DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To vivalab[at]btinternet.com

By VivalaB


Chapter 11: Confessions

The room was spacious, neatly boxed off into a bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. The bed she was sitting on was small, but inviting; eight large window panels in the centre of the roof provided a natural light source which worked in harmony with the pale decor of the walls, creating a welcoming, calm ambience in the converted attic at the top of the safe house.

Olivia rubbed the bump at the side of her head absently with her free hand as she waited for the call to connect and smiled as a familiar voice growled in greeting.


Olivia slid her fingers through her hair, "Is that any way to answer the phone?" she quipped.

"Well, it is your phone," Jo Marlowe retorted, unable to hide the smile in her tone.

Olivia snorted softly, "Why are you still there?" she asked, making no attempt to conceal her concern for the older woman.

Jo relaxed into the comfortable leather chair and sighed, "I wanted to make sure you were okay…" hesitating slightly before adding, "…both of you."

Olivia closed her eyes as she listened to the sound of running water from the room next door, "Yeah. We're okay," she replied.

Jo blew out a relieved sigh, audible over the line.

Olivia opened her eyes, "I wanted to call and say thanks for everything you've done Jo...it means a lot," she said in a hushed tone.

"Don called, filled me in on the rescue…I'm just glad I could help…any news on Natoomby yet?" the blonde attorney asked, deliberately skirting over her involvement in the operation.

Olivia smiled at Jo's trademark tone of casual indifference, "Not yet," she replied, glancing at her watch, "They've only been gone ten minutes, hopefully we'll hear something soon," she added.

Jo looked at the open file in front of her, "Just be careful, there's more to this than we're aware of," she said cryptically.

"What does that mean?" Olivia asked as her mind replayed everything Cragen had told her about the situation.

Jo sifted through a pile of black and white images until she found the one she was looking for, "It just means be careful."

Olivia's aching muscles tensed as she sat up straighter on the edge of the bed, "Jo?"

"NSA wants Natoomby Liv, they'll do whatever it takes to get him," she warned.

Olivia shifted her gaze to the Glock on the bed beside her, "You saying we're not safe?"

"I'm saying watch your back."

Elliot glanced out the side window of the US Coastguard Dauphin helicopter at the ocean below, spotting two Cutterboats a short distance away, effortlessly slicing through the choppy waves like a hot blade through butter. A voice cut through the constant whir of the rotary blades in his headset causing him to turn round.

"We'll approach from the north and sweep around the island from the east…if Natoomby's there and makes a break for it, he'll head west…straight into our team approaching on the water," SAC Kimbrano announced.

Cragen looked over at him and nodded, "How do you know he'll head west?"

The NSA agent narrowed his eyes, "If he goes east, he's heading for open sea, he'll need cover," he replied.

"Assuming he doesn't have another chopper or he hasn't already left the area," Elliot added, glaring at him.

From the other side of Cragen, Fin was unable to see Elliot's face, but knew it wouldn't take a genius to figure out the ex-marine was staring coolly at Kimbrano and the two NSA agents sitting opposite them. For a few, long seconds, nobody said anything.

"The last satellite images showed no movement in these waters, Sir," one of the agents supplied.

Kimbrano nodded in acknowledgment, without turning his head and was about to reply to Stabler's comment when the pilot's voice sounded loudly in their headsets.

"All clear from the north along the east coast. We'll be over the south side in approximately three minutes."

Olivia and Jo had discussed the events of the past fourteen hours, but the dark haired detective couldn't stop frowning as her mind kept analyzing everything she knew. Kenanga was dead. Motega was dead and NSA agents had raided the house they had been held captive in and found nothing. She turned her thoughts to Natoomby, 'Where are you?' she wondered silently to herself.

"Liv...You still there?"

Olivia shook her head slightly, "Sorry," she replied absently as countless possibilities bounced around her active mind.

"Look, I've got a friend monitoring satellites over Hart Island, if anything happens, you'll be the first to know," she said in an attempt to alleviate the sudden tension seeping through the line.

Olivia nodded, "Thanks, Munch is downstairs with the NSA techs monitoring the situation," she added.

"I wondered why he didn't go with them," Jo commented.

Olivia grinned, "His version is that he wants to be here for additional support…" she paused, glancing at the closed bedroom door, "…but Elliot says he has an irrational fear of sea water."

"Hydrophobia? Why am I not surprised?" Jo groaned, snorting softly into the handset.

Olivia smiled, "Because you're one of the smartest people I know," she replied.

"Speaking of which, where is the illustrious Miss Cabot?"

"Freshening up, it's been a long night," she answered innocently.

Jo snorted, "My my, such boastfulness Benson..."

"You know that's not what I meant," Olivia groaned.

"Relax Liv, I'm just teasing... You two had a chance to talk yet?" she asked, thinking of the recent conversation with Olivia at her apartment about the younger blonde.

Olivia frowned, "Of course we've been talking."

"You know that's not what I meant," Jo chided.

Olivia sighed with frustration, "It's not exactly the time or the place…what am I supposed to say, 'Oh by the way Alex, I've been in love with you since the first moment I met you?'"

"A bit strong and lacking romance, but at least it's to the point."

Olivia groaned into the phone again and dipped her head in defeat. The sound of a throat being gently cleared behind her caused her to turn instinctively. She looked at the figure leaning casually against the wooden doorframe and smiled weakly as she spoke, "Jo, I gotta go," she said, ending the call without waiting for a response.

Alex stood with her arms folded loosely across her chest, her cool cerulean gaze focused on Olivia.


Fin scanned the ground below, "Nothing over here," he said to the Captain without shifting his head from the window.

Elliot's eyes darted across the wooded terrain below, "I don't see anything," he added.

The pilot guided the helicopter to a small clearing near the shore line. A large cruiser was gently bobbing in the water about twenty yards from a small wooden dock; there was no sign of movement on board.

Kimbrano checked the magazine in his assault rifle, "Remember. We lead, you follow," the SAC advised, looking directly at Elliot.

Cragen nodded affirmatively as the Dauphin descended the final few feet and settled smoothly on the ground.

Alex remained unmoving at the bathroom door, watching a host of emotions pass through Olivia's brown eyes. She noticed the olive skin darken at her cheeks and almost smiled as she realized the normally stoic detective was blushing.

Olivia broke the piercing blue gaze and took in Alex's new attire. Despite the high possibility that her admission to Jo had been overheard, she couldn't help but admire the form fitting NSA combat clothing the blonde was now wearing. "Suits you," she offered with a calmness she didn't feel, wondering if the pink blush riding high on Alex's cheeks was more to do with what she had heard than the hot shower.

Alex looked curiously at her for a few seconds before glancing down at the matching black cargo pants and heavy duty sweater, "Let's just hope the boots fit," she replied, wiggling her sock clad toes.

Olivia smiled as she rose from her position and pointed at the boots beside the bed, "I'm just going to have a quick wash and get changed," she said, lifting the Glock and placing it on top of the matching pile of clothing.

Alex nodded and pushed off the door, heading for the boots. As they moved towards each other, Olivia dipped her head shyly, avoiding her gaze. She reached the bathroom and turned to close the door, surprised to find Alex still watching her, "I won't be long," she said before slowly closing the door.

Alex blew out the shaky breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding and ran a trembling hand through her long hair. She idly played with the damp ends, gently separating the tangled strands as she lowered herself on to the bed. She looked down at the combat boots, acknowledging how much she liked the fit of the clothes, infinitely more comfortable than the soiled suit she had been wearing for the past twenty four hours. She lifted a boot and groaned, remembering her glasses were still on the ledge in the bathroom. She crossed the room to the closed door, tilting her head and listening carefully. Not hearing any sounds she rapped lightly on the door. By the third rap her concerns grew and she reached for the handle.

Olivia stood staring at her reflection in the mirror, scrutinizing her tired appearance. Her mind racing over the possible consequences of her confession. She wondered if Alex felt the same, after all, it had been the younger woman who had kissed her in the trunk of the car. She shook her head to clear her thoughts as she untucked her shirt and began to loosen the buttons.

Alex pushed the door open slowly, "Liv?" she asked quietly.

Olivia turned at the sound of her name, looking curiously at Alex, "Yeah?"

Alex pointed at the ledge beside her, "I forgot my glasses," she replied.

Olivia smiled and reached for the dark frames.

"Oh my God," Alex gasped.

Olivia instantly turned, leaving the glasses, "What?" she asked, looking past Alex through the open door.

Alex took a step forward and pointed at her, "Your back, you're hurt," she said, moving closer until she was directly in front of her.

The dark haired detective swallowed nervously, conscious of her state of undress and the proximity of the attractive blonde. She shook her head, willing the heat in her cheeks to cool, "It's nothing," she answered dismissively, feeling her abdominal muscles tighten reflexively as Alex's fingers touched her unexpectedly.

"Let me see," Alex coaxed as her light touch encouraged Olivia to turn around.

Olivia reluctantly turned, her protests dying on her lips as long, slender digits slid gently across the large area of warm, purple skin.

"When did this happen?" Alex asked quietly, shifting her eyes to Olivia's face as she turned back round.

Olivia absently wet her lips, "When I fell down the stairs in the basement," she replied, studying the glittering pools of pale blue. She swallowed again as the fingers continued to caress her slowly.

Alex licked her lower lip as her fingers traced a delicate pattern across the soft surface, "Maybe I should get someone to look at you," she husked, her eyes never leaving Olivia's.

"Someone is looking at me," Olivia replied softly, savoring the charged atmosphere settling around them.

Alex lifted her free hand and pushed aside a few loose strands of soft, dark hair, "I've been looking at you since the day we met," she confessed in a voice barely above a whisper.

Olivia's eyes glanced briefly at the parted lips before lifting and meeting the knowing gaze, she moved her hands slowly to Alex's face, cupping her cheeks gently, "You have?" she whispered.

Alex nodded as she slipped her arms around Olivia's waist, "You know I have," she accused lightly, unable to hide her smile.

Olivia grinned, "I wasn't sure…and in the car…" she trailed off as Alex dipped her head and pressed their lips together.

The kiss was soft and unhurried. Their mouths parted, sliding together more firmly, deepening the contact. Olivia moved her hands, shifting one down Alex's slender frame to her cotton clad hip as the other tangled in damp locks, holding her gently in place. Alex's fingers trailed teasing circles across Olivia's toned back, taking extra care over the heated bruise. After a few leisurely minutes of mutual adoration, Alex slid her tongue slowly into Olivia's open mouth, smiling as the shorter woman moaned and pressed their bodies together. Tongues danced sensuously, exploring and savoring the new sensations.

