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These Are Days
By mel



"Where is everybody?" Olivia asked as she watched Alex use her key to open the front door.  Last time they'd visited the door was always unlocked, so she knew that this meant that the house was, for the time being, anyway, vacant.

"Mom and Mags are at the club going over the final details for tomorrow," Alex shared as she pushed the door open.  She gave Olivia, who was reaching for the duo's suitcase, a serious glare and smiled when she saw the brunette back off.  "The text she sent me earlier said that she expected them to be back around six or so," she informed her lover as she gathered their things and strode easily into the house.

Olivia followed closely, closing the door after them while Alex set the rolling suitcase the blonde had packed for the both of them at the foot of the stairs before carefully laying the garment bag that held their clothes for the party over the banister.  "Did you tell her about this?" she asked, waving a hand at her side, as Alex turned around to face her.

Alex licked her lips and shook her head.  "No.  I didn't think you'd want everybody going into overprotective, 'ohmygod how are you feeling' mode."

Olivia let out a breath she hadn't even realized she'd been holding and smiled.  "Thank you."

Alex nodded.  "You're welcome.  But, it was in the paper, so they might still know.  Do you want to go grab a snack or something while we wait?  Mom said that Adam, Paul, Andy, Tim and the kids will be coming over for dinner tonight so we're not going to be eating until later."

Olivia pursed her lips and shrugged. "If you do.  I can think of other ways to spend our last hour alone for the weekend, but if you'd rather eat…"

"Liv," Alex admonished.  "You were shot yesterday.  Not even twenty-four hours ago."

"And I'm fine," Olivia replied, reaching out to pull the younger woman into a gentle embrace.  "I'm fine, baby," she murmured as she held her close.

Alex gave herself over to the embrace, needing the comfort, the reassurance that Olivia truly was okay. She'd tried to hide her lingering unease from the detective with their usual teasing banter, not wanting the older woman to know exactly how worried she still was, but the truth of the matter was that she could have lost Olivia yesterday and she had yet to wrap her head around the idea that everything would be okay.  That Olivia really was fine.

Olivia sighed as she felt Alex tremble in her arms and knew that the blonde, who had been so strong and seemingly unaffected since they'd returned home last night, was finally letting some of the fear and uncertainty she'd had to have been feeling show.  "Shh," she soothed, rubbing a gentle hand up and down the blonde's back.  "It's okay, sweetheart.  It's okay," she murmured.

Alex wrapped her arms around Olivia's neck and pulled herself in tighter, burying her face in the crook of the brunette's neck as the tears she'd refused to shed last night spilled over.  "I'm sorry," she mumbled as she pulled back to wipe the errant moisture away.

"For what?" Olivia asked, her voice soft, the look in her eyes even softer as she pulled the blonde back to her.  "Why are you sorry?"

Alex drew a trembling breath.  "For this," she answered quietly, squeezing the brunette indicatively.

"You're allowed to cry, honey," Olivia murmured.

"But you didn't," Alex whispered.

Olivia sighed.  "Oh sweetie, if our positions had been reversed last night I can assure you that I'd have been a complete blubbering mess. I had it easy."

Alex pulled back to cast a disbelieving look at her fiancée.  "Getting shot is easy?"

Olivia nodded.  "It is.  Because I was there, I knew what was happening the entire time.  But you," her voice trailed off as she reached a hand up to cradle the blonde's jaw in her hand, "baby, you had no idea what'd happened.  I told you over the phone that I was okay – but I know you had to have been scared as you drove to the hospital.  I could see it in your eyes when you came into the room when the doctor was stitching me up.  So… yeah, getting shot is easier.  Much easier than living with the unknown; much, much, much easier than living with the 'buts' and the 'might have beens' that I'm sure have been running through you head all day."

Alex closed her eyes and nodded, confirming the detective's suspicions that she had, in fact, been fighting against her thoughts all day long.  "How do you make it stop?" she asked.  "How do you make your head stop asking those questions though?  I mean, Liv, I was absolutely terrified.  I tried to hide it from the guys, from you, but I was so, so afraid that I would lose you.  Even after I saw you were safe and relatively unharmed, I just… I can't shake this fear that, in the blink of an eye, I could lose you.  And I was the one who gave you that warrant – so it was really my fault."

"Nonononono," Olivia murmured, holding Alex even tighter as she realized that not only had her fiancée been scared, she'd been feeling guilty as well.  "This was not your fault Alex," she said forcefully.  "Look at me, baby.  There's my girl," she murmured as Alex's lids fluttered open.  "This was not your fault.  If I ever get hurt on the job, it is not your fault.  This was Walton's fault, not yours.  He had the gun.  He refused to surrender.  Not you, baby."

"I gave you the warrant," Alex argued weakly, dropping her eyes and looking off to the side.

Olivia nodded and gently turned Alex's face back to her.  "You did.  Because that's your job.  And I served the warrant, because that's mine.  Anything and everything that happened after you gave us those papers was out of your control.  You have to understand that, Alex."

"I do.  But…"

Olivia sighed.  "Come on."  She took a step backwards and pulled Alex along with her.

"Where are we going?" Alex asked, allowing herself to be led up the steps.

Olivia released her hold on Alex's waist as she climbed, instead taking hold of her hand.  "Upstairs."

Alex frowned.  "Why?"

Olivia paused at the landing and turned to face Alex.  "Because ever since the hospital last night you haven't let me hold you.  I need to hold you.  I need to feel your strength, and you need to feel mine.  You want to know how to stop the voices in your head?"

Alex nodded, her blue eyes looking beseechingly at Olivia.  "Yes."

"You remember what you have.  You remember that everything you were afraid to lose isn't lost.  I'm taking you to bed," she stated, her eyes telling the blonde quite clearly that the point was not up for debate.  "I am going to hold you in my arms," she continued to explain her plan as she once again started up the stairs.  "I'm going to hold you and you're going to hold me and we're going to remember what we have together, we're going to begin to get past this together."

Alex chewed her lip and nodded, obediently following her fiancée down the wide hall and into her childhood bedroom where they both toed off their shoes before climbing onto the bed.  She watched Olivia carefully as the brunette maneuvered herself back against the pillows, and she smiled shyly when she was beckoned to join her.

Olivia reached out and confidently guided the unsure blonde to lay with her, a soft exhalation of relief escaping both of them as the blonde's head settled snugly onto the slope of her breast.  She turned her head to press her lips to the attorney's forehead, closing her eyes and breathing in deep the blonde's scent as the younger woman snuggled in closer.  "See?" she hummed softly as she felt Alex's body relax into her own.  "Isn't this better?"

Alex nodded. "Yes."

"You hear my heartbeat?"

"I do," Alex answered quietly as she slid her right hand up Olivia's body to place it over the organ.

"Just focus on that sound," Olivia murmured soothingly as she combed her fingers through Alex's hair.

Alex drew a deep breath and did as instructed, letting herself focus on the sound, the heavy, reassuring thwump to the point that she became unaware of the world beyond herself and Olivia.  They were here, they were together.  "We'll be okay," she murmured, her eyes fluttering closed as the sleep she hadn't gotten the night before while she'd lain awake watching Olivia carefully for any signs of distress snuck up on her.

"We will," Olivia assured her.  "Now, just close your eyes and rest baby.  We have a busy couple of days ahead of us."

Olivia looked up at the door to Alex's room and smiled as she spied a familiar face peek around the corner.  "Hi," she whispered, lifting the hand she'd been running up and down Alex's back while the blonde slept to wave in greeting.

Carolyn Cabot smiled at the sight of her daughter curled around her fiancée.  "Adam and Paul are here already and Andy called to say that they'll be here in about twenty minutes," she whispered.

Olivia nodded her understanding. "Thanks," she replied softly.  "I'll get this one up and we'll meet you guys downstairs?"

"We'll be in the kitchen," Carolyn informed her.  "Come down whenever you're ready dear – this is your weekend, nothing will happen without you two."  She gave the brunette one last smile before ducking back out of the room and leaving the couple alone.

Olivia turned her attention back to the woman sleeping in her arms and smiled softly to herself as she leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to the blonde's forehead.  "Alex, sweetie," she murmured, her lips brushing against smooth skin as she spoke.  "Time to wake up."

Alex mewled softly as she came awake.  "Hey," she hummed as she stretched against Olivia.  "What time is it?"

Olivia lifted her arm to check her watch.  "Nearly seven.  Your mom just came in and said that Adam and Paul are here already and that Andy and company will be here soon."

"M'kay," Alex groaned as she propped her head on her hand so she could look down into her fiancée's eyes.  "Thank you."

Olivia smiled.  "My pleasure, sweetie."

Alex smiled and leaned in to capture Olivia's lips in a slow, sweet kiss.  "I love you."

"I love you," Olivia murmured as she resumed rubbing Alex's back.  "How you feeling?"

"Better," Alex admitted.  "You were right, I did need that reminder that you are still here with me."

"I'm always right," Olivia teased, pleased to see the blonde arch a brow challengingly at her. "Except when you're right.  Which is most of the time."  She smiled as Alex laughed.  "There's the laugh I love," she purred as she lifted her head to recapture Alex's lips with her own.

Alex moaned into the kiss and leaned into it, pressing Olivia's head back onto the pillow as she used the tip of her tongue to pry the brunette's lips open.  The kiss grew deeper, hotter, yet still remained slow and languid, both women knowing and accepting the fact that this connection, this moment was all that they would share for now and both of them pouring every ounce of their love for the other into the kiss so that when they finally broke apart it was with racing hearts, gasping lungs, and soothed, comforted souls.

"I love you," Alex whispered as she nuzzled Olivia's cheek with her own, her breath dancing lightly over the shell of the brunette's ear.  "So much, Liv."

Olivia's eyes fluttered closed as she soaked in Alex's softly spoken declaration.  "I love you too, Alex," she murmured, wrapping her arms around the attorney's trim waist and pulling her in closer.

They remained where they were for a few heartbeats longer, enjoying the closeness of the moment before, with a regretful sigh, Alex pushed herself up and rolled away from Olivia.  They put their shoes back on in silence and walked out of the room together, hands clasped tightly together, fingers intertwined, neither of them willing to completely let go of the warmth of their earlier connection just yet.

"Hey!" Adam called out loudly when he saw the two women enter the kitchen.  "'Bout damned time, sis.  What took ya so long?"

Carolyn gathered a dishtowel off the island and threw it at her son.  "Hush, you.  They were resting – quite deservedly, from what I've heard."

Alex smiled sheepishly, tightening her hold on her fiancée's hand as she asked, "You heard about that huh?"

"Like you could keep it from me. Liz called me last night," Carolyn shared, giving her daughter a look that quiet clearly said she was disappointed she hadn't called her herself.

"What happened?" Paul asked.

"Nothing" Olivia tried to wave it off. "I just got hurt trying to bring a suspect in for questioning.  No big deal, it was just a scratch."

"Scratches don't require a dozen stitches," Carolyn retorted.

Olivia looked from the Cabot matriarch to Maggie, who was nodding her agreement, and sighed in defeat.  "Okay, fine.  It's more than a scratch.  But I'm fine, really?"

"Still don't know what happened here guys," Adam chimed in.

Alex turned to her brother even as she wrapped her arms around Olivia's waist.  "Liv was shot last night."

"It's a scratch," Olivia argued automatically, only to be met by five sets of disbelieving eyes.  "Right.  Again, sorry.  I'll just shut up now."

"No need, dear," Maggie replied genially as she moved from behind her sister-in-law to pull Olivia into a soft embrace.  "We're just glad you're okay," she whispered in the brunette's ear as she pulled away.

Olivia blushed and nodded, not used to this level of caring, not used to having so many people concerned for her well-being.  "Thanks."

They all turned as they heard the front door open and two excited little voices calling out, "Alex, Livvie!"

