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 31

Saturday February 21st 2009


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

Abbie rolled over in the bed reaching for her companion, frowning when she found Alex to be absent, the sheets cool enough to suggest that the withdrawal had not been a recent one. Hauling herself into a seated position, wrapping the blanket around her semi-naked body, the weary Texan rubbed the sleep from her eyes with her fists, yawning widely. She glanced over at the clock on the table beside Alex's side of the bed, stretching languidly before climbing out of the warm, comfortable bed and grabbing the clothes she had borrowed the night before. Pulling the t-shirt over her head and slipping her legs into the slightly too short jeans, she padded barefoot through Alex's apartment to try and find her friends. Unsurprisingly, she discovered their location at her first attempt. Hovering in the doorway, she simply watched them for a few moments; Alex spooning Olivia from behind, curled up beneath the blankets in the middle of Liv's temporary bed, their hands intertwined and tucked beneath the brunette's chin. Both women were still sound asleep, the previous night's events having worn them out. It made for a bittersweet visage, each of them carrying a pain which belied their peaceful facade; Liv with the loss of her partner and Alex with her unrequited love for the brooding brunette. Leaving them to rest, Abbie wandered through the quiet apartment and into the kitchen, setting the coffee maker going and slumping into one of the stools at the breakfast bar. Propping her elbows on the dark marble surface, the Texan let her head drop into her hands, eyes drifting closed once more as she struggled to wake up.

"Hey," a quiet voice called to her from the doorway. Spinning on her seat, Abbie spied Olivia hovering meekly.

"Hi, how are you feeling?" the attorney asked, keeping her voice down in the hopes that if Alex was still sleeping, they wouldn't wake her. The blonde had been restless, tossing and turning and breaking into sporadic fits of tears until sometime after five a.m.

"Like a prize jerk," Liv admitted, stepping closer and sinking into a vacant stool. "Abs…"

"Don't…" Abbie interrupted with a shake of her head. "Don't apologise for grieving. I'm sorry you felt driven out of here, that you felt you had nowhere to go, no one to turn to. I shouldn't have put you in that position." There were a few moments of awkward silence between them, only the gurgling coffee pot adding to the ambient noise of the apartment.

"So did you and Alex have a nice meal?" Liv asked, trying to show she had no problem with her two friends hooking up if that was what they wanted. Her own sleep had been haunted by visions of Sam berating her for being foolish, for wishing to screw away the memory of them with some random guy she picked up in a bar. Whilst she had spent the remaining hours of the night asleep, she had woken feeling anything but rested. The fact that she awoke to the feel of Alex's arms wrapped tightly around her, their bodies spooned together, had surprised her. Even though there had been quite a few other occasions when she had found Alex still in her bed come morning, Olivia had expected her to have spent the remainder of her night in Abbie's arms instead.

"It was… yeah, it was really nice to get to know her better. She's a lovely lady and obviously cares a great deal about you," Abbie advised with a gentle smile.

"I care a lot about her too. She's been my rock, she's been incredible ever since… I don't know what I did to deserve her but I appreciate her friendship more than I can say." Liv wiped at a stray tear, her emotions still raw from the previous night. "I'm going to go and take a shower before I head to the precinct. I owe Elliot a thank you as well. Will you stay and keep 'Lex company for a while? For me, please?" Despite the nagging pain in her chest as she pushed her two friends into each other's orbit, knowing of their mutual attraction, Liv felt that the very least they deserved was a small sliver of companionship. If they could find that with one another, who was she to stand in their way.

"Sure, at least until she wakes up and tells me to get the Hell out of her apartment," Abbie replied with a soft laugh. "Want a coffee waiting when you get out of the shower?"

"Yeah, that'd be good, thanks. Black, no sugar this morning, I need the kick to wake my brain up." Liv turned to head out of the kitchen but was halted by Abbie's soft plea.

"Just take it steady at work today Liv, please? If it starts to affect you like it did yesterday, will you talk to someone about it? I don't care who it is, whether it's Alex, Captain Cragen, Elliot, me, whoever but please don't try to hide from it like that again. Please?" Olivia nodded, her eyes downcast. "Why not give your therapist a call, Liv? It's not a sign of weakness to need help, especially not after what you've been through in the last few weeks."

"I will, her and Michael, set up a few more sessions. Thanks Abbie… for caring." With one last brief, sad smile, Liv turned and sloped off to the guest bathroom, head bowed and shoulders hunched.

Abbie fixed her own coffee, and one for Liv as per her instructions, before she strolled back through the apartment towards the bedrooms. She popped her head around the door of Liv's temporary room to gaze at Alex, still curled up asleep in the middle of the bed, Liv's pillow hugged tightly to her chest. After assuring herself that the blonde was still sound asleep and not in need of coffee, she pushed herself off the doorjamb and spun back towards the lounge before she gave in to the desire to touch her and risked waking her. Sleep was more important for the blonde attorney after her stressful night than company for herself. She plopped down onto the luxurious leather couch, placing her steaming mug on the glass coffee table before grabbing a fairly recent law journal from the shelf beneath the tabletop and stretching out with her feet up, legs draped across the length of the sofa. Sliding sideways, Abbie let her head fall against the tall cushion at the back of the sofa and opened the journal to an article which she hoped would capture her attention.

Olivia stepped from the bathroom, dressed and ready for work. The apartment was quiet as she moved on stealthy feet through to the lounge, leaving the brunette hopeful that Alex was still lost to a world of dreams. Entering the lounge, she spied Abbie stretched out on the couch, a law journal resting where it fallen against her minimally furnished chest, head lolling against the plush leather cushion, eyes closed and mouth slightly open. Her breaths came in short, deep bursts of almost-snores, indicating she too had succumbed to the need for more rest. Liv approached the slumbering lawyer quietly, deftly plucking the journal from slack fingers and sliding it onto the coffee table. Crouching beside the sofa, Liv brushed gentle fingers down Abbie's cheek. The Texan started awake, sitting up with an adorably confused expression on her face.

"Go back to bed, Abs," Liv requested, placing a chaste kiss against her friend's brow before pushing herself back to her feet. "I'm off to work, I'll talk to you later if you're not still here when I get back."

"You sure you're ok to go in?" Abbie questioned tiredly, already dragging herself to her feet in order to comply with the older woman's plea.

"Yeah, I… I need to do something productive. Besides, there's more detail to wade through on this case we caught than I trust to leave to the boys' brains!" Liv quipped, some of her sparkle peeking through. With a smile and a brief, tight hug, Abbie pointed Liv in the direction of the kitchen where her coffee awaited her in a travel mug, ready to go. Her own coffee the attorney carried through to Alex's bedroom, placing it on the bedside cabinet before ditching the jeans and clambering back under the blankets in just the t-shirt and her panties.

Saturday February 21st 2009


Manhattan SVU

Olivia strolled into the bullpen, trying to appear nonchalant, even as her heart hammered in her chest. Her eyes flickered to her partner's desk, his form hunched over a pile of papers strewn about his desk. She placed the brown paper bag in a clear space in front of him, waiting while he looked up from whatever had captured his attention.

"What's this?" he asked redundantly as he looked inside, answering his own question. Pulling out a breakfast bagel, Elliot smiled with genuine gratitude.

"Call it a peace offering… and a thank you, for last night… this morning," Liv stammered uncharacteristically.

Elliot stood, stepping close to his partner and wrapping her in a warm, firm embrace. "You didn't need to. I love you, Liv, you know that. No matter what, don't ever doubt that I love you. You're like the sister I never had and whilst we might not always agree on things, it won't ever change how I feel about you." Liv's throat constricted and her eyes prickled at his heartfelt words. Unable to verbally respond, she simply nodded before spinning away from him and seating herself at her own desk, pulling half of the pile of information he was wading through towards her and beginning the painstaking task of comparing telephone numbers, trying to spot patterns or higher frequency numbers.

Saturday February 21st 2009


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

When she next awoke, Abbie felt a warm body pressed up against her own. Allowing her eyes to flicker open briefly, the brunette spied a sleeping Alex beside her, arm draped over her hip, holding their bodies close together as they lay face to face. With a gentle smile, she pulled Alex closer still, regretting her action when the blonde stirred and opened sleepy blue eyes.

"Morning," she murmured, burrowing her head deeper into Abbie's lean neck. "Thank you for still being here."

"You're welcome. I kinda promised Liv I'd stay but honestly, I didn't want to leave until I'd made sure you were ok." Abbie stroked a hand though her companion's flaxen locks. "Are you ok?"

"Yeah, I think so," Alex assured, her lips brushing against the smooth column of Abbie's neck. "How was Liv this morning?"

"She seemed better, a little brighter. I asked her to speak to one of us – any of us – if she felt it was getting too much again. I don't know if it'll happen but at least she realises how much we care about her," Abbie informed the younger woman, trying to ignore the thrills Alex's breath on her neck sent through her body.

"That's good. There are going to be days that trip us all up along the way, I'm sure, before Liv can truly say she's coping with Sam's death. It's just going to be a case of rolling with the punches in the meantime." Alex hummed softly as Abbie's hands roamed over her back, soothing tight muscles and filling her with a sense of comfort. "This is nice," she admitted shyly, never having been one for cuddling in bed with a casual fuck before.

"Yeah, it is," Abbie agreed, her own tone one of surprise and wonder. The brunette felt a certain unexpected fondness for her bedmate which threatened to steer her into murky waters if she did not keep her wits about her. "I was being honest last night when I said I don't normally stick around for morning's after."

"I know. I don't either," Alex confirmed, before adding, "I'm glad you're here now though." She raised her head from where it had been resting, pressing her lips to Abbie's mouth, tongue flicking against the brunette's own lips until she acquiesced to the silent request for entry. The kiss quickly heated up, tongues massaging each other, exploring every corner of the other's mouth, only drawing apart when breathing became a necessity.

"Not that I'm complaining but, what prompted that?" Abbie asked, allowing herself to be rolled over onto her back. Alex hovered over her, blonde hair framing her face in a golden halo. Even devoid of makeup and somewhat sleep deprived, there was no doubting that Alex Cabot was a stunningly beautiful woman. Abbie, though knowing she herself was no ogre to look at, felt plain and ordinary beside the younger attorney.

"Call it a thank you, call it a good morning, call it whatever you want but I just felt like it. Am I overstepping the mark? Would you rather we didn't continue?" Alex asked, pulling back a little as she feared she was breaking some unwritten rule regarding their exchange.

Abbie wrapped both arms around her companion to prevent any further retreat, hastening to assure her, "no, no not at all. I'm very glad you felt like it, your lips, your breath on my neck… I was having a hard time keeping myself from pinning you down and ravishing you all over again!"

"What's to stop you?" Alex purred sensually, looking down on her prey with a hooded gaze, deliberately rocking her hips against the prone brunette's and revelling in the gasp it drew.

"I was trying to be respectful and not assume that you'd want a repeat performance," Abbie drawled, running her hands up the lean, toned arms propping Alex up above her. Her actions produced gooseflesh on the exposed skin and caused a shudder to run through the blonde attorney.

"And they say chivalry is dead! Obviously, they haven't met you, Ms Carmichael," Alex swooned with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. Lowering herself onto the body below her, the attorney allowed her lips to travel along the sculpted column of the Texan's neck, watching the muscles cord beneath the skin.

"God Alex, you're too good at this to be a novice!" Abbie cried, her hoarse voice deeper and throatier than usual.

"I just know what I like, what past lover's have done that work for me, is all. I can honestly say that you're the first woman I've got past second base with," Alex admitted, recalling her juvenile fumblings with her college roommate.

"Oh really? Cabot did a little experimenting did she?" Abbie teased, eagerly assisting the younger woman in her attempts to removed the t-shirt Abbie was wearing. She sucked in a deep, sharp breath as lips fastened themselves to her now naked nipple, fingers latching onto the other so that it wouldn't feel neglected. The Texan released a long, low, guttural groan of appreciation, hands burying themselves in the champagne-coloured locks, holding Alex's head against her chest to prolong the contact.

Drawing back enough to speak unimpeded, Alex murmured, "I want to taste you." A fresh flood of arousal and desire seeped from Abbie's already damp core at the quietly spoken request.

"Are you sure? I mean… I… that would be… you don't have to if you don't want to. But if you do… God if you do…" Abbie struggled to voice her thoughts, not wanting the other woman to feel pressured into pleasuring her orally, simply because Abbie herself had done so the previous evening.

"I do want to Abbie. Trust me, nothing on Earth could persuade me to do something if I didn't want to and I certainly wouldn't volunteer to do something I wasn't committed to. I want to make you feel the same way you made me feel last night. I want to do this, for you, to you. I want to be here, in the moment, with you this time – not thinking about anyone else." Alex began to kiss her way down the tautly muscled torso, hooking her fingers into the navy cotton briefs Abbie was wearing and peeling them away from her musky, inviting centre. The blonde's acknowledgement of having fantasized about Olivia during their previous encounter and her earnest wish to make amends for that touched Abbie, even though she had assured the younger woman it was ok at the time. Further thoughts were lost as a hot probing tongue dipped into her silky, moist core, tentatively tasting the copious liquids there. Abbie yipped quietly as the licking and suckling increased in fervour, the flavour apparently to Alex's liking. A searching tongue explored her folds, reverently worshipping the tender, sensitive flesh with a studious attention to detail. When Alex reached the hidden bundle of nerves at Abbie's apex, she pointed her tongue, lazily using just the very tip to draw ever decreasing circles around the nub. The brunette's hips bucked wildly at the teasing sensation.

"Alex… please… I need more," Abbie cried, being driven crazy by the heightened state of arousal she was suspended in. The gentle attention was too much for her to slide back from the brink and yet not enough to tip her over it. She felt Alex's arm move and then slender fingertips positioning themselves at her entrance. Momentarily, the luscious mouth parted from her sodden flesh, drawing a whimper of protest.

"Don't fret Counsellor, I fully intend to take good care of you," Alex assured huskily, pushing her two digits forward with steady pressure, stretching Abbie open and stimulating her further, driving her ever onwards towards her climax with a steady pumping rhythm. Just as those highly skilled lips and tongue returned to their previous task, the shrill ringing of Abbie's cellphone joined the chorus of appreciative hums and moans. Alex stilled her fingers, resting her forehead against Abbie's thigh and chuckling ruefully as the brunette let loose a string of expletives.

