DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters, but oh, if I did...
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Cabenson

The last of the flames had been extinguished and she surveyed the damage as the coffee in her hands turned cold. She searched the confusion for a familiar face and was relieved to feel a warm whisper in her ear.

"Come on Alex. Let's get you out of here. Cragen sent a squad car and I'm taking you back to my place, Captain's orders. The Feds are checking out your car and Fin and Munch are sitting on your apartment until the Marshals get there. Elliot will pick us up in the morning."

"I should grab some stuff from---," Alex began before she was silenced by the brush of Olivia's fingertips against her lips.

"Alex, listen to me, okay?" Olivia began as she stared into graying eyes. "Right now we need to get you off the street. I'm sure we can find whatever you need at my place. You missed a few things when you…,"she said, unable to finish the thought. "Let's just get you somewhere safe and warm, okay?"

Alex slowly nodded her head in agreement. Olivia helped her down from the back of the ambulance and they both took a final look at the smoldering embers of Agent Donovan's car.

The two women walked toward the squad car and climbed in the back seat. Olivia gave the officer her home address and sank back into the seat. Closing her eyes, she tried, in vain, to relax for the first time since Donovan came to them with the threat against Alex. She opened her eyes and watched as the blonde stared silently out the window. Keeping an eye on the driver, Olivia discreetly slid her hand into Alex's and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Alex rubbed her thumb over the detective's bandaged hand in acknowledgement as she continued to stare into the darkness.

The squad car carrying the ADA and the detective pulled in front of Olivia's building fifteen minutes later. Elliot, Cragen and two federal Marshals met the women at the door and escorted them to the second floor. Cragen held Olivia and Alex at the threshold as Elliot and the marshals did a sweep of the apartment.

After getting the 'all clear' sign, Cragen turned toward his detective and ADA. "You two are in for the night. Elliot will pick you up in the morning and run you by Alex's place before bringing you into the squad room. There are two detectives on this floor and two Feds watching the perimeter. Alex, the protective detail for your mother is in place. She goes nowhere without them. You do not leave this apartment until Stabler shows up. That's an order."

"I got 'ya, Captain," Olivia answered. "We're staying right here."

Elliot looked at his partner and said, "I'll be here at 7:00."

"Thanks, El. We'll be ready," Olivia said as she escorted the men from her apartment. She turned the deadbolt and set the chain and turned to see Alex sitting silently on the sofa. She sat on the coffee table across from the blonde and reached for her hand. "Need anything?" she asked.

Alex looked into the detective's soft brown eyes and could no longer hold back the flood of tears. She reached out for Olivia and buried her face in the detective's shoulder. "God Olivia, please. Just hold me."

Olivia held the blonde as the tears fell. "It's okay, sweetie, it's okay," she said, rubbing Alex's back. They stayed there until Alex had cried herself out and slowly pulled away from Olivia's embrace.

"I'm sorry. What a fucking day, huh?" she said as she rose and crossed the room toward her briefcase. "I really need to call my mother. She's probably wondering why the hell there are federal agents all over her estate." She pulled her cell phone out of the bag and looked at Olivia. "Do you mind if I use your room?" she asked as she headed toward the bedroom.

"Go ahead. I just need to grab a change of clothes and I'll jump in the shower," Olivia answered as she followed Alex to the back of the apartment. Alex climbed up onto the queen-sized bed and watched Olivia open drawers and pull out sweats and tee-shirts. Olivia laid a set on the bed and told Alex that she could wear them for the night. She leaned over and kissed Alex on the head and said, "I miss you. I'm glad you're here, but I'm not happy about the reason," as she walked out of the room.

Olivia jumped out of the shower and quickly dried off. She threw on her clothes and towel-dried her hair as well as she could while trying to keep her bandaged hand dry. As she passed the bedroom, Olivia heard Alex say, "Yeah Mom, I'm okay. I'm with Liv." She walked into the kitchen and put the kettle on the stove as she grabbed two mugs from the cupboard. As she waited for the water to heat, she heard Alex leave the bedroom.

"Hey. Are you making tea?"

Olivia nodded as she pulled a bottle of bourbon from under the sink. "You want one shot or two?"

"Two, please. Do you mind if I grab a shower?"

"Go ahead. Towels are in the linen cabinet. Want me to bring this in when it's ready?"

Alex smiled as she watched Olivia fumbling in the kitchen. She missed being here. She missed being with Olivia. "Sure," she said headed for the shower.

