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 Thirty-Six: Panic
As soon as I pull you off the bench I can see something's wrong.
"Alex-- we won. They convicted him. It's over baby. It's over."
You look confused for a minute, and then I see your eyes start to roll, and feel your weight dragging towards the floor.
"Hammond! Rosco, something's wrong! CASEY!"
I hear Casey's heels clicking across the courtroom, their pace clipped and quick.
"Olivia, what happened?"
"I don't know she just went down. Jesus. Alex? Baby can you hear me?"
Your body is lolling in my arms, and somewhere in the back of my mind I think you've fainted. But the sight of you collapsed terrifies me and I can't bring it to the front.
"Somebody call a bus!"
"Olivia, hold on. Maybe she just fainted."
"I don't care Casey. Just call."
Casey pulls out her cell phone and calls for a bus, then clicks over to call Elliot.
I'm sitting on the floor, squatting awkwardly because you fell and took me with you, and I can't bear to put you down. And even when the EMS team comes in I don't let you go, just scoop you up and take you to the gurney they've brought in. I'm worried that you haven't woken up yet. I hold your clammy hand in mine as they wheel you to the waiting ambulance, trying to push me out of the way.
Elliot arrives just in time, and with a little show of his gun and badge convinces the paramedic that I'm riding along, promising to meet us at the hospital. When the paramedic mentions that you look pale I start to cry, scared to death that something is seriously wrong. Why didn't I notice this? Why didn't I notice that you weren't feeling well?
My mind flashes back over the last week, imagining all kinds of signs that I missed, wondering if I've pushed you too hard, made you do too much when you were already stressed about this day.
"Alex please baby wake up. Jesus, don't leave me again, please Alex. Lexi. Lexi you have to wake up now."
The paramedics work around me, checking pressures and heartbeats, not telling me anything. When we get to the hospital they whisk you away from me, asking me who needs to be called, refusing to tell me anything.
"Detective Benson, I understand that you're concerned, but we need to know who to call."
"You don't need to call anyone, I'm here."
"A family member?"
"Her mom lives in Long Island. But I don't remember the phone number."
Elliot comes up behind me, handing the youngish doctor a slip of paper. "This is the number." The doctor hurries away to make his calls, leaving me desperate for some shred of information.
"Olivia what happened? Casey said she fainted, why are we here?"
"I don't know Elliot. God." I'm crying again, distraught. "They read the verdict and she didn't react for a minute. I pulled her up pulled her up to hug her and she moved her lips. I kept saying we won and then she she just fell."
"I'm sure she just fainted, Liv it'll be ok."
"Why didn't she wake up again? She should have woken up again."
"It's going to be ok."
"Why wouldn't they tell me anything?"
"It's going to be ok. She just fainted Liv. It'll be ok."
I can barely speak, but Elliot still hears me, "What if it's not?"
I can hear you yelling at Casey. Then feel you clutching my hand as my body bumps on the gurney in the ambulance. Every once in a while I hear one of the paramedics saying something, but mostly it's just black. I can't figure out why I'm so tired all of a sudden. I want to open my eyes, want to look at you, but I can't lift the lids.
I finally give up on trying to fight whatever this is, and I succumb to my exhaustion as I hear you begging me to wake up.
Your mother arrives with her usual dignity, asking curt questions and terrifying nurses. I find myself squashed in waiting room chairs between her and Elliot, still crying. She has been cordial, but brief. Kinder to Elliot. I can't help thinking she knows about us and isn't thrilled. I sort of expected that though.
When the young doctor comes out to speak to her, I start to get up but Elliot stops me with his hand.
"Elliot. Let me go. I need to hear this."
"She'll tell you in a minute."
"You mean she'll tell you in a minute."
"Yes well, I haven't been sleeping with her daughter."
"Glad to see you're getting your attitude back."
Your mother stands in front of us, arms crossed, speaking only to Elliot.
"The doctor says she's exhausted. She developed an irregular heartbeat, only temporary stress-related. As closely as they can speculate she missed a beat or some such nonsense in the courtroom and it caused her to faint."
"Is is she going to be all right?" My voice quivers, still terrified.
She directs her answer to Elliot, "She needs to rest. Undisturbed." Now she shoots a look my way. "If she stays stable through the night they'll talk about releasing her tomorrow. I'm going to ask the federal agent to postpone her flight back to Oregon. Then when she's released I'll take her home until she leaves."
For the first time, your mother turns to look directly at me.
"I beg your pardon?"
I still my voice, trying to be calm. "When they release her, she's coming back to the apartment with me. I'm sure she'll be glad that you're concerned Mrs. Cabot, but I can take care of my girlfriend myself."
I can see your mother's anger seething. "Listen, Detective. I've heard all about you. And while at one time I thought perhaps I could indulge Alexandra's little charity project, clearly you can't care for her properly."
"Charity project? Charity project! I'm not a charity project, I'm her girlfriend. I love her."
"Alexandra is famous for picking up strays. She always liked to have an orphan around to help."
Elliot's hand barring my chest is the only thing preventing me from ripping your mother's head off her lily-white neck. "It's not worth it Liv."
I don't bother trying to shake him off, toning down my rage to a rolling boil. "At least I'm not an uptight, hypocritical bitch who can't accept her own daughter, even after she's lost her once already."
Your mother looks stricken and I know I've hit a nerve. I should feel bad, but I don't, I'm too worried about you.