"Carmichael," the Texan barked into the phone, fully aware of the fact that her voice sounded as though she had been interrupted in the middle of precisely what she had been interrupted doing.

"Abbie, hey… umm sorry to disturb you," the voice on the other end exclaimed, with a throaty laugh.

"Serena, not a good time. Unless you want me to leave you hanging next time we get together, get on with it or get off the line!" Abbie growled, hissing and biting her lower lip as Alex mischievously resumed a slow pumping action with the fingers still buried inside her lover.

"I'd heard you were in New York. I was wondering if you wanted to get together while you were in town but from the sounds of it, your needs are being met quite adequately," Serena Southerlyn, ex-ADA who had succeeded Abbie working with Jack McCoy, teased mercilessly.

"I'll ring you when I'm free to meet for a drink," Abbie replied quickly, attempting to round off the call before the other woman was inadvertent witness to her orgasm.

"You do that and I'll expect full details on just whose head it is between your legs – if she's that good, I might have to look her up myself," the woman on the other end of the line stated, a smirk in her voice. Abbie looked down to where Alex was gazing back at her, one eyebrow quirked and lips pursed in silent amusement. The brunette's eyes rolled back into her head as the fingers inside her curled, pressing against the sensitive ridge of flesh.

"Ser, I've gotta gooooounggghhhh." Abbie's statement degenerated into a throaty moan as Alex grew bored of waiting for her to end the call and fastened her lips back over the swollen sensitive bundle of nerves hidden in the Texan's fleshy lips.

"Sounds to me more like you need to come, Carmichael," Serena advised with a hearty laugh before disconnecting the call. She hadn't needed to hear her occasional fuck buddy in the throes of orgasm. Her libido was already heightened following a particularly long dry spell in the bedroom and now she seriously needed to get laid.

"Evil, Cabot. Pure evil!" Abbie groaned once her senses had recovered sufficiently to form coherent words. "But damn, you're good at that," she added with a slow smile.

Alex favoured her with a casual wink from her position still between the Texan's thighs, fingers still buried deep inside her tight, hot core. "So you wouldn't suggest I need much in the way of practice then?" she asked, entirely too innocently.

"I wouldn't say it's strictly necessary…" Abbie began, sucking in a deep breath as those fingers resumed their intimate, internal massage, "…but far be it from me to discourage you. No amount of practice ever harmed anybody, right?"

Lowering her head once more, Alex murmured, "yeah, that's what I thought."

Saturday February 21st 2009


Manhattan SVU

Liv picked up the receiver on her partner's desk, answering the incessantly ringing phone since Elliot was currently interviewing Theresa Gabbidon in the Shannon Arkwright case.

"Detective Benson, SVU," she stated by way of greeting the caller.

"Olivia, hi it's Melinda. How are you doing?" the Medical Examiner greeted her friend and colleague warmly, not having had chance to speak to her since the explosion.

"I'm taking each day as it comes. I've got a lot of people helping and supporting me for which I am exceptionally grateful. What's up? We got a body?" Olivia responded, pen poised, ready to jot down any details.

"No… well yes but a live one, or rather two lives ones. The Arkwright girl, Elliot asked me to take a look at the photos of her injuries and when Munch delivered them, he also gave me pictures of Theresa Gabbidon's injuries as well. Shannon Arkwright has bruising and contusions to her genitals which are consistent with forced penetration as opposed to consensual sex. There is also tearing to her anus which suggests she was also sodomised. Theresa Gabbidon's internal exam showed similar levels of trauma; the physical evidence suggesting that she too was penetrated unwillingly vaginally and anally. I looked at the photographs side by side and noticed an interesting pattern of bruises on them both." Liv pulled up the digital copies of the pictures on the view screen as Melinda spoke, so that she would be able to see what the ME was describing.

"I'm looking at the photos now," Olivia advised briefly to save Melinda having to give too graphic a description of what she had found.

"Great. Take a look at the photos of their abdomens. If you line them up, side by side, they both have heavy bruising around the prominence of their hip bones. The type of bruising indicates a crush injury, not typically evident in a sexual assault unless something is held down over the abdomen to prevent the victim from moving." Olivia peered at the pictures in question, wondering what the women had been trapped by whilst being violated. An email arrived with the trace reports from items found at Terri Gabbidon's apartment. Liv clicked out of that to give it her full attention once she had finished with the phone call she was currently on.

"Any identifying patterns to help us narrow down what was used?" the detective asked, trying to discern definite edges or shapes.

"I have a theory based on that and the other bruises to their faces and upper chests but it is just that at the moment," Melinda supplied tentatively.

"It's more than we have to go on right now. All we have at the minute is Theresa and Shannon's physical exams versus Neil Danvers claims that they had consensual, if a little rough, sex," Olivia assured her.

"The physical evidence could be interpreted as being caused by Shannon Arkwright being pinned to the bed by Theresa Gabbidon's body. The additional weight of a third party on top of that could have led to the bruising on both of their hips. If Theresa was surprised by that third party whilst on top of Shannon, she could have sustained the bruising her face and also caused the injuries to Shannon's nose and cheek as she fell forward, propelled by the weight of her attacker from behind. Anal swabs prove the presence of spermicide in both women but it appears that only Theresa Gabbidon was penetrated vaginally using a condom. Whatever was used to penetrate Shannon wasn't protected by a condom. The semen which was found was minimal, possibly leakage from a discarded condom."

"There were no condoms found at the apartment," Liv informed the ME as she re-opened the email from trace and scanned the inventory of what had been collected. "There was a sex toy beside the bed though which had traces of vaginal cells on both ends. DNA confirms a match to both Shannon and Theresa." Liv looked at the implement; one end shaped in a standard phallic mould, the other an egg-shaped bulb which was obviously designed to be inserted into the wearer to enable them to wield the faux-cock without the aid of a harness. "Theresa Gabbidon's wrists were taped together, there was residue on both her outer wrists. The tape used wasn't found at the scene, possibly Danvers took it with him when he left the apartment, but there was a roll of silver packing tape in a cupboard under the sink in the kitchen. If her wrists were held behind her back, that would suggest she was either restrained whilst already on top of Shannon, or that she was put there after being taped up." The more the theory spun in the detective's mind, the more questions it raised for her. "I think I need to talk to Elliot about this. He's got Theresa Gabbidon in for questioning at the moment but I really think we need to be focusing on Danvers. Thanks for this Melinda." The two women disconnected the call. Liv immediately closed down the files she had open on the view screen and made her way to where the captain was overseeing Fin and Elliot's interview.

"Something on your mind, Olivia?" Captain Cragen asked as the brunette approached.

"I've just got off the phone with Dr Warner," Liv began, filling her boss in on everything she had discussed with the ME, unsurprised when he banged on the one-way glass to signal his wish for the detectives inside to step out.


Part 32

Saturday February 21st 2009


Manhattan SVU

"Terri, I know it's difficult for you but is there anything you've remembered about that night – flashbacks, fragments of things you think might have happened – which may shed some light on how it went down when you got back to your apartment?" Olivia's voice was warm and inviting, her tone coaxing and sympathetic. Theresa had become so accustomed to Detective Stabler's aggressive assertion that she must have been complicit that she was loathe to trust this switch to 'good cop'.

"I keep telling you people, I don't remember. We got back to my place, got Shannon into bed and then… nothing. Do you have any idea what it's like to lose an entire night of your life? How scary it is to know something happened to you but have no idea what or how or who did it? And the worst of it is that I took Shannon home with me to keep her safe from something like this happening to her. I put her in that position." Terri let her head drop to the table, wincing as her bruised forehead met the scarred wood. "I care about Shannon, I care about her a great deal. I know she'll never return my feelings for her and I would never do anything to force her but thinking that my actions led to her being… It makes me sick. It makes me want to…" Her words trailed off but the look of devastation on her face made it clear what direction her thoughts had taken.

"Have you ever willingly taken any drugs?" Liv asked, trying to focus the woman's mind on those things she did know for sure to prevent her from torturing herself with what might have happened.

"No, never! I take a hard line with anyone caught under the influence of anything not prescribed at work. Taking that crap myself would make me rather hypocritical don't you think? I, just like the rest of my staff, am screened randomly for drugs and alcohol. Working for a charity, we have to be seen to be operating completely above board and I have no desire to become someone's honey pot to feed their habit."

"You're aware that traces of Rohypnol were found in your system, can you think how they might have got there? Did you leave a drink unattended at any point during the evening? Might you have had drinks with Neil Danvers after getting Shannon into bed when you got back to your apartment?" The detective leaned forward, inviting the younger woman to confide in her.

"I… I don't know. I remember staying with the drinks at the table while the others went off dancing. At the end of the day, I'm still their boss. Socialising with me isn't something they're altogether too comfortable with, it's just the wrong side of awkward y'know? It's possible I offered Neil a drink to thank him for his help in getting Shannon home but I doubt he'd have accepted. He's usually quite quiet and tense around me, as though he's never quite sure if what he says is off the record or not." Terri screwed her eyes up, wracking her brain to try and pin down even the most fleeting recollection of the evening's events. Suddenly, an image raced to the forefront of her mind leaving her pale and shaking.

"What is it, Terri? What do you remember?" Liv asked, knowing that the longer the drugs were out of her system, the more likelihood there was of at least snatches of the lost period coming back. It was a matter of patience and waiting for the brain to piece together the jumble of fragments.

"I was on top of Shannon but… there was something inside me… and her… inside us both. I tried to move, to get off her, I knew she wouldn't want that, wouldn't want me, but there were hands holding me down on my upper arms." Terri broke off, rubbing at the area she had mentioned, hugging her arms across her chest. "My hands… I couldn't move my hands… they were behind my back." Closing her eyes against the growing tide of nausea, Terri swallowed thickly. "I can feel him, behind me, pressing into me, making my hips rock, making me push into Shannon. Oh God… I assaulted her, didn't I?" Tears trickled over the mottled bruises covering Terri's cheeks.

"Terri, if you were forced to do what you did, it was not your fault." Liv rested her hand on top of one of Theresa's own, hoping to convey her sincerity before pressing, "what else do you remember?" The levels of Rohypnol were smaller than had been found in Shannon's tox screen so they were hoping that any memory loss would be less severe. Dr Huang had suggested that the trauma of whatever had transpired might be contributing to Terri's inability to recall the events, that her mind may have been blocking her attempts to remember to spare her from further distress. It had been George's suggestion to let Olivia speak to their victim-come-suspect, to see if she could engage with the woman and make her feel safe enough to share her memories.

"He… him… inside me at the same time as that other thing was in me. What was that? What did I rape Shannon with? Oh no… I know… I know what it was… my… he held me down and…" Sobs wracked the young woman's body, her muscles coiled as she began to rock back and forth in the plastic chair. "He made me rape her with my own dildo," she whispered brokenly.

Outside of the interview room, Alex Cabot's cool facade belied her horror at what she was listening to. "As soon as her statement is complete, I'll have your warrant to arrest Neil Danvers on two counts of rape and sodomy and two counts of facilitating a sexual offence with a controlled substance. If we can prove that he remained in that apartment for longer than twelve hours, I'll add kidnapping to the charges before arraignment. Please somebody blow his claim that he was home by six the following morning out of the water."

"You got it, Counsellor," Fin assured as he spun on his heels to try and do just that, sharing her desire to see the rapist behind bars for the longest possible time.

"I'll look up some support groups and counselling options for Theresa and Shannon. I think they're both going to need some help getting through this," Huang volunteered quietly. Despite his experience of the criminal world, the depravity of humans still had the power to disturb him.

Saturday February 21st 2009


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

Olivia sunk into the couch, still numb from the revelations the day had uncovered. Neil Danvers was spending the night at Rikers and would be arraigned on Monday but the case against him was solid. The more Terri Gabbidon had talked, the more memories had been released and with physical evidence to back up her version of events, it was looking positive that another rapist would be spending many years behind bars. Alex had yet to return home, having phoned Olivia just before the detective had left the station house, apologising but stating that she still had work to do on the case against Danvers before she could call it a night. Liv had been ordered home by the Captain, who whilst oblivious to what had happened the previous evening, sensed that something was up. He had witnessed Elliot being too cautious, too attentive around his partner. That along with ADA Cabot's insistence that she speak to the brunette alone before leaving the precinct had been enough to concern the fatherly superior. In truth, Olivia was glad to be away from the bullpen, away from Elliot's assessing stare. She was still tired from her lack of sleep the night before and as she lay on the couch, she let her eyes drift closed, hoping for a short, dreamless nap.

Alex slipped into the quiet apartment a little after six pm, having finally completed her arraignment motion. She was weary and in need of a hot bath and an early night, hopefully one not interrupted by having to track down her wayward houseguest again. Whilst she understood that Liv was suffering and bore no ill will towards helping her friend, it couldn't eradicate the almost crushing fatigue she was carrying from the frantic night of worrying. She kicked off her shoes and shed her jacket, closing her attaché case in the closet along with the shoes and jacket and then padded through into the lounge in search of the errant detective. The blonde released a gentle sigh, her face softening into a mask of empathy, as she spied the older woman curled up asleep on the couch, hands tucked beneath her chin, a frown creasing her brow and dried tear tracks on her face. Forgetting her own needs instantly, Alex crossed the short space separating them and dropped quietly to her knees beside the sofa. She reached out and lightly caressed a clammy cheek with the backs of her fingers.

"Liv, sweetheart," she whispered. "Come on, honey, wake up." She continued stroking the soft skin of Olivia's cheek as she coaxed her back to consciousness.

"'Lex?" came the groggy query a few moments later.

"Yeah, I'm home. Why didn't you lay down on your bed instead of scrunching yourself up on here? I'm sure it'd be far more comfortable for you than the couch." Their heads remained close together, blue eyes fixed on brown in a tender gaze.

