DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Belongs to Dick Wolf and a bunch of others.
DEDICATED: To Tiffany, for her birthday. Happy 25th, Tiffany!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
COVER ART: Here.
Something Like It
By DiNovia and sHaYcH
Hearing the Star Spangled Banner as sung by a slightly inebriated Kristen Vaill nearly made Detective Olivia Benson leave right then and there. Only a promise made to her partner, Detective Elliot Stabler, kept her butt firmly planted on the sun bleached fiberglass bench that she had claimed for the duration.
In her left hand she held a barely touched beer and in the right, a limp pennant in sky blue bearing the legend, "Sex Crimes" proclaimed her team spirit. It was neither warm nor cold, but rather a muggy kind of day when the air felt as thick as water.
Perfume, deodorant and cigarette smoke wreathed around her, creating a noxious miasma that only worsened when the hot dog vendor started competing with the popcorn guy.
Vaill's warbling came to an end, much to the relief of all present. The teams took the field and Olivia found herself mildly interested in the positioning. Elliot's team, and by extension, her team, lost the coin toss and ended up pitching first.
As the team spread out, Olivia found herself wishing that she had sat next to Kathy or one of the other squad wives because she realized that she knew next to nothing about the game. Like why was Elliot parked somewhere between first and second behind the pitcher and what the hell was Casey doing on the mound?
Oh, wait, that she could figure out. Casey spun a high, fast ball at the catcher and then went into a quick toss and catch relay with each of the other team members. It had the earmarks of a ritual.
The beer was nearly flat. Liv made a face but took another drink anyway. At four bucks a pop, she wasn't flush enough in the financial department to afford chucking the old drink for a new one. At least she had eye candy. Casey Novak, ADA extraordinaire, was in fine form on the field today.
Hair pulled back, cap pushed low and jersey just a shade too small, the pretty attorney commanded Olivia's full attention. Oh, there were others who were dressed just as enticingly even Liv had to admit that Stabler cut a fine figure in his uniform but it was Novak who had the older detective wishing that she were brave enough to buy her a drink after the game.
Alex would never have come to a baseball game. Well, no, she would have come, but she wouldn't have played on the team, much less been their star player. God, wasn't that strange? To think of Alex and not feel like someone had shoved the hose of a Kirby into her lungs.
It was liberating.
The crack of a bat signified the start of the game. Olivia finished her beer and settled in to watch.
Casey was pitching well, though not so well that she felt as though she were flying through the game. Though that might have had something to do with the person sitting near left field, three rows up, six people in on the bleachers.
Olivia Benson, detective with NYPD's Special Victims Unit and ADA Novak's personal favorite fantasy, watched the game with such casual boredom that Casey wondered if she would end up comatose by the bottom of the ninth. Baseball was clearly not Olivia's passion.
That was okay, though. Just having her there made the game that much sweeter for Casey. She was going to owe Stabler big time, though he knew it not. With one last glance toward the detective in the stands, Casey wound up to throw.
If success had feathers, Elliot Stabler would be spitting pillows and comforters for weeks. After all the times he had pressed his dour partner to come to a game, what finally enticed her was the casual mention that Casey had joined the cops team and suddenly, Olivia was a baseball fan.
It didn't take a detective to put that together and get four. Elliot looked over at his partner. To the unschooled observer, she appeared to be asleep, but to him, she was nothing more than a symphony played on low volume. At any moment, she could come to life, a crescendo of force that had taken more than one perp by surprise.
If he was patient, he might see it happen.
Elliot split his attention between the game and his partner. For the first half, she seemed indifferent to anything but the beer in her hand but by the bottom of the fourth, she was watching Casey with all the intense concentration of a rookie on her first stakeout.
The detective returned his gaze to the stands. Yep, just as he suspected Liv hadn't moved. Her eyes were still focused solely on Novak. Elliot hid a smile and looked over the crowd some more. Not a bad haul. Concessions should be happy with them.
Kathy was there, with the kids. That allowed his smile to flourish. He waved, and got five enthusiastic waves in return. He and Kathy still had their problems they hadn't found their way back yet but at least she still cared enough to come and cheer the team to victory.
Maybe tonight, she'd let him take the family out for pizza after the game.
Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two outs, three points down it was the classic baseball moment, and Casey Novak was living it. The Louisville Slugger in her hands was hard, the scent of grass and dust tickled her nose and the bright lights of the ball field were blinding when she peered up at them.
Sweat trickled down her back and pooled at her waistband. Licking her lips, she glared at the pitcher for White Collar Crimes. He grinned confidently. She had already swung twice at a wicked curveball and a corkscrewing slider that very nearly smacked her arm.
Her eyes narrowed. He wound up and threw. The world slowed to heartbeats. Thump. Sweat fell from her nose and splattered on the dusty ground. Thump. The ball was midair, halfway to her bat. Thump. Muscles flexed and tendons twisted. Thump. Crack! Bat and ball collided. White leather spun high and far, twisting, flying, rising and reaching for the top of the fence.
Casey's bat spun horizontally away from her as her feet carried her toward first base. Her gaze locked on the ball, she ran, and ran. Distantly, she noted that her feet had touched the bag for first and she rounded to second. The ball cleared the fence. A low, far off rumble began to pound in her chest. As she ran, she saw Stabler ahead of her. He leaped off of third base as she hit the bag. Casually, almost aimlessly, Elliot meandered toward home. She joined him.
They shared a grin.
"Nice one, Case," he muttered softly. "Look." He nudged her shoulder and nodded toward the stands.
Olivia was standing, frantically waving her "Sex Crimes" pennant and yelling as loudly as the other SVU team fans.
Casey's grin was brighter than the field lights.
"I think you have a fan, counselor." Elliot smirked. "Don't wait for her to ask invite her for drinks." His advice was delivered sotto voce as they each touched home plate.
