DISCLAIMER: This story is an original work of fiction set in the pre-existing world of Law & Order: SVU. As such, many of the characters and references used within belong solely to NBC, Dick Wolf and TPTB. I didn't gain anything here, so don't sue me…(Unless of course my prosecutor would look like Alex…)
DISCLAIMER 2: All original characters and storylines contained herein belong to the author. (Like anyone else would claim them! ) This story may be archived upon request with the stipulation that it must be posted exactly as it was written, with all disclaimers intact.
DISCLAIMER 3: This story depicts a romantic relationship between two women. The scenes may be graphic, but they are lovingly so. If this bothers you then please tell me how the hell you found my site in the first place!?! Did you Google "Stuff to piss off intolerant red necks" or what? If you're under 18, take full advantage of your flexibility while you can! (Trust me, you've only got so many years of being able to play bedroom twister before you'll end up in the emergency room!) If this is illegal where you live…well…that explains what you're doing home reading this on a Saturday night…
PLEASE READ THIS: This story contains brief graphic depictions of violent crime and trauma. Rape may be alluded to, and explained in a forensic fashion, but will not be gone into in any great detail. As much as I love SVU, there are some things even my id rebels against. Oh, and my world is blissfully Loss-Free!
WHO TO BLAME: Thanks, as always, to KY for continuing to be the pain in the ass that I know and love. Thanks to the Ladies of the Voyager Conspiracy for letting me take up their bandwidth while I babble about two women who never came close to the Delta Quadrant. (But by the time I'm done, they will have come in almost every other place…) Thanks to Kimly for being patient with me and thanks to Zoey for… well… pretty much just being fantastic. This story is dedicated to Beep cuz she helped me get started on my newest obsession. (DAMN YOU, KING OF THE LAB!!!) Alex's wardrobe was not compromised during the writing of this story. However, her dry cleaner did have some pretty snarky things to say about button loss… DAx =/\= The EverBard
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Thin Frames
By Patricia L. Givens


Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.
-Clarence Darrow


Chapter One: The Vic

So this was how it was all going to end…

Olivia pressed her back to the wall as she felt her legs give out. Slowly, she sank down onto to the dirty floor of the warehouse, her hand pressed tight against the excruciating pain in her side.

Taking a deep breath, she peeled her fingers away and stared down at the perfect black circle the bullet had made in her shirt. Dazed, almost fascinated, she watched as the sullen red stain that covered half of her abdomen seemed to pulse around the wound, almost vibrating in intensity as fresh blood leaked from the opening. Closing her eyes, she repositioned her hand and pressed hard, grimacing as tears slid down her cheeks.

If she could just get it to stop bleeding…

She shifted slightly and the agony flared white hot, a small gasp tearing from her lips as she gave in to the reality of the situation.

There was no exit wound; the bullet was still in there. And every time she moved, she could feel it digging in a little deeper, tearing her up a little bit more. Nothing would stop the bleeding… not now.

She felt her head begin to swim as dark spots filled the edges of her vision. With the last of her strength, she raised the Glock in her right hand and thumbed the release.

The clip fell onto her lap and she swallowed, realizing it was much too light.


She was still looking at it when the footsteps that had been moving towards her stopped. She raised her head to find herself staring down the barrel of a .45 automatic.

There was an obscenely gentle laugh. "I win." A voice whispered.

The muscles in her arm gave out, causing her hand to fall to the floor beside her. The Glock slipped from her fingertips and skittered across the concrete. "Why, because you're gonna kill me?" She shook her head, her words punctuated by short, panting breaths. "There are fifty badges outside. One way or the other… you're going down."

"Maybe." A finger caressed the trigger lovingly. "But you won't be here to see it."

Olivia shrugged, biting back the gasp of pain that would have given away just how much effort the small movement cost her. "I've scraped enough shit off my shoes to know what it looks like. I won't be missing anything." She watched as a foot was drawn back and pulled her knees towards her, protecting her abdomen with the tops of her thighs. The three sharp kicks delivered to her shins hurt like a motherfucker, but it was better than the alternative.

"Goodbye, Detective…"

When she didn't close her eyes, the perp moved forward slightly, pressing the gun firmly against her temple.

She could feel the heat emanating off the barrel, left over from the shot that had impacted with her side, as the acrid scent of gunpowder assaulted her nose. Still she did not flinch. Lifting her chin, she stared directly at her attacker, a small smirk on her lips.

She watched the hammer click back with a sick sense of fascination as she waited for her life to flash before her eyes.

That was supposed to happen right?

But it didn't.

If she was supposed to spend the last few moments of her life reminiscing about the things that were the most important to her, then it was going to be pretty hard to keep denying the only image that came to mind.

Intense blue eyes… behind thin black frames…

7 Days Earlier

Wednesday 07:02 AM

Elliot Stabler smiled as he flipped open the box of Krispy Kreme donuts and saw one last cream filled with his name on it. He knew his partner would be pissed as all hell that he had swiped her breakfast, but she was late so it was her own damn fault.

"You snooze, you lose, Liv." He bit down on the pastry just as the door swung open and the woman in question stepped inside.

Detective Olivia Benson shook the snow out of her short, dark hair before unwinding the scarf from around her neck, throwing both it and her well worn black leather jacket onto a coat rack in the corner. Cold air seemed to vent off her well toned body in waves as she blew into freezing hands. Without so much as a grunt of acknowledgement, she made a beeline for the coffee pot, filling her mug with the steaming brew before sighing in relief as she wrapped her fingers around the heated porcelain.

Deep, auburn colored eyes studied Elliot over the rim of the coffee mug as she walked towards their desks, which sat back to back in the middle of the squad room. One eyebrow quirked up dangerously as she noticed the donut in her partners hand.

Correction: the half of a donut in his hand.

"Unless you want to be walking funny for the rest of the day there had better be another one of those in that box for me." She said darkly.

"Mmmph." Elliot choked on the bite already in his mouth before grinning sheepishly and handing her the uneaten portion. "I was just… checking to make sure it hadn't gone stale. What with you being late and all…"

She snatched the donut as she glared at him. "Two minutes, Elliot. I was two minutes late!"

"Hey, you're either on time or you aren't." He dropped into his chair, picking up his own mug. "That donut was lonely, I had no choice but to put it out of its misery and eat it."

Olivia slid behind her desk, taking the time to put her feet up as a slow, wicked smile played across her lips. "I'll remember that the next time you're late getting home to Kathy."

Elliot choked on his coffee. Leaning forward, he coughed violently as his lungs tried to expel the liquid. When he could breathe again he shot her a nasty look. "You know, I think maybe I liked it better when I just suspected you were a vagitarian."

The brunette laughed, glancing around the squad room to make sure they were still alone. She remembered the night her partner had ambushed her at O'Malley's rather fondly. He had been in the dog house with Kathy at the time and dropped in to find her nursing a beer and a sore jaw, both courtesy of the woman she had bedded earlier in the evening. "Hey, you were the one who came to me with your oh-so-serious look and your 'we're more than partners, Liv… we're family' spiel." She bit down on the donut, grinning at him as she licked the white cream from her lips. "You just wouldn't leave it alone."

Elliot glanced over his shoulder at Cragen's office before leaning towards her. "I thought someone had clocked you! I was ready to beat the hell out of the guy."

Olivia broke into helpless laughter as she remembered the look on his face when she explained that the bruise had actually come from her bedmates knee… which had collided with her jaw at the most inopportune time. "Well, at least I saved you from a felonious assault charge."

"The truth shall set you free?"

"Something like that." She grinned.

"Benson! Stabler!"

The two detectives glanced up to see Cragen standing in the doorway to his office. One look at his face and their laughter died immediately.

"What's up Cap?" Olivia took in the sag of his shoulders, the deeply haunted look in his eyes and felt the bottom drop out of her stomach. In her head the litany of names began.

Not a cop… not a friend… not Munch, or Fin or… She felt her blood run cold. Please not Alex…

"We caught an ugly one." The captain's voice was tired, and carefully devoid of any type of inflection. "This one comes with a price tag."

"What's the name?" She held her breath.


Olivia's jaw dropped. "Judge Wainscott?" She felt the panic that had been building inside of her dissipate as a hot flush of guilt took its place. She knew there was a framed photo of her boss and the judge on the wall in his office. They had been friends for a long time.

"Not him." Cragen swallowed. "His daughter, Samantha."

Your goddaughter… Olivia looked down at the floor,

"Where's the vic?" Elliot asked quietly.

"Waiting on Warner." The Captain's voice hitched slightly. "Apartment's on the upper east side. 74th street." He sighed. "I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the seconds are ticking loudly on this one. You've got whatever you need. Just find this son of a bitch."

Olivia stood up, her throat working convulsively as it tried to clear her mouth of the thick saliva coating it. She wasn't going to be sick. That hadn't happened in years, but this was the closest she had come to it in longer than she could remember. Standing there in the swank uptown apartment with its pristine walls now striped red, its thick white shag carpet stiffening into rust colored spikes as the heavy copper smell permeated every square inch of the place, she almost wished she would.

At least then she'd be able to get the taste out of her mouth.

She looked down at Elliot who was still crouched over the vic, one hand on his knee, the other covering his chin as his eyes stared hard. She could see the muscles jumping in his jaw as his teeth ground together and she watched the red flush of anger that crept up his cheeks to stain the tips of his ears.

It had been brutal.

Brutal on a level that made even her skin crawl.

Samantha Wainscot had been a beautiful woman. At least the pictures on top of the mantle showed her that way. What the officer who had responded to the excessive noise complaint had found… was hardly recognizable.

The woman had been gutted. Her abdomen had been laid open from the base of her neck to the juncture between her legs. Her thighs were a series of crisscrossing cut patterns, most of them deep enough to show the white of bone from between layers of flesh made pale by lack of blood. Her arms were in the same condition, with the added bonus of her fingertips having been sheered off down to the bone.

But the worst thing by far… was her face.

Or what was left of it.

Someone had used a very sharp knife to strip the skin and flesh away, leaving only a toothless skull and unseeing eyes staring up at a blood soaked ceiling.

"Jesus…" Olivia took a deep breath and angled her head upwards, using gravity to fight off the stinging in the back of her eyes. "How do we even know for sure it's Samantha?"

Elliot rose slowly, his big hands shaking slightly as he pulled on a set of latex gloves. "I think that's the point." He looked around the room with a trained eye. The victim was nude, laying face up in the middle of the living room floor. From the amount of blood present it was obvious the majority of the damage had been done right here. But there were no clothes or other personal items anywhere near the corpse.

"I'll take the bedroom." Olivia pulled on a pair of gloves herself, moving off when her partner did not reply.

She walked carefully down the marble tiled hallway, staying close to the wall as she studied the floor, looking for footprints, blood drops, anything.

With a growl of frustration, she used the tip of her finger to push open one of the bedroom doors, her eyes going wide at the scene that welcomed her.


Stabler looked up at the sound of his partner's voice. He moved down the hallway quickly, knowing if there were any evidence for him to disturb Liv would have already marked it. "What?"

He stepped into the bedroom to find Olivia staring at a large wooden table situated against the far wall. Each corner of the table was taken up by a series of gears and a spindle that had a length of rope wound about it. All four of the ropes ended in a thick leather cuff that was stained dark by sweat and god only knew what else.

Next to the rack, there was a leather sling chair suspended from the ceiling. He moved past it with a look of revulsion on his face as he realized there were several strategically placed holes in the bottom.

"That's not all of it." He turned to see Olivia standing next to what looked like one of those gymnastic horses that little rubber people trained on, and an ornately carved cabinet that reached from the floor to the ceiling. "Take a look at this."

As he stepped closer, Elliot realized that the fabric of the training horse was covered in hundreds of miniscule red dots. "What the fuck?"

Olivia swallowed. Reaching out, she placed one gloved finger carefully against the edge of the fabric and pushed. Above her finger, a small half circle of tiny pin heads popped out of their hiding places, shining wickedly in the bright overhead light. Pulling her hand away, she opened the cabinet and stepped back to show him the rows of assorted whips, paddles, flogs, and other, more ominous-looking instruments it contained.

"Jesus! What the hell did we walk into here?" He felt like being sick.


The two partners looked up to see a rather green looking rookie staring at them from the doorway. "The M.E.'s here."

"So what do you have so far?" Elliot watched as Melinda Warner, the Medical Examiner, pulled her thermometer from what was left of the victim's liver.

"One hell of a mess." Melinda shook her head sadly. "Every time I think I've seen the worst of what people can do to each other…" She made a note on her clipboard. "Caucasian female, five foot seven, approximately one hundred and twenty five pounds, somewhere between thirty and thirty-five years of age. Body temp is ninety-four point seven." She glanced at her watch. "That puts time of death between approximately four and six AM. Her forehead crinkled in confusion. "I thought you said this was an excessive noise call?"

Olivia frowned. "That's what we were told." She looked around the room, finding the first officer on the scene standing off to the side. "Murdock!" She waved him over. "What time did that ENC come in last night?"

The patrolman flushed, refusing to meet her eyes.

Elliot bristled immediately. "Hey, my partner's talking to you. Answer the question."

"I caught the call around five AM." He said quietly.

"Five? Dispatch has your 10-97 at six eighteen." Olivia stepped closer, her face flushing in anger. "You want to tell me where you were for the hour and eighteen minutes that the perp used to brutalize this woman?" The volume of her voice rose until everyone in the room was staring at her. "Just what the fuck did you think you were doing?"

"Olivia." Elliot stepped between them, taking his partner by the arm to pull her aside. "Come on, Liv. Ease up. He's just a kid and EN complaints are a pain in the ass, you know that. Nine times out of ten they resolve themselves and by the time the car gets to the scene there's nothing to do-"

"But not this time." Olivia's eyes flashed fire. "This time a woman died, Elliot."

"I know, just… the kid already looks like he's about to vomit. Go talk to Warner. I'll take care of him."

The brunette took a deep breath, nodding slowly as her eyes shot daggers at the young patrolman who refused to look up from his shoes. She watched as Elliot spoke to him quietly, finally releasing her anger when the rookie left the apartment. Turning back to the ME, she ran a hand tiredly over her face. "Signs of rape?"

"Well, there's some tearing, but no fluids present." Melinda packaged the swab she was holding. "But the truth is, there's too much damage for me tell much beyond the superficial at the moment. I've got all the samples I need right now, the rest is going to have to wait until I get her cleaned up. Any idea who she is?"

"Apartment belongs to Samantha Wainscott." Olivia watched as the shock registered on the ME's face.

"We were hoping you could help us with a positive I.D." Elliot said as he rejoined them.

"Not with the body in this condition," Melinda shook her head sadly. "Her killer shaved off her fingertips, knocked out her teeth and took her face-"She stopped short, looking at them speculatively.

Olivia shook her head. "We found blood and small pieces of skin in the main bathroom toilet. We're thinking the killer flushed all of it."

"Oh my god…"

Olivia stood up quickly as the light; almost lyrical voice sent a series of shivers down her spine.

Alexandra Cabot, the ADA assigned to SVU, stood in the doorway, her incredibly blue eyes wide with shock and fixated on the woman's body lying before her. One hand slowly rose to cover her mouth as her creamlike skin became impossibly pale.

"Alex!' Olivia stepped into her line of sight, blocking her view of the corpse. "What are you doing here?"

The woman shook her head, her blonde hair swaying from side to side as she blinked rapidly. She opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out.

"Alex." Olivia place her hand on the ADA's arm, turning her around as she whispered, "You need to breathe, sweetheart. I'd recommend doing it through your mouth."

Alex nodded absently as she sucked in several long breaths of air.

Olivia watched in admiration as the blonde's spine seemed to stiffen and her eyes cleared. Alex was still fairly new to SVU and she had had very little exposure to actual crime scenes, usually getting the somewhat sanitized versions of the story from her detectives or witnesses and crime scene photos that did not, and could not, ever convey the actual horror of seeing the aftermath of this kind of violence with your own eyes.

When she had first been assigned to the squad, the rest of the detectives had been unimpressed. They considered her too young, too inexperienced, too arrogant and far, far too beautiful to ever last long in sex crimes.

Olivia had agreed to some extent, especially with the arrogant part. The two of them had engaged in heated battles for months on end before finding a wary kind of peace with each other that had eventually grown into a strange sort of friendship.

And once Alex had earned her respect, Olivia found herself admiring the young woman for a myriad of reasons. Her tenacity, her dedication to justice, her passion…

It was the passion that had been the detectives undoing. More and more often she found herself sitting in the back row of a courtroom, watching Alex try her cases, even when her presence was not required. There was something almost sensual about the grace with which the blonde moved about the courtroom. Olivia had watched the ADA win over even the most hostile of juries with nothing but her voice and her eyes.

Those damn sky blue eyes that glanced over the top of her glasses every time she turned around, pinning Olivia to her bench with a look that said "I see you there, watching me."

The first time it had happened Olivia had been shocked. Her heart rate had soared and the hairs on the back of her neck had stood straight up as her body trembled from the intensity in that light blue gaze.

All from a brief glance over the top of those thin black frames.

Soon, however, she became almost a junky for it, sometimes waiting until the trial was nearly over before slipping into her customary spot, just so that the look, when it finally landed on her, would be full of the fire and heat left over from the lawyer's closing arguments.

It was a sad substitute for what she really wanted from the blonde ADA, but with a pedigree like Alex had, she knew it was the best she was going to get.

And that would be true even if it wasn't painfully obvious that the woman was hopelessly straight.

Seeing that the blonde had herself back under control, she asked again. "Alex, what are you doing here?"

The ADA looked down briefly at the warm hand still resting on her arm before answering. "I've known Samuel Wainscott for years." She slowly unbuttoned her charcoal gray jacket, letting it lay open against the silk blouse beneath. "When Captain Cragen called I came straight over." Stricken blue eyes locked onto deep brown ones. "Olivia, what the hell happened?"

The detective shook her head. "We don't know yet."

"Right now we can't even be sure that's Samantha Wainscott." Elliot said as he joined them, getting out of the way so that the body could be collected for transport.

Alex frowned. "If it is Samantha, why would her killer go to such an extreme to hide her identity after killing her in her own apartment?"

"I don't know." Olivia's eyebrows rose. "But all things considered, I think I know where we need to start."

Alex noticed the emphasis on the word 'we' and looked at her curiously.

"No fingerprints, no dental records, no facial recognition software…" Olivia's voice trailed off as understanding registered on the blondes face.

"Wait, hold on!" Alex held up her hand as her eyes narrowed. "You want me to compel DNA… from a Judge?"

"Compel is such an ugly word, Alex." The detective's lips twitched. "I just think the request would sound better coming from a family friend, rather than a cop. You know how it is. When we ask people automatically think we're accusing them of something. We can try collecting samples from here, but all that will prove is that they came from her. For a definitive ID we're going to need a familial match."

All three of them moved to the side, standing quietly as the gurney with the body on it was wheeled out of the apartment. Alex's eyes followed it down the hall until it was out of sight. "All right." She nodded. "But he's going to have questions, so I need everything you have right now."

Elliot flipped open his pad. "A 4-15 was phoned in to the station house around five AM. The first officer on the scene found the door ajar. There was no sign of forced entry and no missing property that we have been able to determine. All of the blood and trauma seems to be localized here in the living room, although there is evidence of sexual activity in both bedrooms."

"What kind of evidence?"

Elliot's jaw snapped shut and he looked at Olivia expectantly.

"Men." She whispered under her breath before turning to face the ADA. "One of the bedrooms is set up like the Maquis de Sade's weekend getaway, Alex. Complete with a functioning rack and a seriously twisted fetish bench. Not to mention an entire cabinet filled with every kind of paddle or whip you could ever want." The blonde's eyebrow quirked up and Olivia flushed, stammering quickly, "Well… not that you would want… I didn't… I just meant that…"

A small smile curled the corners of Alex's lips, chasing away a little of the lost look she had been wearing since she arrived. "It's all right, Liv."


That was new.

Olivia stared at the blonde, feeling her pulse quicken as she became so absorbed in the pale blue of her eyes that she completely missed the woman's next question.



The eyebrow went up again as Alex shot Elliot a quick look of concern. "What was in the other bedroom?"

"Huh? Oh… a bed." The older woman cleared her throat as she flipped through her notepad, trying to ride out the flush that she knew was coloring her cheeks. "The sheets showed signs of recent sexual activity, although the biologicals were kind of weak under the black light. The crime lab already collected them. The vic's clothes were found on the dresser, folded neatly."

"That's everything?"

"So far." Elliot nodded. "No weapon, no motive, no condom, no fluids… no suspects."

Alex frowned. "Well do me a favor would you detectives? Find me at least one of the above."


Chapter Two: Family Ties

Captain Cragen remained quiet, watching as the shoulders of the man across from him shook uncontrollably. Alex Cabot sat to his right, her eyes firmly glued to the blotter on his desktop as they both waited for the normally stoic judge to get himself under control.

"Sam." Cragen swallowed. "I know how hard a time you're having with this, and trust me when I say I'm right there with you. You know I loved Sammy like she was my own. But right now, we need your help."

Samuel Wainscott raised his head, his raw, red-rimmed eyes moving back and forth between the two people sitting in the office with him. Nodding, he took a deep breath. "I'll try." He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and ran it across his face. "What happened to my little girl, Don?"

Alex cleared her throat softly as she leaned forward. "Right now, the best information we have is that a female victim was found D.O.A. in your daughter's apartment." She shifted uncomfortably. "Because of… extenuating circumstances, we are in need of your help to provide a positive I.D."

The judge's body stilled. "Are you saying there's a chance…?"

The ADA glanced at Cragen.

"Sam," The captain said gently. "The woman we found at the apartment, she matches Sammy's age, weight, height, and hair color. " He shook his head sadly. "I don't want to give you any false hope."

Wainscott nodded, his jaw tightening. "I understand. Have the M.E. prepare the body and I'll head down for the viewing."

"That's not going to help."

Wainscott stared at him blankly. "I don't understand?"

"The damage is… too severe, Samuel." Alex reached over and laid her hand on his arm. "We need a DNA sample from you."

For a moment, Wainscott's eyes flashed with anger, "You think I hurt my baby!" Then they dulled again as he dropped his head into his hands. "I could never…" he sobbed. "She was all I had left of her mother; of everything we planned… She shared my name, my life. Sammy was everything to me, Don. You know that."

"I know, Sam." The captain came around the desk and put a hand on his friends shoulder. "We're going to get this guy, I promise you that. But the first step is finding out for sure that it's Sammy."

The judge nodded.

"Come on. I'll take you down to the crime lab."

Alex followed them through the doorway, watching as they left the bullpen with Cragen half supporting the man at his side. Her heart heavy, she glanced around.

Through the glass to her right, she saw Elliot, Fin and Munch laying out items from the evidence boxes on the table in the meeting room. It was mostly paperwork, as anything with possible forensic evidence had been taken to the lab.

She wondered where Olivia was and realized that she had been hoping to run into the brunette. The detective's quiet strength was something she could use at the moment.

When Alex had first met Olivia Benson, her assessment of the older woman had been none too kind. In fact, the descriptions she provided for her fellow officials whenever she was asked her opinion of the brash detective had been a source of constant amusement around the courthouse.

Wounded bear, rogue wolf, rabid bulldog; they were all terms she had used to describe the older woman at one point or another during the tumultuous period that had been their first few months of working together.

The latter of which inevitably led to another, less politically correct epithet to be muttered by someone else within earshot, turning the ADA'a face a ruddy pink and causing her to frown in confusion as a fierce protectiveness swept through her.

It wasn't that the word 'dyke' bothered her so much; like most slurs the insult had little to do with the meaning of the word itself and everything to do with how it was said and by whom.

What bothered her was that whoever was making the snide comment usually seemed to care very little about whether it was true or who Olivia actually was; why she did the things she did. They wanted a box to put her in and a label to slap across her forehead.

Which, in Alex's opinion, was the worst kind of small-minded there was.

Even through their rough inaugural period, Alex had begun to recognize the subtle complexities that made up Olivia Benson. The huge, fragile heart she hid directly behind her gold shield, the honest, sincere compassion she felt for all the victims she came in contact with and the absolute ferocity she brought to every single thing she did.

Alex had seen her throw her slim body directly at a towering psychopath, with little regard for her own personal safety, and manage to subdue him just as quickly as a male officer could have. Within the span of the same evening, she had seen her cradle a broken and battered child within her arms, talking to her softly until the little girl's tears gradually stopped and Alex thought that her own might start.

And then there was her smile.

Nothing had prepared Alex for the first time Olivia had genuinely smiled at her. It was right after she and Elliot had collared a serial pedophile, a particularly nasty piece of work that held his victims captive for a month while he systematically broke their spirit and tortured their bodies. They had nabbed him just minutes after he had snatched his latest child and, for the first time in longer than any of them could remember, they had been able to return a victim to their family whole and unscathed.

Olivia had been euphoric, her happiness radiating out of every pore. When Alex walked into the squad room to witness the interrogation, the brunette had slid an arm around her waist and hugged their hips together, laughing as she turned a megawatt grin on the ADA that changed her whole face. In the span of an instant, Olivia had gone from being a cynical sex crimes detective, to a vibrantly alive, unbelievably beautiful woman.

Alex had felt like all the air had suddenly been sucked from the bull pen as the older woman's beauty shook her to her core.

And the playfully whispered words "Hey beautiful, come here often?" That Olivia snickered into her ear hadn't hurt either.

No, there was no label that could be found that would fit Detective Olivia Benson. With her deep auburn eyes that seemed to look right through you, and those hands… those gentle hands that could still a victim's fears… or set her body to shaking just by accidentally brushing against her…

"Alex?" The blonde felt a slight tug on her arm and started violently as she looked down into amused brown eyes. "You ok?"

"I'm sorry?"

Olivia raised one eyebrow. "Are you ok? You look a little… flushed."

She felt herself falling into the detectives soft brown eyes and shook her head slightly to clear it.

Misreading the response, Olivia stepped closer as she slid her hand up the ADA's arm. "Hey, what's wrong?"

You mean besides the fact that my knees go weak every time you look at me? "I think this one is just hitting a little too close to home." She tried to ignore the feel of Olivia's hand as it gently rubbed her bicep.

"I can understand that. It's bad enough when the vic is a stranger; when it's someone you know, everything gets amplified. "

Alex sighed. "And yet the world keeps turning." She pulled a file out of her briefcase. "We were supposed to go over your testimony for the Neal case today but something tells me your dance card is going to be full."

"You know I'll always make room for you."

There was something in the brunette's voice that filled Alex with warmth. It started in her abdomen and spread outwards until she could feel it in her fingertips. She tried to keep her gaze focused on the file she was holding, but instead found herself staring into deep brown eyes filled with concern and… something else.

Something that took her breath away and made the hair on the back of her neck stand up.

"So," She swallowed. "When do you think you'll have time for me?"

Olivia pursed her lips as she glanced past Alex to the conference room. "Well, we have all the documents from the apartment to go through, plus Samantha's lawyers are sending over her financials this afternoon. I probably won't be done here until around seven. How about a late dinner?"

"I have a long day ahead of me too. Dinner is going to sound like nirvana right around then."

The detective grinned. "Will helping an ADA experience nirvana increase my chances of getting warrants in the future?"

Alex's return smile was dazzling. "Ask me again after I see where you're taking me for dinner, detective."

Olivia laughed softly as the blonde walked away. Turning, she watched the gentle sway of the woman's hips until she disappeared out the door.

"Candy's bad for you, you know."

Olivia sighed, squaring her shoulders before she faced her partner. "Last I heard looking was sugar free."

"Maybe," Elliot smirked. "But you keep leaving your tongue hanging out like that and you'll end up with frostbite."

"She isn't that bad, Elliot! And she really does care."

"Maybe about her win/loss ratio."

Olivia held up her hand. She wasn't going to get into an argument with her partner over their ADA. The last thing she needed was Elliot wondering why she was so quick to jump to the blonde's defense. "Enough. We have work to do."

Four hours later, Olivia leaned back in her chair, allowing her head to hang over the backrest as she rubbed the bridge of her nose. "How many credit cards did this woman have?"

Fin scowled at her over his stack of papers. "Twenty-seven; all platinum cards, all with limits higher than my annual income… before taxes."

"Have you found anything at all?"

"I've got something." Munch held up the statement he had been studying. "According to Ms. Wainscott's Visa card our society girl shopped with 'pride'."

Olivia's eyes widened when he flipped the paper over to show her the purple lambda adorning one corner. "Samantha Wainscott was gay?"

"Apparently so, and that's not all." The thin man's eyebrows crawled up his forehead. "It looks like our victim used this card specifically for her 'special' purchases. I have three major charges to Pandora's Box; one for seven thousand, another for four thousand and the third for two thousand and some change."

Elliot's forehead furrowed in confusion. "Pandora's Box?"

"That's that swanky perv place over on Eighteenth and Collins." Fin's voice was laced with disgust.

"Do I detect a note of intolerance in your voice, detective?" Munch looked at his partner pointedly. "I would think you of all people would buy into the live and let live philosophy."

"Not when the lettin' live leaves people looking like Samantha Wainscott."

"You don't know that what happened to her had anything to do with her sexual proclivities."

"I'd say it was probably a safe bet." Fin's eyes narrowed. "What are you some kind of closet freak?"

Munch smiled. "Why are you looking for a date tonight?"

"All right that's enough." They all looked up to see Cragen standing in the doorway. "Whatever your personal opinions are about this case, you will keep them to yourself. I shouldn't have to remind you that a good man lost his daughter, and I lost someone very dear to me."

Fin looked down at the table but said nothing.

"How is Judge Wainscott?" Olivia asked gently, breaking the tension in the room.

Captain Cragen shook his head sadly. "I took him down to the lab for the cheek swab. When I got him home, his personal physician was there to sedate him. He isn't going to be any good to us until tomorrow at the earliest." He ran his hand over his lower face. "I have a meeting I have to get to. Call my cell when you have some answers."

They worked in silence for another three hours before Elliot stood and stretched. "I gotta get going or Kathy's gonna change the locks."

"Hang on!" Olivia jumped up, another credit card statement in her hand. "How long ago were those purchases made at the sex shop, Munch?"

"Uhm…" He flipped through the short stack of questionable items he had found. "Four months ago?"

"Look at this." She handed him the bill she was holding. "According to this statement, Samantha Wainscott charged over 22 different flower deliveries to her platinum MasterCard in the two weeks following those purchases." She raised her eyebrows. "Someone was in the doghouse."

"And probably wearing a collar too." Fin mumbled. The others ignored him.

"We need to find out who the flowers were going to." Elliot looked at his watch. "But it's after seven; place has got to be closed."

"The lab should have DNA information for us by the morning. Elliot and I'll handle that and the notification. Fin, you and Munch take the florist and the toy shop…" Her eyes widened. "What time did you say it was?"

Elliot blinked at the rapid topic change. "It's a quarter past seven."


The rest of the detectives from the 1-6 watched in confusion as Olivia left the precinct at a dead run, slowing only long enough to grab her coat and scarf before barreling out the door.

"Now that's someone with a hot date." Fin smiled.

"I'm sorry!"

Alex looked up over her glasses to see Olivia standing in the open doorway. The small amount of irritation she had been feeling evaporated immediately as she took in the detectives heaving chest and the light sheen of sweat that covered her face and neck even though the temperature outside was close to freezing. "Did you run all the way here?"

The brunette shrugged, making Alex's lips curl into a grin.

God this woman is adorable.

"So what happened? Lead in the case?" She asked hopefully.

"I don't know that I'd call it a lead, but we've definitely found a few avenues to pursue. We're also waiting on the rest of Samantha's financials. Her probate lawyer was in court all day upstate. He finally contacted us a few hours ago and agreed to bring in her estate paperwork tomorrow." She grabbed Alex's coat off the rack behind her and held it open. "Now come on. I'm starving."

With a small smile, the blonde shoved the paperwork she had been reading into her briefcase and then let the detective help her into her coat. She turned around with a smile on her face that froze when she realized that Olivia had not stepped back. Her heart stopped when the brunette reached out…

…only to thud painfully as Olivia took the briefcase from her before stepping aside to let her pass through the door.

Turning her head to hide the flush that colored her cheeks, she managed to say casually, "So where are we going?"

Olivia smiled. "You'll see."

Alex grinned as they walked through the door and into the restaurant, her eyes immediately drawn to the eclectic collections of artwork adorning the walls. Next to every piece was a small slip of paper with the artists name and the price they were asking for it.

While the place seemed to pull its flavor from many different venues, the overall binding theme seemed to be 'struggling artist'. From the hand painted 'Specials Board' to the numerous painting stations left open for patron use, the place was a living tribute to artistic vision and creativity.

They were led to a table near the window and Olivia ordered them a nice bottle of merlot to go with the fresh baked French bread, balsamic vinegar and oil dip, and Greek olives that the waitress brought over for them to snack on while they perused the menu.

"So what do you think?" Olivia asked shyly.

"I love it!" Alex grinned from ear to ear. "I wanted to be an artist you know."


She laughed at how wide the detective's eyes got. "Yes me. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a beatnik Cabot."

"Were you any good?"

The blonde smirked. "Let's just say that the art world survived." Her eyes sparkled as she took a sip of her merlot. "It seems my talents ran to other areas."

Olivia bit her lip and kept her mouth shut.

"So what's good here?" Alex slipped on her glasses as she looked over the menu.

The detective opened her own menu, using it to distract herself from the small tip of pink tongue that was visible between the lawyer's lips. Jesus. "Just about everything. Do you like spicy?"

The blonde glanced up, one pale eyebrow rising slightly; her lips curved into an amused smile as she nodded.

"Uh…" Olivia swallowed and quickly looked back down at her menu. Maybe dinner hadn't been such a good idea. It was one thing to lust after the ADA from a distance, but sitting across from her in an intimate setting was putting all kinds of crazy ideas in her head. Even if the knowledge of blonde's sexual orientation kept her from making a total fool of herself it didn't stop her body from reacting to her proximity.

Apparently her hormones had a strict anti-discrimination policy.

"The wasabi-crusted chicken breast with Asian rice pilaf is really good, if you don't mind your tongue burning for an hour afterwards."

"I think my tongue can handle it." Alex snickered. "But, you're going to have to buy me a raspberry margarita to help cool off some of the heat."

Olivia felt her mouth go dry. "Deal." She croaked.

An hour later she desperately regretted making that deal as she watched Alex circle the rim of her margarita glass with an index finger, scraping the thick sugar onto her perfectly manicured nail before slipping it into her mouth.

"Wow," The ADA leaned back in her chair with a smile as she panted softly. "You weren't kidding." She waved her hand in front of her mouth.

Olivia grinned and downed the rest of her Foster's. "Do you want another margarita?"

"Are you trying to get me drunk, detective?"

"Are you saying two is all it would take, counselor?"

"I'm not that far gone from my college days, Liv. Or were you just hoping I'd be a cheap date?"

The brunette grinned. "I think far too highly of you to ever use a word like 'cheap'."

Alex's eyes sparkled. "I had no idea."

Olivia bit back her initial response. Regardless of the realities of the situation, flirting with Alex felt a little too good. Instead she settled back into her work persona, a cue the perceptive ADA picked up on quickly. "So tell me about the Wainscott's."

The blonde stiffened slightly. "What do you want to know?"


She sighed. "Old money, old family, strong connections to the legal and social communities; Samuel chairs numerous philanthropic and charitable organizations. They've always been good people."

"Were there other children?"

"No, Samantha was an only child."

Olivia looked down at the table. "Was it common knowledge that she was gay?"

Alex frowned. "There were rumors; they became more frequent in the last few years."

"That couldn't have sat well with her parents societal expectations."

"I wouldn't know." The ADA rubbed her forehead absently. "What I do know is that Samuel doted on her. She was a daddy's girl."

Olivia noticed the slight blush that crept into the other woman's cheeks and tried hard not to smile. "Like you?" Alex glanced at her sharply and Olivia cleared her throat. "So, Samantha was the last Wainscott heir?" The blonde stared down into her empty margarita glass, causing the detectives eyes to narrow. "What are you not telling me?"

The ADA was silent for a moment then she sat back and crossed her arms over her chest. "The old family was on the Wainscott side. The money… That was Julia's."

"Wainscott's wife?"

"Her maiden name was Preston."

Olivia's brow furrowed for a moment and then her eyes widened. "Preston Orchards?" At Alex's nod she whistled slightly. "So the money was Mommy's. What else?"

"About a year before Julia got sick there was an… indiscretion on Samuel's part."

"An indiscretion?" The detective snorted. "That's 'rich' for affair, right?"

Alex nodded again. "Julia forgave, but she never forgot. When she found out that the cancer had metastasized and that she was dying, she changed her will. Samuel got the house and ten percent. Samantha got everything else."

Olivia leaned forward, her jaw tightening. "So you're telling me that Samuel is the heir apparent?" She flushed angrily. "Damn it, Alex! You can't tell me you didn't think that was relevant!"

The ADA winced at her tone. "Liv, we don't even know for sure that it's Samantha. I didn't see the point in airing out a Judge's dirty laundry until we knew for sure."

"And once we got confirmation?"

Alex looked her directly in the eyes, her cobalt blue gaze never wavering. "I would have told you."

For a few moments, the feeling of betrayal was overwhelming and Olivia was stunned by her level of disappointment; especially considering that Alex had a valid point. If the victim wasn't Sammy, then all of this information was superfluous. No, if she was going to be honest with herself, she had to admit that she was hurt because Alex hadn't trusted her.



Alex reached over and covered Olivia's hand with her own. "I would have told you."

Olivia swallowed, her pulse racing wildly as the blonde's smooth, warm fingers squeezed hers gently. Alex's voice was husky, personal; full of regret and honest affection. Coughing slightly, she finally tore her eyes away and nodded. "I believe you, just… no more omissions okay?"

The blonde smiled brightly for a moment before her face took on an expression of exaggerated gravity. She used her free hand to draw an X across her chest with her index finger, her lips threatening to curve up at the edges.

Olivia laughed before she could stop herself. It was a damn good thing Alex Cabot was straight. With a repertoire like that, she wouldn't stand a chance.

They spent the next hour and a half going over the detective's testimony for the upcoming Neal case, and then they shared a cab back to Alex's apartment. Olivia flashed her badge at the driver as the blonde climbed out. "Wait." She ordered. The cabbie muttered under his breath but he nodded.

She caught up to Alex at the entrance to her building, smiling at the eyebrow the woman raised in surprise. "I thought I'd see you to your door."

The ADA's ears pinked adorably but she nodded and they spent the elevator ride up to the penthouse in companionable silence. Once they arrived, she slid her key into the lock and opened the door before turning back to the brunette. She was chewing on her bottom lip slightly. "Did you want to come in? For coffee?"

Olivia blinked. Her mouth opened quickly and she had to bite back the word 'yes' as it tried to roll off her tongue. While spending more time with the beautiful woman was something she desperately wanted, the possibility, and sheer magnitude, of the mistakes she might make washed over her like a splash of cold water. "I'd love to… but the cab's waiting."

It was a lame excuse and they both knew it.

But Alex just smiled and nodded slightly. Leaning forward, she hugged the detective, breathing her scent in quickly. "I had a great time, Liv." She whispered. When she pulled back she winked and added, "Mostly."

Olivia laughed and watched her go inside, shutting the door softly behind her. She stood for several long moments, alone in the hallway, before heading back to the waiting cab.


Chapter Three – Dead Ends

Thursday 07:00 AM

Elliot grabbed his partner's arm as she walked into the squad room, dragging her back out through the doors before she even had time to toss her jacket onto the coat rack.

"Hey!" She barked. "What's going on?"

"Warner called. She's got autopsy results for us. We need to get down to her office."

"And you couldn't wait for me to grab a cup of coffee?" She groused.

"Nope." He grinned, far too widely for her taste. "You know, some people actually show up for work a little bit early."

"I had a late night." She regretted it the moment the words were out of her mouth.

"Ohhh!" Her partner's eyebrows rose suggestively as they climbed into the car. "A late night? Is that the politically correct lesbo term for getting laid?"

Olivia tossed her jacket into the back seat as she rolled her eyes. "It amazes me that you can use the words 'politically correct' and 'lesbo' in the same sentence. If I didn't love you so much I'd throw you to Huang for sensitivity training."

Elliot's face registered the horror he felt, making her laugh out loud. "So? Who is she?"

"What? Oh, no. It wasn't like that. I had a working dinner with Alex."

"Meaning… you were 'working' it?"

"El!" She slapped him on the arm as he laughed. "We went over my testimony for the Neal case and she filled me in on some interesting aspects of the Wainscott family dynamic." She told him what the ADA had shared with her, watching his face change as the same suspicions she had filled his head.

"That's definitely something to pursue." Elliot mumbled thoughtfully. He guided the car off the expressway, navigating the busy streets while glancing at his partner out of the corner of his eye.

Olivia ignored it for several minutes before finally growling at him. "What??"

"Cabot 'filled you in' huh?" He snickered.

She shook her head as she stuck out her jaw. "You are such an ass! Cabot is our ADA. I respect her, and I value her friendship. That's all! I don't know why you continually make these asinine remarks-"

She's a child
Young and willing
In a world that's unforgiving
That in time
Takes all the living from your soul

"What the hell is that?" Elliot looked at her curiously.

I stand in the night with a silver sword
Killing her demons beating them off her door
Sleep little baby don't you cry
Daddy's got a worn out lullaby
And I'd live forever dark and damned
If I could see you spend one minute, girl... in Wonderland

Olivia's eyes flew open as her cheeks flushed bright red. The music was coming from her cell phone, which she had forgotten to put on vibrate. It was in the pocket of her jacket.

The jacket she had tossed in the back.

She quickly unbuckled her seat belt and spun around, stretching into the space between them to grab the leather jacket by its collar. As she pulled it forward, the phone shook loose and fell behind her seat.

"God dammit!" She swore under her breath as she stretched her fingers to grab it, flipping it open to stop the ring tone from continuing. As she twisted back around, she noticed Elliot smirking at her and frowned. "What?"


The sound from the small speaker was low and tinny but there was no mistaking that voice.

"Hey!" The detective pressed the phone to her ear and stared out the window, willing the redness in her cheeks to pass. "What's up? Huh? No, I'm fine. No… I just… couldn't find my cell." Elliot snickered beside her and she slugged him on the arm. He watched her face ease into a shy grin. "Yeah…I did too… I'd like that, but you're buying the margaritas next time… Yeah? Well I'm not cheap either, counselor." Olivia suddenly realized she was smiling and stopped immediately. "We're on our way to see Warner, how about I call you afterwards? Okay. Yeah, okay. Bye." She snapped the phone shut and studied it silently for a few moments until her partner's covert glances finally got to her. "WHAT???"

"Silver sword huh?" He grinned at her. "Does that come with some sort of leather harness?"

Her eyes narrowed but before she could respond her cell phone rang again. She flipped it open with an exasperated sigh. "Benson. Hey Captain, what's up?" She listened for a moment. "All right. We're on our way to the M.E.'s office but we can stop by there afterwards. Munch and Fin?" She glanced at Elliot, who made an obscene gesture with his hand. "They're working the sex shop. Yeah, ok. Thanks." She closed her cell phone. "Biologicals are back. We need to hit the lab after we talk to Warner."

Elliot nodded. "So… Cragen doesn't have his own ring tone? He'll be crushed."

"Oh my god, will you just shut up and drive!"

Melinda Warner looked up as the two detectives pushed through the swinging doors and entered the morgue. She registered the slight wince that traveled across Olivia's features and the tightening of Elliot's jaw as they looked down at the woman on the table in front of her.

The body had been thoroughly cleaned; the blood and gore stripped away leaving behind a clear picture of the damage that had been done to her flesh; damage that didn't lose any of its brutality with the lack of blood.

"Liv, Elliot." She nodded to them both. "Meet Samantha Wainscott."

Stabler exhaled slowly. "So we got a positive?"

Warner nodded. "Familial was a match to Judge Wainscott. There's no doubt this is Samantha."

"What else do you have?"

Her eyebrows knitted together. "A lot of 'interesting' but not a lot of answers."

Olivia frowned. "What do you mean?"