Olivia's hand slipped underneath the sweater and caressed soft skin, the touch fuelling her desire as she felt her nipples harden against their silken confines. She swallowed Alex's moan as the taller woman leaned heavily against her, moving her hands along bare skin. Olivia's muscles clenched as talented fingers danced over her ribs and eager thumbs brushed against the side of her breasts.

Alex pulled back slightly and placed a final kiss on inviting lips. She smiled lovingly at Olivia before wrapping her arms around her. Olivia held her tightly and closed her eyes, enjoying the intimate moment amidst the madness.

After a few minutes, Alex tilted her head and looked at her, "I know we have a lot to talk about, but I meant what I said...I've…had feelings for you…for a very long time," she admitted quietly.

Olivia beamed as she placed a tender kiss on waiting lips, "So have I," she whispered as they parted.

"I'm sor-"

A hand moved and cut her off as fingers covered her parted lips, "No. Not here. Not now…it's not needed," Olivia said, shaking her head and smiling.

Alex nodded and smiled as Olivia withdrew her hand, "You better get changed," she suggested.

"You don't like what I'm wearing?" Olivia teased.

Alex snorted and admired the black, silky bra before brushing her fingers delicately across the smooth surface and smiling as Olivia tried to contain her reaction to the teasing touch, "I love what you're not wearing," she replied flirtatiously.

Olivia laughed and shook her head; "Go," she ordered, pulling Alex's head down for one final, unhurried kiss.

Elliot stood on the small dock as the two Cutterboats flanked the cruiser. He looked at Kimbrano as he gave an order into his radio and watched as four men from each boat boarded the vessel.

Fin shook his head without shifting the aim of his weapon, "Something's not right," he commented absently, covering their movements with his gun.

Cragen glanced at him before reaching into his pocket for the radio, "Munch?" he called.

Elliot tried to ignore the rising feeling of unease and kept his eyes locked on the cruiser.

"Munch?" he repeated, more firmly.

Kimbrano turned and looked at the Captain, "Maybe he doesn't have the radio with him."

Fin snorted, "No way. Munch knows this is important, no way he'd put it down…Cap, try his cell," he suggested.

Cragen reached into his pocket for his cellphone and hit a speed dial, after a long minute the call disconnected. He tried again with the same result.

Elliot sensed something was wrong, "We need to get back," he said, lowering his weapon and glaring sideways at Kimbrano.

The SAC retrieved his own cellphone and made several calls, all of them going unanswered, "Shit!" he spat out, turning to meet three anxious faces, "I can't reach any of my men," he said, simultaneously lifting his radio and ordering his men on the cruiser to pull out immediately.

The group on the dock turned and started running towards the helicopter, but the sudden force of an explosion sent them sprawling along the wooden surface.

Elliot shook his head to clear the loud ringing and turned towards the noise. The cruiser was gone, replaced by burning wreckage and floating debris. He looked at the water, relieved to see the Cutterboats undamaged and the NSA agents swimming towards them.

"Stay with your men…we'll take the chopper back," Cragen panted, trying to catch his breath.

Kimbrano got to his feet, shaking his head, "No, my men are at the house too," he replied, lifting his radio and talking to the men on the boats.

Elliot moved over to Fin, offering his hand and helping him to his feet.

Fin nodded in thanks, "Munch better be okay…for his sake," he growled, tilting his head at Kimbrano.


Chapter 12: Compromised

Olivia checked her appearance in the bathroom mirror one more time, gliding her tongue idly along her lower lip and smiling at the memories the action invoked. She inhaled deeply, thinking of the woman next door and the ease with which they had instinctively come together before exhaling slowly and nodding at her reflection, "Don't screw this up," she whispered quietly.

Alex leaned casually against the dresser, her hands resting loosely in the pockets of the dark cargo pants, her head slightly bowed, gaze fixed upon her booted feet. She lost herself in warm thoughts of the dark haired detective, of the pliant lips beneath her own and the soft skin that welcomed her tentative, teasing touch.

The unexpected noise of the bedroom door bursting open brought her crashing back to reality.

"Can't we go any faster?" Elliot asked, frustration lacing his tone.

SAC Kimbrano shook his head, holding the headset microphone closer to his mouth, "My men are in there too, Stabler," he said pointedly, glaring at the detective.

Cragen turned his attention to Kimbrano, "How long before your men on the ground get there?" he asked, hoping to stall the mounting tension rising in the helicopter cabin.

The agent reluctantly shifted his gaze to the older man seated beside Stabler, "They left the harbor location as soon as I made the call," he replied.

Cragen nodded, ignoring the furtive glance Fin cast downwards at his watch.

Startled cerulean eyes locked on the harried expression of John Munch, "Wh-"

Munch shook his head and closed the door, moving quickly towards her, "Help me with this," he said hurriedly, indicating the dresser she was leaning against.

Together they pushed the heavy oak in front of the door. He turned to face her, his expression grave, "Where's Liv?"

"What's going on?"

Both heads turned at the sound of Olivia's voice, watching as she quickly closed the distance between them, weapon drawn.

Alex shrugged and turned her attention to Munch, looking at him expectantly.

"We've been compromised," he said, ignoring the look of anger that flashed across Olivia's face.

Olivia frowned, "Compromised?"

"Natoomby's men are in the house. We need to get out of here," he clarified, eyes darting around the room looking for an escape.

Olivia's grip on her Glock tightened reflexively as she tried to ignore the tensing in her gut, "That's the only way in or out," she said, pointing at the door behind him.

Alex felt a sickening ache coil in her chest; she swallowed and blew out a shaky breath. Olivia reached out a hand and began gently stroking her arm through the heavy sweater, "It's okay, we'll get out of this," she said, hoping to reassure the younger woman.

Alex felt herself relax under the soothing touch and searched the dark brown orbs, finding nothing but honesty in their expressive depths.

Olivia nodded confidently before shifting her eyes towards Munch and announcing, "We're going up."

"Search everywhere! She's here somewhere!" the man in dark fatigues barked.

Three men dressed in similar attire nodded obediently as they turned and stepped over the lifeless NSA agents lying on the kitchen floor.

The man surveyed the room and nodded before reaching across the table for the portable radio.

"Up?" Two voices chorused in confusion.

Olivia nodded, racing over to the discarded chair from the dresser and positioning it underneath the first large panel of skylight windows.

Munch looked at the eight panels above him and shook his head, "Where are we supposed to go when we get up there? Shimmy down a drainpipe?" he asked dryly.

Olivia smiled down at him, "Don't worry, you won't have to shimmy anywhere," she replied as she stood on the chair and slid the panel open.

Alex moved towards her and looked up, "Liv, what are you doing?" she asked tenderly.

"Getting you out."

Alex frowned, "What does that mean?"

Olivia looked down at her and grinned, "Exactly what you think it means."

Elliot sunk his teeth into his bottom lip, biting lightly in a familiar, anxious gesture. He felt the helicopter descend in an even gradient until he spotted green treetops. He cast his eyes round the three occupants of the rear cabin before turning his attention to the scenery outside, trying to identify their location.

He saw the NSA safe house in the distance and felt his anxiety increase as something on the rooftop moved, or did it? He peered more closely out the window, straining his eyes, willing them to see clearly.

Cragen turned to him, "What?" he asked, trying to see past him, but Elliot was too busy unbuckling his safety belt and watching the blonde on the rooftop to reply.

"Liv, this is insane," Munch declared, watching Olivia hoist herself up and through the open panel.

Olivia climbed out, turned and sat down, her legs swinging through the open window, "You said four men with guns?" she waited until he nodded in confirmation, "Then we need to split them up."

Alex frowned, "How?"

Olivia smiled and adjusted her position, lying flat against the roof and lowering her hands, wiggling her fingers in invitation, "If you come up here, I'll tell you," she said grinning.

Alex shook her head defiantly, "Liv…"

Olivia's grin faded, "Alex, trust me…" she paused, looking earnestly down at her, "…please," she whispered.

Alex held her gaze for a few more seconds before shaking her head and stepping onto the chair, raising her arms, "You know…I am taller than you. I could probably get up without your help," she said haughtily.

Olivia grinned, "You wanna try?" she replied, pulling her hands away.

Cerulean eyes widened in mild alarm, "Maybe some other time," she growled, giving the smiling face her best glare.

Olivia gripped her hands and lifted her up, sliding away from the open window until Alex was safely on the roof. As they stood, Olivia tugged her to the side, embracing her fiercely out of Munch's field of vision.

Alex wrapped her arms tightly around the shorter woman, inhaling deeply, caught on a wave of emotion. She pulled her head back slightly and surged forward, capturing waiting lips in a desperate kiss.

As they parted, Olivia stroked the long blonde strands tenderly, "We'll be okay," she whispered.

Alex felt her chest heave and refused to give into the moment, "I know," she said, her voice thick with emotion.

Reluctantly, Olivia eased away and carefully led her up the sloping roof, "I need you to stay here, behind this chimneystack," she said, squeezing Alex's hand tenderly.

Alex shook her head, "You're not staying?"

Olivia leaned closer and kissed her softly, "You know I can't," she said, swallowing the lump in her throat.

Alex nodded and smiled in understanding, "Be careful," she pleaded.

"I will," Olivia replied, urging her to move behind the small tower of red bricks. She smiled once more before sliding quickly down the roof.

Alex watched as she disappeared through the open window, offering up a silent prayer to anyone listening.

The two men climbed the small steps leading to the top floor of the house, weapons ready. They moved stealthily towards the only door and positioned themselves on either side of the wooden frame.

They looked at each other and nodded before the man on the left counted down from three on his free hand. They took a step back and kicked viciously at the door.

Munch watched Olivia lower herself back into the room, "What are we supposed to do now?" he asked, unable to mask the whine in his voice.

Olivia moved towards the bedroom door, "Put this back for starters," she replied.

They moved the dresser back against the wall and looked at each other, "We let them come in and take them from either side," Olivia announced.

"That's your plan?"

Olivia nodded, "Unless you wanna hide under the bed and hope they don't look?" she answered coolly.

Munch appeared to give the suggestion some serious thought before shaking his head, "I'll take my chances in the bathroom," he drolled.

Olivia nodded towards the other side of the room, "I'll be in the closet."

Munch smirked, "Isn't it about time you came out of that thing, you've been in there for twelve years already," he deadpanned.

Olivia's mouth dropped open in surprise as she struggled to find an appropriate retort.

