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It had only taken half a night for Alex to really feel Patrice's absence. She hadn't slept as well, finally giving up near 3 AM. And two days later, the house felt lonely, even with Sabina and the dogs there. Alex uncurled her legs and pushed herself off from the sofa, sitting her work aside. She scratched Persia's head discontentedly before heading to Sabina's room and tapping on the door.

Sabina had her music on and was pretending to study for her midterms, but it wasn't going well. She could tell Alex was upset, restless but didn't know how to help. Alex wasn't as easy for her to read as Patrice was, and without the other woman there, Sabina was repeatedly at a loss. The young brunette wanted to do better; she respected Alex in a different way than Patrice and took great pleasure in even small expressions of approval. The girl had followed Alex's orders and tried to comfort her, but there was an element missing. The young woman started when she heard the knock and got up hurriedly, opening the door, "Yes?"

"Are you busy?" Alex asked. There was something almost sheepish about her expression when she poked her head in the room. She respected the boundary there almost as if it were sacred. "I thought we could go out...get some air." Mostly, Alex didn't want to be alone. And her restlessness was making the dogs pace.

Sabina smiled and looked down deferentially, happy to be asked, "Of course, what should I wear?" She wanted to be appropriate for whatever Alex wanted.

The blonde waved that off. Sabina's jeans and tee were fine with her. In fact, she thought the especially relaxed look appealing next to the girl's almost exotic beauty. "You're fine...I think we'll take the dogs. Do you mind walking Persia?" It was less of a question, but there was not much of a command in Alex's voice. She had noticed that the ginger dog seemed calmer around the girl.

Sabina smiled, relaxing at Alex's calm attitude. "Of course." She followed Alex as they got ready to go, taking Persia's leash when it was offered, whispering a few words under her breath, and Persia sat quietly, waiting for them to go.

Alex merely shook her head. "I don't know how you do it with her..." She smiled as they headed to the elevator then out to the street. The night was crisp, but she was not uncomfortable; she hoped the same was true of Sadie. "School is good?" she asked, trying to make simple conversation. It seemed so easy with Patrice, but Alex found it difficult to push past the barriers formed by their arrangement sometimes.

The brunette walked, stealing glances at the tall blonde as they walked through the city, wondering where Alex was taking her, "Yes, very, I'm working on some projects I'm excited about." She pressed her hands into her pockets against the chill, and watched as their breath was increasingly visible in the night air as the night got further from sundown.

"Good. I'm glad you're enjoying it." Without realizing it, Alex directed her steps towards the wine bar to which she had taken Patrice on her first date. It didn't occur to her until she saw it, and a wisp of a smile came to her face. "Let's stop here...they'll let us take the dogs inside. The little tables were lit with tea lights, and a jazz trio was playing softly in the corner. The bartender smiled at Alex as they walked in. She could hear strains of Italian floating from the back and wondered if Sabina would feel at home.

"Let's sit..." She guided them to a table in the corner, their backs to the half wall of mirrors that made the narrow place seem bigger.

Sabina couldn't help but smile and take a deep breath, feeling immediately closer to home than she had been since crossing the Atlantic. She looked at Alex, silently thanking her for the reward as she sat, Persia lying down at her feet.

Porcelain sat, almost as if on guard, and Alex scratched her head. She met Sabina's look and smiled indulgently. "Why don't we share a bottle... I don't think we' have to tell Patrice about it."

The girl's face brightened considerably, smiling almost conspiratorially back at Alex. She couldn't think of something that sounded nicer than a bottle of wine in that moment. Pausing, she shivered as a new thought crossed her mind and she chewed her lip, wondering just exactly might happen if Patrice found out.

Alex passed her the leather-bound menu and let her pick; though, it was she who ordered when the waiter appeared. She sat back, enjoying the warmth and the soft light as they waited. "Mm...this is the first place I brought Patrice..."

Sabina's eyes got a little wider, she had still been immersed in the excitement of being allowed to choose from such an extensive wine list, for America anyway, trying to find something that Alex might enjoy. "Really?" She glanced around at the place again, trying to imagine the two of them meeting there.

Liz stepped into the wine bar. She was looking around for a free table when she saw Alex and the much younger woman sitting with her. She didn't see Patrice anywhere, which she thought was curious, but she headed toward Alex's table anyway.

