DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: After watching the episode Weak, I thought there had to be more to Olivia and Rebecca's history than what was shown on-screen. This is my take on their story. It begins with the final scene of that episode…
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: For episodes Weak, Loss, Guilt, Taken

From Weak to Strong
By sunsetwriter


"You can't save everyone, Olivia." Rebecca's words swirled around Olivia's head as she tried to process her emotions. "Miranda Cole is dead." How could this have happened? Olivia was faintly aware of the fact that Rebecca was walking away from her.

"Hey, Olivia…" Casey was calling to Olivia, but she felt powerless to answer. "Olivia?" The ADA was standing next to her now, smiling that same goofy smile she gave her during court. "How about a drink? To celebrate."

Olivia looked at Casey as if she were speaking a foreign language. She finally found her voice. "Celebrate?"

"Yeah. Petrovksy denied bail." Casey stated, grinning as if it were a major victory. When Olivia didn't return her mile wide smile, the ADA finally realized that something was not right with the detective. "Are you OK?"

"I can't. I've gotta go." She walked rapidly out of the courtroom and took the stairs down instead of waiting for the elevator.

Casey finally caught up to her as she exited the courthouse. "Olivia! Wait! What's wrong?"

"I just really need to be alone right now, Casey." With that, Olivia walked away, disappearing into the crowd on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse.

Rebecca Hendrix watched from the bench where she was sitting near the courthouse steps. Seeing the disappointed look on Casey's face, she wished the stubborn detective had let the ADA accompany her to where ever it was that she was going. Rebecca suspected she knew, but stood to follow the rapidly departing detective, since there were a lot of cop bars to choose from in this part of town.

Olivia downed the first scotch in one big gulp and motioned to the bartender for another. She enjoyed the burn as the liquid made its way down. She knew this was not really the answer, but for now it seemed like a good idea. The bartender poured another two fingers into her glass and this time she took a small sip before setting the glass on the smooth bar in front of her. She stared into her glass, swirling the amber liquid as her thoughts swirled in her head.

"I never understood how you could drink that stuff." Olivia turned at the sound of the voice to find Rebecca standing behind her.

The detective frowned. "You stalking me now?"

Rebecca gestured to the empty barstool next to Olivia. "May I?"

"It's a free country." Olivia turned back to the bar and took another sip of her scotch.

"I'm sorry, Olivia. I know you wanted to help Miranda. But the voices, her terrorists, were just too much for her to bear any longer. She did the only thing she knew to do that would stop them. I'm not sure any amount of therapy would have been enough to save her from herself."

Olivia continued staring into her glass. "Well, you're the shrink. I'm just a cop. What do I know?" She drained her glass and motioned again to the bartender. He quickly refilled the glass.

"I'm sorry, Olivia."

"You said that already."

"I mean I'm sorry for what happened between us."

Olivia took another sip of her scotch and waited a long moment before responding. "That was a long time ago, Bec. We've moved on. Why bring it up now?"

Rebecca felt a pang of something when Olivia reverted back to her old nickname. She was sure the alcohol contributed to the slip, because Olivia didn't even seem to realize that she said it. She studied Olivia's profile as she continued to stare into her glass. She looked tired and older than she should have. "I brought it up because I want you to know that I truly am sorry. I never meant to hurt you."

Olivia nodded, still not making eye contact. "So you packed up and left for medical school without even discussing it with me first." She turned and finally looked directly into Rebecca's eyes. "You didn't think that would hurt?"

Rebecca took a deep breath and started to place her hand on Olivia's arm. She stopped midway and dropped her hand back into her lap instead. "I didn't think you would understand, Olivia. You loved being a cop, and you were so great at it – you still are. I didn't know how to tell you that I just couldn't deal with it. I needed something else. I didn't want to disappoint you."

"Yeah? Well, you did. But not for the reason you think."

"I know that now. I'm definitely older, and I hope a little wiser. I know that I should have talked to you about it. I wish I could go back and change things, but obviously I can't. What I can do, is tell you that I'm sorry and hope that you know I really mean it."

Olivia hesitated for a moment. When she responded, her voice was quiet, but almost pleading. "How could you think I wouldn't understand? I lov-" She stopped mid-sentence and shook her head. She decided taking another sip of scotch was a better idea than what she was about to say.

Rebecca shrugged and gave a humorless laugh. "I don't know, Olivia. We were so gung-ho, just out of the Academy. And then, I don't know, something changed for me. I thought being cops would make us ready to take on the world."

"I thought we were."

"You were. You found your calling. I didn't. Not then. I just didn't know how to tell you that. Even after all we had been through together, I just didn't know how to tell you."

Olivia swirled her glass again as she quietly responded. "I'm sorry you felt that way."

