DISCLAIMER: I don't own any part of the show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, including the characters featured in the programme. This story may make references to events in some episodes of the show with possible spoilers for Loss, Ghost, PC and Witness in particular. For the most part though, the story is non-cannon. It explores a loving, physical relationship between two women so if this offends you, is illegal where you live or simply isn't your cup of tea, I suggest you hit the back button now.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is my first SVU fic so I'd really love to hear what you think of it. Constructive criticism is always gladly received – nobody is perfect and the only way to improve is through critical study of oneself. So if anything moves you sufficiently, be it good, bad or downright ugly, I'd love for you to drop me a line to tell me your thoughts, if you feel so incline, at liz_mulligan@hotmail.com. I am from the UK so some spellings may seem odd! Pairing: Olivia/OFC, Alex/Olivia. I'm usually an Alex/Olivia shipper myself but for this story, I've paired Liv up with an original character. There will be plenty of Alex/Olivia interaction though so please give it a go before abandoning it!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To liz_mulligan[at]hotmail.com

Torn Asunder
By Liz M


Part 21

Thursday February 19th 2009


Alexandra Cabot's apartment, Belmont Towers, Upper East Side

Abbie slid into the couch beside the already reclining Olivia. "So how are you holding up really? I know we don't talk all that often but I am here for you, you know that right? Anything you need, any time, just say the word and if I can do it, I will."

"Just promise me you'll nail him when the time comes," Liv pled. The prosecutor had filled her in while they were shopping on the main reason behind her visit. Olivia was glad that the woman had battled to take the case on, knowing that her tenacity would be unleashed full force to see the correct verdict returned.

"You have my word on that. I reckon Alex and I will make a pretty fearsome team, don't you?" The question was asked lightly, but the detective sensed that the Texan was fishing for something more.

"She's not on the menu, Abbie. She's straight and she's a good friend. What she needs is someone to offer her a serious, stable, mutually beneficial relationship not a frantic but short-lived fling that lasts only as long as you're in town for. She's not like I was, she doesn't do one night stands, not with men and to my knowledge, she's never considered a woman." Whilst the detective had been a willing and fully informed recipient of Abbie's indisputable skills in the bedroom, she was also aware of her reputation as a heartbreaker.

"Easy there tiger, no need to build up the barricades. Alex is a grown woman, if she's not interested all she needs do is say so and I'll back off. But I wouldn't be so sure about that assertion she wouldn't consider pursuing at least a little horizontal exercise with a woman, she seemed pretty receptive in her office earlier when she agreed to have dinner with me tomorrow night."

"Abbie…," Olivia practically growled.

"Relax, Liv, I promise I won't break her heart. If she wants something, I'll make sure she knows what she's getting herself into before it goes too far. I daren't run the risk of you kicking my ass into next week if I did anything to hurt her," the raven-haired beauty advised seriously, taking a long pull from her bottle of beer. "Now, how about we chat in the kitchen while we make preparations for dinner? You're not too culinary challenged to cut up vegetables are you?"

"I think I can just about manage that," Liv supplied, allowing the change of topic even while her brain was racing at Abbie's admission Alex had shown some sort of reciprocal interest in the Texan.

The two women set to work finding their way around Alex's pristine kitchen, hunting down utensils, Abbie laughing heartily when she found some of the items she needed still in the packaging in which they had been bought.

"So, how's Washington treating you? You met anyone there you're interested in for anything more than a quick fling?" Liv was genuinely interested to hear where her friend's life was at, not having had much chance to keep up with her news over the past few months.

"It's ok, not that much different to New York really in what's on offer. You know me, not really the settling down type." Abbie busied herself with mixing a unique combination of spices, herbs and chilli flakes together to which she would a dash of lemon juice to create a paste and then use it to coat the sumptuous steaks she had purchased.

"I used to think I was the same, before I met Sam. I'd never wanted to be tied down to one person for the rest of my life. The very idea brought on a sense of claustrophobia. I was afraid I'd lose myself, lose who I was, what made me who I am if I let someone else have that much of a hold on me. But I never felt like that with Sami. She made me want to spend every moment I could of every day with her and it never once felt restricting or overshadowing. If anything, I've felt freer to be myself these last twelve months or so simply because I knew that she loved me unconditionally, because of who I am not in spite of it."

"I'm really sorry I never got the chance to meet her in person, she sounds like she was an incredible woman," Abbie murmured, pausing in her preparations long enough to offer a gentle squeeze to the slightly shorter woman's shoulder. "I know it probably doesn't feel like it right now, but you are so lucky to have known that kind of connection with someone. I may be a serial philanderer but that doesn't mean I don't dream of the fairytale kind of romance. I've just never met anyone who made me overcome my own disinterest in changing my ways."

"Yet. Don't bet against it ever happening, Abs. After all, I'm no spring chicken and it only just happened for me." Liv gave a tiny shrug as she tried to convince her friend that there was more to life than one night stands and short lived affairs.

"Well, until it does, I'll keep sampling all the delights the menu has to offer," Abbie threw over her shoulder with a saucy wink. Liv simply shook her head with a resigned sigh.

A key in the lock signalled Alex's arrival home from the office. She wearily dropped her keys into the bowl reserved particularly for that purpose on the table in the entry lobby of her spacious apartment. Succulent scents of spices greeted her as she inhaled, reminding her of the company which awaited her once she rounded the corner. Part of her wished she could just go and sink into a hot bath before curling up with a book but she straightened her spine, slipped out of her shoes and nudged her attaché case underneath the table she had deposited her keys on. Plastering on her brightest smile, she wandered into the main part of the apartment, spying the two brunettes reclining casually on the couch, chattering away and catching up on some of Abbie's Washington exploits judging by the snippets Alex overheard.

"Hi, you're home," Liv called softly, spying Alex's approaching form from where she sat, angled towards their visitor, back to the panoramic windows.

Abbie twisted around in her own seat, throwing a warm smile in the direction of the blonde attorney, startled to see just how much more tired the younger woman looked since they had parted company earlier. Southern manners kicking into overdrive, Abbie shot out of her seat, ushering Alex into her vacated spot and ordering her to stay put. "Liv, why don't you go run Alex a bath? Dinner can be held back for another half hour or so."

"I'm fine, I'll be ok in a few minutes, I just need to sit down for a while," Alex lied smoothly, not really feeling in the mood to be centre of attention.

"And I'm the Queen of England," Abbie scoffed gently. "Let us take care of you for a change, you look like you've had a hell of a long day."

"She's right Al, you do look exhausted. Come on, let's get you into a nice hot bath, changed into some more comfortable clothes and by the time you've done that, Abbie's feast should be ready to devour." Liv rose from the couch, holding out a hand to her closest friend, her nurturing instincts driving her to try and revive the young woman's obviously flagging energy reserves. Relenting, purely because she didn't have it in her to continue arguing against two of them, Alex allowed Olivia to help her to her feet and guide her towards her bedroom and the en suite. "You pick out what you want to wear when you get out of the bath, I'll go and get the water running for you. Want me to put any oils in it?"

"No, I'll just freshen up a bit, try and wake myself up a bit and be out to join you in a few minutes," Alex stated quietly, still subdued and preoccupied.

"You sure you're ok, sweetheart?" Liv asked, reaching out a hand to rest her palm against Alex's tense shoulder.

"Yeah… course, just… y'know tired, long day." Alex didn't feel she could share that her mind her been troubled all afternoon by the instantaneous chemistry with the visiting Federal Prosecutor, unsure what it meant or what she should do about it. Having been unaware of Liv moving closer, Alex started a little as she felt strong arms wrap around her, cradling her close and soothing her with gentle strokes along the planes of her taut back. Releasing a long sigh, she sank into the embrace, sliding her own arms around Olivia's slim waist and resting her cheek against a strong shoulder. The brunette felt some of the tension flowing out of the tired body of the attorney. She was content to simply stand there holding Alex for as long as the blonde needed her to, mindful of Abbie's presence but knowing the Texan would not begrudge either woman their moment of comfort. Finally, after long moments, Alex pulled back, retracting her arms and rubbing both hands over her face in an apparent effort to wipe away the lingering fatigue but also to remove the few tears which had launched a sneak attack on her whilst in Liv's hold.

"You looked like you could use that," Liv murmured softly, tucking a stray strand of silky golden hair behind a delicate ear.

"Thanks, Liv." Alex took a deep, shaky breath as she attempted to rein in her emotions and replace her usual stoic mask. Feeling a little more composed, she looked directly at her friend and told her, "I'm going to just grab a quick shower I think now. I don't want to keep Abbie's meal waiting and I'm so tired I'm afraid if I lay in a bath I'd be asleep in no time."

"Sure, I'll leave you to it. Give me a shout if there's anything you need, ok?" Liv stepped out of the bedroom pulling the door closed behind her and wandered back through to the lounge in search of their chef for the evening.

"She ok?" Abbie asked quietly as she strolled out of the kitchen wiping her hands on a cloth.

"She will be, I think she's just had a long, hard day," Liv advised, thinking that perhaps Alex could use some TLC to lift her flagging spirits, so long as she didn't expect Abbie to offer her a long term exclusive relationship.

The three women each groaned as they sat back in their chairs around the dining table, all reaching for their stomachs and rubbing them contentedly.

"Wow, Abbie, that was amazing. Thank you. I don't think I've eaten that much since Liv and I were at Fausto's and Gina tried to feed me an entire year's worth of food in a single sitting!" Alex quipped, the food, wine and company having rejuvenated her somewhat. There were still shadows of fatigue beneath her eyes and she had seemed more content to listen to the tales Abbie and Olivia were freely sharing rather than adding her own input so much but she seemed a little less likely to keel over at least.

"It certainly was, those steaks were divine. Dare I ask you to share the recipe or would there be murder involved?" Liv added her own praise to the cook.

"I'm afraid I would have to kill you, it's a secret family recipe handed down through generations of Carmichaels. My Gramma would come back to haunt me if I let it slip outside the blood line!" Abbie joked with a cheeky grin, moving to gather up the empty plates only to have her hand physically slapped away by the other brunette.

"You cooked, I'll clear up," Liv informed her determinedly.

"You just want to snoop through the trash to find the secrets to the recipe," Abbie teased but allowed her plate to be removed and stacked by the detective.

"Of course I do," Liv replied nonchalantly, as though that was patently obvious. "Why don't you and Alex make yourselves comfortable? I'll be through as soon as I've got this lot in the dishwasher."

"I'll help you clear up, Liv." Alex went to rise from the table but a hand on her shoulder stalled her movement.

"No, you'll go and relax with a glass of wine. Don't make Tex toss you over her shoulder!" At Olivia's instruction, Abbie flexed her bicep as though proving she could and would do just that if needs be.

"Fine," the blonde attorney groused, knowing when she was beaten. "But do just load up the dishwasher, Liv, don't go washing anything by hand."

"Yes boss," the brunette detective agreed with a wink, shooing the pair of them out of the dining room promising to bring more drinks with her when she joined them.

Alex sunk into the luxurious leather of her sofa, tucking her feet underneath her and huddling into the far corner, allowing plenty of room for Abbie to join her if she chose to. Abbie did indeed opt to take a seat on the couch rather than distance herself in one of the armchairs, wanting to be close to the enigmatic blonde.

"Thanks for the tip about Grikes vs Dobbins, I've brought it home with me like you suggested, along with my notes about the case I'm hoping to apply it to, if you'd still be interested in looking over it with me?"

Abbie took a moment to observe the woman beside her, taking in the vulnerable body language, the nervous fiddling with the stem of her wine glass before carefully formulating her response. "When do you need it by? When's your appeal being heard?"

"Monday afternoon," Alex replied, unfurling herself and placing her wine glass on the end table beside the arm of the sofa she was leaning against. Abbie moved swiftly to prevent her from getting up from the couch, scooting closer, placing a hand on Alex's slender knee and squeezing it gently.

"Well I think Liv might have my head if she comes in and finds me encouraging you in bad habits such as working this late at night when you're obviously in need of rest and relaxation. How about we look over it tomorrow after this breakfast meeting with Jack McCoy, if you can spare the time?" Alex looked at the striking brunette who was leaning over towards her, offering a glimpse of the minimal cleavage hidden beneath her crisp, pale blue shirt if she allowed her eyes to drift just beneath the attractive face peering at her.

"That sounds good, I'm not sure I could take much of anything in tonight anyway," the attorney confessed, attempting to suppress a wide yawn.

"That's settled then, no work talk tonight, at all," Abbie stated confidently, leaning back into the sofa's cushions and draping her arm along the back so that her hand rested just behind Alex's head. She couldn't prevent herself from toying gently with a few of the baby soft strands as they began to exchange small talk about their experiences at law school, comparing horror stories of late nights and chauvinistic tutors and students. They had migrated closer to the centre of the sofa, their bodies moving of their own accord without conscious effort, so that by the time Olivia joined them, they had their heads bent together laughing heartily at a particularly descriptive story Abbie had shared.

"Now that looks like trouble; two lawyers with their heads together, cackling evilly. Please tell me I'm not the one who's about to be on the receiving end of whatever you're plotting?"

"Oh no, don't worry, I've long since exacted revenge on the person responsible for causing this particular bout of laughter!"Abbie assured her friend, turning to watch Liv lower herself, still a little gingerly, into one of the nearby arm chairs. "I was just sharing my Schillick encounter with Alex and explaining to her how I got my own back." Liv nodded, an expression of realisation settling over her features, almost but not quite masking her grimace. "You ok there, Liv?" Alex's attention focused sharply on her friend at Abbie's gentle question.

"Yeah, just taken my last lot of pain meds for the night so you might have to excuse me before very long. The day time ones are ok but the night ones are still that little bit stronger, tend to make me drowsy," Liv confessed with a wry smile. Alex offered her a proud smile in return, glad to see the older woman listening to her body and taking action without prompting this time.

"That's ok then. I was just about to whip your butt if you hadn't already taken something to help you with the obvious pain you're still feeling. Is that normal? To still be in noticeable pain this long after the surgery?" Abbie asked, genuinely interested, never having had to undergo an operation of any kind fortunately.

"It might have something to do with the fact that she insisted on running five miles on the treadmill yesterday at the gym," Alex informed the Texan, her tone still admonishing her friend for pushing herself too hard so soon after her hospital stay.

"If I want to get off desk duty any time soon, I need to push myself some. I won't do more than I feel able to do, I'm not about to jeopardise my career." Liv had made a similar promise to Alex the day before when she had arrived back from the gym cradling her stomach with one arm, obviously in a significant amount of discomfort. She knew that both women were only taking her to task over it because they cared about her long term welfare.

"I trust you won't or you'll not only have Alex to answer to but me too," Abbie assured the older woman sternly.

"And Gina and Fausto as well, I've no doubt," Alex added. Liv felt the familiar clouds of fog beginning to smooth off the edges of her consciousness and opted to make a move to bed while she was still able to make it under her own steam, not willing to let Abbie see her so weak she needed that much assistance.

"Thanks for dinner tonight Abs, it was wonderful and I've really appreciated your company too. I wish we could have got together under better circumstances and that you could have got to meet Sam in person, you'd have liked her and she'd have kept you on your toes, wouldn't she Alex?" The blonde grinned at the notion.

"Oh absolutely, she ate lawyers for dinner – I should know, she got the better of me on more than one occasion!" Abbie released a hoarse bark of laughter at the notion, suddenly even more sorry she hadn't made the time to come and visit sooner. That would have been a sight for sore eyes, she was sure.

"If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and let these tablets knock me out in bed." Liv kissed both women on the cheek as she made her way out of the lounge and into her bedroom, leaving the door ajar just in case she had a need for Alex during the night. Once she was gone, Abbie turned back to the younger woman seated beside her, glad to see she hadn't moved away too far.

"I should probably be heading back to my hotel too, let you get some rest. I'll need you firing on all cylinders in the morning if we're to persuade Jack McCoy to release you for the duration of a trial when an arrest is made." Abbie softened her words with a genuine smile and a squeeze of the nearest porcelain-skinned hand.

"You're welcome to stay… if you like… I mean I can only offer you the couch with Liv staying in the spare room but it's late and I've plenty of blankets and pillows…" Further rambling was prevented by soft fingers over her lips.

"I'll stay on one condition," Abbie paused, making sure she had Alex's complete attention before continuing, "if Liv needs anything during the night, I'll see to her. You're exhausted, you need a decent night's sleep so close your door, put ear plugs in, whatever you need to do to sleep through until morning without being disturbed." She could see that the attorney was preparing to offer further objections and opted to play on the chemistry she knew she wasn't imagining between them. Cupping Alex's alabaster cheek, she tenderly ran her thumb over a sculpted cheekbone. "Please, Alex, let me take the responsibility off you, just for one night."

Friday February 20th 2009


Alexandra Cabot's apartment, Belmont Towers, Upper East Side

Despite her promise to Abbie, Alex was out of bed and running towards Olivia's room as soon as she heard the detective's horrified cry. The Texan's long legs meant that she just beat the blonde through the door, scowling at Alex and shaking her head.

"I thought we had a deal," she growled softly, not breaking her stride once. The raven-haired attorney slid onto the queen-sized bed beside the thrashing detective, soothing a hand over Olivia's brow and through her hair. Seeing Alex approaching the opposite side of the bed, Abbie whispered, "is she often like this?"

"Less often than when it first happened but some days are worse than others," Alex perched on the farthest side of the bed, reaching across to place a delicate hand on her friend's shoulder. Turning her attention to the stricken woman completely, Alex begun murmuring, trying to coax Liv out of her nightmare without startling her.

"Alex?" the detective muttered groggily as she became more aware of her surroundings. As consciousness returned even further, she also realised that the hand still stroking her hair didn't belong to the blonde lawyer. Tilting her eyes towards the door side of the bed, she groaned at the realisation that Abbie was still there. Then her attention was drawn to the fact that both attorneys were in sleepwear belonging to Alex and her mind jumped to the only conclusion it was capable of in that moment. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt anything. I'll be fine now, go back to bed, both of you…"

"Liv we weren't…" Alex began as Abbie too chimed in.

"I'm on the couch, Olivia." All three women blushed a little at the insinuation Abbie and Alex had been in bed together. Liv simply looked to Alex, hoping she would know what she needed without her having to vocalise it in front of their guest.

"I'll take it from here Abbie," Alex advised softly, eyes never leaving Liv's distraught face.

"No you won't, we had a deal, remember Counsellor. Why don't you go and get yourself tucked back under the covers, Liv and I will be ok, won't we?" Abbie asked, one eyebrow raised as she flicked her gaze between the two women.

"It's fine Abbie, I'm awake anyway and I won't settle again until I know Liv's ok. Please, don't make a big deal out of this." There was a pleading tone to Alex's voice, begging the Texan not to make it more difficult for Liv than she knew it already was, just from the expression on her face.

"This bed's big enough for all of us, shuffle over Liv, you're about to be the filling in a lawyer sandwich." Abbie stood and pulled the blanket up, giving neither woman further chance to object as she slid into the space that Liv hurriedly created to avoid being lain upon. With a tiny shrug and a shake of her tousled blonde head, Alex followed suit, crawling beneath the covers on the opposite side of the bemused detective.

"You ok with this?" she asked quietly as Liv rolled onto her side, Abbie moulding herself to her back and spooning her from behind.

"I…I…I guess," Liv stammered, not entirely sure she'd be able to relax and get back to sleep in Abbie's arms.

The brunette attorney soothed a hand down Liv's arm. "It's ok, Liv, I've no designs on doing anything besides holding you. I am capable of being your friend you know and I was just trying to help Alex to get some rest too. You're both worn out. If it really does make you uncomfortable though, I can go, I can head back to the couch, just say the word." Liv twisted her head around, her body still facing Alex, so she could respond to Abbie's questions.

"No, no, it's… it's fine. It's just been a while since you and I have shared a bed. Stay, you're here now, both of you. Let's just try and get some sleep and I'll try to keep the kicking to a minimum." Turning back around to face her blonde friend, Liv requested on a whisper, "could I hold you like you usually hold me?"

"Of course you can sweetheart, anything that'll help you get some rest," Alex agreed dropping a tender kiss on the older woman's brow before shuffling around until she was facing away from Liv, backing up until she felt the firm body at her back. The last thing the woman in the middle was aware of was Abbie draping her arm across both Liv's and Alex's bodies and murmuring a quiet 'goodnight'.


Part 22

Friday February 20th 2009


Alexandra Cabot's apartment, Belmont Towers, Upper East Side

Abbie stirred as the woman in her arms shifted a little further away from her embrace. The Texan let her go, figuring that she was gravitating towards the body she was more comfortable with… until she became aware that there were only two bodies in the bed; her own and Olivia's. Groggily, she watched the brunette cuddle into the pillow Alex had been lying on, apparently finding sufficient comfort from her lingering scent to remain steadily slumbering. Releasing her friend entirely, Abbie slipped out of the bed as stealthily as she could and went in search of the errant attorney, checking her own bedroom briefly but unsurprised to find it empty. Her bare feet made quiet sucking noises as they traversed across the wooden floors of the apartment, announcing her approach unintentionally. She padded into the lounge area, frowning a little when that too came up empty. Wandering further, she poked her head around the doorjamb of the kitchen but once again found no signs of life. The quiet rustling of paper alerted the prosecutor to the whereabouts of the woman she sought and with a soft sigh, she pushed off the wall outside the kitchen doorway and made her way through into the dining room. Sure enough, there sat Alex, bent over numerous loose-leaf pages of written text, her workspace illuminated only by the desk lamp which Abbie had previously seen residing on the bookshelf during their meal.

"That doesn't look much like getting a good night's sleep, Counsellor," the Texan murmured softly, hoping not to startle the focused woman. Despite her intentions, Alex still jumped in her seat, clutching a hand to her chest as she spun around to face her inquisitor.

"What are you doing up? Is Liv ok?" Alex asked a little frantically, casting her gaze into the gloom beyond her second houseguest as though expecting the detective to appear at her shoulder.

"She's fine, cuddled up with your pillow fast asleep. I wanted to check you were alright when I saw you weren't in bed with us still. I didn't keep you awake snoring or anything did I?" Abbie asked teasingly, stepping further into the room and pulling out the chair closest to her blonde co-counsel.

"No, not at all. I woke up and my brain kicked into gear. I knew there was no way I'd get back to sleep so I figured I'd do something useful." Alex shuffled the papers in front of her, pulling another sheaf towards her with every intention of reading over the information they contained too. Her eyes felt like they had an entire desert in them, so scratchy and irritated were they in her fatigue but her mind was awhirl with ideas and notions, arguments and interpretations. Abbie's soft, long-fingered hand paused her motion, capturing her own more dainty hand and pulling it into the Texan's lap.

"Useful? Or just something to distract yourself from your own pain?" Despite the younger woman's attempts to escape, Abbie refused to let her go.

"You know nothing about me," she spat uncharacteristically venomously.

"Maybe not but you'd have to be blind not to see that you're suffering too, right along with Olivia." With her free hand, the raven-haired beauty reached up to tuck Alex's flaxen locks behind her ear, trailing gentle fingers down the smooth porcelain cheek which lay beneath. "You're trying so hard to be so strong, so together, so stoic for your friend that you're not allowing yourself to grieve, to mourn Sam's loss, to process the full implications of what has happened." Alex finally tore herself away, wrenching her hand free as she shot up out of the chair, looking to bolt, to escape from this woman who seemed to be able to read her so clearly despite her walls and defences.

"Leave it alone," the SVU attorney hissed dangerously. Less fearless opposition would have heeded the warning and allowed her retreat but Abbie was nothing if not relentless.

"I can't do that." She followed the other woman step for step, prowling towards the kitchen in Alex's wake.

"Please…" This time it was more of a whimpered plea, Alex's resolve weakening in the face of the dogged pursuit. "Why are you doing this?" she cried.

"Because Liv needs you. She needs you to be there for her for years not just a couple of weeks or months until you're too exhausted to do anything for anyone including yourself." Abbie closed the remaining distance between them, effectively trapping Alex against the work surface, leaning into her with one arm on either side of the lithe blonde's body. Alex raised her own arms, pushing feebly against her captor. "Let it go, Alex," Abbie murmured encouragingly.

"Don't…" Alex implored, her quiet voice hitching.

"You'll feel better for it in the long run. Please, don't make Liv go through watching you destroy yourself." The dark-haired woman gathered the attorney into a fierce embrace, still feeling her struggling against the need to release all her pent up tension and fear and frustration. "It's ok to be human, Alex. It's ok to hurt, you don't have to be strong all the time. You're safe, I've got you, let it out. Let go." As though a switch had been flicked within the blonde's soul, she swung from pushing Abbie away to clinging on to her as though her life depended on maintaining their physical contact. She cried harder than she had cried since her first days in Witsec, leaning heavily against the visiting brunette, burying her head into a solid shoulder and allowing all the pain, regrets and fears she had suffered over the years flow out of her. Abbie offered no promises, no false platitudes, no glib words of advice, simply standing by silently, giving physical comfort and a safe haven for Alex to breakdown in. Eventually, the distraught blonde cried herself out, the heart wrenching sobs tapering off to occasional sniffles and hiccoughs. Still, Abbie made no move to relinquish her hold on the other woman, allowing Alex as much time as she wanted and needed to regain herself before responding to the almost imperceptible withdrawal Alex was attempting.

"I'm sor…" Alex's attempted apology was cut off by two slender fingers pressing against her lips.

"No, you don't apologise. You let me tuck you back into bed with Olivia and you finally get some rest." Abbie was already guiding the lithe blonde through her apartment towards the guest bedroom, not prepared to be dissuaded from her path. To both of their surprise, Alex offered no resistance, nor did she make any further attempts at apologising. Something within her felt freer and more settled than she had in as many years as she could remember, as though a knot of tension she had been unknowingly carrying was suddenly unravelled leaving behind a sense of calm. Abbie steered her into the dimly lit bedroom, the nightlight Olivia insisted on keeping on illuminating only a relatively small area, casting great swathes of shadow across the generously sized room. They negotiated their way over to the bed as Alex released a wide yawn, her eyes already drooping at the prospect of having an opportunity to sleep some more. Abbie helped her to climb under the covers without disturbing the still snoozing detective, tucking the blankets back around her and soothing a tender hand over the crown of her head affectionately. "Sweet dreams, Alex," the Texan whispered before pressing a soft kiss to the smooth brow of the attorney.

"What about you?" Alex murmured sleepily, fighting not to give in to the almost crushing need to close her eyes.

"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine on the couch. Sleep now, you've got time for another couple of hours before the alarm goes off." Even as Abbie completed her command, Alex was getting lost in a descending fog of fatigue, letting the warmth of the covers and the comfort of Liv's body beside her lull her off to sleep.

Friday February 20th 2009


Alexandra Cabot's apartment, Belmont Towers, Upper East Side

Alex slowly became aware of the world around her, sleep receding and consciousness flooding back. With it came a comfortable awareness of Olivia's body still pressed up against her front, although at some point the brunette had turned in the embrace and was now facing her, head buried into the crook of Alex's neck. She inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent that was uniquely Liv along with the unmistakeable aroma of rich, freshly brewing coffee. Gently extracting herself from the tangle of limbs, the attorney hauled herself out of bed, rubbing her face tiredly and grimacing at the pounding headache standing up had triggered.

