DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've offically succombed to another fandom. This is my first SVU fic and I was very unsure about it all. I still am to a degree, but the beta promises me it's good. So I'm finally throwing my anxiety out the window and putting it out there for the world to see (eeek!). Thanks be to Kyllikki for the faboo beta :)
WARNING: This story deals with the subject of rape.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Nic

"Now that I know what I'm without
you can't just leave me
breathe into me and make me real
bring me to life"

The bitter cold she felt in her fingers slowly began to disappear as the hot green tea in her hands warmed her. The steam fogged her view across the tiny Japanese restaurant for a single moment before dancing away again. She closed her eyes briefly at the scent of sizzling fried noodles and vinegared rice and watched the waitress burst free from the kitchen and deliver the plate to the man on the other side of the restaurant. This was where Olivia found herself just about every week, but especially after a particularly difficult case. Nursing wounded emotions over a cup of tea and a plate of edemame and unagi.

It was all she could do to keep herself from losing it altogether when she watched Cheryl Avery be wheeled into emergency. For some reason she felt the need to be solid, if not for the woman standing with her, than for herself. Regardless, the guilt still burned inside her. Alex Cabot was her typical stoic self and Olivia wondered how she ever did it. There had been a few occasions when the counselor had dropped her guard a little. Right before they had been called to Bellevue was one of those times.

It was one of the reasons Olivia had asked Alex out to this place in lieu of a drink. It was her getaway; her place away from work when she wanted to leave and away from home when she didn't want to go back. It was a small hole-in-the-wall where time ceased to exist and no one ever knew who she was, where she came from, or what she did for a living. And she liked it that way.

Sighing heavily, Olivia peeled a few soy beans and popped them into her mouth. The restaurant itself was unremarkable. It maybe sat 25 people on a good day, but Olivia never remembered seeing more than 5 or 6 at a time. The walls hadn't been painted in a good number of years and the carpet rippled where it met the baseboards on the walls. There were a few posters of imported Japanese beer and Sakura quietly seeped from the very visible portable stereo behind the bar. Definitely a place that you needed to know about, or else it melded with the streetscape and disappeared amongst the knock-off and street meat vendors on the sidewalks.

The doorbell gonged and Olivia sipped her tea, keeping an eye on the front entrance. Alex had asked to be let off at her office to clean up a few things before heading out for the night. Olivia gave her directions to the restaurant and said she'd get them a table.

Spying the detective sitting at a table in the corner, Alex nodded in her direction and started over. Olivia moved a few of the cups around and gestured to the chair across from her. The counselor thanked her quietly and took the chair, folding her hands neatly in her lap. She started to second guess her decision to join Olivia, suddenly wishing she was by herself.

"Relax," Olivia broke the silence, pouring her new companion some tea. She pushed it across the table. "I know this sounds weird coming from me, but there's nothing we can do now. It's over."

Alex attempted a smile, but only managed a slight tightening of her lips. "Small consolation," she replied, sipping the hot liquid.

Olivia nodded. She let the silence fall over them and stared at the sushi on her plate. Lifting a hand, she pushed the plate across the table as well. "You should eat," she said.

"Why am I so bothered by this?" Alex suddenly wondered aloud. "I did my job."

"You did," Olivia agreed.

Silence again.

"So why am I so bothered by this?"

"Because you did your job," Olivia replied simply.

Alex sighed, picking a piece of unagi from the proffered plate. She chewed thoughtfully, staring at the chintzy prints of sushi on the wall behind Olivia's head. "In any other circumstances, I would really be enjoying this sushi," she said.

Olivia smiled slightly. "It's not bad."

"How'd you find this place?"

Olivia shrugged. "Just happened across it. I come here because it's nowhere near work or home. It's a place I can take some refuge in when I want to get away."

Alex sipped her tea. "But now you've brought me here," she mentioned.

"Yeah," the Detective paused. "You looked like you needed to get away more than I did."

The conversation was interrupted by the shrill ring of Olivia's cell phone. Reaching into her jacket, she held it to her ear. "Benson."

Alex watched the woman across the table talk into her phone and saw the weight of work sit itself square on her shoulders once again.

"I'll be right there." Olivia set the phone on the table as she pulled her jacket on. She looked at Alex. "I hate to do this," she said.

Alex waved her away. "It's okay," she replied. "I probably wouldn't be the greatest company right now anyway."

Olivia got to her feet and pushed her chair in. She left a few bills on the table to cover the food. Placing a hand on the Counselor's shoulder, she squeezed lightly. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Staring at the now empty chair across from her, Alex lifted the teapot and poured herself another cup. She had felt bad about prosecuting certain people before, but this… Her overwhelming feeling was that she should have withdrawn as she had originally thought. But then would anyone else have treated Cheryl with the sort of fairness she had? Was she even fair anyway? Nothing seemed to sit right in her head. The little dark cloud above her was slowly starting to seep into her mind.

This wasn't unusual, the tennis match in her head.

The sudden appearance of the waitress next to the table startled her. Alex looked up at the small Japanese woman. Despite the surroundings, she was beautifully exotic. Her hair was dark and long, stretching down her back. The red she wore was brilliant and stood out against the bland cream walls. Alex watched her place a styrofoam container on the table.

"Your friend order this for you," she said. "She say you take home. You need eat."

Alex couldn't help the smile that crossed her lips. "Thanks," she said. The woman nodded her head and rushed back to the kitchen. Curiosity got the better of her and Alex opened the white box. A plume of steam rose up from the pile of noodles, making her stomach rumble. Glancing at the empty chair again, Alex decided it was time to go home.

Closing the car door behind her, Olivia adjusted her jacket and took a deep breath. The cool night air shocked her lungs and she felt herself wake up a little. Back to the grind. No time to dwell on things past, Liv, just suck it up and get going.

The loose rocks under her feet crunched as she walked across the street and headed toward the group of uniforms and yellow tape. One of the figures crouched beside the body stood and turned around.

"Elliot," Olivia said.

"You know," her partner started. "You can't really get away from me if you keep your phone on."

"I'll have to remember that." She stuffed her hands in her pockets and looked at the victim. "What do we got?" she asked.

Elliot glanced at his notebook. "Another college student. Kira Wheeler, 21, raped and beaten pretty severely."

Olivia looked around the corner of the coffee shop they were standing behind. "Who found her?"

"Employee taking out the garbage. No one heard or saw anything." He flipped over the page. "ID was her driver's license."

"Time of death?"

"Not sure," Elliot glanced at the Medical Examiner. "Guess is four to six hours, but the ME'll take her body back for testing to be sure. See if they can match anything to the other two."

Olivia walked over to the body. "Looks like she was dumped here."

"Yeah." Elliot walked over to join her. "We put the initial attack down the alley a little more." He pointed to a dark corner littered with cardboard and garbage bags. "Maybe he wanted to take her home for another go round."

"And when she couldn't make it, he just left her here."

Elliot nodded and watched his partner walk back to the initial crime scene and look around. He felt bad for his attitude during the Cheryl Avery case. He knew that Olivia sympathized with him… her… and he knew partners didn't always agree, but he could have been more compassionate. It was his job after all.

