DISCLAIMER: All main characters belong to Dick Wolf, NBC and Universal and have been temporarily kidnapped by me (I wish...don't think I'd ever ask for ransom...).
SPOILERS: Post "Loss." This is my first. Please be gentle with me.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Texas Hold 'Er
By Cheyne

Chapter Four - The Turn

Olivia woke up to the smell of freshly brewing coffee. Although she preferred tea, the odor of the aromatic beverage was too much to resist. She threw off the sheet, rolled out of bed naked, yawned and stretched. She grabbed a quick shower and brushed her teeth. After toweling off, she pulled on running shorts and the tank top she had briefly worn the night before. Olivia casually checked her appearance in the mirror in passing. Even wet, her hair had that wild, mussed, just got out of bed (and ready to crawl back in at any given moment) look. She ran her hand through it and left it alone.

Climbing down the ladder, she looked around for Abbie but found the cabin empty. Walking to the kitchen screened door, she spotted Abbie walking back from the stable.

Olivia observed Abbie unobtrusively. The attorney was, by anyone's standards, as close to perfection as a woman could get. And she looked especially enticing this morning. Her hair was pulled back off her face and tied neatly into a ponytail. Her face was tanned and glowing. She was dressed in cut off blue jeans and a yellow tank top, which complimented the golden tones of her skin. Olivia further noticed that Abbie filled out that tank top a lot better than she did when they first met. In fact, her whole body seemed to be slightly more voluptuous than it ever had. Age was definitely agreeing with her, Olivia smiled, slightly biting her bottom lip. The memory of the previous night's lovemaking suddenly rushed back to Olivia, sending a tidal wave of heat surging through her. Yes, Olivia thought with a deep, satisfied sigh, Abbie was definitely improving with age…regarding everything.

Olivia stepped out onto the deck and Abbie immediately alerted to the movement before she heard the sound of the screened door shutting. She looked up to see Olivia and stopped at the bottom step. "Morning," Abbie smiled up at her, wearing an expression of intimacy.

"Is it still morning? Why'd you let me sleep so late?" Olivia inquired, genially.

"Olivia, how often do you get to sleep in with no interruptions?" Abbie began climbing the stairs.

"Oh, well, never," Olivia answered, surprised by her own admission.

Reaching the deck, Abbie stopped before Olivia. "You were sleeping so soundly when I got up." She leaned over and kissed Olivia tenderly on the cheek. "I didn't have the heart to disturb you." Pulling away, Abbie caressed Olivia's other cheek with her hand. "But you need to know that you snore like a hibernating bear."

The look on Olivia's face was priceless. "What? I do not snore…!"

Abbie entered the house with Olivia close behind. "No, seriously, you do." She retrieved two mugs from the cabinet, turned around and handed them to Olivia.

Taking the mugs from Abbie, Olivia set them on the counter by the coffee pot. "I snore, huh? No one's ever told me that before," she mused, almost unconsciously pouring coffee into the two cups. She set the pot back on the warmer. "Did I keep you awake?" Olivia handed Abbie her mug.

"Not by snoring," Abbie smiled, sipping her coffee.

Olivia poured some milk into her cup and stirred it. "Yeah…about that…" She studied her coffee mug intently, then looked up at Abbie, almost demurely. "Thank you for last night."

Abbie's expression was warm and encompassing. "It was my pleasure. And it was reciprocated, if not more so, so thank you."

The look that passed between the two women nearly provoked Olivia to take Abbie right there, at that moment, on the counter. It took every ounce of willpower she had to restrain herself. "Okay," she said, clearing her throat, "what's on the agenda for today?"

Taking her cue from the detective, Abbie reached over and picked up a folded back section of newspaper. "I've narrowed it down to two events. You can pick which one."

"Why do I get to pick?"

"Because I narrowed it down to two."

"Is Hershey Park one?" Olivia asked, hopefully.

Looking up from the paper, Abbie said, "No, but it could be, if you have your heart set on it."

"Why wasn't it one of your choices?"

"Rides make me sick. And nausea meds make me sleepy."

"Oh. Okay," Olivia accepted the answer without much disappointment. "What are the choices?"

"An Amish village tour and a maize maze in Lancaster or a Renaissance Faire about an hour south east of here."

"Ooh," Olivia's eyes lit up. "Both are interesting. I think…I would rather go to the Renaissance Faire."

An hour later, they were traveling down Route 72 in Abbie's jeep. "Why UT?" Olivia inquired, simply.

"I got in on an athletic scholarship. I mean, my grades were good but, alone, not outstanding enough to get noticed by a college board. But my sports skills - track, basketball - in addition to my SAT scores were good enough to get me in. I'd always been a Longhorns fan so, once I got accepted there, nowhere else mattered. I would have played football if they had let me. I would have been a hell of a place kicker."

"Favorite team still the Cowboys?"

"Well, I'd say I'd be disowned by my family if they weren't, but it's too late for that."

"That's right. We talked about that before. The surprise visit to your dorm room your sophomore year," Olivia nodded.

"I never lied to them. I guess they expected this 'Andy' person I talked about all the time to be Andrew not Andrea," Abbie laughed. "Actually, we called a truce over Christmas. My great Aunt Julia, who was everybody's favorite, got very sick and died. She had a ton of money in her estate and the only way my family would get any part of it was under the stipulation that we all reconciled. So we did."

"Abbie, that's great!" Olivia knew how the estrangement had devastated her. "The reconciliation, I mean, not your aunt's death."

"It was interesting. I was invited home for the holidays, to stay in my old room but I was not to bring any guests. I guess money is the great motivator. My parents tried to behave as though no time had passed and nothing had changed but I am sure you can guess how successful that was. The last time we'd seen each other, they were disowning me in the hallway of the dorm. I was mouthy back then but it was my parents so I knew when to shut up. They aren't so lucky now."

"I'll bet. After eleven years of no contact, I'm sure you were quite a surprise."

"Surprise? That's being polite. Anyway, we're all working on it. My father is actually being much better about it than my mother."

"Did you ever tell them about the rape?" Olivia reached over and lightly rubbed Abbie's shoulder.

Abbie shook her head. "No. I will. When I feel the time is right. I don't want them to mistakenly think that I 'turned to women' because I was sexually abused by a man. Things are already complicated with them, I don't need that thrown into the mix."

Olivia nodded in comprehension. "It helped my Mom to deal with my confessed bisexuality, which I considered myself before she died, by believing that my conception and the nature of the profession I chose made me not trust men. Maybe there was something to that but it certainly is not the reason for my orientation." She brushed her hand against Abbie's cheek and returned it to her shoulder. "How are your brothers?"

"Great. I have been able to keep in touch with them. They all sought me out when email became a big thing, so we've all been in communication for a while. Although it was wonderful to actually be able to get together with them after eleven years," Abbie reflected, fondly. "Gary, the oldest, has three kids now. All girls, which serves him right since he was always such a macho shithead in high school. He has mellowed over the years. He's a football coach at a rural high school outside of Dallas. I think his oldest, Brianna, might be gay. She's a little jock and she was so fascinated with me when I was there, had to know all about my life. In detail. Which of course, I didn't give her. I did give her my email and tell her to keep in touch, in case she feels the need to chat. But I think she sees and hears how her grandparents treated and talked about me, so she's terrified."

"How old is she?"


