DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I’ve done extensive timelining of the first season and during the course of writing this story. In that time I rediscovered the gaping plothole of all time. It is important to understand the timeline to understand the time shifts in the story. In "Closure" Olivia sleeps with Brian Cassidy on 11/1/00. Half way through the episode it shifts to 6 MONTHS LATER and the date is 5/1/01 and Cassidy is still with the squad. However, in “Disrobed” Brian transferred out of SVU to Narco on 1/12/01. This story assumes that he did leave the squad and offers an alternate reason (other than a stupid canon error) for Brian’s presence in the second half of “Closure.”
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Myth of Closure
By Heathers

Part 1

"You know, this really could wait until morning." The captain knew there was no dissuading the stubborn detective, but he had to try.

"My guess is she's not sleeping," Olivia said grimly.

Her heels echoed as she left the captain's office. She gathered her things with a sense of urgency, barely stopping to shrug on her coat before leaving the darkened squad room.

This was the lead they had been waiting for. She just wished it hadn't intruded on her weekend. But wasn't that was always the way? Olivia tempered her disappointment with the hope of closing out a particularly worrisome cold case. She hated not knowing if a serial predator had been incarcerated for another crime or if they simply moved on to another borough where their pattern wouldn't be picked up on for another six months. More than anything, she hated knowing that someone had decimated a woman's life and had gotten away with it.

Olivia juggled the case file as she fumbled around in her purse until she found her phone. With a flick of her thumb she had it opened and was dialing the familiar number.

Abbie answered on the second ring.

"Hey," Olivia said, stepping into an alcove for more privacy.

"Something came up," Abbie guessed. She had heard the excuse dozens of times.

"I'm sorry it's just… Can I have a rain check?"

Abbie grunted disapprovingly. "Nope." Olivia stuttered a few syllables before Abbie interrupted her. "Stop by when you're through."

"Yeah," she breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay."

"Be careful."

Olivia smiled. "I'll see you later." She snapped the phone shut.

It had been an interesting few months. She and Abbie had an understanding of sorts – the naked, sweaty, let's not talk about it sort. It wasn't ideal, Abbie could be very distant and Olivia could occasionally be very needy but she was tired – so tired – of playing the field. Things weren't perfect but she was happier with someone to share the misery than simply suffering in solitude. The pieces of the puzzle were slowly falling into place and the other shoe had found its way back into the closet for the time being. She was uncharacteristically content.

It had been six months since she had sex with Brian Cassidy. Not one of her finer moments, that's for sure. Four months since Cassidy left the squad abruptly and she'd be lying if she said that wasn't a relief. So when the Captain announced that he would be rejoining the team temporarily while Monique was on personal leave – a family emergency is all the brass was giving up – Cassidy would, out of the goodness of his heart, fill in. Gritting her teeth she accepted the news with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. Upon his return it became clear that he still carried the torch for their one night of, well, mediocre sex.

So it was no surprise that when Cassidy leered at her as the prepared for her date she knew what was coming: the dreaded 'you didn't have time for me' conversation. So she switched back into friendly mode – Bri? Bri?! Ugh. – and played the 'it's nothing personal' card – the only one in the deck that could win their poker match. Olivia would have preferred to avoid the relationship conversation with Brian altogether but they were in close quarters again and she couldn't bear the thought of continuing right where they left off.

Hell, if she could go back and do it over again she would have avoided that last pitcher after Elliot had gone home to his wife and kids and Munch to his conspiracy theorists meeting. And she certainly wouldn't have let Brian follow her home like a lost puppy. But what was done was done and there was no undoing the past. She had taken Elliot's advice and kept things friendly. Brian hated her for it, casting wounded glances in her direction whenever the mood struck. Still time passed with little incident and, for an observant bunch, the rest of the squad was none the wiser.

She hoped that Cassidy wouldn't discover her thing – she guessed one could call it a relationship – with Abbie or there would be hell to pay. He wasn't that astute, she told herself, but maybe she shouldn't have laid it on so thick tonight. Jesus, not dating the people you work with? In hindsight she probably should have stuck to the 'no cops' excuse at least then she'd have an out if he ever clued in. Lawyers don't count. Plus it wasn't as if Abbie was a fixture in the squad room like Brian used to be.

Olivia groaned at her inner dialogue and shooed the doubts away again as she hailed a cab. She didn't want the hassle of checking out a sedan and returning it. She certainly didn't want to keep it overnight. Parking was bad enough in her neighborhood, but it was impossible in Abbie's.

She smiled at that.

Dinner plans were shot but Abbie still wanted to see her. It felt good to be wanted again. Her schedule wasn't exactly easy to plan around but she had found a kindred spirit in the ADA. Abbie worked almost as much as Olivia did and she understood the demands of the job.

But it was more than that. Abbie was always so no-nonsense. It was rare to meet a woman who would go toe to toe with the boys club without even flinching. Abbie, it seemed, was bred for the prosecutor's office. Office politics be damned, she always got her man.

Her reputation had preceded her when she came to the Unit. She was working double duty in major felonies and SVU which garnered her immediate respect. The squad was different with Abbie around. She trusted them to do their jobs, she worked closely with the Captain, and she was there when they needed the letter of the law clarified but she was otherwise hands off. She had an uncanny knack for being distant and one of the gang at the same time. She was chummy with the guys but whenever the squad would go out after a tough case she'd politely decline the invitation.

On one such occasion Olivia took her aside to ask why that was. Normally, the working two units explanation would have done the trick but Abbie hadn't offered it, instead she leaned in close and whispered: "Maybe you should ask me some time to see if my answer is different," before flashing a sly smile and slipping out of the bullpen.

Her words had made an impression on Olivia and it didn't take long for her to corner the ADA a few weeks later to extend an invitation for a more intimate social gathering. That sly smile made its return as she pressed a piece of paper into Olivia's palm. Cool fingers covered her own and closed her hand around the scrap Abbie had just placed there. She was sure there was a smug grin plastered on the ADA's face as she left the squad room.