"Well," Olivia stopped herself midway to the street and looked back to the corner. "It's all of what, ten? Fifteen paces to the street? He must have had a car near here unless he lives around the corner." She paused. "I say he picked her up set to take her home and realized she was too badly injured and couldn't carry her any farther."

Elliot looked over Olivia's shoulder and walked through her scenario in his head. "So he didn't mean to kill her," he concluded.

"I don't think so. I think he just roughed her up too severely." Olivia felt a few drops of rain and looked up to the darkened sky. "Or maybe it's simpler than I'm making it out to be. Maybe he just raped her and dumped her – end of story."

"You don't really think that, do you? Why would he bother moving her in the first place then?" The pair was silent for a few moments. "Maybe he didn't move her at all."

Olivia looked at the body. "You're thinking she moved on her own?"

"Well why not? Maybe she struggled as far as she could before she passed out." Olivia nodded, watching the Medical Examiner cart the black body bag into the coroner's truck. Elliot watched her, her mind far from where she was standing. "Liv?" he asked. Her eyes flicked to his face. "You okay?"

There was a moment of silence before she responded. "Yeah, fine. Just… tired."

"It's been a long day," he said. She nodded. "I heard what happened." This got her attention. He looked at the notepad in his hand. "I'm sorry."

"Are you really?" she asked. The bitterness wasn't disguised in the slightest.

"I deserve that."

The rain started to come down harder and the audience around the street began to dissipate. Olivia watched the twenty-somethings run for cover in various bus shelters and cars before looking to her own, parked across the street.

"Is there anything else we need to do tonight?" she asked without looking at her partner.

Elliot watched her for a minute before answering. He willed her to open up a little, but supposed at this point he'd be the last person she'd be interested in confiding in. "Naw," he said. "We're going to need to wait for lab results anyway. We should get them tomorrow."

Olivia nodded. "Okay, I'll see you in the morning then." She glanced at him before starting off to her car.

She hadn't slept, hadn't eaten. No matter how hard she tried, there was no ridding her mind of the image of Cheryl Avery and her nearly unrecognizable face as she was pushed past them into the emergency room. A million and one reasons to dwell, a hundred and one ways she could have handled herself.

Detective Benson stared at the report from the most recent rapes that they had been called to investigate over the past two days. They had been handed to a few other detectives while the Avery case was being closed but was now bounced back to the SVU. Her eyes burned and the black typeset started to look like it was coming off the page. She found herself at the bottom of the page without comprehending a single word in the paragraphs above. She sighed. With a quick glance at the clock on the wall, Olivia shifted in the hard wooden chair and rubbed her eyes with the heels of her palms. Eleven o'clock made it 24 hours.


The close proximity of the voice yanked Olivia from the near-sleep she had fallen into. She lifted her head from her hands and squinted at the figure before her desk. "Yeah? Oh... Hi."

Alex glanced back to the captain's office, lifting then lowering her black leather bag. "Thanks for last night – the noodles," she said.

"No problem." The detective looked back to the papers in front of her and squeezed her eyes shut, hoping to shed the fatigue.

Alex watched her for a moment, adjusting the strap of her bag on her shoulder. She cleared her throat quietly. "I don't suppose you're free this evening," she asked. Then quickly added: "I wanted to repay you the favour."

Olivia smirked at her desk. "It wasn't a favour," she replied without looking and Alex suddenly felt uncomfortable whether from embarrassment or talking to someone who didn't look the least bit interested in her presence. The Detective looked up and caught her gaze. "But I'll take you up on the offer anyway," she said finally.

The counselor smiled briefly before noting the weary look on the woman before her. "Are you okay?"

"I, uh," Olivia started, touching the reports on her desk. "We got sent these reports that were done while the Avery case was closing. Two girls, university students, around the same age, raped and killed in and around some off-campus student housing. And this one," she lifted the preliminary report from the Medical Examiner, "we got last night."

"And you think they're connected?"

"Beyond the fact they go to the same school and they're sort of the same age, not really. We haven't been able to find any prints yet which I guess isn't all that surprising. It's cold outside. People wear gloves."

Alex leaned against the desk. "Something must be similar."

"Fluids are." Both Alex and Olivia looked to Elliot, who strode up to the pair and deposited yet another report on his partner's desk. "Just got the results from each sample taken from the previous vics and the new one - they match."

Olivia flipped through the report. "Now all we have to do is find out who the owner is."

"There was a note in Kira Wheeler's wallet with a date, time, and address of the café she was found behind," Elliot offered. "Employee who found her said he didn't know anything about that. But he did say that a Jason Weir served her when she arrived."

Olivia felt herself wake up a little. "Did you talk to him?"

"Couldn't get a hold of him. And his shift ended earlier that evening…" Elliot picked up the phone and dialed the number of the café. After a few words, he hung up and grabbed his jacket. "What say we go pay Jason a visit? He's working right now."

The café was busy. Most afternoon classes had finished and the dinner time rush was starting. There was a long line at the cashier and the tables were nearly full with students and their textbooks and laptops.

"It's a good thing we're not here to sit and chat," Olivia mentioned.

Elliot smirked and scanned behind the counter. He squeezed through a couple people in line and got the attention of one of the employees. "Where can I find Jason Weir?"

The young man handed a few people their coffee and jerked his head toward the back room. "He's doing dishes."

Elliot thanked him, walked through the line again, and headed toward the door behind the counter. Olivia followed him silently. Weir was by the sink, washing the multitude of dishes that must have been pouring in from the café just as his coworker had said.

Elliot took a quick look around to make sure they were alone. "Jason Weir?" he said.

He turned around. "Yeah, who's asking?"

"I'm Detective Stabler, this is Detective Benson." The two detectives showed him their shields. "We just wanted to ask you a few questions about last night."

Jason busied himself with the dishes again. "Last night?"

Olivia glanced at her partner. "Yeah, we understand you knew Kira Wheeler."

"Ow! Fuck!" Jason put his finger in his mouth, grimacing at the sting of a new cut. He tossed the small chipped glass that had cut him back into the soapy water and turned around to grab a paper towel. Jason wrapped it around his finger and frowned at the detectives. "Yeah, I sort of knew her."

"Define 'sort of.'"

"I talked to her a few times on campus and when she came in here." He pulled out a First Aid kit and rummaged around. "Nothing important, you know? Just about our Psych class."

Olivia scribbled in her notebook as Elliot took over. "Did she have any boyfriends?"

"Boyfriend?" Jason scoffed. "I don't think so. She was way too into her studies for that bullshit."

Elliot watched the boy rip open a bandaid and wrap it around his finger, tossing the paper towel in the garbage. "You know of anyone that might have been harassing her, or bothering her in any way?"

"God, no!" Jason said, exasperated. "What, you think *I* killed her?"

"We didn't say anything about killing her, Jason," Olivia pointed out.

"Well Jesus, you're asking me questions like I did. Shouldn't you be out trying to catch the guy?"

"That's what we're trying to do, Jason," Elliot told him. "But we need the help of people who knew her so we can piece together what happened."

