DISCLAIMER: The original characters are ours; the rest we're borrowing from Dick Wolf. This is a love story between two consenting female adults, and may contain adult material. Caveat emptor.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: "Walking in Beauty" is the third of four stories in "The Name of the Game", prequel to our Lemon Seed and Orange Tree series. This story is set around the episodes "Pique" and "Scourge" (May 2001), and contains spoilers. Any inconsistency with canon is intentional.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Name of the Game -
Walking in Beauty
By Adrienne Lee & Miranda Rafferty
Part 1. Alex
This is like déjà vu. You're sitting in my office, with your head in your hands. Every once in a while, you'd get up and pace. You'd make some comments, comments I know you don't mean. You'd throw your arms up to vent your frustration, to hide your distress. Inevitably, you'd flop back down in that chair in front of my desk, and you'd ask me, "What am I supposed to do, Alex?"
Depending on the context, I'd either shrug, and smile sympathetically. Or I'd tell you, like I do now, also with a smile, "Do what you always do best, Liv. Your job. You're a good cop, sometimes you have to do things you don't like. You can't let everything bother you."
Just like I can't let aspects of my job bother me. You told me so yourself last week, when Paula Varney approached me outside the courtroom, to plea for her husband's life. When I paced and vented in front of you, in the crib.
"But I just can't get Colin Tandy's face out of my head." You whisper, sinking lower into the chair, staring at the pile of paper on my desk. "I can still see him, with that video camera, the look on his face when I read the card "
And you hate yourself for trashing his dead wife's name, for everything you put him through, including the part where he had to ID his dead wife, and probably the fact that Veronica Tandy had to die. You don't say any of that, but I can see the torture on your face.
"And what Grace Mayberry did to her son " you continue without looking up. "And what her son did and said after we found him. I can't get that out of my head either."
You never told me what "that" was, you just told me you and Elliot found them in bed, where Jason had already killed his mother. From photographs and reports of past cases, from the descriptions you had to give me so I could paint the pictures for the jury, I know you've seen worse, much worse. Why do you let that case bother you so much? Are you going to tell me in your own time? Or are we just going to forget it by next week, and pretend it never happened?
Just like we always pretend this never happened? What is "this" anyway? Pouring your soul out in my office? That's what this amounts to, pretty much, right? I can't even remember when you started doing it. I only remember that first time so long ago, when we haven't even started working together yet
Somehow I think these sessions help you. Well, they must. Why else would you keep coming back? Simply for the pleasure of my company?
Anyway, I'm glad you find me a worthy listener. I'm glad you're letting me see into your soul, and find out what makes you tick.
"Look, Olivia," I start to say. I'm not sure what exactly I should say.
You're the one who always come up with consoling words for me. You were the one sitting with your arms around me when I told you about Huang's meeting with Danielle Varney at Bellevue. You were the one who convinced me I should feel good about letting Varney off based on his incompetency. What can I say to you that you haven't heard before, that you don't already know? Still, I'm going to come up with something.
"I think " I begin slowly, hoping something would present itself.
"Hey," you say with a suddenly cheerful smile, slapping your palms against your knees and sitting up. "Thanks for listening. I appreciate you playing ear. But let's not talk about this anymore."
As always, I'm grateful for the interruption, and I smile back at you. "So what would you like to talk about, Detective?"
You shake your head, "Not Detective. We're going to talk about where you want to go for dinner, and what you'd like to do afterwards."
Hm. How about your place, and me? I want to say, and one of these days, I just might. But not today. As casually as possible, I tell you, "We've gone somewhere almost every night the last two weeks, I'm a little tired of restaurant food. Why don't you come over?"
You raise your eyebrow at me. "You'll cook?"
"No, I'll provide the ingredients, and the kitchen."
"What if I don't feel like cooking?"
"Then I guess you'll have to eat whatever I put in front of you."
"Hm A girl can take that many ways," you smirk.