She felt like she was back in high school as she discreetly unfolded the note. She raised an eyebrow at its contents. The paper had an address written carefully in the center with a time just beneath it, its neat cursive letters gave her no clues to what the other woman had planned. Clearly it wasn't Abbie's address – unless an ADA's salary was even less than her detective's salary – it had to be a bar.

Olivia checked her watch and surveyed the pub as the bartender uncapped her beer. The bar was a little dingy and off the beaten path, but the beer was cheap and the clientele wasn't too seedy. She slid a few bills across the bar and scanned the room. A pair of long legs peeked out from beneath a table in the back of the bar. Olivia took a long swig of her beer before pushing off from the bar. The high back of the booth obscured Abbie from her view until she was standing beside her.

"A little cloak and dagger for an ADA, don't you think?" Olivia pushed a hand into the deep pocket of her leather jacket.

Abbie looked up at her. Her long fingers played along the neck of the amber bottle. "I knew you'd come."

Olivia slid into the seat across from Abbie. "So you've been carrying that note around with you for awhile then I'm guessing."

Abbie smiled and returned her attention to peeling the label from her beer bottle. "For about a week," she conceded.

Olivia couldn't suppress the smirk that crept onto her face as she imagined Abbie placing the note in her pocket each morning and setting it on her dresser each night. She had put so much thought into such a small detail.

Abbie Carmichael was quite the riddle, she thought. She baited Olivia into asking her out and when Olivia acquiesced her very own version of 'Spy vs. Spy' was set in motion. The only thing missing was a covert phone call and some invisible ink. Abbie had carried that note around for a week but when the time came she sat in the darkest corner of the dingiest bar a cop would dare enter, her back to the door. God forbid she'd seem too eager. Too bad the note betrayed her performance. And the bar? What a dive.

"You come here often?" The same sarcasm that laced her words was painted on her face.

"God, no," Abbie scoffed.

"Trying to throw me off the scent then?" Olivia took another swig of her beer.

"Something like that." Abbie tore the label slowly. "Did it work?"

The corner of her lips curled. "Not at all."

"Oh well, it was worth a shot," Abbie deadpanned.

"Not exactly the first date ambience I was hoping for." Olivia brushed invisible crumbs from the dirty table.

"Is that what this is?" Abbie cocked her head, feigning innocence. "I thought it was just two friends enjoying cheap beer and some colorful scenery."

"I don't know about you, but I see enough colorful scenery at work."


Olivia jerked forward, the taxi's brakes squealing as it stopped abruptly in front of the Jane Tyler's apartment building. Olivia paid the fare and headed toward the tenement. She took a moment on the stoop to shake the thoughts of Abbie from her head and refocus on the case at hand. She hoped this latest victim held the information that would help them nail the bastard once and for all.

Part 2

"Jane, you did the one thing you're supposed to do when somebody threatens you. Survive."

Her words felt hollow. She knew there was nothing she could do for Jane. She didn't report her rape so in the eyes of the NYPD it didn't happen. It made Olivia sick to her stomach. She stayed with Jane until she had calmed, passed the requisite victims' services card to the woman and made a discreet but hasty exit.

She tried to calm her own nerves as she signaled for another cab. The case had really gotten under her skin. Perhaps it was because she could easily see Harper and Jane as people she would have been friends with had they met by other means. If she had time for friends, she thought sardonically. These were professional, independent women who were violated in their own beds. Olivia felt the bile rise in her throat and swallowed hard.

A beat up taxi ground to a halt in front of her. She hesitated on calling out the address to the driver. She considered going back to the station house and burning the midnight oil, but thought better of it. There was nowhere the case could go tonight and maybe if she could shut off her brain for a few hours she could enjoy what was left of the evening with Abbie.

"It's me," Olivia called to the speaker box next to the door.

The door buzzed as its lock clicked open in response. Her heels echoed too loudly as she crossed the empty foyer to the elevator. She adjusted her shirt and smoothed her skirt as the elevator car rattled upwards. Olivia couldn't explain why she always felt the compulsion to appear composed when she visited Abbie. She knew that Abbie had seen her after she had worked three days straight, when she hadn't slept in a week, or changed her clothes in longer than she'd admit to. But still, when they made a date, Olivia wanted to look her best. Even now, when it was well past a reasonable hour, she felt compelled to look good for Abbie.

The doors creaked open and Olivia rounded the corner in the familiar hallway. Abbie was standing in the doorway to her apartment in her pajamas. Her hair was ruffled, her eyes bleary and Olivia couldn't remember when she looked better.

Olivia's hand found Abbie's waist as her lips pressed against the ADA's cheek. "Sorry I'm so late."

Abbie covered the hand on her waist and nodded sleepily. She turned, pulling Olivia into the apartment. The blanket on the couch confirmed that Abbie had waited up for her – or at least attempted to. They paused near the kitchen.

"You hungry?" Abbie croaked, not quite finding her voice.

Olivia shook her head 'no'. Truth was, she had lost her appetite right around the time when she was introduced to the robbery detective in the Captain's office. Abbie shuffled on to the bedroom, releasing Olivia's hand to crawl into bed.

Olivia watched the other woman wriggle around in bed as she undressed and smiled. Hard to believe it was the same woman laughed in the face of defense attorneys and argued cases with a ferocity that often set judges back on their heels. Olivia slipped into bed behind Abbie, curling her body around the other woman's. Abbie let out a contented sigh and stilled.

A strange symbiosis had developed between the two women. They didn't cater to each other – though Abbie would have fed her if she was hungry – but merely took comfort in being together. The expectations that Olivia had to contend with other women she had been with were conspicuously absent with Abbie.

On the surface it could be interpreted as a relationship of convenience. True, Abbie wasn't the warmest woman she had been with and she certainly didn't buy into romance but she was attentive in her own way – bringing her food when she'd pull an all-nighter, taking a long lunch when Olivia was past her breaking point. Those encounters – so raw – at Abbie's apartment in the middle of the afternoon, when Olivia didn't think she could bear to confront another day, another victim. Abbie would let her rage, let her sob, let her exorcise her demons with her body. And afterwards they would dress, quietly say goodbye and return to work alone. Olivia wasn't quite sure what had made the younger woman so cynical but she accepted her as she was and for her part so did Abbie.