Munch nodded knowingly at her, "Stay safe and aim high, they're wearing Kevlar," he said, moving quickly towards the bathroom.

Olivia watched his retreating form before sliding open the closet door.

"Alex is on the roof!" Elliot barked, pointing at the cowering figure as the helicopter approached the house.

Cragen pulled at his headset, "We need to get on the ground," he said into his mic.

"Copy that," the pilot replied, tilting them towards an adjacent field.

As they made their final descent, they felt small thuds slamming against the undercarriage. Elliot slid open the cabin door and looked down, instantly pulling his head back as a bullet whizzed past.

"Single shooter...looks like a semi automatic tactical assault rifle," he shouted loudly into his headset.

The pilot pulled the joystick back, gaining more altitude as he guided the craft to safety. The man on the ground stopped firing as the helicopter flew out of range. He turned back towards the house and stopped abruptly as something on the roof caught his attention. He smiled as he shifted his aim towards the chimneystack and opened fire.

The two men burst into the room. One high. One low.

Both remained motionless for a long minute, surveying the room. They spoke with hand gestures, their attention drawn to the chair underneath the open window panel.

Olivia lay on the floor of the closet, her Glock resting comfortably in her hand, her aim fixed on the intruders. She breathed slowly and evenly, concentrating on the movements in the room.

The sudden sound of gunfire and the loud whir of the helicopter filtered in through the open window. She tried not to think of Alex, alone on the roof, hoping that the younger woman was safely out of sight. She grew restless, desperate for the men to make their move.

The men looked towards the bathroom and nodded. Olivia silently placed her left hand on the closet door, ready to slide it open. She watched as they prepared to kick the door in and took a steadying breath.


They turned and opened fire. She remained on the floor and aimed high, striking one in the neck. The bathroom door swung open and Munch dropped to his knees firing blindly at anything that moved.

Olivia heard the bullets slam into the wooden frame beside her and rolled to the side. She heard an ominous thud and cautiously peered out.

Munch knelt over the two men, his standard issue police special trained carefully on their unmoving bodies. He looked across the room at Olivia and held her eyes, "I think I popped my knee," he admitted, wincing in agony.

Olivia scrambled to her feet and raced towards him, kicking the weapons away from the dead men. She reached down and helped him up, guiding him towards the bed, "You okay?" she asked, taking note of his grayer than normal pallor.

He shook his head, "It popped when I went down," he said, gritting his teeth in pain.

"Stay here, I need to get Alex," she said, retrieving the assault rifles and handing him one. She looked at the hole where the bedroom door used to be, "Shoot to kill," she reminded him before sliding the strap of the other one over her shoulder and moving towards the chair.

Alex ducked behind the stack of bricks and watched as the helicopter approached then moved away as loud bursts of gunfire rang out in the morning air. She peered cautiously down the roof, instantly spotting the black clad figure running away from the house, his aim following the moving target.

She watched as he turned and began to run back towards the house, only to stop and look up at her. She crouched down, hoping he hadn't seen her, almost losing her balance as the first bullet drilled into the chimneystack in front of her.

Elliot didn't wait for the helicopter to land before he leapt the short distance from the skid to the ground and drew his weapon before taking off across the field towards the house.

Olivia eased out onto the roof, bullets instantly peppering the air around her. She turned and opened fire, providing enough coverage to climb the short distance to the crouching blonde.

Alex grabbed her arm and pulled her down, "You okay?" she asked, scanning the taut frame for any sign of injury.

Olivia nodded as she spun the assault rifle around and checked the firing pin, "Yeah. You?"

Alex nodded in response, "Munch?"

"Popped his knee taking one down, he'll live," she replied, rising to her feet and training the weapon on the figure below. She squeezed off a few rounds, watching as he ran for cover before turning to Alex, "We gotta get off this roof," she said, guiding her up.

They slid down the slope, Liv holding Alex protectively behind her as they approached the open panel. She leaned over the window ledge, looking for Munch, recoiling instantly as the bullet slammed into her chest.


Chapter 13: By a Thread

Chapter 13: By a ThreadElliot stumbled slightly as he lost his footing on the uneven ground, his eyes glued to the drama unfolding on the roof. He took the four steps leading to the back door of the house in a single bound, puffing hard as his left ankle threatened to give way under the strenuous landing. He skidded to a halt, just inside the door and glanced inside, his chest heaving with exertion and adrenaline. He strained his ears, listening for sounds amidst the cacophony brewing outside as NSA agents pulled up in two blacked out land cruisers. He turned his head and saw Kimbrano direct his men to flank the building while Cragen and Fin ungraciously ran as best they could towards him.

He couldn't wait. He wouldn't.

He blew out three short breaths and burst into the room, his weapon moving continuously in a practiced, sweeping motion, ready to hit anything, or anyone that moved.

He raced to the door leading to the rest of the house and stopped. Two motionless NSA agents lay on the floor in a congealing pool of thick, dark blood. He carefully stepped over them, avoiding leaving any trace as he darted through the open door, heading for the stairs.

Alex fought to remain upright as Olivia's hand shot out and grabbed desperately on to her for support. She barely managed to hold on as the dark haired woman crashed backwards, catching her and dragging her away from the open panel. A chill coursed through her veins as Olivia's head fell backwards and a thick streak of red emerged from the neck of the sweater, flowing freely along her neck.

"It is better for you to come down now," a voice shouted loudly in a thick African accent.

Alex's head snapped towards the open window. She hesitated for only a second before dragging Olivia's limp form further away, her arms tightly gripping her torso. She frowned at the solid feel of Olivia's upper body and slipped a searching hand underneath the heavy sweater. Relief washed over her as her fingers felt the unmistakable shell of a protective vest and she reflexively kissed a pale cheek.

A dark head suddenly appeared, swiftly followed by a hand gripping a high power pistol, finger poised on the trigger.

"There you are," he sneered before suddenly disappearing.

Alex tried to pull Olivia up the roof, but the gradient was too steep. She reached for the rifle, still hanging around the detective's shoulders and tried to disentangle the weapon from the limp form in her arms. She cursed softly under her breath as the strap refused to give and resorted to shifting her own body in order to aim the rifle towards the open window. She took a calming breath and squeezed the trigger.

Nothing happened.

She looked at the gun and pressed again. Still nothing.

"Safety's on"

Alex stopped moving as a hand came up and covered her own, giving her a gentle squeeze.

"Liv?" Alex said, her voice barely above a whisper.

Olivia coughed gently, "That stung," she said, wincing at the throbbing pain in her chest. She tilted her head and smiled weakly at Alex, "Climb further up," she instructed.

Alex shook her head, "There isn't any time, he's coming up," she whispered.

"Help me up," Olivia said, valiantly trying to suppress a groan.

Alex helped her to her feet and started to climb. They had only managed a few steep steps when the voice bellowed again, only this time closer with no barrier between them.

"That is far enough. Turn around. Slowly," the armed man instructed as he emerged from the window, his weapon following their movements.

They turned, watching as he stepped closer across the shingles. Olivia slowly curled her finger around the trigger of the rifle.

"Put the weapon down!" he ordered.

Olivia watched as he adjusted his stance, settling his aim squarely on Alex.

"Put it down or I will kill her," he added coldly.

Olivia pulled her hand away and released the clip holding the strap. She let it fall on to the red shingles and watched as it clattered noisily down the sloping roof.

As the man bent to pick it up, Olivia's hand shot into one of the deep pockets of her cargo pants, ignoring the searing pain that ripped through her chest as she withdrew her Glock. She squeezed off three rounds, connecting with her target and sending him hurtling backwards over the edge of the roof, the scream dying on his lips as he landed in a crumpled heap on the solid ground.

Olivia turned to Alex, "Told you we'd be okay," she breathed out.

Alex moved closer, intent on wrapping her arms around the dark haired woman when suddenly her blue eyes widened in panic.

Olivia lunged forward as Alex lost her balance on a loose shingle, watching in horror as the tall blonde fell onto her front and began a rapid, feet first, descent towards the edge.

Elliot ran through the house, glancing quickly into every room on his way to the top floor. He climbed the last set of steps slowly and approached the open door with equal measures of caution and trepidation. He tentatively poked his head round the side once before pulling it back and then repeating the motion. He entered slowly, noting the three bodies on the floor, instantly recognizing the form of John Munch.


He ran towards him and dropped to the floor, checking for an entry wound and a pulse.

"Relax Stabler, I'm not dead yet," Munch groaned, lifting a hand to his head.

Elliot helped him into a sitting position, "What happened?" he asked looking at the two dead bodies on the floor.

"I musta passed out…fell off the bed…landed on the floor," he replied, rubbing his temple with boney fingers.

Elliot shook his head, "Probably saved your li-"

The words trailed away as shouting and gunfire filled the room. He leapt on to the chair and cautiously peered out, just in time to see a body sail over the edge.

It felt surreal, sliding backwards on her belly with Olivia gripping her forearm tightly as she slid with her. It reminded her of summer vacations at The Vineyard and the twisting water slides she was so very fond of. She gasped as her feet suddenly became airborne.

"Alex!" Olivia screamed, unable to halt her gathering momentum as she desperately tried to brace herself against something. Anything. She watched helplessly as Alex tumbled over and struggled to hold on as the sudden downward jolt threatened to rip her arm from the socket.

Alex's left arm swung upwards, trying to grab on to the gutter. Terror filled her cerulean eyes as she began to slip further, her legs flailing wildly in mid air.

Olivia's face contorted in pain as a wave of nausea rose in her throat and blinked rapidly to clear the black spots that were beginning to blur her vision. She gripped the gutter tightly, ignoring the ache in her chest as she locked her gaze on Alex, "Try to relax…" she paused, swallowing away the taste of acrid bile before adding, "…try to stop moving…"

Alex stared into the dark depths, "Liv…"

Olivia's left hand gripped her tighter, "I've got you," she said, feeling the sweat from her palm seep into the sweater. She swallowed again, "Hold on with both hands, you can do this," she encouraged.

Alex willed her body to still the swinging, pendulous motion as she reached for Olivia's left arm. She caught it on the second attempt and held on, knowing her life depended on it.

Suddenly her body was being lifted through the air, she looked into surprised brown eyes and felt the sting of tears as Elliot's large frame came into view. Large hands gripped her shoulders and hoisted her on to the roof.

Elliot reached for his partner, "You okay?" he asked, concern etched across his features.