I swear I didn't mean it that way, it was really an innocent comment. But, from recent experience, I know if I protest, you'll just make it worse. So I just stare at the yellow pad on my desk and blush.
"Okay, I'll cook. Think about what you want, and I'll make it happen." You wink at me, grinning like a Cheshire Cat as my cheeks grow warmer by the second.
You're doing this on purpose. I know you are. "All right." I tell you. "I'll pick up the stuff from the market on my way home. Just meet me at my apartment after work." There, I don't think there's anything in my words you can twist out of shape.
Still you try, I can see the cogs moving in your head. Finally, you give up. Thank god.
"I'll see you at around six then." You stand up, pausing briefly in front of my desk, then looking away quickly when I lean back in my chair and smile up at you.
My smile says, Aha! I caught you red handed!
You flee, and I redo the button on my blouse.
Part 2. Olivia
Lunch with you, it's getting to be an almost daily event. I like that a lot, maybe a little too much. I've just about taken over your calendar. I'm not even penciled in anymore, like a mathematical equation, it's become a given. Now we've moved onto dinner. Is this just dinner, or have we actually made a date?
Have we been dating for at least the last few weeks?
Don't get carried away, Benson. You'll tie yourself in a knot you'll never get undone. I warn myself.
I'm actually going to your apartment and cooking for you. Isn't there something mildly ritualistic in that? Like Phase 1, Step 2 of Courting Rituals 101? Why do you make me feel like such a hormonal teenager? All I can think of sometime is how much I want to lock your office door and have my way with you.
Damn, there I go again.
You had one little button undone, I reacted just like the Victorians must have over a bit of ankle. What are you doing to me, Alex? I'm obsessed with you, and it's getting stronger every day. I can't think about you objectively anymore.
It isn't just hormonal fantasies I'm having about you, that's the least of it. I find myself caring about you more and more. I think about you first thing in the morning when I wake up, wishing you were there beside me. So I could kiss you awake and feel your radiant smile fill my heart with hope for a good day ahead, if there's such a thing in our line of work. Hey, a girl could hope!
Throughout the day, I catch myself looking for reasons to call you or come see you. An hour at lunch is no longer sufficient. I know I'm encroaching on the precious little time you have away from work. Time you must need for yourself. I feel bad about it at first, at least a little guilty about my selfishness. You don't seem to mind though, so I'm taking that as a go-ahead. Lately, I seem to need to fill every waking hour with your presence. Would you call that obsession? I certainly would.
Have you noticed it yet? The way you walk into the squad room lights up my face like a stadium light.
At odd, random moments of the day I find myself thinking about you. I come out of these short daydreams finding Elliot giving me one of those quizzical looks or smirking at me and I blush. I've never blushed about anything in front of Elliot before, now it's almost a daily occurrence.
What am I letting you do to me, Alex?
On a more serious note, when did I start needing a confessor? Now I'm coming to your office at the end of each case, good or bad, and unloading all of my doubts and frustrations at your feet. You always listen patiently and manage to say something, anything to help me feel better. And I always get one of your radiant smiles. Do you know how much that has come to mean to me? Of course not, you probably think I'm some pathetic loon babbling away. Yet you always listen, you really seem to care.
Today, weeks after the end of the case, I finally unloaded on you about Colin Tandy. How horrible I felt for everything I had to do. What I put him through left me ashamed. In the end all he could do was bury his dead wife and baby, and then go home to his motherless children. How did bringing his wife's killer to justice help him?
You talked me down on that one. Told me all the things I needed to hear, even though I knew them. How I was still a good cop, that sometimes I had to do things I didn't like, even hated. How do you do it? I am in awe of you. You helped restore an understanding I thought I had lost. You have no idea how much you help me keep my sanity.
I even surprised myself during these last couple of weeks. On more occasions than one, I found myself standing between you and Elliot. I really thought I was going to have to separate you two. Deeper still, I was prepared to defend you against him, take him on if I needed to, whatever it took to protect you.
Don't know if you noticed, but he did.