"Look, I really didn't come here tonight to upset you even more. Maybe I should just go."

Olivia looked at her. "Why did you come here?"

"Because you looked like you needed a friend and I was hoping you might still think of me as one." Rebecca took Olivia's silence to mean the obvious. She stood to go.

Olivia looked at her. "You really wanna be friends or do you just wanna shrink me?"

Rebecca took the question as an invitation to stay and sat back down. "I really want to be your friend, but if you need more than that, I'd be glad to try and help. No need for the departmental paperwork unless you want it."

Olivia scoffed. "Figures. You offer Elliot the same deal?" Olivia finished her drink and signaled the bartender.

A little surprised at what seemed to be jealously, Rebecca was taken aback for an instant. "No. I don't know Elliot well enough to make that offer." The bartender refilled Olivia's glass and then looked at Rebecca. She ordered a mineral water and looked back at Olivia. "You're not driving are you, Olivia?"

Olivia smirked. "You should know. You followed me here. Are you interested in him?"

"What? Who?"


"Olivia, I don't think of Elliot as anything more than a colleague who asked for my help on a case. I'm sorry if that caused a problem between the two of you." She paused as Olivia downed a significant portion of her drink.

"Just don't hurt him, 'kay? He's been through a lot lately."

Rebecca almost smiled. She had thought Olivia was jealous when she was actually just trying to protect her partner. "Um, Olivia, Elliot's not really my type, remember?"

"Well, some people swing both ways."

"I never have." Rebecca wondered about Olivia, but decided asking her right now would not be wise. She decided on another approach. "I think Elliot's only personal interest in me is wondering why you react to me the way you do."

Olivia cut her eyes over to Rebecca. "And just how do I react to you?" Her posture was becoming defensive.

Rebecca sighed. She really didn't want a drunk and angry detective on her hands. "Exactly the way I would expect you to, given the circumstances." Olivia relaxed a bit. "But I know the circumstances. Elliot doesn't. Does he?"

Olivia shook her head. "He knows that we were at the Academy together, but I didn't see any need to tell him anything beyond that."

Rebecca nodded and watched as the detective downed the rest of her drink. She was somewhat relieved to see that Olivia didn't immediately signal the bartender as she had after finishing off the previous drinks. Her old friend always held her liquor pretty well, but four scotches, neat, in such a short time were bound to catch up with her soon. She pushed her water glass toward Olivia. "Why don't you take a break from the scotch?"

Olivia scoffed again. "What? 'Fraid I'm gonna pass out on you or somethin'? I'm not my mother. I can hold my own."


"She died, you know."

"No, I didn't know. I'm sorry."

"Few years ago. She fell down the subway stairs, drunk." As much as she tried to stop it, Olivia's chin quivered.

Rebecca didn't stop herself from placing her hand on Olivia's arm this time. Her voice was almost pleading. "Then why are you doing this now, Olivia?"

Looking totally defeated, Olivia answered. "Because, sometimes, I just don't know what else to do." She blinked back tears before they could spill over.

Rebecca looked at the detective, and for the first time since seeing her again, caught a glimpse of the vulnerable, young woman she once knew. "Olivia, I think it would really help you to talk to someone. It doesn't have to be me, but-"

Olivia shook her head and laughed a humorless laugh. "You just can't let go of the shrink stuff, can you?"

"No more than you can let go of the cop stuff."

Olivia's expression hardened and she signaled the bartender for a refill. She turned again to Rebecca. "You know, you're free to leave. I really don't need a babysitter. And I certainly don't want a shrink." She picked up her newly filled glass and took a gulp.

Rebecca flinched but didn't move. "I'm not leaving you here like this, Olivia."

The angry detective's dark eyes flashed for an instant before beginning to glaze over slightly from the effects of the alcohol. "I'm not your concern anymore, remember?"

Rebecca sighed. This was not going well. "Then is there someone I can call for you? A friend?" She hesitated for a moment. "A lover?" The pained expression that crossed Olivia's face told Rebecca that she had not helped matters with that question.

"No." The detective's voice was almost a whisper as she tried to control her emotions. She picked up her drink and drained it.

"Then I guess you're stuck with me tonight." Olivia glared at the woman as if she had just hurled the worst insult possible at her. Rebecca shrugged off the look. "I'm not leaving you like this, Olivia."

"Like what?" The detective almost yelled. The bartender turned toward them, but Rebecca waved him away.

"Drunk and alone." Rebecca hoped her bluntness would have an effect on the detective.

It did. "Drunk and alone? Do you think I need a mommy? Well, I've got news for you. I learned this from my mommy and I don't need you to sit there in judgement of me or my actions. I wasn't good enough for you before, so why do you pretend to care now?" The bartender was still eyeing them, but did not approach.