"I guess I didn't make it that far," Liv admitted quietly, looking away and pulling herself into a seated position. Soothing a hand through her hair, she said, "I'll get out of your way, leave you to…"

"I didn't say it because you're in the way, Liv. You're not, I'm just concerned you'll regret sleeping all squashed up like that. Not to mention that you'll not feel rested or refreshed if you don't get any quality sleep," Alex explained, head cocked to one side, expression imploring her friend to not assume she was being a burden. "I'm going to go and run a bath, want me to run you one when I get out?"

"You saying I smell, Counsellor?" Liv asked jokingly, her mood lightening as she woke up more and the latest nightmare receded.

"Well…" Alex quipped with a non-committal shrug before breaking into a wide grin. "I'll give you a shout when it's ready for you. What do you feel like eating tonight? There's not much in the cupboards so it'll be takeout again I'm afraid but whatever you want is fine with me."

"To be honest, Al, I don't really care. I'm not hungry," Liv protested weakly.

"Really? When was the last time you ate something?" Alex asked, scowling as her friend merely shrugged her shoulders. "Don't make me call Gina, Olivia," the attorney growled.

"Fine, yesterday lunchtime… was when I last ate I guess," Liv grumbled. "You know, I could have you arrested for blackmail if you keep threatening to call Sam's parents every time I do something you don't approve of." Olivia's harsh words had less impact than they might have done had a smirk not been tugging at the corners of her lips as she spoke.

"That would necessitate it being a threat, my dear detective. On the contrary, I am simply upholding a promise that I wouldn't let you neglect yourself and was to inform Gina immediately if you attempted to do so," Alex replied smartly, ever the lawyer. With a playful swat to Liv's closest knee, Alex pushed herself to her feet and made to move towards her en suite bathroom.

"Hey Alex?" When the brunette was sure she had the attorney's attention, she continued, "thanks… for caring and for not letting me push you away." With a satisfied nod and a gentle smile, the younger woman accepted the thanks gratefully before continuing on her way.

Saturday February 21st 2009


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

Alex docked her mp3 player in its station, scrolling through until she found an album that matched her mood. Setting it to play at a soft, background level volume, she fired up her laptop so she could check her emails while Liv was in the bath. Letting the computer go through its start up process, Alex thumbed through the available takeout menu choices, deciding on Thai cuisine. She grabbed her phone and punched in the number, efficiently dispatching her order and ending the call having extracted a promise of the food being delivered in approximately 45 minutes. Returning to her laptop, Alex pulled up her personal email account, scrolling through the list of unread messages for any that caught her eye and getting rid of all those she wished to delete. Her heart leapt as she spotted a reply from someone she had all but given up hope of hearing from. With no small amount of trepidation, the blonde opened the message from Beverley, the friend she had made during her second incarnation in Witsec and to whose son she was Godmother.


'I scarcely know where to begin replying to your email. To say I was shocked to receive a missive entitled the truth about Alison Humboldt would be, quite possibly, the understatement of the century. Even typing your real name at the start of this email feels foreign. I was so worried for you when you disappeared, especially when there were no attempts made to find you by the local police. I had no idea what had happened to you or what I should tell Greg. What you went through, what you had to do to survive, I can't imagine how you must have felt having to lie to people, to yourself, every day, not to mention how difficult it must have been to start over with a new identity every time you were moved. Please don't think that I am callous enough to hold it against you. You did what you had to do and I can't regret it all because it brought you into mine and Greg's life when we needed a friend. He still talks about you, we both still miss you but I can't say that I'm not scared about the prospect of meeting you again. Was our friendship as real to you as it was to us? Or was that, too, a lie? Please don't think me horrible for asking but I need to know that we will be a part of your life again for the long term if we do come to visit and you won't disappear again. I'm not sure I could forgive that and I won't risk putting my son through that. I do want you to know what an impression you made on me though – shortly after you left, I pulled my head together and finally plucked up courage to ask Tony out for dinner. We've been living together for almost two years now and, eight months ago, our family expanded. Tony and I are the proud parents of a happy, healthy and gorgeous little girl called Alison Rose. I wanted to name her after the woman who had inspired me to grab life by the horns and take a chance on love again. The way you spoke of the chance you had lost, it made me realise that I was being stupid allowing my fear to hold me back. Whilst I realise now that my daughter doesn't bear your name, I hope you will accept the sentiment in which the name was given to her.

'Please write to me again so I know I haven't dreamt this? My telephone number is still the same but in case it got lost in the shuffle, it's included in my email signature. I'd love to hear your voice again, I've missed you, my friend, and I want to hear all about your life now. Did you get another chance at your 'lost' love? Are you back in your old job? How have you adapted to being your true self again? I do hope we get a chance to talk about all this and so much more.

'Take care and I hope life is treating you well, now that you're 'home'.

'Love always,

'Bev x'

Tears streamed over Alex's cheeks, one hand shakily covering her mouth which was fixed open in a silent gasp, as she finished reading the response from the friend she had made in another lifetime.

"Alex, honey, what is it? What's wrong?" Liv's gentle voice sounded close by the attorney's ear. A warm body settled beside Alex's, soothing tendrils of black pepper and ginseng bath oil aroma washing over her. A bare tanned arm brushed against Alex's cotton covered own as Liv leaned in close, damp shoulder length hair resting limply against the blonde's shoulder.

In response, Alex simply angled the computer's screen towards her friend indicating for her to read the message from Beverley. As she read, Olivia wrapped her arm around Alex's shoulders, pulling her closer to offer silent support and comfort. "I should call her," Alex murmured softly.

"You should, sweetheart. We can never have too many friends and she sounds like one of the special ones. It's so sweet she named her daughter after you, you two obviously hit it off." Liv's voice was a mixture of genuine happiness for her friend and a small edge of something Alex struggled to identify.

"We did and I needed that, I needed a friend so badly after I'd had to leave you behind again. You've no idea how hard that was for me. I felt so torn, for so long, about not having said goodbye but… my heart couldn't take that again, seeing the tears in your eyes and that pain on your face. It would have broken me. God Liv, it almost did the first time – so many times when I closed my eyes, I relived those few minutes of saying goodbye to you and Elliot and every time, my heart ached every bit as badly as it did when I was driven away from you in that car by Hammond and his men. I felt guilty for running away without thanking you for what you did: holding me that night in the hotel; bringing that file so I'd know what buttons to push to make O'Connor flip out in court; for making me believe I could do it and for giving me a few hours of relative normality. I spent hours berating myself for not having the courage to face you guys again after the trial, you especially, but honestly Liv, I did what I thought I had to, to protect my heart and yours. And just when I hated myself the most for letting you down again, I met Beverley. She sensed I was a wounded soul and really took me under her wing. In a lot of ways, looking back at it now, she reminded me of you; gentle, caring, a natural protector and nurturer. She let me talk in my own time and I told her, in vague terms, about how I had left behind someone I cared about a great deal but that circumstances meant we couldn't be together, couldn't contact one another. I think she thought I was on the run from an abusive partner or something like that and that I'd had to sever all contact to protect myself from him, which ironically wasn't all that far from the truth, was it?" Throughout Alex's soliloquy, Liv held her close, melding their bodies together along their sides.

"I can't have been that good a friend to you back then, Al. I never realised you felt so strongly about anyone – who was it? Call myself a detective," Liv berated herself, a sharp pang of guilt and regret piercing her chest.

"It doesn't matter who it was. I made sure no one knew and now… well now it's just not an option. No big deal, I'm a big girl, right? I can learn to move on and take what I can get." Alex pulled herself from Liv's embrace. Their close proximity mixed with the brunette's choice of attire – snugly fitting yoga pants and a sleeveless t-shirt beneath which she wore no bra – was proving to be a distraction, especially whilst discussing, albeit in roundabout terms, the attraction Alex had harboured for the brooding brunette for many years.

"Do you still feel the same about him as you did back then? If you do, Alex, then if it's any way possible for you to be with him, you should take that chance. Don't deny yourself the chance to be happy, to share the kind of love you deserve just because you're scared you've missed the opportunity," Liv pressed, not willing to let her closest friend waste her life on meaningless liaisons unnecessarily.

"I appreciate you're trying to look out for my best interests, Olivia, but please, let it go. My 'lost love' as Bev so dramatically calls them… well they're completely unattainable for me. It's never going to happen and there's no point and no use in keep re-opening that sore. Their heart belongs to another." Alex increased the physical distance between herself and the object of her object of her affection, crossing to the window to look down on the New York streets below.

"I'm sorry," Liv murmured softly, coming to stand behind the distressed attorney, wrapping her arms around her slender waist and resting her chin on the other woman's shoulder. "I'm sorry for not protecting you better; for you losing so much of your life; that you missed out on knowing that kind of happiness with this person who obviously still means so much to you," Liv hedged, not having missed Alex's lack of gender-specific pronouns. "I really hope that you meet someone new, someone who can give you everything you fear you've missed out on and whilst I know it can't rewind time, hopefully they can give you a bright, happy future." Liv pressed a chaste kiss to the back of Alex's scarred shoulder, the heat of her lips scorching into the attorney's skin even through her long-sleeved cotton t-shirt. A fresh tear trickled over Alex's alabaster cheek as her heart clenched while she struggled to let go of the notion of any type of love blossoming between herself and the woman cradling her so gently. The grief of losing that hope was every bit as painful as it had been when she had been driven away from the brunette all those years before. Her entire body trembled as she stoically attempted to keep her pain inside, even as Liv held her and murmured soft words, coaxing her into letting go. The moment was interrupted by the arrival of their dinner and not a moment too soon for Alex, who had been too close to giving in to her friend's gentle encouragement.

Saturday February 21st 2009


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

Liv bolted upright in her bed, going from sound sleep to wide awake in an instant and yet unaware of what had woken her so abruptly. She wasn't covered in the usual sweat that accompanied a nightmare, nor was her heart racing or stomach roiling. A piercing cry filled the apartment, alerting the detective to her friend's distress and enlightening her. Throwing back the covers, the brunette hastened to Alex's room, wishing she had her gun back and terrified of what she might find behind the door, which rested ajar. With a final fortifying breath, Liv flung herself into the room, ready to take on any intruder in hand to hand combat if necessary to rescue her friend. Alex lay in the centre of her vast bed, the covers in disarray around her offering testament to her tormented slumber. There was no sign of a third party being present, although Liv checked every corner of the room and closet just to be sure. The blonde still tossed and turned, trapped in her nightmare as evidenced by the continuing whimpers and cries.

"No, please, don't hurt her! Take me, it's me you want, just please don't… not her. No… no… NO!" Alex screamed out, her voice hoarse and shrill in her panic.

"Alex, sweetheart, open your eyes… look at me Alex, come on sweetie, look at me. It's ok, it's going to be alright, you're going to be ok, Alex, you're fine," Liv chanted, stroking her hands over the distraught woman's face, unconsciously repeating many of the things she had assured her friend as she had lain bleeding on the sidewalk so many years ago after being shot by Zapata's hired hitman.

Blue eyes fluttered open, confusedly fixing on the concerned face hovering above her. For a moment, it was not the soft, plush mattress of her bed beneath her but the solid, unyielding concrete of that sidewalk. A phantom pain flashed through her shoulder in remembrance of that fateful night when her arrogance and stubbornness had cost her so much. "Oh God," she groaned quietly, her throat raw from her agonised screaming.

"It's ok, Alex. It was just a nightmare. You're safe, you're ok," Liv reassured once she was convinced Alex was truly awake.

"Sorry," the attorney murmured, face flooding with embarrassment as she realised she had woken the other woman with her screams. She attempted to roll over, to turn her face away and hide, but was prevented by her friend's warm hand on her upper arm.

"Please, Al, don't shut me out? How many times have you helped me recently when I've had a bad dream? Don't you think this is the very least I can do?" The cool night air chilled Olivia's skin as she crouched beside the bed in her grey flannel sleep shorts and white cotton tank top but still she remained where she was, determined to give something back to her closest friend who had done so much for her.

"You need to rest, to sleep, not this," Alex stated dejectedly, her voice monotone as she wrested her arm from beneath the older woman's hand and rolled away from her towards the opposite side of the bed. She didn't know what she expected Liv to do but her surprise was evident when the blankets behind her lifted and a cool body slipped beneath them, spooning her own frame tenderly.

"So do you. If you don't want to tell me about it, I'm not going to force you but please let me offer you a tiny bit of the comfort you've given to me the countless times I've woken you with my nightmares?" Even though it was phrased as a question, the tightening of her hold indicated that Liv had no intention of leaving the blonde woman alone in her distress. The two women lay in silence until first Alex and then, soon after, Olivia fell into a blissfully dreamless sleep.

Sunday February 22nd 2009


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

The morning sun peeked through a crack in the drapes, casting it's mellow glow across Olivia's closed eyes which she screwed up in protest at the unwelcome intrusion. At some point during the night she discovered she must have rolled onto her back since she awoke in that position with a protective arm draped across her midriff. She buried a hand in the flaxen hair cascading over the pillow beside her. Without opening her eyes, she let her lips traverse a path over the flesh she found on the head resting on her shoulder. Lips met lips and she worshipped them gently, massaging them, teasing them, nipping at them and soothing them in turn. The body beside her begun to stir, momentarily returning the kiss before freezing and pulling away. Liv finally opened her eyes to see startled blue orbs looking back at her, ash blonde eyebrows almost crawling off the smooth plain of Alex's forehead.

"Alex! Oh my God, I'm so sorry!" Olivia backed away, giving her friend space to escape her clutches as she mentally berated herself for her actions. "I… I… for a moment I thought you were… I thought I was with Sam," the brunette hurried to explain, backing away even further as Alex made to move forward. In her haste to get away, Liv misjudged her position and reached the edge of the bed far sooner than she anticipated. Seeing what was happening, Alex lunged forward to try to keep her friend on the bed. With a little grappling, they managed between them to stave off disaster and Olivia regained her equilibrium on the mattress. "I'll go back to my apartment, I'm sorry, I shouldn't…" Further words were prevented as Alex enveloped her friend in a tight hug.

"It's ok Olivia, I understand." Pulling back slightly, Alex tilted the brunette's proud chin up until she was looking into the attorney's eyes. "It happened, it doesn't have to make things awkward between us and it doesn't mean I'm about to throw you out either." In truth, the kiss had re-awakened the strong yearning Alex had been valiantly trying to suppress but it was neither the time nor the place to be exploring those feelings. Olivia's form was still stiff in the tight embrace, her arms clamped rigidly by her sides as though not daring to touch her friend for fear of forgetting herself again. "Come on sweetie, relax, it's ok. We're ok." Alex's voice was soothing and gentle, filled with warmth and compassion and a healthy dose of sincerity that she hoped would cut through the stoic detective's resolve.

