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The Sum of Contradictions: 32 Empty
By beurre blanc


"Hi, Mom."

"Hello, darling. How are you?"

I feel like shit. "I'm fine. How have you been?"

"I'm much the same. No pain, and the counts are good, apparently."

"That's what we wanted, right?"

"Yes. Nice and stable." For now…

"What is it, Mom?"

"Nothing. I'm doing fine."

Liar. "Come on, Mom. What's wrong?"

"It might be nothing."

"Mom…" I know you.

All right. "The paraprotein is still there."

Shit. "What does that mean?"

"I'm not sure – Dr Lannigan was a bit evasive. But I don't think it's a good thing." It was written all over his face.

"And what does he suggest?"

"It's low level – he's going to monitor things for another week. Maybe extra chemo before the transplant." I'm not sure I could take much more, though.

"Mom, it'll be fine." It has to be. I can't lose you yet.

"I'm sure you're right, darling. So how's the vacation?"


"Really?" I don't believe you.

"Yes, I've had a wonderful time. Mrs Prentice sends her regards, as does Emma Watts."

Why not 'we've' had a wonderful time? "And how is Emma?" How is Olivia?

"She's well. I ran into her in the store today, while I was picking up some groceries…" "The one with that awful short haircut?" "she kissed her!" "Oh, that's just… sick." Thank goodness Olivia didn't hear all that…


"What? Oh, sorry… What was I saying?"

"Emma Watts."

"Oh, yes. Anyway, that's part of the reason I'm calling."

"What time will you be arriving, darling?"

"Actually, Mom, that's the problem - I won't be able to make it this weekend. Something's come up – at work." I just want to be alone right now. Actually, I want to be with Olivia, but things are just so – tense – at the moment, and she… Oh, God, I don't know what I want.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Alexandra. I was so looking forward to seeing you."

"I know, Mom. I'm sorry too. It's just… It's just not possible." It's not that I don't… Maybe I just need time by myself – before I have to go back to work… with her.

"Is everything all right with you… and Olivia?" Darling, I can hear the tears…

No. "Yes, of course. Listen, I need to go – I'm expecting another call. I'll talk to you again Tuesday?"

"Tuesday it is. I love you, darling."

"Love you too, Mom. Bye." Thank you.

I hope she's worth it. "Goodbye."

"Hey, Liv. What're you doin' back so soon?"

"Elliot, hey. Got bored – sick of my own company."

"So, what'd you do?"

"Spent time at home, mostly. A week's too short to really get away, you know. Caught up on some reading. God, it's so long since I read a novel. So, anything important happen since I went?"

"Nah – just minor stuff. Standard office politics, a few unsubstantiated rumors. Starcevich is complaining about the overtime we racked up last month, Jackson says she's still gonna fight for her payout, and I heard Langan's hooked up with some paralegal over at Steinmann & Burke. Oh, and Hayes got caught with that new uni-,"

"The one with the red hair and the nails?"

"Yeah, you know the one."

"Don't tell me, the old 'horizontal folk dancing' routine, huh?"

"Yeah, only this time it was actually vertical – in a closet at Mike Petersen's."

"Oh, no way!"

"Uh huh – and caught in flagrante delicto – by her boyfriend!"

"Shouldn't that be ex-boyfriend?"

"Prob'ly – way he looked I'm surprised Hayes ain't eatin' through a straw! Welcome back, Liv."

"Hey, Fin."

"Got bored, did we, detective?"

"John Munch, you can read me like a book."

"Come on you guys – Dad's office, pronto…"

"It's good to have you back, Liv."

"Thanks, Elliot."

"Alex?" Olivia pushed open Alex's unlatched door and entered the apartment, depositing her gun, badge and phone on the hall table.

"In here, Liv."

Olivia hesitated in the doorway, unsure. "Hey, sweetie. How are you?"

"I'm fine…," began Alex, before she relented and told the truth. "No I'm not." I just need you to hold me.

Olivia gratefully accepted the unspoken invitation, and wrapped strong arms around Alex, holding her, rocking gently. "Hey, shhh. How is your Mom?"

"She's OK, I guess. Reading between the lines, it's looking doubtful they'll get her into remission. Although she's done pretty well with the chemotherapy so far."

"Sweetie, I'm sorry. When did you get back?"

"Actually, I just came straight back here."

"What? You didn't go up to see her?"

"No… I rang, though."

"But I thought, when I left…"

"I know. I really was just going to tidy up, lock up and head out, but…" Alex shrugged, suddenly overwhelmed by guilt. "I just – I couldn't…" Her admission came out in a tearful rush, "All I could think was that I didn't want to see her – I just wanted to see you."

"Oh, baby, I… I- ,"

And suddenly Alex was kissing her, all guilt and hunger, instinct and desire, and Olivia yielded willingly.

"I love you, Alex," she said at last. "You know that, don't you?"

"I never doubted that. I really don't know what happened up there last night. It was… suddenly everything seemed out of control. Like we were…"

"Like we were reading lines from two different scripts?"

"Exactly." Intimacy restored, Alex held Olivia's face between her palms, and stared at her hopefully. She smiled suddenly, a brief chuckle at her own thoughts.


"Just extending the metaphor: Right now it feels like we're back on the same page again, doesn't it?"

The detective's grin was accompanied by a reassuring squeeze. "Yeah, it does." She tightened her arms around the blonde suddenly, and closed her eyes. "I missed you so much."

"It's only been twelve hours, Liv."

"Yeah, I know." She huffed wryly. "There's one-point-five million people in Manhattan, Alex, and yet, without you, it seemed empty."

The End

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