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Always You

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Chapter 1

Alex's eyes flickered open slowly, adjusting to the sunlight that was finally peeking through the sheer voile curtains, illuminating the hotel suite with a soft glow. She sighed contently and smiled to herself, remembering once more why she was not waking up in her usual Upper Westside brownstone. Her smile went from content to amused when she suddenly felt a light caress traveling further and further up her thigh.

"Just what do you think you're doing," she teased, swiftly capturing the wandering hand with her own slender fingers. She felt the grin of her partner press against her neck before hearing her respond, voice still husky with sleep.

"I just couldn't resist. Excited utterance, Counselor," Olivia responded, eyes still pressed shut as she intertwined their fingers and rested their hands on Alex's hip, gently pulling closer.

Alex smiled, cuddling further into the embrace as she felt several sleepy kisses being placed along her neckline. "Detective, excited utterance only applies to verbal statements. Perhaps you should refrain from attempting to use legal jargon while half-asleep," she teased, earning a snicker.

"Yeah well, who is it to blame for keeping me up so late... or should I say early."

Alex grinned and swiftly flipped over, moving to straddle the detective, pushing the covers aside haphazardly to inadvertently reveal both women's bare skin to the morning sunlight. The pale expanse of Alex's body seemed to clash against Olivia's olive tonality, yet their two bodies fit together seamlessly, each curve melding into one another, like matching puzzle pieces. Holding both of Olivia's hands tightly in her grasp, Alex leaned over so that her lips were mere centimeters from her lover. Olivia could feel the warm breath against her as Alex whispered, "I plead the fifth."

Olivia laughed before quickly flipping them over so that she was on top, balancing on her elbows to hover over Alex. "Oh yeah?" she questioned playfully, quirking an eyebrow. Alex nodded, stifling a giggle. "Well Ms. Cabot-Benson, I'd move to say you were a co-conspirator. But of course it would be best for me to find some evidence..." Flashing a quick smile, Olivia leaned down and pressed an open-mouthed kiss just above Alex's naval. Palming both of her wife's breasts, she continued to move slowly down her body, earning several moans.

"Oh... yes... Liv don't stop," Alex sighed, closing her eyes contently as she arched forward off of the plush pillows, gently clutching the sheets tangled beneath them. The brunette had just reached her destination when the couple was interrupted by the shrill ring of a cell phone.

Feeling her partner stop her ministrations, Alex sighed heavily, falling gracelessly back against the bed. "Fuck..." Olivia muttered, lifting her head and crawling up towards the bedside table. "Sorry, Lex, I thought I had turned it off." She checked the caller I.D. and sighed, sliding her finger across the screen to answer the call. "Hey El..."

Alex rolled over onto her side, resting her weight on her elbow as she watched her wife. Wife. As irritated... well, sexually frustrated, as she was right now, she couldn't help but warm up slightly to that thought. Almost instinctively, she began twist the band that now adorned her left ring finger, sitting just above a matching diamond-studded engagement ring.

"Ugh, shit yeah I do," Olivia said, combing her fingers through her short hair in frustration. "Sorry," she mouthed to Alex, who nodded understandingly, moving to rub her hand comfortingly along Olivia's thigh. Unfortunately, this seemed to have another effect on the brunette, who bit her lip in an attempt to focus on her conversation. "What? Sorry, yeah... yeah, El, I can bring it bye. Okay. Not a problem," Olivia said before sighing heavily, tossing her phone onto the bed.

"What did Elliot want?" Alex asked, curious as Olivia had been given a well-deserved week off for their honeymoon.

Olivia groaned, standing to get up off of the bed "I'm an idiot and I left a file that he needs on the table at home, so I have to go bring it to him because he doesn't have a key to the new place yet." She began to walk around the room, picking up the clothing that had been strewn across the room in the hast of the prior evenings. She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on Alex's forehead. "You can stay here if you want and get some rest. We don't have to check out until noon and I'll be back by then."

Alex moved her hands to hold either side of Olivia's face, kissing her briefly. "No I'll come with you. We might as well get home sooner to make sure that everything is packed. Plus I'll stop by the precinct with you to make sure everything is squared away. And to see the guys."

The two finished gathering their things, took two very cold showers, checked out, and stopped back at their apartment to before heading downtown. While Alex headed over to her office to make sure that her cases were properly covered for the upcoming week, Olivia headed into the precinct, file in hand.

As she entered the room, Elliot smiled appreciatively, taking the file from her before slapping his arm around her shoulder. "Hey partner," he said with a smirk, "How'd things go last night?"

Olivia blushed, rolling her eyes before grinning up at her best man. "It was great... as would have been this morning had someone not interrupted." Elliot laughed, throwing his hands up in mock defeat, before returning to his desk. Munch, with a dry mouth, muttered a 'mazel tov' over from where he was making coffee.

"You headin' out with Alex soon," Fin asked, coming over to give Olivia a quick hug.

"Yep, just as soon as she makes sure everything is all squared away."

"Leave it to the Counselor to not be able to..."

"I hope you are not disparaging me in front of my wife," Alex said with a playful smile, entering the room with Cragen in tow. She came over to Olivia's side and wrapped her arm around her waist possessively.

Fin chuckled and shook his head. "Believe me, not with how protective she gets of you." He turned to give the blonde a hug as well. "Congrats again, Alex. Take care of our baby girl. Don't let her kill herself skiing."

"Hey!" Olivia protested, "I can hold my own."

"You just keep telling yourself that, babe," Alex smirked, not-so-secretly excited to see her neophyte wife out on the slopes of the northern Massachusetts country club they were visiting.

Cragen sighed and smiled, happy to see his detectives enjoying a slight respite from the daily horrors of the job."You just make sure she ends up here in one piece. None of us can handle her when she's on desk duty." Olivia pouted dramatically as the rest of the squad chortled in agreement, and Alex placed a kiss on the head of her disgruntled lover. "Alright," Cragen said, "We'll all let you two go so you don't miss your plane. These guys all have some DD5s to do anyway." He added with a smile, "lest they want to face Alex's wrath upon her return." With a few more well-wishes from their friends, Olivia and Alex left the precinct hand-in-hand and headed for JFK.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

The brisk February wind rushed against Olivia's face as she stood on top of the peak. It was cold, and she could feel the icy tips of her brown hair swinging wildly with every quick gust. She quickly checked her hat to make sure it was secure, not wanting it to become lost in the billowing abundance of snow. Lifting her hands to her mouth, she blew against them, willing the circulation she was sure must have halted to resume.

"You know, the longer you stay up there, the greater the chance you're going to freeze."

Alex had positioned herself at the foot of the bunny slope and was impatiently awaiting her wife's first attempt at skiing. Olivia had to admit that she'd rather be down there as well, next to the blonde whose warm embrace seemed more desirable than ever at the given moment. It would also mean she'd made it down the hill in one piece...

"Really, Liv, it's the bunny slope. There are little kids skiing down it, baby!"

Alex was right. Several minutes before, Olivia had almost been a point of collision for one – a five year old who had agilely avoided the "old lady blocking the middle of the slope." She sighed. This was ridiculous; she was a decorated office of the NYPD, a detective who had held her own in countless life or death situations, who had been a part of many swift police chases, both on foot an in a moving vehicle. She certainly could handle a bit of snow. She inhaled resolutely, positioning the two ski poles at her sides. "Okay," she mumbled Alex's instructions from their lesson to herself, "Create a wedge... bend your knees..." Cautiously, she propelled herself forward and began sliding down the slope. "Hey Alex, baby," she yelled excitedly, "I think I've got it down!"

She made it about ten feet before losing her balance and, in an attempt to save herself from falling, swerving into the fluffy whiteness of a nearby snowbank. Alex popped her boots out of her skis and anxiously rushed up the hill. "Liv! Olivia, are you alright sweetie?" The detective slowly extracted herself from the snowy heap, careful not to slip as her skis were still attached to her feet. Seeing that Olivia was alright, Alex couldn't help but start laughing at the sight. Her hat was askew, her face red and clammy, and she had to be covered head to toe in snow.

Olivia frowned, starting to brush the snow off of her suit. "Stop," she whined, "It isn't funny."

Alex shook her head, trying without much avail to quell her laughter. "No, no, of course not babe." She moved to help, gently whisking her fingers through the brunette's hair. She kissed her defeated lover's cheek. "That was a good first try."

"And last. I think I've had my fill of skiing."

"Come on honey. You can do it!"

"Nah, I think I'll just watch you," Olivia responded, pulling her boots out of the skis and shivering as some snow melted into her socks. "It's a whole lot prettier."

Alex grinned, planting another kiss on Olivia's lips before heading off towards the black diamond slope. Olivia watched her ski away, unable to keep herself from noticing how well her ski pants hugged her ass. Maybe skiing wasn't all bad. Smiling to herself, she trudged over to a nearby seating area at the end of the slope, dragging her skis behind her. She plopped down on a wooden bench, removing her gloves to shake out some of excess snow while she waited for Alex to get to the top of the lift.

Olivia loved watching Alex ski. She looked so masterful... graceful. It came to her with a great deal of ease, most likely due to a combination of a natural agile litheness and many winters spent at Aspen country clubs. Alex glided swiftly down the slope, skirting past several obstacles without concern. Olivia fixed her eyes on Alex's hips, watching as they moved rhythmically back and forth, admiring her swiftness and finesse. Despite her best efforts, Olivia couldn't help letting her mind drift to a much less PG-rated context as she remembered some of the other ways in which she appreciated Alex's limberness, and she hoped that the slews of children, and more so their parents, would not notice her ogling the blonde. Luckily, Alex was reaching the end of the slope now, pointing her skis inward to reach a gentle stop that unintentionally shamed her partner's earlier crashing halt. She looked around for Olivia and, finding her gaze, smiled widely.

Olivia grinned and yelled over, "Perfect 10 babe!"

*~*~*Page break~*~*~*

Back in the ski lodge, Alex handed Olivia a hot chocolate curling up next to her on the couch in front of the fireplace. "Thank you, sweetheart," she said, taking a sip. "Now this I can handle." she said with a smirk, inhaling the warmth of the beverage.

Alex laughed before taking a sip of her own drink. "Oh I'm sure it is. Gosh I wish I had gotten a couple of pictures of you up there for the guys," she said, earning a playful swat. With a mischievous glint in her eyes, she continued, "Well, there's always tomorrow."

Olivia chuckled, shaking her head. "Oh I don't know about that."

"Hmm... I think I can think of a few ways of persuading you," Alex said with a smirk, resting her head on Olivia's shoulder.

"There may be a couple of ways," the brunette bantered before falling into a peaceful silence with Alex, who began to trace nonsensical patterns on top of her jean-clad thigh. After a few minutes, she spoke again, "You know what, it was a fun time."

"Yeah?"

Olivia nodded. "Absolutely! It's gorgeous out here, and, as much as my performance was less than impressive, it was... entertaining to try. And you of course are always beautiful to watch."

Alex smiled, moving to nuzzle again Olivia, enjoying the warmth of her embrace after a long day spent on the slopes. "I'm glad you had a good time," she yawned. Olivia kissed the top of her head.

"Tired, love?" She felt the blonde nod against her chest.

"And sore. Gosh, I'm so out of shape."

Olivia laughed. "I don't know about that, but I can certainly give you a massage if you'd like."

"That." Alex began, punctuating the word with a kiss," sounds absolutely marvellous." She rested her forehead against Olivia's.

"Let's head upstairs then. I'll draw you a bath, and then we'll loosen up those muscles," she whispered throatily. Feeling a familiar sensation in her core, Alex stood up and pulled Olivia to her feet, grabbing her hand to lead her back to their suite.

The room was beautiful with an air of modernized rusticity. The walls were still composed of wooden logs, but large glass windows filled the room with natural light. The sleeping area had a large king size bed - positively noted by the couple - that was covered in a simple sepia duvet and a couple of navajo-style blankets. In front of it was a fireplace that, although wood-burning in appearance, was actually electric. The room smelt of pine and vanilla, making it homey and inviting, exactly what Alex and Olivia needed to get away from the hustle of the City.

Another added perk was an adjoined master bathroom complete with a large jacuzzi-style tub, which the pair was very excited to try out. When they got up to their room, Olivia told Alex to stay on the bed until she set things up, earning her an eye roll and accusation of over-romanticism that Olivia knew was really just a guise for her wife's impatience. Yet about ten few later, when a warm bath was drawn, vanilla candles lit, and lavender massage oil pulled out of the "honeymoon package" provided by the resort, all bickering was forgotten as Olivia guided her into the bathroom. She gently pulled the white, cotton robe off of Alex's shoulders, moving to help her into the jacuzzi tub, where the blonde sighed contently as she relaxed into the steamy water. Slipping off of her own clothing, she stepped in behind, wrapping her smooth legs around Alex. Alex smiled and fell back into Olivia's embrace, attempting to stifle a moan as Olivia combed her fingers against her scalp and through her hair, pulling the blond tresses into a loose ponytail. "Just relax baby," the detective said, placing a line of kisses down her jaw before nuzzling the side of Alex's neck. Wanting to be a bit of a tease, she slightly sucked on the blonde's pulse point, earning a quick gasp that made her smile. "Shh... just take some deep breaths and let me take care of you." Squeezing some massage oil onto her palms, Olivia rubbed her hands together to make them warm before kneading her fingers over Alex's tense shoulders.

She felt Alex stiffen briefly before relaxing to her touch with an unapologetic moan. "Oh, Liv baby, that feels so good." Olivia smiled, moving her hands rhythmically up and down the blonde's back, gently pressing her fingers to count each of the vertebrae. She then moved to Alex's sides, rubbing slowly against the firm muscles, toned thanks to Alex's routine morning jogging. She slid her hands over her stomach, slowly moving them slowly down towards Alex's core, feeling her partner squirm with desire under her touch. She then gently guided her hands upwards, wanting to prologue the tortuous ecstasy as bit, and placed her hands them over the blonde's fair breasts. Feeling Alex's nipples harden underneath her palms, she massaged her chest sensuously, placing a line of gentle kisses down her back. Alex released a small cry of pleasure.