Alex and Olivia both laughed as they turned toward the hall.  "In the kitchen kiddos!" Alex called out, stepping in front of Olivia protectively and bracing herself for the flurry of energy that was her five-year-old niece and nephew.

"HEY!" the twins called as they came bombing into the room. 

"You're here!" Ethan called out excitedly as he jumped into Alex's arms.

"We missed you!" Emily cried, echoing her brother's excited tone as she wrapped herself around her Aunt.

Alex smiled and hugged the kids tight to her chest.  "We missed you too.  How was school?"

"Good!" Emily answered excitedly, taking control of the conversation for both herself and her brother.  "Today was centers and I sat at the blue table and did reading and Ethan was at the green table and had to do art and he hates art because he can't draw at all!"

"Yes I can!" Ethan argued.

Olivia laughed.  "Well, what about me, huh?  Do I get a hug too?" she asked, kneeling down and holding her arms out.

"Go slow, okay guys," Alex warned the twins.  "Liv was hurt at work last night so we need to be careful."

Two sets of worried blue eyes landed on Olivia.  "You okay Livvie?" Emily asked softly.

Olivia bit her lip and nodded.  "I'm fine," she assured them, and was pleased that none of the grown-ups saw fit to argue with her about it this time.  "Now, where's my hug?"

Alex released the twins and gave them a small nod, letting them know that it was okay.  "Go give her a hug," she whispered.

Andy and Tim, who had entered the kitchen around the time Alex was explaining that Olivia had been hurt to their kids, looked at the ADA with concern in their eyes.  "What happened?" Andy asked as she pulled her baby sister into a hug.

"I'll tell you later," Alex whispered, not wanting to get into the details when the kids were around.

Sensing the need to break up the tension that had befallen the group Adam piped up, "So, what's for dinner?  I'm starving!"



Alex looked over at Olivia as the dinner dishes were cleared from the table and smiled lovingly at the distracted brunette whose attention was focused on two extremely hyper five year olds who were busy recounting every last detail of their swimming lessons from the night before.  She scooted her chair closer to Olivia's and leaned into the brunette's side as she laid her left hand onto the detective's thigh.  She rested her head on her fiancée's shoulder and turned her attention to Emily and Ethan who were pantomiming their freestyle form, cheeks puffed out as they held their breath, their little arms pinwheeling around as they tried to prove who could swim faster.

"I think it's a tie," Olivia declared as the duo finished their 'race'.  "You guys look like you're excellent swimmers."

The twins smiled proudly and nodded vigorously.  "We are," they confirmed simultaneously.

"Can you come watch us do swimming lessons Livvie?" Emily asked.

"Aw, I'd love to watch you swim.  Maybe Auntie Alex and I can make a trip up here soon during the week so we can watch, would you like that?"

"YES!" Ethan yelled as he jumped excitedly onto Olivia's lap.

Alex stiffened as the rambunctious boy pounced onto her injured fiancée, but Olivia shushed her quietly before she could reprimand him for the maneuver.  Instead, she settled for a calm, "Remember that Olivia has an owie," as she studied the brunette's face carefully to make sure that she hadn't been injured.

"I'm fine," Olivia mouthed, hugging the boy gently as he wrapped his arms around her neck in his happiness.

Andy, who had been watching the two women interact with her children with a smile on her face, brought the festivities to an end as she called out, "All right, you monsters, it's tub time.  Let's go upstairs and get you washed up for bed."

"Awww, mom!" Olivia whined playfully, her lopsided smirk firmly in place as the twins echoed her complaint.

"Don't you 'aw, mom' me," Andy laughed.  "Tub time.  Now."

"Can Livvie do tub time?" Emily asked, turning to look at the detective with a hopeful smile.

"And Adam?" Ethan piped up.

Andy looked from Olivia, who just shrugged and indicated with a nod of her head that she was fine with taking over the bathing duties, to Adam, who was grinning as much as his nephew, and nodded.  "As long as they want to deal with you guys, that's fine with me."

"I'm in," Adam announced.  "I'll show you how to…"

"NO!" Andy interrupted him.

"How do you even know what I was going to say?" Adam argued.

Andy laughed and pointed a finger at her brother.  "I don't need to know what you were going to say – you're excited to show my children whatever it is, therefore I don't want them to learn it."

"What was it?" Emily asked curiously.

"I'll tell you later," Adam whispered.


Adam just grinned and winked at his sister as he scooped Emily into his arms and flipped her around onto his back.  "Pony ride to the tub?"

"Yee-haw!" Emily cried happily, her feet kicking wildly at Adam's sides.

"I can't do a pony ride," Olivia told Ethan as he turned to her with a hopeful expression on his face.  "Sorry buddy."

"It's okay," Ethan replied with a smile.  "Maybe you can give me a ride when your owie's all better?"

"You got it pal," Olivia grinned as she set the boy onto the ground and reached out to take his hand.

"You're okay to do this?" Alex asked softly.

Olivia nodded and leaned in to kiss the blonde's cheek tenderly.  "I'm fine, sweetheart.  You just relax with your family, we'll have these two washed up and ready for bed in no time."

"If you say so," Alex murmured.  "I love you."

"Love you too, babe," Olivia whispered before she turned her attention to Ethan, who was bouncing in place in his excitement to have somebody other than his parents bathe him.  "So, you ready E?"

"Ready Freddy," Ethan replied.

"Then let's go Joe."

Alex smiled in spite of her lingering concern as she watched Olivia walk out of the kitchen, hand-in-hand with her nephew.  She couldn't help but think of their future together, where it would be their child Olivia was walking down the hall toward the bath, and her reserved smile grew to an all-encompassing grin.

"What's that smile for?" Andy mused loudly, delivering a playful elbow to Alex's side.

Alex looked over at her sister and shrugged.  "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Andy laughed and shook her head, not believing Alex's feigned ignorance for a minute, but letting it slide.  She recognized the look flashing in the attorney's eyes; it was the one most of her childless girlfriends got not long before they ended up pregnant.  "If you say so, Al.  So… now that Trouble One and Trouble Two are gone – what happened to Olivia?"

Alex's smile faded in an instant as her barely suppressed memories from the night before floated back to the front of her mind.  "Liv and the guys went to bring in a suspect for questioning in connection to a series of rapes that had been carried out at gunpoint in Central Park.  She found him before the guys did and he'd pulled a gun on her.  She tried to talk him down," Alex whispered, shaking her head slowly from side to side as her earlier fears, so lovingly vanquished by Olivia's touch, by the sound of Olivia's heart beating beneath her ear, came back to capture her heart in a vise grip of dread.  "But he wasn't going to come peacefully.  He fired first; hit her on the side, under her vest, and Liv's partner shot him."

"Fucking hell," Paul muttered.

"Yeah," Andy agreed softly, eyes wide as saucers.

"But it was really 'just a scratch'?" Maggie asked.

Alex drew a shaky breath and nodded.  "As much as a gunshot wound can be a scratch, yeah.  She was lucky."

"You both were," Carolyn interjected.

Alex licked her lips and smiled a soft, hesitant smile.  "We were.  We are," she added, taking a deep breath and holding it in for a moment before letting it go quietly.  "But, we're here now and ready to party tomorrow night," she finished, trying to force her fears back into their little box in the back of her mind so that she could once again focus on the positives surrounding them.

"Yes, about that," Carolyn frowned, easily slipping into what Alex and Andy recognized as her 'mom mode'.  "You all know that I expect you to be on your best behavior tomorrow, yes?"

"You're really going to threaten us now?" Andy laughed.  "Adam isn't even in here, and Jake and John aren't coming up until tomorrow."

"Are you implying that my boys are trouble?" Maggie laughed.

"Um, yes," Andy retorted.  "Do you not remember my wedding where they decided to put on their own little Chippendale's show?"

"Psht," Maggie waved a hand dismissively.  "You have to admit it was funny when Jake decided to see if he could pole dance on the microphone stand."

Alex laughed softly at the memory.  "Yeah, and then he fell into the drum kit and the cymbal fell on his head."

"You're as bad as they are," Andy muttered.

"Alex knows how to pole dance," Paul offered helpfully.  "She could show him some moves."

"Hey!" Alex scowled.

Paul winked at Alex as he asked, "What about Bryn and Bryan?  Are they not troublemakers as well?"

The rest of the group assembled around the table shook their heads as Maggie took the initiative to answer the Englishman's question.  "No.  Bryn won't do anything worthy of concern, and Bryan is only trouble if he has somebody egging him on.  Really, sometimes I can't believe they're even genetically related to the rest of this family."

Carolyn smiled at Maggie's statement even as she turned her attention back to the 'kids' assembled around the table.  "Now, promise me you will behave."

"What about Adam and Liv?" Alex asked.

"I will speak to your brother later," Carolyn assured her.  "And I already know that I won't have to worry about Olivia.  Now, promise me you'll all behave tomorrow.   I don't want to see anyone peeing in the fountain, playing darts with the steak knives, streaking down the fairways, or playing golf-cart demolition derby."

"That's quite a list," Paul muttered.

"They've done it all before," Carolyn told him seriously.  "Now, swear you'll be good."

Alex sighed and looked over at her sister and Paul as she lifted her right hand and repeated, "I solemnly swear that I will be good."  Similar oaths were muttered by Paul, Andy, and Tim – who was nearly as tame as Bryn but still required to promise good behavior.

"Thank you," Carolyn drawled imperiously.

The kids and Maggie all laughed and settled into an easy-flowing conversation that was commonplace when they were all together until Adam's half-frantic yell, "OH MY GOD ETHAN! YOU DID NOT JUST DO THAT!", flowed down to their ears from upstairs.  Which was impressive simply because of the distance between the two points.

"Um, I think you may need to go check on them," Maggie laughed, looking pointedly at Alex, Andy, and Paul.

"I got it," Andy laughed as she pushed herself up from her seat with a dramatic sigh.  "It's just so hard to find good help these days," she mused with a smirk as she strolled leisurely out of the kitchen.

Alex smiled, still unable to completely shake her recently resurfaced fears, and looked over at Paul.  "You want to go check on ours?"

Paul grinned.  "Nah, let them suffer a bit longer."

"WHY DID YOU GIVE IT BACK TO HIM?!" Olivia's voice carried down to them.

"Maybe we should go up there," Paul muttered.

Alex nodded her agreement as she stood and followed Paul out of the kitchen, leaving Maggie and her mother's laughter in their wake.  It was funny, two grown adults being obviously one-upped by a couple of five year olds, but Alex was worried about Olivia's health.  She hoped the brunette hadn't managed to pop any stitches during whatever was happening upstairs was happening. 

"Which way to Andy's room?" Paul asked as he and Alex climbed the stairs.

"Next to Adam's," Alex shared.

"Of course," Paul replied.  "Or, I could have just followed the laughter," he observed as he turned into the open door and found Adam standing at the edge of the bathroom, clothes completely soaked, hair dripping messily onto the flooded tile floor, his hands in the air in consternation.

"It's not my fault!" he yelled at Andy who was laughing hysterically and leaning against the sink for support.

"Where's Liv?" Alex asked loudly, so that she could be heard over her sister's laughter.

"She's in your room," Adam shared petulantly.  "And, don't ask."

"Fine," Alex retorted.  "I'll just ask Liv," she declared as she turned on her heel and headed across the hall to her room.  Her sitting room and bedroom were both empty and, judging from her brother's appearance, she had a pretty good idea where she'd find her fiancée.  A soft smile tweaked her lips as she walked into her private bathroom and spied Olivia, standing at the vanity and vigorously toweling her hair dry.  "You decide to take a shower?" she asked as she stopped in the doorway to watch the brunette.

"Not exactly," Olivia muttered as she peeked out from beneath the dove gray towel on her head.  "Adam wasn't thinking and let Ethan hold the little hand-sprayer thing – the little bugger got both of us."

Alex laughed at the mental image she got of her nephew spraying Olivia and Adam with water, and shook her head.  "Why didn't you tell him not to give it to him?"