"How can you not think badly of me after what I just did?" Olivia's voice was hoarse, barely louder than a whisper.

"Because I know it was your subconscious mind driving your actions. Listen, honey, neither of us were fully awake nor aware of what we were doing – I think the fact that I kissed you back is testament to that. I would never knowingly have kissed you so soon after Sam had I been fully aware of what I was doing." Ever the lawyer, Alex was careful how she worded her response, knowing in her heart that if circumstances were different, she would gladly be woken that way by the stunning brunette each and every morning. "Think about what you tell victims practically every day – you're not always responsible for your body's physiological responses to things." Alex implored her friend to see the sense in what she was saying. Seeing a tiny smile tugging at Olivia's lips, she realised that something had penetrated the gloomy fog.

"So if I was kissing Sam, who was it that you were kissing, Counsellor?" There was a lighter, teasing tone to the detective's voice but it was her question which floored the usually unflappable ADA.

Alex felt the blush rising across her cheeks as her mind raced for a reasonable explanation. "What can I say, Detective? It's not every day I get woken by a kiss from a beautiful woman!" She hoped the woman still held loosely in her embrace would not question her further, knowing that Alex was not ready to confess her feelings for Olivia and Liv was certainly not ready to hear about them. Her hopes faded a little as the brown-haired head was lifted from her shoulder and retreated to look into Alex's hazy blue orbs quizzically.

"You think I'm beautiful?" Olivia seemed genuinely baffled by the statement, not in an uncomfortable way, but rather in an incredulous, disbelieving way which stemmed from the fact the words had come from the blonde goddess before her.

"Of course. Olivia, you are one of the most beautiful women I have ever had the honour of knowing. You're attractive, you're kind, you're intelligent. You have infinite patience and compassion. You're modest and seem completely unaware of your appeal most of the time. Have you never noticed how many eyes follow you when you walk into a room?" Alex gently cupped an olive-toned cheek, eyes locked onto chocolate brown orbs in which she would happily drown.

"I think you're mistaking me for yourself, Counsellor," Olivia rejoined, a strange mix of emotions flooding through her at Alex's words. No one besides Sam had had this effect on her since she had begun dating the teacher. There was a warmth spreading throughout her core, a lightness of spirit as she gazed into the deep cerulean blue of the attorney's eyes. But there was also a hard cold lump of guilt gnawing away at her for even entertaining such affections. True, she was only human and being admired in such an honest and earnest way, she would have had to have been made from stone not to feel something but that still didn't make it feel any more right to be feeling it mere weeks after losing the woman she loved so dearly.

"Oh but that's where you're wrong, Detective. I am completely self aware, I know that people want me and I am more than willing to use that in a judge's chambers or in a court room or even an interrogation room to get what I want!" Alex joked. She had always been told from an early age how beautiful she was, how she would have men falling at her feet and tripping over themselves to worship her. Her father had seen to it that his daughter was not at all self conscious about her appearance and was capable of using it to her advantage as well as recognising dangerous situations it could lead her into. Alex watched a myriad of emotions flit through the ever so expressive eyes still boring into her own and realised that they were straying away from safe territory. Deciding to stave off any awkwardness and before she overstepped the mark unintentionally, the blonde attorney pulled Olivia to settle back against the head board, propping pillows up behind them as they sat side by side, still in a loose embrace. "How about we go for a quick run and then I'll treat you to breakfast from that bakery you love near Central Park?"

"You've no need to bribe me into joining you for a run, Alex, but I certainly won't say no to breakfast… once I've burned off enough calories to eat it without feeling incredibly guilty that is!" Liv quipped lightly, relieved that her inadvertent actions hadn't led to disaster.


Part 33

Thursday 1st January 2009


Manhattan SVU

Olivia stepped inside the ladies locker room as she answered the call from her lover, wishing with all she possessed that they could have seen in the New Year together but knowing how lucky she was to have been able to spend time with Sam and her family for Christmas and Thanksgiving without work interrupting.

"Hi baby," Sam's voice, warm, tender and slightly slurred, drifted through the tiny handset clamped to Liv's ear, filling her with the same sense of elation that it usually did.

"Hi sweetheart, Happy New Year," Liv replied, her own tone intimate. "You enjoying the party?" she teased, accepting that it sounded as though her lover had had a few drinks that evening.

"Happy New Year to you too. I'd be enjoying it more if you were here, I miss you," Sam murmured plaintively, knowing that her lover couldn't help being absent but the knowledge doing nothing to assuage her yearning to be reunited with the brooding brunette detective.

"I miss you too and I really wish that I could be there but unfortunately evil runs to its own timetable and cares little about the rest of us." Liv ran her hand through her silky, chestnut locks, leaning casually against the wall as she chatted to her adorably inebriated partner.

"My cousins have been asking when they get to see you again – they all want another story from you. You made quite the impression on them, Liv," Sam informed her girlfriend proudly. "You're such a natural with kids," she added a little wistfully, knowing that they had agreed to wait until they looked into adopting a child but wishing that they could be parents all the same.

"They're great kids, very easy to like and easily entertained." Liv fobbed off the younger woman's praise in her usual modest style.

"Is that Olivia?" the detective heard in the background on the other end of the phone.

"Yes Mama," Sam replied simply before the distant voice grew louder as Gina relieved her daughter of the telephone.

"Olivia, darling, Happy New Year. I've saved you some food, I'll make sure my daughter brings it home to you when she leaves here. What time do you think you'll get off work? So I know when to kick her out and send her back to you," Gina teased gently.

"Happy New Year Gina and please wish the same to Fausto. I'm sorry I couldn't be there to celebrate it with you all," Olivia apologised earnestly, wishing more and more that she was at the restaurant with her new extended family.

"Nonsense, dear girl, we all understand you are doing what you must to keep us all safe from these monsters. And we did get to spend time with you at Christmas so all is not lost. Although, I fear you may have to arrange a play date with Sami's cousins to prevent a world war breaking out between them!" Gina smiled broadly as she listened to Olivia laughing heartily.

"Cute. I should be able to get home by Saturday morning, all being well. Tonight, I'm just going to be grabbing a few hours in the crib if I'm lucky so could you take care of our girl for me?" Olivia requested, adding, "I don't want her to begin the new year alone."

"Of course we will," Gina assured the detective warmly. "I'll send some food by the precinct tomorrow for you, make sure you eat something more than a doughnut."

"You don't have to do that Gina, although I certainly won't refuse your cooking," Olivia advised gleefully. The sensation of being cared for, of having someone – well more than just one person – looking out for her was still a heady experience.

"Of course you won't, you're an intelligent woman who knows a losing battle when she sees one!" Gina quipped in response. "I'd better pass you back to my daughter, she's scowling at me for stealing your time. Take care of yourself and stay safe, Olivia."

"I will, Gina. You enjoy the rest of your night celebrating," Liv replied with genuine affection as she said farewell to the woman who, for all intents and purposes, was her mother-in-law such was the detective's connection with her daughter.

"Please say you don't have to ring off just yet?" Samia whined as she came back on the line, stepping into a quieter area of the living accommodation attached to the family restaurant.

"No, I've got time for a few more minutes yet before they send out a search party. What's up, sweetheart?" Liv probed gently, wishing she could wrap her arms around the young teacher.

"Nothing really, I just… being here, without you, it feels… strange, wrong somehow. Does that even make sense?" Sam sighed, expressing her frustration at their enforced separation far more deftly than she could in words. "I hate sleeping alone," she confessed, cringing as she hoped her partner wouldn't take it as a complaint about her job. Sam had known precisely what she was taking on when she agreed to a relationship with the dedicated detective.

"I know babe, me too but I might be able to come home tomorrow night if things go as we hope they will," Liv cooed softly, no hint of recrimination or defensiveness in her tone. "Will you stay with your Mom and Pops tonight, please? It's too late to be catching a cab back to our apartment and no doubt there are more drunk drivers out there than there ought to be too. I'd just feel happier knowing you're safe where you are, please? Humour me?"

"Say that again," Sam commanded, a strange edge to her voice.

"Which bit?" Liv queried warily.

"Our apartment," the blonde directed.

Understanding dawning on her, Liv smiled into her cellphone. "It is our apartment now, Sami. Our home, together, as equal partners."

"God that sounds amazing," Sam murmured, breathlessly. "I'm still getting used to it but hearing you call it ours… it makes me want to drag you home and christen every room in the apartment, hell possibly every horizontal surface and maybe a few vertical ones too!"

"There's no rush, sweetheart, neither of us are going anywhere. At least, not without the other right beside them," Liv assured warmly, a thrill of anticipation racing through her at the thought of being ravaged by her sexy lover. "I'd better go before I start describing to you precisely what I'd like to do to you right now. Neither of us are in the optimal place for that kind of conversation."

"Be safe, sweetheart and come back to me ready to have your world rocked," Sam instructed, reluctant to let the older woman go but understanding she was on borrowed time.

"I will, honey, but believe me, you rock my world every day just by sharing your life with me," Liv replied quietly, pushing herself off the wall and crossing to one of the sinks lining the far wall. "I love you, Sam. Call you tomorrow when I know more about what's happening and when I'm likely to get home."

"I love you too, Olivia. Speak to you tomorrow. Night baby." The two women each paused for a moment after disconnecting the call, gathering their wits and swallowing down their intense longing for one another before continuing about their business.

Liv strode into the bullpen, surprised to be greeted by a blonde vision in tight, form fitting, faded jeans, plain white sneakers and a navy Harvard hooded sweatshirt. Elliot was standing beside the woman, chatting and sharing anecdotal tales of New Year's events gone by.

"Alex?" Liv queried, not quite believing that the young ADA wouldn't have been out at some formal event to celebrate the arrival of a fresh year of opportunities.

"Happy New Year, Liv," Alex greeted her warmly as she spun on her heel and approached the startled, weary detective. When she was close enough, Alex drew Liv into a tight embrace, placing a chaste kiss against her cheek.

"Happy New Year to you too. I uh… I assumed you'd have been out celebrating this evening or did your celebrations take on a more horizontal form when the clock struck midnight?" Liv teased as she blatantly scoped the blonde's attire.

"Ha-ha," Alex deadpanned, clearly unmoved by her friend's insinuations. "I had been invited to attend the annual family extravaganza with Uncle Bill but knowing how close you were to getting a break on this case, I declined in favour of making sure I was available to help you should the need for a warrant arise." Alex fixed a level gaze on the older woman, one eyebrow raised as though daring her to dispute that explanation.

"Your dedication is admirable, Alex, and appreciated. Not least because if we get the warrant tonight, we might all get to spend tomorrow night doing things which are far more enjoyable!" Elliot chipped in with a smirk.

"Speak for yourself Detective Stabler. I will be attempting to escape from a charity luncheon my Aunt has seen fit to throw which will doubtless drag on into the night. And by escape, I literally mean escape with my sanity, dignity and singularity intact! Aunt Helen makes it her mission every year on January 1st to find me a husband. And every year, the gentleman she chooses for me is a bore with as much passion as a dead fish who only wishes to have a trophy wife for such tedious functions while the rest of the year he's off screwing his whores in various boroughs throughout the state. My time away from New York only seems to have made Aunt Helen more determined to pair me off with a particularly unsuitable suitor!" Alex's eloquent, yet damning speech left the two detectives stunned. Even Olivia, as the attorney's friend, had not realised the extent to which Alex's remaining family attempted to dictate her life solely because of her family name and status. "So Olivia, pray tell, while I'm being hounded to marry a soulless cad and Elliot is making baby number... what number are you up to now? Six? What will you be spending your evening doing when you're released back into the wild?" There was a subtle wink thrown the brunette's way, too deft to be caught by their male companion but clearly visible to Olivia which let her know that Alex didn't expect her to be wholly truthful in her answer.

"I'll be very boring and very predictable: I will be having a hot bath, putting on some comfortable clothes and huddling under the throw with a movie during which I will no doubt fall asleep within the first half hour." Olivia slipped the cellphone, which had still been cradled in her palm following her brief conversation with her lover, into the front pocket of her indigo denim jeans. She neglected to mention that she wouldn't be alone, hopefully not in the bath but most definitely not cuddling on the couch in front of the movie.

With a whining groan of jealousy, Alex narrowed her eyes and fixed the detectives with a patented Cabot ice-princess glare. "If either of you really appreciated me, you'd offer to go to the luncheon in my place or better still, phone my aunt and explain to her why I can't possibly attend this year."

"No offence, Counsellor, but I have no desire to be betrothed to a whore of a man and I really don't think I'd make a good trophy wife," Elliot announced with mock regret lacing his tone. "But you know, you could always crash Olivia's solitary slumber party instead, couldn't she, Liv?" Slightly widened brown eyes met cobalt blue as the two women struggled to respond instantaneously. Alex was equally as aware as her friend that there would already be more than one guest at Liv's apartment, with the attorney having been excitedly informed of Sam and Liv's plans to move in together a few days after Christmas.

"Uh, yeah, sure if you don't mind me being the most antisocial hostess in history!" Liv feigned making the offer sound genuine as best she could, glancing at her partner to assess its effectiveness.

"It's fine, Liv, really. If I don't show my face, I'll only be postponing the inevitable. Or, God forbid, Aunt Helen might even give my number or address to the cretin she's trying to set me up with – she's done that before when I ducked out early!" Alex scoffed with a terse shake of her head, recalling the persuading it had taken for that particular guy to lose her number.

"Seriously? Wow, I don't think I ever want to meet your aunt," Elliot stated, sucking in a quick breath through pursed lips with a wince.

"You know, if any of them are potential stalkers, we'll have your back, Alex," Liv assured her friend, reaching out and squeezing her shoulder gently. The action was two-fold. On the surface it could be assumed that it was a simple act of support, a gesture of good-natured solidarity in the face of hearing about Alex's difficult aunt. Liv and Alex both realised though that it was also the older woman's way of thanking her blonde friend for not letting Elliot know about Samia. Olivia wasn't sure she'd ever be ready to face her staunchly Catholic partner's reaction to her being in a loving, committed relationship with another woman, no matter how much Alex attempted to persuade her that he'd be ok with it because she was who she was.

