DISCLAIMER: These characters are the sole property of NBC Television and Wolf Productions. No copyright infringement was intended. No profit was made from their use. This story is the sole property of the author. Please do not archive without my permission.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Yes, I know I have strayed down a dangerous path, and quite probably I will receive some threats from those OTPer's out there who refuse to consider any pairing but A/O. I was led along this brimstone path by Killingtime2 and tremblingmoon. Any and all complaints or threats may be aimed in their directions. I am just an innocent author, tricked into writing this story. Well, that and I love Serena and was more than happy to provide her with such a lovely companion <g>.
QUOTE NOTE: The phrase "the softer side of Sears" was originally written by my friend and agitator tremblingmoon, in her story, "What the Easter Bunny Brings", which may be found on The Ladies of Trial by Jury. http://www.livejournal.com/community/tbj_ladies/
FANDOMS/PAIRING: Law and Order: SVU/Law and Order Alex Cabot/Serena Southerlyn
TITLE: Roughly translated... "If you wish to be loved, love."
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Si vis amari, ama
Alexandra Cabot sank down into the worn, musty smelling chair. The theater had most definitely seen better days. Vaudeville days, from the look of the faded, moth-eaten curtains that hid God knows what growing on the theater walls. The pervasive odor of mildew and unfulfilled dreams hung in the air, seeping into clothes and hair. Crappy theaters rarely promise less than crappy plays. Alex couldn't believe that she had let Serena talk her into coming here tonight.
Only the comfortably familiar feeling of the warm arm next to hers on the cracked armrest made the experience tolerable. Well, maybe not quite comfortable. The firm pressure of that arm, the thin layer of linen and silk that separated skin from skin, the faint scent of citrus and flowers that overcame the mildew, all made for less than comfortable. Familiar, distracting, definitely, but not comfortable. Still, it was a discomfort that Alex could get used to feeling.
She turned her head to stare for a moment, unobserved, at her companion, her friend. Serena's profile was pretty close to perfect. Straight, classical lines, golden hair, those blue eyes, that even now turned to meet her own, tolerant amusement bringing a mischievous twinkle to their azure depths. Alex found herself smiling back, her lack of enthusiasm for this little jaunt to off, off, off-Broadway increased by the teasing grin that lit Serena's face.
"Come on, Alex. Art for art's sake, remember? After all, the tickets were free, and we are here supporting a colleague. I mean, how bad can it be?" Serena asked, nudging Alex's arm with her own, teeth white against full lips as she grinned encouragingly at Alex.
"A former colleague who spent three years in law school, then toiled for five years, only to give up a job with the District Attorney's office to be a struggling actor. And I have a feeling that it can be plenty bad. Only really bad could afford this place," Alex replied disparagingly, pushing back at Serena's arm, enjoying the unassuming intimacy of the gesture.
"If I promise you a prize when it's over, will you stop wrinkling your nose up like that and open your mind to the possibilities?" Serena asked, despite the fact that she found Alex's expression rather adorable.
"What kind of prize?" Alex demanded suspiciously.
"Ice cream?" Serena laughed, her shoulder now matching the pressure of her arm as she leaned toward Alex. "Shoes? Jewelry? Wine? Women? Song?"
"Women?" Alex queried coyly, one eyebrow raised, blue eyes narrowed in curiosity at her friend's seemingly unintentional slip. Or was it? Alex had never been one for the "softer side of Sears" as Serena put it, but the past month or so she had found herself increasingly aware of her friend, of the subtle weave of her perfume, of the thick fall of blonde hair and brilliant blue eyes, of the softness of her body when they hugged goodbye.
Serena blushed slightly, a rueful smile touching the corners of her lips. "You know what I meant, Alex. Just be good and watch the play, all right and I'll buy you as many apple martinis as you can swallow."
Alex opened her mouth to reply just as the house lights flickered and went down. The frayed red curtains slid open and the time for conversation ended. Alex forced herself to focus on the play, on the words the actors flung out into the stale air, and not on the warmth of the arm next to hers and the woman sitting so close beside her.