"Did you talk to Kira last night?" Olivia asked. "You were working, weren't you?"

Jason sighed. "Yes, I was working," he replied. "But I didn't talk to her, she wasn't 'into' talking to a guy like me. I saw her come in as I was leaving."

"You know what they were doing there?"

"No idea," he said. "Probably some secret club meeting or some shit." Weir picked at the bandaid. "Listen, I should go out and help the guys up front. Are we done?"

Elliot nodded. "Yeah sure."

Olivia handed Jason a card on his way out. "If you think of anything, call us." She thought he might have mumbled "Whatever," but she didn't catch it. Scribbling a few more notes down, she looked up at her partner, who'd walked back by the dishes. "Elliot? What are you doing?"

Slipping a glove over his hand, Elliot pulled out the paper towel Jason used as a make-shift bandage out of the garbage. "Just taking a souvenir."

"I don't think he's telling us everything." Elliot stretched his arms over his head. "I think he knew Kira better than he's letting on. What did you think?"

Olivia didn't respond, staring at her hands. Somehow she had managed to navigate to her chair and sit down, but she didn't remember how. The change of scenery had helped a little, but no matter how off their talk with Jason had been, the fatigue set itself on her shoulders again.


She lifted her head. "Hmm?"

"Go home, get some sleep. I'll call you if anything comes up, okay?"

Figuring this was a good idea, Olivia stood and wordlessly walked over to her locker. She was impressed that she got the combination the first time, watching her thumb spin around the lock thoughtlessly. Reaching in, Olivia pulled out her jacket and had pushed her arms into the sleeves before a voice at the door to the precinct pulled her out of her routine.

"Detective Stabler?" Elliot spun in his chair toward the visitor's voice. A blonde young woman stood before him, her hands clasped nervously in front of her. "They told me I could find you here."

Ever the gentleman, Elliot stood to greet her. "What can I help you with?"

"My, uh…" The girl paused as her eyes traveled to Olivia who still hadn't moved. "My name's Jordan McKellar. I have some information about Kira Wheeler."

Olivia came around her desk to lean against the edge. "What is it?"

Jordan looked back and forth between the detectives. "I know who killed her."

"How did you know Kira?"

They had moved to one of the interview rooms for some privacy. Olivia insisted to Elliot that she stay and got a round of coffee for the three of them. The evening had already crept up on her and she congratulated herself for remembering to call Alex to let her know their dinner would have to wait. Well actually, she just left a message.

"We lived on the same floor – a few doors down," Jordan started. "We had organized a few study groups together."

"Were you there last night with Kira?" Elliot asked.

Jordan nodded. "Not for long, but yeah I was," she replied. "There was a study group that night in the café. I had to leave for another class at 7."

Olivia jotted the information down in a notebook. "Who do you think killed her, Jordan?"

The young girl paused, staring at Olivia and stunned by her forwardness. "A… A guy in our Psych class – Jason Weir. He works there… the café."

The detectives looked at each other, silently conversing between them. "You're sure?" Elliot asked her.

"Positive," Jordan nodded. She waited a moment before continuing. "He bothered a lot of girls from the group. I mean, we can't very well ask him not to come – he's in our class too."

"What does he do?"

"Hangs off them constantly. Asks them out and touches them every chance he gets." She stared into the coffee in her hands. "He gets real pissed if they don't react the way he wants them to."

"How does he want them to react?" Olivia's voice was soft.

"All the regular guy stuff. He likes them to smile and laugh at his jokes. But he hates it, I mean absolutely hates it when they reject him in front of other people."

Elliot leaned forward in his seat. "Is that what happened last night?"

Jordan shook her head. "I'm not sure," she replied. "I had left before anything had happened. I mean, I saw them talking – Kira was mortified that he was all over her…" She trailed off, averting her gaze. "I should have stayed," she said.

Olivia reached out across the table and placed a hand on Jordan's arm. "You couldn't have known, Jordan," she said. "It wasn't your fault."

"But I did know," Jordan replied, her voice shaking.

Olivia didn't move, but turned her head to look at Elliot. "Jordan?" he asked.

The young woman lifted her head, her cheeks wet with tears. She stared at the ceiling for a moment, as if summoning the strength to speak. "About two months ago, we had a study group in the lounge in the building Kira and I live in. It went pretty late and most everyone had gone home except Jason, Kira and myself. Jason had said he was having trouble with a few things and asked if I'd stay behind to help him go over them again. Thanks," Jordan said, accepting the tissue Olivia offered. She wiped her eyes and nose. "I can't even remember what he said exactly, but he was coming on to me. I, uh… I had brushed him off all night and I guess I did something to make him lose his cool a little and he asked me what my problem was – why wouldn't I go out with him.

"I could tell Kira got really uncomfortable in a matter of seconds and excused herself. Said she had to go call her mom or something." Jordan snorted at that. "It was something like 2 in the morning and no one was around. Jason totally lost it then."

"What happened after that?" Olivia asked quietly.

"We argued, he started to get violent," Jordan sniffed and wiped her nose again. "He uh… He hit me a few times and then, uh… then raped me. He was nearly silent the whole time, it was freaky. I didn't dare fight back, the look… His eyes scared the shit out of me."

Elliot sighed and ran a hand over his face. "Did you tell anyone about this?" he asked.

Jordan shook her head emphatically. "Oh no," she replied quickly. "I have a boyfriend, my… parents. I don't want them to know."

Olivia couldn't help the disapproving expression that she knew came over her face. "Why not? They wouldn't blame you, surely?"

"No it's not that, it's…." Jordan made a face.

Olivia looked to Elliot and back to Jordan. "It's what?"

"I'm pregnant," Jordan replied simply. "I missed my period last month and I got worried."

"You're sure it's not your boyfriend's?"

"No… I'm not sure. We had sex a couple days before I was raped, but we had used protection."

"Jordan," Elliot started. "You're old enough to decide whether or not to tell your parents." The girl nodded. "But I strongly suggest you do."

"I can't," she said. "If I tell them, they'll want me to abort it." She looked directly at Olivia. "I can't abort it, you know? I want to keep it. It's my baby."

Olivia nodded. "Tell you what," she said. "We'll set up a paternity test for you." Jordan nodded and opened her mouth to agree, but Olivia interjected before she could say anything. "But you'll have to tell your boyfriend."

Jordan was mortified. "But…"

Elliot shook his head. "It's the only way we can do it, Jordan. We have to get a sample of his DNA to match to your baby's."

With a look of disdain on her face, Alex flipped through the limited channels on her television. She knew there was a reason she never watched the damn thing. After getting Olivia's message, she opted to make herself a simple dinner and attempt for forget the day. The rest of the evening was spent puttering around her apartment, trying her hardest not to open her laptop or her bag and just focus on *being* for a while.

Her heart skipped a beat when the knock came at the door. Alex checked the clock and switched the television off, pushing herself from the couch. She made a small noise in surprise when she looked through the peep hole and unconsciously smoothed out her shirt before opening the door.