"Rough age. Well, the good thing is, if she is a baby dyke, she has a great person to come out to and as a role model."

"Thanks. But you're partial."

"Maybe a little..."

"Brian, my middle brother, who is a year younger than me, is now a major in the Army, stationed at Fort Sam Houston. He's been fortunate, so far, and has not been sent to Iraq. He got married last year to a captain and she's stationed in Germany."

"Wow. Talk about a long-distance relationship."

"It seems to work for them. Bri was never the clingy type, nor did he like to be possessed by a relationship, so this is perfect for him. My youngest brother, Jeffrey, is not as much the bane of my parents' existence as I have been but he's close. He's twenty-five and has not found his calling yet. His most steady employment is working as a caretaker at the rodeo arena in Mesquite."

"How is he toward you?"

"Great. He thinks it's cool that I'm a lesbian and wants to come visit me sometime, go out with me and have me introduce him to women."

Laughing, Olivia said, "Doesn't he realize that the women you would introduce him to in the places you'd go out, wouldn't be interested in him?"

"He's twenty-five and horny. He doesn't care. They're women. He'd be in their company. Besides, he said if they all look like you -" Abbie stopped, abruptly, realizing what she had just said and hoping it wasn't too much.

"Me? How does he know about me? When has he ever seen me?"

"I....uh...I showed him a picture of you. I carry one with me," Abbie admitted, feeling caught.

"You carry a picture of me around with you?" Olivia was torn between flattery and confusion.

"Don't get cocky, Detective," Abbie grinned, scrambling. "It's the same picture you used to have on your desk. I carry a lot of pictures." As Olivia was contemplating this, they passed a road sign for their destination. "We should be at the Faire in about fifteen minutes."

"I hope they have jousting. Alex and I went to a Medieval Times in New Jersey, once, and it was great."

"Speaking of Alex, I have a question. Just because I'm curious." Abbie quickly glanced at Olivia to gauge her expression, to make sure she wasn't trespassing on the privacy of the detective's loss. When Olivia didn't protest or even seem affected by the mention of the former SVU ADA's name, Abbie continued. "I know the reason you gave for us not pursuing a relationship, way back when, was your fear and concern of getting romantically involved with a co-worker and it coming back to bite you. Or me."

"I remember..." Olivia trailed off, knowing what the question was going to be.

"But you didn't have a problem getting into a romantic relationship with Alex?" There was no hint of malice or jealousy in Abbie's tone. Just inquisitiveness.

"It was different, Abbie. I don't know if I can even explain it. It just happened. The attraction and constant contact and what we all dealt with on a daily basis with no emotional outlet...Alex wore me down. Under the same circumstances, I can't say that it wouldn't have been different with you and I. And...I've matured a lot since then, Abbie. My priorities are where they should be."

Abbie reached up and patted Olivia's hand on her shoulder, as an assurance to the detective that the conversation about Alex was over. At least this particular conversation about Alexandra Cabot. It was time to change the subject. "So why Siena?"

"Because it was the only out of area college I got accepted to. I could have gone to SUNY or CUNY but I really wanted, needed to experience a different environment. I didn't have to live in the dorms, which also saved on tuition because my Mom's cousin had a place in Loudonville and I stayed there. I worked in campus security and retail at the Latham Circle Shopping Center to live on and help pay for my books."

"Did you date men or women back then? Or both?"

"Mostly guys. My heart was broken a majority of my freshman year, so dating for me, that year, was an excuse for sympathy fucking."

"Who broke your heart?"

"One of my neighbors. He painted. Not very talented. At least not on canvas," Olivia smiled, reminiscing. "I was almost seventeen. I adored him and thought I was madly in love with him. He took advantage of my crush and my naivety but I denied it at the time. I was so streetwise," Olivia rolled her eyes, emphasizing her own sarcasm.

"What happened?"

"He took my virginity. I wanted him to at the time. I thought I did, anyway. Now that I do what I do, I realize how wrong I was."

"How old was he? Twenty? Twenty-one?"



"He was a young thirty."

"What does that mean? Thirty is thirty."

"I was sixteen, Abbie, give me a break. He knew all the right things to say. He made me feel beautiful. And special."

"Olivia, you are beautiful and special."

"Thank you...but now you're being partial. I certainly didn't feel beautiful and special at sixteen. I didn't feel much of anything positive about myself back then. I realize now, of course, that someone who preys on someone's youth and innocence zeroes right in on that lack of self-esteem issue."

"How long did you two...uh...date?"

"Please. I wasn't that naive. We didn't date. We had sex. He never took me anywhere. We never left his apartment. He was nice to me. I was in love with the idea of being in love. It lasted less than six months."

"How did it end?"

"Badly. One of the other neighbors got a wild hair up her ass about all the time I was spending with this guy. She threatened to tell my Mom...call the police. In a matter of a day, it was over. I was shattered. Cried for weeks. Then I went off to school and had indiscriminate sex with guys because I didn't think a man was capable of really loving me. I wanted to use them the way I felt used."

"When was your first woman?"

"Siena. Met a woman who was almost nine years older than me. She was a night supervisor in security. We clicked the moment we met. She was amazing. She was smart, funny and very attractive. I mean very attractive. She had been an Albany cop for four years until she got shot in the line of duty after she and her partner responded to a domestic call. She took a year off to recover and re-evaluate her personal goals. She decided she didn't want to risk her life for people who could give a shit about her sacrifices for the greater good. I was so infatuated with her. There was just something about her that got into my head...and my loins," Olivia laughed, softly. "I could have sat and listened to her stories and advice and watched her for hours. I think I actually stalked her. Without realizing or understanding that's what it was called back then. But she was very gracious about it." Olivia observed them pulling into the Renaissance Faire parking lot.

"When did it happen?"

"We 'ran into each other' one Friday afternoon, after my last class of the day. I had somehow pulled the weekend off and had no plans. I didn't think I was gay or bisexual or even sexually experimental back then. I didn't know what to call my fascination with her, all I knew was that I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her. We must have stood on the street, talking, for an hour and she invited me back to her place for a few beers - which she shouldn't have done. I was a student, a subordinate and only eighteen. I knew I shouldn't have gone but I didn't care, I went anyway. A twelve pack later, I was in her bed just loving life. I didn't leave until that Sunday."

Abbie pulled the jeep into a space and parked, engaging the emergency brake. "How long did it last?"

"Just a couple of months. Long enough to broaden my sexual horizons. But it was dangerous and careless behavior for her and it was awkward for her to be my supervisor. She eventually moved to dayshift and our schedules were such that we rarely got to see each other. We just kind of faded from there."

"Other than the obvious, what made her different from the painter?"

"She really cared about me. It wasn't just about sex or notches in the belt. She had a positive impact on my life not a negative one. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect first," Olivia sighed, exiting the jeep, joining Abbie as they walked toward the entrance. There was an enormous stone building to their left. "I wonder what that is?" Olivia pointed.

Abbie squinted to read the sign above the double doors. "It's a winery."

"Hey...let's check it out on the way out and see what they've got."

Abbie agreed, stunned that she had been able to get Olivia to reveal so much in the relatively short ride from the cabin to the festival. This was the most personal information she had learned about the detective in all the years of their acquaintance. Everything else she knew about Olivia's past, she had picked up in little snippets of conversation over time. Abbie's focus was suddenly pulled by two women walking by them in full renaissance regalia, medieval dresses cut very low.