The cheers only got louder as the game officially ended. The cops team swarmed out of the dugout and surrounded her. She was alternately hugged, patted, shaken and touched by every gleeful player. Fin lifted her up until she sat on their shoulders and then they ran across the field in a wave of blue-clad bodies. As they reached the locker room doors, she was lowered and then ritually doused with the remaining Gatorade.
She didn't think she could smile any brighter until she saw who was waiting for her inside the clubhouse. Standing against a wall, hands shoved in her pockets, head tipped down in a nonchalant pose of near boredom, Detective Olivia Benson barely even moved when the team rushed past her.
Only when Casey reached her side did she look up and offer the ADA a tiny, fragmentary smile. "Good game, Case."
A million things to say came gushing out of her brain, but not one word escaped the attorney's lips. Instead, she returned Liv's slight smile with a nod of her head. "Thanks." Sweaty orange sports drink puddled at her feet, staining the floor. Licking her lips, Casey said, "I, uh, should get cleaned up."
As if realizing the ADA's state for the first time, Olivia nodded. "Yeah, you probably should." Her gaze flicked to Casey's and she felt like drowning in the verdant green forest looking back at her. She shrugged and pushed away from the wall.
She was two steps from the exit when Casey's low voiced question finally registered.
"You want to get a drink with me, Detective?" The words pinged home like tiny notes on a keyboard. They were the opening lines to a song and dance that Olivia had been so careful to avoid participating in that for a moment, she almost didn't recognize them.
She looked a spot beyond the ADA. A far off clock ticked the seconds between question and answer. The louder the ticks became, the less hopeful the look on Casey's face grew until her shoulders slumped. Defeated, she nodded. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow then." She was proud that her tone never wavered. After all, it wasn't like Liv had laughed mockingly and told her that she wasn't that way. Or worse yet, recoiled in atavistic fear and ran screaming from the room. Casey was positive she would not be able to handle such a reaction from the woman who haunted her dreams. Not again.
Nausea roiled in her stomach as unwanted memory began to surface. Swallowing heavily, she turned to walk away.
"Casey, wait." Olivia's voice came like a breath of cool wind on a hot summer day.
The ADA turned to look back at the detective. One eyebrow raised in question, "Liv?"
"That drink I'd like to have it, um, one. With you. Tonight."
Shy Olivia was so fucking adorable that Casey nearly melted into a puddle of orange and blue goo.
"If that's if you still want to?" Liv bit her lip. Would her nerves cost her yet another chance? Would she watch another possibility close the door and turn away?
Casey smiled. "I'd love to. I'll meet you out front in twenty, okay?"
Nodding, Olivia left the building.
Waiting. Watching the teams trickle away in groups of two and three, Olivia kept herself pressed into the shadows. She didn't want to be invited to any after game parties or find herself locked into discussions regarding her love life and lack of it.
Elliot was in the parking lot, getting hugs from his family. By the smile on his face, and the soft, sad expression on Kathy's, it looked like he was going to be spending the night deciding whether to get pepperoni or sausage. Good for him. Good for Kathy Elliot was a good man, if a little unable to let go of the Job.
Pot to kettle, hello this is the blackness of being overly obvious calling.
So all right, she had issues too. She didn't have a family. No spouse or um-friend of either sex to ask the hard questions she couldn't answer. At one time, there might have been somebody, but fate in the form of a Columbian drug lord came in and tore that tapestry to shreds.
Platinum ice made human, given the gift of oratory and the conscience of a cop. Between them, something had been growing. It was there, greener everyday, just waiting for the right moment when it would flower and be ready to be picked.
That day never came. Six months since Alex had drifted into their lives, ghost-like and still filled with the courage of her convictions and Olivia had spent every one of those days trying to purge the ice from her heart.
She was a ghost of a dream vanished into the nebulous never-never of the witness protection program where she would remain until hell froze over. Or until the Marshals felt that it was safe for her to reemerge into the world as Alexandra Cabot. If she wanted that life back.
New identities often grew into the person wearing them. The old life became like an old t-shirt comfortable, but so full of holes that the only time they could be worn was in bed.
Six months was a long time to spend chipping away at ice. It was time to breathe again.
Casey Novak was heat and flame and fire and sunshine and all the things that Alex Cabot wasn't, and she wasn't running away. Maybe it was time for Olivia to step from the shadows.
A door opened. Casey stepped out and looked around for Olivia. The detective took a moment to absorb the ADA's solid realness. Even in semi-darkness, she glowed with life.
The scent of apples wafted over to her. It was fresh, clean and invigorating. Casey's head turned and she spotted Liv.
Her smile was soft and welcoming. "Detective? I believe we have a drink date?" She held out a hand. It only wavered a little. Tiny tremors that might have been nerves or exhaustion pulsed through the jacketed limb.
Liv pushed away from the wall, reaching to accept the offered hand. She met Casey's growing smile with one of her own. "A drink it is, Counselor. Perhaps we can add some food to that list, too. I'm starving."
Beer and pizza was one of the perfectly acceptable ways for one to find sustenance after a sporting event such as baseball. Usually this was done at some hole in the wall, mom and pop pizzeria with the teams in attendance laughing, growing more boisterous by the minute and making doubtlessly false claims of physical prowess.
Perhaps the rest of the cops and lawyers teams were doing just that, somewhere else in the city. Not so Casey Novak and Olivia Benson. For them, only the quiet solitude of Novak's upper West Side apartment would do, and Casey wasn't above insisting on it.
"Really, detective, you'll be very comfortable. The rumors of the postage stamp nature of the rooms aside, I've got the best collection of weird and wacky movies and music this side of the Hudson." She flashed her sweetly persuasive smile at Olivia and added, "Please? I'd rather not be surrounded by oodles of testosterone."
God, why did she have to beg? The eyes it was always the eyes that did Olivia in. Casey's being no exception to the rule. In the dim street light that flashed in through the car windows, they were gray and soft and filled with the hope that Liv wouldn't look too deep and see the hidden agenda that lingered within the ADA's thoughts.
