DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I make a good living as a writer, but this is my first foray into fiction! Comments are welcome. Just a note about Point of View: though flashbacks are used, the description of what actually happened is linear and chronological, unlike memories, which tend to be random. One or more points of view are expressed in the past accounts of the events.
THANKS: To Bellini195 for reviewing and suggestions, many of which I used.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Moet

Part 2

Olivia and Elliot rarely talked about the days of the Zapata case or about Alex. When they did, they were careful to speak of Alex as if she were really dead. Who knew if the squad car or even their desks had been bugged. She'd have to be careful when she filled Elliot in on what had happened between she and Alex. And why she couldn't let it go with Velez. Even with Olivia digging around the streets, Velez would not suspect that Alex was alive. And if he somehow had gotten word that she and Alex were close, it would make sense that Olivia simply wanted justice for her dead friend. But now that months had passed, Olivia grew more confident that Velez and his goons were well past any suspicions they might have had about Alex's death. Olivia would still have to be clever about enlisting Elliot's help and be honest that Cragen would have both of their heads if he got wind of it. But first things first, she had to come clean with Elliot and speak out loud for the first time about what had happened over those emotionally charged days.

Liv suggested they get lunch at Vanini's, the Italian place where Alex and Olivia first broke down the barriers of intimacy. She wanted the connection. Elliot was a little surprised at the suggestion. It was more of a dinner place and much more upscale than their usual hot dog stand lunch. But he sensed Olivia had something important to share.

They bundled up and headed to the restaurant, requesting a booth in the back. After being seated, Elliot looked at his partner. "So what's eatin' ya, Liv?" Fine choice of words, she thought. "Elliot, there were things I couldn't talk about after the case. It was too painful," her voice cracked as she tried to regain her composure. "It's hard for me to even think about. That's why I've been working like a dog and volunteering for extra duty. When I'm alone with my own head, I can't bear it sometimes. I was waiting for the right time to talk to you about it."

"That case really beat you down, Liv. For what it's worth, it was personal for all of us."

"Well, it was a lot more personal for me." Elliot started to comprehend, as he remembered Olivia's near breakdown the night Alex was shot and their tearful, longing gazes when she left to enter the Witness Protection Program. "Okay, Liv. So go on, fill me in."

Olivia got a bit shaky as the nightmare unfolded for her again and she recounted the events as they both remembered. Then she started to fill in the gaps that Elliot was unaware of and tried to explain, sometimes through tears.

Alex was driven in her intent to prosecute Zapata for Livia Sandoval's murder. If she couldn't get justice for a slain NYPD officer, one of their own, then what was the point of any of this? And how dare Zapata try to intimidate her with physical violence in her own offices. This guy had to be stopped. When Agent Donovan approached Alex and the detectives with the news that Alex was a target, Olivia's blood ran cold. The very thought of this headstrong, brave woman being harmed, a woman whom she happened to adore above all else, made her knees go weak. But she knew that look in Alex's eyes and the set of her jaw. Alex may have been terrified for her life, but she was not going to back down to these animals. Things were about to get even more chilling.

Donovan hurried them into a secured office and played a tape that revealed a hit was out on Alex. Olivia watched Alex carefully, and it tore at her heart. Olivia could see the battle Alex had going on inside her, as the tape played. It was from a prison informant who taped a member of the Velez drug gang. He knew personal details about Alex-- her address, when she jogged in Central Park and where her mother lived. It had to deeply alarm Alex that her mother could be in danger. Olivia so badly wanted to protect her, to hold her. As they left the building she just wanted to take her home and keep her safe.

As they walked toward the car, Agent Donovan caught up to them. He reassured Alex that he'd be willing to testify in open court and that she'd be safe. Alex nodded her thanks and he headed across the street to his car. "Alex, why don't you stay with me tonight until we get everything figured out?" As soon as Olivia said it, she wondered if Alex felt uncomfortable staying with her after what happened last time. "No, it'll be okay, but thank you." She was insistent about going back to her own apartment, and even though Olivia sensed a need in her, she was trying to stay businesslike. Alex needed the normalcy of her own environment and to be surrounded by her own things. Olivia and Elliot offered to do a drive by and escort her to her apartment.

