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The air conditioning was broken. Thick concrete walls that insulated them from the winter cold now conspired to turn the precinct into a brick oven. "You know, I could get fired for this." Alex's collar fluttered in the breezedue more to the City's inherent movement than the summer weather patternas she leaned back in the lounge chair.
"So whaddiya got?" The slap of leather punctuated his question.
Elliot's rhythmic game of solitaire catch had lulled her into torpidity. He pounded his mitt with a fist. It was softball night and he had been 'warming up' since lunchtime. The heat had ruined that, tooa lukewarm ham and cheese sandwich and a watered down iced teain the five minutes it took to walk from the deli to the station house the ice had melted in her drink and her sandwich had gone tepid.
Olivia shuffled papers. "I can't think in this heat." She gave herself over to the distraction she felt.
"You've been thinking about something," he said.
"Not in that shitbox apartment of yours."
"Gee, Elliot, I didn't know you cared."
He snapped the ball into his glove again. "I call 'em like I see 'em, partner."
The tar oozed out of the cracks in the roof. Elliot sat on the ledge and rolled up his pant legs to his knees as if preparing to wade out to sea. He peeled his socks off and flexed his bare feet on the concrete roof.
Olivia held up a hand to shield her eyes. "Jesus, have your legs ever seen the light of day?"
"Yep, just met."
Olivia pulled at her shirt, trying to get the stale air surrounding herclinging to her skinto circulate. The trill of her cell phone started them both. She waved at the stereo and Elliot slapped it off.
"Where are you?"
"Where are you?"
Alex sighed. "The squad room. What did you guys do to piss of maintenance? It's like New Delhi in here. So where are you?"
"Can you keep a secret?" Olivia grinned into the phone.
"Okay. Go out to the hall."
A pause. "I'm there. Where are you?"
Alex sighed again.
"Take a left. There's a stairwell at the end of the hall on the right."
"Can't I take the elevator?"
"Christ. This better be good." Alex huffed, heels echoing in the stairwell as she made her ascent.
"Been skipping out on the gym lately, Alex?"
"You try climbing stairs in heels and a skirt." The footsteps stopped; the door jiggled. Alex cursed something under her breath. "Olivia."
The afternoon sun blinded the blonde as the door swung open, thumping reggae music disorientating her all the more.
"You couldn't just say 'I'm on the roof,' could you?" Alex squinted at Olivia.
"No, because then you'd miss out on all of this," Olivia stepped back and motioned to their oasis. The beach chairs, the child's wading pool, its water sparkling artificial blue. Elliot spun the volume knob and kicked open the cooler.
"Thirsty?" He tossed a Diet Coke to Olivia, who in turn cracked the can and offered it to Alex.
"What, no blender?"
"Extension cord wouldn't reach."
Alex smirked. "Of course. So, how long have you two been playing hooky up here?"
"We're working," Elliot grumbled.
Alex pursed her lips and nodded, ever-skeptical. Elliot merely tolerated the ADA most days and Olivia had yet to tire of their adversarial jousting. Some days she even bought into Fin's theory (drunken pontificating, really)"Ya see, Liv, it's like this: Elliot's your partner. He's got your back and Alex, well, whatever she's got, El ain't havin' it."but today she kept her amusement rooted in reality.
"What's the occasion? Bike messenger get heat stroke?"
Alex didn't bother disguising her usually politic eye-roll from the punchy detective. Her arms slid defiantly across her chest, his jaw set, eyes squinting over his sunglasses as their ersatz standoff began to take shape.
"Uh huh." Alex managed to look unimpressed as Elliot stared her downwhich was impressive considering Olivia had seen his skell stare make a four-hundred pound man howl for mercy last week. Well, that and a totally unsanctioned (read: illegal) headlock. A high-pitched and decidedly off-tempo version of Funky Town shattered what had become an uncomfortable silence. He flicked the phone open. "Stabler." His gaze coolly drifted away as he engaged the caller.
"Why are you here?"
"Why are any of us here?"
"Existential deflection," Olivia shook her head. "I expected more from you, Alex."
"Been reading Sartre again, Liv?"
"Naw, just watching Jeopardy."
"It's on my desk," Elliot carped.
Olivia cocked her head curiously. "So why are you really here?"
"I didn't feel like working through lunch again."
"So why aren't you eating, then?"
"I'm saving myself for dinner."
"I'm sure you'll think of something."
"Next to the pictures " Elliot sighed dramatically "By the phone. I don't know, John. Did you look on Olivia's desk? On not in. You better put those back. You know how she gets about her donuts," Elliot grinned mischievously.
Olivia held up a finger in response.
"I should go."
Olivia's fingers curled around the blonde's wrist as she lifted her chin in her Elliot's direction.
"Fine, I'll be there in a minute." Elliot snapped his phone shut, shaking his leg to unroll the cuff of his pants.
"Does he know?" Olivia asked.
"No." Groaning, Elliot bent over. He wriggled his feet into the stale, wadded-up socks. "He thinks we're at the deli on the corner. Now I have to go get him a knish."
"The trouble with secrets is" Alex started.
Elliot held up a hand. "Spare me." He breezed past the women. The roof access door slammed.
"I really should get back."
"You look thirsty."
Alex fought the smile that creased the corners of her mouth and looked away.
Olivia adjusted her sunglasses and sipped her mocktail. "Has anyone told you to lighten up today?"
"Twice before lunch."
"Just checking." Olivia dragged a fingertip through the wading pool's lukewarm water.
Alex jerked upright. The flimsy beach chair creaked as she wriggled within its nylon and aluminum confines. Cell and vibrate were the only two words Olivia could discern before the usually-unflappable ADA leapt from her seat and stalked off, fumbling for her phone. She was peering over the edge of the roof when she spoke again: "Cabot," she answered finally, smoothly, cool as ever.
Olivia watched as Alex cycled through her playbook of adorable body language. The blonde listened intently, one hand stalling on her hip for a moment before returning to gesture in front of her as she spoke. Chin down, a hand in her hair. A lithe arm stretched across her stomach to hug her side. And then, Olivia's favorite: Alex tossed her head back and expelled an exasperated sigh. She pressed the button to end the call.
"I have to go," she said, depositing the phone in her bag.
"What was that all about?"
"Liz. We were scheduled for a meeting after lunch, but she pushed it up."
Olivia pouted and trailed her hand through the wading pool. "That's a shame," she said. "I was about to go skinny dipping."
Alex smirked. "Well there's always tonight." The flick of Olivia's wrist was hardly noticeable but the quick spray of warm water surely was. Alex flinched and froze in place as if being held at gunpoint.
Olivia's lips quirked playfully. "How about now?"
Alex's mouth fell open; shocked. "I can't go back to work like this."
"I know," she said with a grin.
"You know, I could get fired for this." Alex's collar fluttered in the breezedue more to the City's inherent movement than the summer weather patternas she leaned back in the lounge chair.
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