Olivia Benson had been a detective for far too long to be fooled. Yet she willingly allowed Casey's plea to set her destination.
"All right, but I want a root beer float."
There was something childlike in Casey's laughter, and that something made warm shivers skitter up and down Olivia's spine.
"Anything you want, Detective. Though I would have pegged you for a beer person, myself."
Olivia smiled enigmatically. "Beer'll be fine with the pizza. The float's for after." They were stopped outside of a grocery store.
Casey slid out of her seat and bent over to look the detective in the face. "Domestic or imported?"
Liv shrugged. "Anything so long as it's not crunchy, chunky or flavored."
Casey mouthed the words, "Chunky beer?" and wrinkled her nose. "I'm not sure I even want to know," she said. "So, something dark and foamy is fine? I'm in the mood for something imported."
"Guinness sounds good to me," Liv said. "I'll put in the pizza order. Fish or no fish?"
"No fish. Pepperoni, olive, mushroom, heck you can even have them put sliced up sweat socks on it, but please, no anchovies." Casey shuddered convulsively.
"Okay, got it. No fish," Liv said as she dialed the pizzeria's number. Casey flashed her a smile brilliant with teeth and sprinted into the store.
What are you doing, Benson? In less than twenty minutes you will be holed up in Casey Novak's apartment, drinking beer and eating pizza. If she mentions putting on a movie, it'll become suspiciously like a date.
In the abstract, letting go of Alex and reaching for the flicker that was Casey seemed too perfect. Faced with the reality of the living breathing flame, Olivia suddenly found herself afraid of getting burned.
And me without my sunscreen
Casey appeared bearing a case of Guinness and a bag that likely contained the makings for root beer floats.
"A little help here, Liv? I'm talented but having a third arm isn't one of my many skills."
"The way you swung that bat today, one would think it was your third arm," Liv quipped as she leaned over to open the door.
Casey made a face and stuck her tongue out at the detective. "Ha-ha. That's a new one. I'm sure the boys hear it all the time."
Olivia shrugged. "Wouldn't know. Not much for hanging out with the boys at baseball games. Actually, I'm not much for baseball games."
"Really? I wouldn't have noticed," Casey said. There was a teasing smirk on her face. "You seemed rather into the game tonight."
The tips of Olivia's ears flared red. "I, ah, it was pretty intense, I guess."
"Detective, if you think that's intense, you ain't seen nothing yet," Casey said and waggled her eyebrows suggestively.
Liv rolled her eyes. "Oh that was subtle, Casey."
The attorney bit the corner of her lip. "If you want subtle, Olivia, I'll give you that, too." Demurely, she sat back against the door and crossed her legs at the ankles. Folding her fingers together, she calmly looked ahead and began to give quiet directions on how to get to her apartment.
For the rest of the trip, Casey limited her conversation to "turn right, stop here, turn left" and finally, "you can park in this spot here." Here was a slot between an SUV and a sports car in an underground garage.
The two women exited the car with the groceries and Casey's sporting equipment. By the time they reached the attorney's door, the pizza delivery guy was waiting for them. While Casey fumbled for her keys, Olivia paid him. Once inside, the food was set on the counter and the rest of the gear stowed in a corner.
Casey's apartment was different than Olivia expected. It was small, almost uncomfortably so, with a smattering of Ikea catalog descendants as well as several pieces that looked as though they might have been made right around the time Casey's mother was born.
The ADA leaned against the half wall separating her kitchen from the dining area and watched Olivia look around. The detective's gaze took in everything, from the placement of the one window overlooking the fire escape to the tiny hall that led back to her bedroom and the bathroom.
"Want the half-bit tour?" Casey asked softly.
Liv shoved her hands in her pockets, suddenly very uncomfortable. Now that she was here, surrounded by Novak's things, wreathed in the subtle perfume of Casey's life, Olivia didn't know what to say. Or do, for that matter. Dating was not her strong point, and dating a co-worker had, so far, ended up disastrously.
I can't do this. I can't take the chance that I'll hurt her.
Casey may not have been a trained investigator, but she was an excellent prosecutor. She had learned the hard way when a witness was about to change their testimony, and not to her benefit. Recognizing the subtle hints the tightening of the fine lines around Olivia's eyes, the flaring of her nostrils, the defensive posturing Casey realized that the detective was seconds away from running out of the room like a scared rabbit.
Carefully affixing a relaxed smile on her face, Casey said, "Hey, you want that float with dinner, or afterwards?" Taking a risk, she turned away from Olivia and began to unpack the groceries. The beer went into the fridge, as did the ice cream and soda. There were a few other things a box of cereal, a bottle of dish soap these she stowed away without comment.
Paper plates appeared on the table, along with napkins and silverware. Olivia watched Casey as she moved about with economy. Candles were briefly touched, then ignored in favor of dimmed lighting. A stereo was turned on and something soft and melodic filled the room with sound.
It was not Berlioz, or even something so prosaic as Beethoven. Whatever this music was, it was nothing at all like the richly melodic strains of the classical that Alex Cabot had preferred. When a woman's voice began to sing, Olivia realized that it could only be the blues.
Nina Simone, I think.
The absolute normalcy that Casey was projecting worked to calm the detective down enough that she sat at the table. "Beer," she said when the attorney went to her fridge and shot a questioning look in Olivia's direction.
Dinner was uncomfortably quiet. Chewing, drinking and Nina Simone wrestled for dominance. The pizza was mostly demolished and four empty Guinness bottles littered the table. Casey sighed contentedly, dropping her head back against the back of her chair. The CD came to an end and in the space between the shuffling of the player, she belched.
Giggling furiously, she said, "Sorry. Beer does that to me."
Olivia laughed. God, why did she feel so uncomfortable? It was just Casey Novak. She looked at the ADA and felt her heartbeat treble. That's why, Liv. She makes you shake like a teenager.