As Elliot jumped in the car and waited for Olivia and Alex, a huge explosion knocked them to the ground. Alex and Olivia bore the brunt of it, with cuts on their faces and glass in their hair. They sat up and looked at each other in sheer horror, as they saw Agent Donovan's car engulfed in flames. Olivia wrapped her arms around Alex and held her. Alex was too deeply in shock to comprehend what had happened or even to cry. Olivia rocked her gently, while Elliot called for backup and an ambulance. "Oh my God. Oh my God," Alex shook her head in disbelief. Agent Donovan was dead, there was no doubt about that.

Paramedics checked on both women and tended to their superficial wounds, as the car fire was being put out. The ME was there to help extract Agent Donovan's remains. It was like a surreal horror movie, playing itself out. As Alex sat shivering near the ambulance, Olivia tried to comfort her. "Let's go, Alex. Look, this isn't your fault. Donovan made a choice." "We all did," said Alex. As Olivia attempted to get Alex moving, Agent Hammond came at them, launching a tirade in Alex's face about his partner's death. Both Olivia and Elliot intervened, and told Hammond to back off. Alex was speechless, as she allowed Olivia to guide her to the car where Elliot was waiting.

"There's no way it's safe at your place," Olivia said to Alex in the car. "You could be walking into another bomb or trap. Other people could get hurt, Alex." That sunk in. Alex just nodded in agreement. Elliot was on the radio, having a detail sent to Olivia's apartment. "We'll have two cars outside, front and back, and a plainclothes in the lobby," he said. "I'll be on call, I'm gonna stay at the station."

"Thanks. Both of you," Alex said in a low voice. "I never meant to put you at risk. I never meant for anyone else to be in danger."

"You couldn't know that any of this was going to happen," said Olivia from the back seat.

Alex stared out the window. "But Donovan and Hammond tried to warn us. I know I dig in my heels and mark my turf. But when an officer is raped and murdered, we have to do something. We can't let it go just because someone says back off." It was both a question and a plea .

Once inside Olivia's apartment, Alex felt like she could breathe again for the first time. Olivia had done a complete sweep of the place. They were locked in tight and no one would enter the building without detection.

Olivia offered Alex the shower and gave her towels and a sweatshirt and bottoms. "Make sure you get all the glass out of your hair first," she called after her. Once showered, Alex towel dried her hair and curled up on the couch. Olivia needed to wash off the day as well, and jumped in the shower, leaving Alex with her thoughts. She lay in the fetal position, no TV, no noise, just the sound of the shower in the other room. Amongst the chaos in Alex's mind, she thought about how Olivia was always there to pick up the pieces and how she defended her to Agent Hammond. Her thoughts drifted to Olivia in the shower, envisioning the detective's glistening body, full of suds, hands running up and down her skin. She felt drawn to peek in on Olivia, perhaps greet her with a warm towel. Her fantasy was cut short when Olivia came out to the living room, in her own pair of sweats. Her wet hair was slicked back and Alex could smell her fruited body gel from across the room.

"I can get us some coffee. But you must be exhausted, Alex. You can have the bed and I'll take the couch."

Alex smiled. "Where have I heard that before?"

"You don't have to worry. My only concern tonight is keeping you safe."

"Because it's your job, Detective?"

"No, because I care about you," her voice caught with emotion.

Alex gazed at the beautiful woman and noticed she had on her special necklace. Alex instinctively reached up to her own chest to touch hers. Oh, that's right, I left it on the nightstand at home. She flinched at the thought of home.

"There's no reason one of us has to take the couch, is there?"

Olivia's mind raced. What was going on here? Pure adrenaline?

"Ya know, Alex, emotions are running high and I don't know if it's the best idea."

"Okay. I made a huge mistake once, letting you go. Don't think it didn't haunt me and still does. But I thought tonight that maybe you could just hold me. You are my only safe haven. I don't know what I would do without you, Olivia."