"I was busy trying to help Emily wash her hair," Olivia explained.  "Anyways, now that my hair isn't literally dripping, I need to change."

Alex nodded obligingly as she stepped away from the doorframe to allow Olivia to pass. "I'll hang up the towel for you."

"Thank you.  Want to help me change?"

Alex sucked her lower lip between her teeth as her eyes dropped to Olivia's side where the brunette's bandage was hidden by her clothes, all of her fears once again at the forefront of her mind from sharing what had happened with her family, and shook her head.  "Not now."

Olivia frowned and set the towel she'd been using onto the marble countertop behind her.  She could tell that Alex's hesitance wasn't due to the fact that they were in her mother's house, but rather due to lingering concerns regarding her injury.  It was in the set of the blonde's shoulders, the look of thinly concealed fear in her normally bright blue eyes, and it broke her heart to see that she was still afraid to touch her.

"I'm fine," Olivia murmured as she closed the small gap separating her from Alex and gathered the blonde into her arms.  "Sweetie, believe me – I am fine."

Alex closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she nodded.  "I know, Liv."

"Do you?" Olivia asked as she ran her hands up Alex's arms to cradle the blonde's face tenderly between her palms.  "Look at me, Alex."

"I do know," Alex answered as she obliged the brunette's request and looked deep into her eyes.  "I do know that you're fine, Liv.  I do.  I know that you're here with me and that you're okay, but I'm afraid I'll hurt you."

Olivia smiled softly as she leaned in to kiss Alex tenderly.  "You won't hurt me," she murmured between kisses, which lingered longer and longer with every connection of lips.

"Liv," Alex breathed, her heart beating rapidly in her chest.

"Shh," Olivia hushed as she pressed Alex back against the doorframe.  "Just kiss me, Cabot."

Alex moaned at the feeling of the hard wood at her back and Olivia's soft body pressed against her front, and closed her eyes as she gave herself over to Olivia, meeting the brunette's lips in another series of deep, languid, exploratory kisses.  "I love you," she murmured as Olivia nuzzled her cheek softly.

"I love you," Olivia whispered as she backed away and released her hold on Alex's face to reach for the hem of her shirt.  She held the blonde's eyes captive as she lifted it off over her head and, once free, reached out for Alex's hand.  "Look," she instructed as she took her hand and pulled it over to her side, running the blonde's fingers over the bandage that was just above her hip.  "You can touch me.  I won't break," she whispered as she reached up with her left hand, wrapping her fingers around the back of Alex's neck and pulling the blonde into her for another, less gentle, but equally loving, kiss.

Alex whimpered into the kiss as she slipped her hand out from under Olivia's and around the brunette's back to tug the detective into her.  She slanted her head to the side, deepening the kiss as Olivia pressed into her and she moaned into Olivia's mouth as she felt the brunette's free hand slip over her hip to ease into the back pocket of her jeans.

"See?" Olivia hummed as she pulled back to stare into dark, unfocused blue eyes.  "Fine."

Alex licked her lips and nodded dumbly.  "Fine," she repeated as she ran her hand back to the spot where the bright white bandage stood in stark contrast to Olivia's olive-toned skin.  She traced the edge of the bandage slowly with her index finger, lightly playing across the tape holding it in place.  "I'm sorry, sweetie, I'm just…"

"Scared," Olivia offered, her brow furrowing as she watched Alex's head bob in agreement.  "Why?  You weren't this afraid to touch me after I got shot outside the club – and that was a much more serious injury."

Alex swallowed thickly and closed her eyes as she leaned her head back against the doorframe.  She'd actually been wondering that very thing herself earlier, and had yet to come up with a satisfactory answer.  "I don't know," she whispered.  "I was scared for you then, but I believed you when you said you were fine.  I was naïve.  I didn't know about the grueling physical therapy you'd have to do to recover, didn't have any idea how very not okay you were.  And it was new.  I mean, there you were, just standing there, the complete physical embodiment of each and every one of my dreams and fantasies come to life.  It was real, we were happening – and I was too drunk on the idea that I could actually have you to stop and think about possibly injuring you further.

"But now I know better," she continued.  "I know that had the bullet been a few more inches to your left that you might not be standing her with me.  The first time you were shot…," her voice trailed off as she shook her head sadly.  "God, who really has conversations like this?  The first time you were shot – I was so scared for you, there's no denying that, but – and I don't want this to sound cold because I honestly don't mean it that way – but we hadn't started yet.  Had you… died," she said, her voice hitching in her throat, "I would have grieved, of course.  It would have been a crippling loss, but now, now we're standing at the edge of our 'happily-ever-after' and the idea of losing you, it just… it would kill me to lose you Liv, and I can't get my head past the idea that I could have.  I don't know what I would do if it happened.  I honestly don't think I'd be able to go on," she confessed, tears building in her eyes.

Olivia sighed and leaned in to rest her forehead against Alex's.  "Alex," she sighed again softly, her heart hanging heavy in her chest at the blonde's admission.  "Baby, you can't think like that."

"You weren't the one to get that call," Alex argued, even as the weight in her chest seemed to lift as she put voice to the thoughts and fears that had been tormenting her.

Olivia took a deep breath and held it in as her mind raced to come up with the correct combination of words that would ease the blonde's worries.  She had thought they'd gotten past this little hurdle earlier in the day when Alex let her hold her, but she could see now that the attorney's fears ran deeper than she'd thought.  She felt her heart break as the tears that had been building in Alex's eyes spilled over and she let the breath she'd been holding out on a ragged stream as she felt her own eyes begin to tear.  "Sweetheart," she whispered brokenly.

Alex felt her heart break at the pain she heard in Olivia's voice.  It was almost as if it wasn't until that moment that she realized exactly how much her fear was hurting her fiancée, and that realization was enough to spur her onward, forward, into Olivia's body, her mouth eagerly, almost desperately, seeking out the brunette's in a kiss that was full of unspoken promises.  Promises that she'd fight to get over her fears, promises that she would not allow her concern to keep her at a distance, promises that she would do everything within her power to make Olivia feel how much she loved her.

Promises that Olivia heard and felt and responded to eagerly, wanting, no, needing, to have this closeness, this connection, with Alex.  "Alex," she whimpered as the blonde's lips blazed a trail over her jaw to her ear.

Alex hummed unintelligibly as she used the tip of her tongue to pull Olivia's earlobe into her mouth.  She sucked hard against the captured flesh and nipped at it gently before she let it fall from her lips so she could run her tongue around the shell of Olivia's ear.  "I love you," she breathed, her words dancing sensuously over damp skin.  She was still afraid to hurt Olivia, but she was more afraid of wounding the brunette's heart, so she ran her hands up her fiancée's back until she was able to unhook her damp bra. 

Olivia groaned at the feeling of her bra coming free and, as much as she hated to do it, she pulled away from Alex enough to look into the attorney's eyes as she asked, "Baby?"

Remarkably clear blue eyes looked up beseechingly into brown. "I'm sure," she whispered.  "Liv, I need… I just need you.  To get past this.  I need you."

Olivia bit her lip and nodded her understanding. "Come with me," she murmured, taking a step back and reaching out to take Alex's hands in her own.

Alex allowed herself to be pulled out of the bathroom and over to her childhood bed.  She watched Olivia's finger dip under the hem of her sweater and she lifted her arms as the brunette worked it up over her torso, her arms falling limply to her side as it was tossed aside.  She stared into Olivia's eyes, holding serious brown eyes captive as the front clasp on her bra was opened easily, the straps pushed lovingly over her shoulders until gravity took hold of the garment and carried it to the floor.  Her breath caught in her throat as she watched Olivia's hands slide down the plane of her chest until strong, callused fingers wrapped themselves gently around her breasts.

Olivia watched Alex's face intently as she ran her hands over and around the blonde's breasts, lightly brushing over flaccid nipples, gliding lovingly around the gentle curve of each mound.  She watched the way Alex's eyes darkened, noticed the way the blonde would swallow thickly as the back of her hands rubbed against rapidly hardening nipples, catalogued the way Alex's breath began to fall erratically from parted, wanting lips.  She held Alex's gaze as she ran her hands down the blonde's stomach to flick the button of her jeans open and slide the zipper down.

An entire conversation was had without a word as Olivia pushed Alex's jeans down over her hips.  She followed the jeans down, carefully dropping to a knee so she could help her fiancée out of them, brown eyes still locked resolutely onto blue as Alex lifted first her right leg, then her left, until she was left standing in just her panties.

Alex reached down and threaded her fingers through Olivia's hair, scratching the brunette's scalp with her nails encouragingly as she watched and felt her lover's mouth press against her through the thin satin of her panties.  A small, barely audible whimper fell from her lips as Olivia's fingers traced back up her thighs and hooked themselves into the waistband of her panties, tugging gently yet insistently against the fabric as she began to pull them off.  She took a small step to the side as Olivia worked the panties down over her hips, using her touch on the top of the brunette's head to balance herself as she stepped out of them.

Olivia felt her heart catch in her throat as she took in the beauty of Alex, naked, waiting, and wanting before her.  She leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to even softer curls before reclaiming her feet and making quick work of her own remaining clothes until she was able to take Alex into her arms.  Skin slid sensuously over skin as they embraced, soft, pliant lips searching for their mate as hands roamed over familiar curves, grasping, kneading, and massaging firm flesh and hard bone as their tongues danced a familiar dance of need, of lust, of trust, and, most importantly, of love.  She turned their bodies so that the backs of Alex's knees hit the edge of the mattress and she used her body to gently guide the blonde down to the bed, settling herself comfortably atop the attorney's body as they maneuvered themselves into the center of the mattress.

Legs scissored together in a seamless connection as brown eyes continued to stare into blue even as tongues stroked, massaged, and tasted between parted lips, dancing on the heaving waves of ragged, desperate breaths that filled the space between them.  Waves that grew in weight, in power, as hips began to rock, slowly, softly at first, but gaining speed and force and power as the fear and the anguish that had overwhelmed them both after Olivia's shooting gave way to the affection, the love, the hope for the future they both shared. 

The old Latin phrase, omnia vincit amor, was more applicable in this moment than it perhaps ever had been in the entire time since Virgil penned those often quoted words.  In this moment, as they stared deep into each other's souls, their bodies as open as their hearts, Love truly conquered all.  Love conquered apprehension as searching hands slid down sweat slick skin to dip into hot liquid want.  Love conquered fear as questing fingers slipped deep inside soft velvet walls.  Love conquered unease and worry as strong inner muscles clenched around invading digits and they came together with a soft cry and a sigh.  Love conquered everything and anything in its path, leaving them wrapped in each other's arms, souls glowing brightly with the absolute power of their love, hearts soothed and comforted by the strength of their connection.



The next morning Alex and Olivia wandered into the kitchen to find Alex's siblings and Cousins already gathered around the table, enjoying a causal brunch of bagels, eggs, bacon, and donuts.  "Geez," Alex grumbled as she spied the mountain of pastry.  "When are they going to just leave the damn donut thing alone?!"

"I don't think they ever will," Olivia murmured with a grin as she waved at Jake, John, Bryan, Bryn, and their spouses.  She and Alex had never come back downstairs after making love the night before; they were both just too emotionally wiped out from everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours and had opted, instead, to just take time for themselves.  Time to touch, to hold, to kiss, to love, to heal.  They knew that everybody would understand their absence but, because they'd remained in Alex's room, they had missed the arrival of the rest of the family.

"Hey, look who finally made it down!" Bryan called out happily as he slipped his hand into his pocket and hit 'play' on the recording he'd saved of Alex in the throes of passion.

Alex shook her head at the sound of her own voice coming from her cousin's phone and glowered at the man responsible.  "Seriously, Bryan?  You still have that on your phone?"

Bryan bobbed his head happily.  "Yup."

"I still owe you for that one, you know," Alex informed him seriously.

"I know," he replied.  "I'm waiting for it."

"You know I can out-wait you and get you when you least expect it."

