly washing that place where only you can be. The water and soap makes our contact slippery, but sensual, and I can't help but fall in love with the feel of your wet breasts pushing up against my back, of your hair falling wet against my shoulder as you touch me through the washcloth's softness.
When we've both been cleaned for the second time, you turn off the water and pull the oversized towel off the rack, wrapping it around both of us, as we stand facing each other, dripping wet, but warm together. Back in the bedroom we dress in more comfortable clothes, mindful of the button marks and belt indents we found after falling asleep awkwardly in our clothes yesterday afternoon. This time we sit together on the couch, and I lean against the armrest with my legs spread out in front of me, inviting you to crawl into the v of my thighs. You lean back so that your head rests tipped up towards mine on my shoulder. With my right hand brushing the back of the sofa, I play with your fingers as my left hand strokes absentmindedly at your hair.
"How do you want to do this?" I ask quietly, knowing we can't put off those last two weeks any longer.
"I don't know Olivia." Your voice is equally soft, and tinged with the barest trace of hurt, as you remember our final fights in the days before you were taken from me. "You already know how I felt about it all, because I told you."
"I know. But I don't know where to start Alex. There are so many mistakes to explain, how do I pick the one that started them all? Can I pick one that started them all?"
"How about the night when Zapata came at me in the interview room?"
I sigh, somehow I knew it would come to this moment. I tilt my head down towards yours and kiss you before taking a deep breath and focusing on the yellows and whites and silvers that stare at me from the kitchen across the way.
I wanted to start with Zapata. Maybe because he's the reason we're here, and maybe because his was the case that inspired our final fight, the one that kept me from staying with you when I should have. Your sigh is full of pain, and I can almost taste the salt of your coming tears as you lean in to kiss me before you begin,
"I never knew what the word love meant. It didn't make any sense to me growing up, the idea that you could love your parents. The idea that they could love you was even more far-fetched, and the thought of loving another person was just a fairy tale something that normal kids believed because its what their mothers told them to believe. My mother never told me what to believe about anything. Except about my father that is. About him I was to believe the very worst, and I still do although now its because I really understand what he did to her to us. But back then I believed he was the devil just because it's what mom told me. I didn't even hear the word rape until I was nine years old."
"The vase?" I can still remember the look in your eyes when you told me the story for the first time. I could almost see a 9-year-old Olivia sitting at the table trying to glue porcelain back together as her mom screamed at her about being the product of rape.
"The vase." You pause, breathing deeply to postpone your tears. "I had to look it up in the dictionary rape. Do you know what it says? 'The crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse.' Of course then I had to look up sexual intercourse, but I thought it was funny, even at nine years old, that the definition of the word didn't assume actual sex. 'Sex acts.' I didn't understand it really meant anyway, but it seemed weird to me. I wondered what kind of acts you had to do to make a kid that nobody wanted."
A few tears escape your eyes and one falls onto my face, rolling down my own cheek and for a minute I'm swept away by the intimate feeling of this sensation: as if my eyes are crying your tears.
You draw a ragged breath, composing yourself, and leaning to brush your second tear from my cheek, your hand shaking almost imperceptibly as your finger slides up from the base of my cheek, gathering back your saltiness before you continue.
"When you came home that night, and told me about Zapata's explosion in the interview room I was terrified. Even though we didn't know the entire scope of his organization, I could tell this case was going to be different. Do you remember me begging you to give it to Donnelly? I wanted to nail Zapata, but I wanted anyone but you in the line of fire. I didn't know how bad it was going to get, or how horrifically it would turn out but I knew I didn't want you fighting this one. Even at the beginning. It was one thing for me to go after someone like that, I'm the one with the badge and the gun. I knew I could hold my own if I had to. But watching you cry that night, clinging to my jacket because you didn't give me a chance to get changed before you grabbed me, I couldn't stand the thought of losing you.