A dark head shook and leaned over the side, "I think…I think I'm gon-"

Alex rubbed Olivia's back in soothing circles as her body heaved. She turned to Elliot and cupped his strong jaw gently with her free hand, "Thank you," she said hoarsely.

Elliot swallowed and blinked a few times, "You okay?"

Alex removed her hand and nodded, indicating his partner, "She's been shot and I think I dislocated her arm," she replied.

Elliot patted her shoulder and rose to his feet, "I'm gonna get help," he said before quickly crossing to the open window and lowering himself down.

Olivia lifted her head and wiped her mouth with the sleeve of her sweater, "Those extra inches of yours…came in handy..." she panted.

Alex leaned into her and brushed the sweat soaked bangs away from her face, "Yes they did," she agreed, placing a tender kiss on her damp forehead.

Olivia swallowed repeatedly, longing for a cool drink to soothe her dry throat, "I hope for his sake Natoomby's dead," she commented.

Alex sighed, "Me too Liv…me too."

The ambulance was quiet as Olivia lay patiently on the gurney, waiting for the pain meds to kick in. She had narrowly avoided a dislocated shoulder, escaping with only a severe sprain that would require a scan back at the hospital to determine the extent of any tissue damage. The Kevlar vest Munch had insisted she take from the dead man and slip on before venturing to the roof had saved her life, the bullet lodging high in her chest and only nicking a prominent collarbone. She rubbed the bruised area with her free hand and grimaced at the tenderness she felt.

A hand joined hers and gently stroked the patch of gauze covering the flesh wound, "How d'you feel?"


Alex chuckled softly and nodded before producing a plain white tee shirt, "I snagged this form the EMT's," she said, helping Olivia into a sitting position. She bunched the material in both hands and slipped it over the dark head before securing the soft sling around Olivia's neck.

Olivia smiled, "Thanks. Any news on Natoomby?"

Alex blinked slowly, "No," she said bitterly.

"Good, then we can get outta here," Olivia replied.

Alex shook her head, "You have to go to the hospital, you need your shoulder looked at," she protested.

"Since when did Benson do as she was told?"

Both heads turned at the same time. Olivia was the first to speak, "What are you doing out here?"

Jo Marlowe leaned casually against the side of the EMT truck and smiled, "Thought you might need a ride," she said, waggling her eyebrows.

Alex felt the unfamiliar tendrils of jealousy prickle her skin and gave the blonde ADA a cool glare.


Chapter 14: Safe as Houses

The debriefing had gone a lot quicker than either of them had expected. Satellite imaging had positively identified Natoomby as one of the four men seen entering the house shortly after the task force had left for Hart Island. The group watched in silence as a solitary figure raced towards the thick woodland as the helicopter made the return approach.

Elliot had rolled his eyes when Olivia nudged his knee under the table as they watched his solid frame leap from the descending helicopter.

The trail of death and destruction Natoomby had left in his wake was hard to take in, even harder to believe was the fact they had no clue about his current location. The surrounding trees of Turtle Cove providing perfect, dense cover for his escape.

The discussion had lasted almost an hour before it was agreed to head back to the city with Cragen insisting on police protection for Alex and a hospital check up for Olivia.

As the group began to disperse, Jo sidled up to Olivia, "You riding with me?" she asked in a flirty tone, ignoring the frosty glare cast in her direction.

Olivia glanced at Alex, "You coming?"

Cragen stepped forward, "I'd rather Alex flew back to the city," he announced, authority dripping from his demeanor.

"Yeah," Olivia replied, "That's probably for the best," she reluctantly agreed.

Elliot looked between them and shook his head, "Y'know Cap, Liv needs to get that shoulder checked…quicker it's done, quicker she can take a tour with the rest of us," he suggested.

Jo nodded, "Maybe you do too, sounds like you shook something loose when you jumped that eight feet," she quipped.

Elliot pointedly ignored her as he continued, "And we need a ride, car got tore up on the Shore Road."

Cragen seemed to give this some serious thought for a long time before looking directly at Elliot, "Okay. Go with them in the helicopter…" he instructed before turning to Alex, "…and you need to get the once over too," he added, holding up his hands at the defiant look on the ADA's face.

Alex bit back her objection as she caught sight of the small smile tugging at Olivia's lips, "Okay," she acquiesced, gently bobbing her head.

Cragen looked at Olivia, "If you need some time, take it," he said before adding firmly, "I mean it Liv, you earned your pension today, I'd like to see you live long enough to enjoy it."

Olivia lowered her eyes, "Yes Captain," she mumbled.

He turned to Jo and smiled, "Munch and Fin are outside. We're ready when you are."

Jo nodded and watched him leave through the back door before rolling her eyes as she slid an arm gently around Olivia, "Not quite the road trip I had in mind when I made the offer," she sighed.

"You kidding? You're gonna have a great time listening to how Munch saved us all," Elliot said with mock enthusiasm.

Olivia snorted, "Yeah, then fainted and fell off the bed."

"Can't wait," Jo drolled as she moved in front of Olivia and held her close, mindful of the sling, "I'm glad you're okay," she added quietly and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek as she eased away before stepping over to Alex and tilting her head contemplatively, "I'll say one thing for you Cabot…" she said dryly, pausing for effect, "…you sure know how to make an entrance."

Alex's confused frown disappeared as Jo engulfed her in a warm embrace and she returned the heartfelt hug until Jo's voice whispered quietly in her ear, "Hurt her and I'll throw you off a roof myself."

Elliot checked his watch again, struggling to believe it was only a little after one in the afternoon. His body aching for sleep as it came down from such a prolonged adrenaline high. He nudged the blonde sitting next to him, "You okay?" he asked.

Alex shifted her gaze from the tiled floor she was studying, "Yeah," she replied, giving him a tired smile.

The short ride in the helicopter to the airfield had been silent, the trio thankful for the quiet after all they had been through. An unmarked cruiser had met them and, under Elliot's orders, had dropped them off at the corner of 153 West and 11th Street where they had walked the short distance to the emergency room at St. Vincent's hospital. Olivia had been taken straight away, leaving Alex and Elliot alone in the relatively empty waiting room.

They looked up at the sound of approaching footsteps, standing automatically as the doctor stopped in front of them, apprehension rolling off them both.

"Relax," Dr Clarke said, smiling warmly at them both. He glanced down at the chart in his hand, "Detective Benson's fine, she'll be out in a few minutes."

Alex closed her eyes, surprised at the sudden exhaustion that surged through her tall frame.

Elliot blew out a relieved sigh, "What about her shoulder and her chest?" he asked, needing more details.

The doctor bobbed his head, "She'll need to take it easy for a few days, let the inflammation and swelling in her shoulder muscles heal, but there's no deep tissue damage. We've removed a few splinters from her collarbone, no penetrative damage and the scar will almost be invisible," he clarified.

"Splinters?" Alex asked.

Dr Clarke nodded, "The bullet impact fragmented the top of the Kevlar vest she was wearing, the metal splinters nicked the soft tissue at her collarbone…" he paused, noting the concerned look on Alex's face and squeezed her arm gently, "Don't worry, she's just a bit bruised," he said softly, lowering his hand and removing a piece of paper from the top of the chart, "She has a pain meds prescription, you can fill it at the pharmacy on the second floor," he said, handing it to Elliot's outstretched hand.

Elliot glanced down at it briefly and turned to Alex, "I'll go get this," he volunteered.

Alex nodded and watched him leave.

"Make sure she tries to keep her arm as immobile as possible over the next couple of days," the doctor said, drawing Alex's attention away from the retreating form.

She looked at him and smiled, "I will. Thank you doctor, is there anything else?"

He cast an appraising eye over her form fitting combat attire and gave her a lopsided grin, "No strenuous activity."

Alex's jaw worked, but nothing came out as she felt the blush color her cheeks.

He laughed softly and squeezed her arm again, "She'll be fine," he said before turning and disappearing down the hallway.

Alex heaved a sigh of relief and dropped back down into the chair. She removed her glasses and closed her eyes, rubbing her temples in a familiar gesture with her left hand. She sat in contemplative silence for a few minutes, enjoying the stillness of the waiting room until a warm hand covered her own.

"You okay?"

Blue eyes opened and looked up, meeting concerned brown. She smiled shyly, "I am now."

Olivia returned the smile, "I would sit, but I'm not sure I'd get back up again," she admitted honestly, brushing aside an errant lock of long, blonde hair.

Alex smiled in sympathy as she slid her glasses back on, "Elliot's getting your pain meds," she said, rising to her feet and wincing slightly.

"Are you sure you don't want Dr Clarke to check you out?"

Alex snorted as she stretched out the tired muscles in her back, "I think Dr Clarke already checked us both out," she declared, plucking at the tight white tee shirt hugging Olivia's frame.

Olivia gave her a blatant once over and grinned, "You should wear this more often," she said appreciatively, admiring the shapely legs encased in black.

Alex arched an eyebrow and took a step forward, "Are you flirting with me, detective?" she teased, bringing their bodies closer together.

Olivia tilted her head, "That depends…."

"On what?" Alex drew out slowly.

Olivia felt the warm breath caress her face and swallowed as a rush of heat engulfed her body, her eyes shifting to Alex's parted lips.

Alex reflexively licked her lower lip under the heated gaze, feeling the air thicken around them, "On what?" she repeated, her voice barely above a whisper.

Olivia dragged her eyes away from the glistening lips and swallowed again, "On…"

"Liv! I got your pain meds," Elliot's voice suddenly announced from somewhere behind her.

Olivia blew out a steadying breath before she turned, watching him approach with a large grin on his face, "Thanks El," she said, returning his smile.

"I'll be back in a minute," Alex whispered, swiftly making her way to the nearest restroom.

Elliot squeezed Olivia's uninjured shoulder and jerked his chin in the direction of Alex's retreating form, "She okay?" he asked.

Olivia turned in time to see the blonde disappear from view, "Yeah…I'll just go make sure…" she said, already moving away.

Alex stood at the line of washbasins; her glasses perched on the ledge as she splashed cold water on her overheated face. She shut off the faucet and lifted a paper towel, gently dabbing the droplets away. She turned at the sound of the door opening.

Olivia strode purposefully towards her, brown eyes locked on glittering blue, her intent clear. Alex met her halfway, placing her hands possessively on slender hips, the injured arm nestling comfortably between them. Olivia's free hand tangled in long, luscious locks, drawing her down. They paused for only a second, parted lips almost touching, sharing the same ragged breath before coming together in a hungry, desperate clash of teeth and tongues.