"I'm going to get some food," Olivia interrupted, pleased to see that Alex was much more herself than she had been the day before.  It truly warmed her heart to see the return of her feisty fiancée, it meant that Alex's promises that she really was doing better were true.  "Don't get any blood on the floor, you know your mom'll be pissed," she warned, placing a quick kiss to Alex's temple before she turned toward the food.

"Aw, look at little Livvie already being the 'more respectable half'," Adam teased.  "Did mom give you the 'you better behave' speech yet?"

"She got us last night while you two were getting schooled by your five-year-old nephew," Andy informed him, a smug grin plastered on her face.

"I didn't get one," Olivia murmured, turning back around and returning to Alex's side so she could follow the conversation.

"Neither did we," Bryan said, casting a glance at his sister who also shook her head.

"Yeah." Andy nodded and gave her sister a wink.  "That's because she told us that she doesn't have to worry about you all."

Olivia smiled proudly and turned her attention to Alex.  "But she made you promise?"

Alex rolled her eyes.  "Yes.  Jake, John – did she get to you guys yet?"

The two men nodded.  "Yeah.  And, I gotta say, your mom is freaking scary when she goes all threatening and shit," Jake shared, even going so far as to shiver slightly at the memory.  "Her eyes are like little lasers just daring you to piss her off."

Olivia let loose a bark of laughter which she quickly quieted by slapping a hand over her mouth.  "Sorry," she muttered.

"What's that laugh supposed to mean?" Alex demanded, crossing her arms over her chest challengingly as she turned to face her detective.

Olivia shook her head.  "Nothing, my love."

"Ooooooooooh! Sucking up!" the Cousins crowed.

"Now you really have to share!" Adam yelled.

"I don't think that it would be… prudent, for me to share," Olivia tried to hedge, but her smirk gave her away. 

"Awww, afraid the wife won't put out if you piss her off?" Adam teased.

Olivia nodded.  "Yes!"

Alex smacked Olivia in the arm and glared at her.  "Thanks, babe."

"Geez Liv, grow a pair already – I thought you were a NYPD detective!" Jake chimed in.

"Hey!" Olivia glared at the pale-haired man.

"Aw, give her a break guys!" Bryn interrupted.  "I'm sure she was laughing about it because Alex has that same exact look, and you all know it."

Alex pretended to be offended but couldn't really take offense because she knew it was true.  Olivia, for her part, just nodded minutely and winked at the group, confirming Bryn's suspicion without saying anything – and hopefully without getting herself in trouble.  It'd been a while since she had been on the receiving end of that look and she didn't want to ruin the streak.

Alex sighed dramatically. "And, on that note, I'm going to go get some food."

Olivia nodded and followed Alex to the center island, grabbing a plate for the both of them and handing one off to her fiancée.  "So, am I in trouble?" she murmured as she leaned in closer than necessary to the blonde as she reached for a donut.  She knew the pastries were a joke designed to embarrass her and Alex, but she was not about to turn down what looked to be a mouthwateringly good Boston Cream just to hopefully avoid a little bit of teasing.

Alex chuckled and shook her head.  "No," she whispered, turning her head and kissing Olivia softly.  "I know I have that look – and it comes in quite handy in court, so I'm not going to knock it."

Olivia smiled and kissed Alex again quickly, not wanting to give the Cousins too much of a show since she knew they would pounce on the opportunity like rabid jackals, but feeling the need to silently tell Alex how much she loved her.  "Good," she muttered, smiling against Alex's lips and kissing her again quickly.  "You want a donut?"

"No.  Those are all you, Benson."

"Think they'll let me take home the leftovers?"

Alex rolled her eyes.  "If there are any left when we leave tomorrow morning, you are more than welcome to ask."

Olivia grinned and set to filling her plate, adding a second donut to her first before adding some eggs and bacon as well. 

"Hungry?" Alex teased as she took in everything Olivia had managed to fit onto her plate.

Olivia smirked.  "Just a little.  See, this hot little blonde kept me up all night making love, over and over again, so I'm a little famished now."

"Olivia," Alex chuckled.  "You're a dork."

"But I'm your dork," Olivia retorted, playfully batting her lashes at Alex as she dropped a kiss to the laughing blonde's lips and heading over to the table.

Alex laughed and followed Olivia, pouring each of them a cup of coffee from the decanter that was sitting on a trivet in the middle of the table before she sat down next to Olivia who, she noticed, had already taken a huge bite of her donut.  They joined in the conversation that was flowing between the Cousins easily, chatting amiably about everything and everything, from what was going on in each of their careers and lives, to what the kids were getting into at home.

"So, what things did mom make you guys swear not to do?" Adam asked as Alex pushed her now empty plate away from herself.

"The usual." Alex grinned, now able to appreciate the humor in her mother's warning for what it was.  "Streaking, knife darts, peeing in the fountain – although I'm pretty sure that was directed more toward you boys than us girls – oh, and she remembered the golf cart demolition derby.  What about you?"

Adam nodded thoughtfully.  "Those, food fights, and she added something about ice sailing."

"How did she hear about that?" Bryan asked.  "That was when you were in college and they were over in Europe."

Adam shrugged.  "Hell if I know, but I've given up trying to figure that woman out.  Besides, it's been too warm lately for that to be safe."

"So, if we're not allowed to sail, play golf cart demolition derby, or any of those other things, what can we do?" Jake mused, putting the question to the group.

"I thought you didn't want to piss her off?" Olivia frowned, obviously confused by the Cousins' scheming.

"We don't," Alex told her.  "But, it's become a bit of a game. She tells us all the things we're not allowed to do, and we try and come up with something new that she hadn't thought to outlaw yet.  But!" she stated more firmly, her voice slipping into the prosecutorial tone Olivia recognized from work. "This is my engagement dinner and I don't want anything to ruin it."

"Just yours?" Adam grinned.

"For the love of god," Paul grumbled.  "Must you try and turn everything into a fight?"

"Yes," Adam replied.

Olivia laughed.  She expected nothing less from him and, if she was being honest, she was rather looking forward to a less intense day after yesterday.  Goofing off with the Cousins sounded like it was just what the doctor ordered.  "What if we have our fun before the dinner – and then we can all be on our best behavior for Carolyn's little soiree."

"There's that loophole thinking we love!" Adam yelled.  "Welcome to the family Liv!"

"Yeah!" echoed Jake and John.

Alex shook her head and chuckled softly, noticing that Andy and Bryn were doing the same.  "You should not encourage them," she told Olivia softly, but with an edge to her voice that let the brunette know that they could be in for serious trouble if they gave in to her brother's schemes.

"Well, I mean, come on now Alex," Adam drawled, leaning back in his chair and hanging his arm across the back of Paul's.  "It's either before, during, or after – and I'm willing to bet you have other, less group-type activities in mind for the 'after'…so that leaves before or during.  Mom invited Mrs. Peterson and I really don't think you want us having our particular brand of fun during your dinner."

"Who's Mrs. Peterson?" Olivia asked.

"A neighbor," Alex answered her question.  "And, I knew that already.  Mom emailed me the guest list a few days ago."

"So what's the big deal with this Mrs. Peterson?" Olivia wondered.

"She's the neighbor who called the cops on us one night when we were in high school.  Mom and dad were out of town on vacation and we had a few friends over," Adam explained.

"It was more than a few," Jake remembered.  He and his siblings had all been in attendance.  "That party still lives on as the greatest bash thrown by anybody at Woodbridge Preparatory Academy."

"Really?" Adam grinned, his chest puffing up a bit in pride.

Jake nodded.

"So she called the cops, big deal."  Olivia tried to bring the conversation back onto topic.  "What else happened?"

John grinned.  "Well, since she was supposed to be keeping an eye on the house and these three from a distance, she drove over to meet the cops and be that overbearing parental figure, you know.  Which, it turned out was a good thing because Bobby Jones puked all over that first cop's shoes… remember that?  Anyways, between her smooth talking and dad's donations to the police department they didn't press any charges, just hung out until everybody's parents had come to pick them up."

"Sounds like you guys got off easy," Olivia noted.  "Why is it that I'm thinking there's more to this story?"

"Because there is!" Adam announced happily.

"Yeah!" Bryan agreed.  He hadn't been at the party, but the fall-out from it had lasted forever and everybody knew about it. 

 "She walked in on Alex in bed with…," John started his story again.

"I think that's enough!" Alex interrupted.

"Jessica Walters!" Adam shouted, ignoring his sister's attempt to keep John from finishing the story.  "Remember her?  I heard she's married to a man and has a gaggle of kids now. Apparently Alex wasn't woman enough to turn her gay." 

For some reason, Alex's pride demanded she stand up for herself at this point.  "I was seventeen, for fuck's sake!  I didn't even know what the hell I was doing!"

Olivia laughed and kissed Alex's cheek.  "Well, I can say with absolute confidence that she definitely knows what she's doing now."

Adam winked at Olivia, who now held a blushing Alex in her arms, and continued his story, "Anyways, Mrs. Peterson catches Alex in bed, totally bare-assed, with an equally naked Jessica Walters, and oh my lord, you should have heard that woman scream.  It was like her eyes were being burned from her sockets!"

"You walking out into the hall half-naked didn't help either," Alex pointed out petulantly as she buried her flaming face in Olivia's neck. 

Adam grinned.  "So we both got caught with a girl in our beds.  At least it wasn't the same girl."

"Or the same bed," Jake piped up.  "Cause that would be just weird."

"Gross," Andy added.

"Absolutely puke-worthy," Bryan agreed.

"You've slept with a woman?" Paul turned to Adam, a look of absolute surprise on his face.  "You never told me that."

"BUSTED!" the Cousins crowed, each of them pointing accusingly at Adam.

"You guys really don't have any boundaries, do you?" Olivia murmured.

"Not really," Alex muttered.

Adam turned to Paul, a slightly pleading look on his face, clearly convinced that he was going to have to grovel for all he was worth.  "It was one time.  I was curious.  It didn't mean anything."

"We should compare notes later." Paul grinned.

"What?  You too!  Then why were you making me feel all guilty?!"

"I think you guys need to communicate more effectively," Bryn observed somewhat smugly.

"Oh, shut up, Brynsley," Adam grumbled.

"So, what should we do today before the party?"  Jake asked.

"Whatever it is, it can't be a drinking game," Alex stated firmly.  "Mom will kill us all if we show up at this thing completely shit-faced."

"Psht," Jake waved off her concern.  "It's like, what…," his voice trailed off as he craned his neck to check the time on the microwave tucked under the island, "eleven.  We have seven hours until the dinner at the club."

"More than enough time to get appropriately blitzed and then sober up," Adam agreed.  "It's five o'clock somewhere, right?"

"It's five in Germany," Bryn offered helpfully.

"Vielen Dank," Adam replied with an exaggerated bow.

"So, ideas?  Anyone?" John asked the group.  "We don't have to stay around here, either; mom and Aunt Carolyn have taken all the kids to the zoo for the day so we can hang out or do whatever."

After a heated discussion in which Alex, intent on not spoiling her and Olivia's night, put the kibosh on several different drinking games, the group ended up in the game room in the basement.  Because of Olivia's injury bowling and most other activities had been ruled out, so when Bryan suggested a mini billiards tournament, couples versus couples, they jumped on the idea.  It was either that or Scrabble, and nobody wanted to play Alex and Bryn in Scrabble.

Olivia smiled as she leaned against the wall and watched Alex, Adam, Jake, John, Andy, and Bryan – the self-appointed 'team captains' – trying to figure out how the so-called tournament would progress.  Mike, Bryn's husband, was also up by the group but he was content to stand on the sidelines and let the Cabots decide everything.  For being a spur-of-the-moment thing, they were all taking it extremely seriously.

"So, who do I need to be concerned about?" Olivia asked Bryn, who was standing beside her.

"Pretty much everybody." Bryn smiled.  "I'm not very good at most sports, but this is more Geometry than anything else and I kind of have the math thing covered."