I wake up to the sound of a coat rustling beside the bed. At first, I think it's you, getting ready to crawl in with me. But as I blink my eyes against the harsh white light, I realize it's someone in a white lab coat, staring at a monitor besides me. It takes a minute for me to figure out where I am. I remember being in court, watching Casey's closing, then waiting outside for the verdict. Did we hear it?
I look to my left, expecting to see you there. Instead, my mother sits perched delicately on a dirty plastic hospital chair. The kind that are supposed to look comfortable for visitors but never are.
"Mo--" my mouth is dry and it takes me a few tries to actually make a noise.
"Alexandra. I'm glad you're awake."
"Mother where's Olivia?"
"Your detective friend is waiting in the waiting room. She slept out there all night. She absolutely refuses to leave."
"Is she ok?"
"She's obstinate, ornery, and exceedingly rude. Why on earth are you friends with her?"
"Because I love her mother. We've had this discussion before."
"Don't get worked up Alexandra. They've already decided to keep you an extra night as it is."
"I want to see Olivia mother."
"I'm afraid I can't allow that Alexandra, it's not proper. It's time you abandoned this little project."
"She's not a project mom, she's my girlfriend."
"Alexandra when are you going to give up this ridiculous notion."
"It's not a notion mother, I'm gay. And I'm a grown woman besides."
"Calm down Alexandra."
"If you want me to calm down then you'll leave. And on your way out you'll send in my girlfriend. She's probably beside herself with worry, unlike some people."
She looks as though I might have actually hurt her feelings, but for once I'm not concerned with making my mother happy. She stalks out of the room without another word. As she leaves, a doctor enters and fills me in on the details. I stop listening at the sight of you leaning in the doorway. You're trying to look nonchalant, but I can tell you didn't sleep last night. Your eyes are underlined with black rings
"I saw your mother."
"It's ok. I'm more worried about you than her."
"The doctor says I'll be fine. That it was a freak thing, brought on by stress."
"Is that true Doc?"
He hesitates, unsure of what he can tell you. "It's all right. She's family."
"If she stays calm, out of trouble, she should be fine. I'd make a point to watch her blood pressure in the future. But I see no reason for there to be a repeat of yesterday's swan dive. From what I understand all of your lives have been extraordinarily stressful of late. All of the tests indicate that once life resumes to a more normal place, Miss Cabot should be perfectly fine."
"Thank you." Your voice is so sincere, and the doctor, who can't be more than 25, blushes at your gratitude, and then hurries out to his next patient as you sit on the side of the bed, careful of the fluid IV they've put in my arm.
"How do you feel?"
"Silly. All this over a little faint?"
"It wasn't a little faint Lexi."
I ignore you, asking the question I'm most afraid of.
"What was the verdict?"
Chapter Thirty-Seven: Care
You ignore my attempt to broach the subject of your "faint" and surprise me with a question.
"What was the verdict?"
"The verdict Liv, what did they say?
Even though the news is good, I'm afraid to tell you. I'm still not convinced this is as cut-and-dried as the doctor said. You can see I'm stalling, and it's only when I notice a panic rising behind your too-blue eyes that I tell you,
"Guilty. It's all over now. Casey came by last night to tell me the judge didn't even stop to think. Once he calmed the courtroom down he immediately invoked the death penalty. Connors doesn't have a chance."
"Really. We're free now. You can do whatever it is you want to do."
Tears start rolling down your cheeks, and your relief is palpable. I'm expecting you to speak, but you don't. How do you look so small all of a sudden? You never get tired of teasing that you're two inches taller than I am. But here you look I don't know-- tiny. It hits me again; that I could have lost you, and my tears join yours.
When Elliot knocks at the door we wipe our eyes like idiots, sniffling together, then laughing as we both imagine the picture we must make.
"How're my favorite girls?"
"Fine El. It's going to be ok."
"So I hear."
I tilt my head in a question, and Elliot looks at Alex. "Uh your mom talked to me on the way out."
I can hear you groan, but I don't think Elliot does. "What did she say?"
"She wanted me to arrest Olivia."
"What?" We speak at the same time.
"Undue influence or some nonsense I don't know Alex, I wasn't really listening."
"What did you tell her?"
"Love isn't a criminal offense and she should feel blessed that her daughter has someone who's willing to risk everything to be with her." He blushes, and I can't help sharing a smile with you.
"To serve and protect right? So, what's the word? Your mom said something about staying an extra night?"
"They just want to make sure it really was a fluke, and not an indication of something more serious. They'll probably send me home tomorrow. Hammond already pushed back my flight, so I'm here until Wednesday. That gives us a chance to talk about our plans, make some decisions." You squeeze my hand at the word us. I can't help feeling I'm not going to like this conversation.
"Well look, I've gotta get back to the kids, Maureen's tolerance for her siblings is limited, and I'm a little afraid she'll tie the littlest one to a chair and bring over her boyfriend if I leave them too long." He shakes his head, but we both know he's thrilled to get the chance to see them.
"What's the word from Kathy?" You really are braver than I am.
"There is none. I can't really get her to talk to me. Last time I told her not communicating wasn't solving anything, and her response was 'that's my line'. Guess it serves me right. All these years look- I envy you, both of you. At the end of the day there's someone who understands. There's no horror to hide."
Elliot's voice is sad, and I leave your side for a moment to give him an awkward hug. "It'll be all right El."