"Thank you Olivia, it's good to know I can ring you at any time if my aunt's taste and good sense completely desert her. Perhaps this year, he will at least be the right side of sixty!" All three of them erupted into spontaneous laughter at the thought of the blonde goddess, Alexandra Cabot, becoming arm furniture for a sexagenarian.

Friday 2nd January 2009


Olivia Benson's apartment, East 34th Street

The brunette crept through the apartment as quietly as she could, heading straight for the bedroom where she was sure to find her lover. They had caught a lucky break in their case and managed to sneak away from the precinct without having to spend another night in the crib, grabbing whatever sparse smattering of sleep they could. Olivia almost moaned her appreciation out loud as her eyes landed on the inviting looking bed and the motionless mound already buried beneath the covers. The night air chilled her skin as she shucked off her work clothes and she hastened her movements, throwing on her pyjama pants and cap-sleeved t-shirt. Liv lifted the corner of the blankets, trying to let as little of the cool air into the cosy cocoon as possible as she slid beneath the covers. The warmth enveloped her, surrounding her and holding her like a lover. The softness of her mattress felt divine after the lumpy cots in the crib. But the best sensation of all was the way her partner instinctively rolled towards her, moulding herself along the contours of her body and welcoming her with an unconscious embrace. Deciding it was time to return the favour Sam had so gladly bestowed on her on Christmas morning, Liv allowed her hands to wander over the cotton-covered planes of Sam's back, dipping her slender fingers beneath the waistband of the younger woman's own pants and palming the firm, smooth globes of her buttocks. Her lips suckled at every inch of uncovered skin she encountered as she deftly rolled them over, hovering above the still slumbering teacher. With the desperation of a parched man in a desert, Liv craved the taste of Sam's essence. She carefully, steadily, gently teased the pants and underwear over the blonde's hips and legs until she could toss them aside, kissing her way back up the lean limbs and nestling between openly awaiting thighs.

"Mmmm," came the drowsy response from above as Liv's lips fastened themselves around succulent flesh, tongue darting through silky folds and tantalisingly drawing patterns designed to inflame and provoke Sam's passion. Olivia smiled as she felt her lover's body begin to react even before her brain had woken her. Wanting the younger woman to be in a thoroughly heightened state of arousal once she did realise that she wasn't in the midst of a particularly erotic dream, Liv stepped up her ministrations, focusing her attentions on the partially hidden bundle of nerves with her lips and tongue whilst easing a single finger into her hot, tight core, surprised by the copious amounts of moisture already there. Her own centre clenched, her desire being satisfied by loving her girlfriend in such a fashion. As she worked a second finger into Sam's entrance and pressed her tongue flat against her clitoris, Sam arched off the bed, thrown into wakefulness with a hoarse cry of her lover's name.

"Happy New Year, my beautiful Sami. May it be a year to remember for the very best of reasons," Liv murmured into Sam's ear as she lay beside her, cradling her after swiftly crawling up the bed following the young blonde's orgasm.

"Happy New Year, Liv and as long as you're in my life, this year is bound to be special, just like every year after it will be too, so long as we're together." Sam turned her head to meet her lover's lips, growling as she tasted her own flavour there. "That is one hell of a way to wake up!" she exclaimed with a chuckle. "What time is it? Come to think of it, what day is it? Is it Saturday morning already?" Arousal mixed with a still sleepy mind led to a very confused blonde.

"I got let out early for good behaviour," Liv joked, snuggling down next to her partner and drawing her in as close as possible, content to simply drift into a comfortable slumber. "It's just after midnight, plenty of time to sleep yet. Sorry I woke you but I missed you so much, I couldn't help it."

"Don't you dare apologise for waking me, certainly not for how you woke me! I'd have been having some serious words with you in the morning if I'd woken up and found you beside me. Don't you want me to take care of you before we get some rest?" Sam asked coyly, one hand already beginning to dip towards the juncture of her lover's legs.

"I'm fine, sweetheart. Let's sleep now. Tomorrow's a whole other day and unless we have plans I don't know about, we can stay in bed all day if we so choose." Liv placed a tender kiss against Sam's brow, encouraging her to assume her usual position curled around the detective's body as her own eyes slid shut and remained that way. With a final quiet yawn, Sam too succumbed to the need to sleep.

Tuesday 13th January 2009


Olivia Benson's apartment, East 34th Street

"Hi Alex, come on in," Liv greeted her friend warmly as she stepped aside to usher the attorney in out of the hallway. "Sorry we couldn't do this at the precinct but I needed to get home. One of Sam's kids very kindly shared their germs with her, she's laid up in bed with the flu."

"Not to worry. We'll keep this brief so you can focus on taking care of Sam. I'd say it can wait but we're already at the limit of our time on this one," Alex responded, slipping out of her raincoat and allowing Liv to hang it behind the front door for her.

"Thanks. I realise we have to get this done, it's ok. Sami's sleeping at the moment but I'll need to wake her in an hour or so for some more Tylenol. 'Til then, I'm all yours," Liv exclaimed, leading her friend through to the lounge. "Can I get you a drink? There's a fresh pot of coffee that's almost full."

"A coffee would be great, thanks. It's bitter out there, I wouldn't be surprised if it snows later," Alex complained, not relishing the idea of navigating her way back to her own apartment if a covering of white stuff did settle on the city.

"If it does, you're more than welcome to stay here for the night. I can only offer the couch but I'd be happier knowing you weren't out there taking your life in your hands getting back to your apartment," Liv offered warmly as she crossed to the compact kitchen to retrieve Alex's coffee.

"Thanks but I wouldn't dream of putting you out. You've already got enough on your hands taking care of Sam. I'll be fine, no matter what the weather does. It's not going to put down that much in that short a time even if it does start snowing," Alex assured her friend, grateful for her concern but brushing it off all the same.

"We'll see," Liv replied, knowing it was pointless trying to argue with an attorney but not willing to dismiss it out of hand. "How's it going with getting Marcus to accept you're not interested in being his trophy wife?" Liv asked, referring to the latest in the long line of unsuitable men Alex's aunt had attempted to get the attorney to date.

"I think we're nearing an understanding. I may have mentioned your promise to arrest anyone who wouldn't leave me alone and take no for an answer," Alex informed her friend with a smirk, accepting the mug of steaming coffee gratefully.

"Good. Let me know if he still doesn't back off, I'll make good on that promise," Liv told the blonde sternly. She shook her head, acknowledging that she would never understand why Alex allowed herself to be manipulated like a pawn by her family, simply for the sake of an easy life.

"Shall we get down to business and then I can leave you to don your nurse's outfit in peace?" Alex enquired with a salacious wink.

"Yeah right Cabot, as if I'm going to be getting any tonight when Sam can barely keep her eyes open long enough to take the Tylenol!" Liv retorted with a snort of derision. "Come on then, let's get this over with. There's no way this guy is walking away from what he did to Lisa and Edward."

"It's a good case, Liv. The evidence is strong and damning, your testimony will just be the final nail in Benitez's coffin. The evidence will convict him, you will make the jury despise him for the cowardly rat he is," Alex assured the detective vehemently, the strength of her belief in the case they had built swelling Liv's own confidence. For the next hour, the two women concentrated on their preparation with Alex firing question after question at Olivia and the brunette responding efficiently, professionally and with diligent attention to detail whilst taking care to keep her own feelings regarding the depravity and degradation the elderly couple had been subjected to at a minimum. Alex's respect for the older woman grew each time they went to trial. Olivia's handling of the cases, her respectful regard for the victims and her clear, concise recall of the evidence made her own job so much easier to do.

"Liv," a quiet voice croaked from the doorway of the lounge, interrupting the flow of their question and answer session.

The brunette bolted to her feet, swiftly covering the short distance to where her lover leaned heavily against the doorframe for support. "What are you doing out of bed, sweetheart?" Liv asked as she secured an arm around the younger woman's thin waist, helping her to remain upright.

"My head hurts and I need some water. I didn't want to disturb you while you're working but…I don't think I can make it to the kitchen," Sam replied wearily, her voice thin and breathless, testament to the effort it had taken for her to make the short journey to where she was.

Alex stood and began to make her own way to the kitchen, throwing over her shoulder, "I'll get the water, Liv, you help Sam back to bed."

With a brief, "thanks," Liv did precisely that, focussing her attention on her ill lover. "Can you walk back to the bed or shall I carry you?" she asked quietly, pressing a hand to the woman's forehead, startled to feel how high her temperature was.

"I think I can make it, if you don't mind helping me," Sam offered, pushing weakly off the doorjamb, her legs immediately buckling beneath her.

"OK, I think that answers that," Liv retorted, sweeping the young woman into her arms and carrying her the short distance back to the bedroom. She placed Sam gently down onto the exposed sheets, hyper aware of the violent shivers taking hold of the blonde in her fever-ridden state. Reaching for the Tylenol bottle on the bedside cabinet, Liv popped out two capsules and turned to accept the glass of water from Alex. "Sit up for me for a second, sweetheart," Liv instructed her lover who was already threatening to give in to her almost overwhelming need to sleep once again. Seeing that the young blonde was in no condition to comply, Alex rounded the bed, kneeling beside the reclined woman and assisting her into a seated position, allowing her to lean her entire weight back against her since she had no strength in her own muscles to hold herself up.

"I'm sorry…" Sam murmured, though provided no further explanation for her apology.

"Sssh, it's ok baby. Take these and drink your water then you can sleep again," Liv commanded tenderly, her concern evident in her expression. Between them, Alex and Olivia managed to get the pills into the teacher, along with a few sips of water to wash them down, before Sam submitted to unconsciousness once again. Gingerly lowering the now slumbering woman back to the bed, Alex clambered off while Liv remained perched beside her lover, stroking her forehead softly.

"How long has she been like this?" Alex asked quietly, understanding that nothing short of an explosion would wake the younger blonde but still not wanting to risk disturbing her.

"She seemed tired this morning and was complaining of aching muscles but insisted on going in to work. She was sent home after lunch and was in bed when I got back a little after five," Liv replied with a frown. "I wish there was more I could do to make her feel better or to break this fever at least."

"Have you tried her in a tepid bath? That's what my governess used to do for me when I ran a temperature as a child," Alex suggested.

"You had a governess?" Liv asked, momentarily distracted.

"Of course. My parents were busy with their lives, they needed someone to make sure I upheld the Cabot good name," Alex told her friend as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. Despite knowing one another for so long, Liv found there were still things which surprised her about the attorney and which drove home to her how different their worlds were.

"So this bath, what temperature should I make it?" the brunette queried, willing to consider anything if it would aid her ailing lover.

"I'll go run it, you get Sam undressed. Then I'll get out of your hair, if you think you'll be able to manage getting her in and out of the bath on your own?" Both women looked at the heavily sleeping teacher, realising that she would be offering no assistance at all.

"Would you mind staying until I get her out again? Just in case?" Liv asked shyly. It was heart-warming for Alex to see Liv so concerned for the welfare of the young woman whom she obviously cared for a great deal.

"Of course I wouldn't mind, Liv. Whatever you need."

"Is she ok?" Alex asked as Olivia rejoined her in the lounge, watching as the older woman sank tiredly into the couch.

"Yeah, her temperature's come down quite a lot. I'm sure the Tylenol have helped but a lot is down to your bath so thank you for that. And thank you as well for changing the sheets on the bed, that was really sweet of you," Liv gushed, smiling warmly at the attorney.

"You're welcome. It seemed like they'd have been uncomfortable for Sam and wouldn't help her recovery any. Besides, I wanted to make myself useful while you were bathing her." Alex allowed her gaze to wander over her friend's face, taking in the sure signs of fatigue. "I should head home and let you get some sleep too," she stated.

"It's late, 'Lex, why don't you stay? Please? I won't settle until I know you're home safe anyway and I think we could both use some sleep. I've plenty of blankets," Liv stated, hoping Alex would agree if only to appease her protective nature.

"I'll be fine getting home, Liv. I need to be at the office early tomorrow and I don't want to wake either of you when I have to leave at the crack of dawn to head home to change for work," the attorney explained, preferring the idea of spending the night in her own bed. "Make sure you get some sleep, Liv. I need you fit and well to testify so please don't go picking the flu up from your girlfriend, ok?"

"I'll do my best, Counsellor. Let me know you get home alright, please?" Liv requested firmly, knowing there would be no talking her friend around if she had made her mind up. Walking the attractive blonde to the front door, Liv hugged her tightly. "Thank you for all your help this evening, Alex, I really appreciate it. I'm glad we're back to being such close friends again and I'm more grateful than you might realise for your support of my relationship with Sami."

"I just want what's best for you, Liv, and I can see how much Sam means to you. What kind of friend would I be if I wasn't supportive of something that brings you so much?" Alex stepped out into the corridor before promising the detective, "I'll text you as soon as I'm home."

After seeing her friend out, Liv ran some water into the coffee mugs they'd used before turning out the lights and quietly entering the bedroom she shared with her lover. She paused in the doorway for a moment, watching the young woman sleep soundly, her heart swelling with renewed tender affection every time she laid eyes on her girlfriend, even when she wasn't looking at her best. Tiptoeing the short distance to the bed, Liv swiftly discarded her clothing, slipping into a tank top and sleep shorts and crawling under the blankets beside her shivering partner, who instinctively rolled towards the warmth offered by the older woman's body.

"Livie?" came the semi-conscious murmur.

"Ssssh baby, just sleep. I'm here, I've got you," Liv cooed, smiling at the childlike nickname.

"Love you," Sam hummed as she once again succumbed to a flu-induced coma.


Part 34

Sunday February 22nd 2009


Payard Patisserie & Bistro, Lexington Avenue

Alex and Olivia pushed through the doors of the quaint little cafe, both feeling in dire need of sustenance and fluids after their punishing run. It hadn't lasted long but each of them had pushed one another hard as though they could outrun their individual and collective demons, and now they were both feeling the effects of their exertions.