Olivia laughed and nodded.  "Yeah, I guess a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering qualifies as having the 'math thing covered'."

Bryn shrugged.  "I'm a geek.  Anyways, we spent a lot of time down here playing as we were growing up, so we're all pretty good.  The spouses," she whispered, "tend to be a little weaker, but the Cabots more than make up for it.  Alex and the boys do tend to get pretty competitive though."

"I know all about her competitive streak," Olivia chuckled.  "How about you, Paul?  You any good?"

"I do own a club that has pool tables," the Englishman answered.

"Point taken." Olivia nodded.

"Okay, here's the plan!" Adam announced.  "Because there are an odd number of pairs, we're going to have to get a little creative.  First round will be Alex and Olivia versus Bryan and Mandy.  Paul and I will play Jake and Michelle.  John and Kim, you're playing Andy and Tim.  Bryn and Mike, you two will play whichever pair from the first round won by the closest margin."

"And how will the remaining rounds be determined?" Bryn asked loudly.

"Round two is the two remaining lowest ranked teams, and the team that wins the first round by the largest margin will play the winner of that mach for the championship."

"So, if you win round one you basically get a pass into the final," Alex summarized.

"How are we determining which team goes first?" Tim asked.

"One person from each team will throw a dart," Bryan explained, waving at the board on the far wall.  "Closest to the bulls-eye wins."

"What are we playing?" Olivia piped up.

"Nine ball," Alex answered.  "With so many people it'll be the quickest."

"And," Jake yelled, hopping up onto a chair and waving at the fully stocked bar in the corner of the room, "we be drinkin'!  Except for you, Olivia, because Alex says you're on some pretty strong pain medications still and we're not allowed to get you drunk."

"But, to make up for it, we have Señor Patron for Alex," Adam said with an exaggerated wink.  "You can thank us later."

Olivia chuckled and shook her head.  "You guys are nuts."

"You're just figuring this out now?" Jake laughed as he and Adam made a beeline for the back of the bar to start gathering supplies.

"No.  Not really."

"All right you monsters! Gather 'round!" Adam called out as he lined up thirteen glasses on the bar.  "A Cabot Cousin toast to Alex and Olivia." 

Alex turned toward Olivia with a smile and waved her over.  She leaned into the brunette once she'd stopped behind her and sighed softly as she felt Olivia's lips press a light kiss to the back of her neck. 

"Everybody take your glass," Adam drawled as he started pushing the shot glasses over the bar toward the Cousins and their spouses.  "A water shot for Olivia…," he murmured as he absently handed the detective her glass, not catching the look she and his sister shared at that comment.  "Everybody got one?  Good.  Okay.  To Alex and Olivia.  We couldn't be happier for you guys.  May you live life to its fullest, love each other with all your hearts, and remember to never cook bacon naked.  Welcome to the family, Liv."

"CHEERS!" the group yelled, each of them taking their celebratory shot of tequila.

Alex laughed as she set her empty glass back down on the bar and "I love you," she whispered.

"I love you," Olivia murmured, setting her little glass on the bar and wrapping her arms around Alex's waist. 

"Enough mushy-gushy shit, you two!" Adam admonished the couple playfully.  "You're up!"

"So, you wanna throw or do you trust me to not hurt myself."

"If you think you can do it, go right ahead, detective," Alex replied, watching Olivia carefully to make sure that the brunette wasn't in any pain and receiving a small smile and a wink of reassurance in return.  After last night, she knew that if Olivia said she was okay, that the brunette really was okay.  "Fine, you'll throw for us. Who's throwing for you two?" she asked Bryan and Mandy.

Mandy held up her hand.  "We all know he can't play darts."

Olivia ended up to win the toss for her and Alex's team and the blonde took the break, striking through the cue ball with a surprising amount of force and shattering the collection of racked balls and pocketing the two and the seven.  She also managed to sink the eight on her next turn before smartly using her next shot to bury the nine. 

"Your turn," she drawled at her cousin as she went to stand next to Olivia.

"Nice shootin'," Olivia murmured, pressing a soft kiss to the blonde's temple.

"Thank you," Alex grinned.

They watched Bryan sink his first shot before missing his second.  "Your turn," he told Olivia.

Olivia nodded and walked up to the table.  She saw his mistake almost immediately and when she turned to look at Alex, she could see that her fiancée had seen it too.  "Nine in the side," she called, pointing at the pocket in question before she lined up and hit a nice combo off the one to send the yellow-striped ball into indicated pocket.

"Good one," Alex murmured as she slid in behind Olivia, pressing her hips into the brunette's ass and wrapping her arms around the older woman's waist.

Olivia grinned.  "Thanks."

"Alex and Liv win with five left on the felt," Adam announced.  "Alrighty Paul, we're up."

"A shot for the winning bride-to-be," Jake announced as he held out a glass for Alex.

Alex shook her head.  "I'm not drinking."

"Just one more?" Jake pleaded, wigging the glass in front of her face.  "C'mon Alex, you're engaged!  ENGAGED!"

"Fine.  One more," Alex agreed, taking the glass and downing the shot easily.  "There.  Happy?"

"For now," Jake retorted as he poured himself and John shots and waggled the bottle at the rest of the group.  He grinned as he saw three more hands shoot up into the air and immediately started pouring.

An hour and a half later, the first round was finished and the second had just started. Adam and Paul were playing Bryn and Mike to see who would take on Alex and Olivia who had ended up to edge-out the two men for largest margin of winning by one ball.  Olivia smiled as she watched Alex take the glass John had set front of her and swallow the tequila in one fast drink, cheered on by John, Jake, and Bryan.  She watched the ADA shoot her cousins a challenging smirk and she couldn't help laughing as they all rose to the bait and drained their glasses in much the same manner.

"That's their, what?  Third?  Fourth?" Mandy, Bryan's wife, asked Olivia.

Olivia shrugged.  "Third, I think."

"I thought she wasn't drinking."

Olivia laughed.  "Yeah.  Me too.  But she really needed to let loose a little after the last couple days.  She's more than earned it."

"I heard about that, you okay?"

"I'm fine," Olivia answered, watching the way Alex and the boys were suddenly deep in what looked to be a serious conversation.  After a few seconds, they all nodded and turned toward the rest of the room with identical smirks painted on their faces. 

"Liv!" Alex called out across the room.  "Get that sexy ass of yours over here."

"Yeah – the rest of you too!" Bryan beckoned the rest of the spouses over.

Olivia laughed and shook her head at Alex's antics as she called, "Coming dear!" and made her way over to her fiancée.

"Hey good lookin'," Alex drawled.

"Hey tipsy blonde," Olivia quipped.

"C'mere," Alex murmured waving Olivia closer.  "Sit," she instructed as she guided the detective onto one of the bar stools.  "And I'm not tipsy.  I'm buzzed, but not drunk."

"If you say so, my love.  What's up?"

Alex just smiled.  "Look over there," she said, pointing toward the pool table.

Olivia did as Alex asked.  "What's going on?" she asked as she felt Alex tug at the collar of her shirt, her question breaking off into a breathy moan as the blonde's tongue dipped down between her breasts.

"Stay still," Alex murmured as she lifted a saltshaker to sprinkle a layer of fine, white powder onto Olivia's skin.

Olivia looked around to see that the boys were busy doctoring up their spouses in much the same manner.  "Alex, sweetie, how did 'I'm not drinking' turn into body shots?"

Alex smiled and shrugged.  "Ask the boys.  It was one of their ideas.  Ready?"

"Ready!" the boys chorused.

"Go!" Alex called.

Any further arguments that Olivia might have made were lost as she felt Alex's mouth latch hungrily onto her skin and the blonde's tongue lightly licking the salt from her cleavage.  She held Alex's gaze as the blonde pulled back to slam her shot, and then that hot, wonderful mouth was back on her body.  "Mmm, baby," she hummed encouragingly as Alex's mouth worked its magic on her.  They still had plenty of time until they needed to get ready for the party and if this is what Alex wanted to do to relax, she was certainly not going to be the one to tell her no.  Part of her wished she wasn't on medication so she could join in on the fun that Alex and the rest of the brood seemed to be having, but she had to admit that it was intoxicating to just watch the way the ADA was smiling and laughing.

"Hey, sis!  You and Liv are up!" Adam yelled.

Alex turned from Olivia, whose chest she'd been peppering with light kisses and nips, to face her brother. "Who won?"

"Bryn," he grumbled.

Alex grinned.  "You always lose to her."

"Don't rub it in."

"You want to do some body shots to make you feel better?" Jake offered.

Adam's pout turned into a grin as he grabbed Paul's arm and dragged the dark Englishman over to the bar.  "Abso-fucking-lutely!"

Alex laughed at her brother and regretfully pulled away from Olivia.  "Let's go get our asses kicked."

"She's that good?"

Alex stifled a yawn and nodded.  "Yeah."

"You tired?"

Alex smiled.  "Well, somebody kept me up all night."

Olivia chuckled and leaned in to brush her lips ever so lightly against the shell of Alex's ear.  "Are you saying that you didn't enjoy yourself?"

"I'm saying nothing of the sort, detective," Alex purred.

"Well, since it's already close to one o'clock, why don't we play this last game and then go upstairs for a nap before dinner."

"Mmm.  I like how you think," Alex hummed.  "How fast do you think we can lose?"

"You've had how many shots?"

Alex licked her lips and shrugged.  "Four?"

"I think we'll be able to lose pretty quickly then."

Alex nodded.  "Could you just grab me one of the bottles of water from the fridge under the bar?"

"Your wish, my command, my love." Olivia kissed Alex softly.  "Just sit on this stool here and I'll be right back."

Alex smiled and watched Olivia go, thinking to herself that the detective looked positively drool-worthy in her jeans and long sleeved tee.  Her smile grew, if possible, wider and even more lascivious once the brunette bent over to look inside the fridge.  She always had enjoyed ogling Olivia's ass.  It was just, so… delicious.

Olivia smirked as she walked back to where Alex was sitting; rather enjoying the way Alex was undressing her with her eyes.  "What's that look for?" she teased as she unscrewed the cap on the bottle of water and handed it to the blonde.

"What look?"

"The look that says you want to eat me alive."

"I could go for a snack." Alex grinned.  "But, don't you think we should wait until we're upstairs?"

Olivia laughed.  "I think that's a good idea."

"Hey, girls – you ready?" Bryn called out.

"Yeah," Olivia answered for them, a plan to 'lose quickly' already in mind.  "You can break."

"All right," Bryn drawled, leaning over the table and taking aim on the tightly packed diamond of balls.  The cue hit the one with a resounding crack and after a few more balls were put away, it was Olivia's turn to shoot. 

The brunette took one glance at Alex yawning on her stool and smiled, purposefully sending the cue ball into the corner pocket.  "Scratch."

Bryn frowned thoughtfully at Olivia's blatant miss as Mike walked up to the table to shoot, and a few short minutes later the game was over.  Olivia and Alex had lost the game without sinking a single ball, and neither of them could find it in themselves to care.

"Nap time?" Olivia murmured as she gathered Alex in her arms.

Alex nodded.  "Nap time."



Alex smiled as she heard Olivia lock the bedroom door behind them.  "Are you expecting to do something more than just sleep, detective?" she purred seductively as she spun to face her fiancée.

Olivia shrugged.  "Just like to be prepared in case of any unforeseen eventualities."

"You make it sound like it'd be a chore to make love with me," Alex drawled, crossing her arms over her chest and giving the brunette her patented 'are you kidding me?' look.  "Besides, who said I was interested?"

Olivia laughed and shook her head.  "Sweetie…"

"If you know what's good for you, you better not finish that sentence," Alex warned.

"How do you know what I was going to say?" Olivia challenged as she reached out and wrapped her arms around the blonde's waist.

"I know," Alex murmured, dipping her head to brush her lips across the brunette's.