"Yeah, maybe. Look guys, I gotta run. See you Monday Liv?"
"Yeah. Tell the kids I said hi."
"Sure. Take it easy Alex, no more scares ok?"
"I'll try detective." I'm back at your side, sliding your hand back into mine, and I don't notice Elliot leave because I'm lost inside the ocean of your eyes.
After Elliot leaves, we stay quiet, taking each other in. I can tell you're still scared, and knowing you the way I do I know you're imagining all the things that could have gone wrong yesterday.
"They did all the tests there were to do Liv, I'm going to be fine."
"You scared me Lexi. I didn't know what had happened you just... collapsed. This time there were no gunshots to blame, just you on the ground. You have to stop doing this to me."
"I'm sorry Livvy."
"It's ok Alex." You pause and I wonder what you're thinking. I don't have to wonder long.
"What happens now?"
"Well, I'll need a place to stay until Wednesday, and I don't think I'll be the most welcome visitor at Cabot Castle, so ."
"You know you don't have to ask. But I really meant what you want to do after Wednesday."
I knew what you were asking. I was hoping a stall technique would work.
"Well, after Wednesday I go back to Oregon."
"Did you make a decision?"
"Yes." But you won't like it.
"I'm going to stay there for awhile."
There's silence where your response should be. Your hand in mine goes slack, and you pull it away from me, rubbing your palms together.
"Will you be back?"
"I haven't decided yet. Arthur said he'd give me a recommendation when I come back. I have some cases I should tie up at the office, a few open files that still need my recommendations. I should look into selling the house, I do have a few friends out west that need to be informed about all of this."
"Six months to a year."
More silence, then tears.
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Leaving You
When they release you on Sunday Hammond appears with a sedan to take us back to the hotel. We have to gather your things so you'll have something to wear at my apartment. Now that his job is over, Hammond seems almost reluctant to let go of you. I wonder what he'll do now. Because of Valez he's lost two partners, been displaced for 2 years from his daughter, and I assume a wife somewhere. He gave up almost as much as we did, maybe more. I'm quiet on the drive, but you ask the questions I don't.
"What are your plans now Jack?"
"Not sure. I have a meeting with my supervisor tomorrow, I assume I'll get my new assignment."
"More witness duty?"
"No. This was a special case. Besides, I'd like a chance to spend some time with my daughter. Evidently she has a new girlfriend she wants me to meet."
"And there are tapes of her graduation to watch, her mother to calm down."
You chuckle. "I assume she wasn't thrilled about this guard duty?"
"Not really. I hope you'll forgive me if I don't try to introduce you someday you'd have to go back in the program."
Now I laugh. "Agent Hammond "
"Jack. I know we've had our differences. But I want to thank you."
"For watching over my girlfriend when I couldn't."
"It was an honor Detective."
As he leaves us at my door, luggage stashed inside, you lean to give him a hug. "Tell Jason I said thank you all right? Will any of the team be in Oregon when I get back?"
"Stasik and Johnson both live in the area, but the rest are New York or Washington based."
"Tell them I appreciate them putting up with me will you?"
"Of course counselor. Take care."
You follow me into the apartment, leaning against the door as you close it behind you. I brace myself above you with a hand on the door next to your head. I lean in to kiss you, finding this sudden alone-ness after the last few days particularly delicious. I finally have you back. I push thoughts of Wednesday from my mind. Right now, there's only us.
As your lips find mine, I feel my heart start to pound, but not in the dangerous, frightening way it did on Friday. I'm familiar with this beating, the response to your touch. There's something overly gentle about you though, and I can tell that beneath your desire you're still worried about me.
"Liv, I won't break."
"The doctor said to stay calm."
"And a kiss is going to make me not calm?"
"It is if I do it right."
"It'll be fine Olivia. Trust me."
"How do you know?"
"Because I asked." Surprise flashes across your eyes. "I wanted to know so I asked the doctor."
"And if you don't kiss me again right this second, you're going to be in serious trouble."
This time your lips on mine are solid, determined. Your tongue presses into my mouth, searching for mine, claiming your territory. I respond in kind, wrapping my arms around you, pulling our bodies together against the door at my back. I moan into your mouth, I've missed this. Has it really only been 4 days since we did this? Thursday night was sweet, and it was nice, falling innocently to sleep together, both of us too nervous to think about desire.
I feel like I'm discovering you all over again, every touch feels new, every taste unique, unparalleled. You use your hand behind me to propel us from the door, stumbling and kissing our way back to your bedroom, shedding our clothes in a trail behind us. Every kiss we break to shed a layer returns with breath-taking force, tongue meeting tongue, lips to lips. We break contact and I feel your lips on the line of my jaw, trailing down the curve of my neck, the warmth of your breath on my collarbone.
"Oh god, Liv."
You come back to me, eating the words from my lips, propelling us into the bedroom as I gain hold of the waist of your jeans. I fumble with your zipper and as I feel it slide lower, I don't wait for your pants to fall, running my hand between your skin and panties, sliding it inside and down, wanting to feel your body's response to me. Your slickness kicks my hormones into gear and I begin to grab as hungrily at your mouth as you did at mine. I pull my hand away and use it to pull at the waist of your panties and jeans, feeling your hips wiggle to get free even as you grab for my button and zipper. I mimic your little hula, feeling my jeans fall to the floor, pooled with yours. As you tug on my underwear, you push me down onto the bed, peeling them from my body, then crawling back up my skin, your hands sliding up my body, from my foot to my thigh, pausing to briefly explore the results of your advances between my legs. You don't stop though, drawing your hands up my sides, around the outer edges of my breasts, then taking my head and pulling me back to your lips as I wrap my arms back around your nakedness, feeling the smooth coolness of your darker skin in my hands. I cling to you, letting your kisses take their effect on my body before I realize I can't take it anymore.