"What can I get you ladies?" the young redheaded college kid behind the counter asked.

"Two bottles of water, one cinnamon latte and a black coffee please," Alex directed, knowing what drinks were required. Turning to her panting companion, she enquired, "what are you having to eat, Liv?"

Olivia cast her gaze over the sumptuous display of pastries, specialty breads and rolls as she decided what could satisfy her sudden craving for something sweet. "I'll take a cinnamon roll and a pain au chocolat, please."

"Sounds good," Alex concurred before adding her own choice to the order, "make that two cinnamon rolls, one pain au chocolat and an almond brioche."

"Certainly ma'am. Will you be eating in or should I make those to go?" The atmosphere in the bistro was casually relaxed, well suited to a leisurely Sunday morning. Liv shrugged deferring to Alex's preference when the blonde cast an enquiring glance in her direction.

"To eat in, thanks." Alex handed over the cash to pay for the purchases from a zipped closed pocket in her thin track jacket. After retrieving her change and securing it back in her pocket, the two women made their way to the end of the counter to await their drinks and food to be ready.

"Thanks for breakfast, Alex," Liv murmured gratefully.

"You're welcome. You ok? That was a bit more brutal than the last few times we've run, how are you feeling?" the blonde asked, hoping that the morning's activities hadn't done more harm than good.

"I'll be fine, I've just realised how out of shape I've become in the last few weeks of not running and going to the gym every other day. It'll do me good to get back into the routine, stop me from getting lazy," Liv replied with a self deprecating smile, picking up her tall, black coffee as it was placed beside her. Alex grabbed her own drink and between them, the two friends ferried their wares over to a vacant table towards the back of the bistro.

"Don't push it too hard, too soon, Liv. You're not going to lose your fitness in a couple of weeks and overdoing it will just put you back further on the road to recovery – physically speaking – and we both know you'll only end up more frustrated if your return to full duties is delayed because you didn't listen to your body." Alex felt a protective need to caution the older woman against punishing herself through too much strenuous exertion, understanding her drive and desire but knowing it would prove to be counterproductive. "Trust me on this, please. When I was first in Witsec, I had to have intensive therapy on my shoulder to regain a full range of movement and my therapist gave me some exercises to do in between sessions. I continually overdid the exercises and added my own in too, using furniture and household items as weights to try and speed up my recovery. No matter how many times my therapist told me I had to let my shoulder heal and recover at its own pace, I ignored her and continued my own frantic regime until one morning I woke up and couldn't move my arm at all. The pain was excruciating, almost worse than the actual gunshot wound that caused the problem. I phoned Lisa, my therapist, and she came over, gave me the biggest tongue lashing of my life – and that includes those I've had from my mother and Aunt Helen! I was back to square one, had to wear a sling for weeks afterwards until the muscles had settled down enough for me to restart the treatments and light exercises. No matter how frustrated I got after that, all I had to do was remember how hard it had been to start over and how painful it had been and I'd realise that taking my time was far preferable to going through that again. Please, Liv, don't repeat my mistakes," she implored of the brunette.

"How are you still so… I don't know… well adjusted after everything you went through? You're a remarkable woman, Alex." Liv's tone was awe-filled, her eyes shining with admiration.

"I'm not, not really. I have my demons, I have my insecurities and my dark days, I've just been used to projecting a facade all my life so this is no different. It's mostly just an act while I scrabble around trying to get my feet back beneath me again." Alex picked up her brioche, tearing a bite-sized chunk off and slipping it between her lips. Liv allowed her friend a moment, nibbling at the edge of her own cinnamon roll before she spoke.

"I'll make a deal with you: I'll try to listen to my body more and not be impatient if you'll let your guard down when we're alone together. Let me know when you're struggling to find yourself, to define who you are and we can work on that together just as you're helping me to work on handling my grief for Sam's loss." Liv took hold of Alex's hand where it rested on the table top. "We can share stories of old times, I can remind you of the Alex I used to know and love, of the good times we shared and the more legendary fights we had. Perhaps that might help to coax Alex – the new edition – to settle into herself more easily, if she remembers her heritage."

"Liv, I'll be honest with you, just being around you makes it easier to be myself again. Your friendship, who I am when I'm with you, for the most part, that's who I want to be, that's who I think Alex is. I don't feel like I have to hide behind Alexandra or ADA Cabot when I'm with you. Listen to me, anyone would think I have a multiple personality disorder – sorry dissociative identity disorder," Alex snorted quietly, pulling another chunk of brioche off savagely.

Liv once again reached across the small table, capturing Alex's dainty hand in her own larger one, squeezing it supportively. "Not if they knew what you'd been through, they wouldn't. You amaze me, Alex and since you've been so honest with me, let me do likewise with you; seeing you rebuilding your life, being so strong and confident that you will get your life back to where you want it to be, that gives me hope that I too can get through this. You, Alex, you inspire that hope in me just by being who you are."

The attorney felt tears prick at her eyes and swallowed against the forming lump in her throat as her gaze met her friend's sincere stare. "Thank you, that's the sweetest thing anyone has said to me in a long time."

The two companions were content to eat and drink their breakfast in comfortable silence for a while, each mulling over their own thoughts and hopes for the future. As they readied to leave, Liv held the door open for Alex, pausing in the entryway with a worried look on her face.

"What is it? What's the matter?" Alex queried, trying to peer around the detective to see what was causing her concern. Her gaze landed on a tall, lanky brunette meandering down the street towards the bistro, laughing heartily as she wrapped an arm casually around the shoulders of an attractive blonde and dropped a kiss on her cheek.

"Alex…" Liv's voice held more than a small note of caution and regret that her good friend might be pained by the visage developing before them.

"It's ok, Liv. I knew Abbie was just a casual fuck when I took her to my bed. I didn't expect her to dwell on it. We scratched an itch for each other, simple as that." Alex ran a hand down Olivia's arm, feeling the coiled tension there and silently grateful that the older woman was looking out for her honour, even though it was not necessary. Seeing Abbie with another woman did cause a pang of something to flare momentarily inside Alex but she was reluctant to examine it for fear she wouldn't like what she found.

"You…you and Abbie slept together?" Liv asked as they stepped out on to the sidewalk. "I mean... sorry, it's none of my business."

"Olivia, don't... don't pull back from me and think that you can't ask me about anything. Yes Abbie and I had sex and that was all it was, a quick fuck with a willing partner. After the numerous fiascos of dates I've been on with men my family deem suitable recently, it was a nice change to be with someone who made me feel something more than a moral obligation to be seen out with them." Alex looped her arm through the brunette's, pulling her away from the bistro and the approaching women and back towards her apartment.

"I'm sorry your first time with a woman couldn't have been more meaningful for you," Liv stated quietly, remembering her own first sexual encounter with a woman and how it had opened her eyes to the possibility of their being more to relationships than simple physical fulfilment. Alex sensed there was more the older woman wished to say but was perhaps reluctant to in such a public setting.

"Every time you sleep with someone new, it's a first time experience to make of it what you will. It's for both partners to make it special whether it's the first time you've slept with a person of that gender or the hundred and first time. Abbie gave me what I needed, when I needed it." The blonde attorney spun around so that she was standing in front of Olivia, barring her from escaping. "Does it bother you that I slept with Abbie? Honestly? I know you said you'd be ok with it but is it going to cause an atmosphere between us?"

"No! No, I… who you sleep with is your business Alex, I just don't want to see you get hurt or see you go through life not knowing the happiness that a relationship can bring you," Liv hastened to assure the younger woman, stepping closer and pulling Alex to her, wrapping her arms around her and offering her a warm, sincere hug to show there was no issue between them. Alex melted into the embrace, against her better judgement, laying her head on the detective's broad shoulder and closing her eyes for a moment, allowing herself to fantasise about the kiss they had shared that morning. Feeling her nipples tighten in response to the images her mind was conjuring, Alex sprung from the embrace as though she had been scolded.

"We ought to get back. I could use a shower and you need to rest." Liv opted not to press for an explanation of the sudden retreat, hoping that she hadn't made the attorney uncomfortable with her sudden display of affection or her questioning of what Alex and Abbie had shared. Instead, she contented herself with trotting along beside the blonde who had set off up the sidewalk at a fair pace.

Sunday February 22nd 2009


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

Alex stepped into her lounge, crisp white towel wrapped around her shoulders, one hand busily towel-drying her mid-length blonde locks. She spied Olivia stretched out on the couch, one leg haphazardly falling off the side, foot firmly planted on the floor to prevent the rest of her body from following suit. One arm was thrown across the brunette's eyes and from the steady rise and fall of her chest, Alex hazarded a guess that Liv was napping. Opting to let her rest for a while, Alex wandered through into her well appointed kitchen, rifling through the refrigerator for a carton of fruit juice and pouring a generous serving into a tall tumbler. She sunk half of the drink, refilling it before replacing the juice in the fridge and heading into her dining room. Her attaché case was still beside the mahogany table, where she had left it. Leaving the towel around her shoulders and placing the drink on one of the coasters, there to protect the polished tabletop from watermarks and other potential flaws, Alex reached into her case and extracted some paperwork, settling herself down to look over her work schedule for the coming week and draught an opening statement for the Danvers case.

"You should have woken me," a sleepy voice called from the doorway, somewhere behind Alex. The blonde attorney started, having got quite used to the silent apartment and having lost track of time. A glance at the clock on the wall showed over an hour had gone by since she started working.

"After that run this morning, the sleep won't have done you any harm," she replied, twisting in her chair to look at the adorably drowsy detective as she approached the table where Alex was seated.

"How can I sleep so much and still be tired?" Olivia grumbled sullenly.

"Because your body and your mind are still healing and that takes a huge amount of energy that you don't normally expend. When you add in your normal daily activities or increased physical exertion, you're going to wear yourself out more quickly. It won't last and you'll start to notice your stamina increasing again in time. Think of it like the flu, Liv – you don't just get up out of bed straight after having the flu and expect to be able to do everything you could before you got sick, do you?" Alex reasoned, putting her pen down on the legal pad she had been jotting notes and arguments on.

"I guess not. I just wish this fatigue didn't keep hitting me out of nowhere. One minute I can be fine, the next my eyes roll back in my head and when I'm next aware of anything, I've lost an hour or two of my life!" Liv exclaimed with a frustrated sigh.

"That aside, do you feel better for your nap?" Alex asked, genuinely hoping that it had been refreshing for the older woman.

"Yeah, it was… I dreamed of Sami, I remember. I dreamed of the first date I took her on," Liv replied, blowing out a shaky breath as she felt her eyes water at the memories her dream had conjured.

"Want to talk about it? I'm presuming this wasn't when you had dinner together after the funeral?" Alex prompted.

"No, we decided not to class that as a date – it just seemed too crass. I think both of our consciences had issues with us getting together at a funeral, especially one of a child. So we agreed that our first 'official' date was when I took her to dinner the following week. I'd been working late into the night all week, as usual, so we'd had difficulty finding time to see one another but we fortunately caught a break in the case we were working and I managed to slip away early enough to make reservations at a restaurant. I called her and asked if she was free for dinner that evening and fortunately she said yes – although later, she did tell me that she was supposed to be spending the night marking papers for her class the following day. It probably sounds very vanilla and lame but we had the most incredible time just talking and sharing stories of our lives. I found myself telling her things that I never tell my dates and she listened to me, accepted what I told her and never once made a big deal of the baggage I was carrying. She was kind and supportive, never patronising or false with her platitudes. I knew by the end of the evening that she was special, that she was different from the other people I'd dated. I didn't even kiss her goodnight, not properly. I dropped her off at her place, walked her to her door and kissed the back of her knuckles before promising I'd call her again, very soon. I wanted so badly to go inside with her, to kiss her and hold her and make love to her until neither of us knew what day of the week it was but I also wanted to make sure it would last first. I wanted to be sure that she was genuine, that she was as interested in the reality of my baggage and my job before I let myself get that involved with her – because I knew once I had her, once we were together in every sense, it would tear me apart to lose her." Tears were streaming down both women's cheeks as Liv completed her reminiscence, both their hearts aching for the loss of a truly special person. "In my dream, Sam told me that I could have that again, that I could find that love again if I just opened my eyes and my heart as I had done to her. She told me not to be blind to what was in front of me because I was too busy looking behind me."

"It's good advice but Liv, you know that it's coming from within you, don't you? That it's not really Sam coming back to you?" Alex cautioned.

"I know and I think my mind is trying to do what Sam wants me to do, to drive me forward to live in the here and now, look to the future and not constantly dwell on the past. Sam will always be a major influence on me, her love will always stay with me and I'd like to think she made me a better person but the best way I can honour what she gave me is to not waste my life pining for her. I need to deal with the fact that she's no longer here and start to look to the future… and part of that will be learning to live at my apartment again… without her. Alex, I appreciate you giving your home over to me more than you will ever know but I think I've realised that being here, being away from the constant reminders of the life I'd built with Sami, it's just delaying me dealing with her not being here anymore. I never shared this space with her, her things aren't everywhere to remind me that she once was there. I know it is going to be hard and it's going to hurt more than I should be able to bear but I have to do it, to be able to truly say I am moving on and dealing with the fact I'll never see her again, never hold her in my arms again, never know what it would have been like to raise a family with her." Liv swiped at the tears coursing over her cheeks, dashing them away impatiently.

Alex swallowed thickly, her own voice choked with tears as she assured her friend she understood. "So long as you know you are always welcome here and there is no rush for you to move back to your apartment on my account. Why don't you try spending some time there alone, maybe even spend a night there by yourself with the understanding that if it's too much too soon, you can come back here for a while? And if you want to alternate for a bit, spend one night there, one night here, so it's not all at once, that's fine too." She had known it was only a temporary arrangement but the attorney had become quite accustomed to sharing her home with the brunette. "I'll miss you," she murmured quietly, not wanting to guilt her into staying but needing her to know that her presence had been appreciated.

"I'm not going far, Alex, we'll still see each other," Liv promised, her own heart clenching at the thought of not waking up there with the young blonde, as she had so many times since she'd been released from hospital. "And if you need me, for anything, no matter what time it is, just pick up the phone and we can talk or I'll come over."