"Mmhm," Alex said thoughtfully as she smiled. "It was..." She shook her head. "Well, you can see how it turned out." And when she glanced around, she noticed Liz approaching. For a moment, she went pale, remembering that she hadn't told Liz anything about Sabina. But things were not the same...she wasn't obligated anymore. "Liz..."

Sabina looked up at the older woman as she approached, noting Alex's marked change in mood.

"Alex." Liz smiled and bent down to kiss Alex's cheek. "I hope I'm not interrupting..."

"No..." She caught Liz's cheek with her lips before motioning to an empty seat. "Not at all. Patrice was out of town on business..." She blushed, realizing that did not make the situation sound any better. "This is Sabina...she's...staying with us...going to school." And learning so much beyond that.

Liz raised her eyebrows as she took the empty seat. "Well, It's lovely to meet you." She nodded toward Sabina.

Alex sat back as Porcelain nuzzled the Liz's hand. She looked to Sabina, hoping that the girls' training would unconsciously kick in, that she would mind her manners.

Sabina glanced between the women and tried to read the situation. Alex seemed more formal, poised now, and the brunette sat a little taller subconsciously. "You too." She nodded back and then fell silent, sensing the older woman was looking her over closely.

"We don't talk in a month and all sorts of things change." Liz looked Sabina over one last time before turning back to Alex.

"Why don't you join us." The waiter brought the bottle and poured for Alex to taste. She nodded her approval, luxuriating in Sabina's choice before indicating that he should bring another glass. "Sabina..." She smiled, thinking of Patrice. "We met her at the club in Paris."

"And brought her home with you?" Liz chuckled. "That's surprisingly impulsive of you."

Sabina felt her cheeks blush almost violently, but she kept silent, hoping to not say anything incorrect, Alex had told her to be discreet.

Alex put a reassuring hand on Sabina's knee. "We arranged for her to stay with us while she goes to school here." Her tone indicated that that was the official story. "Her father is very over protective."

"Of course," Liz smirked. "The two of you are being very altruistic." She turned to Sabina. "I hope they're letting you see some of the city while you're here."

Sabina nodded, answering deferentially, "Yes, I'm just learning my way around still." She could tell there was considerable history between the two women, and wondered if Alex would tell her later.

"It's hardly as if we don't give her free time, Liz," Alex said, smiling still. She felt easy having this conversation with Liz, but there was still an urge there to please the older woman, to seek her approval. "Sabina picked the wine," she said as the waiter brought Liz's glass and filled it.

"Sabina looks like she's 16," Liz muttered. It was an overstatement, but she felt it needed pointing out. "But it's very good wine." She said more loudly as she nodded to Sabina.

Sabina's earlier blush had not faded, and at Liz's last comments it increased, "I'm 18, " she blurted out perhaps a little too loudly. The young woman fell silent, catching herself and adding demurely, "I'm glad you like it."

Alex pursed her lips. "Christ, Liz," she said under hear breath. She shifted in her chair, squeezing Sabina's knee. "We were just out for a walk. Patrice is in Chicago, and the house has been quiet without her."

Liz blinked. She couldn't remember a time when Alex so easily admitted to that kind of attachment. "You really love her, don't you?" She temporarily forgot about Sabina.

The blonde nearly choked on the sip of wine she had been swallowing. She fingered the stem of the glass as she coughed lightly and tried to present herself more calmly. "I..." Alex tilted her head before looking down into the glass. "Yes, I...I care about her a great deal."

Sabina jumped visibly at Alex's sudden reaction but stayed quiet, watching the conversation unfold.

Liz nodded. That was as close as Alex would get to saying it and it was good enough for her. "The two of you should start coming to the club. We've missed you."

"I..." Alex looked to Sabina thoughtfully. She wasn't sure if the girl was ready--that was her first thought, at least. But in truth, she wasn't sure that she was ready...to go back, to share Sabina, to share Patrice. "Maybe so."

"Think about it." Liz took another sip of her wine. "So, Patrice is out of town?"

Sabina listened intently as the talk shifted, she wondered what type of place they were talking about, but by the way their voices thickened with obvious double-meanings the young brunette pondered, considering the likely possibilities.

"Business," Alex said, glad for the change in subject. "She should be coming home on Sunday night." And as the spark of a half formed idea lit Alex's mind, she turned to Sabina, smiling. "We should surprise her with something nice. Wasn't there a recipe she saw in one of your magazines that she wanted to try?"

