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It was late in the day for an interview, but Alex didn't want to have the rest of the day before her when she finished. She wanted to have the time to herself, without the DA's office all around her, in order to think. Instead of going home, however, she went to Patrice's. The blonde wasn't home yet, but Alex let herself in and made the executive decision to open a bottle of wine, knowing that she might be a couple of glasses in when Patrice joined her to finish it.

Patrice was having a typical Monday. The e-mails had piled up over the weekend, her assistant was out "sick," and her latte was hazelnut instead of vanilla. By the time 6:00 rolled around, she had nearly subdued the project she had been working on, and was thinking about calling it a day. It was only as she was packing up that she remembered that Alex was supposed to have her meeting that afternoon, and sent her a quick text, *How did it go?*

The sound of her phone brought Alex out of the half nap she had almost been taking. She dug around in her purse for it, smiling to see Patrice's number. *Okay. I'm at your place.* She sent it and put the phone down, exchanging it for the glass of wine she had forgotten about.

Well that told her nothing. However, what she had been craving all day a night at home, and some time with Alex, 'how efficient' she thought, smiling. Patrice texted back, *Perfect, I'll be there soon.*

Alex smiled more broadly at the reply and stretched out fully on the sofa. She wondered just how long "soon" was going to be. Long enough, she decided, to order in. She got up to flip through Patrice's collection of takeout menus--not as large as her own but impressive nonetheless. Alex took her time about deciding, and she was more meticulous about ordering than usual. She focused on trying to remember everything that Patrice didn't like on her salad, and it was enough to keep her mind from other matters.

Patrice left the office and hurried home, it was cold outside and she was looking forward to a quiet evening and hearing more about Alex's meeting. She took the elevator up and let herself in, put her things down in their usual places, and went to the living room to find Alex.

Alex sat up from where she had gone back to lounging. "You look like you could use a glass of wine," she said. She knew her own face after having a day that wasn't necessarily bad but wasn't necessarily good, and Patrice's wasn't all that different.

She smiled and crossed the room to give Alex a kiss, then went to take off her coat, calling over her shoulder, "I definitely could."

Alex met the kiss briefly with a familiarity that had developed easily. She was already headed to the kitchen to get Patrice's a glass by the time Patrice was hanging off her coat. "I ordered dinner," Alex said as she returned to pour the wine. She put the glass on the table and cocked her head at Patrice as the other blonde came back. "Do I need to even ask about your day?

She returned and picked up the glass gratefully, giving Alex another kiss before taking a long sip. At Alex's mention of dinner, Patrice grinned, and led Alex back into the living room. "No, I just had a Monday is all. But care to tell me about your day, and what you ordered for dinner?"

When they both sat, Alex leaned against Patrice comfortably. "Mm, I got those big salads from the pizza place around the corner," she said. "They should be here soon." She smiled and began to trace imaginary patterns on Patrice's knee. "My day was typical...except for the part where I got offered a job making significantly more than what the DA's office has been paying me."

Patrice held back the instinct to smile, to get overly excited at the news. She knew Alex was still wrestling with the change, and it wasn't really about monetary gain. However, it never hurt. Her mood lightened: she couldn't help answering a little cheekily, "Oh, those salads are my favorite." She kissed the other blonde's neck before continuing, "And that's great, Alex…glad to hear it went so well."

"I think that in trying to remember what you do and don't get on them, I forgot to get the tomatoes taken off of mine." Alex stretched her neck, encouraging Patrice to continue. She could feel a sort of tightness in her chest--something between a thrill and sheer terror. It was real. She had gone into the interview, and she had said she would think it over. And she had begun drafting her resignation in her mind. Lettuce and bell peppers were becoming incredibly easy targets on which to focus.

Patrice smiled at the obvious evasion, and resisted the urge to cross-examine Alex only somewhat, "So, what did they tell you about the job? They obviously liked you as a candidate."

"Mmhm." Alex was saved from answering by the food arriving. She got up to go for it before Patrice could and came back smiling. "Dinner."

Patrice helped her unpack the food, and brought in some silverware from the kitchen, letting them get settled. After a few bites she looked pointedly at Alex, raising her eyebrows, "So?"