"Ready for your float?" Casey stood and began clearing the table. Keep her relaxed. Talk, Casey. It's what you do for a living. Pretend she's a skittish witness. "I think the next CD is something Celtic. If that's not to your taste, you're welcome to raid my shelves."
Olivia made as if to speak, but the pleading look in Casey's eyes stalled her words. The music began and it was, as the ADA had said, something Celtic. It wasn't offensive, and was cheery enough that the detective didn't feel like she was going to drop into a food coma.
She sighed and moved from the table to the couch. Maybe she could do this, if she just picked her way from one conversational minefield to the other. All it would take was determination and Olivia had that in spades.
"The float sounds good. You got a deck of cards around here? We could do something banal like play rummy." She flashed a light smile at the attorney, who shrugged.
"Yeah, I think so. Give me a bit to dig around for it. My grandfather was a poker player, so there's bound to be something around here."
"Ah, so that explains it."
"Explains what?" The crack of a soda can opening was followed by the spicy-sweet scent of root beer.
"The completely eclectic nature of this place," Olivia said. "Legacy apartment?"
Casey came into the living room bearing a tall, frosty glass. White ice cream soda foam frothed over the edge as she set it and a long spoon on the coffee table.
"Yeah, my grandmother decided to move in with my dad. Since I was living in a studio before this, she was generous enough to deed the place to me."
"So even though it's small it's "
"Rent controlled," they spoke simultaneously, then dissolved into giggles.
"Let me see about those cards." Casey spent a few minutes poking around in a closet and finally came up with a dusty box full of poker chips and decks of cards.
The chips varied in color, just like at a casino. Olivia snagged a lime green one and smiled. "Well, I see where you get your color palette from."
Casey stuck her tongue out at Olivia. "Then I guess this one must be yours?" She flipped a blue chip at the detective.
"Sure, it's worth ten times the green one," Olivia retorted. With a twist of her fingers, she displayed the chip's value of $100 against Casey's paltry $10 token.
One russet eyebrow raised as Casey eyed the two chips. "Are you challenging me, Olivia?" The attorney's voice dropped an octave and caused the hairs on the back of Olivia's neck to prickle with shivery attention.
Licking her lips, Liv said, "Sure. I've got a few bucks I can throw around."
Casey's smile was nearly feral. "Playing for money is illegal, Detective. Surely you're not suggesting we break the law."
Shifting in her seat, Olivia sipped at her float before saying, "What do you suggest for a wager then, Counselor?" Her eyebrow rose in similar challenge.
Casey's gaze flicked from Liv's shoes to her leather jacket, taking the time to pause at each article of clothing in between them. Looking down at her own lightly clad form, she said, "We could do the high school thing and play strip or dare."
Steel toned eyes flicked up as Olivia shifted once again. "Are you trying to get me naked, or embarrassed, Ms. Novak?"
"Are you giving me a choice? Because if I have that, then I'm afraid I'll have to abandon subtlety in favor of being blunt." Blunt like I want to lick that foam off your lips, right fucking now. Oh yeah, and you've got thirty seconds to get naked, by the way.
Oh shit. The pounding intensity rolling off Casey hit Olivia in a wave that set her hormones jangling and her nerves sparkling with the craving to be touched just like that. Visceral visions of Casey's coppery hair trickling over her naked flesh fluttered before Olivia's eyes. It was so real she could smell her shampoo.
Suddenly, she very much wanted to play strip or dare with the beautiful attorney.
"I think I like subtlety, Counselor. Five card stud okay with you?" Liv scooped up a deck of cards and quickly ascertained that all fifty-two were present.
Taken aback by the officer's sudden change in attitude, Casey said, "Fine by me. I'll get the chips to the table."
It didn't take long to portion out the chips. Olivia shuffled and dealt the first hand. "We'll alternate for fairness," she said as she laid out each card.
"All right. Blue chips are dares," Casey said as she handed Olivia her stack.
"Which makes the green ones strip tokens?" Liv smirked. "Why do I think that you'll be hoarding those?" She took in the attorney's lightweight shirt, trousers and socks with a long gaze.
"Oh, you never know, Detective. Maybe I like being naked." Casey waggled her eyebrows. "Or maybe I know I'm going to beat the pants off of you." Her smile was worth at least a thousand watts.
"Beer, Casey. Poker night calls for beer."
"But your float?"
Liv tipped her glass back and slugged down the remaining bits of the ice cream and soda. "Is gone," she said, burping loudly. A thin line of foam dribbled down the corner of her mouth.
Unable to stop herself, Casey leaned forward and swiped the creamy liquid away with her thumb and then sucked it off. "Mm," she said, licking her lips. "Sweet."
Mouth parted slightly, cards forgotten, Liv stared up at Casey with glazed eyes.
Sonofabitch! Son of a motherfucking bitch! Oh, fuck. I am in so much trouble.
I'm going to get into so much trouble tonight. The attorney smiled wickedly. "One beer, coming right up." If there was a certain emphasis on some of Casey's words, Olivia chose to ignore it.
Beer. Poker. God, could this get any more testosterone laden? Casey stared at the cards in her hand and sighed. A whole lot of nothing. Ace of diamonds, deuce of spades, the six and the jack of hearts and a nine of clubs were what she'd managed to cobble together after two draws from Liv's deck. Not the best of shit hands, though not the worst either. Ace high nothing. Well, that would only win for her if Liv had something less than nothing and by the way the detective was smirking, she had a hand that was worth more than the current pot of two dares and a strip.
She fingered a green chip loosely, then sighed and tossed in a dare. "Call." What the hell if she lost the hand, she'd only have to embarrass herself. She wanted to save the clothing optional part of the game for much later, after at least two more beers. Her ace-high nothing hand hit the table in a fan of cards.
"So we never did decide how this was won," Liv said as she considered her hand and the meager pot.
"Loser's last bet is the forfeit," Casey said.
"So you're saying you're up for a dare, but not for taking off your socks?" Olivia met the bet with a dare chip and laid her cards on the table. Full house, kings full of fours.
