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Better Late Than Never

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"What do we have?"

"Female victim... approximately fourteen to fifteen, I'd guess. She was banged up pretty badly. Someone really did a number on her." A young uniformed officer stated.

"I assume she was raped since we were called?"

The officer nodded.

"Where is she? We need to get a statement?" Olivia asked glancing around.

"I think your statement might have to wait. She was taken up to surgery a few minutes ago."

"Damn. Did someone get a rape kit?" Elliot asked.

"Yeah. The head nurse said that the doctor on call was performing it."

"Good. We'll need the evidence."

"I was going to wait for the kit.... you know... but since you guys are here...." The officer trailed off hoping that he would be able to leave.

"We can take it from here. We'll be in touch." Elliot stated firmly.

Olivia glanced down at her watch and sighed. She knew the surgery would take a few hours at least.

"One of us should be here when the vic wakes up. I'll wait for the rape kit and have Munch or Fin come take it to the lab. It's going to be a while. Why don't you go home and see your kids. I'll give you a call as soon as I hear something."

"You sure?" Elliot asked hesitantly. He wanted to go home, but felt bad leaving his partner there for the long wait.

"Yeah. It's not like I have any pressing engagements to get to." She joked. "Go on. Say hi to Kathy and the kids for me."

"Alright. Thanks, Liv."

Olivia gave him a nod as he turned to leave. She walked over to the small waiting area and took a seat. She grabbed an old copy of People magazine and started reading. She knew it was going to be a long night.

 

Four hours later...

Nearly brain dead from reading mind numbing magazine after magazine, Olivia tossed the latest edition of National Geographic back on the small table and ventured out to get what seemed like her tenth cup of coffee. She stopped by the nurse's station on her way to check up on the status of the victim.

"Excuse me." She lifted her badge. "Do you have any information on the victim that was brought in earlier?"

"Sorry. I really can't give you any information if you're not family...and we haven't been able to reach them yet." The nurse said not even bothering to look up.

Already on edge from too much bad coffee and the usual lack of sleep, Olivia bristled against the attitude. "I'm not asking for a complete disclosure of her medical history. I'm just asking if she made it through surgery. As the officer assigned to her case, I will need to take her statement."

"Listen Officer...."

"Detective" Olivia quickly corrected.

The nurse rolled her eyes. "Detective... if you haven't noticed, we are really busy around here and..."

And we will be glad to offer any assistance you need to find the person who hurt that patient....no matter how busy we are." A smooth accented voice said from behind Olivia.

Olivia glanced over her shoulder and saw a woman approaching wearing a pair of dark green scrubs. "Isn't that what you were about to say, Nurse Cannon?"

The nurse seemed flustered. "Umm... of course, doctor."

"Good. You could start by locating the patient's file. I'll inform..." She glanced in Olivia's direction and waited for a name.

"Uh... Detective Benson."

"I'll inform Detective Benson of any other information she needs."

Of course, doctor. I'll be right back with that file."

Olivia raised a brow at how swiftly the nurse shuffled away. She turned and faced the doctor fully.

"I'm Dr. Delong. I was the surgeon on call when the patient in question was brought in."

The woman extended her hand for a quick handshake then gestured toward the small waiting area. "We can speak over here."

Olivia pushed herself off the desk and followed. She found herself watching the doctor intently as she removed the scull cap releasing long dark locks. It fell in loose waves over her shoulders. The detective swallowed hard as she took in the beauty of the woman before her.

Christ, she's absolutely gorgeous! Olivia thought to herself as she looked directly into piercing green eyes. Get a hold of yourself, Benson. You have a job to do.

Once they were seated, the doctor seemed more relaxed than before. She smiled warmly at Olivia.

"I apologize for any difficulty you might have had with my staff. I think we sometimes forget that we're both on the same side.  Frustration is a constant around here. Long hours tend to do that to people, but it's still no excuse."

"That's alright. You're not responsible for anyone else's behavior."

"Oh but I am. I'm Chief of Surgery. That makes me responsible."

Olivia kept her suprise hidded as she nodded and cleared her throat. She pulled out a small note pad and pen.

"So, can you tell me the status of the victim?"

The doctor sighed slightly before going back into serious mode. "She's stable at the moment. She had a serious head laceration.  I'm willing to bet that she was hit with a blunt object.  We didn't see it right away, but there was swelling around the brain.  We had to relieve the pressure and fortunately for her we were able to with little complication. As far as the rest of her..." She took a deep breath. "There was significant damage to her lower extremities. Significant bruising and tearing in the genital area. She took quite a beating, detective. Luckily, there was no internal bleeding to cause further problems. She'll recover....eventually."

"And there was a rape kit performed?" Olivia asked hopefully.

The doctor nodded. "Fortunately, she was lucid when she was brought in, which is saying something. Most wouldn't be in her condition." She ran her hand over he forehead tiredly. "She was able to tell the nurses that she had been attacked. I'm sure they would be willing to provide you with their statements.  The other physician on call performed the kit prior to surgery."

"I'm going to need the names of those nurses and that doctor."

"Of course."

"Did she say anything to you?" Olivia asked looking up from the notes she was taking.

"No. By the time I was paged, she was being prepped for surgery."

"Okay. Thank you for your help."

By this time, the nurse had returned with the needed file. "Excuse me. Here is the file you requested, doctor."

"Thank you." She took the file and flipped through it. "Her name is Rachel Hunt. She's fifteen. That's about all that I can tell you."

Olivia sighed heavily. "I need to go try and locate her parents and..."

Olivia moved to stand, but the doctor placed a hand on her arm stopping her. It sent a chill up Olivia's arm.

"There's no need. Her parent's are already here. They are up in recovery with their daughter."

Seeing the look on Olivia's face, the doctor let out a long breath. "And I'm assuming that you had not been made aware of that? Sorry."

Olivia waved her off. "Don't worry about it.  I'm going to need to speak with the parents and get a statement from Rachel. Any idea when she will be able to speak with me?"

"Well, you can speak with the parents now if you'd like. As for Rachel, she probably won't be awake until morning. Your best bet would be to wait until then if you want her coherent."

"Okay. I'll just..."

"Dr. Delong?" The nurse had returned again, this time with a small plastic bag. "I'm sorry for interrupting, but these were some additional items taken from the patient."

The doctor signed off on a form and took the bag. "I think this goes to you." She said handing the bag over to Olivia.

When Olivia reached out and took the bag, she winced. "Oww."

The other woman eyed her closely. "Are you hurt?"

Olivia looked up and waved off the concern. "Oh no. Just my stupid wrist. It's no biggie. You'd think that after all these years on the force that I'd learn not to jump on the back of a two hundred pound man resisting arrest."

"Now what would be the fun in that?" The doctor chuckled.

"But...why don't you let me take a look at it just to be sure it's...no biggie."

"You don't have to do that. I'm fine."

"Humor me, detective." She said holding Olivia's gaze. Olivia considered the offer for a moment. Her wrist did hurt like hell.

"I...I can't. I should get this back to the station." Olivia said gesturing to the bag of evidence.

"If I'm correct, as long as you keep that bag in your possession you won't break chain of evidence. Besides, we can't have one of New York's finest out there hurt, can we?"

Olivia raised a brow. "You seem to know a little about police work... although it doesn't exactly work that way."

The doctor shrugged her shoulders. "So I'm not a police officer, but I have patched up quite a few of you guys in blue over the years. I'd like to think that I learned a thing or two along the way."

Olivia laughed softly. "So...you gonna let me check out that wrist or not? I'll even let you hold that bag in your other hand."

Olivia bit her lip and considered it. There was just something about this woman that wouldn't allow her to say no. "Okay, but we have to do this quick."

Dr. Delong smiled genuinely for the first time. She looked directly into Olivia's eyes. "Generally, I don't like to do things....quick. However, I have been told that I do work well under pressure... and I'm very good."

The doctor stood and made her way towards the busy hallway. She turned back to Olivia who was still seated. She smirked. "Coming Detective?"

Olivia suddenly felt her mouth go dry. "Not yet." She mumbled under her breath as she followed.

 

 

Chapter Text

"If you don't mind me saying, you look awfully young to be Chief of Surgery. I don't know much about medicine, but I do know that being Chief of anything at a major hospital is a big deal. It usually takes people years."

Dr. Delong continued to check Olivia's wrist carefully for any breaks. She kept her eyes on her task the entire time. "Let's just say...there are some things I actually like doing fast." She glanced up and caught Olivia's eyes for a brief moment.

Jesus. Is she flirting with me? Olivia thought. Don't be an idiot, Benson. Of course she isn't. Get a grip.

"If you don't mind me saying, you don't look like the typical detective either."

"Really? And what are detectives supposed to look like?" Olivia asked curiously.

Dr. Delong paused long enough to look at Olivia, then went back to her work. "Not like you." She said softly.

Olivia felt a shiver from the sound of the accented voice.

"Besides, your hands seem much too soft for someone who handles a deadly weapon on a daily basis."

"What can I say? I moisturize." Olivia quipped to ease the building tension.

"And...we are all done."

Olivia looked down and saw the wrap tight and neat around her hand and wrist. She wiggled her fingers a little and noticed how much better her hand felt.

"You have a mild sprain. I want you to place an ice pack over it before bed. Try not to put too much pressure on it and you should be as good as new in a few days. If you have any other problems, you should come back and see me."

"Can I come back even if don't have any other problems?"

Olivia's eyes widened with shock. She couldn't believe that she had just made the comment out loud.

"Jeez! I am so sorry about that. That was so out of line." She abruptly stood, holding the evidence bag tightly under her arm. "This is what happens when you go days without sleep."

Dr. Delong chuckled. "I know exactly what you mean....and....I'd like that very much if you did." She said allowing her eyes to trail over the detectiv's body.  She grinned when Olivia blushed. "I haven't slept in days either, so I guess we're even."

Olivia had to mentally tell herself to close her mouth. She cleared her throat and tried to look anywhere other than at the other woman. "Um... I need to get this back to the lab. You said that I could speak with Rachel in the morning, right?"

"Of course." Dr. Delong nodded still seated on the small stool. "I suppose I'll see you around, detective."

Olivia fumbled with her hands. What are you... twelve! Get it together!  She managed to pull out one of her cards and handed it to the doctor.

"If you come across anything else that you think might help us, you can call. You... You don't have to call just me.  You can speak with any detective and pass along the information."

Dr. Delong hid the smirk threatening to cross her features. She took the card allowing her fingers to brush over Olivia's. "I certainly will. Take care of that wrist, detective."

"Thanks again." Dr. Delong shook her head and smiled as she stared at the card in her hand.

Detective Olivia Benson, Special Victims Unit, Detective 1st Grade. "Interesting....very interesting."

 

 

Chapter Text

 

"Heard you two caught a new case?" Munch asked pouring himself a cup of coffee as his two colleagues walked in.

"Yeah and you won't believe this. We interviewed the girl this morning and she says that it was her older sister's boyfriend that attacked her."

"Yeah so?"

"The sister's boyfriend is none other than Eric Williams." Olivia added.

"You mean the same Eric Williams that wormed his way out of the charges we had against him last spring?"

"The one and only." Elliot said placing the picture up on the board.

"I remember that guy. He beat the crap out of all those girls and had the nerve to call it rough sex even though one turned up dead." Fin added.

"Well the only reason he got off was because most of the evidence was thrown out. Judge said that it could have been tainted, but we all know that it was because Williams had old family money to make things disappear." Elliot said in disgust.

"Yeah and Cabot was a bear to work with for weeks after that one. Talk about an ice queen. I felt my balls freeze up when I went into that office." Fin said shivering.

"Come on guys. Alex had every right to be pissed. She got blind-sided in court and the evidence hadn't been processed properly. It left too many wholes in her case." Olivia said taking a seat at her desk.

"Well that won't be a concern this time around, detectives since all of the evidence is air tight."

All eyes looked up to see none other than Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot striding through the door with her familiar confident gate in a killer suit.

Olivia felt a familiar sensation in her gut. The feeling intensified when Alex perched herself in her favorite spot to be when she came by the precinct... Olivia's desk.

Olivia swallowed hard and tried to pry her eyes away from the long legs dangerously close to her hand. She leaned back in her chair to put some room between herself and her distraction.

"I'm assuming that we have enough evidence to collar this guy this time?" Elliot asked.

Alex gave him a confident smirk. The smirk that said that she had the perp right where she wanted them.

"It's already in motion, detective. I called Cragen after you guys told me what you had on him. He sent two officers over to pick him up. They should be bringing him in as we speak. That's why I'm here. I want a needle with his name on it for what he's done."

"And I'm sure you'll get it this time." Olivia stated.

"Benson! Stabler!" Cragen said from the door of his office. "Williams is in the interrogation room.  You're up."

Elliot raised a brow at Olivia. "You ready to nail this bastard?"

"Can't wait."

Alex removed herself from Olivia's desk and followed the two detectives into the interrogation room. She and the captain watched from the other side of the window as Olivia and Elliot did what they did best.

"Long time no see, Eric."

"Still got that anger problem, Detective Stabler?"

Elliot pretended to consider the question.  "Nah. I'm feeling great these days. What about you, Liv?"

"I'm having a pretty good day, probably better than his."

"I want my lawyer! I'm going to have both of your badges for this!" Williams spat. "Don't you remember who I am?"

"Oh, we remember. I don't think we'd ever forget a character like you."

"Go on. Laugh it up. You two will be lucky to be working security by the time my lawyers are through with you."

"You mean your mommy's lawyers, right?" Elliot grinned. "Still a momma's boy, I see."

Olivia calmly took a seat in front of him. She took a moment to just look at Williams. He looked like your typical rich boy. He was tall, considerably handsome, and impeccably dressed.

"Sorry Ricky. Mommy isn't going to be able to fix this one for you. See... you made a big mistake this time."

"You don't know what the hell you're talking about!"

"You let the victim see you." She said very softly. "She survived and she remembers every single detail. She can ID you."

His smile began to falter. "Like I said... I don't know what the hell you're talking about."

"You screwed up, you prick!" Elliot blared. Olivia remained cool and calm.

"You got sloppy, Eric. You left us a little gift. Your print was found on her body. The fluids found inside the victim matches yours. The ME is going to say that it's a perfect match." She smiled when she saw him pale. She leaned forward and clasped her hands together. "I told you that you'd make a mistake...and that I'd be there when you did."

"Don't say anything more, Eric."

Elliot rolled his eyes. "Should have known that you'd show up, Langan. You're always nearby when things start stinking around here."

"My client has nothing to say at this time. These are all baseless allegations."

"Actually, they are much more than allegations, Trevor." Alex said strolling in. She took the seat that had been previously occupied by Olivia. She calmly placed a file in front of her and opened it. "Let me make this easy for you and your client to understand. The ME determined that the print found on the victim's neck, Rachel Hunt, is indeed that of your client. The DNA taken from the victim in also a perfect match for Mr. Williams. I also have a written statement from the victim, naming your client as her attacker. We have two witnesses that will testify that they saw your client return to the Hunt residence later on the night of the alleged attack. He had means, opportunity, and motive."