"Mornin' Counsellor," Abbie drawled softly as she caught sight of the approaching blonde. She pulled out a stool for her at the breakfast bar and slid a mug of coffee into place along with sugar and cream to be added as required.

Alex sank gratefully into the seat, the pain in her head almost overwhelming her. "Hi," she murmured as she let her head drop, resting it against her palms, elbows propped up on the breakfast bar to take the weight.

Abbie was studiously aware that there had been no attempt at eye contact and hoped that she had not overstepped the mark during the early hours of the morning when she had encouraged Alex to release some of her pain. "Do you have any pain meds around here? You look like you could use a couple," the Texan inquired stepping around the island and moving a little closer to her companion, making sure not to crowd her too much.

"I'll be fine as long as someone got the licence plate of the truck that hit me," Alex quipped, head still bowed, a mirthless chuckle escaping her lips. Aware of Abbie's approach, she forced herself to look up into concerned eyes, "I'm ok really, just takes a while some mornings to convince my head it's time to wake up."

"Yeah?" Abbie couldn't help herself. She reached out and stroked the back of her fingers down Alex's cheek softly. The blonde sighed and leant into the touch, eyes flickering closed momentarily. It felt so nice, so good, so long since anyone had shown her such open affection that she was helpless to resist. "Did you sleep any better when you went back to bed?" Abbie allowed her caress to continue, shuffling just a little closer, still giving the younger woman ample room and time to flee should she choose to.

"I think so. I'm not consciously aware of being awake again during the night," Alex answered, her head lolling a little in her ongoing fatigue, rolling towards Abbie's toned torso.

"That's good. Must mean you and Liv both got a few hours undisturbed sleep." The brunette let her hand drift down onto the seated woman's shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze before nudging the coffee closer to Alex. "Get some caffeine in you, grab a shower and I'll meet you at your office in about an hour, ok? Breakfast is on the Federal Government so is there anything you'd particularly like this morning?"

"Whatever you bring I'm sure Jack will appreciate the Federal Government's generosity. I'd settle for a multigrain bagel with low fat soft cheese or a fruit pot." Alex breathed in deeply, adding a dash of cream to the coffee in front of her and bringing the steaming mug to her lips.

"I'll see what I can do. I'd better head back to the hotel, to shower and change myself so I've time to pick up breakfast on my way to our meeting with McCoy." Abbie pushed herself off the island counter, letting her hand run down Alex's arm as she moved, squeezing her forearm supportively before adding, "by the way, I had a quick look over your case. I've made a couple of notes for how Grikes vs Dobbins might help you win your appeal. I hope you don't mind."

"Thanks, I'll look over them before the meeting," Alex made to get up, obviously intending to investigate immediately.

Abbie forcibly steered the blonde back into her seat, firm hands on both shoulders. "Coffee, shower, meeting at your office, then you can take time to look over the appeal. It's not going anywhere, it's not urgent and you have a good case for the evidence being included on the grounds of it being a good faith search. Don't make me take the notes with me, Alex." The Texan watched shadows chase one another across Alex's patrician features as an internal battle obviously raged. Finally, resignation became the overriding sentiment displayed, satisfying Abbie that the dedicated attorney wouldn't defy her as soon as she was out of the door. "I'll see you in around an hour."

Once the front door closed behind the lanky brunette attorney, Alex released a ragged breath, her skin tingling from where Abbie had stroked it so tenderly. She flicked her eyes towards the arched doorway leading to the dining room, knowing it would be so easy just to take a stroll through and skim over the notes Abbie had mentioned but decided that, as her companion had stated, it could wait until after breakfast. Instead, she swigged down the rest of her coffee, placed the mug in her deep stainless steel sink and padded into her en suite to take a refreshing shower.

Olivia groaned as she rolled onto her back in the spacious queen-sized bed, her limbs stiff and unco-operative, a testament to a night devoid of too much thrashing around. She heard quiet humming coming from the direction of Alex's room and decided to go and see what had the attorney in such a good mood that morning. The sight which greeted her made her jaw drop comically. Alex stood by her bed, hair piled on top of her head and messily held by a raft of clips, grips and barrettes but it was not that which stole Liv's attention. Rather it was the visage of Alex Cabot, always meticulously turned out, humming quietly to herself as she stood in only her bra and suit pants obviously struggling over which shirt she should wear. Before she could extract herself without the blonde noticing, Alex's head rose, eyes locking with Liv's wide, brown orbs.

"Ah, perfect timing!" Alex cried, seemingly oblivious to her current state of undress… or to what it might do to a person's libido! Liv defied any human not to marvel at the fine musculature on display. "Come and help me choose which colour goes best with this suit," Alex called, beckoning the detective closer.

"Ummm…" Liv stuttered, shuffling into the room on autopilot, barely able to tear her eyes away from the almost naked torso in front of her. Clearing her throat in an attempt to avoid sounding like a puberty-stricken boy, Liv tried to engage in semi-normal conversation, "I've never known co-ordinating an outfit to be a problem for you before, what's different about today? Someone you're out to impress, Counsellor?" The brunette suspected she knew the answer already, surmising that the object of her friend's desired affection might just happen to be a tall, willowy brunette ADA from Washington. It was an assumption she wasn't altogether certain she was happy about.

"Not particularly, I think they both look good but I'd like a second opinion. It's not a luxury I usually have, living on my own," Alex supplied demurely, confusion flooding her core as she tried to avoid examining too closely a) why she wanted to make an extra effort with her appearance that day and b) why she had impulsively invited Olivia to join her despite her current lack of clothing on her upper body. Granted, she had seen Olivia topless frequently, over the past few weeks in particular while she tended to her injuries, but it was the first time the detective had been present when Alex was anything other than fully-clothed in some manner. The way the older woman's eyes darkened as they raked over her toned body sent shivers chasing down her spine.

"Trust me, 'Lex when I say that you never look anything less than spectacular," Olivia husked, voice deeper and more sensual than she had intended. Her eyes drifted to the puckered scar at Alex's shoulder, a stark reminder of how they had been separated for too many years. Without thinking, the brunette stooped and placed a gentle kiss against the marred skin.

"Liv…" Alex gasped, stiffening at the contact for two very diverse reasons. She had allowed no one to touch her in any intimate way in the region of her scar since the shooting, not wanting to draw attention to it. But Olivia had, she had simply laid her lips against the ridged, uneven flesh, without giving her chance to object. And Alex was both terrified and elated by it. Terrified of the flood of memories that it unleashed; memories of lying on the sidewalk, vaguely aware of pressure against her shoulder, eyes glazed and staring up at the night sky unable to focus on anything except the occasional soothing word from Olivia's frantic lips. And elated because it didn't bring her to her knees because of her fear. Rather it filled her with a sense of awe, a feeling of deep-seated contentment and the sensation of being truly, wholly accepted in spite of her scars. Not to mention the flood of desire which raced its way to her core as lips she had dreamed about, fantasised about, latched on to her flesh for real.

"You're beautiful and anyone who gets to share their life with you is a very lucky…person," the detective hedged as she raised her head and looked directly into Alex's cobalt gaze. She had found herself unwilling to vocalise her assumption that Alex was categorically and unequivocally heterosexual, lest she prove herself an unobservant fool. No small part of her also acknowledged that she didn't want to have it acknowledged, not sure she could handle losing that tiny flicker of a fantasy she carried regarding a possible mutual attraction between them.

"Thank you, Liv, so are you," Alex gulped, desperately trying to compose herself and not do whatever it took to feel those lips again.

"So what are you looking for?" Olivia asked ambiguously.

"I er…ummm… what… what?" Alex stammered, mind racing as to what Olivia could possibly mean.

"Your shirt choice, what look are you going for?" Liv clarified, a little amused by her friend's stupefied expression.

"Oh right… of course… umm, well something professional and confident without seeming arrogant, something that Jack McCoy will take me seriously in when I meet with him and Abbie this morning but that will look ok for the meeting this afternoon with Mrs Tallec and her attorney also." The two women looked between the slate-gray pants the attorney was wearing and the choices Alex had laid out on her bed; a pale lavender button down with oversized cuffs at the wrist or a more feminine and distinctly lower cut baby blue blouse with intricate patterned stitching across the front panels.

"Will you be changing before going to dinner with Abbie?" Liv asked casually, as though the knowledge was merely an aid to her decision making process.

"I…uh… I presume so yes," Alex flustered, a blush creeping over her still semi-naked chest and up her neck as she realised Liv knew that Abbie had asked her out… and that she had agreed to go. Suddenly, she felt exposed, which she considered was rather ironic given her lack of clothing throughout the entire conversation.

"This one for the day then, it's more business-like," the detective decreed, laying a hand on the lavender shirt, fingers caressing it softly.

"Thanks," the attorney murmured genuinely, reaching to retrieve the selected garment, suddenly in a hurry to finish dressing. "So… um… are you ok with me going out tonight? With Abbie?" she asked at length as she fumbled with the shirt's miniscule buttons.

"Alex, you're a grown woman, you don't need my permission to go anywhere… with anyone," Olivia began, her tone suggesting that there was more she wanted to say prompting Alex to keep her counsel. "Do I have an issue with you going out for the evening with a woman? Unlikely, unless I'm going for the title of 'World's Greatest Hypocrite'. Do I have my concerns that that woman is Abbie Carmichael? A few, if I'm honest, but she's promised me she won't hurt you and as long as you know what you're getting yourself into then… if you want to pursue any kind of liaison with Abbie, you'll have my support, both of you. So long as it doesn't get in the way of you two working together."

"And what if I don't know what it is that I want, Liv? What if the only reason I'm even reacting to Abbie is because it's been so long since anyone wanted me?" Alex brutally yanked her hair down from where it was piled haphazardly on top of her head, crossing to her dresser and beginning to attempt to tame it into something more suited to her schedule for the day.

"Are you averse to pursuing a purely physical thing? Abbie is a dear friend, but I can guarantee that if you go into anything with her expecting romance and long-term plans, you'll be sadly disappointed," Olivia cautioned. "And don't kill me for asking but just how long is it since you were with someone you wanted to be with? Not out of duty or for appearances sakes but because they made you want them, made you want to be with them in every sense?"

"I…I don't know. Robert was… a mistake. Jim an even bigger one. My Witsec fling was because I was lonely and desperate to feel alive, to feel anything. The few other… liaisons since I came back to New York were as a result of me trying to find myself, trying to define who I was, who I wanted to be but I just ended up finding out more about who I'm not. I've slept with men before casually, one night occasions never to be repeated or spoken about, is it really all that different with women? Is it not ok just to want some affection, some companionship, a decent…?" Alex asked, shying away from completing her final thought, as she continued to tousle her hair into a carefully styled creation.

"Wow, I… I never realised you felt that way. If you're that lonely, Al, why not make a more concerted effort to find someone who you do connect with?" A sudden realisation hit the brunette, "you're saying you've never slept with a woman before?"

"No, not really. I fooled around some in college with a classmate one year but I just put it down to youthful experimentation. I've successfully managed to suppress any such urges during my adult years. As a Cabot, certain things are expected of you and certain things you are raised to know are definitely unacceptable. To the Cabot dynasty, marrying for love is a myth; marriage is to be viewed and conducted like a business transaction. The match should be beneficial to both parties, if it happens to be complimentary as well, that is simply an irrelevant by-product," Alex recited with practiced ease, obviously lessons she had had drilled in to her from an early age.

"So you simply haven't met the most beneficial candidate to merge with yet?" Olivia asked incredulously, unable to perceive of her closest friend ending up in a loveless, unhappy union solely for appearances sakes.

"I've made it clear I have no intention of making any kind of merger simply to appease my relations. I think that was one of Mother's most bitter disappointments even before my 'death'. I've no doubt she carried the burden of shame of me 'dying' a spinster with her to her own grave. Daddy was less entrenched in all that archaic nonsense but even so, he tried so hard to talk me out of pursuing a career in law. He thought that it would make me too argumentative and feisty to be a good wife and, someday, mother. He considered it a waste of my physical attributes. I pointed out that the only boys or men who came sniffing around were only interested in getting their hands on our money or their bodies in my bed for very little in return, not what I would consider to be a successful merger and not something I would accept regardless of my career." In some respects, Alex's assurances only served to heighten Olivia's growing horror at what she could only envisage to be a long, bleak and lonely existence for her friend.

"You make it sound like you're resigned to being alone for the rest of your days."

"Perhaps that's how it's meant to be. If I still want to stand any chance of becoming DA one day, I can't afford to be distracted. That's not to say I'm not open to the occasional, very discrete brief dalliance with someone I can trust not to use it against me further down the line and that would especially apply to a female lover until such a time as society has evolved enough to consider voting for an openly gay District Attorney," Alex confessed, startled at just how raw the wound was which their discussion had unintentionally opened up. She realised with a grim clarity that it was not just the prospect of growing old alone which hurt so deeply but also the thought of Liv not being an integral part of her life.

"So you'd never allow yourself the kind of relationship Sam and I shared? You'd never give yourself that chance to be happy?" Liv asked, her voice thick with emotion, distressed at the thought of anyone being so isolated through fear of repercussions from society.

"I can't imagine it, not unless someone very special asked me to," Alex admitted quietly, her own voice tight and tense.

"I'd better let you finish getting ready. I'll stay elsewhere tonight, give you and Abbie some privacy in case you want to… bring her back here after dinner." Alex wanted to stop her friend, wanted to tell her that she didn't have to do that but Liv had already made good her escape, disappearing into the guest bathroom and locking the door behind her. With a heavy, aching heart, Alex finished getting ready for her early meeting.


Part 23

Friday October 17th 2008


Fausto's restaurant, East 4th Street

"Sorry I'm so late," Olivia apologised as Gina let her in through the family entrance. Taking in her daughter's girlfriend's dishevelled appearance and subdued demeanour, Gina ushered her inside, waving off her apologies with a warm smile and a brief tight hug. She watched the detective stride over to where Samia and Fausto sat at the dinner table where she offered Gina's husband a firm nod of greeting before dropping a tender, chaste kiss against Sam's pale cheek. Standing behind her seated lover, hands resting on her shoulders, Olivia's attention returned to the matriarch, asking, "can I help you with anything?"

"You certainly can, my dear girl, you can help me by taking the weight off your feet and eating a generous serving of my food," Gina informed her with a stare which brooked no argument.

The brunette meekly slid into the vacant chair beside her partner, allowing the younger woman to take hold of her hand. Ordinarily, the small act of comfort would soothe her soul instantly but after the events of her day, there was little, she suspected, which would offer any kind of salve that night. Her expression remained troubled during the first two courses of the meal and although she offered occasional input into the conversation around her, it was clear to all parties that her mind was predominantly elsewhere. There was a brief break in the feast as Gina invited Fausto to join her in the kitchen to assist with final preparations for dessert and to set the coffee going, a convenient excuse to give Olivia and Sam a moment alone.

The ebullient blonde swivelled on her plush dining chair to face the older woman, sliding a hand up a toned, trembling thigh. "Bad day huh?" she murmured sympathetically.

"I don't want to talk about it," Liv replied firmly, turning her head towards her lover and stilling the motion of Sam's hand by placing her own over the top of the wandering digits.

"That's ok, no one's going to push you to, but can you please try to let it go and join us fully here?" Sam asked, gently, not meaning for it to come across as a dig but finding it increasingly uncomfortable to carry on conversations around the brooding detective.

"You think I wouldn't love to be able to just walk away from my job and forget about it when I'm off duty?" Olivia spat, more bitterly than she intended. Rubbing a tired hand over her eyes, she sighed, "I'm sorry, that was unfair, I shouldn't have snapped at you." With a pause, Liv continued, "it was a mistake coming tonight, I'm not good company. I'm just going to…"

"You're going nowhere," Sam interrupted, knowing where the brunette was headed. "You need to be around people, not be by yourself with nothing to do except brood over whatever it is that happened today that has affected you like this." Sam cupped a smooth cheek in her palm, bringing Olivia's chocolate gaze up to meet her own. "If you want to just sit and listen to conversations, that's ok but sweetheart, please do listen, don't hide away from us, from me, inside your head and struggle on in silence." Liv couldn't bring herself to respond verbally, not trusting her voice to hold out and not sure she could offer any kind of promise to obey the request. Instead, she simply leant forward and place a tender kiss on the teacher's cheek, accompanied by a brief, sad smile. Further discussion was prevented by the return of Sam's parents, ferrying a pot full of steaming, rich, aromatic coffee and a sumptuous-looking tiramisu dessert to the dinner table.

"I made the coffee de-caff, I don't want to prevent us all from sleeping tonight," Gina stated in her typical motherly fashion as she poured a mug of the hot beverage for every person at the table, leaving them each to add cream and sugar as they pleased. "Who has room for dessert?"

"I do Mama, you know I'll never refuse your tiramisu," Sam replied giddily as she spun back around in her chair to face the table.

Olivia reached for the glass of water in front of her, taking a delicate sip and trying to quell the churning turmoil which was making her queasy. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass. As delicious as it looks, if I ate anything else I'd spoil what I'd already eaten. Thank you, for a wonderful meal."

Gina frowned slightly, having watched the brunette push the lasagne around her plate, nibbling only scant few mouthfuls before declaring herself finished. Wisely, with the aid of a pointed stare from her daughter, the older blonde opted not to challenge the detective's statement, instead turning her attention to her husband.

"Well, if there's spare dessert going, I'd better have twice as much, hadn't I?" Fausto joked to ease the growing tension.

"How can you be so scrawny when you eat like a horse?" Gina queried in an astonished tone, her husband's appetite never failing to amaze her. She envied his metabolism, knowing that she only needed to look the wrong way at a piece of cake for it to attach it's sweet calories to her hips.

"It's all the energy I expend keeping up with you, bella," the hen-pecked husband rejoined, good naturedly teasing his wife and offering her a twinkling smile filled with genuine affection. As peace fell over the table once more, with three occupants busily tucking in to their delectable dessert, each Camanetti became hyper-aware of Liv's vacant stare fixated on her water glass. Surreptitiously, Samia reached across the expanse separating them, under the cover of the table and placed a hand on the distracted brunette's knee, stroking it tenderly, offering silent support and, she hoped, comfort.

"Sami, I think it's your turn to help me with the dishes this evening. Fausto, you and Olivia go through to the lounge, sit by the fire, relax. We'll be through in a little while." The matriarch shooed her husband and the brunette out of the dining room once their meal was over, giving them no room for objections or negotiations. Olivia still looked as though she might argue but Fausto intervened.

"Come Olivia, will you join me in a drink of something a little stronger than water? I have a taste for whiskey after all that rich food." With a silent nod of acquiescence, Liv followed Sam's father through to the lounge, sinking as directed into one of the fireside armchairs and losing herself in the flickering flames of the open fire.

"Thanks," she murmured distractedly as Fausto handed her a crystal tumbler containing numerous ice cubes and a generous three fingers of amber liquid.

"You look like you could use it," Fausto explained cautiously, wondering where to begin to try and ease the young woman out of her stupor. "I was in Vietnam for a while, during the war. There were days when I saw things I couldn't begin to comprehend, days when there wasn't a thing I nor anyone else could do or say which would make it any less unfathomable. I was like you are now on those evenings; a shell, merely existing in the world around but so caught up in my own mind that I might as well have been invisible."

Olivia heard his words, his patient tone but instead of accepting it as an opening to talk to someone who might know how she was feeling, she felt it like a punch, like an accusation that she was failing his daughter. "I'm sorry, I knew I shouldn't have come tonight. I told Sam earlier, I said I'd leave but she wouldn't hear of it. I'll go and find her, say my farewells and leave you to enjoy the rest of your evening without me causing an atmosphere." Liv shuffled to the front of her seat, placing her tumbler on the table beside her and preparing to stand.

"You'll do no such thing, young lady. Where else should you be after such a bad day at work than with your family? With the people who care about you the most? What happened today that has troubled you so deeply?" Fausto fixed her with a level stare, almost daring her to try and run.

Olivia's eyes flicked towards the door, checking that her lover and Gina were not about to overhear her if she chose to share the horrors of her day with the stoic gentleman sitting beside her. She had been undone, her defences crumbling in the face of Fausto's referral to them all as her family. Closing her eyes momentarily, she drew in a shaky breath. "My partner, Elliot, and I were shot at today."

"What?!" Fausto exclaimed before cringing and lowering his voice, hoping his outburst hadn't attracted the attention of the two women in the kitchen. "You're both ok though, right? You're not hurt? Elliot too?"

"Physically, we're both unharmed. Mentally, emotionally, psychologically… I'm not so sure," Olivia admitted shakily, reaching again for the whiskey beside her and taking a healthy swig, relishing the burn as it slipped smoothly down her throat.

"I'll assume it's not the first time you've been in such a conflict, what made it different this time?" the kindly man asked carefully, encouraging the detective to open up to him, to let go of some of the tension she carried with her.

"The shooter… we couldn't see who was shooting at us to begin with. It was… he was just a kid, no more than thirteen years old. We told him to stop, that we were police but he just kept firing and firing and firing this semi-automatic. Elliot… he shot him, we had no choice, we had to stop him and he wouldn't… he just wouldn't stop…" Liv dashed a stray tear off her face but it was too late, the floodgates had been opened. She buried her head in her hands, shoulders shaking silently as she recalled how they had stood over the tiny, bleeding body of their would-be killer, his pale face etched with a grimace of pain and rage, dirty blonde hair limply lying across his forehead. His indiscriminate firing had left them no alternative, they had to shoot to kill before he took them out and who knew how many innocent bystanders. She felt a strong hand grip her shoulder as Sam's father lowered himself to perch on the chair arm beside her.

"It is a tragedy that one so young had to die but I for one am glad your partner took that shot. I would hate to have to console my daughter if anything should happen to you." Fausto paused, letting his words sink in before asking, "what brought you to that place? Why were you there?"

"The father, he's implicated in a… case we're working," Liv supplied, not wanting to divulge the horrific details of the minority children slaughtered, maimed and sexually assaulted by the white supremacist. "We had a warrant for his arrest and to search his premises. The boy, his son, answered the door and said his father wasn't home. We entered, began the search of the house but when we tried to gain entry to the basement, he ran upstairs to his room. The next thing we knew, somebody was firing at us from the top of the stairs. We didn't have a clear view so we couldn't be sure if the father had been hiding upstairs somewhere and was the shooter. We took cover anywhere we could, the kid started walking down the stairs, firing shots as he went aiming at anyone he saw no matter who they were. Elliot managed to shoot him as he… he… the kid was about to shoot me. He saved my life. I made a judgement call, I wanted to talk him down, I thought I could get him to stop shooting at us." Once again, the stresses and strains of the day overcame Liv and she cried softly into her hands.

"It's not your fault Olivia. It sounds like he was a very troubled and damaged young man, damage which was inflicted long before you entered his home. To shoot at people that way, he made his choice to disregard anyone's life, including his own. You are not to blame for his death." Fausto rubbed his hand back and forth across the brunette's hunched shoulders, knowing that being told such things and believing them were two very different things. "I killed a young man, during the war, what is referred to nowadays as friendly fire. He stumbled out of a building in the early hours of the morning while I was patrolling, it was dark and all I could see was a figure waving a weapon around. When he swung it towards me, I shot him, didn't hesitate, all I knew was he had a weapon and was about to point it at me, I couldn't let him steady himself or I'd be the one flying home in a bag. I found out later that he'd lied about his age to sign up, he was just 17 when he died, an American killed by my hand. It took me a long time to forgive myself, longer still to believe that I wasn't solely responsible for his death but it did come, with time and the support of friends, family, comrades." Fausto urged Olivia to look at him, continuing only when she was looking, "take comfort from those around you, don't shut yourself off from life, use this instead as a reminder to cherish each and every moment you have with those who love you and who love you in return." Inhaling deeply, Liv composed herself, knowing that it wouldn't be long before her lover and Gina joined them.

"I'll try," she murmured softly, draining the last of her whiskey. Fausto rose from his perch and plucked the tumbler from her fingers, crossing to the cabinet in which the liquor was kept and pouring them each a refill.

"Why don't you go and freshen up a little? Don't want my girl shouting at me for making you cry now do we?" Liv nodded, pulling herself to her feet and surprising the gentle man with a brief but heartfelt hug.

"Thank you. I've never had this before, never known what it's like to be part of a family like this. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support for my relationship with Sami." With a final nod and a weak, watery smile, Liv strode from the room in search of the bathroom so she could throw some water on her face and hopefully look slightly less of a wreck than she knew she currently must.

"…stood up in the middle of the restaurant, went around the table and got down on one knee. Her face was a picture when he proposed but his was even better when she told him to take a hike, that she knew he was only asking her to marry him because he was afraid she'd find out about the affair he was having!" Gina recounted to her daughter, laughing along with the other two occupants of the lounge heartily, before spying the detective hovering in the doorway. "Ah Olivia, come and have a seat, Fausto was just about to drink your whiskey!" the older blonde quipped with a teasing nudge of her husband's shoulder.

"Such lies, woman. Do you know a good lawyer, Olivia? I think I must sue this harridan for slander!" In spite of her long and trying day, Liv sniggered at the light hearted banter.

"Oh I know more than one, I'll be sure to leave you their numbers," she promised with a wink and a smile. Sam cast a relieved glance from her seat in the armchair the brunette had vacated, glad to see that whatever her father had said to the older woman had managed to rouse her somewhat from her brooding reverie.

"Not if they are as young and as attractive as you, you won't my dear," Gina rejoined, with a raised eyebrow in Fausto's direction.

"Damn, in that case, I can't help you, Fausto, I'm afraid. All the lawyers I know who I'd recommend are younger and definitely prettier than me." Olivia smiled in fake apology to the man who had fathered the love of her life before slipping further into the room and making her way over to the chair where Samia sat. Holding out a hand, she indicated for the younger woman to get up, slipping into the generously sized seat when she did so and pulling the teacher back down into her lap, cuddling her close to her body and allowing herself to draw comfort and support from her familiar weight. Sam adjusted to the new position gladly, draping one arm around Liv's strong shoulders, her free hand taking the brunette's own and clasping them together atop her knees. Gina and Fausto looked over at the clearly besotted pair, contented smiles settling on both their faces as they watched the two women reconnect. Olivia nuzzled her face into Sam's shoulder, pressing a tender kiss there and murmuring something so softly even the blonde had to strain to catch it.

"I'm sorry."

Cupping the detective's strong jaw, Sam guided her gaze up to meet her own, allowing every drop of the love, concern and support she felt to shine through her eyes. "You never have to apologise for having a bad day baby, so long as you come back to me when you can. I love you, every part of you." Sam reinforced her words with a soft, almost chaste kiss to Liv's succulent lips.

"I love you too, sweetheart," Liv replied earnestly, captivated by the azure blue eyes staring at her adoringly.

"Mama, I think I'm going to take Liv home, if you don't mind us skipping out on you?" It was with some difficulty that Sam tore her gaze away and turned to face her parents, wanting nothing more than to drown in the open, honest emotions in her girlfriend's chocolate brown eyes.