Casey laughed delightedly. "That's exactly what I'm saying. So what do you want me to do? Sing the national anthem on the roof?"
Olivia grasped her beer bottle, swirled the contents and then swigged. Licking her lips, she said, "I dare you to crank call Elliot."
"Oh, too easy," Casey said, rising to get her home phone. Punching in numbers, she waited until there was an answer and then began to breathe very heavily. The phone's tinny speaker broadcast Stabler's voice demanding to know who was calling.
Liv nearly broke something she was trying so hard not to laugh. Casey just kept breathing hard.
"I'm going to look at the caller ID and if this is some fucking skel, I swear to God I'm coming over there and bashing your skull in!"
Casey hung up the phone and Olivia burst into hysterical laughter. Raising her eyebrows, the attorney said, "I believe it's my turn to deal." I'll apologize to El later. He'll understand.
At the end of round two, Olivia found herself staring at a pair of threes and three face cards that did not match in any way. Oh well. Guess I lose my shoes. Better than being dared to do She couldn't articulate what she thought the attorney would ask of her, but she knew it would be something to equal the crank call.
"Call," she said, tossing in a strip chip and laying out her cards.
"Oh, I know that hand it's one card better than my last hand," Casey said as she matched the bet and tossed her own cards on the table. Two pair, aces and sixes with a queen chaser made Olivia sigh.
"So, you get my shoes, counselor. Prepare for the scent of a full day's work." Liv untied her boots and kicked them free.
"You are definitely losing the socks next, Liv. God, have you never heard of odor eaters?" Casey wrinkled her nose.
Chuckling, Olivia scooped up her shoes and carted them over to the door. "Because I'm nice, you get my smelly socks too," she said as she peeled the offending objects off.
"Oo, you're so generous," Casey retorted. She got up and got them two fresh beers while the detective sat and shuffled the cards.
The attorney successively won the next three hands. Each time, Olivia lost an article of clothing. Now she and the ADA were on equal footing, garb wise. Both wore a shirt, pants and their underwear. In fact, Casey actually had the advantage as she still had her socks.
They were also more than halfway through the case of Guinness.
Casey looked at her cards. Jacks full of eights, full house and she felt good about it, but damn, if Liv had something better Did she want to risk a strip chip and lose her socks or was it time for another dare? She didn't want to do something silly like prank calling Elliot again. She wanted, powerfully, to kiss the alluring lips that the detective kept chewing in concentration.
A dare chip hit the pot. Casey looked up to see Olivia's smirk. "Call."
Swallowing, Casey pondered. She could forfeit her clothes that's about what ten chips would cost her or she could find out what was on Liv's mind. Either way, it's going to be interesting. If I get naked, and Olivia freaks, the night's over. If Liv's dare is something stupid, I might get cranky. Oh, the possibilities for problematic potential. A blue chip slid across the table and connected with the pot.
Their cards fanned out. Casey's full house was looking down the barrel of a two pair gun.
"Fuck me," she muttered.
Olivia's face drained of color. At a complete loss for words, she could only stare at Casey. When the ADA noticed her friend's trouble, she laughed bitterly.
"That was not the dare, Olivia. You can stop trying to figure out how fast I can run." Bitterness tinged the words.
Visibly relaxed, Olivia closed her eyes. "Casey, I "
"Unbutton your shirt," Casey said softly. It was not a request.
"I dare you, Olivia, to unbutton your shirt." Casey's eyes were emerald hard.
The detective swallowed. She was wearing a thin t-shirt under her blouse, but no bra. Her nipples tightened and a magnesium flare went off in her groin.
Casey stood and traveled the short distance around the table to Liv's side. Turning to face her, Liv nearly jumped from her skin when the ADA's hands grasped the top of her blouse.
"Do I have to do it myself?" Casey whispered.
Olivia was in free fall. Below her, the verdant fields of Casey's eyes flashed promisingly. Above her, the wide open space of flight beckoned. At her throat, soft fingers stroked the skin, and sent rivulets of gooseflesh trickling over her spine.
The CD changed again. Rock and roll enveloped the room in a blistering wall of cacophony. The drumbeat paced out the thuds of Liv's heart.
One button came free and she swallowed. "I can do it," she said and just like that, Casey was back in her seat, watching the detective intently.
A muscle in Olivia's jaw twitched as she raised her hands to finish what the ADA had started. Shortly, her shirt hung open, revealing the ribbed tee beneath. Casey's eyes were hooded as she stared at the detective. Then she licked her lips.
"Your deal, Liv."
Three more rounds ended in Liv losing her blouse, Casey her socks and a draw. The cards clicked together as Olivia shuffled. Casey was over at the entertainment center, replacing the CDs with a new selection of music. She went to the fridge and pulled out the last of the Guinness and brought the bottles to the table as Liv dealt the next hand.
"This is it, unless you're up for switching to something domestic. I have most of a twelve pack of Sam Adams left from last week's after game party."
Taking a bottle, Olivia said, "I think we should switch to coffee after this, actually. I still have to drive home."
Casey snorted. "Not after half a case of Guinness, you're not. My couch folds out into a bed if you'd rather not share mine." The ADA closed her eyes and sighed. "I did not mean that like it sounded." Yes I did.
I wish you did. "It's okay. Casey, I don't know what we're doing but " She flashed a quick smile at the attorney. "Whatever it is, I don't find you so repulsive that I wouldn't share your bed."
"That's good to know, Detective."
"Olivia. Liv, to my friends."
"Am I your friend, Olivia?"
"God, I hope so," Liv said. "After tonight, if we aren't friends then there is something seriously wrong with our communication skills."
"Are we? Communicating, I mean?" I want to say so much but if I speak, I'm afraid you'll run.
In a surprising move, Olivia reached her hand across the table, palm up. Casey covered it with hers and Liv clasped them together. Earnest steel eyes rose to meet the ADA's.
"I think so." The words were spoken softly but they echoed like a yodeler's call in Casey's heart.