"Livvy " I breathe against your lips, watching your eyes take on a familiar depth before you break contact completely, turning your attention to my swollen nipples, one hand drifting down between my legs, my back arching at your touch. My breath catches in my throat, and you stop, looking up at me fearful
I hear your breath catch in your throat and I stop, looking at you. I know you've said the doctor gave us this permission, but I wouldn't put it past you to make it up. Your body shudders, shifting to try and find my touch again.
You're response is breathless, desperate, "Livvy don't stop. Please don't stop. I'm fine, I just I just need to feel you."
You groan, and as much as the sound makes me wild, I still pause,
"Olivia, if you don't continue by the time I count to three I'm going to shoot you with your own gun. Try to explain that to Cragen."
For a minute I think you're bluffing.
"One " I dip my head back to your breast; dangle my hand back between your legs, still not entirely convinced,
Your three is lost in a satisfied moan as I make contact again, bringing my hand down on your skin, tracing your lips and folds with a finger, beginning to push past you, letting just the barest tip of my finger dip inside you as my tongue plays games with your nipple.
I feel you clinging to me, then hear you whispering and I continue playing with your sex as I bring my body back up so I can hear you.
"I need to taste you."
The look in your eyes is electric as I whisper my desire for you. You readjust your body so that I'm staring at the delicate space that belongs just to me, and I feel your mouth make its first contact with the space that belongs to you and I put my hands on your butt, drawing you down to my lips. For a minute I tease you with my breath, drawing a finger lightly down your slit, but when I feel you moaning against me I give in, using my tongue to part you, pushing inside you, feeling you react to me as I suckle at your moisture.
You're the only woman I've ever been with, and I just can't imagine that anyone would taste as sweet as you. Sometimes I swear there is cinnamon inside of you, a spice on my tongue that I'll never get used to, never get enough of.
Hours later, our arms wrapped limply around each other I can still smell you on me, still find traces of your sweetness on my lips, can still feel you clenching against my tongue and fingers as you release yourself to me. Moments later, I released myself to you, and now we're both exhausted, lying satisfied together, occasionally tasting ourselves again on each other's lips in lazy kisses. My resolve to go back is waning, and I shake my head, trying to talk myself back into doing what I need to do. Leaving you is never easy, but lying in your arms makes it that much harder and I'm glad that Wednesday is still a few days away.
Chapter Thirty-Nine: Out
I wake up early Monday morning, calling in to tell Don I switched shifts with Fin so I can sleep late with you and then go to my meeting with Julie and her mom. I start the coffee maker and then crawl back under the covers that I have to steal away from you as usual. I snuggle up against your body, telling myself to enjoy this while it lasts. Last night was intoxicating, and even though I still worry about your health, it was such a delicious sensation making love to you. Sometimes, I swear you taste like strawberries. You know you're not my first, but I wonder if you know that no one else ever came near to what I feel about you, emotionally or physically.
The sight of you smiling in your sleep causes a grin to creep across my face, and I lean in to kiss the almost dimple on your cheek. I can smell the coffee now, and I know that any second you'll be waking up, drawn out of sleep by that scent. I think you'll probably kill me when you realize that it's decaf, but I'm not taking any chances. The doctor said yesterday that too much caffeine could have an affect on you as much as the stress and even if you pitch a royal fit I'm not buying any more regular coffee. I can't control what you drink when you go back to Oregon, but for now I'm going to take care of you, just like I said.
Oregon. It's just so far away. The opposite side of the country. You've said you're coming back this time. Six months to a year. But I'm worried that you'll get settled there. That you'll get comfortable without me. A year is a long time. It's better than two years, or forever, but still. After all of this I wonder if I can let you go for that long. And what happens when you come home? You mentioned something yesterday about trying to find your own loft. I'd assumed you'd just move in with me, here. Where you belong.
I can see you stirring next to me, your nostrils flaring to the smell of fresh coffee. You turn towards me and blink sleepily at me, your smile growing wider at the sight of me. I can't help but think I could get used to this, that I want to get used to waking up beside you every day until I die.
As your eyes swim into focus, staring deep into mine, I lean comfortably on my pillow facing you.
"Good morning love."
I could get used to this. Waking up next to you again. We've done this before, true but back then we were playing house, tiptoeing around all of our anger and arguments, trying to force something to work that wasn't. This time is different, natural.
"Good morning love."
"mmmmmm." I'm still too sleepy to speak, so I tilt my head up in invitation for a kiss. As you pull back from that kiss you tell me there's coffee and move away to get me a cup. I breathe in the delicious scent of fresh brewed coffee, loving the familiarity of this moment. You bring me my coffee carefully, taking special care not to spill on your still naked body. I'm not sure if it's the sight of you naked or my first taste of coffee that's more intoxicating.
I take a sip and screw up my face. "Decaf?"
You look vaguely nervous. "Doctor's orders."
