"It was a dark and stormy night," Alexandra Cabot intoned, staring outside and watching the rain drumming against her kitchen window. "Bulwer-Lytton was never much of a bard." Briefly, she wondered if the mediocre writer had penned his infamous words during a thunderstorm like this. Dark thoughts for a dark night.
She sighed, leaning back on the marble countertop and balancing her weight on her elbows. Raindrops were streaking down the windowpane, a constantly changing landscape of pools and rivers. Somewhere in the distance, lightning flashed behind the city's familiar skyline. For a brief moment, the bruised, purple-blue color of the stormy sky was illuminated, revealing the silhouettes of tall buildings and bridges.
Where are you, Olivia? I hope you're somewhere warm, somewhere dry...
The thought frustrated Alex, but did not surprise her. She often found herself wondering where Olivia Benson was at various times throughout the day. She had tried to dismiss it as friendly concern for a colleague's well being, but even though Alex was very good at arguing (especially with herself), her case was very weak. Her feelings were Olivia were far stronger than she cared to admit.
Her day at work had been strangely melancholy, despite the rather difficult victory that she had won with Rubenstein presiding. Instead of feeling elated at her win, she found her thoughts wandering to the topic of human nature and its idiosyncrasies... and to good and evil.
Yes, she had put a serial rapist behind bars, even though his lawyer had almost convinced the jury that the evidence against him had been contaminated. But how did that erase the evil acts he had committed? Sometimes she wished that her job were more about healing and less about prevention. On any other night, she would have comforted herself with the knowledge that Steigler was in prison and unable to rape any more women. But now...
Now, listening to the rain pounding against the window, she just wanted to hold and be held by someone. By...
The low murmur of the television drifted in from the adjacent sitting room, lighting the doorway with a muted, flickering glow. She sighed, pulling her hair out of its chignon and letting it shake free in pale blonde sheets. Taking a few moments to remove her hairpins, she dropped them on the counter, feeling too lethargic to put them away in the bedroom.
She was still dressed for court, and although part of her longed to change in to more comfortable clothes, the thought of expending the energy necessary to strip out of her pencil skirt and blouse made her groan. She would much rather lean her back against the counter in her kitchen, listening to the rain and watching as the numbers on her oven's digital clock crept higher. 8:43...
Muted thoughts crept, unbidden, to the front of her mind. For the second time in five minutes, she wondered where Olivia was. She wondered what it would be like to kiss her. She wondered how she would taste...
Don't dream your life away, Alexandra.
There was a spot along the column of her throat where her pulse beat beneath the skin. Sometimes, it throbbed during their arguments as her heart rate spiked and her breathing increased.
Don't allow yourself the luxury.
She closed her eyes, moaning slightly and telling herself that it was from the soreness in her back, the release of pressure along her scalp because she had undone her hair after a long day...
You shouldn't think about her.
Despite her efforts at self-control, more images of Olivia flooded her mind.
Her smell. It was distinctive, alluring, but hardly overpowering. She doubted that anyone would notice it unless they were standing very close to her and paying attention, like Alex did at every opportunity... Olivia was so different from some of the legal aides, court employees, and fellow lawyers that she encountered throughout the day. Many of them wore clacking heels and far too much perfume. But Olivia... Olivia was unique.
The detective was refreshing, an intoxicating combination of beautiful, tempting femininity and confident, almost masculine charm. She walked the line with perfect balance, butch enough to be exciting, just feminine enough to be seductive, and...
The whispered word sounded louder than she expected in her empty kitchen, and it startled her. Alex shook herself abruptly, breaking the long, sinuous thread of her thoughts. Telling herself not to think about Olivia was like telling someone not to think about the word 'elephant'. As soon as the command was issued, elephants were all anyone could imagine.
Strangely, her skin felt warm and flushed even though she had not turned her heat on and it was cold outside. The pull between her legs, a familiar ache, was even more difficult to ignore.
You could take care of it yourself, her inner voice crooned. A scented bubble bath, a glass of wine from the bottle your Uncle Bill gave you, the one you've been saving... Close your eyes again, and your hand could be hers...
But somehow, Alex knew that wouldn't be enough, and in a strange way, it almost felt like a betrayal. In theory, she knew that everyone felt sexual attraction towards people they had met, people they had seen. Sex was the focus of the crimes she prosecuted, after all. She could use sexual terms in court that she would never dream of whispering into a lover's ear. But entertaining fantasies about Olivia felt...
Hopeless? Pathetic? Frustrating? Certainly.
Alex slid her glasses from her nose, setting them beside the hairpins on the counter and massaging her temples with both hands. She should probably take some aspirin for the headache she was developing, or at least pour herself that glass of wine.
Pull yourself together, Alexandra. You aren't a sixteen-year-old boy.
Briefly, she wondered what her colleagues, especially Olivia, would think of her if they knew that sometimes, while she was arguing her case in the courtroom or sitting in her office drafting motions, her imagination wandered beyond her range of control and pictured...
Don't start that again.
