DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
THANKS: To Leslie for the awesome sketch of Alex & Olivia that sorta inspired this story and to all of you for reading and especially everyone on the Yahoo Group, vivalab – you guys rock!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Part of the story range, Undercover.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Undercover III: Charades
By VivalaB


Part 1

"You want me to, what?" Alex asked, not sure her ears had heard Olivia Benson correctly.

Olivia shifted nervously in the visitors chair in front of Alex's desk and looked directly at the blonde ADA, "I want you to go undercover with me," she said, repeating the request.

"I heard that, it was the last part I missed," she replied coolly, reaching up and adjusting her glasses.

"As my girlfriend"

Alex stared, wide eyed at her, "Why?" she asked, shaking her head.

"We're investigating an illegal adoption ring, targeting high income, lesbian couples," Olivia answered.

Alex frowned and pursed her lips, "Why me? Surely there are female detectives that can pose as your girlfriend, I can't just drop my cases and play, Portia to your Ellen," she said, staring at the dark haired detective.

Olivia dipped her head, avoiding the ADA's infamous glare, "Actually, you can…Cragen already cleared it with McCoy…Alex, we've got to stop these people from destroying any more lives…please?" she asked, lifting her eyes to meet the cobalt blue gaze.

Alex looked at the pleading expression in Olivia's brown eyes and sighed in defeat, "What do I have to do?" she asked.

Olivia smiled, "Just pretend to be madly in love with me," she answered, waggling her eyebrows.

Alex groaned, "Apart from the impossible, is there anything else?" she drolled.

Olivia clutched her chest, "That hurts me deeply counselor," she said, shaking her head with mock sadness.

Alex sighed, "Liv…" she warned.

"We have a cover house in Queens set up, all eight couples reside in Queens or Manhattan, they were all approached at a coffee shop in Chelsea, The Kitty Bean," she said, watching Alex roll her eyes at the name.

Alex frowned, "I've never heard of it," she commented.

Olivia continued, "The couples were approached by a Caucasian man and a woman, smart appearance, in their late thirties or early forties, claiming to work for an orphanage near the Mexican border. The coffee shop doesn't have surveillance and the stores in the immediate vicinity only captured blurry, black and white images of the two as they came and went. Nothing to run through our identification systems," she finished.

Alex listened carefully and nodded, "All eight couples have given detailed statements and this is the only possible solution to finding these two?" she asked.

Olivia nodded, "Elliot and I staked out the coffee bar for three days, but never saw anyone…Munch and Fin have run detailed backgrounds on all our victims and found nothing to go on…we think someone at the coffee house is working with the adoption ring and alerting them to potential marks," she added.

Alex smoothed the blonde hair away from her forehead, "Were the victims new to the area?" she asked.

Olivia shook her head, "Not to the area, but they had only recently started going to the The Kitty Bean," she said.

Alex nodded, "What's our plan?"

Olivia stood up and smoothed out her leather coat, "Well, we're scheduled to make our first appearance for coffee tomorrow, I thought we could go over the details of our cover tonight…at my place?" she asked, feeling strangely nervous.

Alex shook her head, "Why can't we go over them now?" she asked looking at her watch as Olivia made her way to the door.

Olivia stopped and turned, "Because I have an appointment…I'll order take out, see you around 7pm…Portia," she said and winked before closing the door behind her.

Alex buzzed the button for Olivia's apartment and was surprised when a familiar voice echoed through the intercom almost instantly.

"Is that you Portia?"

Alex snorted, "Yes Ellen, let me in," she replied, smiling as the door clicked open, granting her entry.

The elevator ride was quick and within a few minutes she was standing in front of Olivia's blue door, she raised her hand to knock, but was surprised when it suddenly opened and her host appeared.

"Hey, come on in," Olivia said, stepping aside to let the taller woman past.

Alex stood motionless in the doorway, staring at Olivia. Her eyes glued to Olivia's head.

Olivia smiled, "I can't close the door if you keep standing there," she said lightly, reaching for the bottle of wine in Alex's left hand. She read the label and whistled, "Expensive, hope it goes well with pizza," she said lightly. She looked at the silent figure once more before moving into the kitchen and placing the bottle on the counter.

Alex blinked rapidly as she realized Olivia was no longer in front of her and moved into the apartment. She closed the door behind her and removed her jacket, hanging it up on the coat rack behind the door. She walked towards Olivia and stopped in front of her, "I'm sorry, I just wasn't expecting this," she said smiling, unable to control her fingers as they reached up and ran slowly through the newly shorn hair.

Olivia swallowed as slender fingers trailed across her scalp, "What d'you think?" she asked, feeling Alex's breath blowing lightly across her face.

Alex nodded her head, "You've not had it this short for a long time, it suits you…brings out your eyes," she answered absently, moving her eyes from the short, ruffled locks to the brown questioning orbs.

"I needed a haircut and Elliot joked that I should get, into the part," she said, enjoying the feeling of Alex's fingers running back and forth through her hair.

Alex realized what she was doing and shook her head, "Sorry…I…" she trailed off as a light blush colored her pale cheeks.

"It's okay, I've been home an hour and I keep doing it, feels kinda weird, but I like it…I'm looking forward to my hair only taking five minutes to manage in the mornings," she quipped, running her own hand through her new haircut.

Alex groaned, "I can only dream about my hair taking five minutes," she said, rolling her eyes.