"And what motive would that possibly be?"

Alex glanced at Williams and shook her head. "You really should think before you speak."

Turning back to the other lawyer. "The neighbor overheard your client arguing with his girlfriend."

Trevor snickered. "That's not a crime. If it were, I'd be arrested at least once a week."

"Oh, let's be serious Trevor. We know that's not true. You'd need to have a girlfriend to be able to argue with her."

Elliot and Olivia had to struggled not to laugh. Alex was in rare form today. Olivia looked on enjoying the show.

"Like I was saying, your client made a threat against his girlfriend because she broke off their relationship." She pushed her glasses up on her nose as she read her notes. "He said... and I quote...'I will make you sorry for this, you bitch. I know just how to make you hurt.'"

"That's quite a stretch, don't you think Alex?" Trevor said picking a piece of invisible lint from his suit.

"Oh, but there is more. You haven't even heard the best part yet." She turned and tilted her head at Williams. "We found the tapes." Alex's confident smirk returned when she saw the look of horror cross Williams features. "That's right, Mr. Williams. We found them all."

"What tapes?" Trevor snatched the offered file from Alex.

Olivia grit her teeth at the action. "Turns out that your client likes to relive his acts. Tapes were found in your client's home...showing him actually in the act of raping and beating several young girls. Those charges are being added as we speak. Shall I go on? Oh and don't even think about challenging it, Trevor. The warrant is iron clad. Everything was completely by the book."

Olivia just stood back and watched in awe. There was nothing that she loved more than an arrogant Alex Cabot. There was something very sexy about watching the attorney shred a defense attorney's case and tear a perp a new one. It was like watching poetry in motion.

"What are you offering?" Trevor asked reluctantly once he saw the look of sheer fear on his client's face.

Alex smirked and tilted her head. "Absolutely nothing. You're not going to buy your way out of this one. I'm not going to rest until you pay for every single heinous crime."

She stood and collected her files. She turned to Elliot and Olivia. "Why don't you acquaint Mr. Williams with our comfortable facilities until he heads up to Rikers?"

"You got it, Counselor." Olivia smiled.

"It would be our pleasure." Elliot grinned.

After making sure that Williams was processed and booked properly, they made their way back to the squad room. Alex was again perched on Olivia's desk discussing the case with Cragen and the others.

"We miss anything?"

"Cabot was just telling us about Williams. Looks like we'll get him this time."

"That's the plan, but I'm not putting anything past that family. They have a lot of money and power at their disposal. They're going to try to buy every judge and official involved in this case."

"That can't change the evidence and those tapes."

"All of which I'm sure his lawyer is in the process of trying to get thrown out." Alex countered.

"You can't let that happen, Alex! You didn't see what he did to that girl." Olivia said staring Alex down.

"I'm not going to allow that to happen, Olivia. But I need to be sure that we are all on the same page with this case. I saw how aggressive you got with him in there."

She shot a glance towards Elliot. "You are to handle Eric Williams with kid gloves...not so much as a cross word against him in the future."

"You gotta be kidding me. That guy is a murdering rapist!" Elliot shot back.

Olivia instinctively stepped closer to Alex.

"I happen to agree with you. And I don't want him to have the chance to cry police brutality like the last time. " Her voice rose slightly. "So do us all a favor and steer clear of him until the trial. Let me handle it."

"As long as you nail his ass this time."

Alex looked Elliot in the eyes. "You've done your job, detective. Just let me do mine."

With a slight nod of the head, Alex picked up her briefcase and left.

Olivia stared after her for a moment before turning her attention back to the group.

"Damn that woman is cold!" Fin said shaking his head.

"She's just doing her job guys." Olivia sat down at her desk. She didn't bother to look up. She knew she'd see that hurt look that Elliot always had when she didn't take his side against Alex.

"Whatever you say, Liv. We'll all have to remember to send you up to frostyland the next time we need a warrant." Munch said with a chuckle walking away.

Elliot took his seat across from Olivia. He knew that she was trying not to look at him. He smirked. Feeling his eyes on her, she looked up. "What?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Nothing....just noticing how you're always defending Cabot...once before and again just now."

"I'm not defending her. I just stated a fact. We screwed up with this guy last time. She just doesn't want that to happen again. I'm big enough to admit when we fuck up."

"Right." Came his sarcastic remark. "I'm sure that it has nothing to do with you having a major crush on her."

Olivia's head shot up.  Oh shit!

"What? I don't have a crush on her."

"You don't have a thing for Cabot?"

"You're losing it Stabler." She tried to remain calm. "Alex is our ADA and a friend. Besides, she's straight."

"And how would you know that? Been thinking it over?"

"You're crazy, you know that?"

"I've been called worse."

"I'm sure of that." She rolled her eyes and started searching for a pen. She winced when she opened the drawer and turned her srist the wrong way. "Dammit! Stupid wrist."

"You really should get that thing looked at."

"I did get it looked at."

"I was with you at the hospital this morning, Liv. I know you didn't get it looked at."

"Not this morning, you idiot. I had it looked at last night, while I was waiting for Rachel to get out of surgery. The doctor that did Rachel's surgery checked it out. Dr. ....umm.... Dr. Delong, I think it was."

Elliot's eyes widened. "Dr.Delong?  Dr. Pearce Delong?"

"No. It was a woman."

"Dr. Pearce Delong is a woman."

"Oh."  Pearce. That's different.

"Tall, dark hair, incredible green eyes, and a body that could stop traffic?"

Olivia raised a brow. "I guess. Is there a reason that you know so much about this doctor?"

Elliot leaned back in his chair and folded his hands behind his head as if he were reminiscing. "She was the doctor that fixed my arm when I was shot last year. I swear to god, if I weren't a married man...."

"But you are." Olivia amused. "Yeah. I love my wife, but a man can still appreciate a good looking woman when he sees one. Not to mention, she's one of the most accomplished women in medicine."

"And dare I ask why you know this bit of information?"

"Before you even go there, it's not like that. Maureen has decided that she wants go into medicine when she grows up. She's been doing all this research on surgeons and stuff. She did a report on Dr. Delong about a month ago for her career class at school. Your doctor is one of the youngest female Chief Surgeons in the country. Apparently, she comes from a long line of hot shot doctors."

"Wow. No wonder she was so good." Olivia said before she realized. "I... I mean... she was really professional and efficient."

"Uh huh." Elliot squinted his eyes at her. "Something happened didn't it?"

Olivia frowned. "What are you talking about?"

"I know you. You never get your injuries checked out...even when they hurt like hell. The Cap or I have to drag you kicking and screaming. But you let her check you out...no argument?"

Olivia shrugged. "The damn thing hurt and she offered so...."

"Wait. She offered? A big time surgeon offered to check out your little wrist?"

"She is a doctor and that's what doctors do if you haven't forgotten." She rolled her eyes getting up to refill her mug.

"Unbelievable! Why does that never happen to me?!"

"Can it, Elliot." She glared at him.

He laughed and held up his hands. "I'll back off.....for now."

 

 

Chapter Text

Four days later...

"Is there an Olivia Benson here?"

Olivia looked up and saw a young delivery man standing in the doorway holding a rather large bouquet of tulips in a glass vase. She groaned internally when she heard the whistles erupting from around the squad room. She reluctantly raised two fingers in the air signaling the deliverer over. He sat them down on the edge of the desk and handed her a clipboard to sign. She scribbled her name and reached into her pocket to pull out a tip.

He held up his hand. "It's already been taken care of by the sender Miss. Thank you and enjoy."

Olivia scanned the flowers. She managed to grab the small white envelope before her partner did. "Excuse me!"

"Who sent you the flowers, Liv? You got a new squeeze that we don't know about?"

Munch peered over his file. "Didn't know you were seeing someone, Liv."

"I'm not." She sighed hating all the attention being put on her personal life.

"Hey, who sent you the digs, Benson?" Fin asked walking to his desk.

Olivia sighed again. "I don't know. It must be some kind of mistake."

"More like an expensive mistake." Fin noticed how everyone had turned their attention to him. He shrugged. "I happen to know a little something-somthing about sending a lady flowers."

"I should have gotten your advice about my last wife. I must have been sending the wrong kind of flowers."

"The only advice I would have given would have been to her. I would have told her to leave your bony ass sooner." Fin said causing a few laughs. "Like I was saying, those aren't cheap, Benson. They run about two hundred bucks a dozen."

Elliot and Munch whistled. "You must have really impressed someone, Liv."

Olivia groaned in frustration. "I told you that I don't even know who they're from"

"Why don't you just open the card that you're hiding and find out. Stop being a chicken shit."

"Fine." Olivia pulled out the envelope and flipped it open.

I haven't been able to stop thinking of you. I'd like to see you again. Give me a call. You're a detective. I'm sure you know how to find me.
--Dr. Delong

Olivia quickly folded the card and slipped it back into her pocket. She ran her fingers over the tulips. How did she know these were my favorite?

"So...who is the lucky bastard?"

"You kiss your wife with that mouth?"

"Yes and she loves it. Quit stalling. Who is it?"

"Wouldn't you like to know."

"Like to know what?" Olivia looked up into familiar blue eyes. "Lovely flowers, Olivia."

Alex removed her glasses and leaned down to smell them. She made a soft moan. Olivia felt light headed. How does she do that?

"Liv has an admirer." Elliot offered.

This earned him the trademark Benson glare. Alex straightened and turned her attentions towards the dark haired detective.

"I...I didn't know you... you were seeing anyone."

Alex stumbled over her words a bit. Elliot noticed and looked at her strangely. Cabot at a loss for words...that's a first. He thought to himself.

"I'm not...really." Olivia mumbled.

"Oh....so this is...new?"

"I wouldn't say that. It's nothing...yet."

Yet. The word rang out in Alex's head. Something in her rebelled against the idea of Olivia seeing someone....anyone romantically. Who am I kidding? Of course someone is interested. This is Olivia.

"Well, they certainly have great taste... in flowers." And in people.  She added mentally.  "These are beautiful....your favorite." Alex said softly.

Olivia looked up in surprise. "How did you...."

Their eyes met and Alex felt her heart race. "You told me once...when we passed a flower shop on the street." She uncharacteristically shrugged her shoulders. "....I remembered."

Elliot was watching the entire exchange between the two women. Cabot was flustered and Benson was shy and quiet. He had seen them dance around each other before, but never like this. For a split second, Alex looked as if someone had sucker punched her.

"Something you need, Counselor?" Olivia asked trying to shift the attention away from the flowers on her desk.

"Oh... I just needed to tell you that I'm going to need to go over your testimony for the trial next week, both of you actually." I can't possibly ask you out to lunch now. "If you guys could find some free time to come by tomorrow, that would be great."

"Sure."

"Good." She glanced at her watch. "I have an appointment. I'll see you tomorrow then."

"See you, Counselor." Elliot added for good measure.

They sat in silence for a while. Elliot finally spoke. "I never thought I'd see the day."

"See what?"

"I could have sworn that I saw jealousy in Cabot's eyes."

Olivia laughed. "Jealousy over what?"

Elliot shifted his eyes to the flowers. Olivia frowned. "You think Alex is jealous because I got some flowers. I'm sure Alex has guys lined up around the block to send her flowers."

Elliot rolled his eyes.  "No Einstein. I think Cabot is jealous that someone sent you flowers."

"Why?"

"Because she has a thing for you."

"Now I know you've lost your mind. Alex is straight as they come and everyone knows that she's looking at the DA's seat. Even if she was interested, she wouldn't risk that for some lowly detective."

"I don't know, Liv. I usually on when it comes to stuff like this."

"Well you're wrong this time so... just let it go." Olivia said seriously.

Elliot could tell that she was serious. He had known for a long time that his partner had feelings for Alex Cabot. He was also painfully aware that those feelings were much deeper than just some passing infatuation. He suspected that was one of the reason Olivia couldn't have a lasting relationship. In her mind, no one even came close to Alexandra Cabot. So, she kept things simple. One night stands and short flings were her specialty. He wondered if this new admirer knew that Olivia Benson wasn't really available...at least not completely.

"Okay, even if I'm off about the Cabot thing, it doesn't mean that I'm wrong about there being someone new. Come on, Liv! I'm married. I have to live vicariously through you. You can't leave me hanging."

He gave her his best puppy dog face.

Olivia couldn't help but laugh. He could be impossibly cute at times. She decided to give in.

"She wants to see me again." She said simply.

"She.... who?"

Olivia held up her wrist and wiggled her brows. Elliots mouth dropped open. "No way! The hot doc sent you those?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "She can't stop thinking of me....wants me to call her."

Elliot had to pick his jaw up off the floor. "You mean.... You're saying that she...."

Olivia grinned. "You're a detective. You figure it out."

"Wow." He allowed his mind to drift, undoubtedly to images of his partner and the attractive doctor together. "You gonna call her?"

"I don't know."

"What's the problem?"

"What could we possibly have in common?"

"Who the hell cares! Did you take a look at that woman? Those eyes....that voice...that body..."

"Okay. Okay! I get the picture. And you're married remember?"

"Yes, I am.... but you're not."

Olivia looked at him and shook her head. "I gotta go do something on my lunch hour....alone. Call me if you need me."

"You're going to call her aren't you?" He grinned.

She grabbed her keys and her jacket. "Even if I was, I wouldn't tell you.

"You didn't say no." He called after her.

 

Chapter Text

 

Twenty minutes had passed since Olivia has sat down in the small coffee shop. She finally built up the nerve and dialed the number she had tracked down at the station. She waited for an answer. Maybe I'll just get the voicemail and.....

"Hello?" The smooth voice on the other end caused Olivia's voice to catch. "Hello?"

"Uh... Hi... is this... Dr. Pearce Delong?" Olivia cringed a the sound of her own clumsy voice.

"Yes, it is. Can I help you?"

"This is Detective Benson."

Pearce perked up a little. "Detective, hello. So you found me after all. This is a pleasant surprise."

"Yes, well.... imagine the surprise that I had today when some rather lovely flowers were delivered to my desk.... in a room full of nosy detectives."

"Isn't calling a detective a nosy detective a bit redundant?"

Olivia chuckled even though she was still nervous. "I suppose you're right, but it's still true none the less."

"I'm sorry if I caused you any embarrassment."

"No you're not."

Pearce laughed. "And why would you say such a thing?"

"Because I can hear it in your voice. You're enjoying this."

"You might be correct. I also thought I'd take a chance and attempt to get your attention."

"Well, you most certainly got it."

"Good because I don't have much experience at this."

"I'd imagine that someone as attractive as you wouldn't have much experience pursuing someone."

"So am I to assume that you're calling because you'd like to see me again or were you simply hoping to get my voicemail to thank me for the flowers and politely decline?"

Olivia laughed. "You must be psychic?"

"No, but I am thoroughly embarrassed now. I'm glad that you at least liked the flowers."

"No. I'm sorry. You must have misunderstood me. I was going to leave you a message, but not to decline."