Olivia hummed happily and tightened her hold on the blonde's hips as she kissed her softly.  "What was I going to say?"

Alex smiled and stuck out her tongue to playfully lick Olivia's lips.  "I'm betting it was something about me and tequila."

"Wrong, Counselor," Olivia chuckled as she began walking Alex backwards across the room.  "That was not what I was going to say at all."

Alex gave the brunette a skeptical look as they came to a stop beside the bed.  "Really?"

"Really," Olivia murmured.  "I was going to say that you're ridiculous for thinking that making love to you would be a chore.  I love making love to you," she whispered as she worked her hands under the hem of the blonde's sweater.  "I love the way your skin feels against my fingertips, I love the sounds you make as I kiss every part of you."

"Oooooh," Alex breathed as she lifted her arms to allow Olivia to remove her top.

"Sounds that sound very much like that one," Olivia chuckled softly as she dropped the blonde's sweater onto the floor. "I love the way you taste, the way you move, the way you feel wrapped around my fingers… my tongue."

Alex whimpered as she felt Olivia's left hand wrap itself around her ass while the other deftly pinched her bra open.  "Liv."

Olivia smiled as she removed Alex's bra.  "Yes, sweetie?"

Alex licked her lips and sighed.  She had quite honestly been thinking only of a nap as they'd walked back upstairs, but now that Olivia's hands were on her body and the brunette was whispering such sweet words against her lips, the idea of a nap disappeared completely off her radar.  "I want you."

"I want you too," Olivia murmured, lifting her chin and kissing the blonde softly as she worked at removing her lover's jeans.  She smiled into the kiss as she felt Alex's hands brush her own out of the way so the blonde could push her pants down over her own hips.  She sighed as Alex's hands wrapped around her hips as the blonde began stepping out of her jeans and, after a few failed attempts, Alex finally managed to kick the lightweight denim to the side.  "God you're beautiful," she breathed as she ran her hands over the backs of the blonde's legs. 

Alex smiled.  "Thank you.  Your turn," she said as she reached for the hem of Olivia's t-shirt.

Olivia unbuttoned her jeans as Alex removed her shirt and before the cotton shirt had even hit the floor the blonde's hands were on her, helping push the resistant denim down over her hips.  It seemed like it took forever, but eventually she managed to kick the jeans aside and she wasted no more time taking Alex to bed, using her body to gently guide the blonde back onto the mattress. 

Alex smiled demurely as she scooted back onto the bed, situating herself so that her head was on the pillows.  She purred happily as Olivia climbed onto the bed beside her, the brunette's right leg thrown over her own.  She wrapped her right arm around Olivia's back and tangled the fingers of her left hand in her fiancée's hair as their mouths came together in another languid kiss.  The touch, the speed of the caress was perfect for what she was wanting – nothing hard, nothing fast, just slow, tender kisses.  She didn't want to be fucked.  She wanted to be loved.  And it amazed her how Olivia always seemed to know when and what she needed.

Olivia propped her head on her left hand and allowed her right to roam slowly over Alex's body as they kissed, stroking up and down the blonde's toned abdomen, lightly spiraling around perfect breasts, brushing softly over dusky pink nipples and gently bringing them to attention.

Alex whimpered softly into Olivia's mouth as the brunette's fingers closed around her left nipple, pinching the bud lightly before moving on, the touch upon her so painfully soft and tender that she was helpless but to sink into the bed and give herself completely to the woman making her feel so good.  So relaxed.  So incredibly, incredibly aroused.  A low moan rumbled in the back of her throat as she felt Olivia's fingers dip under the waistband of her panties and begin running slowly back and forth between her hipbones.    "Baby," she pleaded when the brunette's hand disappeared but the plea turned into a breathy, ragged moan when that hand slid over her mound to begin rubbing her through the thin material of her panties.

"Just enjoy," Olivia murmured encouragingly as she massaged Alex slowly, never once pulling away from the blonde's lips as she continued to kiss her adoringly.  She was in no rush to bring Alex to the edge.  She had every intention of taking her time and enjoying every gasp, every sigh, every breathless shudder that rolled through her fiancée as she made love to her.

Alex sighed and wrapped her lips around Olivia's, taking the brunette's lower lip between her own and holding on to it for a moment before letting it go, only to have a mirror image of that connection made a heartbeat later, with her lip caught lovingly between Olivia's.  She rolled her left leg out, opening herself for her fiancée as the detective's strong, knowledgeable hand continued to rub her gently, coaxing her into a state of blissful expectation as she became content to bask in the moment, to enjoy the luxurious feeling of Olivia's hand upon her body with no urge to speed things along to their inevitable end.

Olivia dipped her fingers under the edge of Alex's panties as she felt the blond truly relax beneath her and she moaned softly at the heat she found waiting for her.  She dipped her finger between Alex's folds and ran that finger through the blonde slowly, gently prying open intimate lips. 

"Liv," Alex breathed as the brunette's finger continued to trace lightly through her center, never slowing, never stopping to press inside or flick across her clit, just moving up and down, over and over again.

Olivia hummed softly, reassuringly, but did not speed her touch, did not alter the course of her finger as it trailed through moist, swollen folds.  "Just enjoy," she whispered against Alex's lips before she kissed her, just as softly as before.

Alex sighed and melted into the brunette's kiss and when Olivia eventually abandoned her previous path to lightly circle her clit, her eyes rolled back in her head.  Olivia still didn't touch her directly, but just that ghost of a touch around her most sensitive point, lightly rubbing around the hood that normally protected her, sent warm waves of arousal slowly rippling through her.  Around and around, again and again, Olivia moved against her, the brunette's mouth always right at her own, kissing her softly or just hovering nearby, letting their breath mingle between them as she touched her.

A lopsided smirk tweaked Olivia's lips as she pulled her hand out from beneath Alex's panties as she correctly anticipated the look of utter confusion the blonde gave her, but instead of verbally answering Alex's unspoken question, she simply began tugging gently at the waistband of the blonde's panties.  She wanted them off. 

Alex licked her lips as she lifted her hips and helped Olivia remove her thoroughly ruined panties, her legs falling open even wider than before as that final barrier was tossed carelessly off the side of the bed.

Olivia sighed as she drank in the sight of Alex so exposed, so ready, so wanting.  "Exquisite," she murmured as she settled herself back in against the blonde's side, her right hand settling in the valley between Alex's breasts so that she could feel each and every beat of the younger woman's heart against her palm.

"Touch me," Alex whispered, her left arm falling off to the side in a ninety-degree angle, her hand open and relaxed upon the pillows. She was Olivia's, and everything about her demeanor told the brunette that.

Olivia bit her lip and closed her eyes for a moment as she became overwhelmed with emotion.  It was one thing to have Alex's love, to know that she held the blonde's heart in her hands, but it was another thing completely to see the absolute trust and unfettered desire the blonde was showing her now.  "God I love you, Alex," she murmured as she opened her eyes.

Alex smiled and tilted her head ever so slightly upon its downy perch.  "I love you, Liv," she said softly, her eyes softening with the depth of her affection. 

Olivia moaned quietly and leaned in to capture the blonde's lips in a tender kiss that grew in intensity as lips parted to allow tongues to tangle and taste.  She slid her hand back down between Alex's legs, to once again dip her fingers between slick, swollen folds.  There were few things she loved more than making love to Alex with her mouth, her lips, her tongue, and perhaps she'd do that later, but now she wanted to watch the storm of desire build in her lover's eyes, she wanted to see that flash of ecstasy that marked the moment Alex's climax swept through her. 

A low, guttural moan tumbled from Alex's lips as she felt Olivia push into her and she rolled her hips into the brunette's gentle thrusts, trying to draw her lover deeper.  "God," she muttered, pulling her leg further out to the side, opening herself even wider for Olivia's touch.  "So good," she practically sobbed as Olivia's stroke sped by a fraction, the brunette's fingers curling inside her, rubbing, massaging hidden ridges on every push and with every pull.

Olivia smiled and continued to slowly thrust into the blonde until she felt the blonde's walls begin to grow tight around her fingers.  She pulled out gently and returned her touch to her fiancée's clit, slowly circling the exposed bundle of nerves, lightly brushing her fingertips over the hardened nub.

"Baby," Alex sighed as Olivia's fingers pressed a little more firmly into her.  She was so close but so far at the same time, her body torn between wanting that final release and wishing for this pleasurable torture to continue forever.  She bit her lip as the warm heat coiled in her hips spread outward, filling her limbs with a pleasant sort of numbness, and when her orgasm did overtake her it was on gentle, loving waves that rippled through her.

"I love you," Olivia murmured, smiling down at her fiancée who was sprawled beneath her, sated and limp, looking as if she had no intention of ever moving again.

"Mmm, love you," Alex hummed, rocking her hips up against Olivia's fingers that were still ghosting encouraging circles over her clit.

Olivia chuckled softly.  "Are you not done?"

Alex smiled and shook her head.  "No.  You feel so good, Liv."

"Good.  Because I'm not done with you yet, either," she said, pulling her hand away from Alex's center and smiling at the pathetic mewl of discontentment the move elicited from her fiancée.  She lifted her fingers that were covered in Alex's arousal and spread the slickness over one of the blonde's nipples, painting the bud with the nectar, and when she was pleased with both her handiwork and the soft sighs falling from Alex's lips, she slid down the blonde's body to run her tongue around the glistening nipple.

"Oh God," Alex moaned as she watched Olivia's tongue tracing around the perimeter of her nipple.

"You taste so good," Olivia murmured as she surrounded the dusky tip with her mouth.  She moaned just as loudly as Alex did when she finally sucked the pebbled nub deep into her mouth and she shifted her weight so that she was able to both suckle Alex's right breast and fondle her left.

Alex's groaned and grabbed hold of the pillow beneath her head with both of her hands as Olivia's mouth continued to move slowly against her and her grip on that fluffy handle tightened once the brunette switched sides, delivering the same exquisite attention to her other breast.

Olivia looked up into Alex's eyes as she pulled back from the blonde's breast, the dusky pink nipple she'd been lavishing with attention caught carefully between her teeth.  She smiled as she watched Alex's already dark eyes grow impossibly darker as she let the bud scrape through her teeth and fall from her mouth.  She held those blue eyes captive as she lowered her mouth to the valley between the blonde's breasts and began kissing her way down her fiancée's body, moving her own between widespread legs as she went. 

Alex's eyes fluttered closed about the time Olivia's tongue dipped playfully into her navel and she moaned as that hot mouth continued down, over her hipbones until soft lips and warm breath were dancing across her inner thigh.  Her grip on the pillow she was strangling tightened further as Olivia's hands slid under her legs and began stroking lightly up and down her thighs as the brunette's hot, wonderful mouth moved closer and closer to where she so wanted it to be.

Olivia knew Alex was probably aching to be touched, to be kissed, to be licked, but she hovered above the blonde's sex for a moment, admiring the beauty of her lover's body, breathing in deep the intoxicating aroma of her arousal.  It never failed to amaze her, when she took her time to love Alex as she was now, that she was the reason Alex was so wet, so swollen, so ready to be touched, to be loved.  "Perfection," she whispered softly to herself as she wrapped her hands around the blonde's hips and lowered her mouth to deliver that first, most intimate kiss.

Alex bit her lip to keep from crying out as Olivia's mouth descended upon her.  It was no secret that while she enjoyed every facet of their amazing sex life, she particularly enjoyed this.  It wasn't risqué or particularly imaginative, but to her there was nothing more amazing that the feeling of Olivia's hands upon her hips, holding her close as the brunette made love to her with her mouth.  She loved the feeling of Olivia's tongue dipping inside her, actually dreamt about the electricity that would course through her when that wonderful, agile tongue would flick across her clit.  Yes, she loved everything about making love to Olivia, but this was certainly, by leaps and bounds, her favorite.  "Jesus," she whimpered as Olivia's mouth surrounded her clit, soft lips wrapping around the base of the bud as the brunette's tongue began tapping against the tip.