"Of course we don't mind, you two should be having fun on a Friday night, not visiting with us old folks," Gina assured softly, never failing to be moved by the connection she was witness to between her daughter and Olivia. "You call me, in the week and we'll arrange another dinner when you can both make it. We'll fit around your schedule, Olivia, honey."

"Thank you Gina, and thank you for a wonderful meal, as always. Perhaps some time soon, you could all come to my apartment for a meal… if Sam would be willing to provide the catering that it, I'm beyond useless when it comes to cooking." It was the first time Liv had extended such an invitation, knowing that just as it was difficult for her to get away from her work, it was also problematic for Gina and Fausto to both be away from the restaurant at the same time.

"We'd love to, that's a wonderful idea. We'll talk soon and make a date. Having my daughter cook for us will be a novelty!" Gina enthused warmly.

Friday October 17th 2008


Samia Camanetti's apartment, Third Avenue, Midtown

"Want a drink of anything? Or something to eat? You didn't seem to have much of an appetite earlier." Sam busied herself as she spoke, reaching down a glass tumbler for herself and filling it with orange juice from the fridge.

"I'm fine thanks, I might just get a glass of water in a while," Liv replied sinking into the sofa and letting her head fall back against the cushion. She closed her eyes briefly, intending to rest them for just a moment. Visions assaulted her of a young scruffy-haired blonde boy running amok with a gun, firing in every direction with no regard for whom he hit. The crack of a cupboard door shutting sharply startled Liv, sending her shooting bolt upright, heart pounding frantically in her chest.

"I was thinking maybe we could…" Sam's words trailed off as she spied her lover's wide-eyed haunted expression, her heaving chest as she fought to stave off her panic. "What is it baby? What's the matter?"

It took Liv a few moments to gather her senses enough to realise that she was safe, she was in Sam's apartment and there was no immediate threat to their health, no gun-wielding teenager wreaking havoc. "I just lost my bearings there for a moment, the cupboard door startled me is all." Liv ran a shaking hand through her hair, leaning forward and employing techniques her PTSD counsellor had taught her following her Sealview assault. Sam kept her distance for a few moments, not wanting to crowd her lover while she was regrouping, having become accustomed to the flashbacks the older woman suffered as a result of the ordeal she had gone through a short time before they had met. Falteringly, over the course of their relationship, Liv had opened up to her and told her what had happened, how close she had come to being raped and Sam had held her tightly, told her that she was proud of her for getting help to deal with it and vowing to be there in any way she could. Together, they had adapted to manage the symptoms of her PTSD and Sam had proved to be an invaluable source of support and strength for the detective in her fight to overcome the experience.

"Was it Sealview?" Sam asked at length, placing her glass quietly on the coffee table.

"No, for a change. A hangover from my day." Liv's resigned tone illustrated that she didn't want to talk about what had led to this relapse so instead, Sam opted for a proactive approach.

"What can I do to help?" There was no contempt, no frustration in her tone, just a simple, honest, genuine request to assist.

"Hold me… please just hold me and tell me about your day? About kids who aren't broken and damaged, who don't run around with guns firing at anyone they see. Please just remind me that there are some good people, some good parents in this world." Liv pleaded, giving her partner a small insight into the horrors which haunted her mind.

"Of course I will. You want to sit up or lie with me, babe? However you want, you tell me what you need and I'll do it if I possibly can." Liv beckoned for Sam on the other end of the sofa before she lay down and placed her head in the young teacher's lap, releasing a soft sigh when she felt Sam begin to tenderly run her fingers through her fine brown hair. It was something which always soothed her, an action so sweet, so innocent that she was powerless to resist the temptation to relax and just drift on the sensations it caused.

"Just tell me about some of your students, what they get up to, what they do to make you smile or laugh, please," Liv murmured, eyes closing once more as she got herself as comfortable as possible.

"Ok, well do you remember Jaime? You met her the night of the fourth of July fireworks when you came to the school?" At Olivia's slight nod of recognition, Sam continued, "we had a sort of show and tell this morning, I'd asked them to bring in something that meant a lot to them. Jaime brought a photo of her Mom and her 'new' Mommy in. I had no idea that Mrs Fisher wasn't still with Jaime's father but Jaime was so precious talking about her Mom's new relationship and how cool it was to have two moms. Jeannie, the new partner, is taking them to Florida for Christmas. According to Jaime, she wants them to spend Christmas with fairytale princesses because that's what they are to Jeannie. When she'd finished, Andrew showed us the latest song he's learned on his guitar. He's so talented and obviously loves learning to play and performing. He gave us all a little impromptu concert and was so proud afterwards when he got through without making many mistakes at all. That boy is going to have a big career ahead of him if he keeps on playing like he does now, he just disappears into the music. It's quite something to see. Let's see what else happened today… Greg managed to read a whole page out of the book we're studying in front of the class without stammering once and it was so sweet, the whole class gave him a round of applause without me needing to ask them to. His friends made such a point of congratulating him on a job well done and he looked proud as a peacock. I really think it might be the breakthrough he's been needing for his confidence to grow and grow." Sam beamed as she remembered the glow she had felt from watching the painfully shy young boy overcome his nerves. She glanced down at her lover to find she had drifted off to sleep, the combination of Sam's soothing voice and the motion of her fingers through her hair providing the balm she needed in order to rest. Reluctant to disturb the detective, Sam settled back into the sofa, content to simply watch the gorgeous woman sleep.


Part 24

Friday February 20th 2009


Jack McCoy's office, 1 Hogan Place

"Does your boss know you're splashing out on such a lavish breakfast?" Jack asked, reaching forward and helping himself to a couple of the biscuits she had brought, pouring over a generous helping of gravy.

"Of course, it's all a necessary part of my plan to convince you to let me borrow Alex, Andrew knows that and supports my strategy," Abbie assured, confident enough that Jack wouldn't turn down two formidable women to be blunt about her reasons. "We want this guy to pay for what he did, Jack. I have the authority to make that happen, Alex has the fire and passion to sell it to any jury, no matter what their personal views of homosexuality are."

"And you want to do this, Alex? You don't think it's too close to home, too personal, for you to handle?" Jack asked his subordinate, still not entirely trusting her stability following her time in Witsec. There was a vulnerability, a brittleness, about her which hadn't been there in the young ADA he had seen in action pre-Velez.

"I do, I want this as much as Abbie wants it. The very fact that it is personal, that it is close to home, only makes me want it more. I won't lose sight of the case, I won't allow it to become a crusade but I will put my heart and soul into making sure that the full extent of the law is applied to whoever is responsible for Samia Camanetti's death and the threat to countless other innocent lives," Alex replied vehemently, picking at her own bagel, tearing off a small chunk and slipping it between her luscious lips as she looked expectantly between Abbie and McCoy. She watched the Federal prosecutor's eyes glaze over momentarily, noticing with interest that it coincided with when her tongue peeked out from its warm cocoon to swipe a stray spot of soft cheese from the corner of her lower lip. It was a fleeting lapse in concentration which went unnoticed by the only man in the room, so busy was he chewing his own breakfast.

When he had swallowed a particularly large bit of biscuit, Jack asked, "what cases are you working at the moment, Alex?"

"I've got the Mendelssohn case coming up for trial but I could go for a deal on that one, I think he'd go for it. I'm meeting with Deidre Tallec this afternoon to try and thrash out a deal there too. I've got some work to do to rescue the case against Louise Sherringham but thanks to Ms Carmichael, I think there's definitely a way to salvage that and I'm meeting with Detective Tutuola on that case this morning. We're only at the initial hearing stages so any trial won't be scheduled for months yet and I'm sure if I needed to I could juggle that as well as Sam's case."

"I promise not to take too much of her time, Jack. Most of the prep work, evidentiary hearings etcetera I'll handle myself, we'll just need regular meetings and briefings so that Alex is up to speed with everything for when it goes to trial. If it had meant you or SVU losing their ADA for a big chunk of time, I wouldn't have suggested it. I won't do anything to jeopardise getting justice for SVU's victims," Abbie stated pointedly, wondering if Jack recalled the time she confessed to him about her own experience with being raped.

"I can handle the extra work, Jack," Alex pushed, backing up Abbie's arguments with her own assertion that she was more than equipped to cope. "If I want to push for the big chair some day, I need to be involved in cases such as this; high profile, important cases."

"How soon are you thinking there might be court time on the Camanetti case?" Jack asked, deliberately not responding to Alex's reminder that she didn't intend to remain an ADA for the entirety of her career.

"If I answer that, I need you both to swear you'll repeat nothing of it outside this room," Abbie warned, looking directly at Alex, making it abundantly clear that she was referring to the younger woman's close friendship with Olivia. Receiving two confirmatory nods, she continued, "Detective Sykes and Morientes have found links between an old SVU case and a Kieran O'Keefe who has ties to the IRA. O'Keefe's nephew was one of many boys abused by his math tutor but his abuser, a Milo Pathitis, was granted a pitifully low bail thanks to a seriously misguided judge and so was free to continue terrorising his victims. Pathitis and his brother, Jason, snatched Edward O'Keefe, beat him, sodomised him, stabbed him and dumped his body in Central Park," Abbie informed them as dispassionately as she could, still fuming at the negligence she considered the judge to have shown releasing Pathitis and giving him the opportunity to go after his young victim. She had made tentative enquiries as to the possibilities of charging Judge Coniston as an accessory but had been told in no uncertain terms not to pursue that line of investigation.

"That case was before my return but I remember Liv saying that was when she and Sam met. They started dating after Eddie's funeral – Eddie was a student at the school where Sam taught, she was his homeroom teacher at the time," Alex supplied, wracking her brain for anything else the detective might have shared with her about the case.

"According to Detective Stabler, he recalls the uncle singling Olivia out at the funeral as a focus for his grievance at Edward's death. He couldn't remember the exact words but there was a veiled threat he was sure and Kieran spat at Olivia before leaving the cemetery." Abbie leaned forward and reached for the tall black coffee she had brought herself to accompany the generous breakfast.

"So what has O'Keefe been up to since then? Anything to suggest he's been planning this since then and just waiting for an opportune moment to get his revenge? Is there an ongoing threat to Detective Benson or anyone else who was involved in that case?" Jack asked with a thoughtful expression, mind wandering over the possible implications if this was just the beginning of a wave of revenge attacks.

"Sykes and Morientes are doing a full background check on O'Keefe as well as tracking down known associates. I'm meeting with them again this afternoon at the precinct for an update. Soon as I know more, I'll let you know. Presuming that you'll let me have Alex that is," Abbie stated, throwing a subtle wink at her soon-to-be-co-counsel. Alex swallowed reflexively as her body responded of its own accord to the gesture. She mentally chastised herself for her lewd thoughts, berating herself that it was highly inappropriate and reminding herself that she should have more control over her hormones than a teenage boy, although current evidence tended to support an alternative verdict.

"As long as it doesn't negatively impact Alex's SVU workload, I can't see I have any choice but to comply with your request really. Sneaky Abbie, to go to Alex first. You knew it would be impossible to decline you both once you'd made your minds up on this," Jack griped, only sounding slightly upset.

"What can I say Jack? I learnt from you." Abbie rose from her leather chair, picking up her attaché and grabbing her coffee before turning to the door. "I'll leave you to decide what to do with the rest of this food, Jack. Alex and I have work to do. Oh by the way, I'll need some office space to work out of while I'm here. If you could arrange that too and let me know where I can set up?" Alex scrambled to follow her temporary new colleague as she led the way out of the DA's office and towards Alex's own, struggling to contain her mirth until she was sure she was out of sight and earshot of her boss.

Friday February 20th 2009


Alex Cabot's office, 1 Hogan Place

The two women worked seamlessly side by side, bouncing ideas off one another, thrashing over the theories and suppositions the detective's discoveries had given rise to. It felt natural and exhilarating to them both, each relishing testing their wits against a worthy recipient, finding each other to be fiercely intelligent and more than a little competitive. They had also shared a few laughs at Jack's expense; Abbie congratulating Alex on reminding McCoy his seat as DA was far from safe while Cabot was around and Alex sharing her jubilation over Abbie's parting demand, having loved how the Texan had shown who had the power between them now.

"I'd better get out of your hair and give you some time to read over those notes on Grikes vs Dobbins before your meeting with Detective Tutuola. I might swing by the 1-6 and see how Don, Elliot and John are. They wouldn't forgive me if I came to town and didn't make a concerted effort to see them. It won't hurt to see how Liv's holding up back at work either." Abbie straightened from where she had been leaning over Alex's desk, looking at a transcript from the bail hearing against Milo Pathitis.

"Just don't crowd her, ok? Don't make it obvious you're there to check on her, you know how proud she is." Alex's body was singing with repressed sexual tension having been in such close proximity to the stunningly gorgeous and obviously interested woman for the past hour. Their arms, their thighs, their shoulders had repeatedly brushed against one another, at first innocently, accidentally, but as time passed and the frequency increased, Alex begun to suspect at least some of it was deliberate.

"I promise, I won't ride in there on my white charger and make a big show of checking how the little lady's doing," Abbie quipped sardonically, knowing Alex's advice came from a place of concern but unable to resist a little gentle teasing all the same. In truth, she was reluctant to leave the blonde's company but knew if she stayed, the body contact would definitely stray beyond what could be brushed off as a side effect of working together in the limited space provided by Alex's desk. She wanted Alex but she had no intention of their first time being over that same desk with a sex crimes detective busting in on them mid-act. Alex fixed her with a level stare as Abbie quirked one eyebrow jauntily. "I'll just make a casual enquiry while I'm there, in passing. I can be discrete when I want to be."

Alex nodded, her expression contrite, knowing she tended to come across as overprotective where Olivia was concerned. "Tell her I said hi, would you and I'll speak to her later?"

"Of course. Everything ok?" Abbie noticed the slight slump in the blonde's shoulders as her thoughts turned to their mutual friend.

"Yeah, everything's fine," Alex assured, still a little more subdued than previously as she recalled Liv's parting words and wondered if Liv would really not be at the apartment that night. The idea filled her with a sense of conflict; partly excited about the prospect of being able to take Abbie home after dinner if the mood took her but also hugely guilty for putting her own selfish desires before her friend's needs and comfort.

"I'll pick you up at your apartment around seven tonight then but I'll speak to you before then if I find out anything more of interest from the detectives on Samia's case." Abbie only just restrained from kissing the seated attorney goodbye, forcing herself to walk round to the opposite side of the desk, collect her attaché case and head for the door.

"See you later," Alex called shyly, a soft smile and a twinkle in her eyes despite her internal misgivings.

Friday February 20th 2009


Manhattan SVU Squad Room

Abbie strode through the doors of the squad room and paused as she entered the ordinarily bustling bullpen. "Do I smell or something? Where the Hell is everyone?"

Olivia raised her head and chuckled at the counsellor's outburst. "Sorry to disappoint you Abbie, but there's only me here at the moment. Elliot and the Captain are out on a possible rape/murder and Fin and Munch are interviewing an witness on their current case before Fin meets with Alex." The brunette detective eyed the box the Texan carried eagerly, wondering what goodies were being delivered. Seeing where the older woman's eyes were directed, Abbie shrugged and strolled further into the room, sliding the box onto Liv's desk and opening the lid with a flourish revealing fresh, mouth-watering donuts.

"Guess that means you get the pick of these then. The menfolk'll just have to make do with whatever scraps you leave them. Mind if I help myself to some coffee?" Abbie was already halfway to the pot before Liv had chance to reply. Scampering after her, the detective reached around her snatching the offending brew away before Abbie had chance to dispense any of it into a vaguely clean mug.

"Trust me, you'll thank me if I put some fresh on rather than subjecting you to that," Liv explained, dumping the contents into the sink and setting about preparing a new pot.

"Was it a poisonous Munch-potion?" Abbie asked, clutching a hand to her chest in overly dramatic style at her near miss.

"Yeah, potent and disgusting – why do you think there was so much left at this time? No one wants to touch it in case it strips the lining off their stomachs! I'm surprised it hadn't actually eaten through the glass of the coffeepot," Liv quipped heading back to her own desk to retrieve her own mug, throwing in a spoonful of sugar and setting it down on the counter to await the coffee's readiness. Abbie reached for the mug, looking at the colourful cartoon antics on it.

"That's cute," she said, with a genuinely amused grin.

Taking the mug carefully from the Texan's hands and placing it back on the side, Olivia explained her overprotective actions, "Sam bought it for me for Christmas. She said she was tired of me whining that I couldn't ever find a clean one and that I work with pigs."

"We'll get the bastard that did this to her…to you, all of you. We will get him, Liv," Abbie vehemently promised, eyes flashing protectively.

"Thanks. How did your meeting with McCoy go? Is Alex on the case with you?" Liv asked, wanting to avoid losing it in the middle of the bullpen over something as stupid as a mug.

"She is. He never stood a chance against the pair of us and he knew it. Alex was brilliant, she had the audacity to tell him she needed to take on cases like this so she can take over as DA one day!" Abbie barked out a short peel of laughter as she recalled Jack's expression, somewhere between shock and outrage with a healthy hint of awe mixed in.

"She's certainly ambitious," Liv agreed recalling their conversation of the morning.

"She told me to let you know she'd speak to you later. I'll try not keep her out too late this evening so you and she can catch up when she gets home." Abbie sensed that, despite Alex's assurances that all was fine, something had occurred between the two proud women after she had left the apartment that morning.

"I won't be there, I'm staying with Sam's parents tonight. You and Alex don't have to worry about me being at the apartment and getting in your way," Liv busied herself with pouring the freshly brewed into a fairly clean mug for the Texan before letting the dark liquid flow into her own cup.

"I won't make a move on her if it's going to make things difficult between you two. I'm sure there'll be other opportunities when I'm in New York that Alex and I could have a little fun together." Abbie watched Liv walk back to her desk, a weight sitting blatantly on her broad shoulders.

"I'm not stopping you, either of you, from doing whatever you want to do. You're grown women, you're both single – I presume you are single and not stringing some poor woman along back in DC?" Liv suddenly asked, pinning her friend with a piercing stare.

"Relax, there's no one in DC, hasn't been for months. I know you won't tell us not to do anything, you're too noble to do that even if it's killing you to watch it. So how about a compromise? Whatever happens with Alex, I promise I won't let either of us push it in your face. We'll be discrete. I don't want it to become too hard for you to spend time with your friend when you need her the most. I'm not a heartless bitch, Liv, I realise that seeing someone else chasing the intimacy you've lost can't be easy." Abbie attempted to offer support, trying to convey her sympathy towards what she assumed was Olivia's main reluctance to being at the apartment when Alex returned from her date.

"Whatever you two do, it'll just be fucking on both your parts, nothing like what I had with Sami. Alex made it quite clear this morning that appearances and her career are far too important to her for her to risk it having a relationship with the wrong kind of person. So congratulations and good luck Abbie, I think you might just have met your match in Alexandra Cabot. You can scratch each other's itches without anything as messy as emotions getting involved." Abbie was prevented from replying by the arrival of a young woman, who looked to be in her early twenties, asking to speak to a detective. Stunned, she made her way out of the bullpen with a bemused backwards glance, mind reeling with her friend's rebuke.

Liv led the skittish redhead into an interview room, getting her seated before offering her a drink of water. When she returned, the seasoned detective took in the latest traumatised person to ask for their help and barely suppressed a sigh, wondering if it would ever get any easier to deal with the endless cycle of depravity.

"I'm sorry," the young woman started, glancing at the door wistfully as though wishing she could escape.

"Why don't we start with your name? I'm Detective Benson," Olivia eased herself into the vacant seat, trying not to jostle her still healing injuries and keep her expression open and approachable.

"Shannon… Shannon Arkwright," the redhead stammered. Her skin was pale, almost translucent and Liv was unsure if it was genetic or due to trauma.

"Ok Shannon, can you tell me what brought you here today? Take your time." There was a pad of paper in front of Olivia, a pen poised between finger and thumb ready to take down whatever scant details of another crime, another brutalised body she was about to hear. Shannon wrung her hands on the tabletop, obviously struggling with what to say, where to start, how to confess her reasons for seeking help.

"I ummm…I think… I was… I mean I don't know if it's possible, if you could call it…" The brunette detective waited silently, patiently, for the woman to compose herself enough to continue. "I know I was sexually assaulted last night. Can a woman rape another woman?" Shannon's chest began to heave, her breaths quickening, her hands shaking violently as she started rocking back and forth in the chair.

"Anyone has the means to sexually assault anyone else, no matter what their gender," Olivia assured her gently. "If someone forced you to have sex with them against your will, we can and will arrest them."

"I…we…she was… I thought she was my friend. We work together. There was an office party last night, it was a colleague of ours birthday so we'd gone out for a meal and then on to a club." Again, Shannon seemed to run out of words so Olivia tried to help her along by asking for clarification of some details from what she had already shared.

"Where do you work?"

"At the Chandler Association Charitable Trust, I'm one of the administrators," Shannon supplied.

"And where did you go for the meal? Which club were you at?" Olivia prompted.

"Err the restaurant was called San Morito I think, I shared a taxi there straight from the office with some of the others so I didn't take much notice really. I lost track of the clubs, we hit a few, starting at Select and I'm pretty sure we were in Banjo's at some point. I don't remember…things are all jumbled up in my head, I'm not sure what happened when. It's like I have these flashes of something happening to me but they're disjointed. I don't know if I can trust my memory."

"Ok, what's the last thing you do remember clearly?" Olivia asked, suspicions growing and knowing that time was of the essence if she was to prove Shannon had been drugged.

"Arriving at Select, Terri bought a round of drinks for everyone." Shannon rubbed at her forehead with one hand as though trying to either clear the fog or erase the memories altogether.

"Terri?" Olivia interjected.

"Terri… Theresa Gabbidon… she's my supervisor, the office manager. I woke up in her house this morning, in her bed… naked," Shannon filled in with a shudder. "I'm not… I respect that she's lesbian but I'm not… I don't… I'd never consider sleeping with a woman, it just does nothing for me."

"How many drinks do you remember having? Were you drinking with the meal?" Olivia asked, bracing herself for the explosion which so often came, with victims assuming that blame was being apportioned to them for allowing their assault to happen because they were drunk.

"I had a couple of sodas with the meal but Terri insisted on me having at least one alcoholic drink so the drink she bought me was a Jack Daniels and coke. I can honestly say I don't think I was drunk." There was no anger, no recrimination just sincere conviction in Shannon's voice.

"This might be really important, can you remember what time it was when you left the restaurant? Or when you got to the first club?" the detective asked, placing her pen onto the pad at a rakish angle.

"I know it was just after 9.30pm when we were heading out of the restaurant, I remember catching sight of the clock on the wall by the front door because it was so ornate, it caught my eye. I'd guess that it took us about 20 minutes or so to get enough cabs to ferry everyone to the club so I'd estimate that it was closer to 10pm when I had the drink Terri bought for me."

"Shannon, we need to get you to a hospital so that any evidence of the assault can be collected and documented. If you're agreeable, I'll ask for them to take a urine sample as well as bloods to test for the presence of drugs. Did you willingly take anything last night that might show up on a tox screen?" Olivia asked gently.

"No, I don't even like drinking more than one or two when I'm out, I'd never take anything, I want to be aware of what's going on around me." Shannon pushed her chair back from the scarred table, asking, "will you be with me at the hospital?"

Liv was caught, knowing that technically she shouldn't leave the precinct given that she was only cleared for desk duty but also realising that there was no one else available or suitable to accompany the young woman. "Let me just call it in to my Captain and we'll go to the hospital together, ok?" Shannon nodded, opting to remain standing as Olivia left the room rather than sit back down.

Olivia strode to her desk, looking around for any sign that any of the guys had returned while she had been interviewing the victim. Finding herself still alone in the squad room, she grabbed her cellphone from her hip and hit the speed dial for Captain Cragen.

"Captain, I've got a walk-in at the precinct, probable sexual assault after being drugged. Am I clear to take her to the hospital for a sexual assault kit to be done? There's no one else here who could go with her and the window for getting physical evidence of her being drugged is rapidly closing." The detective was grabbing her jacket even as she filled in her superior, doubting that he would prevent a victim from seeking justice because of a technicality. She wouldn't be engaging any suspects, wouldn't be making any arrests, just holding the hand of a traumatised young woman while evidence was gathered.

"If you're alright with taking her to the hospital, Olivia, I'll permit that but then you are to go straight back to the precinct. I'll send Munch over to meet you there, he can take care of following up leads, taking the victim home, delivering any evidence collected to the lab."

"Should I ask a couple of uni's to go to her attacker's address, get them to bring her in for questioning?" Olivia asked, keen to continue looking into the case when she returned from the hospital.

"Not yet, let's see what the examination gives us first." The two officers rang off allowing Liv to return to the interview where Shannon had begun pacing.

"Let's go shall we?" the compassionate brunette asked, popping her head round the door and holding it open for the young woman to exit.


Part 25

Friday February 20th 2009


Bellevue Hospital Centre

"You're doing great, Shannon," Olivia murmured as the young woman squeezed her hand tighter as the nurse inserted a speculum so that she could properly assess any damage. The still forming bruises on the redhead's inner thighs, the contusions and grazes were definitely indicators that whatever had happened had been against Shannon's will, her body telegraphing that she had not been sufficiently ready to receive whatever penetration had occurred. When Olivia had attempted to leave the room at the beginning of the examination, Shannon had begun to panic, reaching blindly for the brunette's hand, claiming she couldn't go through it alone. And so the detective had stayed, swallowing back her own desire to flee the hospital in favour of tending to the needs of a woman who had so obviously been traumatised.

"Almost done, Ms Arkwright," the kindly Hispanic nurse assured her patient, intently focused on completing the exam as swiftly and as painlessly as possible. Liv felt the room closing in on her once again, forcing herself to concentrate on her breathing, on keeping it steady and even, on not hyperventilating but still it spun mercilessly. Images of the last time she had been there flooding her mind; snatches of memories of the pain, the listlessness, the apathy to survive her injuries.

"Detective?" Shaking her head slightly, the brunette struggled to bring her focus back into the present. With some difficulty, she turned to look at the timid woman gripping her hand, realising that her own hand had clamped down around the smaller one in her palm. Easing back her vice-like hold, she sent an apologetic grimace at the victim.

"There's a stool behind you, Detective Benson. Why don't you take a seat while we finish up with this part of the exam?" The nurse had witnessed enough people fainting in the ER to be well aware of the signs before they actually slumped to the floor. Without releasing Shannon's hand, Olivia pulled the stool closer, perching on it gratefully, feeling her cheeks colour at the outward signs of her struggle.

"How long have you known Terri Gabbidon?" Liv asked, hiding behind her job once more in the hopes she would hold herself together long enough to get Shannon out of there.

The young redhead grimaced and winced as a swab was taken from a particularly sensitive area. Through gritted teeth, she replied, "about five years now. I started temping for her straight out of school and never left. When she offered me a permanent position, I didn't hesitate to accept. I enjoy the work, it's varied and I get to meet some really interesting people without the stress of taking the job home with me. I can't believe she'd do this, she's never even hinted that she was interested in me that way, not once, not even when I first started there and she was getting to know me."