Sabina smiled as Alex visibly brightened. "Yes, I wrote it down." Patrice hadn't asked her to, but she had done it anyway, just in case.

"Excellent. We can go pick up what we'll need tomorrow." Alex was no cook, but she was certain that between the two of them, they could figure it out. And Patrice had said she wanted them to spend more time together. "I think Patrice will be pleased."

Sabina smiled and nodded at Alex, glad that she seemed happier than earlier. She was enjoying the night, especially now that the bit of wine was softening her mood.

Liz hid her smile in her wine glass. It was good to see Alex happy, even if she could never have predicted just how it would happen. She couldn't believe that she was thinking it, but there was something adorable about the way that Alex and Sabina were interacting.

She took another sip of her wine. "So, how's life now that you don't have to deal with the DA's office on a regular basis?"

The blonde chuckled and absently swirled the wine in her glass. "Oh, I'm still dealing with the DA's office in some way or another." She pushed a strand of her hair back. "It's good...I'm enjoying the change...especially when I'm not getting calls at 3 AM." And she was certainly enjoying the flexibility to come home to Sabina early from time to time.

As the conversation shifted to things she didn't particularly know much about, Sabina paid less attention to what was being said and more to the interaction of the other women. She tried to think of what history might be there, though she couldn't get a very good grasp. The young girl relaxed, stroking Persia's side with her toe under the table.

They continued their conversation about Alex's new firm, Liz inquiring about a few acquaintances and Alex's current caseload. "Well, it seems like it was a good move. I have to admit, I started sleeping much better after I became a judge."

"I think there are a number of reasons why I'm sleeping better these days," Alex said, offering a soft smile as she squeezed Sabina's leg under the table. With Patrice gone, she realized just how easily they had fallen into a pattern of existence depending upon each other. Sabina blushed at the touch but stayed silent, glancing down slightly. Persia nuzzled her leg, flicking it with her tongue lazily before rolling on her side.

"I'm sure." Liz smirked at Sabina, though she wasn't trying to be mean.

"You know you're always welcome to join us," Alex said, dropping her eyes in deference to Liz. The invitation was merely a formality, just as Patrice would have given Donna in the same situation. They would always have ties to their mistresses, and to share Sabina with them, should they wish it, was to be expected.

"Thank you." Liz swirled the last of her wine in her glass before finishing it. "The two of you really should bring her by the club. Things have been quiet lately. It would be a nice change."

Sabina glanced up as they talked about her, heart beating a little faster. She wanted to ask what they meant so badly but knew it wasn't her place.

"I'm not sure, Liz," Alex said quietly. She unconsciously touched her shoulder, feeling the scar through her clothing, or so she imagined. "It's been a long time."

"Mmm..." Liz said noncommittally. As far as she was concerned, it was something that Alex needed do, but this wasn't the time to press her.

"I'll talk to Patrice about it," Alex said finally as she refilled their glasses, save Liz's when the older woman shook her head. It was a concession, but she felt the she owed that to Liz.

Sabina happily took her now re-filled glass and sipped it, making a mental note to see if Patrice would explain a few things to her when she got back.

Liz nodded. "Good. Actually, I should be getting home."

With pleasantries exchanged, Alex let Liz go. She and Sabina finished the bottle, heading home afterwards. "Are you finished with your homework?" Alex asked int he elevator on the way up.

Sabina nodded. "For the night. I have a paper due next week, but I've got an outline finished…and I was going to start writing it tomorrow."

"Excellent." She smiled slightly as they stepped out of the elevator. "I'm glad you're staying on top of things," she said, unlocking the door.

Sabina was bursting with curiosity, but she couldn't tell if Alex was in the mood to answer any of her questions, so she just followed her inside. "It's something my mother always insisted on." She didn't often talk about her mother; it was her father that she had always been close to, but her organizational abilities were entirely her mother's doing.

"My mother was incredibly good at pretending she was more organized than she could ever hope to be." Alex chuckled as she tossed her keys onto the table and went about taking the dogs' leashes off. "I'm going to give Patrice a call; can you feed the dogs?"

The girl smiled at the anecdote, trying to hide her surprise. Alex didn't really share much about her life from before Sabina moved in with them. "Of course." she nodded. "C'mon girls. Let's go eat." She rested a hand on Porcelain's neck as they walked to the kitchen, knowing that Persia would follow.