"Liv-" Olivia glared again at Rebecca when she used the nickname. She began again. "Olivia, please calm down. I'm not trying to mother you, I just want to help."

"Then leave."

"Olivia, I'm not-"

"Fine! Then I'll leave!" The detective snatched a wallet from the pocket inside her jacket and fumbled to get it open. She tossed two twenties onto the bar and stood up, almost knocking the barstool over as she did. It took her a second to steady herself as the head rush from the alcohol took over. She turned and headed for the door. Rebecca was actually impressed that she didn't weave any more than she did, considering the amount of scotch she had consumed in a very short time.

Rebecca stood and rummaged in her purse for her wallet. The bartender walked over and just shook his head as he silently gestured for her to go with Olivia. "Thanks," she said quickly as she left to follow the detective.

Olivia was walking down the sidewalk, as purposefully as she could, when Rebecca exited the bar. The doctor quickened her pace to bring herself along side the detective. Olivia turned to look at her and wobbled a bit as she did. She scowled as she directed her attention forward again to regain her stride. "We have stalker laws, and I am a cop, remember?"

"Then I guess you'll just have to arrest me, because I'm not leav-" The sound of tires squealing around the corner behind them interrupted Rebecca. She turned to look. Olivia's reaction time was slowed just a bit and she turned a second or two behind Rebecca. A black SUV had almost two-wheeled it around the corner and was speeding toward them.

"Oh God! No! Shit! Get down! Get down!!" Olivia's screams surprised Rebecca and she turned back to the detective just in time to see her lunging toward her, panic on her face.

"What- oof!" Olivia slammed into the doctor, knocking her to the ground and landing on top of her, shielding her body with her own. The SUV sped by without a second look at the two women now sprawled on the sidewalk.

"Son of bitch, Liv! What'd you do that for? Ow!" She winced as she tried to shift positions between the detective's body and the hard cement. Olivia, breathing rapidly, raised up to watch the SUV speeding away. "When I said to arrest me, I didn't mean for you to body slam me to the ground! You've made your point!"

Olivia rolled off of Rebecca and sat beside her on the sidewalk, still panting and watching the SUV. "I- Oh, God- I- I thought-" Olivia shook her head and brought her hands up to scrub her face. Rebecca noticed her hands were shaking.

"Olivia? What's going on?" She sat up, rubbing her elbow and looked at the detective. Olivia was still shaking her head. Rebecca realized there was something serious going on with her friend.

"God- I thought- All I could see- I couldn't stop them." The detective's eyes were tightly shut and tears were streaming down her face.

Rebecca managed to bring her sore body to a squatting position next to Olivia and placed her hand gently on the crying detective's back. Rebecca didn't think she ever remembered seeing her friend cry openly like this. "Olivia? Liv? It's OK. Let me help you."

"Everything OK, lady?" Rebecca looked up into the concerned face of a passerby.

"Yes. Thank you. We're fine. Thanks." The man nodded and walked on. She turned her attention back to the distraught detective. "Liv? Tell me what's going on."

Olivia's shoulders slumped as she looked down at the sidewalk where she was sitting. She slowly turned her hands over and looked at her palms. Her voice was almost a whisper. "I can still feel her blood on my hands." She took in a ragged breath. "And then I see her just lying there."

"Who, Olivia? What happened?"

"I should have protected her!" The anger was returning, but it no longer seemed directed at Rebecca.

Rebecca frowned. She was having a hard time following the inebriated thoughts of her friend. This all started with Miranda Cole. "Olivia, no one could have protected Miranda any more than you did."

Olivia shook her head. "No. Not Miranda."

"Then who?"

Olivia swiped the back of her hand across her right eye to try and stop the tears. "Alex."

"Alex?" Rebecca shook her head and frowned. "Who's Alex?"

"She was my-" Olivia stopped mid-sentence and took a deep breath. "She was our ADA."

Rebecca watched Olivia's shoulders sag even more. She could sense that this 'Alex' was much more to Olivia than just an ADA. Olivia had used the past tense. Was. Alex. Something registered in the doctor's mind. Alex. ADA. ADA Alex. ADA Alexandra Cabot. Rebecca remembered the news headlines along with a picture of the striking blonde attorney. She was gunned down on the street after relentlessly pursuing the prosecution of a Colombian drug lord. She was in the company of NYPD detectives at the time of the shooting. It was all over the news at the time, but the detectives were never named.


The defeated detective looked up at Rebecca. She clinched her hands into fists. "It's been over a year. Why can't I stop doing this?"