Alex swallowed Olivia's moan as her tongue slid sensually over her own before sucking it deeply into the warm cavern of her mouth. Olivia's heart thumped wildly against her chest as Alex claimed her mouth in a seductive display of want and need. Passion flared and the kiss changed, becoming a slow dance of languid exploration.

After a few minutes, the kiss naturally ended and they stood panting lightly, gazing into one another's eyes. Alex moved a hand to Olivia's cheek and stroked the hot skin delicately, "That was…"

"Yes…it was…" Olivia interrupted before leaning forward and tasting her lips once more.

Alex smiled into the kiss before reluctantly easing away, "We better get back, Elliot must be wondering what's going on."

Olivia nodded, "I think he already knows what's going on," she replied.


Olivia frowned, "Would that bother you?" she asked tentatively, unable to maintain eye contact as a tendril of fear coiled around her heart. A hand lifted her chin, forcing her eyes up.

"No, it wouldn't," Alex replied honestly before placing a feather light, teasing kiss on surprised lips. She pulled back and ran her hand through Olivia's dark hair and smiled, "Come on," she urged, playfully nudging her backwards towards the door.

Elliot got to his feet as they came into view, his eyes narrowing as he watched them approach, "Everything okay?" he asked cautiously.

Two heads bobbed affirmatively.

He studied both women suspiciously, "Were you two fighting?"

"No," Olivia answered without meeting his eyes.

Alex turned to her and smiled rakishly, "It was more of a…duel," she said, almost purring.

Olivia gasped audibly, her cheeks warming instantly.

"A duel?" Elliot queried.

Alex kept her eyes on Olivia as she nodded, "It's okay though…I won," she stated smugly.

"You did?" Olivia husked incredulously, a smile tugging at her lips.

Alex waggled her eyebrows and grinned, "Yes…I think I did," she said, gently biting her lower lip.

Olivia swallowed, unable to tear her eyes away from the inviting mouth.

Elliot cleared his throat loudly, "I think you both won," he snorted as he turned and walked away. He stopped after a few steps and looked over his shoulder at the unmoving couple, "Unless you wanna make out in the hallway too?" he teased, smiling at their matching blushes.

Alex sat on a high stool at the breakfast bar in Olivia's apartment, listening as the dark haired detective argued with her partner in the bedroom. After a few minutes Elliot emerged, carrying a large gym bag.

"Everything okay?" Alex asked.

Elliot placed the bag beside the pillar and took the seat next to her, "Peachy," he drolled.

Olivia appeared in the doorway shaking her head, "Why do we have to go to a safe house?" she whined.

"A safe house?" Alex echoed.

Olivia crossed the room and stood in front of her, "Yeah, in case Natoomby tries something," she explained.

Elliot sighed, "Look, Cap's orders…what did you think? That you could hide out in your apartment 'til he was caught?" he argued.

Olivia shrugged, "Well, why not?" she replied, wincing as she accidently lifted her left arm in frustration.

Alex reached out and tugged her closer, rubbing the small of her back and ignoring Elliot's wide-eyed stare.

Olivia leaned into the touch and sighed as Alex turned to Elliot, "Couldn't we stay at my apartment? The building has security and surveillance?" she reasoned.

Elliot shook his head, "I'm supposed to deliver you both to the safe house then I can finally go home," he replied in frustration.

Olivia turned pleading, dark orbs on him.

"Don't look at me like that!" he barked.

Olivia continued to stare at him until he shook his head and slid off the stool, "I'm not promising anything," he said as he retrieved his cell phone from his pocket.

Olivia stood nervously in the large living room, taking in her temporary surroundings. She watched as Alex gave the two officers a guided tour of the spacious apartment and turned to Elliot, "How come you're not getting the nickel tour?" she asked curiously.

Elliot looked away.


Elliot moved closer, "I've been here before," he confessed.

"When?" Olivia asked in total surprise.

Elliot slipped his hands into his pockets, "Couple of days ago, when we found out she was coming back," he answered quietly.

Olivia stared at him, "Why?"

"Liv…" he warned.

She continued to stare at him, willing him to talk to her.

"And that concludes today's tour of the Cabot residence," Alex said lightly as she ushered the officer's through the living room. All five stood in awkward silence as Olivia and Elliot glared at each other.

One of the officers's fingered his belt nervously, "Detective Stabler?"

Elliot tore his gaze from Olivia, "Yes?"

"Miss Cabot's given us the tour, we've committed the floor plan to memory and will be positioned outside until the end of our tour," he relayed confidently.

Elliot nodded, "Did you leave the mobile alert buttons in every room?"

"Yes, Sir and left one for Miss Cabot and Detective Benson to carry on their person. There's also a unit outside and a two man team monitoring the surveillance cameras in the lobby," he confirmed.

Elliot walked the two officers out. He closed the door and turned, surprised to find his partner blocking his path and shook his head, "It was nothing," he said by way of an explanation.

"If it was nothing, why won't you tell me?" she said in a hushed tone.

Elliot sighed, "Please trust me Liv," he pleaded.

Alex appeared behind her and nodded over her shoulder at him, "it's okay. I'll tell her, you should go on home to Kathy and the kids."

Olivia turned, unable to hide her puzzled expression.

Alex smiled at her, "It's okay, I promise," she said.

Olivia studied her for a few seconds before turning and moving towards her partner. She looked up at him and smiled, "Get some sleep, you look like shit," she said, squeezing his arm.

His expression softened and he smiled at her, "You too," he prompted.


He stepped forward, giving her a gentle hug, his eyes meeting Alex's over her shoulder, "You need anything, just call…okay?" he said, addressing them both.

Olivia nodded as he pulled out of the embrace and smiled as he repeated the gesture with Alex.

Olivia sat patiently at the kitchen table while Alex made some coffee; unaware her partner had sat in that very chair only two days before.

"Hard to believe it's still daylight," Alex commented.

Olivia glanced at her watch; impressed her Breitling had survived the last twenty-four hours unscathed. She smiled as Alex turned and placed two steaming cups on the table.

"Sure you're not hungry?"

Olivia shook her head, fighting the sudden apprehension sweeping through her body.

Alex surprised her by taking the seat on her right and shifting the chair slightly. She lifted her cup and took a careful sip, humming loudly in appreciation.

"What did Elliot come see you about?" Olivia blurted, unable to hold it back any longer.

Alex reached for her hand, gently intertwining their fingers and smiled into pensive brown eyes, "You," she replied softly.

"Me?" Olivia asked in surprise.

Alex nodded, "He wanted to know why I hadn't called you," she added.


The blonde haired woman gently squeezed the hand laced with her own, "I'm sorry I didn't call you," she said honestly.

Olivia smiled, "It's okay, I know how busy you must've been," she replied.

"No…well…I was busy, but that wasn't why I didn't call you," she confessed.

Olivia released her hand and reached for the cup, taking a long swallow, avoiding her eyes.


Olivia placed the cup on the table and looked at her, feeling her heart melt at the open expression on Alex's face.

"When I was in Witness Protection, all I did was think about you. I had no way of knowing if and when I'd ever get my life back. When I came back, you were the first person I wanted to call, but it just felt like everyone had moved on…." She paused, "…everyone, except me," she said sadly.

Olivia reached for her hand and held it tightly, "I never forgot about you, you kept me going," she replied honestly.


Olivia smiled, "Really."

Alex returned her smile, "When I finally did come back to SVU, you didn't want to be around me," she swallowed, "I respected that, respected you and when the Congo task force was announced I thought it was best to leave," she added.

"You didn't even tell me, I had to hear it from Nardalee," Olivia said quietly.

Alex nodded, "I'm sorry," she whispered.

They sat in pensive silence for a few minutes before Olivia blinked a few times to rid her mind of those painful memories, "Did Elliot give you a hard time?" she suddenly asked, deliberately trying to lighten the somber mood.

Alex snorted, "And then some," she replied before adding, "I called you that night."

"I know," Olivia confessed.

Alex frowned, "You never called back."

"You never left a message!"

Alex squeezed her hand, "A man answered," she said, looking away shyly.

"My brother."

"Your brother?"

"Half brother, Simon…he had an early meeting the next morning and crashed at my apartment," she explained, smiling at the astonished look on the blonde woman's face.

Alex shook her head, "We've got a lot of talking to do."

"Can it wait? I really need to take some pain meds and I know I'm about to crash," Olivia admitted quietly.

Alex got to her feet and retrieved the pharmacy bag from the counter, she filled a glass with water and placed them both on the table, "I'll just go turn down your bed," she said smiling.

Olivia's eyes followed her shapely legs as she sauntered out of the kitchen.

"Okay, if you need anything, I'm just next door…" Alex said, frowning as she looked out the window at the high afternoon sun. She lifted a remote from the bedside table and pressed a button, activating the automatic shutters, "…this remote operates that and the lights."

Olivia stood just inside the door and nodded, admiring the nervous way Alex was fussing over her. She watched as she unzipped the gym bag and shook her head, "It's okay, I can get that," she offered.

"Oh…okay, well, um…I should let you rest…"


Alex looked shyly over at her, "Hmm?"

"Thank you," she whispered, holding out her hand.

Alex went to her immediately, "I don't know why I'm so nervous," she confessed.

"It's okay, we've both been through a lot," she reasoned.

Alex leaned forward and kissed her slowly, "You saved my life," she whispered, her voice thick with emotion.

Olivia swallowed, "I'd do it again…in a heartbeat," she promised solemnly.

"I know and I lo-"

The harsh ringing of a telephone cut her off and she smiled apologetically before moving quickly out of the bedroom. Olivia blew out the breath she had been holding and dragged her good hand through her hair in frustration.


Chapter 15: Thorn in my side

Olivia savored the last lazy moments of blissful sleep, reluctantly opening her eyes as she stretched out her aching muscles. She squinted in the darkness, taking in the unfamiliar surroundings, catching sight of the green digital display announcing the early evening hour. She lifted her right hand to cover a long, jaw-cracking yawn and listened for any sounds of movement from inside the apartment. Hearing none, she snuggled back into the soft mattress, thankful for the six hours of uninterrupted slumber.

She closed her eyes once more, her thoughts instantly drifting to the woman next door and the conversation interrupted by the phone call from Cragen. She smiled, recalling Alex's heated gaze as she strolled back into the room, relaying his orders to, 'listen to her body and stay in bed for as long as it takes," while deliberately raking her eyes over Olivia's taut frame.