"So, I'm worried about what to do with the dogs when we go to Paris," Alex said as she gingerly dipped a bite in dressing. "I'd usually ask Liz, but I think she's planning on heading to Connecticut this year." She shook her head and sighed, bite still on her fork.

"Yes I suppose that could be a bit of an awkward request." Patrice nodded a little, content to let Alex change the subject for now, she'd get her answer eventually. She thought for a moment, "Do you have a kennel in the city you've used?"

The blonde made a face. She didn't like leaving Porcelain and Persia, even at the pricier dog hotels. "I just...don't like leaving them like that. They do better at home."

It was understandable, and Patrice smiled at her next thought, "I don't know too many people in the city. I mean, I suppose we could ask Donna if she's going out of town."

"Do you think she would?" Alex asked, sitting a little straighter.

Patrice really didn't have any idea, but Donna wasn't easily offended, nor would she feel obligated if it was too large of a request, "I don't know, but I could ask her."

Alex reached across the table to squeeze Patrice's hand. "Thank you." She smiled before withdrawing and going back to her salad. "But I can do it just as well."

Patrice took a bite and tried a different approach to her earlier question, "Did you find the office alright today? I know they have several floors and I always manage to get off on the wrong one."

Fork poised in the air, Alex pursed her lips. She hardly liked admitting something as simple and utterly ridiculous as getting lost, but it gave her more time to simply synthesize what had happened once she had finally gotten there. "There was a tense five minutes or so where I thought I was lost in a Kubrick film, to be honest. Thank God the interns weren't as sullen and lost as the ones at the DA's office seem to be."

"But I take it that you eventually figured it out?" Patrice laughed for a moment, wishing she had seen that.

"I did." Alex fell uncharacteristically quiet as she shifted the lettuce around in her takeout container. The decision to do this, she thought, had felt real enough, but this seemed entirely different--almost surreal. "There's a job if I want it," she said quietly. She knew Patrice knew that already, but what Alex needed to consider was whether this was the change she really wanted.

The blonde took a bite of her salad, chewing and nodding quietly. She had figured that would be the outcome, knowing it was harder for Alex to make a decision like this when it was actually offered, rather than being on the chase. "Does it sound like something you want, could see yourself doing?"

That was almost what Alex was afraid of. She thought back to her first year at SVU; it wasn't so long ago, but it seemed that way. She felt like she had grown, aged since then. Even what she had--what she and Patrice seemed to be building together probably wouldn't have been possible then. "You know...I actually had the hubris once to tell someone that I would be on the other end of the line when their lawyer was begging for a pardon from the death penalty?"

Patrice looked at her with a mixture of amusement and surprise. "I'm glad I wasn't your opposing counsel then." She shifted the topic slightly, "I assume they offered you a decent wage for your services?"

She chuckled lightly. "The package is almost obscene," she admitted. This decision, once she finally settled with her own reservations, her own demons, was not going to be easy even once it was made. Alex knew she would beat herself up about it, and only time would really put to rest her guilt.

Patrice knew it wasn't about the money for Alex, but also knew it didn't hurt. She smiled, "I figured that might be the case. But more importantly Alex, will you go home satisfied at the end of the day, or at least not upset?"

"Will I be coming home to you?" Alex asked before even contemplating keeping that thought unvoiced for quite a while yet. The look of shock the followed was one she let wash over her face before she could begin to control it.

If Patrice was surprised at the question, she had the good sense to hide it. She slid a little closer to the other blond, taking her hand and squeezing it reassuringly. "I hope so." She smiled, and leaned over to kiss her.

Alex met this kiss lightly and smiled. She flushed at how she had simply blurted out the words, but Patrice's response was soothing enough not to make her too worried. "I should probably make a decision before we leave for Paris," she said, more musing than making a statement of fact. She put her fork down and stood, picking up her container and Patrice's half empty one to take to the kitchen.

Patrice watched her go, knowing her statement didn't require an answer. She wondered for a minute if Alex had meant anything by her earlier comment, but decided to let it go; she was sure it would come up again when the time was right.