Olivia looked at the long, blonde, silken strands cascading around Alex's shoulders, "Don't ever cut your hair," she requested sincerely.

Alex shook her head, "I liked mine shorter too, but Witsec had to be productive in some way, even if it meant persevering with my hair," she joked.

Olivia laughed, "There's an advert for protective custody, come with us, if you want to grow your hair," she mocked.

Alex rolled her eyes again, "You promised me dinner," she said.

"I promised you take out, a slight, yet subtle difference," she replied, turning her attention to the wine, "Drink?" she asked.

Alex shook her head, "No, I brought it for your collection…of course I want a drink," she said sarcastically, stepping away from Olivia and moving into the living room.

Olivia picked up the phone, "Pizza okay?" she asked, watching as Alex settled into the corner of the couch.

"Sure, barbecue chicken and banana for me please," she shouted in response.

Olivia shuddered, "Are you kidding me?"

Alex smiled over at the face peering around the pillar at her, "I've just discovered it, it's an amazing taste sensation," she replied, waggling her eyebrows.

Olivia shook her head, "I doubt that, I'll stick with pepperoni and mushroom," she said, dialing the number from memory.

Alex looked around the small apartment, marveling at how organized everything was. It never ceased to amaze her, every time she was over, how compulsively neat her friend was. She looked up as Olivia handed her a glass and smiled in thanks.

Olivia sat in the other corner of the couch and took a refreshing sip of the rosé wine and smacked her lips appreciatively, "That is a very tasty wine counselor," she commented.

Alex smiled, "Thanks," she replied. She pointed to a small pile of folders on the table in front of the couch, "This the case?" she asked, setting her wine down next to them.

Olivia nodded and leaned forward, "Yeah, why don't we go over them just now…pizza will be at least thirty minutes," she said.

Alex lifted the top folder and began to read the file contents carefully.

After twenty minutes, Alex's heart went out to the couples and the pain they had endured and the torment they must currently be going through. She had asked a lot of questions, which Olivia had readily answered, regarding the details of the case and their cover. Her only concern being the alleged adoption agency's screening process.

"They rig audio and surveillance equipment in the house?" she asked, her eyebrows disappearing high into blonde hair.

Olivia nodded, "Erm, yeah…they told the couples it was to ensure the babies were entering a safe environment, they also told them the children had been removed from violent households and this was their way of safe guarding the best interests of the child," she answered.

"Why didn't these couple go through the normal adoption process?" she asked bewildered.

Olivia shrugged, "I dunno, they all said they felt like they were helping a cause, the man and woman are apparently, very convincing and show pictures of successfully adopted babies with their new families," she replied, turning her head to the door as the intercom buzzed.

Alex looked over the file in her hand again, listening as Olivia moved around the kitchen waiting for the pizza to arrive. She picked up a photograph of a dark haired couple, in their late twenties with a beautiful little boy in their arms. She looked at the happiness etched on both women's faces and sighed at the opportunists who caused such cruelty in innocent people's lives.

Olivia carried both boxes into the living room and noticed the faraway look on Alex's face, she placed her free hand gently on the younger woman's shoulder, "You okay?" she asked softly.

Alex sighed wearily, "Yeah, let's nail these bastards Liv," she said.

Olivia nodded, "We will…come on, I promised you pizza," she said smiling as she cleared a space on the table for the boxes.

"It's disgusting"

"No it's not…it's a taste infusion," Alex replied as she held the slice of barbecued chicken and banana pizza in front of Olivia's mouth.

Olivia shook her head and closed her mouth defiantly.

"Please?" Alex pleaded.

Olivia shook her head again, "There's not enough gold in your pot to make me want to try that abomination," she said, shuddering dramatically.

Alex laughed and took a bite as she moved away, chewing slowly as she contemplated her new undercover role as Olivia Benson's girlfriend. She glanced at the newly cropped hair and smiled, if she had to pretend to be in a lesbian relationship, she could think of no better choice of partner, than the attractive, older woman beside her.

Olivia reached for the last slice of her pizza and looked at Alex, "Why d'you keep looking at me like that?"

"Like what?"

Olivia shrugged, taking a large bite and chewing loudly as she observed her friend. They hadn't discussed the living arrangements at the cover house in Queens and Olivia was anxious to get it out the way. She swallowed the piece in her mouth and cleared her throat, "The house in Queens…it's a two bed roomed property…the victims all said the surveillance equipment was put in every room except the master bedroom and bathroom," she said as casually as possible.

Alex nodded, "Okay, so we have to watch what we say and do at all times," she agreed.

Olivia ran her hand nervously through her short hair, "We also need to…sleep together," she added hesitantly.

The pizza in Alex's hand stopped in mid air as she stared wide eyed at Olivia, "What…why?"

"They'll know if we're in separate bedrooms…just think of it as a slumber party."

Alex placed the pizza slice back in the box and wiped her hands on the towel in her lap slowly. She drained the last of the wine from her glass and dabbed her lips with the corner of the towel.

Olivia studied her movements, recognizing the delay tactic for what it was, "I'm sure it's a big bed, you'll hardly notice I'm there," she said, hoping to ease Alex's apparent discomfort.

Alex looked at her, "How long does this surveillance usually last?" she asked.

Olivia shrugged, "Two weeks, tops."

Part 2

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