"You like that sweetheart?" Alex nodded weakly, whimpering as she melted further into Olivia's touch, begging the brunette to go further. Olivia leaned over the blonde's shoulder, capturing her mouth in a languid kiss before guiding her hips against her own, slipping her hand between Alex's legs.

"That's it yes. Fuck. Yes. Inside please Liv. Yes," Alex pleaded, feeling herself being pulled closer and closer to her climax. With a few more adept movements, Olivia felt the blonde grow rigid against her before falling back with a sigh, slight pants escaping her as the detective gathered her into a warm embrace.

After a few minutes of recovery, Alex turned to face the brunette, a look of pure love filling her cerulean eyes as she leaned up to capture Olivia in a passionate kiss. When air became a necessity, she pulled away for but a quick moment before flashing her lover with a smile. "Your turn."

*~*~*Page break~*~*~*

"Alex, oh God, you have to try this," Olivia exclaimed, mouth still half-full of the chicken marengo she had ordered. Alex giggled, placing her fork on her own plate.

"Give it here, detective." Olivia sliced a bite size piece of chicken and lifted it to meet Alex's awaiting lips. "Oh, wow," Alex praise, savouring the taste, "that's incredible." Olivia smiled, lifting another piece and quirking her eyebrow with a questioning look. Alex parted her lips, capturing the bite that Olivia playfully moved towards her mouth. She caressed one of Olivia's hand, intertwining their fingers. The two had been enjoying the delicious meal in the upscale New England restaurant that Olivia had surprised Alex with reservations to. While she knew that Alex would have been fine with some clam chowder and room service, Olivia had insisted on taking her out to one of Alex's favourite restaurants, one that the detective remembered her then-girlfriend telling her about fondly as a local hub that her family had loved to go to when she was a child. Knowing, in spite of Alex's silence on the topic, that the absence of her parents, specifically her father, from the wedding had been painful for her wife, Olivia hoped that this small gesture would be understood as a way of including them. At present it had been, as the blonde had cheerfully shared a few more stories about her youth, such as the time Alex had gotten severely sunburnt in spite of the overcast day, earning her the nickname Casper, or when her drunken father pushed a less than pleased Donnelly into the bay. In many ways lacking her own, Olivia loved hearing the pleasant stories from Alex's youth and only hoped that their children would have similar ones to share in the future.

Their children.

It was such a strange yet exhilarating thought. Yes, Olivia had always wanted to be mother even since she began to make peace with some of the demons associated with her own conception. Yet it had always been in a very abstract sense. Now, being with Alex, being Alex's wife made that different. She remembered the time the couple had had "the talk" about it.

Last year on a brisk November evening, Olivia and Alex were cuddling on the couch, drinking tea and enjoying some inane Lifetime movie. Suddenly, a very loud toy commercial blared, proclamations of Christmas specials singing across the screen. Alex groaned, "Ugh, can you believe there are Christmas commercials already? It's not even Thanksgiving yet!"

Olivia smiled and shrugged. "I don't know. I guess people just like getting in the holiday cheer early..."

"Holiday cheer," Alex scoffed, "More like people like becoming mindless drones to capitalistic rip-offs. I mean, look at those toys. Just a bunch of plastic that will probably break or wind up thrown in the back of a closet."

"Yeah but parents are excited to see their kids reactions. I mean you and I will be experiencing that soon enough..." Olivia froze, realizing what she had just said and hoping it would go over Alex's head in the heat of the moment.

Of course, nothing ever just went over Alex's head. The blonde sat up and turned so she could look at Olivia, who had suddenly become extremely interested in a small fray on the blanket's hemline. "What did you just say?" the attorney asked, her face unreadable.

"Uhh, it was... nothing," Olivia sputtered nervously, "you know... just... like it you and I were to... like you and I separately... well not separately... but like if one of us were to have kids... well."

Alex smiled. "You're stuttering."

Olivia sighed. "Yeah, I'm just digging my grave aren't I," she said, peaking up slightly to take a nervous look at the blonde's eyes.

"Have you really thought about having kids with me?" Alex asked gently, taking one of Olivia's hands in her own.

Olivia used her free hand to comb through her bangs. "Yeah... I have." She began speaking quickly, "I mean, I don't want to pressure you. It's just a thought. We don't have to if you don't want. It's just..."

Alex interrupted her with kiss. "Now you're rambling." Olivia shrugged sheepishly, and Alex gently held her chin up, forcing her to make eye contact. "I'd love to have children with you, Olivia. I can't think of anything that would make me happier.

"Liv? Olivia?" Alex's voice brought the detective back out of her thoughts. "Everything okay?"

"Perfect," Olivia said with a reassuring smile, "I was just thinking about you."

"Oh?" Alex asked, quirking an eyebrow amusedly. She reached over the table to grab both of Olivia's hands, rubbing her thumbs over them gently.

A guffaw interrupted the otherwise intimate moment. The couple turned to see another woman across the aisle clearing her throat. "Excuse me, ladies. This is a public establishment," she sneered. Gesturing to her table, at which sat presumedly her husband and a son and daughter, she continued "There are children here. We all would appreciate if you kept your... personal endeavours to yourself."

Alex and Olivia looked at one another completely flabbergasted. "Umm, ex-excuse me?" Olivia adjured, furrowing her brow in confusion.

The women rolled her eyes, pulling a chubby and overdressed toddler closer to her hip. "Clearly you are not from around her, but we pride ourselves on being a neighbourhood with family values. I will not have you exposing these innocent and impressionable children to yours and your girlfriend's lifestyle."

Olivia blushed profusely, turning her gaze toward the table. Though she was by no means embarrassed about her relationship with Alex, she was thrown off guard by unexpectedly having this private moment between she and her wife interrupted. The husband at the other table, while not outwardly disagreeing with his wife, seemed equally uncomfortable, his head bowed and gaze directed at the table. Glancing at her wife, Alex frowned, infuriated by how upset this had made Olivia.

"Well excuse me, ma'am, but it appears that you have managed to be so blinded by your bigotry that you've failed to notice that it is now the twenty-first century. This," she began, grabbing Olivia's left hand, "is my beautiful wife. And we are here celebrating our honeymoon." Alex paused to send an icy glare, the same look that made even the most hardened of criminals shake in their books, towards the woman, taking pleasure in the nervous look that crossed the broad's face. "So, how about you take your homophobic remarks, which cross the line of imbecilic, and head on home to your model family and leave mine the hell alone."

The women, eyes wide and mouth gawking, stood up abruptly and then sat back down, clearly unsure of what to do. Casting one last sidelong glare at the couple, she attempted to go back to her meal. Despite the invisible wall now looming in the aisle, the entire atmosphere had changed for both Olivia and Alex. The detective sighed, balancing her elbows on the table and massaging her temples, replaying the situation over in her head. In spite of her verbal victory, Alex was still angry and tense, and also clearly lost in her own thoughts. The couple attempted to enjoy a dessert that neither of them really touched, and it wasn't long until Olivia called over the server to ask for a check.

As they stood up to leave, Alex grabbed Olivia's hand and intertwined their fingers. Contrary to what the bigoted women, who released a heavy sigh, must have thought, this was less of a political gesture than an act of pure emotional need. Olivia squeezed Alex's hand before allowing herself to be guided out of the establishment. Just as they reached the car, so quietly that Olivia almost didn't hear it, Alex muttered, "The woman reminded me of my mother." The blonde didn't say another word the whole ride home.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Olivia grunted, lifting the last of Alex's fleet of Louis Vitton luggage (luggage that probably cost three months worth of her salary) into the apartment before dropping them near the doorway with a relieved sigh. Alex lifted her eyes from her novel. She was lying on the sofa with a glass of red wine, clearly more content than her counterpart, whose brow was now slick with a thin layer of sweat.

"Babe, I told you that I'd help you carry things."

"And I would would have taken you up on that offer had I realized how much you had packed. Jeez Alex, is there anything left in your closet?" She plopped down on the other side of the couch, propping her feet up on the coffee table.

Alex raised an eyebrow. "If I do recall, you enjoyed several of those things," she replied, pulling Olivia's legs onto her lap to massage the soles of her feet. Olivia smirked in agreement, relaxing into Alex's touch.

"It's good to be home," she said with a smile. The two lounged for a moment, Alex returning to her book while absentmindedly stroking her fingers up and down Olivia's leg while she started to doze off. Suddenly, Olivia's eyes shot open, and she got up abruptly. "Shit! Alex, get up!"

"What?" Alex asked with a bit of concern.

"I forgot to carry you through the threshold!"

Alex groaned, sinking deeper into the soft leather cushions. "Ugh, really Liv? Weren't you supposed to do that the first time we were home anyway?"

"Yes, and I forgot then too. Come on, please..." She drew out the last word with a bit of a pout, opening her chocolate brown eyes wider. In spite of Alex's aversion to what she found to be a silly, patriarchal tradition, she also found that look irresistible. Sighing dramatically, with a playful smile teasing the corners of her lips, she dropped her novel onto the coffee table and followed Olivia out of the apartment. "Ready?" Olivia asked, grin wide. Alex couldn't help but be amused by her partner's enthusiasm. She wrapped her arms lazily around Olivia's neck, pecking her with a chaste kiss.

"Yes ma'am," she mumbled into Olivia's lips. Olivia smiled. Swiftly, she slipped an arm behind Alex's legs, gently swooping her into a bridal-style embrace. Pulling Alex close against her, she carried her into their home, careful not to slam the blonde's head into the doorframe. Surpassing the living room, she proceeded down the hallway to the master suite, gently laying Alex down onto the bed. "I could have walked you know," Alex said, giggling as Olivia lined her collarbone with an assortment of nips and kisses.

Olivia smirked, turning her focus away from Alex's body for a brief moment. "It's okay. You're a hell of a lot lighter than your suitcases." She pressed her lips against the blonde's once more before laying down, resting her head on Alex's chest.

Alex ran her finger's absentmindedly through the brunette's hair. "I can't believe we have to go to work again tomorrow," she sighed.

"It went fast," Olivia said before lifting Alex's free hand to her lips, kissing her knuckles, "Too fast."

"I don't even want to think about the amount of work there's going to be. Isabelle is great, but she's new and still has no idea how to properly file a motion, and don't get me started on Jones..."

Olivia moved to straddle the attorney, interrupting her with a kiss. "Shh... sweetheart, you don't have to think about it all right now," she said soothingly, "it's still our honeymoon technically." She grinned mischievously. "And I think I can come up with a few ways of distracting you," she teased as she slowly began to rock herself against Alex, earning a gasp. Alex smiled and captured the detective's lips in a hungry kiss. Yes, work could wait for tomorrow.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

"28-year-old Jane Doe, blitz attacked in downtown Chelsea. She's down at Mercy and just regained consciousness. Benson, Stabler, get her account. Munch and Fin, head down to the lab for crime scene analysis," Cragen delineated. Olivia breathed heavily, running her fingers through her hair, preparing herself for a rude reintegration with the city. Grabbing her leather jacket and badge, she headed off with Elliot to the hospital.

The two were intercepted by the attending. "Detectives, says her name's Samantha Ringwald. Doesn't seem to remember much - still groggy from the pain meds. She's out of the woods though. We'll be transferring her from intensive care tomorrow." The detectives shot him a quick thank you before entering the victim's room.

Samantha Ringwald was a mess. Her brown hair was matted. One of her eyes was blood red, surrounded by a dark bruised shadow. Her nose was discoloured and disfigured, clearly broken by a strong impact. Several gashes criss-crossed down the left side of her face. Her left arm was resting on a pillow, held by a plaster cast. "Hi Ms. Ringwald," Olivia said softly as they entered the room, "I'm Detective Benson and this is Detective Stabler. We're here to ask you some questions about last night if you're feeling up to it."

The woman nodded slowly. "Sam, please." She mumbled, looking towards the wall."

"Okay, Sam, can you take us through what happened last night?" Elliot asked.

"I was heading home from the library around midnight. I'm studying for my dissertation at Columbia. I was waiting for my cab to come but he came up behind me and pulled me into a nearby alley. He put his hand over my mouth so I couldn't scream. I tried to bite him but he was wearing gloves. He... slammed my face into the side of a building... then my head." Her voice began to waver. "I...I must have lost consciousness then, but the nurse, she told me that he... that he..." She broke down into tears. Olivia cautiously placed a comforting hand on top of Sam's.

"Did you see him at all before you lost consciousness?"

"No, he was behind me."

Elliot added, "Did you notice anyone paying particular attention to you recently. Maybe at the library or at school..."

"No!" Sam snapped. She looked back towards Olivia with begging eyes. "Please, can we stop now."

Olivia nodded solemnly. They weren't going to get any farther at that point. "Yes, you've been very helpful Sam. I'm going to leave you my card. If you remember anything else, give me a call." Sam's eyes were blank and glassy with tears. She looked ghoulish against the white hospital sheets and without a word grasped Olivia's card in her hand before turning her back to the detectives.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

"Fifteen years followed by probation, contingent upon your client's cooperation in his partner's trial."

"That's ludicrous. Knock off ten years and exchange probation for counselling. My client's a troubled man... absent father, alcoholic mother, abusive stepfather..."

"Your client kidnapped an eighteen-year-old so she could be raped and brutalized by Victor Mulligan. That's co-conspiracy in kidnapping, assault, and rape. Your client is lucky he's no longer looking at a life sentence."

"I'll take the deal."

"Chuck, we can do better than this. She doesn't have what she needs for this conviction..."

"Like hell she doesn't!" the defendant responded, slamming his fists against the metal table. "I did it! They've got me on camera grabbing that blond girl for Vick." He grabbed his head in his hands. "Fucking twenty grand wasn't worth it. I got a kid on the way. I want to see her grow up." He looked Alex dead in the eye. "I'll take the deal."