I saw the hurt in his eyes, I've never let anyone come between us before until you. I know he felt I was betraying him, siding with the enemy. Yes, to him, you're the enemy even though we're all on the same side. Probably because he blames you on the procedural exercises that the system requires of you, of all of us. Anyway, we've always defended one another. He thought I would always have his back, always be there to side with him. He never said a word about it, and that's a good thing. I don't trust myself not to blow up at him and tell him to find himself a new partner. He probably knows that, too.
You know what's really amazing though? I really didn't care one way or the other what he thought. If I am honest with myself, I'd have to admit coming to your defense was a simple gut reaction. Should it disturb me? Probably, especially since I'm not sure how you feel about me. Is it going to stop me from doing it again? No.
Whether you want a protector or not, you have one.
I came to you for comfort, to purge my demons and rid myself of the sick feeling I have at the end of every day. Elliot and I used to do that for one another, or the whole squad. We would go down a few beers and talk about what a great job we did. Anything to blunt the horror we carried around inside, liquid expiation so we could come back and do it again.
Now I run to your office, shut the door and the world out. I spill my guilt, my doubts, even some of my fears to you. I can't tell you about some the savagery I see, the demonic things people do to each other. I can't tell you the number of crime scenes I see with too much blood. Spread across the walls, floors, and the victims, as if some mad artist had been given free rein with a brush.
It was like that with Grace Mayberry and her son. I couldn't tell you how we really found them. Fortunately, this time I don't have to. Jersey gets this case, not us, and one way or the other Jason Mayberry will be locked up for life, so I don't have to tell you. For once, I could spare you from the depravity, from the graphic details. I'm so glad I could; at least one of us doesn't have to carry that around with her forever.
Despite all of the things I don't tell you, talking to you do make them go away. Somehow they don't come back to haunt me after our soul searching sessions. I think you may have missed your calling. Did you ever think about being a therapist? You would have been every bit as good as Huang. Maybe even better.
I'd pay anything to have you be my personal therapist for life.
You make me whole again, Alex. No one has ever been able to do that before. Even if you don't feel about me the way I want you to, I'll always love you for that and so much more. I can think of many worse things than going to bed and waking up with you in my head and heart.
Although going to bed and waking up with you in my arms would be even better...
Suddenly, I hear Elliot chuckle. He is looking at me and grinning. Oh God, how long has he been watching. How do I do this to myself? I feel the warm red flush creeping up my face. It only makes his grin wider. I hate him sometimes. He is such a jackass. He enjoys these moments way too much.
"That must have been some daydream." He comments.
I take a deep invisible breath to push the blood from my face, and smile. "You have no idea."
"Guess it's not something you're going to share either, huh?"
He shakes his head at me and goes back to his paperwork. "You know, Benson, you're just no fun anymore."
I laugh. "Bite me."
Part 3. Alex
How did it happen? Suddenly so quickly?
Wasn't it only a few weeks ago that we were taking dinners together? Suddenly, you're a fixture on my weekends, in my apartment, my every waking every sleeping moment.
All right, I'm exaggerating, but everyday, I see you at work. Afterwards, I go home, and I wait for you. Or, you're swinging by my office to pick me up; we go out, or we head straight back to my place. Inevitably we end up in my bed, talking the night away, falling asleep in each others arms.
Falling asleep chastely. It almost felt like a two-person slumber party. In a way, it was comforting. Almost reassuring. Especially when you kept coming back.
Especially since you haven't been pressuring me for anything. Not even a kiss. In fact, I was getting tired of waiting for you to make the first move. I'm not made of stone, you know? You flirted with me, leered down my shirt, slept in my bed, and the most I've gotten were good morning pecks on the cheek.
I think my mother's hello kisses were warmer than yours.
And I was beginning to think you're not interested. That maybe you're looking for a friend, or a surrogate sister at best.
I've heard so much, too much about your reputation. How you would screw them on the first date, take them to heaven and leave them in hell. That it's almost impossible to get a second date with you, especially if they didn't put out. Or maybe if they did put out. Were those all lies? Now I wonder.