"The damage to the face and mouth was all done post-mortem, as was the evisceration."

"What was the cause of death then?"

"The crosshatch cutting. See this incision right here?" She pointed to an ugly cut near the victim's groin. "It nicked the femoral artery. I don't think that was the perp's intention, as it wasn't very deep. But it was enough to cause her to bleed out, probably quicker than he wanted her to."

"What makes you say that?"

Melinda shrugged slightly. "This whole thing looks like ritualistic tendencies. The crosshatch cutting is intended to inflict pain and terror, not to kill. Your guy just got a little carried away. Where these cuts are meticulous and precise, this…" She waved her hand over the victim's midsection. "This is the work of someone that was out of control."

Olivia took a breath. "You think there could be two perps?"

Warner shook her head. "I don't think so. The cuts were all made by the same blade and the amount of forced applied suggests a single attacker. But something made your boy mad. Really mad."

Elliot ground his teeth together. "What about the rape?"

"That's the other thing," The M.E. frowned. "I don't think there was a rape, at least not the kind you would investigate."

Olivia blinked. "Mind explaining that?"

"The tearing I noticed at the scene was minor. After I got her cleaned up, I found a substance coating the damaged tissue." She picked up a small tube. "It's an antibacterial salve mixed with an analgesic ointment."

The brunette's jaw dropped slightly. "You're saying someone treated her?"

"In a basic first aid sense, yes, and not for the first time; there were other, partially healed tears as well as several completely healed over scars. I also found a small amount of non-spermicidal lubricant inside her vaginal tract. It matches the condoms that were found in her bedroom drawer… right along side a rather large artificial phallus. Then there's this," She pulled back the sheet that had been covering the dead woman's lower extremities and both the detectives sucked in a breath at the sight of hundreds of tiny red marks that were now visible across her abdomen and thighs.

"Jesus." Elliot looked away.

Melinda led them over to a nearby computer. "I entered the measurements from the fetish bench you found in the victim's apartment. The pattern of markings on her body suggests she was bent forward over the bench and penetrated from behind. The different spacing between the patterns as well as the general thickening of her skin, indicate long term involvement in sexual sadism." She walked back to the body and covered it. "I've concluded that the sexual activity that took place the night the victim died had to have occurred at least several hours before her actual death."

"So the 'rape' and the murder…." Olivia let the question hang.

"Mutually exclusive." Warner finished for her. "If I had to give an opinion based on the cross cutting alone? I would say you have a serial offender." She picked up a piece of paper and handed it to Stabler, who glanced at it briefly before passing it to his partner as the M.E. continued. "Unfortunately I got no hits when I checked the database for a similar M.O."

"He could be a first timer." Elliot shrugged.

The M.E. shook her head. "I just don't buy it. Like I said, the cuts were meticulous. He just pushed too hard in the wrong place."

Olivia's eyes narrowed slightly as she glanced at Elliot. "Like maybe someone that's been out of the game for a while and got a little over-excited to play again?"

"I'd say that's closer to the mark. But it would have to be someone that's never had a body surface. A trade like this, I would remember."

Elliot frowned. "What do you know about the weapon?"

Melinda sighed. "You're looking for a serrated knife. The cuts to the torso indicate a blade at least five inches long, possibly longer." She motioned them closer and used her pinky to point at the ends of several of the cross-cuts. "You see the jagged tear marks at the beginning of each down stroke? That's indicative of some kind of damage at the tip of the knife; a burr or a chip. If the knife was intact, the initial puncture would be fat but smooth. The same kind of damage can be found at the initial entry points on her chest and face as well."

"So one perp and one knife?" Olivia asked bluntly.

"That would be my opinion." She handed the detective a thick envelope. When Olivia raised her eyebrow she explained. "Photos for your psych. Maybe he can give you a little more insight."

Thursday 09:58 AM

Olivia and Elliot were silent as they rode the elevator up to Crime Lab on the third floor, each of them absorbing the information they had received from the Medical Examiner. Nothing about this case was adding up and every new discovery just seemed to create more questions.

As they entered the lab Ryan O'Halloran nodded at them in greeting. "Detectives."

"Hey Ry." Olivia smiled at the forensics tech. "Whatcha got for us?"

"I got the results back from the fluids on the bed sheets." He pulled a manila folder from behind him and handed it to her. "Two different sets of DNA. One is a match to your vic. The other is an unknown female."

Elliot glanced at his partner, the unspoken communication between them clear. Confirmation on Samantha's sexual orientation, now if they could just find the link that made it relevant to their case. "Is that it?"

"Not exactly, but I'm not sure how much help it's going to be to you." He motioned for them to follow him into an adjoining room where all of the sexual devices they had recovered from the victim's apartment had been laid out on a stainless steel table. "I swabbed every inch of every toy you guys sent over. These things have been remarkably well maintained."

"You aren't going to tell us there wasn't any trace on any of them?" Olivia asked incredulously.

"Oh, I found DNA. No one cleans that well. The problem is that every single bit of it belongs to your vic."

"How is that possible?" Elliot grunted.

"It's not. Not unless your girl was extremely double jointed." He picked up one of the paddles, letting it dangle from his fingers by the strap. "Most of these were not created for the solitary enthusiast." He laid it back down. "Not to mention that someone had to strap her onto that table. All of the DNA we found on the restraints belonged to Samantha Wainscott too."

"So she found herself a top that didn't switch." Olivia pursed her lips.

"That would be my conclusion as well." He grabbed up a rubber whip. "And the lack of fingerprints from even the victim indicates a rather regimented use. I did some research on the net. In extreme B&D the bottom isn't even allowed to touch the implements, aside from being on the business end of course. But I did find this." He held up a small plastic bag that had a tiny piece of black fiber in it.

The brunette took it and held it up to the light. "What is it?"


She sighed. "Couldn't it have come from one of the whips?"

Ryan shook his head as he took the bag back. "Not this leather. It's Peccary; high grade, tanned and dyed for a specific use. Soft, strong, and supple, considered to be the most exclusive and expensive sort of leather. Used for high end driving gloves." He opened a box behind him and pulled out a pair of gloves still in their extravagant wrapping. Handing them to Elliot, he said, "The leather is smooth, firm, washable and very durable. It looks like your victim's playtime partner had good taste in hand wear."

"That explains why there were no fingerprints." Elliot mumbled.

"They're expensive but not uncommon." Ryan shrugged. "I told you I didn't know how much help this was going to be to you. You're looking for an extreme B&D enthusiast who only tops, wears high-end gloves and is meticulous in her personal habits. In New York? Good luck with that one. Although…" His mouth turned down slightly in distaste, "I would have to say that the fetish bench and the rack puts this suspect into the realm of the truly twisted."

Olivia grinned. "What's the matter, Ryan? Not everyone likes plain vanilla you know."

The tech snorted. "Is that your personal view, Detective?"

Her jaw dropped in surprise. She hadn't expected Ryan to snap back.

Elliot smirked as he stepped between them and pushed her towards the door. "Benson loves vanilla." He called back over his shoulder. "She just likes it two scoops at a time."

"Two scoops?" Olivia raised her eyebrows as she slid into the car.

Elliot laughed. "Tell me I'm wrong!"

She tried to scowl and only ended up grinning. "You're an idiot, you know that?"

"You're just mad 'cuz I've got your number." He threw the car into drive and pulled out into traffic.

"Ya think?"

"Oh yeah." He winked at her. "You want to hear whose scoops I think you've got your eye on?"

Olivia cleared her throat and looked out the window. "So, we should head back to the station; hook up with Munch and Fin and see what they found out about the sex shop and the florist."

"Good idea." Elliot grinned.

The one six was quiet when they got back, but they found Munch in the conference room, going through a stack of photo albums they had picked up from the vics apartment the night before.

"Where's Fin?" Olivia set the tray of coffee cups she was carrying down next to the box of donuts Elliot had unceremoniously dropped on the table.

"He's in the ladies room." John smirked as he reached for a jelly filled.

"Anything come up at the sex shop?" Elliot asked.

"Not unless you count my partner's urge to regurgitate his breakfast. All Samantha's orders were done custom with the specs being sent in by email and the payments being made over the phone. They never even saw the vic. All the items were signed for by her maid."

"So what's with the pictures?"

He slid a piece of paper towards her and she picked it up, one eyebrow rising as she took in the same information repeated over and over again. "Samantha's home address? What about it?"

"That's where all the flowers were delivered."

She blinked. "All twenty two bouquets?"

"Yep!" John sighed happily as he took a long drink from his coffee. "And since Ms. Wainscott doesn't seem the type to send flowers to herself, we came to the conclusion that the intended recipient must have lived with her at some point. Hence the photo albums."

"Any luck yet?"

"No… but if lesbians break up the same way straight people do, any photo's of the happy couple probably ended up in a BBQ pit somewhere."

"What about the cards that went with the flowers?"

Munch smirked. "All addressed to 'S' from 'S' with a lot of 'forgive me's' in the middle."

"So no name?"

"Tell me you love me!" Fin walked into the room holding up a manila folder.

"What you got?" Elliot stuffed half of a donut into his mouth and grabbed the file out of his hand.

"Wainscott's probate lawyer just dropped that off." He stretched his neck to the side, causing several vertebrae to snap loudly. "Guess who changed her will a week before she died?"

"Samantha?" Olivia leaned into her partner, trying to read from the side. "Who's the new beneficiary?"

"Says here one Serra Tate." Elliot scratched his head. "Who the hell is that?"

"I'm guessing that would be the other 'S'." She scribbled the odd spelling down on a piece of paper. "I'm going to pull her license."

Fifteen minutes later, she walked back into the room, a frown creasing her forehead.

"What?" Elliot growled. "Don't tell me the bitch doesn't drive!"

"No, it's not that." She handed him the eight by ten color copy of a New York State driver's license. The picture on it showed a pretty woman in her early twenties with blonde hair and startling blue eyes. "Look at her personal information. She's five foot four and weighs a hundred and five pounds."


"So?" She rolled her eyes. "She weighs a buck o' five for god's sake, Elliot! Samantha had three inches and twenty pounds on her. There's no way someone Tate's size could do that kind of damage."

He turned his back to the others slightly and lowered his voice. "Look, Liv, I know this case has a somewhat… personal aspect to it for you, but we both know that money can make people do crazy things. And this kind of money…" He held open the file to show her the obscenely huge amount they were talking about; one hundred and forty seven million. "This kind of money could make anyone into a killer."

Olivia felt her spine stiffen at the insinuation that she would allow her personal preferences to cloud her judgment. She ground her teeth together as she responded. "Samantha Wainscott loved this woman enough to leave her everything and yet we didn't find a single indication that she even existed anywhere in that apartment. I know you've been married since god was a child, Elliot but even you have to admit that when someone breaks your heart, you don't leave them your fortune. Wiping any trace of them from your life, sure. But leaving them everything…that's something you would do if you were the guilty party. Add that to the fact that the flower deliveries were months ago and the will change was just last week and I would say that Sam finally saw the error of her ways." She ran her fingers through her hair. "Do we even know if this Tate woman was notified of the change in Samantha's will?"

"Negative." Fin chose that moment to break into the conversation. "According to Sam's lawyer, she didn't want Serra to ever find out, unless it was time for her to collect."

Elliot snorted. "That doesn't mean she didn't know. Someone could have blabbed." He held up his hand. "And she could have had help with the actual murder." He slid a picture of Sam's body to the center of the table. "That kind of damage… that's personal. And there's nothing more personal than love gone bad."

"Whatever." She held up her hand to put an end to the conversation. "I'm not saying that we shouldn't investigate her. I'm just telling you what I think." She took the file from his hand and closed it. "Either way we have a notification to handle. Maybe Judge Wainscott can give us some deeper insight into his daughter's relationship with Serra Tate."

"We'll stay here and see what we can dig up on her in the meantime." Fin offered. He watched Elliot and Olivia silently leave the station. "Guess there's trouble in MudVille."

Munch scrunched his face into a confused frown. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"It's a metaphor."

"No it's not!" He rolled his eyes. "It's an allegory."

"Shut up and eat your donut!" Fin snapped.

"Now that's a stereotype."

"So's black rage." Fin glowered. "But just keep talking and you're gonna see it for real…"

The car ride was uncomfortably silent until Elliot finally cleared his throat. "Look… I didn't mean to imply that you would let your personal life interfere with how you handled this case…"

"Just forget it, El." She sighed as she reached into her jacket pocket for her cell phone.

"C'mon, Liv." He offered her his best placating tone. "I just don't get why you're so ready to pass on this woman as a viable suspect."

"I'm not!" She protested. "For two days this case has been nothing but a big question mark and now that we have our first lead, at least into some part of Samantha Wainscott's history, I'm not about to ignore it. I just think there are aspects of the murder that don't add up to our perp being her lover, that's all." When he didn't look convinced she rolled her eyes. "Ok, then how about this? How many times have you had a feeling in your gut that no one else bought into, but I was right there backing you up?"

That did the trick. Elliot flushed dark red and his eyes seemed to glue themselves to the road in front of him. "Point taken."

"Good." She nodded. Flipping open her cell phone she hit speed dial #3. It was picked up on the second ring.


"Hey it's me."

"Hey you."

Olivia felt herself shiver at the familiarity in Alex's voice and forced herself to sit up straighter, sliding into her cop persona. "I wanted to be the one to tell you…"

There was a long pause on the other end of the phone followed by a deep sigh. "The I.D. came back."

"Yeah. I'm sorry, Alex."

She heard the ADA swallow quickly. "Has Samuel been notified?"

"We're on our way there now." She felt an overwhelming urge to hold Alex, and was suddenly very grateful she wasn't in the same room with her. Uncomfortable, she changed the subject. "We got some interesting information this morning. Seems Sam changed her will last week. Left everything to a woman named Serra Tate. Munch and Fin are checking out her background now. I'll call you with an update when we get back to the station."

"Okay…." She could hear the dozens of questions the ADA wanted to ask and smiled when she held them in check. "Thanks for calling me yourself. Oh and Liv, don't forget I need you in court at two this afternoon for your testimony on Neal."

Olivia nodded silently for a moment, trying to undo the damage the words 'I need you' had done to her sense of decorum. She knew she was taking them out of context, but they had an incredible impact on her nonetheless.


The detective started, realizing Alex was waiting for a verbal response. "Sure thing counselor; you can count on me."

There was a pause and then Alex responded softly. "I have never doubted that…detective." The click echoed softly as the blonde hung up.

Olivia sat for a few moments, still holding the phone against her ear as she tried to get her heart rate to slow.

She had gotten used to the effect the ADA's anger had on her; the way catching her ire would make her feel like her blood was singing in her veins. Truth be told, she had even prolonged a few of their fights intentionally, just to feel that passion directed at her for a few moments longer.

But that was nothing compared to the effect of those six softly spoken words. The warmth they generated began in her chest and spread out to all points in her body.

Swallowing, Olivia snapped her cell phone closed and slid it into her pocket.

"Everything ok?"

She glanced over to find Elliot looking at her curiously. "Yeah. We just need to speed this up. I need to be in court at 2pm for Neal."

"Right." He nodded absently, knowing there was more going on but also knowing better than to pry at the moment. "Well, we're here."

Olivia looked out the window as they pulled up to a tall wrought iron fence half covered in ivy. An ornately decorated brick pedestal stood to the left side of the drive and Elliot thumbed the button embedded in it. They had only been waiting for a couple of seconds when a smooth disembodied voice greeted them from the speaker directly above the call button.

"May I help you?"

"Detective's Benson and Stabler to see Samuel Wainscott."

There was a pause then, "Of course, Detectives. Judge Wainscott has been expecting you. Please drive up."

Elliot couldn't contain a whistle and Olivia's eyebrows rose as they followed the gently curving driveway up to a mansion. There was just no other word for it. The place was huge. The front was done in traditional plantation style, with multiple balconies and tall solid looking columns. It spanned what would have been 3 housing lots in the 'burbs and the entire structure was painted a bright white with red doors and shutters.

"Damn." Elliot muttered as they exited the car and headed for the front door. "Guess his wife forgave him a little bit huh?"

Olivia didn't answer. She was already squaring her shoulders and schooling her mindset and facial expression for the notification. She hated these things, but at least this time they weren't coming into the situation cold. It didn't make it any better, but it made it a little easier.

Elliot rang the buzzer and Olivia was slightly startled when Samuel Wainscott opened the door himself only a few moments later. Even more surprising was the look of hope on his face.

After he had studied them for a few moments, however, the look faded and his shoulders slumped as he waved them inside. They followed him through a long hallway and into a richly appointed study. Sitting down heavily on a small settee, he motioned for them to do the same. "It was her."

Olivia nodded slowly. "We're very sorry."

Wainscott stared at them blankly for a few moments then he dropped his head into his hands and cried.

Olivia's eyebrows rose curiously. She glanced at Elliot, but he was pretending to be engrossed in an oil painting that was hanging over the fireplace to their left. It was that thing that guys do to give each other room when there's too much touchy feely stuff coming from one of them. Rolling her eyes slightly she turned her attention back to the judge, watching as he exhibited as much emotion as a parent who had just had the whole situation sprung on them at three o'clock in the morning.

"I know it's hard, Judge Wainscott." She began. "But there are some questions we need to ask that could help us figure out who did this to your daughter." Elliot threw her a sharp look but she ignored it. "Are you up to answering our questions?"

Wainscott took a deep shuddering breath as he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and rubbed it over his face. "What do you want to know?"

Olivia moved to the edge of her chair, staring directly into his eyes. "Were you aware that your daughter changed her will a little over a week ago?"

His eyes widened. "What? Who told you that?"

"Your daughter's probate attorney." Elliot offered softly. "So you were unaware of this change?"

Wainscott's face grew dark. "Of course I wasn't aware!" He thundered, jumping to his feet. "I'm not some rube, detective! If I had thought for a moment that the family money was a motive, I would have said so."

"But it wasn't family money, was it?" Olivia asked, earning a glare from the irate judge. "It was Samantha's money."

"I assure you, detective Samantha was a very important part of this family and she knew her place within it. She would never have signed her legacy away if she wasn't under some form of duress." He took a deep breath and sat down slowly. "Who was named as heir in the new will?"

"One person… a woman by the name of Serra Tate."

The two detectives watched as Wainscott's face turned bright red and his eyes narrowed with anger. He shot out of his seat yet again, his hands clenching furiously for a few moments and Olivia unconsciously slid further back in her chair. "THAT BITCH! SHE FINALLY DID IT!! SHE KILLED MY LITTLE GIRL!!"

"Sir, please calm down." Elliot stood and placed a hand on his shoulder, gently forcing him back. When they were all seated again, he pulled out his notebook and pen. "Can you tell us who this woman is?"

The judge swallowed as a look of disgust covered his features. "My Sammy was a good girl. She graduated top of her class at NYU. She took over all of her mother's charity work when she died and she was even engaged to a junior partner at Taft, Lawry and McMann." He ran his hands over his face. "It was the book. That damn book!"

Olivia blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"Sammy was my girl, detective. Even when her mother and I had our… problems, she was still mine." Wainscott sighed. "She wanted to surprise me with a Joe Lansdale first edition of The Nightrunners, but they're hard to come by. Lansdale is an… acquired taste, and his books were never published on the same scale as King or Koontz. She tracked one down at some little book store on the west side. That's where she met her."

"Serra Tate?"

"Yes!" The disdain dripped from his voice. "She was nothing; just some little junior college drop out working three days a week at a two bit used book store. Until she saw my Sammy… until she met her meal ticket." He swallowed thickly. "Sammy was never… She would have never… It's an abomination! She took her to those…bars. Convinced her she was a degenerate just like she was; got her to turn her back on me and her family obligations." Wainscott started to shake. "And she got her involved with all that… that other..." He put his hand over his mouth and looked as though he was going to vomit.

Elliot cleared his throat. "So you were aware of your daughter's… activities?"

Wainscott turned on the detective. "She was my daughter! Do you really think I wouldn't have a key to her apartment?" He grabbed a decanter from the table and poured several fingers of scotch into a tumbler, downing it in one long drink. "I saw that… table, the cabinet and that… other thing.... I saw enough!" he stood quickly, his arm pulling back to throw the glass violently against the wall. "That bitch made my daughter a pervert… and now she's killed her."

"I understand that you're upset," Olivia's jaw tightened as she considered the judge's behavior. "But we don't know that yet. However, we do need to speak with Ms. Tate. Do you remember the name of the bookstore?"

"No. Trust me it isn't a place I ever intended to visit again."

Twenty minutes later Elliot slid back behind the wheel of the car, watching Olivia closely as she buckled her seat belt and stared pensively down at the floorboard. "What's on your mind?"

"He's a bigot."

"Maybe, but he's also hurting and angry. A lot of what he said could have stemmed from that."

"I don't think so. There's something not…not quite right about everything that just happened." She shook her head. "Did you see how he reacted when we first arrived?"

"Liv, he just got confirmation that his daughter was dead!"

"He acted like it was a shock."

Elliot rolled his eyes. "It IS a shock. Every time we do a notification we never know before hand how the person is going to react. We've seen blood relatives who didn't bat an eyelash and family friends that have gone into hysterics. Wainscott obviously bought into that one percent chance that the DB was someone else. Hope can make a fool out of anyone."

Olivia frowned, unable to put her finger on what exactly was bothering her. "Maybe." She glanced at her watch. "Shit, it's after one. I've got just enough time to change and make it to court. Floor it."

She barely made it.

Sliding into her customary spot on the last bench in the back of the courtroom, Olivia watched the bailiff walk out and announce that court was back in session.

Alex heard the courtroom door swing shut and turned, rolling her eyes when she caught sight of the detective.

Olivia would have been worried if she hadn't seen the corners of the ADA's mouth turn up slightly in a smile she couldn't quite suppress.

"The People call Detective Olivia Benson." Alex kept her gaze impassive as the brunette walk by her on the way to the witness stand, but she had to admit… it was hard. Olivia was dressed in a snug black skirt and matching jacket over a crimson shirt. Not for the first time, Alex took note of just how good the detective looked in black and red. Glancing down, her eyebrows rose slightly when she saw that Olivia was wearing heels. Their height clearly outlined the muscles of her calves and the blonde found herself wondering if the skin covering them was as soft as it looked.

Realizing that the bailiff was done swearing Olivia in, Alex mentally shook herself, her lips thinning in surprise when it took longer than it normally did to refocus her thoughts. She glanced at the jury before moving to stand before the detective who was now looking at her with a pleasantly curious expression on her face.

"Detective Benson, can you please describe the events that transpired on the afternoon of June 24th of this year?"

Olivia's voice was warm, her manner open as she addressed the ADA and the jury. "At approximately two forty-five that afternoon, my partner and I were at 236 Stewart Street speaking with a witness involved in another case. As we were leaving the residence, we were approached by a neighbor who informed us that Tabitha Neal, a fifteen year old girl who lived across the street had run out of her house in tears earlier that morning. The girl had been bloody and bruised and was calling for help. Her father, Victor Neal came out of the house and grabbed her by the arm, dragging her back inside after threatening the neighbor with violence should she call the police."

"What was the neighbor's name?"

"Allison Montgomery."

"Did Ms. Montgomery report the incident?"

Olivia shook her head sadly. "No she did not. She was worried that Mr. Neal would follow through on his threats. He is known throughout the neighborhood for his quick temper."

The defense attorney shot to his feet. "Objection, Your Honor! Hearsay!"

Alex looked up at the judge over the tops of her glasses, causing Olivia's heart to skip a beat. "The comment was directly stated to Detective Benson and is being presented to explain the neighbor's state of mind, Your Honor."

The Judge looked at Alex sternly. "Then I suggest your witness restate her answer."

The ADA arched one eyebrow and looked at Olivia expectantly.

The detective sighed. "Ms. Montgomery stated that she was well aware of Mr. Neal's temper, having witnessed him strike another neighbor over a dispute involving a dog defecating near the steps to his home. In addition she had seen Mr. Neal react violently in numerous other situations."

The defense attorney frowned and sat back down.

Alex's smile was imperceptible to anyone but Olivia. "Please continue Detective Benson."

She nodded. "We knocked on the door to the Neal residence and presented our identification, announcing who we were. Before we were able to ask any questions, we heard someone call out to us from inside the residence. Mr. Neal proceeded to try and shut the door in our faces, but my partner managed to subdue him while I entered the home."

"And what did you find inside?"

Olivia glared at the defendant. "We found his daughter tied to a bed upstairs. She was naked and had been badly beaten. When I removed the strip of cloth she was gagged with she informed me that her father had raped and beaten her several times. She was taken by ambulance to Bellevue where a rape kit was done. Semen was found inside of the victim."

Alex pursed her lips. "And that semen belonged to?"

"According to the DNA results it was an identical match to Victor Neal." She tried to keep her eyes from following Alex's hand movements but the long fingers that alternately waved in the air and gripped the banister between them were hard to resist. When the ADA extended her index finger and pointed at the floor as she asked her next question, Olivia had to struggle to hold back a smile.

"And what was the defendant doing while you were freeing his daughter, Detective Benson?"

This time she did smile. "He was yelling from the street."

"Yelling what?"

"That 'The little bitch deserved it!' and that she 'Put out for the whole neighborhood!'."

The defense attorney was back on his feet. "Objection, Your Honor! My client had not been properly Mirandized at that point so any comments he may have made are not admissible!"

Olivia could see the feral look that flashed through Alex's eyes.

"The People maintain that said comments were made in the heat of the moment, Your Honor. No questions were asked, the defendant's admissions were given freely and with malice. They qualify as an Excited Utterance and should be allowed."

"I agree." The judge looked sternly at the other attorney. "Overruled."

"What happened at that point Detective?"

Olivia shifted as Alex's attention returned to her, still heated by her recent victory. "My partner arrested Mr. Neal and took him into custody while I accompanied Tabitha to the hospital."

"And what occurred at the hospital?"

"During the course of the examination and the collection of the rape kit it was discovered that Tabitha Neal had been a virgin at the time of her father's initial attack."

Alex graced her with a small smile and nodded slightly. Olivia could read her expression easily.

Let's see them try and blame it on the victim now!

"No further questions."

She watched Alex return to the Prosecutor's table, enjoying the slight swagger in her step so much she almost missed the first question from the defense.

"Ms. Benson-"

She shifted her attention to the attorney standing in front of her, taking in the expensive suit that did nothing to hide the slime that showed through from underneath. "Detective Benson." She leaned back in her chair, her posture easy but her eyes hard.

He blinked, a slight flush the only indication of the anger he felt at being corrected. "Detective Benson," The derision in his voice was clear and she noticed Alex's tiny grin from across the room. Nothing like insulting the savior of a fifteen year old rape victim to kill your rapport with a jury! "You stated that when my client opened his front door, you heard his daughter call out for help, is that correct?"


He blinked again. "I can have the court reporter read that part of your testimony back to you."

She leaned forward again, her eyes turning to bits of ice. "And if you did, you would hear that I stated Tabitha Neal called out to us. I never said she called out for help. That would have been difficult, considering she was gagged at the time."

He swallowed; a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "So you are stating that you could just tell that she needed help? Is that some kind of sixth sense cops have?"

Olivia shook her head; smiling softly. "I think it went something like this…" She covered her mouth with her hand and proceeded to scream, startling the jury, causing most of them to blink and sit up straighter as the defense attorney turned a strange shade of white.

From the Prosecutor's table, Alex looked down at her lap and pressed her lips together to keep from laughing out loud. God, I love you Olivia.

Fin looked up as Olivia sauntered into the bullpen, his wolf whistle loud in the empty squad room as he took in the outfit she was wearing. He was awarded with a deep flush.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever!" Olivia poured herself a cup of coffee. "Don't forget I've seen the suit you wear to court, Pimp Daddy."

"How come you only ever dress up for Alex?" He grinned at her glare.

"I'm dressed this way for court, thank you!" She looked around. "Where is everyone?"

"Kathy called. Dickie's sick and she's stuck at work so he took off a little early. Munch is down at the mail forwarding place that Tate has listed as her address on her license. The owner didn't want to give up her address on record but he threatened to get a court order to go through every package in the place and he coughed it up pretty quick."

She looked at her watch. It was past five. She hadn't realized she had spent that much time at court. "Anything else going on?"

"Yeah." Fin handed her a folder. "Daddy dearest came by. Seems he remembered the name of that book store after all. He dropped off the info along with a statement about every negative bit of info he had on Serra Tate." Fin frowned. "Funny how he forgot to mention all that to you when you talked to him."

Olivia flipped through the folder. It was filled with candid shots of Serra in various city locales along with some very in depth information about her personal and financial history. "Some of these reports are dated months ago." She raised her eyebrows. "And they look pretty official."

"If you ask me Wainscott had a P.I. on our girl."

"My thoughts exactly." She saw him grab his jacket. "You out of here?"

"Yeah, I got a date. You should take off too. Elliot said he'd do the rounds with you on the home and work in the morning. Have a good one!"

She wandered over to her desk and sat down, going through the file more slowly. She wasn't aware of how much time had passed until Cragen's door opened some time later.

"Olivia! What are you still doing here?" The Captain looked at his watch. "It's almost seven."

"I just got caught up reading through the info Judge Wainscott dropped off." She closed the file quickly and stood, stretching to get the kinks out of her neck that her intense concentration had caused.

"Well, we have a new development." He tossed the evening edition of the Times on her desk and she groaned as she saw the headline on the front page.

Socialite Found Dead In Uptown Apartment.

"How bad is it?"

Cragen shrugged. "Not as bad as it could be. The name is still being held 'pending notification' thanks to Warner, but someone leaked the missing face. No mention of the S&M angle as of yet." He sighed heavily. "I guess we should be grateful we got two days on this without it splashed all over the city."

"Have we heard from Huang?"

"Yeah he called this afternoon. He's still at his conference in Miami but he got the pictures and Warner's summary that we fedexed him. He's going to start going through them but he won't be back until Monday."

She nodded tiredly and he seemed to take notice of her outfit for the first time. "How did it go in court?"

"Pretty well I think. No news yet though. Alex was supposed to call me…"

Cragen laughed. "Knowing her she's buried under a mountain of paperwork in her office and can't reach the phone. The two of you are like matching bookends." He pushed her gently towards the door. "Go home. Get some rest and come back to this fresh in the morning."

Nodding wordlessly she slid on her jacket and followed him out the door.

Her fourth floor apartment was dark when she entered, stuffy from being closed up all day and far too quiet for her liking. With a sigh, Olivia cracked open the window and allowed the cool early winter air to wash over her; it smelled like the city, like the rain and snow that would be coming soon. She slowly slipped off the jacket she was wearing and draped it over a chair.

Unbuttoning her shirt, she wandered into the bedroom. She undressed in the dark, pulling on a pair of boxer briefs and a t-shirt, knowing that she would be cold but looking forward to curling up under the quilt that lined the back of her couch as she went over everything that had happened that day in her mind.

It was her little ritual; a way to unwind and sift through her thoughts until she was tired enough to sleep.

As she settled herself into the corner of her sofa and pulled the blanket over her however, she found herself haunted by bright azure eyes. The way they had seemed to surround her in court, how they had held her safely as she recounted the horrors she had found in the house on Stewart Street. After a brief inner struggle she gave up trying to control her own thoughts and allowed her mind to piece together Alex's face. First it was the smooth, peach colored skin, then the high cheekbones, followed by full red lips, the bottom one swollen slightly, as though she was pouting…or had just been thoroughly kissed.

In her mind's eye, Alex's head tilted back slightly on the long, leonine neck; her eyes rolling back and then closing as the blonde licked her lips, one word dropping breathlessly from her mouth… Olivia…

The shrill ringing of the phone snapped the brunette out of her fantasy and her jaw dropped open slightly as she realized that her hand had slid under the blanket to gently cup one of her breasts. Pulling it away as though it were on fire, she shook her head violently.

"Jesus, Benson! Get a friggin' grip!" She reached out and plucked the phone from it's charger on the end table, barking into it a little more roughly than she intended to. "Yeah?"

There was silence on the other end for a moment. "Olivia?"

The detective's eyes closed and she groaned quietly as the softly spoken name did things to her that even her own hand hadn't accomplished.

"Are you ok?" Alex asked, concern threading her voice. "Are you hurt?"

"What?" Olivia reigned in her thoughts. "What? No! Why would you think I was hurt?"

"Well you kind of… groaned." The voice at the other end of the line became slightly amused. "Or am I interrupting something?"

Olivia didn't think she could be more embarrassed than she was at that moment. "No!" She stammered. "No! I'm alone!"

"Still not an answer to my question…"

She was wrong. Her cheeks bright pink, she could only stare at the phone in her hand.

Alex's voice dropped an octave and suddenly the cool air coming from the window seemed to have no effect on the room temperature whatsoever. She tossed away the blanket. "Do you need me to let you go…"

"Alex!" She growled.

"Ok, ok!" The ADA's laughter was bright and cheerful. "I'm sorry. I couldn't resist."

"You don't sound very sorry."

"I plead the fifth."

Olivia smiled. "You're in good mood. Did the jury come back?"

"Not yet." She could hear Alex moving around in the background. "We're adjourned until tomorrow morning but I don't expect deliberations to take very long. Not after your testimony."

The detective shrugged but couldn't help the smile that graced her lips. "Any time." She heard the sound of a cork being pulled from a bottle. "Where are you?"

"I'm at home. I'm sorry I didn't call earlier but I got stuck at work. Got back to my office to find a tower of case files on my desk."

"I figured." Olivia stretched, unaware of the slight whimper that escaped her as her muscles loosened. "So what are you going to do now?"

Alex was quiet for a moment. "Well, I was going to see if a certain SVU detective wanted to meet me somewhere for drinks, but you sound pretty happy right where you are."

The brunette looked down at herself with a rueful grin. "I'd love to but I'm already in my pajamas."

She could almost hear the blonde's eyebrows arch. "You wear pajamas?"

Olivia's mouth went dry. Alex was being…playful?

"You saying you don't?" She grinned in victory at the unmistakable sound of liquid being expelled through laughter.

"Olivia!" Alex growled. "I'll have you know this is a wonderful Shiraz and you just made me waste it!"

The detective laughed. "I'd say that was a victimless crime."

"Tell that to my dry cleaner."

"Are you going to answer the question?"

"I think that would be classified as privileged information, Detective."

"I believe you opened the door to this line of questioning, counselor." She smirked. "You can't un-ring a bell."

Alex's gentle laughter made her heart ache. "I do believe you have been spending way too much time around me."

"Not possible." Olivia clamped her hand over her mouth a second too late, her eyes widening as she realized she had spoken her thoughts out loud.

There was silence from the other end of the phone for a few long seconds. When Alex finally spoke, Olivia could hear the smile in her voice. "Well, we could still have a drink together. Give me a few minutes to change and I'll meet you on my couch."

The brunette took a deep breath. "Change into…?"

"You're impossible!" The blonde laughed. "Do you have something to drink?"

"Not at the moment."

"Well go and get something. I'll be right back."

Olivia heard her set the phone down and dashed to her kitchen, returning to the couch with a bottle of Merlot and a glass. She had just pulled the cork free when she heard Alex call her name.

"I'm here." She tucked the receiver between her ear and her shoulder and poured herself a glass of wine.

"So what did you find?"

"A 1997 Beringer Bancroft Ranch Merlot."

There was a soft whistle. "You opened that to talk to me on the phone? I'm flattered."

"When I bought it, the guy at the store said it was meant to be consumed slowly, so that you could truly appreciate the flavor. I guess this will have to be a long conversation counselor."

"Be careful what you wish for, detective."

Olivia smiled.

Friday 08:57 AM

Elliot squinted into the morning sun as he climbed out of the car. Walking around to the passenger side he opened the door, rolling his eyes as he took in the sight of his partner.

Olivia was sound asleep, her head tilted back against the headrest. She had been that way since they had gotten on the expressway forty five minutes earlier. He half wished the drive had been longer; maybe then she would have drooled on herself. That alone would have been worth the long drive spent in silence.

"Olivia!" He shook her shoulder gently. "Hey! Wake up!'

Slowly, Olivia stretched, raising her arms over her head as she purred deep in her throat. A slow smiled eased its way across her lips until she opened her eyes and saw him standing over her, then it faded quickly to a confused frown. "Elliot?"

He snorted. "Hey, I know I'm not your idea of Princess Charming but you don't have to look at me like I'm a Sasquatch."

"You forget I've seen you changing your shirt in the crib." She yawned. "I KNOW you're a Sasquatch!"

"Ha ha." He slammed the door after she had climbed out, watching as she arched her back until it popped. "What is it with you this morning? Another late night with Cabot?" She got a strange look on her face but before he could question her further she shifted into business mode, the gentle laziness and easy manner gone in a millisecond.

"So, what's the address?"

He blinked at the rapid change but flipped open his notebook. "Twelve forty-one. It's the second one up on the right."

Olivia stopped at the curb and studied the small duplex in front of her. It was a run down building in a run down section of town. Definitely not someplace anyone with money would want to live. "Who owns this place?"

"It's a rental." Elliot looked down at his pad. "The mail forwarding facility that Tate had on her license lists this as her home address, but it isn't in her name. Lease is under the name Shelly McManus."

Olivia shrugged. "Maybe she rents a room?"

"Or maybe she's trying really hard not to be found."

The brunette frowned but didn't say anything. Walking up the steps, she hit the bell, waited ten seconds and then hit it again.

The door flew open to reveal a pretty redhead in her early twenties with an extremely irritated look on her face. Elliot held up his badge. "I'm Detective Stabler, this is Detective Benson. We're-"

"I know what you're doing here." She snapped.

Olivia's eyebrows rose. "You do?"

"Yes, and Serra isn't here, so go and look somewhere else." With that, she slammed the door in their faces.

"That went well." Elliot shook his head as they walked back to the car.

"No kidding." She chewed on her bottom lip. "It doesn't make any sense. How would she know we were here for Serra and why would that make her so angry?"

"No clue and that statement sums up our track record with this case."

"Well, we've still got her job to check out." Olivia flipped open her notebook reading the information she had gotten from Fin. "She works at a book store on E street called Ink, Inc." She laughed under her breath. "That must have taken a lot of thought."

"Let's go give it a shot."

It was late afternoon by the time they got there, and the store was fairly crowded. A young brunette wearing a name tag that said 'Mary' walked up to them with a smile. "Welcome to Ink. What can I help you with?"

"Some information." Olivia flashed her badge. "Can we speak to the manager?"

"Oh," Her eyes glanced over Elliot's shoulder. "Jodi's at lunch. I'm the lead, can I help you?"

"Maybe." Elliot smiled. "We're trying to locate an employee of yours. Her name is Serra Tate. Is she working today?"

"Uh... Serra? I'm not sure." Her eyes flicked away again. "Why don't you come back to the office and I can check her schedule?"

Olivia frowned. "Something interesting going on over there?" She glanced over her shoulder to the cashier. The young man behind the counter flinched visibly as he tucked a walkie-talkie into his pants pocket. A moment later, a fire alarm went off at the back of the store.

"Elliot! Take the front!" She pushed him towards the door while she ran for the back. She made it to the alley just in time to see a silver Lexus speed around the corner. "Damn it!"

Elliot jogged towards her from the street. "Anything?"

She shook her head. "Dealer plates. But that was one hell of a car for someone that works part time at a used book store. Whatever is going on, she's definitely running from us.

He nodded as he caught his breath. "Now we just need to find out why."

Olivia smiled darkly. "Well, I can think of two people who better have some fucking answers."

Captain Cragen sighed as he watched the young man through the two way mirror, frowning when Elliot and Olivia walked in; both of them with irritated looks on their faces.

"She wouldn't give you anything?" He asked.

Olivia shook her head. "Apparently Mary Ferguson is pre-law. She knew we didn't have anything to hold her on." She ran her fingers through her hair. "So, short of staking out her work and her home round the clock, which I don't think would do us any good at this point, our last avenue of information on Serra Tate is sitting right there." She nodded to the young man sitting in the gray room looking nervous. "Do we have anything we can use for leverage?"

Munch held up a thin file. "Danny Todd, below average student at Brooklyn Junior College. No criminal record but thirteen outstanding parking tickets."

Elliot rolled his eyes. "If he was willing to piss off the cops I doubt threatening him with a fine is going to sway him."

Cragen looked at the young man thoughtfully. "Then go in hot." He said finally with a small shrug. "Throw everything you can think of at him and hope he isn't pre-law too."

Elliot glanced at his partner. "Top or bottom?"

"Like you even need to ask!" She smirked.

They walked into the room one at a time, Elliot leading the way. He set a cold soda in front of Danny before leaning against the wall behind him.

Olivia, on the other hand, bulled into the room like she had to physically push the air out of her way. Picking up one of the metal chairs, she slammed it down backwards, straddling it as she looked at the young man pointedly.

"You're in a lot of trouble, Danny." She growled.

To his credit, the kid managed to hide most of his fear. "You don't have any thing to hold me for. I want a lawyer!"

"You're not entitled to a lawyer." She leaned forward, laying her forearms on the chair so that her hands dangled in front of her. "You haven't been arrested… yet."

"Yet?" His voice held a tremor of anxiety and the detective smiled inwardly.

Nope, not pre-law.

"At the moment, Danny," She continued softly, but with unmistakable steel threading her words. "We're trying to decide just how many charges to file against you. So far you're looking at obstruction of justice, interfering with a police investigation…" She paused for a moment and then thought 'what the hell'. "Maybe even accessory to murder."

"MURDER?" Danny's voice cracked. "What are you talking about?"

"I'll ask the questions." Olivia grabbed up the soda and popped it open, taking a long drink. "Tell me about Serra Tate."

He looked at her warily. "What do you want to know?"

"Why did she run from us? Why did you warn her we were there to talk to her?"

"I did it for Mary!" Danny's shoulders slumped. "She and Serra are really good friends and she told me that Serra was getting harassed. That if anyone came looking for her, that I should give her a heads up."

Olivia looked at the boy sarcastically. "We identified ourselves, Danny. We aren't just two Joes off the street. We're New York City police detectives."

He sighed. "Mary told me it didn't matter who it was."

"So who was harassing Serra?" Elliot asked quietly, almost gently.

Danny responded eagerly, turning in his chair to look at the other detective like he would somehow save him from Olivia. "Some rich chick…" He scratched his head. "They were a pretty hot item for a while, but something happened and Serra got scared. She bolted and this chick would not leave her alone. Jeez what the fuck was her name… Walltrim?"

Olivia rolled her eyes. "Wainscott?"

"That's it!" His eyes brightened. "She had money and some kind of influential family. Serra wouldn't talk about what happened but apparently it was bad."

She glanced at Elliot. "How bad?"

Danny sighed. "Bad enough to make her run from anyone she didn't know."

Elliot pulled out a chair and sat down next to the young man, placing a hand on his shoulder. "We need to talk to Serra, Danny." He smiled reassuringly. "We need to find out what happened between her and Samantha Wainscott."


The two detectives looked at each other. Olivia shrugged.

"Because Samantha Wainscott is dead. She was murdered in her apartment early Wednesday morning."

"The woman in the paper…" Danny's mouth opened, then closed, then opened again. "I… I didn't know."

"But now you can see the severity of this situation, can't you?" Olivia leaned back. "Unless you want to be charged as an accessory after the fact, I suggest you start talking." She watched as all the color drained from his face.

"I don't know where she is…" He whispered.

"Fine!" Olivia stood and slid the chair back under the table. "Then we can't help you."

"Wait… wait!" Danny jumped up, only to find himself restrained by Elliot. "I don't know where she is now… but I know where she might be later."

"So what do you think?" Cragen asked as his detectives left the interrogation room.

"He's telling the truth." Olivia rubbed the back of her neck. "At least as much as he knows of it. He's too terrified to be lying."

"I agree." Elliot nodded.

"And the tip?"

"Couldn't hurt to check it out." Elliot frowned when his partner sighed heavily.

"Olivia?" Cragen looked at her pointedly.

"I dunno, Cap. If Serra was so terrified of Samantha that she was jumping at shadows why the hell would she go to her apartment at all?" She sighed. "But I don't deny that we need to talk to her. Just seems like a stretch that she would go there after running from us all afternoon."