Olivia sighed remembering the long, slender fingers that had helped remove her boots and the lingering caress to each calf that followed. She rotated her injured arm tentatively; relieved to feel only a dull ache pulling at her shoulder and stifled another yawn.

She stopped suddenly, instincts kicking in as muffled sounds reached her ears. She carefully eased out of bed and retrieved her Glock from the nightstand, sliding it smoothly from the leather holster as she quickly made her way towards the door.

She slipped along the darkened hallway, her bare feet silent on the hardwood flooring and stopped at Alex's bedroom, peering cautiously into the room. She stepped inside, eyes instantly drawn to the pile of discarded clothing sitting on top of the empty bed, illuminated by a shaft of light radiating from a partially open door.

The sound of running water floated into the room and she muttered softly as realization dawned, taking a few steps backwards before turning to leave. She was unable to catch the curse that fell from her lips as her shoulder connected awkwardly with the edge of the door.


Her head spun round as light filled the room and gasped.

The tantalizing silhouette of Alex Cabot bathed in back light holding a towel loosely against her body robbed her of all coherent thought. Her mouth worked, but no words would come as her eyes drank in the beauty before her. She swallowed and licked her dry lips, desperately willing her eyes to stop exploring the expanse of creamy flesh on display.

"Liv?" Alex repeated, fully aware of the dark orbs trailing over her body, throwing a little extra sway into her hips as she sashayed across the room.

Olivia blinked slowly, reluctantly lifting her gaze from the long, inviting legs that stopped in front of her, trying not to stare at the enticing outline of firm breasts as her eyes travelled up the statuesque frame. She smiled guiltily as their eyes finally met, unable to mask the effect the blonde was having on her, "Sorry…I…" she started, swallowing at the knowing glint in sparkling blue eyes, "…I…heard a noise…and…" she trailed off as a hand landed gently on her injured arm, causing the towel to reveal even more pale skin.

"Are you okay?" Alex asked, sliding her fingers underneath the t-shirt and stroking her shoulder softly.

Olivia closed her eyes and shook her head as cool fingers soothed her heated flesh, "No…" she mumbled, wishing she wasn't holding her gun so she could free up her good hand.

Alex's fingers stilled their gentle ministrations.

Brown eyes opened and gazed directly into blue, "…You're wearing nothing but a towel…of course I'm not okay."

Alex's lips curled upwards as her fingers started moving again, "Technically, I'm not actually wearing the towel," she replied smiling, snaking her hand slowly down Olivia's arm, leaving a trail of goosebumps in her wake before shifting it to the edge of the towel and stretching it out in front of her. She waggled her eyebrows mischievously.

Olivia's cheeks burned as she looked at the cotton wall shielding Alex's modesty, the sheet not actually touching her skin. She shook her head and held the challenging gaze, knowing her resolve would crumble if her eyes dipped any lower.

Alex's tongue slipped out, wetting her bottom lip in a predatory act of seduction, she glanced down her own body and smiled, "I am so wet," she rasped.

Olivia choked and almost swallowed her tongue.

"I never got a chance to dry off before you came in," Alex added innocently, wrapping the towel securely around her body. She looked at Olivia for a few seconds before tilting her head and grinning, "Hungry?" she asked, enjoying the reaction from her normally stoic friend.

Olivia laughed nervously, "Is there a safe way to answer that?"

"Probably not," Alex snorted, leaning forward and placing a hand on Olivia's hip. She gently tugged at the soft cotton shorts, drawing her closer, "Menus are in the kitchen, I'll just be a minute," she said, placing a teasing kiss at the corner of Olivia's mouth.

Olivia eased in, wanting more and captured the parted lips. She sank into the warmth and shuddered as their breasts brushed together, sending a shot of arousal straight to her groin.

Alex blindly reached for the gun and placed it on the nearby dresser before slipping her arms around the shorter woman and holding her in place. She gasped as bold fingers slid into the towel and teased her damp skin.

Soft moans filled the room as the kiss deepened, growing in urgency as tongues danced together with fervent desire. After several heated moments, the need for oxygen forced them apart.

Olivia drew air into her starving lungs, "You were right," she panted before stealing another kiss.

"About what?" Alex breathed out, her clit throbbing as knowing fingers slid low across her belly.

Olivia moved in again and stopped, their lips almost touching, "You are wet," she husked before crushing their mouths together for a final, heart-stopping kiss.

They parted, smiling openly at one another and Olivia grinned, basking in the glow of their growing intimacy, "Go. I'll order the food," she urged, nudging the younger woman playfully with her hip.

Alex pouted, "Or we could just stay like this," she suggested, sliding her hand underneath the tight white t-shirt and stroking Olivia's side, her palm brushing against the generous swell of a firm breast.

Olivia swallowed, "You play dirty."

"I play to win."

Dark eyes gazed into hypnotizing blue, "Winning isn't everything…" she countered, laughing at the look of mock outrage on Alex's face, "…it's the taking part that counts," she added, kissing her gently.

Alex shook her head as she slid her hand slowly down Olivia's front and stepped away, "In your world perhaps, but in mine…" she paused as she turned and began striding purposefully towards the bathroom, "…winning is everything," she stated triumphantly, glancing over her shoulder and meeting Olivia's gaze as she dropped the towel and disappeared from view.

Olivia's jaw dropped as her eyes widened, refusing to blink, searing the gloriously naked image of Alexandra Cabot to memory for eternity.

Alex stared at her reflection in the mirror, her hands braced on the edge of the vanity as she blew out a steadying breath. She closed her eyes and smiled, impressed with her own boldness, her naked body tingling in the cool air of the bathroom as she remembered Olivia's teasing touch. She inhaled slowly and froze as warm hands slid around her waist to caress her flat stomach. Her eyes flew open, meeting the heated gaze in the mirror.

"I like to win too," Olivia whispered, leaning forward and placing a tender kiss on her bare shoulder.

Alex gasped as Olivia's naked body pressed lightly against her own, her hard nipples grazing across her back. Their reflected gaze never waivered as Olivia kissed her creamy skin again, her tongue tasting the surface, "If this is too fast, you need to tell me now because I've loved you for so long that I don't think I can wait any longer," she confessed, her voice thick with desire.

Alex's heart skipped a beat, her hundred watt smile all the answer Olivia needed. She placed her hands over those around her waist as she leaned back into the loving embrace and tilted her head, "Bold move Benson," she teased.

Olivia laughed softly, "I could say the same about you Cabot," she volleyed back, placing a lingering kiss on a flushed cheek.

Alex shifted her head, trying to meet her lips and growled with frustration.

"What?" Olivia asked.

Alex turned in her arms, pressing their naked fronts together, smiling as they both gasped at the intimate contact before dipping her head, "You're so short," she snorted, her tongue already snaking out as she parted her lips.

Olivia snapped her head back, preventing the kiss, "I am not!" she gasped.

Alex laughed, nodding her head as she pulled the dark haired woman back in, "Yes, you are," she replied, leaning forward and capturing the open mouth in a savage display of unbridled passion.

Olivia pressed against the tall frame, her hands roaming freely over the soft skin, moaning as the insistent tongue explored her thoroughly, her chest heaved as they slid together, finally unleashing their desire. Her legs parted as a slender thigh nudged between them, adjusting her stance to accommodate the welcome intrusion as she insinuated one of her own against Alex's overheated center. Strong hands kneaded her rear, guiding her as their lips parted at the stimulating touch.

Their eyes held firm as they began a slow, grinding motion, the action intimate and erotic as the room filled with the sounds of their labored breathing. Alex pushed her hands urgently against the taut backside, eliciting a guttural moan from the woman she held. Olivia's eyes closed at the sensations coursing through her, shamelessly slicking a hot, wet trail along the smooth thigh. Alex gasped as a surge of wetness gushed from her own center in response, "Liv," she panted, her hips rocking urgently.

Olivia's eyes opened and she almost drowned in the beauty before her, "We should…slow down," she choked out, unable to slow their frantic rhythm.

Alex nodded reluctantly, shifting her head until her mouth was pressed against a shapely ear, "I love you," she rasped, her lips resting against the tender flesh.

Olivia nearly came at the admission, the ragged breath sending a jolt of arousal straight to her pulsing core. She moaned wantonly as she nudged Alex backwards until she bumped against the vanity. Their eyes met, wild with lust, bright with passion, "Here..." Olivia said, kissing her way down the slender neck, "…or in there," she breathed out, indicating the bedroom before capturing a rapidly beating pulse point between her hot lips.

Alex grasped her head with one hand, her fingers tangling in the long strands as she encouraged Olivia's mouth to travel lower. Her inner muscles coiled with anticipation as lips kissed a wet path down a firm breast. Her breathing hitched as teeth scraped playfully over an engorged nipple before latching on to it and sucking greedily. Her clit jumped as a talented tongue flicked back and forth across the stiff peak, her hand encouraging the head at her breast to suckle harder as she ground her sex desperately against the slippery thigh. She tilted her head back and shuddered as her hair tickled across her sensitized skin.

Olivia struggled for control as wetness painted her skin, her fingers pointedly teasing the other hardened nipple as she tried to ignore the insistent ache between her own legs. She released the rosy bud with an audible pop, brushing her cheek across the swollen flesh before pressing both breasts together and placing an open mouthed kiss reverently between them. Her eyes locked on Alex as she slid her tongue upwards in one slow, agonizing lick.

Alex growled as she pushed off the vanity, her need overwhelming, "Bed. Now," she ordered, guiding Olivia urgently towards the door.

Brown eyes blinked slowly open, the vision clearing and instantly focusing on the satisfied smirk beaming down at her.

Alex lay beside her, a slender leg coiled possessively around her, her head propped up on one hand while the fingers of the other trailed lightly over her stomach. Even in the low light of the bedroom, Olivia could see her flushed features clearly. She lifted a hand and tucked a damp blonde lock behind a delicate ear.

Alex leaned down and pressed their mouths together, kissing her deeply, enjoying the flash of recognition in Olivia's eyes as she tasted herself on her lips, "Welcome back," she whispered.

"How long was I out?"

Alex grinned as she eased away, "Long enough to make me proud."

Olivia groaned as she stretched, enjoying the satisfied ache that enveloped her body, "At least I didn't chock off a scream that scared half of Manhattan," she drolled, sliding her hand along a smooth hip.

Alex gasped as her jaw dropped in horror, "I did not!"

"Yeah. You did," Olivia snorted, her fingers moving towards her heated core.

Alex shifted, encouraging the questing fingers as she leaned down, "I did not, chock off a scream," she insisted, her warm breath caressing Olivia's lips.