Olivia stood there, hands in her pockets. She offered an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry about dinner," she said.

"Hey don't worry about it," Alex shook her head. Looking back into her apartment, she surveyed the area to see if it was habitable for guests. "You want some tea?" she asked, finding the "mess" was suitable. "I just boiled some water."

"I'd love some, thanks." Olivia was glad she was being given the opportunity to avoid her home and stepped by Alex into the apartment. For some reason, she wasn't ready to be by herself and needed some company. After Elliot decided he was heading home, Olivia hoped that Alex would fit the bill.

"Make yourself comfortable," Alex said, disappearing into the kitchen.

Olivia instantly decided she liked this place better than her own. She had been outside the building once or twice before, but never inside. For some reason, the vision of Alex's apartment was one of grand Regency furniture, elaborate moldings and filled with accessories you'd find on the Antiques Roadshow or something equally… she couldn't find the word.

Instead it looked a little like an IKEA catalogue had exploded, except in a tasteful way and with better quality furniture. Not that Olivia would honestly know the difference. The overstuffed couch was very comfortable and the majority of the tables and such were of cherry. Lots of deep, intense colours. Perfect for a woman like Alex.

"You've got a great place," Olivia said, watching Alex emerge from the kitchen with tea for the both of them.

"Thanks," she replied, handing Olivia a mug. She sat on the opposite end of the couch facing Olivia and sipped the steaming tea carefully. "You look terrible," she observed.

Olivia chuckled and lowered the mug of tea from her mouth. "And here I thought I had improved."

"Did you get anywhere on those three rapes?" Shop talk. She couldn't stay away from it.

"Four," Olivia corrected.

Alex raised her eyebrows. "Four?"

The Detective shifted her position, tucking a leg under her and leaning against the back of the couch. "I was all set to take off to meet you for dinner and a girl walks into the precinct looking for Elliot. She said she knew the latest victim and wanted to give us some information."

Alex sipped her tea again, giving Olivia the opportunity to do the same. "What kind of information?"

"She said she knew who killed her," Olivia replied.

Alex couldn't help but be a little skeptical. "And how does she know? Was she there?"

"She… Jordan. Jordan said she and Kira, the victim, put together study groups a lot and there was a guy who kept harassing a few of the girls in the group." Olivia looked over Alex's shoulder to the Mondrian print on the wall and frowned, confused for a moment. "He raped her two months ago," Olivia finally said.

"That's awfully handy," Alex said, still not convinced.

"That's not all."

"It's not?"

Olivia paused for a second, trying to complete the thought in her head. "Jordan's pregnant."

Alex could feel her jaw threaten to drop. What were the chances, really? To have three unexplained murders and then have the proof appear gift-wrapped at your door?

The sudden ring of a cell phone interrupted the silence and both women shifted, wondering if it was their phone that was ringing.

"That's mine," Alex said. She looked around and sighed when she realized the phone was in her bag which had been relegated to the kitchen. "Hold on a minute, I need to get that."

Olivia nodded, leaning her head back on the couch. Alex reluctantly left the conversation and made her way to the kitchen in search of the offending phone. She decided it was nice to have someone over for a change. Normally it was just her and her work alone on weeknights… weekends… all the time.

"Cabot," she said tersely. "Yeah, I have those reports in my office… Sure, I can fax them first thing tomorrow… No, don't worry about it, I was up anyway… No problem… Okay, talk to you later… Bye." With an exasperated sigh, Alex tossed the cell phone back into the black bag and spent a moment collecting her thoughts to continue the conversation outside. She found herself straightening her shirt again before leaving the kitchen and she chuckled at herself. Shaking her head, she walked into the dimly lit living room. "Sorry about that, I ju—"

Alex stopped mid-sentence at the sight of Olivia. The only difference between the detective she left and the one on her couch now is the one she left was still awake. "I didn't think I was that boring," Alex mumbled to herself. She walked over, deciding she would let Olivia be, and gently lifted the mug of tea out of the detective's hands. The slight movement caused Olivia to stir and Alex mentally chastised herself for the disturbance.

"Uhm…" Olivia blinked a few times before she focused on the woman in front of her and she realized where she was. "Oh shit, sorry," she said, her voice thick with sleep. "I should get going."

Before she could really think about it, Alex put her hands on Olivia's shoulders, holding her in place. "Don't worry about it," she said. She sat next to the Detective. "When was the last time you slept?"

"I, uh…" Olivia rubbed her eyes. "Y-yesterday, or no…"

"Yeah exactly." Alex pulled the fleece blanket off the back of the couch and handed it to Olivia. "Listen, I have to be at work early tomorrow. Take the couch. You need to sleep." She patted the detective's knee gently and made her way to front door to lock it. "I'll leave the kitchen light on," Alex said. "Goodnight."

Olivia didn't say anything, opting to just let it go. Alex was right. She hadn't slept in 48 hours. Shedding her jacket, Olivia pulled her legs up onto the couch and draped the blanket over herself. In the minute or so before the slumber took over, Olivia thought how strange it was that she felt more comfortable in someone else's apartment than she did in her own.

Olivia rushed into the precinct, glancing at her watch. Fuck, 11am. Yeah only 4 hours late, that's not too bad. Cragen should understand or something. Never late. She had never been this late before in her life and she knew that her face must have been beet red the entire ride there.

Olivia was shocked enough to find a note on the coffee table in Alex's apartment when she woke up with two silver keys taped to it. 'I didn't want to wake you,' it said. 'These are to lock the place up on the way out.' Blinking through the sleepy haze, Olivia had looked at her watch and rubbed her eyes after seeing the hour. Once it had registered, she was in her car in seconds.

Sprinting up the stairs two at a time, Olivia made a face and found herself pushing through the doors to the SVU gently, as if she could avoid detection.

"Afternoon, Olivia," Munch said dryly, peering over a folder he had been reading.

"You've been waiting all morning to say that, haven't you," Fin quipped from across his desk. Munch shrugged and disappeared behind the file again. "You have a hot date or something, Olivia?"

"I wish," Olivia replied, stuffing her jacket into her locker. Grabbing a random mug off the table by the coffee maker, Olivia peered inside. Deciding it was semi decent, she wiped the rim with the edge of her shirt to be safe and poured herself a cup. Turning around to her desk, Olivia flipped through the messages and pulled her chair out.

"Don't get too comfortable," Elliot said.

Olivia sat down anyway. "What? No comment from you?"

"No," he replied, shaking his head. "Actually..." He started to say something, but stopped, glancing at their fellow detectives. "I'll tell you later." He handed her a few stapled pieces of paper. "Jordan and her boyfriend came in this morning at about 7:30 on their way to do some errands."

"He agree to the pat test?"

Elliot nodded. "The lab says the quickest they can do it is by the end of the day, so I told Jordan to come back around 5."

"Hold up, guys," Fin said. He placed the phone receiver into the cradle. "You got another stop to make. Lab just called, they got a positive match on the DNA found on the previous victims and your unrequited lover."

"Let's go," Elliot said, picking up his jacket. He tossed the keys to Olivia and they made their way down the stairs. "Olivia," he started cautiously.