Olivia's head snapped up and turned in the direction of the unmistakable voice: Abbie. She smiled bigger than her better judgment told her to. Their 'first date' at The Bar That God Forgot had ended with a chaste kiss three nights ago and Olivia couldn't stop the smile that plastered itself on her face then either.

"Starving." Olivia's chair squealed as she turned on its wheels.

"I know this great place," Abbie's heels click-clacked as she approached Olivia's desk. "Think you could tear yourself away for few hours?"

"I'm not quite sure I trust your judgment in choosing dining establishments after that last place"

"That was an isolated incident," Abbie raised a hand. "Scout's honor."

Olivia looked over her shoulder at her partner and Munch debating one of their many cases across the room. "Be back in a bit," her voice carried the distance but didn't get a reaction. "Just as well," she waved dismissively in the men's direction.

If Olivia had wondered if the dinner invitation was a friendly gesture or something more the lack of personal space would have cleared up any confusion. They walked shoulder to shoulder, Olivia's fingers flitting across Abbie's occasionally. The ADA's chin dipped as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. The boldness of her invitation was replaced by a sweet shyness that Olivia had glimpsed during their first outing together.

Olivia hadn't noticed that Abbie had stopped walking until the ADA's hand jerked her backwards.

Olivia looked at the words painted on the front window. "Don Juan's?" she asked skeptically.

"Trust me," Abbie smiled and pushed through the restaurant's ragged front door.

Mariachi music spilled onto the street as the tall ADA disappeared inside. Olivia looked around considering her options before following. The rich smells of corn chips, cilantro and simmering tomatoes filled her senses. The décor was definitely… authentic, she thought. Bordering on tacky, the stucco walls were adorned with murals of sunsets and palm trees, the rustic tables and chairs neatly arranged. A few diners looked up from their meals as Olivia approached Abbie who was in the midst of an unusually friendly conversation with the Hostess.

The pretty hostess smiled graciously at Olivia. "I'll show you to your table."

They weaved their way through the cramped dining room to a small booth on the far wall. The hostess placed menus in front of the women after they had settled. "Enjoy your meal."

Olivia caught the last look that the hostess and Abbie exchanged – something a less observant person might have missed – and stifled a knowing chuckle with a cough.

Abbie returned her attention to Olivia. "What?"

"Well, I don't have to ask if you come here often."

"What can I say? I'm a sucker for good Mexican food," Abbie said sliding out of her suit jacket.

"I just didn't figure you for the waitress-type."

Abbie leaned in conspiratorially, lowering her voice. "I was new to the City, too many margaritas…"

"A moment of weakness," Olivia nodded. "I know it well."

"It was a long time ago. It just happened once. I don't -"

"Hey, we've all been there," Olivia reassured. "It's okay, really."

Olivia understood the other women's dilemma better than she cared to elaborate upon. The City was so big when you wanted to find comfort in a strangers arms, but so small when you were trying to get to know someone better. She always seemed to run into a one night stand - whose name was long forgotten – months later when she was on a date with another potential lover. The only difference was that Abbie hadn't even considered that when she brought her to Don Juan's. She supposed Abbie was more interested with impressing her with the food rather than her past conquests but so far Olivia had been impressed with both.

"He did not say that!" Abbie yelped, her volume control having vanished a few drinks prior.

Olivia wiped her eyes, the last of her giggling fit subsiding. "I swear."

"My god," Abbie gulped, "I thought I had heard them all."

Silence fell between the two women. Olivia searched the smiling face across from her. It felt like a scene from a movie. The awkwardness was gone from their silence and in that stillness feelings were beginning to bubble in the pit of her stomach. Admiration, affection, infatuation, attraction – they were all there. She swallowed hard and broke Abbie's gaze to check her watch.

"I should get back," Olivia said reluctantly.

"Okay," Abbie nodded, unable to hide her disappointment as Olivia stood and put on her coat. "I'll walk back with you."

Abbie stood, a little wobbly on her feet, the alcohol coursing through her system. Olivia – still on duty – had chosen virgin sangria over Abbie's two margaritas. She steadied the ADA as they made their way out of the restaurant and caught the evil eye from the Hostess for her trouble. True to form, Abbie had left a lasting impression on the young waitress.

Abbie hugged Olivia's arm as the uneven pavement of the sidewalk proved more challenging than it had before dinner.

"Nice night." Olivia whispered, her comment referring to the two hours the women had shared more than the winter weather.

"Mmmhmm," the other woman murmured.

Abbie's eyes had closed, her head resting on the detective's shoulder as she led them back the way they had come. Olivia felt suddenly guilty for enjoying the closeness of a woman whose inhibitions were in such short supply.

"We're here," she said looking at the top of Abbie's head. She stiffened, fighting the urge to smell her silky hair.

Abbie's face tilted up. "I want to see you again," she breathed against Olivia's cheek.

She could smell the tequila on her breath as Abbie's mouth found the corner of hers. Olivia stretched her neck away from Abbie, the distance giving her little reprieve from the other woman's advances.

"Don't you want me?" Abbie clung to the lapels of Olivia's jacket, glassy eyes fighting the weight of heavy lids.

Jesus, she was strong but Abbie Carmichael was throwing herself at her and she didn't know how much longer she could resist the drunken ADA's advances.

"Not like this," she furrowed her brow sympathetically. "I don't want to be the only one that remembers this tomorrow."

"I'm not that drunk, detective." Abbie straightened and backed away indignantly.

"Let me take you home," Olivia tried to diffuse the situation.

Abbie palmed her face. She could tell Abbie wasn't used to rejection however noble the detective felt her intentions were.

"Come on," Olivia pulled Abbie up the steps towards the precinct. "I'm just gonna go inside and tell the guys."

"You really don't need to do this," Abbie said fumbling with her keys. "I don't think drunken coworkers are what they had in mind when they made you swear to protect and serve."

Abbie shouldered the door open and disappeared into the darkness of her apartment. Olivia heard keys clattering, a soft clomp as Abbie kicked her heels off, and the whoosh of air as the ADA dropped onto her sofa. A small side lamp clicked on illuminating the modest apartment. Not quite what Olivia had imagined, but it suited her just the same.