"A remorseful felon," Alex replied sardonically, standing up and smoothing her suit. She turned her attention back to the defense attorney. "You have him in court on time tomorrow or his daughter will be celebrating her high school graduation with him in Sing Sing." Upon leaving the interview room, she was intercepted by her boss, Liz Donnelly. "What's the status of the Mulligan case?"

"Alberts took the deal. He testifies tomorrow against Mulligan." Donnelly nodded before looking at Alex quizzically. Slightly confused by the older woman's examination, she continued, "The case is practically closed. All the evidence we have is secure and with the victim and Albert's testimony, the jury will convict."

Donnelly nodded again, a satisfied look on her face. "Very good." She grabbed a compact mirror out from her bag. "One more thing, Alex. I would consider wearing a turtleneck tomorrow." Alex frowned, her brow lined with confusion. Puzzled, she took the small mirror and examined her neck. She gasped softly. Brazenly poised on her collarbone, in direct view of her boss – and God knows who else – was a perfectly formed hickey. Alex could feel the blush rising to her cheeks, her hand shooting to hide the reddish-purple mark that must have formed after hers and Olivia's... encounter that morning. She wanted to curl into a ball and die. Donnelly smirked at the attorney's clear discomfort, knowing how straight-laced Alex could be. "Just be glad it was me who noticed and not opposing counsel." She turned to leave. "And for God's sake Alex, tell Detective Benson to keep things below the neckline, at least on court days."

Alex's alabaster skin turned about ten shades redder. No, she wasn't living this one down anytime soon.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

When Alex got home – after staying late in her office to work on paperwork so none of her other colleagues noticed the tell-all mark on her collarbone – she found Olivia sitting with an untouched cup of coffee, staring into space.

"You," Alex said accusingly, "Look at this!" She pulled the collar of her blouse down slightly to reveal the bruise which had been unsuccessfully masked by some foundation.

Forcing a small smile, Olivia feigned innocence. "Oh, baby. Let me kiss it and make it better." She leaned towards Alex, who gently held up a hand to block her lips."

"No way! Those things are dangerous." She blushed again. Mortified, she continued, "Liz noticed."

Olivia sniggered. "I would have paid to see that one," she said before turning back to her coffee, clearly lost in thought. Alex watched for a moment as the detective stirred the lukewarm liquid absentmindedly, lines creasing her forehead.

"Liv, are you okay?" she asked, taking a seat next to Olivia and placing a gentle hand on her back.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Liv, you promised." And that was true. Early on in their relationship, Alex and Olivia had agreed that while they certainly wanted to separate work from home – had to with their careers – they couldn't close off from one another emotionally. Or at the very least had to try not to. Olivia sighed heavily.

"It's just hard coming back to it all, you know?"

Alex nodded. That was all she needed to say. She pressed a soft kiss to Olivia's forehead before getting up and pouring her wife a fresh cup of coffee.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

"You guys still coming over for Easter?" Elliot and Olivia were sitting outside of the courtroom, waiting for the verdict on their most recent case. She nodded. It had become a tradition. Ever since Olivia's mother had died and she didn't have a family to celebrate the holidays with (not like it had ever been much of a celebration before anyway), Elliot had invited her to share some of the major ones with himself, Kathy, and the kids – Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Easter. When Alex came into the picture, the couple was more than content to act as each other's company for most of the holidays, but Easter remained one time in which the Stabler-Benson-Cabot clan still came together. she wasn't quite sure why. Before Elliot, she had never even celebrated Easter, not being religious herself, and despite having grown up Christian, Alex wasn't all too spiritual either. Olivia supposed that for her, Easter had become more of a tradition – a family time – where she'd and dye eggs and do other crafts, enjoy a chaotic dinner, and join the kids on their annual egg hunt. To everyone's surprise, it had become a holiday that she was most excited for.

"Good." Elliot's phone chirped and he looked down at the message. "It's Cragen. He said he wants us back down at the precinct ASAP. There's a case." Back at the 1-6, The detectives were met by the captain and the chief of detectives.

"Olivia," the latter greeted. "Elliot, I understand you're a proud new papa. Oh, this is the little tyke?" Olivia watched the chief examine the picture of Eli with a small smile. While she was very much happy for Elliot and Kathy, and was took pride in her role of surrogate-aunt, she couldn't help but feel a bit jealous towards her partner, who was basking in the arrival of yet another perfect child. "Hmm, well that is fine work detective," the chief continued.

Luckily, Cragen got right down to business. "The chief has assigned us a case. He wants it top priority."

"Absolutely. What is it?" Olivia asked. The squad was briefed on the case: the theft of a cryotank full of embryos – as the chief described, "potential children who have been kidnapped." The next couple hours were filled with paperwork, background research that would hopefully give them some insight as to a motive and potential perps. Olivia perched herself on the corner of a desk, leafing through the notes from the 2-6 officers who had been handling the case before it was reassigned. "Hormonal wannabe mama re-interview. Nice." She shook her head with a sigh. "Look, I like Marty, but it's probably best we're handling this."

"And here's the reason we are," Elliot demurred, grabbing a cup of coffee. He walked over to Olivia and showed her a file. "Police commissioner and his wife." He continued on, stating that there were several other cases that they should have been handling before this.

Frustrated, Olivia countered, "Well, it's not like somebody stole their hubcaps, Elliot. Do you know what they went through to get those embryos?"

"You know I don't. I had kids the old-fashioned way," he responded almost boastfully.

Olivia couldn't believe how insensitive he was being. It certainly struck a nerve. It was pretty clear that Olivia wouldn't be getting Alex pregnant anytime soon without some sort of outside assistance. She envied the fact that Elliot could spawn as many natural, beautiful children as he wanted with his wife while she and Alex had no guarantees. Too many different factors. Elliot's words stung.

"Nice," she sneered sarcastically. "Well, some people aren't as blessed as you are." With that she dismounted the desk, grabbing her badge and gun before heading out to the squad cars, leaving a contrite Elliot and uncomfortable Fin and Lake behind. This was going to be a long day.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

The tension between the detectives had only intensified as they headed back to the car after interviewing the Harveys, a couple who had extracted eggs from their seven-year-old disabled daughter after starting her on fertility treatments. Olivia was dialing her cell phone furiously. "Who are you calling?"

"Children's services," she scoffed.

Elliot sighed, jamming his hands into his coat pockets. "Don't."

"You can't possibly be okay with what they're doing to her."

"Look, it's a nightmare. But it's a bad situation no matter what they do. They think they're doing what's best for their kid."

Olivia looked at him appalled, stopping dead in her tracks. "They're trapping her in a child's body forever."

Elliot shook his head. "Parents have to make hard choices. Now, this last pregnancy, Kathy was over forty. It – it makes for much higher risk... things like Down Syndrome..."

"And you know what," Olivia interrupted, "Eli turned out perfect, so spare me the perils of women over forty having babies.

Elliot could almost feel the ice radiating off of his partner as she whipped back to the car. He knew he needed to do something. While the partners frequently disagreed over certain issues, their feuds usually blew over. This, however, was not that case this time; Elliot knew he had struck a nerve – and stuck his foot in his mouth several times already.

He sat down in the driver's seat with a sigh, waiting to turn on the ignition. "You know you'd make a great mom..." he started. No luck.

"Oh my God, I am not having this conversation."

Elliot knew he was walking into the lion's den now, but this was his best friend. He at least owed her an attempt at rectifying his earlier blunders. "You're great with kids," he said.

"Yeah, I know." She licked her lips angrily, looking out the window. He started the engine.

"I mean... have you and Alex... thought about it – starting a family. Anyway you want to do it, I'll support you." Olivia turned to look at her partner, only to be met with a look of pure honesty and concern. She realized he was extending an olive branch.

She sighed, sinking into the seat. "Just drive," she said, getting lost in her thoughts. Elliot had just about accepted his partner's return to the silent treatment when she spoke up. "I have... you know, thought about it... been thinking about it."

"Yeah?" Elliot asked with a small smile, "Liv, that's great."

"I don't know, El. I mean, Alex and I talked about it once. A while ago. She knows I've always wanted kids, but in a very, I don't know, abstract sense. And now she seems kind of distant about it. I don't know if it's work or what... I wouldn't want her to feel forced into anything..."

"Just talk about it with her, Liv. I mean, this is Alex we're referring to. She loves you to death. But on the same token, I think she's the last person in the world who would feel guilted into anything she didn't actually want to do."

For the first time that day, Olivia smiled. "Yeah, I guess you're right... th...thanks El."

He returned the grin, patting her shoulder. "Don't mention it, partner." For a couple minutes they drove along wordlessly before Elliot broke the silence. "Hey Liv."

"Yeah?"

"I'm sure Mo and Kathleen would love to babysit."

~*~*Page Break~*~*

Gone. Everything was just gone for him. Olivia frowned as she gazed through the double-sided mirror at Scott Ryland, who in his grief had shot the man responsible for stealing and consequently killing his wife's frozen eggs. Now the eggs were gone. And she was gone. There was nothing left for them.

She heard Cragen approaching. "Cut and dry case. He confessed. Defense will probably argue extreme emotional distress, but that'll be the DA's problem. Head home, Liv. It's late."

Olivia sighed and grabbed her coat, heading out of the precinct. When she arrived home the apartment was dark. Made sense; it was around 3 a.m. She slipped off her shoes by the door to avoid waking Alex by stomping around and headed down the hall to their bedroom. Quickly changing out of her clothes and into an old t-shirt, she quietly headed towards the bed. What she saw made her smile. Alex had fallen asleep with her glasses on, book in hand. Clearly she had been trying to stay awake for the brunette. She was also wearing Olivia's worn NYPD tee. The detective had found out early on when they were dating that wearing the shirt comforted the blonde when she was away. Smells like you. Olivia carefully removed the book from Alex's hands and took her glasses off, placing them both on the bedside table. Sensing the blonde was already deeply asleep, she leaned over and placed a soft kiss on her forehead before moving to slide underneath the covers.

And then Olivia tried to sleep. Tried.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

She must have dozed off at some point in the early morning because Olivia was awoken by the smell of coffee and the sounds of rustling around the kitchen. A couple of minutes later, Alex appeared in the doorway, two mugs in hand. Olivia smiled appreciatively, also taking a moment to eye the smooth expanse of Alex's legs that remained uncovered by the detective's short tee. Alex placed both mugs on the bedside table and climbed back into bed, cuddling up against the detective. "Good morning," she said with a kiss.

"Mmm, 'morning."

"You got in late last night."

"Yeah."

"I missed you."

Olivia smiled softly before moving to hover over the blonde. She dragged her lips along Alex's collarbone before meeting her mouth with several languid kisses. After a few minutes, she nuzzled against the attorney's neck and whispered, "Let's have a baby."

Alex stiffened abruptly, unsure of if she had heard the detective correctly. "What?"

Olivia pulled her head up and looked into Alex's deep blue eyes. "Let's have a baby."

Alex's face was unreadable, but her eyes were stormy with emotion. She pulled herself away from Olivia's embrace to sit up. "Where is this coming from," she asked sharply.

Olivia's face wrinkled in confusion. "Lex, I thought- I mean. I want to start a family with you." Alex was silent. She was looking at Olivia but her gaze seemed to move past her, focusing on something else. Olivia cleared her throat, sitting up a bit. "This case got me thinking, you know. It's..."

Alex interrupted her. "So this is all some impulse off of a case."

Now Olivia was getting irritated. "What? Alex, you know that is not true. This case just made me... think. Life can be short. I don't want to wait..."

"So what," Alex retorted, pressing her lips into a sharp line, "This is all just some desperate need to..." She paused for the briefest second before continuing, not considering the weight of her next comment, "to ensure a legacy. Continue the genetic line..."

A look of pure pain shot across Olivia's face. She felt the wind leave her chest at those words. Alex, suddenly realizing what she had said in the heat of the moment, stuttered to speak. Olivia held up her hand. "You know. You more than anyone knows this has nothing to fucking do with genetics. You fucking know it, Alex," she spat, glare piercing Alex's gaze. Olivia looked away, quiet for a few moments. Her stiff body softened. Defeated. "Look, it was stupid. I shouldn't have brought it up," she said, standing from the bed.

"Liv-" Alex began quietly, an undeniable sadness characterizing her features.

Olivia had reached their bedroom door. She turned around to face Alex once more and interrupted, "Um, El and Kathy said they wanted us to come around 2. I'm...um going to go get a cake or something to bring them."

And with that she left.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

Later, getting ready was silent. Olivia skilfully avoided Alex, in spite of them sharing a relatively small apartment. The car ride was equally mute. From the moment they arrived at the Stablers, the uncomfortable distance between the couple was palpable, and Elliot knew that something was wrong between his partner and her wife. He and Olivia were at the grill while Alex helped Kathy in the kitchen. "So," he began carefully, "what's going on between you and Alex?"

"Nothing," Olivia said shortly, eyes focused on scraping a bit of charred remnants off of the grill.

Elliot sighed. "Come on Liv. You could cut the tension with a knife. What is it?"

"Don't want to talk about it," Olivia responded, continuing to direct her attention away from the line of questioning.

Elliot pondered his next move. "Is it... bedroom problems?"

Olivia froze. She grabbed a pair of tongs and picked up a well-done hotdog. "El. If you do not want your dick to look like this in about five seconds, shut up."

Elliot nodded and went back to placing some cheese on the burgers.

Thankfully, about five minutes later, Kathy called out to the kids that it was time to eat. Everyone headed over to the table. While Olivia sat next to Alex, not wanting to call anymore attention to what was already the remnants of dispute, she kept a clear bodily distance. Noticing the awkwardness, Kathy attempted to start conversation beyond Dickie's ramblings about the latest video game. "So Maureen has been getting ready to apply to medical schools," she said, smiling over at her eldest. "Isn't that crazy?"