"I wanted to tell you so badly. Wanted to pick you up and carry you to the bed and hold you all night, telling you how much I loved you, and how scared I was for you for us. But I couldn't. Because deep down I still wasn't willing to admit to something I couldn't define. I didn't understand what it meant to love anyone, and I couldn't just throw it out there, even when I knew how much you needed to hear me say it.
"When you get right down to it, I couldn't lie to you. And because I didn't understand what love meant, the word felt like a lie to me. And I swore when I quit drinking that I wouldn't do that to you again. I wouldn't lie."
I'm crying now because listening to you this way is both a pain and a relief, and my emotions stir together until I can't recognize them any more. This is what I needed you to say that night. These are the confessions that I longed for during those two weeks. I didn't need to hear you say I love you, so much as I needed to know why you couldn't. Hearing you talk like this is a release to me, and I try to stay focused on your words as I lie crying in your arms, your fingers stroking the skin under my chin, the palm of your hand catching my tears as they fall.
I feel your shoulders start shuddering against my chest, feel tears falling from your chin onto my shoulder, and I wonder what you think of everything I've told you. You feel heavy, and tired leaning deeply against my body, and I can't help but start to cry as I catch your tears in my hand, cupped under your chin.
"Do you want to stop?" I don't want you to think I don't care about your tears, but part of me wants to keep the forward momentum, keep going. I've discovered a taste for confession and I'm desperate to finish, to get to the part where you forgive me.
I feel your head shake on my shoulder, and I look down at you in the crook of my neck, eyes closed, cheeks soaked with tears that you've given up trying to stop. I kiss your forehead, then continue.
By the time I'm done, you've stopped crying then started again, then stopped, and then started. We've cried together, and separately. Our hands have held onto one-another, and they've lain silent and separate. You've cut in my monologue with questions, and I've answered every one, not feeling the resentment at being quizzed that I once did. It's early evening when we finish, and for a while we stay silent, your body wrapped up in mine. Somewhere towards the end you've shifted on me, and you lie on your side, your head still on my shoulder, but turned towards mine, looking at my profile. In this position I feel as though I'm cradling a child, and the image causes fresh tears to fall from my eyes, trailing down my cheek and off my chin, where they mix with yours.
Last night I would have said that I couldn't possibly have felt closer to you than I did after yesterday, but I was wrong. You know everything now. At least everything about those last two weeks. There is still more to tell you about my life, about growing up, about the time before you were mine, but those stories can wait and we both know it won't be as difficult for me to tell them when it's time. For now we surrender to our tears, huddling together, arms clutched awkwardly around each other, crying together, holding each other up.
You feel strong around me, but soft too as I let my tears take over for the last time. We have time to talk about other things later, but for now I know-- finally, what was going on in your head those last two weeks. It doesn't make what happened less painful, but somehow it makes the pain less pervasive. It also reminds me that I made my own share of mistakes that week, mistakes that cost us everything for a while. I should have looked past my anger, found a way to tell you how frightened I was instead of convincing everyone that I was ok, convincing everyone that my first concern was justice for Lydia. The night we heard the tape, the one with my address, with my mother's address I could hardly breathe. You immediately offered to drive me home, and I let you, because I knew Elliot would be along, and we wouldn't have to fight through my fears alone.
When you pulled me aside, asked me to stay with you you'll never know how badly I wanted to say yes. Maybe someday I'll tell you, about how my whole body quaked with the thought of being safe in your arms. But I'm as stubborn as you are, and I let my anger answer instead of my fear. Even after the bomb, after Donovan had been wiped from the world, in my shock and revulsion and terror I couldn't put it all behind me. I let you take me home and then I made you leave.
Your words come back to me,
"That's why I was so upset about your attitude towards the case not just because I was worried about you, but because the moment it started I could see you were going to leave me. I guess I wanted to force you out before someone took the choice out of our hands. I think deep down I thought that if I drove you away it would hurt less when something happened."