"The ER doc."
"How do you know?
"Sneaky." I take another sip, getting used to the idea of coffee without help. I guess I could get used to it. I can always switch back to regular when I get back to Oregon.
"Thinking about Wednesday?" How the hell do you do that? It's creepy having a girlfriend who can read my mind.
I nod. "Trying not to."
"Well don't then. I had a proposition for you?"
"Ooooo an indecent one I hope."
"Actually no Stop pouting Alex, we have plenty of time for the indecent variety"
"Well what then?"
"I'm meeting with Julie and her mother today for lunch, and then we're going over to Sophie's parents to talk to her mom. I was wondering if maybe you'd come along if you felt up to it."
"Do you think they'd want me there?"
"I want you there. Besides, I have the feeling that the more support Julie has the better. Sophie's parents weren't exactly well informed. I'm a little afraid they're going to take it out on the girlfriend."
I know you're thinking of my own mother, taking out her anger on you. We both knew it was coming, although her timing could have been better. "Livvy if you want me there I will be. When do you have to be at work?"
"Told Don I'd be in at two. Fin came in on his day off to cover my morning. He could use the overtime and he gets a kick out of the idea of me being off of work to 'hang with my girl.'"
"Heh. Fin. So does everyone know now?"
"Mostly. When you passed out in the courtroom, Casey called Elliot, who told Don, who filled in Munch and Fin. I don't think the interns know, but pretty much everyone else does."
"How do you feel about that?"
"Well George "
"C'mon Liv, seriously."
Ugh. I don't want to talk about this right now.
"I don't know Alex. I've been afraid of this my whole life. Even when we were together I wasn't ready to admit that I'm gay. I was so jealous of you, I still am."
"Of me? What on earth for?! Were you listening to my mother yesterday?"
"Yes but that's exactly it Alex. A month after we started really dating you'd told your mother, and we both knew that she wouldn't approve. You had the courage to tell her even when you knew it wouldn't end well. I was pretty sure Elliot would be ok with this and I didn't have the guts to tell him until you were coming back. And even then it was because I was desperate to share the burden of waiting.
"It's a strange feeling, not needing to hide this anymore. Being with you all these years, off and on and off and on again as it's been, you were the first person that really made me feel like like there wasn't something wrong with me. I spent so many years trying to prove to everyone that I was something I'm not that it's going to take a little getting used to."
"But you're glad right? I mean look at your friends, our friends. Not one of them seems even remotely uncomfortable, or upset by this."
"Well, Elliot didn't take to it right away, but I get the point."
"I really want you to be ok with this Livvy. It's important."
"I'm trying. Maybe this thing with Julie and her mom and Mrs. Patterson will help. Her mom was so amazing. You should have seen the way she talked about those girls." I can't help tearing up, and I wonder when my hormones will stop raging again so that I can stop crying at the drop of a hat.
"Livvy it's ok. My mom is well she's a Cabot. I'd love to go with you today. And maybe together we can make this end better for them than it did for us."
I was surprised at first, when you asked me to come along. In the back of my mind I still can't get used to not working a case with you, and I'm a little nervous about this. I realize the case is over, but still. And talking to you about being out is a little tense. It's not something you like to discuss. I had a feeling it might be your last holdout. I'm glad to see that despite your reservations you can still be open with me about it.
"Are you sure you want to leave?"
It takes me a minute to realize we've switched subjects.
"You can't tell me you don't like this." You gesture to the bed, to us to my coffee.
"That's not the point Olivia. I need time to re-adjust."
"But you're going to come back?"
"Within a year?"
"Olivia I swear I'll be back. I'm not leaving you again. Not for good."
You hold my gaze for a few minutes, then nod, satisfied, and I can tell that you finally believe me.
"C'mon detective, we don't want to be late to lunch."
Chapter Forty: Mrs. Patterson
Lunch with Julie and her mother is surprisingly delightful. I can tell that Julie still isn't sleeping well, but she seems relieved that the trial is finally underway. Her mother isn't quite as stiff as I'd expected her to be, and in fact has a rather raucous sense of humor. She certainly made you laugh, talking about Julie and Sophie trying to get away with things right under her nose. The maid catching them in the pantry was a particularly funny story, and soon we're all laughing.
"So, Miss Cabot? What is it that you do?"
"Well, I used to be an attorney, but right now I'm sort of in between life choices." You squeeze my hand on the tabletop, and for once I don't feel the rush of panic at the discussion of your future our future.
"Cabot. That name seems so familiar. Are you related to Juliana Cabot?"
I can feel you sigh next to me.
"Yes, that's my mother. You know her?"
"Only in the vaguest social sense. She's a regular attendee at most of the functions I go to."
You nod politely, but I can tell you'd rather we changed the subject.
"She must be so proud, having a daughter who's dating a detective such as Ms. Benson."
"Mrs. Cabot has raised a lovely, charming, and intelligent daughter, who wouldn't be proud." I can't help myself, even though she's not here I feel like I need to defend you.
Julie's mother smiles, and her daughter changes the subject.
"I'm so grateful to you Detective, to both of you. Sophie's mother isn't quite as accepting as mine, and I want to be the one to tell her about us before she hears it on the news, or during the trial."
"I'm glad we could help Julie. I have to admit I've felt my share of guilt about Sophie's case. I wish I could have done more for her, for both of you."