Kiss me. Liv wanted to say it. Wanted to hear those words tumble past her lips or Casey's or both but as quickly as it had come, her courage fled. Withdrawing her hand, she smiled nervously and said, "How many cards do you want?"
Casey examined her cards. Her heart began to pound. I almost wish I was in Atlantic City right now. She had the makings for a royal flush. All she needed was the queen of hearts.
Well isn't this interesting? She traded her odd card and placed her bet a strip token.
Looking at the card, she very nearly sobbed in frustration. She had traded the deuce of diamonds for the tray of clubs. This is not helping. Liv matched her bet, tossed three cards and dealt. Casey watched the detective's body language closely. She was becoming familiar with Olivia's tells and the narrowing of her eyes was a big one.
The ADA made a show of shuffling her cards around, as though she were attempting to make the best of a bad choice and then tossed away the card she had just received. A dare chip followed it. This was not unusual. Her last three bets had gone the same way.
Liv said nothing, only picked up the discard and dealt Casey a second card. Her own hand, which was ten-jack crap, she shuffled nervously, tossed away three cards and matched the attorney's bet.
When she flipped her cards over, Liv's lips twitched into a smile. Somehow, she'd managed to scrape up a straight. Not bad for crap hand one and crap hand two toss and catches.
Casey's heart hammered triple time. What do I want, oh, what do I want? She lifted her card. The five of spades glared menacingly at her. Mocking laughter echoed in the ADA's head. Ah shitfuckingdamncocksuckingmotherfucker. Aloud, she whispered, "Crap."
"Is there a problem with your cards, Casey?"
"Oh, no. They're just fine." Did you just try to bluff, Casey? You suck at bluffing. God, I'm going to have to do something crazy, I just know it.
"What's your bet, then?" Olivia knew the words the ADA's body was screaming so well. A thousand perps had sat the same way in the box. It was the position that said, "I'm fucked." In a place of sudden power, Liv felt the six beers rush through her bloodstream. Filled with a heady need to express her freedom, she eagerly awaited Casey's bet. Strip or dare either way, she would get something she wanted.
The attorney eyed her opponent. Liv's expression gave nothing away. For all intents, she could be in an interrogation room, waiting patiently as a suspect divulged their last secret. She's so sexy when she's serious. Casey eyed her chip stacks, which were neither small nor large and decided. In for a penny
A lime green chip dropped onto the pile. "I call." She laid out her hand.
Liv whistled low and slow. "That was an almost, wasn't it, Case?" She grinned. "So, what do I get? Shirt or pants?" The mixed straight that she displayed made the attorney groan.
Raising a ruddy eyebrow, Casey stood and put her hands at her hips. "Which do you want, Detective?" Every word was caressed vocally until it rolled out in a purr that vibrated Olivia to her core.
"Your shirt." Liv sat back in the chair and waited.
"All right." Casey grasped the edges of her t-shirt and slowly lifted it up over her head. As it slid free, she tossed it into Liv's hands.
The cocky half grin on the detective's face was so openly appreciative that Casey felt her nipples tighten. Head held high, the ADA sat down, gathered the cards and said, "I believe it's my turn to deal?"
Holding the attorney's shirt tightly, Liv said, "Yes." She swept up the pile of chips and began to distribute them accordingly. Casey shuffled and dealt and then waited for Liv to look at her cards. The detective folded the t-shirt over one knee and picked up her cards. Just like the hand before, it was a mixed bag of possibilities. A pair of twos was the starting point. Keeping those, she tossed in a dare chip and handed over her discards. "Three."
The cards were passed over and Casey took two for herself. Bets were made, new cards taken and once again, they found themselves in the position of trying to gauge who had the better hand.
Olivia wasn't terribly comfortable with her two pair, but at least it was something. On the other hand, Casey's toes were curling. She had three of a kind, which unless her judgment about Liv's body language had missed its cue entirely, meant she was going to come out the winner.
The night wasn't getting any younger and once they started in on the coffee, Casey knew that whatever courage came out of the bottle would vanish. It took only a moment for a fantasy to come blazing to the surface of her mind. Decided, she tossed a dare chip onto the pile and called.
Liv smirked confidently. It was going to be so much fun watching Casey try to explain why she was wait Three of a kind beats two pair. Shit. Mouth suddenly dry, she put in her chip and slowly laid out her cards.
"Close your eyes, Olivia."
Briefly, she considered running leaving before whatever was about to happen could reshape the flavor of tonight's good time but a tiny voice inside of the detective reminded her that she had asked for Casey's shirt. She had stared while the ADA disrobed and she was the one who, even now, wished that the younger woman had not worn a bra.
She closed her eyes.
As soon as she did, she heard the attorney's chair scrape, then soft footsteps and then the sound of the refrigerator door opening. More sounds came. The clink of dishware, a hollow scraping and then, sooner than she realized, she heard Casey say, "Turn away from the table."
She did, managing not to upset her mostly empty beer in the process. Facing outward, she could sense the heat of the attorney before her.
"Now what?" she said. Her voice was hoarse.
For an answer, she felt the warm weight of Casey as she straddled her thighs. Blood pounded in Liv's head as she caught a whiff of perfume. She began to breathe heavily. In the pit of her stomach, fire erupted when Casey leaned forward and whispered, "I dare you to open your mouth."
Olivia's eyes almost shot open at that, but she managed to control herself. This was Casey's forfeit. The attorney had won the right to ask this and damned if Liv was going to falter now.
She opened her mouth. Something cool and creamy hit her tongue. The sweetness of vanilla ice cream exploded as she swallowed. Some of it dribbled down her chin. As she was about to open her eyes and wipe it away, she felt the warm softness of lips against her skin.
She could not breathe. Casey's lips and tongue slid up her chin and to her lips where they paused briefly.
What is she waiting for? Kiss me, damn it! She was holding her breath. Tiny knives cut fine slices into her willpower. Gonna open my eyes She moaned softly.