"Did it?" It was the last question I asked you tonight, before we released ourselves to each other's arms
"No." Your voice started to break. "No, it made it all that much worse, because when he when they when you got shot I died, Alex. I kept kneeling over you, trying to hold your blood back, trying to push it back in, watching it seep through my fingers, watching your eyes glaze over, and the only thing I can remember thinking is how much I wished I just told you that I loved you."
That's when your tears started rolling down, joining mine as they fell from my chin and onto my chest and your shoulder, neither of us caring anymore to try and wipe them away, not willing to let go of the clinging hold we have on each other.
Through your tears you're whispering to me, "i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you," until I disentangle one of my hands, and use it to draw your head down to mine, tasting our tears on your lips, and answering you in a breath against your mouth,
"I know "
Chapter Twenty-Four: Shot
When we've both run out of tears, and for the first time notice something other than each other, neither of us has the strength to get up and cook. And as much as I'd like to get cleaned up and take you out to dinner, maybe to the little Italian place we went to when you came back the first time I know it's not wise to risk letting people see you before Hammond gives us an all-clear.
Instead we order from our favorite Chinese place, and I wash my face, and yours over the kitchen sink, rinsing away all the stiffness left by our tears. We sit on the couch waiting for the food, talking vaguely about what you've been doing since you left. When you get to the part about arriving in Oregon, Won's has arrived with our oversized bag of food, and we settle at the kitchen table, the food spread out between us in their little cardboard boxes. We both know we want to keep the conversation light from here on out, and your new life seems to be a relatively stress-free conversation at least in comparison to the last two days.
"So Oregon huh? Isn't that a little I don't know-- hick-tastic?"
You laugh, and I love watching the smile spread across your face, "At first. It was like another world. But Liv, if you could have seen some of the little Po-Dunk towns we stopped in on the way. Every time Hammond handed me the key to a new house or apartment I cringed. In a couple of those places I could have been killed for loving you! Or worse, arrested!"
Now I'm laughing, thinking that your priorities might be a little off from all that time in the legal world. "What exactly does a red-headed ex ADA do in Oregon anyway?"
"Red-headed? How do you know they gave me red hair?"
"Your streaks, babe I noticed them the other day, and again this morning in the shower." You lift your hand to your head, running your fingers through your hair, pushing it away from your face.
"Ugh. I hated that color Liv. Do you know they gave me green contacts? Green! Hammond said that the only way he could make me really unrecognizable was to give me a completely different look, that he was thinking something Irish."
I can imagine how much you loved that idea. I tried to get you to dye your hair red once and I thought you were going to kill me. For some reason you loved the look of red on me, but wouldn't even entertain the idea of matching it.
I listen to you talk about settling in, about decorating your new house, trying to make friends and get used to hearing a new name. You tell me about all the times you wanted to kill Hammond, about calling him a fascist repeatedly, about waking up every day feeling like everything was new and odd and not wanting to get used to it.
You shake your head then grab the last piece of orange chicken with your chopsticks. I gave up trying to mimic your control with chopsticks a long time ago, and I stab at the last piece of stir-fry broccoli with a single stick, garnering a look of vague disapproval from your steel-blue eyes. I snap the broccoli off my spear and into my mouth, chewing rebelliously at you across the table.
You push away your plate, and get up to take our dishes to the sink, then gathering up the now empty Chinese cartons and dumping them in the trash.
"I can see you're no more civilized than you were when I left," you come up behind my chair and lean over my shoulder, your hair brushing against my cheek as you look at me, "What am I going to do with you?"
I have a few ideas
After dinner we make our way back to the bedroom, and I can't help but feel my spirit lighten after such an intense day. Tomorrow things will acquire a distinct complication, as I know Hammond well enough to know he'll insist I spend the week in the FBI-paid for hotel room. I can't help but cringe at the thought of having to deal with Hammond again and you stop kissing me for a minute to look at my face
"What's wrong?" You look concerned, and I remind myself that a kiss is probably not the best time to go about making funny faces,
"Nothing, sorry I was thinking about Hammond, and tomorrow."