"Are you going to stand in the doorway all night or what?"

Olivia was mildly disturbed by the reappearance of Abbie's ball-breaking persona but she knew that the ADA was still smarting from being turned down. Even still Olivia wondered if something could be salvaged. "Sorry," she said stepping over the threshold and closing the door behind her.

She surveyed the room. The walls were white, her lease probably prohibited painting. Two large black and white photo prints were the only decoration on the sterile walls, a small framed photo of Abbie and an older woman – her mother, Olivia deduced – sat on an end table, and the most bizarre personalization of the room was a tall shelving unit showcasing an enormous collection of glass elephants. Surely there was a story behind that, but she'd save it for another time.

Olivia sat gingerly on the edge of the sofa.

"I know I came on strong detective, but I won't bite." Abbie looked over her shoulder at the other woman.

"Look," Olivia moved closer to the other woman. "I like you a lot, Abbie. And," she paused considering her words." I'd like to get to know you better. But we work together and if you jump in with your eyes closed…I just don't want to this to be something that you'd regret."

"Getting a little ahead of yourself, aren't you Detective?" Abbie raised her eyebrows.

"Yeah," she chuckled. "I guess I am." Olivia fidgeted under Abbie's scrutiny, scratching the back of her neck, wringing her hands before wiping sweaty palms on her thighs. "Let me take you out," she said finally.

The detective pressed her nose into the crook of Abbie's neck inhaling the fresh scents of her sleeping lover. She had taken a shower that evening. Olivia could still smell the soap beneath the expensive perfume that decorated her skin – something that was indistinguishable after a day in judges' chambers, courtrooms and prosecutors' offices. Olivia wondered what Abbie had been wearing before she called to cancel, suddenly sad that she chose work over Abbie again. Brian was right, Abbie was her mistress. She was married to the job. And Abbie, it appeared, hadn't noticed or didn't care and Olivia wasn't sure which was worse.

Part 3

"And you gave me a hard time about the ambience of that bar…"

The crowd roared, popcorn flew, beers were spilled on her date's new shoes - Olivia was in her element. Standing, hooting at a hockey brawl as Abbie sat priggishly beside her.

Olivia fell back into her seat as the players gathered their gear and headed for the penalty box. "The difference is I do this for fun, you just took me there to test me."

"And this isn't a test?" Abbie smirked.

"Maybe," she smiled.

"I think I'm failing. I don't get it."

"What's there to get? It's hockey."

"I'm from Texas," Abbie shook her head. "We don't have ice."

"Come on! What about the Dallas Stars? They won the Cup!"

A fat man in the next row stood and bellowed, "KICK HIS ASS!"

"There they go again," Abbie pointed disinterestedly.

"We were the only women there, Olivia." Abbie ignored the men who stared at her as she entered the crowded bar and made a beeline for an empty booth in the back, Olivia following close behind.

"You're exaggerating." Abbie rolled her eyes at her and slid into the booth. Olivia dropped into the seat across from the ADA. "Okay, so we were the only women in the section…"

"My point exactly," Abbie waved a hand triumphantly.

"What is your point? I'm confused."

"I just don't understand why a woman who sees violence every day would want to celebrate it in a sport like hockey."

"It's about male bonding. The guys, they smile and pat each other's backs after a fight. Rarely is it testosterone gone amok."

"I suppose, but don't you ever just want to break out of the stereotype?"

"I'm not sure I like what you're implying." The waitress set two large beer steins in front of the women. Olivia held a hand up, "I've got it," she said paying the server.

Abbie waited for the woman to leave before continuing. "I mean this in the nicest way possible, but you're a female police officer, you're one of the guys in every sense of the word and you like hockey. Don't you ever feel like… I don't know… stereotypical?"

"Like a dyke, you mean," Olivia said all-too casually and sipped her beer.

"That's not what I meant. It's just…" Abbie drew patterns in the condensation beading on her glass. "Don't you ever feel like people can see right through you? Like they know everything about you before you let them in?"

"To tell you the truth, I really don't care what other people think. I like my job, I like my friends, and I like hockey and if that makes me stereotypical then so be it. But don't think you know everything about me, counselor. What you see is just a pixel in a bigger picture and if you can't take a step back you'll miss all of the other details."

"I'm sorry," she shook her head. "I didn't mean to trivialize your life. I guess I was projecting my own fears onto you."

"Answer something for me…" Olivia pressed. "What are you - a lawyer, a lesbian, a friend, a daughter? Pick one." Abbie said nothing so the detective continued. "You can't. That's just it. They're all pieces of the puzzle and you can't just pretend that one of them doesn't exist or there'll always be a hole to fill."

"I admire your candor. I guess I've never considered my sexuality a gift."

"It is what you make it," Olivia covered Abbie's hand with her own.

Olivia followed Abbie up the steps to her apartment.

"So this won't make your top ten dream dates list, can we try again?"

"They all can't end with me throwing myself at you," she said sheepishly.

"The night is still young," Olivia grinned.

Abbie laughed. "There you go getting ahead of yourself again."

Olivia brushed a hair from the ADA's temple. Abbie stiffened and took a nervous step backwards, freezing when her shoulders pressed against the door. Olivia followed the skittish woman's movements, inching closer. A slight tilt of her head and their lips met. It was a delicate exchange, the kiss not chaste as their first had been, but timid just the same.

Olivia's tongue grazed the other woman's bottom lip as she pulled away. "Call me," she whispered, the spark of excitement in the pit of her stomach made it difficult to turn and walk away.

But she did.

The sedan's brakes groaned as she eased the old car into the rare parking space. It seemed that the element of surprise had failed her again. Abbie had that look. It was the same expression she wore the night she led the ADA towards Madison Square Garden – A mix between 'you're kidding, right?' and 'why are you doing this to me?' – either way it was not a good look. Olivia thought she had covered her bases when she encouraged the other woman to dress casually this time. She certainly didn't want another pair of the ADA's undoubtedly expensive shoes on her conscience.

"The zoo?" Abbie said finally.

"Where's your sense of adventure?" Olivia intoned good-naturedly.