Considering where we're heading right now, I hope they were just lies. Better yet, I hope the rumors were true, but you behaved, are behaving differently around me because I'm different. Because I hold a special place in your heart.
It's not too egotistical for me to think that, is it? God, I really hope it's not just my arrogance, or my self-delusion I want more than just a night, well, an afternoon, of passion with you. So much more.
I can't believe this is really happening. Finally happening. The first time I step foot in your apartment. The first time. In your bed.
Why are your fingers trembling? It's your own shirt you're unbuttoning, for crying out loud. Aren't you supposed to be the last of the red hot lovers? I try to hide my amazement and confusion, I think I somehow managed.
"Let me," I smile at you, and brush your shaky fingers away. And I watch you hold your breath as I reach the last button, as I slide your shirt off your shoulders. Watch you inhale sharply and close your eyes when I free your breasts from their black satin confinement. I've always wondered if you're a cotton, satin or lace kind of woman. Finally, I have an answer.
Maybe there's more than one answer. I hope I'll have the opportunity to find out. Just in case I don't, I let my gaze wander all over your body, committing all of you to my memory.
I know you're watching me as I make love to you with my eyes. I think I'm even managing to seem more experienced than I really am. That's good. That's such a relief.
I draw you to me, tracing your features with the tips of my fingers. I've been wanting to touch you for so long; finally, I can.
I touch you with my breath; I touch you with my kisses. Soft chaste kisses that make you still your breathing, that make you sigh.
I let my palms drift from your cheeks across your shoulders, testing them. They're broader than mine definitely, but not intimidating. I can feel your biceps pulse, straining as you hold your hands still, softly, so gently around my waist. Are you always so patient? Or do you rip off their clothes and get to business?
Then I tease you with my fingers, rolling lightly your hardening flesh. Watching you swallow and take in a deeper breath, feeling your softness press into my hands. Somehow, the way you whimper widens my smile.
You're so different from what I've imagined, from what I've heard. So different from the few people I've been intimate with. So very, very different.
As I roam and nuzzle your skin, tasting you, faces of people from my past weave back and forth behind my eyes. Trevor who's nice, who could have been my brother; Alan Messinger who I'd rather forget; Prescott who I could have married; Kenneth who loved me; Leon, my cousin, the first boy I kissed. All the men and boys who could have been but never were. Funny, I'm even remembering the day my best friend and I decided to take our own virginity, for our blood-sister pact, on our eighteenth birthday so people won't know; so now you won't know
Ah. Here she is. The girl. My first love. I was beginning to wonder if she'd show up. I made myself forget that face so long ago. Sometimes I look at you, and I see glimpses of her, and I wonder if I'm just chasing her shadows in you. Not anymore. I promise you, I promise myself.
I bring your head up and I kiss you, deeply, fiercely. It's you, Liv, that I'm kissing, that I'm in love with. I tell you with this kiss. Don't know if you hear me or not, but she does. I know this, for as quickly as she appears, her image vanishes again from my memory.
Now I see only you. Only me and you, sitting, facing each other, in your bed.
I think now I'm ready. I'm ready for this.
Slowly, reluctantly, I pull away from you, away from your lips, your lingering kisses. With my hand on your arm, I ground myself, and I wait. Wait for you to open your eyes, to see my smile. For you to dance your fingers across the fabric of my sweater, then my shirt, then my skin.
For you to drape your body so carefully over mine.
We move together, flesh to flesh. Your hands your mouth on my breasts, my hips, my thighs, my legs. Your torso, your full softness pressing down my body and back. Your hair tickling as you paint liquid kisses all over me. As you lick and tease me open, circling, sucking, so sweet and slow
Until I rock against you. Until I tense and hold you to me.
Then you sweep your lips, your kisses upwards, still sweet and slow, until we're face to face.
So I can taste myself on your mouth, your cheeks, your chin.
So you can watch me smile back at you. Watch me close my eyes and rake my nails across your skin and shudder against you. Hear my sighs and shouts dissolve into your name.