She opened the front doors and looked at him, frowning at the look on his face. "What?"

"I was going to tell you earlier," he said. "Alex called me this morning."

Olivia suddenly felt the colour drain from her face. She thought instantly of the little silver keys in her pocket and it suddenly felt like they were burning a hole in the fabric. Feeling, what? Guilty she spent the time with Alex? Embarrassed she was 'caught'? But caught doing what?

"She said you weren't feeling well or something and were going to be late because you were sleeping it off." He paused, wondering if he should go on. The both got into the car. "Is there something wrong?"

Dozens of ways to play the scenario flooded through her head. What exactly had Alex told him? Did he even know she had gone to Alex's apartment, let alone spent the night? And just why the hell was she feeling like she had done something illegal? "I'm fine," replied. "I just needed a good night's rest." There. She wasn't lying to him, he was just leaving out a few details.

Elliot nodded and seemed satisfied with her answer. Olivia started the car and pulled out onto the street. "That's good," he said, looking out the window.

Jason Weir scribbled his Psychology notes frantically, trying to keep up with the professor and his seemingly sick compulsion with pulling the last overhead away just before everyone was finished writing the last sentence. Invariably, the people next to Jason asked him if he had managed to get it - which he always did - and by default they were already a paragraph behind on the next topic by the time they had caught up. It was a vicious circle. But Jason loved to be needed. He loved the sense of confidence and power it gave him to be one of the only people to have something that masses of others didn't. Even if it was as simple as a few sentences at the end of a page.

The deep click of the lecture hall doors stole Jason's attention away from the current projection on the screen and he squinted at the figures that intruded. His heart dropped slightly as he recognised the two as the detectives that had questioned him the day before and he looked quickly to his left and right, knowing that everyone must be looking at him.

Jason swallowed hard as his professor made his way over to them and spoke briefly. He tried to busy himself with his notes, but he couldn't look away and knew there wasn't anything he could do when the Professor scanned the hall and pointed him out. Jason froze.

"Jason Weir?" The young man recognised him as Detective Stabler, but didn't say a word. "Could you come with us, please?"

Clearing his throat, Jason glanced around at his fellow classmates. If they didn't know to stare at him then, they sure did now. "What for?" he asked.

"You don't really want to embarrass yourself in front of all your classmates, do you Jason?" This from the woman. Benson, he remembered.

"For God's sake, Jason," his professor said. "This is the police."

She's right, you know, Jason told himself. Quietly, he gathered his books and started down the auditorium stairs. As he approached the two detectives, Elliot took his arm and led him through the doors that Olivia had opened. When the doors were closed, Jason was turned around and his hands were pulled behind him.

"What the fuck?" he said.

"You're under arrest for the rape and murder of Jessica Walen, Catherine Hagey and Kira Wheeler," Elliot started. He followed Olivia through the halls back to the car as he continued to Mirandize Weir. What puzzled him most about the entire exchange, though, was the fact that Weir seemed far more concerned about how he left his class rather than the fact he was being arrested.

Olivia hummed quietly as the long anticipated feeling of caffeine rushing through her finally hit. They were taking a moment to let Weir stew in the interview room before they talked to him. So she stood and watched him in the darkened observation area on the other side of the one-way glass.

"Hey Olivia." Turning slightly, Olivia watched Elliot come through the door. "Alex is on her way," he said.

Olivia nodded and took another sip of her coffee. Elliot glanced at the floor and she picked up on the slight level of anxiety her partner exhibited by doing so. "What is it?" she asked.

He looked at her directly. He knew what he was about to say would have a profound effect on his partner and he didn't want to sugarcoat it. They always respected each other for that. "The paternity test came back," he said and looked through the glass to Weir.

"Oh God," Olivia said. Her eyes closed briefly and she too, looked at the young man. "Fucking bastard," she whispered.

"Jordan and her boyfriend are on their way as well," he told her.

Olivia glanced at the door as Alex arrived with Cragen. "Are we ready?" she asked. "I want to get this over with before Jordan gets here."

"Afternoon Jason," Elliot said, sitting across the table. "Sorry to pull you out of your favourite class."

"It's not my favourite," Jason said flatly. He watched Olivia lean against the wall by the mirror.

"Oh." Elliot nodded. "So it's just the class you use to pick up girls, right?"

Jason scoffed, but didn't say anything.

"We've been noticing you'd been getting into some extracurricular activities since school's slowed down a bit," Olivia spoke up.

Jason smirked at her. "I like having a good time," he replied.

"And it doesn't seem to matter at whose expense that is, does it?" Elliot asked. Jason shrugged and stared at the table. "These three girls the only ones you raped, Jason?" Elliot pushed a few photos across the table.

Jason scanned each photo and leaned back in his chair. "I've never seen any of these girls before."

Olivia pushed herself off the wall and walked over to the student. She stopped beside him. "You know, for a guy who's raped four girls and killed three, you sure are stupid." Jason threw Olivia a deadly glare and she pointed at one of the pictures. "Look at her, Jason." When he refused, Olivia lifted her hand from the photo and turned his head for him. "Look at the fucking picture," she seethed. She pointed again. "That's Kira Wheeler, Jason," she said. "Yesterday you told us you saw her come into the cafe. Remember that?"

"We spoke to another girl in your class," Elliot told him. "Jordan McKellar. You know her?"

Jason looked up at Olivia and watched her stalk back to her corner before he looked over at Elliot. "Vaguely," he replied.

Elliot lifted his eyebrows. "Well we have some evidence that tells us you knew her a little more than vaguely."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"You raped her, Jason," Olivia said.

"I what?"

Elliot handed him a copy of the lab results. "We tested your DNA," he told him. "We matched it to the child that Jordan's now pregnant with."

"She came in here and told us you raped her," Olivia continued, her arms crossed to control herself. "She told us she was pregnant and wasn't sure if it was yours or her boyfriend's."

"She also told us that you were talking to Kira Wheeler the night she was killed and had harassed a number of the girls in your Psychology class study groups." Elliot leaned forward. "We have your DNA, Jason," he said. "You can't talk your way out of anything now."

Olivia ran a hand over her face and watched the couple in the second interview room talk. They held hands and stroked each other's skin, soothing any anxiety they felt. Olivia hated herself for what she was about to do. She had asked Elliot if she could do it herself; for some reason she had felt a better connection with Jordan and thought it might go over a little easier. She heard the door open and close again and tried to make out the figure in the glass in front of her.

"You okay?" Alex stopped next to Olivia and clasped her hands together.

"Ah… yeah, I'm okay," Olivia replied. She scratched the back of her neck and found it a little strange that she felt at ease yet a little nervous at Alex's presence. Olivia gestured at the couple sitting at the table. "Just looking at the two of them and wondering how worth it it is to send their relationship into a tailspin."

"Jordan wanted the test done, though, didn't she?"

Olivia nodded. "Yeah she did. I just…"

Alex touched Olivia's arm lightly, waiting for the detective to look at her. "They deserve to know," she said.

"I know." Olivia searched Alex's face for a long moment, but she wasn't quite sure what she was looking for. She sighed. "I know."