"If it makes you feel any better, she didn't talk to me about it either. All of the testimony I gave you was what I observed. Sophie refused to talk about the rape. I think she wanted to pretend it hadn't happened. Afterwards, she . she wouldn't even let me touch her."
Julie casts a sidelong glance at her mother, trying to gauge her comfort level with the direction of our conversation.
"We hadn't been.. intimate since it happened. Then the night before she the before we . the night before I found her, she suddenly wanted me to touch her again. She seemed desperate to to have some kind of physical relationship. Although now I'm not sure why. I keep wondering if maybe it was my fault. Maybe agreeing to to make love to her pushed her over the edge."
I see Mrs. Naysom reach her arm around her daughter's shoulder, reaching to pull her close, comforting her. I don't have to look at your face to know you're watching them closely, wishing your own mother had reacted this way. I squeeze your hand again as the waiter brings our check, and Mrs. Naysom reaches to pay for the meal.
It's hard for me, watching Julie with her mother. I can see why the girl reminds you of me. Although we look nothing alike, there's a certain air about her that brings to mind the way I was raised. And with her blond, over-coiffed hair and regal manner, her mother could be a blood member of the Cabot clan. The fact that she knows my mother, even peripherally brings a bad taste to my mouth, but you squeeze my hand before I have a chance to stick my foot in it. I'm jealous of the Naysom's, of their closeness. Her mother is clearly of the same ilk as mine and yet she doesn't seem to mind her daughter's nature the way that mine does.
I'm impressed at how well Julie seems to be handling herself in this tragedy. She actually reminds me a lot of you. Listening to her talk about making love to Sophie the night before her suicide almost makes me cry. You told me that you had a hard time not seeing my face in her, and your face in Sophie, but to be honest I can see the reverse. I've never seen Sophie, but in Julie's eyes I see much of your stoicism. She has the look of you in her, the look I saw above me, trying to push the blood back into my shoulder.
We climb into the Naysom's large sedan to travel across town to the Patterson home, Mrs. Naysom and her daughter in the front, you and I together in the back, holding tightly to each other's hands. I can tell that you're nervous, but they probably can't. We're about to confront your worst nightmare. I know you often wonder what your mother would have thought of us. Someday maybe you'll tell me about it. Even I understand that some things truly are too painful to talk about.
The Patterson home is small, almost subtle. It looks out of place here, like someone stuck a Colorado cottage in the middle of New York City. A cross adorns the space above the doorbell, and in the door is carved "And in your hearts, make a living place for the Lord."
I guess you weren't kidding about them being religious. The Naysom's take the lead, ringing the bell and standing slightly aside so that the four of us fit on the stoop. When the door opens, I'm surprised to see an impossibly round woman with a shock of gray curls that peek from the cover of the handkerchief on her head. You'd mentioned that Sophie was plump, but I'm at a loss to see where this woman begins and ends. It's not that she's fat, it's more that her body curves in a way that seem almost to make her blend into the space behind her.
"Mrs. Patterson, hi. You remember my mother Josephine? And the detective who worked on Sophie's case?"
"Detective." Ruth Patterson turns her gaze to me,
"I'm Alex Cabot." It's a struggle not to add Assistant District Attorney. This could take some getting used to. "I'm a friend of Olivia's. Detective Benson's."
She nods, but makes no move to invite us in.
"Ruth, could we come in for a minute. We need to talk to you about Sophie." Josephine takes over the conversation, trying to steer us inside the house.
"Sophie is dead."
"Please Mrs. Patterson?" Julie's voice is pleading, and I notice tears welling up in her eyes.
"Mrs. Patterson, it would really be best if we talk inside." I smile widely, trying to reassure her that we're here as friends.
Mrs. Patterson ushers us reluctantly into an overstuffed living room. The inside of her home seems to mimic her roundness, and everywhere you look there is a chair or sofa or rug that seems to be too full. On the walls are religious prints, on the bookshelf theological texts, and several different versions of the Bible.
I'm not sure if it's the décor or Mrs. Patterson herself, but the room feels impossibly close despite it's size. I don't hear the hum of a heater, but the house feels warm. She is an odd woman, and I'm starting to understand Sophie's reluctance to come out in this atmosphere. I can't help wondering what the father is like. The room falls silent, and I can feel you squeeze my hand. I guess it's my job to start.
"Mrs. Patterson, as you know your daughter was attacked shortly before her death. We tried very hard to convince her to press charges but she declined."
"She told us she was mugged. And that that she didn't feel confident about providing an accurate description. She didn't want to send the wrong man to jail."
Riiiight. "Mrs. Patterson " Julie saves me
"Mrs. Patterson, Sophie wasn't mugged. She was attacked and raped. She she saved me, pushed me out of the way, made me hide. If she hadn't "
Ruth doesn't look moved. She stares at my hand in yours, and I wonder what she's thinking.
"Ruth, none of us wanted you to find out this way." Josephine takes over. "I've been trying to convince the girls to tell you for quite some time. Even before this attack. I want you to know how much we loved Sophie. She was like part of the family. We loved her almost as much as Julie does."
At the word love and its implications, Ruth's eyes go cold, and she turns to stare at Josephine. "Don't you dare defame my daughter's name."
"My daughter was not a pervert."
I can feel you tense next to me. I squeeze your hand again.