When Alex returned, she lightly put her hands on Patrice's shoulders and began to knead them. "It's been a long day for both of us..."

When Patrice leaned back into the touch, she let out a long breath. She was always surprised at how much tension she was holding, even at the start of a week. She let Alex continue for a moment and then pulled the other blonde around to sit next to her.

Twining her fingers through Patrice's Alex pressed the blonde's hand to her lips once she was sitting. "What is it?" she asked, settling close to Patrice and finally letting out a relaxed breath.

Patrice smiled and shook her head. "Nothing, it's nothing." She had just wanted to be close to Alex in that moment, and luxuriated in having someone she could be so comfortable with. Patrice leaned in and kissed her again, taking her time, sliding her hands through the other woman's hair.

"Mm." Alex closed her eyes as she leaned into the touch. "You're making me forget how many zeros are supposed to be on that first check..."

Patrice chuckled between kisses. "Well then, maybe I'll still be making more than you, I'm not *that good of a kisser."

Alex met each kiss with more intensity than the one before it. Soon, she was pulling Patrice up, pulling her close even as she started towards the bedroom. "I think you're...mmm," she murmured between kisses, "an incredibly good kisser..." She stopped for a moment, a smirk lighting her face, "among other things."

Willingly, Patrice let Alex take her to the bedroom. She knew the other blond was still trying to accept the choices she was making, and it would take longer than one night. She turned her and pressed her down onto the bed, leaning back to look mischievously into the other woman's eyes, "I think I like where this is going." She kissed her again, the day melting further away with each passing moment.

Alex closed her eyes and found herself pressing her hips into Patrice for the duration of the kiss. When it broke, she ran her hands up Patrice's sides, pushing them underneath her shirt so she could feel her skin. "Do you? Mm, well...you've also got excellent skin," she said, pressing her thumbs underneath Patrice's bra.

Patrice inhaled sharply at the touch, and leaned down to kiss Alex more deeply. Her body was responding quickly, and she smiled down at the other blond teasingly. "Oh... don't let me stop you there."

The blonde laughed lightly as she made quick work of removing Patrice's shirt, then bra. With a little effort, she reversed their positions, landing Patrice underneath her and settling easily on top. Alex let any concerns of the day fall away as she focused on how Patrice's dark eyes were lit sapphire with desire. "And your hair," she said, bending to nuzzle against Patrice's neck so her breath could skim it while she spoke, "Mmm sometimes I just want to run my fingers through it." She demonstrated, lightly running her fingers through Patrice's long locks before stopping, grasping it more firmly. "And sometimes I want to simply pull it."

Patrice let out a quiet whimper, breathing harder as Alex's fingers tightened. She fixed her eyes on Alex, willing her to continue, not being able to help squirming beneath her with growing pleasure.

"That too," Alex breathed, bending to Patrice's other side to nip at her earlobe. "You squirm so nicely." And Alex enjoyed that they could show so little restrain with each other. She was near squirming with her own desire.

She blushed and ran her hands up Alex's back under her shirt, pushing it up. She pressed Alex down, their lips meeting in another kiss.

Alex moaned into the kiss and pressed her body firmly against Patrice's. She drew out the kiss as long as she could before pulling away, her hands still tangled in Patrice's hair for a moment. "But...right now, I don't like how dressed both of us still are..."

Patrice grinned, "I concur." She didn't waste time, reaching up and unbuttoning Alex's shirt quickly, pushing it off, and reached for the zipper on her skirt.

She shifted off of Patrice, wriggling out of the skirt as she tried to pull Patrice's pants off. She very nearly fell off of the bed for a moment, but caught herself by falling on top of Patrice instead. Patrice laughed, enjoying the comfort that had developed. She lifted her hips and helped Alex pull her pants off, the panties going with them. When she was finished with Alex's clothes as well, she pulled the other blond to her, still smiling.

"Careful there, I'd hate you to have to explain how you got yourself hurt tomorrow at the office." She laughed again and kissed her.

Smiling as the kiss ended, Alex tangled her legs with Patrice's. She was content for a moment to lie there, to let the desire grow and fill them both. "Maybe if I just went ahead and handed in my resignation, no one would notice."