"Hammond, huh? You know, if it'd help I'd be happy to stand around and look disapproving while telling you what you were expected to do with your life, but I'd rather you were thinking about me while we're making love."
I can't help but laugh at the thought of you pretending to be our favorite federal agent, and the look you give me is an almost perfect imitation of his. "God no, it was just a fleeting thought about this week. I'd rather think about you too," and to reassure you I lean down to nip at the curve of your neck, trailing kisses up and around the edge of your jaw line, "Convinced?"
In response you pull off my tank top and lead my hands to the edge of your shirt. I don't waste my time helping you out of your clothes and as you drop my sweatpants and underwear to the floor we fall into bed together. In your hands, tomorrow is a million hours away, and Hammond is banished from even the deepest recesses of my mind as you kiss me.
For a second I'm concerned that you're thinking about a federal agent when I'm trying to get you into bed, but I can understand that you're worried about this week. In all honesty I am too, because I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen when it's all over, and I have to keep reminding myself not to scare myself into losing you again.
Banning my worries from my mind I focus back on you and before I know it, we've tumbled into bed, giggling against each other's lips. Like last night, our lovemaking is tinged with a feeling of newness, and I can only assume that our new emotional intimacy is going to continue to carry-over in all the aspects of our life together, that eventually I'll get used to the intensity of this nearness.
I pull away for a moment, staring at you beneath me in the bed, wanting to memorize every tuck and curve of your body, the way your eyes come to life when you look at me, the delicate pink of your mouth, and the texture of your tongue as you run it along your bottom lip. I trace lines along your body, using my fingers to commit you to my memory. When I reach your right shoulder, I notice for the first time the faintest of scars from where the bullet crashed into you, the faintest of scars to commemorate the real loss of you. I'm overcome by the memory of kneeling over you the way I am now, the memory of kneeling over you on the street, staring at your blood leaking through my fingers. I touch a finger to your scar, and I see a tear slide from your cheek. In all of our talking, we haven't had a chance for you to tell me what it was like, what you were feeling, watching your own life slip away. I lean in to kiss the perfect round mark, then fall into you gently, laying half on top of you the way you laid on top of me our first morning back together, was it only one day ago? For the moment, the idea of sex is lost from both of us, and I know I can't stop the question from appearing between us,
"What was it like for you?"
Another tear slides from your eyes, and I can see them welling up, as your chin quivers. You turn your head on the pillow to look at my face while you speak.
"Mostly? Mostly I just remember the pop. I remember the sound of gunshots, and wondering what was going on. I couldn't figure out why all of a sudden I was looking at the sky. I remember thinking that it was the kind of night the old us would have gone for a walk in.
"And then you were there, kneeling above me like some kind of angel in a leather coat, and I thought, 'why is Livvy crying?' I didn't understand that I'd been shot. I kept trying to raise my arm to touch your hair, to brush it out of your face. But I couldn't make it move. And then your hands were on my shoulder and it hurt, having you pushing against me, pinning me down."
"I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to hurt you, I was "
You hurry to interrupt, "I know. I know. But when I felt the pain, I started to realize what happened. And then I sort of thought it was ironic that I'd been shot, when I was always so worried about it happening to you. I heard you talking to me, saying my name over and over again. I heard you calling me sweetheart and I wondered what Elliot thought about that."
I don't bother to tell you that Elliot was chasing after the car when I said it. It doesn't matter and this is your part of the story to tell anyway.
The feel of your finger on my scar breaks through the serenity of our foreplay, and I can't stop a tear thinking about the last time you put your hands on my shoulder like this. I know the question is coming, and as much as I want to forget that it is, as much as I want to pretend it isn't, to go back to making love, I know I'd feel like a hypocrite if I try to brush it off tonight. You've been so compliant about answering all of mine, and we both knew that this was coming.
"What was it like for you?"
I sigh, and I can feel another tear sliding down my cheek while I search for the right words. Mostly I remember gunshots, and being on the sidewalk, looking up at you. I remember pain at the touch of your hands on my shoulder, wondering why it hurt so much.