"Mrs. Patterson, Sophie wasn't a pervert. She was gay. We were gay. I loved her." Julie's tears spill over, and I can see her trying to restrain herself. Anger and pain mix together in her eyes, and Josephine moves to settle a calming hand on her knee.
Ruth gets up from her chair and moves to the bookcase, looking for something.
I feel you squeeze my hand, knowing that I'm thinking of mother. The two woman are from different worlds, but they may as well be reading from the same script. I watch Ruth cross to the bookcase, and search for something. I can't help the desire to pull Julie into my arms, wanting to shield her from whatever is coming. Her mother senses it too, and rests her hand on her daughter's quivering knee.
Ruth finds the book she's been looking for and opens it to a well-read section.
"Leviticus eighteen, verse twenty-two: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination.' Leviticus twenty verse thirteen: 'If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them'. First Corinthians chapter six, verse nine and ten: 'Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind' "
Ruth continues, not bothering to flip the pages of her Bible to find verses I suspect she knows every reference by heart, and I realize that she knew all along what her daughter was. The look in her eyes is angry, but underneath I can see such an incredible depth of pain. This is the face of a woman who wanted desperately to love the child she was given, and found herself unable. Growing up in church I too am familiar with the those chapters, well read in those verses. I believed them myself for a while. Julie looks shattered, seated in a chair across from me, her back impossibly straight and stiff. She doesn't try to fight her tears anymore, but stifles the sobs that threaten to rack her shoulders.
"Mrs. Patterson, Ruth I know that you don't know me, but I think you need to know that what Sophie felt wasn't wrong. The Bible, in all its wisdom is just a book. The men that wrote that book didn't have the final word. Julie didn't choose to be the way she was, and I'm willing to bet Sophie didn't either. I know that I certainly didn't choose it. But I wouldn't trade Olivia for any man in the world."
I'm at her side now, standing with her at the bookcase. As I reach to touch her arm she flinches. I touch her anyway. I look to you, and you nod, encouraging this tactic. I almost cry myself at the proud look on your face. I usher Ruth back to the chair where Julie sits crying.
"Ruth, this young woman loved your daughter. And your daughter loved her. So much that she put her own life in danger to protect her from something most people never recover from. I know that you must be devastated, by all of this. Finding out this way, the attack, the rape Sophie's suicide. But look at Julie, Ruth. Look at the way she cries for your daughter. If that's wrong if that's wrong " I can't help the catch of my breath in my throat, and feel you at my side in an instant, pulling me into a chair. I try to tell you I'm fine, but I know this weekend is still in the front of your mind. You kneel in front of me, hand on my heart, and I can't help feeling ridiculous at the level of your concern.
"Liv I'm fine." You search my eyes and pull your chair back closer to mine, I'm just pleased you don't try to sit me in your lap. I look up as you sit, watching Ruth as she watches us. I wonder if anything has made an impact. She turns back to Julie, watching her cry, focusing on Josephine's hand resting on her daughter's knee. She steps away, almost out of the room staring at a framed print that hangs just to the left of the entrance of the living room.
"I knew." She turns from the picture of Jesus with a group of smiling children and returns to her perch on the sofa. Julie seems to stiffen even more, if it's possible, and turns to stare at the last link she has to a woman she loved.
"Sophie never told me but I knew. When you girls were in high school, I was glad she had a friend outside this house. Her father's rules can be oppressive. I don't think I realized what was going on until you were freshmen in college. You came home with her one weekend and I asked her why you weren't staying with your own family. She said it was because you liked being here with her.
"I knew noone would rather live here with Joshua, with his rules, with his religion. Sometimes I wonder if he didn't have a trick that let him get under your skin before you could see he was there. I never believed anything before I met him, and then suddenly I was using his beliefs to to condemn our daughter. And then one night I heard you, in her room. Laughing. I cracked open the door and watched the two of you. You were lying in her bed, reading together. Some silly religious book Joshua bought when she was a baby. Her head was resting on your arm, and I saw the way she was looking at you, staring at you the way I used to stare at Joshua. Why couldn't she just tell me?"
I watch Ruth's resolve crumbling, tears building in her eyes, then dripping unnoticed down her cheeks. Julie moves to the sofa, sitting next to her should-be mother-in-law. "She was afraid to tell you. We both were. I tried, tried to get her to tell you a hundred times. But Sophie you have to admit you and her dad didn't make it easy. All this religion, all this rhetoric. She was surrounded by messages that said you wouldn't love her if you knew. She was desperate for you to love her. I think the reason we spent more time here than at my home was because she couldn't stand to watch me with mom. She just wanted to know you loved her."
Ruth breaks down completely, reaching for Julie's hand. I notice for the first time what looks like an engagement ring, and Sophie's mother brings the young woman's hand to her heart. "Her father will never understand. He couldn't possibly. Years ago, I tried to leave, to take Sophie with me and go away. She was just a child then. Her father found out and dragged us to the Parish. His priest kept us there for two weeks, taking turns with other parishioners, praying for my soul, praying to heal the devil in me that wanted to leave my husband. I didn't try to leave again. We didn't have anywhere else to go anyway.
"It took me awhile, to get used to the idea of the two of you. I kept hoping she would come to me, talk to me so I could tell her it was all right."
"We were going to Canada, in a year. To get married. Sophie proposed a few months ago. I kept trying to make her tell you. She almost did. The weekend before "
Ruth nods. "I would have given you girls my blessing, all of my blessings."