Patrice looked at her for a moment, trying to gauge if she was joking. Alex's expression didn't give away her intention, and so Patrice decided to let it go for now. She ran her hands over Alex' bare back, gently massaging the muscles, pulling her closer as she did so. She smiled and leaned up to begin kissing the other woman's neck softly, pausing to rest her lips on her pulse, enjoying the closeness and comfort.

"Mm," she murmured at the touch, pressing closer into the heat of Patrice's body. Alex was content to let her comment go as well; it wasn't important just then--though, it was important that she had actually said it. She let her fingers drift down Patrice's sides, idly placing fleeting caresses as she shifted to allow herself room to press her hand between the blonde's legs, fingers gently pushing apart the curls there.

Patrice moaned quietly and moved a hand up to tangle in Alex's hair, her lips pressed against the skin at the juncture of the blend's shoulder and neck. She couldn't help pressing her hips up to meet Alex's fingers willingly. And Alex gasped at how quickly, how unexpectedly her skin became sensitive to the touch of Patrice's lips. She pressed one finger inside of Patrice and then another, holding there for a moment, eyes closed while she felt Patrice's body warm and wanting around them.

"Alex...God..." Patrice couldn't help herself from letting out a needy whisper. She traced patterns over Alex's skin, lips kissing her neck up to her jaw and cheek between quickening breaths.

"You're beautiful," Alex murmured softly, almost as if to herself, as if it were a secret. She began to slowly pump her fingers, propping on her elbow to watch Patrice's face through her lashes. But it wasn't enough; she felt too far removed, so she pressed herself against the blonde, lying the length of her with their skin sticking.

Patrice moaned again, mindlessly tangling her legs with Alex's, pulling her closer. Her breath was coming in shorter rhythm as she got close and she tightened her fingers in Alex's hair, pulling her into a deep kiss.

Alex began to thrust with more intent, curling her fingers each time she pulled the back. Once the kiss broke, she merely started it again, pressing her body, her fingers into Patrice to be as close as she could get, to feel Patrice come as completely as she could.

"Oh....please...Alex..." Patrice hardly heard herself speak as she began to tremble, her body tightening around Alex's fingers in slow waves. She moved back, opening her eyes to look up at Alex as the last tremors went through her, breath ragged. She held her gaze as she slowly relaxed, and a dazed silence fell over her.

Alex kissed Patrice's neck, her collarbones, pushing until the blonde settled into the quiet. She let her hands rest, let her body relax as she closed her eyes, content to share the silence with Patrice. Nestling her head against Patrice's chest, she simply listened to her heartbeat, letting it lull her into a soft, aching need that could wait a little longer.

Patrice lay quietly for a moment, idly drawing her fingers through Alex's long hair. Eventually she kissed her, rolling them both onto their sides, facing each other. She took a few breaths, sliding her hand gently over Alex's arm, and down to grasp at her waist, tugging her a little closer. She kissed her again and without releasing her lips, began to slip her fingers over her breasts, teasing each nipple in turn.

At the touch, Alex moaned softly into Patrice's kiss. She pressed forward, encouraging it, wanting the immediacy of Patrice's warm skin against hers to be even more intense. Patrice continued, moving her hand lower, over Alex's stomach slowly and between her legs. She didn't release Alex's lips, kissing her deeply, only stopping when breathing was necessary.

The blonde squirmed underneath her, so caught in the intensity of the kiss. The touch made her shiver and press her hips up into Patrice's touch. She wanted it so deeply that she was whimpering into Patrice's lips.

Patrice smiled a little at her between kisses, enjoying the sounds she was making, and her obvious arousal. She slowly but firmly pressed two fingers inside of her, and began to move them in a steady rhythm.

Alex twisted the comforter in her fists before breaking the kiss. "Please," she said, voice thick and low.

Patrice didn't want to make Alex wait much longer. She dipped her head and took one of Alex's nipples in her mouth, licking and biting it gently, while increasing her pace with her fingers. She enjoyed holding Alex on the edge, but this time wanted to see her give in more quickly.