As you slide your fingers gently, deep inside me.
For the first time.
Deep. Roughly into my heart.
Part 4. Olivia
Try as I may, I still can't get the image out of my head. It's been weeks now, Grace Mayberry half naked, covered in blood soaked sheets, Jason laying next to her. Why this case, you ask me. I honestly don't know.
Really, it's always the same blood, the same gore, just different settings, different victims. I've never been able to explain how I can go back day after day. It's enough to drive most people insane, I know. Well, at least most normal people. Suppose we all have our ways of dealing with it. For me, I work like a mad woman until the case is finished, then I rock climb or run until my body gives out and exhaustion sets in. Then I have no choice but sleep.
Meanwhile, I still don't know how you do it. I've watched you study all the photographs and review all the reports. Combing through every detail of every case, going over every statement until you can recite them in your sleep. Sure, you don't see the actual crime scene, and the last time you saw a dead body you lost your lunch. But does that really matter? Does it make your job any easier? I don't think so.
Somehow you manage to steel yourself, to know what you have to, in order to get some sort of justice for the victims and their families.
If I could, and I wish I could, I'd make it so that you won't have to see any of that ugliness
At least I eventually get away from it. I don't have to come to court unless I have to testify. You have to do all of that research and then live it every day until the trial is over, sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes months. When you lose, you blame yourself, I know you do. Even when you win, you still carry the images and details with you, I'm sure of that, too. Sometimes, when your guard is down, I can see them in your eyes.
Physically, I'm admittedly stronger than you are; it sort of goes with job. If I'm honest about all of this, though, you're by far the stronger of two of us.
You're definitely the wiser; you make me stop and think.
These last few weeks have definitely been a new experience for me.
For the past weeks, I've spent almost every night in your bed, with you in my arms, just sleeping. There's been nothing more than that, just an occasional kiss on the cheek if I was lucky. I'm not sure why that hasn't bothered me, and I'm not sure I really care.
Nothing like that has ever happened before
With you, everything just seems right.
Somehow, it's enough for me to just hold you and listen to you talk. The myriad fragrances that fill my senses, your perfume, your shampoo, even the soap you use, they all blend to create a bouquet of scents that rival all of the gardens I've ever enjoyed. The warm softness of your skin as you lay against me robs me of what little reason I have. In the low light of the bedside lamp, your hair shines like a halo of gold.
When you look at me I could drown in the ocean blue of your eyes. And when you smile, at me, I feel like I would die of happiness.
Now we have come to this moment of ultimate intimacy
I am in awe of your beauty. Stricken mute by the sight of your magnificent body, given to me now as a precious gift. I am humbled by your trust and emboldened by the passion in your eyes. You hold out your hands to me and draw me into your embrace.
I will remember this day for the rest of my life.
I've always been terrified to love anyone, afraid that it wouldn't last. With you, I'm willing to deny those fears. The fear of losing you is far greater.
We seem perfect for one another, a complete union of hearts, minds, and spirits. You restore me and complete me, Alex Cabot.
Until you came into my life I was on a collision course with madness. Nothing obvious, slowly a little bit at the time. I was slipping further and further away from sanity, first into sleeplessness and after that a mind numbing routine from which there seemed no escape. I was lost and alone in a journey to my own destruction and damnation.
You come along and refuse to take no for an answer. You're determined to save me from myself. You restore me both body and soul. You make me laugh when I wanted to cry. You make me smile and realize just how foolish my anger is.
As stupid and corny as this may sound, heck, as any of it may sound, I'm a big sappy mush ball when it comes to you I feel as if I were a decaying building already prepared for demolition when you found me. When I became your rehabilitation project.
With incredible patience and understanding, you salvage my cynical soul.
Being with you is as if I am walking in beauty every single day. No words describe it, no songs do it justice, and no amount of fervent exclamations can give you the praise you deserve. You restore me; you are my salvation.
Without you, I am nothing.
Sequel Unknown Waters
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