"Not if she thinks you two were just more of the same harassment she was subject to before, whatever that might be." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "This is the best lead on her location at the moment. You two take Munch and Fin and make it happen."

"Are we going to call Alex in on this?" She asked.

Captain Cragen shook his head slowly. "The DA's office wouldn't be too happy about an undercover operation to find a 'person of interest'. We don't even have enough to arrest Tate. I think the less said to Cabot, the better, at least until after we find her."

"What about him?" Elliot jerked his thumb towards the window.

Don sighed. "We can hold him for twenty four hours without charging him. We'll keep him here until morning."

The detectives went back to their desks, each of them making phone calls and sending emails to prepare for the coming night's activities. Olivia reached out and grabbed the handset to contact TARU just as the phone rang. The warm tone on the other end of the line took her by surprise for a moment.

"Hey Liv." There was a pause when she didn't answer. "Olivia?"

"Uh…yeah. Hey Alex." The activity in the squad room stopped as everyone turned to look at her. "What's up?"

"Nothing, amazingly." She could hear Alex smile through the phone line. "I was thinking about the offer you made me last night and I wanted to know if I could take you up on it. I find myself unsurprisingly available this evening and in the mood for some really good Italian food."

Olivia couldn't believe Alex would be available any night of the week, let alone a Friday and closed her eyes in frustration. "I'd really love to, but I… I have plans tonight."

There was a pause and the voice that finally responded was quite a few degrees cooler. "Of course, it's Friday, I don't know why I thought you would be free."

"Can I get a rain-check?"

"Sure… whatever, Olivia."

The detective closed her eyes and sighed, turning her back to her squad mates who were watching her with raised eyebrows. "Alex… I'm really sorry I can't go.

"Hey, no need to apologize." She heard the blonde sigh. "Some other time."

"Definitely." Olivia hoped she sounded adamant, without sounding overly eager. She didn't want to scare Alex off… or have to explain the conversation to the men behind her.

She hung up the phone and quickly dialed TARU, not giving Elliot time to ask her anything at all.


Chapter Four: Right Place, REALLY Wrong Time…

Friday 09:30 PM

Olivia slid into the back of the taxi cab, sighing as she tried for the tenth time to get the cleavage escaping from her dress to behave. "Why am I doing this?"

In the front seat, Elliot picked up his pad and read over his notes. "Because according to reliable sources, Serra Tate makes an appearance at this bar every Friday night between 10 p.m. and midnight."

"No, I get that part." She gave up and leaned back into her seat. "What I want to know is why I'm the one all dolled up for this. There are a hundred female cops that would kill for the chance to go undercover. I'm the one that thought this was a bad lead remember?"

He cleared his throat as he hit the meter and carefully pulled out into traffic. "You fit the profile." He mumbled quietly.

"What profile?"

Elliot sighed. "The victim's profile, Liv. You're the same height, same body type, same…"

Her eyes narrowed. "Same what?"

"Age…range." He grinned when she glared at him.

"Great! Serra Tate is twenty-two years old. I'm going to end up looking like a chicken hawk!" She grabbed the top of her dressed and tugged, trying to get it to stay in place.

"Stop fidgeting, you look great."

OIivia glanced into the rear view mirror of the cab, frowning at the reflection of Eliot's eyes looking back at her. He was her handler tonight. He would drop her off in front of the club and then park around the side, switching off his 'In Service' light so that he could monitor her audio feed undisturbed. Munch and Fin would be stationed in a second car a block over.

"That's easy for you to say." She grumbled, straightening the two-way transceiver that was hidden in her cleavage. "This thing is so tight my boobs are reading the numbers on the volume dial by Braille."

Elliot laughed from the front seat as he raised his head to take in more of his partner's appearance.

The dress was a traffic accident waiting to happen. Black and strapless, it looked like it had been painted on, barely covering her body from the area right above her nipples to just below her thighs, the silk straining to contain her breasts, which had been pushed up and enhanced by the harness necessary to hold the surveillance equipment in place.

Not that they need much enhancement. He thought to himself, wishing he could see her legs. There was just something about a gorgeous woman in knee-high black boots…

Olivia cleared her throat and Elliot's eyes jumped back to her face. He grinned unrepentantly at her scowl.

"You're married, and you're like my bother, El!"

"Hey," The big man shrugged. "Nothing wrong with admiring the scenery."

She sighed. "Tell me again why I'm dressed like this? Most of the lesbian bars I've ever been to didn't require much more than shirts and shoes."

He raised one eyebrow in the rear view mirror. "And just how many lesbian bars have you been to?"

Olivia flushed. "Shut up, Elliot."

Stabler laughed quietly. He was going to be living off of this one for weeks. "Fin said this isn't your typical lesbian bar. Apparently it's the high end muckity-muck variety."

"And how would he know?"

"I didn't ask."

She picked up the tiny black purse that was resting on the seat beside her and opened it, pulling out a small earpiece to hold it in the palm of her hand. "How did we rate the top of the line stuff tonight?"

Normally, the earpiece would be attached to a transparent cable that wound over the back of her ear and then ran down the side of her neck. What she held in her hand now was one of only four new wire devices the city had graced them with earlier in the year. Its base was flat, no larger than a dime, with a thin rubber coated wire that held it snuggly behind her ear. There was no piece that went directly into her ear canal and she looked at it skeptically.

"With that dress?" Elliot shook his head. "A wire running from your ear down into your chest might draw a little bit of attention. Your breasts will get enough as it is." He mumbled under his breath.

Ignoring him, she activated the unit and slid it on, laying her palm over her other ear to block out the sound. "Say something."


Both of her eyebrows shot up. "Huh… clear as a bell." She closed her bag and sat back. "So what is this place called again?"


Olivia rolled her eyes. "Subtle."

"Ok, we're here."

She slid over to the door and looked out, her forehead furrowing in confusion. "This can't be right."

Her partner looked at the address written on his notepad. "1655 Park West." He glanced out the window as well.

There were no neon lights, no signs of any kind. Nor was there a line of people waiting outside to get in as there would be at most clubs by this time on a Friday night. The building was nondescript, but very well cared for; not a single inch of ivy covered the bricks. People considered ivy to be romantic, but true New Yorkers knew the amount of damage it could do to a buildings exterior. The only incongruous elements to this place were the pristine white door set into the center of the deep red brick and the well dressed doorman standing beside it.

"Uhm… Elliot? Just how exclusive is this club?"

"Dunno." He switched on the radio sitting on the seat next to him and began to fiddle with the dials, finally satisfied when the signal spiked.

"How do we know I'll even be able to get in?"

Her partner turned to look at her through the plastic shielding that separated them. "You're joking right?" He shook his head. "Liv, you look incredible-"

"Yeah but do I look like a high-class lesbian?"

Elliot strangled on his laughter. "Only every day of the year."

"Thanks a lot!" She scowled at him and opened the car door.

"Trust me, it's a compliment!" He called after her as she slammed the door and walked away. He watched her as she strode confidently up to the doorman, her hips swaying slightly, her backside accentuated by the heels of her black boots. "Definitely a compliment."

"May I help you ma'am? The doorman asked her politely.

She smiled. "Velvet?"

His eyes traveled over her slowly, but it felt more speculative than lecherous. "Color?"


Elliot's voice whispered in her ear.

"Red." She nodded slightly.

The doorman smiled and slid his key into the ornate lock on the door. Pulling it open, he bowed slightly and waved her forward. "Have a wonderful evening, Ma'am."

Olivia stepped into the well lit hallway, her eyes immediately going to the artwork that adorned the walls on either side of her. "Damn…"


She smiled at the tenseness in his voice. "Are you sure this is a lesbian bar and not a museum?" She walked down the hallway towards the elevator at the other end. The doors opened as soon as she approached and one eyebrow quirked in confusion. Stepping inside, she noticed that all of the call buttons were dark and pressing them had no affect.

The doors slid shut as the light next to the 'P' button illuminated and Olivia shook her head in wonder as she glanced up at the ceiling, easily locating the camera that she knew she would find there.

"This place is something else, El." She whispered, not knowing how powerful the camera was and not wanting to look like she was talking to herself. "Dedicated elevator service."

"Tell me again why you always get the part with the drinking and the pretty women and I get the part where I sit in the car trying to stay warm?

"Kathy bribes me with sex."

"And you never let me watch?"

Olivia laughed. Her partner might be a pig sometimes, but he was her pig. "Ok, I'm almost to the top. Going silent."

"Knock 'em dead, slugger."

She was still smiling when she stepped off the elevator only to feel the grin fade as her jaw dropped slightly.

The penthouse was huge, spanning the entire top floor of the building. One corner was occupied by an elaborate DJ booth and a large marble dance floor, while the rest of the space was filled with tables covered in fine linen and crystal glasses. The only light came from small fixtures set discreetly into the ceiling, the candles glowing softly in the center of each sitting area and the gas lamps that lined the wall across the top of the bar.

It was beautiful in an extremely elegant and understated way.

Closing her mouth and lifting her chin, she surveyed the room. The last stool at the bar was unoccupied and it would allow her a perfect vantage point while keeping a wall to her right, thereby lessening the risk of anyone seeing the earpiece that her short hair did not even begin to cover.

As she walked to her desired location, Olivia's eyes slid around the room, taking in the women who moved about the place as though they owned it. Slim and leggy, all of them model beautiful, she suddenly felt like the bastard child at a family reunion. More than once she had to keep herself from stopping to stare as she recognized some of the individuals present. A senator's daughter, a prominent Doctor, and a popular actress were among the faces that turned to look her up and down as she moved past. Feeling self conscious, she quickened her pace.

When she finally settled onto the stool, she laughed quietly at herself. These women were probably just shocked to see someone her age here.

Hell, if anyone did notice the earpiece she could always tell them it was a hearing aid.

Glancing up, Olivia saw her reflection in the mirror behind the bar and could not stop her hand from reaching up to play with the curls lying wildly across her forehead. She had gone to see her stylist earlier in the day, making him squeal in delight when she asked for something that would make her look a little more approachable. What she had ended up with was two hours sitting in foil and curlers as he turned her easy to care for style into a tribute to hairspray and mousse.

Sighing in frustration, Olivia tugged at a particularly rebellious lock of hair, trying to make it lie down and behave.

"Don't bother. It would be a wasted effort."

The detective's eyebrows shot up as she turned to look at the woman standing on the other side of the bar. She had short blonde hair, a peaches and cream complexion and deep blue-gray eyes that held more of her smile than her lips did. "I beg your pardon?"

The bartender leaned down to look directly into her eyes. "You can't improve on perfection."

Olivia flushed, feeling absurdly pleased by the compliment. "I bet you say that to all the girls."

"Maybe," The blue eyes sparkled mischievously. "But I don't often get to mean it." She held out her hand. "Name's Zoey."

"Hello, Zoey." She took the proffered hand, a small frisson of… something… traveling down her spine when the woman's fingertips grazed across her palm in the process. "I'm Olivia."

"Olivia." The younger woman smiled as she pulled out a tall glass and tossed several sprigs of mint into it, using a long, thin fork to crush them against the sides. "I haven't seen you in here before."

"No I'm… I'm new." She watched the bartenders hands move with an easy grace as they added sugar and lime juice, followed by ice, rum, and finally club soda. Olivia smiled when Zoey looked around like she was about to do something naughty, only to see her throw in a shot of razzmatazz and several fresh raspberries.

"Well then," She slid the drink across the bar towards the detective. "Allow me to buy you your first drink, A Velvet Mojito." Zoey waited until she took a sip, watching intently as the deep brown eyes closed in appreciation.

"Thank you." Olivia smiled. "It's very good."

"My pleasure." A wide grin spread across the younger woman's face. "I somehow doubt that I'll get another opportunity. I think your dance card is going to be very full." She winked and wandered off towards the other end of the bar.

"She sounded hot."

Olivia felt a flush creep into her cheeks. "Perv." She whispered quietly.

"What does she look like?"

"Twenty-five, blonde hair, blue eyes, runners body… Your basic wet dream."

"Wanna switch places?"

"Somehow I don't think you'd blend."

An hour and a half later, Olivia sighed heavily as she stared into her glass. She had switched to club soda after the first Mojito; a small smile in Zoey's direction enough to bring the bartender running whenever she needed a refill.

"Want another?"

Olivia looked up into blue-gray eyes and smiled. "I suppose so. Guess you were wrong about me, huh?"

"Oh, no I wasn't." She chuckled.

The detective shook her head. "I haven't had a single bite all night. I think I'm a little past my prime in here."

Zoey set the club soda down and leaned on the bar in front of her, lowering her voice like she was sharing state secrets. "The idea of youth as a symbol of beauty is a male concept. Eighty percent of the women in here are dying to come over and talk to you. The other twenty percent are trying hard to ignore you so that their girlfriends don't drag them home."

"So why am I sitting here alone then?"

Zoey grinned. "Let me tell you something about my patrons. Every woman in here is posh, privileged, and pampered. What they are not is stupid."

Olivia's smile vanished. She knows I'm a cop?

"There's money, there's power, and there's class, Olivia." The bartender continued. "Most of the women who come here have two out of three. And when a three for three locks her sights on someone, you can rest assured that the others are not about to block her view."

The detective blinked in confusion. "I don't understand."

"You're spoken for." Zoey chuckled. "Back corner; near the DJ booth." Without another word she turned and walked away.

Olivia took a deep breath and casually turned around, her eyes moving across the dance floor until they intersected a thin strip of empty marble. Following it, her view fell on a pair of expensive black heels. Slowly, her eyes traced up a delicate set of calves to pass over firm thighs that disappeared beneath a dark gray skirt. Above that was a trim waist, followed by slender torso covered in peach silk. When her gaze finally landed on a pair of pink, bow shaped lips, she felt her heart start to beat double time in her chest. Above those lips were…

"Oh my god..."

… a pair of sky blue eyes flashing at her from behind thin dark framed glasses.

"What's up,Liv?"

"Uh…" She watched as Alexandra Cabot uncoiled from her chair, her body a study in grace as she began to move towards her, the dancers on the floor sliding out of her way as she walked through them. "Elliot, I'm pulling the mic."

"What?!? Why?

"Just…trust me on this." She whispered. Turning her back to the advancing woman, she slid her finger over the outside of her bodice, quickly pressing the button to mute the outgoing feed. That done, she fixed her eyes on the mirror across from her, unable to stop herself from watching the gorgeous blonde settle into the chair next to her. For several long moments they just listened to each other breath.

Finally, Alex broke the silence and the brunette could hear the smile in her voice.

"Detective." She said softly.

Olivia closed her eyes, swallowing against the dryness of her throat as she tried to control the flood of heat that pounded through her veins. How anyone could make three syllables sound so damn sexy was beyond her. She felt her cheeks grow hot and couldn't stop the small grin that tugged on her lips as she answered. "Counselor."

The blonde leaned one elbow against the bar as she studied Olivia's profile intently. "This is somewhat… unexpected."

"Yeah." Olivia snorted. "I'm a little out of my league here."

Alex moved in closer, stopping only when she was well within the older woman's personal space. "That's not what I meant Olivia."

The detective turned her head slightly, careful to keep her right side hidden. She could feel the warmth of Alex's skin and caught the scent of jasmine and vanilla, a combination that made her head swim dangerously. "What did you mean?"

Alex tilted her head down, letting her eyes rest for a moment on Olivia's leather-clad calves before slowly sliding them up the other woman's body. Their progress paused at three distinct locations; once on Olivia's hips, again at her breasts, and finally on her lips, which she stared at for several long seconds before tearing her gaze away with what looked like a concerted effort. Finally, deep blue eyes connected with her own, the heat in them strong enough to affect Olivia like a physical blow to her midsection.

"I mean… That's one hell of a dress, Detective, what there is of it anyway." The blonde's voice was low, husky in her ears and Olivia felt massive jolt of desire course through her, leaving her pulse racing and her fingers trembling as she dropped her eyes to the counter.

Alex's lips curved into a gentle smile as she saw the effect she was having on the older woman. Leaning down, she caught her eyes again. "What are you doing here, Liv?"

"Looking for a woman." She swallowed. Hey, it was true.

The blonde smiled briefly at Zoey as the bartender sat a short glass in front of her before moving off towards the other end of the bar. The liquid in it was clear and the ice clinked against the fine crystal as Alex raised it to her mouth.

Olivia watched in rapt fascination as those perfect, pink lips closed on the edge of the glass; her eyes following the line of Alex's neck to her throat, watching it move gracefully as the blonde swallowed. She felt her breathing go shallow and she realized she was biting down on her bottom lip. Hard.

When Alex set the glass back down on the bar it was empty and her fingers played gently against its side, rubbing away the frost in long, smooth strokes. "What kind of woman?" She asked.

"A blonde." Olivia swallowed, wondering inanely where all of her saliva had gone. "With blue eyes."

A wicked smile slid across the ADA's lips as she leaned in to breathe into the detective's ear. "I had no idea…"

Olivia shuddered, the warm breath in her ear causing a corresponding warmth in other areas of her anatomy. The statement was familiar and this time her brain immediately disengaged as her mouth took over. "Would you like to?" She whispered as she locked gazes with the blonde.

Alex swallowed; her pulse racing at the desire clearly present in the soft brown eyes. Taking a deep breath, she raised her hand and placed it gently on the back of Olivia's neck.

"Liv!" Elliot's voice cut through the desire induced haze. "Tate just stepped out of a cab. She's talking to the doorman now."

Olivia blinked. Talk about shitty timing. She opened her mouth to speak but Alex stopped her by moving in closer and pressing soft, slightly hesitant lips against her own.

"Liv!" Her partner's panicked voice shouted in her ear. "Answer me or we're coming in now!"

Olivia thumbed the mute button as she tore her lips away. "No!" She growled into her chest. "Don't do that!"

She killed the feed again before looking back up, her heart freezing as she took in the expression on Alex's face.

The ADA was staring at her, her cheeks flaming bright red and her eyes shiny as the mask she wore everyday in the courtroom came slamming down, hiding away the vibrant woman who had been sitting at her side only a moment earlier. "I'm… I'm sorry, Detective." Alex's managed to get the words past her clenched teeth. "I obviously misread the situation." She turned to go and Olivia stood, grabbing her by the arm.

"Alex!" She whispered fiercely. "Wait!"

"Let go of me, Olivia." The blonde's voice was low, her eyes dangerous. "I think you have made yourself quite clear."

"No… I…" Olivia shook her head in frustration. "I wasn't talking to you. I…" She stopped when she realized that Alex was staring at her, her mouth hanging open slightly. With two fingers, the ADA reached out and turned Olivia's head to the side, bringing the ear piece fully into view.

"Oh my god." She whispered.

"Alex, it isn't what you think."

"Not what I think?" Only years of proper upbringing kept her voice from rising above the level of normal conversation. "What I think is that you sat here and played me while your partner and god only knows who else was outside laughing!" She felt panic, cold and hard slip through her.

Olivia looked as though she had been slapped. "God, Alex… no." She glanced over the blonde's shoulder as the elevator opened and Serra Tate walked into the bar. "Look, I promise I will explain myself. But right now I need you to tell me off and storm away."

Alex laughed bitterly. "Oh I can assure you that will be absolutely no problem!" She turned to leave only to find herself wrapped up in Olivia's arms. Her body reacted instantly, her breath becoming more rapid as her heart tried to pound its way out of her chest. Angry and embarrassed by her reaction, she began to pull away. "Take your hands off me!"

Olivia winced at the anger in the words but nuzzled her face into the blonde's neck anyway, whispering, "Not that way, Alex. You can't leave through the front. Trust me."

"Trust you?" Alex sneered. "I doubt that will ever happened again!" Pushing the older woman away she headed towards the restrooms at the back of the bar.

Olivia watched her go, shaking her head sadly.

Well… Fuck.

Somehow the word didn't really seem to cover it.

The only upside was that Serra Tate was watching her from the other end of the bar, a look of cautious interest apparent on her face. She caught Zoey's eye and beckoned her over with a slight inclination of her head.

When the bartender was standing in front of her, Olivia said softly. "Do you see that woman at the end of the bar? I want to buy her a drink."

Zoey glanced over her shoulder then gave the detective an incredulous look. "You're telling me you let Cabot walk so you could buy her a drink? What is she, like ten years old? Are you insane? Did you come here tonight on a little yellow bus?"

Olivia sighed. "It isn't what you think."

"You know what I think?" Zoey crossed her arms over her chest. "I think you're going to be regretting what you just did for a very long time."

The detective laughed bitterly. "You have no idea." She palmed her badge from her handbag and then slid it towards the younger woman. "Do me a favor would you? Put this behind the bar, and then take her a Velvet Mojito." She held up her hand to forestall any further comments. "Please?"

The bartender shook her head. "Yeah, fine. Whatever."

She watched Zoey make the drink and take it over to Tate, waiting until she was out of earshot before turning on the feed and mumbling quietly, "Five minutes, Elliot."


She watched the young woman accept the drink with a smile, sipping it casually before sliding off her stool and walking over to stand next to Olivia. "That scene looked a little…uncomfortable."

The brunette flashed a lopsided grin. "Yeah, well. Sometimes they just can't take the hint, you know?"

Serra leaned in a little. "What hint might that be?"

Olivia studied her closely. She was just as petite as she had seemed on her driver's license photo, with a slim, swimmers body, a flawless complexion, thick blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Her features were delicate and lovely. All in all, Serra Tate was someone that would have definitely turned her head in another time and place.

And for all the wrong reasons.

She shrugged. "That no one owns me. I don't care how much money or power they have."

Serra nodded. "I can commiserate." She ran the tip of her finger along the detective's bare arm. "So… is it safe to assume that you bought me this drink for a reason?"

Olivia raised one eyebrow as she ran her eyes over the other woman's body suggestively. "I'd say it's pretty safe for you to assume just about anything you like."

"You want to get out of here?"

The detective glanced back the way Alex had gone for a moment and then smiled. "Definitely." She wrapped her arm around the smaller woman's waist, ignoring Zoey's disapproving look as they walked out of the bar.

Outside, she raised her arm, waving at Elliot who pulled around the corner to stop at the curb in front of them. As she opened the door, Serra leaned into her, nuzzling close to her left ear as she whispered, "So what did you have in mind?"

Olivia held up the badge she had hidden in her hand. "I was thinking we could go to my place."

The blonde took a step backwards, colliding with Munch and Fin as they walked up behind her. She looked back and forth between them. "What's going on?"

"We were hoping you could tell us, Serra." Olivia glanced towards the door. A small group of women had exited the bar and stood watching them. "We've been looking for you. We have some questions we need you to answer downtown."

"And if I refuse?" Serra raised her chin stubbornly.

Olivia nodded at Elliot, who was still sitting inside the taxi. "You can either get in the back of this cab with my partner willingly, or I can have the men standing behind you cuff you and put you in their car. You have five seconds to decide."

The younger woman frowned, her eyes filling with rage as she slid into the back of the cab. Olivia closed the door behind her.

"Take her in, El."

Her partner looked at her curiously. "Where are you going?"

"I forgot my purse. I need to go grab it."

Elliot snorted. "Guess you're not used to accessorizing, huh?"

"Shut up, Elliot!" She growled.

"You want me to wait?"

"No." Olivia shook her head. "I'll grab a real cab, one with a driver that knows how to keep his mouth shut."

Olivia shifted impatiently from one foot to the other as she rode the small elevator back up to the top floor. When it came to a stop she slid through the doors before they were completely open and headed straight for the back of the penthouse.

"She's gone."

The detective stopped, turning to glare at Zoey who was drying glasses behind the bar, a deceptively benign look on her face. "Where did she go?"

"You mean after you tossed her aside for the Tater Tot?"

"Tater Tot?"

"Yeah," Zoey set down the glass she was holding and leaned on the bar. "That's Serra's nick name around here. She's barely old enough to get in legally and if she hadn't been the guest of a long time client at one point, she never would have made it past the doorman."

Olivia slid onto one of the barstools with a heavy sigh. "Please tell me where Alex went."

"She ducked out the back."

"We're twelve stories up!"

"There's a freight elevator behind the restrooms. We use it to move stuff back and forth. She went down to the basement and then took the stairs up to street level. Comes out on the other side of the block."

"Great." Olivia dropped her head into her hands. "Just great. She took the shot of whiskey Zoey placed in front of her and downed it, but shook her head at the offer of another. "Can I get my bag?"

"You want to talk about it?" The blonde asked as she retrieved Olivia's purse.

The brunette sighed again. "I truly wish I could. But that's something I just can't do right now."

The bartender looked at her closely for a moment. "You care for her?"

Olivia nodded dejectedly.

Zoey smirked and turned around; pulling a small key from the pocket of the vest she was wearing. The detective watched her unlock a cabinet at the back of the bar and pull out a tiny drawer. Nimble fingers grabbed something from inside of it and tossed it in Olivia's direction.

She caught the object in midair, looking at it curiously as it dangled from her fingertips. It was a keychain, made of finely wrought delicate links that at first glance she mistook for silver. But there was no mistaking the weight in her palm, or the PLAT stamped in discreet letters on the inside of the key loop. The other end of the chain ended in small pink crystal attached to a tiny silver labrys. "What's this?"

"The key to heaven." Zoey winked at her. "I know class when I see it, Olivia. And power… it's pretty obvious you knew Cabot before you came in here. That means law or politics. Either way, you've got at least two out of the three, which means you qualify. That will get you in here any day of the week." She started to walk away and then turned back, her lips quirking into an odd grin. "But if you're looking for Cabot, I'd stick to Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. She's never had much interest in the rest of the week."

Olivia nodded absently, tucking the keychain into her pocket as she headed for the door.


Chapter Five – Objects In Motion

Saturday 1:06 AM

Olivia stepped into the observation room, stopping short when she saw Alex and Cragen standing in front of the two way mirror. The blonde was still dressed in the same peach colored silk blouse and charcoal skirt she had been wearing earlier at the club, which meant the Captain had caught her on her way home.

Oh goody.

She noticed that the ADA's color was high, her cheeks flushed, causing the blue of her eyes to stand out even more clearly. For a moment, she simply stared, transfixed as thoughts of Alex flushed and sweaty, whimpering softly as she moved beneath her flooded her mind.

Then she realized that the Captain was flushed too, and that the body language between the two of them was, at best, adversarial.

"What's up?" She asked cautiously.

Both of them turned to face her and for just a moment, she saw a flash of heat beneath the anger in the blondes gaze. Then it was gone.

"'What's up' is that I'm leaving." Alex announced as she gathered her briefcase and jacket.

"What?" Olivia met her halfway across the room, blocking her exit. "What are you talking about? You're not going to stay for the interrogation?"

"There isn't going to be an interrogation."

"Alex," The captain said evenly. "If you would just listen to us for a minute…"

"Listen to what?" The ADA turned on him quickly. "That you gave the go ahead for an unauthorized operation during which your detectives used subterfuge as the means to remove a private citizen from a private establishment for the purpose of unlawful detainment?"

Olivia couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Alex, the fluids on those sheets came from two women. According to Samantha's father, this woman is not only her girlfriend, but sole heir in a will that was changed one week before the victim died."

"Circumstantial." Alex straightened her back and looked down at Olivia, remembering how much it used to frustrate the detective when they first met. Seems like old times. "You have no proof and no trace of Tate in the victim's apartment. If they had been lovers, don't you think there would have been some sign of her there? All you have is the word of a grieving father who couldn't see past his daughter's lesbianism when she was alive and is now trying to blame her death on the woman he believes to have been her lover."

"And the fact that she's been avoiding our attempts to question her for the last two days?"

Alex chewed her bottom lip as she studied the woman in front of her. Olivia was still in the little black dress that had taken her breath away. Somehow that seemed unfair. "We can't compel DNA." She said flatly.

"But we can ask right?"

The ADA sighed. "Fine, you can ask." She pointed at the brunette in frustration. "But the first inclination she shows that she wants to walk, you open the door. Otherwise you're going to tank any action we may want to take against her in the future."

"Deal!" She draped a lazy smile across her lips as she watched the other woman walk away, only calling out to her once she was almost through the door. "Alex?"

The blonde turned, looking at her impatiently.

Olivia allowed her emotions to show as much as she dared as she locked her gaze with the angry ADA. "Thank you." She whispered.

"Be careful, detective." Alex's voice was low and dangerous. "Those eyes will only get you so much."

Olivia stepped into the interrogation room, nodding at Elliot who was standing with his back to the wall behind Serra.

The small blonde was slouched in a chair, an angry pout on her face as her fingers tapped rapidly against the tabletop. When she saw Olivia, she sat up straight, her eyes flashing with anger. "You have no right to drag me down here! This is harassment!"

Olivia raised her eyebrows. "How do you figure that?" She leaned on the window sill, gripping the edge with her hands.

"Shelly told me you went to the house, and then to my work?" Serra spat. "What would you call it?"

"Doing our jobs?"

"Your jobs, right! That's rich!" She glanced over her shoulder at Stabler. "And don't think I don't know what you're trying to do! With your trained ape breathing down my neck and you standing so I'm forced to look up at you! I've seen all the tricks before. You don't intimidate me!"

Olivia almost smiled. Tough little thing. "Spend a lot of time in custody do you?"

Serra leaned her head to the side as she shot the detective a scorching look. "As if you didn't know."

"Okay, look, you seem to be suffering from some paranoid delusion that we're out to get you…"

"Paranoid?" Tate tensed. "Was I paranoid when I got dragged down here the last four times? Was I paranoid when I caught that guy following me taking all those pictures? I'm not stupid, detective. I know Sam's behind this."

Olivia blinked. "Are you referring to Samantha or Samuel Wainscott?"

Serra only snorted.

"You must mean Samuel, since Samantha's dead." The detective shrugged, going for the shock value, hoping to shake some kind of reaction loose. She watched the blonde closely, taking in the range of emotions that flashed across her features. When one finally settled on her face, she reacted to it just a moment too late.

"YOU FUCKING BITCH!" Serra jumped out of her chair, lunging at the brunette so quickly that Elliot wasn't prepared for it. The look on his face would have been comical if Olivia had time to think about it. Instead she found herself staring at a well thrown right hook.

Tate's fist was small, but her forward momentum and her anger lent her a good deal of strength. The force of the blow snapped Olivia's head backwards where it connected solidly with the glass of the two-way mirror. Seeing stars, she slid down into a crouching position as Elliot grabbed Serra and tried to hold her still.

The small blonde was enraged and she yanked her body violently, trying to break free from Elliot's grasp. "YOU'RE SICK! YOU'RE A SICK TWISTED BITCH AND SO IS SHE! I KNEW SHE WAS FUCKED UP BUT I NEVER THOUGHT SHE WOULD GO THIS FAR!!"

The door opened and two female officers rushed in. They took control of the prisoner as Cragen stepped into the room. "Get her out of here!" He barked. "Throw her in the tombs, let her cool off before we book her for assaulting an officer!"

Serra continued to rant and scream as she was dragged away. When she was gone, Cragen reached down and pulled Olivia to her feet.

The brunette had one hand wrapped around the back of her head and the other on her jaw.

"Are you okay?" He pealed her hand away and checked the back of her skull for blood. "You're going to have a nasty bump but there's no laceration."

"So, did that change your mind about Tate's ability to be involved in Samantha's death?" Elliot snapped. "She's obviously capable of violence!"

"But she still wouldn't have the necessary strength!" Olivia snapped back, her head pounding.

"You couldn't tell that from the condition of your mouth!"

Olivia pulled her hand away from her jaw to find it stained with blood. Turning around, she looked at herself in the mirror. Seeing no obvious damage, she pulled down her lower lip, growling at the cut that ran along the inner edge. "Shit." She whispered. It wasn't bad, but it was definitely the kind of thing that would drive her crazy until it healed. Sighing, she turned back to her partner. "The mirror did more damage than Tate did."

"Liv, she's obviously unstable…" He began.

Her voice was small, tired. "You weren't looking at her face."


"Meaning, I saw her eyes. The shock, the disbelief… the rage." She glanced at Cragen and caught him looking at the floor. So he had seen it too. "She didn't know…" Olivia sighed heavily, rubbing her temples to try and stave off the headache that was brewing behind her eyes. "She didn't know."

Elliot looked across his desk, watching quietly as Olivia dumped four Tylenol into her palm. Taking a deep breath, she tossed them into her mouth and chewed.

Grimacing, he cleared his throat. "Listen, Liv… I just-"

She waved her hand at him. "Forget it. I didn't expect her to jump at me any more than you did. It wasn't your fault. I tried for shock value and got exactly what I deserved."

He frowned, knowing there was no point in arguing with her. "You really think she didn't know?"

"I know she didn't."

"Okay." He nodded. "Still, she might have information that could help the investigation. But we're not going to get anything out of her tonight. I'm going home. You should too." He stood and walked towards the door, stopping to drop a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Olivia placed her hand on top of his for a moment, but didn't look up until he had left the squad room. When he was gone, she stared at the phone on her desk for several long minutes before picking up the receiver and dialing the number from memory.

"You have reached Alexandra Cabot. I am unavailable at the moment. Please leave a message and I will return your call."

"Alex?" She said softly. "If you're there please pick up." There was no answer. Sighing, she lowered her head until it rested on her desk. "Look, I know what you must be thinking… I know I screwed up, but I can explain. Please, Alex…" Frustrated, she began to beat her forehead lightly against the desktop.

"Olivia? What are you doing?"

She snapped her head up, regretting it immediately when she was hit by a wave of dizziness. Grinding her teeth, she smiled tightly at Cragen's concerned look. "Nothing!" She dropped the phone back into its cradle as she stood up. "I was just going to head home."

He nodded. "Come on, I'll drive you."

Across town, Alex sat on her couch, raising a glass of wine to her lips as she listened to Olivia's message. She heard Cragen in the background and the panic that crept into the detective's voice before she hung up the phone. She hit the button and played it again, and then once more.

Leaning her head back, she balanced her wine glass on her thigh as she contemplated the ceiling. She felt like a fool. She knew she should just pick up the phone, give Olivia the chance to explain herself but she couldn't seem to make herself do it.

Alex knew the betrayal she was feeling was blown out of proportion, but she couldn't change how she felt. It had been a long time since she had allowed anyone to get under her skin the way that Olivia had. The last time had been almost five years earlier; it had nearly cost her her career and she had sworn she would never put herself in that position again.

And she had been so careful. Trying to keep her distance, trying to stay professional, trying not to stare too long or spend too much time around the alluring detective.

But, oh… their arguments…

Alex took a deep breath, her pulse racing as she remembered the verbal brawls she had engaged in with headstrong detective. The way she would purposely bait the brunette just to see the fire burn brighter in those incredible eyes, causing the deep auburn to lighten until it was almost the color of a newly minted penny. She admired her tenacity, her intelligence and her commitment, but what she craved was Olivia's passion.

For a while the arguments had been enough. But then, somewhere along the way, something changed.

Olivia had started smiling at her.

Small secretive smiles that haunted her for days, the kind that involved more than just the detective's lips.

And the glances… How many times had she looked up to find the brunette's eyes sliding away from some point on her body, her ears slightly pink as she looked anywhere but at her? And, if she were to be completely honest, how many times had she caught herself watching Olivia when the older woman was unaware?

Sighing, Alex took a long drink. She blamed the warmth in her body on the alcohol she had consumed, laughing bitterly at the hollowness of the words in her own mind.

She could rationalize as much as she wanted to, but in the end her heart would always drag her right back to the truth.

She wanted Olivia Benson. Needed her in ways that had nothing to do with court cases, police badges or handcuffs…

Okay… Maybe the handcuffs…

Alex's eyebrows rose as her mind went in a direction she hadn't expected, her cheeks flushing bright red as she tipped her glass back and allowed the last of the crimson liquid to slide over her tongue.

This was exactly the problem! She could barely finish a thought about the woman without short circuiting! How would she ever be able to function if they actually…

No. She shook her head as she stood up, sliding the empty glass onto the dining room table as she headed for her bedroom. It just can't happen.

I've got too damn much to lose.

Saturday 8:00 AM

Olivia looked up, nodding silently at Elliot as he walked into the bullpen. She finished reading through the information they had on Serra Tate while he got a cup of coffee and settled himself at desk across from her.

"How long you been here?"

Olivia shrugged. "About an hour." She could feel his eyes on her, could sense the compassion he was directing at her and it wasn't something she was ready to deal with. Snapping her head up, she glared at him. "What?"

"I know you've been kicking yourself about this all night." He said gently. "There would never have been good way for her to find out, Liv."

"I know that! I did my job. And I would do it again. " She leaned back in her chair with a sigh. "But that doesn't mean I have to like it." She flipped the cover closed on Serra's file, tapping her fingers on top of it. "We're missing something here, Elliot."

"What do you mean?"

"I've been going through all of the info we have on this girl, including the stuff Wainscott dropped off, and there are still holes big enough to drive a Lexus through."

"They bring her up yet?"

Olivia nodded. "She's in room two. Let me take this one?"

Her partner studied her for a moment before raising one eyebrow sarcastically. "Sure you'll be safe?"

Standing, she slid the file under her arm before flipping up her middle finger as she walked away.

When she stepped into the interrogation room, Olivia immediately motioned for the guard on duty to leave. She pulled out a chair and sat down, quietly contemplating the woman in front of her.

Serra Tate sat with her head down, her face cradled in her palms; her slim shoulders shaking violently as wrenching sobs tore through her body. On the table in front of her was a copy of the New York Times, the same one Cragen had shown her on Thursday.

"You weren't lying." Her voice was barely a whisper. "She really is dead."

"Yes." Olivia said gently.

"Why? Who would do that?" The blonde raised her head, staring at the detective through red-rimmed eyes. "The paper said… it said…" She put her hand over her mouth.

Olivia slid a small trash can towards her, pursing her lips as she watched the young women become violently ill. "We don't know. That's what we're trying to figure out. Where were you last Tuesday night?"

Serra looked up at her. "You think I could have done that? That I could have hurt Sam like that? I loved her!"

"Then where were you Serra?"

"I was at home!" She snapped.

"There seems to be some confusion as to just where that is." Olivia replied calmly.

Serra sighed. "I live with Shelley. I have for the last three and a half months."

"And before that?"

"Before that I lived with Samantha."

"What was the nature of your relationship?"

The blonde's eyes welled up with tears. "We were lovers."

Olivia felt something inside her chest tighten but her gaze never wavered. "Was anyone with you Tuesday night through Wednesday morning?"

"Shelley. We were studying together."

"All night?"

"We're both in the same class…" She nodded absently. "Poly-Psy at NYMCC. Mid-Terms are next week."

"I'd ask if Shelley will corroborate your alibi, but she wasn't very pleasant to us the last time we were there. You mind telling me why?"

"Sammy…she paid for everything when we were together and she was used to getting her way. I guess that's what happens when Mommy has money and Daddy has power." She ran her fingers through her hair. "She didn't like it when I left. She made things…hard."

"So basically you were kept."

The blonde's eyes narrowed dangerously. "I'm not a dog detective."

"Why did you leave?" Olivia looked at the younger woman intently. "I mean, you said you loved her."

Serra sighed. "When I met Sammy… It was like a dream come true, you know? I'd just moved here from Wisconsin; I barely knew anybody. I was living in some dump assigned by student housing and working part time at Ink. Sammy came in looking for a book; some horror novel for her father. She was beautiful and she was classy… and she asked for my number." Her lower lip trembled as she reached her hand out and pushed the newspaper further away from her. "I thought… I thought she was amazing. We dated for a few weeks, and then we moved in together. Her father hated me… hated us being together, but she didn't care. We loved each other and it was perfect… for a little while."

"What happened?"

"Sammy, she never really got over her mother's death. And she was really angry about what her father had done with that other woman. So when he came down on her about our relationship she would throw the affair right back in his face. It got really, really ugly between them and the more they fought the blacker her moods would get." She swallowed hard. "She started… asking me to get rough… with her."


Serra nodded; her face flushing as she ground her teeth together. "She wanted me to spank her, just a little at first, then more and more until I was leaving marks. Twist her nipples more forcefully; bite her until…"

"Until what?"

"…until she bled." The blonde looked like she was going to be sick again. "And when I started saying no, that was when she brought that… that… woman home."

Olivia's eyebrows rose at the amount of venom in the young woman's voice. "What woman?"

"She was older, in her forties… maybe even her fifties. She had short dark hair and these really intense eyes. You know; the kind that can cut right through you?"

"Who was she?"

Serra gave her a sarcastic look. "Trust me, when you meet the woman who's fucking your wife behind your back, you don't ask her name."

Olivia nodded. "What else can you tell me about her?"

"I only ran into her at the apartment the one time, after that Sam was careful to keep us apart. I did see her a few times at the bar though. I remember she had this incredible voice, like she should have been a phone sex operator? Oh, and I think she drove a sports car."

"Why do you say that?"

Serra shrugged. "Because she was always wearing these black driving gloves. I never once saw her without them."

The detective kept her expression carefully neutral. "You must have been angry that Sam was screwing around behind your back."

The blonde sighed, her shoulders slumping. "I hated it. I hated that she needed her… but a part of me was relieved too."

Olivia frowned. "I don't understand."

"She wanted me to…do things… to her." Serra's face contorted as tears streamed down her cheeks again. "I tried… to be what she wanted, I tried! But every time it just got worse. Eventually I just refused. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't hurt her like that, even if she begged me. Sammy came to me, told me that she loved me but that it was something she needed in her life and she was going to have it, even if it meant bringing someone else into our relationship. I told her I would try and deal with it, so long as she never brought her into our home again. I actually managed to…for a while."

The detective sat impassively, but her heart ached for the blonde as she watched her struggle with what she had to say.

"And then she had those… things… made." Serra's voice rose, cracking slightly under the weight of the emotion it carried. "They were terrible. Like something out of a horror novel. They made me sick." She dragged a hand through her hair. "I told her I was done. That I couldn't stand by and watch her kill herself anymore and that I was moving out." The blonde pressed her lips together and Olivia could see the pain well up in her eyes. "She sent me flowers every day until I left. I didn't hear anything from her for a couple of months. Then those other cops started showing up, the ones she knew through her father. They harassed me constantly, prying into my life, telling me I should be grateful that someone like Sammy wanted me. That's why Shelley was so rough on you. She thought you were like them."

Olivia's face had gone hard. "Do you remember their names?"

"What does it matter? Sammy's dead."

"They need to be held accountable for their actions, Serra."

She shrugged. "Like anything would happen to them." Her voice was hard, bitter. "I know better. When that creepy guy started following me around and talking to all my friends, I went to the police and reported him. Nothing happened. They all but laughed at me." She shook her head again. "It doesn't matter anymore. What else do you want to know?"

Olivia looked her directly in the eyes. "Tell me about the car."

Serra blinked then looked away quickly. "What about it?"

"We had it towed to the impound yard. What's a student working part time at a used book store doing with a brand new Lexus SC?"

"Last I checked going into debt wasn't a crime."

"No, but lying to the police is." Olivia shot back. "We traced the temporary registration back to the dealership, Serra. You laid out sixty-four grand in cash for that car just over a month ago. Where'd you get the money?"

"What does it matter?" The blonde's jaw was set in a stubborn line.

The detective rolled her eyes. "When you start throwing around money like that just weeks before you inherit a fortune, it tends to raise a lot of questions."

Serra stared at her blankly. "What are you talking about?"

Olivia opened the file in front of her and slid a copy of Samantha's will across the table. "She left you everything."

The young woman's eyes grew impossibly wide and filled with fresh tears. "Sammy…" She whispered as she dropped her head into her hands.

The detective had seen a lot of fake emotions in her years as a cop and she knew that what she was witnessing now was the real thing. Gathering up the papers she closed the file and rested her hands on top of it. "Look, if you were home with Shelley then you shouldn't have any problem giving us a DNA sample right? To exclude you?"

"I don't have anything to hide. I'll give you whatever you want."

"Including access to your financial records?"

The blonde's head shot up. "No. DNA, fingerprints, blood…whatever; you can have a fucking pap smear if you want it. But I didn't hurt Sammy. That's something I could never do. So the rest is none of your business."