"What would you call it then?" Olivia asked, rising to meet her.

The defense died on Alex's lips as a hot tongue invaded her mouth and skillful fingers parted her folds, dipping into her wetness. Two fingers pressed lightly against her entrance, ignoring the bucking hips begging for more. She groaned, parting her legs in silent invitation, eager to welcome the long digits back inside. She captured Olivia's tongue, sucking it deeply as her hand cupped a firm breast, letting her palm graze over the large, swollen bud before rolling and twisting it between her fingers and thumb. Her pulse raced, remembering how those nipples felt in her mouth, on her skin and on her clit. She covered Olivia's hand with her own, steering the fingers inside as she tore her mouth away gasping for air.

Olivia needed no further encouragement, driving her fingers deep into the hot cavern, her own sex squeezing in response, desperate for release. Her hips bucked and stilled as slender fingers entered her in one swift, unexpected motion. Her back arched off the bed as she tried to impale herself on the thrusting digits, ignoring the persistent ache in her shoulder as she adjusted her angle.

Breathing turned ragged as their rhythm became frenzied. Alex shifted her leg, pushing her thigh against the fingers buried inside Olivia, forcing them in deeper.

Olivia ignored the pain as her hand became trapped between their bodies, the flowing wetness spurring her on as Alex's inner walls squeezed her fingers, coating them in hot juices. She forced her eyes to stay open as she watched the beautiful blonde bite her lower lip, trying to hold on. She pressed her thumb against the twitching clit and hissed as long fingers hit the sensitive spot deep inside her canal.

For several glorious moments, their movements became jerky and ungraceful as they crested together, their loud groans and gasps filling the air as they milked every last ounce of pleasure from their shared orgasm. They kissed slowly, reveling in the gentle aftershocks that rippled through their quivering bodies. Alex blew out a shaky breath as they parted, her fingers reluctantly slipping out of the wet warmth as she rolled on to her back. She lay her hand weakly against her heaving bosom, trying to calm her racing heart, "Told you I didn't chock off a scream," she panted.

Olivia rubbed her retreating fingers lightly against the sensitive clit, drawing a sharp cry from the blonde as her hips bucked and another convulsion shook her body.

Alex grabbed her hand, pressing it firmly against her throbbing nub as she rode out the small orgasm. Her breathing was labored as she turned her head, meeting the smirking gaze, "Ok…" she husked, "…maybe I did," she admitted, smiling lovingly at the dark haired woman.

Olivia grinned as she leaned in for a gentle kiss, her heart melting at the look on Alex's face, "Do you have any idea how much I love you?" she asked quietly.

Alex reached over and caressed her cheek tenderly, "Almost as much as I love you," she answered honestly.

They stared at each other for a long moment before Alex tilted her head at the bedside clock, "Tired?"

Olivia shook her head.


The dark head nodded, "Starved."

"Okay, shower then food," Alex suggested, patting her stomach affectionately as she eased out of the bed.

Olivia watched her glide towards the bathroom, openly admiring her beautiful body, trying to ignore the familiar ache between her legs.

Alex stopped at the door and turned, raking her eyes lasciviously over Olivia's nakedness, "Aren't you coming?" she asked, laughing as Olivia scrambled off the bed and bounded towards her, her dark eyes burning with desire.

Olivia sat on the table as she watched Alex move efficiently around the kitchen, "What are we having?" she asked, the bout of love making in the shower draining the last of her energy reserves.

Alex turned and shook a box of cereal at her, "It's this or coffee," she said smiling.

Olivia laughed and shook her head, "Now I know how Simon felt."


Olivia snorted, "Let's just say my brother was not impressed at the delights I had to offer," she replied.

Alex stepped closer, fitting her body between Olivia's parted legs and pressed their bodies together, "I am very impressed by the delights you have to offer," she teased, capturing her lips in a soul searing kiss.

Olivia wrapped her arms around her, holding her close, feeling hardened nipples brush against her own through the thin layers of clothing. After a few moments of unhurried exploration they eased apart.

"I can't believe I lived so long without this," Alex said wistfully, smoothing her fingers through Olivia's dark hair.

Olivia cradled her face between her hands, "I know, but we've got the next fifty years to make up for it…" she paused, dropping her hands and glancing away nervously, "…if you want to, that is…"

Alex lowered her hands, resting them on top of the parted legs, "I want to, but…"

Olivia's eyes snapped up, "But?"

Alex leaned forward and beamed at her, "If we're going to keep making love like that, one of us is going to have to learn how to cook," she explained, her blue eyes twinkling.

Olivia grinned, "Or we could just live off take out," she suggested, waggling her eyebrows as she met her halfway.

Their kiss fanned the flames of arousal once more, igniting the glowing embers of desire burning between them. Alex slid her hands along bare thighs until they disappeared underneath the cotton shorts. Olivia shifted backwards as the tips of talented fingers teased her heated sex, her hands capturing slender wrists, stilling their movement, "Don't you wanna get something to eat?" she choked out.

Alex gave her a feral smile, "What do you think I'm doing?" she purred, removing her hands and tugging the shorts down the toned thighs.

The familiar hypnotic hum of the air conditioning woke Alex from her exhausted slumber. She squinted over at the clock and sighed before burrowing backwards into the body that held her, relishing the feeling of the arm slung possessively around her waist. She covered the hand with her own as she slowly rolled her hips.

"Don't you ever stop?" Olivia mumbled sleepily into the mane of blonde hair.

Alex laughed softly, "Just making myself more comfortable," she answered, seductively thrusting her hips slowly against Olivia's heat.

Olivia shifted out of reach, "That might be comfortable for you, but it's not for me," she groaned.

Alex turned in her arms, "It's your own fault," she admonished, gazing into sleepy, dark eyes.

"I blame the table," Olivia replied, blushing at the erotic memories.

Alex smiled, "It's not my fault you're irresistible."

Olivia blushed even harder, "You think?"

"I know," Alex whispered, brushing their lips lightly together.

The older woman sighed contentedly, "I love you," she said, pouring all her feelings into another kiss. This one was different, a confirmation of their loving declarations over the past few hours and a promise of a future together.

"I love you too," Alex replied.

Twin grumbles interrupted the moment and both women laughed. Alex patted Olivia's belly affectionately, "Come on, I'm starving," she urged, easing out of the embrace.

The early morning sun felt warm against her skin as they sat at the small table. This deli was one of Alex's favorite haunts and although she usually sat inside, she realized just how much better it was to sit outside and admire the view.

"What are you smiling at?" Olivia asked.

Alex gazed lovingly at her, " Nothing, just admiring the view," she replied, reaching for the large cup of coffee.

Olivia's heart skipped a beat and she smiled, "My view is pretty spectacular too," she said, covering Alex's free hand with her own.

They had been at the deli for almost an hour, having finally made it out of the apartment. The officers outside had rotated shifts a few hours ago and the two new patrolmen were parked in a cruiser twenty yards away.

"You ready to go?" Olivia reluctantly asked.

Alex turned her hand over and twined their fingers together, "Do we have to?"

"No, we can do anything you want," she replied.

"A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g?" Alex drawled slowly, her tone dropping to that sensual tone that drove Olivia wild.

Olivia felt the heat rise in her cheeks at the lustful look on the younger woman's face, "Alex Cabot…" she started, pausing as she swallowed away the sudden dryness in her throat, "…you are a vixen."

Alex burst out laughing, "A malicious, argumentative woman?"

Olivia shook her head, releasing her hand as she stood up and leaned across the small table, "An incredibly hot fox," she whispered, her gaze never waivering as she gently cupped her cheek and brought their mouths together for a brief, but heartfelt kiss. She eased back smiling, "I'll go settle up," she said, heading into the busy deli.

Alex watched her retreating form, her eyes shamelessly glued to the trademark swagger as she lost herself in lascivious thoughts of the dark haired detective.

"Excuse me, do you have the correct time?"

Alex blinked a few times and looked up, her brow furrowing in confusion, "I'm sorry?"

"The time, do you have the correct time?" a dark skinned man wearing a tan colored suit and matching Panama repeated.

Alex felt a flash of fear as she stared up at the tall man before glancing at her right wrist, "Eleven twenty-five," she answered, hoping the patrolmen were watching.

"Thank you," he replied, courteously tipping his hat.

Alex smiled, berating herself for her own paranoia, "No problem," she said, turning away and rising to her feet, her eyes connecting with Olivia's advancing form.

Olivia pocketed her change and turned, her eyes instantly locking on the blonde outside and the man beside her. She lengthened her stride, trying not to draw attention to herself as she hurried towards the door. She frowned as the man appeared to stumble.

Alex gasped as the man fell against her, wincing at a sudden sharpness in her side.

"I'm so sorry…" he said quietly, quickly righting himself and offering her his hand, "…so sorry it took this long to find you…Miss Cabot," he sneered, his fingers wrapping tightly around the cold steel in his hand.


He turned, seeing the dark haired woman racing towards him and shoved Alex roughly to the ground before taking off down the street.

"Alex? Alex?" Olivia shouted frantically, dropping to her knees and carefully turning the young woman over.

Alex groaned as she looked up at Olivia, blinking rapidly to clear her swimming vision, "I'm okay," she said, moving to sit up. She stopped suddenly as pain shot through her left ide.

"What is it?" Olivia asked, worried eyes roaming over her body.

Alex removed the hand clutching her side and gasped, holding the blood stained palm aloft. Olivia physically paled at the sight, "Somebody call 911. Tell them a member of the service is down!" she yelled as she lifted the dark sweater and saw the deep gash. Brown eyes lifted to meet blue and smiled weakly, "You'll be okay," she said quietly.


Olivia nodded, willing it to be true as an image of Melinda Warner lying on a cold morgue floor flashed through her mind.


Olivia swallowed, blinking away the memory, "Yes sweetheart?"

"Go get that bastard."

Olivia shook her head, "I'm not leaving you," she said, hearing the distant wail of sirens.

Alex winced as another wave of pain washed over her, "Please Liv…I don't want us looking over our shoulders…for the rest of our lives," she ground out.

Olivia's inner turmoil raged, torn between staying with the woman she loved and trying to catch the man who tried to take her away from her.

"Please Liv." Alex repeated, stroking her face gently.

Olivia nodded, "I'll be right back," she promised, looking at the small crowd gathered around them, "You," she said pointing to a smartly dressed young man nearest the table, "Grab a pile of napkins and press them against her side," she ordered.

