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.
SPOILERS: for 3.02 Wrath and 4.06 Angels.
The Sum of Contradictions: 40 No
By beurre blanc
Mrs Cabot set the teacups and pot on the tray, and placed hot buttered toast next to them, wondering whether the aroma would be enough to entice Alex to eat something.
Mrs Cabot was, by nature, a cautious woman quick to observe, slow to judge. Well-educated and intelligent, she had a natural reserve, gentled by good manners and an easy demeanor, behind which stood an incisive wit of razor-sharp accuracy. She had an innate trustworthiness which effortlessly drew the confidences of others, and her late husband had only been half-joking when he'd wryly remarked that she would have made an excellent diplomat or spy. Alexandra was, however, very much her father's daughter, a fact responsible in no small measure for the genuine friendship shared by mother and daughter.
Once Alex had finally, reluctantly, begun to describe the events leading to the fractured state of her relationship with the SVU detective, she had delivered the facts with precise, almost clinical detail, and for once Mrs Cabot found herself unable to avoid a certain degree of pre-judgment of the woman who was responsible for her daughter's current emotional turmoil. Partially responsible, she reminded herself. There is always another side The fault would belong to neither alone it belonged to both. What had become apparent, as Alex had told her tale, was that Mrs Cabot's assertion about the strength of Alex's affection for Olivia had been accurate, perhaps even an underestimate. Alex was clearly reeling from the dissolution of the relationship, but it was her determination to distance herself from Olivia, to resist any suggestion of a reconciliation, which bothered Mrs Cabot most. Yes, stubbornness was a no, the - distinguishing feature of her daughter's disposition, but this seemed extreme, even for Alexandra. Determined, single-minded, persistent, tenacious each of these euphemisms had been applied to her daughter at one time or another, although she herself preferred 'obstinate'. After all, she had known Alex longer than anyone else, and it was her maternal right to call this spade 'a spade'. And this degree of obstinacy was a sure sign that Alexandra's pride was under threat from something she was yet to acknowledge.
The intercom's shrill buzz startled her from her reverie, and she walked across to the wall panel, puzzled. Ahhhh. She stood for a moment, staring at the woman on the screen: taller than she'd expected, her brunette hair stylishly cut, and her carriage, as she waited with obvious apprehension, nonetheless lent an air of efficient strength and purpose. Even viewed through the grainy filter of a low resolution camera, the basis of her daughter's physical attraction to this woman was most definitely evident to Mrs Cabot.
She smoothed her skirt absently as she crossed the foyer towards the heavy oak door, and swung it open on quiet hinges.
Olivia, whose journey from the city had been impelled by the unfocussed intention simply of finding Alex, found herself suddenly at a loss. What the fuck do I say?
"Mrs Cabot? I'm-,"
"-Olivia. Yes, I thought so."
Silence descended as the two women regarded one another, neither entirely sure of herself, nor of her obligations. At last, Olivia took a deep breath, and her shoulders drooped minutely.
"I, um is Alex here?"
She waited, watching herself being sized up by a woman so clearly her daughter's mother that the slow serious nod of affirmation caused Olivia's breath to catch in her chest. Finally, she gathered herself enough to formulate her request.
"I owe her an apology," she stated quietly, gaze sliding down towards her feet.
Mrs Cabot looked at Olivia in silence, waiting for the brunette to meet her eye again. Finally, brown eyes met gray, and Olivia said simply, "Please?" Holding the gaze of her daughter's lover properly for the first time, what struck the older woman was the sheer depth of emotion in the detective's eyes. The veneer of hopeful determination had fled with the first greeting, leaving in its place an expression of misery and remorse so exact a counterpart of Alexandra's that any chastisement Mrs Cabot may have contemplated faded into irrelevance. Instead, she reached for Olivia's hand, and drew her into the warmth of her home.
"Please, come in."
As they crossed the foyer, Mrs Cabot spoke again. "How was your journey? The roads can be a bit unpredictable this time of year."
Olivia's responses to the polite enquiries were both automatic and instantly dismissed from her mind. Running on empty
" and, of course, after the last week's blizzard " Mrs Cabot drew to a halt and looked questioningly at the detective.