Rebecca offered her hand to Olivia. "Let me help you, Olivia." Olivia looked up, not sure what to do. Rebecca extended her other hand. "Please?"

Olivia reached up and grasped Rebecca's hands. She allowed the doctor to pull her to her feet and they walked silently to the curb where Rebecca hailed a cab. They rode in silence to the address Rebecca gave the cabdriver. She was a bit surprised that Olivia went along willingly. Maybe she was just too tired to fight. The cab stopped in front of an apartment building and Rebecca paid the fare. She then ushered Olivia into the building. They walked up the single flight of stairs to Rebecca's apartment. They still hadn't spoken since they got in the cab. Rebecca unlocked the door and stood aside to allow Olivia to enter. The detective walked in and Rebecca followed and closed and locked the door behind them.

"Sit." Rebecca gestured to the couch and, surprisingly, Olivia did as she was told without a word. "I'll be right back." Rebecca went into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. Thankful she had a pause and serve coffeemaker, she poured a cup for Olivia before the entire pot was brewed. She took the steaming mug and sat beside Olivia on the couch. The detective was almost in a daze.

Rebecca handed Olivia the mug. "I assume you still drink it black."

Olivia nodded as she accepted the mug. "Thanks." She breathed in the rich aroma as she took a sip. Rebecca had made the coffee extra strong, but if Olivia noticed, it didn't seem to be a problem.

"Would you like anything to eat?" Rebecca was hoping coffee and food might lessen the effects of the scotch, even though Olivia seemed much steadier now than she had right after they left the bar.

"No. But you go ahead."

"Maybe I'll just make a sandwich." She wanted to give Olivia a little more time to sober up. She went into the kitchen and quickly made two sandwiches, cutting them each in half. She brought them out on a plate and set them on the coffee table in front of Olivia. She refilled Olivia's mug and poured a cup for herself. Then she settled again on the couch next to Olivia. Taking one of the sandwich halves, she pushed the plate toward Olivia, in the hopes that the detective would eat something.

Olivia ignored the plate of sandwiches and continued sipping the coffee. After a few moments of silence, Olivia glanced over at Rebecca. "Coffee's good. Thanks." Rebecca nodded. She was hoping Olivia might make the first move to talk about what happened. Just when she was thinking that she was going to have to start the conversation, Olivia spoke again.

"I guess you're wondering what that was all about earlier. I'm sorry. I hope I didn't hurt you."

Rebecca shook her head. "I'm OK. It sort of reminded me of some hits I took during some of my Academy classes."

Olivia nodded but remained silent. She seemed to want to talk, but not really sure how to begin. She sipped her coffee and avoided eye contact with Rebecca.

"Why don't you tell me about Alex," Rebecca said softly.

Olivia stared into her coffee mug as she spoke. "She was our ADA. She was stubborn and relentless when she thought she was doing the right thing." Rebecca almost smiled, imagining the ADA and the detective butting heads. "She pushed too hard against a Colombian drug cartel and paid for it with her life." Olivia's voice became a little shaky but she controlled her emotions well. "She was shot one night coming out of a bar. Elliot and I were with her. I tried to stop the bleeding, but it was so much." Olivia clinched her free hand into a fist and took a deep breath. "Then she was gone." Olivia never used the words 'dead' or 'killed' when referring to Alex, but no one ever seemed to notice. They all thought that the ADA had been murdered. Olivia knew she had to be careful not to reveal the truth to Rebecca.

"I remember reading about her death in the newspaper." Rebecca paused. "Why don't you tell me about Alex, not ADA Cabot." Olivia looked a little confused. "The Alex that you knew."

"Like I said, she was stubborn. Hard-headed, relentless, tenacious." Olivia hesitated and her expression softened. "Intelligent, thorough, crossed every T and dotted every I. A damn good prosecutor. Determined, dedicated." Olivia hesitated again. She glanced at Rebecca as she continued, almost smiling. "Did I mention intelligent? Too smart for her own good sometimes."

Rebecca smiled. "Sounds like you admired her a lot."

Olivia dropped her eyes and nodded. "Yeah."

"But, you still haven't told me about her personal side."

"We called her 'The Ice Princess' when she first started. But really, once you got to know her, she wasn't like that at all. She was warm and caring, and had a great sense of humor. She just didn't open up that side of herself to a lot of people. I guess she didn't want to spoil her image as a hard-ass ADA."

Rebecca nodded. She was beginning to see Olivia and the ADA as two peas in a pod. "Sounds like she opened up to you."

Olivia nodded, still looking down. "Yeah." She gave a quiet chuckle. "She made me swear to uphold her public image and not let anyone know that she was a real softie inside."

"How long were you together?" Rebecca asked softly.