"As soon as you can pull your eyeballs out of their cleavage," Olivia nudged her, "why don't we go inside?"

"I'm sorry, what?" Abbie asked, distracted. Then, blushing, she slightly bowed to Olivia and gestured her toward the admittance gate. "Whatever you wish, M'lady."

They spent the next four hours enjoying the afternoon by viewing the Queen's Parade, cheering on the jousters, walking around the vast property and visiting all the exhibits and booths, buying souvenirs, eating and drinking. Both women delighted in the unusual activities afforded them, so out of the realm of what either was used to. Visiting the winery store on the way out, Abbie purchased two bottles of the vineyard's merlot and they headed back to the cabin.

After feeding and grooming Cher, Abbie entered the cabin and found Olivia stretched out on the couch, holding the remote out toward the TV, flipping channels. Abbie walked over to Olivia and crawled onto the couch on top of her.

"Welcome aboard," Olivia quipped, her body immediately reacting to Abbie's presence. She placed the remote on the coffee table and slid her hands around Abbie's back.

"I wanted to do this all afternoon," Abbie told her, nuzzling Olivia's neck.

"I think we might have been thrown out of the festival." Olivia could feel the vibration of Abbie's laughter against her throat. She lightly ran her hands up and down Abbie's torso.

"Mmm, you could do that all night, darlin,'" Abbie mumbled, momentarily settling all her weight on Olivia, "but I had a few other things in mind."

"I hope one of them involves that huge jacuzzi tub in there."

Abbie raised her head and studied Olivia's exotic features. "That's exactly one of the things I had in mind. With candles, music and champagne."

Reaching her hand behind Abbie's neck, Olivia applied enough pressure to ease the attorney close enough to kiss her. Breaking the liplock, the detective put her mouth right next to Abbie's ear. "You taste good and I love kissing you...but you smell like the stable."

"Doesn't quite arouse you, I take it?"

"Maybe if I was the donkey from Shrek."

Kissing her again longingly, Abbie slowly got off the couch. "Why don't you get the champagne from the fridge and I'll start the tub and light the candles."

Olivia stood up, grabbing Abbie's wrist before she could walk away, pulling Abbie back into her arms and kissed her passionately. Releasing the startled attorney, Olivia strutted toward the kitchen. "I'll get the champagne."

By the time Abbie and Olivia made it to bed that night, they were already exhausted from their extended lovemaking session in the jacuzzi. There was something about sex in water. It magnified the romance and the sensuality. It was potent yet calming. It was the cleanest way to get 'down and dirty.' And, you never really felt the impact on your muscles until you were no longer in the water. When the women fell asleep, wrapped up in each other, they could barely manage a kiss goodnight but they were blissful, nonetheless.

It was Abbie who woke up alone in bed the next morning. The aroma of sizzling bacon and brewing coffee was sifting up to the loft. "Liv, do I have time for a shower?" Abbie called downstairs.

Olivia walked into the living room and looked up at Abbie. "Good morning. Yes. You have time for nothing more than five minutes."

"Great. See you in five."

Olivia served a bacon, tomato and cheese omelet to Abbie and a tomato, cheese and artichoke heart omelet to herself. Spicy home fries and toast completed the breakfast. Abbie was very impressed with the meal. Stuffed, both women retired to the deck to enjoy their coffee and engage in more small talk.

Olivia seemed even more forthcoming with odd little details of her past than she had been the day before which made Abbie realize that things were changing between her and the detective, changing in a way that was showing a bond of confidence and faith. It was exactly what she wanted to see, yet much more than she was expecting to achieve in these past days she and Olivia spent together. They were still compatible, still in tune with each other, still exciting to each other. Now came the hard part, the part that would make or break the weekend, not to mention, if Abbie had her way, the possibility of a future together for them.

Abbie held her breath. It was now or never. Olivia was thanking her again for the invitation, when Abbie interrupted her. "Olivia," she exhaled, pointedly, "we need to talk."

"Yikes," Olivia said, puzzled by the sudden change in atmosphere. "The worst four letter sentence in the English language. Do we really need to complicate this weekend with a serious discussion?"

"Yeah. I think we do." Abbie hesitated, not knowing where to begin. She knew what she was about to tell the detective would have a profound effect on her and there was no way she could cushion it. Several false starts later, avoiding Olivia's intense gaze, Abbie finally said, "I wasn't quite honest with you about this weekend."

"In what sense?" Olivia asked, carefully. When she was greeted with silence, she then said, "Come on, Abbie, how bad can it be?"

"When I came to the precinct Thursday? I went there with every intention of inviting you up here with me this weekend. It wasn't a spur of the moment thing as I had initially indicated."


"And I came up here wanting to spend this time with you, wanting to see how well we…still…fit." Abbie leaned back in her chair, holding her coffee mug with both hands. "Our first time together was accidental. We were both drunk, lonely, needy, vulnerable -"

"I wasn't that drunk," Olivia commented. "I'll never forget how you made me feel."

Smiling, Abbie cocked her head to one side, meeting Olivia's eyes. "Flattery will get you everywhere."

"Abbie - where are we going with this?"

Taking another long, contemplative sip of her coffee, Abbie then put the mug on the table. "Regardless of the circumstances of our first…coupling…we got passed the awkwardness and managed to stay friends. Then when you called from the beach and asked me to drive up for the night, I knew what that would lead to and I didn't care. The idea excited me. I cleared my calendar just to get to Delaware to be with you. I hadn't realized until our second bottle of wine, after dinner, just how much in love and involved with Alex you had been. And I realized when we slept together later that night that I was a substitute, that you were still grieving her loss. I was accessible. I was safe. I was comfortable. And I was okay with that, Olivia, because it meant spending time with you. I couldn't get that night or you out of my head."

Olivia just nodded, acknowledging Abbie's words, feeling no desire to interrupt her. She still wasn't quite sure in what direction this discussion was heading and wasn't sure she wanted to guess, either.

Abbie scratched a non-existent itch on her forehead, sat forward, and leaned her perfectly chiseled face and dimpled chin on her folded hands. "Olivia, I am in love with you. I have been for a long time. Regardless of these…hit and run…relationships I've been in - well, since Toni, anyway - there's always been you. So, I thought I'd give you some time and see where we stood because, well, because I really want to be with you."

Olivia was momentarily speechless. This came out of nowhere. She never would have guessed that Abbie had such deep feelings for her. She had always incorrectly assumed that their attraction had been based solely on sex, which she had to admit had been pretty damn good on its own. If she were to become more introspective, however, she always felt something more for Abbie than she ever readily admitted. Because she had kept it hidden for so long, thinking that Abbie had never been interested in anything more than an occasional romp, she began believing it was nothing more than that. Then Alex came along and everything else seemed to pale by comparison.

"Oh, Abbie," Olivia blanched, feeling like she was suddenly caught between a rock and a hard place. "Oh, Christ. Under different circumstances, I would leap at this opportunity, but -" Should she tell her? She knew if she could trust anyone with this kind of secret, she could trust Abbie Carmichael. And she needed Abbie to know why she was making the decision to turn down the offer of something more with the attorney. "Abbie…Alex isn't dead. She…she didn't die the night she was shot, she was put-"

"Into Witness Protection. I know."