A low hum rumbled in the back of Olivia's throat as Alex's hips rocked up into her mouth and she had to tighten her hold on the blonde's hips to hold her still so she wouldn't be thrown off.  She looked up over the sweat-slicked plane of her fiancée's body as she began sucking lightly against the nub between her lips, enjoying the way Alex's head rolled back into the pillows and the blonde's chest arched toward the ceiling.  She gave the captured bud one last drawn-out suck before she let it fall from her lips.

"Baby, please," Alex gasped, canting her hips up toward Olivia's mouth beseechingly.

Olivia smiled at the quiet desperation in her lover's voice as she flicked her tongue over the blonde's hard clit.  Her smile grew wider at the moan that fell from Alex's lips at the touch and she released her hold on the blonde's hips, running her hands up and down her lover's lithe body as she began a steady rhythm of flicks and licks over the swollen bud.

"Oh, yes," Alex sighed as Olivia's hands surrounded her breasts, kneading, rolling, massaging her, tweaking her nipples in time with that wonderful, magical tongue gliding over her clit.  Her hips fell into a complimentary rhythm against Olivia's mouth, causing the heat in her belly to once again grow, to spread through her body until with one last flick of Olivia's tongue, with one last perfectly timed pinch of tanned fingers around her nipple, she came undone again.

Olivia was a little surprised by the strength of Alex's orgasm and she released the breasts she'd been toying with to once again hold onto the blonde's hips as she continued to lick at her clit, extending her orgasm for as long as possible.

"Oh fuck," Alex gasped as, just when she thought her orgasm was ending, she felt Olivia's fingers push inside her and curl with pinpoint precision on that first thrust to press against her g-spot and throw her into a third orgasm before the second had completely faded.

Olivia smiled lovingly at Alex as the blonde shook beneath her, warm, velvet walls, spasming around her fingers as the attorney was swept away yet again.  "Alex," she groaned in surprise, her forehead dropping to rest against damp golden curls as her own body began to tremble with a quieter, sympathetic orgasm.

Alex vaguely heard her name, could feel the pressure of Olivia's head against her mound, but she was too lost in the glittering haze of her orgasms to do or say anything to her fiancée.  Those words, those reassuring touches, would have to wait until she came back to her body.



Olivia looked around the interior of the country club and bit her lip at the elegance that surrounded her. The polished mahogany hardwood floors covered in intervals by what looked to be hand-woven rugs made her feel like she should have taken her boots off so as not to mar the flawless finish and the brass sconces dotting the hall looked as if they were actually gold. Hell, they might have been, Wellesley, Massachusetts, wasn't exactly a cheap place to live, and she was willing to bet that the annual dues to the club were more than her combined salary for the last three years.

"Breathe, Liv," Alex murmured, having correctly read her fiancée's mood. "It's just a clubhouse."

Olivia rolled her eyes. Yeah, it was just a clubhouse, but it was also a reminder of how, no matter how accepting the Cabot family was of her, that she was marrying way outside of her league.

"The ballroom is this way," Alex said as she let go of Olivia's hand so she could wrap her arm around the brunette's.

"I think this is the fanciest place I've ever been in," Olivia admitted in a hushed whisper as they paused in the entryway to the club's grand ballroom. The box-beam ceiling was absolutely gorgeous, as were the table linens and the drapery-framed French doors leading to what looked like an expansive deck that was dotted with chairs and space heaters.

Alex smiled and squeezed Olivia's arm, hoping that the familiar touch would ground the brunette. Yes, the club was opulent, but she didn't see it that way. She'd been coming to functions here for her entire life and, to her, it was just the club. Nothing special. She would have been just as happy doing this dinner at her mom's house, or at one of the local restaurants. The setting didn't matter to her.  The only thing she cared about was celebrating her engagement to Olivia. Her beautiful, wonderful Olivia who was looking positively delicious in her black pantsuit and her maroon silk shirt. "I love you."

Olivia smiled and looked over at Alex, drinking in the sight of the blonde's blue dress, the same dress she had worn the night she'd proposed, loving the fact that the ADA had acquiesced to her one request and worn her black-framed glasses for the evening. "I love you," she said softly.

Alex arched a brow and tilted her head toward the ballroom. "You ready for this?"

"Hell no," Olivia replied, chuckling softly and shaking her head.

"Good. Me either. Let's go," Alex said, tugging gently on Olivia's arm.

Olivia followed Alex into the room, smiling politely as stranger after stranger congratulated them both and hugged her fiancée. She couldn't help but marvel at the grace Alex showed in attending to her mother's guests, smiling politely as they gushed over her appearance, always making sure to introduce Olivia to Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so who were friends of her father's, mother's, whoever.

"You are amazing," Olivia whispered against Alex's ear as they finally made their way to a round table at the front of the room where Adam and Paul were chatting amiably with two women who were immediately familiar.

"Carmichael?" Alex asked. "Serena?"

A pair of familiar faces turned and smiled at them. "You didn't think we'd let y'all celebrate without us, didya?" Abbie drawled.

Alex shook her head and smiled. "Of course not. Why weren't you on the guest list I saw the other day?"

"Your mother wanted to keep it a surprise," Serena answered. 

Adam nodded. "Yeah, she figured that since this was for her to show Olivia off to all of her friends, that you should have at least a couple of your own here."

"Show me off?" Olivia asked, her eyes wide with surprise.

Adam chuckled and nodded. "Yeah."

"Wow," Olivia muttered under her breath.

Alex looked over at the brunette, her smile softening as she took in the flabbergasted look on her fiancée's face. "You're worth showing off, Liv," she whispered, brushing her lips over the brunette's cheek.

"Yes," Paul agreed. "I must say, you're quite a hard act to follow, Olivia. Whenever we go to visit Carolyn it's always 'Olivia this' or 'Olivia that'… she seems quite taken with you."

Olivia blushed and looked down at the floor, her gaze lingering on the floral patterned carpet as if it were the most interesting thing in the world.

"I know I am," Alex said quietly, so quietly that only Olivia could hear and when embarrassed brown eyes met her own she leaned in and kissed the brunette softly.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Abbie groaned. "We get it. Olivia's great. Now, where's the bar?"

Adam grinned and waved an arm at the far side of the room. "Follow me."

Alex looked over at Serena, who just smiled and nodded in understanding.

"I know," Serena assured the ADA as she tucked her arm into Abbie's and fell into step behind Adam.

"This could be bad," Olivia muttered, putting voice to the one thought bouncing around Alex's mind.

"It could," Alex agreed.

"They've already been cornered by your mother and Maggie," Paul said with a laugh. "They'll be on their best behavior tonight."

"That's not very comforting," Alex said.

Paul nodded. "I know. But, the bartender has also been told not to serve them more than two drinks while the majority of the guests are still here.  I will control your brother, and I know Serena will keep a tight hold on Abigail's leash, so you should be fine."

Alex smiled and let go of Olivia's arm so she could pull her brother's boyfriend into a hug. "Thank you," she whispered.

"My pleasure, dear," Paul murmured. "I am happy for you and maybe, one of these days, I can pick your brain about how you went about proposing?"

Alex pulled back and gave the Englishman a surprised look. "Really?"

Paul smiled bashfully and nodded. "Not now, of course, it's too soon and we don't have the history of you and Olivia, but… maybe after your wedding sometime."

"I think that's great, Paul, really."

"What's great?" Adam asked as he, Abbie, and Serena sauntered back over to the table.

"Nothing," Alex lied smoothly.

"We got you a glass of wine," Serena said as she offered Alex a glass of red.

"Oh, yeah, here's your drink, Benson," Abbie said as she gave Olivia a wine glass that looked like it contained a sparkling wine.

"Thanks, Carmichael," Olivia said, giving the Texan a warm smile. "But I can't drink alcohol yet."

"That's why I got you sprite," Abbie retorted.

Alex looked at Olivia and playfully waggled her glass in front of the brunette, her smile growing wider as Olivia obligingly chinked their glasses together. I am the luckiest woman in the world, she thought as she watched Olivia take a sip of her drink, her eyes glued to the plump lips she so loved to kiss.

Serena smiled at the obvious love on Alex's face as the blonde looked at her fiancée. "You two are adorable."

"More like nauseating," Abbie corrected, her smile belying her words. "So, what's for dinner?  I'm starving!"

Alex looked around the table they were sitting at, her eyes sliding over the faces of her mother, Adam, Paul, Abbie, and Serena and smiled as her gaze finally landed on her fiancée who was deep in conversation with Paul about the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs.  What they were talking about specifically, she had no clue, but she was glad to see that Olivia had relaxed and was enjoying herself.

"So, Alex, have you heard about the bill in the Senate?" Carolyn asked, drawing the attention of not only her daughter but also Abbie and Serena.

Alex nodded. She knew exactly which bill her mother was referring to. "Yes."

"Do you think it will pass?" Carolyn asked.

Alex pursed her lips and shrugged as she cast a look at Abbie and Serena who were wearing the same carefully hopeful expression she was. "I dunno."

"If it did, would you still get married in Connecticut, or would you do it in Manhattan?"

Alex shook her head. "We haven't talked about it much, to be honest. It's legislation that we obviously support wholeheartedly but, at the same time, we don't want to get our hopes up. Right now, we're still planning on holding the wedding in Connecticut. If the bill passes next week, then we'll have to sit down and rethink our options."

Carolyn nodded at her daughter's diplomatic answer, but she could also see how much it meant to Alex to be able to legally marry Olivia in the city that they both loved so much. "I've heard that it should pass."

Abbie tilted her head and appraised Carolyn carefully. "Who told you that?"

Carolyn smiled. "I still have connections in the world of New York politics," she drawled, winking conspiratorially at the Texan.

Olivia looked over at Alex and could tell that there was something going on inside her fiancée's beautiful mind. "You okay?" she asked as she turned toward the ADA.

Alex nodded. "Yeah, of course. My mother was just asking what we would do if the marriage bill actually passed."

Carolyn watched as Olivia adopted the same hopeful yet reserved look her daughter wore. "I'd start looking into venues in the city as soon as possible, you two," she said seriously.

Alex shook her head and adjusted her glasses. "I don't want to jinx it."

"You're still superstitious about shit…" Abbie's voice trailed off as she cast an apologetic look at Alex's mother. "Sorry, Carolyn. I mean, stuff like that?"

Alex smiled as she watched Abbie cower under her mother's gaze. "You really did threaten her, didn't you, mom?"

Carolyn smiled. "Maybe," she drawled.

"Your mother's fierce," Abbie said.

Alex chuckled and nodded knowingly. "Why do you think we had our fun earlier today before the dinner?"

Abbie chuckled throatily. "Yeah, I bet you had your fun earlier."

Alex blushed and looked over at her mother who was smiling widely, not looking at all offended by the Texan's insinuation. "Abbie!"

Carolyn laughed. "Alex, honey, after that recording Bryan was playing over Thanksgiving, do you think I don't realize you two have sex?"

Olivia groaned and buried her face in Alex's shoulder as Abbie perked up considerably.

"Recording?" Abbie squeaked as she jumped out of her chair. "Where's Bryan?  I gotta hear this!" she announced as she jumped to her feet and hurried around the adjacent table so she could talk to him.

"Mother!" Alex groaned.

"This is going to be bad," Olivia muttered.

Serena chuckled and shook her head. "I can't help you guys on this one. You're on your own."

 "He knows better than to play the recording here," Carolyn said calmly as she watched Abbie try and wrestle Bryan's phone away from him.

"Yeah, but does Abbie?" Olivia said, looking over at Serena who just smiled and shrugged.

Carolyn laughed softly as she caught Matt's eye and waved indicatively at his son, who was now practically falling out of his chair in an effort to keep his phone out of Abbie's grasp.