Olivia sighed. "This would go a lot easier if you just cooperated." She rubbed her jaw. "Don't forget we still have you for assaulting a police officer."

Serra squared her shoulders and pulled together what was left of her dignity. "I'm truly sorry about that. I was angry and scared and I took it out on you. I'll take responsibility for my actions, but I won't let you, or anyone else, dismantle my life ever again. Take your DNA, but if you want anything else, then I want a lawyer."

Olivia nodded. Picking up the file, she turned to go, only to pause in the doorway. Glancing back at the young woman, she asked softly, "If you loved her so much, what were you doing at Velvet, trying to hook up with me?"

Serra looked up at her with sad, haunted eyes. "You ever love someone you couldn't be with, Detective?" She stared down at her hands as she whispered. "It's lonelier than never being in love at all."


Olivia raised her eyebrows at Cragen as she entered the observation room.

"She's hiding something, that's obvious." She rubbed the side of her neck. "What I can't figure out is what and why."

"How many reasons could there be, Olivia?" He snapped.

She looked at him for a moment before laying her hand gently on his shoulder. "I know this is tearing you up, Captain. Just like I know you need this to be over now. And I swear to you we are all doing the best we can. I need you to trust me when I say that the girl in that room didn't have anything to do with Samantha's death. But she is hiding something; something that might be able to shine a light in the right direction. We just need to figure out what it is."

Cragen nodded, his eyes conveying a silent apology. "I'll get a tech up here to collect her DNA sample. You go talk to Cabot. We need a look at Tate's financials and we're going to need a subpoena to get it."

Olivia paled slightly. "Uh… It's Saturday. Maybe I should just page her assistant. I don't want to drag her in…" She trailed off when the Captain looked at her curiously.

"Liv, you know damn well that no assistant is going to be able to get a judge, any judge anywhere, to sign off on this. We need her clout and her support to push this through." He shook his head. "Besides, she's at her office. I just spoke to her. She called to make sure we shook Tate loose and I filled her in on the assault charge. Somehow, she didn't seem convinced that you hadn't baited Tate into taking a shot at you."

Olivia rolled her eyes. Of course she would think that.

Cragen ignored the look, calling back over his shoulder as he walked away, "Get over to her office pronto. I want that subpoena yesterday."

Olivia sighed. Yesterday I would have had a better chance of getting it…

Alex looked up curiously when someone knocked on her office door. It was Saturday, and while the DA's office was mostly empty, even the janitorial staff knew better than to bother her when she worked weekends. "Come in."

Olivia poked her head through the door, swallowing when she saw the ADA's expression change from tolerant curiosity to obvious anger. "Hey, Alex. You got a minute?"

"Not really."

The brunette sighed and stepped into the office, closing the door behind her. "Alex, if you would just listen to me, let me explain-"

"Explain what, detective?" The blonde's voice was formal and completely devoid of any warmth whatsoever.

"I didn't mean…" She shoved her hands in her pockets. "I didn't know that you would be there! How the hell would I know that? I didn't even know you were gay!"

Alex was caught off guard by the detective's admission, but it did little to make her feel better. She took a deep breath. "Well you certainly didn't stop me from making a fool of myself did you?"

Olivia's eyes softened. "You didn't make a fool of yourself. You never could. Not with me."

"Oh?" The ADA's eyebrows rose dangerously. "And what about with your partner? Or Fin and Munch? Were they down there too? How am I ever going to walk back into that precinct and expect them to take me seriously after they heard me practically throw myself at you?"

Olivia looked at the floor, using the tip of her toe to try and rub out a scuff mark she spotted there. "They didn't hear anything."

Alex tilted her head, sarcasm plain in her features. "And how is that? Did they all go for coffee and donuts at the same time?"

"I… I pulled the mic."

Alex's eyes widened. "What?" She whispered.

Olivia sighed, running her fingers through her still all too curly hair. "When I saw you… when I knew you were coming over to talk to me… I pulled the mic. No one heard anything, Alex."

For a moment, the ADA's expression softened then the steel and anger flooded her features again. "So you violated protocol?"

Olivia rolled her eyes as she threw her hands in the air. "Jesus, Alex! I did it to protect you! What the hell do you want from me?

The blonde straightened her glasses and stared at her impassively, not giving an inch. "Why are you here?"

The detective frowned. A big part of her job was knowing how to read people; what they were hiding, and what they really meant by the things they said and didn't say. Olivia was very good at her job. On the surface, Alex looked calm and collected, almost serene, just as she did before every well rehearsed summation in front of a judge and jury.

But beneath that was an undercurrent of something she had never sensed in Alexandra Cabot before.


Even in the few moments she stood quietly observing her, Olivia could see small cracks in the counselor's performance; a twitch at the corner of her mouth, the slight elevation of her heart rate, shown only by the skin that jumped erratically at the pulse point in her neck. Signs so minute that even most cops would have missed them.

Jesus… How long have I been watching her, that I can see all this in barely one glance?

Olivia didn't think she wanted to know the answer to that question.

Regardless, the ADA was very much like a cornered animal at the moment, and she wasn't about to push her any further. Dropping her eyes, she let her finger play against the corner of desk. "We need a warrant."

The blonde's eyebrows rose. "This should be amusing. For?"

"Serra Tate's financial records."


"Because she's hiding something."

Alex leaned back in her chair. "And you know this… how?"

Olivia sighed and ran her fingers through her hair again, not noticing the eyes that followed the path of her hand. "She gave us everything we asked for, Alex, even DNA, but she was adamant about not letting us look through her financials. There is definitely something there she doesn't want us to find, something missing from the information we got from Samuel Wainscott. I can feel it in my gut."

The blonde pursed her lips. "So, let me get this straight. You want me to take your 'gut' to a judge and put my ass on the line to get you a warrant?" She laughed sardonically. "I could swear we've had this conversation before."

"I'm sure you know someone that could push it through." Olivia commented quietly.

Alex felt her blood pressure rise as her anger overrode her manners. "You want me to use the undue influence of a judge who is personally involved in this case to sign off on a court order that you don't have the evidence to support?"

She didn't blink. "Yes."

The blonde took off her glasses, slamming them down on her blotter. "Well, that is typical Benson behavior, isn't it?" She came out from behind the desk, her arms folded across her chest as she stared at the detective with barely disguised contempt. "Do whatever you have to, say whatever you have to, break whatever rules you need to, as long as you get the results you want. Scruples are just things the rest of us have to worry about, right?"

Olivia took a deep breath. "We need to talk about this."

"Sorry, if it isn't related to a case we have pending, then I just don't have the time." Alex sat back down and slid her glasses on. She opened a file and began reading. "This meeting is over, detective."

Olivia stared at her, her anger warring with her frustration.

Frustration won.

She walked around behind the desk, taking in the almost imperceptible tremor than ran through the ADA's thin frame as she stepped into her personal space. Deep brown eyes studied the woman intently as she leaned her hip up against the desk and said softly, "What are you so afraid of?"

Alex bristled visibly, her eyes narrowing but not looking away from the file in front of her. "I am not afraid of anything."

Olivia leaned in a little closer. She could feel the heat from Alex's skin and caught the headiness of her scent; a soft whisper of jasmine, vanilla and something else; something wholly female that made her eyes want to close and her palms ache. "I think you are." She whispered. She brought her hand up, palm turned inward to allow the back of her fingers to stroke down the blonde's cheek.

Alex reached up, her hand closing tightly around Olivia's fingers, holding them in place an inch from her face.

Olivia watched as the ADA's chest began to rise and fall quickly; as the pulse point in her neck jumped visibly the longer they remained perfectly still. She felt her own heart rate increase, felt her stomach clench as desire coursed through her, making her light headed… making her crazy.

To hell with it!

Bending down, she brought her lips so close to Alex's ear that her breath caused the delicate blonde hairs tucked behind it to sway gently. "I think you're terrified," she breathed as she flexed her hand, twining their fingers together. She slid the pad of her thumb along the center of Alex's palm, swallowing when the warm heat suffusing her abdomen spread to her thighs as the lawyer began to tremble. "I've seen you, watching me. You think about my hands on you, my lips on your skin…" She felt the grip on her fingers tighten as Alex's hand began to shake. "You think about how incredible we would be… together… and you can't control it… the want… the need…." She punctuated her words by brushing the tip of her nose lightly against a perfect earlobe, her voice becoming even huskier when the blonde closed her eyes and leaned her head to the side, a small whimper escaping from her throat. "You think what happened at Velvet was an act? Well, I have news for you, counselor." Olivia could barely speak; her heart was hammering so hard in her chest. "I want you too…"

The detective found herself being pushed backwards as Alex rose quickly from her chair. She felt long, warm fingers wrap themselves around the back of her neck as demanding lips covered her mouth. Alex's other hand went inside the leather jacket, sliding under the brunettes t-shirt to rake her nails possessively across overheated skin.

Olivia's head fell back slightly as she gasped. Alex's lips were soft and warm, her mouth a well of sweetness that Olivia felt herself drowning in. The fingers pressing firmly against her sent shockwaves of fire throughout her body that settled to into an aching pool between her legs. Her heart rate sped up exponentially as her lips opened to allow the blonde's tongue to slip inside. For a few moments she merely floated in the sensation; in the hedonistic pleasure of allowing this woman to possess her so completely.

Then the need that was crawling up through her belly took over and she wrapped her fingers in blonde hair that flowed over her hands like silk. She moaned as Alex's hands slid down to her hips, her thumbs tucking inside the low waistband of her jeans, pulling it forward to yank the shirt free so that fingertips could crawl across her ribs. Unable to control the feral snarl that tore from her lips, she buried her face in the blonde's neck and bit down hard.

"Oh… fuck!" Alex's body went rigid as her hips surged forward to grind up against Olivia's thigh.

That word… that one dirty, nasty little word, whispered in Alex's voice was more than Olivia could handle. Her hands came up quickly, brushing the lawyer's suit jacket off her shoulders and onto the floor. She fumbled for a few moments with the tiny buttons on the front of Alex's shirt before she growled in frustration, slipping her fingers between them to rip it open, exposing pale, perfect breasts covered in cream silk and lace. 


Olivia slid her hand up Alex's belly and between her breasts, the muscles of her own stomach tightening as the blonde arched backwards. A deep moan tore from the Alex's lips as the detective slipped her hand inside warm silk to rasp her palm across an already swollen nipple. "Jesus!" She whispered as she felt an arc of pure electricity flow downward from where her fingers curved around one perfect breast to the aching juncture between her legs.

Pushing Alex backwards, she slid her hands under the counselor's skirt, sliding it up to her waist. She hooked her fingers into the strip of silk that made up the blonde's panties, pulling them down her long legs before cupping her ass tightly, using the purchase to lift her and set her down firmly on top of her cherry wood desk.

Olivia fit herself tightly into the v of Alex's thighs, using her upper body to push the blonde down onto the desktop as her hands flailed out madly, sending everything the lawyer was working on crashing to the floor.

Alex managed to shove the leather jacket off of the detective's shoulders and yank the t-shirt over her head before she found herself being grabbed from behind the knees and dragged forward to feel the sensitive flesh between her legs rub up against Olivia's belly. Groaning loudly, she tangled her fingers into short brown hair and pulled the older woman's lips to hers, colliding with them roughly, biting down on the lower lip until the sharp taste of blood filled her mouth. Releasing Olivia and tilting her head back, she allowed the detective's lips to trail down her neck as she leaned backwards on her hands, her hips lifting off the desk as she ground shamelessly against the muscled torso being pressed into her.

Olivia's fingers snagged the straps of Alex's bra and dragged the garment down to join the skirt around her waist. She slid her mouth down the blonde's chest, leaving a wet trail of kisses in the wake of her lips as she brought them to circle around one of Alex's nipples. She wrapped her left arm around the lawyer's

back, using it to draw her in closer as her right hand slipped down between their bodies. Her fingers slid into the wet warmth between Alex's legs at the same moment her lips and teeth closed over her nipple, causing the blonde to shudder helplessly in her arms as she swung her head from side to side, bearing down with her hips, trying to force the detective's fingers inside of her.

"Liv…" Alex whimpered when the older woman did not accommodate her, choosing instead to swirl maddeningly around the throbbing bundle of nerves at the top of her cleft as her tongue kept the same rhythm on her breasts. "Please…"

Olivia's laugh was low and husky. "Please what, counselor?" Blue eyes darkened by desire and… something else opened to stare into hers and she felt an intense thrill course down her spine.

"I want you inside me." Alex growled. "Now!"

The brunette swallowed as a wave of desire crashed through her, causing a chain reaction of pleasure that seemed to touch every hot spot she had. Nodding like a fool, she slid her fingers into the blonde hard and fast, curving the tips to stroke upwards from deep inside.

"Oh my god…" Alex's voice was so husky it was almost unrecognizable. Bolting upright, she wrapped her arms and legs around Olivia, digging her nails into the detective's strong back as she pushed her hips down hard, riding the fingers inside of her as her orgasm built strong and wild inside of her.

Olivia felt the velvet around her fingers tighten and increased the speed of her hand, using her hips to press her fingers more firmly into the warmth surrounding them. Alex began to shake and she felt her heart rate increase until she was sure that it would explode within her chest.

"Liv…Liv…oh god baby yes ohmygodyesyesyesyesyes…" Alex's entire body went rigid as her release hit her full force, her eyes closed tightly, bright spots of color flashing from behind her eyelids as her hips slowed their movements and finally stopped, leaving her clinging to Olivia as she breathed heavily into the brunette's neck.

Olivia removed her fingers slowly, swallowing against the dryness in her throat, her own need a raging force inside of her as she held the blonde quietly. The heartbeat pounding heavily in the body pressed against her echoed loudly from within her own chest. Seconds stretched into minutes until she couldn't stand it anymore. "Alex…" She whispered.

The blonde laughed softly before pushing her backwards, pressing her down onto the leather couch behind them before lowering her body onto Olivia's. She captured the brunette's lips gently, tasting the remnants of blood on her tongue from their last kiss as she unbuttoned the jeans the older woman wore. She heard the detective kick off her shoes and smiled against the soft skin of her neck, biting firmly as she pushed Olivia's jeans and boy shorts down her legs, pulling back long enough to strip them off completely and settle herself between the detective's strong thighs.

Alex glanced up, watching Olivia lay back into the corner of the couch, a look of almost painful desire on her face as the blonde's fingers crept up her stomach to close possessively on the older woman's nipples. The brunette's back arched and Alex smiled as she buried her face in the soft wetness between her thighs.

Oh my god she's tastes so sweet…

The thought burned through Alex like wildfire, her tongue flicking out rapidly to play across the sensitive ridge of flesh at the top for several long minutes before sliding down to dip deeply inside of her. She felt strong fingers slide into her hair as Olivia held her head firmly in place.

"God… Alex… sweetheart…" Olivia had already been close to the edge before the blonde even touched her. Now she felt as though every nerve ending she had was overloading, sending a cascade of pleasure throughout her body that she didn't know if she would survive. When she felt Alex's tongue slip inside of her, the intense crest of pleasure filling her broke, causing her back to arch upwards, her body trembling wildly as she rode out the waves of ecstasy that left her physically weak and emotionally shaken.

Alex felt the body beneath her finally go still and pulled her mouth away, licking her lips thoroughly as a completely decadent look of enjoyment played on her features. She began to kiss her way back up Olivia's body, surprised when she felt the detective's hands grip the back of her thighs, using them to keep her moving forward when she would have settled onto the brunette's chest. Her eyes widened when she realized Olivia's intentions, quickly finding herself with her knees pressing into the couch on either side of the older woman's smiling face.

"Oliv-" The name trailed off into a hiss as the brunette's tongue played across her clit, pressing softly at first and then more firmly as Alex's hands went behind her, her fingers closing firmly around hardened nipples as she pressed herself against the detective's mouth.

Olivia brought her arms up, wrapping them around the thighs that were fluttering against her cheeks as she felt tremors begin to travel through Alex's body. Her taste and scent were intoxicating, and the insane thought popped into Olivia's head that this was the only sustenance she would ever need for the rest of her life.

As the last waves of euphoria traveled through her, Alex slid down to lay on top of Olivia. She gazed down at the woman beneath her, her breath catching in her throat as she felt a wave of fierce possessiveness flow through her that she hadn't expected.

Olivia was looking up at her, her eyes bright; a wide smile on her face. Gone was the stoicism and guardedness she had seen every day for the last year and a half. In their place was unabashed adoration. She stared into deep amber eyes and saw a warm heart overflowing with joy… all because of the woman she was holding in her arms.

All because of her.

Tears stung her eyes as Alex felt herself fall. Her heart seemed to swell in her chest, becoming too large to fit within her ribcage as the butterflies in her stomach fled to all different points in her body, making her toes flex and her fingers tingle. It may have been a lot of years since it had happened, but it wasn't a feeling anyone could ever forget or misinterpret.

And it scared the hell out of her.

Panic gripped her and she began to pull away, only to feel Olivia's hands tighten around her waist.

"Where do you think you're going, counselor?" She growled playfully. "I'm not done with you yet." She scooted back so that she was leaning against the arm of the couch and pulled the blonde towards her.

Alex laughed nervously. "I can't… not this soon…" Her eyes widened in shock as Olivia picked her up slightly and settled her on a strong thigh. The moment her over sensitive flesh came in contact with the soft skin of the brunette's leg, Alex's head fell forward and she groaned. "Oh my god…."

"That's it baby." Olivia whispered, smiling as she rocked Alex's hips slowly back and forth, raising her leg slightly with each pull forward. She leaned in and took a swollen nipple in her mouth as her right hand parted their bodies to slide into the wetness between the blonde's legs.

Alex's back arched and small, incoherent whimpers were the only sounds she could manage as her over stimulated nerve endings began to respond. Olivia's fingers were gentle on her, feather light touches that left her body trembling and her head spinning. A light film of sweat coated her skin as the brunette focused on her with an almost frightening intensity, coaxing a third release from her, forcing her to lock her hands onto strong shoulders as her body shook uncontrollably.

Tumbling forward, she lay heavily against Olivia, panting as tears slid down her cheeks.

The brunette felt the body in her arms shaking and her arms tightened around her. "Sweetheart? Are you all right?" There was a slight hitch in her voice. "I didn't hurt you did I?"

It was too much; the endearment, the genuine concern and obvious caring in her voice. It was all just too much.

Alex pulled back quickly and stood up, her voice taking on an edge as she retreated. "Of course I'm all right." She pulled down her skirt, smoothing it over her hips, trying to ignore the wrinkles that her dry cleaner would look at her accusingly over. Picking up her shirt, she slid it on, her eyebrows coming together in a frown as she realized the extent of the damage. There was only one button left, the edges ragged and torn. Shaking her head she grabbed her jacket and tugged it on. Turning back to the couch she realized that Olivia had not moved; that instead the detective was watching her get dressed, a gently amused smile on her face.

Inexplicably irritated, she picked up the brunette's t-shirt and tossed it to her. "You need to get dressed now. I have to get back to work."

The happiness in Olivia's deep brown eyes faltered for a moment, then returned as she said playfully, "And people say romance is dead…"

Alex knew her voice was cold, but the panic that gripped her wouldn't allow anything else. "Romance is a marketing ploy, Olivia. Something to make people buy jewelry and flowers." She pulled her jacket closed over her ruined shirt, buttoning it to hide the damage. "I don't need either."

"You're joking right?" The brunette's mouth hung open. She hadn't expected a declaration of eternal devotion but what the fuck? Alex glanced up, making eye contact with her briefly and in that one moment Olivia understood. "You are so full of shit, Counselor. You're still terrified."

She watched as the blonde set her jaw. "Are you done?"

Olivia threw her hands up in the air. "I guess a better question would be if you're done with me!"

Alex blanched but held her ground. "Yes, I am."

"Fine!" She pulled the shirt over her head and finished buttoning her jeans before grabbing her jacket as she headed for the door.


Breathing heavily, she stopped, not willing to turn around.

"I'll find someone to sign off on the warrant. I'll have it at the precinct within the hour."

Not trusting herself to speak, the detective only nodded before flinging the door open to leave.

Alex watched her go, barely able to keep herself from calling the brunette back. Groaning, she sank into her chair and covered her face with her hands.

A moment later she jerked back quickly, her heart catching as Olivia's scent washed over her. Closing her eyes, she breathed it in deeply, ignoring the tears that coursed down her cheeks.


Chapter Six: Sticks and Stones

Olivia threw the door open so forcefully that it rebounded behind her, slamming back into it's frame with a rattling crash that startled the few people loitering outside of One Hogan Place. Ignoring their surprised stares, she pushed past them without so much as an 'excuse me' as she slammed down the steps to the sidewalk.

When she reached the curb, the detective pulled herself to a stop, sucking in deep breaths of cold air that she expelled from her mouth in plumes of white steam. Turning back, she stared up at the building, her heart aching in her chest as she tried to process what had just happened.

How could a situation go from wonderful to crap in so short a time?

Part of her, the part that had been kicked in the teeth enough in her life, wanted to say fuck it; to just wash her hands of the whole mess. But a larger part of her could not ignore the way she had felt when she held Alex in her arms. The way her self doubts, her fears, hell even the rest of the world, had ceased to exist. For the first time, sex hadn't just been sex. For the first time, she had actually understood what everyone else was talking about.

Sighing, she tried to rein in her anger. She knew Alex was scared, she just couldn't figure out why or of what.

But then she was a detective, right?

Her phone rang and Olivia reached into her jacket, pulling it out to tap it against her forehead a few times before finally answering it.

"What?" She barked.

"Whoa! What crawled inside your boxers and died?"

She ground her teeth and counted to ten before answering. "I don't wear boxers. What do you want?"

"Are you ok?" She could hear the concern in Elliot's voice and tried to drag her frustration down a notch. "What happened? Did Cabot chew you out or something?"

Olivia snorted, a bitter laugh escaping her lips. "Something like that."

"So I take it we're not getting the warrant for Tate's financials?"

"No, I got it. She said it would be there within the hour. Can you get the ball rolling on that? I have to stop off at my apartment on the way back."

Elliot laughed lightly. "You always did have a way with Cabot. From now on you get to go whenever we need anything."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Can you cover for me?"

"Sure, but what's at your apartment?"

"My common sense?" She sighed. "I just got too close to the curb and a cabbie decided to give me a bath. I need a shower and some dry clothes. I'll be back at the precinct within the hour, okay?"

"Yeah, sure. I'll see you then partner."

Olivia stepped out of the shower, using a towel to dry her hair before wrapping it around her torso. She pulled open her medicine cabinet and dipped her fingers into a jar of gel on the bottom shelf. Closing the mirror, she leaned in close as she tumbled her brown locks between her fingers, scowling at herself for a moment before stepping back. When she did, her eyes grew wide as she took in the pale purple bruises scattered across her shoulders.

Reaching up, she touched them gently, surprised that she had marked at all; usually her skin coloring hid that sort of thing. For them to show, Alex's grip would have to have been intense.

Swallowing, she closed her eyes as memories of that afternoon flashed through her mind. Alex's hands in her hair, wrapped around her shoulders… digging into her back. She opened her eyes and stared at herself as she remembered the taste of blood on the blonde's tongue. She gently pulled at her lower lip, wincing when she saw the angry red line of the cut that had been reopened when Alex bit her. She hadn't felt it at the time; she had been busy feeling too many other things. But now that she was aware of it, it stung like a bitch and she knew it would drive her crazy.

Not just because of the pain, but because it would make her think about what she had shared with the beautiful young lawyer who now seemed to want nothing to do with her.

"Liv!" Elliot grinned at his partner as she walked into the observation room. "Jackpot!"

"DNA match?" She asked in disbelief.

"Well, no." He shook his head. "Serra Tate was not the mystery guest in Wainscott's bed that night. But this is almost as good."

Olivia glanced through the two way mirror and saw Serra sitting in the same position she had been in earlier. "Has she been in there this whole time?"

"Huh?" Her partner glanced at the blonde and shrugged. "I guess so why?"

"Because she's not a perp, Elliot! She's just a girl that found herself in a bad situation!"

"More than one, apparently."

Olivia arched an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

He handed her a printout. "This came over five minutes ago from First Mutual."

She read over the information, a sinking feeling in her stomach when she realized what it was. "Come on."

Elliot followed her into the room, standing attentively beside Tate this time as Olivia slammed the paper down on the table in front of the startled blonde.

"You want to tell me what the fuck that is, Serra?"

"Wha…what?" She leaned forward and glance at the printout, paling slightly. "I can explain."

"You can explain?" Olivia rolled her eyes before dropping into a chair. "Ok, then please explain how a hundred and fifty thousand dollar check from Preston Industries managed to find its way into your bank account a month and a half ago?"

Serra stared down at the statement, her mouth opening and closing as though she were trying to think of something to say.

"Spill it!" Olivia ordered. "Otherwise you're definitely going to need that lawyer you mentioned earlier!"

"Samuel Wainscott." She whispered.


She covered her face with her hands. "Samuel Wainscott! He paid me off. He gave me that money to leave Sammy."

Olivia's forehead furrowed in confusion. "You're telling me that Sam Wainscott gave you a hundred and fifty thousand dollars to leave his daughter a month and half ago? That doesn't make any sense."

"You think I don't know that?" Serra snapped. "When that asshole he had following me showed up at the bookstore with the check, I thought it was some kind of trick. I mean, why would he pay me to leave her when I already had?" She rubbed her temples. "I figured it was just a bribe to keep me away from her; Sammy had been pretty adamant about me coming back when I first left. Anyway, I was broke… I didn't work while I was with her and there was no way I was going to make my tuition next year-"

"So you took it." Olivia's lip curled in disdain.

Serra squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. "I said I wasn't a dog, detective, I didn't say I was a fool! Look, I know it wasn't my best moment, but that man made us miserable every chance he got. He belittled her and harassed me all because he thought that I had corrupted his little girl. And no matter how many times Sammy told him that she had pursued me, he kept hanging onto the idea that I was the antichrist! I deserved something for the hell he put us through." She shrugged. "It isn't like I broke the law. He offered the money and I took it. I wasn't with Sammy anymore so it wasn't even under false pretenses."

"And that makes it ok?" Olivia asked softly.

Serra stared at her for a long time before replying. "No. It doesn't. But it made it easier."

The brunette sat back in her chair as she watched the young woman closely. She knew in her gut that Serra was telling her the truth. "Alright." She stood up. "You're free to go."

"What?" Elliot and Serra both barked in disbelief.

"What about the assault?" Her partner demanded.

Olivia locked her eyes with Serra's. "I'm not pressing charges at this time." She pointed at her. "But you stay local, and you let those friends of yours know that if we come looking for you and they start playing games, it's going to land your ass right back behind bars. Deal?"

Tears of relief flooded Serra's eyes. "Deal." She nodded eagerly. "Detective?"


"That woman I told you about… the one Sammy was involved with. Who ever she is, she knows more about Sammy's life over the last few months than I ever could. She knows all of the dark stuff that I couldn't stomach. I have to live with the fact that I walked out on Sammy, probably when she needed me the most. I couldn't live knowing that her killer got away with it. Find her… please."

The detective looked at the young woman compassionately. "I intend to."

Saturday 06:11 PM

Olivia looked up at the non-descript exterior of 1655 Park West and then down at the clothes she was wearing. She doubted her skin tight Levi's, corded Henley and black leather jacket would make much of an impression on the doorman, but if Zoey had been telling her the truth, she had an automatic in.

Stepping up to the door, she almost laughed when the uniformed man raised his eyebrows at her in surprise. His hand came up automatically and he opened his mouth to speak.

She didn't give him the chance; instead she pulled the keychain from her inside coat pocket. She allowed the ring to slide down her middle finger so that the crystal dangled in the center of her palm, creating a blood red halo as it reflected the light from overhead.

His whole countenance changed in an instant, going from slightly disdainful to warmly respectful in a blink of an eye. Smiling, he opened the door for her as he bowed slightly and said, "Have a pleasant evening, ma'am."

When she got to the penthouse, she was surprised by how empty it was. Glancing at her watch she realized that it was only a little after six, still pretty early as far as the bar circuit went. Her eyes quickly scanned through the women present, taking note of everyone and everything.

"She's not here."

The familiar voice made her turn towards the bar where Zoey was polishing glasses, getting ready for the Saturday night rush. "I know." She nodded as she slid onto a stool. "That's why I am."

"Ouch!" The bartender grimaced. "I take it you're still on the outs with the beautiful Ms. Cabot?"

"Not for lack of trying. I… talked to her this afternoon."

"Talked?" Zoey gave her a knowing wink. "So how'd that go?"

"Pretty well at first." Olivia didn't understand why she felt comfortable talking to the younger woman, but she was grateful for her presence and her ear. "Then I got blindsided." She sighed. "Maybe… maybe I'm just barking up the wrong lesbian, you know? Like you said, she's got the Big Three. What have I got? A tiny apartment, a city wage, and a job that takes up ninety percent of my life… I mean look at me! The doorman wasn't even going to let me in here until I flashed that lucky charm you gave me."

"I know some other thing's you've got."


Zoey tossed the bar rag on the counter and leaned on her arms. "You've got a killer smile, incredible eyes, and you look pretty damn good in a leather jacket." She grinned. "And since Cabot knew you before you came in here and still planted that kiss on you? I'd say there's a whole lot more to you than just the way you look."

Olivia blinked. "Why would you think that?"

"Velvet gets best of high society, Olivia." She smirked. "The lesbian cream that rises to the top. Cabot's been coming here for a while; I've seen people approach her and I've watched her shoot them down. That woman has sent back enough drinks to stock the bar for a year. But I have never seen her look at another woman the way she looked at you. And I have also never seen her cross the bar to talk to anyone. For her to do that, you would have to be very special indeed."

The detective shrugged, turning to hide the faint blush that crept into her cheeks.

"Sexy and shy!" Zoey chuckled. "Something tells me I'm meeting the real Olivia now."

She grinned ruefully and held out her hand. "Detective Olivia Benson, and yes, this is the real me. I swear too much, I laugh too loud and I live in jeans and t-shirts six days out of the week." She glanced around. "Guess I'm not what you would consider your regular clientele."

"Ooo a cop!" Zoey laughed. "I wish." She placed a shot glass on the bar and filled it up with Jack, nudging it towards the detective when she didn't reach for it immediately. "Believe it or not, this isn't exactly what I pictured when I decided to open this place."

"What did you picture?"

"Something simple, a little more down to earth; but then my grandmother always said that buildings have souls of their own. I may own it; I may have designed the layouts, but the spirit… that was always here."

Olivia nodded, then Zoey's words registered and she looked up in mild shock. "You…own the building? The whole building?"

She nodded.

"Who the hell was your grandmother?"

"Ivy Merrin."

"Merrin, Merrin.." The detective racked her brain trying to make a connection. "Never heard of her."

Zoey laughed. "Why would you? She was a secretary." Her eyes sparkled as she realized what the older woman meant. "Ahhh! You were trying to find the royalty in my family tree. Let me save you the trouble, there isn't any. My father was a truck driver and my mother was a hair stylist."

Olivia blinked. "Then how…?"

"A royal line has to start somewhere right?" The bartended refilled her empty glass. "I was an art major in college. Ran into some luck when I was bumming around Versailles my first year out. I found a patron who was very… appreciative of my skills. She taught me how to paint what would sell, among other things. I came back from Europe with some serious coin in my pocket and the even more valuable skill of being able to remain friends with my exes."

"I don't understand."

Zoey sighed. "Well, when I got back, I met and fell in love with two very successful women. First it was Natalia, plastic surgeon to New York's elite, and then it was Francine, the investment banker with a heart. The relationships didn't last, but the friendships did. I showed them my business plans and they jumped at a chance to invest. I own fifty two percent of this place, they split the difference."

Olivia raised her eyebrows. "Color me impressed!" She downed the second shot. "So, what do you do with the rest of the building?"

"The first three floors are office space; gay owned businesses mostly. They get a good deal on rent; I get to do my part for the community and take a tax write off on the shortfall." She shrugged. "The rest of the floors are cut up into studios, lofts and apartments. Again, there are rent shortfalls but the income from the rest of the building more than makes up for it."

"The rest…?"

"Yeah, the penthouse… and the basement."

Olivia blinked. "What's in the basement?"

Zoey looked at her with a blatantly wicked expression on her face. "Why… Hell, Detective."

The elevator opened into a dimly lit hallway. Sconces lined the walls on either side and red bulbs shining up at the ceiling gave the small space a surreal quality. Olivia could see a staircase curving up out of sight at the other end. "Where does that go?" She pointed.

"Up to the street." Zoey grinned. "But we're going this way." She led the detective to a large ornate iron door to their left and Olivia had to stifle a laugh when the bartender produced an elaborate skeleton key to slip into the lock.

"You're joking with that key right?"

The blonde shrugged. "Appearances are everything." The door swung open into complete darkness and Olivia reached out, placing her hand within an inch of Zoey's back, using the younger woman's body heat to follow closely behind her.

There was the sound of some kind of switch being thrown and a series of lamps lining the ceiling started to glow dully as they began to heat up. After a few moments, Olivia was able to see clearly enough to make out the large space around her.

It left her speechless.

The basement was the same size as the Penthouse, but set up in an entirely different layout and theme. Where Velvet was all chic and ambience, gauzy curtains and light colors, the basement was decked out in deep blues and purples, the walls were painted black, the mood lighting supplied by the dozens of wrought iron fixtures strategically scattered throughout.

To one side was the main room, which had a bar made of black and gray marble, surrounded by red leather-covered stools and snooker tables with black felt and crimson colored balls. There was also a dance floor and a small raised stage that looked like it had been well used.

To the other side was a hallway made up of thick midnight blue and black drapes that hung from the ceiling on iron rails. The same types of drapes had been used to create small private alcoves along each side, complete with either couches or beds; the back wall of each alcove was exposed brick that had been fitted with numerous iron hooks at various heights.

"What the hell is this?" Olivia breathed.

"This?" Zoey turned in a half circle, her arms held out. "This is Suede."


"Like I said before, if Velvet is heaven, then Suede is hell." She shrugged. "This is Natalia's baby. Her own private little dungeon."

The detective's eyes narrowed. "What goes on down here, Zoey?"

The bartender held up her hands. "Nothing like that, detective!" She tsked as though she were offended. "People can bring their own toys. The can play at bondage and domination, they can spank, tickle, tease… whatever… but NO sex. If the bouncers catch that going on, the client is eighty-sixed permanently."

Olivia turned in a circle, her mouth opening and closing slowly. "I don't even know what to say. How do you get insurance for this place?"

"We have strict safety policies in place. Anyone who walks down that hallway has to have reservation and a signed waiver and declaration of intent on file. We keep good records and so far, we've never had a problem."

"So… when you said to stick to Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays it was because…"

"Because the rest of the week Velvet is dark and Suede is open. We had them both open six days a week at first, until it turned out that a lot of our clientele wanted to use both clubs, but didn't necessarily want to be seen jumping the gates. So we gave Suede its own street entrance and didn't allow traffic between the two anymore. Except of course, when someone like Alex Cabot needs an out…" She teased. When she didn't get a response she waved her hand in front of the brunette's face. "Olivia?"

The detective's demeanor had changed completely. "I can't believe she didn't tell me about this."

"Who? Alex?"

Olivia nodded sullenly.

"Look, Liv," The bartender shook her head. "Alex didn't really know about this place. Suede has a pretty specific crowd and it is by invitation only. The one time I approached her about it I got as far as the word 'leather' and the look on her face told me in no uncertain terms that drinks with the girls was all good, but anything else was not an option. It's not like Suede is a place to hang out and relax." She smirked. "Well, not that kind of relax…"

"This is where Samantha Wainscott came to play, isn't it Zoey?"

"Sammy? Yeah, she spent time here." She said cautiously. "Why?"

Olivia felt like slapping herself. She had been so busy spilling her guts to the younger woman that she had ignored one of the cardinal rules of investigation.

The bartender always knows something.

"Okay, let's start over." She took a deep breath and pulled out her shield. "I'm Detective Olivia Benson, and I need to ask you some questions in regards to the death of Samantha Wainscott."

Olivia sat quietly at the black marble bar, watching Zoey as she downed her fourth shot. The bartender had called upstairs an hour earlier to tell her bar back, Melissa, to cover for her and then proceeded to crack open a very expensive bottle of tequila. Olivia had matched her for the first three shots and then stopped, wanting to keep her head at least somewhat clear, even if she wasn't technically on the clock.

"I can't believe Sammy's dead." Zoey whispered sadly. "I mean, the girl had issues but she was a good person." She gave the detective a hard look. "You know you could have told me you were investigating her death. You could have trusted me."

Olivia had the grace to flush slightly. "I am sorry, Zoey. But I have to follow standard procedure. If it makes you feel any better I was going to talk to you about it tonight. Serra gave us some information about a woman that Sammy was seeing, that she had met her at 'the bar'. I just assumed the bar was Velvet."

"Sammy never brought anyone to Velvet but Serra. I know she got approached by a lot of other women…"

"This one would have had an affinity for black leather gloves."

Zoey's eyes met hers quickly and then slid away.

"You know who I'm talking about."

"I don't know her name. The only time I ever saw her upstairs was when she was on the hunt. And her prey was usually Sammy. I know she spent a lot of time down here, but like I said Suede is Natalia's domain. What people choose to do is their own business, as long as they don't try to do it to me. And I don't watch."

Olivia nodded slowly. "But you have records. If they spent time in one of those alcoves together you would have their signed waivers and both their names on the reservation right?"

Zoey nodded slowly.

"Well?" Olivia's patience was wearing thin. "Can I see the records?"

The bartender sighed. "Yes… with a court order."

"What?" The detective's jaw dropped.

"Look, Olivia, I like you, I do. And if it were just my ass on the line, I would give you the files. But our clients rely on our discretion and this is a business where all that matters is the client. I can't just hand out their private information because you asked me for it. I won't fight a court order, but you have to understand why I need you to get one."

"Fine." Olivia muttered under her breath. "You do realize what I have to do to get it right?"

The spark returned to Zoey's eyes for the first time since she learned of Samantha's death. "Let me guess… you have to 'talk' to Alexandra Cabot again?" She snickered. "Is that such a bad thing?"

The detective glared at her.

"Ooookay!" She poured them both another shot. "In that case, I say we stay right here until we figure out a plan to get you back into that woman's good graces."

Olivia picked up her shot glass and knocked it back. "I don't think you have enough tequila for that."

Zoey slapped the shot glasses aside, setting two tumblers in their place on the bar. "Let's test that theory, shall we?"

Oh my god…

Olivia groaned loudly as she cracked her eyes open, only to quickly slam them shut again when the light from the open window made her brain feel like it was three sizes too big for her skull.

Grabbing a pillow from the other side of the bed, she slammed it down on her face; willing to risk suffocation if it meant blocking out the sun. After a few moments, the pain receded slightly and she was able to think again.

Unfortunately, the first thought that popped into her head was that the pillow on her face smelled like someone else's hair, which caused her to pull it away quickly, letting the sunlight back in.

Sitting up, she rubbed her temples firmly with her fingertips as she looked around the room.

Queen sized bed, dresser, end tables, and a door leading to the bathroom… yep, it was a bedroom.

Too bad it wasn't hers.

She pulled the blanket away and looked down at herself. T-shirt but no bra, briefs but no jeans… Damn, that could mean anything!

"Good morning beautiful!"

Olivia turned towards the voice to find Zoey standing in the doorway holding a glass. Her hair was tousled, her body covered by an oversized t-shirt that left far too little to the imagination. "Shit." She grumbled.

Zoey laughed. "Well, aren't you a little fucking ray of sunshine?"

"Sorry." The detective mumbled. Then she stared at the blonde suspiciously. "Why the hell do you look so good? You drank more than I did!"

She climbed onto the bed next to Olivia and held out the glass. It was filled with a thick looking sludge that seemed to glow a bright orange-green color. "I call it The Bitch That Bit Ya. It's kind of like 'the hair o' the dog' times ten."

Olivia leaned forward and sniffed the contents of the glass, pulling her head away quickly as her nostrils began to burn. "What the hell is in that?"

Zoey patted her gently on the leg. "Trust me, you don't want to know. I suggest plugging your nose, closing your eyes, and downing it in one big gulp."

"I don't think so…" She tried to push the glass away from her.

"So you want to go see Alex looking like ten pounds of wet dog shit and feeling like a bucket of fuck?"

Olivia blinked. With a sheepish look, she took the offered glass and brought it to her lips.

"No, really, close your eyes." Zoey smirked. "Otherwise the color will make you dizzy."

The detective did as she was told. The liquid had the consistency of hot fudge and a flavor she would be eternally grateful that she had no frame of reference for. She was barely able to hang on to her gag reflex by using every trick she had ever employed at a crime scene.

When she was finally done and fairly certain that the vile concoction wasn't going to reappear, she handed the glass back to Zoey, arching one eyebrow curiously when the bartender leaned over the side of the bed and dropped it into the trash can.

"I've never been able to get the smell out of the glass." Zoey smirked.

"Wonderful." She ran her tongue over her teeth. "How long will it take to get it out of my mouth?"

The younger woman smiled, leaning in so close that Olivia could feel her breath against her lips. "Do you want to find out?"

The brunette looked down at the hand still lying casually on her leg, swallowing when long, supple fingers started stroking softly up the inside of her thigh. "Uh…" She pulled herself up against the headboard. "What the hell happened last night?"

Zoey followed her, keeping the distance between their bodies to a minimum. "You mean you don't remember?"

"No… "She grabbed the hand that had jumped up to her belly. "Zoey! Look, you're a nice girl and all, but whatever happened… I-"

"Passed out." The bartender finished for her, before kissing her sweetly on the lips.

"Passed out?"

"Yup!" Zoey grinned. "We're in my crash pad, one floor down from Velvet. I had to have two of the bouncers help me get you up here. You should have told me you don't do well with tequila."

"So… Nothing happened?"

"Well, you did spoon me all night. But I thought that was kind of sweet." She laughed at the flush that colored the older woman's face. "Other than that, you were a perfect gentleman; which is a good thing, because you're really not my type. I like my women a bit less perfect and a lot more needy." She patted her on the shoulder. "Besides, I don't mess with women in love…"

"Whoa!" Olivia held her hand up to stop the snickering blonde. "Who said I was in love?"

Zoey rolled her eyes. "Like you need to say it, Detective Obvious? Or would that be…Detective Oblivious?" She laughed and jumped away when Olivia lunged at her. "Don't even try it! I'm younger and quicker. Now get dressed. You have to go see your woman!"


Chapter Seven: Playing With Fire

Sunday 09:27 AM

"One-Six, Tutuola."

"Hey Fin."

The detective sat back in his chair. "Yo, Liv. What's up?"

"Where's Elliot? I tried his desk but I got the box."

"He called earlier. Kathy's sick so he's Mr. Moms today. I told him I'd cover since we're pretty much just spinning our wheels at this point."

"Maybe not." Olivia pulled a couple of bills out of her pocket and handed them to the cabbie as she climbed out of the taxi. "I've got a possible lead on Samantha's mystery guest the night of her murder. Apparently she was a regular at a leather bar with this woman every week. The bar owner has pretty tight records. They should give us a name."

"Why do I feel like there's a big 'but' coming on?"

"Because there always is? The owner wants a CO for the records. I'm on my way to Cabot to see if I can get her to work her magic for us."

"On a Sunday?" He snorted. "Better hope your shit's wired tight."

"Always." She assured him. "How's Morales doing with Samantha's computer?"

"Not too good. Apparently Little Miss Sunshine used it for her side gig with Preston Charities. The whole thing's encrypted so it's taking him forever to punch his way through. I'll stay on top of it though."

"Call me if anything develops?"

"You know it. Later."

Olivia listened as the line went dead. She held the phone to her ear for a few more seconds and then snapped it shut, sighing as she looked up at Alex's building.

This was so going to suck.

Alex Cabot pulled open the drapes on her penthouse windows, squinting as bright sunlight streamed into her living room. Carrying her glass of orange juice over to the couch, she dropped into it with a deep sigh. There had to be some kind of evil force in the universe ensuring that whenever she was sullen, moody, and/or bitchy, the day outside had to be as beautiful as possible, with brilliant blue skies and white fluffy clouds.