"You know? How?"

"Did you forget who I work for? When I returned to DC eight months ago, after our visit, I wanted to know more about the circumstances that caused such pain in you. I did some investigating and called in some favors. It didn't take long to find out what happened."

"Then you know where my heart and commitment really are."

"Wait here. I'll be right back," Abbie requested, as she disappeared inside the house. She returned to the deck less than a minute later, in possession of a manila envelope. Sitting back down, she said, "When was the last time you saw or heard from Alex?"

Olivia focused on the envelope in Abbie's hand before returning her attention to Abbie. "The night before her funeral. Elliot and I got to see her for a few minutes before the Feds took her away."

"And what was that? A year ago?"

"Just about. Why? What's in the envelope, Abbie?"

"Olivia," Abbie said, gently, pushing the envelope forward. "I'm sorry. Alex seems to have moved on."

"What? No. She wouldn't…she wouldn't keep me hanging on like this without…without contacting me somehow. She…she wouldn't do that to me."

"Olivia, please. Look at the contents of the envelope."

Olivia shook her head. "No." She stared at the envelope and finally reached for it. Opening it, she pulled out a handful of photographs. A single tear rolled down her face when she realized the magnitude of what the pictures revealed. Alex was shown in several surveillance shots in loving poses with a very handsome man. The fourth photo and beyond was like a knife in Olivia's heart. Alex was obviously pregnant. "Oh my God," Olivia breathed, barely above a whisper. She set the photographs down, wiping tears from her eyes, not looking at Abbie. "Is this what you had to pick up at the US Attorney's office?"

"One of the things, yes. Olivia…"

"Don't," came the sharp response. Olivia stood up and went inside.

Abbie patiently placed the pictures back in the envelope and followed Olivia into the house. She found the detective pacing in the living room.

"Do you think you maybe could have done this differently, Abbie?" Olivia snapped. "Like told me first?"

"Yes," Abbie conceded. "I could have. I will admit that I was being selfish. I knew this weekend wouldn't change the situation with Alex so I wanted to see what the possibilities could be with us before I told you."

"Knowing all along that Alex was still in the picture?"

"Alex was still in your picture, Olivia. Even knowing that, it was different this time. It felt as though you were moving on, too."

"You deceived me, Abbie," Olivia stated, flatly.

"Not with that intention, Olivia. Please believe me, I didn't lie to you about anything. I just…withheld information…to see what happened with us first. I just had this all confirmed, myself, on Thursday. Although I did have an idea. If I had told you when you got here on Friday, we never would have shared this magical time together. And it has been a magical weekend. Up until now."

Olivia stood staring out the French doors with her arms folded across her chest. Abbie took a step closer but was careful to give Olivia her space.

"I needed to see, to feel that I could be more to you than just Alex's substitute. If I had gotten the same feeling from you this time, I would have backed off and dropped it. I still would have let you know what was going on with Alex because I feel you deserved to know."

"I don't understand," came the barely audible response.

"I am sincerely sorry," Abbie apologized.

"No. That's not it. Actually, what you did, I understand. I'm not thrilled with how you went about it but I understand. I don't understand about Alex. We made love so tenderly a couple nights before she was shot, so much promise of what could be. We had something so special. The night she left with the Feds, our eyes said so much to each other without either one of us having to utter a word. I don't understand. She knows all my phone numbers, my personal and work addresses, my email - she could have somehow got a message to me that I shouldn't wait for her any longer…"

"You seem less surprised about Alex being with a man," Abbie's voice reflected confusion.

"I was the only woman Alex had ever been with." She turned to look at Abbie. "So, no, I'm not surprised she's with a man. I think she feels safer with a man. God knows, I couldn't protect her."

"You have got to stop beating yourself up over that," came the gentle response.

"Don't ask any less of me than you would ask of yourself."

Abbie nodded in full comprehension, knowing Olivia was referring to Abbie's depression about not being able to do more to protect her lover in a similar situation when Toni Ricci ignored Abbie's pleadings to be careful. The next time Abbie saw the love of her life, Toni was lying on the floor of a so-called 'safe house' with her throat slit.

She shook the visual out of her head and returned her attention to the devastated detective. Abbie was still reeling from the news that Olivia had been Alex's first and only female lover. It was difficult for Abbie to grasp how Alex, after experiencing Olivia Benson, could ever go anywhere else, much less back to a man. However, Abbie's only sexual encounter with a male had been violent and humiliating and degrading and painful so it was difficult for her to be impartial on the subject.

"So...who is this guy?" Olivia asked.

Abbie weighed Olivia's body language against her tone of voice. She sounded as though she was calming down but the arms crossed defensively and tightly contradicted that. Abbie leaned against the arm of the couch. "His name is Jake Kingsbury. He's a federal agent originally assigned as one of her protective detail."

"Great," Olivia smiled, ruefully. "She ended up with someone who really could protect her." Her mood seemed to be a mixture of gut-wrenching hurt and rising indignation. "Are they married?"

"Yeah, four months ago."

"And the baby?"

"Due in a little less than three months."

"Meaning, at the very least, she slept with him six months ago."

"Olivia, you slept with me eight months ago," Abbie reminded her, soothingly. "He could have been as much a source of comfort for her as I was for you."

Looking directly at Abbie for the first time since they entered the cabin, Olivia said, "Abbie, please know, that I never, ever considered you a substitute for Alex. I sought you out because you were the only one who take my mind off Alex."

Abbie nodded, not really convinced.

Olivia wiped her eyes, took a deep breath and stood up straight. "Listen, it's probably a good idea that I head back to New York right now."

"No, Olivia, please...please rethink that. You're upset and distracted and I am concerned about your concentration level and state of mind while driving."

"I have to work tomorrow morning. It's a four-hour drive from here. I can't get up at three AM and -"

"Olivia, the world will not stop revolving if you miss one more day of work. Please. You can have the loft, I'll take the bedroom. Whatever you want. Just appease me and do not take that drive today."

"I'll...um...I'll think about it," Olivia responded, sounding detached.

"Thank you," Abbie said, relieved. "That's all I'm asking of you right now. That other stuff I told you before this Alex thing? I just needed you to know. I honestly wasn't trying to make things any more complicated than they already are...I...I don't know what I was thinking."

Abbie returned to the kitchen to refill her coffee cup. She sensed Olivia's presence before she felt her. The detective stepped behind Abbie and kissed her shoulder.

"You're a good woman, Abbie."

"But -"

"No 'but.' Just - well, just thank you for caring."

Abbie turned around to face the detective. "That's the easy part, Olivia."

Olivia took a step closer to Abbie, sealing whatever space was between them. She studied the younger woman intently and Abbie refused to look away. "I want to make love with you," Olivia stated, matter-of-factly. Her eyes stared into Abbie's with unbridled desire, intensity and almost a menacing quality.

"No you don't," Abbie swallowed, arguing softly. "You want to fuck me until my eyes bleed. You want pure, unadulterated, aggressive sex to exorcise Alex Cabot from your soul."

Olivia dropped her gaze and touched foreheads with Abbie. "You're right," she admitted, quietly. "I'm sorry."

"Hey, I just clarified it, I didn't say I was opposed to it," Abbie exhaled, breaking into a grin. She leaned her lips into Olivia's quite assertively.