Olivia smiled. "Yeah I remember when you were still playing with a toy doctor set. As one of your first patients, I'd like to take some credit," she said with a chuckle.

"Do you know where you are applying yet?" Alex asked.

"Yep," Maureen replied, "Starting to narrow things down. I like Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Mount Sinai. I take the MCATs soon and then start applying in the fall."

"Much to my wallet's dismay," Elliot added.

"Ugh, definitely a stressful process," included Alex, "I was ridiculously stressed when I applied to law school. It's slightly easier having had the experience of undergraduate applications, but certainly not fun at all. I'd recommend getting a head start on those applications as soon as you can."

"Oh, believe me, she's already started some mock essays, my little over-achiever," Kathy said with a chuckle, leaning over to pinch Maureen's cheek. "If you'll excuse me for a moment," Kathy began, trying to slide behind several family members to head towards the house, "I'm going to use the restroom." Suddenly, a piercing cry transmitted over the baby monitor. "...or not. He's probably hungry," she said.

"I can get him," Olivia offered.

"Ahh, thanks Liv," Kathy replied with a relieved smile, rushing off to the bathroom. "Four pregnancies does a number on your bladder. He has a bottle in the fridge if you want to grab that. I'll feed him when I get back." Alex watched Olivia follow her into the house and head upstairs to Eli's nursery. The brunette returned a couple of minutes later, a still whimpering baby in her arms. She sat back down and and adeptly began to feed Eli his bottle, making sure to check the temperature and that there were no air bubbles. Though the conversation picked back up, Alex's attention was quietly fixed on her wife and the natural ease with which she handled the baby. She watched as Olivia carefully burped him, gently bouncing him up and down, and allowed him to play with her fingers and hair. And what she already knew despite hesitations once more hit her like a ton of bricks.

"Mommy! Daddy! Are we going to the egg hunt now," Dickie and Lizzie asked excitedly, interrupting her thoughts.

"Yep guys!," El responded to his eager twins, "Let's just bring the last of this food in and then we'll grab our baskets and go."

"I'm just going to go to the restroom first," Alex said. Olivia noticed that her eyes were glistening slightly, as she slipped from the table and into the house.

Elliot must have noticed to. "You going to go check on her?"

After a moment of contemplation, Olivia shook her head.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

The 18th annual Cunningham Park Easter Egg Hunt was an event filled with enthusiastic energy. Children running around eagerly to grab neon-coloured plastic eggs, parents chasing them just as quickly in hopes of slowing down the impending sugar rush. There was laughing. There were tears. Most of all, there was just noise. Which was why Alex was somewhat surprised when she managed to find Olivia sitting down on a park bench in a semi-peaceful location, looking out at the duck pond. She walked over and a sat on the opposite side of the small bench.

In an attempt to break the silence, she held up a paper lunch bag. "The twins have supplied be with a year's supply of chocolate. Apparently Kathy sets limits. You should of seen their faces when they had to hand it over though," she said with a forced laugh. Olivia gave a slight smile and nodded, her head never turning towards the blonde. It was quiet for several moments. Alex looked down the dirt pathway that surrounded the water. Yards away she saw a little boy – no older than two or three – and his father, feeding ducks with his mom. "I used to do that every Sunday after church with my dad," Alex said quietly but wistfully. "He was always off from court so that used to be our way of bonding since... well, I must have been that age. Most of the time though, I was with my mom. Well, nannies really..."

Olivia turned to face the blonde, who now herself was gazing out at the water. "I am so sorry, Liv. What I said before. I did not for a second mean it that way. It's just..." She turned to face the detective. "...I'm scared."

"Alex-" Olivia started.

Alex softly held up her hand, stopping her. "I'm terrified. And I shouldn't be because you... you are meant to be a mother, Olivia. Watching you with kids... it's just beautiful. But me. My own upbringing was frigid and cold, and I cannot trust myself to not be the same way with our child." Alex looked down quickly, and Olivia heard her stifle a small sob. She slid down the bench and took the blonde's hand in hers, earning a small look of surprise.

"Alex, if your theory holds. If the way we're raised dictates the way we parent, then that will make me an alcoholic. An abusive alcoholic..."

Alex stiffened, quickly looking up at her wife, scared she would misinterpret what she meant, "Olivia, I don't..."

Olivia stopped her, shaking her head, "No, I know you don't think that. And that's my point. It took me years... most of my life, to come to believe that I am not my mother..." She paused, her own deep brown eyes glistening as she looked at Alex. "... my father. I used to look in the mirror and just see pain and anger and I knew that I could never subject a child to that... And then I met you." At this, Alex began to lose the resolve she was trying so hard to maintain. "Being with you, Lex, it's taught me that I am not what they said I would turn out to be. And that I'm worth more than that too. And it's made me want things I never thought I could have..." She turned so she was fully facing Alex and reached up to brush away a tear that had fallen from her blue eyes. "I love you, Alex, and I trust you more than anyone." Seeing Alex's body start to shake, she pulled the blonde into a tight embrace, a comfort to each another as they cried.

After several minutes, she felt Alex's breath against her ear, sputtering as her sobs settled. "Please..." the blonde whispered, "Let's start a family."

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

"What about number... 1023?" Alex asked, lifting her eyes from the page to slide the large binder into Olivia's view. "Brown hair, dark brown eyes, Ivy League educated, and he's an attorney."

"Yeah, but what if he's a scumbag defense attorney?"

"Ugh, good point," Alex scoffed, grabbing the book back and flipping the page quickly. She removed her glasses, rubbing the bridge of her nose with frustration. "I need a break." Olivia smiled, putting aside her own binder. She reached across the table to grab one of Alex's hand, stroking the top of it with her thumb. They had been sitting at the Manhattan Cryobank for about two hours now, trying – and failing – to pick the perfect sperm donor. Though the assistant had helped the couple narrow down them slightly, they currently had gone through approximately one hundred profiles without avail. Choosing physical characteristics had been easy. With Olivia's dedication to SVU, they had decided it would be safer for Alex to carry the baby. While the detective was impartial, Alex still hoped that the baby would bear some resemblance to them both, so the couple decided to look for donors who shared some of Olivia's physical features. That being said, other characteristics seemed to be in the way of them finding the right match. The first they considered was a dead match physically, but seemed extremely arrogant in his provided profile. The second front-runner had a history of health problems. The most recent was great, up until the couple read that both sides of his family had a strong history of multiples, something neither of them were quite ready for.

"I'm beginning to give up," Alex sighed, squeezing Olivia's hand.

Olivia gave her a reassuring smile. "We'll find one, sweetheart. Do you want to go out for lunch or something and then come back?" It was nearing two o'clock as it is.

Alex huffed determinedly, gently smacking her palms on the table. "No... no, I want to get this done before we do anything else. We just need to make a decision," she said, starting to flip quickly through the pages.

Olivia stifled a laugh at Alex's eagerness. "It's not as easy as picking a car or apartment." She added with a smirk, "Unless you want to just close your eyes and point to one like you suggested with both of those decisions."

Alex shot her a playful glare. "Oh stop, you." She tapped the binder in front her wife. "Focus."

Olivia chuckled as she turned her attention back to the pages. After several more minutes, though, she looked up, "Hey, Alex! Take a look at this one."

Alex adjusted her glasses, leaning over to look at the book. She suddenly brightened. "Liv, this is like the male version of you!" Donor 1064 was in his early forties, olive skin, brunette with brown eyes. He didn't have any history of health problems and claimed to be rather athletic. He spoke Spanish fluently, and most significantly, he had served as a police officer since his twenties.

Olivia smiled widely. "So... you like him?"

"I think we've found ourselves a donor."

~*~*Page Break~*~*

Later that evening, after a couple of anxious hours, Alex and Olivia were sitting at the table eating dinner – in actuality, both were impatiently shifting their pasta back and forth on their plate. The day had been a stressful one. After informing their consultant about their chosen donor, they were whisked over to a medical assistant, who then began to explain the process of insemination. Slightly uncomfortable, Alex had informed her that she was ovulating that day, at which point the assistant gave the couple several syringes and some tubing. After deciding that both women would be more comfortable performing the insemination at home, the assistant gave them a few more instructions, a frozen semen sample, and a smile before sending the overwhelmed pair on their way.

Alex looked up from where she was spinning some noodles on her fork. "Is it ready yet?"

Olivia stood up, walking over to a bowl of lukewarm water that sat on the counter. She removed the cup and turned it carefully, watching the liquid. "Still seems a bit frozen." She walked back to the table. "Rachel said it should be completely "warm and fluid." She stuck her tongue out in disgust. "Gross stuff."

"Hey," Alex said with a smile, playfully swatting her, "that's your future child you're talking about."

Olivia laughed. "Right now that is some nasty semen. There's a reason I haven't touched that stuff in years."

Alex's eyes widened and she pouted. "You're not the one who has to have it... shot up into you." She shuddered dramatically in disgust. Olivia chuckled, kneeling in front of Alex to rub her hands up and down the blonde's thighs comfortingly.

"You excited?" the detective asked genuinely, trying to read her face.

Alex nodded with a content smile. "Absolutely." She paused. "Nervous though."

"About the..." Olivia waved her hand back towards the sample cup and adjacent syringe. "...you know..."

"Yeah, that and..." Alex took a deep breath. "Pregnancy, giving birth... everything."

Olivia nodded sympathetically, before rising taller on her knees. "You'll. Be. Great," she told Alex, punctuating each word with a kiss. Alex sighed, balancing her forehead against the brunette's. After a few moments, Olivia broke the comfortable silence. "So... you going to eat at all?" Alex giggled, shaking her head. "Yeah, me either," the brunette responded, moving to grab some tupperware.

The two decided to attempt to watch a movie to distract themselves while they waited for the sample to thaw, however neither of them were paying all too much attention. In fact, Alex couldn't even tell you what film Olivia had popped into the DVD player. She nuzzled further into her wife's chest, releasing a deep breath. Olivia looked down with a slight frown. "This isn't working either, is it?"

"No, not quite."

Olivia thought for a moment. "Okay, I've got an idea." Alex flipped herself over so that she was facing her.

"What?"

Olivia smiled, caressing the blonde's cheek gently. "Well, the assistant did say that it would aid the insemination if you were – how'd she put it? – 'excited.'" She grinned mischievously. "I can help with that."

~*~*Page Break~*~*

Alex exhaled nervously, shifting around to try to get comfortable on the bed while she waited for Olivia. Completely restless, she got up and grabbed a couple of pillows; the assistant had mention it would help to have her hips canted. Positioning the fluffy pillows underneath her, she again she tried to relax, taking a few deep breaths and lying back. She closed her eyes for a couple of minutes until she heard Olivia's bare feet padding down the hallway. Propping herself up on her elbows, Alex offered a thin smile to the brunette, who had returned to their bedroom with the IUI kit, focused on carrying the collection cup as though it was made of glass. Olivia carefully placed the objects down on the dresser. "Ready to make a baby?" she said with a smile, turning to look at the blonde. Seeing Alex's expression, her grin fell into a concerned frown. "Baby, you're shaking," she said, hurrying over to Alex's side.

"No, no, I'm okay," Alex said, trying to reassure her.

Olivia ran her fingers through the golden strands of her wife's hair, placing a kiss on her forehead. "Are you sure? We don't have to do this right now if you're not ready."

Alex smiled uneasily, sitting up slightly to kiss Olivia deeply. "No, I'm ready. I'm just nervous but I want this, I swear." She met Olivia's skeptical look with a more confident grin. "Come on woman," she joked, smacking Olivia's ass playfully, "get me pregnant already."

While both women were anxious, they were able to sort out the particulars and manage a successful insemination attempt. Now about an hour later, Alex groaned from her position on the bed, still laying with her legs on a slight incline. "Ugh, how long has it been?"

Olivia chuckled, depositing a vibrator back in its drawer. "Alex, sweetie, it's only been five minutes. The assistant said you're stuck like that for at least a half and hour."

Alex pouted. "Will you at least come lay with me?"

Olivia smiled softly. "Of course baby." She made it over to the bed and laid down beside Alex, resting her head on the attorney's chest. Alex played with her brown hair absentmindedly.

"This is weird."

Olivia shook her head gently, looking up at Alex. "No, this is incredible." Cautiously, as though it was fragile, she placed her hand on Alex's bare stomach. Alex smiled contently, resting her hand on top of Olivia's. After several moments, Olivia spoke again, "So have you given any thought to names?"

"Liv, this sperm isn't even up my fallopian tube yet."

Olivia shook her head with a chuckle. "I know that, nerd. I was just wondering if you had thought about it?"

Alex thought for a moment, unconsciously running her hand along her stomach. "I've always liked Max for a boy."

Olivia smiled widely. "I like that name a lot," she said, holding Alex's hand. "Just Max or..."

"Well Maxwell technically..."

"Ah, there's the old fashioned Cabot flair," Olivia teased.

"Stop it, you," Alex scolded playfully. Olivia leaned up to kiss her cheek before she continued. "Maxwell on paper. And when he's in trouble," she added with a smile. "But Max for short."

"I love it," Olivia said, nuzzling softly against her wife.

Alex raised an eyebrow. "What, no suggestions from you?"

"Well, I like Samuel... or Cooper. But Max just... fits. Plus we can just save the other names for next time," she smirked.

Alex rolled her eyes. "Awfully confident, detective. Talk to me again after nine months."

Olivia laughed. "Well, I did have one serious suggestion..." she started. Alex nodded for her to continue. "What about Alexander as a middle name? For your dad?"

Alex took a quick breath, her eyes glistening slightly as she considered the gesture. While they had had their ups and downs, Alex had been very close with her father and missed him terribly. She would have given anything to have him here for this experience, to meet what would be his first grandchild. "Oh Liv..." she began, caressing the side of the detective's face, "That... that would have meant so much to him."

"Is that a yes?"

Alex nodded, pulling the brunette towards her for a kiss. "Thank you," she whispered softly.