Olivia's head jerked up in response. "We- I never said-" Rebecca tilted her head, but remained silent as she watched Olivia struggle with her words. She stared at Rebecca for a moment and then took a deep breath. "We never told anyone. We didn't want to jeopardize the unit. We never really intended for it to happen, it just sort of did." A ghost of a smile played at Olivia's lips as she remembered the beginning of her relationship with Alex.

"We had a really tough case. This fifteen year-old kid had been molested by a pedophile who kept narrowly escaping prosecution. The kid was our only hope as a witness, but he put himself in a coma by OD'ing on sleeping pills and alcohol the night before the trial was scheduled to begin. The kid's mom blamed us all, but especially Alex. I don't think she ate or slept for days. Pure adrenalin kept her going. I'd never seen her like that before. She became consumed with putting this guy away. She bent a few rules, worked her way up at least one judge's shit list, and earned herself a month's suspension, but you know what? In the end, we got the guy. And if it weren't for Alex, you can bet he would be out there molesting another kid right now. Anyway, a week into her suspension she called me." Olivia's gaze took on a new look as the memories flooded back.

"That turned out to be our first date, even though we didn't really know it at the time." Olivia's voice was quiet, her expression melancholy. "We spent the whole evening together. We had agreed to avoid any and all discussions related to work or any open cases because of Alex's suspension. I almost worried that we wouldn't have anything to talk about because we had never really done anything together just as friends, other than an occasional drink with the squad or something like that.

"I didn't know when I invited her that Alex was actually a big photography buff. She loved the gallery opening and even bought a print. Robin – that's the photographer – had invited me to her pre-opening, private show, so I asked Alex to meet me in front of the gallery at four o'clock. She and Robin hit it off like they were old friends." Olivia smiled at the memory. "Alex had all these questions about lighting and film speed and stuff I'd never heard of. She was like a kid in a candy store. I had never really seen a personal side to her before."

Rebecca sat and listened. She was amazed at the softening of Olivia's face as she told of her memories of Alex. Rebecca had no doubt that the relationship between the detective and the ADA went very deep. Probably deeper than Olivia would ever openly admit.

Olivia glanced over at Rebecca and her expression changed slightly. She almost looked embarrassed. "I don't know why I'm telling you this."

"Because I asked." When Olivia didn't respond, Rebecca asked, "Have you talked to anyone about Alex's death? How it affected you?"

Olivia scoffed. "I told you, no one knew about our relationship. The department offered up counseling for all of us when it happened, but I wasn't about to spill everything to a department shrink."

"But, they're bound by-"

Olivia shook her head and interrupted. "Don't even go there, Rebecca. I've seen it happen. The minute you say one thing that raises so much as an eyebrow, you're riding a desk or thrown out altogether."

Rebecca conceded the point to Olivia with her silence. She knew that there was a small shred of proof to what Olivia had said, but even it there weren't, this was an argument she would not win. She decided a change of topic was in order. "So, how did you and Alex go from being friends and co-workers to… something more?"

"Well, after the gallery opening, we started meeting after work and getting together on weekends, when we had them, for coffee or dinner or just to have someone to talk to. We sort of saw it as escaping all the testosterone we were surrounded by on a daily basis. We never really considered it as 'dating', but in hindsight, I guess that really is what we were doing. I knew I was falling for her, but I didn't think I would ever stand a chance." Olivia paused. "Then one day, everything changed."

"What happened?"

"I almost got shot."

"I was completely shocked that Alex seemed to care more about my well being than the fact that we didn't get to execute the search warrant. That, and the fact that she chewed Elliot out for joking about my injury, were completely out of character for our ADA."

"So that clued you in that her feelings ran deeper than just friendship?"

"No, that came after dinner."

Rebecca was amazed at the change in Olivia's demeanor as she recounted her memories of her first kiss with Alex.

"We both finally admitted that we had deeper feelings than just friendship." Olivia shook her head. "Kind of ironic, isn't it? Me almost getting shot brought us together, and it ended up being a gunshot that took her away instead of me."

"So, how did you and Alex manage to keep your relationship from interfering with your jobs and vice versa?"

"We just kept up the pact about not discussing our cases outside of work. We actually saw our personal time together as an escape. We didn't have that much of it to begin with, so our free time together was precious to us. We agreed to not let work interfere with it. And we knew we had a lot to lose if we brought our personal lives to work with us."

"And no one in the squad knew?"

Olivia shook her head. "Elliot knew I was seeing someone, but he didn't know who. I don't think he would ever have suspected it was Alex."

"How do you keep something like that from your partner?"