Olivia responded by grinding her body provocatively into Abbie's, propelling them both back into the refrigerator door. After several minutes of feverish making out, Olivia broke away from Abbie, breathless. "How about we initiate that other bedroom?" she panted into Abbie's neck.

"At this point, I'm ready to break in the deck. It's closer," Abbie gasped.


"Right." Grabbing Olivia's hand, Abbie pulled her toward the back bedroom off the living room. Once on the bed, Abbie had disrobed Olivia in the blink of an eye, and Olivia had returned the favor in almost as little time. "Are you sure?" Abbie inquired, feeling no air in her lungs, not sure she could stop right away if Olivia said No.


Although it was Abbie who started dominantly with Olivia, the tables quickly turned and it was Olivia completely running the show. Abbie had managed to get the detective off once and Olivia had barely stopped quivering before she rolled Abbie over and went to work on her. Thankfully Abbie was prepared for the angry yet lust filled physical rebound encounter this had every intention of being but after the second hour, even she was having a hard time keeping up with the older woman.

Following a frenzied session of mutual clitoral stimulation and finger fucking with a near simultaneous climax, Olivia laid on her back, her body bathed in perspiration. She stared at the ceiling, her chest rising high with every intake of air and wiped her damp bangs out of her eyes. 'Alex who?' she thought to herself. She looked over at Abbie, who was also trying to catch her breath.

"Want to go again?" Olivia asked, still not recovered from the last round.

Abbie looked at the detective as if she was insane. "Olivia! I'm as raw as a radish now. I'll be surprised if I'll be able to sit for the next couple of days."

"Oh, thank God," Olivia commented, relieved. "I think I was getting carpal-tunnel."

"Trust me, not that I didn't enjoy every second of it...multiple times...but you could have stopped sooner if you were, you know, cramping up."

"I didn't hurt you, did I?" Olivia returned her attention to an imaginary spot on the ceiling.

"You could at least pretend to be a little more concerned when you ask me that," Abbie chuckled. "You'll know by how loud I scream when I pee."

Olivia rolled back toward Abbie and propped herself up on her elbow. She slowly drew small circles on Abbie's abdomen with her index finger. "Did I hurt you, Abbie?" Olivia's voice was a mixture of remorse and sensuality.

Feeling a tremor from Olivia's touch, Abbie's body started responding in spite of itself. Settling her hand easily over Olivia's adventurous fingers, holding them against her stomach, Abbie took a deep breath. "You haven't yet. But I guess you can't do anything I don't allow you to do."

"I don't want to hurt you. Ever." She lifted Abbie's hand to her lips and kissed it.

"I don't want to get hurt."

Olivia nodded and proceeded to kiss all five of Abbie's fingers, never breaking eye contact. "I think I will stay another night. If the offer is still there."

"Of course it is." Abbie snuggled against Olivia. The sweat on both their bodies seemed to fuse them together. Laying her head on Olivia's chest, she listened to the detective's heart rate returning to a normal beat. "Olivia, I really am sorry about having to be the messenger in this."

"Can we not get into this now?" There was a catch in Olivia's voice, warning Abbie that this was still too fragile territory and not her idea of ideal pillow talk.

"Okay, but I just want to say one thing."

"Of course you do," Olivia sighed, smoothing the attorney's locks and kissing the top of her head.

"I think you should go see her. Talk to her. See for yourself. Find closure if that's what you need."

Olivia squeezed Abbie tightly, holding her very close before they drifted off to sleep.

Abbie woke up alone in bed, suddenly alert and afraid that Olivia may have left. Flying out of the bedroom, she was relieved to see Olivia through the open French doors, sitting on the deck, beer in hand, staring out into the woods.

Rinsing off in a quick shower, Abbie climbed into denim cut-offs and a white tank top. On her way out to the deck, she reached into the refrigerator, hooked two Tecates and exited the cabin. She walked around the corner and, smiling warmly, handing a cold beer to Olivia.

Accepting the beer from Abbie, the detective looked up at this Goddess standing before her, obviously having a little trouble focusing. "Goddamn, Abbie, you are so fucking gorgeous."

"Good Lord," Abbie stopped, blinking. "You're drunk. How many of these have you had?"

"These?" Olivia held up her beer bottle. "This is my second. However...there is a really well seasoned bottle of Vendome VSOP - okay, was a bottle of - anyway, that was an hour ago." The formation of Olivia's words were slurred, slow and deliberate. A thought suddenly struck Olivia and she crookedly grinned up at Abbie. "Peed yet?"

"Yes, thank you for asking. Waterworks are fine. Plumbing's a little sensitive but that will pass," Abbie responded, a little exasperated. "If you were going to get shitfaced, you could have at least waited for me."

"I'm not shitfaced," Olivia protested, unconvincingly.

"Really? Then it's on your next stop on the train to shitfaced."

"You sound kind of annoyed," Olivia observed, as affably as she could manage.

"Not annoyed. I just...I just don't want you to be too sick or hungover to drive tomorrow." At Olivia's nodding in acknowledgement, Abbie said, "Let me start up the grill and we'll get something in you to soak up some of that firewater."

"Probably not a bad idea."

Even after a full dinner, Olivia was in no condition to climb the ladder, so Abbie tucked the detective in, downstairs in the bedroom. As Abbie set the alarm clock and turned out the light, she heard Olivia mumble, "You're coming back in, right?"

"Do you want me to?"


"Let me do up the dishes and I'll be in."


"You're welcome." Abbie was about to leave when Olivia cleared her throat. "Yes?" Abbie turned around.

"Abbie?" Olivia's voice seemed small, almost childlike.


"I love you."

Trying to observe Olivia's expression, Abbie squinted but couldn't read her. She took a couple steps closer to the bed and saw that the detective's eyes were already closed and Abbie could have sworn Olivia was softly snoring. "I love you, too," Abbie whispered and left the room.

Later, when Abbie returned to the room to retire for the evening, she undressed and slid into bed beside Olivia. Turning off the light, Abbie rolled over on her left side, snuggling into Olivia's back, putting her arms around her, tightly. She had thought Olivia was still asleep but she felt the detective's body as it wracked with silent sobs, which broke Abbie's heart. She hung on to Olivia for dear life and Olivia clung back with the same amount of strength.

"Shhh," Abbie soothed, "it's going to be okay, Liv. I know it doesn't feel like it now but it will be okay."

Olivia stayed silent but continued to secure Abbie's arms around her with her own. Thirty minutes later, she had cried herself to sleep.

Chapter Five - The River

Two weeks after her weekend with Abbie and accepting the news about Alex, Olivia found herself in Point Sebago, Maine, standing on the porch of a cottage over looking a lake. She hesitated, took a deep breath and knocked on the door. She heard the sound of a puppy yipping inside and a painfully familiar voice call out, "Just a minute!" However, instead of Alex answering the door, the good-looking man in the photograph did.

"Hi," he said, his voice a very masculine baritone, "can I help you?"

He was wildly attractive, Olivia thought, the kind of handsome that would even make a lesbian look twice. He stood about six feet tall, had a naturally tanned complexion, sea green eyes and a shock of thick, black hair that hung over his forehead, giving him somewhat of a boyish appearance.

"Mr. Kingsbury?"


Hi. I'm looking for your wife, Allyson?" Olivia called her by the first name Alex had used for the past year while in witness protection. Before she became Mrs. Kingsbury, she was Allyson Marcel, freelance writer.