Several times during the show, Alex reached over to grasp Serena's arm, on the surface merely drawing her attention to a particular line that she found amusing, but in truth, enjoying the feel of the slender appendage under her hand, the flex of muscles, the heat beneath Serena's silk shirt. About halfway through the play, Alex simply left her hand there, fingers curled gently around Serena's forearm. Alex noticed the Serena glanced at her a few times, her gaze speculative, but she made no effort to move her arm from Alex's grasp, and indeed, once or twice touched Alex's hand lightly with her own at particularly funny moments.
The thought occurred to Alex that all she would have to do would be to slip her hand down a few inches and she could feel the softness of skin and the gentle embrace of Serena's fingers around her own. Alex shoved the idea far back in her mind, shaking her head in amazement at its very existence. What had happened in the last month to bring her to this stage? She didn't know, but she left her hand where it lay.
An hour and a half later and the two emerged into the crisp November night, their laughter echoing off the solid brick of the surrounding buildings. The play had actually been amazingly good. Even Alex had admitted, wiping away a stray, humor provoked tear, that she was pleasantly surprised.
Instead of hailing a cab, they began to walk past closed storefronts, stopping to stare into display windows already festooned with Christmas decorations, the green and reds long faded by the sunlight of too many winter days. Without conscious decision, Alex slipped her arm through Serena's, drawing her friend's body close to her side as they strolled casually toward the intersection and the waiting taxis.
"Admit it, Alex, you had a good time tonight," Serena teased, her eyes dark sapphire in the limited glow of the streetlights.
"I was with you. How could it not be good?" Alex replied softly, almost caressingly, the words leaving her lips before her brain had fully processed the implications.
Serena was silent as Alex's words hung, suspended with her frosty breath in the air between them. She stopped, her arm loosening but not pulling away from Alex's, turning them both so that they were facing each other in the shadowed expanse of half light. Her expression was uncertain, brows furrowed a bit, the inside of her bottom lip caught between straight white teeth.
Alex held her breath as Serena stared intently. She thought of laughing it off, of pretending she had not meant what she had so clearly meant, but the cautious hesitancy in Serena's face made her hold her tongue.
"Alex, what's going on?" Serena asked, her voice so quiet that Alex instinctively stepped closer to hear her, closing the already narrow distance between them. Alex paused, her first instinct to feign ignorance, the second to flee. Neither was a real option though, not if she wanted to keep what ever this was. Friendship, relationship, regardless of what she called it, it was important to her. Important enough to answer the question.
"Honestly, I'm not sure," Alex answered, sliding her arm free, her hand just catching Serena's as it fell to her side. She tried to keep her tone light, but her voice was weighed down by the tension that gripped the muscles in her throat. She rubbed her bare thumb across the back of Serena's gloved hand, feeling the cold leather against the pad of her finger. Alex knew that any move must be hers to make. Serena would never presume, never do anything to make Alex uncomfortable. The ball was definitely in her court. "I'm finding that my brain has a mind of it's own, or some part of my body does, anyway."
"Does this part of your body have any specific ideas, or is this just post-adolescent longing for forbidden fruit?" Serena asked, her face inscrutable.
"I deserved that, I guess," Alex said softly, "I'm just trying to be honest with you, Serena. Clearly, something's changed in the way I see you and I'm not sure what to do about it."
"What if I told you to forget it, Alex, just to let it go, that nothing is different?"
"Are you telling me that?" Alex asked, her stomach clenching as she voiced the words.
Something in Serena's face, in her silent answer pulled Alex toward her until there were mere centimeters separating them. Alex could smell the soft sweet scent of Serena's perfume, and feel the warmth emanating from her body as she reached out, tentatively, and slid her hand under the edge of Serena's coat, feeling the smooth silk of her shirt against her bare palm.