"I heard you calling me sweetheart and I wondered what Elliot thought about that. And then when I realized that you'd really called me that, I wanted to say something to you, I tried to open my mouth to tell you I forgave you but I couldn't make that work either. And then for awhile everything just went black, and I dreamed about you flying around me in an angel costume. You kept saying, 'no no no no no,' and I kept saying, 'yes yes yes yes yes' because in my dream I thought we were still fighting."
I know now that the no's were part of your chorus as you tried to keep me awake, tried to keep me alive, to keep me from slipping away from you.
"I couldn't understand how you could be an angel because I thought I was the one that was dying. And then I thought that I didn't want to die, that I wasn't ready. I kept telling the angel-you that you had to let me go back, because I had some things to sort out first. I kept trying to argue with her, using old cases as backup, trying to legal-speak my way back to you. And the angel-you just kept flying around, swooping down and taking my glasses, then swooping to give them back with a kiss on my nose.
"At some point the angel-you swooped down and put one hand on either side of my shoulder and squeezed, and just as I was realizing how much that hurt I came to in the hospital, with Agent Hammond sitting by the bed. I kept asking him where you were, asking him to get you for me, telling him I needed to see you.
"And of course because he is well who he is, he refused. I started to cry and he handed me a tissue that I had to use my left hand to dry my eyes with, because my right arm still wouldn't move. When I calmed down he explained what had happened, and told me I'd be going into protective custody, into WPP, that I had to go away for awhile. He told me I couldn't risk seeing anyone, not you, not my mom. He said if I really wanted to help the case against Valez I'd have to go in the program. When I told him to fuck off, that I'd take my chances on the outside, he told me it was too late. That they'd already proclaimed me, 'officially deceased.' I got the nurse to make him leave my room, and I laid there all alone and cried myself to sleep because I finally understood why everyone had tried so hard to get me to quit this case."
You're still looking at my face, and I feel myself getting lost in your eyes for the umpteenth time this weekend. "How did you get him to agree to our meeting?"
I laugh, sniffling away new tears, thinking about it.
"I found his cuffs and his keys when he dumped some stuff on the side table in the hospital one night. He went into the bathroom and while he was inside and the other guard was sitting outside the door, I cuffed myself to the heart monitor they had me hooked up to for awhile and threatened to swallow the key if he wouldn't let me at least say goodbye. I thought he was gonna kill me himself."
You laugh for the first time since dinner and I nestle in closer to you, pulling your body further onto me, using you like a blanket in our bed. "I know it wouldn't have done any good, that he could have just got the master key and unlocked me, but I think he realized how serious I was and gave up on fighting about it."
"No wonder he was so upset that night. Hammond doesn't strike me as the type that likes losing to a woman. Especially not one as beautiful as you."
"heh. Flattery will get you everywhere."
And with that I end our seriousness with a flick of my tongue over your lips. I'm ready to play again, and Hammond is not the image I have in mind.
Chapter Twenty-Five: Three-Letter-Word
Monday came far too quickly, and before I knew it, it was time to pull you out of bed so we could decide the best way to approach today. When we stopped last night to look at the answering machine on our silenced phone we found 2 messages from Elliot, one asking where I was, and another in a sly tone of voice that indicated he'd figured it out. I couldn't help groaning, not wanting to know how exactly he figured out you were here. On your cell was a message from Agent Hammond. Followed by another message from Agent Hammond. Followed by a third message from Agent Hammond. On the twelfth message he gave up and said he'd be here this morning to take you to the necessary meetings.
"Alex, baby, you have to get up. I have to get to work and Hammond's not the type to wait if we don't open the door right away. I can't really afford to replace a window and a door in a two-week period."
You groan and shove your head under a pillow, reaching for the covers with one hand. I pull them out of your reach and stick my head under the pillow with you and try to kiss your cheek. "I'll start the coffee."