"Really?  Detective..."

"Olivia. You can call me Olivia."

"You should call me Pearce then."

"Pearce. I've never met a woman named Pearce before."

"Let's just say that my father really wanted a son. He got me instead."

"It's a nice name. It suits you." Olivia said softly.

"Thank you." Pearce cleared her throat. "Look, I've been out of the dating scene for a while, but I got the feeling that we had a connection when we met. Am I right?"

"Yes."

"Would you like to have dinner with me sometime?"

"When?" Olivia found herself asking without thinking.

"Umm... my shift ends early on Friday. How about Friday at eight?"

"Sounds perfect. But I should probably warn you that there is the possibility that I might be called away in the middle of our date."

Olivia wanted to be honest with this woman. It had happened a hundred times before and probably would again.

"That's perfect because I was about to warn you of the same thing. I'm never really off the clock and my pager is a permanent part of my wardrobe."

Olivia could hear the faint sound of a beeping noise. "And speaking of just that.... I'm being paged right now. I'm sorry, Olivia. I've got to go."

"No problem. I guess I'll see you on Friday then."

"Is this your cell number?"

"Yes."

"I'll call you later and get your address okay."

"Okay."

"I really have to run. Talk to you soon. Bye."

Olivia heard the phone disconnect. She flipped her phone shut and placed it on the table. She shook her head and smiled. "What did I just get myself into?"

 

Chapter Text

 

"Did you call her?"

Olivia rolled her eyes and laid her head back against the seat. "I should have never told you about her."

"But you did, so give. Did you call her?" Elliot asked maneuvering the car through the busy streets.

"Hey! Could you just watch the road? I'd rather not die on my way to Cabot's office."

"Stop changing the subject. You were gone the entire hour yesterday. And when you came back, you had this quirky smile on your face. You called her didn't you?"

Olivia groaned. "Yes, I called her okay!"

"So you're gonna go out with her."

"You know what, El...."

She was interrupted by the shrill sound of her cell phone. She flipped it open. "Benson."

"I thought police officers only answered their phones that way on television."

A shy smile erupted over Olivia's face. Elliot looked at her strangely. "I only answer it that way when I'm working."

"No complaints from me."

Olivia felt herself blushing. What was it about this woman that made her feel like such a girl?

"Listen, I know you're working so I won't hold you up. I just had a free moment and I thought I'd call and pin down a few details for Friday.... unless you've changed your mind."

"No. I'm looking forward to it."

"I suppose I should get your address if I'm going to pick you up."

"You don't have to do that. I could meet you somewhere."

"I know this may sound a bit old fashioned, but I believe when you ask someone out you should pick them up."

"Alright. It's...." Olivia became painfully aware of her partner sitting next to her. She turned towards the window and lowered her voice. "It's East 37th and 5th Street Apartment 515."

"Got it. One more question, if you have a minute?"

"Sure."

"Do you like jazz?"

Olivia smiled again. "I love it."

"Great. I'll see you at eight. Have a good day, Olivia."

"You do the same."

When Olivia closed her phone, she realized they had stopped and Elliot was staring directly at her with a huge grin on his face.

"So, she's picking you up, huh."

Olivia sighed. It was going to be a long day. "Come on, Stabler. You know how Alex hates to be kept waiting."

The meeting with Alex went as usual. They walked through the interviews and the evidence. It was obvious that the case was going to be a slam dunk.

"And that should just about cover it. I'll be calling you two up first, so meet me there around nine." Alex said closing her notes.

"I'll wear my best tie." Elliot smiled and stood to slip his jacket back on.

Olivia followed. "See you tomorrow, Alex."

"Olivia." Olivia and Elliot stopped. "Do you have a moment? I need to speak with you before you leave."

"Umm...sure." She exchanged a confused look with her partner.

"I'll wait for you downstairs." Elliot said before excusing himself.

Olivia waited for the door to close behind him before she turned to face Alex. Alex made her way around the desk and leaned against it in front of Olivia.

"Listen, Serena and I are going out tomorrow night. I was wondering if you'd like to join us. I don't usually do the whole club thing, but it's Serena's birthday so...." Alex took off her glasses and held them delicately in her fingers.

Alex's voice trailed off as Olivia's mind drifted. She couldn't help allowing her eyes to wonder over Alex's lithe form. The black suit that she wore looked as though it had been tailor made for her and the blue shirt underneath matched the shade of her eyes perfectly. And those glasses...Those glasses were the center of many of the fantasies involving Alex.

"Olivia? Olivia?"

Olivia blinked and met Alex's eyes. "Huh?"

"Are you alright?"

Olivia ran her hand over her forehead and eyes. "Yeah. Sorry. I guess I'm just tired."

Alex caught a glimpse of Olivia's wrapped wrist. She had reached out and grabbed it before she knew it. "What happened to your hand?"

"It's nothing. I just sprained it." Olivia looked down at their hands together and her chest tightened. She gently took her hand back. "It's fine. What were you saying?"

"Oh yeah... I was wondering if you'd like to join us tomorrow night?"

"I'd really love to..."

Alex bit her lip to keep a huge smile from bursting through.

"But I already have plans for tomorrow night."

Alex's smile dissipated, but she quickly covered it up with her all business courtroom facade. "I told Serena that you probably already had plans, but I thought I'd extend the invitation anyway."

Olivia could have sworn that she saw a look of disappointment in the attorney's eyes, but the quickly disappeared behind Alex's cool mask. Olivia always felt like she could read people fairly easy. But Alexandra Cabot was a completely different matter. She could never get a clear read on where Alex was coming from.

"Another time maybe?" Olivia asked hopefully.

"Absolutely."

"I should probably get going before Elliot gets bored and gets himself into trouble." She pointed her thumb over her shoulder.

Alex simply nodded. Olivia pulled on her jacket and moved towards the door. She turned and saw Alex still leaning against the desk, arms folded over her chest.

"You guys have fun tomorrow night. Try not to get yourselves arrested."

Alex smiled as she pushed herself off of the desk. She walked over until she was standing about a foot from Olivia. She reached out and adjusted Olivia's collar.  "We'll try."

Olivia swallowed hard.  "See ya later, Counselor."

"Good day, Detective."

Alex placed her hand on the door and closed it after Olivia had left. She leaned her head against the cool wood and sighed in frustration. "Shit. Why do I do this to myself?"

A few minutes later, Olivia climbed into the sedan along side her partner. "So what did Cabot want? She didn't lay into you or anything did she?"

"Nah. She just wanted to invite me out to celebrate Serena's birthday tomorrow night."

"Girl's night out, huh?"

"For them, but I can't go. I...." She stopped herself suddenly realizing what she had disclosed.

"You already have a date. I knew it!" He laughed. "Wow, Benson. You went from having no social life at all to having two women asking you out at the same time. The hot Doc and Cabot."

Olivia just looked out the window. "Not now, El."

"Damn, talk about being a stud."

"Shut it, Stabler! One more word and I swear to god, I'll make you eat my gun."

Elliot looked at her and the glare she was sending his way gave him chills. He quickly wiped the grin off his face...or at least tried as he pulled out into traffic. "Still a stud." He mumbled under his breath.

 

Chapter Text

 

Pearce opened the door to her penthouse and started striping as soon as the door closed behind her. Her shift had gone longer than she'd hoped. It was already seven and she had to make it all the way across town by eight. Tossing her scrubs in the laundry bin, she hopped in the shower.

Fifteen minutes later, she was freshly showered and standing in her walk-in closet contemplating what to where. Realizing she didn't have enough time to ponder the perfect outfit, she chose a dark pair of jeans and a sweater. Within twenty minutes, she was dressed and out the door.

Meanwhile across town, the usually level-headed Olivia was having a meltdown. She had showered and hour before and still undressed. She was sitting on her bed surrounded by a mountain of clothes and still no clue what to wear. Finally giving up, she picked up the phone.

"Hello?"

"Elliot, thank god you're home."

"Liv? I thought you'd be getting ready for your date?"

"I am. That's why I'm calling. I can't decide what to wear."

"And you're calling me for help?" Elliot laughed.

"Are you kidding? I've seen you dress. I'm calling for your wife. She's a girl."

"You aren't going after my wife are you?" Elliot teased.

"Not now Elliot." Olivia begged. "Please. Just tell me that Kathy is home."

Elliot laughed. "I can't believe it. Bad ass Olivia Benson is a nervous teenager."

"Yeah. Yeah. Laugh it up. Just remember that I know all of your little secrets...some of which I'm sure Kathy would be interested in."

This quickly made Elliot's laughter end. "That's what I thought. Now, let me speak to your wife."

Olivia heard Elliot calling out to his wife. A few moments later, Kathy's voice came over the line. "Olivia, Elliot said that you're freaking out. What's wrong?"

"Kathy, I need help. I have this date with this doctor. You know the type... really sophisticated and smart. And I have no idea what to wear and...."Olivia panicked.

"Okay. Okay. Calm down, Liv. We're going to figure it out. Just take a deep breath and calm down." Kathy soothed. Olivia did as she was told and felt a bit more at ease.

Kathy Stabler was one of the few women that Olivia considered to be a real friend. Sure she hadlots of guy friends. But Kathy was one of the few females that she let get close enough to know the real Olivia Benson. Maybe it was the fact that Kathy was her partner's wife or the fact that the two simply had a clear understanding of one another. They both, in a sense, shared a man. They were the two women in Elliot Stabler's life. Kathy trusted Olivia to take care of him at work and Kathy took care of him at home. Neither crossed over into the other's territory. And they respected each other for it.

"Did she tell you where she was taking you?"

"No, but.... wait. How did you know it was a she?"

"Do you even have to ask? Elliot has been going on and on about how you landed some gorgeous lady doctor from the hospital." Kathy chuckled. "Sent you flowers, huh?"

Olivia blushed on the other end of the phone. "Yeah."

"Come on, Liv. I've known you for years. You've never announced it, but you didn't hide who you were either. I've known for a long time that you don't discriminate when it comes to your choice of ...romantic companions. I'm just a little offended that you've never propositioned me."

Olivia laughed. "Yeah right. And have Elliot jumping up my ass because I went after his beloved wife. I don't think so. You are so off limits it's not even funny."

"Damn." Kathy said with amusement. "Okay, back to your problem. She didn't tell you anything about where she was taking you?"

"No... but she did ask me if I liked jazz."

"My guess is that she's taking you to a club or something... maybe dancing."

"So what am I wearing then?"

Kathy thought for a second. "Uh... oh! You're going to wear those black Ralph Lauren slacks. You know the ones with the cuff at the bottom?"

"You mean the ones that I paid entirely too much money for because you said they looked good on me." Olivia quipped.

"Exactly...and you're going to wear them with that maroon v-neck sweater. The soft one that shows off your cleavage."

"You don't think it's too much?"

"Are you kidding? Don't you remember how my little brother drooled over you when you wore it to dinner? It's perfect. Trust me."

"Okay. Black slacks. Maroon sweater. Anything else?"

"Umm..." Kathy paused. "Wear some simple jewelry. Nothing over the top. You're already beautiful, Liv. You don't have to over do it."

Suddenly, Olivia felt so much better. "Thanks Kathy. I don't know what I'd do without you."

"Is that a come on, Detective?"

Olivia laughed. "I already told you. I'm not touching you with a ten-foot pole, Kathy. Your husband is an ex-marine and he carries a gun. He'd kill me."

'You don't know what you're missing, Benson." Kathy said in a playful voice.

"I promise you that I do. Go keep that partner of mine in line, will ya."

"Just relax and have a good time, Liv. It's obvious that she likes you. She wouldn't have asked you out if she didn't. Just remember that."

"Thanks. G'night Kathy."

"Night Liv."

Olivia hung up the phone and looked at the mountain of clothing still surrounding her. "Now all I have to do is find them."

Twenty minutes later, Olivia was standing in the mirror putting on her earrings when she heard a soft knock at the door. After taking one last look at herself, she closed her bedroom door and made her way to the front door. She took a deep breath and opened the door.

"Hi."

 

 

Chapter Text

 

"Hi."

Pearce was struck silent as she took in the sight of the detective in front of her. Sure, she knew that Olivia was attractive. She'd seen that the moment she'd laid eyes on her that night at the hospital. But she looked even better tonight. The sweater she wore looked as though it had been tailor made for her. It took everything in Pearce to keep her gaze at a respectable level and not admire the impressive display of cleavage.

"Wow. You look great."

"So do you." Olivia said allowing her eyes to roam over the doctor's appearance. "Come on in. I just need to get my jacket. Then we can go."

Olivia stepped back and allowed her inside. She caught the scent of Pearce's perfume as she passed. It was subtle, yet crisp and clean. Olivia saw a hint of a smile on the doctor's face. I wonder what she's smiling about? She probably knows I'm checking her out. Olivia thought as her eyes traced over the flawless skin left exposed by the black off-the-shoulder top Pearce wore, then lower to the dark jeans that fit perfectly over her curves. It was just an ordinary outfit, but somehow Pearce made it look like something off the runway. I guess you can't dress down class no matter what you do. As Pearce turned around, they found themselves again face to face.

"You have a nice place."

Olivia shrugged. "It's home. Although I'm really not here enough to actually call it that."

"I know what you mean."

"I'll just.... go get my jacket."

Pearce nodded and watched Olivia disappear down the hallway. She stood patiently in the foyer and tried not to be nosy. A few moments later, Olivia returned with a light weight black leather jacket. Pearce swallowed hard as she watch Olivia slip it on.

I never knew anyone could look that good in leather. "Ready?" Pearce croaked.

"I'm all yours."

Pearce blushed slightly. I wish

They made the usual first date small talk as Pearce drove them to the restaurant. Olivia was pleasantly surprised that Pearce had chosen a small Italian restaurant downtown, rather than some stiff expensive restaurant. They engaged in an easy conversation all evening. Olivia had learned that Pearce was part Italian. She'd been raised by her father, although technically she had grown up in boarding schools in Europe. It was obvious to someone as observant as Olivia that Pearce had led a very privileged life, but there wasn't a single pretentious or snobbish bone in her body.

Olivia had found herself divulging parts of her life to Pearce as well. Pearce had discovered and was rather impressed that Olivia was fluent in several languages, some the same as she. It wasn't that Pearce was surprised to find that Olivia was so intelligent. She just hadn't met very many police officers that spoke about literature and art so eloquently. Olivia explained that her mother had been a college professor and had taught her about the arts.

It was a bit strange. Usually Olivia hated talking about herself. But she felt at ease with Pearce. She'd broken her rule and spoke about her mother, although she did steer clear of all the deeper issues surrounding her mother and her own childhood. A first date was not the time to discuss such matters.

Overall, dinner was a complete success. They had many of the same interests and similar views on political issues and current events. Olivia was beginning to think that there was no such thing as the first date curse that so many people spoke about.

As Olivia was speaking about Picasso, Pearce took a moment to really look at the detective. Her face was open and expressive. Pearce nearly drowned in pools of chocolate eyes and enticing smile.