"You'll promise to do the same?" Alex asked, her eyes allowing a tiny sliver of her desperation to show through at the prospect of their impending separation.

"I promise and perhaps, if you'd be willing, you could maybe spend the night there with me the first night I go back? I think, as hard as it will be, I'd get through it better with you there." Olivia pulled Alex to her where they sat, face to face at the dining table, capturing her in a warm embrace. The attorney returned the hug fiercely, a sob escaping despite her attempts to stifle it. "Hey, hey, it's ok. We won't let it make us drift apart again, I promise. I'm still going to be there for you, whenever you want me to be or need me to be and I'll still be reaching out to you every time I struggle or find myself faltering at all. Honestly, Alex, I'm not running away from you, from our friendship, I'm just doing what I need to do to make sure I can be there for you properly in the long term. We'll be ok, sweetheart."

Alex nodded against Liv's neck, knowing the older woman was speaking the truth but still not able to quell the pain that the separation would cause her. Pulling back a little, she asked, in a timid, childlike voice, "this isn't because I kissed you this morning is it?"

Olivia surprised her by erupting into spontaneous laughter. "Of course not! Why would you think that?"

"Just that… this, your decision to go back home… it seems out of the blue and I guess I was looking for a reason… something I'd done to make you think you had to leave," Alex admitted shyly, turning away from her friend and picking her pen back up from where it lay on her legal pad, twirling it nervously between her fingers.

"Alex, you haven't done anything to drive me away. On the contrary, you have been so supportive of me and guided me through this last few weeks better than anyone could have imagined. I meant what I said earlier, you are an inspiration to me and I know that I will get through this because I have friends like you and Gina and Fausto around me to help me." Liv refused to let Alex avoid her, gripping her chin lightly and bringing her face back around to meet her own concerned gaze, "please don't blame yourself for something where there is no blame to be laid." With a teasing grin, she continued, "and think on the bright side, you won't find me cluttering up your couch every time a nap attack strikes!"

"When will you go?" Alex asked plaintively, not willing to be coaxed from her sorrows just yet.

"In a couple of days I think. I'd like chance to get settled back at work and into the routine there and then I'll get out of your hair, if that's ok?" Liv replied, stroking a palm down Alex's cheek, cupping it gently and soothing her thumb across the underneath of a tired eye.

"Whatever you think is best," the attorney responded resignedly, rising from her chair and walking away, into the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. Liv watched her go with a worried sigh, concerned that Alex seemed to be taking her departure as a form of rejection, despite her assurances that it wasn't. Thinking back on their conversation at the bistro earlier in the day, Liv had to wonder if it was linked to Alex's struggle to re-find herself and her assertions that she only truly felt secure in who she was when Liv was around. She bolted from her seat, suddenly needing to reassure the younger woman that she would still be around enough for her to feel that way, that Alex wouldn't suddenly be cast adrift once more in a sea of uncertainty. The buzzing of the entry phone interrupted her plans though as Alex exited the kitchen when Liv entered, heading towards the device to see who was calling on them.

"Ms Cabot, I have a Detective Stabler here wishing to speak with Ms Benson," Jake, the doorman of the day, informed the tenant.

"Very good, send him up please, Jake." Alex replaced the receiver, turning to find she had an audience awaiting her. "Elliot's here to see you. I'll leave you two to it." Without waiting for a response, Alex stalked through her apartment and into her bedroom, closing the door firmly behind her. Olivia paced the in the entry hall as she waited for Elliot, her mind in turmoil as to whether she was doing the right thing leaving Alex. It appeared she may have overlooked how lonely and in need of companionship Alex herself was but she had no time to deal with that just then. Elliot was on his way up and Liv was dreading another confrontational discussion about her preference of sexual partner with the staunch Catholic. A knock on the door had her steeling herself before she granted entrance to the brawny detective.

"Hi Liv, is it a good time to talk?" Elliot asked as he stepped inside, seeming uncharacteristically unsure of himself.

"What are you doing here, Elliot?" Liv questioned in return, not willing to relax her guard.

"I came to apologise: for what I said the other day; for not being a better partner to you and noticing that you had something special going on with someone; for not taking the time to find out why you've seemed so happy, so settled over the last year or so; for letting my personal feelings and preconceptions taint my attempts to offer you my condolences. I talked to Kathy, a lot, since you left me there in that diner at lunch and she made me realise a few things, not least of which was how much of an ass I was to you, dismissing what you felt…feel… for Sam. I'm sorry that I undermined the strength of your relationship with her and if you feel like I diminished your grief, I just want you to know that that was honestly not my intention when I invited you out to lunch. Seeing you in the crib, so shut down, so angry and lashing out at Alex and Abbie, I don't think I'll ever be able to forget that look in your eyes and I hope to God I never see it again. That raw, untempered devastation… Liv, I'm so sorry." The muscular man kept his arms by his sides, his stance open and non-combative, attempting to illustrate his sincerity with every fibre of his being.

"I realise that my relationship with Sam goes against everything you believe in but to me, she was my everything Elliot and when I need my friends around me, you turned against me. First, you withdrew from me altogether and then when we did talk, you made me feel like I shouldn't feel the way I do. Can you even begin to imagine how you would feel if anything happened to Kathy? If one day you kissed her goodbye and the next time you saw her, she had a bomb strapped to her and you were faced with the choice of killing her or killing countless other people? Can you even dare to imagine what you would do in that situation? How you would handle it? Do you blame me for being angry? For feeling like there is absolutely no justice in the world? Or do you think that we brought it on ourselves by being two women in a relationship together?" Liv bombarded her partner with question after question, her voice rising with each one that passed her lips, heedless of the fact she hadn't invited him beyond the foyer of the apartment.

"It would kill me, Liv, if anything at all happened to Kathy so no, I can't begin to imagine what I'd do if I'd been in your position. The fact that you kept your head long enough to save those other people, despite the personal cost to you and Sam… it blows my mind, you held yourself together to do that. No, I don't blame you for being angry, you have every right to be pissed as all Hell that you lost Sam that way and I don't honestly think your pain is any less than anyone else's would be just because you're both women. I think a lot of my reaction came from not having known that you were with anyone, regardless of their gender. It drove home to me how far we've drifted apart. What happened to us, Olivia? We used to be solid." Elliot refused to be hounded out of the door, knowing it was cathartic for them to thrash out their differences away from work in the hopes that it wouldn't affect their ability to work alongside one another.

"People change. I've changed, I'm not the same person I was then. Too much has happened since then, I can't turn back the clock and be that person again just to please you. Even if I could, I don't think I'd want to. I was too closed off to life then, too content to let myself be a spectator to the world beyond my work." Liv adopted her frequently used pose, hands on her hips, elbows spread wide beside her body.

"I don't expect you to go back to being a workaholic with no life outside the precinct. You should know that would be the last thing I'd want for you. I just hope that, if you do ever find someone else you're willing to share your life with, you feel able to talk to me about it and know that I'll be happy for you," Elliot explained, imploring his partner to believe him.

"Even if that someone else is another woman? Because I… I think it would be," Liv admitted cautiously.

"So long as she's good for you and treats you right, yes. But if she doesn't, if she ever hurt you, she'd better expect a world of pain from me and the guys. You're our girl, Liv, we can't help but want to look out for you," Elliot responded openly before considering what his partner might be trying to tell him. "Is there someone else you have in mind?"

"What?! Elliot, my lover was killed in front of me just three weeks ago and you think I've found someone to replace her already? That just proves you know nothing about how much pain her death is causing me…" Liv cried, horrified in no small part because she was in some ways guilty of considering another relationship given her intermittent thoughts of being with Alex in a less platonic way. The sounds of her renewed distress coaxed the blonde out of her bedroom, the attorney dashing to Liv's side and escorting her into the lounge.

"No…no that's not what I meant!" Elliot attempted to salvage the situation, studiously ignoring the icy glare he was getting from Alex. "You seemed to suggest that you knew you'd be with another woman when you're ready to get into another relationship. I just wondered what made you so sure, if you had had feelings for someone else that you might consider acting on once you're over what happened to Sam."

"Whether Olivia has had feelings for any other woman or not in the past, now is hardly the time to be discussing such things, Detective Stabler," Alex growled protectively even as her own jealously threatened to flare at the thought of Liv being attracted to another woman.

"No, it's not, I realise that. Oh hell Liv, I just want you to know I'll have your back, no matter what, ok? That's what I came here to say; that I'm sorry I was an ass and that it doesn't change anything for me, the fact that you chose – and may continue to choose – female lovers. I'm sorry for being so inarticulate that I just end up putting my foot in my mouth every time I try to talk to you about this. If you need anything, anything at all, I'm here for you ok?" Elliot stammered, watching the attorney attempt to soothe his partner and feeling suspicions pricking at the back of his mind as the two women leaned into one another's touch as though it was the most natural thing in the world. "Take care of her Counsellor, I'll let myself out before I make things any worse."


Part 35

Thursday January 22nd 2009


Olivia Benson's apartment, East 34th Street

"Come on in Gina, Fausto. I'm so glad you could make it and I'm sorry it's taken this long for us to find an evening which suited us all for you to see where your daughter's now living," Olivia gushed as she greeted her lover's parents with a warm hug and a kiss for each of them. Her affections were returned heartily by both older Camanettis.

"You've no need to apologise, Olivia, we understand your work is unpredictable. Thank you for inviting us into your home," Gina acknowledged.

"You're welcome here any time, we're family so don't feel like you need to wait for an invitation. You know where it is now, any time you want to come over we'd be more than happy to see you." It warmed Gina's heart and brought a proud smile to Fausto's face to hear their daughter's partner so willingly including them in the life they were building together. So often in the past, Samia's partners had been jealous of the close relationship between herself and her parents but Olivia seemed determined to maintain that no matter what.

"Mama, Pops, what can I get you to drink?" Sam greeted enthusiastically, dropping a kiss on each of their cheeks as Liv busied herself with hanging up their jackets.

"I'll just have a water, thank you, sweetheart," Gina requested, stepping into the lounge area and casting an interested glance around her. The place was cosy and had a very homely feel, tempered with a certain sense of having been a bachelor pad until recent times.

"If there's any going, I'd love a coffee, please Samia," Fausto replied, following his wife and smiling at how nervous Olivia seemed despite her calm reassurances that they were welcome in the home she and his daughter shared.

"Let me show you around while Sam fixes the drinks. It's not much but it'll do at least until the lease runs out in a few months." Liv beckoned for the two restaurateurs to join her as she wandered from room to room, giving them a brief tour of her abode.

"You have a lovely home, Olivia. I know Sam very much enjoys being able to be here with you so much more than when she had her own apartment," Gina assured the worrisome brunette as they returned to the lounge.

Sam joined them and handed her father his coffee. "Not quite the gourmet standard you're used to Papa but hopefully it'll suffice." She indicated to Gina that her water was on the coffee table in front of the sofa as Liv invited their guests to take a seat.

"Dinner smells wonderful Sam," the older blonde cooed proudly, glad to see her daughter utilising some of the skills she had learned whilst growing up at Fausto's.

"Thanks Mamma, I decided on chicken Alfredo since I know you'll all eat that," Sam replied with a smile, sidling up to her girlfriend and slipping her arm around the brunette's slender waist. "What will you have to drink, sweetheart?"

"I'll just grab a soda. Why don't you sit down for a few minutes and take a break? You've been on the go ever since you got home from school." Liv waited until Sam acquiesced before asking, "how about you? What would you like to drink, honey?"

"A soda'd be great thanks, Liv," Sam decided with a grateful smile as she leaned back into the cosy armchair.

"How was school today, baby girl?" Gina enquired of her daughter, making herself comfortable on the worn sofa.

"It was ok, the kids were great as usual. One boy, Marcus, treated us all to an impromptu song in the middle of home room, which would have been adorable if I didn't have to ask him to stop when the lyrics became somewhat inappropriate! I asked him where he learned the song and he told me his fifteen year old cousin has come to stay with them for a while and let's him listen to music with him. The whole class had a little discussion about what is and isn't the kind of music we want them to be sharing in school. To say it was an eye opener when they listed some of the artists they listen to, many of them have parental guidance certificates on the sleeves of the CD's but I guess with modern technology they won't actually have to buy the CD, they can just download it so long as they have a means to pay. And I'd dare say a good percentage of them are more computer savvy than their parents." Sam murmured her thanks as Liv returned with two sodas. She watched the brunette place her own drink on the coffee table before perching on the arm of the chair in which Sam sat. Gentle fingers carded through her silky blonde locks, soothing the troubled frown from her face. "Hey Liv, I was meaning to ask you if you'd be available to pop into the school for an hour or so next week? We're having a career's day and some of the parents are coming in to talk about their jobs but I thought the kids might find it interesting to hear about being a police officer. Obviously I know you can't talk to them about the cases you investigate but I thought maybe you could let chat with them about the training and what it's like being a police officer," Sam babbled nervously, wondering if she was asking too much of her lover.

"I'd be happy to if I can make it. What day is it, sweetheart and I'll check with the Captain. As long as I'm not due in court or anything, I'll hopefully be able to get away for a little while to come visit with your class," Liv agreed, eager to spend any time with her partner, no matter what the circumstances or how restrained they would have to be.

"It's Tuesday, the 27th. Does that ring any bells immediately? I mean, do you know your schedule for next week with regards court appearances?" Sam asked tentatively, scarcely believing the older woman had accepted the invitation so readily.

"Tuesday's good as far as I remember. I know I have court Monday afternoon and Thursday morning too I think but Tuesday isn't jarring in my mind like I'd be double-booking myself," Liv responded and dropped a gentle, chaste kiss onto Sam's crown. "Thank you for inviting me," she murmured, gratefully, smiling warmly at the young blonde.

"I'd better go and check on dinner," Sam stated, placing her hand on Liv's knee and using it as leverage to heave herself to her feet. "Why don't you three get yourselves settled at the table? It'll only be a few more minutes 'til I'm serving." Rising from her own seat on the chair arm, Liv wrapped her arms around Sam's slender waist from behind, giving her a quick squeeze.

"I love you," she whispered directly into the delicate shell of her ear.