"Did you see Terri this morning before you left?" The question produced a shake of Shannon's head, copper-coloured hair swishing around her pale face.

"No, I didn't hang around to check but I didn't see or hear her in the apartment. I just wanted to get out of there," Shannon admitted, sucking in a tight breath as the speculum was removed.

"That's the internal exam done. I just need to take some photos of your injuries for the detective and then you're good to go. I'll get a doctor to write you up a script for the morning after pill and we'll send you a follow-up appointment for a repeat blood test to screen for sexually transmitted diseases," the nurse explained gently as she reached for the camera.

Shannon looked a little perplexed but Olivia sought to reassure her, "it's standard procedure. Better to be safe than sorry just in case there was someone else involved."

Friday February 20th 2009


Manhattan SVU Squad Room

"Lab have just confirmed the presence of Rohypnol in Shannon Arkwright's urine. You want to call Cabot, Liv and see if we can get a warrant for Theresa Gabbidon's crib? I think it's time we had a chat with Terri," Munch mused.

"You go ahead and call for the warrant, I've got other work I need to get to and it's not like I can come on the search anyway. You'll have to get Fin or Elliot to back you up with that." As she spoke, Liv allowed the scowl she had been wearing since their return from the hospital to deepen considerably, telegraphing her displeasure at not being able to see the case through.

"You ok?" John asked, in a wary but kindly tone.

"I'm fine. I'd be even better if everyone stopped treating me like I was about to break all the time!" Olivia snapped, standing from her desk and storming out in the direction of the restroom. Elliot strode in, almost being pinned to the wall by his partner, as she stalked past him.

"Woah…" he exclaimed, watching her go. "What's that about?" he asked, turning to the only other detective in the bullpen.

John held his hands up in the universal gesture for cluelessness, watching their female detective go with a small shake of his head. "Are you free to help me schmooze Cabot into giving us a search warrant? Liv picked up a case this morning, alleged drug-induced female to female sexual assault. Lab confirmed the presence of Rohypnol so that should give us probable cause to search the premises where the victim found herself this morning."

"Umm, ok sure. I'll just go speak to Dad about it, check he's managed to kick the case we were called out on to homicide, no evidence of sexual involvement at all. Why don't you go ahead and call Alex?" In truth, Elliot wanted to go after his partner, to check she was ok but knew that his first responsibility was to his job. Despite their recent differences, he adored Olivia and considered her as much part of his family as his wife and children. To see her in pain, to see her hurting because of what had happened, caused him pain too. He didn't agree with her choice to pursue a relationship with another woman but that didn't mean he wished her to be going through what she was.

Liv burst through the doors of the ladies' locker room, forcefully pushing her way into one of the stalls and locking the door behind her. Her nerves were raw, putting her on edge and making every little niggle sting like acid in an open wound. The visit to the hospital that morning had jarred her far more than she had anticipated, the scents and sounds triggering flashbacks the like of which she had not experienced in a while. She feared for her sanity, for her ability to go on, to do the job she lived to do. She had come through her ordeal at Sealview partly thanks to the counselling she had received but also thanks to the support and patient affection she had found in Samia. The loss of her lover pained her more greatly than even that horrific event and this time, as she was beginning to realise all too well, there was no one she could rely on for that support this time. She was truly alone and had never felt it more keenly. Taking a couple of shaky breaths, Liv exited the stall and crossed to the well used sinks, deliberately averting her gaze from the scratched mirror which hung above it not wishing to see the reality of her situation etched into her reflection. She splashed cold water on her face, holding her wrists beneath the icy running water until she felt detached enough, numb enough to walk back into the squad room.

Friday February 20th 2009


Terri Gabbidon's apartment, Midtown

Munch stood aside as Elliot hammered on the plain wooden door, demanding attention from anyone inside.

"Theresa Gabbidon, open up, it's the police," the swarthy detective hollered gruffly. There were muffled sounds of movement from inside the abode and then the door opened the barest crack. Both men held their badges up so that the occupant could see they were genuine.

"What can I do for you, detectives?" a hoarse voice asked. No attempt was made to open the door wider, allowing the men only the merest glimpse of the tenant.

"Ms Gabbidon?" Munch asked, wanting to be clear that they were speaking to the person they were seeking before divulging any information about their reason for being there.

"That's me," the woman hiding behind the door replied.

"Ms Gabbidon, we need to ask you some questions about an incident which has been reported to us by a Shannon Arkwright. We have a warrant to search your apartment," Elliot barked, putting one palm flat against the door and applying a little pressure.

"What? Shannon? What happened to Shannon?" The door swung inwards, their suspect choosing to keep the wood between herself and the troop of men who entered as soon as there was sufficient space.

"Theresa Gabbidon, you are under arrest for the sexual assault of Shannon Arkwright…" Elliot began, his voice trailing off as the woman came fully into view, finally coaxed from behind her barrier. Her face was a mottled mixture of bruises and cuts. There was more bruising evident around her neck and obvious signs of restraint at her wrists. She stood before the two men self consciously, folding her arms across her body in a feeble attempt to shield herself once more from their scrutiny.

"I… I don't understand… I didn't… did I? What the hell happened last night?" Terri stuttered.

"Ms Gabbidon, can you tell us what you do remember about last night? How did you get those bruises?" Munch asked, a little more gently than his colleague.

"I don't know… I can't remember last night after coming back here from the second… I think it was the second club… It's all a bit hazy." Terri absentmindedly rubbed her hands up and down each arm as she spoke, a frown marring her pale brow. Reaching up, she fingered a loose strand of dirty blonde hair nervously.

"Let's talk about it down at the precinct, you can use the time on the way to figure out what you do remember," Elliot snapped, his suspicions still aroused despite the woman's dishevelled appearance.

"Detectives, you might want to take a look at this," one of the crime scene techs advised quietly as he popped his head out of the bedroom. Munch indicated for one of the uniformed officers to take Ms Gabbidon outside as he followed his colleagues into the bedroom.

"What are we looking at?" the gangly detective asked, peering over his glasses imperiously at the rumpled bedclothes without seeing any obvious signs of distress.

"We checked for fluids, standard procedure, but we weren't expecting to find evidence of semen. Wasn't this reported as a female to female assault?" The tech held up the UV light which made the bodily excretion in question fluoresce brightly.

"So either Ms Gabbidon has a secret she's been hiding from her colleagues or there was someone else at this apartment with them. Given the state of Theresa Gabbidon, I think it's more likely to be the latter. I doubt she gave herself those bruises or tied her own wrists up. We should take her by the hospital for a rape kit to be done on her too," Munch surmised.

"We don't know she wasn't in on it. She could have set Shannon up and then had second thoughts when they got back here. Maybe her partner decided to show her who was boss while he had his fun." Elliot was still reluctant to let go of the woman as a suspect.

"And maybe you're letting your personal feelings get in the way of your judgement," Munch cautioned, knowing how Elliot felt about homosexuals, given his beliefs.

"It wouldn't be the first time someone had led everyone to believe she was a lesbian only to be found to be swapping more than football scores with a guy," the Catholic detective reminded his colleague, remembering Babs Duffy and the revelation part way through that investigation that she was in fact in a relationship with a man.

"We need to collect any evidence that is still on Theresa Gabbidon, whether she is a perp or a victim. To prove a case either way, we need irrefutable evidence. I'll take her to the hospital, you stay here and finish searching the apartment." Munch needed to step away, to cool his heels a little. He had seen Liv, Fin and even Captain Cragen butt heads with Stabler before but this time it appeared to be his turn. "Keep an open mind Elliot. As the Captain is always drilling into us, we don't get to choose the vic."

Friday February 20th 2009


Manhattan SV U Squad Room

"I keep telling you, I don't remember! How many times do I have to say it before you'll believe me, Detective Stabler? I don't invite men into my home, I certainly don't invite them into my bed and I would never force someone else to have sexual relations with me or with a third party. I don't know what else I can say to convince you." Terri Gabbidon let her head fall forward onto the scarred, well worn table she was seated at. They had been shut in the cramped, claustrophobic room for coming up to half an hour with the two detectives grilling her about the events of the previous night. Stabler seemed to have taken on the role of aggressor, opting to assume her guilt or at least complicity in the attack on Shannon while Detective Munch appeared more amenable to at least considering her involvement was minimal and possibly non-consensual.

"Ms Gabbidon, let's take a moment to focus on what you can remember. Tell us what you can recall from last night," Munch requested, willing Elliot to bite his tongue long enough to let the woman give them her version of events.

"It was Darren's birthday… Darren Mantle, our computer technician. A group of us went out to a restaurant… San Morito… for a meal to celebrate. We moved on from there to a club called Select where I bought everyone a drink. Darren insisted on joining me at the bar when I went to place the order, said something about me needing a hand carrying all those drinks back to our table. We were chatting at the bar about the meal, he was thanking me for arranging the night out and we talked a little about work-related things, nothing major, just some little niggles that had been plaguing the network." Theresa paused, wracking her brain for every little detail she could remember. "I remember there was a man who bumped into me as I was moving away from the bar, he came close to spilling the drinks I was carrying all down me…"

"Whose drinks were you carrying at the time?" Munch interrupted, knowing that although it was unlikely anything had been slipped into the drinks during that moment, it might have provided a distraction long enough for someone else to administer the drug into Shannon's drink.

"Mine, Mike's and Amanda's. Darren had his, Shannon's, Neil's and Phillipe's. Three bottles, one glass. I had two tumblers and a pint glass." Theresa paused again, waiting to see if any further clarification was requested. When none was prompted, she continued, "we returned to the table, dished out the drinks and continued our night. We talked, some danced on and off, I stayed at the table the entire time – no one really wants to dance with the boss and anyway, it wasn't the sort of club to appreciate two women dancing together. Shannon danced with Neil for a couple of songs, finished her drink and then seemed to get quiet after a little while. When we were heading to Banjo, another club, I was worried about her. She seemed to be struggling with her words and couldn't co-ordinate her movements very well and I knew she'd only had that one drink that I bought her. I asked her if she was ok, if she'd taken anything that might have reacted with the alcohol but she seemed to say not. I wanted to take her home with me so she'd have someone with her to make sure she was safe and that she was ok. I didn't think it was right for her to be looking so drunk after just one Jack Daniels. I know Shannon's not a heavy drinker by any means but she's not that easily inebriated either." A sudden dawning of remembrance flooded Terri's face, "I told Neil I was taking Shannon home with me. He offered to help me get her into a taxi. I agreed, she was pretty out of it by then, and he rode back to my place with us. He helped me get her up to my apartment. The last thing I remember clearly is getting Shannon into my bed so she could sleep it off. Beyond that, there's nothing."

"What's Neil's surname?" Munch asked even as Elliot scoffed, displaying his scepticism for all to see.

"Danvers, Neil Danvers. He's one of the people on the PR team for the Foundation." A tap on the glass prevented Elliot from expressing his concerns regarding their suspects version of events, drawing him and Munch out of the room.

"Cap'n?" Munch questioned as he pulled the door closed behind them, standing in the viewing area outside of the interrogation room.

"Traces of Rohypnol were found in Theresa Gabbidon's urine sample – either, luckily for us, her body was slow to metabolise it or hers was administered later than Shannon's. Munch, take Fin with you and track down this Neil Danvers. He had access to them both at the apartment where the assault is alleged to have taken place which makes him a person of interest at the very least. See if he'll come voluntarily to answer some questions, if not, I'll have Alex on standby to get us a warrant. Elliot, why don't you give Olivia a hand checking the Foundations records and the LUDDS from Theresa's apartment and cellphone have just arrived, see if any calls were made last night that we should check out." With a terse nod, the brawny Detective stalked back towards his desk.

Friday February 20th 2009


Manhattan SV U Squad Room

"Take a seat Mr Danvers. Would you like a drink of water before we begin?" Sergeant Munch offered politely, watching the young man squirm uncomfortably in the rigid, plastic chair provided for the interrogation rooms.

"No, thank you. I'd just like to get this over and done with. What is it you wanted to ask me about? Why am I here?"

"What can you tell us about your whereabouts yesterday evening?" Fin asked, flipping a chair around and straddling it, folded arms resting on the now forward facing back of the seat.

"Erm well, I went for a meal and some drinks with colleagues from work. Why?" Danvers asked, fidgeting nervously with the cuff of his maroon sweatshirt.

"What time did you return home?" Munch asked, still giving nothing away about their reasons for asking.

"I uh… I got home around 6am this morning. Look, could you please tell me what this is about?"

"6am? That's a long night of drinking – where were you at with these work colleagues?" Fin inquired, once again ignoring the request for information.

"San Morito, then Select, then Banjo, then I helped my boss take one of our colleagues home – she'd had a bit too much to drink." Danvers' eyes flitted between the two male detectives; one seated in an almost casual pose, the other hovering beside the table in a passive aggressive stance. "The party… ummm… sorta continued when we got to her place."

"And what time did you offer this 'assistance' to your boss?" Munch's sceptical emphasis on the word chosen by their latest suspect gave Danvers pause.

"Should I be requesting a lawyer before answering any more questions? Would you please tell me what the hell this is about?"

"It is entirely up to you if you wish to speak to counsel Mr Danvers. I remind you that you are not under arrest, we merely need to clarify your movements last night. A complaint of sexual assault has been made…"

"What? That bitch said I raped her? No way! No fucking way! She never said no, not once. Frigid bitch." A knock on the two-way mirror drew the detectives out of the interrogation room and into the small observation area where Alex and Captain Cragen were watching them.

"Read him his rights. Anything he says from now on, we need on record and to be admissible in court," Alex instructed, watching the tense, nervous suspect beyond the glass as he muttered to himself. "One count of rape for now, we'll add the other rape later and possibly facilitating a sexual offense with a controlled substance if the evidence supports it." She watched as the two male detectives re-entered the interrogation room, quietly asking the man beside her, "where's Olivia? I'd have thought she'd have wanted to see this through."

"She and Elliot are looking through phone records from Terri's apartment. Why don't you go give her an update?" Don Cragen suggested, concerned about his only female detective's subdued mood and hoping that Alex could reach out to her and persuade her to take a break.

"Hi Elliot, where's Liv?" Alex asked as she strode into the bullpen confidently.

"You just missed her Counsellor, she headed out about five minutes ago," Elliot replied, leaning back in his chair with a grimace as the kinks in his back muscles straightened out for the first time in over an hour.

"Damn," Alex cursed softly under her breath, having hoped to see her friend before she left work for the day. "Did she say where she was going?" the lithe blonde asked, a concerned frown marring her patrician features.

"No, she's not said a word to me unless it was about work the entire time we've been at this, this afternoon. She ok? I mean, I know she's not ok, ok but is she, you know, coping?" Elliot asked, feeling more and more like a complete ass for how he had handled her coming back to work.

"I honestly don't know. Some days it seems so and then others… I'm not sure where her head's at right now. She told Abbie earlier that she was spending the evening with Sam's parents, perhaps she's headed over there already." The attorney considered calling Gina, asking her to try to get Olivia to open up to her but didn't want Liv to feel like she was being smothered.

"I'm sure that's where she's headed then," Elliot soothed, wondering how he could make amends with his partner.

"Yeah…" Alex murmured, "anyway, I wanted to let you both know that we're arresting Neil Danvers for rape. Idiot as good as confessed to having sex with one of the women in that apartment and since they both had Rohypnol in their system, it makes consent a moot point."

"So Theresa Gabbidon was an innocent party?" Elliot asked, feeling even more of an ass for the way he had treated the woman, acknowledging that his personal feelings regarding her orientation had affected his handling of the case.

"It would appear that way but let's cover all our bases and make sure everything is watertight before we take it in front of a court, ok? Keep checking those phone records, you never know what they might turn up and we don't want to be blindsided by a defence attorney producing another credible suspect or explanation that we've overlooked because we fixated on this one guy." Alex offered Elliot no opportunity to assure her that no stone would remain unturned as she spun on her heel and marched out of the squad room.


Part 26

Friday February 20th 2009


Drogan's Bar

Liv smiled warmly at the ebony-skinned businessman with tightly cropped curly black hair as he sidled up to her at the bar.

"Might you entertain the possibility of me buying you a drink?" he asked, his rich, deep voice washing over her smoothly.

"I might, if you prove yourself trustworthy enough," she replied coyly, flirting subtly with her gaze as she decided he might be just what she needed to escape from the turmoil of her day. She had been at the bar for a while already, her brain shrouded in the beginnings of a pleasant buzz from the few drinks she had already tossed back in an effort to chase away the demons from her day.

"A very sensible answer, I see you're not just a pretty face." Extending a manicured hand towards his companion, the gentleman introduced himself formally, "I'm Jonathon Monroe, no relation to Marilyn!"

Olivia barked out a genuine peel of laughter at the comparison, acknowledging that she never would have surmised that the guy before her, who's skin was the colour of rich milk chocolate, could be in any way related to the late Marilyn Monroe. "Olivia Benson," she informed him, allowing him to grip her hand with his own, the hold strong but not uncomfortably so.

"A beautiful name for a stunning lady. So tell me Olivia, what brings you to a bar alone so early on a Friday evening? Am I stepping on someone's toes?"

"Not at all. I've just had a long day at work and I didn't much feel like going straight home so here I am. What about you? Am I likely to get a drink thrown on me when your wife, girlfriend or significant other arrives?" Olivia had played the role of seductress so many times during her career when the situation warranted it and was thankful to be able to call on those skills at that moment. Rationally, she understood her actions were misguided and would only lead to regret and self recrimination but she needed something to distract her from her misery and figured that sex, albeit mindless and anonymous of sorts, was as good a distraction as any. Alex and Abbie seemed to prefer that type of arrangement and, pre-Sam, Liv too had indulged in her share of one night stands.

"Highly unlikely since that would require there to be such a person in the first place. My work makes it difficult for me to form any real attachments to a place and its people," Jonathon advised, making it clear from his statement that he was not looking for any lasting relationship however their encounter developed. That suited Liv fine.

"What is it that you do?" Liv asked, casting her gaze over his body and finding it acceptable; he carried perhaps an extra pound or two around his middle and maybe should have spent a few more hours in the gym but nothing overly repulsive. Her appraising sweep did not go unnoticed by her would-be suitor who followed her example, taking in her hourglass figure, generously proportioned chest and attractive features, wondering if he really could get lucky enough to take her to his bed.

"I'm an systems analyst for a bespoke software company. I travel all over this state and to many others too, wherever our customers are based really. It's not the most exciting work but I get to see some interesting places and work with some fun people. What is it that you do which has you drinking alone on a Friday night?" Jonathon asked, signalling to the bartender that he wished to order a drink.

Liv suddenly decided that she shouldn't answer that question truthfully, knowing all too well from experience that the disclosure of her career often put a significant damper on people's ardour. Hoping that she would be forgiven by any higher power listening in, she replied, "I'm a school teacher. My class were determined to try my patience today."

"Ah, you have my sympathies there. I don't know how you handle a class full of them every day," Jonathon intoned smoothly. "Might I buy you that drink now? To ease the burden of your day a little further?"

"Why not, what harm can it do? I'll have a light beer please, whatever's on tap is fine." Olivia smiled warmly at her companion, allowing her eyes to linger on his full, fleshy lips as he turned to the young man hovering behind the bar waiting to take their order.

Friday February 20th 2009


Cuisine Savoureuse

"Alex, you look beautiful. I'm so glad you could join me for dinner," Abbie stated enthusiastically as she rose to greet her companion.

"Thank you," Alex flushed demurely, accepting Abbie's chaste kiss to her cheek before sitting herself across the table from the raven-haired Texan. "This is a very lavish place to dine for a work's dinner, Abbie." The two women looked around them at the openly expensive furnishings; deep red velvet drapes at floor to ceiling windows, a plush crimson carpet, high-backed deluxe dining chairs with well padded cushions to match the interior decor, a vaulted ceiling tastefully decorated with flourishes of fleur-de-lis topped off by glistening crystal chandeliers set at regular intervals to illuminate the dining room in a soft, golden glow.

"Oh don't worry Alex, I'm not making the People pay for this. Tonight's on me," Abbie husked, her ordinarily throaty voice dropping a further octave as she observed just how well Alex slotted in to her surroundings.

"Why Ms Carmichael, anyone would think you were out to impress," the blonde attorney smiled coquettishly, feigning fluttering her eyelashes.

"Would they now? And what would impressing you earn me, I wonder?" Abbie teased flirtatiously.

"Well that would all depend on just how impressed I was by the end of the evening," Alex replied, equally as enticingly, locking her crystalline blue eyes with Abbie's deep, chocolate orbs. Abbie swallowed thickly at the insinuation of what might come from the evening if it proved to be to Alex's liking. Being gun-shy was never something she could be accused of, not in the court room and certainly not when it came to pursuing matters of the heart but there was something formidable about Alexandra Cabot, something which made Abbie just a little cautious about getting too involved.

"I'll drink to that," she replied at length, sweeping an appraising gaze once more over the other woman's lean yet womanly frame.

Friday February 20th 2009


Holiday Inn Express, West 45th Street, Midtown

They had shared an easy early evening of casual chatter, exchanging banter and light-hearted flirting over numerous drinks. When Jonathon had invited Olivia back to his hotel room, she had readily accepted, determined to follow through her plan to rid her mind, just for one night, of the memories which haunted her. Seated in one of the easy chairs with a glass of whiskey in her hand, Liv allowed her nerves to surface a little, toying with her lower lip between her teeth. Jonathon approached her stealthily, stalking towards the gorgeous brunette with every intention of completing the dance of seduction which they had both been playing throughout their time together that evening. He took the glass from between her slack fingers, leaning down as he did so to press his large, fleshy lips against hers. The drink abandoned on a nearby table, he guided Liv to her feet, cradling her body against his larger one, allowing her to feel his growing excitement through their close proximity. He was larger than the men she had previously been with, that much she could tell, even through the layers of clothing. Her heart began hammering in her chest as she realised what she was getting herself into and still she couldn't bring herself to stop him, to stop the inevitable train-wreck she was heading for. A small whimper escaped her lips as one of his hands closed around her breast, a sign he took as encouragement to continue his rough kneading and massaging through her button down shirt. Taking one of her arms by the wrist, he guided her hand to his crotch, silently requesting that she return the favour he was currently bestowing on her. Suppressing her desire to shudder, Olivia ran her palm of his bulge, popping the button open at the waistband of his smart navy suit pants. Gently, almost tenderly, Jonathon guided her back towards the queen-sized bed, laying her on her back and climbing on top of her. Liv felt the panic beginning to rise within her, her skin prickling as sweat beaded on her brow. Her chest heaved and when he raised her arms above her head, pinning them there while he continued his oral assault of her face and neck, visions swam before her eyes; of Sam, of Harris and Sealview. She squirmed against him, feeling suffocated and crushed by his weight atop her.

"No…" she gasped, fighting to free her arms from his grasp.

"Sssshhh, it's ok, we both want this," Jonathon murmured reassuringly, letting go of her wrists and allowing her arms to drop back to her sides.

"I'm not sure…" she fought to explain, fought to clarify in her own mind what she did want, the alcohol in her system making her head fuzzy and unclear.

"I'll be gentle. I know it can be a bit intimidating at first if you've never felt anything that big but I promise you, it'll make you feel great," Jonathon cooed, pushing her shirt up and over her chest allowing him a first proper look at her silk-encased breasts. "You're such a beautiful woman." Her body betrayed her mind as he rolled both nipples between his thumbs and forefingers, her back arching into the touch even as she fought to empty her mind of memories of her assault. In her mind's eye, she saw Sam's face, saw her disappointed expression at Olivia's actions, her choices and her heart broke. Suddenly, it was as though all the alcohol had cleared from her bloodstream. Her thoughts were ordered and startling in their clarity and she craved that cocoon of oblivion once more as she realised what she was doing.

"I can't do this," she insisted, pushing Jonathon's stocky body intently, making her desire for him to get off her plain.

"Sure you can. Just relax," he coaxed, leaning in once more to kiss her.

"NO!" she cried. "Get off me. I don't want this. I don't want you." Jonathon instantly rolled off her, seeing that her distress stemmed from a deeper place than simple intimidation of his size.

"I'm sorry," he apologized, scooting away from the frantic brunette, making it clear he was no threat to her. "I honestly thought we were both after the same thing here."

Liv leapt from the bed, yanking her shirt back down over her torso as she moved, willing her heart to slow down even as she fumbled with sliding her jacket on. "I… I'm sorry… I thought… I thought I could… I shouldn't have led you on. I'm sorry," she stammered, lower lip trembling as she backed away from the bed.

"It's ok Olivia, you're ok, this was obviously a mistake. I'm not going to stop you from leaving." There was a haunted look in the woman's eyes, one which Jonathon had never witnessed before but instinctively knew it must come from a painful place. He propped himself up against the headboard, arms passively by his sides as he attempted to look as non-threatening as possible. "Can I arrange for a cab to pick you up? You don't have to wait here, you can wait in the hotel lobby but I'd be happier knowing that you had transport to get you home."

"I'm… I don't think I'm going home, not yet. I'll be ok, I'll… figure something out," Liv stuttered as she braced herself with her hand on the door handle, ready to make good her escape.

"Be careful, Olivia and take care of yourself, ok?" Jonathon seemed genuinely concerned about her welfare, something which barely registered in the brunette's troubled mind as flashbacks continued to pummel her. Sam's voice was screaming at her that it was her fault, that Sealview happened because she had led Harris on, that she was disgusting and deserved to be in the Hell she currently found herself. She didn't realise her feet were carrying her away from the hotel, her actions autonomous as her mind trapped her in a waking nightmare.

Friday February 20th 2009


Cuisine Savoureuse

"So tell me about Alex Cabot? Who is she away from the office and the law books?" Abbie asked, sitting back in her seat at the upscale French restaurant, sipping her expensive wine whilst looking remarkably at ease in the elaborate surroundings.

"There's not much to know really. I'm a Cabot, I do what Cabots are expected to do; attend fundraisers, gala events, the opera," the blonde attorney confessed dejectedly.

"That may be true for Alexandra but what about Alex? The you that few other people get to see, the one who comes out when your apartment door closes and you're free to be yourself without limits," Abbie pressed gently.

"I… umm… I work mostly, jog some mornings when the weather is amenable and I haven't been up in the night on a case, I read, I listen to music, nothing all that thrilling really." Alex took another sip of her wine, considering just how dull her life sounded when she laid it out to someone else. "What about you? What do you do when you're not working?"

"I watch baseball, football, basketball, play softball sometimes, catch an ice hockey match here and there. I read some, I go to the movies when there's something on I want to see. Or I go out, buy a few drinks in a bar or a club, pick someone up and take them home," Abbie admitted, knowing her reputation preceded her most everywhere she went.

Alex blushed a little at her companion's candour. "Don't you ever worry about what that will mean further down the line? For your career, I mean."

"If we spent every hour of every day worrying about how someone else might view us either in the immediate term or somewhere down the line, life would pass us by without us ever actually getting involved." Abbie reached across the table, tenderly squeezing one of Alex's hands beneath her own for a brief moment. "Don't hide away from life Alex because you want to sit in the big chair. People might not forgive you everything but they also won't want someone in charge who can't connect with them. You need to feel their pain, to live life warts and all and then you'll be able to convince them you're the right woman for the job when the time comes and you push for the DA's position. You're already a hero to many for sacrificing so much of yourself to put Zapata away but you need to find a balance between showing you're fearless and coming across as a cold, ruthlessly ambitious politician who will stop at nothing to get what she wants."