Olivia looked toward the bathroom as she waited for the tea to steep. This case had rapidly spiraled out of control. She had to convince Alex to let the Feds handle Zapata from here on. A cop and a federal agent had already been murdered and she wasn't about to lose Alex to a drug lord. She wasn't about to lose Alex to anyone.

Olivia walked back into the kitchen and grabbed the mugs. She had almost reached the bathroom when she heard Alex grumble, "Son of a bitch!"

"What's wrong?" she asked, setting the mugs on the sink.

Alex, wearing Olivia's robe, held out a bleeding hand. "I washed my hair, and there must have still been some glass. Do you have a band-aid?"

Olivia went to the medicine chest and pulled out her first-aid kit. "Sit," she commanded, pointing toward the toilet. Kneeling in front of Alex, Olivia took the blonde's hand and checked the small wound for slivers of glass. Nodding her head toward the mug, she said, "Drink up, babe. This may hurt."

Alex jerked as the cool alcohol burned her skin. "Shit, Liv!"

Olivia looked her in the eyes and smiled, "Quit your whining, Counselor, and drink your tea or I'll get that orange stuff out. Now, I'm gonna put some antibiotic cream on this, and I should probably put some more on those facial cuts."

Alex smiled despite the pain. She loved the way Olivia took care of her. Used to take care of you, Alex, she thought to herself, before she left.

Olivia slowly worked her way through the lacerations that marred the face that both graced and haunted her dreams. It could have been her, she thought as the gravity of their situation hit her. The woman she loved was in jeopardy and she wasn't sure if she could protect her. She allowed her fingers to trail a path along Alex's cheek.

"Alex, you have to let this case go. It's gotten too dangerous."

"No, Olivia---," Alex started.

"Velez isn't fucking around. Look at Donovan. Christ, Alex, they got him in our own backyard."

"You want me to just give up on the rape and murder of a cop, Olivia? I can't do that."

"I want justice for Lyvia Sandoval too, but, dammit, Alex," she said as tears formed in her eyes. "I don't know what I'd do if something happened to you."

"I have a protective detail of federal agents and New York's finest watching my back. Nothing will happen to me."

"What if it does?"

Alex looked at the warm brown eyes facing her and allowed her hand to stroke Olivia's cheek. Tears started to pool in her own eyes as she looked at the woman who until a few weeks ago had been her lover. "It's really not your concern anymore, is it Liv?"

"Of course it is, Alex," she said, her eye focused on the bathroom tile. "I still love you. That has never changed."

Alex sighed as she stood and stared at the brunette sitting on the bathroom floor. "Then why did you leave me?" she asked before leaving the room.

Olivia rose rapidly and followed Alex into the bedroom. Sitting next to her on the bed, she reached for Alex's hand and spoke softly. "You know, I was always on the outside looking in when it came to relationships. And then you came along," Olivia smiled as she reached to twirl a strand of damp blonde hair in her fingers, "you with your kick-ass attitude, five-dollar words and power suits. I got scared, Alex."

"I asked you to live with me, to sign the papers and tell our friends. You said no and walked out. And you're telling me it's because you were afraid? After everything we've been through?"

Olivia tucked the hair behind Alex's ear and pulled her closer. "I've never had a great deal of stability in my life. I wasn't sure that I wanted it, but I know now. I need it. I need you."

"Olivia," Alex began before being silenced as soft lips pressed against her own. Memories of all the times those lips had played her body rushed Alex's mind as she returned the kiss, running her fingers through Olivia's hair.

Brushing her lips along Alex's jaw line, Olivia whispered, "I'm not scared anymore, Alex. I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

Pulling herself from the detective's embrace, Alex searched the warm brown eyes facing her as she caressed a tear stained cheek. Tears filled her own eyes as she shook her head in uncertainty. "A threat against my life won't solve our problems, Liv," she said silently.

"Maybe not, but it sure as hell gives me an incentive to try. Answer me one question, Alex. Do you still love me?"

Alex smiled as she answered, "Yes, I still love you."

"You said I only needed to answer one question, Detective," Alex answered wryly. "I don't know, Liv. I'm in this for the long run, but how can I be certain you will be too? How can I be sure that you won't run the next time you get scared?"

Olivia pulled Alex closer and began to kiss her way up the blonde's neck. "I promise you, I'll never run away again. I love you, Alexandra Cabot and I want to be with you. I want to live with you; I want to die with you. I want to take care of you. I want to make love to you." She reached Alex's lips and plied them with playful bites. "Please say you want me too"

"I want you too," Alex murmured as she pulled Olivia backwards onto the bed.

The End

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