Alex headed to the bedroom and slipped out of her shoes as she climbed onto the bed. She crossed her legs as she pulled out the phone, speed dialing Patrice and sighing as it began to ring. She missed her, but having Sabina there made it easier not to feel lonely.

Patrice jumped when her phone rang, then smiled when Alex's picture came up on the caller ID. She picked it up and turned to back to the large hotel window, watching the snow falling quietly, obscuring the view of the lake in the distance, "Hey.... how's your night?"

"It's been good." She smiled brightly immediately and rolled onto her side. "Sabina and I took the dogs out for a walk and ran into Liz at the little place I took you on our first date." Alex absently fingered the case on Patrice's pillow. "I think we both miss you."

Patrice smiled: she didn't like to think of Alex as lonely, but it was good to know she wasn't the only one looking forward to the week being over, "I miss you too." She shifted her tone somewhat, "How was that? Meeting Liz I mean?"

"Mm..." Alex paused, organizing her thoughts as she lay on her back. "I think she was surprised...but not unpleasantly. She wants us to come to the club." And at the last, she couldn't quite keep her voice from dropping out of her own misgivings about what reentering the Scene so formally in New York meant.

"Does she?" Patrice caught Alex's tone, they had had fun in Paris, but she knew Alex had history with it in New York. Patrice wasn't opposed to such things, but would never pressure Alex. "I'm sure we can talk about it when I get back, it's not something I need if you'd rather keep to ourselves."

Alex smiled at how well Patrice could read her, even from a distance. "We'll talk about it...yeah. So, you'll be hone day after tomorrow, then?" she asked, tone becoming lighter.

"Yes, I get in at six, so I'll be home soon after. I can't wait to get back, Chicago in January is less than ideal." She pressed her palm to the glass, feeling the icy temperature seeping through. "I won't keep you, it's later there. Glad you called."

"I'm looking forward to it..." She glanced towards the door, seeing Sabina coming down the hall. "We both are." Alex let out a long breath, not wanting to let Patrice go, to break the link with her soft voice. "Love you," she said quietly, hoping that the uncharacteristic utterance of what they generally kept to silent gestures and looks wouldn't upset the blonde.

Patrice paused, smiling blindly at her own reflection in the window, the response was automatic though not unmeaning, "Love you too, goodnight Alex."

"Night." Alex stared at Patrice's picture on the phone for a moment before hanging up and turning towards Sabina, a smile on her face.

Sabina lingered at the threshold to Alex's room, knowing better than to go in without permission. The blonde waved her in as she sat up. "Do you want to order in or figure out something from leftovers?" she asked. She moved aside and patted the bed for Sabina to sit next to her.

Crawling up onto the bed, Sabina considered the question. "I'm fine with ordering in." She didn't particularly feel like cooking, and Alex's cooking was... iffy, though she hoped that didn't show on her face.

"Alright." Alex didn't move immediately though. She drew Sabina close, wanting to simply hold the girl just then.

Sabina settled into Alex's arms and tried to relax. She wasn't really used to Alex treating her like this, but she wasn't complaining. She nuzzled affectionately against Alex's neck.

The blonde kissed her hair and breathed in the scent--the same shampoo Patrice used. She smiled to herself, amused at the way Sabina seemed to idolize Patrice. "I thought you might sleep in here tonight."

"Thank you." Sabina closed her eyes briefly, just enjoying being in Alex's arms. "I'd like that." She bit her lip, uncertain about asking a question, but she went ahead. "Is everything alright in Chicago?"

Alex furrowed her brow as she settled against Sabina, kissing her neck lightly. She wondered why the girl would think something was amiss. "Mmhm. Seems that way."

Sabina squirmed at Alex's lips and smiled. "Good." She pressed closer to Alex, just enjoying the contact.

Sabina tilted her hip up for Alex, nodding. "It isn't really pizza, you know." The American version sounded good, but she couldn't resist point it out.

Alex chuckled and rolled on top of Sabina, her hand still under the girl's shirt. "Is that so?" She smirked down at the girl, suddenly playful, almost taking on Patrice's roll in her absence.

Sabina squeaked as Alex ended up on top of her, not at all expecting it. She nodded. "Real pizza is... different."

"Mmm..." Alex kissed Sabina's neck with more intent this time. Pizza was fast becoming the last thing on Alex's mind. She smiled against the girl's skin. "Real pizza is different...anything else I should know?" she asked, breath warm against Sabina's neck.