"I'm not fearless," Alex admitted quietly, fiddling with the ornate cutlery in front of her. Looking up and gazing directly into Abbie's soft brown eyes, she continued, "there are so many things that terrify me, so many things that I used to take for granted before Velez and Zapata which I have no idea how to get back. I'm still trying to find myself, find the whole of myself again and that in itself scares me more than I like to admit. There are days when I worry I'll never really get back to being Alex Cabot. Alexandra is easier, she always was a front and a little cold and vacuous. ADA Cabot is getting to be more familiar again now but Alex… Alex is still very much lost in the dark."

"What's holding Alex back?" If either woman found it strange to be talking about the blonde woman in the third person, they didn't show it.

"I wish I knew. Perhaps if I did, I could work on overcoming whatever it was," Alex griped sourly.

"I don't think that's entirely true now, is it Alex? I think you suspect you do know but that you're afraid of tackling whatever it is," Abbie pressed, keeping her gaze level and not allowing the younger woman to break their connection. "You don't have to tell me and we don't have to continue this here, but please, Alex, don't lie to yourself. You'll only end up hurting more if you do." The two women sat in contemplative silence for a while, sipping their wine and mulling over their own thoughts.

"Jack seemed pleased to see you, despite his bluster about wishing you'd spoken to him first," Alex mentioned, more to break the quiet than out of a pressing urge to discuss her boss.

"Let's not talk about Jack, shall we? I think there are subjects infinitely more interesting than he is. Did you speak to Olivia earlier?" Abbie deflected, having no desire to bring work into their evening unless it was vitally necessary.

"No, she'd already left for the day by the time I got a moment to look for her. How was she when you saw her?" Alex asked.

"We had an interesting exchange… about this, us…spending time together," Abbie supplied casually, raising one hand elegantly to attract the attention of a nearby waiter. "Would you like a coffee, Alex?"

"I'd love one, thanks," Alex replied with a slight frown, waiting with strained patience until Abbie had placed their order before addressing Abbie's previous statement. "What did Liv say about us?"

"She seemed to think that she needed to be out of the apartment tonight so we could fuck like rabbits all night. And, by the way, she is under the impression that all either of us is capable of is a quick fuck, no strings attached, told me I had met my match in you that way." Abbie recounted her experience in the bullpen earlier, one eyebrow raised.

Alex cringed, recalling her own conversation with the brunette at her apartment after Abbie had left. "I may have given her that impression about me this morning. I told her I couldn't imagine myself in a relationship with anyone in case it damaged my career prospects but that I wasn't against brief, discrete affairs to tend to any needs."

"Ah, yeah that would explain that. She knows for me it would take a hell of a woman to get me to consider settling down." Abbie contemplated Alex's confession for a moment or two as she stared into her nearly empty wine glass. "Did you mean it? Would you rather spend your life alone in case it impacted on your career than have the chance to share your life with someone you love?"

"Of course I wouldn't rather that but that's just how life is. There's no one available in my life who would make me reconsider putting my career first but that doesn't mean I don't want to share intimacy with people on occasion. If I followed my heart, if I had followed my heart back when it was an option, I might have got myself and the person I care deeply about killed, possibly even taken a little collateral damage with us too." Alex swallowed thickly, willing herself not to remember how painful it had been to be ripped from her life, to leave behind her friends, her family, her career, Olivia. "I daren't take that kind of risk again. I can't… I couldn't handle that kind of pain again." And there it was, sitting squarely between them; the crux of what was holding Alex back from engaging with life, from completely grasping her life again.

"Have you explained that to Olivia? Did you tell her that it is that fear of being hurt that prevents you from forming lasting, meaningful relationships?" the Texan enquired softly.

"I think I sold it more as it being related to my family name," Alex grimaced, wondering what impression she had left her good friend with. "I need to talk to her again about it, when the time's right."

"Yes, you do. You and I both know she'll understand, probably right now more than ever. I can't imagine she feels any differently herself just at the moment," Abbie agreed. "In the meantime, I'll be honest with you Alex, I think that you are a very beautiful woman and if you were agreeable, I'd be very interested in offering you some company tonight, in a short term, no strings attached way."


Part 27

Friday February 20th 2009


Alexandra Cabot's apartment, Belmont Towers, Upper East Side

Abbie followed Alex through the door of her apartment, the blonde checking they were indeed alone before spinning around and pinning the Texan to the wall of the entrance lobby, kissing her fiercely as the attraction they had danced around all evening asserted itself. There was nothing to stop them, nothing to prevent them from exploring the obvious chemistry they possessed and Abbie found herself helpless to resist under the onslaught of the blonde's sensuous lips. Abbie's hands found their way to Alex's hips, bringing their bodies flush together with a feral growl deep in her throat. Their tongues fought for dominance, each giving a little before plundering the other's mouth.

"Bedroom, now," Alex ordered, desperate for the feel of skin on skin. The only functioning parts of her brain were those essential for satisfying her carnal desires. Abbie backed off slightly to allow the younger woman to lead the way, sliding her hands back onto her swaying hips as she gladly followed, dropping hungry kisses along the leonine neck as they went, making Alex stumble more than once. As they crossed the threshold into Alex's bedroom, Abbie allowed her fingertips to travel inwards from proud hipbones teasing the soft flesh of her stomach before settling at the clasp of her pants, flicking the button undone deftly and making short work of the zipper too. Alex moaned quietly at the sensation of Abbie undressing her whilst pressed against her length from behind. She reached one hand backwards, guiding the brunette's ragged head back to her neck, encouraging her to continue lavishing attention upon it. Her other hand reached up to cup her own breast through her blazer. Both women groaned as Alex's cream linen pants fell loosely from her hips, pooling around her feet and leaving her long, lean legs naked. Craving the feel of that newly exposed flesh, Abbie slid her palms over toned thighs, long fingers angled downwards towards her new lover's knees, splayed in a move which was equally erotic and possessive.

"Fuck…" Abbie murmured as her hands tingled in anticipation.

"Yessssssssss…" Alex hissed in response, grinding her ass into Abbie's crotch, her intent evident. Never in her life could she remember feeling so turned on, so ready from just a few simple touches and kisses. She felt Abbie pressing into her more solidly, guiding her forward towards the bed. She kicked her pants aside, untangling them from around her feet as she followed Abbie's unspoken request. She stopped at the side of her king-sized bed, held upright on shaking legs by the Texan's firm palms still cradling her thighs.

"Turn around for me, Alex," Abbie drawled, sliding her hands back towards the blonde's slender hips and encouraging her to spin around to face her. As Alex complied, a little unsteadily in her aroused haze, Abbie's fingers began unsnapping the buttons on Alex's baby blue blouse, starting from the bottom. The heat emanating from the beautiful attorney's skin made it very difficult for Abbie to take her time, to savour each moment. Finally, the garment hung open beneath the cream linen jacket Alex still wore, revealing stunningly sculpted musculature that had Abbie's mouth watering.

"Can I…?" Alex raised a tentative hand to the zipper fastening of Abbie's own taupe jacket, wanting to get to the tanned skin beneath it.

"I'd be disappointed if you didn't," Abbie confessed breathlessly, tracing random patterns over Alex's rippling stomach muscles with her fingertips. "How long has it been, Alex? How long since anyone worshipped your body and made you cry out in ecstasy?"

"Too long…" Alex admitted, inhaling sharply at the heady sensations the Texan was creating. She made short work of Abbie's jacket, moving on swiftly to tug the plain, scoop neck T-shirt beneath over her tousled raven hair. The topless attorney surged against her new lover, the motion sending them both tumbling onto the luxurious Egyptian cotton bed covers, Abbie's slender form fitting atop Alex's equally lithe own in a fusion of angles and plains. Alex's hands explored the newly uncovered torso, sliding heated palms over strong back muscles, caressing shoulders and straining biceps as the slightly taller woman struggled to hold her weight above the writhing blonde mass beneath her. "Touch me…" Alex begged, her voice a needy cry in the almost silent night. Needing no further invitation, Abbie rolled to the side slightly, coaxing Alex into a seated position long enough to divest her of her remaining clothing. All that remained between the Texan and her ultimate goal was a tiny scrap of pale blue lace.

"Ooooohhhhhhh," Abbie groaned, feeling a fresh flood of desire seep from her already saturated core. "So beautiful," she husked reverently, lowering her lips to one pebbled nipple, taking it between her teeth and toying with it gently, teasing the sensitive flesh before soothing it with her tongue. Driven on by Alex's quiet mewls and whimpers, Abbie switched her attention to the other breast, lavishing the same attentions on that peak as its twin had enjoyed. She felt one of Alex's hands fist in her hair, holding her head against the straining flesh as two pairs of hips moved simultaneously to try and seek some friction to relieve their tension.

Alex balled a generous handful of the comforter in her other fist, gripping it tightly as though it was the only thing likely to keep her grounded. "Abbie please…" Alex's voice was pleading even as her hand urged Abbie to move further south, to take care of the pressing need she had awakened. Never one to willingly disappoint a lady, Abbie acquiesced, reluctantly leaving those succulent, responsive breasts and trailing a path of kisses down her toned torso, detouring here and there to explore sensitive areas with lips, tongue and teeth. As she drew level with the baby blue thong, Abbie encouraged Alex to raise her hips slightly, allowing her to remove that one final barrier, drawing the tiny garment down over long, lean legs which she delighted in teasing with her fingertips before placing her palms against the insides of quivering thighs, silently asking the aroused blonde to spread them further. She inhaled the younger woman's scent as her delicate folds exposed themselves to her, delighting in the sensation and powerless to resist its lure. Tantalisingly, she trailed the very tip of her tongue through the moist crevice, sampling the tangy, addictive juices of her lover. That one taste, that teasing sample of what lay ahead drove both women wild. Alex's hips bucked almost violently off the bed as Abbie drove forward, latching onto the succulent swollen flesh with her mouth, thoroughly exploring her folds, drinking in her essence and suckling on the pulsating bundle of nerves. The brunette moaned, a deep sensual sound which reverberated through Alex's core and had her crying out in delight. Abbie trailed one hand upwards, laying her palm against the pliant flesh of Alex's right breast as one long, slender finger toyed with her fluttering opening. Laying her tongue flat against Alex's clit and tugging almost painfully on the nipple in her hand, Abbie plunged two fingers deftly into Alex's tight, hot core, drawing further screams and whimpers from the unabashed blonde. She felt her own hips begin to rock against the edge of the bed as she sought to satisfy her own needs as well as her lover's. Strong internal muscles clamped down firmly, trapping Abbie's fingers deep inside Alex's centre and allowing her very little room for further movement. She gentled her tongue's strokes, teasing out the full extent of the orgasm and earning herself a harsh, hoarse wordless cry from the woman beneath her. As Alex lay panting and spent against the covered bed, Abbie crawled back up her body, slowly extracting her fingers from their hot cocoon. With the blonde attorney watching on, golden hair splayed across the bedspread like a magnificent halo, Abbie sucked each digit diligently, cleansing it of all remnants of Alex's excitement.

"Mmmm, so good," she moaned, revelling in the taste of the exhausted woman. Leaning close, she placed a heated kiss against Alex's lips, slipping her tongue into her mouth at the earliest opportunity and allowing the younger woman to share in the taste of herself. Throwing one leg over Alex's thigh, the Texan straddled her and set up a steady rocking pace, coating the well muscled limb liberally with her own juices as she sought to finalise her own climax. Recovering enough of her senses to coordinate a few of her limbs, Alex slipped her hand between their bodies, brushing her fingertips over the swollen nubbin of nerves at Abbie's apex. The tall brunette jerked spasmodically at the contact to her sensitive flesh.

"Tell me what you need," Alex implored, wanting to drive the woman over the edge just as Abbie herself had done for Alex but needing guidance, not being experienced in stimulating a woman's body other than her own.

"Just you… touch me, Alex, please…" Abbie panted, still rocking against the tensed, muscular thigh beneath her, the friction keeping her arousal piqued but not enough to send her over that tantalising precipice. Taking the initiative, Alex flipped them over, rolling until she was on top of the startled brunette, pinning long, lean, spidery arms above her tousled brunette head and instructing her to keep them there. Lowering her lips to Abbie's prone body, Alex lavished a fiery path of kisses over her bronzed skin, trailing from one shoulder across her prominent collarbone, pausing to swirl her tongue teasingly in the shallow dip at the base of the Texan's throat before kissing, nipping and suckling her way across to the other shoulder. Abbie arched into the hot, sensual mouth of her blonde bedmate, fearing she would go insane before she found the release she was so desperate for if Alex insisted on continuing at this languid pace.

"Your skin is so soft, so beautiful," Alex murmured, lips brushing against the smooth plains of Abbie's upper chest as she spoke, hair trailing over the skin of the prone woman's shoulders adding to the dizzying sensations being created. Her slow, leisurely exploration earned her a deep, low growl from the object of her attention, drawing a playful smile to her lips. "And so impatient, I see, Ms Carmichael," she teased.

"You're an evil woman, Cabot!" Abbie groaned throatily, delighting in the immense arousal even as it threatened to drive her mad. It had been a long, long time since she had allowed herself to be so submissive. Each of her lovers had proved themselves to be adept at playing her body but Alex's gentle, almost tentative worshipping of her flesh was a refreshing change from her usual frantic fucks.

"Oh really? If I was really that evil, I'd leave you hanging, wouldn't I?" Alex asked innocently, backing away slightly.

"Don't you dare," Abbie barked, surging off the bed and grappling with the blonde to prevent her from escaping too far. The two women rocked together, their bodies fused and further igniting the growing inferno in the brunette's loins. "Holy shit!" Abbie exclaimed breathlessly as Alex snaked a hand between them, sliding two fingers deep into the older woman's sopping, scorching centre.

"Oh God!" Alex exclaimed, her own core pulsating with renewed need as she felt Abbie's strong internal muscles clutch at her fingers, urging them to stay buried within her even as she withdrew partially only to drive those same fingers back deep inside their fiery cocoon. The feel of their small breasts rubbing against one another only served to heighten both women's desire as they continued to rock against one another, the pace become more frenetic, more frantic as Abbie sped towards her climax. Acknowledging the effect their position was having on her partner, the Texan managed to release her grip on Alex's shoulder and pushed two of her own long fingers deep into Alex's centre, swallowing the blonde's ecstatic cry with a bruising kiss. Abbie hurtled over the edge of her orgasm, writhing and thrashing against Alex's slender body, gripping her to her with untold strength.

"Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssss," she cried as her muscles froze, locking Alex's diligent digits deep within her. Alex, still sensitive from her previous climax swiftly followed Abbie over the edge, clamping down on the fingers pressed into her core and bucking jerkily against the brunette. She released a guttural keening as she fell, the whine forming a single word which brought them both crashing back to Earth.

"…Liv." Horrified, Alex clambered away from her companion, wincing as she tore herself off the fingers still tightly trapped inside her.

"Hey, hey, don't run away," Abbie coaxed, following her skittish lover even as her mind reeled. She had suspected that there were deeper feelings between the two women than simple friendship but she had never considered Alex would go so far as to imagine that it was Olivia with her rather than herself. She couldn't prevent the brief flash of hurt which pierced her, even as she acknowledged that she had been guilty of using others to forget another in the past.

"I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry," Alex sobbed. "I don't know where that came from." Alex curled herself into a tight ball, facing away from the woman who had just shattered her world by unleashing the one thing she had reigned in all her adult life – the truth about herself, her sexuality, the reason why none of the men she had been with had ever fulfilled her wants, needs, desires. And not only that, but she had betrayed two people she hoped she could consider friends; one by fantasising about being so intimate with her so soon after she had cruelly lost her lover and the other by thinking of someone else during what should have been a spectacular moment.

"I do and it's ok. Alex, it's ok." Abbie approached the other woman carefully, not wanting to further traumatise her but needing to show her that she understood, that she was still there for her as a friend if she wanted her to be.

"How can you say that? How can it be ok? I know how much it hurts to hear someone else's name from the lips of someone you're with intimately. I felt it every time, in Witsec, when Steve called for Emily as he came inside me. Only he was calling for a ghost, a woman who didn't really exist, not for his best friend who is grieving the loss of a woman she loved with all her heart." Alex curled up even tighter, hammering a fist against her thigh in self recrimination until the flailing limb was caught in a strong grip.

"Yes, I wish that, physically, I could be enough for you alone but I went into this knowing your heart was elsewhere, Alex. But it is ok to be human, to want to be free to love whomever you are attracted to. Sure, the timing sucks but you and Olivia are both young enough to still have a shot at exploring the connection between you once she is sufficiently recovered from Sam's death, if she wishes to. But Alex, you need to let yourself be open to the possibility of more than this, more than a quick fuck with a willing partner after which you turn on yourself." Abbie slid her body in close behind Alex, cradling her naked form in the most non-threatening way that she could, keeping her hands to neutral places such as shoulders, hair, Alex's knee which was tucked so close to her chin she could almost rest it on there.

"How did you know?" Alex's voice was small, timid, unsure, her body neither relaxing into nor pulling away from Abbie's embrace.

"I've been around enough people to recognise when there's a spark there and what you two have already is so much deeper than any normal friendship. In any other circumstances, there'd be no question that taking it to the next stage would be the most natural progression in the world. Of course, given how things are, you'll need to be patient if you can, until such a time when Liv is ready to think about opening her heart to love again," Abbie explained softly, tenderly running her fingers through silky flaxen locks.

"I've waited ten years already," Alex confessed equally as quietly, her voice trembling with unshed tears. "Maybe the fates or whatever are trying to tell me that it will never be the right time, that I should give up on Olivia and hope I can find some semblance of happiness elsewhere."

"Never settle for less than what your heart desires, Alex but don't close your heart or your mind to the possibility that there might be someone out there for you, someone other than Olivia Benson, as gorgeous as she is. You deserve to be happy just as much as the next person and sometimes, that happiness comes just when we give up hoping for it." Abbie pressed a chaste kiss to the back of Alex's unblemished shoulder. "And if you won't allow yourself that, at least promise me that if you ever need an itch scratching, you'll give me a call and not have unsatisfying, unfulfilling sex with a society boy simply because his face fits in Cabot circles? It doesn't have to mean anything and you can count on me to be discrete so you don't need to worry about your career prospects until you're ready to be honest about yourself, if that day ever comes. And if it never does, then for as long as I'm single and there's breath in my body, I'll be happy to shower you with a little affection here and there. God knows you are more than capable of making it worth my while!" Abbie teased with a chuckle, playfully nipping at Alex's earlobe in an attempt to break the young woman from her torpor.

"I need a drink," Alex stated flatly as she squirmed out of Abbie's hold and rose from the bed, grabbing her satin robe and tugging it around her body as she stood. "Can I get you anything?" she asked, almost as an afterthought.

"Uh yeah, a glass of water would be good, thanks," Abbie replied, rising from the bed herself and pulling on her pale lilac t-shirt after retrieving it from where it had been discarded. After a few seconds more hunting, she found her plain white briefs, slipping them up her long legs before padding out of the bedroom in search of her hostess.

Alex padded into the kitchen, her bare feet slapping softly against the cool slate tiles. She reached into the cupboard above the sink for a couple of tumbler glasses, noticing the light blinking on her answering machine as she did so. Hitting the button to play her messages, Alex turned towards the refrigerator, retrieving the jug of filtered water she kept in there before pouring Abbie a glass of the ice cold liquid.

"Hi Alex, Olivia, it's Gina. I was just calling to see how you were both doing and when we can get together again for dinner? Olivia, I called your mobile earlier but it went straight to your voicemail – is everything ok? Please call me when you get a moment." A mechanical voice kicked in, informing the listener, "message left at eight thirty three pm on Friday February 20th." The recording ended, the sudden silence of the kitchen being disturbed by the sound of smashing glass. The empty tumbler Alex had been holding slipped from her grasp, crashing to the floor and skittering fragments in all directions as her mind took in the implications of what that message meant. Olivia wasn't at the Camanetti's, nor had she had any arrangement to be there that evening.

"Alex? Are you ok?" Abbie raced into the kitchen, stopping short in the doorway as she caught sight of the treacherous path of glass shards between herself and Alex, whose skin was so pale it was almost translucent in the harsh overhead light. "Stay where you are, ok? Don't move, just tell me where you keep your sweeping brush."

"It's… ummm… it's… Liv's missing," Alex suddenly blurted, startling Abbie into silence. "Gina left a message on the machine. Olivia's not at their place."

"What? Well where in the hell is she then?" Abbie barked, dropping her head into her hands and releasing a frustrated groan at her headstrong friend. "Let me grab a brush, sweep up this glass and then we can both get dressed and find her stubborn ass."

"It's in the closet by the front door. I'll phone the precinct, make sure she's not crashing in the crib," Alex supplied, her attention already turning to the cordless handset which rested on the island counter-cum-breakfast-bar.

Saturday February 21st 2009


Samia Camanetti's memorial stone

Olivia hugged her arms tighter around her body, shivering in the frigid night air as she lay on the frozen, solid ground beside Sam's memorial plaque. She had no more tears to shed, no more apologies to offer for the mistake she had come so close to making earlier in the evening with Jonathon. She felt the cold chill creep deep into her soul, accepting it as punishment for her transgression; for betraying Sam's memory, for leading a man to believe she was available, for pushing her friends away simply because they were trying to find some small semblance of companionship with each other. The spark of jealousy had surprised her at the precinct, a spark she believed had been ignited by someone else becoming the focus of Alex's attention. Alex had been Liv's rock, the one thing throughout the tumult which had kept her grounded, kept her feeling as though she could weather the storm and come through the other side with only minimal scarring. And she was facing losing that to a woman Olivia had known for years, casually and intimately, a woman who was undoubtedly beautiful and sexy but whom Liv couldn't help but think was unworthy of Alex's devotion.

"You're jealous because it's not you she wants to take to her bed," a niggling voice in her head implied snidely.

"No!" she cried out, her voice lost to the wind which blustered around her, driving the cold deeper into her bones.

"Yes you are. You want Alex and Abbie to want you not each other. You want them to screw your brains out so you forget all about Sam."

"Stop, please…just STOP!" Olivia screamed, scrubbing her hands over her face and pressing her palms tightly against her ears as though she could drown out the taunts.

"You're just a deviant, just like your father. All you care about is sex. That's all Sam was to you, wasn't it? A warm body to fuck whenever you felt like it."

"No, please, God no. I LOVE HER. I LOVE HER. Sam, please, baby, I love you. I love you, I want to be with you. Please baby, this is too hard… I can't do this… I can't keep going without you. I know what I said, what I promised but sweetheart I can't bear this. I miss you, so much, with every breath I take. Every minute that passes takes me further and further away from you and I can't… I can't… Don't make me lose you, please… please." Liv was sobbing openly, her face pressed up against the cool stone of the memorial to her late lover. She was heedless of the world around her, lost to her gut wrenching pain. It seemed like every time she thought she was taking a step forward, something conspired against her to dash her against the rocks of her grief once again. Returning to the hospital combined with being pinned beneath Jonathon's bulk had overwhelmed her fragile mind, threatening to shut it down entirely and hold her prisoner in a world of painful flashbacks. Had she been thinking logically, she would have known that she needed to reach out to those around her; to her PTSD counsellor, to Michael, Alex's ex-Army friend whom had been a source of great support, even to Alex herself but her grief, her fear, her anguish had stripped her of that ability. All she knew was the soul-destroying chasm within her which could never hope to be filled; not by substitutes in her bed nor by drink or work. There was nothing she could imagine which would ever fill that void.

Saturday February 21st 2009


Alexandra Cabot's apartment, Belmont Towers, Upper East Side

"Shit!" Alex exclaimed, slamming the handset down onto the marble worksurface.

"Nothing?" Abbie asked, somewhat redundantly since the blonde's reaction spoke volumes regarding her success, or lack thereof, in tracking down Olivia's whereabouts.

"No. She's not at the precinct, Elliot hasn't seen or heard from her since she left work, her cellphone's turned off or out of range. I'm going over to her apartment and so help her if she's there." Alex stalked from the kitchen, shedding her robe as soon as she was inside her bedroom, grabbing the first pair of jeans, long sleeved t-shirt and sweatshirt that she could find. Reaching clean underwear out of her dresser, Alex turned and tossed the clothing onto her bed, spying Abbie already hurriedly re-dressing herself. "You'll catch your death of cold out there like that Carmichael. Help yourself to anything you want from my wardrobe, I've plenty of sweaters and if you can stand the legs being a little on the short side, I reckon my jeans will fit your skinny ass too."

Abbie threw a grateful smile in Alex's direction, momentarily distracted by the gentle sway of the blonde's small breasts as she leant over to yank on her panties. "I'll be glad to hold her down so you can whoop her ass when we find her, if you need a partner in crime," she drawled, tearing her eyes away before Alex could catch her staring.

"You'd better believe you will or you'll be next in my firing line," Alex snarked. "I've already had to hunt her down like a prize in a scavenger hunt once this month and that was during daylight hours. She's going to feel how much I appreciate being dragged out at this time of the night because she chose to lie to me… to us." Abbie understood that there was no small amount of guilt behind Alex's anger, a realisation that, despite their efforts to reassure her, their chemistry had driven her from the home she had known since coming out of hospital.

"We'll find her Alex. She'll be ok, wherever she is, she'll be ok. She's a fighter." The words were as much to convince herself as they were to appease Alex.

"And what if she's not? What if she's given up fighting? You've not seen her on her worst days, Abbie, not by far. She is strong, yes, one of the strongest women I know but this… I'm scared that this is breaking her. And even if she's not gone and done something reckless, something stupid, what if whoever did this to Sam has decided that it's not enough to take the one person who means most to her? What if they won't be satisfied until Liv's dead too?" The blonde attorney voiced some of the fears which were reverberating round her head. "How will I live with myself if I was too busy getting laid to give a damn about my best friend when she needed me most?"

Despite both of their semi-dressed states, Abbie crossed the room on swift feet, sweeping the distraught young woman into her arms and holding her close, tenderly soothing a hand over her fine blonde hair. "Ssshh Alex, you can't think like that. Don't torture yourself with what if's and if only's. What's done is done, we can't change the past but we can make damn sure we prove to Liv that she has a whole lot to live for. Come on, let's get dressed and we'll go whoop us some stubborn Benson ass. She's probably just too proud to come back here having made such a show of giving us the night to screw each other's brains out," Abbie surmised in her usual blunt way, letting go of the other woman and continuing to throw her borrowed outfit onto her lean frame. In an effort to break some of the tension she felt gathering in the silent air, Abbie quipped, "you know, this isn't my usual method for avoiding that awkward morning after. I'm more of a slink out in the early hours gal myself!" A withering look was Alex's only response as she pulled her hair into an untidy ponytail and moved towards the door. Abbie caught her around her waist, stilling her motion for a brief moment to press a tender, almost chaste kiss to her lips. "Despite how this evening is developing, I don't regret what we did. I hope you don't either. I'd hate to think this would sour things between us, I mean we do still have to work together for the next few months at least."