As I head out of the bedroom and into the kitchen I hear you mumbling from under the pillow, "That's why I keep you around " there's a pause and then you say the same thing you always say first thing in the morning, as if I'd never remember, "make it extra strong!"
I start the coffee pot and start to head back to the bedroom for a little more cuddle time before we actually have to get dressed and go places. Just as I'm settling back into the bed and curling an arm around your back to pull you to me, there's a loud knock at the door. "Dammit." I haul myself back out of bed and stop to tell you to get up again.
"I'm not moving until there's coffee." Big surprise. "And if that's Elliot, tell him I'm going to sue."
"For defamation of character, I don't know Livvy just get rid of him! I can still sleep for like 15 minutes before we have to take a shower." You're such a baby about mornings. I plod to the door as a second knock thuds on the thick wood and laminate.
"I'm coming, Jesus Elliot, hold your---" The words die on my lips when I see who's at the door. "Agent Hammond."
"Your message said you'd be here at 7. It's 6am."
"My message the 17th one in case you lost count, said I'd be here at 7 if you called me back, and that if I didn't hear from you, I'd be here at 6. That means I'm on time."
Ugh nobody can argue semantics like Hammond, and I can't helping thinking that you're right about the whole fascist thing.
"Alex! You're boyfriend's here!"
You have got to be kidding me. You must be joking. It's it's I try to locate the alarm clock we knocked off the side table during our . romp last night. "It's only 6 in the fucking morning! Tell him he's early, send him away, and come back to bed with me. I'll make it worth your while." I could not care less what Hammond thinks about this. I'm done caring about what Agent Hammond thinks about anything.
"Miss Regis, I'm sorry to arrive so early, but if you listened to my message,"
"Which one?" I can't help being petty. It's six am, I need coffee, and a morning shag before I can be couth and compliant. And why the hell is he still calling me Regis. I drag my legs out over the edge of the bed and shiver as my feet hit the cold wood floor. "Give me a minute Agent, do you mind if I dress before we go?"
You're back in the bedroom, pulling the door closed behind you, and I see that somehow you've managed to get a few drops of coffee straight from the drip into a cup for me.
"Bless you Benson."
"Anytime Regis." There's a twinkle in your eyes and because I'm lost in you as always I lose the opportunity to be angry. "Just shut up and hand me some clothes. And don't EVER call me Regis again."
"Anything you say Lizzie." Still a twinkle, and this time you top it off with a giggle that's far too girlish for your muscular body. I swipe absently at you as you pass by the bed and head for your closet. You pitch out a pair of my slacks, and one of your t-shirts, then a chocolate leather jacket.
"This is yours "
"I know. I thought, maybe we could swap for a little while. Then no matter what we're always sort of inside each other." you blush and I can't help getting a little turned on thinking about you wearing my jacket all day. The fact that I'm actually picturing you in my jacket and nothing else doesn't hurt.
"hmmmm . I suppose it'll do." I take the jacket from you and lean in to kiss you deeply. I love the way your body reacts to me, your nipples hardening under your tank top, heat rising from your pores. I'm actually sort of enjoying the fact that Agent Hammond is in the other room waiting to take me away. I like to leave you wanting me.
I pull away and slip into the clothes you picked out, substituting a blouse for your t-shit, and then topping it off with your jacket.
You whistle appreciatively as Hammond knocks on the bedroom door. If looks could kill well, we wouldn't have to deal with Agent Hammond anymore, that's for sure. I stave off your homicidal rage with another kiss, then open the door to Hammond. I've had some coffee, but my sense of decorum hasn't woken up yet,
"Do you mind waiting a moment Agent Hammond? I'm trying to arouse my girlfriend." He has the decency to blush and back up into the living room as I close the door against his retreating form.
"Alex! Jesus. What's gotten into you?"
"Honestly Olivia? I have no idea. I guess I'm just tired of living up to someone else's rules."
"What if he talks to someone?"
"I'm sorry, have you met Agent Hammond? The guy you nearly killed because he wouldn't share information with you and Elliot?"