Brushing past Alex, Olivia opened the interview room door and closed it behind her. She glanced through the glass to where she knew Alex was standing and only assumed the counselor had turned on the speaker.

"Hi, Jordan," Olivia said, offering a slight smile.

Jordan returned the gesture. "Hi," she replied. "This is Danny."

Olivia reached across the table and shook the young man's hand before taking a seat. "Hi Danny. How are you guys doing today?"

Jordan glanced at Danny. "Okay, I guess," Danny offered. "I'm, ah… still a little shocked over this whole… rape… thing." Olivia nodded in understanding.

"We're a little anxious, Detective," Jordan said. "To tell you the truth."

"That's understandable," Olivia replied. "I… know we called you down here because we got the results of your paternity test." She stared at the young couple in front of her, alternating between Jordan, Danny, and the ghost of Alex on the other side of the mirror. Scratching the back of her hand, Olivia told herself to pull it together. "The uh… test results unfortunately tell us that Jason Weir is the father of the baby."

Jordan took a moment to let it all register before her emotions got the best of her and she began to cry. Olivia's heart broke for the girl. She could imagine all too well what that revelation must feel like. Danny, on the other hand, had the opposite reaction.

Slamming his hand on the table, he stood, sending his chair toppling over. "Fuck!!" he yelled, turning to the window. Olivia's heart leapt, watching him rapidly lose control. He turned to his girlfriend. "You fucking slut!"

Olivia stood instantly to protect Jordan. "Now hold on a second," she said, holding an arm out. "You need to calm down, Danny."

"Why? It's not your fucking girlfriend that's pregnant with a rapist's kid."

Olivia blinked at him for a second. "No," she agreed. "But it's anything but Jordan's fault that she was raped. No one deserves that."

Danny was silent for a few minutes and Olivia could see him calm down. "You're right," he said. He walked back to the table and sat down. Taking Jordan's hand, he spoke softly. "Jordan, honey, I'm sorry." He glanced at Olivia, who sat back down. "I want you to know that I'll be there for you every step of the way through the clinic. I'll support you any way I can."

Jordan sniffed and looked up at him. "Clinic?" she repeated. "What are you talking about?"

Danny looked at Olivia who'd raised her eyebrows. "The… the abortion clinic." He laughed uncomfortably, looking back and forth between the two women as if willing at least one of them to get it. "You're not going to actually go through with the pregnancy, are you?"

It was Jordan's turn to be angry. "Of course I am," she replied. "Why wouldn't I?"

"Because, Jordan! You were raped. Every time you look at the kid it's going to remind you." He shook his head. "Every day that kid's going to look up at me and call me daddy and I'm all I'm going to be able to think about is how it got here. How you were raped and now…" Danny placed his hands on the edge of the table and pushed himself back. "I can't do that. I can't raise a kid with that in my head. That's all I'm ever going to be able to relate it to."

"Excuse me," Olivia said suddenly. She stood and made her way to the door. Pausing briefly with her hand on the knob, Olivia looked back to the couple. "I'll be right back."

The look on Alex's face was one of pure concern. She wondered what had set Olivia off. "Are you okay?" she asked.

Olivia looked back through the glass. "I will be," she replied.

"What's wrong?"

"Just… this." Olivia gestured to the argument that continued inside the interview room.

Alex nodded. "Well I can't say I blame him. I'd probably feel the same way."

Olivia looked at Alex and wanted so badly to tell her. "You don't think the child deserves a chance?" she asked quietly.

Both women were surprised by the banging on the glass. "Hey!" It was Danny. He banged his fist against the glass a few more times. "Can I get out of here? I want to leave." Olivia opened the door for him and watched him storm out of the observation room.

"I guess I see your point," Alex continued once Danny was out of sight. "But how hard would that be, to give birth to a child conceived by rape? Just to know that it was conceived under such violent and hateful conditions."

It almost looked like Alex shuddered at the thought. Olivia suddenly felt ill. "I need to go back in there," she said. With one hand on the doorknob, Olivia dug into her pocket and produced the keys Alex had left for her that morning. "Here," she said simply, handing them back.

Alex lifted her hands. "You don't need to—"

"They're yours."


"Please," Olivia insisted.

Alex stared at Olivia, who refused eye contact. Regretfully, Alex took the keys and watched Olivia walk through the door and sit back down at the table. She sighed lightly and reached over, switching the speaker off. With a last look, Alex seemed to hold Olivia's attention through the glass before she turned and left the observation room.

Jason Weir's trial a few months later went as quickly as it could have with the charges laid against him. It was a simple case to win for Alex – the SVU had done a superb job as usual, and with the evidence mounted against him, Weir didn't have a chance in Hell. She liked it when cases were this clean cut.

Oh but really, Alex, she told herself. This case was anything but clean cut.

And it was true. After the Avery case had nearly caused every self-doubting thought to surface in her mind, Alex was hoping that things would slow down. Her emotional investment in that case had shocked her, however and apparently she wasn't the only one.

Olivia Benson was a strange character. One really never could tell what was going on in her head unless one knew the subtle signs to look for. Alex envied Elliot for that. He knew when something was bothering Olivia and knew exactly how to get it out of her. And Alex knew that something about Weir bothered Olivia. Or maybe it wasn't Weir himself, who really knew? Well, Elliot probably did. Olivia's mystery was attractive and Alex wished, for one moment, Olivia would let her in.

The soft knock at Alex's open office door stole the ADA's attention from her internal review of the past few days. She looked up from the papers in front of her to see the sullen detective standing halfway through the doorway. Her eyes downcast, it was almost as if the doorjamb was her only vital support and would certainly result in her collapse if they were separated.

"Can I talk to you for a second?"

Alex placed her pen across the middle on the file methodically. "Sure," she replied. "Come in."

Olivia took a few steps into the office and sat in the client chair furthest from the ADA's desk. Alex glanced down and adjusted her pen.

"Jordan called," Olivia said simply.

"Oh?" Alex leaned back in her chair. "And how is she?"

"She uh… She aborted the baby."

"Oh…" Alex wasn't quite sure how to follow that up. She knew what she had said to Olivia a few days ago had hurt her, and was unaware of where the boundary lay.

"I, ah..." Olivia became suddenly involved in picking some lint off her jacket. "I haven't been completely honest with you," she said finally. Her eyes lifted. "About this case." Olivia averted her eyes again, studying the multitude of law books on the English oak shelves. Volumes speaking of truth and high values. "My mother... was a rape victim a long time ago."

If Alex's expression changed, Olivia wouldn't have noticed. "And she got pregnant?" she asked.

Olivia nodded, following the shelves' wood grain with her eyes.

"What happened to the baby?" Alex questioned, truthfully wondering how this all really related. Sure, she could see Olivia's crusade on behalf of her mother if she wasn't around, or was too young when her mother was attacked. It made sense. But there was something a miss. Watching the detective across from her, Alex tried to piece it together based on Olivia's unwillingness to make eye contact. It was so unlike her not to.