"And your business with her would be?" he asked, suspiciously. Before Olivia could respond, a very pregnant Alex was at his side. She had recognized Olivia's voice. The look that passed between the women was almost more than Jake Kingsbury could bear. He knew immediately this had to be Detective Olivia Benson, his wife's former lover. Jake knew this day would come, he just had not expected it to be this soon. His protective instincts immediately kicked in and he wondered how she had found them, who else knew and, God forbid, had anyone followed her? "How -?"

Alex cut him off. "It's okay, Jake. We're old friends," she said, finally regaining her voice. She knew what Jake was going to ask the detective but Alex instinctively knew Olivia would have taken every precaution possible to keep her whereabouts a secret, no matter how hurt, angry or betrayed Olivia might have felt. However, in reality, she also was stunned at Olivia's sudden appearance because she never in a million years would have thought Olivia would have showed up here, much less have this effect on her. Without looking at her husband, Alex put her hand on his arm. "Can you give us a few minutes?"

He didn't want to but realized he had to. He was very much in love with this woman who had become his wife and who was about to become the mother of his child. The last thing he wanted to do was risk losing her by behaving like a jealous, insecure and controlling man. Alex had made him aware of Olivia when he and the former ADA had begun seriously dating. She wanted no secrets from Jake.

At first, the thought of his beautiful wife having been passionately intimate with another woman excited him, as the typical male fantasy would any typical male. But, unlike most typical males, Jake knew he needed to put Alex's past relationships in perspective, the one with Detective Benson being the most recent and, not incidentally, the most important. He owed it to his wife to give her the privacy and respect she needed to deal with this.

Jake nodded, squeezing Alex's arm. Alex stepped outside onto the porch with Olivia and Jake quietly shut the door.

"Olivia...wow...this is a surprise. How did you find me?" Alex and Olivia strolled over to the end of the porch. Olivia sat on the railing, facing Alex, who sat on the porch swing.

"Alex - excuse me - Allyson," Olivia corrected, "how I found you is not important. What is important, or, at least, was important...to me, anyway...is when you left a year ago, you and I had something extraordinarily special going on between us." Olivia spoke softly, trying to maintain control of herself.

"Olivia, I -"

Olivia put her hand up to halt Alex's words. "Alex, I just wish you could have told me. Somehow got word to me that you weren't coming back to me so that I, too, could get on with my life."

Alex hung her head. "I'm so sorry. You're right. What I did was inconsiderate and inexcusable." There was a long silence between them.

"Yeah," Olivia agreed, quietly. "It was."

"Everything with Jake just happened so fast. It's been a crazy year," Alex offered, gently.

"I really missed you, Alex."

"I missed you, too."

Olivia looked pointedly at Alex's bulging belly. "Yeah," she said, dryly, "so I see."

Her hand automatically going to her stomach, Alex managed a grin. "Sometimes really good things come out of insane situations."

"Happy about this, I see."

"Wouldn't you be?" She lightly rubbed her tummy, affectionately.

"If you were pregnant with our child? Absolutely." Reacting to Alex looking away, Olivia said, "Alex, I fell in love with you. Very deeply. But if you have chosen to be with someone else instead of me, it doesn't matter how much I love you. I would never make you happy. And as much as that hurts, I don't want to be with anyone who would rather be with someone else. Part of my loving you is my wanting you to be happy. If you are truly happy, then I will go away and never bother you again. You understand that I had to come here and see for myself."

"I am very happy with Jake. He's a good man."

"Then I guess you and Kathy Stabler have cornered the market."

"Olivia, I understand you are hurt and you are angry and, God knows, you have every reason and right to be. But I don't know what good sitting here and continuing to apologize to you would do. I have admitted that I could have handles this situation better. I love you, too. I miss you terribly. I don't know, though, how to convince you that I am very happy in the life I am living now. I wish I could say something to make you feel better about this but I don't know if I will ever live long enough to accomplish that."

It was Olivia who looked away from Alex this time. She stared out at the front yard and drew a deep breath. "You have no idea how much I want to take you in my arms right now and kiss you until you pass out."

Fond memories of being in the detective's embrace brought a smile to Alex's face. "You used to be good at that."

"I still am," Olivia said, looking back at Alex with an arched eyebrow, "not that you'll ever benefit from it again."

This statement made Alex openly chuckle, the mood suddenly feeling lighter. "You always could make me laugh."

"It's true what they say about pregnant women glowing," Olivia observed.

"Thank you."

"A boy, huh?"

"Wow. You really did your homework."

They both heard the door open and a puppy still yipping. "Hey, honey?" Jake asked from the door, "would you and your friend like some iced tea? A coke or something?"

Cringing at the sound of anyone but her calling Alex 'honey,' Olivia shook her head, politely.

"No, thank you, Jake. We're fine," Alex hollered back in. "Does Elliot need to go outside?"

"No. He just went. He wants to be out there with you."

As they heard the door shut, Olivia cocked her head, amused. "Elliot? You named your puppy Elliot?"

"Yeah," Alex blushed, slightly, "he's really very cute but stubborn as all get out. He doesn't take orders from me very well but he grows on you. Who would you have named him after?"

"I guess you have a point." Olivia nodded toward the front door. "Does he - Jake - know about me?"


"And he's okay with everything?"

"Jake is a very secure man. He's not threatened by much and he doesn't take a lot for granted."

Olivia shrugged. "He's not too bad to look at, either, I'll give you that."

Smiling in response to that, Alex pushed stray blonde strands away from her face. Her hair had grown much longer since the last time they had seen each other.

"So...uh...when's the baby due?"

"October twenty-second. Give or take a day."

"Picked out any names yet?"

"Actually, we have," Alex said, blushing again. "Um...we're going to name him Oliver Jacob Alexander Kingsbury."

"Oliver?" Olivia could barely speak. "After me?"

"Yeah. That's okay, isn't it?"

"That's...God, Alex, that's particularly okay. A little weird, under the circumstances, but...I'm flattered, thank you."

"You're welcome," Alex smiled, pleased with Olivia's reaction. She thought for a second she might cry, which she figured was purely hormonal. She was bursting into tears a lot lately.

"You realize with a name like that, he's going to get the shit kicked out of him on the playground, though, right?"

Alex nodded. "We thought of that. We're either going to come up with a really butch nickname or Jake's going to teach him self-defense."

"Does your mother know?"

"No. Even though from the reports Jake gets, it looks like they all bought my death, it just hasn't been safe to contact anyone yet."

"She'll be surprised. And pleased. She liked me but not the way she is going to like Jake. You're producing a legitimate heir."


"Alex, it's okay. It has to be okay, doesn't it?"

"I want it to be okay."

"Tell me," Olivia started, maybe a little more tickled than she should have been, "you're naming your baby after me and you named your puppy after my partner. I think you're a little obsessed with SVU, Mrs. Kingsbury. Next you'll be telling me you have a cat named Cragen and two goldfish named Munch and Fin."

"A goldfish named Fin? That's rather clever," Alex shook her head, grinning.

"I used to have a goldfish named Gill."

"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Alex paused. "So - are you seeing anyone, Liv?"

Shaking her head, she captured Alex's deep blue eyes in a concentrated stare. "No. I was waiting for you to come back to me."