"The cases that we see are some of the worst that humanity has to offer. You shelter yourself from that as much as you can. We learn to compartmentalize as much as possible. That means keeping your personal life as far away from the job as you can. We all understand that and accept it." Rebecca was surprised to see a flicker of amusement then cross Olivia's face. "Elliot did almost catch us once though."

"Sounds like Alex was really something." Rebecca couldn't help but feel a pang of jealousy as she listened to Olivia talk about Alex. It was obvious the detective had cared deeply for the ADA. Olivia was not one to fall easily, but when she fell, she fell hard.

"Yeah. She was something alright." Olivia seemed to be withdrawing into herself again.

Trying to keep the detective from shutting down, Rebecca tried to take her back to the happy time she had just related to her. "So, you really don't think Elliot knew? About you and Alex?"

Olivia shook her head. "No. I don't think he did. He would never have let something like that slide without at least letting me know that he knew. And it was bad enough that we had to cover it up. We didn't want to put him a position of feeling that he had to lie, or omit facts, for us. We tried really hard to keep it on the 'down-low' as Fin calls it."

"That must have been difficult. You and Elliot seem really… close."

Olivia nodded. "He's family."

Rebecca hesitated and then said, "Well, maybe it would help you to talk to him about it now."

Olivia shook her head. "No. I don't think that's a good idea."

"Olivia, if he's family, he'll understand. And now that-" she stopped herself before she said 'Alex is dead'. She began again rephrasing her original thought. "Now there won't be any repercussions to you or Alex for someone else to know."

"You know."

"But I'm not someone you feel close to… at least not any more, and I think it would really benefit-"

"I can't tell Elliot."

"Why not?"

"Because I can't!" The angry edge was making its way back into Olivia's voice.

"Because you were with another woman? He doesn't know?"

"It might be a bit of a surprise to him, but I think he would get over that."

"Then why?"

Olivia was getting exasperated. She stood up and began to pace. "Because he would just want to help me bring her back and I can't let him risk that! He's got four kids."

Rebecca was speechless as she tried to make sense of Olivia's words. Bring her back? She blinked a few times and tried to think of the best way to respond. Her silence made Olivia stop and look at her. It was then that the detective realized her mistake. Her eyes widened and her heart seemed to stop for minute. They both spoke at the same time.



"What do you mean-"

"What do you charge your patients?" The detective had a panic stricken look, and her question was so unexpected it confused Rebecca.

"What?" The psychiatrist frowned.

Olivia spoke more deliberately, "What do you charge your patients?"

"Why does that matter? I'm not charging-"

Olivia had pulled a wad of bills from her pocket. "I have…" She quickly counted the bills. "Fifty-two dollars. I'll give you that and make up the difference as soon as I can get to an ATM." She shoved the bills toward Rebecca.

Still confused, Rebecca didn't accept the money. She shook her head. "Olivia, I'm not going to charge you for talking to me tonight."

"You have to!" Olivia was starting to sound panicked and the doctor was beginning to really worry that she was having some sort of breakdown.

"Liv, calm down." Rebecca tried to use her "soothing voice". "What are you talking about?"

"You have to charge me. If you charge me, then I'm a patient." Olivia looked at Rebecca hoping for her to understand. When she got no such indication, she continued. "If I'm a patient, then whatever I tell you is at least protected by doctor-patient confidentiality. So what do you charge?"

The light was dawning on the doctor. "Olivia, you can trust me. You don't need to pay me."

"It's not you that I don't trust. Please…" Her voice was pleading as she held out the money to Rebecca again.

Rebecca reached out and plucked a dollar bill from Olivia's hand, leaving the rest. "If I'm not filing to insurance, I can charge whatever I want. In this case, my fee is one dollar." Seeing the skeptical look she was getting from Olivia, she amended her statement. "Confidentiality is all or nothing. It doesn't vary according to the fee." Rebecca paused and took a deep breath. "And now, you're a paying patient. Anything you tell me is protected by law."

Olivia expelled her breath and visibly relaxed. She put the remainder of her cash back in her pocket and dropped heavily back into her spot on the couch. She ran a hand through her hair and looked at Rebecca as she leaned her head back against the couch. "So, is this when you ask me what it is that I'm feeling right now?" She attempted a smirk, but it didn't really pack it usual punch.

Rebecca took her friend's attempt at levity as a sign of improvement and gave her a small smile in return. "No. This is where I ask you to tell me what's going on."

Olivia took a deep breath and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. She covered her face with her hands for a moment and then shook her head. "I really shouldn't tell you this, but I've already said more than I should have. God, I can't believe I did that."

Rebecca held up the dollar bill she still had in her hand as a reminder. "Olivia, whatever you tell me, doesn't leave this room. I took an oath and I've never broken it. I don't intend to start now."