"Beautiful" Pearce said softly. Simply beautiful.

"Did you say something?"

"I...I was just agreeing with you. I think Picasso's work is beautiful...breathtaking actually."

There was something a little mischievous in the doctor's eyes. I could get lost in those. Olivia thought as she studied her date. Olivia could see why Elliot had made such a big deal about her looks. Pearce was strikingly beautiful. She had the classic cheek bones and the picture perfect smile. She looked like the all American girl, yet there was something exotic about her. Her tanned skin was flawless. Her deep green eyes sparkled like emeralds and when she smiled....god help her....she had dimples. Olivia never knew dimples could look so sexy. Suddenly, a thought occurred to her.

"Were you a model?"

Pearce's brows shot up. "Why would you ask that?"

"I don't know. You look like you might have modeled. You have the bone structure; the tall slim body, even the posture."

Pearce looked as though she was considering the question. "I wasn't a really serious about it. I just played around with it in my teens. My father found out and that was the end of it. But my mother was quite successful at it....so I've heard."

"You've heard?"

Pearce took a sip of water. "I've never met her. She left when I was a baby." She shrugged her shoulders. "A marriage and raising a child wasn't as important to her as her career. I guess that's why my father never wanted me to become involved in it."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to...."

Pearce waved her off. "It's alright. I'm fine with it. You can't really miss what you've never had, right?"

Olivia nodded knowing exactly what she meant. "I guess you're right." Seeing that it wasn't a topic that Pearce wanted to discuss, she dropped it.

"You know...you're really perceptive. Do you always notice little things like that about people?"

"Side effect of the job. I guess that's what they pay me the big bucks for." Olivia quipped.

"Did you always want to be a police officer?"

Olivia smiled at the fact that Pearce never used the term cop. It was obvious that she wasn't your typical New Yorker. "Yeah pretty much. I always knew that I'd go into some type of law enforcement. What about you? Did you always want to become a doctor?"

Pearce thought for a second then looked back at Olivia. "I don't really know. My father was a doctor...his father before him...so" She shrugged her shoulders a little. "I suppose that it was always expected of me....if I wanted to or not. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the work that I do immensely. But.... I don't know if it was ever really my choice. Yet, I can't see myself doing anything else with my life so I guess it all worked out."

"I guess so."

 

Chapter Text

 

"This is a nice place. I'm glad you decided to bring me here. It was a nice birthday gift."

"I'm glad you like it. I'm just sorry that your date had to cancel....mine too for that matter." Alex said remorsefully.

"I guess that's what I get for letting you fix me up on a blind date. You can't even manage to get your own date." Serena laughed.

"Hey!" Alex pretended to be hurt. "It is not my fault that our dates had emergencies with their clients."

"If you'd stop fixing us up on dates with lawyers, maybe we wouldn't have this problem." Serena said bumping her friends shoulder. "Was she even cute?"

"Just your type...tall, dark, and lovely."

"Damn."

"And just for the record, Alexandra Cabot has no problem getting a date. I just haven't met anyone that interests me yet."

"Right. You mean you haven't gotten up the nerve to ask Olivia Benson out yet." Serena said taking a sip of her drink.

Alex shot her a glare. "Don't start this again, Serena. I've told you time and time again that Olivia Benson is just a friend. We work together...."

"And I'll bet you'd like to work with her on other things as well."

Serena didn't even flinch at the deadly glare that Alex was giving her. She was probably the only person on the planet that knew the real Alexandra Cabot and she wasn't intimidated by the famous Cabot glare....at least not much.

"Serena..."

"Alex, I don't care how many times you say it, I'm not buying it. I know you and I know that you have a major jones for Detective Benson."

"Jones?"

"Yes, as in Love Jones..... Me and Mrs. Jones?" Serena waited for understanding and got nothing. "You really need to get out more, Alex."

"And you need to stop spending so much time with Fin."

"Hey don't knock it until you try it. Fin has that cool factor that you have to be born with. He's also very smooth with the ladies. I can't tell you how much fun I had with him and his friends...not to mention all the action I got. Fin says I'm a cool white chic." She said proudly.

Alex just shook her head. "You are insane. You are aware of this, right?"

"Maybe, but it's my birthday and I can be whatever I want. Besides, you could learn a thing or two from Fin. If you were more smooth, maybe you'd actually get somewhere with Benson instead of ogling her when she comes to you for a warrant."

"I do no such thing!"

"Yes you do. Just admit it. You like making her jump through all those hoops just so you can keep her coming back. You have the hots for Olivia."

"Serena, don't be ridiculous." Alex pretended to be unconcerned.

"I can't say that I blame you. Olivia is one hot babe. She has that incredible body, which I'm sure she knows how to use to her advantage. She has just the right amount of butch in her and she's quite beautiful in a sort of soft way. Then, of course, there is the fact that she carries handcuffs." Serena smiled at the possibilities. She could feel Alex's jealous eyes on her, but she didn't care.

"You're impossible. You enjoy torturing me. I don't know why I remain friends with you."

"Because you love me and you know that I will always tell you the truth and call you on your bullshit. And you denying that you are and have been crazy about Olivia Benson for the longest time is definitely bullshit." Serena finished with a prim smile. "Go on....tell me that I'm right."

Alex sighed heavily and rolled her eyes. "Fine. I like her. I like her much more than I probably should. Are you satisfied now?"

"What is so wrong with liking the woman, Alex? Olivia is a great person. She's one of the most genuine people that I know."

"We work together."

"So. You're both adults and consummate professionals. I'm sure you could keep your professional and personal lives separate." Serena countered.

"We're nothing alike. We come from two different worlds."

"Being with someone just like yourself would be dreadfully boring, don't you think?" Serena waited.

"We argue almost all the time as it is."

"That just means that the make-up sex would be even hotter. Next lame ass excuse." When Alex come back, Serena pushed further. "You know that you want to be with her..... so just tell her that."

Alex abruptly stood from the table. "I'm going to the bar to get another drink. Would you like me to bring you something back?"

Serena knew that Alex would run off when she didn't want to face something, so she let it go. She shook her head. "No. But don't think that this conversation is over. We'll finish it later."

"Whatever. Why don't you find some poor woman to hit on. I'll be back in a minute."

Serena just laughed as Alex walked away.

Olivia and Pearce walked into the dimly lit club and glanced around. The band was softly playing and the atmosphere was cozy.

"How did you find this place?" Olivia asked.

"A colleague of mine suggested it to me. He knows that I like jazz, so he's always telling me about the little haunts he finds around the city."

Pearce had spotted an open table and they were about to go over and sit when Olivia stopped. She heard a familiar voice calling her name.

"Olivia, I thought that was you."

Olivia turned around and found herself face to face with Serena Southerlyn. "Serena, hi."

"Alex told me that you weren't coming. I'm so glad that you changed your mind. We already have a table over...." Serena trailed off when she saw a rather stunning woman standing just behind Olivia.

Olivia stepped back for a moment. "Serena, this is Pearce Delong. Pearce, this is a friend of mine, Serena Southerlyn."

Still slightly in shock, it took Serena a moment to realize that Pearce had extended her hand. She blinked and quickly shook it.

"It's really nice to meet you." Serena smiled politely finding it hard to look away. She finally glanced at Olivia. "So...you two are....on a date, I presume?"

Olivia blushed and nodded. She hadn't expected to see anyone that she knew tonight, especially Serena. She was silently praying that Alex wasn't with her, but she had a sinking feeling that she was.

"God, I am so sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt. I just assumed that you were here for...."

"Serena, the bar was getting kind of busy so I went ahead and got you another....." Alex stopped mid-sentence when she looked up into the brown eyes of Olivia Benson. She was so taken back by Olivia's appearance that she dropped the wine glass from her hand allowing it to shatter all over the floor.

Alex finally blinked and shook herself back into consciousness. She tore her eyes away from Olivia and bent down to pick up the broken glass. Olivia, who had a similar reaction to seeing Alex, jumped into action as well. She reached over and grabbed a napkin.

"God, I am so clumsy."

"Alex, wait. You might....." Olivia said bending down.

"Oww! Dammit!"

"....cut yourself." She instinctively reached out and grabbed Alex's hand to look at the cut. "Here. Let me see if you're bleeding, sweetie."

Alex didn't seem to notice or care. All she knew was that Olivia Benson was holding her hand and fussing over her. Sweetie. She called me sweetie. All was right with the world until.....

"Pearce could you take a look at this? I don't know how bad the cut is." Olivia said helping Alex back up. She looked at Alex with tender eyes. Pearce stepped from behind Olivia and into Alex's view. "It's okay, Alex. This is Pearce. She's is a doctor.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Alex looked back and forth between the two and suddenly understood perfectly. Just great ! This can't get any worse. I look like a clumsy idiot and her date gets to be the hero.

"Why don't we go to the bathroom so I can see a little better?" Pearce said placing a napkin over Alex's hand.

Alex groaned internally. She has an English accent too! Perfect!

Olivia and her date ushered her off to the bathroom. Once there, Pearce held Alex's hand under the faucet, letting the cool water run over it. She held it up to the light and examined the cut.

"It's just a minor cut. Um...Olivia could you go ask for a first aide kit? I'm sure they have one around here somewhere?" Pearce said carefully examining Alex's hand.

"Sure. I'll be right back." Olivia said giving Alex a long concerned look.

Pearce glanced up and noticed the look, but went back to her earlier actions. She gave Alex a paper towel and told her to elevate her hand.

"That should slow the blood flow. When Olivia comes back, I can clean out the cut for you and patch you up. I'm sure it won't even leave a scar."

"Thanks." Alex said a bit embarrassed. "I'm sorry for all this. I'm sure you didn't expect to spend your evening this way."

"It's not a problem. I'm used to it."

There was a long awkward silence between them. "So... you're a doctor?" Pearce simply nodded. "What kind?"

"Surgeon.... I specialize in thoracic and cardiac mainly."

"That's quite impressive." Again another pause. "So how do you know Olivia?" Alex knew she shouldn't have asked but she had to know.

"I met her at the hospital not too long ago... unfortunately it involved a young rape victim. And we had a chance to talk as I patched up her wrist."

That was you.

"One first aid kit coming up." Olivia announced coming back into the bathroom holding a small white box.

Pearce took the kit and found a pair of gloves inside. She slipped them on and went to work. She cleaned out Alex's cut and placed a gauze over it.

"You don't need any stitches. The cut should heal up on it's own. Just make sure to keep it clean. You don't want this to get infected."

Alex nodded. "Thank you. And again... I'm so sorry to have inconvenienced you."

"Don't worry about it. I assume that you're a friend of Olivia's so...."

Olivia smacked her forehead. "God, I am so sorry. Here I am asking you to fix up my friend and I didn't even introduce you."

Alex's stomach lurched and she bristled when she heard Olivia refer to her as a friend.

Pearce, this is Alexandra Cabot. She's our ADA." She turned back to Alex, unable to meet her eyes fully. "Alex, this is Dr. Pearce Delong..... my date."

Alex immediately recognized the name and it took everything in her not to bolt from the restroom. She instead fell back on years of learning how to hide emotions. She smiled politely and held out her hand. "It's nice to meet you.... and thank you again."

Pearce nodded. "Nice to meet you as well."

An uncomfortable silence fell between the three of them. Pearce glanced at Olivia and caught yet another strange look in her eyes when she looked at Alex. She raised a brow and tried to dismiss it. Thankfully, they were saved by Serena.

"Hey you guys okay in here? How's the patient?"

"Fine. We were just about to head back out." Alex said quickly, grateful for the escape.

All four women went back into the club and found that the club had grown a bit more crowded than before. It was obvious that Olivia and her date would now have a difficult time finding an open table.

"Why don't you two come and sit with us?" Serena asked spontaneously. She could almost feel Alex's eyes blazing into the back of her head.

"I... I don't know if...." Olivia began looking at Pearce.

"It's fine with me." Pearce said trying to make the decision easier for her.

"Are you sure. I mean...."

Pearce flashed her a dimpled smile. "Is there a reason you don't want me to be around your friends?"

Serena laughed at Olivia's deep blush. "Oh, I'm sure Liv wouldn't mind if we told you a few stories, right Liv?"

Olivia gave Serena her best perp glare. Serena and Pearce looked at each other and just laughed. No one seemed to notice Alex turning more and more green with envy by the moment.

They finally all settled down at the table. Newly informed that it was Serena's birthday, Pearce flagged down a waiter and ordered a bottle of their best wine. Olivia found the gesture very sweet.

"You didn't have to do that." She leaned over and whispered to Pearce.

"She's your friend and you would have been out celebrating her birthday tonight had it not been for me."

Olivia looked directly into her eyes. "I'm not complaining at all and I think she understands by that appreciative look she keeps giving you." Pearce laughed.

Alex watched them laughing and talking softly across the table. She grit her teeth as she saw Pearce's hand brush Olivia's. She felt herself growing more and more angry.

They all made small talk for a while. Pearce and Serena found out that they had briefly met before. It turned out that Pearce had been an expert medical witness in one of the cases that she'd worked with Jack McCoy when she first joined the DA's office. They chatted easily while Olivia and Alex remained relatively quiet, secretly trading glances across the table.

Seeing that Olivia had grown quiet, Pearce poured her a glass of wine and turned to her. "You're awfully quiet."

"I just like listening to you."

"Fine by me. I'll talk more if you want." She passed Olivia her glass.

"Are you trying to get me drunk?"

"Now, that wouldn't be very smart of me... getting a police officer drunk. That would be against the rules wouldn't it?"

"You strike me as someone who plays by her own rules."

"Only when it suits me. So are you going to enjoy this rather expensive wine or not?"

"Sure. Why not? You're paying.... and driving."

Pearce smiled again and Olivia felt her heart race speed up. The sound of the band starting up pulled her attentions away. They sat back and listened to the soft sounds of the saxophone and the smooth vocals of the singer. Olivia decided that she liked it. It reminded her of a mixture of early Billie Holiday and Etta James.

Couples made their way to the dance floor. Olivia tried to keep her attentions on the band and her date, but she failed a few times. She glanced across the table at Alex again. She noticed that the two blondes seemed to be in deep conversation. She saw Serena place her hand over Alex's as she leaned into her. She knew that Serena was out and now she secretly wondered if Alex and Serena were a little more than just friends. The thought bothered her more than she would have liked to admit.

Let it go Benson. That's not your concern.

Olivia quickly turned back to her date and was relieved that Pearce had been watching the band and hadn't noticed her distraction. She waited until the third song before she got up the nerve to ask Pearce to dance. Alex bit the inside of her jaw as she watched Olivia stand and offer Pearce her hand. She felt Serena's hand move under the table and gently rest on her knee. It was the only thing that kept her from bolting from the table like a child. She looked at Serena who gave her a sympathetic look in return. She sat back and sighed heavily. This night was pure hell.

Olivia took Pearce's hand and led her to the dance floor. Pearce stepped into her arms and relaxed allowing Olivia to lead. She heard Olivia sigh. "Are you alright?" Pearce whispered into her ear.