Ignoring the challenge in Olivia's voice, Alex said, "I mean, have you seen or dated or been with anyone in the interim?"

"Why? Would that make you feel better?" Watching Alex look down, Olivia said, "I sought refuge with a few women. No one you know. Basically no one I knew, either. Except I have had the pleasure of fucking Abbie Carmichael's brains out and you know how smart she is, so that took a while."

Alex closed her eyes. "Are you saying that to hurt me?" Alex had always felt, and expressed to Olivia after Olivia had revealed to Alex that she and Abbie had slept together once, that Abbie Carmichael had been her biggest competition with Olivia.

"Does it?"

"It stings."

"Good. It still cannot come close to how I feel, Alex." Olivia was trying to keep her tone civil but it was starting to get away from her.

"Is Abbie how you found me?"

"No," Olivia lied, protectively. "You know how ethical Abbie is. She wouldn't put her career in jeopardy for me or anyone else."

Alex looked up at her former lover. "Do you think we'll ever be able to be friends again?"

"I don't know, Alex. It's hard and I just don't know if I can. Not yet, anyway. The wound is still too fresh."

Alex nodded in comprehension. "Then I guess asking if you want to stay for dinner and meet Jake would be out of the question."

"I would not be comfortable with that and, quite honestly, I really don't think you or Jake would be, either"

"You have a point." The blonde adjusted her position on the porch swing to a more comfortable one. "You look good, Olivia. You look healthy."

"Thank you." Olivia stood up, realizing she felt very awkward. "I should go."

"I wish you didn't have to."

"I don't have to. I choose to."

Struggling to stand up from her position on the swing, Olivia's hand instinctively went out to assist Alex and Alex's hand automatically grabbed Olivia's pulling herself up. "Thanks." Her hand immediately retreating and recoiling once Alex was on her feet, did not go unnoticed by the blonde. "Olivia..." she started, in a tone that was almost pleading.

"What?!" Olivia turned abruptly to face her, stopping them both suddenly. Her voice was one of controlled fury. She wanted Alex to get her intent but not enough to bring the perfect hubby running out on the porch to defend the little woman. "What do you want from me, Alex, huh? I am happy for you that you found what you've been looking for. I thought I had found it, too. I was wrong. So, you'll forgive me, Mrs. Kingsbury, if I don't immediately welcome this situation with open arms." Olivia stopped, took a deep breath and ran her hand through her hair.

"I deserve your anger, Olivia, I know I do."

"And you're being so Goddamned accommodating doesn't help!"

"If you expect me to stand here and stress myself out over this," Alex argued, calmly, "I can't and I won't." Her hand once again rested on her pregnant stomach, "I have a higher priority now."

Exhaling deeply, Olivia closed her eyes. She then opened them and focused on the stunning blonde. "Alex, Alex, Alex," she sighed. "I honestly didn't come here wanting to cause you any pain. I want you to be safe. I want you to be happy. I'm a sore loser. Always have been."

"You're a wonderful woman, Olivia, you always have been and I have no doubt you always will be. I don't know how I would react or behave if I was standing in your shoes. I can't change what's happened over the past year and, truthfully, Olivia, I don't know if I would change it if I could. You and I were great together. You brought so much into my life. I'll never regret or be ashamed of what we had. It was the only pure thing in an otherwise dark existence of our day to day lives. It was what it was. I'm sorry if that sounds trite. It would be impossible to compare you to Jake or Jake to you. I loved what I had with you. But I love more what I have with him. I can't explain it, Liv, I wish I could."

Olivia was silent. She glanced over at the lake again, down at her feet, then back up to Alex's face. "I guess I can't ask for more than that."

"Sure you can. You just can't ask it of me anymore. You deserve so much more than what I can give you." She watched Olivia move backward toward the front steps. "I would love for you to be a part of my life, my family but that will be your decision. You will always be welcome wherever I am."

"We'll see," Olivia managed to get out. She bit her lip, willing back any tears that threatened to expose themselves.

"I suppose a hug would be out of the question?" Alex threw out bravely.

Without hesitation, Olivia stepped up to Alex, wrapping her in her arms, finding her scent, the feel of her, intoxicating. The detective could feel Alex disintegrate into tears. "Hey," Olivia consoled, "it's okay. We'll work on it. It just might take me a while to bandage my ego." She patted Alex's shoulder and stroked her hair.

Alex pulled away, sniffing and wiping her eyes. "I'm sorry. I cry over everything now. My hormones are all over the place. I threatened to divorce Jake over a candy bar the other night."

Olivia so wanted to tell her that she wished she were going through this with Alex. Instead, she moved away from the blonde. "I'm going to go. Really this time." Noticing the moisture collecting in Olivia's eyes, Alex started to cry all over again. "Alex, don't...don't do that."

"I can't help it."

"I can't leave you a blubbering mess like this."

"I'm fine," Alex sobbed.

"Oh God," Olivia rolled her eyes and escorted Alex to her front door. "All right, listen. You have my screen name. Email me. Send me a postcard. Call me. Whatever. We'll...we'll keep in touch, I promise."

"Okay," Alex responded, calming down. "Drive careful, Liv," she instructed, wiping her eyes, putting her hand on the doorknob. "Thank you for understanding."

'But I don't understand!!' she wanted to scream at Alex. She knew it would solve nothing, so she smiled, patiently at the overly emotional woman. "Take care of yourself, Counselor."

"No one has called me that in a year. I will, Detective. You, too." Alex smiled at her, sincerely, through her tears. "Goodbye, Olivia."

Nodding, smiling back, heading down the steps, Olivia said, "Goodbye, Alex."

Olivia heard the front door close and knew Alex was now inside. She could hear Elliot barking happily at his mistress' return. Gratefully, Olivia was able to hold off the flood of tears now streaming down her face until she was away from the house. Walking away from Alex today was possibly harder than it was a year ago because now, even though Alexandra Cabot was alive, well and safe, it seemed much more final this time.

Chapter Six - The Win

(Five Years Later)

Olivia snatched up the ringing phone just before voice mail kicked in. "Hello?"

"Hey, it's us. We're about ten minutes away."

"Great. I'll put the dogs in. Is Elliot with you?"

"Of course. Do you think I could get out the door without Elliot?"

"Do you remember the way?"

"Barely. But we have one of those computerized navigational systems. We'll find it."

"Okay. See you when you get here." Olivia hung up the phone and went out to the deck. "Abbie!" she called. "I'm putting the dogs in. They'll be here in about ten."

"I'll get them," Abbie called from inside the stable. The door opened and three dogs ran out, a golden retriever, a black lab and a German shepherd, followed by Abbie, carrying a baby on her hip. "Come on, kids," Abbie commanded the dogs, "into the pens. Come on." Barking but obeying, the dogs dutifully went into their individual kennels.

Walking up to the deck, Abbie said, "We fed the horses," looking at the ten month old girl in her arms, "didn't we, sweetheart?" She kissed the baby on the top of the head, as she reached Olivia. "Here, take her. I need to go rinse the stable smell off me."

Accepting the baby, who went to Olivia willingly, the older woman kissed the little girl's forehead. "Smells like somebody needs to be changed."

"Don't blame her, it might be me," Abbie commented, walking inside.

