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The Sum of Contradictions: 41 Freefall
By beurre blanc


"Alex, has anybody ever told you why I joined SVU?"

Alex blinked, thrown by the apparent non sequitur. She shook her head slowly.

Ok, Benson, you have the floor…

Olivia took a deep breath, grasped the chair back in both hands, and launched in. "Well, you already know about my Mom - you know she was an English professor, and an alcoholic."

Alex canted her head, puzzled, and nodded slowly for Olivia to continue.

"The reason I never talk about my father is that I don't really know anything about him…" She paused, tasting the next words in her mind. "…except that he was my mother's rapist. He raped her, and left her lying in an alley, bloodied, bruised… and pregnant with me."

And there it was.

In any other circumstance, Olivia may have felt some glimmer of triumph at the impact her revelation might have on Alex. As it was, she found herself awaiting Alex's reaction with a strange sense of detachment, suspended immobile between the acknowledged imperative for disclosure, and the irrational urge to run. She consciously tightened her grip on the chair, and looked up to meet Alex's eyes.

For her part, Alex was stunned. With all the exhaustion of their confrontation, her departure from New York, the endless, fruitless discussion with her mother, lack of sleep, and - until only moments ago - no appetite for anything but self-pity and denial, the last thing Alex could have anticipated now was for her memory to switch into overdrive. Yet, somehow, instead of Olivia's revelation robbing her of all rational thought, Alex's eidetic memory abruptly began drawing up images, instance after uncomfortable instance, a flood of flashbacks, and suddenly it all slipped into place.

"Is the olive skin from your mother or your father?"

"My father… He wasn't around… I, um, I didn't really know him."

Shit, she thought, shit, shit, shit!

The evening in the park. "… she'd say it was my fault that she drank, she didn't like the way I did this, or didn't do that, or that I was just like…" Just like… him. Oh, Liv.

The night of her birthday. "…and the other parent is a rapist – but this baby will also receive boundless love and support from its mother, and deserves every chance…" Oh, way to go, Cabot!

Darrel Guan. "He's right you know – genetics has got to play a part. How could they not? Fortunately for you and the People, I had that jury eating out of my hand. There's no way they were going to believe him over me…" This time there was no suppressing the horror Alex felt at her own ignorant insensitivity from appearing on her face. Shit, why didn't I see this?

And, as if finally to drive the point home, a reiteration of her overwrought accusation from only days before flung itself, literatim, at her conscience: "You, on the other hand, still don't seem to recognize that your single-minded pursuit of Peter Sipes, one which ultimately caused his death and that of a US Federal Marshall, was based merely on the fact that you couldn't see anything beyond getting a rapist behind bars! Hell no! No rapist is going to get away from Detective Olivia Benson…"

Oh. Fuck.

Olivia observed the play of emotions on Alex's face, abhorrence and dismay chief among them. Well? She waited for something – anything - while, no longer meeting her gaze, Alex stared into the middle distance. God, Alex, just say something! At last, Olivia reached her limit. She lowered her lids in resignation, her long-ingrained, never-quite-conquered sense of inadequacy betraying her once again. I guess that's it then.

Alex, still caught in the maze of realization, was entirely unaware of the impact of her ongoing silence. Her focus was internal, and only peripherally was she aware that Olivia still sat before her. She drew in a deep breath, a flood of questions in her mind. Where did it happen? Who was he? How much do you know? Did they catch him? Did he go to trial? Is he in jail? But, in her heart, she already knew the answers. Only one question remained…

"Why didn't you tell me?" Fuelled by impotent fury, and regret for her own ignorant blunders, Alex's question had a far harder edge than intended, and it struck a depleted Olivia broadside. Defensive anger briefly flared… and then died away. Her dark eyes offering one final entreaty, Olivia sighed and stood, turning towards the door.

"Wait – where are you going?" Alex felt suddenly dislocated. "Liv?"