"I think I left it at the zoo the last time I was there… when I was twelve."

"Then you haven't been to the Bronx zoo," she smiled. "Come on, life's too short to be a stick in the mud."

Olivia kicked the car door open and hopped out. Abbie hadn't budged from her seat when Olivia opened passenger door.

"I just… Who goes to the zoo in the middle of winter?" she pleaded.

"We do," she said offering her hand to the grumpy ADA.

Abbie had warmed to the experience quicker than the detective thought she would. Olivia wasn't sure if the monkeys or sea lions had cracked her stoic façade but by the time they had reached the Safari exhibit she was pointing and laughing alongside toddlers and a troop of fieldtripping first graders. Olivia enjoyed the fresh air – as fresh as it got in the Bronx – and the smile of her companion. She had been careful to guide Abbie to the exhibits in an order that afforded her a grand finale.

Olivia led the ADA towards the large pavilion. "I thought you had enough glass elephants that you might like to see one in person."

Abbie's lips parted and her eyes fluttered as the elephant looked up them from the hay it had been eating. Bewildered by Abbie's reaction, Olivia fought the panic rising in her chest. Guilt swept in where the panic left off as the ADA took an unsteady breath.

Abbie's eyes never strayed from the elephant lumbering about its winter home. "My grandfather… He took me to see the circus when I was six. I was so little and they were so big, I didn't think there was anything in the world that could be more magnificent. Magnificent – that's what my grandfather called them. Most kids, they want to see the clowns falling down, or the bears wearing tutus, but all I wanted was to see the elephants again."

"They were gifts," Olivia suddenly understood.

Abbie nodded, eyes still fixed on the Indian pachyderm. "Most were. There are a few that I've added over the years – one just after my grandfather passed away, another after a bad grade on a midterm that I studied a week for, one when I moved to New York – my apartment was a jumble of boxes and home seemed so far away, and a few weeks ago I found one in Soho after a very bad day in the DA's office. They're comforting." She shook her head, finally tearing her eyes from the elephants to look at the detective. "It's weird, I know."

"No," Olivia assured her, "it's not. It's…" she groped for the right word." Cute."

Abbie raised her eyebrows at the detective, the skepticism was back. So cute wasn't the right word. At least she'd established that the ADA wasn't infallible. That her she had her soft spots and maybe – just maybe – she had managed to sneak in during the unguarded moment.

Part 4

"Hey stranger," Elliot's jolliness cut through the din of the squad room.

Olivia looked up from the file she was holding half-annoyed. What the hell was he so happy about? She's staring at an autopsy photo and he's sucking on a stir stick at the coffee station making friends with—

"Long time, no see," the husky voice chased away her irritation.

Abbie leaned against the counter filling a Styrofoam cup as Elliot chattered on about her week-long absence. And though she maintained a conversation with Olivia's suddenly smitten partner, her eyes wandered to Olivia whenever Elliot laughed too hard at one of his own jokes.

Olivia chewed her lip. It had been over a week since their trip to the zoo. Abbie had clung to her like a lost child when they last said goodbye. She still felt unnerved by seemingly impenetrable ADA's unusual display of emotion.

She had avoided the post-date callback. And what began as a game – waiting the two day minimum after a date – had stretched into a vicious cycle of procrastination and evasion. A cycle that Olivia hadn't had much trouble perpetuating with Abbie so busy in Major Felonies and a sizeable caseload of her own. But it was time for their perverted game of cat and mouse to end.

Olivia's eyes returned to the file in her hand. She tried to focus on what was important – the victim, the case. Her job. The drama of what she dared to consider a fledgling relationship was affecting her more profoundly than she would admit. Maybe her plate was too full to add another obligation to the pile. That thought was chased away as Abbie sat on the edge of her desk. One toned thigh slid in next to the forgotten case file.

"I've been thinking," she said. "Maybe we've been trying too hard."

Olivia stared at the exposed knee dangling in front of her. "Yeah," she exhaled.

"I'm going to pick up a few movies after work," she fiddled with the file in front of Olivia furthering their work charade. "If you feel like hanging out, stop by. If not, well, I'll understand that, too."

Against her better judgment she tore her eyes away from Abbie's sculpted calf long enough to look her in the eye. Originally, the plan had been to politely decline, Elliot would make a fine excuse (as usual), but when she spoke again reason had abandoned her and the only words that came were "I'll bring dessert."

Olivia shifted anxiously in the wobbling elevator. Looking back, she could pinpoint that as the exact moment when her pre-Abbie ritual began: dusting the arms of her jacket, smoothing the wrinkles from her pants, straightening her shirt, one last visual inspection in the smudged steel of the elevator door.

Her reflection disappeared as the doors parted and the hallway's dull grey carpet was revealed. Right turn, six paces, a left turn, and four steps later Olivia's knuckles were rapping against the corner apartment's door.

The clatter of metal on tile was followed closely by "Shit! Shit!" A few moments later: a small thump and a muffled "Be right there!" were the next sounds to emanate from the ADA's apartment.

The door opened with a whoosh. "Hey," Abbie said breathlessly. She blew a stray hair out of her eyes and leaned against the door frame – another failed attempt at looking casual.

"Hey," Olivia smirked at the ADA, her own anxiety suddenly less important – or, at the very least, less amusing – when faced with Abbie's. "Whatcha doing in there?" She peered around the door.

"Freak take-out accident," Abbie admitted. "No chow mein for us tonight, I'm afraid."

"There's always ice cream," Olivia raised a brown paper bag.

"The Exorcist, Alien," Olivia rifled through a stack of rented video tapes on the coffee table,"The Thing, Evil Dead 2?" Olivia held up the last tape for emphasis. "I think I broke up with a boyfriend over this movie."

"That's a classic," Abbie protested from the kitchen.

"I've always wondered how you people unwind after a week of prosecuting rapists and murderers," Olivia raised her eyebrows and shook her head, "Now I know."

"Not quite what you were picturing?"

Not that she'd admit to it, but in the past – okay, up until 5 minutes ago – she had entertained a theory about the ADA's Friday night rituals. And while her fantasy did not include hack and slash horror or science fiction, it did include a hot bath and some face time with a forlorn SVU detective.