"Serena?" Alex asked again, the name expelled with her breath, soft and husky. Her gaze focused instinctively on the curve of Serena's lips, the minute dimple on each side of her mouth that Alex realized, with a flash of insight that she had been longing to kiss, to savor.
Serena's blue eyes finally met her own, shadowed to nearly black by the darkness of the street and the hundred different emotions flitting through them. Alex waited for her to speak. The din of the city, the traffic, the car horns, the sounds of lives being lived, all faded to white noise, unimportant, blocking out the rest of the world.
"What do you think that you want, Alex?" Serena asked seriously, her enunciation even more precise than usual.
"Right now? Right now, I want to kiss you," Alex answered simply, the honesty clear in her face.
"And after that?" Serena's voice gave no hint of emotion, she might well have been in court.
Alex stopped the flippant remark that nearly tripped off her tongue. Now was not the moment for facetiousness. Cautiously she reached out and slid her other arm under Serena's coat, her hand flitting along smooth silk to join its companion in the small of Serena's back. Tugging gently, she drew the slender body toward her own until Alex could feel the press of hips and breasts against her own.
"After that, I'm fairly certain that I'd like to try to love you," Alex whispered gently, the truth of the statement resonating inside her mind. She and Serena fit somehow. It wasn't background, or jobs, or taste in wine. It just was, the same way that Alex had felt the perfect meshing of their bodies as she drew Serena to her.
With a soul-deep sigh, Serena's head fell forward, her forehead coming to rest against the front of Alex's shoulder. Her hair covered her face, hiding her expression. For long minutes the only sound that reached Alex's ears was the soft sound of Serena's breathing. The fact that she hadn't pulled away gave Alex hope, and she inclined her head to rest her cheek against Serena's hair, inhaling the scent of grapefruit and orange shampoo.
Slowly, Serena's hands rose from her sides to glide up Alex's side, slipping to fasten securely around her waist. She lifted her head and even in the faint light, Alex could see from her expression that some decision had been reached.
"I do get to try the kiss out first, don't I, just to make sure that I like it, before I make any future commitments?" Serena replied after a moment, tilting her head sideways a bit so that Alex could see the teasing grin just gracing full lips.
"I've never had any complaints in the past," Alex told her haughtily, her own mouth intentionally untouched by the smile that lit her blue eyes.
"You've never kissed me," Serena stated mischievously. "I'm very picky when it comes to kissing. After all, kissing is an art, Alex."
"Try me," Alex challenged, tightening her arms around Serena and pulling her body even more firmly against her own.
"Ars gratia artis, eh, Alex?" Serena laughed, one gloved hand reaching up to gently cup Alex's face.
Tilting her head forward, Alex captured Serena's lips with her own. This was no chaste, gentle first kiss. Alex felt her senses being overwhelmed, the scent of perfume, the taste of lipstick, the smooth, silken texture of Serena's lips, slick and warm and almost unbearably soft. She instinctively increased the pressure of her lips, encouraged by the muffled moan that slipped from Serena's throat, needing to reassure herself of the existence of those delightfully yielding lips beneath her own.
Alex pulled back a little, her eyes dropping to those now bruised looking lips. Inclining her head again, Alex gently traced the outline of Serena's mouth with the tip of her tongue, dipping finally into those delectable dimples at the edges of her lips. At that touch, Serena's fingers, which had slipped into Alex's hair, tightened convulsively, as a soft whimper caressed Alex's ears.
Pulling back fully, Alex watched as Serena's eyes, somewhat unfocused, slowly opened. Her expression was pleasantly bemused.
"Actually, si vis amari, ama," Alex whispered leaning her forehead against Serena's, "If you wish to be loved, love. Come home with me?"
"Assuming you passed the kissing test, huh?"
"Considering the sounds you were making, it seemed safe," Alex laughed, reaching down to take Serena's hand tightly in her own and drawing her forward as they began walking slowly down the street. "Do you make any other noises?"
"You'll have to wait and find out, Counselor," Serena tantalized, "After all, I did promise you a prize for sitting through the play. I just didn't know at the time it was going to be me."
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