"I love you too, babe," Sam replied with genuine affection before extracting herself a retreating to the kitchen. Gina and Fausto watched the exchange in contented silence. Each time they witnessed their daughter interacting with her partner, it became more and more obvious how deep the connection was that they shared. The matriarch strode over to where Liv remained gazing after her lover and linked arms with her, whisking her to the dining table to comply with Sam's instructions.

"Thank you, Olivia, for being so good for our daughter. This is the happiest I have ever seen my little girl and I am so grateful she has found such love in her life while she is so young and has so many wonderful years ahead of her," gushed the older blonde woman as she sank into a chair beside the detective.

"I'm grateful that Sami is so willing to put up with my crazy hours, my cranky, tired self and my pokey little apartment but I intend to cherish her and her love for as long as she is prepared to stick around. Your daughter makes me feel complete. When I'm with her, it doesn't matter how much horror and evil I've seen, she makes me see the brighter side of life, the good things, the things that are important. She's an exceptionally special woman and I intend to remind her of that, every day for the rest of her life if she'll let me."

"I will, Liv. For as long as you want me to be, I'm yours and yours alone," Sam vehemently announced from her position in the doorway, where she had lingered unnoticed for the majority of Olivia's speech. The teacher placed the steaming dish of food down in the centre of the table, its aroma tantalising the waiting trio. Before returning to the kitchen for the remainder of the side dishes, Sam leant down and captured Olivia's lips with her own in a brief but searing kiss. "You say the most amazing things and make me fall head over heels in love with you a little more each day."

"Ok, ok, let's get to the eating before I lose my appetite with all this sugary sweetness going on around here!" Fausto declared, the twinkle in his eye belying his grumbling words.

"Just because you don't tell me how much you love me anymore, old man, don't rain on your daughter's happiness," Gina rebuked her husband with a playful scowl.

"Oh darling wife of mine, you know I love you more than the air I breathe. Who else would put up with my cantankerous ass in a morning before that first, life-giving coffee of the day?" Fausto rejoined, winking at his wife as Liv and Sam fought to contain their mirth.

"Careful grumpy-butt, or you'll be making your own coffee from now on!" Gina threatened, swatting the mischievous man where he sat beside her on the opposite side to Olivia.

"Ooh, I'd apologize if I were you Papa, that's a threat I wouldn't like to see carried out," Sam joined in the gentle banter, taking a seat between Olivia and her father, opposite her mother.

"Nonsense, child. Your mother would suffer far more than I if she were to deprive me of her wonderful coffee. After all, without that to keep me alert, who would do all the manly chores around the place that she so hates to do, like dispensing of spiders, opening jars, laying the fire?" Fausto continued to dig his own grave, not phased in the slightest by being the only male in the room.

Liv chuckled, deciding it was high time to add her own two-cents worth to the mock argument. "Well, I'd be happy to step into the breach for you Gina with the spiders and the jars since I do a fair amount of that here and I'm sure Sami could assist with the fire."

Fausto clutched a hand to his chest, crying out, "et tu, Olivia? My heart bleeds at the betrayal! I thought us downtrodden spouses were supposed to stick together."

"You're even more of a foolish old man than I gave you credit for if you expected Liv to side with you and run the risk of incurring Samia's wrath." Gina shook her head sadly as she cast a despairing glance at her husband before humour got the better of her and she broke into a peel of laughter, soon followed by her fellow diners.

"Let's eat, before this goes cold or Papa says something he really will regret," Sam decided, reaching out to dish up a hearty serving of the Chicken Alfredo she had lovingly prepared, leaving each person to add their own trimmings and sides.

Tuesday January 27th 2009


St Joseph's School, Brooklyn

"Next, we have an NYPD detective. Detective Benson, would you care to share with the class what your job involves?" Sam invited Olivia up to the front of the class, leaning heavily against her desk to prevent herself from swooning. The brunette had arrived at the school in full dress blues, at the command of Captain Cragen who had specific orders from the brass that she must wear her uniform if she was representing the NYPD at the school's careers day.

"Thank you Miss Camanetti. Good morning everyone, as Miss Camanetti said, I'm a police detective based in Manhattan. I knew right from when I was about your age that I wanted to be a police officer so that I could help people and try to stop bad things from happening." Olivia continued to talk to her captive audience about what it was like to be an officer of the law, the training involved and some of the more child-friendly stories she could share, such as helping reunite lost children with their parents.

When the brunette had finished, Sam invited the class to ask any questions they might want answering about what Liv had told them. Numerous hands shot up in the air so one by one, Sam picked out a handful of children to have their questions answered, mindful of the time.

"Do you always wear that uniform?" one young boy, Michael asked, his face wrinkled in disgust at the thought of having to wear something so formal all the time.

"No, not always. Usually, because I'm a detective, I wear normal pants and a blouse or t-shirt. The police you see in the squad cars with the lights on top, they have to wear a uniform but not as fancy as this one. This is what's called our dress uniform and we wear this on special occasions when we need to look at our smartest," Liv informed him with a gentle smile.

"Do you work a lot of the time? My uncle is a policeman and he never gets to come to dinner with us anymore because he's always working," Anton intoned with a sigh.

"We do sometimes have to work a lot of hours, yes, but it's worth it to make sure all of you are safe and won't be hurt by any bad people."

Jaime raised her hand excitedly, remembering Olivia from the Fourth of July fireworks. "Hi Olivia, how many bad people have you arrested?"

"Hiya sweetie," Liv beamed, remembering the exuberant girl as the same one who had shown her the way to Sam at the fireworks. She watched as a few heads turned in awe towards Jaime, impressed that she knew the detective already. "There have been so many bad people I've arrested that I can't remember how many there were. I've been a police officer for so long now, since before you were born."

Another hand went up, requesting an answer. "Have you ever shot someone?"

Liv paused a moment before answering that one, considering her response carefully. "I have had to shoot people on a few occasions but only when there was no other choice. It's not something police officers do unless they have to, to keep other people or themselves safe."

"Have you seen dead bodies?" a voice called prompting a chorus of 'ews' to reverberate around the room.

"I have, unfortunately and when we do have to investigate someone's death, we try to find out what happened to them and who hurt them so that no one else suffers the same way," Liv replied, with emphasis on the positive part of her job rather than the all too often heartbreak that their involvement signalled.

"OK, that's all we have time for. Can we all give Detective Benson a round of applause and thank her for coming in to talk to us today?" Sam requested before the children could stray into any murky territory regarding Olivia's work. Ripples of applause sounded throughout the classroom along with a well practiced chant of thanks. The bell sounded for recess and the kids all scurried to gather their belongings and head out into the yard, buzzing with the excitement of a break from their normal routine of lessons and gym classes.

"Thanks… for rescuing that before the questions got too gory," Liv murmured as she hovered close to the young teacher's desk.

"You're welcome. Thank you for coming and talking to them, I think you really inspired a few of them to consider being a police officer when they're older." Stepping closer, Sam whispered, "I have to admit, seeing you in that uniform is pretty inspiring for me too."

"Somehow, I suspect your thoughts are not so pure and innocent as those of your class," Liv stated on a low hum, her voice intimate and inviting even as their body language remained neutral and professionally detached.

"Would you like a tour of my classroom before you go? I have a cosy little store cupboard where I keep my personal coffee pot," Sam added as though incentive were needed.

"Hmm, well since my phone has been cooperatively quiet, how can I refuse an offer like that?" The brunette followed the teacher, struggling to maintain a suitable distance between herself and her lover, suppressing growls of frustration as they were stopped by parent stragglers who just had to had a final word with their offspring's tutor. It took a few minutes to navigate the short distance but once they stepped across the threshold into the store cupboard, Liv breathed in deeply as Samia closed the door behind them, drinking in the heady mixture of her lover's scent and freshly brewing coffee. Her eyes fluttered shut involuntarily and Sam spied her opportunity, closing the tiny distance between them and capturing the older woman's lips with her own in a passionate kiss that spoke volumes.

"God Liv, you have no idea what it does to me seeing you in your dress blues. When you walked into class, it took everything I had in me not to throw you down on the desk and take you right there – innocent eyes be damned!" Sam groaned quietly, hyper aware of their close proximity to the classroom and hallway beyond it but needing to exorcise some of her arousal if she was to achieve anything productive during the rest of the day.

Liv hissed as Sam's hips ground against her, pressing their pelvises together sensually as the kiss deepened. Her arms wrapped around the petite blonde's waist, bringing her closer still, moulding their bodies to one another in a practiced dance. When the need for air asserted itself, each drew back only slightly, their foreheads resting together as they smiled at one another. "Wow, that was a nice thank you!" Liv murmured, breathlessly. "Should I be worried you're going to jump every cop who happens to cross your path?" she joked.

"Oh no, there's only one who fills out their uniform well enough to invoke this response in me, Officer," Sam stated coyly, fluttering her eyelashes and adopting an overly innocent expression.

"What's her name? I'll kick her ass for distracting your attentions." Olivia adopted a faux-macho stance, dramatically looking around her, even though they were alone.

"Really? How are you at kicking your own ass then?" Sam smirked. "And whilst seeing you in that uniform does unspeakable things to me, right now I'm more interested in seeing you out of it, at least partially." As she spoke, Sam allowed her hands to trail down to the waistband of her girlfriend's smartly pressed pants, unsnapping the button fastening and lowering the zipper painfully slowly.

"There isn't time," Liv begun to protest, her words fading into a low keening hum as deft fingers slid their way between her folds.

"There is if you act a little more and talk a little less," Sam commanded, her free hand gripping Olivia's wrist and directing the detective to mimic her own actions.

Even as she complied, drawing her fingers through copious wetness between Sam's legs, Liv attempted to be the voice of reason once again, "baby, if we get caught you could lose your job."

"Then we'll just have to be quiet and quick and make sure we don't get caught won't we, sweetheart?" Sam, it seemed, had a readily available answer for ever protest Liv threw out there. Knowing that she was fighting a losing battle and not really opposing the course of action in the slightest, Liv focused her attention on providing her lover with the contact and stimulation needed to fulfil her. For long moments, the only sounds were their shared pants and an occasional soft moan. As she felt the first fluttering of her partner's impending orgasm, Liv clamped her mouth over Sam's, knowing they were both going to have difficulty stifling their cries when they came. Sam hungrily suckled Olivia's tongue when it invaded the warm cavern of her mouth, teasing the organ and massaging it with her own in a sensual dance. They bucked against one another convulsively as they climaxed just seconds apart, swallowing down the sounds of their shared ecstasy as best they could.

Liv was the first to extract her fingers, pulling them gently from Samia's core, knowing they had no time to linger. She brought the digits coated in Sam's juices to her lips, erotically cleansing them of all traces of the younger woman with a satisfied smile. The display spiked the blonde's arousal once more so Sam decided to have a little fun of her own with the smug detective. She made to remove her own fingers from where they had remained in Liv's hot, tight core but curled them as she withdrew, tickling the sensitive inner wall of her lover's core. The move left the older woman gasping as another shock of orgasm rippled through her in the wake of the surprise assault..

"That was unfair," whined Olivia once she had recovered sufficiently, her voice low and gravelly and igniting further thrills of desire in the young, blonde teacher.

"Nor was making me watch you clean your fingers like that so I'd say we're pretty even now." Sam fully removed her hand from Liv's pants and crossed the room, on legs still weakened from the strength of her orgasm, to the small sink in the corner. She thoroughly washed her hands with sweet scented soap, taking care to remove all evidence of her tryst before stepping aside to allow Liv to do the same. Liv was just drying her hands when a knock sounded at the store room door.

Mr Jackson poked his head around the door when invited to enter, doing a double take when he saw that Sam was not alone. "Detective Benson, we meet again. To what do we owe this… pleasure?" The tone of his voice made it obvious he was less than pleased to see the brunette.

"Olivia came to talk to the students as part of our Careers' Day activities," the teacher supplied confidently, pouring herself a mug of coffee casually and brandishing the pot at the detective in a non-verbal invitation to join her. After receiving a shake of the head from Olivia, Sam returned the pot to its stand to keep warm. "What can I do for you, Mr Jackson?"

"I uh… I need to speak to you about one of your students," the principal replied, flicking a glance at the visitor and making it abundantly clear that she was not welcome to be party to the conversation.

"I'd better be getting back to the precinct, see what havoc my partner's got himself into while I've been a way. Thanks for letting me speak to the kids today, you've got some real characters in your class, Sam. I'll speak to you soon. Nice to meet you again, Mr Jackson. If you'll excuse me," Olivia slid past the objectionable headmaster, studiously avoiding bodily contact despite his reluctance to move out of her way. At the door, she cast one final glance at her lover and then stepped out into the classroom and made her way from the school, mind lost in what she and Sam had shared just a short time ago.

"People talk, Miss Camanetti and I'm not sure I like the things I'm hearing. Some of the parents have expressed concerns to me about the nature of your relationship with Detective Benson and then I find you and her closeted in here together. Do the parents have cause for their concerns? Are you and that woman conducting a sexual relationship?" Mr Jackson spouted pompously.

"With respect, so long as it doesn't interfere with my ability to do my job, I don't see that it is anyone else's business what I do in my own time," Sam barked defensively, hackles rising at the insinuation that her relationship with Olivia could undermine her work.

"We have a reputation to uphold, Miss Camanetti, and each member of the faculty must be above reproach on every front if they wish to continue to work at St Joseph's. Don't let me catch you fraternising with your…whatever you call her… on work premises or work's time again and if one more parent raises an objection to having a lesbian teach their son or daughter, I will have no choice but to put forward the complaints to the board of directors. If that happens, expect your contract to be terminated with immediate effect. These are young, fragile, malleable minds we are in charge of leading and moulding here, I'm sure you will agree that we cannot be seen to condone any form of perversion or deviant behaviour."

"And that's what you think I am? Some kind of deviant who will warp the minds of the kids I teach? If any of the parents have an issue with the way I teach their children, please direct them to speak to me directly about it. That way, I can address the issues and hopefully reassure them that the intellectual and emotional development of their son or daughter is safe in my hands. If you personally have issue with your suspicion that I am conducting a lesbian relationship with another adult woman, then by all means take that to the board of directors but do it honestly and don't hide behind the guise of complaints from parents. Now was that all, or did you really need to speak to me regarding one of my students?"

To Be Continued

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