Abbie circled the couch and set an armload of take out containers on the coffee table. "Hope you're hungry," she said cheerily.

The lights were off. Abbie assured her this was standard procedure during a movie marathon. A push of a button and the "feature presentation" began. Their picnic had left Olivia feeling sleepy – a combination of eating too much and a ten hour work day – but the warmth of Abbie hovering so close kept her senses on high alert.

When Olivia finally gave up trying to reason with the ADA over the implausibility of the plot she began to understand why Abbie chose to unwind with horror movies: the sheer, unadulterated escapism.

Romantic comedies always left her feeling inadequate. She was never going to be swept off her feet in a foreign country, her pool of friends was limited by her job and the squad certainly wasn't keeping her in stitches. Action movies failed to impress her with their production values. And thrillers? They only served to piss her off with shoddy police work. But horror movies, Olivia discovered, were mindless and grotesque and on some level Olivia could relate.

The body count was rising onscreen and Abbie was curled against her side. The ADA pulled Olivia's arm off the back of the couch and draped it over her shoulders. The look on Olivia's face when she did this must have been one of wide-eyed terror.

"They call them date movies for a reason, Detective." Abbie was playing with her fingers: tracing the lines of her palm, pressing their fingertips together, spinning the simple silver ring until the tickle beneath it was almost unbearable and then warmth. Warmth against her knuckles, her fingertips and finally her palm.

As much as Olivia wanted to quell the all-too familiar ache, she let the other woman continue cultivating sweet torture upon her skin unchallenged. Olivia tried to focus on the movie even when it was obvious that Abbie had no intention of letting her finish it.

Her eyes were burning Olivia's face. Abbie was appraising her as her hand wandered to the buttons of her shirt. Thumb and forefingers met. Her shirt fell open and Olivia shivered as the cold air converged on her skin.

Olivia licked her bottom lip, eyes fixed on the Technicolor flash of lights. She didn't dare look at Abbie. "You've seen this?"

Abbie's head dipped. "Mmmhmm…" she hummed against Olivia's collarbone.

"What happens?" She tried to keep her breathing even as Abbie's teeth scraped her neck.

"He gets the girl." Abbie's lips were against the delicate curl of her ear.

"What girl?" she exhaled, more desperation than exasperation.

"You," she whispered, her teeth seizing Olivia's earlobe.

That night Abbie possessed her, conquered her. Abbie's eyes stalked her, hands plotting her demise and Olivia soon realized that bloodlust wasn't so different from the thirst she suddenly felt. Abbie rose above the detective and led her to a dim room where there was nothing beyond that down comforter, the weight of Abbie's body atop hers, and the delicious echo of their moans as their shadows danced on the walls.

A tender kiss against her forehead absolved her of every one night stand, every lost telephone number, every half-attempt at a relationship and in that moment she felt renewed. And when Abbie's lips descended upon her mouth, her lungs filled with ether and suddenly she understood what it was to taste heaven.

Even as Olivia struggled to recapture her breath, that delicious tang still hung on her tongue and Abbie wrapped herself in the detective's limp arm. A sigh and the attorney's grip loosened but did not falter.

She wondered how they had gotten to this point: so comfortable in their indifference. Once the dam had been broken romance became something cumbersome. A chore. Something they attempted despite the inevitability that it would fizzle out like a star that burned past its time. Like tonight. So they cut out the middle man, after all it was just a prelude to their next sexual encounter and they were both too busy to waste their time with that.

And though there were nights like these – when Olivia would be content to lie beneath the down comforter that she so often decorated with her sweat, listening to the soft sighs sleep coerced from Abbie's lips – they were rare.

Olivia told herself that Abbie just understood what the job meant to her. But now, lying beside her, the space between them seemed insurmountable. If she could just reach out and reclaim an inch would it be enough?

She stared blankly at Abbie's back. The arms that had once held her arm tight against her breast as they slept now half-heartedly hugged a pillow. Maybe they were destined to fail from the start. Convenience and necessity were so easily confused.

Part 5

Kisses along her shoulders, a hand between her legs – it wasn't a bad way to be woken up but judging by the lack of daylight, Abbie's predictable schedule, and the unbearable weight of her eyelids Olivia deduced that it wasn't that long ago when she had finally succumbed to sleep.

"Abbie," she croaked. Her attempt to arch away from the other woman only opened her wider to the invasion.

The ADA scooted closer, kissing Olivia's neck, the length of Abbie's body warming her back. A knee from behind pushed in between her own, the hand between her legs moved freely – in and out, in and out – as another hand found her breast from below.

"I've missed you," the mouth against her ear whispered.

Olivia stopped trying to fight the weight of her eyelids and diverted all of her willpower to remembering why she was going to protest something that was so all-consuming. "Abbie," she said again, clearer, straining to keep her physical response from tainting her voice.

"You're so wet," the husky voice groaned into her hair.

"Abbie," Olivia grabbed the other woman's wrist.

"What's wrong?" Abbie pulled away, sobered.

"I can't do this anymore," Olivia sat up, pulling the sheet up to hide her nakedness, her shame. Abbie just sat there staring at her, eyebrows raised, unabashedly bare, waiting. "We can't keep doing this."

"What are we doing?" her distain was apparent.

"This," she gestured at the bed. It represented everything that was wrong, didn't she get that? She rubbed her face. "Fucking."

"You don't want to have sex anymore, is that what you are trying to say?"

"No. I don't want sex to be the only thing we have."

"I'm not sure I understand," she said blankly.

"I want to have a conversation outside of work every once in awhile. I want to go out and enjoy a meal in public. I want to know what's going on in your head when you look at me like that. I thought we were close to that once and then… What the hell happened, Abbie?"

Abbie was staring again.

Say something, anything.

"I have to get ready for work."

Except that.

She was picking her clothes up off the floor, making a most undignified exit as Abbie washed away her scent in the shower. Olivia felt the regret like a punch to the stomach. She wished she hadn't said anything. What the hell was she thinking? Abbie was a gorgeous, intelligent ball buster who just happened to understand her work ethic and she went and fucked it up by saying she wanted more than sex? Jesus.