Feelings of love and protectiveness washed over Olivia, as she ran to Alex and swept her into her arms. "Of course I'll hold you, sweetheart." She gathered up Alex in her arms and led her to the bedroom.

"I just don't ever want to let go of you," Alex whispered as both women undressed, tossing their sweatshirts on the floor. Each appraised the other's naked form. Olivia gently eased Alex onto the bed and lay to her side, pulling her close. They kissed hungrily, as their hands endlessly explored each other's bodies. Olivia was careful not to rub against the cuts on Alex's neck and face. She tenderly kissed the wounds.

Olivia could feel the excitement building in Alex's body as she eased from their kiss. She made her way down the length of her tall frame, pressing kisses along the way. She parted Alex's legs. It was as if Olivia were the bow and Alex a Stradivarius, as she slowly trailed her tongue down Alex's slender inner thigh. She heard the younger woman moan and continued her journey, finding the moist center of Alex's pleasure with her mouth. Alex's entire body jumped. I guess I hit the right note, Olivia mused to herself. As Olivia's tongue began to move in steady rhythm, Alex was making small sounds of pleasure, tossing her head back and forth. Then, her hips suddenly thrust upward, as if of their own accord. God, she was so ready, thought Olivia. A half moan, half scream came from deep within Alex's throat, as spasms of pleasure jolted her body. Her eyes were closed and her breathing heavy, as she lay trembling. Olivia moved up to where Alex lay and hugged her close. As Olivia smoothed her damp hair, Alex lay her head in the crook of the detective's neck and shoulder. She soon recovered and contentedly regained her composure.

"Oh my," Alex said dreamily. "Better than anything I had imagined."

"So you have been imagining?"

"All the time, Liv. I would have pounced on you eventually, probably in front of an approving SVU squad."

"A hooting, hollering SVU squad. They'd probably throw money." Both women laughed out loud at the thought.

"I'm sorry for being so dense about us. And so stubborn. I've gotten all of us into a real mess. I need a solid conviction to get us out of it."

"I have no doubts that you will, Alex. You're relentless."

"Let me show you just how relentless I can be," she said carefully flipping the detective on her back and moving down her body, inhaling the fruity scent of her skin.

In the morning, Elliot rapped on Olivia's door. She let him in, motioning to him that Alex was in the bathroom, washing up. "Here's the clothes for Alex." He handed them to Olivia. "She okay?"

"As well as you'd expect. Still shaky and her ears are ringing a little from the blast."

"And you?"

"I'm okay, just worried. I wish she'd drop this thing, for Christ's sake. It's not worth it, let the Feds handle it now. But I'm sticking with her for the long haul."

"I think we all are. I'll wait for you two outside. Just keep your eyes peeled when you come out." Once Elliot left, Olivia took the bag of clothes to the bathroom door.

"Here Alex, Elliot had someone bring your clothes after they checked your apartment."

"Thanks." Alex reached out and took the bag, brushing Olivia's arm affectionately.

Alex remembered asking Elliot the previous night if they could retrieve a special item from her nightstand, if they wouldn't mind. "The necklace!" She smiled as she found it in the bag and stuffed it in her suit pocket. Alex quickly dressed and joined Olivia in the kitchen.

"Elliot's waiting for us outside. You ready?"

"No. If I had my choice I'd stay here and make love to you for days on end until this all went away. But we have to move forward, don't we?" Olivia nodded her head in agreement. "Last night was a beautiful ending to one of the worst days of my life. I loved every minute with you and was actually able to live in the moment for a while. We will get through this, won't we Liv?"

"We'll get through it Alex. And when it's over, I hope you will be able to find a place for me in your life. You know I'd die before I'd let anyone hurt you."

"I know," a tear streamed down Alex's face. "You've always been in my heart and there's a place waiting for you in my life."