Olivia shivered. "Yeah... you.. you just smell good."

Pearce leaned closer. "So do you."

Olivia could feel Pearce's breath on her neck. She swallowed hard. Jesus! Maybe this wasn't a good idea.

After about two dances, Pearce pulled away and pretended to be thirsty. The truth was that she couldn't trust herself to be so close to Olivia any longer. The older woman had been holding her close and whispering into her ear as they danced. She knew Olivia wasn't trying to deliberately get her aroused, but she was definitely succeeding.

Alex watched the two the entire time they danced. Finally, she just couldn't take any more. She abruptly stood and excused herself. Olivia saw her fleeing the table as she and Pearce returned to their seats. She looked at Serena for an explanation.

"Is Alex okay?"

"Uh.... yeah. It's just that.... she hasn't been feeling herself lately, you know. I should probably go check on her."

Olivia stopped Serena as she started to stand. "That's okay. I'll check on her. I was heading to the ladies room anyway." Olivia lied. "I'll only be a minute."

Pearce nodded and watched Olivia leave. She turned back to Serena who was wearing a rather guilty look. She sat down and looked at her for a moment. "Is there something that I need to know about those two?"

Serena sighed. She felt really bad. A part of her felt like she had put Pearce in this position by inviting them to sit at their table. "I think that's something that you should discuss with Olivia. But for what it's worth... I'm sorry."

 

Chapter Text

 

Olivia walked into the bathroom and found Alex leaning against the sink just staring at herself in the mirror.

"You okay, Alex?"

Alex stood up straight and sighed. "I'm fine."

"Serena said that you haven't been exactly yourself lately. What's going on?" Olivia asked. Her voice was laced with concern.

Alex knew that tone. She'd dreamed about the sound of that voice. The fact that she wanted Olivia to be concerned about her made her even more angry at herself. She was angry because it was obvious that Olivia's attentions lay elsewhere. Olivia had a life that didn't include her. So Alex did what she did best when she was hurt. She became an iron-clad bitch.

"I'm fine, Olivia and it's really none of your concern."

"You're my friend, Alex. If something is wrong...."

Friend!  "If you really want to know what's wrong, you should put yourself in my shoes right now!"

Olivia was shocked by the quick change in behavior. "Wait a minute. What do you mean by that?"

"Olivia, just go back out there to your....perfectlittle date and leave me alone!" Alex snapped.

"Where is this coming from? What's the matter with you?! You've been acting strange all night and now you're yelling at me."

"Maybe it's because I've been trying to figure out how you could be so... so... irresponsible!"

"Irresponsible? What the hell...."

Alex was in a full jealous rage by this point.... although she hid the jealous part with baseless allegations. "Olivia, your date was the doctor that treated our victim, Rachel Hunt! You do remember the Williams case don't you?"

"Of course I do. What does that have to do with anything?"

"You gave me your word that you wouldn't do anything that would jeopardize that case."

"And I meant it. I want to nail Eric Williams as much as you do."

"You're on a date... with the doctor... the same doctor involved in the case. She could be called as a potential witness!"

Alex was grasping at straws and she knew it. But she had started this and she had to finish it. "I can't believe you would risk my case this way."

"Your case!" Olivia stepped back because she couldn't believe what she was hearing... from Alex of all people. "First of all... I would never deliberately jeopardize any case. Secondly, I met Pearce by chance. Other than Rachel's surgery, she has no connection to this case at all. So just because she and I know one another personally is immaterial."

"Nothing is immaterial when it comes to a case! You should have kept your... personal life out of this... at least until the trial was over. Would that have been so difficult to do, Detective?!"

Olivia shook her head in disbelief. "You know what Alex.... SCREW YOU!"

Alex was momentarily stunned. "I beg your...."

"I've always been the one telling the guys that you weren't an ice queen and that you were just doing your job. But, I guess I was the fool all along. They were right. Everything is about your win/loss ratio, isn't it?" Olivia took a deep breath and stepped back. "I hope it keeps you warm at night, Counselor."

Olivia didn't even give her a second glance. Alex jumped at the loud sound of the door slamming behind her. Left alone with the misery she'd caused, dropped her eyes as tears filled them. "Fuck!"

When Olivia returned to the table, Pearce could sense a difference in her immediately. Olivia looked slightly rattled.

"Hey, you okay?"

"Yeah. Umm.... could we go now? I'm a little tired."

"Sure." Pearce quickly stood and pulled on her jacket and handed Olivia hers.

Serena looked at Olivia with concern then darted her eyes back in the direction of the bathroom. She could tell that something big had just happened. She just didn't know what.

"It was a pleasure meeting you, Doctor. I hope we can do this again sometime." Serena said sincerely. She really had enjoyed the woman's company.

"Same here. I hope you had a wonderful birthday." Pearce said in return almost feeling guilty for enjoying her company so much.

"Thank you. I did."

Alex finally made her way back to the table. Her chest tightened when she saw that Olivia and Pearce were leaving. Every hair on Olivia's body stood up as Alex approached. She couldn't even bare to look at her.

Pearce picked up on the tension and decided that now would be a great time to make an exit.

"Again, it was nice to have met you both. Goodnight." Pearce said moving towards the door.

"Happy Birthday, Serena. We'll get together soon. I promise." Olivia said with a fake smile. She glanced at Alex rather coldly. "Evening Miss Cabot."

Alex said nothing as the two women left. Serena turned and looked at a very pale Alex. "What the hell happened in there?"

"Let's just go, Serena." Without another word, Alex grabbed her coat and paid the tab.

Once in the cab, Serena looked over at her friend and her heart ached for her. Alex had finally opened up to her and told her about the incident in the bathroom. "You okay?"

"What do you think? I just saw Olivia out with another woman. Then, in true Cabot form, I get jealous and go off on her as if she did something wrong. She was concerned about me and I threw it back in her face. So yeah! I'm perfectly fine." Alex said in a defeated sarcastic tone.

"If you want me to join in on your pity party, I won't do it Alexandra." Serena stated.

"Thanks for the solidarity, old friend."

"If you want to be pissed at someone, be pissed at yourself because you did this all on your own." Serena caught the harshness in her own voice. She stopped and softened her voice. "But... you're not out of the game completely, Alex. Yes, you screwed up tonight... monumentally. But you know Olivia. She will forgive you if you apologize. She has too big of a heart not to."

"You don't know that Serena. You didn't see how angry she was." Alex said softly.

"How many times have you stuck your foot in your big mouth and pissed her off before?" Alex gave her a sad look. Serena cracked a smile. "Face it. This is what you two do. It's your little dance. You argue and then make-up again. All that's missing is the sex."

"There was never someone else waiting in the wings though. Maybe this time.... maybe it's too late."

Serena sighed and reached for Alex's hand. "If you didn't notice, Olivia looked like she swallowed a fish when she first saw us tonight. And she was staring directly at you most of the night even though she was with someone else. Now if you would get up off your prim and proper ass and go after the woman, you might actually have a shot."

Serena held up a hand when she saw Alex about to speak. "But! I'm warning you Alex.... if you don't, Pearce Delong will. You saw for yourself that she is quite easy on the eyes. I also happen to know that she is extremely intelligent, charming, and believe it or not... she's actually a very nice person. That's rare."

"Gee, aren't you quite the fan of the little doctor." Alex snapped.

"Maybe I am." Serena looked her in the eyes. "But I'm obviously not the only one. You should be more concerned with the fact that she's the one taking Olivia Benson home tonight. She's also the kind of woman that I think Olivia could fall for..... if you're not in the picture. And by the looks of things tonight, you're doing a bang up job to make sure that's the case."

Serena's words stung Alex and Serena knew it. But she had to get through to her friend before it was too late. She and Alex rode the rest of the way home in complete silence.

Pearce glanced over at Olivia for the tenth time since they'd left the club. Olivia who had been relatively talkative most of the night, was suddenly silent. And Pearce had a good idea why.

"So... is she your ex?"

Olivia turned her eyes from the window back to Pearce quickly. "What? Who?"

Pearce smirked. "The taller blonde.... Alexandra, I think?"

Olivia shook her head. "Oh no. Alex and I are..... just friends..... if that even. We work together. That's it."

Pearce took her eyes off the road to glance at her. "You like her though."

Olivia laughed out loud. "What?"

"You... Like... Her." Pearce put emphasis on each words.

"I'll have you know that Alexandra Cabot is the most stubborn, egotistical, infuriating woman in the world. What would make you think that I...."

"The way you looked at her. When we saw them tonight, you looked like someone who had been caught cheating. Believe me... I know that look."

Olivia raised a brow. Pearce shook her head. "Not me.... one of my exes.... two of them actually."

"Ouch. Sorry."

Pearce shrugged. "Hazard of the job I guess. I wasn't around enough."

"I know the feeling."

By now, they had reached Olivia's apartment. Pearce parked across the street and they slowly got out. Pearce walked Olivia up to the building.

Pearce decided to say her piece before Olivia had a chance to avoid the issue. "Olivia, I like you. I'm not going to deny that. I think that we have a lot in common and I really had a good time with you tonight.... in spite of the the.... uh... craziness."

"So did I." Olivia said honestly.

"Look, I don't know what's going on with you and your... friend, but there's obviously something between you two. So, I just want to be up front about what I feel and what I want. I hope that you will show me the same respect. No matter what... I think I've at least made a friend in you."

Olivia found her respect for this women increase by the moment. "What do you want Pearce?"

"What I want and what should happen are two different things. You see.... I want to get to know you better.... see what happens, but I don't know if...."

"I want that too." Olivia said staring at her.

"But your friend...."

"Is exactly that..... a friend."

"But..."

Olivia leaned in and closed the gap between them touching her lips to Pearce's cutting her off. Pearce stiffened at first, but quickly relaxed and reciprocated. Olivia slipped her arms around Pearce's waist and pulled her closer. She moaned as she felt soft fingertips on the back of her neck treading through her hair. Olivia's heart was racing as the kiss ended.

She rested her forehead against Pearce's. "God, you are so beautiful." Olivia whispered.

"So are you."

Lost in a haze of lust, Olivia pulled Pearce close again and kissed her for a second time. This time the kiss was more intense. Pearce let out a soft groan as Olivia pushed her back into the brick wall. The detective's hands began to roam a bit more freely as one of her thighs made it's way between Pearce's legs. One of Pearce's hands found it's way into Olivia's short locks. It became harder for her to breath. She could feel Olivia's soft, warm lips making a trail down her neck over she shoulders. She blinked and tried to focus.

"O... Olivia... wait." Pearce was trying to catch her breath. It took all of her restraint to push Olivia back slightly.

Olivia's breathing had quickened too. She rested her forehead against the doctor's. "Do you want to come up?"

Pearce was having a hard time putting two words together, let alone explain herself. She jumped slightly when Olivia bit her earlobe. Fuck!

Again, she found the strength from somewhere and pushed Olivia back so that they could look at one another. "I can't."

"You don't want to?"

"God! You have no idea how much I really want to right now.... but I don't think that's a good idea." Pearce shook her head slightly.

"Why not?"

She sighed and placed her hands on each of Olivia's cheeks. "I thought I could do this, but....."

"Do what?"

Pearce took a deep breath and tried to calm her libido. "As much as I want to go upstairs with you, I won't. Because if we did... you know what's going to happen."

"Exactly... and that would be a bad idea because?"

Pearce smiled softly and caressed Olivia's cheek. "Because tonight wouldn't be about you and me. It would be about you trying to get past whatever there is between you and your friend."

"But I told you that...."

"And I won't be anybody's substitute." She said interrupting. ".... no matter how sexy you look in that leather jacket."

Olivia sighed and hid herself in the crook of Pearce's neck. The stood in the embrace for a long moment before Olivia spoke again. "It wouldn't be like that. I swear."

Pearce waited until Olivia lifted her head and looked at her. "I think you really do believe that. And that's what so damn tempting."

Olivia took a deep breath and stepped back but not out of Pearce's embrace. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pull you into my mess of a life. Believe it or not, I didn't even have a social life a few days ago."

Pearce laughed. "I don't remember you pulling me anywhere. I pursued you, remember?"

Olivia nodded. "So what now?"

"I give you a kiss goodnight, go home, and take a long cold shower. You go upstairs and figure out what you want for yourself. If that involves seeing me again without you know who in your head..... you know where to find me."

"Since it's obvious that I can't persuade you otherwise, I guess I should thank you for a lovely evening, Dr. Delong."

"Thank you for coming. I had a wonderful time."

"Me too." Olivia looked down at her hands. "Can I call you sometime..... you know...even if....."

"I'd like that. You can never have too many friends, right?"

"Right. Goodnight Pearce."

"Goodnight Olivia." Pearce gave her a quick peck on the forehead before slipping away. Olivia waited for a moment to watch her drive away, then disappeared into her building.

 

Chapter Text

 

It was well past one in the morning and Olivia still hadn't been able to fall asleep. She had tossed and turned the last couple of hours, playing the entire evening over and over in her head. She had never felt so confused.

On one hand she had Pearce Delong. She was beautiful, smart, and easy-going. She was just the kind of woman that Olivia could see herself with. But on the other hand, she couldn't get Alex out of her mind. She couldn't understand why she hadn't been able to get past this crush. Yes, Alex Cabot was gorgeous, intelligent, and even kind and sweet when she wanted to be. But she was also stubborn, egotistical, and completely career driven on her best day. So, Olivia kept asking herself... why did she care so much.... why did she keep coming back argument after argument? Truth be told, she already knew the answer. She was just too afraid of what that would mean.

The shrill sound of her cell phone shook her from her deep thoughts. She reached over and flipped it open in one smooth motion. "Benson.....yeah......when?........ No, I'll meet you there......No, just stay put.  I'll be there in twenty."

Olivia pulled herself out of bed and went into work mode. Her personal life would just have to wait. It had waited this long, what was the difference.

In the meantime across town, Alex wasn't getting much sleep either. Her guilt ridden heart would allow her to rest. She felt so awful about the fight she'd started with Olivia. She didn't know why she couldn't just be straight with Olivia. Instead, she's lashed out and accused her of the one thing that Olivia would never do. She knew that Olivia would never jeopardize a case. If anything, Olivia put her own life on hold for her cases. Maybe that was the problem. Olivia's job had always been Olivia's mistress and Alex could deal with that. But now, she witnessed for herself that Olivia was finally getting a life outside the job and it didn't include her. Maybe she'd waited too long and now it was just too late. That very thought scared the hell out of her. She rolled over and closed her eyes vowing to make things right with Olivia the next day. She soon drifted off into an uncomfortable slumber.

 


 

Alex jumped slightly at the unexpected sound of her ringing phone. She glanced at the clock and noticed the ungodly hour. She knew this wouldn't be good.

"Hello......Yes........What?!........Oh my god!........When?........Elliot, just tell her........ I... I'm on my Elliot....I'll be right there!"

Twenty-five minutes later, Alex burst through the doors rushing down the busy ER hallway. She spotted a solemn Cragen and a very pale and shaken Elliot Stabler sitting side by side in the waiting area. Elliot stood as she approached.