Buttoning up her new shirt – the same one Abbie hadn't even noticed last night – she was reminded why she did it. Apathy, indifference, remoteness: the holy trinity of Abbie. She didn't even know what Abbie's favorite color was. They never got to that. There were always more important ways to spend their time together. Talking never made that list of things to do. Thinking back on it all Olivia wondered if that had been the plan all along. If it wasn't just a prolonged one-night stand – all the passion but none of the substance of a real relationship.

She was supposed to fill the void, not create a new one. The end. So definitive was that ache in her chest, the hollowness of their not-so-grand finale.

"I just don't understand what the problem is. We caught the guy trying to ditch the condom he used and from what I understand it came with matching his and hers DNA samples," Olivia paced in front of the captain's desk.

"There was some confusion with the chain of evidence. The defense attorneys are sniffing around and it doesn't look good."

"Bullshit, it was by the book!" Olivia snapped.

"Liv-" Elliot, who had been silent through most of his partner's tirade, stepped between them. "You need to calm down."

"Don't tell me what I need, Elliot," she shrugged his hands from her shoulders and made a beeline for the door. "I'm taking a personal day."

Olivia threw open the door and slammed it again. The wooden blinds swung wildly and the men stood silently in her wake.

"I know you think you can handle her," Cragen said sternly, "but she's been on a tear for three weeks now-"


Cragen raised his hand in mock surrender. "I'm just saying it might behoove you to stand clear when she brings the brass down on her head."

Olivia's hands squeezed into fists, her knuckles turned white and her fingernails dug into her palms. She welcomed the pain, it was better than the unadulterated rage that was scorching the pit of her stomach. Reason had abandoned her and she found herself stomping up Centre Street towards the confrontation that had been brewing for weeks.

She threw open the office door with the same gusto she'd shown in the captain's office. Abbie looked up from a file – unphased, as only Abbie could be by someone kicking down her office door – the legal secretary, however, jumped at the crashing door. "Can you excuse us, Janet?" Abbie said calmly, almost saccharin sweetly. The other woman fled the room, head bowed as if to duck the incoming attack. Abbie's artificial smile faded. She folded her hands neatly on her desk and waited.

"Social call?" Abbie cocked her head and raised her eyebrows condescendingly. How irritating.

"Make it stick, it was a good bust."

"You made your bed with that one, Detective, now we all have to lie in it."

Olivia rolled her eyes. "So the rookie took a coffee break before he went to the lab, you can't fake DNA."

"Maybe next time you'll pack your rookie a Twinkie before you send him off with," her voice hardened, "the only physical evidence we had connecting the perp to the victim."

"I can't believe this," She plopped into the chair in front of the ADA's desk, hands dropping limply into her lap. Defeated. Broken.

Abbie picked up her pen and sighed. "I'll see what I can do, but if we can't account for every second Soriano was eating donuts then this case is a loser and we're going to have to let him plead out."

"Thank you," Olivia said bitterly. She couldn't disguise the creak in her bones as she stood to leave.

"Olivia," the detective stopped but didn't turn back to face the Abbie. "Get some rest, you look like hell."

"I don't sleep much anymore." Olivia nodded at the floor and pulled the door shut on her way out.

Part 6

"Six months ago Harper Anderson told me that she could absolutely ID her rapist, now she won't even talk to us."

"Then you'll have to use your own powers of persuasion, Detective, because I can't help you."

Defeat was in the air. Cragen stared at the floor and whispered his thanks as Abbie gathered her things to leave.

"Sorry," Abbie whispered, her expression softer than Olivia had ever seen it in weeks.

Olivia knew that Abbie wasn't apologizing for Harper's case or that mess last week with the Ortiz case, she was saying sorry for everything else. For all those times when she held back, when she turned away, when she dodged the difficult questions. So maybe it wasn't for all of that, but Olivia consoled herself with her interpretation, however false, that it was.

Cragen was talking to her, she supposed she should listen.

"… Get his picture, put it into a photo array, and get it to Harper. Take Cassidy with you," the captain said as Olivia headed for the door. "You know it's almost midnight. In a few hours we let Cleary go."


Elliot had been avoiding her, taking interrogations alone or partnering with Munch for the better part of a week. When they were out canvassing together things were stilted, awkward and silent. He was holding something back and she was beginning to think her company was suddenly intolerable. Now she was partnered with Cassidy again and her irritation was reaching all new heights.

This case was killing her slowly, eating away at the last vestige of hope that there might be something good left in the world. Reminding her of the six months before – suddenly confronted with everything she wanted to forget. She had to close it out, to win one for the victims, to put the past back where it belonged and move forward. It all came down to Harper, so eager to help six months ago but now? Delicate, didn't even begin to describe the situation.

Olivia crossed the squad room briskly. She was on a mission. She didn't even stop to tell Cassidy the plan, just signaled for him to follow her. He hopped after her like a scolded child.

Abbie was sitting on a windowsill in the corridor ostensibly waiting to pounce as they rounded the corner. "Detective, may I have a moment?" She stood, nodding at the detectives politely – as if it had anything to do with business.

Abbie held her briefcase in front of her, both hands on the handle, like a little girl and her lunch pail, Olivia mused. The bitterness she felt withered at the thought and she was sure the warmth she felt had spread to her cheeks.

Olivia looked from Brian to Abbie, trying to disguise the irrational guilt that twisted the knot in her stomach. She had just been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. "Uh," she shook away the thought, "sure."

Thankfully, Cassidy knew when to make his exit. "I'll meet you outside," he pointed towards the door.

Olivia looked at her watch, more for distraction than for want of the time.

"I know you're pressed for time but I just wanted to make sure you were okay."


"You seem on edge since-" Abbie started again, "If it's because what happened between us then I wanted to apologize."

"Apologize for what exactly? For sending the squad those junior ADA's to pinch hit for the better part of a month? I'm sure you probably thought that would ease the discomfort of the situation but it didn't. It just reminded me how screwed up this is – we are - because you'd rather die than let anyone else do your job for you. And I think, maybe that's how I make you feel, like you'd rather be dead than face me. Are you sorry about that?"

