DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A number of real people are mentioned directly or obliquely in this chapter, however any implied interaction or association between them and the fictional characters is, likewise, fictional.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Sum of Contradictions: 42 Hitch
By beurre blanc
Olivia came awake in stages.
Calm. Her first awareness was of deep calm. She felt it initially as an absence, knew calm not as one might recognize joy, or, for that matter, sadness, elation, or fear. Slowly, as wakefulness seeped through her, Olivia began to comprehend the sensation by its obverse: she lacked tension. The coiled readiness, so familiar an accompaniment to her rousing that most times she failed to notice it, now declared itself loudly absent. And in its place, a bone-deep, abiding calm.
Scent came next the scent of sleep, of perfumes comfortably mingled, enveloping and warm. Something tickled at her awareness, the fleeting memory of a dream, obscured by and lost to the simple act of pursuit as it subsided into her subconscious again. Slowly, Olivia became aware of the soft warmth curled against her, enfolding her, and the rhythm of peaceful breathing which may or may not have been her own. She inhaled, deliberately and deeply, the prelude to a contented sigh, and noticed the hint of a smile on her lips.
As she sighed, the soft slide of bare skin against her own heralded a full return to wakefulness. Alex. Lying here, with her lover's sleeping form wrapped comfortably in her embrace, not even the inescapable flood of unpleasant memories from the preceding few days could diminish the radiance of Olivia's reflexive smile.
Oh Alex, I love you so much.
The thought translated itself into involuntary movement, a momentary tightening of her embrace, and she turned her head slightly to bestow a soft kiss upon the blonde's forehead. Alex, still asleep, let out a soft sigh, and nestled herself a little closer in to Olivia's side.
Her thigh lay possessively over Olivia's, and her arm shifted downwards, hand tracing its way slowly across the detective's lower abdomen and towards the apex of her thighs, finally coming to rest cupping the detective's sex. Olivia experienced a lightning-quick jolt of arousal, coating her lover's fingers instantly.
"Mmmm." Alex moaned, waking now, and began to uncurl and stretch, extending her neck and tilting her chin upwards to demand a more thorough kiss.
Olivia spared a glance at her wristwatch. Seven forty-five.
"Hmm mmm," she murmured, before a clarifying whisper, "No."
Regarding her lazily from between lids still heavy with slumber, Alex grinned, and drew her fingers slowly and slickly forwards, the pad of her middle finger circling a deliberate and delicious challenge around Olivia's clit. "Why not?"
Olivia took a deep breath and tilted her face to the ceiling, trying desperately to divorce her thoughts from the overwhelming sensations emanating from deep within her belly
"Because your mother is expecting us for dinner in fifteen minutes."
"And ?" Having earlier postponed their lovemaking in favor of much-needed sleep, now Alex was trying her best to distract the detective with rubs, taps and caresses, and the very evident heat of Olivia's arousal told her she was close to succeeding.
"And " Olivia forced herself to focus. "Please?"
Despite her own arousal, Alex read Olivia's request rapidly, and accurately. You want to make a good impression Alex's affection surged ahead of her own desires, and she relented, drawing her fingers slowly away from Olivia's sex, and trailing them wetly over the soft skin of her belly.
"Only if you promise to make it up to me later "
Dinner had been a relaxed affair surprisingly so, given the formality of the setting, and the impeccable presentation of each dish. Mrs Cabot's welcome had been warm and genuine, yet she had maintained an undercurrent of sly humor which kept the conversation bubbling along. Alex's obvious comfort with her surroundings, and enjoyment of her mother's company, had gradually put the detective at ease. She had watched the bantering between mother and daughter with delight, surprised not by the degree to which this contrasted with her relationship with her own mother, but simply by how little the difference mattered. She had expected to feel something resentment, perhaps, disappointment, or even envy. But, when she had stolen a moment to examine her own feelings, Olivia had realized that her dominant emotion had been joy. Joy and affection. And gratitude. And love. Alex had seemed to sense her thoughts, and had quietly taken her hand. Smiling, Olivia had squeezed back, and returned her attention to the conversation, and the dessert.
"Tell me, Olivia, were you born in New York?"
"Yes born and bred. We had an apartment on West End Avenue, right near Riverside Park."
"Olivia's Mom was an English professor."
"Really? What was her specialty?"
"Brit Lit, eighteenth and nineteenth century, mostly. I grew up on a steady diet of Austen and Brontë and Shelley and the like."
Olivia smiled ironically. "You know I hated that book!"
"Oh yeah! I mean, for all that it was about Jane making her way in the world against adversity, I just couldn't stand all the preaching about women being properly subservient to men!"
Olivia stopped, a little wary, as she noticed Mrs Cabot glance towards her daughter with amusement. Alex rolled her eyes dramatically.
"Well, you'll be pleased to know that Alexandra used to say exactly the same thing. I used to call her my dear little 'feminist-in-the-making'!"
"Yes dear?" replied her mother innocently. No quarter.
Alex pressed her lips together, and snorted in mock disapproval. "Hmph."
Smiling, Mrs Cabot turned back to Olivia, and asked, "Do you have brothers or sisters?"
Olivia's hesitation was only momentary, yet Alex's perception and response were seamless. "Olivia's an only child," she said. Olivia stiffened, and Alex glanced at her. Look, I don't need you to Alex cut off the thought with a squeeze of her hand, and with a gaze filled with open adoration said, "Like me." Olivia relaxed, nodding her affirmation.