Olivia swallowed, her eyes finally coming back to rest on Alex's. "You're looking at her."


And suddenly everything fell together. Olivia was being transported back to the past - to a time she wasn't able to witness. She was essentially staring her own mortality in the face. Alex suddenly felt a welling of sympathy. Without even realizing it, she placed her hands on her desk and pushed herself to her feet.

Before she got there however, Olivia stood suddenly, causing Alex to freeze. "I have to go," she said, turning on her heel. And before Alex could realize what happened, the woman had disappeared.

Olivia stared at the glowing DOWN button for a few moments before pushing it again. The moment that story came out of her mouth, she regretted it. It wasn't really something she told everyone and had only told the few who knew because it was necessary. She supposed she wanted to tell Alex to help explain her recent behavior. Maybe it was because she wanted to share some of herself with Alex. No... was it?

"Olivia." Alex's voice again.

Olivia turned her head slightly to confirm the ADA standing outside her office door. She pushed the elevator call button a few more times.

"You can't just go," Alex said.

"God dammit, where's the elevator?" the detective growled, pushing the button with a little more force.

Alex attempted to hide the smile that threatened to cross her face. "Maintenance," she said.

"What?" Olivia sighed, her shoulders dropping.

"They do maintenance every Friday around this time." Alex crossed her arms. "You're welcome to wait it out in my office. It might be a while."

"Stairs?" Olivia wondered absently if she had suddenly been reduced to one word sentences.

"They're over there," Alex replied. "If you want to make the six-flight trip."

Reluctantly, Olivia turned back to Alex's office, casting one last look back to the wood veneered elevator doors. She stopped a few steps into the office and stuffed her hands into her pockets. Olivia had never realized just how grandiose the office was. English oak furniture and paneled walls, a dark brown leather sofa sat in the back corner with a small table and lamp. Offices like these were designed to intimidate and for some reason, Olivia didn't feel like Alex belonged there. Especially after having been to her apartment

"That's why you joined Special Victims isn't it?" Alex's voice interrupted Olivia's survey of the room.

"What?" she asked, pretending she hadn't heard the question.

"Your mother," Alex repeated, closing the door behind her. "She's why you joined." Olivia was silent. "And that's why it's so important to you that Jordan gave her child a chance."

"Huang should be worried about his job security," Olivia muttered.

"Olivia, it's okay. It's perfectly understandable."

"I'm glad I have your permission."

"Oh come on, Olivia, help me out here."

"What do you want me to say, Alex?" Olivia turned around to face the woman at the door. They stared at one another for a moment before Alex saw Olivia's eyes soften slightly. The detective sighed. There was no point in turning back now. "Yes, that's why I joined. If it was me, I probably wouldn't want to give birth to a child conceived through rape, either. But on the other hand... it *was* me. And I just can't help but wonder what if, you know?"

"Why would you torture yourself with what might have been?" Alex asked.

"Can you blame me?"

Alex paused. "No, I suppose not," she replied.

Olivia studied the floor. The weight of the silence between them was heavy yet again. The detective took a few steps toward the door and the woman standing in front of it. "Maybe I should try the stairs," she suggested.

Before she could really comprehend her actions, Alex had lifted her hand, placing it against Olivia's stomach to stop her from leaving and spoke: "Don't--" she started, but stopped herself abruptly. Her hand jumped from the fabric of Olivia's shirt as if it burned. Alex swallowed to clear her throat. "Don't go," she said. "Not yet."

The detective froze and glanced down at the ADA's hand that had dropped to her side. Her eyes lifted to meet Alex's in question. "What?" she asked, almost inaudibly.

It must have been complete instinct that drove her, because Alex knew it sure as hell wasn't common sense that made her lean forward about six inches and touch her lips to Olivia's. She could feel Olivia stiffen slightly, but she didn't pull away. Instead, she pushed forward. Alex was curiously shocked when Olivia suddenly reciprocated tenfold, edging Alex's lips apart and invading her mouth. She grunted slightly as her back thudded against the solid oak door, but relished the heady feeling of her arousal. Olivia's hands snaked their way past Alex's jacket and under her white shirt, sending electricity throughout her body.

Alex managed to take a breath when Olivia broke the kiss, opting instead to explore the counselor's throat. "Olivia," she breathed, her hands resting on the detective's arms.

"Mmh," came the muffled response.

"Olivia," Alex repeated. The sensations were delicious, but the situation was somewhat unsettling. She had no idea what kind of switch she must have flipped, but it clearly had been keeping something in the dark. "Olivia.... Liv, Liv... hold on." She pushed gently on the woman's arms.

Olivia halted finally, lifting her head to look at Alex. She felt her stomach somersault under Olivia's gaze. Complete, raw sexual desire had a firm grip on the detective, it was obvious. And the longer they watched each other, the more Alex witnessed the Olivia Benson she recognized slowly return. Then the expression changed from lust to shock to embarrassment.

"Oh my God," Olivia backed up a step. "Oh my God, I am so sorry." She swallowed and looked behind her, trying to find a means of escape.

Alex couldn't help but smile. "Where did that come from?" she asked.

"I can't, ah... I don't..." Olivia smoothed out her leather jacket and ran a hand through her short hair, looking anywhere but at the woman in front of her. It almost would have been cute if Alex didn't know how seriously this was affecting Olivia.

"Hey," she said quietly. She took a step forward and bent down a little, capturing Olivia's eyes with her own and bringing them back to standing height. "Olivia," she started, but was cut off.

"Alex, I'm so sorry, I, ah... I don't know..." The detective fought to find the words to express the chaos of emotions that flooded her mind. Before she could react appropriately, Alex took Olivia's face in both hands and placed a long, controlled kiss lightly on her mouth.

Alex smiled at the confused look on the woman's face before her. "I started it, remember?" She watched Olivia swallow and blink a few times. "It's my fault, not yours."

Olivia sat down in the nearest chair, afraid her legs would give out at any second. Her heart pounded in her chest for a multitude of reasons. She couldn't really believe what just happened not one minute earlier and tried to convince herself otherwise. There were times she'd lost control of her emotions. Like when she'd rough up a suspect. Usually she'd take the time to throw on a pair of sneakers and take it out on the sidewalk - running for hours.

But this time. Yeah, Alex had been the one to initiate it all, but the complete loss of control Olivia felt was almost scary. There was no where or when, just herself and the soft lips of the woman in front of her. It was...


Olivia looked up and to her surprise saw the bemused expression on Alex's face. She couldn't help feeling the heat travel to her cheeks. "Alex, I--"

"Hey." Alex carefully lowered herself so she could meet the Detective eye-to-eye. "Don't you dare apologize."

Olivia nodded and looked at her hands. "I had no idea," she said.

"I didn't either," Alex chuckled.

"I'm usually a little smoother," Olivia noted quietly.

Alex watched her, her eyes traveling briefly to the detective's mouth, then back again. "Everyone deserves a second chance," she said.