Olivia smiled, resting her forehead again the blonde's. "Maxwell Alexander Cabot-Benson. It has a regal tone to it," she chuckled, earning her a laugh. "What about for a girl though?"

"You first."

"Well, I like Samantha..."

Alex grimaced and shook her head. "Ugh, same name as a horrible woman I interned with back as an undergrad."

Olivia laughed. "Okay, cross that one off of the list. What about Sophia?"

"I definitely like that," Alex said with a smile. "Or in keeping with "S," maybe Sadie?"

"Aww, that's really cute, Lex. Let me grab some paper to write these down by the way," Olivia said, reaching into a drawer of their nightstand to grab a legal pad. The women took turns suggesting different names.

"I think Amelia is very pretty." Olivia said, looking towards the blonde.

"Mia," Alex said with a smile, "I really love that, Liv. Could we also put Harper on the list?"

"To Kill a Mockingbird?" Olivia said with a smile.

Alex blushed slightly. "It's my favorite book."

"Well I like the name too. It's added." Olivia sighed looking down at the paper. "Well, that leaves us with Sophia, Sadie, Ella, Lauren, Amelia, and Harper."

"Ugh, why is it that we were able to pick a boy's name so easily," Alex sighed, finally sitting up on the bed to take a look at the pad.

"Boys are just simpler in general," Olivia teased, putting a cap on the pen. "It'll come to us though. We have a while to go. Or we can just pray for a Y-chromosome," she teased, reaching over to pull down the covers. She and Alex climbed underneath before cuddling against one another. They wished each other goodnight, quickly dozing off after a very long day, Olivia's hand wrapped protectively across Alex's waist.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

One month later

Olivia took another bite of her dinner. After a long day of searching for Jeremy Hane's mystery lover, they were short on leads. She looked down at her watch. 11:30 o'clock. It was going to be a long night.

"So Jeremy and closet boy are playing Brokeback Mountain. Things get a little rough and Jeremy winds up dead," Elliot theorized.

"Look, either way, closet boy's screwed. He can't be found at his dead gay lover's apartment so he splits." Olivia couldn't imagine. God forbid something every happened to Alex, there was no way she would ever be able to hide that sort of grief. It was unbearable even to think about. She shook the idea from her mind.

"Hey Liv, Elliot," Lake yelled from the lower level of the squadroom, "We ran down Freddie's pals. They all backed up his alibi."

Fin added, "And the security camera puts him entering the shelter around 11:45 PM. He didn't leave after that."

"Okay, so Freddie's clear."

"And so's Sam the assistant. It's confirmed he was working in full view of a dozen other people when Jeremy was killed.

Damn, no leads now. Olivia sighed, "So it looks like our best bet is the mystery man. Now all we have to do is find him."

Elliot thought for a moment. "Would you miss your boyfriend's funeral?"

"Yeah. If I was famous and in the closet. How am I gonna show up crying at a gay man's grave?"

Elliot nodded. "You make sure no one else is there to see you."

Fin called down from below. "I'll go get Munch to organize some sort of visual near Jeremy's grave. Knowing his paranoia, I'm sure he's had plenty of experience with hidden cameras."

Olivia's cell phone buzzed against her hip. Stepping to the side, she flipped it open. "Benson."

She heard her wife's voice. "Hey Liv. You going to be home any time soon?"

Olivia sighed with a frown. "Sorry baby, probably not. We're pretty caught up in the Hanes' case right now. I'm going to be stuck her a while." She could almost hear Alex's disappointment on the other line. "I'll make it up to you."

Alex looked down at the box she was holding in her free hand. It was finally time for her to take a pregnancy test, as indicated by the large star in her planner. But now it looked like she was going to have to wait, not wanting to do so without Olivia present. "It's okay. I understand. Any leads?"

"None of which check out right now. We're working on setting up a camera at the grave sight to see if any nighttime visitors come by." She heard Alex yawn. "Oh, sweetie, you should get some sleep. You sound exhausted."

"Yeah, I'm going to head to bed. Love you."

"Love you too. Night."

By 1:00 AM, Cragen sent everyone home. "Chances are he's not a flight risk. Probably thinks he's under the radar. Get some rest, and we'll check the tapes bright and early tomorrow morning."

Olivia grabbed a cup of coffee and headed back home. Dropping her keys on the counter, she quietly headed towards the bedroom. She was surprised to see that the light was still on. "Alex," she called out questioningly, heading into the room. What she saw made her stomach drop with worry. Alex was laying on the bed, her body curling up against Olivia's pillow. This would have been normal except the blonde was wide awake and, though she tried to hide it, had clearly been crying. Olivia hurried over to her, "Alex, sweetheart, what's wrong?"

Alex sat up quickly, wiping her eyes in an attempt to eliminate any evidence of tears. "I'm fine," she said, attempting to be convincing. Olivia, of course, saw right through that and reached up to cup the side of her face.

"Alex, please."

The attorney started to speak and then shrugged, looking down and shaking her head. "It's stupid. I'm overreacting. I didn't think you would be home for a bit so I let myself get worked up..."

"Alex," Olivia said a bit more sharply, still quite concerned.

"It was negative." Olivia gave her a confused look but then realized what the blonde meant. Alex exhaled heavily and explained. "I really was going to wait until you got home but, I don't know, I was just so excited and I couldn't sleep. So I took the test. I'm sorry..."

"Lex, don't apologize," Olivia comforted, placing her other hand on Alex's knee. "I just wish I could have been here for you, baby. I am so, so sorry."

Alex shook her head, pressing her lips tightly together. Though her face maintained composure, she moved to rest in Olivia's embrace, comforted by her wife's arms around her. "Like I said, I'm over-reacting. I know that it doesn't always work right away. I just got my hopes up."

Olivia placed a kiss on the crown of her head. "I know, sweetie. It's okay to be disappointed. I am too. But we'll try again as soon as we can. We can call the doctor in the morning if you want." She felt Alex nod into her chest.

"We should get some sleep," she said, clearly drained. Olivia nodded, guiding them towards the head of the bed. While the blonde didn't say anymore, she clearly was on edge, never fully relaxing.

"I love you, Alex. It's going to be okay."

A/N: So sorry to offend any Samanthas out there! I really like the name in actuality and just picked it at random off of a popular names list haha :)

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

Olivia walked briskly down the street. She had been away on at a weekend long conference and unfortunately only had the time to drop her bag off back at the apartment before heading into work. It was a rewarding weekend. She had learned a lot of new information about sexual assault survivor resources and services that would be helpful when working with victims. The conference had also provided her with a short break from the City, just long enough to make her feel rejuvenated and ready to head back to work. Her only displeasure was not having had the chance to see Alex that morning, as the attorney was already at the office. Hopefully she could make it home in time for a late dinner...

This only more greatly encouraged Olivia to pick up speed and get over to the 1-6; the sooner she got back on the job, the better the chance she would have to end at a reasonable hour. Yet the detective's valiant effort to get to work on time was hindered when a store caught her eye: a baby boutique. Stopping in front of the shop, Olivia sighed tiredly. Six months. She and Alex were currently on their fourth insemination attempt. If it didn't work this time, they would have to go see a fertility specialist to make sure there was no bigger issue at hand. Though Alex wouldn't admit it, Olivia knew that she was scared. Olivia looked into the window, taking in the different clothes and toys on display. She smiled when she saw a pair of light brown booties sitting on a stool, marvelling at how tiny they were. The detective bit her bottom lip in consideration before exhaling loudly and entering the store. Finding a pair of the booties, she headed to the register and paid. Quickly exiting the store and continuing towards the precinct, Olivia stuffed the purchase into her bag. She didn't want to give up hope just yet.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

When Olivia got to the precinct, she was happily surprised to see Alex in the lobby waiting for the elevator. "Hey you," she called over. Alex turned, a bright smile appearing on her face. The elevator dinged and she pulled the brunette inside. Hitting the button quickly to close the door, she turned and greeted her wife with a passionate kiss. When they separated for air, Olivia blinked a few times. "Wow, had I known I'd be greeted like that, I'd have gone away more often."

Alex rolled her eyes but kept her grasp on Olivia's waist. "I missed you," she smiled, pecking the detective on the forehead.

"I missed you too, Lex. Not that I'm not pleasantly surprised, but what are you doing over here? Do we have a new case?"

Alex shook her head. "Not that I know of. I just have some follow-up on the Rodriguez case to review with Cragen." The elevator dinged again and the couple reluctantly separated before the doors opened. Stepping outside into the hall, they were met with the fury of a new case. After asking her about the conference, Cragen filled Olivia in, "Elliot and John have an interesting subject in interrogation. You two wanna watch?"

"It's what I live for," Olivia responded as he guided she and Alex down the hall briefing them on the case. Young homeless man, schizophrenic, who had his genitals mutilated before he was set on fire. They had taken a local Catholic school boy into custody, and he had waived his rights. Things seemed to be running smoothly so far, but as the trio reached interrogation, they were interrupted by a frantic young Italian woman.

"Hey! Who's in charge here?" she asked, rushing down the hallway as fast as she could in her pair of high heels.

"Can I help you?" Cragen responded calmly.

"Yeah! You've got my boy. Can I see him?"

"What's his name?"

"What's your name," she responded snarkily. Alex couldn't help but roll her eyes. She already couldn't stand this woman.

"Donald Cragen, Captain of SVU."

"His name is Alec Bernardi," she drooled in a thick New York accent.

Cragen sighed. "Mrs. Bernardi, your son is in custody. You can see him after we're done questioning him."

"You can't do that without me there," she clipped.

"Actually we can," Alex interjected, "Your son is over sixteen so legally there's no obligation for parental presence during interrogation."

"Who's the blond bitch?" the woman snapped, taking a step towards Alex. Olivia's eyes widened fiercely as she stepped in front of the attorney. Before she could say anything, Cragen placed an arm in front of her.

"This is Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot. She may ultimately be trying your son's case, Mrs. Bernardi, so I'd suggest you take it down a notch."

"He's just a kid! He doesn't know what to do. He must be scared to death!" she exclaimed.

Cragen shook his head. "Scared is not exactly the word I'd use," he muttered, "Mrs. Bernardi you can come with me until your son is out of questioning. Detective Benson, Ms. Cabot, please feel free to continue to interrogation.

When the two were out of sight, poor Cragen stuck with the bickering and incensed broad, Olivia shook her head. "Well, that one's a trip."

Alex sighed in agreement. "Seeing as Cragen's otherwise occupied, I'm going to head back to my office. I'm going to have a lot of work if it turns out that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I'll see you later tonight?"

"One can only hope" Olivia sighed, before heading over to the double-sided mirror. This was going to be interesting.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

"Yeah it was my idea. It rocks, huh? We're totally gonna be the hottest MILFs on the block." Olivia's eyebrows flew up and she struggled to keep her jaw from dropping, shocked by this girl's utter flippancy. This girl couldn't be serious... Taking the detective's astonished expression as confusion, Fidelia Vidal explained, "It means mother I'd like to..."

"Oh, I know what it means," Olivia interrupted.

Indignant yet nonchalant, the young girl stood up, her pregnant stomach bulging against a teal green t-shirt. She had to be at least seven or eight months along. "Want to see the stroller I picked out? It's so cute." Olivia sighed, irritated. She had to at least try to get the seriousness of this situation through this teenager's head. She pulled on Fidelia's shoulder gently, stopping her.

"Fidelia, you need to screw your head on straight. This is a baby we're talking about, not a new shade of lipstick..."

"Don't say another word, angel," interrupted the father, who had been watching the interaction from nearby, "Are you charging my daughter with something, detective, because I don't like your tone."

Olivia bit her tongue. She couldn't believe how calm this family was about the situation. Their teenage daughter was pregnant for God's sake. She was just a baby herself, clearly not mature enough to raise one of her own. She couldn't even know what it was really like to want a child.

Olivia wanted to shake some sense into this whole family, however she knew she couldn't push too hard. They needed more information for the case, and she couldn't risk getting kicked out by a hormonal, immature teenager and her equally oblivious parents. "I'm just here to ask a few questions, Mr. Vidal," she said as politely as possible.

"Daddy, let her ask. I'm fine."

"Good," Olivia said, smiling slightly at the father. "Fidelia, why don't we talk about the father of the baby, huh?"

"So what's your story?" the girl snipped, avoiding the question.

"Excuse me?"

"You have kids? You're pretty old," Fidelia asked sassily. Olivia fumed inwardly. She was not going to banter with a sixteen-year-old.

"We're here to talk about you," she said, trying to redirect the subject.

"I bet you're jealous. Old chicks are totally jealous of me. Is that it? Did you wait too long? Tick tock." Something inside of Olivia snapped as she mentally recoiled from the sting of those words. Rationally, Olivia knew that it was ridiculous, that the girl didn't know about hers and Alex's current struggle. But that didn't ameliorate the anger she had in that moment. The fact that each time she met this teenager's smug grin, she couldn't help but see Alex's broken expression upon looking at another negative pregnancy test.

"Fidelia," Olivia breathed, trying to contain her frustration, "A baby is not an accessory. It is not a bracelet or a pair of earrings or a slammin' pair of jeans." She thought about just how much she had longed for a child since her young adulthood. Now she finally had the chance at having the family she always wanted with the woman she loved with every ounce of her being, things weren't working out. Deep down, somewhere in her subconscious, Olivia wondered if this was some sort of sign, that in fact she was never meant to be a mother. Her eyes narrowed on the teenager. "This is a living, breathing human being that you are bringing onto this earth?"

"You think I don't know that," Fidelia pouted, placing her hands on her hips.

Olivia's eye's widened. "If you did, you'd be petrified about your future! Do you know the odds of a teen mom finishing high school? Forget college or any other dream you might have. Life as you know it is over. There's no going to the mall or hanging out with your friends. I mean you might see them but if you do it'll probably be in line waiting for food stamps or all of you going to the doctor, trying to get an appointment at the free clinic..."

"Daddy, make her be quiet," the girl whined, moving behind the protection of her father.