After a brief pow-wow at SVU, it was decided that everyone was on board with Alex's quest for Zapata. She didn't want to put anyone at risk again, unless they fully realized danger. They all took a stab at getting Alex to drop it, while Olivia paced about, getting more nervous over Alex's safety. "Alex, there is no reason for you to die for this case," Olivia chimed in, hoping that the power of the group could persuade her. But no, she was determined. Cragen even gave her his old revolver for protection. The line in the sand had been drawn and they all knew it. Then Alex was summoned to DA Branch's office.

As Branch gave her his pep talk, she sensed where he was going with the conversation. Despite her protests, Branch insisted she drop the Zapata case and let the Feds have him. They had a stronger case and could get him to flip on Velez as a bonus. In court later that day, Alex reluctantly dropped the charges against the murderer. She then watched as the Feds re-arrested him for the murder of a federal agent. It's over, she thought wearily. Or is it? Will they extradite Velez and put this monster in WPP? Alex wondered if Zapata would even live another day, knowing the power that Velez had in the prison system. Then her mind wandered to Olivia. She'd be relieved. Alex just wanted to feel safe in her arms again. Maybe tonight they could steal some time.

It was late in day, as Alex headed back to share the news with the SVU squad. She thought about how each one of them put their lives on the line for her crusade. Ironically, it became so much bigger than the usual sex crime. But Alex wasn't selective in her overwhelming desire for justice. Maybe because life had dealt her some injustices? Her other overwhelming desire was for, of all things, a beautiful woman. Her prior forays into same sex relationships had been experimental. Olivia was anything but an experiment. She's everything I ever wanted, Alex thought. It's strange how true love can be found in the most unexpected places and under the worst of circumstances, she chuckled. We'll take it slow and work out any conflicts along the way, she reasoned with herself. As Olivia once told her, they've dealt with more complicated issues. Alex was certain that most young women her age hadn't seen the dark, horrendous side of human nature as she had. It made her appreciate the sweetness and magic that Olivia could bring into her life even more.

When Alex arrived at SVU, the squad gathered to hear the outcome. "Branch was adamant that the Feds have more on Zapata. So we have to leave it in their hands. They've connected him to Donovan's car bomb, so he'll either get convicted or hand them Velez on a platter."

"You know Hammond won't let it go, with his partner dead," said Munch. "Hey, why don't we head over to Maloney's and drown our troubles in a few pitchers and pizzas?"

It was a warm September evening, as the SVU squad, including Cragen, filed into Maloney's. Alex and Olivia hung back. "I need to see you, maybe later?" Alex asked the now relaxed detective. "Yeah I'd like that," Olivia smiled. "I can tell Elliot that I'm cabbing it home. I'm not quite ready to drop this bomb on him yet."

"Yes, we've had quite enough of that."

"Great, so after we get ridda these bozos, I'll meet you at home. I mean, your home."

Alex liked the sound of that. Her home. With Olivia all to herself and no pressure.

They joined the group for beer and pizza and a night of venting about the injustices of the Zapata and Velez case. At the end of the night, it was just Alex, Olivia and Elliot. "C'mon, let's get outa here," Alex said, already thinking of cuddling on the couch with Olivia, watching an old movie until they fell sleep. Then, as they walked from Maloney's, the shots rang out. Shots that Olivia still heard in her nightmares.

In Vanini's, Elliot's veal cutlet parmesan was stone cold. His eyes were as wide as the night he realized Alex was headed for Witness Protection. "Holy shit," was all he could respond. Olivia needed to get out a tissue and dabbed at her eyes and face. "Now you know why I was so devastated for so long. It's not only justice I want. I want her back, Elliot." She was crying full out again, as both she and Elliot remembered Alex bleeding on the sidewalk, while Olivia tried to literally push the blood back into her body. "I kinda thought by your reactions" he fumbled for words. "That there was something more." He let Olivia regain her composure. "I know this is hard, Liv, but in the ambulance, what was going through your head? It must have been hell."

"There were so many things left unspoken. I was trying to tell her everything and at the same time, begging her to live." Olivia swallowed hard, then continued the tale.

Part 3

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