She sobs again, still clinging to Julie's hand, her thumb on the last thing her daughter bought. Between her tears she leans closer to Julie and whispers something not meant for us to hear.
"You will always be a part of my family. Thank you for loving my daughter."
You tug at my hand, and quietly, we excuse ourselves, using your cell phone to call a cab when we get outside. Our part in this thing is done, and it's up to them to build their family back again. Somehow I don't think it will be a problem now.
In the cab, I wipe tears from your eyes and tell you I love you, it's the only thing I can think to say after this afternoon, and I send you off to work, already wishing you were here at the apartment with me instead.
Chapter Forty-One: Every new Beginning
Wednesday arrives too quickly here. When the alarm blares at us at 4am it takes me a while to remember why I've set it so early. The sight of your packed bags in the doorway of the bedroom reminds me, and I turn to watch you waking up for one last time before you go.
Seeing your eyes watching me, already open, I wonder how long you've been awake.
"Are you ready?"
"You don't have to go."
You shake your head, and we both know now that you do. It's been a hard thing for me to accept, this need you feel to go back. I think I understand it now, but I still don't like the idea of letting you go away from me again.
"I need to shower before we leave, and I still have to pack up my toiletries and such." You start to roll away from me but I grab you, not ready to let go of you yet.
"Just a few more minutes Lexi. I promise not to pounce, I just want to soak you in for a bit."
You don't bother to resist, and I think you need these last few minutes as much as I do. It'll be probably a year before we have another. I spend my time memorizing you, committing every curve, every dip and bend to memory. I breathe in the scent of your hair, the feel of the skin on your neck, behind your knee, on your elbows. I memorize the way your long fingers feel in mine, the lines in your palm. When the alarm goes off a second time I reluctantly let you go, choosing to forgo the shower, knowing I'd only make us late.
The sight of you stepping from the steam in a towel stops my dressing, and I watch you cross the bedroom to the clothes you laid out last night. I watch you dress, adoring the way the shadows cup your perfect backside, the delicate line of your spine. There is something incredibly artistic about your body, and it makes me think perhaps this God of yours is a sculptor.
Thinking of God reminds me of Sophie, and Ruth, and Julie and Josephine. Julie called yesterday to tell us that Ruth was leaving her husband, and that she would be staying with the Naysoms until she got back on her feet. I'm happy she has them to rely on now. It won't change the loss of Sophie, but at least she will still be able to be connected to her in a most precious way.
I stop my reverie when you throw me my jeans,
"Hurry love, I don't want to miss my flight."
I grab your arm as you pass back to the bathroom, and pull you into a kiss.
You return to pack your final things, and I dress and move to the kitchen to pour some orange juice, then peek out the curtains to see our taxi waiting. Elliot and I volunteered to pull an early shift, since I had to be up anyway, El volunteered to chauffer us one more time to the airport, then take me straight to the station for work. I move to unlock the door as he steps outside the door.
"Anybody awake in there?"
"Come on in Elliot!"
"You girls ready?"
You step from the bedroom and steal a sip of my orange juice.
"As ready as we'll ever be."
Sitting in my seat as the plane taxis into Portland International I can still feel your tears on my cheeks. You didn't try to talk me out of this at the last minute, and I'm grateful. At the security line I might have bowed to your request. I could feel my resolve weakening every step I took away from you.
Hammond has taken care of everything though, and I find Stasik waiting with my car outside the door of baggage claim.
"Hey! I didn't expect to see you here."
"Jack wanted to make sure you got home ok before we finished packing up."
"How was it?"
"Good, bad ugly."
Stasik laughs, pulling into traffic and heading towards my home.
"And your girlfriend?"
"Still there. Waiting for me."
"Jack says you're staying here for awhile yet."
"Need some time to adjust to being alive again. I'll tell people about the name change, explain a little. I should finish up some work at the office before I just abandon them. And it will give time for the news to spread in New York."
Stasik nods, and we ride the rest of the way home in silence. I use the quiet to remember you at the airport, Elliot standing to the side after giving me an awkward hug and pat on the back.
"A year right?"
"A year. And then I'll come back."
I could see you trying to believe me. "Livvy, I swear to you."
"When you get back, we'll find a bigger place, make room for anything you want to bring with you."
"I still want to get my own place again Olivia. That hasn't changed. We need to do this slowly for a change."
"We'll talk about it when you get back."
I can't help sighing at your hopefulness.
"We'll talk when I get back."
"I love you Lexi." You're dead serious now, staring me down.
I nod, "I know. I love you too."
"Call me when you get in?"
Your kiss was full of longing, regretful. I tried to make mine gentle in response, calming. But I can't help letting your regret infect me to a certain degree. I leave you with a line from one of your favorite songs, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end. This is just our crossover Livvy. Time for something new"
Stasik pulls the car into the driveway and opens the door for me, helping me take my bags into the house before giving me a quick hug goodbye. He promises to tell the team thank you for me, and I turn to look at my home after I close the door behind him, not sure what to do here without someone watching me.
I spend my time unpacking, and find your leather jacket in my bag, and curse you knowing that you kept mine for yourself. You're such a goofball. When I'm done unpacking I head to the store for some groceries, trying to pass the time until I know you're done with work.
A few hours later my clock strikes six and I pick up the phone. You answer at the first ring,
"Benson. And this better be really damn good."
Have I ever told you I love the sound of your voice?
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