There was just something so utterly depressing about spending a gorgeous Sunday afternoon alone, not that she wasn't used to it; but the fact that this one could have been different made it that much harder to bear. With an ease that was more than slightly disturbing, her mind pieced together an image of Olivia. The detective had her head back, a look off intense pleasure suffusing her features as her bare chest rose and fell quickly beneath a light coating of sweat.

Swallowing heavily, she raised the glass to her lips, grimacing at the acidic taste. For a moment, she considered adding a shot of vodka, but as usual propriety won out. Drinking at nine thirty in the morning was not an activity an emotionally stable, upwardly mobile professional indulged in.

And that was the driving force in her life, right? Being upwardly mobile?

"What the hell is happening to me?" She mumbled to herself. It had always been about the job, about proving herself, about getting where she wanted to be without letting anything get in the way. Her heart was never something that could be safely factored into that equation.

So she left it out, along with everything that came with it.

Sure she would see her old college friends with their full and happy lives, their two point four kids and the house in the suburbs. And late at night, when she was alone and she let herself think about it, she would admit that there was something appealing about the idea, about having someone in her life to share her accomplishments with.

But love was something she had never learned to balance. That made it dangerous. Too dangerous.

And in the grand scheme of things, what did love really bring to the table anyway? You couldn't eat it, it wouldn't pay the bills and it wouldn't keep her warm at night.

Her breath caught as several images ran through her mind, each of them depicting a different way that Olivia could successfully raise her temperature.

Okay, so that was a bad example.

She was attempting to recover from her mental slip when the sound of her door buzzer cut through her internal monologue. "What the hell?" She couldn't imagine anyone who would be brave enough to ring her bell before noon on the one day of the week she took for herself.

Then again, a good argument was exactly what she needed to burn off some of the tension running through her body. Barring the alternative of course, which would have been preferable…

Alex's thought's ground to halt as her front door swung open to reveal Olivia, standing in her entryway with her hands stuffed in her pockets and a sheepish look on her face.

For a moment, it was all the ADA could do to keep her hands from tangling into the detective's short mop of brown hair and using it to tug her gently through the door and into her arms.

Sucking in a deep breath, she crossed her arms to hide the fact that her hands were shaking and stared down at the floor. "What are you doing here, Olivia?"

"I need to talk to you." The detective stepped inside, pushing the door shut behind her. When Alex didn't move, she carefully stepped around her and settled herself against the back of the couch.

The blonde shrugged. "What is there to say?"

Olivia rolled her eyes slightly. "Oh I have plenty to say to you, but right now would probably not be the best time to say it!" She snapped. "I'm here about the case."

Alex's cheeks flamed bright red and she drew the robe she was wearing more tightly around herself, double checking the knot. She was suddenly all too aware that she was naked beneath it; the fabric teasing her skin, especially where it rubbed against her nipples which had hardened in response to the passion in Olivia's voice. "What about it?"

"I… We need a court order for Zoey Merrin's client list."

Alex's jaw dropped slightly. "Zoey…?"

Olivia nodded. "Apparently Zoey and her two silent partners have been running a leather club called Suede in Velvet's basement. We have good reason to believe that those records will provide the name of the woman Samantha spent her last night with."

"And those reasons are?"

"Two separate witnesses have described an older woman, dark hair, gray-blue eyes, with a penchant for wearing black leather driving gloves. Forensics found a piece of black leather embedded in the handle of one of the paddles collected at the crime scene."

Alex arched one eyebrow. "Who are these witnesses?"

"Zoey Merrin for one."

"And the other?"

Olivia sighed. "Serra Tate."

The lawyer dropped her head as she laughed. "Serra Tate? Who up until now was your prime suspect?"

"She was never my prime suspect." The detective shook her head. "She was a person of interest at one point but her alibi is solid. Our search of her financial records revealed that Samuel Wainscott paid her a hundred and fifty thousand dollars to leave his daughter. That was the secret she was hiding." She was gratified to see the barely hidden shock on the ADA's face.

Alex tried to absorb this new information. "And you think her willingness to be bribed increases her credibility as a witness?"

Olivia frowned. "She had a moment of weakness. She and Sammy were already separated and she talked herself into believing she deserved some kind of compensation for what she went through. Not the most upstanding behavior but understandable all things considered. Regardless, Zoey Merrin is a credible witness and she is willing to help."

"You know the CO won't hold up. We'll never be able to introduce the client records in court based on the evidence you have now."

"I don't need the records to be admissible. I just need the name!"

Alex studied her for a moment. "And Zoey won't fight us on this?"

"No. She just wants the ink."

"All right." The blonde shrugged in resignation as she picked up her cell phone and dialed her assistant. "Rebecca? I need paper and I need it ASAP."

Olivia listened with a small smile on her face as the ADA went to work. Alex was a beautiful woman, but there was something about the power she exuded when she was doing her job that made her nearly irresistible. Tearing her eyes away, the detective looked out the window.

"No, you go to Judge Kramer. Tell him Alexandra Cabot is calling in that favor. If he plays dumb, tell him you can spell it out for him but the letters you would use will land his son in a very public rehab facility for the next six months and community service for a year. Got that? Good, call me back as soon as you have it." She snapped her phone shut, absent mindedly slipping it into the pocket of her robe before she met Olivia's expectant look. "Rebecca's good. She'll get it. I'd say an hour at the most."

The detective glanced at her watch, then around the room. "I should probably head to the precinct then, wait for the CO there-"


Her softly whispered name brought her up short, cutting off her nervous rambling and drawing her gaze to the lawyers face.

"I… I owe you an apology." The blonde continued her voice quiet. "What I did… What I said… it must have made you feel-"

"Like an easy lay?"

Alex laughed sarcastically as she ran her fingers through her hair. "This is anything but easy for me, Liv."

"Oh and I guess you think it's a cake walk for me?"

"No!" Alex felt her temper rising. "If you'd just let me finish what I was going to say-"

"Why?" Olivia cut her off again. "So you can tell me how it didn't mean anything? That it was just sex? Thanks, but no thanks, Alex. I already feel shitty enough." She turned and headed for the door.

"God damn it, Liv!" She grabbed the detective by the arm and pulled her back. "It isn't that… I don't…" Frustrated, the blonde's voice rose higher. "I just don't have room for this in my life right now!"

"Room?" Olivia's eyebrows knitted together. "Room for what? For this?" She slid her hand around the back of Alex's neck, pulling her forward forcefully until their mouths met in a violent clash of lips and teeth. She felt a brief flash of resistance in the slim body she held against her own, but then it was gone and Alex's arms were around her back, her thigh between her legs. The blonde growled deep in her chest as her lips parted to allow Olivia's tongue inside while her hands yanked the leather jacket down off her arms.

When the detective felt cool palms slide around her stomach, she trembled violently. Alarms went off inside her head and she tried to pull back, only to feel her mouth go dry as Alex untied the belt of her robe. She felt her heart rate increase wildly as unbelievably smooth, pale skin was displayed before her. When she didn't move, Alex took her hands and pulled them to her breasts.

"Alex…" A soft groan tore itself from Olivia's lips as she felt the dusky peaks of the blonde's breasts grow hard beneath her touch. Then all of her trepidations melted away as Alex's fingers swiftly unbuttoned her jeans and slid inside to caress her lower belly. With a fierce groan, she pressed herself into the lawyer, pushing her backwards towards the dinner table behind them.

It wasn't ideal, but it would do.

Without pausing, Olivia pushed Alex onto her back before shimmying out of her jeans and briefs. Climbing onto the table, she straddled her hips as Alex unbuttoned her shirt and tossed it aside, followed quickly by her bra. Completely nude, Olivia lowered herself until the entire length of her torso was pressing against the younger woman's body, the course hair between their legs tangling sweetly together. Her lips descended on Alex's with a hunger that was almost frightening as she dovetailed their legs together, moaning in satisfaction when the blonde brought her knee up, pressing her thigh into the growing wetness between the detectives legs. She whimpered when the hands caressing her body disappeared, until she realized that Alex was simply pulling them out of her robe, leaving them both completely naked on top of the think silk. For a moment, she was wondered which was softer, the expensive fabric or the incredible skin pressed against her body, then the blonde's hands slid down to cup her ass and all rational thought fled.

Alex pulled her lips back in a feral grin as Olivia attacked her neck with her teeth. Her hands tightened on the older woman's ass, using her grip to pull the strong body more tightly against her, moaning at the wet warmth that slid along the length of her thigh. "Liv…" She whispered. "I need your hands on me… please…"

The plea tore through Olivia's body like a bullet, setting her blood on fire and her pulse racing. She pulled her hands from where they had been buried in soft blond hair, pulling back slightly so that she could cup the small perfect breasts offered up to her. Unable to stop herself, she devoured Alex's lips hungrily. Never in her life had she felt so out of control, so at the mercy of her emotions. And more frightening than that, was that she couldn't have cared less.

Alex arched her back as Olivia's left hand trailed down her stomach. For a moment, it stopped to play in the dark blond hair between her legs and she whimpered her frustration, earning a soft grunt from the woman on top of her. When the detective's fingers finally slipped into the wetness between her thighs, Alex slammed back against the table, her head falling to the side to allow the brunette access to her throat again.

Olivia stroked softly at first, enjoying the silky feel of the wet skin her fingers traveled through as her teeth raised angry red marks down Alex's neck. When the tips finally traveled over the small bundle of nerves at the top of the blonde's folds, she felt the body beneath her begin to shake.


That one breathless word was all the permission she needed. With one fluid movement, she slid her hand down and inside, burying her fingers deeply as hot velvet closed around them. "Jesus…" She whispered as ripples of pleasure wound through her own body, shocking her.

Alex was beyond words. The fingers within her curved, moving almost roughly against the spot deep inside of her that Olivia seemed to be able to find without error. Her body writhed uncontrollably, pressing up into the detective, her thigh grinding into sensitive flesh. The cries of pleasure this earned her were echoed by her own when Olivia took a hardened nipple between her lips, suckling it with her tongue before closing her teeth on it.

"Oh, Jesus!" Alex tangled one hand into the short brown locks, pulling them sharply as she held Olivia's mouth against her.

The brunette pushed down hard with her hips, the pleasure running through her increasing as the younger woman's cries resonated in her chest. She used her own thigh to push herself deeper inside of the blonde, her fingertips pressing against the slick spot that made Alex tremble violently.

"Liv…oh my god…" Alex's fingers dug into the muscles of Olivia's back, leaving angry red trails as she slid them down to cup her ass again, her orgasm growing strong within her. Using all her strength, she pulled the older woman against her, desperately wanting to feel her come at the same time.

Olivia closed her eyes, losing herself in the pleasure building inside of her and the heat of the woman wrapped around her fingers. When she finally went over the edge, it was amplified by the feeling of Alex's body tightening beneath her and the blonde's cries echoing in her ears.

"Oh my god, Olivia….!"

Their bodies strained against each other for several long moments as both of them were caught in the grip of their release, then they collapsed together in a tangle of sweat covered limbs and panting breaths.

"Oh my god, Olivia." Alex whispered again, her lips pressed against the hot skin beneath the older woman's left ear.

"While I appreciate the sentiment, you don't have to start worshipping me quite yet." Olivia grinned and flipped over, settling onto her back before pulling the blonde down on top of her. A soft laugh escaped as her spine protested the cool hardness beneath it. "We're going to have to try this in a bed sometime."

Alex felt her chest tighten as a familiar rush of panic filled her. Silently, she untangled herself from the older woman's embrace and sat up.


She could hear the concern in Olivia's voice but the sound of her own heart pounding in her ears drowned it out. Grabbing the brunette's shirt, she slid it on.

"Oh you have got to be kidding me!" The detective jumped up. She positioned herself between the lawyer's legs, taking her chin in her hand, forcing her to meet her eyes. "You can't keep doing this Alex! You can't sleep with me and then shut me out like some trick you picked up at a bar! I deserve better than that!"

The blonde's eyes filled with tears, her voice a broken whisper. "I know."

"Then why?"

Alex frowned sadly, her shoulders shaking as the older woman took her in her arms. She wanted to explain, but didn't even know where to begin. Sighing, she laid her head on Olivia's shoulder. "I guess I'm just a lost cause"

Olivia brought her hands up to gently cup the blonde's face. "If there's one thing you should know about me by now, it's that lost causes are a specialty of mine." She kissed her gently. "I won't give up on you."

Alex looked up at her, and expression of wonder on her face. "You won't?"

"Never." She placed a series of soft kisses on her lips before trailing across her cheek to her ear, where she whispered, "I want this. I want you. I have for longer than you would believe. I'll give you whatever time and space you need to figure it out."

Alex felt her eyes overflow with fresh tears. Taking a deep breath, she gripped the older woman's hands tightly and looked directly into her eyes. "Olivia-"

The ringing of her cell phone cut off anything else that she might have said. Growling in frustration, Alex slid off the table and searched through the clothes on the floor until she found it. "Cabot!" She barked. Her expression and voice softened immediately when she heard her assistant on the other end. "Rebecca, I'm sorry. You just caught me in the middle of something. No, it's ok. Did you get a hold of Kramer? You did? And?" She glanced at Olivia, nodding at the questioning look the brunette was throwing at her. She arched one eyebrow, watching in amusement as the older woman pulled on her briefs, followed by her tight black jeans. When Olivia sat down on the floor to slide on her boots, it was all Alex could do not to laugh out loud. There was just something absurd about the normally stoic detective sitting topless on her floor while she tied the laces on a pair of police issue tactical boots.

And something completely alluring about the skin that stretched tautly across her abdomen when she rose.

Shaking her head, she brought her attention back to the conversation. "What? Oh, I need you to take it over to the one-six. No not Benson."

At the mention of her name, the brunette froze, her bra hanging limply from her fingertips. Her lips formed a perfect 'o' of surprise when Alex reached out and took it from her, tossing it onto the couch.

"Detective Benson is going to be occupied for the rest of the day. I believe Tutuola is catching at the precinct. All right, Rebecca, thank you." She snapped her phone shut, dropping it onto the table before pressing Olivia up against the back of the couch. Her fingers slid over the brunette's shoulders, her nails scratching lightly as she dragged them down her arms. "Do you need to call someone Detective Benson?" She leaned in, her teeth nibbling on the sensitive patch of skin just below Olivia's left ear. "I suggest you do it now, because in ten minutes…" She kissed her lightly, allowing her tongue to flick into the older woman's mouth. "In ten minutes your lips will be otherwise occupied."

Olivia shivered at everything implied by Alex's honeyed tone. She grabbed up her cell phone, dialing the precinct's number quickly.

"One-six, Tutuola."

"Hey, Fin…gahhh…" Olivia's voice trailed off as the lawyer's teeth closed on her earlobe.

"Liv? That you?"

"Uh…hmmm… yeah." She turned her head to the side, moving her ear out of reach only to expose the line of her neck to the blonde's questing lips. "Oh…"

Fin's eyebrows knitted together. He glanced up as his partner wandered back into the precinct with a bag of sandwiches from the corner deli. Munch raised his chin in question and Fin mouthed the word 'Olivia'. "Everything cool, Liv?"

"What? Oh yeah…definitely." There was a pause. "Listen, I need you… I need you to take care of something…"

The detective listened carefully, jotting down notes on his pad as he did so.

Munch watched curiously as his partner's pen stalled after every couple of words. When Fin finally hung up the phone, a small smile played at the corners of his mouth. "What's up?"

"We got a CO coming over from Cabot. Benson wants us to move on it as soon as it gets here."

John blinked. "What's so amusing about that?"

"It ain't what she said," Fin laughed. "It's how she said it."

"And how was that?"

"In a language your old ass wouldn't even remember!"

Monday 12:37AM

Something was dragging Olivia back from the edges of a particularly pleasant dream.

At first it only registered as a light pressure; something warm and soft being pressed against her lips. Then she felt the softness begin to move, tracing around her mouth, leaving a trail of wetness behind. For a brief moment, she was confused, but even through her sleep induced haze, Olivia recognized the scent that went along with that wetness. It invaded her senses, making her nostrils flair as her lips parted in a soft moan. She reached out with her tongue, wrapping it around the long, smooth finger that was touching her gently, pulling it into her mouth.

A groan worked its way up from Olivia's chest as she sucked hard, her arms moving to wrap tightly around the body next to her. Deep auburn eyes blinked open and the sleepiness in them darkened into something different altogether as they met the crystal blue gaze of her lover.

Alex smiled wickedly as she pulled her finger from the brunette's mouth. "Good morning." Her voice was low and husky.

Olivia closed the space between them, throwing her leg over the blonde's hip, using it to tug the luscious body tightly against her. "What was that, counselor?"

"Exhibit A." Alex whispered, her breathing becoming ragged as the detective's proximity wreaked the same havoc on her as it had the day before.

"Oh…So you were presenting evidence?" Olivia raised her eyebrows. She ran her hand over a taut stomach, loving the way it quivered beneath her fingers. "Am I being accused of a crime?"

The blonde nodded, unable to speak as her body arched into the contact.

Olivia's laughter died as soft skin was pressed tightly against the entire length of her body causing a flood of moisture between her legs. She swallowed. "Any other evidence you'd like to produce, counselor?"

"You're the detective…" Alex reached down with one hand, pulling Olivia's thigh roughly between her own as she growled into her ear. "Find it yourself..."

Monday 6:09AM

Olivia rolled over onto her back, her hand shooting out to slap at the alarm clock next to the bed, only to feel it come down hard on the table top. Shaking her stinging fingers, she sat up, realizing that this wasn't her bed and the alarm clock was actually on the other side.

She looked down at the long form beside her, her heart pounding heavily in her chest as a bright smile graced her lips.

Alex was sleeping peacefully on her stomach, all of her back and most of one ass cheek exposed to the cool morning air by covers they had tossed aside the night before. Blond hair was fanned out across her pillow and she had one hand hidden beneath it while the other lay next to her face. She looked so incredibly young, so incredibly innocent with all of her intellect hidden away behind eyelids tipped with soft golden lashes that for a moment Olivia actually felt a twinge of guilt twist in her chest. Then she thought about the things they had been doing together and the twinge moved decidedly lower.

Where their first encounter had been fevered; wild with an almost desperate passion, the second had been slow and achingly sweet. They had spent all of Sunday in bed, with a brief respite to order Chinese food from a little place up the street, managing to make it through the egg rolls before deciding that there were more important things than food.

Closing her eyes, Olivia pictured Alex beneath her as her back arched, the blonde's long fingers digging into the muscles of her back. She felt her cheeks flush as a liquid heat coursed through her veins, leaving her trembling and filled with a desire so strong that it took her breath away.

Smiling at her own libido, she gently leaned across her sleeping lover and turned off the alarm clock. As she was moving back to her side of the bed, Alex rolled over beneath her, grabbing her by the shoulders to pull her down into a deep, passionate kiss.

The blonde released her several long minutes later, a deliciously wicked smile on her lips. "Good morning."

Olivia, her head still spinning, could only smile in response.

Alex laughed. "I take it that means you enjoyed last night?"

"Last night, yesterday afternoon… yesterday morning…" The detective lowered her body until she completely covered the younger woman. "I more than enjoyed it, counselor. I loved it."

Alex blinked. She swallowed quickly before giving the brunette another quick kiss. "We need to get up."

"I know." Olivia groaned. "But I don't want to."

Alex traced the older woman's jaw with her fingertips. "I don't either." She whispered. "Nothing would make me happier than to stay right here with you for… the rest of the day." She sighed then shook her head to clear it. "But, with any luck you have a suspect to interrogate and I'm due in court in ninety minutes."

"You're right. I just need one more…" Olivia closed the space between them and kissed her gently, trying to convey everything that the last twenty four hours had meant to her. When Alex parted her lips, she slipped her tongue inside and played gently for a moment before tearing herself away. "Okay!" She dragged herself out of bed. "Can I use the shower first? I'm due at the precinct in forty-five minutes."

Alex nodded and watched her walk away, her stomach tightening as she took in the view. Closing her eyes, she breathed in deeply, reveling in the scent that permeated the room around her.

"Oh my god!"

The blonde grinned. "Something wrong?"

"Oh, you did not do this to me!"

She rose gracefully, pulling a robe around her body before stepping into the bathroom doorway where she leaned up against the frame, an innocent look plastered on her face. "Whatever could you mean?"

Olivia turned to stare at her accusingly as she pointed to the large red blotch on the side of her neck. "What is this?"

Alex turned, grabbing her glasses off the dresser. She settled them lightly on the tip of her nose as she leaned in for a closer look. "I believe that is what occurs when excessive suction is created between lips and skin." She looked up at the detective over the top of her frames.

Olivia swallowed, feeling moisture flood the juncture between her legs for the third time that morning. Moving closer, she slid her hands inside Alex's robe, letting her fingers trail across the smooth skin of her abdomen. "And how did it get there?"

"Well," The blonde tugged the knot free, allowing the garment to fall open so that she could feel Olivia's skin pressing tightly against her own. "In my 'expert opinion'? I would have to say that the perpetrator was ordered to put it there."

"Objection, Counselor. Hearsay." She kissed Alex, nibbling lightly on her lower lip.

"Overruled." She could hear the laughter in the ADA's voice. "The witness was an active participant in the aforementioned conversation."

"I maintain that the witness was not in full possession of her mental faculties at the time."

Alex leaned back, her lips quirking adorably as she smirked at Olivia. "Actually, from the lack of fine motor control and the inability to speak, I would posit that you were the one not in possession of your full mental faculties at the time in question."

"There should be laws against this type of cross examination." Olivia's lips trailed down the blonde's neck to bite lightly at her pulse point, enjoying the tight strum of excitement that was threading through her body.

"Sorry, detective. Spousal privilege won't save you until you marry me."

Olivia froze, feeling Alex's body immediately stiffen with tension as well. Slowly, she extricated herself. For a moment, they merely looked at each other. Then Alex kissed her lightly on the lips. "Get ready for work." She whispered.

"Right!" Olivia nodded more vigorously than she intended to, feeling relief flood though her as the tense moment passed. Neither of them had given voice to any feelings other than their shared desire. The detective knew what she felt ran deeper than that. Just how deep was something she was no where near ready to begin discussing.

"Do you have a shirt I can borrow?"

Alex's eyes focused on her chest. Smirking, she turned and left the bathroom. She returned a few moments later, the requested garment in hand.

Olivia held it up by its shoulders, rolling her eyes when she realized it was a t-shirt. "I was hoping for something more like a turtleneck." At least it wasn't pink.

Alex shrugged; the innocent look firmly back on her face. "Guess they're all in the wash."

"Right." The brunette scowled. "You know I'll never live this down."

The ADA took Olivia's face between her hands, kissing her sweetly before running her fingers over the sore spot just above the detective's jugular. "Well, let me see what I can do…"


Chapter Eight – The Wolf With The Red Roses

Monday 7:06 AM

Elliot looked up as his partner entered the squad room, his eyes immediately going to the pale beige patch that ran along the side of her neck. He watched her expectantly as she hung up her jacket, got herself a cup of coffee and finally seated herself at her desk.

Olivia felt Elliot watching her and when he didn't speak she raised her eyebrows at him in exasperation. "What?"

"Problems shaving?"

She flushed as the corners of her mouth tugged upwards into a rueful grin. "Fuck you, Stabler."

"No thanks." He smirked. "I'm a happily married man."

"And if it weren't for the last word in that statement, you wouldn't be."

Elliot laughed at the exaggerated leer she shot across the desk at him. Her complete lack of sexual interest in him had been rough on his ego at first but he had to admit it made them much better partners. Besides, her being into women gave him so much more to tease her about. He stood up and walked around his desk, leaning down on hers with one hand. "So… what's got you in such a good mood?"

"Who says I'm in a good mood?"

"Hey, I got a wife. I know what it looks like when a woman's gettin' some."

"How could you? You were gone before I went to see Kathy this morning."

"Aw!" Elliot clutched his chest and staggered slightly. "That was brutal, Liv! Is that how it's gonna be today?"

She shrugged. "Hey, you mess with the bull…"

Before she knew what was happening, Elliot reached out and snatched the band-aid from her neck. "And what? She gets horny?" He laughed as he held the bandage just out of her reach, staring at the dark red splotch against her normally flawless olive skin. "I amend my statement. Forget the razor…you must have tangled with a Hoover! Look at the size of that thing!" He snorted as she grabbed the bandage and re-affixed it to her neck. "Yeah, like that helps!" He went back to his chair, putting his feet up on the desk as he enjoyed watching her squirm. "You know, with a bruise like that you could file charges. How would we write up a lesbian attack? Assault with batteries? Would it even be a violation of the 'penal' code?"

Olivia bit her lip to keep from laughing. "You're an idiot."

Elliot snapped his fingers. "I know!" He reached for his phone, picking up the receiver as he pretended to dial. "Let's ask Cabot!"

Olivia's grin vanished and Elliot watched in shock as she blushed to the roots of her hair, her eyes sliding away from him to focus on the file that was lying open on her desk.

He slowly dropped the receiver back onto its cradle, his eyes growing steadily wider as he stared at her. "You can't be serious!" A very pleasant mental picture formed in the back of his mind, causing his jaw to drop. "Liv?"


He lowered his voice. "Cabot?? Are you serious?"

With a deep sigh, Olivia nodded.

"Oh my god." He felt like his brain was going to explode. "I mean, I know I tease you about her but, outstanding whack off material aside, do you know what you're getting yourself into?"

The brunette scrunched up her face in disgust. "Okay first off, you're a pig. Secondly, yes I do."

"Do you?" He leaned forward, his concern for her written plainly on his face. "We're talking about Alexandra Cabot here. The Ice Maiden? The woman who told a perp she planned on being the one to answer the Governor's phone when the call came through to stay his execution? That woman has political aspirations that don't exactly gel with the lesbian lifestyle. You really think you know what you're doing?"

Olivia shrugged nonchalantly, trying to hide the depth of emotion she felt for the lawyer. "It's not like that, Elliot."

"Not like what, Olivia?"

"Why do I have to be a detective involved with an ADA? Why can't we just be two people trying each other on for size? Why does it have to mean everything? Jeez Stabler, can't you separate?"

His eyebrows rose skeptically. "Because I know you, Liv. For god's sake we breathe the same air every day of the friggin' week. I know that look. And regardless of what this means to Cabot, I know it already means a hell of a lot to you."

She shook her head but didn't answer.

Sighing, her partner ran his hand over his face. Jesus, could shit get anymore complicated? "Look, just… tell me you haven't fallen head over heels for her? Tell me you've been able to hang on to at least a little of that Benson reserve?"

Olivia tried to muster a cocky grin but an image of Alex naked and sleep tousled popped into her head and she ended up with something that looked like a cross between extremely satisfied and hopelessly love sick.

Elliot groaned and leaned back in his chair. He studied her for a few moments. "So this is it huh? The real deal?"

"I dunno…." She shrugged but the soft smile on her face spoke volumes. "I think so."

"You know," He smirked. "If I had a clue that all it would take to settle you down was blonde hair and blue eyes I would have set you up with Kathy's cousin a long time ago. Keep it in the family and save us all from Cabot's wrath when you inevitably piss her off."

Olivia snorted. "If you had a clue I'd be on the phone with Ripley's Believe It or Not."

"Har Har." Elliot rolled his eyes before locking them with Olivia's intently. They stared at each other for a minute, silently conveying everything they would never say to each other. With a final nod of acceptance, he broke the connection. "Well, all I have to say is she had better be good to you. Or her successor will have to pick one hell of a jury."

She gaped at him in mock horror. "You know, it probably wouldn't be good for your career to be heard making death threats against your own ADA."

"I'm not making death threats against the ADA. I'm making death threats against your girlfriend." He smiled. "Jeez Benson, can't you separate?"

Hearing her partner refer to Alex as her girlfriend made Olivia smile brightly.

"Christ, you've got it bad." Elliot snorted. "Listen Casanova, while you were out getting your wheels greased, the rest of us were working…"

"Working?" She smirked. "Did that work involve a grilled cheese sandwich and an iron by any chance?"

He ignored her. "Fin and Munch picked up our mystery woman. DNA already came back a match."

Olivia's head shot up. "Who is she?"

"Name's Kate Hansen. And she's waiting on us in room one."

Olivia studied the woman across from her silently, taking in the short cropped dark auburn hair, the intelligent gray-blue eyes, and the proud bearing in her posture.   The long, supple fingers of her hands had interlocked as soon as she sat down, going immediately to her lap where they still remained. Originally those fingers had been hidden beneath black leather gloves, but they had forced her to remove them before leading her into the interrogation room. She was gorgeous; obviously older and yet ageless in a way that was both disconcerting and blatantly sensual.

If Olivia had to guess her age, somewhere between forty and sixty would be as close as she'd be able to get.

Kate Hansen was a study in self composure. She had not asked a single question since Munch and Fin had brought her in the night before. She had not complained or railed against being kept in the cage overnight. She had not lost her temper, or even the small smile that had graced her lips since they had brought her to the precinct.

And most importantly, she had not asked for a lawyer.

Olivia was impressed. If the woman was guilty of something, she was the coolest criminal she had ever seen and from what she could tell, it wasn't an act. A few quiet questions to the officers on cell duty the night before confirmed that Hansen had been a model detainee and that everyone else in the cage had cut a wide swath around her.

Even now, the detective could feel the subtle influence Hansen was exerting; waiting them out, offering nothing, making them come to her…so to speak.

Olivia glanced at her partner who was standing to one side of the room, looking at the regal women with distaste.

She sighed. Sometimes Elliot could be so black and white. "Ms. Hansen," She began. "Could you please tell us where you were last Tuesday night until early Wednesday morning?"

Sharp eyes focused on her and a small smirk played around that sensual mouth. "I believe you know where I was, Detective. Otherwise I wouldn't be here."

"Humor me."

Hansen sighed. "If you insist on playing this game then fine, I was with Samantha Wainscott at her apartment from late Sunday night until three thirty Wednesday morning. Then my driver, Joseph, picked me up and took me home."

"And 'Joseph' will confirm that?" Olivia stared at her intently.

The woman's gaze never wavered. "Of course."

"What was the nature of your relationship with Samantha Wainscott?" Elliot growled, tired of the woman's condescending attitude.

Kate Hansen didn't even bother to look at him. She kept her eyes locked on Olivia. "She was mine."

"Your what?"

She laughed softly. "Just mine."

Elliot snorted. "So, she was your property?"

"At times."

"Well, your property is dead, did you know that?" He snapped.

There was a small crinkling around the woman's eyes, so minute that Elliot didn't see it. But Olivia did.


"I am aware of that detective." Hansen raised her chin. "I read it in the newspaper."

"How did you know it was Samantha?" Olivia asked softly. "We haven't released her name."

The steel returned to the older woman's eyes, almost as if she had caught the gentleness in the detective's tone and found it offensive. "It was her neighborhood, Detective Benson. And when she didn't return any of my phone calls or emails I made a few well placed inquiries. I am not without resources."

"I'm surprised you cared enough to check." Elliot spat. "You don't seem too broken up that she's dead."

"You don't know me, Detective Stabler, or my world. I suggest you withhold your small minded opinions."

He lost it, slamming his hands down on the table as he leaned in close to the woman's face. "You're right! I don't have a clue about your sick little world and trust me when I say that I ain't losing any sleep over it!"


Olivia's voice was soft, but commanding and he looked over at her to see her incline her head towards the door. With a scowl, he pulled away from the table and left the room.

Hansen hadn't even flinched. Her gaze was still locked tightly on the female detective in front of her. "And what do you know about my world?"

She shrugged slightly. "Enough to realize that everything comes in shades of gray."

The older woman smiled and nodded slightly. "I cared for Samantha a great deal, even if we were no longer together."

"Not together?" Olivia's brow furrowed. "Her bed sheets tell us a different story."

Hansen laughed. It was a deep, throaty sound; captivating and altogether charming. "Come now, detective. You can't tell me you've never had a last hurrah; a final tryst of passion that takes you both by surprise? Those last few days we spent together… they were the first in over a month and they were quite accidental. We ran into each other and fell into bed. It happens."

The brunette fought back the flush that was trying to crawl up into her cheeks. She knew perfectly well what the woman was talking about and found it completely disconcerting that Kate Hansen seemed to have no trouble whatsoever getting under her skin. "So who ended it, and why?"

There was another brief look of pain. "I did; because it wasn't a safe relationship for either of us anymore."

"Can you explain that please?"

Hansen sighed. It was the first overtly emotional response she had displayed since the questioning began. "The world I live in… is often misunderstood, detective." She met Olivia's eyes and held them. "When I first met Samantha she was so new she didn't even understand it herself. She needed someone to take her in hand, to teach her her place as a submissive."

"Was that a role she wanted to play?"

"Desperately. But she didn't even understand the fundamentals of the game."

"Which are?"

Hansen's back straightened and her chin rose slightly, as though she were about to explain something basic to a very naughty child. "Most people, like your Neanderthal partner, mistake the nature of the roles we play. They look at it merely as individuals inflicting pain upon each other. But nothing could be further from the truth. It isn't about that at all. It's about control; the illusion of who has it, and what you can do with it. I am a top, a master. I create a fantasy where my submissive feels safe enough to allow herself to be dominated by me and me alone. Samantha and I never allowed anyone else into our world. She was mine and I was hers, when we were together. And the real truth of my world, Detective Benson, is that the bottom is always the one who is really in control."

Olivia found herself drowning in the woman's voice. It was like smoke over gravel; like the voices of the older women from the bars she had frequented in her twenties. Whispers soaked in whiskey and rough from cigarettes. It triggered something feral within her and she felt heat bloom within her chest as well as between her legs. Blinking, she realized that this woman could probably read her the phonebook and get the same response. "By means of a safe word?"

Hansen's eyes narrowed but she smiled. "Exactly." Her gaze became intense. "That is the reason so many women who are dominant in their everyday lives enjoy being submissive in bed. They know that all they have to do is speak that one word and the control shifts back to them."

An image jumped unbidden into Olivia's mind. Alex looking down at her, her hair wild around her face, her eyes sparking with heat and desire as she held the detective's arms immobile above her head; all while whispering 'Tell me you want it. Tell me you need it…'.

She swallowed hard. "Did Samantha use her safe word often?"

The older woman looked away for the first time as sadness filled her features. "She never used it. Not once in all the months that we were together. That should have told me something was wrong. But she just kept asking me for more, to do more, to cause more damage. A few weeks after she got that bench… that's when I realized that she and I were not playing in the same world anymore. Mine was about control. Hers was about pain. So I ended it." She sighed again. "It would have ended eventually anyway. Samantha was in love with someone else."

"Do you know who?"

Hansen smirked. "Yes and so do you. We've done so well together, Detective Benson, please do not begin insulting my intelligence now. Samantha and I spoke at length about the young Miss Tate. She loved her and she never hid the fact that she intended to win back her affections. Giving up me and my world is what it would have taken to do that. So our split was mutually beneficial."

Olivia pursed her lips. "Not being the center of her universe… that must have been hard on you."

"Samantha was up front from the beginning. She told me everything. Even when she changed her will, it was me she ran to when her father went ballistic."

The detective's head shot up. "What did you say?"

The older woman looked at her sarcastically. "I am sure you noticed that Samantha's father is not exactly the most open minded individual on the planet. According to her he nearly went into cardiac arrest when she told him she was in love with a woman. When he found out about her… interests, through a very ill-timed visit on his part, he was very nearly apoplectic. I can only imagine the extent of his reaction when his little girl informed him that she intended to leave the family fortune to 'that little dyke'. In any event, Samantha was inconsolable. Apparently he said some very harsh things to her. She would not repeat them but the state of hysteria she was in told me all I needed to know."

Olivia blinked in confusion. "What about you? Samuel Wainscott had plenty to say about Serra, but he never mentioned you."

"He didn't know about me. The time he walked in on us… Well, let's just say the view he got wasn't of my face." She smiled. "Plus, Samantha never told him that she and Serra had split up. She was so sure she could get her back… She didn't want her father to get used to Serra not being a part of her life."

Olivia was silent as her mind worked back through all of the information she had just received. Her thoughts were interrupted by a soft knock on the glass behind her.

"Excuse me a moment please, Ms. Hansen."

"Actually, my dear," The older woman smiled charmingly. "You can call me Kate."

The detective's eyebrows tried to crawl off her forehead but she merely nodded and left the room, surprised to find Dr. Huang flipping through the case file as he waited for her. Elliot, Alex and the Captain were also in the room. To her credit, she simply nodded in Alex's direction and managed to turn her attention back to the psychiatrist.

She smiled. "About time you got back here!"

"Good to see you too, Olivia." He closed the file slowly.

"So what do you think?"

He raised one eyebrow, a small smile on his face. "What do you think?"

Olivia rolled her eyes. Friggin' Psychs. "I don't think she did it. Or that she was even involved."

Huang nodded. "I agree."

"How did you two come to that conclusion?" Cragen grunted.

The psychiatrist inclined his head towards the woman sitting in the other room. "She is the quintessential 'top'. She truly believes in, and abides by, the rules and rituals that her world is wrapped up in. And while that world does revolve around the concept of control, even more than that, it relies on trust."

"You make it sound almost noble." Elliot snorted.

Huang nodded. "In a way it is. For a relationship to work between two people in the bondage community, it requires that they trust each other implicitly; enough to be one hundred percent honest about what they want and what they are willing to give to get it. They have to believe that their partner will abide by the limits they have set and honor the safe word established to end the play should it become too much for one of them to bear. Not only would this type of relationship leave a person completely open and vulnerable to their partner, it opens them up to the possibility of scorn and ridicule should information regarding their proclivities be made public. What Hansen and Samantha had required an enormous amount of faith, from both of them. How many so called 'normal' relationships would stand up under those same requirements?"

The room was silent.

"Kate Hansen simply does not have a motive to kill her. She gains nothing from her death and according to Warner she even supplied first aid to the victim when their sexual encounters caused physical damage. It was Sam that wanted to take the games further, to an extent that made even her top nervous. Add to that the over abundance of artificial lubrication and the tears to the vaginal opening itself and I would say that she wasn't even getting sexual gratification from the acts anymore. That isn't a description of your typical submissive. It sounds to me like Samantha Wainscott was suffering from a form of masochistic-contrition.

"What the hell is that?" Cragen asked.

"It's the act of initiating masochistic tendencies for the sake of providing emotional release, akin to contrition; generally leading to the relief from some form of guilt." He looked at Cragen thoughtfully. "Much like the propensity for young emotionally unstable girls to cut themselves. Did Samantha ever engage in that kind of behavior?"

The Captain looked stricken. "She used to show up at police functions with her father. Sometimes she would have bandages on her arms. Samuel always explained that she fell off her horse or caught her arms in the rigging on her sailboat."

"And it stopped as she got older?"


Huang nodded. "She outgrew that particular avenue of relief… and began looking for another."

"That may all be true," Olivia opened the file in his hands and pointed at a picture of the body. "But you can't tell me she did that to herself!"

"No, of course not; I was merely stating my reasons for believing that Hansen wasn't involved."

Olivia looked at Cragen.

"Fin called in ten minutes ago. He confirmed her alibi with her driver, Joseph Ruiz. He picked her up at Sammy's apartment at three thirty in the morning and took her straight home where she remained for the rest of the night. He'll testify that there wasn't a drop of blood on her. Even let Munch take a look through the car. It's clean."

Olivia threw her hands up in disgust.  "So we're right back where we started!"


"Maybe not."  George looked at her pointedly.  "I have some theories about the condition of her body, if you're ready to hear them."


"What about her?"  Cragen nodded towards Hansen.

"Cut her loose." Alex spoke up for the first time. "We don't have anything to hold her on."

Olivia looked at the ADA curiously, noting the strange tone in her voice. "Hey El, can you…"

He rolled his eyes but nodded. "Yeah, I'll take care of it. She was looking at you like you were a hunk of angel food cake anyway. If we send you back in there she's liable to ask you out."

The brunette waited until Captain Cragen had followed Huang into the conference room and then took her lover by the hand, pulling her gently into the next observation room and closing the door behind them. "Hey… are you ok?"

"Hmm?" Alex chewed on her bottom lip. "Yeah."

Olivia settled her hands on the blonde's hips, using them to pull their bodies close together. "What's wrong sweetheart?"

Alex laughed lightly, resting her arms on the smaller woman's shoulders as she blushed. "She was looking at you like you were dessert."

The detective's jaw dropped slightly. "You were jealous?"

"No!" She shook her head adamantly. "Not jealous… exactly. Cabots do not get jealous." Her ears turned even pinker as she mimicked Hansen's tone right before the detective had left the interrogation room. "You can call me Kate."

Olivia laughed. "Riiiight. You're not jealous at all." She smothered the other woman's objection with a passionate kiss, invading her mouth with her tongue and nibbling on her bottom lip before finally releasing her. "That's ok. I kind of like you jealous." She winked and headed off after Cragen and Huang.

Alex watched her go, the happy smile slowly fading from her lips as soon as Olivia was out of sight.

Dr. Huang looked at each of the forensic photos closely before he taped them to the clear case board that had been wheeled into the conference room. Normally this type of session would take place in the bullpen, but with a judge involved, discretion was a moral imperative.

When he was done, he stepped back, rubbing his chin thoughtfully with one hand while he flipped through the case notes in the file. He glanced up when the door opened and Alex entered, moving to stand next to Cragen at the back of the room while Olivia, Elliot, Munch and Fin were all seated around the conference room table.

"So," He began. "Here we have a victim in her mid thirties, average build, above average social standing and monetary means, who engages in aberrant personal behavior with homosexual tendencies. Am I missing anything?"

Olivia cleared her throat. "According to Serra Tate, the ex-lover, Samantha was also obsessive and controlling with some major father issues stemming from an affair that occurred prior to her mother's death."

"I see." Huang stepped closer to the board, allowing his fingers to trail over several of the X marks cut into the victim's flesh as he leaned his head to one side. "We're looking at a serial offender."

Olivia sighed in frustration. "That was Warner's take on the condition of the body too but we can't find anything to substantiate it!"

He circled his hand over the photograph, drawing their attention to it. "These cuts are meticulous, precise. See how each one is exactly the same length and depth, one leg slightly longer? These are the marks of a careful predator; one who is doing more than inflicting pain… he's exacting punishment."

"Punishment? For what?" Elliot's forehead furrowed in confusion.

Huang didn't answer; instead he looked Olivia up and down. "You're almost perfect."

The detective's eyebrow arched. "Well gee, Doc… I like you too."

The psychiatrist ignored the comment. "Lay down on the floor. On your back please."

"I don't like you that much!"  Olivia joked, but did as she was told.

"Elliot!" Huang beckoned him over. "Kneel down beside her." When the two detectives were in the right positions, he continued. "What happened to Samantha Wainscott was not only painful, but terrifying. I find it doubtful that she merely laid there and allowed it to be done to her. There were no recent signs of restraints being used on the victim. The markings on her wrists were several days old but there is bruising that appears to be more recent. The perp couldn't sit on her because his body would have blocked the area he wanted to cut." He looked at Elliot pointedly. "If you had to subdue her, knowing those limitations, how would you do it?"

The big man looked down at his partner for a moment. Then he took both of her wrists in his left hand, holding them over his head as he placed a knee firmly across her shins. It was awkward, but it worked. Olivia squirmed but couldn't break free.

"Huh." Elliot blinked. "Ok, so this tells us what?"

Huang pulled down one of the pictures that clearly depicted the cuts covering the victim's thighs. Turning it slightly, he angled it so that the perspective was the same as Elliot's when he looked down at Olivia.

There was a collective in-taking of breath from around the room.

Viewed from the new angle, each of the longer cuts was pointing downward.

"Crosses." Olivia whispered as she climbed to her feet. "That bastard cut crosses into her."

Huang frowned. "I've seen this type of thing before in other's suffering from religious psychosis. The belief is that the cuts allow the evil within the individual to be purged while exacting penance from the wicked." He shrugged. "It isn't something a first time offender would jump into. These cuts, as I have said, are meticulous. That takes practice."

"So you've seen this M.O. before?" Cragen's voice was hopeful.