"What the hell happened?" She looked down and saw blood all over Elliot's shirt. "Oh god." Her knees buckled and the room began to spin. Elliot caught her by the arms and helped her to a seat.

"I'll go and try and find out some information while you fill Cabot in." Cragen said diplomatically. He'd had his suspicions about Alex's feelings for Olivia. Her reaction had just confirmed them.

Elliot nodded then kneeled before Alex. She swallowed hard and tried to reach out and touch the blood on his shirt. He caught her hand and held it.

"Tell me what happened." Alex's voice shook.

"We got a call.... from Rachel Hunt's mother. Apparently, Williams somehow got out on bail. She said that she thought he'd been lurching around their home. I called Liv and told her that I was just going to go over there and check it out.... that it was probably nothing. You know Liv. She wouldn't let me go alone. When we got there, everything seemed okay. We thought that either she'd been a little jumpy or he'd already left."

His voice broke a little and his eyes filled with tears. He looked away to get himself in check. He looked back at Alex after a moment.

"I was wrong. I should have called for backup first. Williams came around the corner...... He......He got to her before I could......"

Alex waited for a moment searching his eyes for answers. "Elliot...."

"I was too far away, Alex. I ran as fast as I could, but.... he had a knife. He stabbed her. He stabbed her and he kicked her a few times before I could get to him."

She gasped, covering her mouth with both hands. It was the only thing she could do to keep from crying out. "Is she...."

"She's in surgery. They haven't been able to tell us anything."

Alex took a deep breath. She needed to get herself together. She couldn't do anything about Olivia's condition, so she had to do her job. She owed Olivia that much.

"Williams? Is he in custody?"

Elliot blinked at the transition. "No. He's dead. I made sure of it." He said harshly.

Blue eyes stared back into blue and there was a clear understanding between the two. Alex cleared her throat. "Don't worry. I'll take care of it. You were trying to protect your partner. End of story."

Elliot nodded. He had never seen Alex this way. She asked no questions or for answers that he couldn't give. He knew that this was about Olivia and what she felt for her.

Cragen returned a few moments later with a cup of coffee. He handed it to Alex. They sat quietly as Elliot paced a few feet away. By now Munch, Fin, and a few other detectives from the station had arrived. Everyone was on pins and needles waiting for some kind of news. All Alex could do was replay the last conversation that she'd had with Olivia over and over in her head. She prayed that the last moments they shared with each other wouldn't be in anger.

"I remember the day that you two first met."

Alex blinked at Cragen's sudden choice of conversation. She sipped her coffee and listened.

"You walked in with your freshly pressed expensive suit, eyes wide with anticipation." He smiled slightly. "Benson looked at you like you were a perp."

Even Alex had to smile. She remembered that day. She had no idea what she had gotten herself into.

"You thought the cases were going to be a walk in the park just like the cases you had in white collar. You thought SVU would be your stepping stone to the DA's office. That's why our favorite detective decided to...take you under her wing so to speak."

"She asked me to come out to a scene with them." Alex supplied. "I was never able to wear those shoes again."

"Imagine how angry the ME was when you spilled your guts over most of the evidence."

"I never did figure out why I had to be present for that." Alex glanced at Cragen and saw traces of a smirk on his face. "I always suspected that I was being taught a lesson. Now, I know for sure."

There was a long pause between them. "She has to be okay, Don. I....I just don't know what I'll do if she isn't."

Cragen reached over and squeezed her hand. "I know, Alex. I know."

 

Chapter Text

 

A couple of hours later, a very haggard looking Pearce walked out of the OR. She wiped the sweat from her brow and walked towards the small group gathered in the waiting area. She scanned the group and cleared her throat.

"Is there someone here for Olivia Benson?"

All heads turned in her direction. Two men stood and approached her. "I'm Captain Cragen and this is Olivia's partner, Detective Elliot Stabler.  He's Olivia's emergency contact."

"I'm Dr. Delong." They exchanged quick handshakes. "If you'll come with me into the conference room here, I'll give you an update on her condition."

Elliot let out a small sigh. An update meant that she had survived. He turned and looked down at Alex who was still staring off into space. He touched her shoulder and tilted his head for her to follow. They all followed Pearce inside the small room and took a seat around the table.

"Does Oli... Does Miss Benson have any family here?"

Pearce had to remind herself that the situation involved Olivia in a professional way, not personal. Everything about this seemed almost surreal to Pearce. She had thought nothing of the routine page calling her into the hospital. That was before she saw who the victim was. Just hours before, she and Olivia had been out on a date together. Now she was lying in her OR. The winds of life could change so suddenly.

"She doesn't have any family in the area." Cragen said simply.

Pearce nodded and continued. "She made it through the surgery, but we had to make a lot of intestinal repairs, both upper and lower. Her wounds were deep and she lost quite a bit of blood. We had to start a transfusion. Her heart is also not beating the way that it should be, so we will be monitoring that as well."

"Is that all. I mean is..."

Pearce held up a hand to hold off Elliot's questions until she had given them all the information. "There are also a few concerns about her left kidney. There's no laceration in that area, but there was some severe bruising."

"The son of a bitch kicked her." Elliot said angrily.

Pearce's eyes glanced over at Alex who had said nothing. She looked pale and fragile.

"That would explain it. I don't think that it's damaged beyond preservation, but I still can't be certain for now. We'll have to just wait and see. But the good news is that people can live full and normal lives with only one kidney.... if it comes to that."

"Oh god. I can't believe this is happening." Elliot breathed. "Is she going to be okay otherwise?"

Pearce chose her words carefully. She knew better than anyone how unpredictable patients conditions could be. "Right now, her status is critical....but if she makes it through the next twenty-four hours, her chances for recovery are much better. Barring any surprises, I think her chances of pulling through are good."

All three of them seem to let out a sigh of relief. Even though Olivia wasn't out of the woods, she was okay for now. Any positive news was better than nothing.

"Can we see her?" Cragen asked.

"It will be about an hour or so before we can get her settled, but I'll have a nurse let you know when. However, I am limiting her visitors to just a few and only one visitor at a time. What she needs most of all right now is rest."

Cragen nodded. "Thank you, doctor."

He and Elliot shook Pearce's hand again and filed out to tell the others. Alex, on the other hand, didn't move. She simply sat there. Pearce looked at her for a moment.

"I really think that she's going to pull through."

Alex still said nothing. Pearce moved closer to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. Alex looked up and met her eyes.

"My office is just down the hall. It's a lot more comfortable than these chairs. You could pull yourself together before you go see her. You don't want her to see your worry."

Alex nodded. "Thank you." She whispered.

Pearce's office was not far, just as she had said. Pearce gave her a glass of water as she sat down on the dark sofa. She glanced around the doctor's office and noticed how much it reminded her of her own. She sipped from the glass then placed it back on the table. She looked up and saw Pearce leaning back against the desk.

"I picked a fight with her." Out of the blue, Alex started to talk. Not really to Pearce, more to no one actually. She found the words flowing out and she couldn't stop them.

"I don't really know why. I just couldn't stop myself. I saw her with you... and I.... I couldn't help it. I was angry because she was with you instead of with me.....dancing with you instead of dancing with me. I was just so.... damn angry. Not really at her. She had every right to be on a date with you. I was just.... upset with myself for allowing it to happen. I was furious because you had more courage than I did. She knew how you felt about her..... but not me."

Pearce simply stood there and listened. It was obvious that Alex needed to talk and that's what she allowed her to do.

"Now... Now all I can think about is that she's lying in there and..... if I had just told her.... if I had just reached out to her..... that maybe....." Alex struggled with her words.

"Maybe none of this would have happened?" Pearce finished.

Alex looked up at the ceiling to keep the tears from falling. "Yes."

"You know that what happened wasn't your fault, right?"

"Then why do I feel like it is?"

Pearce stared at her for a moment then pushed herself off the desk. She went over to the sofa and sat down next to Alex. "Mind if I tell you a story?"

When Alex didn't respond, Pearce continued. "I knew this woman once. She had the career that she'd always wanted... worked so hard for. She had her entire life all figured out. Everything had all gone as planned. She had everything that she had ever wanted, but there was a problem. She didn't have that special someone to share any of it with or at least not the right someone. Then, one day....everything changed. Her entire world was turned upside down.... when she met this beautiful human being.... and she fell in love. This amazing person was perfect, but also a woman. Now as you can imagine, this confused her quite a bit. Such things were simply frowned upon in the world that she had grown up. There were standards and expectations that she had to live up to. So... even though she loved this woman more than anything or anyone, she pushed her away. She gave herself every excuse you could imagine. She even convinced herself that it was best for both of them that they stay apart and that it was best that she marry someone else."

Pearce paused to see if Alex was still listening.

"For a long time, she denied herself the one thing that she wanted most in the world. Life was just plain miserable. Finally, one day.... she just woke up. She couldn't take it anymore. She realized that no matter how much space she put between them or how much time they spent apart, nothing was ever going to change. So, she did the only thing she could do. She begged for forgiveness and for the chance to make things right. And for two years, that's exactly what she did. She spent every moment trying to make that woman that she loved as happy as she could."

Finally Alex looked up from her hands. "And because she faced her feelings, they lived happily ever after. Is that what you're saying?"

Pearce smiled sadly and shook her head. "Unfortunately no. They didn't get their fairytale ending."

"What happened?"

"9-11 happened."

This got Alex's attention. She turned her head and looked at Pearce. Pearce was staring straight ahead, an unreadable expression on her face. A long moment passed before she spoke.

"Her name was Kate. She was a firefighter... and those were the happiest years of my life."

They sat in complete silence for a few minutes. Alex didn't know what to say. Everything she could think of seemed so trivial.

"I'm sorry."

"Me too." She sighed heavily. "You know...I would give just about anything be in your position right now. It took me a long time to come to terms with the mistake I made. I wasted so much time; time that I could have had being happy with the woman that I loved. You don't have to make the same mistake that I did. Olivia is strong. She's going to pull through... which means that you get a second chance.  Don't waste it."

"I don't know what to say to her."

"Why not start with the truth. I think she really needs to hear that.... maybe you both do." She reached over and grabbed her stethoscope and put it around her neck. "Listen, I'm going to go check up on Olivia and make sure she's settled. After a few of her friends have seen her, I'm going to tell the nurses that she is not to have any other visitors until later in the morning. So.... if someone were to slip inside after I left, I'm sure that no one would bother that someone for quite a while."

Alex looked over at her in surprise. "Why are you doing this? I saw the way you looked at her. You care for her."

Pearce nodded. "Yes, I do.... and that's exactly why I'm doing it."

Alex let out a sardonic laugh. "Why would she want me and all my mess when she could have you. I mean... you're perfect."

Pearce shook her head. "Trust me. I am so far from it. But even if I were...she doesn't want perfect. She wants you." Pearce gave Alex a pat on the knee and stood. "You ready?"

"Yeah. I think I am."

Before they reached the door, Alex reached out and touched Pearce's arm. "Hey?" The doctor stopped and turned. "Thank you.... for everything."

Pearce smiled warmly and led her back down the hall to ICU.

 

Chapter Text

 

An hour later, after much persuasion from the captain and his wife, Elliot had gone home to shower and get some sleep. Cragen and the others had left and went back to the station. Just as Pearce had told her, Alex had easily slipped into Olivia's room with no problem. She had a feeling that this had more to do with the doctor telling the ICU nurses to let her be alone than anything else. Alex made a mental note to thank her later. But right now, her mind was focused on one person.... Olivia.

She'd had the chance to see Olivia for a few brief minutes when they had first been allowed inside. But this time, she allowed herself to really look at her. Olivia looked so much smaller in the bed. Her larger than life personality didn't fill the room this time. Her usually olive skin looked so pale. Multiple tubes flowed from her body to various machines around the bed. Alex gasped and her breath caught in her chest as she moved closer and saw cuts on her hands. You were trying to defend yourself. A single tear fell from Alex's eye.

She pulled the nearby chair close to the bed and let down the railing. With a trembling hand, she reached out and took Olivia's hand that was resting at her side. She flinched slightly at how cold the other woman's hand was. It was a striking contrast of how warm and soft Olivia usually was. Her eyes traveled upward and paused at Olivia's chest. She watched it as it rose and fell at a slow pace. Her eyes slowly made their way up to rest on Olivia's face. She smiled softly at the sight of short brown hair spiked in different directions. Even now, you look adorable.

"Olivia?...Liv?" Alex waited for a reaction and got none. "Liv, I know that you probably can't hear me, but I need to talk to you. There's so much I need to say. I don't even know where to start. I guess I'll start by saying I'm sorry. I am so sorry that I said those things to you last night. That's not what I wanted to say to you. It was just the opposite. I need you to know that."

Alex felt Olivia's hand twitch. She looked up and saw her head move ever so slightly. She stood up and leaned close to her ear.

"Liv,...it's me...Alex." Olivia's hand twitched again. Alex caressed it gently.

"I know you're tired and you're too weak to open your eyes, but that's okay. I just need you to listen to me okay? Liv... I... I can't tell you how sorry I am about everything.... the fight.... what happened to you. But even more than that, I'm sorry that I've kept the truth from you for so long." Alex started to cry softly.

"Olivia, I know that now might not be the best time for you, but I cannot leave here without telling you how I feel. I always thought that there would be enough time... the perfect time for me to tell you. But now I know that there isn't. So, I'm not wasting another minute. You see.... the reason that you have to get better is... is because.... I'm in love with you. I've been in love with you for so long. I didn't plan for it to happen. It just did. It's just the way it is....and I can't help it.... I don't want to. When I found out that you had been hurt, something in me just... stopped. It was like I couldn't breathe. "

Tears were falling freely from her eyes. She made no effort to wipe them away. This was the first time that Alex had been truly honest with herself or anyone else in her entire life.

"Olivia, I... I need you. I need you so much. Please.... Please don't leave me."

Alex held on to Olivia's hand and rested her head on the bed. She closed her eyes and listened to the soft sound of the machines allowing them to lull her to sleep.

Pearce looked through the small glass window of the door, witnessing the touching moment. Feeling truly hopeful for Olivia for the first time since this entire nightmare started, she simply nodded and walked away.

 

Chapter Text

 

Feeling a gentle shaking on her shoulder, Alex slowly stirred from her sleep. She squint her eyes at the intruding florescent lights of the room. Looking up, she was met by warm green eyes.

"Morning..... or more like afternoon rather." Pearce whispered as she held out a cup of coffee. "Here. Figured you could use this."

Alex sat up gratefully accepting the cup. "Thanks." She looked over at Olivia finding her still unconscious. She quickly looked back at Pearce. "How is she?"

"Her vitals look good. I'm about to examine her and run a few more test. That's why I woke you."

Alex stretched out her back and ran a hand through her hair. "Do you need me to leave?"

"Sorry. It's hospital policy. I also thought you might want to go change or something before the others came back...... you know...in case you didn't want anyone to know that you stayed with her."