As if that were the magic password, Casey's hovering caress turned into a deep, searching kiss that nearly melted Liv into the chair. Her hands came up and buried themselves in the attorney's hair.
The bowl of ice cream clattered to the table, forgotten. Casey wanted to cry with relief. Her gamble had paid off, big time.
Once she had tasted Casey, Liv had to have more, now. Trailing feather kisses over the ADA's throat, she paused at the pounding pulse and said, "Another hand?"
"Are you kidding?" Casey pulled back and looked at Olivia like she was insane.
Liv laughed. "Kiss me, Casey. Fuck the cards."
"No thanks; the paper cuts would be awful." Casey's eyes danced with merriment. She feathered her fingers through Olivia's hair and said, "What now?"
"I don't know." Liv pressed a kiss into the palm of Casey's hand. "What do you want?"
"Anything. Everything. You. Around me, inside me, God, Olivia " She fell into the next kiss, drowning in the sensation of Liv's lips and tongue as they swept her up in a swelling frenzy of need.
The catch of Casey's bra came free under the detective's nimble fingers. Lavender fabric slithered down alabaster pale arms, revealing even paler flesh. The attorney's coral tipped nipples, already tightened, beckoned enticingly. Liv lowered her head and kissed a trail over the slopes and swells of Casey's neck and chest until she could capture one of the sensitive areoles in her mouth.
Casey's head lolled back as she moaned softly. Grinding her hips into Olivia, she whispered, "Yes. Like that, oh God, just like that." Smiling wickedly, the attorney dipped her fingers into the bowl of ice cream and drizzled the sweet, sticky substance over the breast to which Olivia was paying such delightful attention.
Not requiring any encouragement, Liv lapped up the treat and then pulled away, caught Casey's hand and licked her fingers clean as well. By the time she was finished, she knew exactly what she wanted. "Casey?"
"Mm?" The attorney was lost in the sensation of Liv's tongue as it twirled and slid over her fingertips.
Liv suddenly stood, causing Casey to slide down her legs. Stumbling against the detective, Casey tipped her head down and whispered, "Take me to bed, Olivia."
Bed. Right. Oh fuck. I'm so hot I'm going to fucking explode. Bed. The internal monologue followed Olivia as she and Casey stumbled down the hallway, leaving a trail of shed clothing to mark their passage.
The bedroom was the one place where Casey's mark became apparent. Instead of the odd conglomeration of inherited and big-box furniture, this room was decorated in a tastefully wild style. The walls were tinted peach and the bedding shaded in hues of forest and mountains. Everywhere there was a sense of the outdoors, even though they were definitely inside. The one window was home to a dozen rampantly growing plants. All of this was incidental to the absolute perfect harmony that Casey's lips were creating as they glissaded over Olivia's neck, throat and shoulders.
Standing in the room, Casey pulled back and looked Olivia in the eyes. "No more dares. This is just you and me, Liv. Do you want this?"
For an answer, Olivia swept Casey up, pushed her against the door and captured her lips in a deep kiss. "Yes," she murmured against the attorney's swollen mouth. "Yes, and yes, and yes again." Each affirmative answer was punctuated by another kiss.
Casey laughed joyously. Wrapping her hands around Liv's head, she held the detective in place while she pressed a slow, deep kiss into her lips. Their bodies slid together, a feather-light friction that sent shards of need dancing deep into her center.
Falling into the embrace, Olivia was surprised when Casey slipped away, leaving her to tumble against the door. As she turned to search for her would-be lover, she spotted the attorney's lithe, tall form bouncing from candle to candle around the room, lighting each until the area was filled with a soft, flickering glow.
Olivia crossed to the bed. The covers were still tumbled back from when Casey had risen that morning. The sheets looked wonderfully inviting. She could see the faintest impression of the younger woman's body. Trailing her fingers along the imagined form, she said, "Come to bed, Casey." Lowering herself slowly, Olivia moved across the bed until there was just enough room for the attorney to join her.
All but leaping into the sheets, Casey eagerly joined her. Passion clouded her eyes and she reached for Liv only to be met by the gentlest of kisses. It was slow, so slow that each caress seemed to last an eternity. Gathered in Olivia's arms, Casey felt enveloped by her lover.
"Liv?" she said softly between embraces. She scratched her blunted nails down the detective's back, coming to a rest at the smooth swells of her bottom.
Nuzzling her, Olivia said, "You deserve to be cherished, Casey." She punctuated her statement by drawing the attorney even closer. "I want to do that, and so much more."
Astounded by the emotional turn Olivia had taken, Casey could only rest her head against the detective's breastbone. "What are you saying, Liv?" Lazily, she drew abstract patterns over her lover's naked flesh.
Liv sighed. "More than my head wants me to," she said, and laughed softly.
Casey looked up and said, "You confuse me."
"I'm confusing myself." Olivia pressed a kiss to Casey's forehead. "Just let me hold you? Please? There'll be plenty of time for love later."
"Love?" Casey's tone was fraught with emotion. Abject fear warred with broken hope while incredulity sat in the corner and kept score.
Sifting strands of copper hair, Olivia laid her cheek against Casey's head. "Love or something so very like it as to make no difference. I'm no real judge of the fonder feelings, Casey. My mistakes shout louder than the successes, of which you would be the first, if you'll have me."
What a tightrope walk I've landed on now! Sex with her would have been less complicated and I already knew that was going to be a knot of Gordian proportions. Bravery is not just a badge she carries in the face of human perversion.
Casey pulled away from Liv, forcing the detective to look her in the eyes. A tiny smile bowed her lips. "I want you, Olivia Benson. In my life, in my bed anywhere you will fit. If you're willing to make that something permanent, something serious, then not only will I have you, I'll stand on the steps of One PP and shout it to the world."
Simultaneously, they reached out their hands and entwined them.
Liv's lips echoed Casey's smile. "So is it love?"