The warmth of Patrice's breath sent a shudder through Alex, and that only build as the blonde continued. She felt her blood rushing in her ears, and it wasn't much longer before Alex cried out, half lifting her body as she reached her climax. She threw her head back, moan low and from her throat until finally she sank back onto the covers, panting softly.

As Alex quieted, Patrice withdrew her fingers and moved up to lay beside the other blond, her head resting quietly on her shoulder. She was content to just stay there, feeling Alex's breath steady, and her pulse return to normal. Eventually their skin cooled, and she reached down to pull a blanket over them, settling back into her previous position, and let out a deep sigh.

Alex ran her fingers through Patrice's hair, finally stirring and breaking the almost profound silence that had fallen. "They want me...and they didn't really bother to be coy about it," she said at last as thoughts of the interview finally seeped back to the forefront of her mind.

Patrice didn't move, talking quietly with her lips still close to Alex's neck, "I'm not surprised...at either." She had assumed that the firm would jump at the chance to acquire someone with Alex's skill. She continued, "Did they give you a time to think about it?"

"Mmhm," she replied, turning slightly to kiss Patrice's forehead. "But I think I'd like to go ahead and make a decision before we leave for Paris."

She would rather have it be done than have it weight her thoughts when she wanted to be concentrated on Patrice. She nodded, wrapping her arms around the other woman more tightly, "Well, I can't tell you what to do, but you know I'm here if you want to talk it over."

"I keep asking myself why it is that I keep doing this. God knows it isn't the money." She shook her head. "The obvious answer is the victims, and I was so focused on the politics that maybe there were times when they were secondary. But now...I can't do it anymore. I can't look at another crime scene photo of a dead child...prep another rape victim...regardless of whether I help them get justice or not. I'm just...tired." She had gotten quiet, and her gaze was far away. "But if I do this...if I make this decision...am I going to be asking myself the same questions?" Probably. But Alex wasn't sure she would be handing out wordless answers as she was now.

Patrice pushed herself up on an elbow to look at Alex, "I think you know it won't be the same. Now, a few years ago that might have been a bad thing, but now..." her voice faded, looking for the right words,"...now, maybe it's what you need. It's still getting justice, just with less turmoil." She kissed her cheek, adding somewhat sheepishly, "And with a better 401k."

"I'm not supposed to admit that that's doing a very good job of tipping the scales, you know," Alex teased, not wanting to let the mood take too heavy a turn.

Patrice kissed her playfully, "We can't pretend that doesn't sway all of us at least a little. Besides, the rate you're going I'm going to be expecting trips all the time, with you spoiling me like this and all."

Alex was smirking by the time Patrice finished. "I'll let you know when I get use of the private jet." She kissed Patrice again and pulled her back into her arms, resting her chin on Patrice's head. "In truth I," she began, tone more serious, "think I made the decision before I could get out of the building."

She had expected as much, knowing it would have been her reaction too. Staying with the levity of the moment she replied in fake seriousness, "Well, it is a tall building."

"Oh, that was certainly it," Alex replied, mocking Patrice's tone before she broke into a smile. She sighed and closed her eyes. "I'll draft a letter of resignation tomorrow so I can be done with it and just...mmm...focus on Paris."

Patrice nodded and smiled, shifting to look at Alex. She glanced at the clock pointedly, silently asking if Alex would be staying the night.

"If you don't mind," Alex said as she took in the hour.

"Of course not." She took another moment to lie with her, then kissed the other woman and stood, going to get ready for bed, not bothering to get dressed again.

Alex followed after another beat, not really reflecting upon how this had already become an easy habit. How she both had a toothbrush and the night cream she liked in Patrice's bathroom. When she finished her shortened routine, she simply climbed back under the covers, almost drifting to sleep as she waited for Patrice to join her.

As she returned, Patrice paused in the doorway to look quietly at Alex. She still didn't quite know how they had reached this point, or where they might be heading. She was afraid to question fate's unexpected ways. Besides, it was late, and all she wanted to do was to slip into bed with this beautiful woman and fall asleep. So she just that, kissing Alex one more time before folding her body into the blonde's and drifting off to sleep.