"That doesn't seem to matter all that much anymore." Alex said simply. "I guess I should go change and make a few calls... but...." Alex hesitated. "... I just don't want to...."

Pearce placed a hand on Alex's shoulder. "She'll still be here. I'll make sure of it."

Alex nodded. She stood and looked down at Olivia for a moment. Pearce turned her back and pretended to check the machine monitors. Alex caressed Olivia's cheek then leaned down and placed a kiss on her forehead.

"Don't you go anywhere. I'll be back before you know it. I promise."

Pearce turned around when she heard the door close. She looked at the sleeping detective. "Don't you dare do something stupid.... like die on me, Detective. That lady loves you."

A couple of hours later, Alex returned freshly showered and comfortably dressed in a pair of jeans, Harvard hooded sweatshirt, and sneakers. She received a few raised eye brows from the guys as she entered the waiting area. She glanced around the room and saw Kathy Stabler sitting in the corner reading a magazine. She went over and said hello before taking the seat next to her.

"Has there been any change in Olivia's condition?"

Kathy saw the dark circles and the weariness in the blonde's eyes. "The doctor came out about an hour ago and gave us an update. She said that Olivia is holding her own. Her heart beat is much more regular, which is a really good sign. She's still on the ventilator though. We won't know more until Olivia actually wakes up."

Alex took in the information and willed herself not to cry. You're a Cabot, damn it. You can do this.

Kathy seemed to instinctively know what she was feeling. She reached over and squeezed Alex's hand. "I was a complete mess when Elliot was hurt. I couldn't even fill out the medical forms without having a breakdown. It's like you forget how to do anything. But you'll be okay, Alex."

Alex didn't know how to react to Kathy's words. Was her worry over Olivia that obvious? Was it obvious to everyone that she loved Olivia? Kathy seemed to sense her internal thoughts.

"You don't have to worry, Alex. It's not that obvious. I can see it because I've been where you are right now. It's not easy being in love with a cop."

"I should have told her before now. It shouldn't have been this way."

"You'll get a chance to make it right."

"I just need her to be okay.... I'll be okay if she's okay."

"I've known Olivia a long time. She's tough and she's a fighter." She smiled gently at Alex. "And I'm betting that she's going to fight even harder now that she knows what she has waiting for her."

"She's awake!"

Alex and Kathy looked over and saw Elliot walking back into the room. "She... She just woke up! The doctor is in with her now."

Alex thought her heart would jump right out of her chest it was beating so hard. Kathy rubbed her hand. Elliot started making his way over to them. He was looking directly at Alex. She didn't know what to think of the look he was giving her. He waited until the others had started talking amongst themselves.

"She asked for you." He said in a quiet tone.

"What?"

"She woke up saying your name... any idea why my partner would be asking for you instead of me?"

Alex opened and closed her mouth. She was a little worried until she saw the ends of Elliot's mouth start to curve upward. He was soon smiling. "I'm guessing that you two have some things to discuss."

Alex was only a little relieved. "I sure hope so."

Pearce walked into the room looking as professional as ever. They couldn't tell by her expression if she was bringing good or bad news. She walked over to where Elliot and Alex were. The others crowded around to hear the prognosis.

"Is Benson really awake?" Fin asked

"Yes. The patient is awake. She's responsive and she appears to be quite aware of her surroundings."

"Is she going to be alright?" Elliot asked carefully.

"Well, she's not completely out of the woods. We still have to be careful of infection and there is still the issue with her kidney, but..."

"But?" Cragen jumped in anxiously.

"But if she continues to progress at this rate, I think that she'll recover just fine."

"Alright Benson! I knew that chic was tough." Fin said with a relieved smile.

There were hugs exchanged and smiles on every face throughout the room. Pearce smiled as well. It was obvious that these people cared deeply for Olivia. She cleared her throat and turned to Alex.

"The patient also requested to see a visitor. Miss Cabot.... would you please follow me?"

Everyone looked around strangely. There were a few 'Why would she want to see Cabot?' comments made around the room. Alex didn't care. She just wanted to see Olivia.

Pearce turned to Alex once they had reached the door to ICU. "She has been taken off the ventilator, so she can respond to you. But she's still very weak, so.... try not to get her riled up too much, okay."

"I understand." Alex managed to say even though she was literally trembling. She had never been so excited and terrified to see someone in her entire life.

Pearce pushed the door open and allowed her inside. She went over to Olivia first and leaned over so the brunette could see her.

"Hey you. I brought who you asked for. You remember our deal?" Olivia nodded slightly through heavy eyes. "I'll let her stay as long as you take it easy okay?"

"O... kay." Olivia mouthed.

Pearce smiled. "Good. I have to go make rounds, so I'm going to go for a while. I'll be back to check up on you a little later." Pearce turned to go, but felt Olivia's hand tug on her white coat. She turned back around.

"Tha..nk... you."

She leaned down close to Olivia's ear. "You two invite me to dinner some time and we'll call it even." She pulled back and gave Olivia a wink before leaving.

Alex and Olivia stared at one another for a few moments in silence. Alex didn't know if she'd ever been so happy to see a pair of brown eyes... beautiful brown eyes. After what seemed like an eternity, she was somehow able to put one foot in front of the other and approach the bed. Blue eyes locked with brown, Alex breathed for what felt like the first time in her life.

"Hi."

"Hey."

 

Chapter Text

 

Alex pulled the chair close to the bed and sat down. She never took her eyes off of Olivia. "How are you feeling?"

"Gre...at. Just... peachy." Olivia's voice was groggy and winded. It was barely above a whisper.

Alex smiled softly. "I'll bet you do." She grew serious as she stared into brown eyes. "You gave us quite a scare, you know."

"Sor..ry."

"Don't be. I'm just glad you're okay."

"Wil...liams?"

"We don't have to talk about that right now? I'll take care of it."

Olivia shook her head slightly. "Your case.... I....he..."

Alex could see that Olivia was growing agitated at her inability to explain things. "Hey, listen to me. Don't worry about that. I don't care about the case or anything else. I just care about you."

Olivia seemed to relax a little, but Alex could see that determined look in her eyes. She relented. "Okay. What I can tell you is that Williams can't hurt anyone else ever again. He's dead."

Olivia started to remember. "Elliot?" Alex nodded. "IAB... you have to... protect him."

Without realizing it, Alex reached out and took Olivia's hand in her own. "I already told you... I'll take care of it. The only thing you have to worry about is getting better."

Olivia looked down at their hands together. A sense of familiarity washed over her. She looked back up into Alex's eyes. They were tired and filled with concern. The look in those eyes gave Olivia the answer she had been looking for when she asked to see Alex. She knew now that she hadn't imagined or dreamt it. Alex had been with her and she had held her hand through it all.

"I'm in love with you....... I need you......" Olivia could hear Alex's voice in her head. She remembered the feel of her touch.

When Olivia didn't open her eyes right away, Alex panicked for a moment. She let out a sigh of relief when Olivia finally opened her eyes and looked at her. She noticed that there was something different in Olivia's eyes....something that hadn't been there before.

"Are you alright, Olivia?"

"You.... You...." Olivia coughed roughly and winced in pain.

Alex stood abruptly. She reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder trying to calm her. "I'm going to get a nurse."

Olivia tightened her hold on Alex's hand pulling her back. She shook her head and tried to continue. "You... stayed...." Again Olivia coughed. The beeping of the heart monitor increased. Alex began to worry.

"Shhh..... the doctor said you have to take it easy, Liv. Just calm down. We can talk about all of this later." Alex pleaded.

Olivia was having none of it. She wasn't about to take that chance. "You... were... here.... with me."

Alex blinked. She hadn't expected Olivia to remember. She nodded slowly. "Yes. I was here. Were... Were you awake?"

"You... held.. my hand."

Alex looked down at their hands together. "Yes, I did."

"Why?"

Alex felt her heart pounding in her chest. It had been so easy to pour out her heart to Olivia when she had been so out of it. But now that she was looking into those big brown eyes, she was more afraid than ever.

"I... uh...."

"Did you.... mean it?"

Alex stopped. She looked at Olivia and things became more clear. "You heard me...didn't you?"

"Did... you... mean it?" Olivia asked again, her eyes never leaving Alex's.

She nodded slowly, a single tear escaping her eye. "Yes, I did." She could see the uncertainty in Olivia's eyes. "I swear...... I meant every single word."

"Say it... again."

The lawyer in Alex wanted to ask Olivia to be more specific, but the woman in love won out. She ended up just saying what came to mind instead.

"Olivia Benson.... I am so completely in love with you. I have been for so long. I know that I should have told you. Maybe if I had...." She shrugged her shoulders unable to finish the thought. "When Elliot called me.... I didn't know what to do. All I could think about was how awful I had been to you....that I might lose you....and you'd never know how I felt."

Once Alex started talking, the words seemed to just come out on their own. "There were so many times that I wanted to tell you. But every time I had the chance, I couldn't find the right words or we'd have a stupid fight. A part of me was so afraid. I was afraid that you wouldn't feel the same...that you'd reject me. A part of me still is. But I don't want to live the rest of my life being afraid."

She paused when Olivia reached out and wiped the tears off of her cheek. She wasn't even aware that she'd been crying so freely. "I don't want to live with what could be anymore. I love you Olivia and.... I'm not sorry about that."

Olivia closed her eyes and replayed the words over in her head. These were the words that she'd wanted to hear for so long, but was so sure that she never would. A tear rolled down her own cheek. She felt Alex wipe it away with a finger. She opened her eyes and saw blue ones staring intently back at her.

"Good....You should. What took you so long?"

Alex smiled through her tears. It was just like Olivia to make a joke at a time like this.

"And here I thought I was the conceited one." She saw Olivia's trademark smirk emerge. "But.... you're absolutely right. I don't know what I was thinking. I should love you.... and I do... very much."

Without another word, Alex decided to lay all of her cards on the table. She leaned down as close as possible. Slowly and carefully, she closed the distance between them. When their lips met, time seemed to stand still. Still mindful of Olivia's injuries, Alex tried to keep the kiss light and tender. But once the kiss started, she lost herself in the feel of the soft velvety lips below her. She felt like she was experiencing her very first kiss again, except that this time, everything about it felt right. When she pulled back, Olivia still had her eyes closed. She waited for the verdict.

Olivia finally opened her eyes and a just looked at her for a moment. "That was....nice."

"Just nice?" Alex frowned.

Olivia smiled. "Really..... nice."

Alex released the breath that she wasn't even aware that she'd been holding. "I'm sorry that it took all of this for me to do that."

"S'okay. Make it up... to me later."

"I will." Alex let out a nervous chuckle. "Would this be a bad time for me to tell you that I was terribly jealous the other night and that....." Alex suddenly felt very shy. She lowered her eyes and idly played with Olivia's fingers. "that...I'd like to be the only woman taking you out from now on?"

"Pearce... and I aren't...."

"I know. She and I talked." Alex thought of the doctor fondly. In spite of her best efforts, she couldn't dislike Pearce one bit. She gave Olivia the short version of what Pearce had told her and how she had encouraged her to come clean about her feelings.

"I'm glad you two...talked then."

"She's a really great person. I can understand why you'd be drawn to her." Alex said looking down.

Olivia released her hand and lifted Alex's chin. She met her eyes. "She's great..... but she's not you."

Alex thought she'd start crying all over again. Olivia couldn't have said anything sweeter if she'd tried. "You're amazing, you know that?" She took Olivia's hand again and ran her thumb over her knuckles. "I should probably go and let the guys come in and see you."

Olivia shook her head. "Stay...please."

"I won't go anywhere if you don't want me to. Truth is... I don't want be away from you at all. I just thought that you might need to see your partner or...."

"I just need you. He'll understand." Olivia said sleepily through fluttering eyes. Alex could see that she was struggling to stay awake.

"Looks like someone's pain meds are kicking in. You should get some sleep, Liv."

"I don't want... to sleep..... I wanna stay with... you." Olivia was growing winded. Alex knew that she was tired and needed to rest.

"I'm not going anywhere. I'll be right here when you wake up."

"Promise?"

"I promise. You just rest okay?"

"Okay."

Alex stroked her hand and watched as her eyes fluttered closed. She closed her own eyes, took a deep breath and released it. She had never felt so on edge yet completely at peace in her entire life. She looked at the hand that she held in her own and gently brought it to her lips.

"How did I ever live without this? I love you so much."

"Alex?"

"Hey. I'm right here."

"I... love you... too." Olivia mumbled sleepily.

Alex smiled and caressed Olivia's cheek gently. "That's all I've ever wanted."

 

Chapter Text

 

The next few days passed without incident with Olivia mostly resting. Olivia was finally moved out of ICU and into a private room. When she awoke and looked around, she knew that Alex had been busy. The room had everything; a view, television, sofa, and full bathroom. There was no way in hell that the NYPD was picking up the tab for this.

It wasn't the perks of the room that touched Olivia though. It was the fact that Alex had been there. The only time that the blonde had left her bed side was when she had to be in court or at a meeting. Otherwise, every time that Olivia had woke up, she'd look over and see Alex sitting in the chair reading, doing paper work, sound asleep, or simply watching her sleep. She smiled just thinking about her.

Olivia certainly hadn't suffered from a lack of other visitors. The guys had all come by for a visit several times. Munch and Fin were even able to get along long enough to share a visit together. Olivia knew that their good behavior was for her benefit. She felt like a kid sister all of a sudden. The guys, especially Elliot, had gone into over protective mode and stressed over every detail of her care. It was nice to see how much they actually cared, but it was still a little scary. It reminded her of how close she had come to not being around.

She knew that they had found it odd that Alex was there every time they came by. She even saw Fin lift a brow at their clasped hands. Although it didn't take a genius to see what was going on between them, they were all gentlemen about it and hadn't questioned her. There would be plenty of time for their teasing later.

Cragen had chosen to come by to visit when the others were busy. They shared an emotional talk alone. Cragen had uncharacteristically expressed his fear of losing her....that she'd become like a daughter to him. In the quietness of that small room, he had unknowingly given Olivia what she had always longed for.... a father to be proud of.

"Knock...Knock! Is the patient decent?"

Olivia's thoughts drifted back to the present and she opened her eyes. She saw her partner peeking inside. She smiled. "Like it would ever make a difference. You back so soon?"

Elliot walked in carrying a bouquet of fresh flowers. He placed them beside the others on the table by the window.

"I told you that I'd be by here every day until they turn you loose. By the way, these are from Kathy and the kids. And Kathy told me to tell you to hurry up and get better because you have to go shopping for her spring clothing or something like that."

Olivia groaned. "You'd think she'd give me a pass. I was hurt in the line of duty you know."

Elliot laughed. "Are you kidding? This is Kathy we're talking about here. She shows no mercy when it comes to shopping."

"Why can't she take you? She's your wife after all."

"Yes, but I'm not her fashionable gal pal am I?" Elliot took a seat and looked around the room. "Speaking of gal pals... where is your's?"

Olivia blushed. "She had to go in and meet with Branch about something."

"You mean you actually got her to leave?"