"How noble of Mommy to want to take the blame," Olivia cooed to the baby, who smiled, "but that odor is distinctly you." She followed Abbie and carried the child into the bathroom where the changing table was. Abbie stripped, stepping into the stand up shower while Olivia changed their daughter's diaper.

Moments later, the sound of a car pulling into the driveway, a horn blowing and dogs barking signaled the arrival of company.

Olivia walked back out onto the deck, waving and smiling down at the occupants of the SUV as they exited the vehicle. Alex and Jake opened the back doors and a chocolate lab bounded out of the car, nose to the ground, looking for a place to relieve his bladder. Seconds later, the kids were unbuckled from their car seats and four-and-a-half-year-old Oliver ran over to the kennel to see the dogs. He was looking more like his father every day. Jake removed two-year-old Morgan and put him down on the ground. The little towhead's determination made up for his lack of complete balance, as he toddled over to join his brother.

"Oh, my God, he is soooo cute," Olivia yelled down. This was the first time she'd seen the two year old.

"He's a handful," Alex yelled up. She looked at her husband. "You got them?" referring to the boys.

"Sure. Go ahead. I'll be up in a minute. Come here, Elliot," Jake snapped his fingers. The lab bounced happily over to him, then moved to the kennel with the boys.

Just as Alex began ascending the stairs, Abbie walked out on the deck with the baby. "Hey, stranger," Abbie smiled at her.

"Oh, Abbie, Olivia...she's gorgeous," Alex gushed, reaching the deck.

"That's because she looks just like her mother," Olivia said, proudly.

"You're her mother, too," Alex reminded Olivia, as if she needed reminding.

The baby, Sierra, did look exactly like Abbie - black hair (what there was of it), big brown eyes and dimples in her cheeks and in her chin. Sierra looked at Alex, fascinated by her blonde hair, then by her glasses. Suddenly she got very shy and buried her head into Abbie's neck.

"Come on in, Alex, I need to put her down for a nap," Abbie advised.

"I'd say Morgan's due but he slept most of the way here," she went inside with Abbie.

"Jake, can I get you a beer?" Olivia called down.


Olivia disappeared into the cabin, then returned outside with two beers. She headed downstairs to join Jake.

"Abbie, I just love this place," Alex said, looking around.

"We got lucky. Everything just seemed to fall into place four years ago. The cabin, the jobs, then the baby...never thought I'd feel the way I do about a baby but when they're yours, you just have a whole new perspective."

"Tell me about it," Alex deadpanned, nodding her head toward the door.

Abbie smiled. "Do you think you'll have any more?"

"We'd like one more. Try for a girl. If it's another boy, no big deal. I'm used to being outnumbered. How about you two? Will Sierra be it for you?"

Abbie shrugged. "Don't know. She certainly has changed our lives. I mean, things were wonderful before Sierra but it's just been all magnified now. I guess I wouldn't be opposed to another baby - as long as Olivia carries the next one."

Outside, Olivia escorted Jake and the boys into the stable to see the horses. She lifted up Morgan so he could see better, as Jake picked up Oliver.

Once Alex and Olivia had worked out their issues, they found their friendship again. Over the course of a year, where Olivia made several weekend trips to Maine to get to know Jake and the baby, she also reacquainted herself with Alex, the woman, and then Alex, the wife and mother. After each had let their guard down, Olivia and Jake bonded, acting almost as though they had been separated at birth.

Olivia and Abbie's path had not been as smooth. If Abbie had not persevered and doggedly pursued the detective, chances are they would still be doing the moths around the flame dance. Abbie flew to New York every opportunity she could, always staying with Olivia. She was supportive of the detective's attempt at a platonic reconciliation with Alex and was there in the beginning to pick up the pieces of a shattered Olivia when she would return from her exhausting excursions to Point Sebago. When the bitterness finally seeped from Olivia and she began to enjoy her new relationship with Alex, her situation with Abbie also improved. The more confident she became with her visits to Maine, the more secure she became with Abbie.

The turning point came when Abbie announced that she was buying the Pennsylvania cabin, accepting a professorship at Dickenson Law School and wanted to settle down with the possibility of starting a family before she got too much older. Basically she gave Olivia an ultimatum to shit or get off the pot because Abbie was making the move, regardless. She also advised the detective that she was done with the weekend relationship, she wanted a commitment from Olivia or she was ready to move on and find a partner who did want to be with her full time.

Twenty-four hours of deep introspection was all it took for Olivia to decide she did not want to lose Abbie. She had already lost out on one incredible opportunity, she wasn't about to let lightening strike twice. Her resignation from the NYPD was a shock to everyone and more than likely propelled Elliot into years of therapy. She felt sorry for her replacement. Not sorry enough, however, to stay in New York and let Abbie get away.

A month after her move to PA, she was offered a position with the state police as their chief investigator. The salary was good, the hours even better so she took the job. She and Abbie settled into a comfortable life, living a near idyllic existence.

Following a visit from Jake, Oliver and a newly pregnant Alex, Olivia and Abbie decided it was time to start a family of their own. Both women had eggs extracted, which were then fertilized with carefully selected anonymous donor sperm and implanted back into Abbie. Sierra Catherine Carmichael-Benson was born almost exactly nine months later.

"I am still amazed you ever convinced Olivia to leave New York," Alex remarked.

"So is she," Abbie laughed. "Honestly, though, I've never seen her happier, Alex. She really seems to be in her element. She's a wonderful parent, a natural. She has a lot more patience with Sierra than I do and she is also a lot stricter,"

"And...you two?"

"We're doing great."

"I'm glad, Abbie. Olivia deserves to be with someone good like you. Someone who appreciates and understands her. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather see her with."

"I feel very lucky."

"Olivia's very lucky, too," Alex stated sincerely.

"Thank you, Alex. That means a lot."

The sound of crying got closer and Olivia entered the cabin, carrying an upset Morgan. Alex immediately recognized the sound as an 'I'm not hurt' cry and more of an 'I want my Mommy' cry. When Olivia got close to Alex, Morgan practically leapt into her arms.

"What's the matter?" Alex hugged her son, who clung to her as though his life depended on it.

Olivia smiled, smoothing his hair. "He went to pet the horse's nose and she came up suddenly, snorted and scared him. Daddy tried to calm him but he only wanted Mom."

"As usual." Alex comforted her youngest son as he burrowed into his mother. She kissed his blond head and rubbed his back and he stopped crying, looking back at Olivia as though she had personally frightened him. "What are Jake and Oliver doing?"

"Playing with the dogs." Olivia stood behind Abbie, putting her arms around her waist. "God, look at us. Who would have thought any of us would have become so domesticated?"

"I know. This is all so different than what I thought my life was going to turn out like. I was going to be THE District Attorney, remember? That was my goal," Alex stated. She looked down, lovingly, at the little male mini-me in her arms. "Now? My goal is to be the best parent I can be, raise my kids in the safest environment I can provide for them and hope to God they make it to adulthood without becoming victims of any of the vile, horrible crimes we've witnessed in our past life."

"Amen," Abbie agreed.

They all turned to the sound of the screened door opening and saw Oliver charge inside, followed by Jake. "Potty break," Jake explained.

Abbie pointed in the direction of the bathroom and Jake ushered his mini-me inside, shutting the door. "What do you say we officially get this party started?" Abbie announced and the weekend commenced.

The End (well...for now)

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