Olivia turned back to face her, and as she did so, Alex's overburdened analytical mind suddenly caught up. She sprang to her feet. "No, no, no… Oh, sweetheart, that came out wrong." She stepped into Olivia's path. "I'm sorry, Liv. I am so sorry, for everything-,"

"I don't want your pity Alex."

"Damn it, Olivia, this isn't pity! This is contrition." She grasped the detective's shoulders firmly, almost tempted to shake them as emphasis. "I'm apologizing to you for the thoughtless things I've done and said, so many times." Staring earnestly at Olivia, she willed her to see the truth, but saw only resignation in response.

"Oh, Liv, sweetheart, did you think…?" The unpleasant realization dawned. "Did you really think that I would think less of you because of where you came from? Because of what that bastard did to your mother?"

Olivia's expression confirmed the suspicion.

Alex's reaction was visceral, and instantaneous: she kissed her. She reached up to link her hands behind Olivia's neck, and pulled her into a kiss, deep and uncompromising. Her tongue took possession of Olivia's mouth, her lips drew, and soothed and sucked: firmly, and without reservation, Alex sought to show the woman in her arms the depth and constancy of her affection.

"Olivia," she said at last, "Olivia, I love you. YOU. I'm in love with who you are, and nothing you reveal about your past can change that fact." Alex paused, waiting for acknowledgement that her words were sinking in. Are you listening to me, Liv? She searched her eyes. Do you hear what I'm saying?

"Do you hear me, Liv?"

A spark of hope ignited in the brunette's eyes.

Yes! "I don't give a damn about your father – or your mother, for that matter. I don't care who they were, or what they did, beyond one very important point: they gave me you."

And that was it: the final push into freefall. Suspicion, hesitancy, self-sufficiency, reserve… All the defensive responses that Olivia had fashioned and sharpened over the years - had relied upon to keep her whole, and to ensure she survived, intact and functional – the need for all this armor suddenly gave way. In this moment she knew - whether Alex stayed or walked, whether they lasted the distance or not, no matter what their futures held - she knew that, in Alex, she had found the other half of her soul.

And so it was, finally, in an act of faith that Alex would catch her heart and keep it safe, Olivia let it go.

The first tap was discreet. The second – less so. The third was bereft of all subtlety.

"Hmmmph." Alex broke the kiss, withdrawing her hand only as far as Olivia's collar, and – deliberately – no further. Her thumb traced the brunette's jawline while she waited for Olivia's eyes to open.


"Mother." A stage whisper, with a pantomime-worthy widening of the eyes.

Panic. "What? Oh, sh-,"

"Shhhh…" Alex had anticipated Olivia's reaction, and firmed her hold. You're not going anywhere, Detective! "Stay. Right. Here." Another kiss sealed the directive.

The door swung open, regaining the attention of both, and Mrs Cabot entered carrying a large tray laden with sandwiches, fruit and a pitcher of iced water.

"Is either of you hungry?"

Olivia blushed, Alex grinned, and Mrs Cabot went about placing the items on the table and laying out china, cutlery, and white linen napkins, all refinement and feigned innocence. Satisfied, she stood upright again and addressed the two women still reclining in each other's embrace.

"I believe this ought to fill the spot," she said. "And then, my darling," she turned to Alex, "it's bed for you. I know it's early afternoon, but you need some sleep. Olivia, I take it you'll be staying until tomorrow morning?"

"Umm, yes," Olivia managed, before hurriedly adding, "if that's OK?"

"Fine dear. I think we should put you in the guest suite, then." Olivia paled. "All right then, my dears, I shall expect you both for dinner at eight." And with that she turned and exited, closing the door behind her.

"The guest suite?" Olivia didn't know whether she should feel indignant, or mortified. "Your mother just consigned me to the guest suite?!" Indignation won.


"I don't believe it!"

A little louder this time. "Liv."

"What does she think this is? The 1950s?!"



Alex gave way to a fit of giggles. "This is the guest suite!"

The End

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