"She didn't want to go, but I had to get some x-rays and other test run this morning. Pearce told her that I'd be asleep for most of it anyway so she finally agreed to go."

"That's got to be a little weird. You know... Pearce being your doctor and all and.... Alex being....." Elliot paused. "Well exactly what is Alex because I'm a little lost."

Olivia just grinned. Elliot rolled his eyes. "Are you going to tell me what happened between you two or are you going to just lie there and wear that shit eating grin?"

Olivia shrugged her shoulders. "She stayed with me that night....after the surgery. I was going in and out, but I knew that she was there. I could hear her talking to me and holding my hand. I couldn't open my eyes, but I knew it was her. I could feel her."

"That's why you asked for her when you woke up."

Olivia nodded. "A part of me thought I'd just dreamt the whole thing up. I needed to ask her about it." She paused and looked down at her hands. "She told me how she felt. The things she said to me, El..... No one has ever spoken to me that way. She told me that she was in love with me."

"Cabot?"

"Yeah, I know. Hard to believe isn't it?"

Elliot leaned back and placed his hands behind his head. He smirked. "I told you Cabot had a thing for you."

"Is that all you care about.... being right?"

"Of course! You never let me be right. I'm going to enjoy this moment."

Olivia laughed. "Okay, so you were right. I guess I just wouldn't let myself think that it could be true. It was always easier to just keep her at a distance.... that way it didn't hurt so much."

"Seems to me that it doesn't have to hurt anymore. Now you know how she feels." Elliot had to ask. "You do feel the same way about her right?"

"Of course I do, but..... I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about it all. She's a little out of my league, you know."

"Nah. You sell yourself too short, Liv. Cabot is lucky to have a shot with you. I'm happy for you."

"Really?" Olivia guarded him skeptically. "You mean you'd be okay with Alex and I being together?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"Because you don't really like her?" Olivia dead panned.

"It's not that I don't like her. I like her just fine.... She's just a little scary at times."

Olivia laughed. "Big bad Elliot Stabler is afraid of little Alexandra Cabot."

"Laugh it up, but you know it's true. But this could actually be a good thing. It'll be a hell of a lot easier to get a warrant now. You're our new secret weapon."

They both laughed.

"Is that so?"

Olivia froze when she heard that familiar timbre voice. Elliot just laughed harder. If she had been stronger, she would have punched him.

"Hi, A.. Alex. What are you doing back so soon?" Olivia asked nervously.

Alex walked further into the room and dropped her briefcase on the nearby sofa. "Well, I rushed back over here to check up on you and see how your test came out. Good thing I did since you two are already getting into mischief again. Angling to use my affections to secure a warrant? That is low Benson, even for you." Alex said with an unreadable expression.

"But Alex, I didn't....we didn't mean....."

Alex never allowed Olivia to finish, cutting her off with a long sensual kiss. Olivia moaned in surprise. She didn't think she'd ever get used to this. Both seemed to forget that they still had company.

Elliot closed his mouth long enough to clear his throat. Alex pulled away leaving Olivia out of breath and speechless They looked over to see a very flushed and dazed Elliot.

"You know.... you really shouldn't do that to a married man."

"Wishing you had a video camera, Detective?" Alex smirked.

Elliot laughed. "You know it." He looked back and forth between them and could tell that they needed to be alone. "Well... since you are obviously being properly looked after by our esteemed ADA, I'm going to get going. Cap is giving me a temporary partner today."

Olivia looked a little hurt. "Already?"

"Yeah, it's just desk duty. But don't worry, Cap made it perfectly clear that it was only a temporary situation. We all want you back, Liv.....but we want you back when you're well and not a moment sooner. In the meantime, you should just relax and enjoy this posh treatment you're getting."

"Yeah right. I'm held up in a hospital. What's so posh about that?"

"You're in a hospital room with all the perks being personally catered to by a very cute blonde." He glanced at Alex giving her a quick wink causing her to blush. "I'd say that's a pretty sweet deal."

Olivia glanced at Alex who had become very interested in something on the floor. She tugged on the blonde's fingers until she lifted her eyes. "Come to think about it.... it does sound like a pretty good arrangement, doesn't it?"

Alex smiled shyly.

Elliot stood and gave Olivia a quick peck on the cheek. "I'll be back in the morning."

"El, you don't have to keep....."

"I'll be back in the morning." He said ignoring her.

She relented. "Thanks El. I'll see you tomorrow."

Elliot gave Alex a pat on the arm as he walked by. "Take care of her will ya?"

"I will."

After Elliot had gone, Alex turned and faced a rather amused Olivia. "What are you smiling about?"

"You just kissed me in front of my partner. You know he's going to be fantasizing about us for weeks now don't you?"

Alex laughed out loud. "Oh my god! I hadn't thought about that."

Olivia looked at her with wonder as she laughed. "Wow."

Alex was still laughing. "What?"

"I've never seen you....." She stopped and shook her head. "Never mind."

"No. What was it? You've never seen me what?"

Olivia suddenly felt embarrassed. "Laugh.... I've never seen you really laugh. You're beautiful when you laugh."

Alex smiled shyly and sat on the edge of the bed. She reached for Olivia's fingers. "I never had a reason before."

"That's a shame. I'd like to change that."

"You already have."

They sat in silence just holding hands for a while. "So.... how did your test go?"

"I'm not sure. The nurse said that it would take a while. Pearce is supposed to come by some time today and talk to me about them." Olivia said quietly.

"You're worried." Alex stated simply. "I can see it in your eyes."

"A little."

"You shouldn't be. You're getting better by the day."

"I know, but what if there are problems with my kidney? She already told me that I'm going to have stomach problems for a while, but if they have to take out my kidney......"

"We'll deal with it.... together."

Olivia looked at her as if she were gaging her sincerity. "Alex, we haven't even talked about what's happening between us. I can't ask you to deal with all of this. What if....."

Alex put her fingers up to Olivia's lips. "You're not asking me to do anything. I meant what I said. I love you and I'm not going anywhere unless you want me to go."

Olivia tightened her hold on the hand she held. "I don't want you to go, Alex."

"Good. And as far as what's happening between us.... I hope that it's the beginning of something serious."

Olivia studied her. "You sure you want to take me on? I've never been good at relationships?"

"That makes two of us. It's rather difficult to have a serious relationship when you're in love with someone else."

This made Olivia smile. "I want us to work, Alex. I want to be with you."

"Good.... because I don't think I'd be able to walk away from you anyway. So you're stuck with me."

Olivia smirked. "I've grown on you, huh?"

"Like a rash." Alex laughed.

"Hey! I'm hurt remember? You're supposed to be nice to me." Olivia pretended to pout.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I was only kidding." Alex leaned in and kissed her softly. "You're not a rash, but you've definitely grown on me. You carved out a place in my heart a long time ago, Detective."

"Really?"

Alex nodded and leaned in again. "Uh huh. So much so that I can't seem to function if I don't kiss you."

Alex closed the distance between them and touched her lips to Olivia's. She could feel Olivia's hand on the back of her neck pulling her closer.

"Uh..umm..." Pearce cleared her throat and tapped on the door.

She smiled when Alex jumped nearly a foot back from Olivia. They were blushing like two kids caught making out by a parent.

"I can come back if this is a bad time."

"No. I was just....."

"We were......"

Neither Alex or Olivia seemed to be able to come up with a good explanation.

"I think it's fairly obvious what you two were doing." Pearce laughed. "And.... I hate to interrupt, but I have Olivia's test results and I thought she'd like an update."

"I can step outside so you two can talk."

Olivia tugged on her hand. "No. Stay." She turned back to Pearce. "So how am I doing, Doc?"

"You're coming along very well, Olivia. It doesn't look like we're going to need to remove your kidney. I am going to continue to monitor it... just to be on the safe side."

"And what about the rest of me?"

"No major complications. Your wounds are healing up just fine. I don't foresee any problems at this time."

Olivia let out a sigh of relief. "So does that mean that I'll be getting out of here soon?"

"Not too soon." When Olivia groaned, Pearce shook her head. "You were seriously wounded just under a week ago, Olivia.... nearly fatally. It's going to take time and I'm not releasing you until I'm positive that you're ready."

"I agree with your doctor on this one, Olivia." Alex added.

"That's not fair. You two are ganging up on me."

Pearce smiled. "No, we're not. We both just happen to care about you. Now, you're out of the woods on the major stuff. Everything else, we'll take one day at a time, alright?"

Olivia nodded. "Okay. Thank you, Pearce. I don't know what to say. I....."

Pearce held up her hand. "I'm just glad that you're alright. You're very lucky, Olivia."

Olivia glanced over at Alex. "I know I am."

The room was suddenly filled with the sound of Pearce's beeping pager. She un-clipped it and looked at the display. "Sorry. I'm going to have to go. Do you have any other questions for me before I leave?"

"No, not right now."

"Alright. I'll check in with you later, but you can have one the nurses page me if you need me." She nodded in Alex's direction. "Alexandra."

"Pearce."

Once the door closed behind Pearce, Olivia and Alex looked at each other. "So... that was good news." Olivia said.

"You know that even if there had been problems that I would have been right here with you, right?"

Olivia smiled softly at Alex and nodded. "Yeah, I do and I can't tell you what that means to me."

 

Chapter Text

 

The hours quickly faded into days. Before long, nearly three weeks had passed since Olivia's nightmare had begun. Just as in the beginning, Alex had been there every moment that she could. She was determined to show Olivia that she was serious about being with her. Even though Olivia would never admit it, Alex knew that she still had her doubts.

Olivia wasn't complaining about the extra attention. She actually loved having Alex there so much. Alex had gone out of her way to make sure that she was comfortable. The blonde never ceased to amaze her. She had managed to talk the guys into bringing Olivia her favorite foods so she wouldn't have to eat the food the hospital provided. There was nothing funnier than seeing Fin deliver fresh bagels and juice with a smile in the morning. Elliot or Munch would swing by with lunch and Alex would take care of dinner herself. This was something that Olivia wasn't used to... having someone take such good care of her. When she had told Alex this, Alex simply smiled and told her that she would have to get used to it because she was going to take care of her as long as she was allowed to.

"Looks like you're off in Lah-Lah land."

Olivia looked up and saw Pearce leaning in the doorway. "What's up, Doc?" Olivia laughed at her own lame joke.

Pearce rolled her eyes as she walked into the room. "You've been waiting forever just to say that to me, haven't you?"

"You know it."

Pearce took off her stethoscope and placed it in her ears. She placed the other end over Olivia's chest. She went about her regular routine check up. She finally put the stethoscope back around her neck and picked up the chart and took a seat on the edge of the bed.

"You're looking stronger today."

Olivia nodded and watched as Pearce scribbled on the papers. She bit her lip. "Pearce... I know that you and I never actually .... talked... you know about what happened.... or rather what didn't happen. And now with the whole thing with Alex, I just....I don't want you to think that I didn't care or....."

"You love her. I knew that the moment I saw you look at her that night at the club. Am I disappointed...." Pearce paused. "Yes...maybe a little. But I'm happy for you. Real love is a precious thing because it doesn't happen every day. So... when you're lucky enough to find it, you grab it and hold on to it for as long as you can. It's obvious that you and Alex are the real thing. You would have gotten there eventually anyway. I wish you two the best of luck....really."

Olivia looked at the woman sitting in front of her and shook her head. "You're going to make some woman very happy one day, Pearce."

"If I'm lucky."

"No. Lucky would be the woman that actually lands you."

"Thank you." Needing a change of subject, Pearce cleared her throat and went back into doctor mode. "Okay.... just so you know, I've reviewed your chart and everything looks good. And that is why I'm signing off on your release papers. You'll be free to go tomorrow morning."

Olivia's eyes widened. "You're releasing me?" Pearce nodded. "Yes!" Olivia grinned happily.

Pearce watched her in amusement and laughed.

"No offense, Doc. You run a really good show here, but three weeks is a long time to be stuck in a bed. I'm glad to be going home."

Alex walked back into the room to witness her new girlfriend and her doctor laughing. "What's going on in here? Did I miss the party?"

"Doc is giving me my walking papers. I get to go home in the morning."

"That's great, sweetie."

"Before you get too excited, there is one condition. You're going to need someone to help you around the house. There are things that you are going to need help doing. I could recommend someone for you to hire if....."

"I'll be taking care of her. She'll be staying with me until she's released to go back to work." Alex spoke up a little uneasily. She hadn't discussed it with Olivia. She hoped that she hadn't overstepped.

Pearce looked back and forth between them and smiled. "Well alright. It looks like you're all set. I'll see you back here for your follow up in two weeks then." She gave Olivia's hand a soft pat. "Take care of yourself, Olivia."

Olivia grabbed Pearce's hand before she walked away. "Not only do I owe you my life......" She glanced at Alex. "But you gave me something much more than that. I won't ever forget it."

Pearce smiled. "I guess you two will just have to invite me over for that dinner then, won't you?" She gave Alex a wink. "Take care of that one."

"I will. Thanks again, Pearce."

The door closed behind Pearce and they were left alone. Alex bit her lip and started to ramble.

"I know that we didn't discuss where you'd be staying after you were released, but I don't want anyone else taking care of you....."

"Alex?"

".....That' s my job and I want to keep it."

"Alex?"

"I told Liz that I was taking a brief leave of absence that way I can be with you and not worry about........"

"Alex!!!"

"Yes."

"Shut up."

Alex blinked. Not many people had the nerve to tell her to shut up. "Okay."

Olivia simply held out her hand and Alex took it. Olivia pulled her down next to her on the bed. Without a single word, Olivia leaned in and kissed her like her life depended on it. When she pulled back, Alex was dazed.

"I want to be wherever you are." Olivia said simply.

"Okay." Alex mumbled.

"Good. I'm glad we talked."

"I love you, Liv."

"I know. I love you too."

The next morning, Olivia sat patiently on the side of the bed and watched as Alex finished packing up her things. The blonde looked up and saw Olivia just watching her. She smiled and walked over to her. She stood between Olivia's legs that hung over the edge of the bed. She wrapped her arms around her neck and kissed her.

Olivia grew frustrated when Alex pulled away. "If you keep kissing me like that, I don't think I'll be able to wait two weeks like the doctor advised."

Alex chuckled. "Sure you can. You waited four years for our first kiss."

"Yeah... I guess I did. Better late than never, right?"

"Right." Alex said giving the detective a quick peck on the lips before she went back to her previous task.

A few minutes later, Olivia looked up and saw the nurse pushing a wheelchair inside. She looked over at Alex and smiled. "Take me home, Counselor?"

"You got it." Alex helped Olivia slowly ease down off the bed and into the chair. The nurse graciously allowed Alex to push her girlfriend out of the room.

"Hey Alex?"

"Yes."

"Do you cook?"

Alex suddenly laughed looking down at the brunette. "Are you kidding? I set my stove on fire, remember?"

Olivia laughed. "The next few weeks are going to be very interesting aren't they?"

"When has anything with us been anything but?"

"True.... so true."

The End.