"Not now, ok, Abbie? I can't have this discussion now but I won't let it affect our working relationship, no matter how things turn out. The outcome is too important."


Part 28

Thursday 27th October 2008


Fausto's restaurant, East 4th Street

The entire restaurant was vibrating with the buzz and hum of the crowd as Olivia and Samia slipped in through the side door. The Camanetti's had closed the doors on their business for the evening, a traditional occurrence to accommodate their extended family when they descended to celebrate Thanksgiving in raucous style. It was Olivia's first experience of the clan, having heard plenty about Fausto's brother's crew from Sam and Fausto himself but Gina's relatives were a little more unknown. She was nervous about meeting so many people but hoped that with Sam by her side, she would survive relatively unscathed. She had had to fudge the truth slightly to throw Elliot off from his incessant questioning about why she wouldn't join them as she had for as many years as either of them could remember since they had been partnered up at work. In the end, she had confessed that she was seeing someone and that she was spending Thanksgiving with their family but remained tight-lipped about the identity of her new 'beau' as Elliot opted to call the mystery suitor.

"Aunty Sami!" a young voice cried above the din. The voice, Olivia realised, belonged to a tiny blonde boy who was hurtling towards his 'aunt', who was in fact his cousin but he was too young to make the distinction.

"Hey munchkin!" Sam greeted, groaning as he flung himself into her arms and demanded to be lifted up. "You're getting too big for this now, little man. Aunty Sami needs more spinach if she's going to be lifting you up much longer," she told him seriously, undermining her words by tickling his ribs, holding him tight to her body as he squirmed.

"I not too big, I'm four and a half," Tony insisted, making himself at home against his favourite cousin's shoulder.

"I stand corrected!" Sam stated, doing her best to look contrite. "Hey Tony, I want you to say hello to someone special." Urging Liv closer to them, she turned her hip-riding-limpet around to face her lover. "Tony, this is my girlfriend Olivia. Liv, this little monster is Anthony Camanetti the third but he insists that we call him Tony. Tony's parents are my uncle's youngest son, Anthony, and his wife, Ella." As she spoke, Sam pointed the people in question out to her lover, smiling reassuringly as Liv flashed her a panicked look at the prospect of having to remember so many names and try to match them to the correct faces. "Say hi Tony," Sam prompted the suddenly shy child.

"Hi 'Livia," he squeaked before burying his head in Sam's neck.

"Hi Tony, nice to meet you," Liv cooed with a warm, friendly smile and soft eyes, well versed in handling bashful youngsters.

"Where's your sister, Tony?" Samia asked, swivelling her head in all directions and scanning the crowd to try and spot Tony's sibling.

"She's upstairs laying down in your old room. She was sicky on the way here in the car so Mamma made her sleep," Tony informed his cousin gravely, laying his head on her shoulder and gazing up at her adoringly. It was clear that he doted on the young woman, that much was patently obvious even to Olivia's eyes.

"Sami, darling," an older gentleman approached. Though broader around the beam and shorter than Fausto, there was no mistaking them as anything other than brothers such was the likeness between them.

"Uncle Tony, how are you? Is Aunt Helena with you this year?" Sam asked accepting a kiss on both cheeks from her father's brother.

"She is, dear girl and I've no doubt she'll be along in just a moment to say hello herself. Now, who is this gorgeous young lady gazing at you with such love in her eyes?" The older Tony chuckled as he watched colour begin a march up Olivia's smooth, sculpted cheeks.

"Uncle Tony, Olivia Benson; detective with the NYPD and light of my life," Sam introduced emphatically, hoisting Tony III back higher on to her hip again. "Olivia, this is my dad's wayward brother, Tony Camanetti the first. We got the more creative genes on our side of the family, thankfully or else I might have ended up being called Fausto regardless of me being a girl!" All three adults let loose a short peel of laughter, causing a confused young boy to watch them and join in belatedly, obviously having no idea what was amusing but not wanting to be left out by his grandfather and cousin. The child's fake laughter in turn set the adults off laughing once more.

"Nice to finally meet you, Olivia. I've heard glowing reports from my brother and sister-in-law about how well you're suiting our little girl, here." Tony leant in, clasping Olivia's shoulders in two meaty hands before planting a kiss on each of her cheeks, smiling warmly at her startled expression. "So Olivia…" Tony began, wrapping an arm around the detective's broad shoulders and leading her away from her lover under the guise of getting to know her better.

Sam wandered further into the melee, scouting out her parents and placing Tony III on the ground at her feet, keeping a watchful eye on where her lover was at all times. "Hi Mamma, hi Papa," she greeted, giving them both a tight, warm hug.

"Hi sweetheart…" Gina paused, frowning a little, "no Olivia? Is everything ok?"

"Oh don't worry Mamma, Liv's here. She's been kidnapped by Uncle Tony who is no doubt either giving her the full family history or terrifying the life out of her with his fictional tales of life as a mobster in days gone by!" Sam quipped jovially.

Thursday 27th October 2008


Fausto's restaurant, East 4th Street

"Papa, have you seen Olivia recently?" Sam asked as she popped her head around the doorway of the kitchen. She had barely spent five minutes with her lover all evening, her family seeming to conspire to keep them apart as everyone fought for the newcomer's attention. Sam loved that they had accepted her so readily but was growing frustrated with their lack of contact. Their time together the rest of the week had been limited, with Liv catching most nights to ensure that she could get this one evening off to spend with her lover. At least she knew they would end the night together with a few hours of uninterrupted sleep and snuggling time.

"Last I saw her, she was being led into the lounge by young Tony, Felicia, Luca and Joey. That was about an hour or so ago though, just after the meal finished. She has quite a way with the little ones, that girl. She'd make a perfect mother," Fausto hinted with a wink. Sam simply threw him a benevolent smile and an almost imperceptible nod of agreement before heading out in search of her errant lover once more. She slipped through the thinning crowd of relatives, offering the occasional pleasantry to those who addressed her but not letting them deter her any longer from being reunited with Olivia. She spied her mother ahead, hovering in the doorway to the lounge.

"Mamma, have you seen Liv?" she called quietly when she was close enough. The Camanetti matriarch turned around, beckoning her daughter closer with a finger to her lips, silently instructing her not to draw attention to their presence. Joining her mother in the doorway, Sam peeped inside, her heart catching in her throat at the sight which greeted her. Olivia sat in the centre of the sofa with two children either side of her and three more at her feet, all listening intently to her as read from the book in her hands and watching her with awestruck expressions on their faces.

"…He flew into the water and swam towards the beautiful creatures. They saw him and shot forward to meet him. 'Only kill me,' said the poor creature, and he bowed his head low, expecting death. But what did he see in the water? He saw beneath him his own form, no longer that of a plump, ugly grey bird—it was that of a Swan. It matters not to have been born in a duck-yard, if one has been hatched from a Swan's egg. And now the Swan began to see the good of all the trouble he had been through. He would never have known how happy he was if he had not first had all his sorrow and unhappiness to bear." Olivia paused as she let Joey turn the page, her gaze fondly sweeping over all her tiny companions, drinking in their rapt expressions before returning her attention to the story.

"The larger swans swam round him, and stroked him with their beaks. Some little children were running about in the garden; they threw grain and bread into the water, and the youngest exclaimed: 'There is a new one!' The others also cried out: 'Yes, a new Swan has come!' and they clapped their hands, and danced around." Sam had to stifle a joyful laugh as all the children seated around her lover clapped with Tony and his cousin, Luca, shuffling around on their bottoms in a dance. Felicia quietly mimicked the brunette's vocalisation of the children in the story's exclamations, clearly under the spell of a serious case of hero-worship. Liv waited patiently for them to settle again before continuing the tale of the 'Ugly Duckling'.

"They ran to their father and mother, bread and cake were thrown into the water, and every one said: 'The new one is best, so young and so beautiful!' And the old Swans bowed before him. The young Swan felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wings. He scarcely knew what to do. He was too happy, but still not proud, for a good heart is never proud," Olivia announced gravely, turning the final page in the book.

"He remembered how he had been persecuted and laughed at, and he now heard everyone say that he was the most beautiful of all beautiful birds. The syringas bent down their branches toward him low into the water, and the sun shone warmly and brightly. He shook his feathers, stretched his slender neck, and in the joy of his heart said: 'How little did I dream of so much happiness when I was the despised Ugly Duckling!'" Olivia smiled warmly as she closed the book to a round of cheers from her audience.

"'Livia, what's a s…si…sirin…" Luca asked, struggling to pronounce the unfamiliar word.

"A syringa? It's a type of tree with purple flowers on it, honey," Liv replied with a warm smile.

"I like purple, it's my favouritest colour ever," Ani, another distant cousin of Tony and Sam's, informed their storyteller excitedly.

"Really? Wow, that's so cool. My favourite colour's purple too," Olivia told the dark-haired seven year old, laughing softly as Ani squealed in delight.

"She's so natural with them," Gina cooed quietly to her daughter from their semi-hidden position in the doorway off to the side of the lounge.

"She just keeps on amazing me and making me fall that little bit more in love with her. Mamma, I don't remember ever feeling this way about anyone else. I feel like my heart might literally burst, it's so full of love for her," Sam murmured, her eyes a little teary and wearing an expression of wonder not dissimilar to some of those on the faces of the children gathered around the detective.

"Are my children terrorising your girlfriend, Samia?" Ella, Tony and Felicia's mother, asked as she arrived in the doorway, having been searching for her children wondering what on Earth they were up to. Usually when everything went quiet with the pair of them was when it was truly time to worry about their antics!

"Not at all. I think Liv is in her element," Sam assured the stocky blonde woman, indicating the cosy, heart warming scene in the lounge.

"She's a keeper without doubt if she can handle the terrible twosome and their cousins!" Ella retorted on a laugh. "I'll go and rescue her before they outstay their welcome. We've got to get heading home, Tony has an early start tomorrow. His job, unfortunately waits for no one – accidents still happen and someone has to patch up the patients." She kissed each of the women on their cheeks before slipping between them to retrieve her children from where they were cuddled up to their new favourite adult. Sam followed, making eye contact with her lover the instant she stepped into the room and quickly becoming mesmerized by the older woman's rich mocha orbs. Two young voices whined as they were informed by their mother that it was time to leave but they grudgingly hauled themselves off the couch. Each of them spontaneously turned to Olivia and held their arms out for a hug before they would follow their mom from the room though.

As Felicia bid Sam farewell, she exclaimed loudly enough for all occupants of the room to hear, "Aunty Sam, you have the coolest girlfriend in the world!"

"I sure do, baby girl," Sam agreed, smiling widely at both the besotted girl and her now blushing partner.

Stepping closer to the still seated woman, Sam leant down and pressed a chaste but firm kiss to her lover's lips, chuckling as she heard another mischievous voice pipe up, "Sam and Olivia sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G."

"Luca Benedict Scavello, that will be quite enough of that!" the boy's mother, Bianca, admonished before he could go any further with his rhyme. "Say goodnight now, we're heading home in five minutes. Don't forget to use the bathroom before we go this time. We're not stopping by the side of the road as soon as we get three blocks away again because you can't wait 'til we get home." Of all her cousins, Bianca was Sam's least favourite. It wasn't that she disliked the rake-thin, short-haired brunette but she could be a little brash and occasionally unnecessarily harsh with her children, in Sam's eyes. The young boy meekly did as he was told, his brother, Bruno, following suit, both stopping to request a hug from Olivia and thank her for reading them the story. As the congregation in the lounge dwindled, Gina coaxed Ani and Joey, the only remaining children out of the room, pulling the door to in order to give the two lovers some semblance of privacy in which to reconnect.

Sam lowered herself onto the sofa beside the still reclining brunette, sliding one hand up the toned, muscular thigh closest to her. With her free hand, she reached across and picked the book up from where it had been abandoned on the couch cushion, lovingly caressing its cover with a wistful expression. "This used to be my favourite bedtime story when I was a girl. I loved hearing you read it to the kids," Sam sighed contentedly as she gently tossed the book behind her onto the end table beside the sofa. "You survived the clan then?" she queried, gazing lovingly at the older woman, still swooning from watching her interact so naturally with her young cousins. When the whole family got together, it usually followed that there would be at least two of the children in tears before the festivities ended. This year had proved to be an exception to that rule, with all of the kids being drawn to Olivia's warm and open personality and too distracted by her fooling about with them and then the story-time to bicker amongst each other.

"I love your family, sweetheart. They've all been so kind, so accepting of me… of us, our relationship. I've never had this before, it's… it makes me love you even more, if that's possible." Olivia leant across the small divide, resting her forehead against Sam's and rubbing their noses together in an Eskimo kiss.

"They love you because of who you are; an amazing, beautiful, caring, gentle soul who continues to surprise me in the very best of ways. Watching you with the kids, how they responded to you, how much they adore you even though they only met you tonight, how you engaged them with the story, I can't tell you how that makes me feel. There are no words that can adequately explain how my heart sang with the most exquisite joy, knowing that you are willing to give me more than a second glance and take on my crazy relatives. You are amazing. You make me want to tell everyone that I am so in love with you that I want to burst." Sam's words ran out as Liv crushed her lips to the teacher's mouth, pulling their bodies closer together as she wound her arms around the blonde's slender waist.

When they finally broke for air, long moments later, Olivia assured her partner, "I know honey, I know exactly what you mean because I feel exactly the same way every time I look at you. I feel like I should pinch myself just to make sure I'm not dreaming; like we're still in the first flushes of exciting new love every time I see you or talk to you. Happy Thanksgiving sweetheart and thank you for giving me so many things to be thankful for."

Tears of joy trickled from the corners of Sam's eyes as she hugged the brunette tightly, burying her head in the crook of her neck and breathing in her familiar, intoxicating scent. "Take me home and I'll show you just how thankful I am to have you in my life," she husked enticingly, suckling the racing pulse point beneath her lips to emphasize her point.

Thursday 27th October 2008


Olivia Benson's apartment, East 34th Street

Olivia felt herself being pinned against the wall in the entryway of her apartment, plush, pliant lips massaging her own in a desperate dance of desire. A breathy whimper was released into the air as Sam's mouth withdrew, a whimper which Liv was surprised to learn came from her own throat completely involuntarily.

"It's ok babe, I'm not going far," Sam murmured erotically as she allowed her tongue to trace a path down the strong column of her lover's neck. Her hands were busy unfastening the buttons on Olivia's short sleeved, crimson shirt, opening her body up to continued oral exploration.

Olivia's own hands stroked over her girlfriend's clothed back, across her shoulders and down her bare arms as far as she could reach. Her fingertips tingled in anticipation, her arousal heightened by each nip, each kiss, each languid caress of the younger woman's tongue against her overheated skin. "God woman, I need you…" Liv moaned wantonly.

"You have me honey, all of me for as long as you want me," Sam replied, her words sending tantalising vibrations through the brunette's sensitive flesh as she circled first one and then the other taut straining nipple through the simple cotton fabric of her buxom lover's bra. The button on Liv's charcoal gray pants was popped open easily, the zipper lowered painfully slowly, finally allowing the material to pool around Liv's ankles. "So beautiful," Sam murmured appreciatively as she stepped back slightly to drink in the sight of her panting, aroused partner, leaning heavily against the wall just inside her front door for support; shirt hanging open exposing sculpted abs and heaving full breasts; long, toned, tanned legs trembling slightly under the stress of trying to hold her weight. "Stay right where you are my love and keep your eyes open for me," Sam requested saucily, stepping out of the older woman's reach and beginning to writhe seductively before her, shedding her own clothing in time with a rhythm only she was able to hear.

Another low guttural groan was torn from barely parted lips at the visage unfurling in front of Olivia. Samia unwrapped her body as though it was a precious gift, which the detective was quick to acknowledge it was; possibly the most precious gift the young blonde could give her with the exception of her heart and that had already been given, and accepted, freely. Liv's hips began rocking back and forth slightly, humping the air automatically as she craved friction, contact, stimulation, release, despite there being nothing to provide such things near to her. The groans turned to a long moan of frustration as her cellphone started to ring beside her on the side table. It took all of her resolve not to simply ignore the pesky device in the hopes that whoever was on the other end would get the message and leave her alone. Her ingrained sense of duty however won and she reached for the offending phone, snatching it up and barking her name into the receiver by way of a greeting.

"Liv, hi, Happy Thanksgiving!" Elliot called cheerfully into his partner's ear.

"Thanks Elliot, what do you need?" Liv ground out, barely suppressing a whimper as Sam continued her striptease, removing her bra and palming her own breasts, eyes fluttering shut in ecstasy at the sensation.

"What, can't a guy just call his partner to wish her Happy Thanksgiving?" Elliot chirped, sounding far too chipper to be completely sober.

"He can but now's not the best time for a chat El. I'm kind of… in the middle of something important," Olivia cautioned on a low growl, a gasp escaping as Sam's hand dipped inside her own panties, the other remaining at chest level to toy with her proudly distended nipple.

"Really? Woah stud, whoever he is, he's a lucky guy you know? I mean you know that right? You know you deserve someone amazing? Someone as amazing as you are," the swarthy detective gushed drunkenly.

"I'm the lucky one and I have a feeling I'm about to get a whole lot luckier as soon as I get off the phone so I'm hanging up now and I'll speak to you tomorrow, when you're sober!" Liv stated as calmly as she could as she watched a now naked Sam stalk towards her. She hit the call end button on her cell, powering the phone off so there would be no further interruptions and tossed the tiny device back onto the table, its existence forgotten as soon as a small, warm body pressed up against her own.

"Wise decision, Olivia," Sam congratulated sensually, "I was about to make that a very uncomfortable telephone call for you." Giving the older woman no opportunity to reply, Sam pressed her lips to her lover's in a fierce, fiery kiss, pouring every ounce of love and hunger into it that she could. Olivia attempted to wrap her arms around the naked woman, to hold her close but her hands were batted away as the willowy blonde slithered down her torso, hooking fingertips into Liv's panties at each hip and dragging them down her legs. The scent of the brunette's arousal drifted to Sam's nostrils as the barrier was removed. Combined with the incendiary heat she could feel emanating from the apex of the quivering thighs now level with her face where she knelt on the carpeted floor at Liv's feet, Sam understood that her show had definitely hit the mark, despite the impromptu interruption. Unable to resist temptation any longer, Sam drove forwards, nudging Liv's legs further apart and teasing her nether-lips open with two fingertips and plunged her tongue deep into the crevice it created.

The detective had to brace herself with one arm locked and extended, hand gripping Sam's shoulder as her knees buckled under her lover's oral onslaught. "Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm," she keened, breaths becoming shallower as a skilled tongue drank in her essence and worshipped her swollen flesh.

Sam suckled on the older woman's twitching clit, drawing a ragged, hoarse cry from her chest, her weight settling more fully against Sam's shoulders as the muscles in her legs weakened from the myriad sensations hurtling through her body. Pulling her mouth away just enough to speak, Sam requested, "lock your knees for me babe. I promise I won't let you fall." Placing one hand against a trembling kneecap, the young blonde pressed it back towards the wall, assisting her lover to comply with her request. When both legs were straight and straining, Sam rested her left arm across the standing woman's lower abdomen, pinning her hips to the wall and effectively assisting her to remain upright. Her free hand trailed up Liv's inner thigh, her lips following a similar path up its opposite number before the two met at her apex. Two fingertips teased the brunette's entrance lightly as lips settled back to kissing and caressing the sensitive bundle of nerves hiding like a precious pearl amongst her soaking folds.

"Yes," Liv breathed, her own free hand flattening itself against the wall in an additional effort to help herself remain upright. "Please Sami, inside… I need you… inside me… please." She cried out wordlessly as Sam complied with her desperate plea, plunging two fingers deep into her sopping core. The young woman set a steady pace, pumping her digits rhythmically in and out, in and out, circling her clit with the tip of her tongue, occasionally pressing the muscle flat against the pulsating nub for extra stimulation. As Sam felt her lover become accustomed to the presence of those two fingers inside her, she uncurled another from where it rested against her palm, pressing it to Liv's opening and sliding it inside to join the others without breaking from her rhythm. Liv hissed appreciatively as she felt herself being stretched wider, opened up further and filled more fully. The initial slight discomfort was replaced by heightened arousal as she bore down on the fingers as much as her position would allow her to, her body adjusting and accepting the increased girth of the penetration. Deft fingertips grazed against the sensitive ridged flesh inside her core, spurring her on, driving her closer and closer to the edge of orgasm. Fluttering muscles froze momentarily as she felt a fourth finger insinuate itself inside her opening, her legs sliding further apart in an effort to comfortably accommodate the additional intrusion. Sensing that her lover was hovering on the edge between pleasure and pain, Sam stilled her motion, allowing the older woman's body time to adjust. They had never attempted this level of penetration before but Sam wanted everything that night. If it had been physically possible, she would have crawled bodily inside her lover such was her desire to be connected in every possible way to her lover.

"Are you ok, sweetheart?" Sam asked, hand still stationary while she gauged her girlfriend's reaction.

"Yeah… yes… just give me a second," Liv assured, willing her muscles to loosen up. Sam nodded, dropping tender kisses against the sparse patch of coarse hair covering her lover's mound before turning her head and trailing her lips across still quivering thighs, instinctively soothing the brunette and helping her to relax. After only a short while, Sam felt the vice around her fingers slacken and she returned her lips to their previous point of focus, lavishing extra special attention to the hooded bundle of nerves, still refraining from moving her hand until she was convinced Liv was sufficiently lubricated for it not to chafe. "Please baby…" the brunette whimpered, bearing down onto the fingers resting inside her entrance to indicate what it was she was asking for.

"Are you sure?" Sam asked. "I don't want to hurt you," she explained fretfully, rocking her fingers only very slightly to test her partner's readiness.

"You won't. I promise, you won't. You feel amazing, you… inside me… feels incredible," Liv panted as she matched the gentle rocking motion, working Sam's fingers deeper inside her, their passage aided by the fresh flood of juices which seeped from her core in response to being loved so completely by her girlfriend.

"My God, Liv…" Sam exclaimed, her own centre pulsating and oozing copious amounts of fluid as she watched her hand become steadily more deeply embedded inside her lover. Determining by the woman's mewls that she was growing desperate for release, Sam fastened her lips over the brunette's clit once more, suckling firmly and laving it with broad strokes of her tongue. Liv's knees caved at the additional stimulation, the combination of Sam's arm across her abdomen and her own braced against the kneeling blonde's shoulder the only things keeping her upright.

"Yes…yes…yes…yes…YES!" she chanted, encouraging her partner in her endeavours. She released a primal scream as Sam's fingers curled and brushed against her sensitive internal ridge, muscles clamping down almost painfully tightly, trapping Sam's hand deep inside. Undulations pulsed through her inner walls as the blonde coaxed out the full extent of her orgasm, lips still kissing her pliant flesh and fingers still gently, rhythmically moving inside her, ever more slowly, ever decreasing the range of their motion until Liv went completely limp above her.

Copyright of the excerpt of 'The Ugly Duckling' belongs to its author, Hans Christian Anderson.


Part 29

Saturday February 21st 2009


Olivia Benson's apartment, East 34th Street

Alex, Abbie and Elliot, who had joined the women when they picked up Liv's spare key from his house, let themselves into the dark apartment quietly. Each fretted silently about what they might find. Alex was torn between wanting Liv to be there desperately and not wanting to find her lifeless body. An eerie quiet met them, a feeling of emptiness enveloping each of them as they concluded individually that the woman they sought was not home.

"I'm going to do a sweep of the apartment, make sure there are no surprises here," Elliot informed them, increasingly worried for his partner's safety. Despite their recent difficulties, he cared for her a great deal and it would pain him if anything happened to her.

"Is there anywhere else you can think of that she might go? Anywhere that meant a lot to her and Sam? A special place they had?" Abbie asked quietly when she and Alex were alone in the entry hall.

"Not that would be open at this time of night, I don't think," Alex supplied with a frown before a horrified expression settled on her pinched, drawn features. "You don't think she'd try and spend the night with Sam do you? At her memorial I mean. It's where she went last week…on Valentine's Day when she wanted to be close to Sam."

"Seriously? She'd freeze to death, it's like six below zero out there," Abbie baulked, equally distressed by the thought. "Stabler!" the brunette called urgently, heedless of the thin walls and the possibility of waking cranky neighbours.

The detective rushed through the small apartment, fearing a development in his absence. "What is it?"

"We need to go to the memorial park where Samia's plaque is. Now!" Abbie stated spurring her companions into action. It was obvious from the atmosphere in the apartment that Liv had not been there. Staying was pointless and unhelpful in their search for her. Elliot trusted the two women to know Olivia well enough to take Abbie's order seriously. They piled into his car, Alex beside him and Abbie perched on the edge of the backseat, seatbelt straining to its limit as she peered out of the windshield from between the seats.

"How come Liv wasn't at yours tonight, Alex?" Elliot tried hard to keep any edge out of his tone which might come across as accusatory but wasn't sure he'd managed it too effectively when Abbie growled at him protectively.

"Alex and I were out to dinner discussing Sam's case. Olivia assured me she was spending the night with the Camanetti's, neither of us had any reason to doubt her word. Do you always drive like my grandmother, Stabler? It's a wonder you ever catch up to any criminals." Fatigue, frustration and fear combined with her own gnawing guilt made Abbie irritable, stripping her of her usual charm.

"Getting us into an accident won't help anyone, certainly not Liv," Elliot barked, keeping his eyes firmly on the road ahead.

"Both of you, please, stop it," Alex pleaded quietly. Her voice betrayed her devastation at how badly she felt she had let her closest friend down. Abbie's hand drifted to the blonde's slender shoulder, squeezing it supportively and letting it rest there as she murmured a quiet apology, which Elliot didn't think applied solely to their minor spat. For the remainder of their journey, the only chatter was Alex's softly issued directions.

Saturday February 21st 2009


Manhattan SVU

Olivia wandered into the crib as quietly as she could, not wanting to disturb anyone else already catching a few hours sleep in there. She released a relieved sigh as she found herself alone in the dorm-style room containing two rows of six narrow cots each with their heads resting against the wall. She stepped into the furthest corner of the small room, tucking herself away from her obvious sight, still shivering wildly from her time outdoors. After a night watchman had almost discovered her at Sam's memorial, Liv had fled from the park, wandering through the streets aimlessly with little care for her own wellbeing. The alcohol she had consumed had long since worn off but the crushing despair and disgust at her actions remained with her. She hated herself more than she had ever thought was possible for what she had come so close to doing with Jonathon. She was craving a shower, wanted to scrub her skin until it was red raw even though she knew it would do nothing to rid her of the dirty feeling she carried inside her but there would be no hot water in the precinct washrooms until early morning, around seven a.m. Even in her neglectful state, she realised that taking a freezing cold shower after being exposed to the frigid night air for so long would be foolhardy. Toeing off her shoes, Liv shed her windbreaker, opting to remain in her shirt and pants, and then slid beneath the scratchy grey blankets. As the thin material covered her, she willed her muscles to unfurl the tension locked within them so that she might find blissful escape for a few short hours in sleep. She huddled down, shivering violently, eyes screwed up as though that small, simple action could keep the memories which haunted her at bay. Tears squeezed themselves out from between her tightly closed lids trickling down into the soft hair at her temples.