"Or something like it," Casey said, leaning forward to kiss her lover. "Something very like it." Her breath hitched as Olivia freed her hand and then guided her down into the bed.
With gentle fingers, the detective breezed light touches over Casey's body. Shivering with excitement and anticipation, the attorney could hardly keep still. Able to touch the reality of her fantasies, she gave in to temptation and let her fingers map every inch of Olivia's body that she could reach.
Arching under the loving assault, Liv returned like with like. Kissing, touching, licking, nipping, they were entwined around each other. Where one stopped and the other began could only be told by the contrast of pale flesh against tawny skin. Soft moans filled the air.
Casey groaned breathlessly when Olivia dragged her teeth over a taut nipple. The attorney pulled her lover up and kissed her deeply and turned them so that she was on top. Lifting up, she dropped her head forward and allowed the strands of her hair to drag over Liv's chest and belly.
Intoxicated by the sensation, Liv hummed her pleasure. When she reached the detective's muscular thighs, Casey dove in and began to bite and lick a path inward, drawing a long, low moan from Olivia.
"Did you ever imagine me here, Olivia? Have you wished for this as I have?" Casey dipped her head down and swirled her tongue into Liv's belly button and then dragged it over her belly and into the wet heat of the detective's need.
Biting her lip, Olivia exhaled brokenly. "Yes, God, yes."
Casey skimmed her hands over the surface of Olivia's abdomen, scratching the flesh with light, short strokes.
Lost to the loving, Liv could only wrap her legs around Casey's shoulders and arch into the woman who was leading her on the dance of ecstasy. Her fingers gripped the sheets as she soared higher and higher. Light. So, bright reaching, gotta find it Sparks like raindrops fell around her and she heard a distant sound like screaming but it was too much to think about. Wetness coated her face as Casey traced a liquid path of kisses up her body. Shuddering, almost sobbing, Olivia rolled into her lover's arms and huddled there, held close against the attorney's warm alabaster skin.
"You are so beautiful," Casey murmured as she stroked Olivia's sweat soaked hair away from her face. "You taste like wind and rain and the sweetness of spring."
Olivia laughed. It was a joyful sound that filled the room. "Poetry, Casey?" She feathered kisses over the younger woman's lips.
"Truth, Olivia." Casey captured her lover's mouth in a bruising embrace that left both of them breathless. "Please, Liv," Casey whispered. "Touch me."
"Everywhere," Olivia replied. Flatting her hands against Casey's shoulders, she surfed the attorney's skin, shaping curves and planes with a caress that sparked currents of heat everywhere they roamed.
Drowning in the sensation, Casey felt as though she were sinking to the bottom of the sea with every breath. Liv's hands and mouth were everywhere, touching, tasting, and nipping trails of cold fire that swamped her senses until she could no longer concentrate on anything but the pure passion of being loved by Olivia.
At the lowest depths there came a moment when breathing was inevitable and the water cleared, parted by a shaft of platinum sunlight so bright, so strong that it cut through everything and bathed the two of them in tremulous silver shimmers.
The ability, for the first time in her life, to connect what she was experiencing physically to the unfamiliar emotions swirling inside her, around her...to know this depth of completion...
Subsumed, consumed, surrounded, cocooned, enveloped...
Casey arched into her lover's tender caresses, moaning with delight.
Olivia cradled Casey's writhing body in her arms while her fingers thrust deeply and slowly inside the core of the younger woman's bright, hot flame. She watched with awe as Casey bit her bottom lip. She felt drunk, intoxicated by Casey's cries and whimpers. She wished with everything she had that she could climb inside the young attorney's skin to feel what she was feeling.
She bathed Casey's eyelids with kisses and whispered softly to her.
"I've got you, Casey... That's it, honey... Yes... So beautiful, Casey... So beautiful..."
The redhead whimpered and reached blindly for Liv, tangling her long fingers in strands of sorrel and russet silk. She pulled Liv to her and kissed her, moaning into her mouth as their tongues entwined languidly. Maddened by the detective's slow and sweet pace, Casey pulled her mouth free from the bruising kisses and cried out.
"Liv, please...please...take me..."
Olivia's eyes nearly rolled back into her head and she groaned. "Yes..." she hissed and her powerful muscles instantly ratcheted up the intensity of her movements...deeper, harder, stronger, faster...
Casey's hips rocked under the tempestuous onslaught and her cries went from low moans to breathless yips of sound that caught in the back of her throat. She arched her back to its limit and pressed herself into Olivia with all the power of a staccato bass beat under a blood-pounding, throbbing dance club mix.
"Casey, look at me," begged Olivia. Casey obeyed her lover, opening glimmering emerald-fire eyes that seared Olivia with the white-hot need and the inferno of emotion she read there.
The younger woman held on to Olivia as if her life depended on it.
"Liv... Liv..." She struggled with her voice, breathless, grasping for meaning.
"Casey, honey..." Olivia gazed at the beautiful woman, willing her to surrender. I need to see it happen, Casey. I need to see you come undone.
The pitcher winding up, glancing at first, and releasing the ball...high and fast.
Casey ticking off the breaths between pitch and swing, staring the missile down, her body taut and ready.
Muscles committing to the moment now and she swings, body twisting, shoulders screaming with their intent.
"Oh oh oh..."
The crack of bat meeting ball reverberating through her whole body, through bones and blood and psyche.
Olivia closed her eyes when she heard Casey scream her name as she surrendered. She felt shattered. Shattered and remade whole, remade stronger by the moment.
Breathless, she gentled her touch, bringing Casey down out of those heights. The young woman wound her arms around Liv's neck and held on, gulping air into tortured lungs. She lavished Liv's cheeks, eyelids, lips and throat with tiny, burning kisses and punctuated each with a whispered "I love you."
Olivia entwined their bodies and held Casey safely in her arms. She pressed earnest kisses to the redhead's forehead and temple until she found the tender shell of her lover's ear.
"Then it is love," she breathed, cupping Casey's face in her palm. "Because I love you back."
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