What? Oh shit "I'm sorry. What were you saying?" Olivia noticed the tea tray in the older woman's hands, and wondered absently when she'd picked it up.
"Never mind, dear."
As they neared the door that was evidently their destination, Olivia felt her pulse begin to quicken, and her hands felt cold. Mrs Cabot paused to look at the dark-haired woman, and after a moment's appraisal she seemed to reach a decision.
"I'm not sure what sort of reception you'll receive " But she certainly won't be happy. "I'll show you in, shall I?"
A flicker of apprehension showed on Olivia's face, one which Mrs Cabot correctly interpreted as Are you sure you want to be here for this? Both knew enough of Alex's pride, and her temper when she felt her moral authority was being challenged, to know civility would not be high on Alex's agenda. Summary dismissal, however, would help neither woman's cause, and Mrs Cabot embraced her role as vanguard with characteristic aplomb.
She rapped her knuckles, just she had previously, and awaited the invitation to enter. When it came, she opened the door and walked quietly into the room, motioning for Olivia to follow. Alex had remained seated by the window, staring somberly down at the gardens below, yet the instant Olivia entered the room the atmosphere changed. Alex's head turned automatically toward the door, and for a suspended moment both women simply stared as a charge sprang up between them. Mrs Cabot watched silently as her daughter's expression flicked from shock, to longing, to regret - and then to anger. However, instead of turning her back on both of them, as her mother had half-expected, Alex fixed Mrs Cabot with an accusatory glare the likes of which would have pinned any defense attorney to his or her seat.
Her questions remained unspoken, but were entirely apparent to both other women in the room: What the f- , Mother? After everything I just told you? How could you?
Mrs Cabot spoke, finally, hoping that a show of good manners would rescue the situation. "Please, Olivia, have a seat."
Olivia, determined - literally - to stand her ground, declined the offer with an apologetic glance. Her gaze returned to Alex, and she noted with concern the blonde's pallor, and red-rimmed eyes.
For her part, Alex was now fighting barely-contained fury. How dare they? This physical breach of her figurative inner sanctum, finding herself the object of such intimate scrutiny by the only two women in the world she couldn't fool, raised Alex's ire a further notch. She drew in a sharp breath, fixed each with a look of withering contempt, and then turned pointedly away to stare out of the casement window once more.
Mrs Cabot was encouraged, at least, that her daughter had not ejected the pair of them on sight. Moreover, as Alex had turned her glare upon Olivia, her mother had perceived a momentary lingering, a split second of wordless communication, of raw crackling energy, before Alex shut Olivia out, and turned away. This is far from over, young lady.
"I'll call when luncheon is ready, shall I?" she asked, before retiring unnoticed from the room, and closing the door behind her in quiet satisfaction.
With the room to themselves now, the two women sized each other up. Gazes met Alex stony, Olivia undaunted. Well, counselor what now? Despite her exhaustion, being in her lover's presence again had infused Olivia with an unexpected vigor, and the wordless challenge felt almost gladiatorial.
Alex's opening salvo was, in fact, silence. She sat, solemn, dignified, and seemingly coldly indifferent. Olivia, though, had seen Alex use this approach before, and was ready for it. For two minutes she waited, watching the blonde with quiet determination, while Alex attempted to maintain both her silence and her poise. Of course both knew it would only be a matter of time before the situation became farcical, and there was no way a prosecutor of Alexandra Cabot's caliber would allow this silence to stretch to the point of absurdity.
But you're not here as prosecutor, are you? Olivia saw with sudden clarity that Alex had fared no better than she had since their argument the evening before. She looked pale and drawn, younger, and more vulnerable than the detective could ever recall: like Olivia, Alex was at the limit of her emotional resources.
Olivia relented. Rather than prolong this pointless battle of wills, she offered Alex a figurative olive branch.
"I'm sorry, Alex."
"What the hell do you think you're doing here?" demanded the attorney. "Was I not clear enough when I left last night? It's over, Olivia."
"We can't leave things like this, like we did last night. We have to talk about this."
"I've said all I'm prepared to say. The matter is closed."