"That's it, detective," Mr. Vidal fumed.

But Olivia was on a tirade at this point. "Do you know the health risks to babies born to teen moms?" She rattled off the different disorders she had been reading about in the pregnancy books that remained hidden in her desk at the precinct in an attempt not to upset Alex, "Dyslexia, retardation, um, increased risk of blindness, cerebral palsy."

"Don't you try to blame my daughter! She's just a child."

"That's my point exactly." The argument was interrupted by Fidelia's boyfriend, storming into the apartment and inquiring as to whether or not the rumors were true, if she was pregnant. After a tear-filled encounter, it was revealed to the shock of the Vidals that he was not the father. Olivia shook her head – another lead lost. She headed back to the precinct, not even bothering to wait for the still-incensed Mr. Vidal to guide her out.

Once she entered the 1-6, she went straight to Cragen's office, where he was hovering over some paperwork. "Cap, just a heads up, the Vidals may be filing a complaint." Without another word, she turned to leave the room as swiftly as she came. Perplexed, Cragen stopped her, "Benson, close the door." Olivia hesitated before gently shutting the wooden door. Taking a deep breath, she turned around to face the captain. Cragen examined his detective's appearance. She looked visibly stressed – her hair out of place, dark circles forming under her eyes, mouth grimaced. With a sigh, he asked, "Liv, what's wrong?"

"Nothing," Olivia responded with a shrug, "I just got a bit agitated. It won't happen again." She rocked back on her heels, clearly intent on leaving.

Cragen wasn't having any of it. "Sit," he ordered, pulling his own chair closer to the desk. When the detective reluctantly lowered herself to the chair, he looked at her demandingly. "Olivia, quit bullshitting me and tell me what is going on with you. What's distracting you from this case?"

Olivia's eyes remained fixed on her hands, folded together on her lap. She exhaled heavily. "Alex and I have been trying to get pregnant." Cragen raised his eyebrows at the admission but remained quiet, waiting for the detective to continue. Olivia looked up slightly at the Captain. "We've been trying for six months now but uh... it's just not working for whatever reason." She looked away. "It was irresponsible, but this girl just really... got to me. She's a sixteen year old who got pregnant on a whim yet Alex and I can't... I- I know they're not related. I'm sorry," Olivia finished dejectedly.

"Olivia," Cragen said, gently demanding her attention, "You know as well as I do that you can't always prevent a case from intertwining itself with your life. We deal with human beings, so those experiences are there. And in a lot of cases, it can... and has... made us better detectives. You just need to be conscious of that line, and you need to step back if you feel yourself crossing it. Understand?" Olivia nodded, before standing to leave.

When she reached the door, Cragen called out once more. "Hey Liv." She turned. "You and Alex. Just give it time." The detective nodded and headed back out to the squadroom.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

That Saturday afternoon, the court was anxiously awaiting the judge's dictate on Peggy Bernardi's charges – her son and Max Matarazzo, Fidelia's boyfriend, having been convicted earlier that morning. Olivia could tell from her position a few rows back that Alex didn't have a good feeling about the outcome; as she had described the night before, without being directly responsible for Fidelia's death, the case was balanced very much on jury opinion. There's little precedent for cases regarding cyber bullying.

Judge Moredock banged his gavel. "Ms. Bernardi, in light of the conviction of Max Matarazzo, this court dismisses all charges against you. You are free to go.

As the gavel banged once more, Peggy Bernardi captured her attorney in a joyful hug, followed by her daughter. While Olivia was happy that Tina would have a parent by her side – however unstable that parent may be – she still was irked by the way in which the legal system failed to obtain justice for the distress Bernardi caused in this case. She could tell Alex was equally miffed as she gathered her briefcase, and the detective watched carefully as Bernardi turned to the ADA. "I told you I was innocent."

"There's a big difference between charges being dropped and innocent," Alex snipped. "I'm sure your neighbors will explain it to you when you get home."

"Oh they can go to hell. You too."

"Just try to wash the blood off of your hands before you hold Tina's baby for the first time, okay," she sneered, stress over her own personal situation clouding her judgment.

The next few seconds were a blur. Olivia stiffened as she watched Bernardi take a step towards Alex, but before she could react, the woman had grabbed Alex by the neck. "I'll freakin' kill you!" She slammed Alex against the desk, a large smack radiating through the courtroom from the impact of Alex's head with the wood. "I'm a good mother," she repeated angrily, shaking the blonde.

Olivia and Elliot jumped into action. Elliot ran over and yanked the woman off of his partner's wife, griping her wrists tightly. "That was a big mistake," he snarled, pressing her strongly against a nearby table and cuffing her. The court room was frenzied - Peggy Bernardi yelling, Tina crying, the judge trying to maintain order. But all Olivia could focus on was Alex, who was still slouched over the desk, holding the back of her head. The detective rushed through the mob of officers over to the blonde's side.

"Alex! Alex! Are you okay?" She wrapped her arm around the attorney and carefully guided her back onto her feet. Alex wobbled slightly, and Olivia slowly moved her to sit on the nearby chair.

Registering what happened, Alex responded. "I – I think so." She brought her other hand down from the back of her head, examining the redness on her fingers. "I'm bleeding."

"Let me see," Olivia said nervously, gently turning Alex's head to examine the wound. "It doesn't look too deep, but you hit your head pretty hard. I'm taking you to the hospital." She reached into her pocket to dial an ambulance.

"Liv, please, I'm fine. Even better when you collar that bitch for assault."

"Elliot's got that all taken care of," Olivia said, glancing over at her partner, who was carrying the flailing women out of the courtroom. "But fine, no ambulance. But I am taking you to see a doctor." Alex groaned, but decided that this too was an argument that she would inevitably lose.

When they arrived at the emergency room, Olivia pulled every string possible with her badge and Alex's governmental status to get her seen as quickly as possible. Within the hour, Alex was settled on a hospital bed, feet propped on the pillow and ice pack pressed against the back of her head. "I told you I was fine," Alex frowned, "The nurse says that I don't even need stitches."

"Let's just wait and make sure that the doctor clears you," Olivia responded, taking a seat next to her and holding her hand. Alex couldn't help but smile. Despite her irritated guise, she thought over-protective Olivia was very sweet. "Does your head still hurt?"

"Yeah, but it's a little bit better. More of a throbbing now," Alex grimaced. Noticing the worry etched across her wife's forehead, she continued, moving her hand to cup Olivia's face, "Don't worry though. I'm really okay. I love you, Olivia."

"I love you too, Lex," the brunette responded, just as the doctor entered the room.

"Alright Ms. Cabot, you've certainly given your head quite a smack," he started, removing the ice pack to look at Alex's wound. Nodding, he moved back to his chart. "It definitely does not need stitches though. Just keep it clean and apply this dressing to it twice a day," he said, placing a tube on the table. "Now, in terms of any brain injury, you did sustain a heavy blow to the head. That being said, you do not seem to have any signs of a concussion. Normally we would recommend a CT scan, but with your pregnancy and because you aren't showing any symptoms..."

The couple froze. Olivia wrinkled her brow, confused. "Excuse me, doctor, you said pregnant..."

"Yes," the doctor nodded, "Yes, the pregnancy test we administer on admittance came up positive. I'm sorry, were you both unaware?" he asked, looking at the dumbstruck couple.

Alex blinked away a few tears, grabbing Olivia's hand. "No, we weren't aware," she choked out, "Are you sure?"

The doctor looked at her observantly. "I'm sorry, does the news upset you?"

"Oh no," Alex said, moving to shake her head before realizing it was still sore. She continued, "No, not at all. We've been trying for months."

The doctor smiled at the eagerly waiting couple, taking a quick look down at his chart to double-check. "Well Ms. Cabot, Ms. Benson, you are indeed expecting. Let me be the first to congratulate you."

Chapter Text

In terms of timeline, this story started in January and now Chapter 7 takes place in mid-November.

Chapter 7

The sound of brusk wretching awoke Olivia with a start, and she rolled over in bed only to find the spot next to her empty. Slightly confused, she sat up and turned to the clock, whose fluorescent green numbers were flickering 3:13. Not again.

It had been a month since the night in the emergency room, and the couple was overjoyed to be expecting their first child. After being told that she was pregnant, Alex and Olivia visited the GP who confirmed that the blonde was just about a month along, having conceived in their last attempt at insemination. For a short while, Alex felt completely normal, suspending the sense of surrealness for the pair. This all came to a striking halt around week 6, when pregnancy symptoms began to hit Alex at full force. Now at week 8, the attorney was utterly exhausted between general fatigue, mood swings, and, worst of all at this point, intense morning sickness.

So, while Olivia was disheartened that her wife was already awake at this hour for the sixth day in a row, she wasn't surprised. Sighing, she pulled herself up from bed and hurried into the ensuite. There she found Alex bent over the porcelain toilet, weakly coughing up her dinner. Olivia bent down and pulled the blond hair out of her wife's face, using her other hand to rub her back comfortingly as she continued with her struggled heaves.

"Uggh, go away..." she heard Alex moan softly before becoming sick again. Olivia ignored her plea, helping support the younger woman's exhausted body. When she was sure that Alex had finished, she stood up and grabbed a clean washcloth, dampening in the sink before squatting back down.

"You think you can sit down?" she asked gently. She saw the blonde's head nod tiredly. Olivia helped ease her back so she was propped up by the wall. Alex sighed heavily, closing her eyes briefly and pressing herself against the cool tiles in the hopes of alleviating her throbbing headache.

"You really don't have to be here for this," she argued hoarsely, reiterating the same claim she had made for the past week.

"Nonsense," Olivia refuted, patting the sweat off of Alex's brow. There was no way she was going to let Alex deal with this alone. She pressed her lips against her forehead, concerned by how sick Alex seemed this morning. No fever. Just morning sickness. "I'm going to go get you something to drink. Will you be okay for a second?"

Alex nodded tiredly, forcing a small smile. Though she argued that she didn't need help, the attorney was truly touched by how caring and attentive that Olivia already was this early in her pregnancy. Not that she was surprised.

The brunette returned a couple of minutes later with a glass of ginger ale and another cool washcloth, which she placed behind Alex's neck. When Alex felt ready, Olivia watched her brush her teeth and then helped her back to bed, tucking her in and kissing her softly. After she climbed into bed herself, Alex rested her head on the detective's shoulder. "You're too good to me," she said with a smile, starting to drift off.

Olivia turned and pressed a kiss to her forehead, slipping her hand over Alex's flat stomach. "You two are worth it."

~*~*~*Page Break*~*~*~

Olivia yawned again, fighting to keep her eyes open as she attempted to review the file in front of her. Elliot lifted his head up from his own paperwork and examined his partner's exhausted expression. "You alright?"

Olivia sighed. "Tired." She turned to survey the squad room and, finding it empty, continued. "Alex was up five times because of morning sickness this morning." Elliot gave his partner a sympathetic look.

"Yeah, Kathy was miserable for the first couple of months with Maureen. Doc said it was something about adjusting to all the hormone changes. I don't even know how many times she'd wind up throwing up during the night. Eventually I just began to sleep through it," he said before looking back down at his paperwork. Olivia frowned slightly. She would feel awful if she wasn't up to help Alex. Elliot looked up again, remembering something, "Kathy says that peppermints help. She used to have me up tons of them on my way home from work when she was pregnant with the twins."

Olivia smiled appreciatively. "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind." She was glad to have Elliot helping her figure things out; after all, he had had plenty of experience. She and Alex on the other hand were like typical first time parents: unsure of what to do and terrified. While the couple was very excited and anxious to receive advice from their friends, they had decided not to tell anyone about the pregnancy until Alex was farther along, God forbid something happen. Elliot, on the other hand, had seen through Olivia's attempted guise. The detective was skilled at being secretive, but not when it came to her partner. He had wound up prying it out of her in a week's time. She didn't mind though. He was her best friend. Plus, he had been sworn to secrecy so as not to face the wrath of Alex, which was scary enough without the pregnancy hormones.

A few minutes later, the aforementioned blonde entered the squadroom and walked over to the pair, placing her briefcase on Olivia's desk. The brunette couldn't help but stare at her wife. While Olivia thought she must be looking like a train wreck, Alex – despite having been sick and having gotten no more than three hours of solid sleep – was flawless as ever: suit ironed, blond hair combed back impeccably with a headband, and the dark shadows under her eyes masked by liquid foundation. "Any updates on the Wimbledon case?" the attorney asked.

"Clemings is in the looney bin," Elliot griped, "Started hearing voices while we were interrogating him earlier this morning."

Alex scoffed, rolling her eyes. "Of course he did. How else will Langan fashion his affirmative defense. I'll call him for a meeting when I get back to my office. And I want Huang interviewing Clemings as well. While I know there's no validity to this insanity plea, I want that to be clear to the jury as well." Elliot and Olivia nodded. "Okay," she turned to the latter, "And you'll come by my office at three?"

The detective smile. "Yep, I'll be there." Today they had their first appointment at the OBGYN; despite her fatigue, Olivia could hardly contain her excitement.

"Very good." Alex surveyed the room and finding it empty still, leaned over to peck Olivia on the cheek. "See you later," she parted with a grin.

The morning dragged on. As their evidence was rock solid for rape/murder – hindered only by the sudden psychosis of their perp, the majority of the morning was spent on court prep and catching up on old paperwork. Huang had interviewed Clemings, who had entered into a clearly falsified state of dissociation. He wasn't at all concerned about testifying as an expert witness for the prosecution, having observed the defendant getting caught up in his own web of deceit; Olivia knew Alex must be pleased. And the afternoon was only going to get better – in just 1 hour 24 minutes.

~*~*~*Page Break*~*~*~

"I've have a glass of pinot noir," Trevor Langan said, handing the waitress his menu.

"Just water for me please," Alex said, folding her hands in front of her.

Langan smiled. "So, you asked me out to lunch just to order a glass of water, Alex. At least get yourself a drink."