Matt nodded and stood up, smoothly crossing over to the table where the rest of the cousins had gathered to enjoy a childfree dinner and deftly scooped the phone out of his son's hand before turning on his heel without a word and returning to his seat.

"Wow," Olivia said.

"Impressive," Paul agreed.

"Thank god," Alex muttered.

"What, you didn't want old Mrs. Peterson to hear it?" Adam teased quietly.

"I actually think her reaction would be priceless," Carolyn said as she nonchalantly reached for her wine glass. "She was quite traumatized by the two of you that weekend she kept an eye on you when your father and I went out of town," she continued, giving her two youngest children a pointed look.

Adam and Alex shared an embarrassed look.

"You, ahm…" Adam cleared his throat. "You heard about that?"

Carolyn smiled and nodded. "Of course. We were obviously quite confused by the report, however."

"By Alex?" Olivia asked.

Carolyn chuckled and shook her head. "No, that wasn't surprising at all, actually. We'd had a pretty strong idea that she was a lesbian for a while before that. It was Adam with the girl in his bed that surprised us. We could have sworn you were gay too," she said to her son.

Paul laughed heartily and wrapped his arm around Adam's shoulders as the blond hid his face in his boyfriend's chest with a pathetic, "Mother!"

"And you guys were okay with two of your children being gay?" Serena asked curiously.

Carolyn smiled and shrugged. "Of course. They're still our children and we love them. It never mattered to us who they loved, just that they found somebody to love."

"Will you adopt me?" Serena said quietly.

"Adopt who?" Abbie asked as she plopped rather inelegantly back down into her seat.

"Serena wants mom to adopt her," Adam answered.

Abbie grinned and shook her head. "Nuh-uh, sugah. I got here first. I've been on the waiting list for what… like five years now, right?"

Carolyn laughed. "Abigail, you know I think of you as a daughter. And, Serena, since Abbie is so obviously smitten with you, I consider you one as well. Now, it looks like some of the guests are getting ready to leave, so I need to go make my rounds. You kids have fun."

"Should we go with you?" Alex asked as she blindly reached for Olivia's hand.

Carolyn shook her head. "Nonsense. I saw you work the room admirably when you arrived. Your father would have been quite proud. You enjoy the rest of the evening with your friends," she said as she turned toward a group of women from her weekly bridge game to say goodbye.

Olivia watched as Alex smiled sadly at the mention of her father and reached out to pull the blonde into her. "Shh," she soothed quietly, smoothing her hands over Alex's back. "It's okay," she murmured.

Alex drew a ragged breath, nodding as she pulled away and looked sheepishly up at her fiancée. "I'm sorry."

"Nothing to be sorry about, sweetie," Olivia murmured, leaning in and brushing her lips across Alex's softly.

Abbie smiled and gave her friends their moment as she turned and looked around the room, which was beginning to empty as desserts and coffee were finished. "You know what this party needs?"

"No donuts," Alex said automatically.

"Or streamers," Olivia added.

Abbie chuckled. "I was going to say music."

"I can fix that," Adam said with a grin as he got to his feet. "There's a portable system down in the bar, we can get it and bring it up here."

"They'll let you do that?" Serena asked.

Adam smiled and nodded. "I'll let Alex explain it to you," he said as he waved at Abbie to follow him out of the room.

"Explain what?" Serena asked.

Alex blushed and tucked her hair behind her ears. "Well, the Wellesley Country Club was founded in 1910, and the first member of record was my Great-Grandfather. We can… basically get away with murder here, and they'll just smile and look the other way."

"Like the golf cart demolition derby?" Paul asked.

Alex nodded. "Exactly."

"What else have you all done here?" Serena asked.

Alex smiled and shook her head. "Nothing much," she said dismissively, the sadness that had filled her eyes disappearing as a mischievous twinkle appeared to take its place.

"Uh-huh, yeah right, Cabot," Serena chuckled, easily recognizing the impish look on her friend's face. "Ooh, speaking of Cabot – what are you guys going to do about names?"

Olivia pressed a soft kiss to Alex's forehead before she answered Serena's question. "We haven't talked about it yet, but I'm open to the possibility."

Alex's jaw dropped as she processed what Olivia was saying. "You would change your name for me?"

"No, I meant of letting you become a Benson," Olivia deadpanned, the smile she'd been holding back at her teasing disappearing as she saw disappointment flash across Alex's eyes.

Alex licked her lips and nodded as she focused her attention on the napkin in her lap. "Oh."

"Alex, sweetie," Olivia backtracked quickly. "I was kidding. Of course I'd change my name for you. Either to Cabot, or Benson-Cabot, whatever you want."

Questioning blue eyes lifted to zero-in on serious brown. "Really?"

"Yes, really," Olivia murmured. "We'll talk more later, okay? I'm sorry I upset you, I was just joking around."

Alex smiled and nodded as she once again, buried her face in the crook of Olivia's neck. "Thank you."

"DJ ADAM IS IN THE HIZZ-OUSE!" Adam announced as he reentered the ballroom with an oversized black sound system cradled in his arms and Abbie trailing a few steps behind him with her arms full of wires and cables and microphones.

"Oh good lord," Paul muttered.

Serena chuckled and got to her feet. "Come on Paul, let's go see if we can help," she said, giving Olivia a soft smile as she took the Englishman's arm and steered him across the room to where Adam and Abbie were setting up.

Ten minutes later the majority of the tables and chairs had been moved out of the way to create a large dance-floor in front of the patio doors. The guests who remained were those closest to the family and eagerly joined in with the Cabot cousins dancing to a mix of modern pop, old school big band, and everything and anything in between.

"Alex, may I dance with my future daughter-in-law," Carolyn said sweetly as placed a hand on her daughter's shoulder.

Alex shot a glance at Olivia, who nodded, and smiled. "Sure," she said as she slipped out of Olivia's arms and moved off to the side to watch.

"That sure is somethin', isn't it?" Abbie drawled, handing the ADA another glass of wine.

"It is," Alex agreed softly.

"I'm happy for you, Alex," Abbie said sincerely as she watched Olivia and Carolyn sway lightly to the music. 

"Thank you," Alex said, smiling at her friend. "So, how 'bout you – you ready to jump into the deep end with me?"

Abbie chuckled nervously and took a sip of her wine. "Um, maybe in a year or so. I have to try and get back to the city before that happens, there's no point getting hitched if we're living completely separate lives ninety percent of the time."

"Are you looking to get back to Manhattan?"

"I am," Abbie answered softly. "But, don't tell Serena. I'm still sending out feelers, trying to see what my options will be."

Alex nodded. "If you need help with anything, let me know."

"Yeah," Abbie sighed. "I know."

"And I'll give you Henri's card when you're ready."

"Unless you give me your credit card to go with it, I don't think that's going to be much help to me darlin'."

Alex laughed and bumped her friend's shoulder with her own. "Yeah right, Tex. I've seen that plantation you grew up on down there in Texas. You can handle it on your own juuuuust fine."

Abbie chuckled and nodded, her expression clearly that of 'you got me'. "I didn't know Maggie could dance like that," she said suddenly as she pointed across the room to where Maggie and James were dancing rather provocatively.

Alex rolled her eyes, knowing that as soon as Adam saw that thing would definitely get interesting. "I'm going to go try and steal my fiancée back from my mother," she said as she set her now empty glass down on a nearby table. "Where's Serena?"

"Dancing with Paul," Abbie answered, waving a hand at her girlfriend who was laughing at something Paul had just said. "Adam went out to his car to look for an aux cable for his iPod."

Alex looked out at her mother and Olivia who were both smiling as they chatted and swayed to the music. "Eh, fuck it. Liv looks like she's doing fine. C'mon, Carmichael, show me what ya got," Alex drawled as she took Abbie's glass out of her hand and set it onto the table behind them.

Abbie grinned. "You can't keep up with this," she teased.

"Oh yeah? Try me."

"You're on," Abbie said with a smirk as she took Alex's hand.

Olivia looked up from talking with Carolyn and laughed as she saw Alex and Abbie dancing together. She smiled as she watched Alex's hips move, her smile faltering as Abbie's hands landed on the blonde's hips and the two began dancing more closely together. 

"Watch the hands, Carmichael!" Olivia hollered, earning herself a mischievous smile from her fiancée and a lecherous grin from her friend as the brunette took the warning as a challenge and began dancing even closer to the ADA.

Carolyn laughed and released her hold on the detective. "It was lovely dancing with you, Olivia, but I think you may need to go rescue Alex soon."

Olivia looked at Carolyn and smiled and when she turned her attention back to Alex and Abbie she groaned. The Texan was now behind her fiancée and grinding against her in a way that if she didn't know the prosecutor, she'd be tempted to arrest her for public indecency. "Shit."

"Go," Carolyn laughed as she pushed Olivia toward Alex.

"Abigail Carmichael! Get that cute Texas butt of yours over here and dance with me," Maggie called out laughingly as her husband took a seat beside a laughing Liz Donnelly and her husband.

"I love cougars!" Abbie yelled delightedly as she gave Alex a smack on the ass before scampering across the room into Maggie's outstretched arms.

"Two peas in a pod," Alex chuckled as she fell into Olivia's arms, the two of them ignoring the bass-heavy rock pouring from the speakers around them as they swayed lightly together to music only they could hear.

"That's one way to describe them," Olivia agreed as she rested her forehead against Alex's temple. "Or… three," she murmured as she watched Liz Donnelly get up from the table she'd been sitting at all evening to join Abbie and Maggie.

"You started without me?!" Adam cried out indignantly as he walked back into the ballroom with his iPod in his hand.

"Get over here!" Maggie answered with a laugh.

Adam grinned and nodded as he waved Paul and Serena over. Serena placed her hands on Abbie's hips as she moved in behind the brunette and Adam and Paul started doing a much more tame version of the dance they'd done at the Englishman's club over Thanksgiving, as Maggie and Liz laughed and danced in between both couples.

Alex turned in Olivia's arms so that her back was flush against the brunette's front and she pulled her fiancée's arms tighter around her waist as she leaned back into her. "This is fun," she said absently as she watched her family and their close friends dance around them.

"Certainly more fun than I was expecting," Olivia agreed.

Alex smiled and nodded. "You were expecting the entire evening to be like that stuffy dinner, didn't you?"

Olivia chuckled and nodded. "Sorry."

"It's okay," Alex murmured as she turned her head enough to be able to kiss Olivia softly. "I love you so much, Liv."

"I love you too," Olivia murmured, reaching up with her right hand to caress Alex's cheek as she reclaimed her lips in another lingering kiss.

"Alex and Olivia, sitting in a tree…" Bryan's admittedly bad singing interrupted them.

"K-I-S-S-I-N-G," Alex sang as she turned to face her cousin. "You're drunk, aren't you Bry?"

Bryan grinned and nodded. "Just a little."

Alex nodded knowingly and turned her attention to his wife Mandy. "White wine?"

Mandy laughed and nodded as she swatted away her husband's wandering hands with a hushed, "Behave!"

Alex grinned and kissed Olivia quickly before she extricated herself from her fiancée's arms with a, "I'll be right back."

Olivia watched as Alex spun Mandy away from her cousin and into her arms and then before Bryan even knew what had happened the two women had disappeared. She chuckled as she walked over to the man and asked, "Wanna go get another drink?"

Bryan nodded. "Sure, I could use another glass of wine."

Olivia laughed. "You know, you really do have a touch of the gay in you, Bryan."

"Shut up," Bryan mumbled.

They made their way over to the bar where Olivia got another soda and Bryan got another glass of wine, and before either of them had even taken their second sip they were joined by Alex and Mandy. Olivia studied Alex's poker face carefully and knew that her fiancée was up to something no good.

"What are you planning?" Olivia murmured in Alex's ear as she pulled the ADA in close.

Alex winked and kissed Olivia quickly. "You'll find out later. Right now, we need to get this boy some more wine," she said in a louder voice as she took the open bottle of Chardonnay off of the bar and topped off her cousin's glass.

Part 16

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