He instantly obeyed and knelt down beside her, a thick wad of white in his hand, "Keep pressure on the wound, right?" he asked nervously.

Olivia nodded, "Right," she said before turning and kissing Alex tenderly on the cheek, "I love you," she whispered, gazing into hazy blue eyes.

"So prove it…catch me a bad guy," Alex stammered, her breathing hitching through the pain.

Olivia got to her knees and scanned the busy street, whipping her cellphone from her pocket as she cast one last look at Alex. She raced towards the patrol car as she waited for the call to connect and blanched as she spotted the slain officers slumped across the front seats, "Shit," she spat.


Olivia turned and started running, "Natoomby stabbed Alex, I need any surveillance NSA has over The Bistro deli at 1128 Lexington, he's wearing a tan suit and a hat," she barked, her feet pounding noisily on the concrete.

"Is she okay?" Jo asked with genuine concern.

Olivia swallowed, "I hope so," she replied, her eyes scanning the throng of pedestrians.

"I'll let you know as soon as I have something," Jo promised, ending the call.

Olivia glanced briefly at the phone before blindly hitting her speed dial again, her partner answering immediately.

"I'm on my way," Elliot announced without waiting for her to speak, the squeal of tires echoing in her ears.

Her lungs ached as she pushed on harder, "I'm heading south on Lexington," she said, hanging up and thrusting the phone into her pocket. Her chest heaved as she focused on finding Natoomby, weaving in and out of the crowd, straining ahead, desperate to find him. The vibration at her hip startled her, "Anything?" she shouted into her phone.

"He's about one hundred yards ahead, other side of the street, looks like he's heading towards the subway," Jo informed her.

Olivia raced between two parked cars and quickly checked the oncoming traffic, skillfully dodging a fleet of yellow cabs as she sprinted across the road.

"He's directly ahead of you, keeping close to the buildings."

Olivia pressed on, willing her legs to go faster, cursing under her breath as people refused to move out the way, "NYPD! Move!" she roared, waving her phone at startled bystanders. She growled in frustration as a large group of students appeared from a doorway, blocking her path. She glanced to her left, looking along the parked cars and made a decision.

Donald Cragen fought his way through the small crowd, making his way urgently towards the injured ADA. He turned, glaring at the man behind him, indicating for him to do something.

"C'mon people, let's break it up," Fin yelled, flashing his shield.

Cragen broke through the final circle of curious onlookers and rubbed his hand against his jaw. He approached one of the EMT's, watching as the other packed Alex's wound, "How's she doing?" he asked.

The EMT turned and saw the badge at his waist, "She's unconscious due to heavy blood loss from a deep impact laceration, we're stabilizing her then we need to get her moving," he replied.

"Any internal damage?"

The EMT shrugged, "It's unclear, that's why we need to get her moving," he said, turning as his partner caught his attention.

Fin appeared beside Cragen, "How is she?" he asked, looking at the limp form lying motionless on the gurney.

"They need to get her to the hospital, any word on Liv?"

Fin shook his head, "No. Stabler's on her tail though," he answered, taking a step closer to Alex. He spoke with one of the EMT's who nodded and he bent down, "Hang in there Cabot," he said quietly, squeezing her unresponsive hand.

Cragen lifted his portable radio and clicked the talk button, issuing a torrent of orders before approaching the EMT's, "Patrol is holding traffic at every cross street between here and Mercy, you'll be at the hospital in ten minutes," he informed them before turning to Fin, "I'll ride with Alex, make sure they get that son of a bitch!"

Elliot peered through the windshield at a familiar figure in the distance, watching her in disbelief as he pressed his foot to the pedal and gunned the engine.

Olivia vaulted from the hood of one car on to the trunk of the next, leaping on to the roof and bouncing on to the hood before repeating the move over and over again. It was like a surreal workout, her body ebbing and flowing as she dipped and leaped across the parked cars, ignoring the shouts from the sidewalk. She scanned the crowd; spotting a brown Panama hat only a few cars away and felt her powerful legs eat up the distance between them.

"NYPD!" she roared at him, shifting her gaze between the metal under her feet and the man on the street.

Natoomby turned, startled and froze as Olivia flew through the air towards him.

Elliot cursed as he watched his partner launching herself into the air. He abandoned the car and raced through the crowd, weapon drawn, "Liv!" he cried, seeing the crumpled bodies tangled together on the sidewalk. He ran towards her, pulling her off Natoomby, instantly spotting the spreading patch of red on the tan suit, "Liv!" he repeated, anguish lacing his tone.

Olivia groaned, clutching her shoulder while Elliot kicked the long, steel blade out of Natoomby's reach. She watched as he checked for a pulse, knowing that he wouldn't find one. She took a few, cleansing breaths, willing her racing heart to slow down, "Alex?" she panted.

Elliot gave her a one armed hug, swallowing his relief as he unclipped the radio from his belt, "Fin, you copy?"

"Go ahead Stabler," Fin responded immediately.

Elliot smiled into watching dark eyes, "How's Alex?"

"En route to Mercy, she's lost a lot of blood."

Olivia felt the hand of fear touch her shoulder as her world started to tilt, "El?"

Elliot reached into his pocket and retrieved the car keys, "Go, I'll secure the scene," he said, thrusting them into her hand.

Soft beeping noises interrupted her dreamy thoughts, pulling her awake. She swallowed a few times as she blinked, trying to bring her surroundings into focus. The first thing she noticed was the dark head resting on the bed beside her hand. She smiled reflexively at the sight of her lover and stroked her fingers through the soft hair, in a now familiar gesture. She stilled her hand as the dark head shifted and bolted upright.

"Alex!" Olivia gasped, instantly rising to her feet and dislodging the hand in her hair, "How d'you feel?" she asked, bending down and searching blue eyes intently.

Alex licked her dry lips, "Like I got stabbed by a madman from the Congo," she drolled.

Olivia rolled her eyes as she reached for the water pitcher and filled a small cup, placing the straw between Alex's parted lips. She smiled as Alex sucked thirstily on the cold liquid, "He stabbed you with an ice pick," she finally said.

Alex's eyes widened, "An ice pick?"

"Yeah…underneath your ribs, lucky for you your all sinewy muscle," she said, waggling her brows knowingly before adding, "It missed your internal organs by less than a quarter of an inch."

Alex shifted her hand to her side and touched the protective dressing, "What damage did it do?" she asked, watching as Olivia perched on the side of the bed.

"It punctured your side and when he withdrew it, he yanked it down…" she paused, lacing their fingers together, "…you have a two inch laceration just beneath your ribcage," she finished.

Alex nodded, "Two inches?"

Olivia smiled, "It could've been a lot worse," she replied, chasing away another image of Melinda Warner gasping for breath as blood filled her lung.

"Hey," Alex called, squeezing her hand to get her attention, smiling as the dark eyes focused on her, "It could have been a lot worse," she repeated.

Olivia blew out a shaky breath, "Natoomby's dead," she informed her.

"Good," Alex replied coldly.

Olivia dipped her head, "I caught up with him…there was a struggle…he died," she said, remembering how she landed on him and grabbed the length of steel.

"Did he hurt you?" Alex asked softly.

Olivia lifted her head, "No, but now my shoulder really hurts," she groaned, thankful that Alex didn't probe any further.

Alex laughed, "I think we're both going to need a lot of bed rest," she teased, smiling into the lips that covered her own.

"Are you decent?" a voice called from the hallway, tapping gently on the door.

Both heads turned towards the sound and smiled as Jo entered the room. Olivia slipped off the bed and greeted her with a fierce hug, "Thank you," she whispered.

Jo smiled over her shoulder at Alex and playfully patted the firm rear, grinning as Alex narrowed her gaze at her, "Relax honey, she's not my type…" she said playfully, easing out of the embrace and moving towards the bed, "…she's too short," she drolled, leaning down and kissing her cheek. Both laughing at the disgruntled groan from the foot of the bed.

Jo titled her head, studying her closely, "How you feeling?"

"Like someone stabbed me with an ice pick," she quipped.

Olivia snorted as she resumed her position on the edge of the bed, reaching for the slender hand. She listened as the two ADA's talked, smiling occasionally at their witty barbs. Her thoughts drifting to the past few days, mulling over everything they'd been through and everything they'd shared. She sighed, finally allowing the tension to leave her body.

"She's definitely whipped," Jo commented.

Alex smiled, "Lucky for me," she replied honestly.

"It's only ever been you Alex, you must see that," the older blonde added.

Alex sighed happily, stroking a nearby thigh, "I do now," she said quietly.

"I am in the room you know," Olivia chided, giving them both a mock glare.

Jo shook her head, "Like anyone could forget you were in the room," she teased, laughing at the blushing detective as she eased off the bed. She reached into her pocket, retrieving a DVD disc and handed it to Alex.

"What's this?"

Jo indicated Olivia and smiled, "If you thought Stabler was impressive jumping from a helicopter, wait until you see Wonder Woman here leaping over parked cars like stepping stones," she replied.

Alex's eyebrows disappeared into her hairline as her mouth fell open, "What?" she asked in disbelief, turning to her lover for an explanation.

Olivia shrugged her shoulders and shook her head, "It was nothing, really," she lied, shooting daggers over at Jo.

Jo ignored her as she leaned down and kissed Alex goodbye before rounding the bed and pressing her lips softly against a flushed cheek, "Bye hero," she teased.

Olivia looked up at her as she pulled away, "You're not leaving are you?"

Jo shook her head, knowing what Olivia was really asking, "No, I don't think I'm done with this city just yet," she answered, squeezing her arm before heading towards the door.

Olivia watched her leave, the sharp poke at her side drawing her attention, "What was that for?"

"You have to ask?"

Olivia frowned in confusion, "Jo's just a friend," she replied.

"I know that, I'm talking about the leaping over parked cars thing, care to elaborate?"

The dark haired woman leaned down and kissed her, taking her time as she explored the warm recess of her mouth. She tapped her nose lightly as she pulled away, "No," she finally replied.

Alex stared into the dark depths, "I love you," she said quietly, threading her fingers through the soft hair.

"And I love you," Olivia replied, leaning in again for another long kiss, "But I'm still not telling you," she added as she eased away.

Alex sighed in frustration, "How much longer do I have to stay in here?"

Olivia glanced at her watch, "Just another hour, why?"

Alex slipped her hand around her neck, guiding her down, her tongue swiping hotly against the parted lips, "Because the sooner I get you home, the sooner I'll get it out of you," she husked, feeling the body she held tremble with anticipation as she crushed their mouths together.

The End

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