That question led to other questions. Did any of the others see Olivia in a sexual way? Was her presence just so overpowering, so magnetic, that it drew you in and excited you even when you were dealing with something as disgusting and repugnant as sex crimes?
If Elliot, Munch, Fin, or any of their other mutual colleagues did find Olivia as attractive as she did, she couldn't blame them. However, the idea made Alex's stomach twist with irrational jealousy. She had no claim on Olivia, and no Orwellian powers to stop other people from thinking about her... she couldn't even control her own thoughts...
A scratch. Muffled cursing. Thumping, coming from the direction of the bedroom. Alex's head jerked up and she opened her eyes, cocking her head to listen. For a moment, there was nothing but the sound of the rain. Then...
More scratching. A low, painful moan. Was that the wind...?
It came again. No, that was definitely a human voice, and it was definitely coming from her bedroom.
What about the television? The radio? Just to make sure, Alex put her glasses back on and peeked in to the sitting room. The volume of the television was muted, however, and a nature documentary of some type was playing. The radio had begun playing a muted instrumental piece, Miles Davis or Louie Armstrong, she couldn't be sure... A few more phrases, and Alex recognized Blue in Green. Definitely Miles Davis, then, but that didn't answer the question of the mysterious noise.
Well then, Alex thought, steeling herself, she would just have to do some investigating. She was certain that it had come from the bedroom, and she had not imagined it. However, as she crept closer to the bedroom door on stockinged feet (her only concession to comfort after arriving home had been removing her shoes), doubts began to surface. A woman living alone in New York City, investigating a mysterious noise? This couldn't end well. She saw the headlines the next day: ADA found strangled in her own apartment. Intruder climbed in through bedroom window.
The blonde tried to tell herself that she was being ridiculous. She was on the fifth floor, after all. Unless her intruder was Spiderman, she was perfectly safe. But wait, wasn't the unused fire escape outside her bedroom window...?
Snatching the nearest bat-shaped object – which happened to be a rolling pin that she rarely used, if ever – Alex held her breath and walked towards the bedroom. Peeking inside carefully, she was startled when the soft scratching noise came again. Yes, definitely from the window. Swallowing nervously, trying to loosen the ball of fear that had lodged in her throat, Alex pushed into the room and stared out of her window.
A figure was standing on her fire escape. Crouching, if she wanted to be accurate. A flash of lightning clearly illuminated her face, but she would have recognized that profile anywhere.
It was Olivia. Olivia standing in the rain. Olivia on the fire escape outside her window. Olivia without her coat. Olivia, wearing the same gray shirt and slacks that she had come to work in.
During the second flash of lightning, Alex got an even better look. Not all of the dark patches on her gray shirt were from the rain. She was bleeding. Running over to the window, Alex hurried to open it and let the detective inside. Her heart tripped as Olivia stumbled over the windowsill, collapsing onto her knees and sinking down over Alex's bedroom carpet.
"Liv... Oh God, Liv, what happened? I need – I need to call 9-1-1... get you to a hospital..."
"No!" The voice was weak and hoarse, as though she had been shouting, but clearly understandable. "No," she tried again, softer this time. Alex fell to her knees beside Olivia, brushing back her wet hair, stroking her face, touching every inch of her she could reach, not caring when her hands came away red and sticky with blood that was seeping through the side of Olivia's shirt. "No hospital."
"There's a hit... still might be good. They'll find a way in to the hospital."
A hit? And Olivia had decided to come to her, of all people? What on earth had possessed her to do that? If this person – people? – whoever had shot Olivia could get into a hospital, couldn't they get into her apartment? Strangely, Alex was not at all upset that Olivia might have put her life in jeopardy. She was more concerned for the detective's life.
"Olivia, tell me what to do. I want to clean you up. Do something. I really should call the hospital-"
"N-no hospital," she repeated, slowly pushing herself to her feet. Drops of blood were staining the carpeting where she had knelt, but Alex didn't care. "You were close... Had to run. They're following Elliot. He has backup."
Even through the tumultuous storm of emotions that Alex was currently feeling, one that echoed the storm outside, she clearly recognized the distinct feeling of disappointment. Olivia had only come to her because she was close? Of course... she couldn't be expected to run far with a hole in her side... a hole in her side... she needed to do something.
"All right," Alex said, regaining her legendary focus. "I'm going to help you to the bathroom. We're going to clean you up. I'm going to put something on you to stop the bleeding..."
Olivia's blood was on her hands. It felt like her own, and Alex suddenly realized that she was terrified.
"Just grazed me. There's no bullet," Olivia clarified, her eyes clearing slightly as Alex helped her to her feet. Both of them stumbled towards the bathroom, and Olivia gritted her teeth as pain lanced through her side, groaning in protest. "Not all of the blood is mine..."
Alex chewed on her lower lip, unable to tear her eyes away from Olivia's dirty, rain-streaked face. Even like this, Olivia Benson was frighteningly beautiful, somehow...
As the two women passed through the bathroom door, the bedroom curtains waved behind them like two flying banners, soaked by the rain that poured in through the still-open window.