It was a rare occurrence, but it was a testament to the fact that anything was still possible: Olivia had stunned Abbie into silence.

"That's what I thought," she nodded somberly and walked away.

"God, what a mess."

Harper had let them in but she was being anything but cooperative.

"I don't know, maybe he's not the guy that did her."

Harper whipped around, hearing their exchange. Cassidy hid his face as soon as the words left his mouth, reluctant to face the onslaught about to pepper them both.

Thanks for that.

"Did me? Did Me?! He raped me, you ass!" Harper raged.

"Then why don't you do something about it!"

Olivia was desperate. It was time for the kid gloves to come off. Before she knew it she was going toe to toe with Harper about the myth of closure. "The truth is everybody changes every day, and some things are more devastating than others. But we never are the same and there are two ways to deal with these changes: You either accept them, or you fight them like hell all the way. Now, please. Come with us back to the station and just take a look at this guy, it's going to help you more than you know," Olivia pleaded.

"I don't want anymore help."

She was so close to winning the battle. She pushed her point home (or maybe just her desperation?) when she spoke again: "Then come back with us for us."

Olivia held the sedan's back door open for Harper. She looked from Olivia to Cassidy warily before crawling into the back seat. Olivia saw Harper jump when the door shut her in.

"I am so sorry about that," Cassidy pointed back to the apartment building.

"You should be," Olivia walked around the car to the driver's side.

"I guess I'm a little rusty, I don't deal with live vics anymore," she knew he was waiting for her to validate him, but she just stared back at him over the roof of the car. "Or maybe I was never very good with them in the first place," he conceded.

"Maybe," she agreed a little too quickly.

He was still standing next to the car when she started the engine.

The line up was a bust. It's all over except the crying, Olivia thought.

"Harper, I have something that I want to show you."

Olivia lifted an evidence bag from the top drawer of her desk.

"I am so happy he wasn't in there," Harper sniffled. The detective held out the ring to her. "Where did you get that?"

"From a man you couldn't identify."

"He was in there?"

"I thought so," Olivia said wearily.

"I always thought that I would recognize the man who did this to me. My mother died a horrible long death and I had always thought that because of that, you know, that nothing else bad could ever happen to me," Harper sobbed.

Olivia pulled her into a hug, Harper's words still resounding in her chest.

She had ripped off the band aid and Harper was bleeding all over her shirt. There was always too much of the victims' blood on her hands and never enough of the criminals'. Maybe Harper was right, maybe her training, that survivor stuff, is crap. Maybe it's just what they tell themselves to feel better about leaving a victim alone to pick up the pieces of their broken lives when they move on to the next case. There would be no justice for Harper, she knew. Cleary would go back to his perfect little life and continue to rape women who would be too ashamed to report it. Why should they? After all, justice was a commodity so often limited by high priced lawyers and laws that do more to protect the criminals than the victims.

Harper had quieted, but Olivia still rubbed her back as if she could leech some comfort from the warmth of the other woman's body.

"I need to go home," Harper said against her shoulder.

"I can take you," Olivia said quietly, still clinging to Harper, not quite sure who needed the comfort more.

"Is there somewhere I can get cleaned up?" Harper pulled away and wiped her eyes, sniffling.

"Yeah," she exhaled. Olivia led the other woman to the restroom. "I'm just going to get a few things before we leave. Take your time."

Harper nodded and disappeared into the restroom.

Defeat once again settled onto Olivia's shoulders as she returned to her desk. The weight of a failed investigation was always unbearable but this time there was no one else to shoulder it with her. Elliot was probably at home helping his kids with their homework, oblivious. Maybe that's the way it was meant to be, maybe she should accept that partnerships, like so many other things, just end.

She thought for a moment before keying open the lock to her desk's bottom drawer. She pushed aside the stack of active files and pulled a small white box from the deep drawer. Or maybe, she traced a fingertip along the box, she should take her own advice and fight like hell to keep that from happening.

She stood, pocketing the box as Harper approached. "Ready?"

She checked her watch. Eleven o'clock. Olivia pushed the buzzer like she always did: one long, and then three short bursts of the shrill sound. Oooooo-liv-i-a.

"Olivia?" the intercom came to life with Abbie's sleepy voice.

"Can I come up?"

"Yeah," Abbie choked on her confusion. "Sure," the husky voice was cut off by the buzzing of the front door as its lock clicked open.

Olivia steadied herself in the elevator, resisting the urge to fluff her appearance. It wasn't necessary, she knew that now.

The grey carpet: How long had it been since she'd last seen it? Too long. Right turn, six steps, left turn, and there was Abbie standing in her doorway, rubbing her eyes just like always. Three steps and she was one step away from the other woman.

They stood in awkward silence. It occurred to Olivia that she never considered what she was going to say when the moment arrived, only that she had to see Abbie.

Fight like hell.

Olivia scratched the back of her neck. "Here," she thrust the small white box at Abbie.

Abbie looked at the box as if a teenage boy were proposing to her. Flabbergasted. "I shouldn't." She shook her head and held up her hands as if to push it back to where it came from.

"I got it for you before..." she tilted her head, "You know." Abbie nodded at her. "I want you to have it."

Abbie's hand trembled a bit, hesitating before finally taking the box.

"Open it." Olivia smiled as Abbie lifted the lid. "They said the trunk raised like that means good luck."

Abbie held one hand to her chest as she stared at the small jade elephant, its proud posture and intricate carving coaxing a smile to her lips. "Thank you," she whispered as if the moment would be shattered by the sound of her voice.

Olivia nodded, enjoying the other woman's reaction to the trinket. "If you ever decide that maybe you might like to try again," Olivia looked at the elephant pinched between Abbie's thumb and index finger. "I'll be waiting."

The detective smiled a sad smile and turned away. One, two, three steps, right turn-

"Olivia," Abbie called after her.

The detective stopped and turned for one last look at the ADA. Framed in that doorway at the end of the runway of grey carpet in her flannel lounge pants and too-small UT alumni t-shirt. That was just how she wanted to remember Abbie.

"Are you free tomorrow night?" she said, "I know this really great Mexican place…"

The End

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