Alex shook her head. "No, Trevor, we have business to attend to," she responded, evading the real reason she hadn't ordered any alcohol.

Langan lifted his hands in mock surrender. "Fine, fine. What's your concern?"

Alex scoffed. "Well, I'd say your clients faking mental disease to avoid being charged with rape and murder is a bit alarming – pathetic actually."

Langan rolled his eyes. "My client is experiencing a dissociative fugue, the same state of mind he was in when he attacked Marissa Wimbledon."

"We both know that's not true, but if you're so inclined, I look forward to proving it to you in court." She reached down and grabbed a file from her bag. "Here's the paperwork. Dr. George Huang interviewed your client earlier today and – big shock – says there's nothing wrong with him. He'll be testifying on behalf of the prosecution." Standing up, she grabbed her briefcase and gave him a satisfied smile. "Good luck."

A half an hour later, she was finalizing her opening argument when she heard a knock on her door. Expecting it to be Olivia, she began packing up her things as she called for the visitor to come in. Liz Donnelly strolled in the door to find Alex pulling on her jacket.

"Going somewhere?"

"Sorry, I thought you were Olivia. I'm heading out for a doctor's appointment."

"And Olivia's leaving work to take you? Is everything okay, Alex?" she said skeptically.

Although Alex was unwavering in court, Elizabeth Donnelly's characteristic glare had the ability to shake even the most staunch attorney. Additionally, the woman had caught her off-guard. Alex cleared her throat of any signs of nervousness. "Umm, yes, I'm fine, Liz. My car's just being serviced."

Donnelly raised a suspicious eyebrow. "Okay then..." She was interrupted by Olivia entering the room.

"Alex... Judge Donnelly," she greeted, walking over towards Alex's desk. "I'm sorry to interrupt..."

"Don't worry Olivia. And it's Liz when were not in court," the older woman corrected. Olivia nodded sheepishly, still growing accustomed to the fact that the honorable Elizabeth Donnelly was Alex's godmother. "I was just checking to make sure everything was squared away for court tomorrow."

"Yes, everything's ready," the younger blonde responded, grabbing her briefcase.

"Okay, I'll let you two get out of here then. Olivia, I hope Alex's car is ready soon so you're not stuck playing her chauffeur. I know how busy the precinct's been."

A look of confusion flashed across Olivia's face, which she quickly masked. "Right, uh, the mechanic said it'll be ready later on today. Uh, see you later Liz." The couple offered a quick wave before scurrying out of Alex's office to avoid further interrogation.

Elizabeth Donnelly smiled to herself, knowing very well she had parked next to Alex's Lexus that morning. She made a mental note to chastise her attorney later for not thinking well on her toes.

~*~*~*Page Break*~*~*~

"Alexandra Cabot-Benson," the nurse called. Alex stood up and grabbed Olivia's hand, following the young woman out of the waiting room. They were seated in a private room, and the nurse took Alex's vitals before leaving them with the promise that Dr. Gil would be in soon. While they waited, Olivia flipped through a Parents magazine. She smiled widely, looking up from the page. "Hey Alex!"

"Yeah babe?"

"Did you know that at eight weeks the baby has tastebuds already?"

Alex chuckled at her wife's enthusiasm. "Really? Well, you would think he or she would want me to be able to keep down some food then."

Olivia smiled and was just about to read more facts when the knob of the door twisted open. Dr. Gil entered the room. She was a young herself; the first time Olivia had seen her, she questioned whether or not she was even old enough to be out of medical school. Yet she had proved to be competent and was highly recommended by Kathy, who had seen her for her pregnancy with Eli.

"Hello Alex," Dr. Gil greeted. "Olivia, I hear you can be replacing me for delivery services," the doctor added with a small smile. "Just how is little Eli doing."

"Good!" Olivia responded, pulling out her phone to show the doctor a recent picture.

"Aww, look how big he's gotten! A definite playmate for your little one. Speaking of which, congratulations ladies! Everything looks great so far. She looked down at her clipboard, "And, I can give you a due date. Based on the date of the insemination, I would say you're due around July 11, give or take, so you'll be nice a pregnant for the summer months," the doctor added with a smirk.

Alex groaned. "Hey, you'll still look gorgeous with a bathing suit," Olivia told the blonde, grabbing her hand.

Dr. Gil smiled at the couple. "Flattery will get you everywhere over the next trimester, Olivia," she said with a laugh, knowing how sensitive many mothers – first time mothers especially – could be. "It's still early on, but have you been experiencing any body changes yet, Alex?"

"Morning sickness. Just nausea at first but the past week has been pretty difficult."

Dr. Gil gave her a sympathetic smile. "Unfortunately that's to be expected. It should fade away around your second trimester. Until then, just try to keep hydrated and stick with mild foods. Also..." she leaned over and grabbed a pamphlet off of the counter, "here's a list of things to avoid for the remainder of your pregnancy. No smoking or drinking. Run any medications you may have to take by me in advance, including over-the-counter drugs. Stay away from caffeine. Then there's a list of foods to avoid: certain meats and cheeses, fish, etc. Avoid dying or highlighting your hair, at least for the first trimester." Alex nodded. She'd have little trouble avoiding all of those things except one; with many late nights spent on court cases, coffee had become her elixir. But she was willing to give that up – anything up for that matter – for the safety of her child.

"Also, with your mother's history of preeclampsia," Dr. Gil continued, flipping the page to Alex's medical history, "I'd like to see you a bit more frequently." She was met with two panicked expressions. "Don't worry," she added with a smile, "It's just a precaution. In terms of things to do, continue with a vitamin regiment, eat well, try not to stress and get enough sleep. I imagine those will be most difficult for you. Oh, and exercise."

Alex nodded, "Olivia's already signed us up for some kind of pregnancy yoga thing."

"Very good! Do you two have any other questions then?" The two turned to one another questioningly, but then shook their heads in unison. "Okay, I'll see you both in one month then. And Olivia, I wish you luck. The next few weeks will take a bit of adjusting to."

~*~*~*Page Break*~*~*~

"Mr. Clemings, can you please tell me where you were the night of May 12?" Alex asked, approaching the witness stand with a determined step.

"I was at Hannah's apartment," the scraggly middle-aged man replied, playing nervously with a pencil.

Alex nodded staunchly. "Hannah Wimbledon. And what were you doing there?"

"We were home from a date."

"No, Mr. Clemings," Alex said, moving to position her hands on the stand intimidatingly, "Hannah was returning home to her apartment after a failed date with you. She didn't want you to stay, did she?"

"That's not true!" Clemings practically shouted, slamming his hands down.

"Is it, Mr. Clemings?" Alex said, taking a few strides away to swoop in front of the jury. "Do you deny the eye witness's statement that Hannah was yelling at you to leave?"

"Well, I..."

"Do you deny that you were holding her by the wrists, pushing her into the apartment as the physical evidence suggests?"

"I don't know..."

"And once you got into that apartment, do you deny the fact that you pulled Ms. Wimbledon into her bedroom, tied her down?

"I don't remember!"

"You don't remember raping her and then beating her to death to cover up what you had done?"

"Objection, Langan yelled, "Argumentative."

"Sustained," Judge Petrovsky deemed. "Watch it Ms. Cabot."

Alex nodded cooly, pacing in front of the defendant. Olivia smiled. Alex had him right where she wanted him. Despite Langan's objection, she had gotten Clemings completely irate, the state at which he seemed to slip up most on his lies. Alex now looked like a lion stalking its prey... Olivia had to admit it was extremely sexy.

"Mr. Clemings," she said calmly, "can you please tell us where you were when you were arrested by Detectives Munch and Tutuola?"

"...the garbage dump."

"Do you recognize this scarf," she said, holding up exhibit B of the evidence.

"Yes... Hannah wore it on our date. She... gave it to me."

"She gave you a blood-covered scarf?"

"I uh... well... it's just..." The defendant stuttered into silence, looking down as the jury examined him incredulously. There was a pause during which Olivia noticed that Alex suddenly looked extremely pale and her eyes had widened considerably.

"Ms. Cabot, are you alright?" Judge Petrovsky asked questioningly.

Alex nodded, steadying herself. "Mr. Clemings, why did you bring this blood-covered scarf to..." She stopped suddenly, breathing deeply.

"Ms. Cabot..."

"Your Honor," Alex hesitated, "The people request a brief recess."

"Objection," shouted Langan snidely, "Your Honor, my client is in the middle of questioning. We cannot allow a recess just so Ms. Cabot can formulate a new line of inquiry."

Judge Petrovsky, however, recognized that something was awry. Though the young ADA pushed boundaries, she certainly understood and upheld the values of the court. "Counsel approach," she called.

Olivia watched carefully as the judge entered a discussion with Langan and Alex. While the blonde looked clearly uptight, what Petrovsky was saying seemed calm enough... Elliot nudged his partner. "What's up with Alex?"

Olivia shrugged, "I honestly have no idea."

A minute or so later, Petrovsky sent Alex and a very irritated Langan away from her stand. "We will recess until the start of business day tomorrow." Before she had even banged her gavel, Alex was rushing out of the courtroom. Concerned, Olivia stood up and shuffled through the crowd, following quickly behind her. Women's restroom. She should've guessed. Sighing, she entered the bathroom and found the stall Alex was crouched over in.

She knelt down and tried to soothe the whimpering blonde. "I hate this," Alex groaned miserably before retching again.

"I know sweetie, I'm sorry," Olivia lamented calmly. A few minutes later, they headed back into the lobby of the courthouse. Fin was waiting there with Alex's briefcase, which she had forgotten in her rush. They thanked him and muttered an excuse of a stomach bug before heading out the back of the building to avoid the press that Alex was in no way fit to deal with. When they got back to the apartment, Olivia helped Alex change into some comfortable clothes – one of her old NYPD tee shirts – and settled the wearied attorney into bed. She returned a few minutes later with a copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting and a mug of tea, the latter of which she handed to Alex. The blond smiled appreciatively, taking a sip of the warm liquid.

"Mmm, this is delicious. What kind of tea is this?"

"Peppermint."

Chapter Text

Chapter 8:

"Olivia!" the brunette heard Alex yell from the bedroom. Shit, she thought to herself, dropping her bagel onto the plate and rushing full-speed down the hallway.

"What's wrong? Are you okay? Did you slip? Are you hurt?" Olivia babbled as she rushed into the room, completely panicked. Alex was standing in front of the mirror, one hand poised flippantly on her hip, pouting. Pulled up around her waist was an unzipped pencil skirt.

"It doesn't fit," the blonde whined, frustration evident in her tone as she continued to tug on the skirt.

Olivia sighed with relief. "Hang on, sweetie. Let me see if I can get it," the brunette responded calmly, aware of how on edge Alex had been of late. She stood behind the blonde and attempted to pull up the zipper on her skirt, stopping as she felt resistance. Alex tried to suck in her stomach to help but her efforts were without avail. "Sorry, Lex, I don't think this is going to work."

The young attorney sighed heavily and began jumping slightly in an attempt to force the fastening couldn't help but giggle slightly at the sight, something that did not go unnoticed by the blonde. "What," she growled sharply, turning and giving the detective an icy glare, "Is this all funny to you?"

Olivia mentally cursed herself, realizing her mistake. "Oh no, baby, not at all. You just looked cute..."

"Cute?!" Alex practically screeched. "What the hell is cute about this?" she continued, gesturing to her disheveled appearance and slightly noticeable bump. "I look utterly horrible."

"Sweetheart, you don't look horrible," Olivia said, taking a cautious step towards the blonde, "You're pregnant..."

Alex held up a hand, stopping her wife in her track. "Oh no no, don't pull that bullshit with me, Olivia. That whole, you're pregnant and curvy. I don't look pregnant. I have gained ten fucking pounds so far and it certainly hasn't been a bump," she yelled, gesturing towards her still fairly-flat mid-section. While Alex had lost some muscle tone and gained weight thus far in her pregnancy, she had yet to have that belly "pop" moment.

Olivia attempted to reassure the blonde, resting her hands on her hips. "Lex, it sometimes happens this way. The doctor said your body is still preparing..." Alex, however, was a force to be reckoned with. She pulled sharply away from the brunette and stormed into their closet.

Olivia sighed heavily. "Alex..." she groaned, knowing her attempts were futile at this point. Over the past week, it seemed that anything could set Alex off. Last night, it had been the fact that Olivia had inadvertently stolen most of the comforter in her sleep ("Don't worry, I'm not cold or anything..."). Elliot had asked her for a warrant the other day, she had practically bit his head off ("And how do you expect me to get that detective? You want me to grab some freaking evidence from out of your ass?") And God help any defense attorney or perp who went up against her – actually, that was one allocation of anger Olivia didn't mind... Regardless, Olivia couldn't help but flinch when she heard Alex's voice once more.

"Where the hell is my dry cleaning," the blonde ask, emerging from the closet.

Uh oh. Olivia bit her bottom lip nervously, trying to figure out the best way to approach this situation. "Oh, shit, sweetie, I'm so sorry. I must have forgotten to pick it up yesterday..."

Alex threw her hands up in exasperation. "Oh, forgot! That's great," she responded sarcastically, "So, I should just prepare myself for when you forget to pick up diapers or forget when to feed the baby... or hell, I should probably make sure to text you a reminder so you don't forget to show up to the birth itself!"

"I'm sorry Alex. I haven't slept. It must have slipped my..."

"You haven't slept," Alex interrupted, completely irate, "I've been up since three this morning puking my guts out, Olivia!"

"I know baby. I'm sorry," she said, slowly and cautiously moving to give Alex a comforting hug. She was met by the attorney's hands pressing against her shoulders, pushing her away.

"Don't! They hurt!" Alex explained.

"Alex, what are you talking about?" Olivia breathed, frustrated, furrowing her brow.

"My boobs," Alex moaned, clasping her hands over her swollen chest.

"Honey, that's normal..."