"Not this one." The diminutive man shook his head slowly. "Usually this type of thing is done to the chest or genitals. The ME's report states that they chest was opened but that the skin was intact. Your guy purposely avoided those areas. I believe his intent was to rape Samantha Wainscott when he was done with her penance. Mutilating those areas would have prevented that." He pointed to the photo showing the victim's torso. "All of this damage was done post mortem." He nodded quietly to himself. "That's rage. I think Samantha struggled, causing the perp to cut too deeply, severing the femoral artery, which resulted in her death. When he was denied the opportunity to complete his purification rite, he enraged, mutilating her corpse as a means of venting his anger."

"What about her face?" Munch asked quietly. "What inner need does that fulfill for this psycho?"

"That's a good question. Shame, maybe? " Huang shook his head. "But that doesn't fit with the sense of entitlement this guy feels. Not only does he think he's punishing his victims, he feels that he has the right to do so. No, the face is something else. Something…" He shrugged. "I don't know. It's an incongruous element."

"Now is it just me, or wouldn't you all think that Samantha would be screaming her head off through all that?" Fin asked sarcastically. "I don't know about you, but personally, I'm of the opinion that pain hurts."

"There was an ENC call." Elliot shook his head. "If the neighbors were used to her 'activities', which I'm sure they would have to be after months of using that bench, then the call would have been more out of aggravation than concern."

"Let's get back to the MO." Cragen stepped closer to the board, his eyes hardening as he looked over the pictures. "You said our guy is a serial offender, but we've been through every database we can access and we've got nothin'! How do you explain that?"

Huang shrugged. "Maybe you're looking in the wrong place."

Olivia's head shot up, her eyes narrowing as they centered on the board in front of her. Reaching out, she traced the damage done to Samantha's face as she whispered, "Rage…"

Cragen blinked. "Olivia?"

The detective's laugh was short and bitter. "We are looking in the wrong place. We've been looking for bodies. We should be looking for victims!"

Elliot shook his head. "But even if the victim of a previous attack survived, the MO would still be in the database!"

"Unless your perp was a juvenile."

Every head swiveled towards the back of the room where Alex was leaning up against a filing cabinet as she studied the case board intently.

"Come again?" Fin scowled at her.

"All records of juvenile offenses not involving homicide are sealed in the state of New York until such time as the perpetrator is released from incarceration. At that time the records become available only to court officials handling the reintegration of the juvenile into society. When the courts are satisfied that the rehabilitation statutes have been met, the records are destroyed or sealed permanently without ever being entered into the national databases." She arched one eyebrow at Olivia who was looking at her with a slightly stunned expression on her face. "You wanted to know how this guy could have slipped through the cracks. Well, that's one sure-fire way. Your perp was a juvenile."

"Hang on!" Elliot raised his hand to interject. "I'm six foot-two and I could barely manage that hold. To be tried as a juvenile, we're talking about a kid that had to be…what? Twelve? Thirteen on the outside? No way could a kid that age manage this kind of attack."

"If he is a previous offender he wouldn't be a kid anymore, he would be an adult now. And there's no way for us to know what the ages and body types of his previous victims were without finding them. They could have been juveniles as well."

"There's also another possible explanation." Huang tapped the autopsy photos. "This kind of response to anger and frustration reflects serious psychotic issues including, but not limited to, obsessions and compulsions, tantrums, and impulsive behaviors. Those are all symptoms of certain genetic disorders that can also include gigantism, a condition characterized by excessive growth and height significantly above average. Children suffering from these disorders are often unable to control their reactions to outside stimuli. They are truly at the mercy of their baser nature."

Olivia looked at the ADA hopefully, inserting just a touch of personal into her gaze.

Alex looked scandalized. "I can't make a blanket request for juvenile records! Any judge would take one look and see that for exactly what it is: a fishing expedition! To even consider breaking a seal I would need the name of the original suspect and a tangible link to the current crime!"

"What about the… what did you call it?" Fin looked at Huang expectantly.


"Yeah, what about that? Wouldn't that count as a wild card?"

Alex rolled her eyes, taking a deep breath as she tried to hold onto her patience. "What I need is a name and a victim with injuries consistent with Samantha Wainscott. Then, maybe, I would stand a chance of getting juvenile records unsealed."

Olivia sighed heavily, running both her hands through her hair before settling them on her hips. "Okay, fine! Then our next step is to find a victim." She chewed on the inside of her cheek. "So… if our perp is attacking women in an effort to punish them, and his chosen method is to cut crosses into their flesh, then they would all have to be guilty of something he considered a sin, right?"

Huang smiled. "Last I checked the bible didn't say anything about bondage."

"Nope." Elliot shook his head. "But it's got a plenty to say about homosexuality."

Olivia tossed him a sideways look.

"Hey!" He held his hands up defensively. "I didn't say I agreed with it, just that it was in there."

Munch and Fin glanced at each other and then at Alex, who suddenly became fascinated with her shoes.

"So we contact support groups for the victims of hate crimes." Olivia said quickly, drawing the attention back to her. "As well as all of the Gay and Lesbian Centers in the greater New York area." She nodded at Munch and Fin. "If we split those up between the four of us it should only take us, say… forever."

"Start local." Cragen growled. "And hope this creep didn't wander."

"Hang on a second." Huang stopped them all in their tracks as he looked at Olivia expectantly. "Tell me about the father."

The detective frowned, casting a quick glance at Alex and the Captain as she rethought the scathing words that were about to leave her mouth. "Samuel Wainscott, district court judge, good reputation on the bench. He was pretty torn up by both our initial notification of his daughter's possible homicide and our verification of the body as hers. Not very supportive of his daughter's sexual orientation or her chosen lifestyle." She pursed her lips slightly, locking her eyes intently with the psychiatrist. "And not very forthcoming about the family's financial situation, either." She could feel the weight of the silence coming from Cragen and Alex like a physical force and squared her shoulders against it.

Huang nodded. "I got that from your reaction to what Hansen said about Samantha's will."

Olivia nodded. "Samuel Wainscott told us he had no idea that his daughter had changed her will to leave everything to her ex-lover, Serra Tate. Apparently that was a lie."

"If you choose to believe Hansen over a New York State judge." Cragen's voice was low. "Why would Sam lie? What would he have to gain?"

"Well…" Munch pulled on his overcoat, his lip curling slightly in a sarcastic grin. "That's the one hundred and forty seven million dollar question, isn't it?"


Chapter Nine: Momentum

Monday 04:36 PM

Elliot leaned in a little closer to the glass case, his forehead crinkling as he took in the myriad of rainbow stickers, pink triangle pins, and various t-shirts with slogans that ranged from 'Hate Is Not A Family Value' to 'I'm not gay, but my girlfriend is…" Blinking, he shook his head slightly as his eyes settled on another shelf, this one full of what had to be every type of condom and dental dam currently in production. "One-stop shopping." He whispered. He put out his hand to push open the swinging doors to his left only to have Olivia step in front of him.

"Uhm… no, you don't really want to go in there, Elliot." She laughed as she took him by the shoulders and turned him around. "Not if you want to be able to look me in the eyes for the rest of the day."

He tried to peek over his shoulder as she led him away, finally giving up when they were on the other side of the room. He leaned on the counter next to the register. "What the hell is in there?"

Olivia's eyebrow quirked as humor lit up her eyes. "It's called The Toy Shop for a reason, El."

"Ahh." He nodded, absently glancing at the jewelry case that was built into the countertop. He blinked in confusion as he studied one of the silver pieces, not quite able to make out what it was. It looked like an oddly shaped flower or something, maybe an orchid, the petals curling outwards with a tiny pearl at the top… "Oh my god!" He straightened up quickly as his face flamed bright red.

Olivia took one look at the piece that had captured his attention and started laughing. "Come on, partner! Try to be a little more open minded!"

"Open minded?" He wiped his hand over his eyes, like he was trying to drag the image from his mind. "Trust me; this has nothing to do with the whole 'gay' thing! If my daughter came home wearing a little silver penis around her neck I'd think she was nuts too!"

Olivia snickered at his choice of words but let it go. She pointed at the case. "What if it was one of those?"

Elliot glanced at her sharply. "Something you know that I don't?"

"No!" She laughed. "I just like to see that vein pop out of your forehead."

"What are we doing here anyway?" He growled. "We've been to a dozen different support centers this afternoon with no luck, what do you think we're going to find here?"


He stared at her in bemusement. "Faith?"

"Someone callin' my name?"

Elliot turned to see an older woman, probably in her late fifties, with mid length red hair and bright green eyes step out from the back room. She was tall, nearly six feet, and extremely well put together. Definitely someone that would still turn heads wherever she went and there was something about the way she carried herself that made Elliot think of the women who starred in the old cop movies he watched as a kid.

"Olivia!" Faith vaulted the counter to wrap the much smaller woman up in her arms. "Jesus! How long has it been?" She released the detective, holding her by the arms as her eyes traveled up and down her body possessively. "My god woman! And here I thought you looked good in your uniform! Mmm mmm! Black jeans, leather jacket and a badge! Be still my heart!" She glanced at Elliot quickly before tossing the brunette a sly wink. "Not that you don't look best in absolutely nothing at all…"

Olivia grinned and shook her head, wry amusement plain in her features as she kissed the older woman on the cheek. "You never change."

Faith wrapped one arm around the detective's shoulder. "Why mess with perfection honey?"

"Elliot," She inclined her head towards the woman at her side. "Meet Faith Dufresne, transplanted Texan and all around bad seed."

"Nice to meetcha." Faith pumped his hand firmly before grinning down at Olivia. "You know the upside of being a sinner named Faith, darlin'?"

"Yup. Nothing better than a joke that don't need a punch line." Olivia mimicked the woman's accent, earning a slap across her ass for her trouble.

"So what brings you to my little den of iniquity?"

The two detectives sobered immediately. "We need your help."

Faith caught the change in her friend and let her arm drop. She led them to the back room, pointing them both to chairs situated around her desk. "What's going on?"

"I looked for you at The Center downtown." Olivia gratefully accepted a cup of coffee, waiting as she poured one for Elliot as well. "They said you weren't volunteering there anymore. You were there for twenty years, Faith. What happened?"

"Politics." The older woman shrugged, a slight note of bitterness creeping into her voice as she answered. "They got funding from some conservative group that wanted to whitewash our more…shall we say 'colorful' side? Apparently they don't want the cause to seem quite so wrapped up in sex." She snorted. "Did you ever hear anything more ridiculous? Considering the only reason there is a cause is because of who we sleep with?" She opened her desk drawer, pulling out a bottle of Irish whiskey. After adding a generous shot to her own mug, she raised her eyebrows in question, nodding when the two detectives declined. "Anyway, I guess my flame burned a bit too bright. They told me I could stay if I sold the shop. I told them they could take a flying fuck at a rolling jelly donut!"

Olivia shook her head. "That's crazy!"

"Nah!' Faith sipped her coffee, smiling in appreciation. "A minority group becoming intolerant of certain internal factions is just another step in social evolution. Shows how far we've come, and indicates that maybe we overshot the mark a wee bit."

Elliot blinked in surprise causing the two women to laugh.

"I may be a heathen Detective." Faith winked at him good-naturedly. "But I am an educated heathen!"

"Faith has degree in philosophy from NYU." Olivia smiled. "She just likes to play at being an ignorant redneck."

"And Olivia likes to play with handcuffs." Green eyes flashed wickedly. "Always has."

"Okay!" The brunette threw up her hands in surrender. "You win! I give!"

"Yes, I remember."

Elliot laughed out loud as a deep red flush crept into his partner's cheeks.

Olivia glared at her friend. "Why didn't you jump to another center? Not all of them want to stifle the community."

Faith shrugged. "I can do plenty from right where I'm at. And I get to do it my way. I give money to victims groups, advocacy groups, and shelters. I still help out whenever I can, just on a smaller scale." She set her mug down and met Olivia's eyes. "So what can I do to help you out?"

The detective sighed. "I need some information about possible victims of a hate crime. We're between a rock and a hard place, Faith. We don't have a time period or even a general location, but I figured if it happened anywhere in New York you might have at least heard about it."

"Why don't you tell me what you're looking for and I'll see if this old brain can spit out any pertinent facts?"

Olivia reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a photo, hesitating for a moment before passing it across the desk. The picture only showed the damage done to Samantha's thighs, but it was still horrifying. "It's pretty bad…"

Faith opened her desk drawer and pulled out a pair of glasses, sliding them on before holding her hand out expectantly. "I've worked with women who have been raped by their own father's in an attempt to 'fix' them, Olivia. I've had friends beaten and urinated on. I'm sure I've seen worse."

With a sigh, the detective handed her the photograph. She felt her guts twist when Faith's lips curled in anger, her normally easy going manner gone instantly. "Where did you get this?"

"The victim was found in her apartment early last Wednesday."

The older woman's head shot up quickly. "You mean this is recent?"

Olivia frowned. "Yes why?"

"I was wrong; this is the worst thing I've ever seen." Faith laid the photo face down on her desk. Taking off the glasses, she rubbed her fingers lightly at her temples. "But it isn't the first time I've seen it."

Elliot leaned forwardly eagerly. "You know a woman who was attacked like this?"

"Not a woman; three women, all of them lesbians." She sat back with a heavy sigh.

"When did these attacks take place?" Olivia pulled out her notebook.

"God, it must have been… ten or eleven years ago? Jessie, the second one that creep grabbed, she was a regular at the center. She managed to talk the other two into coming in for counseling once they caught the bastard. None of them stayed very long, though. It was hard for them to open up about what that butcher did to them and I never did find out much more about what happened. For some reason a lot of the details didn't make it into the papers. Jessie stayed the longest, but last I heard she moved out of state."

"Can you give me their names?" She saw her friend begin to close down and hurried on. "We need to contact these women, Faith. They're the only ones that can help us find this guy before he hurts somebody else."

"Why don't you talk to her?" She pointed at the photo.

"She's dead." Elliot met the older woman's eyes. "He's escalating."

Faith drew in a long breath. "Jess listed herself as a contact for victim aide. She wanted to help others who had gone through similar situations. I can give you her information. As for the other two… If they want to disappear, it isn't my place to help anyone find them."

"Understood." Olivia watched as Faith opened a battered leather organizer, flipping through the pages until she found the information she wanted. She quickly wrote down a name and a California phone number on a post-it note and handed it to the detective.

"She called last December to update her information." The red head drained the rest of her coffee. "I hope it's still good."

"Well, even if it isn't, we can probably track her down by her name." Olivia stood and went around the desk, leaning down to hug the older woman tightly. "Thank you, Faith."

"Anything for you, darlin', you know that." The older woman grinned. "How about we have dinner sometime next week?"

"Oh, uh…yeah." Olivia stammered. "I'd really like that. It's just… well…"

Faith laughed out loud, waving her hand at Olivia in dismissal. "Bring her with you. Anyone who's got Olivia Benson that tongue tied is someone I have to meet!"

"So…" Elliot smirked at his partner as they drove back to the precinct. "You two seem close."

Olivia brushed her hair off her forehead absently. "If there's something you want to know, Elliot, just ask. Of course, whether or not you can handle the answer is something else altogether."

"She's very..." He scratched his neck, trying to find the right word. "Striking. Were you two…?"

Olivia smiled and looked out the window. "Once upon a time."

"Really?" His eyebrows tried to crawl off his forehead. "She seems a bit too old for you."

"Yeah? Well, she was a lot younger fifteen years ago. I met Faith on my first trip to The Center." The detective smiled fondly at the memory. "And she's older, but not too old. She taught me a lot." Olivia raised one finger at him in warning. "Trust me; you want to let that go without asking."

Elliot laughed as he pulled the car into their designated spot. He followed Olivia into the bullpen, going for coffee as his partner sat down and picked up the handset on her phone.

Olivia carefully punched in the numbers from the post-it note, silently pleading with the universe to give them just one frigging break on this cluster-fuck of a case.

Her prayers were answered when the other end was picked up on the fourth ring, a strong female voice echoing in her ear. "Hello?"

"Yes, hello. May I speak to Jessica Reed, please?"

"This is Jess. Who is this?"

"Hello, Ms. Reed. My name is Detective Olivia Benson. I'm with the New York City Police Department."

The voice on the other end snorted derisively. "So what is this like a courtesy follow up call? Because I already heard the good news."

Olivia blinked in confusion. "I beg your pardon?

"You're calling about that psycho getting out of FenBrooke right?"

"FenBrooke Psychiatric Facility?" She looked up at Elliot as he sat on the edge of her desk. "Ms. Reed… Jessica… if we can just take a step backwards, that would help me out a lot. Who exactly are we talking about here?"

"Peter Kinkaid!" The woman snarled. "The freak that ruined my life."

Olivia wrote the name down quickly. "Jessie, we're currently investigating the murder of a woman who might have been attacked in the same manner that you were. Can you please tell me what happened to you?"

"What happened to me?" The words were repeated bitterly and Olivia knew she was losing her. "What happened to me was that I lost my girlfriend, my job, my sense of well-being. That bastard took everything from me and what did they do to him? Absolutely nothing. Not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. I'll remember those words for the rest of my life." Her breath hitched. "No jail time. He tortured and raped me and those two other girls and all they did was send him to that country club of a hospital. And you know what the kicker was?" Jessie spat. "They tried him as a juvenile! Said he was thirteen or something. My ass! That bastard was nearly six feet tall! Judge said he didn't deserve to have his whole life ruined over his 'misdeeds as a confused youth'. What the fuck is that about? What about my life?"

Olivia rubbed the back of her neck. She could sense Jessie's anger and bitterness was about to cause her to spiral out of control. If they didn't get the answers they needed soon, the woman would end the call and they would have to start all over again when she had calmed down.

And they did not have that kind of time.

Her only option was to try and push the victim's buttons, make her angrier and see what shook loose. It was a tactic she normally avoided at all costs, but she didn't see any other way to get the information they needed quickly.

"Ms. Reed!" Olivia inserted a hint of irritation in her voice. "I have a killer on my hands that may or may not be the same individual who attacked you. I am sorry about what happened to you, and those other two girls, but the particulars of your court case do not interest me. I need to know what happened during the attack. I know it was a long time ago, but I need to know what you remember." She winced at the harshness of her words, not meeting Elliot's questioning stare.

"What I remember…? You want to know what I remember?" Jessie's voice sounded incredulous. "I remember the way he smelled, the ways his hands felt on me. I remember how calm he was, like what he was doing was the most normal thing in the world. I remember the way he pinned me down, how he ripped off my clothes. But you know what I remember most of all? His voice. His dead, flat, monotone voice and the way he kept saying the same four words over and over again like it was some kind of prayer."

"What words?"

"Thy will be done." The woman began to sob. "I still hear it, in my sleep. I wake up screaming. Do you know how many times he repeated those words? Forty times! Do you know how I know that?"

"How?" Olivia whispered.

"Because he said it right before he cut into me each time! Right before he carved each one of those little fucking crosses into my legs!" Jess screamed. "And every time my lover touches them I hear those words again! You call me up, after your fucked up system let the bastard out and you ask me what I remember?" Her voice suddenly became very quiet. "I remember wanting to die, detective."

"Ms. Reed, I am so sorry-"

"Don't call here again."

The line went dead before Olivia could complete her apology and she hung her head for a moment, silently finishing the words in her head and heart. Then she dropped the handset back into the cradle and stood up. "We've got what we need. Let's call Alex."

Monday 08:13 PM

Olivia tossed a twenty to the driver and pushed the cab door shut, shoving her hands in her pockets to ward off the late evening chill as she looked up at the building in front of her. She hesitated for a moment, almost deciding to climb back into the taxi and call it a night, but the short screech of the cab's tires as it lurched back into traffic signaled the loss of that option.

She didn't understand why she was so nervous. There had been a cease fire called and the 'peace talks' that had followed had left no uncertainty that the war was over, at least for the moment. A vivid memory pushed its way to the front of her mind; one of pale honey-toned skin, slick with sweat, sliding deliciously against her as stiff, dusky pink nipples pressed into her thighs. She couldn't help the grin that split her face or the strong flush that colored her cheeks. Anyone walking by would probably think she was a lunatic but at that moment, lost in that particular memory; she really didn't give a damn.

A fat drop of moisture landed on her overheated skin and Olivia looked up, grinning ruefully as the New York sky opened in a deluge that quickly soaked her to the bone. For a few minutes she just stood there, smiling up at the sky like a fool. Then the cold sank in.

Shivering, she ran for the protection of the awning that spanned the entrance to Alex's building, tunneling her fingers through her hair to shake the moisture from it once she was safely out of the pouring rain.

Well, at least now I have an excuse to go inside.

Olivia sighed. Why did she feel like she needed an excuse?

They hadn't discussed the ramifications of what had happened between them, and they certainly hadn't made any plans past the activities of the previous day, but the connection she had felt, that she was still feeling, was more real than anything she had ever experienced before. She couldn't imagine that Alex wasn't aware of it too.

The ADA had been all business when they had spoken earlier, listening carefully to the information Olivia and Elliot had discovered about Peter Kinkaid. When Olivia was finished, Alex assured her that even if a judge didn't think it was enough, she would be able to push it through; although it would take her until the next morning to actually get her hands on the files. Her tone had been brisk and officious, but there was a moment right before they hung up when Alex had paused; a quiet intake of air the only sound audible over the phone line. When she finally spoke again, there was a breathless quality to her voice that made Olivia's pulse race. All she had said before hanging up was 'goodnight, Olivia', but the detective couldn't shake the feeling that she had meant to say something different altogether.

Feeling slightly ridiculous for skulking around outside Alex's apartment building, the detective pushed through the glass doors, waving at the security guard stationed inside. "Hey Dave."

"Good evening, Ms. Benson." He discreetly glanced down at the clipboard on the desk in front of him, checking to make sure she was still on the list. "Did you want me to ring Ms. Cabot and announce you?"

Olivia smiled. It was good to know that the building was safe. "No, that's okay. She's expecting me." At least, I hope she is…

He tipped his hat to her as she stepped into the elevator.

Alex tore her gaze away from the television, her lips quirking as she pondered who might be knocking at her door at half past eight on a rainy Monday evening. She grabbed up the remote and quickly changed the channel, trading Women's Murder Club for a documentary on Nova. She might be able to get away with claiming professional interest in the show, but she definitely preferred that her obsession with dark-haired, dark-eyed detectives remain a secret.

Even if there was something about that Lindsay Boxer character that was strangely familiar.

Walking over to the door, she glanced out the peephole and felt her heart jump painfully in her chest when deep amber eyes smiled back at her from the other side. Flipping the locks, she pulled the door open, the question she was about to ask dying in her throat as she took in Olivia's bedraggled appearance.

"What happened to you?" She stepped back, waving the detective into the apartment, trying not to laugh when her boots squeaked loudly on the marble tile of the foyer. "Don't tell me you were out walking in this weather!"

"Not exactly." The brunette smiled, pulling off her leather jacket and handing it to Alex who hung it on the rack next to the door. "I was a little slow at the curb, got caught in a freak downpour."

"Olivia, it started raining fifteen minutes ago. I don't think it takes that long to get across the sidewalk. What the hell were you doing?"

The detective stared at her for a moment. "Thinking."

Alex raised one eyebrow, her lips quirking adorably. "You stood in the rain in front of my building for fifteen minutes….thinking? Thinking about what?"

Olivia took a deep breath. It was the moment of truth. "About you, about whether or not I should come up." She began to tremble as the cold water soaking her clothing turned her skin clammy. "We didn't exactly talk about any of this before I left this morning."

The ADA took in the strong, normally taciturn woman who stood in front of her shivering and felt herself fall a little farther. The familiar panic rose in the back of her throat and she shook her head to try and chase it away. She knew Olivia wanted answers, answers about what they were to each other and where this might be going, but that was a conversation she hadn't been expecting to have, and definitely one she wasn't prepared for. "Liv…" She bit her bottom lip. "We need to get you out of those clothes before you catch pneumonia. Come on."

Alex took the older woman by the hand and led her down the hall to the bedroom. She dug through the drawers of her bureau until she found an over-sized t-shirt and a pair of sweats. Tossing them on the bed, she went into the bathroom to grab a clean towel from the rack by the heater, stopping dead in her tracks at the sight that greeted her when she returned.

Unaware of her audience, Olivia pulled off her t-shirt, dropping it into a sodden pile on the bedroom floor before wiggling her way out of very snug jeans. The ADA watched, transfixed, as the gorgeous detective's hips swung from side to side, each inch of wet denim slowly sliding further down the strong muscular thighs she had traced with her fingertips the night before. When she was done, Olivia was wearing nothing but the bra and panties she had borrowed that morning; both of them stretched tightly across her more generous frame.

Alex felt a familiar ache begin in her lower abdomen; a liquid heat that coursed through her veins, causing the hair on the back of her neck to stand up and her stomach to flip pleasantly. She slid the tip of her tongue across her lips, wetting them repeatedly as she breathed deeply through her mouth.

Olivia glanced over her shoulder, her eyes darkening to an almost impossible shade when she saw the desire evident in the lawyer's features. A small smile curled the corners of her mouth as she turned, offering Alex a view of hardened nipples protruding from nearly transparent silk. "Did you want your clothes back?" She asked playfully.

Tossing the towel over her shoulder, Alex crossed the room quickly, not stopping until she could feel the detective's breathe wash over her cheek. She raised her hand, running her fingertips lightly over Olivia's chilled skin, tracing the edges of the fabric that strained against the rapid rise and fall of the older woman's chest. "They're wet." Alex whispered as her fingers made quick work of the bra clasp before sliding down to hook beneath the elastic band of the panties. She kept her eyes locked with Olivia's as she slid the wisp of fabric down her thighs, not breaking the gaze even when she needed to bend slightly to push it all the way to the floor.

Olivia stepped out of the silk, feeling a smooth hand slide around her hip and up her side as Alex rose. The blonde paused to take an aching nipple between her lips for one teasing moment before releasing it to drape the warm towel around the detective's shoulders. Quietly, Alex began to tousle her hair, soaking up the remaining water from the dark locks before pulling the towel down to gently rub the moisture from her skin. When Olivia's hands came up and began to unbutton the pajama top she was wearing, Alex smiled gently, allowing her to finish before leaning in to whisper, "Turn around."

Olivia felt her stomach drop as a wild spark of electricity shot up her spine. Swallowing, she turned slowly, reaching out with one arm to steady herself against the headboard as her weakened knees threatened to give out on her.

Alex cocked her head to one side, making small sounds of appreciation as she ran the towel down Olivia's smooth olive-toned back. The detective's skin was unbelievably soft and she could not resist following the path of the towel with her own bare palm. As she traced the small of Olivia's back down over the swell of her buttocks, she gave up any pretense of drying her skin and pressed into her tightly, fitting the older woman's backside into her groin as she pressed hardened nipples into the sensitive skin beneath her shoulder blades.

Olivia threw her head back as hands snaked around her side to cup her breasts, her body beginning to rock instinctively as sharp teeth bit into the tender skin at the back of her neck. "Jesus…" She hissed as she tightened one hand on the headboard, raising the other over her shoulder to curl her fingers firmly around the back of Alex's head. "Harder…" She begged.

Alex hesitated for a moment and then increased the pressure on Olivia's neck.

The brunette trembled wildly as the pain from the younger woman's bite sent a rush of adrenaline through her. It collided with the pleasure coming from the warm fingers stroking her nipples and she pushed back harder, grinding herself against the warm body behind her.

Alex groaned loudly and slid her right hand down over Olivia's belly, brushing quickly through the short patch of auburn hair to slide into the wetness between her thighs. The brunette bucked under her touch, whimpering as she stroked her fingers firmly, gliding them over the small bundle of nerves at the top of her cleft. She could feel Olivia shaking, could feel her entire body shuddering as her head rolled back to rest on her shoulder. Alex watched the older woman's face intently, taking in the deep flush of her cheeks, the lower lip she held between her teeth and the tightly closed eyes. She knew in that moment that Olivia trusted her implicitly and that knowledge caused a sharp spasm of pain in her chest followed by a warmth she didn't dare define.

On the heels of that came a hunger so desperate that it almost frightened her. Quickening her fingers she pushed harder against Olivia's back, rubbing her nipples against soft skin as she whispered her need urgently. "Come for me, Liv." Her voice broke as the normally stoic detective began to come apart beneath her touch. "I need to feel it…"

Olivia inhaled sharply as her body convulsed; the softly whispered words enough to push her over the edge she had been balanced on since Alex had first touched her. For long moments there was nothing but intense pleasure and tightened muscles, slick skin and heated lips pressed against her throat.

When she could focus again, Olivia found herself kneeling on the floor with Alex wrapped tightly around her. Turning, she tucked her face into a long, elegant neck as her hands slid inside the blonde's open shirt to stroke lovingly down her back. "My God, Alex…" The throatiness of her own voice startled her. "What the hell do you do to me?"

The younger woman didn't answer, didn't move her lips from where they were buried in Olivia's hair, but the detective could feel the beating of her heart and smiled. She pulled back to look into blue eyes made bright by tears. Swallowing, she used her thumbs to brush them away before laughing gently. "You're still dressed."

Alex smiled. "My clothes aren't wet."

Olivia's eyebrow arched wickedly as she slid her hand inside the lawyer's sweat pants.

"Liar." She whispered.

"Hey hon?"

Stretched out on the couch, Alex blinked rapidly as she looked over her shoulder towards the kitchen. For a moment, she couldn't respond as her brain processed the fact that Olivia had just called her 'hon'. "Uhm… yes?"

"Did you want the red or the white?"

Her higher thought processes kicked in and she remembered why Olivia had detoured to the kitchen. "The merlot would be nice."

"Coming right up!" Olivia appeared a moment later carrying two long stemmed glasses and the requested bottle of wine. She set her burden down on the living room table before climbing onto the couch, nestling her knees between Alex's thighs and laying the length of her body on top of her. "Hey you."

Alex smiled. "Hey back."

Their lips met in a tender kiss, filled with passion but kept gentle by the soreness left over from their previous activities. When they broke apart, Olivia laid her head on the blonde's chest, enjoying the steady beat beneath her ear.

"I can't believe you own this shirt."

Alex frowned in confusion. "What are you talking about?"

The detective sat up; tugging at the bottom of the t-shirt she wore as she read it upside-down. "'What's the difference between a lawyer and an onion?'" She began to laugh. "'You cry when you cut up an onion.' What the hell?"

"Munch gave me that for Christmas last year. I guess cop humor and lawyer humor doesn't really mix." Alex shrugged. "He told me to be happy I wasn't getting one for every day of Hanukkah."

Olivia grinned and poured them both a glass of wine, handing Alex hers before leaning her back against the blonde's chest. Alex's free arm came up and circled loosely around her waist, eliminating the tiny bit of space that had been left between them. There was something so wonderful about being held by this woman, which was hard to explain considering that snuggling had never been high on her list of things to do after sex. Usually her number one goal was making a clean getaway, or showing her guest to the door.

With a sigh of pure contentment, Olivia slid her wine glass back onto the living room table and curled up against her lover. Feeling safe and happy, she fell asleep almost immediately.

Alex looked down at the woman in her arms, the fingers of her left hand idly stroking soft brown hair as she sipped her wine. She felt her heart ache as Olivia sighed in her sleep and knew there was no way she could keep on pretending that this was any less than what it was.

But then, if she was really honest with herself, how she felt about the detective had never been in question.

The real problem was how she was going to handle it.


Chapter Ten: Countdown

Tuesday 09:41 AM

Olivia looked up from her coffee, smiling innocently at Alex as she walked into the squad room. She tried not to think about what they had been doing together just a few hours earlier, but the ADA's slightly raised eyebrow and careful wink put a fast end to her willpower.

The nap on the couch had been wonderful but short lived; and she had awoken to find gentle hands cupping her breasts as fingertips stroked across her nipples. She had ended up straddling the blonde's waist, her head thrown back, calling out Alex's name loudly as skillful fingers curled deep inside her.
Most people wouldn't have noticed the tiny twitch at corner of her mouth that the memory caused, or the slight trembling of the fingers on her right hand.  But Elliot wasn't most people. He threw a smirk in Olivia's direction as he pointed to the thick set of files the ADA had carried in with her. "Is that what I think it is?"

Alex grinned. "Yes, the case files for one Peter Kinkaid."

"Oustanding." He pointed to the conference room. "Everyone's back there."

True to his word, Fin, Munch, Huang and Cragen were all waiting for her arrival. Alex set the files on the table and separated them into two stacks. "Criminal." She handed the first set to Olivia. "And psych." She passed the second to Huang. "I hope they're worth it, because I had to tap dance to get them."

"You had to lap dance?" Munch asked hopefully, earning a heated blue glare for his trouble.

Olivia placed her set of files on the table and flipped open the covers, sliding victim photos and police reports across the table as she quickly scanned through them. "All three victims were in their late twenties to early thirties?" Her eyebrows rose. "It says here that Peter Kinkaid was charged at age twelve. How is that possible?" She dug deeper into the folder, finally finding the photo she was looking for. "Jesus…" She flipped it around so the rest of them could see it. It was a fully body shot of Kinkaid standing against the wall as they took his mug shots. The height markers behind him showed him at five feet eleven inches. She ran her finger down the arrest report. "This kid was nearly six feet and weighed two hundred fifty six pounds at the time of his arrest. And he hadn't even hit puberty yet!" She squinted at the page. "His med report says the prison doc diagnosed him with… Sotos Syndrome?"

"That would explain it." Huang had stopped going through his files and was staring at Olivia intently. "Sotos syndrome is also known as cerebral gigantism. It's a rare genetic disorder characterized by excessive physical growth. It usually presents during the first three years of life. The disorder can be accompanied by mild mental retardation, delayed motor, cognitive, and social development, and speech impairments. Children with Sotos syndrome tend to be large at birth and are often taller, heavier, and have larger heads than normal. They develop unusual aggressiveness or irritability, and most also suffer from behavioral problems. The behavioral issues can include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive or impulsive tendencies. Problems with speech and language are also common; affected individuals often have a monotone voice." He quirked his lips thoughtfully. "With proper therapy, the condition lessens as the child grows older and eventually the excessive features are not so pronounced." He reached out and took the photo from Olivia. "In this kid's case, that didn't happen."

Fin pointed to a page he had been reading. "Says here Kinkaid's dad died when he was ten years old. The old man refused treatment after a car wreck, said it violated his religious principles. Kid went into foster care after that. Group homes, he was never placed."

Huang nodded. "If the father wouldn't accept medical care for his own injuries it follows that he wouldn't allow it for his son. The testing for Sotos is costly and time intensive. I doubt a group home would even bother. They would just see him as a troubled kid that was big for his age. Especially…" He opened his own file and scanned for a date. "Ten and a half years ago. If you think foster care is bad now you should hear the horror stories about it back then."

"So that puts Kinkaid at… twenty-two years old, give or take a few months?" Elliot nodded towards the files on the table. "Where is he now?"

"You mean where was he?" Alex said flatly, slipping on her glasses as she read from her notepad. "Up until three weeks ago Peter Kinkaid was a guest at FenBrooke Psychiatric Facility in Brooklyn where he was sent after being found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. His original sentencing called for him to be held in the maximum security wing until such time as he was deemed fit to be released into general. From that point he would have years of additional therapy before his release would even be considered."

Huang shuffled through his papers. "All I see here are the initial psych reports and evaluations from Kinkaid's arrest. Where are the files from FenBrooke?"

"I wish I knew." Alex frowned sharply. "Those records were 'misplaced' sometime after Kinkaid's last competency hearing. I have clerks searching both the courthouse and the hospital. As soon as they find them I'll have them delivered here."

"Great!" Elliot growled. "So all we have to go on is a bunch of bullshit from a decade ago?"

"Not quite." Olivia held up a court order she had found at the bottom of the stack, handing it to Cragen who scanned it quickly.

"Sam?" The shock registered on his face and in his voice. "Sam was the judge that put Kinkaid away?"

Elliot glanced at Olivia, seeing the question in her eyes. "Then why didn't he mention the similarities between the attacks? If he presided over the original case he had to know."

"He never saw the body." Cragen frowned at their incredulous looks. "Sam might be a friend, but I'm still a cop and this is still a murder investigation. The body had already been identified through DNA and whether I like it or not he was considered a person of interest."

"He didn't fight to see her?" Munch grunted skeptically. "His own daughter?"

"He's a judge! He understands procedure!" The Captain drew in a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. "In any event, at least now we have a motive. Sam put Kinkaid away for over a decade. When he got out, he couldn't get to him so he went after his daughter."

Elliot watched his partner shift uncomfortably and knew she still had her doubts but followed her lead and said nothing.

"That's a nice bow but we still don't have a package to wrap it around." Fin growled. "That ain't gonna help us find Kinkaid."

"That won't, but this might." The ADA tore a sheet of paper from her pad. "I managed to get the services director at FenBrooke to give up the address of the assisted living complex Kinkaid moved to when he was released."

Cragen smiled at her. "You just gave us a place to start." He glanced at Huang. "What can you tell us about this guy?"

The psychiatrist looked up from the file he was engrossed in. "Hmm? Oh, right. Well, we're talking about a person who's suffering from a dissocial personality disorder; someone with a marked proneness to blame others for his actions, or the ability to rationalize the behavior that brings him into conflict. This was more than likely a side effect of Kinkaid's genetic disorder. It would have been compounded by the constant influx of religious rhetoric from a fanatical father figure. It would also explain his choice of targets and the religious aspects of his attacks…" His voice trailed off as she looked at the photos of the previous victims. Then he turned and looked at the pictures of Samantha taped to the case board. "How many crosses did he cut into each of his victims?"

"Jessica Reed told me forty." Olivia read through the reports from the other two. "Forty and… forty."

"And Samantha Wainscott?"

"Forty." She raised her eyebrows. "What's the significance?"

"To him? Everything." Huang nodded absently. "There are a handful of numbers that commonly reoccur throughout the Bible, while other numbers generally do not occur at all. Many religious groups believe their usage and grouping to be too ordered and consistent to be considered irrelevant or incidental. One of these is the number forty. It rained for forty days and forty nights as a punishment upon humanity. Moses did not eat for forty days and forty nights as he communed with God before descending from the mountain with the ten commandments. Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan and set upon by wild beasts. In all of these instances, the number forty represents a penance served before a permanently life altering event. Kinkaid must have translated that into her personal purification rite, using the forty crosses to excise the evil from his victims; in this case, their sexual orientation."

"That still doesn't explain what he did to Samantha's face, or her hands." Munch pointed to the photo depicting the damage done to the victim's fingertips. "What is that? Shame?"

The psychiatrist shook his head slowly. "No, shame would manifest itself in different ways. If he was ashamed of what he had done he would have tried to hide it in some way; at the very least he would have covered her body with a blanket." He tapped a photo. "There's one hanging on the back of the couch right there. No, your guy isn't ashamed. In fact, he feels entitled." He crossed his arms in frustration. "The fact that he cut away the parts of the body that are most commonly used in identification indicates a desire to keep his relationship to the victim hidden."

"Which follows," Cragen interjected. "He might be smart enough to know he would be the prime suspect in death of Sam's daughter."

"So he's smart enough to take her face, teeth and fingertips, but dumb enough to kill her in her own apartment?" Olivia's eyebrows rose skeptically. "That doesn't make any sense."

"The doc did say that the… whats-it syndrome could come with mild retardation, right doc?" Fin frowned when he didn't get an answer. "Doc?"

But Huang wasn't paying attention. He had moved closer to the picture of Samantha, studying it for a moment before he reached back and picked up the photograph of Jessica Reed's injuries. He held them up side by side. "When you first got to the Wainscott crime scene, did you notice anything unusual about the cuts on her legs?"

"They were brutal." Olivia glanced at the photographs, her eyes widening. "The bone. You could see the bone in some of the cuts." She splayed the other photos of the original three victims out in front of her. "The rest of these, you can't see anything. Either the cuts weren't deep enough or there was too much blood."

"Exactly." He pointed at the wound Warner had flagged as the cause of death. "This is deep, deep enough to cut the artery but still not as deep as the rest. It has to be one of the first. The others were done after Samantha bled out; that's why there was no blood to obscure the bone."

"And all this means what?" Munch asked sarcastically. "That we should be happy she was dead before he disfigured her?"

"No." The psychiatrist looked at him gravely. "It means he wasn't able to fulfill his needs with Samantha and the resulting frustration enraged him, which is why he eviscerated her. It also means you have a sexual predator out there driven by ritualistic impulses who wasn't able to complete his last rite successfully." He dropped the pictures back onto the table. "He's going to be looking for another victim. And now that he's escalated… there's no telling if he'll be able to stop himself from going that far again."

The room was quiet as the ramifications of the Huang's statement sunk in.

When he finally spoke, the Captain's voice was low. "We need to move on this fast, people."

"One last thing." Huang tapped his pen against the photo of Jessica Reed. "The police never found the knife, did they?"

Elliot grabbed up the detective's notes. "No, they didn't. How'd you know that?"

The psychiatrist pointed at the case board. "Take both set's of photos to your ME. I'll bet you anything that she'll tell you the wounds are identical. Kinkaid hid that knife before he went away, and he went back for it as soon as he got out. He never intended to stop."

"I'll take your word for it, doc." Cragen looked at Alex. "We need a warrant-"

The ADA smirked, cutting him off by pulling the blue jacketed document from her briefcase and holding it up in front of her.

"I love you more every day." He gave her a small grin and turned to his detectives. "You four get over to Kinkaid's apartment, take CSU with you. Turn the place upside down if you have to, but find something that will lead us to this whacko. I'll get started on the LUDS and financials. Move it."

"I'll be at my office if anyone needs me." Alex picked up her briefcase and made her way through the bullpen.


She turned around to see Olivia trotting towards her.

The detective grabbed her gear from the coat rack, pulling on the jacket but pressing the scarf into the lawyer's hands. "It's still raining," she said simply, squeezing the fingers hidden within the tightly knit fabric. She met Alex's eyes for one brief, intense moment before following her partner and the other two detectives out the door.

Talbot Assisted Living Complex

12:57 PM

Olivia pulled the drawer she was searching further out from the desk, reaching beneath it to slide her hand across the unfinished bottom.

"What is it you think you'll find down there?"

She looked over her shoulder at the property manager, a tall thin man in his late twenties named Jake Walton. He had followed them up to Peter Kinkaid's fifth floor apartment after they presented him with their search warrant and proceeded to watch them avidly as they went through the place inch by inch. From the fascinated look on his face, she figured his interest was more self-indulgent than job related.

"You never know until you look." She slammed the drawer shut. "If we're keeping you from your duties…"

"Oh, not at all!" He shook his head quickly. "I should probably be here, just in case the tenant has any questions when he gets back. So… how come you guys aren't dusting the place for prints?"

Olivia rolled her eyes. "Fingerprinting is an identification process, Mr. Walton." She smiled sweetly. "We already know who lives here."

"Oh." He seemed to deflate slightly. "Yeah, I guess that makes sense."

"Tell me something?"

Walton's eyes lit up. "Of course! Anything I can do to help!"

She heard a snort from behind her and knew that Elliot was laughing under his breath. "What kind of security you got here?"

"We have guards stationed at all entrances and exits, residents have to sign in and out and all guests must be announced before they can access the upper floors."

"Can you do me a favor?" The detective tried not to cringe when the young man's face filled with excitement. The guy was like a puppy dog. "Can you get us the records on when Peter Kinkaid signed in and out for last Tuesday and Wednesday?"

"Sure, I've got that right here!" Walton pulled a PDA out of his back pocket and quickly tapped the request into the screen. "All of our processes are completely computerized and can be accessed by the management through our Wi-Fi system."

"Of course they can." Olivia rolled her eyes; so much for getting the guy out of her hair.

"Kinkaid signed out Tuesday morning at eight thirty and signed back in at ten that night." He blinked. "Huh… it's exactly the same for Wednesday. But then, the guy is like an automaton. He goes out, he comes back, he goes out, he comes back; same times every day. He never talks, never makes any noise. I'd swear there was no one even in here most nights."

"And you'd probably be right." Elliot commented. Olivia turned to find him standing next to the open window, his arm pulling the drapes back to reveal the black fire escape that led down to the alley below. "You got cameras down there?"