"Well," said her mother, watching the exchange, "that explains it, then."
The two younger women turned towards her, nonplussed, and said simultaneously, "Excuse me?"
"Did I, or did I not, witness a little - ah - stubbornness, earlier today?" Mrs Cabot looked expectantly from one to the other, then went on, "If memory serves, only children tend to be somewhat more headstrong and unyielding, and disinclined to give ground or to compromise, than those with siblings?" She smiled indulgently at Alex and Olivia, waiting for one or the other to disagree with her, and growing increasingly amused as their continued silence provided ample justification for her statement.
Finally, Olivia turned to the attorney and said quietly, "She's right, you know."
"She usually is," replied Alex, begrudgingly. Her attempt to appear insulted, however, failed miserably, subsumed first by a grin, and then an outright chuckle.
"Oh really?" said Olivia, pouting with faux dismay. "Well I know where you get that from, then!"
"My favorite? Oh, god, there are so many! I think I think it's Rear Window."
"Notorious for me. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman."
"With the guy from Casablanca the French policeman."
"Wasn't that the one with the original 'McGuffin'?"
"Yes, yes it was those wine bottles filled with the mineral sand. That was the thing the bad guys had, the good guys were after, and the audience didn't really care, so long as the hero got the girl!"
"But then there's North by Northwest. I loved that one too the whole 'wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time' routine. Cary Grant was hilarious, remember?"
"That's right. 'Roger O Thornhill'."
Like a catechism: "'What does the O stand for?'"
"Nothing!" came the reply.
Alex shook her head. Oh brother. Her mother and her girlfriend had just discovered a shared passion for Hitchcock films, and were squealing like a couple of schoolgirls! The verbal ping pong was making her dizzy.
"He played such a great drunk, didn't he? 'That wassss Motherrr'!"
"I think he was even funnier in Charade. Remember that one? With Audrey Hepburn?"
"Oh, yeah. Not Hitchcock, though."
"No, I don't think so. Great cast, though. James Coburn?"
"And Walter what's-his-name."
"Yes. Before he was 'Odd'."
" or 'Grumpy'!"
"Remember the scene in the night club with the orange, and that big sour-faced German woman? Grant's expressions were just priceless!" Both women dissolved into laughter. Alex simply watched, incredulous.
"Or what about the shower scene? You know, the one where he takes a shower in front of her fully clothed and makes a show of washing each bit of clothing, including his belt."
"And his glasses!"
Watching the conversation, Alex was struck by two things. Firstly superficially she couldn't believe the sheer volume of trivia that seemed to flow between Olivia and her mother. It was like they were speaking another language, and to Alex it was completely baffling. More importantly, though, at some point in the evening a line seemed to have been crossed. She couldn't recall exactly when, or even how, but there seemed to be a warmth and empathy to her mother's exchanges with Olivia which went beyond polite, or even friendly. A real affection seemed to have sprung up, blossoming from the minimalist beginnings of well-intentioned but simple social niceties, to become a self-sustaining and invigorating meeting of minds. Who'd have thought? Alex was genuinely awed.
" oh, that first kiss the one at twilight, when he's dozing in the wheelchair, and she arrives with dinner and leans in to kiss him awake? That was so stunningly shot, such beautiful cinematography."
Oh, back to Hitchcock again
"Didn't he have that scene shot over and over, just so he could 'observe' it repeatedly and indulge in a little fantasizing himself?"
"So the rumor goes!"
"The archetypal Hitchcock blonde," said Olivia wistfully. "I was a huge fan of Grace Kelly when I was a teenager. Still am."
"Really? You like Grace Kelly?" asked Mrs Cabot, her eyes sparkling.
Uh oh, thought Alex. Here we go.
"Oh yeah, I just adored her. I must have seen that film forty times, maybe more. That, and To Catch a Thief," she added. "And every other film I could get my hands on. Never did manage to find Fourteen Hours, but I still have all the others on video."
"Well, then, you may be interested to know, when I was a girl growing up in Philly before I began burning bras and being arrested for civil disobedience-,"
"Before Dad met her when his services were engaged to argue her case in court sans bra."
"And a fine argument he offered, too," Mrs Cabot replied loftily. "It won him the case, and the girl!"
"And the bet!" Alex crossed her arms and smirked at the old family joke. "Your Honor Exhibit A." She mimed holding a bra in both hands, displaying it ostentatiously before a fictitious court. "One McGuffin. Size 36C."
Olivia burst out laughing, and Mrs Cabot rolled her eyes in exasperation.
"Yes, well, anyway as I was saying, Olivia, before all that, you might be interested to know who my best friend at school was."
"Grace Kelly? Really?!
"Oh, Good Heavens no! She was four years older than us which seemed like a whole generation then. No, I went to school with Lizanne, her sister "
And with that, Alex, who had heard this story recounted endless times before, tuned out. Instead, she folded her legs up onto the couch, and leaned into Olivia, who put an arm around to cradle her. She snuggled in and closed her eyes, noting vaguely that Olivia had accepted her into the embrace unselfconsciously, absently, listening, as she was, with rapt attention to Mrs Cabot's tale. Alex smiled contentedly, breathed deeply, and, buoyed by the babble and murmur of the conversation, allowed her thoughts to drift away.
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