Saturday February 21st 2009


Manhattan SVU

"Thanks for calling me back. Which way did Detective Benson head?" Alex asked the uniformed officer manning the front desk as she and her two companions burst through the precinct doors.

"Up to SVU last I saw. I've been here ever since and I've not seen her come back down," the broad shoulder man informed the formidable looking trio. Detective Stabler he knew, ADA Cabot he was less familiar with but still recognised. The third woman, the brunette who wore an expression which suggested she could easily commit murder without blinking, was a mystery to him but her presence along with the others meant that she was allowed to pass without delay. The three marched off to the elevators, its call button receiving brutal treatment when the doors didn't immediately open. Alex threw a hand up in exasperation.

"I'm hitting the stairs, I can't wait for this decrepit old thing to deign to work," she announced, already setting off for the stairwell, Abbie hot on her heels. Elliot looked longingly one last time at the elevator doors, still resolutely closed, before trundling after the two women.

Olivia became aware of a presence, someone with her. Her eyes flickered open, fixing on the visage of a blonde goddess surrounded by a harsh halo of bright white light. "Sami?" she whispered reverently.

"Olivia Benson, you infuriating, stubborn, pig-headed…" the goddess began to berate her before breaking down in tears and hugging her hard.

"Alex?" Confusion reigned as Liv's mind struggled to catch up to full wakefulness.

"I'm sorry… I'm so, so sorry…" Alex sobbed, her face buried into her friend's still covered shoulder, arm resting across her chest preventing her from rising. Over the top of the distraught blonde's head, Olivia sensed further movement.

"What the hell were you thinking, Benson?" Abbie asked hoarsely, her own throat tight with unshed tears of relief at having found the detective alive and seemingly unharmed.

"Abs?" Still the brunette was struggling for comprehension as to what had warranted the scene unfolding before her. Piecing the previous night together from her fractured recollections, realisation dawned. "You two needed space to…"

"You lied to me," Abbie cut in, mindful of Elliot's presence even if his partner hadn't noticed him yet. "Gina phoned and left a message while Alex and I were at dinner."

"Oh," Liv murmured contritely before rage got the better of her. "Well I'm sorry if I prevented you from getting the fuck you both so desperately wanted from each other," she spat bitterly, fire erupting within her as anger ignited – anger which was mostly directed at herself but unleashed on the two women she felt had assisted in driving her down the destructive path she had trodden that night. She pushed Alex off her, flinging the flimsy covers back and hauling her frame from the cot. Only then did she notice Elliot hovering uncomfortably by the entrance to the crib. "Careful Elliot, you're in a room full of raging dykes, you might have your Catholic card revoked if you continue to hang around with such undesirables." The slap stunned her and the other occupants of the room. Olivia refrained from raising a hand to her stinging cheek, refusing to give her assailant the pleasure of a reaction. Instead, she crouched down and began cramming her still icy feet back into her shoes, determined to be alone somewhere – anywhere – with her misery.

"So help me, if I have to hold you down myself, you are not running out on us again," Abbie ground out from between clenched teeth, palm hot from where she had delivered the blow to her obstinate friend. "Do you have any clue how scared we were? What we thought might have happened to you? Damn it, Olivia, get it through your thick skull that we care about you." Alex remained quiet, eyes cast downwards towards the scarred linoleum floor, eyes still watery.

"You know Olivia, there are times when you can be a royal pain in everyone's ass. I'm here because your friends cared enough about you to want to make sure you were alright, despite the fact that you lied to them. And, in spite of what you might think of me, I hate that you're hurting, I hate that you lost someone who obviously meant a great deal to you but that doesn't give you the right to hit out at me or Alex or Abbie," Elliot griped, too tired to cut the grieving brunette any slack for her outburst. Turning to the other two women, he stated, "I'll be downstairs at my desk when you want a lift home." The three of them remained stationary, in an uneasy silence, until Elliot had departed.

"I'm sorry…" Alex confessed again, so softly that even in the silence of the room it was difficult to hear.

"No Alex, you're not the one to apologize. You, Olivia, you have some apologizing to do but right now… right now we are going to go downstairs, ask Elliot to drop us off at Alex's apartment and then thank him for his trouble. And then we are all going to get some sleep and God help you Benson if your ass isn't still in that bed when morning comes," Abbie growled threateningly.

"I'm not…" Liv began belligerently before reigning in her fury and turning it on herself. "Just go, both of you, all of you, go enjoy being together. I can't be around… people…" She felt the palpitations begin, her breathing becoming shallow and panicked as the room swam before her and another flashback threatened to take hold.

"Breathe through it, Liv. Come on, you know how to handle this. Slowly in, hold it and then slowly out," Alex coached, guiding the older woman back to the bed, perching on it beside her and soothing a hand in circles between her shoulder blades. Switching her attention momentarily to Abbie, the attorney requested, "could you get Liv some water, please?" Abbie moved instantly, startled by the change in her friend's demeanour. The fight had gone, replaced by violent tremors and a haunted, vacant expression.

Alex continued to coax her friend through the panic attack, well versed in what to do after having had to support her through numerous at the apartment since Sam's death. She brushed long chestnut bangs out of Olivia's face, tucking them behind her ears and guiding her head down to rest against Alex's shoulder. She rocked them from side to side slightly as her arms wound tightly around the detective, holding her close, keeping her safe from her demons.

"I made a mistake tonight… Alex, I made a disgusting mistake…" Liv confessed brokenly.

"It's ok honey, whatever it is, it'll be ok," the attorney assured, hoping in her heart that it wouldn't prove to be an empty promise.

"I went to a bar after work. I honestly was planning on spending some time with Gina and Fausto this evening but then… I was at the hospital earlier with a vic." Abbie slipped back into the room unnoticed, opting to remain in the shadows of the room so she didn't interrupt the cathartic moment. "I never imagined it would be so hard, being back there but all I could think about was the last time I'd been in that place. I left work early and I went to a bar. I needed to forget, I needed for it not to hurt so much just for a little while at least. I felt so lonely, so alone that when a guy offered to buy me a drink, I let him." Alex swallowed convulsively, fearing where the tale would end up. "We spent some time together at the bar and I agreed to go back to his hotel room with him. I knew what he wanted and I thought I wanted it too but when he got on top of me…" Another flashback slammed into Olivia, literally taking the breath from her lungs as she saw Lovell Harris standing in front of her with his pants open, penis growing ever closer to her face as she fought uselessly against her restraints. Liv yanked herself from Alex's embrace, shrinking away from her as though her very touch burned.

"It's ok Liv, it's ok, you're safe, he's not here. No one's going to hurt you. Liv, look at me honey," Alex commanded gently, keeping her distance from the distraught detective so as not to further spook her. "Liv, sweetie, I need you to tell me if he hurt you tonight, this man you met in the bar. Did he force himself on you?" The blonde attorney caught sight of Abbie's stricken face as she listened to her friend's quiet confession, recalling all too well how her own rape had affected her for so many years. The detective cowered in a corner of the bunk, huddled up in a ball, arms over her head in a position which must have pained her still tender surgery scar. "Come on Liv, come back to us, please," Alex begged her close friend quietly, keeping her voice soft and as non-threatening as possible.

"It's not your fault, Liv, honey," Abbie cooed, finally stepping out of the shadows and approaching the tiny cot where the other two women sat as far away from one another as was possible. "No matter what happened, no matter what you might have suggested you wanted at first, if you said no at any point and he didn't stop, he and only he is at fault." Not wanting to crowd the obviously distressed woman, Abbie opted to perch on a nearby cot placing the forgotten mug of water on the ground by her feet.

Liv raised her head, looking at the two women as though seeing them for the first time. "What…?" Then realisation dawned on her as she recalled what she had been telling Alex before the latest flashback tortured her. "No… no he didn't… he… actually he was sweet about it. As soon as I asked him to stop, he did. He even offered to call me a cab to make sure I got home ok but I… I just needed to get out of there. When he was… he was on top of me and all I could see was what happened in Sealview and then Sam's face… she looked so disappointed, so ashamed of what I was doing." Liv flicked a glance at Abbie as she confessed about Sealview, knowing that the Texan only knew scant details about what had happened. "I feel so… so dirty… so sick. How could I do that to her? How could I think that I could get over her… get over this pain by fucking a stranger, a man?"

"It's called grief, Liv. It makes us do crazy things we'd never normally dream of doing. I've been there, I did precisely that during my first few weeks in Witsec," Alex admitted, recalling the times she had drunk her way through the best part of a bottle of vodka and then let herself be taken home by a random stranger in a bar once she had finally plucked up the courage to leave the house she had been stashed in.

"And you have no reason to feel ashamed of wanting the pain to stop. Hell, I'd be more worried if you didn't want it to end. I'm sorry if my actions made it worse for you," Abbie stated, rising from where she had settled and crossing the short divide to where her friend was still scrunched up at the head of the cot, leaning heavily against the wall as fatigue threatened to overcome her. "I should have been more sensitive to your needs, to your feelings. It's no excuse but you know me, I act first, think later."

"Don't Abbie, please don't blame yourself for this. Or you Alex. I don't, honestly I don't. I… I was out of order, I can't… I won't begrudge either of you companionship." Liv's eyelids drooped, the fight having drained out of her and leaving a weary shell in its wake.

"Let's get you home," Alex invited quietly, reaching out for the detective's hand.

"I… I can't… I'm not ready… please don't make me go back there on my own. Please Alex, I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry," Liv begged desperately, clutching at Alex's hand, eyes glancing wildly between her two friends. "You won't know I'm there, I promise, I won't get in the way of you and Abbie's night. Please Alex, please let me come back to your apartment. Please don't send me…" Alex wrapped Liv in a tight embrace, effectively silencing her.

"Ssshh, I wouldn't dream of you being anywhere other than my apartment, Liv. That's where I consider your home to be for as long as you want to stay so when I say we're going home, I mean to my apartment," Alex explained as she sought to reassure her closest friend. "It's late, we're all going to go back to mine and then we're going to get some sleep. Come on, let's go and see if Elliot's still awake enough to drive us." Olivia winced as she unfurled herself from her crunched position, her abdominal injury reminding her of its intolerance for such abuse. Alex watched warily, still half poised to catch the older woman should she fall. It had not escaped her attention that the brunette was still thoroughly chilled, a testament to her extended exposure to the frigid night air. The attorney decided that she would insist on Liv drinking something warm before they all retired, regardless of how late it was.

Abbie slid into the back seat first, shuffling across to the other side and then guiding a semi-conscious Olivia in next to her. Alex climbed in beside them, Liv settling her weight against the young blonde as soon as she was settled into the bench seat. Elliot gunned the engine, glancing in his rear view mirror at the tired trio, watching the two attorneys tenderly take care of his partner, glad that she had such good friends to watch over her when she hit the self destruct button. They drove in silence, with the brunette detective drifting in that comfortable place between sleeping and waking, semi-aware of the noises, the scents, the sensations around her but her brain shrouded in a pleasant fog of fatigue. Alex rested her cheek against Liv's crown as the ragged brunette head lolled onto her shoulder, her hand clasping Liv's where they rested against the blonde's firm thigh.. Abbie kept a hold of Olivia's other hand between both of her own, thumb casually caressing the cool, soft skin of the detective's wrist. When they pulled up outside Alex's apartment building, Elliot asked if they needed any help getting Liv up to Alex's but they assured him that between the two of them, they could manage. Thanking him profusely for his time and trouble in helping them find Liv and bring her home, they let him head home to his family and his bed, promising that they would make sure Liv got in to work a little later than usual to allow her to rest sufficiently.

"Have you got her?" Alex asked Abbie as they worked together to balance Liv's almost deadweight between them, her free hand fumbling in her pocket for her key.

"Yeah, yeah, we're good, aren't we, Liv?" Abbie asked, trying to keep Liv at least vaguely awake until they could get her upstairs and into bed. The night doorman suddenly appeared, thrusting the outer door open for the three women.

"Miss Cabot, I'm sorry for the delay, I didn't expect anyone to be out so late." The well-groomed employee stood aside as he held the door open, allowing the three women to shuffle through, Liv almost suspended between the two attorneys such was the crushing level of fatigue which had settled over her in the car.

"It's ok, Otis. I know there's not a lot of traffic at this time of day." Alex offered a kind smile to the caramel-skinned man who always looked out for her so well.

"Let me get the elevator for you," Otis said as he hurried in front of them, pressing the call button. Alex and Abbie were both silently relieved when the doors opened immediately, thanking the doorman before the doors closed once again and the car lurched upwards towards its destination. Olivia leant against the back wall of the elevator, taking some of the pressure off her two friends as they fought valiantly to keep her upright.

"Thank you," she murmured quietly, looking between the two women.

"No need, Liv. It's what friends do," Abbie assured her equally as quietly, glad that the evening had turned out amicably.

"Not far now, then you can lie down and get some sleep, ok, Liv?" Alex stated as she rubbed a hand soothingly up and down the older woman's arm, hand clasped tightly in her grasp. As the car slowed down, Abbie eased her arm around Liv's slender waist once again, supporting her weight and guiding her towards the apartment door.

"Just toss me on the couch, I'll be fine there," Liv instructed wearily.

"Don't be silly, you'll do no such thing. Besides, it's further to the couch than it is to your bedroom and you look like you're about to pass out completely so I think we're definitely better off getting you horizontal on the closest available surface," Alex stated confidently as the door to her apartment opened. She let Abbie lead the way, sliding in behind her two guests and kicking the front door shut behind her. Between them, they managed to negotiate the short distance to Liv's bedroom, depositing the tired detective onto the plush mattress as gently as they could. With nothing behind her to support her weight, Liv flopped backwards onto the bed, eyes fluttering shut as her body craved to give in to her pressing need to sleep.

"Stay with us just a few minutes longer, honey then once we get you tucked up under the blankets, you can sleep all you want to," Abbie advised the now prone woman as she crouched to slip her sneakers off. "Bloody hell Liv, you're feet are like blocks of ice!" the Texan exclaimed as she peeled off the thin black socks Liv was wearing and wrapped her warm hands around the cold appendages one at a time, trying to imbue them with some warmth. Alex returned to the bedside with a pair of track pants and a long sleeved t-shirt as well as some sports socks. Reaching for the socks, Abbie slipped them onto the still frigid feet as Alex began to unbutton Olivia's shirt.

"Sit up for me, Liv, so I can get this off you and put on something more comfortable to sleep in," Alex coaxed, helping her friend into a seated position and sliding first one arm and then the other out of the button down shirt. With a little more gentle instruction and minimal manhandling, the t-shirt was slipped on over the brunette's head, offering her a comforting warmth. Next, both women assisted her out of her work pants and into the track pants before pulling the detective unsteadily to her feet. Abbie reached for the comforter, pulling it down and creating space to lie the almost comatose woman down again. They tucked the covers around her tightly, sealing any gaps they could to keep the heat in, knowing that Liv still had a long way to go before she truly recovered her lost body heat. Both of them sat with her until they were sure she was fully asleep, torn between staying with her and letting her sleep in peace. Deciding on the latter, Abbie went to make her way to the front door.

"Where are you going?" Alex whispered askance.

"To the hotel," Abbie stated as though it should have been obvious.

"Stay, please?" the blonde attorney asked, drawing closer to the Texan and tugging her in the direction of her own bedroom. "I… I don't want you to go. It's late and cold out there and I'd worry whether you got back safely…" Alex babbled until Abbie's arms around her swallowed up any further words. The brunette could feel the tiny tremors pulsing through the younger woman as the events of the night threatened to overwhelm her. Silently acquiescing to the request, Abbie began undressing the woman she had shared such a passionate encounter with so many hours before. She kept her actions intimate but non-sexual, knowing that Alex needed comfort, not seduction after the stressful night. When Alex was stripped down to her underwear, Abbie turned her attention to her own attire, shedding the borrowed clothing quickly. Together, they slipped beneath the plush covers of Alex's bed, neither bothering with sleepwear. Gravitating towards the centre of the bed, Abbie pulled Alex's body in close, cradling her in a soothing embrace designed to convey her support. Despite fighting it, the blonde gave in to her tears, quietly sobbing into Abbie's neck as her worry caught up to her.

"I've got you, you're ok, let it out," Abbie cooed softly, running the fingers of her right hand through Alex's silky blonde hair. She felt her own eyes watering as she too reflected on what might have been, what tragedies might have befallen Liv during the evening while they were enjoying one another's company. She dropped a tender kiss against Alex's head, tracing random patterns with her left hand on the smooth expanse of her back. They drifted off to sleep wrapped in each other's arms, tears drying on their cheeks and minds filled with worries for their mutual friend.


Part 30

Thursday December 25th 2008


Olivia Benson's apartment, East 34th Street

"Liv?" Sam's voice was groggy as she rolled towards where she had just felt the bed dipping.

"Mmm, it's me, sorry baby I didn't mean to wake you." Olivia placed a gentle kiss on her lover's temple as she slid further down under the warm covers. "Go back to sleep," Liv whispered as she moved in close and spooned the blonde beauty from behind, relishing holding her in her arms after the hellish evening the unit had endured.

"Merry Christmas sweetheart," Sam mumbled back, already on her way back to sleep, knowing she could rest properly now that the other half of her soul was where she belonged; lying in bed beside her, arm draped over her waist, legs entwined with Sam's own, body moulded along her length.

Olivia dropped a tender kiss on the smooth, naked shoulder before her, replying, "Merry Christmas darling." Olivia allowed a tear to trickle from her eye as she recalled the face of the terrified six year old girl who had forever had Christmas marred by her violent father, who had finally chosen that Christmas Eve to beat her mother to death. Liv had so wished there was more she could do, something that could make the girl's suffering less and help her to retain the childlike wonder of the season but she knew realistically that there was nothing which could now prevent the young child from learning lessons almost overnight that no child should have to learn. She hoped that the emergency shelter she had been placed in made some kind of effort on Christmas Day and wondered idly if she could engineer a way to swing by there so that at least she might see a familiar face. She hadn't realised how many tears were leaking from her eyes until Sam was suddenly facing her, her face a mask of tender concern.

"Oh baby, do you want to talk about it?" Sam's lips kissed away her lover's tears, her hand gently cradling the older woman's face, a thumb tenderly stroking her cheek. The love shining in the young blonde woman's eyes almost undid Olivia's resolve completely.

"I'll be ok, honey. You need to sleep," Liv choked out around the lump in her throat, feeling guilty for having woken the teacher up at such an hour.

"I'm not going to leave you to struggle alone with whatever has you so upset. Talk to me if you want to, if it will help you or just let me hold you and be here for you until you too can sleep. Either way, I'm not sleeping until you do and you know I can be every bit as stubborn as you when I want to be so don't even think about trying to argue with me." Sam scolded gently, snuggling in closer to the brunette, fitting her body along her length until there was no gap between them at all, their foreheads resting against one another. One hand snaked its way to Olivia's back beneath the covers, rubbing in gentle circling motions designed to soothe the older woman.

"I don't deserve you, you're too good to me," Olivia murmured, fresh tears springing to her eyes as she compared the tenderness she had found with Sam to the brutality Jessica Spencer had suffered in her relationship, a brutality to which her daughter Lydia had borne witness.

"Of course you deserve me, Liv. You are one of the most deserving people I have ever met. You give so much of yourself to others always, how could you not be deserving of your own kind of happiness? What can I do to make you feel better honey? Whatever you need from me, you know I will gladly give it because I am head over heels in love with you and I can't imagine ever wanting to be anywhere other than by your side." Sam drove home her point by seeking out Olivia's quivering lips and softly covering them with her own and delivering a chaste, gentle kiss.

"Why do people kill in the name of love, Sam? How could anyone physically or psychologically hurt someone they profess to love? I'd rather kill myself than see anything happen to you and if I ever did anything to hurt you, I'd eat my gun." Olivia ran her fingers down her lover's spine unconsciously as she spoke causing Sam to shiver slightly beneath her touch, her body automatically arching into Olivia's toned body craving deeper contact.

"People who do that don't know what love is. All they know is control and fear and anger and an overwhelming need for power over others. This is love, what we share is love. It's mutual, it's respectful, it's dignified and it is joyful. And I know that, deliberately or not, you would never intentionally hurt me so no more talk of eating your gun, ok?" Sam was firm as she made her request, knowing that as much as it would kill Olivia to see Sam hurt, it would also prove impossible for Sam herself to go on if anything happened to Liv. It was a fear she lived with every day that the detective was working.

"I had to take a little girl away from her home tonight, to take her away from her parents because her father beat the crap out of her mother and didn't stop until she was dead. What kind of Christmas is she going to have? What kind of Christmas will she ever have again? And what kind of love will she find in her life if she's been taught to think it's ok to beat or be beaten? I wanted to bring her home with me, I wanted to show her what a true family can be, what a loving home can be like. She reminded me so much of myself at that age in so many ways, so wise beyond her years because of her home life and yet so naïve to the wider world and its realities." Olivia buried her head in the crook of Sam's shoulder, suddenly needing to hear the blonde's lifeblood pulsing through her veins to convince herself this was real, that she was indeed there in bed with Olivia and it wasn't still just some childish fantasy she was lost in. Sam was unsure what to say to all that. She knew that Olivia was very fond of children but had never actually spoken to her about starting a family, it had always felt too soon, their relationship too new to be discussing such things. Perhaps this was fate's way of forcing their hand though and pushing them to have that conversation.

"We could look into adopting, if it's something you're really serious about wanting to do? I've no doubt you know better than most how many kids there are out there who could use a loving, stable home."

Olivia's head shot up, looking into her lover's clear eyes, seeing no sign that she was talking in her sleep, only pure commitment to making Liv as happy as she could be. Ever the realist, the brunette shook her head. "I've tried that before, they turned me down as being unsuitable. I don't have the right support network…"

"That was before we were together though right? I mean, that may have been true then but now you have me, I work regular hours, I have a steady job and we have Mom and Papa who would be only too happy to help out with a child. Between us, we have everything that constitutes a great home to offer a child in need," Sam replied, not willing to be defeated just yet.

"Aren't you forgetting that we don't actually have a home to offer anyone? We alternate between your apartment and mine, we haven't formally got a place to call 'ours'," Liv responded gently, grateful to the young woman for considering having a family with her but refusing to get her hopes up.

"Would it be such a terrible thing if we did live together? If we moved in together, either to your place or mine or somewhere completely new? I'm already your official legal next of kin thanks to Alex, I think it's pretty clear I don't intend on going anywhere unless you're beside me so what's stopping us from living together?" Sam pressed, wondering if there was something Olivia wasn't telling her, some reason she was reluctant to entertain the idea of them being in one another's space on a more permanent basis.

"You mean you really want to be disturbed at all hours of the morning when I crawl in from work or get a call out? You think you can really put up with this? With me coming to bed and crying because of a case that gets to me?" Liv's heart pounded at the thought of the young woman wanting to commit herself to their relationship enough to move in together. It was something she had been wanting to raise for a while but had never found the courage or the words to ask.

"I would give all I have if it meant I got to wake up next to you most every morning for the rest of my life and that I could be here when you needed a shoulder to cry on, no matter what time of the day or night it is. I want everything and anything you're willing to share with me, Olivia." Sam spoke earnestly, looking deep into her lover's deep brown eyes and conveying how adamant her sentiment was through her expression.

"Well why don't you move in here with me until the lease runs out and then we'll see about getting a place with more space and think about kids if everything's going well then?" Olivia wanted to be sure that they could function in the same space full time before bringing a child into the equation and knew that any case worker worth their salt would also want to see a history of stability before they would be considered as adoptive parents.

"You got yourself a deal and I've got the best Christmas present I could ever ask for," Sam beamed planting an eager kiss on Olivia's cheek, gleeful that the older woman was willing to take their relationship to another level.

"So did I, the moment you came into my life. You're the best Christmas and birthday gift I could ever hope to have. Sharing a home with you, becoming a family, that will all be icing on the cake but for as long as I have you, there's nothing else I need to make me happier than I've been my entire life. I love you so much Samia, I love you with all my heart, all my soul, all that I am and all I can hope to ever be." Olivia moved her head, capturing the small blonde woman's lips with her own and kissing her deeply, the passion rising between them swiftly. Sam rolled onto her back, pulling Olivia with her and encouraging her to move on top of her, having found the feeling of the detective's toned body covering her own to be an addictive sensation she relished. The blonde teacher's hands roamed freely over Olivia's back beneath the thin tank she had worn to bed, nails scraping lightly against the olive skin, revelling in the feel of the rippling muscles beneath the surface. A strong thigh was pressed against her centre as the brunette encouraged her to open her legs wider eliciting a quiet gasp from the younger woman whose own hands slithered down the smooth back and cupped taut buttocks, pulling Olivia harder against her. Olivia tore her lips away from Sam's mouth, trailing kisses along her jawbone, down the long slender neck which arched into her touch granting her even greater access, nipping along her collarbone and laving the shallow dip where the two sides met at the base of Sam's throat with her hot tongue.

"You make me crazy with how much I want your fingers on me, in me; your lips, your tongue, all of you, I want all of you. I've never felt this way before, not with anyone," Sam panted as she brushed her hands up Olivia's sides, teasingly splaying her fingers across the edges of the brunette's firm breasts before burying both hands in the soft, dark hair and pulling her lover's mouth back up to her own, needing another kiss. Olivia's hands never stilled, throughout the kiss, pushing Sam's tank up her body and exposing her small, beautiful breasts, palming them and feeling a flood of fresh desire course through her as the nipples hardened almost painfully against her hands. Removing one hand, Olivia took her weight off her elbows, placing her free hand flat against the mattress and bracing herself to look down at her lover who was gazing back at her with an expression of wanton lust and desire.

"I want to feel your naked body against mine," Liv murmured, eyes raking over the stunningly attractive woman below her, knowing that she needed to satisfy both their needs before any kind of sleep would be visiting. "This is more than I have ever had with any of my lovers before too, I've never had this kind of feral need but when I look at you, especially when you're looking at me like that, I have to touch you, to taste you, to feel you around me as much as I need oxygen." Olivia rose up to sit back on her heels, peeling her own top off and tossing it aside, heedless of where it might land in the night darkened room. Sam rose from the mattress, unable to resist the sight being uncovered before her. She latched onto one tight nipple, licking, sucking and nipping at the tight bud unable to sate her craving to taste the taller woman's essence. Olivia sucked in a tight breath at the sensation of Sam's hot mouth worshipping her breast in stark contrast to the chill night air. Her own hands found the bottom of Sam's pyjama top and she teased it up, encouraging her lover to break contact long enough to allow the material to pass over her head. It too joined Olivia's somewhere in the darkened room as Liv tossed it off the bed, her concentration focused solely on the woman before her who had returned to lavishing erotic attention on both of her breasts. "Oh God, you feel so good," Liv moaned, cradling the back of Sam's blonde head and tenderly massaging her scalp, her fingers' motions subconsciously matching the swirling pattern the younger woman was creating with her tongue. Olivia's own head was thrown back, face to the ceiling, eyes closed in ecstatic rapture as molten rivulets of arousal streamed from her nipples to her throbbing centre. More, she needed, more; more contact, more friction, more access to her delicious lover. Reluctantly encouraging Sam to pull her head back, Olivia captured the blonde's lips in a heated kiss, pouring every ounce of her desire into the action, before shuffling off the bed and shedding her pants, underwear discarded with them, leaving her naked and more than ready for her lover's touch. Sam sensed the movement and hurried to yank her own remaining clothing off, flinging them in the opposite direction to where Olivia was standing. Olivia dived back beneath the warm blanket, wrapping it around them both as she moved back to her previous position on top of Sam's slender body, groaning in absolute pleasure at the feel of naked skin on skin.