Sabina squirmed again. "I... I don't think so." She hooked one of her legs around Alex, hoping that it wouldn't be too much, even as she was hoping that it was.

"Are you sure about that?" Alex teased. She pushed her fingers under Sabina's bra and toyed with one of her nipples lightly. Like with the wine, she had no intention of telling Patrice what they did that evening, of her now forming plans of simply indulging in Sabina's youth and beauty in an almost thrillingly vanilla way--if she could manage it. But if Patrice did find out, Alex would be amused and delighted to see what she did about it.

Sabina arched up into Alex's hand. "I... can't think of anything." She wrapped her other leg around Alex, pulling her closer.

Alex chuckled lightly before pulling Sabina into a playful kiss and settling there on top of her between her legs. She almost felt like a teenager again...almost.

Sabina slid her hands under Alex's shirt, wondering just how far Alex would let her go. Alex's skin was cool under her hands and she reached up and unhooked Alex's bra.

The blonde smiled as she pulled up, allowing Sabina to finish removing both articles of clothing. She rolled, pulling the girl on top of her, wondering if Sabina would take advantage of the situation and her mood.

Sabina straddled Alex's hips and pulled off her own shirt. It seemed like Alex was going to let her get away with quite a bit. Once that was done, she leaned down and started sucking on one of Alex's nipples. "Americans dress differently, sloppier." Now that Alex wasn't touching her, it was much easier to think.

Alex relaxed into the touch and put her hands behind her head as she closed her eyes. She shifted, arching slightly to encourage the girl. "Oh? Mm...is that how we come across then?" She smirked.

"No you... Just, in general. But you do have better hair dye." She switched to Alex's other nipple. "And better jeans." Speaking of, Sabina reached down and started unbuttoning Alex's pants.

She had to laugh at the things that so obviously concerned Sabina as a teenager. Alex shifted her hips, allowing the brunette to pull her jeans off. Her panties, simple cotton with bits of lace, were already damp. "But not better taste in wine..." she teased.

Sabina rolled her eyes. "Americans will drink anything with a pretty picture on the label." It was something that she had heard her grandfather say. She rubbed her hand across the front of Alex's panties, then slid down and teasingly licked her through them.

Alex twitched under the touch in an effort not to squirm. But her breath became jagged as greater evidence of her arousal. "I hadn't realized you were such an authority..."

"My grandfather is." Sabina pulled Alex's panties off, eager to taste her.

She squirmed openly then, showing Sabina that she was ready, that while she was willing to play, it had better end with her getting what she wanted. "Mm...and are Italians better with their tongues?" she teased. "Why don't you show me."

"Italians are better at everything." She smirked as she pressed her tongue to Alex's clit. She licked intently, enjoying the way Alex tasted, enjoying the freedom that Alex was allowing.

Alex moaned and relaxed back into the pillow, simply allowing herself time to enjoy the sensation. So often, she was plotting what was to come next wen it came to Sabina. This was quite an indulgence.

Sabina pushed her fingers into Alex and curled them up as she pulled them back out. She wanted to prove to Alex just how good she could be, that her words weren't just idle boasting. She pulled away for a second, only to reapply herself with even more determination.

Even as she raised her eyebrows, Alex was moaning, arching into the touch. She closed her eyes, letting herself just feel, knowing she was close but wanting to draw it out just a little while long. "Sabina," she moaned.

Sabina immediately stopped and looked up. Had she assumed too much?

"God, don't stop," Alex said immediately, desperation lacing her voice.

Sabina's eyes widened and she bent her head again. She licked at Alex's clit, the started sucking on it, her fingers deep inside of Alex as she did. It only took a few more moments before Alex dug her heels into the sheets, her breath, her moan caught in her throat as her climax overwhelmed her.

Sabina stayed where she was until Alex had calmed, then she crawled up to Alex's side, lying down and putting her still jean clad leg across Alex's hips.

After a moment, Alex chuckled at the gesture. She pulled Sabina into her arms and smiled. "Mm, thank you. Now...why don't you go ahead and order that pizza, hm?" She had every intention of making the girl wait until Patrice came home before she would let her come.

Sabina's eyes widened, but she obediently got out of bed and headed toward the living room. She picked her favorite pizza place and dialed the number, wondering if Alex would touch her later that night.