The property manager shook his head. "Front and back and all the common areas, but not the alley."

Her partner snorted. "Real tight security there."

Walton bristled slightly at his tone. "Hey, this isn't a half-way house. None of the people here are even on probation. This isn't that kind of facility!"

Olivia turned in a circle. The place was fairly nondescript; simple furniture, heavy duty carpeting, bland white paint. The only thing that seemed out of place were the numerous posters that had been carefully tacked to the walls; each of them a glossy depiction of different seascapes. "Exactly what kind of facility is it then?"

"T.A.L.C. provides fully furnished and stocked apartments, from the furniture right down to kitchen utensils and basic food stuffs. In addition we provide on site Emotional Health and Wellness Teams, Living Adjustment Counselors and work placement support. We also have a full management and cleaning staff on hand twenty-four hours a day."

"I see." She picked up a stack of mail from the living room table, flipping through it quickly, discarding the junk mail before dropping the items addressed to Kinkaid into a half full box at her feet. "And who decides who gets to live here?"

"We're completely funded by Fresh Start. It's a charity organization dedicated to helping serious juvenile offenders become productive members of society. They prescreen potential clients in conjunction with the juvenile facility review boards and decide who gets to come here when they're finally released."

"So basically it's the Ritz for criminals smart enough to start young." Munch commented as he passed by on his way to the kitchen. "Instead of community service he gets maid service… some guys have all the luck!"

He pushed through the swinging door to find his partner emptying an overhead cabinet of water glasses.

"What are you, thirsty?" Munch smirked. "I think I saw a forty in the fridge."

"Ha ha…" Fin slid the last glass forward, his eyebrow shooting up in surprise when something small and heavy dropped from the cabinet, bounced off the counter and slid under the table. "Ha!"

Dropping down on all fours, he fished the item out, holding it up to the light.

"What the hell is that?"

"It's a key, genius!" Fin snorted.

"Yeah, I can see that, but it looks weird."

"It is weird!"

"What's weird?" Olivia stepped into the kitchen, followed by Elliot.

Fin held the key out, dropping it into her gloved palm. She took it between her fingers, holding it carefully by the edges.

It was heavy, about three times the weight of a normal key, with a thick head made of some kind of strong black resin circled by green bands. The shaft was smooth, with no teeth cut into either side. Instead there were two channels dug into the flat surface, the bottom of each ground down at various gradients; above the channels, near the top of the shank were three deeply cut circles. She flipped it over and saw two tiny screws in the head, holding it together.

Something about it was familiar and Olivia's forehead furrowed as she hefted the key in her palm, trying to draw out the memory of where she had seen something like it before. Suddenly it hit her. "This is a CLIQ key! Alex has these locks on her apartment!"

Munch looked at her curiously. "And how would you know what kind of locks our Lady of Teflon has?"

She could see Elliot laughing quietly in the background and shot him a dirty look.

Taking pity on her, he stepped forward and took the key, examining it closely. "What's so special about this thing?"

"It's electronic." Olivia explained. "There's a computer chip in the head that syncs up with the lock. Without it the tumblers won't release."

"Sounds rich." Fin grunted. "The locks on this place got 'Kwikset' stamped on 'em."

"Yeah." Elliot dropped the key into an evidence bag. "This is the kind of thing you'd find on an upscale apartment like Cabot's… or Samantha's. There was no forced entry before her attack." He handed the bag to Olivia to add to her box. "The surface is too rough for a print but there's a serial number engraved on the side. Security companies usually keep pretty good records; maybe they can tell us who bought the key."

"I think we've got everything of interest here." Olivia slid the lid onto the box and sealed it with evidence tape, scrawling her initials, the date and the time across the seams before handing it off to Elliot with a smile.

"How come I always have to do the heavy lifting?" He complained.

She smirked. "How come I always have to do the heavy thinking?"

Munch raised his hand. "Can I volunteer for the heavy petting?"

01:30 PM

The Captain had the phone pressed to his ear when Olivia stuck her head into his office. She mouthed an apology and began to retreat, but Cragen shook his head, waving at her to come in.

"Sam, we're doing everything that we can do." He ran his hand over his face. "I know that Sam, but just because Serra has the most to gain doesn't automatically make her the best suspect!" He ground his teeth together. "No. No, I can't do that and you know it. You're going to have to wait for an official release." He nodded as Munch and Fin joined her, setting the box of collected evidence on the edge of his desk. "Sam, I have to go. I'll call you tomor-" Cragen pulled the phone away from his ear as the sound of the other end being slammed down echoed faintly. Sighing, he dropped the receiver back into its cradle.

Olivia looked at him sympathetically. "Problems?"

The Captain shrugged. "He's a victim's father and a judge. That means he's grieving and he knows all the tricks we use to stall for time; never a good combination." He pointed at the box. "What do you have?"

"All the bills and correspondence we could find. The place was pretty clean." She popped the top off the box and pulled out an evidence bag. "Fin found this key hidden up in a kitchen cupboard. It's part of a pretty high end security system. Elliot's on the phone with the manufacturer trying to get some info off the serial number." She dropped the bag back inside the box and pulled her notebook from her back pocket, flipping it open. "The assisted living center is funded by something called Fresh Start. They're the ones that decide who get's in and this place has got to have some kind of waiting list. It's pretty upscale for rehab." She began to tick off items with her finger. "Maid service, job placement, mental health counselors, on-site management and security."

"The security logs show Kinkaid was in his apartment at the time of the murder, but there's an unsecured fire escape right outside his window." Munch added. "I think it's pretty safe to say they have no idea when he was home and when he wasn't but he tends to make a show of signing in at ten p.m. every night."

Cragen pursed his lips thoughtfully, looking up when Elliot entered the office. "Anything?"

"Oh yeah." The detective nodded. "They have records on the batch that key came from and get this; they do all the installations for their hardware. According to the rep, he can tell me exactly what apartment building that key was issued to; he just won't do it over the phone. He wants a face with a shield behind it before he'll give it up."

"He isn't asking for a warrant?"

"Nope. Apparently they stake their reputation on a close working relationship with law enforcement. He's fine with providing generic information to us. But he did say that I would have to go to the specific building manager if I needed anything beyond that."

"All right. Elliot you take some pictures of the key down to their offices, and then follow up with Sammy's apartment manager if we actually caught a break and it's one of her keys. Munch, Fin, I want you two up in the crib. You're on Kinkaid's building at nine so you better rack out now."

"What about me?" Olivia asked.

"You're going to go through everything you brought back from the apartment and dig into that charity, Fresh Start. Also," He slid a foot high stack of files towards her. "This is you too."

"What the hell is it?"

"Ten years worth of bank statements." Cragen smiled. "We got his financial records. It looks like Kinkaid had a saving's account when he went in. They issue statements whether or not there's been any activity so you're going to need to sift through these and see if there's anything relevant."

"Great." She smiled sarcastically. "Paperwork."

"You got off lucky!" Fin groused. "I gotta look at this ugly mug all night." He jerked his thumb at his partner.

Munch clapped him on the shoulder. "If you'd rather be looking at my ass, just say so…"

02:42 PM

An hour later, Olivia was engrossed in Peter Kinkaid's financial records when Fin came in, shaking the rain from his overcoat.

"I thought you were supposed to be sleeping?"

"I had to cancel some plans I had going on later." He shrugged.

"The kind of plans you have to grovel in person to get out of?" Olivia grinned at the scowl he threw her. She was still laughing when one of the desk sergeants walked into the bullpen and handed her a thick transmittal envelope. She signed for it and nodded her thanks before turning back to the other detective. "You better hit the rack before Cragen sees you."

"I'm getting ready to head up to the crib now. Pretty boy's already there." Fin nodded at the envelope. "What's that?"

She tore open the flap and slid the contents onto her desk, turning her head to read the memo on top. "Oh! It's Kinkaid's release records. About damn time!" She flipped the manila folder open eagerly, thumbing through the official reports. "Looks pretty routine. Psych reports, case studies, and doctor recommendations. Listen to this: 'Patient shows minimal improvement in social interaction and cognitive reasoning.'" She ran her finger down the page. "This report was dated two months ago. It's Kinkaid's last progress assessment before he was released. Not exactly a glowing review." She continued flipping through the pages, pausing briefly when she came across several crudely drawn images of boats and beaches. "Huh…"

"What?" Fin looked over her shoulder curiously.

"You remember the posters at Kinkaid's apartment?" She handed him the drawings. "He has a thing for water."

Fin snorted. "This is New York, Liv. That ain't gonna help us much."

"Yeah, I guess you're right." Olivia shrugged and went back to flipping through the pages until something else leapt out at her. Turning back a page, her eyes scanned down the document until she found what had caught her attention. "Jesus," she breathed.

"What now?"

"The judge who authorized Kinkaid's early release?" Olivia turned the folder so that it was facing him. "Samuel Wainscott."

Fin's eyebrows crawled up his forehead. "So Daddy signed her killer's walking papers? That's gotta be more than a coincidence!"

"Yeah I know. The Captain's convinced Kinkaid doubled back, took out Wainscott's daughter as revenge for having him locked up all those years… but it feels like more than that." Olivia tapped her pen against her forehead. "Wainscott may not have seen the body but there was still some info leaked to the press. He had to recognize at least a few similarities between those first three girls and his daughter. Now we find out that he was the one who released Kinkaid from FenBrooke and he didn't even bother to mention it to us?"

"That's pretty shady."

"But Wainscott just doesn't make any sense as a suspect." She frowned. "He knew Sam changed her will, so killing her got him nothing…"


"But I can't shake the feeling that he was involved somehow." She looked at the stack of paper on her desk. "And the answer is here somewhere. It's staring us in the face and we keep missing it!"

Fin placed a hand on her shoulder. "Relax! Stressin' yourself ain't gonna help the situation. Maybe you're too close. Why don't you take a break for a few?"

She shook her head stubbornly. "Elliot's still running down the property management from Samantha's building, trying to see what he can dig up on that key, and I need to keep going through the crap we got at Kinkaid's apartment. You go ahead though."

"Alright. I'll be up in the crib if you need me."

Olivia nodded absently, already forgetting the other detective as she dived back into the mountain of paperwork.

04:06 PM

Fin yawned loudly as he made his way down the stairs to the squad room below. He was halfway to his locker when he realized that Olivia was not at her desk. He glanced around the bullpen, finally catching sight of her through the conference room window. She was talking quietly on her cell phone with what could only be described as a big goofy-ass grin on her face.

He looked at his watch. It was just after four in the afternoon, and if he was smart, he would grab the Icy-Hot from his locker and head back up to the crib as he had originally planned.

But some things were too good to pass up, even if it meant he would be cranky as hell sitting outside of Kinkaid's apartment later that night. So he poured them both a cup of coffee instead, taking the mugs over to Olivia's desk where he perched on the edge and waited for her to get done with her phone call.

"So am I going to see you tonight?"

Olivia tried to keep the smile out of her voice as her fingers gripped the phone a little tighter. "I don't know. Do you want to see me tonight?"

There was a soft laugh from the other end of the line. "It's a little late to be playing hard to get, isn't it?"

"And here I thought you liked a challenge."

The laughter in Alex's voice grew louder. "Trust me Liv, when it comes to you, things will always be a challenge."

The detective faltered for a moment, sensing more in that comment than a casual joke.

"But then," The ADA continued quickly. "I guess that's part of the Benson charm. In answer to your question -yes I would very much like to see you tonight."

The smile returned full force. "Okay. I'll come by your place when I get out of here. But I have to warn you, I don't know when that'll be."

"As usual…"

"Like you're any better! You work almost as many hours as I do! The only difference is you do it in a suit!"

"No, the difference is I do it unarmed."

"You use your wit, I use a gun. I'd say we're both armed." Olivia couldn't pinpoint why she suddenly felt so uneasy. "Besides, I'm a cop. And the gun is sexy."

There was a long pause before Alex finally responded. "It isn't the only thing. Get out of there as soon as you can. I'll be waiting for you. My state of undress will be directly related to how long you make me wait."

Olivia swallowed; a warm flush creeping through her abdomen as the line went dead. Damn, that woman knew how to flirt.

She snapped her cell phone shut and headed back to her desk, only to pull up short when she saw Fin sitting on it. She ran a hand down her face, trying to drag the smile from her lips before she brushed past him, knocking him lightly on the shoulder. "What, do you miss your teddy bear or something?"

Fin curled his lip at her. "My shoulder was acting up so I grabbed the rub from my locker. Saw you on the phone and thought I'd see how it was going."

Olivia grinned. "Surprisingly well, actually. I went through all of Kinkaid's bank statements. The account was opened by his father the year he was born, with a one hundred dollar deposit." She spread several statements out on her desk, pointing to the information as she explained. "There was an additional one hundred dollar deposit made every year for the next ten years. After that there was nothing; no activity at all except for the annual interest payments on the eleven hundred. Until…" She pointed to a statement dated that month. "A ten thousand dollar deposit made the week before Kinkaid was released."

"Does it say where the money came from?"

Olivia shook her head. "No, but I doubt he cashed out an IRA. It was a direct deposit. I already requested the transaction information." She looked at her watch. "We still got an hour before the banks close and with any luck the info will get here the same time as dinner."

"Dinner?" He looked at her hopefully.

"Elliot's bringing back subs from Nardo's." She held up her hand. "I already called in the order, deal with it."

Fin glanced around the bullpen before staring at her suspiciously. "What'd you get me?"

"That veggie wrap thing you love so much."

"Damn, girl! If your partner sees that I'll never live it down!"

Olivia shrugged. "Then man up and order meatball like I do."

"They give me heartburn." Fin rubbed his chest as though to emphasize his point and then snorted sarcastically. "Besides, when's the last time you actually 'manned' up, Liv?"

She stared at him, eyes wide, as she tried to think of something to say.

Fin let her off the hook with a wink and a smile. "You ain't the only detective around, you know… You been floatin' on air for days and that was a booty call if I ever saw one!"

"That still doesn't mean…" She trailed off, turning in circles as Fin tried to move behind her. "What are you doing?"

"Checking to see if there's something stuck to your ass."

"What? Why?"

"'Cause Cabot couldn't take her eyes off it this morning!"

Olivia dropped her head into her hands.

"Hey." He squeezed her arm to get her attention. "Who you slam with is your business; long as she makes you happy." When she looked at him gratefully, he yawned to cover up his own embarrassment. "I'm going back to my bunk. I know I'll probably see you here in a couple hours anyway." As he stood up, a file that had been under his ass slid onto the floor.

Olivia scooped it up, frowning in confusion. "Where did this come from?"

He shrugged. "It was there when I sat down."

She flipped it open. "It's from Morales; printouts from Samantha's laptop. It must have come in while I was…" She flushed slightly. "…on the phone."

Fin grinned. "Whatever. I got a date with a snoring Jew. Seeya."

"Wait a minute!" She grabbed him by the arm. "Look at this."


"It's an email that Morales pulled off of Samantha's computer. It looks like… an itinerary. Samantha booked the Preston Industries corporate jet and registered a flight plan with La Guardia…" Her eyebrows rose. "…for last Monday. According to this she was supposed to be in Miami all of last week."

"Guess she missed her flight." Fin glanced at Olivia, falling silent when he noticed the look on her face. He could almost hear the gears turning in her head. That meant that any minute…

"He killed the wrong girl."

Fin blinked. "How'd you get that?"

Olivia handed the paper to him absently as she began to pace back and forth. "This itinerary is only for Samantha. The reservation at the hotel in Miami, it's for one person. Anyone who saw this email would assume that Samantha wouldn't be in town…"

"But Serra would." He finished for her. "And Wainscott would have been copied on any corporate emails, like one involving the company jet."

"So he gets Peter Kinkaid out of FenBrooke on early release and sends him to Samantha's apartment to take care of the woman he thinks has corrupted his little girl. Kinkaid's juvenile record is sealed so the details of his former crimes are practically undiscoverable and even if he did leave DNA there would be nothing to match it to. It was perfect." She shook her head. "Except that he didn't know Samantha and Serra had split up. He just assumed that Serra would be there, living off his family's fortune."

"But Sam canceled her trip last minute; stayed home to knock boots with Captain Kink instead."

"And it cost her her life." Olivia shook her head sadly.

"So why did Daddy Warbucks pony up the info he had on Tate? He's a judge; he'd have to know that it'd look suspicious."

"I think he panicked. His plan went south and he had to find a way to shift the blame; to keep our attention focused on Serra. I'm guessing he figured with her background and the money she stood to inherit, it would look worse for her than for him. That's why he was pushing the Cap on the phone earlier, too."

"So you think he was playing down the line. If he couldn't dead the girlfriend, he's gonna try and make her take the fall for Samantha's murder?" Fin scowled. "That's pretty thin, Liv."

She nodded absently. "Most frames are."

"You gonna hit up Cabot?"

"I don't suppose you want to do it?"

Fin's eyes widened and he brought his hand up quickly to cross himself.

Olivia scowled. "Are you even Catholic?"

"No. But with Cabot every little bit helps." He faked a shudder, calling back over his shoulder as he climbed the stairs up to the crib. "You're talking about labeling a friend of hers as an accomplice in his own daughter's murder? The woman may be hot, but she's scary hot! You're on your own!"

Olivia laughed as she flipped open her cell phone and hit speed-dial one. "Elliot? Hey, what did you get on that key?"

04:32 PM

Alex looked up from her desk, unable to contain the smile that lit up her face when a brief knock was followed by Olivia poking her head into her office. "Hey you," she said, leaning back in her chair.  "I didn't think I was seeing you until later."

"Hey." The detective returned her smile. "Do you have a minute?"

"For you? I have two." She crooked her finger in Olivia's direction, tilting her head up as she looked at her expectantly.

Olivia bent down and pressed their mouths together, humming softly in appreciation as her tongue reached out to gently taste the sweetness of her lover's lips. She nuzzled Alex's nose for a moment when they finally broke apart, her eyes half closed as she breathed in the other woman's scent. "Damn, you smell good."

"Mmmm… so do you." Alex traced her fingertips over Olivia's mouth as she licked her lips. "Taste good, too."

The detective felt her body temperature start to rise and stepped away, taking several deep breaths in an attempt to tamp down the passion that was already burning inside her. When she had it mostly under control, she turned to face Alex, finding the blonde watching her curiously. "I need to talk to you… about the case."

Something in Olivia's tone, or possibly her body language, informed Alex that she wasn't going to enjoy this particular conversation. She leaned forward in her chair, going from playful to professional in the blink of an eye. "Alright, what's on your mind?"

"Alex," Olivia hesitated, her mouth opening and closing as she tried find the best way to say what needed to be said. "I believe that Samuel Wainscott was involved in the death of his daughter."

The ADA's face went stony.

Okay, so maybe the blurting method wasn't the best approach.

"Just hear me out." She laid the file she was carrying on the desk. "I know you think Kinkaid murdered Samantha to get even with Samuel for locking him up, but we got the release records today." She flipped open the folder. "Alex… Wainscott didn't just put him away. He was also the judge that signed off on Kinkaid's early release."

The ADA paled slightly as she read the signature but she still shook her head. "That doesn't mean anything, Olivia." She pushed the file away with her fingertips. "The sentencing judge is often asked to make the final determination on the fitness of a juvenile offender for societal reintegration. It's standard procedure."

Olivia flipped to another page. "What about this?" She pointed to a bank statement. "Ten thousand dollars transferred into Kinkaid's accounts right before the murder. We haven't back tracked it to the source yet but you and I both know the chance of that being a coincidence is less than zero. Kinkaid came up through the foster system. He has no living family, no one to give him that kind of money. It's a payoff."

Alex set her jaw in a grim line. "You don't even have a name yet, and you're so sure it was Samuel. Are you listening to yourself, Olivia? I know he's an intolerant bigot, but he is an honest judge and a good father…" Her voice trailed off as the detective pulled a small plastic evidence bag out of her pocket, dangling it in front of her so that she could see the key inside.

"I know you've seen one of these before. We found it in Kinkaid's apartment. There was no damage to Samantha's door, no forced entry. That means that Kinkaid had a key. This key." She laid it on the desk as she continued speaking softly. "It has a chip in it, Alex, just like the key to your apartment. This particular chip is keyed to the electronic sensor built into the lock on Samantha's door. Insert the key and the sensor reads the chip, releasing the tumblers and allowing the key to turn. A duplicate wouldn't work and an original would only be available from the management company of Samantha's building. According to them, this is one of the original three provided when the apartment was sold."

Alex blinked rapidly, her anger warring with the unease that was growing inside of her. "It just doesn't make any sense, Olivia! Even if everything you're saying is true, it doesn't change the fact that Samuel Wainscott loved his daughter! He would gain nothing from her death!"

"You're right." Olivia nodded. "But she wasn't the one who was supposed to die." She pulled the flight plan from the file and laid it in front of the ADA. "Samantha wasn't supposed to be there… but Serra was. And while Sammy's death got him nothing, Serra's would have been the solution to everything." She watched as Alex scanned the evidence in front of her, going over every possible explanation in her head and always ending up with the same results.

"Does Cragen know?" She whispered.

"Not yet." Olivia slid everything back together and closed the file. "I needed you to buy into it first."

Alex slumped back in her chair. "I always considered him a good judge… a good man."

The detective knelt beside her. "If this job teaches you anything, Alex, it's that anyone can fall from grace."

The blonde's face went rigid. "I guess I'm living proof of that."

Olivia looked as though she had been slapped. She had to fight to keep her voice steady. "What are you saying?"

Alex sighed, her features sad but resolute.  "I'm saying that this was a mistake, Olivia.  We are a mistake.  I'm an assistant district attorney having an illicit affair with a female detective in my squad; hardly the actions of an upstanding member of the judicial system.  I don't know what I was thinking..."  She laughed bitterly.  "I guess I wasn't thinking."

The detective looked down at the floor, trying to get her emotions under control.  "I'm in love with you." The declaration wasn't anything close to how she had imagined it, but that hardly seemed to matter at this point.

The ADA's eyes widened, her lower lip trembling slightly. Her body shifted almost imperceptibly towards Olivia before she drew in a deep breath, shuttering her emotions away behind the cold stare she used in the court room. "That's irrelevant."

"Irrelevant?" The detective stopped short, her voice dropping to a low growl. "Then why don't you tell me what the hell is relevant?"

"A good man let his personal life bleed over into his professional one and this is the result:  A gross abuse of power that lead to the death of an innocent woman.  That's what happens when you blur the lines that are meant to keep us in check.  You lose perspective.  I won't let that happen here.  Not to me."

Olivia felt her temper flair.  "You 'won't let that happen here'?  I hate to tell you this Counselor, but it already has happened!  You're the one who's always saying you can't un-ring a bell?  Well, considering you've been inside me I'd say this bell's been pretty well rung!"  She took a deep breath, trying to rein in her anger and only succeeding in causing it to multiply exponentially.  "You know," she said quietly.  "I have had a lot of different opinions about you since we first met.  At our worst, I thought you were a snob, a bitch, and maybe even a Republican; but I never ever thought you were a coward.  Until now."

Alex stood, picking up her files and slamming then into her briefcase, her face impassive.  "It's your investigation Olivia, and I will back you in every way that I can.  However, I will caution you to be very careful how you proceed, because if by some chance you are wrong, we'll all end up paying for your mistake. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for a meeting."  She turned and walked out of the office.

Leaving Olivia behind to wonder what the fuck just happened.

05:08 PM

Elliot was emptying two large bags of take-out when Olivia walked into the bullpen.  He held up a sandwich wrapped in white butcher paper, waving it in her direction.  "Hey, Liv!  I know you wanted meatball, but they were out so I got you pastrami instead."

"Well, isn't that just perfect?"  She snapped, slamming the file she was carrying down on her desk.  "Did they bother to tell me when I called that they didn't have meatballs?  No!  They just let me assume that everything was all right until the last fucking minute!  What the fuck is wrong with those guys?  Why didn't they just tell me?  I'm a big fucking girl, Elliot!  I can deal with the fact that I'm not getting meatballs!"

Stabler blinked in confusion before glancing over at Munch and Fin who were both standing perfectly still, paused in mid chew, as they stared wide eyed at the fuming female detective.  Setting the sandwich down, he took his partner gently by the arm.  "Come here."

"What?  I have work to do; I don't have time to discuss the finer points of lunch meats with you, Elliot."

Biting his tongue, he increased the strength of his grip, dragging her into an empty conference room and shutting the door.  With gentle force, he pressed her down into a chair and then pulled up another to sit across from her.  "Okay, so you want to tell me why you just melted down over pastrami on rye?"

Olivia took in the concern showing plainly on his face and swallowed the sarcastic remark that was on the tip of her tongue.  Sighing, she brushed her fingers through her hair and tried to ignore the stinging in her eyes.   "I think… I think I just got dumped." 

Elliot rocked back in his chair, his upper lip curling in anger.  "That was quick."  He put his hands on her knees and squeezed lightly.  "What the hell happened?"

She shook her head.  "I wish I knew.  One minute we were fine, and the next she was walking out on me, talking about how she had lost her perspective and that we were a mistake that she couldn't afford to make."

"So it was all about her career?"

"That's what she implied but… I don't think it's that simple.  It's not like we've been particularly discreet."  She raised her eyebrows.  "I mean seriously, the walls in her office are only so thick… even if it was a Saturday."

Elliot's mouth went dry and he couldn't stop the small leer that quirked his lips.

Olivia rolled her eyes.  "I'm being serious here, El."

"I know, I know.  I'm sorry."  He put on his best conciliatory expression, the one that always worked on Kathy when he had managed to wedge his size thirteen into his mouth sideways.  "For what it's worth, I think she's a fool.  I mean c'mon, you're the catch of the day!"

She glared at him.  She knew he was trying to get her to laugh but it wasn't going to work.  "Can the lesbian jokes okay?  I don't think it really had anything to do with the gay aspect at all."

"So what do you think spooked her?"

"I don't have a clue.  She just… shut down on me."

"I hate to say it Liv, but what did you expect?  I told you that woman was a block of ice.  I'm surprised your tongue didn't stick to her."

The comment was just outrageous enough to have the desired effect.  Olivia snorted with laughter as she growled at him.  "You're an idiot."

"Maybe, but I'm your idiot."  Elliot smiled as he tossed an arm around her shoulder, giving her the one armed 'guy' hug their relationship allowed.  "So what are you going to do?"

"Me?"  She rubbed the tears from her eyes with a knuckle, grateful when her partner looked away.  "I'm not going to do anything.  We are going to catch this killer.  Everything else is just going to have to wait."

06:37 PM

Alex unlocked the door to her apartment and walked inside. She was stopped dead in the foyer by the scent that washed over her. She closed her eyes, feeling her heart falter painfully as her body reacted on reflex, taking in a deep, heartbreaking breath.

It was sweet but understated, like the subtle scent of a flower she couldn't quite remember, laced through with an undercurrent she didn't think she would ever forget.

She dropped her briefcase and her keys onto the floor as she stumbled down the hallway, the rainwater from her hair running into her eyes to mix with her tears. When she reached the bedroom, Alex realized it probably wasn't the best place to be. The mix of Olivia's perfume and the unique scent they created when they loved each other was stronger here, held in reverently by windows shut against the downpour outside.

Images of the night before, of that morning, tore at her from inside her heart and mind. She crumbled onto the bed, pulling her soaked jacket more tightly around her to try and ward off a coldness that had nothing to do with the weather.

It wasn't supposed to hurt this badly. It was supposed to be better… than the alternative.

But it wasn't. She couldn't believe that anything could cause her to hurt more than she did right at that moment. And it was her fault.

It was all her fault.

My god… what have I done?

07:30 PM

Olivia ran a hand across her eyes, trying to wipe away the tiredness that was making the words in front of her blur. They had issued a BOLO as soon as she had swum back in from the deep end and every cop in the city now had one eye open for a monster lurking in dark. Unfortunately, in New York City, it was sometimes hard to tell one monster from the next.

She and Elliot had then proceeded to go through every scrap of paper they had on Kinkaid, trying to find a trail that would lead them to wherever he was hiding. So far, they had nothing.

"Come on!" She complained, slamming the file in front of her shut. "This guy is King fucking Kong! Really, how many places are there where he could blend?"

Elliot shrugged, puffing out his cheeks as he exhaled slowly. "I don't know, Liv. It's like he's a ghost or something."

"Not a ghost." She stood up and stretched, walking over to the coffee station. "More like an eyesore that everyone walks around without really seeing? He's there, but no one ever looks directly at him." She held up the pot in a silent offer, shrugging when Elliot shook his head no. "I think people want to ignore him. I would… If I weren't a cop."

"Did you get anything back on that deposit into Kinkaid's account?"

"No, I didn't turn in the request in time." She tunneled her fingers through her hair. "Now we'll have to wait till morning."

Her computer beeped and Elliot went around to her side, leaning down to stare at the screen. "You've got mail."

Olivia rolled her eyes at him as she brought her mug back to her desk. "It's from NASCO. I sent a request for background information on Fresh Start." She clicked on the icon, reading through the document quickly. Her mouth set in a grim line when she came to the information they were looking for. "Fresh Start is a part of the Preston Charities Group; co-chaired by Samuel Wainscott and his daughter." She set her coffee down with a sigh as she began to rub her temples. "Why am I not surprised?"

Her partner recognized the wall she was about to hit and stood up. "Listen, Munch and Fin are on their way to the Talbot Center; they've got the best lead we have on finding this guy. All we can do here tonight is spin our wheels and grind our gears." He rubbed the back of his neck. "You know what I think we could both use?"

She raised an eyebrow in question.

"A good stiff one."

Olivia choked on her laughter. "Speak for yourself!"

"I meant a drink!" Elliot glared at her.

"I know! But come on, how could I let that pass?" She snickered.

"Whatever." He growled. "Frank from the 2-2 said a bunch of the guys from Homicide are going to O'Malley's tonight. Why don't we go with them? I'll kick your ass at darts again."

Olivia grinned. "No chance! The only reason you beat me last time is because Alex walked through the door in that tight little grey skirt…" Her voice trailed off and she looked down at the floor, swallowing thickly against the tightness in her throat. Elliot looked away, but she could hear his teeth grinding as his jaw tightened in anger. "No… I think I need to stay here." She smiled weakly. "Stay busy, you know? I don't think alcohol is what I need right now. But you go; no reason for us both to strip our gears."

He looked at her carefully, trying to gauge whether she was just being nice or if she really wanted to be alone. "You sure?"

The corner of her mouth twitched and she blinked a little too rapidly.

Elliot understood. He lived in a house full of women. He knew it wasn't that she wanted to be alone. She needed to be alone. "All right; I'll see you tomorrow?"

She nodded absently, waiting until he was gone to sink into her chair with a bone weary sigh. She looked at the papers scattered across her desk, trying to control the feeling of being completely overwhelmed, before folding her arms across her blotter and dropping her head on top of them.

08:41 PM

"Detective Benson?"

Olivia cracked one eye open, trying to drag herself awake as she stared up at the nervous looking patrolman standing over her. Sitting up, she ran her hands down her face. "Hey Mike. Sorry about that."

The young cop just smiled. "If anyone deserves a nod now and then, it's you guys."

She shrugged. She didn't feel like being flattered at the moment, but he was a nice kid and a good cop so she didn't want to take her mood out on him either. "What's up?"

He held out a thin transmittal envelope. "These LUDS just got dropped off downstairs. The Sarge said you'd want them right away, so I ran them up."

She took the envelope from him, pulling on the thin cord that held the flap closed. "Thanks, Mike."

He stood at her desk for a few moments longer until he realized he had ceased to exist for the gorgeous detective. With a rueful sigh, he headed back downstairs.

Olivia laid the five pages out side by side on her desk. As LUDS went, they weren't much, but then Kinkaid hadn't been out that long and who would really be calling a homicidal maniac anyway? She ran her finger down each paper slowly, ignoring the numbers that had names next to them until she came to a series of repeating entries that started the day after the murder. There was only a phone number, no name attached to it and each call lasted lest than two minutes.

Like someone was calling in to check their messages.

She grabbed her telephone, dialing a number quickly.

"TARU, Morales."

"Hey, it's Olivia Benson." She tried to control the excitement I was feeling. "I've got a number off of Peter Kinkaid's LUDS that I'd like you to check out."

There was a deep sigh. "Liv, I'm two hours into overtime. Is this something that can wait until morning?"

"Is it ever?"

Morales laughed. "Okay, you're lucky I didn't turn off the computer yet. Give me the number."

"212-555-5309." She listened intently as his fingertips flew over the keyboard.

"It's a cell phone."

"Whose cell phone?"

"Hang on a second. This is government equipment, it only works so fast." There was a pause. "Okay, I got a name. It's Wainscott."

"Samuel?" Olivia felt her pulse quicken.

"No… Julia."

She blinked. "Julia Wainscott is dead."

"Maybe, but her cell phone is still active."

Olivia's eyes closed as understanding slammed home. "Samantha took over her mother's work with Preston Charities." She felt like slapping herself on the forehead. "We found Samantha's cell phone in her purse so we didn't think to look for another one. She had two cell phones!"

"Yeah, and this one's moving."

Her eyes flew open. "What?"

"This cell phone has a built in GPS module. I can track it by satellite. It just entered the Holland Tunnel."

Olivia thought quickly. "Can you get me something to track that signal from my car?" She asked hopefully.

Morales clucked his tongue thoughtfully. "You get to explain the overtime. Meet me here in twenty minutes."

Tuesday 09:41 PM

Olivia looked down at the handheld GPS unit Morales had given her. The signal had remained strong for the last thirty minutes, leading her out of the city proper, through the Holland Tunnel and past Liberty State Park to the sprawling docks of Upper New York Bay where it became stationary. She took the Avenue E off-ramp and followed the arrows on the screen to East 53rd and Broadway. Pulling the car over to the curb, she rolled down the window, blinking through the rain as she looked up at a glowing neon sign.

According to the little computer in her hand, Peter Kinkaid was inside.

Olivia picked up her phone and hit speed dial one.

Elliot walked down the plush hallway, hesitating when he reached his destination. It had taken quite a few beers at O'Malley's to work himself up to the point where he would actually meddle in his partner's private life and now, away from the low lights and the heated buzz of angry cops, his thought processes on the subject seemed more than a little suspect. For a moment, he considered just forgetting the whole thing and going home to his wife and kids.

The he remembered the tears he had seen in Olivia's eyes and his hand shot out, pounding on the door more vigorously than he had actually intended.

He heard the wood creak slightly as someone leaned against it and knew he was being viewed through the peephole. There was a long pause before the door finally swung open.

"Elliot?" Alex leaned to the side, looking behind him. "Are you alone?"

"Yeah, Liv's still at the station." He shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. "I thought you and I should have a little talk."

The ADA sighed. "Look, I appreciate that you think you have some kind of stake in this situation-"

"Situation?" Elliot barked. "Is that what you're calling it?" He took a step closer, lowering his voice. "I have news for you counselor. Olivia isn't a 'situation'. She isn't a case, or a perp or anything else you need to 'handle'. She's my partner, my family, and right now you've got her so tied up in knots she doesn't know whether she's coming or going. And for a cop, that's a dangerous state to be in."

Alex swallowed and looked down at the floor. "I never intended for any of this to happen."

"I don't give a shit about your intentions, lady! It happened! Now you gotta deal with it!" His voice rose to a near roar and he saw her flinch. Dialing it down a notch, he ran his hand over his face. "Look, I honestly can't say I know what my partner sees in you; but whatever it is, it's important to her. If you can't get your shit together long enough to figure out she's the best thing that could ever happen to you, then you at least owe her the truth as to why."

Alex stared at him, not knowing what to say. She breathed a sigh of relief when his phone rang, breaking the tension in the small hallway.

"Stabler." Elliot blinked and pressed his hand over his other ear. "Olivia? I can barely hear you. What did you say?"

"I said I found him!" His partner's triumphant voice crackled over the connection. "Kinkaid stole a cell phone off the victim! Morales was able to link it to a portable GPS unit and I tracked him to some dockworker's bar called Backstay's on Broadway and East 53rd."

"Broadway and… Liv, that's over past Jersey City, almost to Bayonne! What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Alex felt her heart drop into her stomach as she listened to Elliot's side of the conversation. She stepped closer, trying to hear Olivia's voice through the tiny speaker pressed to the detective's ear.

"He's inside, El! I need you to get here as fast as you can! I'm going in to keep an eye on him."

"What? No! Olivia, you stay right where you are, do you hear me? Don't you go in there without me! I can be there in…" He looked at his watch, swearing under his breath. "Twenty-five minutes. You wait for me!"

"No." The sound of the driving rain drowned out her voice for a moment. "We can't risk losing him. I'll be all right. Just hurry!"

"Olivia!" Elliot pulled the phone away from his ear, staring at the screen as connection was broken. He punched in her cell phone number, cursing when it went straight to voice mail. "Son of a bitch!"

"What's going on?"

"She found Kinkaid at a bar over by the Upper Bay docks. She's going in without back up." He started to back away. "Get on the phone, get Cragen, Munch, Fin…fuck, get everybody out there now! Broadway and East 53rd!"

Alex stepped away from the door long enough to grab her coat and her cell phone. "I can make those calls from the car." She held up her hand. "Don't even try it! I'm coming!"

Not willing to waste time arguing with her, he simply threw up his hands and pounded down the hall to the stairwell, the terrified ADA right behind him.

Olivia turned off her cell phone and stepped out of the car. After a moments thought, she pulled the rig from her belt, tucking the Glock into the back of her jeans where it was covered by her shirt and sliding the extra clip into her pocket before tossing the holster back into the car and locking the door.

Turning up the collar of her jacket to keep the rain off her neck, she glanced back and forth and jogged across the street. As she stepped up onto the sidewalk, she took a hard look at the outside of the building, checking for blind spots. Satisfied that she wasn't about to be ambushed, she opened the door and walked inside.

The bar was a dive. And that was being generous. Once upon a time there had been some attempt at a maritime theme, as attested to by the faux porthole picture frames and the aged nets and buoys hanging in the corners. At some point, however, the owner of the bar must have realized his patrons didn't give a shit about ambience and just let the watering hole turn into the kind of place where people came to get lost. The table tops had that pitted filmy look that came from decades of use and the vinyl booths had been patched with duct tape so many times she had originally thought they were silver.

Being a dive did not mean the place wasn't packed though. It was filled almost to capacity with every type of low life she was familiar with, and a few that even made her look twice.

She did a quick glance around the bar and then settled onto one of the few remaining barstools. It was the kind of seat no cop in their right mind would ever choose, leaving her back to the door and her profile on display for whoever might want to take a look.

But the mirror behind the bar was an example of pure Benson luck. Just by glancing to her left she had a view of nearly everyone in the place and she had just begun a thorough inspection when a large fist landed on the bar in front of her.

Olivia looked up into hard, milky brown eyes that were the only thing clearly discernable in the mass of gray facial hair that covered the bartender's face. He was a large man, over six feet tall, with thickly muscled arms and a slight beer belly. The skin on his face had the kind of permanent tan that only came from a lifetime of working in the sun and the deep lines around his mouth and eyes gave the impression that he spent a lot of time being pissed off. "What are you doin' in here?" He grunted.

She curled her lip. "Looking for a drink."

"This place ain't for you." He sneered. "This is a working man's bar."

Olivia pulled off her jacket, flexing the muscles in her arms and shoulders as she draped it across the stool next to her, then she laid her hands on the counter face-up, suddenly grateful for the myriad of calluses and scars she had collected over the years as a cop. "I look like a debutante to you?"

The bartender reached out quickly and grabbed her hand, flipping it over to look at her woefully neglected nails. "Sorry." He grinned. "I mistook you for a lady."

"Yeah, well… don't let it happen again." She yanked her hand away. "Now how 'bout my fuckin' drink?"

He laughed. "What'll it be?"

"Black and tan."

He made the drink and slammed it onto the bar, causing the head to slosh over the side. Still laughing, he walked away.

Olivia picked up the glass and brought it to her lips. She turned her attention back to the mirror and nearly choked on her beer as a sudden chill ran up the back of her spine.

Peter Kinkaid was sitting at the bar less than five feet away from her. And pictures hadn't done him justice.

The man was huge.

Even sitting, she could tell he was well over six and a half feet tall and had to weigh close to three hundred pounds. And every single one of them looked like solid muscle. She made a mental note to write a letter to the board of corrections.

Weightlifting probably wasn't the best hobby for guys doing time.

Olivia studied him quietly over her black and tan, taking in the pale, sunken eyes, the slightly protruding forehead and the hands that looked big enough to pop Elliot's head like a melon. Energy seemed to flow off of him in waves, yet he sat completely still, one hand wrapped around a tumbler of whiskey as he stared at the top of the bar.

She had never seen anyone look more completely menacing without even trying.

Olivia glanced away for a moment as someone moved behind her and when she looked back, she found two dead, black eyes staring directly into hers. Her blood turned to ice when she saw recognition in them.

Peter Kinkaid may have suffered from many of the conditions caused by Sotos Syndrome, but mental deficiency was not one of them.

In the few brief moments their eyes connected, he had gleaned all the information from her that he needed. He knew exactly who and what she was… and why she was there.

In one movement far too graceful for a man his size, he was off the barstool and running for the back of the bar.

Olivia jumped up and followed, shoving her way through the crowd in time to see him duck out the back door. Pulling the gun from the back of her pants, she followed, leaving her jacket behind.

The rain outside was heavy enough to mask the sound of his footfalls but, graceful or not, a three hundred pound man can only run so fast. She saw him exit the alley onto Broadway going left and took off after him. He tried to stay in the shadows, but Broadway was a major street, wide and well lit. She caught sight of him as he crossed over to 52nd, where he kicked in the back door of an abandoned warehouse and disappeared inside.

Pounding up to the door, she flattened her back against the outside wall and yanked her cell phone off her belt. She thumbed the direct connect but couldn't get a signal. Hitting her speed-dial, she cursed when Elliot's number went straight to voice mail. "Fucking hell…" She muttered to herself while she waited for the beep. "Elliot! I got him." She peered up at the wall behind her. "He's holed up in an abandoned warehouse with the name Vaati Precision on the outside. One ten 52nd Street! I'll hold him till you get here!"

She punched the vibrate button on the phone and slid it back on her belt before stepping into total darkness.

Elliot's phone signaled a message as soon as they exited the Holland Tunnel. He flipped it open and pressed it to his ear, his face contorting in rage as he listened to the message. "NO, NO, NO!" He pressed the call back button and listened to Liv tell him to leave a message at the beep. Snapping the phone shut he threw it violently onto the dashboard.

"What?" Alex looked at him, terrified.

"She's got the bastard cornered in a warehouse on 52nd Street! She's going in alone!"

"No!" The blonde felt her heart turn to ice.

"Where the hell is everyone else?"

Frustrated, Alex chewed on her lower lip. "Munch said they were right behind us, Cragen is on his way along with half the force." She grabbed his arm. "Elliot…"

He shook his head. "They're not going to make it."

Olivia slid along the outer perimeter wall, using the streetlights shining through the upper windows to make out the large shapes lining the floor of the warehouse. It may have been abandoned, but like most places, it still held the skeletons of its former life.

Huge, hulking husks of machinery sat ghost-like at odd intervals along the floor, surrounded by trash and leaking barrels filled with God only knew what. The forgotten remnants of whatever company used to call this place home created a maze of corridors in the darkness that only got deeper the further in she went. She had a flashlight in her pocket, but she knew the minute she clicked it on, Kinkaid would have the upper hand. So, she inched along silently, trying to find some trace of the monster sharing the shadows with her.

Olivia lowered her gun, holding it close to her body as she crept up to the corner in front of her. As she peeked around the edge, she heard a click she recognized and yanked her head back in time to avoid the bullet that embedded itself in the machine at her back. She breathed in quickly as adrenaline shot thought her.

He had a gun.

Suddenly this didn't seem like such a good idea anymore.

"You're probably wondering who would sell a gun to a guy like me." Kinkaid's flat voice echoed off the walls of the warehouse, making it sound like it was coming from every direction at once. "That's the wonderful thing about this city, Detective Benson. You can find anything you need, as long as you have faith… and money."

