DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Andy Warhol, Susan Lewin and Maxfield Parrish are all real people, but the remaining characters are fictional, as is any implied association.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: 3.08 Inheritance

The Sum of Contradictions: 6. Maxfield Parrish
By beurre blanc


"What do you mean, El?"

"I mean I think she's on her way to see you."


"Fin and I need that warrant, and it's not here at her office, so I'm guessing she's planning on dropping it off at the squad room, only we're here-,"

Olivia was becoming frustrated now. "Elliot, Elliot stop! You are making no sense whatsoever! Why would you think she's coming here?"

"Flowers. Apparently she left here carrying some fancy big bouquet. I figure they could only be for you."

All of a sudden Olivia was experiencing an unaccustomed – and uncomfortable – combination of apprehension and delight. If she let herself think about it, she was becoming increasingly… what? attracted to, enamored of, fascinated by… their ADA. Precisely why she didn't let herself think about it. Unfortunately this moment of self-admonishment had distracted her just long enough to lose track of Elliot's call.

"Liv? You OK?"

"Um, yeah. What did you say?"

"I said, 'tell Alex we'll meet her at the precinct at one o'clock'." He spoke slowly and deliberately, as if to a child, although the grin was clearly audible too. "Liv, you sure that head injury's not critical?"

"Bite me, El."

"Aw, you say the sweetest things."

Alex arrived at Olivia's hospital room bearing a large bouquet. She hesitated at the door.

Not having seen Olivia since the Darrell Guan verdict, Alex was unsure what sort of reception to expect. What she wanted was the easy familiarity they'd established over the last six months. But she still had no clue about Olivia's state of mind, and her own had been in such disarray she felt a not inconsiderable degree of disquiet. However, whatever residual issues she may have with her own feelings over the past few days, Alex was resolute in her intention to be professional, and to make polite amends for the outcome of their last encounter.

"Hey, Alex. Please, come in." Olivia's expression revealed little.

They regarded one another for a moment, then said simultaneously, "I'm sorry."

After a moment's surprised silence both women burst out laughing at how corny they sounded, and suddenly, inexplicably, things felt 'right' between them again. Alex allowed herself to believe she felt genuinely relieved that the tension between them had disappeared, their professional equilibrium reestablished. To think otherwise would mean she'd also have to acknowledge the twinge of regret that pricked at her subconscious…

"Hey, how do you feel?" asked Alex, still smiling. She walked over to the bed, and handed the bouquet to the detective.

"Oh, you know – '10 rounds with Mike Tyson'."

Olivia glanced at the flowers and smiled briefly to herself, then turned and placed them gently on the bed-table. Her expression becoming serious again, she looked up at the counselor and said, "I mean it. I want to apologize for what I said to you on Monday."

If Alex found the ensuing silence disconcerting, she was completely thrown the next moment when Olivia reached out and took her hand. "It was unprofessional, and… unfair."

Alex now found it impossible to reconcile the apology with the renewed rush of desire elicited by Olivia's touch. She blushed, acutely aware of her body's response to Olivia's fingers grasping her own, and as she glanced up watched Olivia's expression change from pleased to puzzled to one of unalloyed want. For an instant Olivia's gaze seemed to track all the way to her soul…

And then Olivia withdrew.

Her gaze clouded, and in the same instant she let go of Alex's hand the connection dissolved.

Olivia had meant to offer a gesture of reassurance – after all, she did this professionally with hundreds of people, conveying safety, compassion, encouragement for people at their most vulnerable, and it was a perfectly natural way to emphasize the sincerity of her apology. This time, however, it had backfired spectacularly. Somehow, something had flared between her and Alex, something neither had been prepared for. And it terrified them both.

When she thought about it later, Olivia would try to convince herself she didn't want another office entanglement, another workplace indiscretion to cause her unease and embarrassment, to be the target of inebriated male humor. She was not yet prepared to acknowledge, even to herself, that what scared her most was the overwhelming force of her attraction, and the fear that if she gave in, she would be consumed…

Right now, though, Olivia merely reddened and stared at the flowers, then cleared her throat. "These are lovely," she said, indicating the bouquet. "Thank you."

"I'm glad you like them," Alex replied softly, before an uncomfortable silence settled again.

"How are we doing with Roberts?"

It was as if Olivia had thrown her a lifeline: abruptly confident, articulate 'professional Alex' reappeared, although both knew it to be a façade. Olivia felt a pang of justifiable regret as the counselor's legal persona emerged and took control of the conversation.

"Arraignment is tomorrow at three. And Mitchell White goes to court next Tuesday. Judge Seligman's already gunning for me over this one, especially after the performance White put on at the preliminary. Defence is going to play hardball, I'm going to have to prep you and Elliot really thoroughly if we're going to keep the car search in. By the way, Liz sends her regards..."

"Hey, Liv. How're you doin'?"

"You look like 'a sunrise by Maxfield Parrish'!"

"Fin, John." Olivia tried not to wince as she greeted her colleagues. "Looks much worse than it is. I'll be out of here by tomorrow morning." She attempted a grin but gave up when she realized that a grimace would be the best she could manage. "Maxfield Parrish?"

"American painter and illustrator. Still outsells Andy Warhol. Used to paint one Susan Lewin in various states of undress. Rumor has it she is related to-,"

"Enough!" Olivia held up her hand to deny Munch any further opportunity to draw speculative links between her facial appearance and the pedigree of the incumbent Manhattan DA. "There are some images a police officer 'wounded in the line of duty' does not need in her head…"

Fin smirked, and looked around for an excuse to change the topic of conversation. His gaze settled on a large bouquet still lying on her bed-table.

"Nice flowers."

"Yeah," Olivia agreed quietly, a rueful smile gracing her lips. "They're hyacinths…"

The End

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