Olivia looked at her and nodded slowly. She took a deep breath and began speaking quietly. "Alex is alive. She's in witness protection." She took another breath to try and stop the tremor she felt seeping into her voice. "I have no idea where she is or even if she's OK." She wiped a tear from her eye. "And that's the part that is killing me."

Rebecca's eyes widened. "So the shooting…?"

"No, that was real." Olivia shook her head. "That was all too real. For two days, I really thought she was dead. Then we found out she was being put in witness protection."


"Elliot and me."

"How did you find out? I thought that kind of thing was hush-hush even to family members."

Olivia gave a dry chuckle. "It is. Alex requested a 'meeting' with us before she left. To 'apologize' and say goodbye I guess." Olivia shook her head again. "I could hardly speak, much less say anything I should have said."

"So you didn't get any time alone before she left?"

"No. The meeting lasted all of about three minutes and we were surrounded by DEA and US Marshals. Before I could even absorb that she was still alive, she was whisked away." Rebecca could hear the anguish in Olivia's voice even though she tried to hide it. "That should make it easier right? Knowing she's alive?"

"Actually, no. Not for you. At least with a death, there's a process that those left behind go through. First, there's shock, then there's grief, and then there's recovery. You learn not to forget, but to move on. I think you're stuck somewhere between grief and recovery. Knowing that she's alive, doesn't allow you move on."

"I don't want to move on. Not as long as I know that Alex is out there somewhere."

"What are the odds of closing the case and allowing her to return to her life?"

The detective's voice was almost a whisper. "Probably not very good. But I'm not giving up. I can't."


"Nobody's ever gotten me the way that she does." Olivia's voice was stronger now. "She has this innate ability to know when to push and when to back off. She understands the job and what it can do to you. She was always there to pick up the pieces when I felt broken. She accepted me for me, even when I couldn't, and she never once held my background against me. I never knew why she felt I was worthy of her, but she did, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let her go without a fight."

Even though Rebecca tried to remain objective, Olivia's words stung a little. "Olivia, we can argue over the rest, but you need to know that other people who have cared for you never held your past against you." Olivia started to protest and Rebecca held up her hand. "Just let me finish. I think the difference here is that not only did she get you, she got to know you. The real you. The one you don't let anyone else see. You let her in, past your walls of defense." Rebecca took a deep breath. "And she didn't run away."

Olivia nodded. "At least, not by choice." Olivia's words were stated matter-of-factly, not with malice. "So now you see why I can't talk to anybody about her 'death'. This is the first time I've slipped up and I can't risk doing it again." She shook her head.

"You can still talk to Elliot. He already knows she's alive, so you wouldn't be putting Alex in any more danger. And you already said he's family. This is the kind of thing you need your family for. At least give it some thought."

Olivia sighed and looked at her watch. "I really need to get going, it's late, and we've both got to work tomorrow."

Rebecca sensed that Olivia's walls of defense she recognized so well had been raised, and would not be lowered again tonight. She was still worried about her old friend and hoped she could get her to talk again in the near future. "You're welcome to stay here tonight." Seeing the glimmer of surprise in Olivia's eyes, she quickly amended her statement. "On the couch. I'll get you a blanket and pillow."

"No, really, I need to go home. I really need to be alone for a while. But, thank you. And, don't faint, but you're right. Talking about it helps." Olivia gave her a shy smile and stood up.

Rebecca's eyes widened and she smiled. "Well, that's progress." She stood to join Olivia. "I know that we've not exactly been friends for a long time, but I really would like for us to be. We've both grown up a lot since we last saw each other, and I hope you know that I really would like to help you if I can. My door's always open if you'd like to talk." She turned and picked up the phone. "At least let me call you a cab."

Olivia nodded. "Thanks." She dropped her gaze to the floor. "For everything."

Rebecca smiled. "You're welcome. And, Olivia, I'm really glad you found Alex." She paused a moment. "And I hope you find her again."

Elliot looked up when his partner walked into the squad room. He couldn't help but notice the dark circles beneath her eyes. "You OK?"

Olivia shot him a look. "Good morning to you to."

He had the decency to look sheepish. "Sorry, you just look like you didn't get much sleep." Or have a really bad hangover, but he thought better of adding the last bit. "And I heard about Miranda Cole."


"I tried to find you after court…"

"Sorry, I turned off my phone."

Elliot nodded and waited. He knew that asking questions had the opposite effect on Olivia than most – it made her clam up rather than provide answers. She sat down at her desk and looked over a couple of phone messages left by the desk sergeant. Elliot simply waited.

Finally it paid off. "Did you need me for something?" When Elliot frowned, she clarified. "You said you tried to find me."

"Oh. No. Just gonna see if you wanted company over a beer or something."