The street outside Alex's apartment building was nearly deserted. A light breeze tussled the leaves of the trees that lined the sidewalks and caused Olivia to put her hands in her pockets. She looked around as she waited for Alex to get her things out of her car and frowned. Just what are you looking for, she asked herself. Trying to convince herself it was just instinct to make sure they were safe was much harder than she anticipated. She knew she was wondering if anyone was on the street that might recognise her. And why it all really mattered that much was beyond her. It's not like this was the first time.

The car door finally shut and Olivia offered Alex a small smile as she followed her up the stairs. She stopped at the top and stared at the large wooden doors.

"What am I doing here?" she said aloud.

Alex turned to her while digging for her keys. "If I need to tell you, I'm not sure I want to go through with this," she replied with a wry smile.

Olivia chuckled and looked at her feet. "I guess it was more of a theoretical question."

"It is a little surreal," Alex agreed. They stood in silence for a moment, listening to the wind before it suddenly occurred to Olivia that maybe Alex wasn't...

"This isn't," Olivia paused for a second. "Your... first?"

"Oh no," Alex put a hand on Olivia's arm. "Oh heavens no." She watched the detective visibly relax. "Olivia, listen. If I was at all uncomfortable with this, I wouldn't have kissed you way back at the office and I certainly wouldn't have invited back to my apartment. I'm not expecting a thing once we get in there. I just thought it'd be good to forget everything for a while." Alex waited for a moment and when Olivia didn't respond, added: "Or... I can call you a cab and we can forget this completely."

"No," Olivia looked up at her. "No, I'm not leaving."

"Good. Now can you open the door for me?"

Olivia frowned and gestured at the door. "It's locked."

Alex reached into her pocket and produced the duo of silver keys that Olivia had insisted she take back earlier that day. "Well then I guess you'll be needing these, won't you?"

The door to the apartment opened and Olivia stepped into the darkness, searching the wall for the light switch. She opted to pocket the keys this time, only slightly afraid of what might happen if she tried to return them for a second time. Alex passed behind her and flicked on the light that Olivia was still looking for and made her way to the kitchen.

"Make yourself at home," Alex called.

Slipping out of her jacket, Olivia hung it on an empty hook by the door. For some reason the apartment was just that much more welcoming this time around and she wasn't sure exactly why. She supposed it could have something to do with the fact that she wasn't half asleep this time and could actually appreciate the surroundings.

Olivia made her way to the modest entertainment centre and glanced at the spines of the few CDs stacked neatly. She found a small album of pictures next to the CDs and looked toward the kitchen before opening it. A few tragically tourist-laden photos of people she had never seen before in front of New York landmarks and none of Alex, strangely enough.

"Hey," came Alex's voice from the doorway to the kitchen. Olivia replaced the album quickly, like she had been caught touching something she shouldn't have. "You're not going to fall asleep on me if I make us tea again, are you?"

Olivia took the opportunity to curl the corner of her mouth into a smile. "No..." she replied, running her fingers over the stereo, as if checking for dust. "For some reason, I think you'd be worth staying up for."

Alex lifted an eyebrow, but didn't reply, instead disappeared into the kitchen again. Olivia looked at her fingers and wiped them on her pants. This easy banter was a little strange. Alex had always been... well for lack of a better term, the straight-laced ADA who swooped into the SVU every now and then to let the detectives know: yes it was enough, no it wasn't enough, or are you people out of your fucking minds. Olivia smiled. It was good, though. It felt very good.

"Do you need a hand?" Olivia asked. She leaned against the door jamb and smirked at herself as Alex turned around. "Because... you know, I know how tricky tea can be."

"I think I've got it under control," Alex replied, leaning back against the counter. The two woman stood in variable silence, listening to the stove element start to heat the kettle. Alex crossed her arms and looked at the tiled floor. She frowned, thinking absently that she should have swept more recently. Her eyes found their way to Olivia's feet and travelled up the length of her body before resting squarely on a very amused expression on the detective's face. Alex averted her eyes instantly, feeling some colour touch her cheeks. She cleared her throat. "I, uh... I'm sorry for what I said earlier," she said, lifting her eyes to meet Olivia's. "Back at the station. It was insensitive."

Olivia shrugged. "That's okay," she replied. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier."

"I guess everyone has these preconceived ideals of how they'd react in certain situations without really realising the emotions involved. You know, it's easy to say you'll do one thing when you're outside looking in."

"It's funny," Olivia started, scratching her arm. "I'm all for pro choice in that sort of situation, but..."

"Obviously your mother had the same ideals."

"I was lucky," she said, glancing at the kettle. "You know all the times I got into trouble, she never once told me she regretted anything. She would look at me and get this look on her face... and I knew she could see him. But she never took it out on me. I was lucky." Olivia shrugged again. "That's all it was."

Alex nodded, pushing an errant crumb aside with her foot. "It's tough when things don't work out the way you want them to."

Olivia watched Alex shift, waiting for her to continue. "We're not talking about Jordan anymore, are we?" The ADA looked at her and shrugged without a word. "You know," Olivia started. "The law isn't perfect. And it's not geared toward everyone. We do what we can. Sometimes... it's not enough, sometimes it doesn't work out the way we want it to. But we do what we think is right based on what we know. And we do it to the best of our ability." She paused. "Alex, anything above and beyond that we can't hold ourselves responsible for. You did all you could."

Alex looked at the woman across from her, feeling her chest tighten. Willing herself to stay in control, she swallowed the lump in her throat. "So did you," she said softly.

Olivia pushed herself from the door trim and took the few steps toward Alex. The counselor didn't move, even though her personal space was being sacrificed completely. Olivia lifted a hand, placing it gently on Alex's neck and pushed the tips of her fingers into her hair. Her thumb stroked the skin along Alex's jaw. Ever so carefully, Olivia leaned in, brushing her lips against Alex's. She saw the counselor's eyes flutter shut and applied a little more pressure, delighting in the small noise that escaped Alex's lips. Olivia pulled Alex against her and kissed her fully, only vaguely aware of the whistling kettle. She broke the contact, backing up half a step.

Alex stared at Olivia, suddenly feeling cold. "What?" she nearly whispered.

Olivia looked at the rising column of steam from the stove. "The kettle," she replied.

Glancing over her shoulder, Alex moved the steaming appliance and switched the burner off. She hooked a few fingers into the waistband of Olivia's jeans and pulled her forward. "Fuck the kettle," she said before capturing the detective's mouth with her own. Olivia wrapped her arms around Alex's waist to steady herself against the onslaught. She parted her lips slightly and Alex took full advantage, thrusting her tongue into the detective's mouth. Olivia hummed softly, her hands finding their way under Alex's shirt. Her skin was so warm and soft, it was like touching her came as naturally as anything else.

Alex groaned, breaking the kiss briefly. "Bedroom," she breathed.

Olivia refused to give up the contact their bodies had established. "Lead the way," she said, placing small kisses along Alex's neck.

"Hmm?" After all the listening she did for a living, Alex had missed Olivia's response.

Olivia smirked at her. "Hey I've only been here once," she said. "And you made me sleep on the couch that time."

Running her hands down Olivia's back, Alex placed a quick kiss on her mouth. "Clearly a mistake I don't intend on repeating."

The End

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