Olivia swallowed. Okay. Two could play his game. "Have we met? I feel at somewhat of a disadvantage here."

Kinkaid laughed. "No we haven't met." She tracked the monotone voice as it moved from her left side to her right. "But I know all about you."

"Gee, I wonder how that happened." Olivia said sarcastically as she moved back the way she had come.

"Friends in high places."

"Not for long." She lunged across the opening to her left, ducking her head as three bullets ripped through the concrete behind her.

"You're quick." There a short laugh when she returned the favor, sending two rounds in the direction of his voice. "But not quick enough."

She needed to keep him talking, keep him amused and playing until Elliot and the cavalry got there. "So tell me, Peter, what was the deal with you and those girls you hurt? Did your Daddy not love you enough?"

Olivia edged her way around a stack of barrels and found herself staring into total blackness. Using her hand as a guide, she slid it over peeling paper until it hit the smooth expanse of a wall. Pressing her back to it, she moved deeper into the darkness.

"My father was a great man. He taught me what was good and right. What God expects from the pious, and the penance that must be exacted from the wicked."

"Oh!" She piled on the sarcasm. "So he didn't just pass down a genetic disorder, he gave you a side of crazy, too!" She bit back a gasp as she ran headlong into another wall. "How does it feel to be a mistake?"

"GOD DOESN'T MAKE MISTAKES!!" Kinkaid shouted down from right above her, sending Olivia rushing forward as a hail of bullets rained down from overhead. The light from the muzzle flash illuminated the immediate area and she saw a rusty production table in front of her. She threw herself on top of it, using her body weight to propel her off the other side. On the way down, her jeans snagged on a ragged piece of metal and she felt part of them rip away, sending the contents of her pocket flying off in all different directions.

She landed hard, knocking the air from her lungs as she slid up against the far wall. Flipping onto her back, she pointed the gun up and squeezed off three rounds, watching in satisfaction as Kinkaid jumped from the overhead catwalk he had used to stalk her. The big man landed with a grunt before once again going silent.

Olivia sucked in huge gasps of air as she slid her hands over her pockets, finding her flashlight but nothing else. Cursing silently, she counted down from the full eleven rounds she had started with. Six bullets left.


Would that even be enough to slow him down?

She rolled over onto her hands and knees and began to crawl across the floor, feeling along the ground for the missing clip. Finally, she gave up and pulled the flashlight from her pocket. She covered the lens with her palm and pushed the button. Using the dull red glow, she followed the production table to its end before removing her hand and making one quick arc across the room with the bright beam of light.

There, eight feet away, lying on the open warehouse floor, was her clip.

Olivia tucked the flashlight back into her pocket. She carefully edged her way out across the floor, staying as low as she could until she was close enough to reach out and grab it.

"Quack, quack, Detective." Kinkaid's evil laugh washed over her. "What a sweet little duck you make."

There was a bright flash of light followed by a booming echo and Olivia's side exploded into white hot agony.

Not stopping to think, she raised her gun and squeezed the trigger repeatedly; spraying bullets in Kinkaid's direction while she used her legs to push herself backwards. When she reached the table, she grabbed the edge and pulled herself to her feet. Gritting her teeth against the pain, she staggered along beside it, leaning on it heavily until she could tuck herself into the corner and try to catch her breath. She could feel the blood running in rivulets down her side to soak what was left of her jeans. Lightheaded, she stared down at the Glock in her hand, laughing bitterly when she saw the slide locked in the open position.

10:08 PM

Elliot pulled the sedan to halt in front of the abandoned warehouse, the nose halfway up on the curb. He had just swung his door open when gunshots echoed from inside. Drawing his weapon, he grabbed the cell phone from his belt and thumbed the direct connect. "This is Stabler! I've got shots fired at one ten 52nd Street! Possible officer-involved shooting! I need backup and med services at this location now!" He saw Alex reach for her door handle and threw her a fierce look. "You stay inside-!"

A second series of gunshots rang out and glass from the windows above them showered down on the car. Elliot covered his head with his jacket and ran around to her side, yanking the door open. "We're too close! You need to get across the street!" Alex jumped from the passenger seat, her shoes slipping on the wet asphalt as Elliot crowded behind her and pushed her along. The loud cracks of additional gunfire drowned out the rain as Munch and Fin pulled up, parking diagonally to block the street.

Elliot opened the driver's side door, pushing her down into a crouching position behind it once Fin had vacated the car. He quickly took off his jacket and handed it to her. "Stay here and wait! No matter what you hear, do not come in that building!"

The air suddenly exploded with a long barrage of shots and the three detectives looked at each other grimly. "We can't wait for backup." Elliot checked his spare clip as they ran in a group formation for the entrance to the warehouse. "When we get inside, Fin you go right, Munch you go left. I'll drive up the middle. Take the fucker out if you can, but the priority is to find Liv and get her the hell out of there!"

Alex shivered as the pouring rain soaked through her clothes. Pulling on Elliot's jacket, she watched the detectives until they disappeared through the front door to be swallowed by the darkness beyond it.

"Please Liv…" she whispered; the tears on her face the only warmth she could feel. "Please be ok…"

So this was how it was all going to end…

Olivia pressed her back to the wall as she felt her legs give out. Slowly, she sank down onto to the dirty floor of the warehouse, her hand pressed tight against the excruciating pain in her side.

Taking a deep breath, she peeled her fingers away and stared down at the perfect black circle the bullet had made in her shirt. Dazed, almost fascinated, she watched as the sullen red stain that covered half of her abdomen seemed to pulse around the wound, almost vibrating in intensity as fresh blood leaked from the opening. Closing her eyes, she repositioned her hand and pressed hard, grimacing as tears slid down her cheeks.

If she could just get it to stop bleeding…

She shifted slightly and the agony flared white hot, a small gasp tearing from her lips as she gave in to the reality of the situation.

There was no exit wound; the bullet was still in there. And every time she moved, she could feel it digging in a little deeper, tearing her up a little bit more. Nothing would stop the bleeding… not now.

She felt her head begin to swim as dark spots filled the edges of her vision. With the last of her strength, she raised the Glock in her right hand and thumbed the release.

The clip fell onto her lap and she swallowed, realizing it was much too light.


She was still looking at it when the footsteps that had been moving towards her stopped. She raised her head to find herself staring down the barrel of a .45 automatic.

There was an obscenely gentle laugh. "I win." Kinkaid whispered.

The muscles in her arm gave out, causing her hand to fall to the floor beside her. The Glock slipped from her fingertips and skittered across the concrete. "Why, because you're gonna kill me?" She shook her head, the words punctuated by short, panting breaths. "There are fifty badges outside. One way or the other… you're going down."

"Maybe." His finger caressed the trigger lovingly. "But you won't be here to see it."

Olivia shrugged, biting back the gasp of pain that would have given away just how much effort the small movement cost her. "I've scraped enough shit off my shoes to know what it looks like. I won't be missing anything." She watched as he drew his foot back and pulled her knees towards her, protecting her abdomen with the tops of her thighs. The three sharp kicks delivered to her shins hurt like a motherfucker, but it was better than the alternative.

"Goodbye, Detective…"

When she didn't close her eyes, he moved forward slightly, pressing the gun firmly against her temple.

She could feel the heat emanating off the barrel, left over from the shot that had impacted with her side, as the acrid scent of gunpowder assaulted her nose. Still she did not flinch. Lifting her chin, she stared directly at him, a small smirk on her lips.

She watched the hammer click back with a sick sense of fascination as she waited for her life to flash before her eyes.

That was supposed to happen right?

But it didn't.

If she was supposed to spend the last few moments of her life reminiscing about the things that were the most important to her, then it was going to be pretty hard to keep denying the only image that came to mind.

Intense blue eyes… behind thin black frames…

Olivia swallowed as unshed tears stung the back of her eyes. I did it all wrong… I need more time… I need her to know…

She took a deep breath. "Tell me something would ya, Petie?" She was counting on the one thing almost all skels had in common.

They loved to talk about themselves.

The gun pulled back from her forehead slightly. "What?"

"You had to have known at some point that she wasn't the right girl." Olivia laughed, trying hard to keep her eyes focused. "Or are you really dumb enough to think your boss wouldn't notice?"

"I am not dumb!" Kinkaid shouted, his flat voice echoing throughout the warehouse. "She was dirty! She deserved it!" He ran the fingers of his free hand along the top of his gun. "He said it was the other one that made her do those things. But he was wrong. I watched her beg for it; beg to have that other bitch on top of her, up inside of her. She was nothing but a dirty whore."

"Is that what you told Judge Wainscott, when he asked you why you cut his daughter's face off?"

Kinkaid flinched, the gun in his hand shaking slightly. "I had to do that."

Truly baffled, she just stared at him. "Why? It didn't make it any harder to figure out who she was; all it did was delay the identification…" Her voice trailed off as his actions suddenly became clear. "That was the point wasn't it, Peter?"

"To truly atone, you must confess your own sins." His voice had dropped to a heavy whisper. "Otherwise you're just apologizing because you got caught."

"And you had to atone to the only father figure you've had for the last ten years, right Peter? You needed the opportunity to explain what you had done to the one person whose opinion of you actually mattered. Do you honestly think he gives a damn about you? You killed his child!"

"He forgave me!" Kinkaid pressed the gun to his forehead as the fingers of his left hand opened and closed convulsively. "That's why he told me all about you and your investigation! He wasn't going to let me get caught! He cares about me!"

Olivia rolled her eyes, snorting sarcastically even though it sent a spasm of pain shooting through her side. "See, this is why stupidity isn't a valid defense. He doesn't give a damn about you; but he does know that if you go down, so does he. That's all he cares about, Peter." She laughed. "To him you're just the dog that slipped its leash and bit the wrong girl."

"No… no…" He began to rock back and forth, muttering under his breath. "Sam forgave me. He understood. She was wicked, dirty. She needed to be cleansed…"

"Just like your other victims? The ones when you were twelve?" Her eyebrows furrowed in mock confusion. "But… you raped them. You didn't kill them."

"That was her fault!" He snarled. "Bitch tried to scratch my eyes out! She tried to get away and my hand slipped." The speed of the rocking increased. "You can't escape the hand of God."

Olivia looked at him carefully, then shook her head. "No… I'm not buying it, Petie." She laughed sarcastically. "I think you killed her because you couldn't rape her. Maybe all those years in that hospital had an affect on you." She winked at him. "C'mon, you can tell me. How many times a week did the older boys slip into your room? How long did it take before you actually started to like it?"

Kinkaid's face turned bright red, the veins in his forehead bulging. "Shut up! You don't know what you're talking about!"

"Oh, but I think I do." She smiled pleasantly. "I think you tried to get it up for Samantha but she just didn't have enough hair on her back." She saw him raise his fist and managed to slide her head to the side as he backhanded her, cutting the force of the blow. But fuck if it still didn't hurt!

What is it with people smacking me in the face this week?

She licked blood from her lip. "Awww… what's wrong, Petie? Did I hit a nerve? So what if you're gay! It's all right, I understand!" She had one last card to play and she tossed it out casually. "I am, too."

Olivia watched with satisfaction as Kinkaid's eyes narrowed. An ugly smirk twisted his lips as he tossed the gun away and pulled a seven inch serrated blade from his boot. She glanced up at it, noting that the tip was missing as he used it to make the sign of the cross over his chest.

Then he was on his knees in front of her, pressing into her, pushing her legs further into her chest as he brought his lips so close she could smell the whiskey he had been drinking on his breath. He took her hand and pressed it against his crotch. "Feel that?" he sneered. "So much for your theory." He released her and tangled his fingers in her hair, yanking her head back to press the knife against her throat. "I'm going to fix you, in his name. And then you're going to die!"

Olivia smiled. "You first."

The gun echoed loudly in the empty warehouse as the force of the shot pushed Kinkaid backwards onto his knees. His eyes widened as he stared down at the .32 automatic in her hand. It wasn't very big, but she had filled it with hot loads and from point blank range, it was more than enough.

Olivia pursed her lips. She had missed his heart, but the frothy blood that was bubbling out of the hole in Kinkaid's chest told her she had at least gotten a lung.

That'll do.

Even giants had to breathe.

She watched the knife fall from his fingertips as he toppled backwards onto the warehouse floor, his lips moving convulsively as he tried to speak around the blood filling his mouth.

"Shhh…" Olivia whispered. "I don't like to make small talk when I've just fucked somebody."

Her backup weapon felt like it weighed fifty pounds and she let her arm drop as her head rolled back on her shoulders. The room in front of her began to narrow as blackness seeped in from all sides.

The last thing she heard was the sound of people rushing towards her and a familiar voice calling out her name.

But it was all coming from so far away… and she just didn't have the energy…

With a sigh she closed her eyes and slipped into unconsciousness.


Chapter Eleven: Do-Over


Alex looked up quickly as Elliot's voice cut through the sound of the driving rain as well as the low din of the cops and cars that filled the street. Her heart jumped up into her throat as she watched him rush down the steps holding Olivia in his arms. The front of the detective's dark blue shirt was stained a much darker color, his normally stoic eyes wild as he cradled his partner's limp body in his arms.

The ADA's hand came up, covering her mouth and cutting off the strangled sob that tried to break free. The image of Olivia's legs swinging lifelessly as Elliot ran towards her made her want to scream, but she knew if she fell apart then, she might never pull herself back together. She swallowed once, counting each of his steps until he stood before her. The world seemed to slow to a stop as she took in her lover's ashen complexion and the dark blood that soaked one side of her body.


Her eyes snapped up, connecting with Elliot's.


Her mouth opened and closed silently. She couldn't get the words to come out, so she pointed up the street as the sound of multiple sirens drew closer.

Elliot was behind the first ambulance before it had even rolled to a stop with Alex right beside him. He kicked the back door violently, growling at the EMT when it finally swung open. "Hurry! She's lost a lot of blood!"

The paramedic jumped down, pulling the gurney out behind him and extending the legs as Elliot carefully lowered his partner onto it. He tried to hang on to her hand, but the second EMT pushed him out of the way as she cut open Olivia's shirt and pressed a sterile gauze pack firmly against the hole in her side.

"How long ago was she shot?" The male med tech barked at him.

"Not sure." Elliot stared down at his hands, watching as the rain cut through Olivia's blood to fall to the asphalt in large red drops. "Ten, maybe fifteen minutes ago?"

"Do you know the caliber?" He covered Olivia's face with an oxygen mask.


They strapped Olivia in carefully and lifted her onto the bus. Alex climbed in right behind them, raising her hand to forestall anything that they might say. "Don't even try it. I'm going with her!" She glanced at both of their nametags as her voice rose. "Lucy? David? I'm an Assistant District Attorney for the city of New York. Trust me; you do not want to fuck with me!"

The two EMTs glanced at each other. "We don't have time for this!" Lucy pointed to a corner the ambulance. "Keep out of our way and we won't have any problems."

Alex looked out the back doors to see Elliot still standing there, obviously torn between what he wanted to do and what he was supposed to do. She watched as the EMTs from the second ambulance ran up to him and began to ask questions.

"He isn't a victim, he's the fucking perp!" She heard him shout over the rain as he pointed to the warehouse. "Gunshot wound to the chest. Don't feel like you have to rush." He met her eyes as David pulled the doors shut. "I'll be right behind you!"

"Move out!" Lucy shouted to the driver.

The bus lurched into motion as the two EMTs started an IV and covered Olivia's upper chest with sensor pads. David flipped a switch and the machines lit up, filling the small space with the sound of rapid beeping.

"O2 stats are low and falling." Lucy glanced at the cuff around the detective's arm. "Heart rate is erratic."

Alex's head shot up as the beeping became a solid whine.

"She's flat-lining!" David shouted, jumping up to grab a box from the locker above him.

"Olivia!" Alex grabbed the brunette by the shoulders, shaking her harshly. She watched the detective's head loll back and forth lifelessly as tears rolled down her cheeks. "Liv! Goddamn it, wake up!"

"I need you to stand back, Ma'am!" David grabbed her and pushed her towards the front of the ambulance.

Alex braced herself at the head of the gurney, both of her hands on Olivia's face as the paramedic quickly applied gel to a small set of defibrillator paddles. He positioned them against the detective's chest before motioning at Alex to move back.

"CLEAR!" He thumbed the button and Alex held her breath as Olivia's back arched briefly before thumping back down onto the gurney. The EMT checked her pulse, shook his head and repositioned the paddles. "CLEAR!" He hit her again. "I've got a pulse! It's weak, but it's there." He tossed the paddles aside. "Shit, it's thready! Bag her now!"

Lucy yanked off the oxygen mask and placed a ventilator over Olivia's mouth and nose, squeezing the bag rhythmically to keep the air moving through her lungs while the other EMT readied a syringe of epi.

Alex stared at Olivia through tear-filled eyes, her heart breaking in her chest. All she could think of was their last conversation…

She bent down close, letting her tears fall onto Olivia's forehead. "I lied." She whispered; her voice breaking as she lost control of her emotions. "I lied about everything. It wasn't our jobs, or my obligations. It was you. God, you scare the hell out of me. What I feel for you scares the hell out of me. Olivia, listen to me! You can't leave me here like this! You can't show me that all of this love crap is real and then go and die on me! Do you hear me? YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DIE!!"


Alex looked up, the raw emotion in her eyes causing the paramedic who had spoken to blink repeatedly to keep her own tears at bay. "We got her." She reached out and squeezed the ADA's hand. "We'll be at the hospital in two minutes."

Alex nodded, managing to hold it together for a moment longer before her shoulders began to shake uncontrollably and her slim body was wracked by wrenching sobs. The EMT took her by the arms and gently pushed her down onto a small bench.

When they arrived at the hospital, the paramedics pulled Olivia out quickly, leaving Alex to be helped down from the ambulance by Elliot, who had followed behind them, sirens blaring the whole way. He felt his stomach drop when the ADA's slim body shook like a leaf beside him as he led her through the doors and into emergency. "What's going on? How's Liv?!?"

"They…" She took a deep breath to steady herself. "They lost her… but they got her back."

He nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He lead Alex to a chair outside of the emergency ward but when he tried to press her down into it she turned, burying her face in his chest as she began to cry.

Elliot froze for a moment, unsure of how to deal with the emotionally wrecked woman who was slumped against him. Finally, he put his arms around her, holding her as she trembled.

Well… He thought to himself. Maybe not such an ice maiden after all.

Four and a half hours later, Elliot looked up as the Olivia's doctor stepped into the waiting room. He coughed lightly, waking Alex, who had cried herself to sleep on his shoulder.

The detectives of the 1-6 crowded around the doctor en masse, all of them asking questions until he finally held up his hand to silence them. "I'll speak to whoever's in charge."

Cragen nodded. "That would be me. How is she?"

"Detective Benson is unconscious. It's really the best thing for her right now. It was touch and go for a while; she lost over three pints of blood. But you've got one hell of stubborn cop on your hands there. The bullet missed all of her major organs. Barring any complications, I'd say her chances are good."

Alex felt like she was going to faint. "Can we see her?"

"She's in ICU. Family only."

Before Alex could respond, Elliot stepped forward, crowding into the doctor's personal space as he gestured towards the blonde with his thumb. "She is family. We're all her family."

The doctor's glance passed over him to settle on Munch and Fin. For a moment it looked like he was going to say something, then he just shrugged. "You've got guns and badges so…whatever. But only one at a time for now."

Elliot took the ADA by the arm and pulled her aside. "Go ahead." He said gently. "I know I'd want Kathy to be the first person to see me."

Alex looked at him in surprise. Swallowing her initial response, she simply nodded and followed the doctor back through the swinging doors. He pointed towards a recovery suite and she nodded her thanks before quietly entering the room.

It was dark, the only light coming from the various machines and a series of call buttons situated on one wall. Moving to her side, she looked down at Olivia, her heart aching as she took in the pallor of her normally olive-toned skin and the seemingly never-ending series of wires and tubes that connected her to the machinery surrounding the bed. She reached out and touched her lower lip, tracing over the newly re-opened cut before ghosting across the bruise Kinkaid's hand had left on her cheek.

"I almost lost you," Alex whispered. She linked her fingers tightly with Olivia's, lowering her head until it was resting lightly against the detectives shoulder, the tears she could no longer hold in check coursing down her face. "I'm sorry." Her voice broke as her chest hitched painfully. "God, baby, I am so, so sorry."

Alex groaned, pain shooting through her neck and back as the hand gently shaking her shoulder dragged her from sleep. Blinking, she raised her head and tried to focus bleary eyes on the tall form standing next to her. "Elliot?"

There was a soft laugh. "Yeah." He stopped shaking her but kept his hand on her shoulder for a few moments longer. "You were in this same position when I came by five hours ago. Have you been sleeping in this chair all night?"

The ADA tried to sit up, only to realize that her hand was still wrapped tightly around Olivia's and her fingers had fallen asleep. With a small grin, she pried them free and stood, stretching her arms over her head and wincing as her bones popped back into place. "What time is it?"

"It's almost noon." He shrugged. "Me and the rest of the guys snuck in for a quick peek and then headed home for a couple of hours. The doc says she getting stronger." He reached out and took her hand, squeezing it gently. "She's gonna be okay."

"Then why hasn't she woken up?" Alex could hear the fear in her own voice and for the first time in her life, she wasn't ashamed of it.

Elliot smiled. "The blood loss left her really weak. Her body just needs to heal. The doc says it's easier for it to do that if she's out."

She nodded, remaining silent for several long minutes as they both contemplated the larger than life woman who at that moment looked so small and fragile in her hospital bed. "Elliot," she said quietly. "I know you and I… well, I know we never really got along. I know that you don't think I'm good enough for her and honestly, considering the way I've acted, I can't blame you for that." She took Olivia's hand, gently stroking her fingers as she spoke. "She deserves so much better than I've given her, but I promise you that will change. I'll change; if she'll give me the chance."

Elliot stared at her, trying to gauge her honesty by what he found in her eyes. Dropping his head, he nodding slowly. "She will. You know Olivia, the more screwed up you are, the more chances you get." He grinned. "I'd say you're pretty safe."

"Thanks!" She laughed lightly, only to be blinded by unexpected tears. "And I mean that. Thank you."

"You don't have to thank me for saving Olivia, Alex. She means a lot to me too. I'm just lucky I didn't let anything happen to you. Otherwise I'm pretty sure she'd be kicking my ass as soon as she woke up, even if she had to do it with a crutch!"

Alex wrapped her free arm around his neck, standing on her toes to kiss him lightly on the cheek.

Elliot flushed and coughed to cover his embarrassment. "Yeah, well… I need to get back. Lot of paperwork to do and your fill-in has the attention span of a grape. Some chick from white collar named Casey?"

Alex shrugged. "I don't know her."

"Lucky you. Anyway, Donnelly was here this morning. She saw you in here with Liv," He rubbed the side of his neck and glanced at her pointedly. "I let her know you'd probably be resistant to leaving so she told us to run the preliminaries through the temp and for you to call her as soon as you can."

The blonde smiled. "Thanks."

He squeezed her shoulder one last time and left.

Alex looked down at Olivia. "And you," she sighed. "You make me crazy, do you know that? You always have." She brushed a strand of hair off the detective's forehead. "I started falling in love with you the first day we met." She laughed. "And it was all downhill from there."

Alex covered her eyes for a moment as she tried to hold back her tears. "I fell in love once before, Olivia and when she left… it nearly destroyed me. It took me years to put myself back together and when I finally did, when I finally got my life and career back on track, there you were; with your cocky walk and your attitude, your dedication… and your heart." She swallowed hard. "How I felt about her was nothing, nothing, compared to what I feel for you. And that scares the hell out of me. She was a med student! You're a cop! Every day I scan the dockets and I see how many cop killers there are. It terrified me to think that I could love you as much as I do and lose you to one moment of bad timing… one wrong step." She took a long, deep breath as she tried to steady her shaking hands. "But last night I did lose you, in that ambulance. And the only thing I could think of was that I wasted the time we had; that I had been given something precious and squandered it in fear of losing it." She dashed her tears away violently. "Well, I'm done with all that. When you wake up, I'm going to do whatever I have to do to get you to give me another chance, Olivia." She laughed quietly. "I'm going to make you believe in all of this love crap, too."

The sound of someone clearing their throat made Alex glance over her shoulder, her cheeks flushing when she saw Olivia's doctor standing in the doorway.

"Sorry for the intrusion, but I need to take her vitals."

The ADA nodded, turning her head slightly to finish wiping away her tears as the doctor went to the far side of the bed and flipped through Olivia's chart before lifting her gown to check her bandage. When he was done, he smiled at her and Alex felt her heart flip over in her chest.

"All her vitals are strong. She'll be fine." He fussed over her oxygen tube and IV for a few minutes, then nodded his farewell and left the room.

She watched him leave, her shoulders slumping in relief.

"Is he gone?"

Alex spun around, her face splitting into a huge grin as Olivia blinked up at her. Tears quickly filled her eyes as the fingers she held finally squeezed back. "What?"

"Is he gone?" The detective raised her free hand slowly and touched her jaw, wincing at the tenderness that met her fingers. "I hate doctors."

"He's gone." She frowned when a slight shift caused Olivia to groan. "But maybe I should call him back; get you something for pain?"

The brunette shook her head, her voice thick when she answered. "S'just a scratch."

"So tough," Alex teased, sliding her fingers through the detective's short unruly hair. "My tough little cop."

"Who you calling little?" Olivia seemed on the verge of passing out again, but she shook her head slightly and her eyes cleared. "Alex?"

"Yeah, baby?" The blonde leaned in closer.

"I'm not little."

"I know you're not…" Alex frowned. "Exactly how long have you been awake?"

The detective's lips twitched. "Dunno."

Alex blinked rapidly as she felt herself falling into Olivia' deep auburn gaze. "I was wrong," she whispered. "Those eyes will get you anything you want."

"So then..." Olivia smiled tiredly. "About that 'love crap'…"

The ADA bit her bottom lip. "Heard all that did you?"

Olivia raised her hand, trailing an index finger tenderly across a pale cheek. "I think that would qualify as an excited utterance. Wouldn't you agree, Counselor?"

"Are you going to hold it against me?"

"That depends. What kind of deal are you offering?

A ragged sob tore from the blonde's throat as she buried her face in the Olivia's neck. "How about twenty to life… with no possibility of parole?"


Chapter 12: Justifying The Means

Three Weeks Later

Monday 12:05 PM

Olivia clicked off the television with a loud sigh, tossing the remote control onto the couch beside her. Daytime TV really did suck.

She had already watched all the episodes of Women's Murder Club that Alex had hidden on the DVR in her bedroom. The cases could have been better, but she had to admit, the subtext between the broody, dark haired inspector and the little red-headed reporter was entertaining, even if she had been rooting for the blonde at first.

She had also spent an hour thinking of all the ways she could tease Alex about her trashy television impulses, but that would have to wait until the blonde found her way home from work.

So once again, Olivia was left to her own devices and finding the tedium of a perfectly good afternoon spent inside more than she could bear.

Maybe she could use that as an excuse for why she was being so snarky to Alex. The lawyer had insisted that Olivia come home with her when she had been released from the hospital two weeks earlier. She had taken the first ten days of the detective's convalescence off work, handling her caseload by phone and email while she tended to Olivia's injuries and tried to get the stubborn detective to let her take care of her. Olivia had fought her tooth and nail, of course; except during the sponge baths.

She wasn't a fool.

She'd had plenty of visitors at first. Elliot, Kathy, Munch, Fin and Cragen all took turns stopping in to see her until her bitchiness eventually drove them away as well. She wasn't actively trying to be an ass, but for someone who rarely ever stopped moving, three long weeks of inactivity were a torture she could barely tolerate.

So when Elliot had made a surprise visit three days earlier to shove the Wainscott case files into her hands, she would have kissed him if he had stayed long enough.

Rereading the files had kept her mind occupied when Alex went back to work. She would sit for hours at the dining room table pouring over every detail of the case, rebuilding the timeline and committing all of it to memory for when she had to take the stand.

Now all they needed was for Peter Kinkaid to wake up and verify everything they already knew.

The sound of the key in the front door pulled Olivia from her thoughts, a bright smile lighting up her face as Alex walked in with a large white bag in her hands.

"Hey!" Olivia went to stand up but quickly sank back onto the couch when Alex looked at her pointedly. It wasn't that the pain was all that bad anymore; in fact, her doctor had been amazed at how swiftly she had recovered. No, the truth was that in the short time they had been cohabitating Alex had become amazingly attuned to any shift in her body language. And since the doc was basing her release date on the lawyer's frequent reports, it was better if she didn't piss her off. "What's that?" She pointed to the bag.

Alex leaned down, giving her a gentle but lingering kiss before answering. "Meatball subs from Nardo's."

Olivia's mouth started to water. "Are you kidding me?" She eagerly reached into the bag, pulling out a foot-long sub and tearing off the wrapper before taking a huge bite. Her eyes rolled back in ecstasy as little sounds of happiness escaped from her throat. Since she had left the hospital, Alex had watched over her diet like a hawk, making sure it consisted of only nutritionally sound food; healthy, but boring as hell. A foot long sub from Nardo's was like ambrosia from the gods.

As Olivia was taking her second bite, a thought occurred to her and she glanced at the clock on the mantle. Twelve-fifteen? Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Not that I don't appreciate the food delivery, but what are you doing home this early?"

Alex studied the older woman for a moment. "The hospital called my office an hour ago."

Olivia swallowed quickly, tossing the sandwich onto the living room table. "Is he awake?"

"Olivia… Peter Kinkaid died this morning."

The detective's face went pale. "What?"

"It was a blood clot. It formed in his lungs and they didn't catch it in time. There was nothing they could do."

Olivia's face went stony. "So what does that mean?"

Alex sighed.

"No!" The brunette jumped up and began to pace, ignoring the pain in her side. "Do not tell me that bastard is going to get away with this, Alex!" She rubbed her forehead. "What about the fact that he was the one who released Kinkaid from FenBrooke only to have the guy kill his daughter two weeks later?"

"They would argue that Kinkaid went after Samantha out of revenge; a means of getting even with the man that put him away in the first place. It's what we all believed at first."

"What about the money?" Olivia demanded. "We have the records of the ten thousand dollars Wainscott transferred into Kinkaid's account a week before the murder!"

Alex shook her head. "The money was actually transferred from the Preston Charities account for Fresh Start. It is a program designed to help youth offenders get back on their feet after their release, Olivia. Granted, the amount is about four times the normal allocation but that isn't enough to charge him."

Olivia tangled her fingers in her hair, pulling on it in frustration. "What about the key? And what about me? What about what Kinkaid told me in that warehouse?"

"There were no fingerprints on the key and it was found in Kinkaid's apartment. Without a witness we can't prove Samuel gave it to him. And as for Kinkaid's confession… an injured detective, suffering from massive blood loss…" The blonde rose and walked over to her, taking her face between her hands. "I believe he told you everything you say he did, Olivia. But a good defense attorney could plant enough reasonable doubt to sway a jury and everything else is circumstantial. I would be lucky to get the indictment… we would lose at trial."

"So he just gets away with murder?"

Alex frowned. "We needed Peter Kinkaid's corroboration; a signed confession implicating Wainscott. Without it, we're dead in the water."

Olivia growled in frustration, her pacing becoming almost frenzied in her anger.

The ADA reached out and touched her arm, pulling back in surprise when the brunette went completely still, her gaze focused intently on the ground.

When she finally raised her head and looked at Alex, there was a strange gleam in her eyes. "So…" she smiled. "Exactly who knows Kinkaid is dead?"

Monday 02:45 PM

Alex stepped into the interrogation room, not surprised to see Trevor Langan sitting next to Samuel Wainscott, a smug expression on his face.

"Alex Cabot!" He made a big show of looking behind her. "Where's your attack dog? Someone finally teach her some manners?"

The ADA ignored the bait. "Trevor." She inclined her head in greeting. "I guess sharks are attracted to blood."

"My client has no blood on his hands." The defense attorney smiled and she immediately felt the need for a shower. "At most, he is guilty of a lapse in good judgment."

The blonde shook her head in amazement. "That's obtuse… even for you, Trevor."

"So what's with the rush on this meeting? You guys have been dragging your heels for the last three weeks. Now suddenly it has to be today? What's going on?"

Alex linked her fingers and stared at him silently, a confident smile her only response.

The smugness faltered slightly. "Can we speed this up, Counselor? The Judge and I have a four o'clock tee off time."

"Not unless Rikers has recently installed a green I'm unaware of." She opened her briefcase and pulled out a small stack of papers before sitting down.

"Rikers?" Trevor laughed. "You know there's no judge in New York who would ever hold Samuel Wainscott on remand. He'll be out in time for happy hour."

Alex smiled humorlessly as she slid on her glasses. "The next cocktail he gets will be served intravenously."

The defense attorney straightened his tie. It looked casual, but Alex saw it for what it was: a nervous reaction. Beside him, his client had turned an interesting shade of white. "What exactly is it that you think you have on my client, Ms. Cabot?"

She pulled a photo from her stack of papers and laid it on the table between them.

Trevor leaned forward, drawing the picture closer with the tips of his fingers as though it were somehow diseased. "A key?" He scoffed.

"A very specific key. It's one of three that were provided by the realtor when your wife Julia purchased your daughters apartment. Do you see the serial number engraved on the side?" Her finger slid across the photograph, drawing a line under the numbers shown in sharp relief. "According to the Building Supervisor, this particular key was assigned to you, Samuel. We found it in Peter Kinkaid's apartment."

She placed a photocopied court order next to the picture of the key. "This is your signature approving Peter Kinkaid's early release from the FenBrooke Psychiatric Facility."

She placed two more photocopies side by side. "This is Peter Kinkaid's bank statement. It shows a transfer from the Preston Charity Fresh Start, approved by you, in the amount of ten thousand dollars."

"All circumstantial." Trevor waved his hand over the documents as though he could make them disappear.

"And this?" She laid down several pages of handwritten script. "This is a signed confession implicating your client."

"It was an intervention!" Wainscott blurted out.

"Sam, shut up!" Langan warned.

Alex leaned back in her chair as she looked at the judge thoughtfully. "An intervention?" She could feel the fear emanating from him. The fear of going to prison with hundreds of men he had put there himself. "You released a dangerously unstable man from a psychiatric facility to stage an intervention? Explain, please."

"Peter and I… we spoke several times over the years; whenever his case came up for review. He shared my views on the perversion my daughter was caught up in and he was sympathetic to what I was going through. He said he could help me. But he was just supposed to remove those disgusting things from my daughter's apartment. That's all! She wasn't supposed to be there! She logged a flight plan with the family jet to take her to Miami that week, I checked! I was going to be there waiting for her when she got back. I was going to make her get some help!" He shook off Trevor's hand when the defense attorney tried to get his attention. "She wasn't even supposed to be there!"

"So," Alex pursed her lips. "You're stating that you sent Peter Kinkaid to your daughter's apartment for the sole purpose of removing her… sex toys… in an attempt to stage an intervention against her self-abusive sexual practices?"

Wainscott dropped his head into his hands, his shoulders shaking. "Yes."

"That's your story?" She didn't try to hide her skepticism.


"Samuel," Alex began to gather her paperwork from the table. "You do realize that Samantha's apartment was transferred into her name upon your wife's death which means that, even if you had a key, any attempt on your part to enter the dwelling would be considered breaking and entering?"

His voice was very small. "Yes."

"And do you further realize that the act of compensating someone to remove property that is not yours from a residence that you have provided illegal entry to constitutes robbery?"


Alex stopped what she was doing and leaned on the table, lowering her head to look Wainscott in the eyes. "And do you understand that the monetary value of the items you have stated you sent your agent there to collect exceeds sixteen thousand dollars?"

Trevor grabbed his clients arm a second too late.


Alex smiled. "Which makes it a felony." She watched the judge's eyes widen as understanding slammed home. She knew he was aware of what she was going to say next but she enjoyed saying it nonetheless. "And a murder committed during the commission of a felony as the result of the actions or interference of another person constitutes felony murder, whether the acts were intentional or accidental, and criminal liability can be imposed upon all participants involved in the felony… including accomplices assisting before the commission of the crime."

She watched his jaw drop. "In addition to the felony murder charge, we will also be filing charges of conspiracy to commit felony murder in regards to Serra Tate, who was NOT included on the flight plan to Miami that week, which you would have known, had you checked as you previously stated. Add to that the B&E charges, the robbery charge and the fraud and falsification of government documents and you're looking at forty three years minimum."

"You're insane!" Trevor sputtered.

Alex straightened to her full height, pulling her glasses to the tip of her nose as she looked down at him. "I may not be able to put a needle in his arm, but you can rest assured that the DA's office will be recommending the maximum for each charge and that all sentences run consecutively."  She looked directly at Langan, one eyebrow rising slightly as her lips quirked into a satisfied grin.  "Which means that my children will be sending your clients to prison before parole is even an option."

For a moment, both of the men were silent. Then Wainscott began to cry softly. "I loved Sammy. It wasn't supposed to be her. It was never supposed to be her. He was supposed to kill Tate. I just wanted to save her..."

"If you had ever bothered to actually talk to your daughter, she might have confided in you that she and Serra had already split up." His eyes met hers, full of shock and remorse, but she couldn't bring herself to feel sorry for him. "That's what hate and intolerance will get you, Samuel. Was it worth it?"

He didn't answer and Alex began to slide the paperwork back inside her bag.

"Come on, Cabot; there's a deal to be made here!" Trevor gave her his most ingratiating smile. "What are you offering?"

Alex's gaze traveled from the lawyer she despised to the judge she had known for years. "My condolences..." she picked up her briefcase, pausing by the door on her way out. "…to the woman who loved your daughter."

The attorney stepped out of the interrogation room, her eyebrows going up in surprise when she found herself with a burly arm thrown across her shoulders as soon as the door shut behind her. Looking up, she blinked at Elliot's smiling face. He had been nervous at first about sending the lawyer in alone, but Olivia had been adamant that Alex could do it.

And she had been right.

Elliot shook his head in amusement as he laughed. "Couldn't have done it better myself."

Pleased by the compliment and feeling absurd for being so, Alex merely nodded, accepting his congratulations with good grace.

"We're all going down to O'Malley's to celebrate. Think she's up to it?" He asked hopefully.

The lawyer laughed. "I'm sure she would say she is. I'll pick her up and meet you guys there."

Elliot looked at her in surprise. "That's it? No arguments about her needing to rest?"

Alex had the good grace to blush. She had been declining invitations from the squad for the last week, wanting to give Olivia enough time to recuperate. But she knew there was no way she would be able to keep the stubborn detective from this particular celebration. "I think she can handle one beer." She held her finger up in front of the detective's nose. "One."

Elliot plastered an innocent look on his face and nodded. "I do solemnly swear to follow the directions of my ADA."

"Well," She smirked. "There's a first time for everything." As she collected her jacket she glanced at Cragen who had been eyeing her speculatively. "Is something wrong?"

"No." He shook his head ruefully. "I was just thinking. I know it's legal for us to lie to get a confession from a perp, but it's not something I've ever seen you do before. Quite honestly, I didn't think I ever would."

Alex grinned at him. "I just said it was a signed confession, Captain. I never said it was Peter Kinkaid's."

Tuesday 02:48 AM

Alex moaned softly in her sleep, her tongue reaching out to wet her lips as the most exquisite sensations began to sweep through her body. She tried to arch her back as they intensified only to find that she was pinned to the bed by a firm weight lying across her abdomen.  Opening her eyes, she looked down, breathing heavily as she took in the sight of Olivia with her lips wrapped around one of her nipples while her fingers gently massaged the other.

"What are you doing, baby?" She swallowed as her body trembled.

Olivia looked up at her and grinned wickedly. "Arguing my case."

Alex laughed. "I thought we shelved these proceedings until further notice." She put her hands on either side of Olivia's face and gently pulled her up for a kiss. When they broke apart, she looked at her soberly. "You're supposed to be taking it easy."

"Then be easy!" She raised one eyebrow lecherously. "I mean, come on, Alex! It's been weeks; weeks of lying next to you in this bed and not being able to touch you. I'm a cop, not a saint!"

"You're an injured cop." She brushed at the hair that always fell across Olivia's forehead. God, how she loved that hair. "You were shot, remember?"

"Vaguely." She leaned down until her mouth was a breath away from the blonde's neck. "But I wasn't shot in the lips." She kissed her gently then bit down. "Or the teeth." Her hand traveled down the smooth skin of Alex's side, raising goose bumps in its wake. "Or in my hand…" She slid her fingers into the warmth between the younger woman's thighs, groaning at the moisture that had already pooled there. Closing her eyes, she starting to move down Alex's body. "Or my tongue…"

"Wait, baby, wait." Alex put her fingers under the brunette's chin and raised her head so that she could look into her eyes. "If we do this, you have to promise me you'll wait a day longer before asking the doctor to release you."

Olivia's eyes widened. "Seriously? You're a lawyer and you're throwing quid pro quo at me?"

Alex shrugged. "You're lucky it isn't costing you a day per orgasm."

The detective considered that a moment. "You could be right…"

"Listen… I know I can't keep you safe; that what you do is dangerous and that risking your life is a big part of your job. I accept that. But I can make sure that when you do go back, you're a hundred percent. Please… let me do what I can."

Olivia swallowed. "All right." She grinned as she began her descent once again. "But only because you love me so much."

"You love me more." Alex teased, before the brunette's tongue touched her and she lost the ability to speak. As Olivia proceeded to turn her world upside down, she amended her previous statement, the words repeating over and over in her head.

No… not possible…


Epilogue – Everybody Needs A Hobby

Elliot looked up, whistling appreciatively as his partner walked out of the Captain's office. She was still decked out for court, wearing a sharp pin-striped charcoal suit that seemed just a little too tight for her. He raised his eyebrow lecherously and then laughed when she flipped him off. "So?"

Olivia sat down at her desk. "Forty-five minutes." She beamed. "It took the jury forty-five minutes to come back guilty on all counts. Alex and I had just sat down at the restaurant. We hadn't even ordered our lunch yet and we had to rush back to court to watch Wainscott and Langan go down in flames. Sentencing is next week."

Her partner nodded happily. "So what does Alex think?"

She sighed, setting down the two firearms she had just retrieved from Cragen. "The needle's off the table. Wainscott may have been responsible, but there's still the lack of intent. She's pretty sure he'll get life. And since he'll have to spend most of that time in segregation for his own safety, I'd say that might even be worse." She picked up the Glock, checking the action quickly before sliding it into the holster on the side of her pants. It made the elegant jacket stick out at an odd angle, but from the smile on her face, she couldn't have cared less. Then she picked up the .32, running her fingers lovingly over the rosewood grips.

Elliot couldn't help ragging on her. "So I.A.B. actually gave you back that pea shooter? I figured they'd write you up for carrying such a girly gun."

Olivia threw him a nasty look. She inspected the small clip then tipped the barrel up to add an extra round from her desk before sliding the automatic into the holster on her ankle. "I'll have you know this 'girly gun' is a Berretta Tomcat. It may be small, but it's powerful… and it saved my ass!"

His lip curled slightly. "Eh, maybe it wouldn't look so bad if you didn't put those pink grips on it."

"They're not pink…!" Her voice trailed off as she looked at him fondly. "God I've missed you!"

Elliot grinned, watching as she spun from side to side in her chair and caressed the edge of her blotter. "So the doctor released you to desk duty, huh?"

"Yup!" Her grin lit up the room. "One step closer to getting back on the street!"

"How's Alex handling it?"

Olivia paused, a goofy smile plastering itself onto her face. She stared off into space for a few moments until Elliot cleared his throat, causing a flush to creep up her neck. "She's doing a lot better. She's worried that I'm trying to come back too soon, but she relaxed a bit once the stitches came out."

"Glad to hear it, but that's not what I meant."

She arched an eyebrow. "What did you mean?"

"How's she dealing with the lack of small talk?"

Olivia stared at him in confusion for a moment then rolled her eyes as she groaned, "You're an idiot!"

Ignoring his laughter, she opened one of the numerous files on her desk; a small smile playing at her lips as she finally got back to work.

The End

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