"I had company. Even though it was uninvited."

Curiosity won out over patience this time. "Anybody I know?"

Olivia gave him a smirk, but answered. "Rebecca."

Elliot frowned. "Hendrix?"

"I guess you could say we buried the hatchet."

"Good." Then his eyes narrowed. "I just hope it wasn't in her."

Olivia rolled her eyes. "You know we have a history."

"Yeah, and you've been so happy about your reunion."

Now it was Olivia's turn to look a bit sheepish. "Yeah. Sorry about that." She took a deep breath. "And I'm sorry about what I said to you before. The rebound thing. I was out of line. I took my frustrations with her out on you and I'm sorry."

Elliot was a bit surprised by the apology. He tilted his head slightly and said, "It's forgotten. But just for the record, I'm not interested in Rebecca, other than professionally."

"I know."

Elliot gave a slight shake of his head. "I don't know what she did that got you so twisted up, but I hope you work it out."

Olivia sighed. "It's a long story."

"I've got time." He hoped, that since they were the only two in the squad room at the time, she would feel comfortable talking about it.

She hesitated and then took a deep breath. "We were close when we were at the Academy."

"How close?"

"We were roommates… and good friends." He couldn't help but notice that Olivia wouldn't look him in the eye when she answered.

"Just friends or friends with benefits?"

Olivia opened her mouth to speak, but could find no words. Elliot realized that the question completely flustered his partner. He looked directly at his partner and said, "You know it wouldn't matter to me, Liv."

She finally found her voice. "Why would you think that?" Elliot couldn't help but notice it was not a denial.

He shrugged. "The way you've been acting around her was more like a jilted lover than just a pissed off former classmate." Olivia still didn't offer an explanation, so he continued. "If I jumped to the wrong conclusion, then I'm sorry, but it's been kind of hard not to notice."

"I guess I'm not as good at hiding my emotions as I thought I was, huh?"

Elliot smiled. "It can be hard sometimes." Olivia still seemed hesitant to talk. "I meant what I said, Liv. It doesn't matter. You're still my partner and nothing changes. Whoever you have in your personal life is your business. You're happy, I'm happy. But when it affects the job, then I get a little concerned." His tone was truly one of concern and not meant to be confrontational. He hoped Olivia would take it that way.

She nodded and took a deep breath. "Rebecca and I were at the Academy together. We were also… together. We went through a lot with each other – family stuff, Academy training – and things were going great, or so I thought. We both had our first jobs walking a beat. Everything was good. Then I came home one day and she was packing up and going to back to school. No discussion, no warning, nothing. All I got from her was that she just couldn't deal with being a cop. She never even gave me a chance to understand why." Olivia took another deep breath. "So that's where I'm coming from when it comes to dealing with Rebecca."

Elliot nodded. "That certainly explains a lot." He hesitated. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry you went through that."

Olivia shrugged. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? I got over it. I got over her."

"You hadn't heard from her at all until now?"

"She called a couple of times and left messages, but I never returned the calls." She gave a wry smile. "I heard she was a shrink, and that didn't make me any more eager to get back in touch."

"So how'd you manage to get together with her last night?"

"She followed me from the courthouse. We argued. She apologized. I had a bit too much to drink and let my emotions get the best of me. So she took me to her place and we had really strong coffee and talked about a lot of things. It's been a long time, and like she said, we've both grown up and we've both changed." She hesitated briefly. "I think it helped. She actually seems pretty good at the shrink stuff." She saw Elliot's eyes widen. "And if you tell her I said that, I'll be forced to kill you."

Elliot laughed. "Your secret's safe with me."

"And I'm sorry for not telling you about everything else. It just… I don't know, never seemed like the right time I guess."

"Well, if we're being totally honest, I can't say I haven't wondered occasionally." Olivia's eyebrows skyrocketed.


Elliot shrugged. "You just seem to click with certain people and they're almost always women." He chuckled and shook his head. "I used to think that you and Alex might have something going. The way you used to-" He stopped abruptly when he saw the expression on his partner's face.

"What?" She realized too late that she couldn't hide her emotions from Elliot.

"Did you?"

"Did I what?"

"You and Alex. Were you…?"


"Oh my God. You were!"

"Elliot… Let's not do this here."

"How did I miss that?!"

"Obviously you didn't."

"Were you…? When she…?" He seemed to be having a hard time putting together complete sentences.

Olivia glanced around at the people starting to show up for the day shift. "What are you doing after work tonight?"

"What?" He frowned at the abrupt change of subject.

"After work. How about I buy you a beer? And then I'll tell you everything."

He stared at her for a moment before he smiled. "You were shagging Alex."

That made her smile. "OK, maybe not everything…"


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