"Oh fuck, please Liv, fuck me," Sam panted, hips bucking upwards as she felt her lover's flesh against her own, gasping as a strong thigh met with her sensitive bundle of nerves. She opened herself up wider, encouraging the older woman to do with her whatever she desired. She felt a hand slide down her torso, lightly tickling sensitive spots en route, heightening her arousal to even dizzier heights.

Olivia managed to manufacture some space between their fused bodies, just enough to slide her hand down to cup her lover's sodden core, lightly fingering the outer lips, hinting at the promise of things to come and teasing the young woman who was thrashing about with abandonment. Liv stifled her own groan as she felt how wet Sam was, the knowledge that it was her who had caused that level of arousal still a powerful aphrodisiac no matter how many times they made love. With deft fingers, she opened her lover's folds and slid a single finger inside, deeply penetrating the prone woman, the moist heat immediately enveloping her, welcoming her intrusion. Sam's hips rose off the mattress of their own accord, a guttural groan emanating from somewhere deep inside the blonde's soul as she felt the woman above her teasing her. Deciding she had had enough of being the pliant party in this exchange, Sam wormed her own hand between their bodies, finding Liv's own flooded core and sinking two fingers inside as far as she could reach. The move surprised Liv, a fresh flood of fluid signalling her enjoyment as she matched her lover adding a second finger to Sam's own centre and thrusting in time with the young teacher, riding the digits expertly stroking her sensitive ridge of flesh that all the men in her life had neglected to stimulate. Their eyes locked, startling blue on chocolate brown, words an unnecessary accessory as love and assurances flowed wordlessly between, each driving the other higher and higher, closer to that peak where bones become liquid and muscles turn to stone. Fingers pumped in and out, thumbs flicked, circled and pressed, hips rocked and rolled, breaths became shallow and quick as muscles clenched and unfurled in an age old dance of love, lust and pleasure. The two women climaxed simultaneously, holding onto each other tightly, each grounding the other as they felt their orgasms exploding, their names mingling in the air as they cried out their release, forever joined.

Olivia collapsed onto the mattress beside her young lover as she regained the use of her limbs, gently removing her fingers from their scorching cocoon and bringing them to Sam's lips, painting her juices across them and leaning in to kiss her, halted only by Sam mirroring her actions. The combined taste of themselves on each other's lips sent a tight bolt of arousal spiralling through them both once again, with each grinning at how they were able to turn one another into horny, hormone ravaged insatiable beasts. After a further lengthy session of kissing and caressing which ended with each riding those digits which had only recently been removed from their cores, the two women fell into an exhausted slumber, wrapped around one another, lips hovering close as they shared a single pillow.

Thursday December 25th 2008


Olivia Benson's apartment, East 34th Street

Olivia slowly became aware of her surroundings, morning creeping into her consciousness, along with the feel of a mouth kissing its way down her slender torso, already well on its way to her southern hemisphere. She felt Sam smile against her skin, obviously alert to the fact that her girlfriend was wakening from her slumbers. She felt rather than heard her mumble 'good morning', the vibrations reverberating through sensitive flesh creating a delicious sensation. Olivia snaked a hand down beneath the covers, searching out the tousled blonde head but was thwarted when she continued on her journey, kissing trembling thighs down to her knees and back up the opposite side to that which she had travelled down. Olivia lay back, helpless against her lover's skilled mouth, which was currently intimately exploring her folds, drinking up the evidence of her arousal and enjoyment with fervour.

"Baby, you're gonna kill me!" Olivia managed to grind out between her tightly clenched teeth as a rigid tongue pushed inside her. Her lover's laughter caused vibrations which centred on her swollen clit, rippling out along the sensitive ridges of flesh and only adding to her ever increasing arousal. Olivia conceded that if she had to die that day, she couldn't think of a more pleasurable way to go than being tongue-fucked to death by her incredible girlfriend. "Ohhhhhh Sami… God that's… I'm gonna… Oh God Sam, fuck…" Intelligent thought became impossible for the brunette as she felt Sam's fingers join the assault on her sex, her tongue replaced by three supple fingers which curled and expertly stroked her inner sensitive spots. Lips closed over her hyper-sensitive bundle of nerves at the apex of her folds as a further finger, liberally coated in Olivia's own juices, played at the puckered entrance to her ass. The detective tensed a little, never having allowed anyone to penetrate her there before but the triple stimulation led her body to relax her tight muscles and allow Sam to press a single finger into her back passage as far as her first knuckle. The blonde simply held her finger still at that point, allowing Liv's body to adjust to the unfamiliar intrusion, testing her lover's level of comfort with this new aspect of their lovemaking before pressing any further. Even as Liv's core tightened and contracted against Sam's fingers, other muscles relaxed allowing Sam to begin a gentle pumping action with her other finger too, pressing one in as the others came out in an alternating rhythm, her lips, tongue and teeth further stimulating the brunette's clit.

Liv convulsively gripped and released the sheet, screwing up fistfuls of it before letting it fall from her grasp only to do the same seconds later. Her breath came in quick, shallow pants, the triple stimulation driving her wild, urging her ever onwards to a mind-blowing orgasm she knew would leave her dazed and boneless for a time. Her hips bucked, at first rhythmically in tandem with Sam's cycle and then randomly as she lost the ability to coordinate in her desperate search for release. Her head slammed back, spine bowed and she arched bodily from the bed as she felt Sam simultaneously plunge a fourth finger into her core, work a second into her ass and press her tongue flat against her clit. The world around her receded as everything within her focused on that one area being so well loved, the tightness within her suddenly snapping and throwing her over the precipice of her orgasm with a hoarse, wordless cry.

Sam cradled her lover to her in a one-armed embrace, the other still buried deep within her core as Liv's muscles rippled with aftershocks and refused to loosen enough to allow the blonde to retrieve her fingers. She placed gentle kisses against the older woman's unresponsive lips, along her jaw and fevered brow which was soaked in a light sheen of sweat following her early morning workout. She watched the ample bosom of her lover heaving, the chocolate brown orbs flickering open after a few long seconds as the detective regained her bearings. Sam grinned impishly, whispering another heartfelt, "Merry Christmas," against luscious lips, winking mischievously to show she had no compunction against her methods for waking the older woman up.

"Holy fuck, Sam, that was…" Liv's words dried up as she felt something rubbing against her leg. She swallowed convulsively as she reached a hand down between their two bodies, seeking out the object. Sam watched her lover's face carefully, hoping that she had not misjudged her girlfriend. A firm hand wrapped around the synthetic shaft protruding from Sam's body, the other end of the double-ended dildo buried tightly inside her own core, earning Olivia a gasp of pleasure as the pressure Liv had put on the toy sent fresh ripples of arousal through her own saturated sex. Nimble fingers followed the path of the rubbery protrusion, expecting to find a harness but instead encountering Sam's own lips which were enveloping half its length. With an animalistic growl, Liv tore herself off Sam's fingers which had still been resting inside her, rolling her lover over onto her back and pinning her down, wanton lust once again dictating her actions. She threw her leg over Sam's hip, straddling the now prone woman and lowered herself onto the synthetic cylinder, driving it inside of her still sensitive core, hissing in a deep breath as she welcomed the new penetration. Sam pulled herself up, forcing Olivia to sit back on her heels, and pulled their bodies in close, their position allowing their clits to brush against one another. Between them, they developed a steady rocking rhythm, sharing heated kisses and grasping at one another's flesh as they drove each other towards another climax. Olivia spasmed split seconds before Samia did, still in a heightened state of arousal from her previous orgasm, her jerky uncoordinated movements triggering Sam's own peak to crest. Liv allowed her head to drop onto the naked shoulder in front of her, pressing a heartfelt kiss to the smooth creamy flesh she found there as tears of joy pricked her eyes. Never had she woken on Christmas feeling so loved, so cherished, so fulfilled and at that moment, so damn exhausted! She couldn't believe she had to find some energy from somewhere to have dinner with Sam's family and just hoped that for once New York's perverts were enjoying the Christmas festivities and she wouldn't be required to investigate any cases. She had a distinct feeling her brain had leaked out of her during one of those orgasms.

Sam felt hot wet tears on her shoulder and stroked her lover's back soothingly, instinctively worried that it had been too much for the brunette. "Hey sweetie, are you ok?" Her words were whispered, her voice conveying her concern but, she hoped, masking her fear that she had hurt the woman who owned her heart, or worse, destroyed the trust they shared by introducing the toy without discussing it first.

"Am I ok? Darling, I can't believe you need to ask me that after giving me the most incredible orgasms of my life! These tears are just me being silly and sentimental. Christmas has never really been a time of joy for me before but this year, I feel so happy I might literally burst." Liv didn't lift her head, she didn't have the energy for that, so she settled for turning her face towards Sam's neck, lips teasing the soft skin as she spoke. "For the first time, I get the joy of Christmas, I understand what's special about it and that's all down to you. I have the most amazing, giving, sexy… God so sexy… girlfriend anyone could ask for and I get to wake up with you in my arms every day. How the devil could I not be the happiest woman alive?" Liv gave a watery smile, wrapping her arms around the woman cradling her tightly, the movement causing the dildo still buried within them both to brush against oversensitive skin. Reluctantly, Olivia withdrew from the embrace so she could un-impale herself, knowing she would be feeling the effects of their lovemaking for some time and relishing the physical reminder of the mind-blowing sex she had woken up to. Sam assisted with the removal of the toy, pulling it out of herself and putting it aside for cleaning later before she pulled her lover back into her arms and pulling the blankets up around them to fend off the chill rapidly cooling their sweat-slicked skin, wanting to just lie in one another's arms for a while before they had to get up and get ready to face the day.

"What time is it?" Sam asked drowsily, stifling a yawn as Liv snuggled against her, head resting in the crook of her shoulder, curled into Sam's side, one hand playing with strands of her blonde hair lazily.

Liv squinted at the clock on the far side of the room, " eight forty-ish. What time are we expected at your parents'?" The brunette allowed her eyes to drift shut.

"At eleven. We could squeeze in another hour's sleep if you want to?" She felt the shaggy brown head beside her nod in approval and reached one arm out to set the alarm to wake them in another hour before joining the already dozing detective in a contented nap.

Thursday December 25th 2008


Fausto's restaurant, East 4th Street

"So glad you could join us, young lady," Gina scolded her daughter as she rushed through the door to the family section of the restaurant the Camanetti's owned and ran, her lover trailing behind her looking weary and sheepish.

"Merry Christmas Mamma, I am so sorry, we overslept…" Sam began to explain before Olivia jumped in.

"It's my fault Gina, I only got in from work after two this morning. Sam woke up when I got in and I needed to talk for a while before I could sleep." Both women blushed slightly, remembering what their talking had led to, "consequently, neither of us were very ready to wake up this morning. I apologise and I hope that nothing is spoiled because of my tardiness." Olivia awaited the backlash, feeling her lover holding her breath beside her, but it never came.

"Olivia, you work so hard to keep our streets safe, I worry you work too hard. Sit down sweet girl and rest, dinner is coming along nicely and will be served in an hour. First, let me get you a drink of something – what can I bring you? Champagne? Wine?" Gina fussed over the detective, throwing a look at her daughter which said she would deal with her later. Sam just smiled and shook her head, marvelling at her mother's ability to switch into nurturing mode in an instant.

"I'll have to stick to soft drinks I'm afraid, I'm on call so I'll apologise in advance in case I get called away. A fruit juice or soda would be great though, thank you." Olivia sank gratefully into the armchair by the fire she had been directed to by Gina. Sam followed, standing beside her and running her fingers through Olivia's silky hair tenderly, smiling down at her with an expression of adoration. She knew Liv had been nervous about spending Christmas Day with her Sam's family, never having experienced a true family Christmas before and not really knowing what to expect or what would be expected of her.

"And you Samia? What will you drink?" Gina watched her daughter, feeling her heart swell with pride at the pure joy in her eyes.

"What I would really like is a large mug of your amazing freshly ground coffee Mamma so what say I come and give you a hand in the kitchen to make it? You sure you want juice, Liv or would you like some coffee too?" Sam continuously played with her lover's hair as she spoke, combing her fingers through the freshly washed locks, fingertips lightly grazing against her scalp in a motion that was threatening to send Olivia straight back to sleep.

"Mmm, coffee sounds heavenly," Liv murmured, her voice dreamy and content.

Leaning down, Sam placed a tender kiss on Olivia's crown, squeezing her shoulder slightly in an affectionate gesture, "I'll bring it through in a few minutes, you just sit there and relax, ok sweetheart?"

"Let me know if there's anything I can do to help," Liv offered, knowing it was highly unlikely she would be allowed to lift a finger.

"Nonsense, you're our guest, you just relax and keep warm by the fire," Gina instructed patting Olivia's knee gently before turning towards the kitchen.

Sam followed her mother into the kitchen, greeting her father with a tight hug and wishing him, "Merry Christmas, Papa," with a kiss on his stubbly cheek.

"Olivia looks exhausted, the poor child, what are you doing to her, Samia?" Gina winked at her daughter to show she was jesting, suspecting from her daughter's glowing skin what the pair had spent much of their Christmas morning doing.

"She's been working so hard recently, I really hope that today the world is peaceful, or at least this little slice of it, so she can relax and take a break. If I could have just one wish granted this Christmas, it's that Liv gets to spend the whole day here with us and doesn't get called out to a crime scene or in to the precinct." Sam sank into her father's embrace, resting her head on his sturdy shoulder as her arms encircled his waist.

"We can all pray for that, my girl. Now, I believe someone mentioned a pot of coffee?" Fausto patted his daughter gently on the butt ushering her in the direction of the aforementioned machine. "Put plenty on, you both look like you could use the caffeine to stay awake through your dinner," the older man teased affectionately.

"Stop cluttering up my kitchen, old man, go keep our guest entertained," Gina shooed her husband from the room before Sam could fire off a smart mouthed retort. Once they were alone, Gina turned to look at her daughter, taking in the upturned mouth, the relaxed posture, the sparkle held within her clear blue eyes. There had been other relationships, other trysts and liaisons, but never had Gina seen her daughter so contented, so settled, before. It was a look which suited her and she decided to tell her so, to let Samia know once and for all how happy Gina was for her. "I like this version of my Samia, you are happier than I've ever known you."

"I am Mamma, I truly am. Olivia is everything I could wish for and everything I didn't even know I wanted until I met her. I can't ever imagine not wanting to be with her. We talked when she got home this morning, we're moving in together. I'm moving in with Liv for the remainder of her lease and if all works out, when that's up in six months, we're going to look at finding a bigger place… and maybe looking into adopting a child." Sam spoke with quiet excitement, not wanting Liv to overhear in case she was uncomfortable with it becoming wider knowledge so soon after they had discussed it, but needing to share the news with her mom.

"Oh baby girl, that is the most fantastic news. I can see you will make excellent parents, I have always known you would, look at your work, but Olivia has a kindness and a protectiveness in her, any child you take into your home will be lucky. And you know you can count on our support, practical and moral, should you need it." Gina hugged her daughter, feeling the excitement buzzing throughout the slender young woman's body. "My little girl's all grown up," she murmured with a slightly sad expression.

"But she'll always need her mamma," Samia reassured the older woman, kissing her cheek softly and resting her head against her broad shoulder. "I love you Mom, you've always been there for me."

"Of course I have, that's what being a parent is all about. Something I hope you will experience for yourself someday before too much longer." Gina returned her daughter's embrace, squeezing her one last time before beginning to busy herself with preparations for their dinner, issuing instructions to her only child who was happily working alongside her.

"…and then Gina walked out of the kitchen brandishing a meat cleaver. The little punk took one look at that and then back at his own tiny knife, I don't think I ever saw anything on two legs move so fast! He took off out of the door like his underpants had been lit up." Fausto finished regaling Olivia with a tale about an attempted robbery they had suffered soon after setting up the restaurant as his daughter waltzed in bearing two steaming mugs of coffee, one black for Olivia, one with cream and sugar for her father. Sam watched her lover laughing with the older man, seeing her at ease and enjoying his company, a broad smile lighting up her beautiful face. Her tiredness seemed to have receded somewhat, there were still telltale creases and smudges around her soulful eyes but her flagging spirits had definitely brightened.

"Papa, I've been sent to bribe you into helping Mamma lift the beast out of the oven." Samia wafted the brew she had prepared for her father beneath his nose, holding it out of reach until he rose from his chair on the opposite side of the fire to Olivia.

"Your Mamma knows she doesn't need to bribe me, but I will gratefully accept your offering and go rescue a damsel in distress," Fausto kissed the end of Sam's nose as he took the coffee and headed into the kitchen, leaving the lovers alone. Sam brought Liv's coffee to her, placing it on the side table next to her chair and sliding herself onto the brunette's lap, wrapping her arms around her broad neck and leaning in to kiss her.

"You surviving my father's tales?" Sam asked softly, looking deeply into the older woman's eyes, reaching down into her soul for the truth.

"I love your family, sweetheart. Your mom and dad are both such kind and wonderful people, I can see so much of them in you." Liv wrapped her arms around the slender waist of her lover, clasping one wrist with her opposing hand and resting them against Sam's hip, gazing up at the face she adored waking to each morning. "How can I not adore them when I have the most loving, beautiful and amazing partner thanks to them?"

"You are so sweet," Sam stated in awe, feeling herself falling ever deeper for the woman on whose knee she was perched.

"If you two can tear your attention away from each other for long enough, dinner can take care of itself for a while so I think it's high time we opened gifts." Fausto and Gina re-entered the lounge, arms laden with bags of brightly coloured presents of all shapes and sizes. Sam jumped up from her place on Olivia's knee and dashed into the hallway to retrieve the bag of gifts she and Olivia had brought with them, including their gifts to each other since time had been at a premium once they finally crawled out of bed. Gina placed a bag beside Olivia's chair, "those are yours dear." The older woman smiled at the look of surprise Olivia could not mask.

"Thank you, that's…" Olivia's words, which Gina suspected would be admonishing, were dismissed with a flick of the mother's hand and a look which dared Olivia to defy her by continuing to protest. "…unexpected and very generous of you," the brunette opted to say, diplomatically, earning herself a fresh smile of approval from the hearty Italian-American woman.

"Samia, darling, these ones are yours," Fausto handed his daughter a similarly sized bag to that which had been placed beside Olivia before taking his wife's hand and seating her on the sofa beside him and exchanging their own bags with one another.

"Thank you Papa, Mamma. Let's see what we've got in here." Sam rooted in the bulging bag she carried, dishing out the gifts she and Olivia had picked out for her parents, noticing a few extra ones the detective had slipped in which she must have bought by herself. She cast a glance in the brunette's direction, eyebrow raised but Liv just smiled tenderly and slightly shrugged her shoulders. Sam pulled the remaining presents from the bag, splitting them into piles for herself and Olivia before folding the bag away and settling herself onto the floor beside Olivia's arm chair, wanting to be close to her lover.

Olivia discovered that it was family tradition in the Camanetti household to each open one present in turn so that everyone could share in the joy of discovering what the colourful packages contained. Being the youngest member of the family, it was unanimously decided that Sam should begin proceedings. She reached into the bag from her parents, selecting a parcel at random; a shallow oblong-shaped object. Sam delicately teased the paper away, squealing as she saw her parents had bought her a copy of the movie version of 'Hairspray'. She hugged the slim box to her chest, beaming grins at Gina and Fausto who looked delighted that she did not seem to already have the movie in her collection.

Liv felt all eyes shift to her and an unexpected wave of nervousness overcame her as she too reached into the gift bag Gina had set down beside her. She pulled out the first package her fingers came in contact with, a long slim box which the brunette suspected would contain an item of jewellery judging by its dimensions. With somewhat shaky fingers, she fumbled to open the wrapping. Sam sensed the older woman's unease and casually slid her hand beneath the pant leg nearest to her, tenderly caressing the firm calf beneath it in a supportive gesture. The feel of her lover's palm against her skin soothed the detective and she managed to coordinate her fingers long enough to prise the gift from its paper. She popped open the velvet box, immediately falling in love with the simple, delicate gold chain it contained. Nestling in the box, the chain was attached to a tiny medallion in the shape of a police badge bearing an image of St Michael, the patron saint of police officers.

"He will help to make sure you always come home safely to our daughter, to us all," Gina explained softly.

"It's beautiful, thank you. I'll wear it, always." Olivia felt tears spring to her eyes at the thoughtfulness which had gone into the gift. She fingered the tiny badge and lifted the necklace from its resting place. "Sam, would you please help me to put it on? Hopefully, St Michael can start today by keeping me from being called out." Fausto and Gina watched on as their daughter took the gold chain and fitted it around her partner's olive-toned neck. As she completed her task, Sam cupped Liv's cheek tenderly, brushing a thumb across the exquisite bone structure and silently holding her gaze, checking the older woman was alright. Olivia nodded almost imperceptibly, smiling softly at her lover who returned to her seat on the floor, turning her attention to her mother and instructing her she was next to open a gift. Gina opted for a present from the girls as her first gift to open and withdrew an envelope from her own pile of offerings. Inside, she discovered a season ticket to a local theatre company whose plays she frequented whenever she could afford to, sharing her daughter's love of performing arts. She alternated between thanking the lovers profusely and scolding them for spending too much on her.

Fausto did as he was bade next and grabbed the parcel nearest to him, a tall cylindrical box containing something that weighed a fair amount. He teased the top open and peered inside, seeing the bottle cap and retrieving a litre bottle of his favourite malt whiskey, a real treat which he adored but drank sparingly due to it having to be specially imported from Scotland. Like his wife, he thanked his daughter and Olivia and grumbled at them for going to so much trouble and expense on his behalf.

And so the morning continued, with presents being opened and a variety of books, music, chocolates and all manner of confectionary being exchanged. Olivia had purchased Sam a smart leather attaché case, embossed with her initials in gold leaf, to carry her marking and lesson planners to and from work each day and a CD by a new independent singer/songwriter, whose music she had been introduced to via a web series with which she had become enthralled, as well as the first season of the web series on DVD. Sam had hugged her so tightly when she had opened that particular present that Olivia had worried for a moment something might break. The deep, lengthy kiss the young blonde gave her signalled that it had been a popular choice of gift. Sam, in return, had bought Olivia a new watch to replace her trusted friend which was finally on its last legs having been crashed against a wall once too often in pursuit of a suspect, a new i-pod for when the brunette went running and a comical mug for her to use at work after Liv had griped that she was sick of trying to find a cup for her coffee that didn't look like some science experiment was taking place in it. Gina and Fausto excused themselves when each of the two young women just had one remaining gift to open, directing them to continue as the meal would be served shortly.

"How about these we open together, at the same time?" Sam suggested, picking up the heavy box-shaped final gift from her lover. Olivia smiled and collected her own final present, a malleable, bulky item which flexed and bent in her hands, the paper rustling. They each turned their attention to the parcels in their hands, taking less care than had been taken at the top of the present opening session in their haste to find out what the pièce-de-résistance was. Olivia gasped as her fingers made contact with the soft, pliable suede contained within her wrapping paper. She held the garment aloft, letting it fall into its natural shape as she gripped the shoulders of her new black jacket.

"Sam, this is too much… it's amazing, it's so soft." Olivia was almost speechless. She practically lived in her black leather jacket and her tan suede jacket, tending to alternate between the two to the point where she was reluctant to get either of them cleaned.

"Well I know how fond you are of your other suede jacket so I thought this might make it easier to get that cleaned once in a while." Sam grinned impishly, her own gift forgotten for the moment as she stopped to study her lover's reaction. "And nothing could ever be too much for you, sweetheart." They shared a loving stare for long moments before Olivia gently nudged Sam with her leg and nodded to the forgotten, half opened gift in her hands. Looking back down at the plain cardboard box she had uncovered, Sam gently opened one end and reached in feeling smooth, silky wood at her fingertips. She slid an ornate wooden jewellery box out of the cardboard packaging, a gasp slipping from her lips as she took in the detailed parquetry overlay that decorated the lid; an NYPD badge bearing Olivia's officer number resting against a large, ripe looking apple which was adorned with a mortar board, representing the teacher's own career. Olivia watched nervously as the young woman at her feet studied the box, gentle fingers running over its smooth surfaces, tracing the patterns of the soft wood. Sam looked up at Olivia with tears in her eyes. "Is this…"

Olivia nodded, "I saw how much you loved those when we were watching that show a few months ago so I did some research online and found the place that was featured. I emailed them to get a quote for shipping a box over here and was having a hard time choosing which one I thought you'd like best so I had this one custom made. It's travelled all the way from Brienz, Switzerland."

"Oh my God, Olivia… I don't know what to say… No one has ever gone to so much trouble for me…" Sam had tears rolling down her face as she took in how much Olivia had invested in this particular gift and why the older woman had insisted that she leave it until last to open.

"Open it," Olivia gently instructed, heart racing as she hoped what was inside wouldn't prove to be too much.

The box played a gentle, sweet lullaby as the younger woman opened the lid adding to her delight but her breath was stolen as she caught sight of the most beautiful ring she had ever seen nestled amongst the folds designed for that purpose.

Gina stepped back into the lounge, about to announce that she was ready to serve their meal but stopped short, leaning back into the kitchen and softly calling for her husband to join her. The pair watched in rapt awe as Olivia reached into the small musical box and retrieved the white gold band encrusted with two tiny diamonds flanking a rich, blue sapphire. The brunette held the ring between shaking fingers and took hold of their daughter's hand.

"Samia, I know we can't legally marry but I wanted to give you a symbol of my commitment to you and to our relationship. So you can call this an eternity ring, you can call it an engagement ring, call it whatever you would like to, but will you please do me the greatest honour and consent to sharing your life with me for as long as you can stand to have me around?" Liv looked deep into watery blue eyes, her own expression searching and nervous.

"Yes," Sam whispered, "yes, I will, I will. Oh Liv, I will love you forever and a day and would marry you if I could to prove to the world that there is no greater love than that which I feel for you." Sam watched as the ring slid smoothly onto the appropriate finger, fitting her perfectly. As soon as Olivia had pushed the ring into position, Sam launched herself into the older woman's lap, wrapping her arms around her neck and hugging her for all she was worth. She whispered, "I love you," over and over in the brunette's ear as she sobbed into her neck, her joy overwhelming and absolute.

Fausto wrapped his arm around his wife's ample waist and hugged her to him, seeing her silent tears coursing over her plump cheeks. He placed a tender kiss at her temple as he caught Olivia's eye and gave her a proud and approving smile.

Part 31

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