The hell it is! "Alex, we said some things last night I said some things which I'm-,"
"I'll see you out, shall I?"
"Oh, no you won't. Don't you dare try to close me out again!"
"Me close you out? Oh, that's rich!"
"Yes, Alex, you. This isn't just about last night you've been pushing me away for weeks. This isn't just my fault."
"Oh, really?" Again, the withering look. "Need I mention again the little issue of trust, Olivia?"
Alex's words sliced into her. Olivia took a breath and steeled herself to continue.
"Look, there are some things I need to tell you, some things I need to say-,"
"Oh really? What shall I be treated to now? A reiteration of my shortcomings as a prosecutor? More allegations about my lack of professionalism and commitment to SVU?" Alex's eyes filled with tears again, and she blinked angrily. "Or how about we get personal again? Why don't you tell me again how I care more about my job than I do about you? Or how, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, I am 'going back to men'? Hell, let's just denounce this whole thing as 'my little lesbian experiment' again " Alex's voice faded at last, as anger became resignation once more.
Having her own hysterical accusations flung back at her with such precision now reduced Olivia's resolve to a mere thread. She closed her eyes slowly, tightened her jaw, and nodded.
When she opened her eyes again, Alex was standing in front of her. "Go home, Olivia," the blonde implored her. "I need time to get over this, so please just go "
"No." A whisper, no more.
Olivia shook her head, and said more loudly, "No."
"Don't do this to me. Please, don't "
"Alex " She paused, eyes liquid, and throat tight, then looked down, catching the attorney's hand in her own trembling fingers. And, just as it had that first time so many months before, the touch - this simple touch - did what no number of angry accusations, no floods of tears, no harsh revelations had yet done: it forged a sudden connection which spanned the chasm between them, and drew them inexorably towards each other again. "...we can't fight this." A statement of fact.
Olivia felt herself caught once more in the crystalline depths of Alex's eyes, and Alex could no more resist the pull of Olivia's gaze than she could hold back the tide. With the last of her self-control, Olivia paused, allowing Alex to come to her, wordlessly offering as she had that first time one final chance to pull away, to resist. Alex could not. Her lips met Olivia's, and parted immediately to accept, and then share in, a passionate exploration which demonstrated not only the depth of their love, but the degree of forgiveness, and the willingness to give that love the chance it deserved. Alex's long fingers trailed upwards, automatically seeking the nape of Olivia's neck, pulling them both even more deeply into the kiss, while Olivia's strong arms encircled Alex's chest.
When at last they drew apart, it was for a mere few seconds and to a distance of only millimeters before both sank into another kiss equally passionate, equally meaningful. Equally profound.
When, at length, Alex leaned back enough to focus once more on the deep chestnut eyes before her, she saw lashes glistening with tears, and she tilted Olivia's face towards her so that she could kiss them gently away. God I love you
Olivia drew in a breath, and sighed yet failed to speak.
Turning her head slightly, Olivia brought her fingers to her forehead, squeezing the temples. There's an elephant in your living room, Olivia. Feel free to pick it up anytime Another deep breath, and then she silently extricated herself from Alex's embrace, urging the lawyer to resume her seat by the window.
Glancing around the room, Olivia took in its features for the first time since she'd been shown in. Vaguely, she registered the ornate Edwardian furnishings, a plush rug, the rich brocades of cushions and drapes. Two tall standard lamps cast warm circles in barely-effective counterpoise to the bleak wintry light which pierced the window panes. A pair of floor-to-ceiling double doors with polished brass handles led to the remainder of the suite a bedroom, bathroom, and, very likely, a balcony to take advantage of more temperate weather.
Reaching a decision, Olivia walked purposefully across the room and picked up one of the high-backed chairs. She carried it across to the window, and set it on the rug with its back towards Alex. After a moment's hesitation, she swung her leg over the seat, and rested her chin on folded forearms, hoping the casualness of the gesture would distract from the fact that she was using the chair as a shield.
Alex watched the performance, and quelled her desire to reach out, or to object to Olivia's distance from her, knowing instinctively not to interrupt until whatever this was had run its course.
"Alex, has anybody ever told you why I joined SVU?"
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