"Still, Alex look you may not have any more political aspirations, but "
Oh my god. I suddenly understand what you're worried about. And it has nothing to do with my safety. I don't know what expression appeared on my face but you immediately begin backpedaling,
"Alex Lexi, no. Stop ok, just listen. Elliot knows and I'm glad, and, well Hammond knows, obviously, but do you really think it's wise if we let the world know about us? I mean you're just appearing again after everyone thinks you were dead, and I'm in the middle of this case, and you have trials to testify at, and a move to make, and I just think maybe this isn't the best time to advertise that we're... you know."
"What Olivia? That we're what? Gay? Just say it. Jesus. After everything we've been through and you're afraid of a little three letter word?"
I know my reaction is over the top, and overly sensitive. But I can't help it. I can't believe you chose now to tell me you're afraid to come out. It's not like I asked you to shout it from the roof of the stationhouse. For Christ's sake I'm not even asking you to drive me to work with you.
"Don't spill anything on my jacket today Olivia, I'm going to want it back before I leave." I open the door and storm ahead of Agent Hammond, not caring what he has or hasn't overheard.
Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. I can't believe I said it. I can't believe how much I want a drink right now. You ran out of the room so fast it took me a minute to figure out why. As soon as I remember the words that flew out of my mouth before I could stop them I start cursing again. Then I get dressed and wait for Elliot. One thing about that man, I can depend on him showing up to get all the good gossip on the drive to work.
"You didn't really say that to her did you?" Elliot sounds amused, which is not the reaction I wanted. It's hard enough talking to someone about this whole thing without worrying that their laughing at you.
"Yes Elliot I really said it. God! It just popped out. I swear, I have a mental condition. God says, 'look Olivia, here's your girlfriend back from the dead' and my brain goes, 'oh goody, let's see how badly we can fuck this up.'"
"Look, Liv I'm sure it's not that bad. She's gotta understand that you're under a lot of stress right now. Her returning is good, but still stressful and from the sound of the last couple days, really intense too. Besides that we've got the Patterson case, and it's easy to see how you got scared."
"I know El, but it was still the wrong thing to say, at the worst possible time. I'm never gonna live this down."
"Probably not, but you can work on it."
"How? After all the shit we talked about this weekend I got tweaked about Hammond knowing we were gay? Honestly Elliot, wouldn't you be pissed?"
"Um, well I don't think that really translates, but yeah probably."
"So what do I do?"
"Why are you asking me Liv, I'm not exactly hip on lesbian make-up strategy."
"Yeah but you're marrie----" the word dies on my lips. "I'm sorry Elliot. I just "
"It's ok. I know"
"I just can't lose her again already." We spend the rest of the drive in silence, and I can't help breaking my own regretful recollections to wonder what Elliot's thinking.
For once I'm glad Agent Hammond doesn't talk. I'm too busy fuming too even ask what's in store for the day. I can understand your reticence, gay cops have certainly had a hard time once they've been found out, but the truth is, all the horror stories are about men. Not that it matters, but still I just can't believe you said that to me this morning, when things were going so well. How do you always do that to me? Reel me in, throw me back. I notice for the first time that I'm tugging at my hair. I try to pretend that I'm smoothing out the frizz as I calm myself to talk to Hammond.
"So, Agent, what's on the agenda?"
"Mostly paperwork today, settling some of the details, arranging for paper and property transfers back to your given name, a few notifications about your removal from WPP. It's not going to be very interesting. The new ADA will also start prepping you for your testimony."
I groan, you've told me about the new ADA. Casey doesn't exactly sound like my cup of tea. Olivia. Dammit. I wonder how many times today you're going to cross my mind. As angry as I am though, I can still hear you whispering last night, "i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you, i love you." I know you meant those words, know you really felt them, not just now but all those years ago. Maybe this time it wasn't you pulling away from me, maybe it was just you being genuinely scared. I'm just not used to seeing that side of you. Maybe I still have a few things to learn, about both o
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