Suddenly, Alex broke down into tears. "This... is all... your fault," the blonde hiccuped, sobs quickening. Olivia started to reach out for her but then stopped, utterly confused as to what to do. She sighed heavily, running her fingers through her caramel brown hair. This was going to be a long morning.

~*~*~*~*Page Break ~*~*~*~*

Needless to say, the couple was late for work. Liz Donnelly watched as the detective dropped off several heavy volumes of law cases onto her wife's desk. As she went to leave, Olivia hesitated, deciding after a few seconds to place a tentative kiss on the attorney's cheek. The blonde seemed thoroughly uninterested and was already sorting through a pile of paperwork as the brunette muttered a quick goodbye. Donnelly waited for the detective to exit and head towards the 1-6 before stepping into the ADA's office. Perching herself on the arm of Alex's leather sofa, she watched as the younger blonde shuffled through her briefcase in search of a document. As if she were discussing the weather – and without so much as a "hello" – she asked, "So Alex, when are you due?" Alex swung around immediately, eyes wide as a deer in the headlights, jaw dropped.

"How did you... what are you... I'm not pre..." she stuttered.

"Cut the shit, Cabot. I've been working in law for forty years now. I can tell when someone's lying."

Alex sighed heavily, lifting her black-rimmed glasses to rub the bridge of her nose in frustration. "Liz, please keep this quiet. Olivia and I aren't ready to tell anyone yet until I'm further along.

Donnelly smirked, satisfied, "And how far along would that be?"

"Eleven weeks." She paused for a moment. "How did you know..."

"Well, you've denied every drink offered to you over the past couple of months with bogus excuses. You can hardly scarf down a graham cracker without looking queasy. And poor Olivia's been dancing around you on eggshells for the past couple of weeks." She watched Alex grimace and then added with a smile, "Plus a claim for several OBGYN appointments just went through insurance." Alex shook her head; she couldn't even be shocked. "I'll let you finish your prep," Donnelly said, reopening the door, "Your secret's safe with me. But be careful Alex; remember where you work. I wouldn't be surprised if some of Olivia's fellow detectives have an inkling as well."

Meanwhile, at the precinct, Olivia settled down at her desk and began to sort through some DD5s. "So how's Hurricane Alex?" Elliot asked his partner as he looked up from his own work.

Olivia groaned. "Let's just say with the way things are going, you may be investigating my homicide sometime soon."

Elliot snickered, slapping her on the shoulder as he stood to get a cup of coffee. "Don't worry partner. This part's the worst. At least until the delivery room that is." He watched Olivia's eyes widen. "On a brighter note, how are the plans working out for tonight?" he asked.

Olivia shrugged her shoulders. "Pretty well, I guess. I don't even think she remembers what today is."

"I'm sure she'll love it," Elliot reassured her.

~*~*~*~*Page Break ~*~*~*~*

"Liv?" Alex called, entering the apartment. She tossed her keys down onto the counter. "Are you home?" Met with silence, she sighed, slightly relieved to have some time to herself. She was utterly exhausted – her entire body completely sore, she hadn't eaten all day, and she was working on a really painful headache. All she wanted to do right now was take a nice long bath and then curl up on in bed and go to sleep.

When she got to the bedroom, however, Alex was shocked to find her favorite blue dress laying out on the bed. Lying on top of it was a post it note. Olivia's handwriting. It read: "Alex, put this on and head to your car. There's an address programmed into you GPS. Meet me there at 8. Love you, Liv." What in the world was she up to? Alex furrowed her brow at the note. Only one way to find out. Alex changed into the dress, pleased by the fact that it still fit and seemed to hug her in the right places. She then took some time to fix her hair, curling the blond locks and pulling them up partially so they framed her face. She then grabbed a pair of Jimmy Choos – comfortable but stylish – and grabbed her purse, ready to embark on the adventure Olivia had sent her on. When she got to her car, she couldn't help but smile. Stuck to the GPS was another post-it: "Can't wait to see you, Gorgeous!" Turning on the device, she found an address she couldn't identify. Though tempted to google it on her smartphone, she decided not to spoil the surprise and instead aimlessly followed the directions the automated voice told her to. 10 minutes later, she pulled up to a small Italian restaurant. Waiting outside the doors was Olivia. Alex felt her breath catch in the back of her throat. Her wife looked stunning, the breeze messing her shoulder-length hair slightly as she stood there with a large smile; she was wearing a deep red, halter dress – a dress that Alex mentioned once was her favorite for the way it emphasized each and every curve, accenting her natural beauty. After parking her car, she hurried across the parking lot to met her. Olivia pulled her into a romantic kiss, wrapping her arms tightly around the blonde. Pulling away slightly, she leaned over to whisper into Alex's ear, "You look so beautiful."

Before Alex could say anything, Olivia whisked her into the building. Alex tried to absorb the situation as she let Olivia guide her up the stairs to the scenic and splendidly adorned rooftop patio. A chain of white lights glimmered on the overhang, illuminating a simply set table for two, decorated only by a simply white table cloth and a bouquet of flowers. A waiter moved to help them both into there seats. "What is all this?" Alex sputtered, completely overwhelmed.

Olivia smiled sweetly. "Happy anniversary."

Alex felt like she had been hit by a ton of bricks. She thought back to this morning when Olivia had leaned over her in their bed, about to say something when Alex shoved her off, making a mad dash to the bathroom. She hadn't even given Olivia a chance before starting the infamous clothing argument. With everything going on – the physical and emotional changes she was already experiencing – Alex felt like she had been in a blur the past couple of weeks. The fact that it was their anniversary, a reminder of the best day of her life so far, had completely slipped her mind. And this broke her heart. She was so overwhelmed and she realized now how much of that stress she had been unduly taking out on Olivia, who was the furthest from deserving it. She felt a few tears slip from her eyes.

"Hey, don't cry baby," she heard Olivia say softly, leaning over to wipe them from her cheeks with the pad of her thumbs.

"I am so sorry, Liv!" Alex sobbed, "I've been such a bitch to you lately. I can't believe..."

Olivia offered a sweet smile, taking Alex's hands between her own. "Alex, I love you so much. I can't imagine how you've been feeling. It's okay, baby. I'm with you through all of this. I promise."

Waterworks. Alex leaned over and kissed Olivia hard on her mouth. "I love you too. You're incredible. I don't deserve this at all. I've been... psychotic."

"Of course you do." She smiled, "And anyway, I knew that crazy came with the package before we even started to date." Grabbing a bottle of apple cider, she continued, "Now, let's get this party started."

~*~*~*~*Page Break ~*~*~*~*

"You're such a romantic," Alex teased, pressing herself closer against Olivia and capturing her lips. "Who did your dirty work?" The couple had come home to a dozen roses in a glass vase sitting on their bedside table, melting candles illuminating the room.

"Elliot may have owned me big time for some past favours."

"I'll say," Alex chuckled before Olivia silenced her with another passionate kiss. Things became heated quickly. Alex fumbled with the zipper on Olivia's dress and the brunette helped in freeing herself from the unwanted garment, revealing a black lace bra and matching set of boy shorts. Alex loved Olivia's ability to mix the masculine with the feminine, protector with comforter, hard and soft. She ravenously began placing heated kisses up and down her collar bone, sucking gently on her olive skin. She heard Olivia moan softly, moving to remove Alex's own clothing.

As she gently moved Alex back towards the bed, she unzipped the blonde's dress. Within seconds, the blond was equally bare. Olivia couldn't help but take a moment to stare at her wife, to admire the fullness that her body had assumed. For a moment, Alex looked uncomfortable under her wife's gaze, crossing her arms around her stomach. Olivia gently uncrossed them and interlaced their fingers. Looking Alex in the eye, she brought their hands down so that they were resting at the blonde's sides. Then, not breaking eye contact with the attorney, Olivia began to move her hands down Alex's sides slowly, taking in each and every new curve she was gaining. Finally looking at the blonde's body, she kneeled down between Alex's legs and placed a kiss on her stomach. Looking up into Alex's cerulean pools, she intertwined their hands again and breathed, "You are so incredibly beautiful." Alex felt her eyes filling with tears and she quickly slid up onto the bed, pulling Olivia to move and hover over her. Unlatching Alex's white lace bra, Olivia stripped her partner of the garment and gently palmed her soft breasts. She noticed Alex wince against her touch. "I'm sorry," she whispered, moving her hands to Alex's hips. "Are you okay, baby? We can stop if you're not feeling up to it," she offered, breath tickling Alex's collarbone.

Alex shook her head, dragging her hand down Olivia's olive back. "I can't think of anything I want more at this moment, she said, scrapping her nails gently across the skin. Reaching Olivia's panties, she gave a small tug. The detective acquiesced and moved the offending article, slipping them down her toned legs. Alex caught Olivia's mouth in a fierce kiss as she pushed her palms against the detective's shoulders, indicated that she wanted to take control. Olivia carefully helped flip them so that Alex was now on top. Straddling her waist, Alex took advantage of the position and adeptly stripped Olivia of her last garment, taking a moment to admire the detective's ample chest. Palming one of the breasts with her hand, she captured the other deeply-colored nipple in her mouth, earning a groan from the detective, who laced her fingers through Alex's hair, pulling her closer.

The couple made love to each other into the early hours of the morning. After a couple of weeks, the two could hardly keep their hands off of one another and were both eager to physically express their affection. As Alex lay in Olivia's arms later that night, perfectly content, she felt the detective's hand slide off of her hip and onto her abdomen, rubbing small and gentle circles.

"I love you, Olivia," she murmured tiredly.

"I love you so much, Alex. Both of you," Olivia whispered back, pressing her lips against Alex's shoulder blade. Alex smiled, moving her hand to grasp the last part Olivia's birthday present: a simple sterling silver necklace composed of three entwined circles – one representing the couple and the smallest, the new addition to their family.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

"Olivia... Liv... baby..." Olivia rustled underneath the covers before prying her eyes open to discover the source of the whispers that invaded her sleep. She was met by a set of anticipant blue eyes leaning over her.

"Lex, what are you doing up right now? Is everything okay?" she asked nervously, placing a hand on the curve of Alex's stomach. The blonde nodded vigorously.

"Do we have any bacon?"

"What?" Olivia asked, blinking her eyes from both fatigue and confusion.

As though it was obvious, the attorney repeated, "Bacon. Do we have any?"

"Baby," she yawned, running her fingers through the ends of Alex's long golden hair. "It's three in the morning. You don't even like bacon."

"But I want it," Alex whined. An idea came to her mind and she clarified, "The baby wants it."

Olivia yawned again, starting to close her eyes. "Then I'll get it for you both in the morning..." she muttered, starting to doze off.

"Please Liv!" she said, shaking Olivia gently. "I'm starving," she continued dramatically, "And technically it is morning..."

Olivia groaned, pulling herself up so she was leaning against the headboard of their bed. She held both of Alex's hands and looked her wife dead in the eyes, "And you want me to get up, go to the store, bring home bacon, and make it for you right now."

Alex pouted. "For the baby too," she reminded.

Olivia sighed heavily, shaking her head as she pulled herself from the comfort of the blankets. "You are crazy," she said, slipping on a pair of sneakers and grabbing her jacket.

Alex smiled, satisfied, "But you love me."

Fifteen minutes later, Olivia returned from the 24-hour market located a few blocks from their house. Dragging her exhausted body back into the apartment, she turned on the stove top and started to fry some bacon. She took a sip of the coffee she had picked up as well, struggling to stay awake so as to not burn the house down.

A few minutes later, she dropped the finished product onto a plate and, without even bothering to clean up, headed back to the bedroom. Pulling open the door, she grumbled, "Here you are Your Highness, bacon fresh of the..." She stopped mid-sentence and couldn't help chuckle at the sight. Alex was out cold, her arm draped over where Olivia normally lay, blonde hair covering her face. The brunette smiled softly, placing the plate on the dresser before crawling back into bed and wrapping her arms around her partner. A few minutes later, just as Olivia was dozing back off, she felt Alex move uncomfortably before mumbling:

"Ugh, could you please get rid of whatever that is. The smell's making me sick."

~*~*Page Break~*~*

"She said she would be here," Alex explained with a sigh, "I'm sorry. It's just with her work and everything, things can come up unexpectedly." The blonde thumbed at her phone again, checking for any missed texts or calls. None.

Dr. Gil smiled sympathetically. "If you would like we could try to wait a few more minutes..."

Alex shook her head, "No, we don't want to inconvenience you guys. Let's get started." Alex layed back on the examination table, forcing a small smile even though she was extremely upset that it seemed as though Olivia would be missing their first ultrasound.

"Okay then, just a few things beforehand. Let's take a look at that belly of your, Alex. Lie down on the table." Alex complied, lifting her shirt to expose a small but markedly present bump. Dr. Gil took a few moments to feel around her abdomen, marking down a few measurements. "Everything looks great. Okay, let me grab some gel now..."

She was interrupted by the door swinging open. "Hey, I am so sorry I'm late," Olivia apologized breathlessly, hurrying into the examination room. "We caught a case and I had to be at the scene. I came as fast as I could..." She walked over to Alex's side and placed a kiss first on Alex's forehead and then her bump before looking around for any evidence of the ultrasound machine having been used.

"It's okay baby, you didn't miss anything," Alex said with a smile.

"Yep, we just reviewed Alex's tests and were doing a quick abdominal exam." Olivia looked at her expectantly, at the doctor smiled at her concern, "Everything looks wonderful. And she has a bump now to prove it."

Alex grinned. "It just seemed to pop up a couple of days ago," she said, rubbing her hand along her small but markedly present bump.

"That's how it always seems to happen," Dr. Gil explained. "Okay, I won't keep you two waiting any longer," she continued, rolling over the ultrasound machine. Olivia and Alex both were unable to contain their excitement, large smiles plastered on both of their faces. Olivia leaned over to take her wife's hand. "Okay Alex, this may be a bit cold." The blonde shuddered slightly from the sensation of the cold ultrasound gel. Dr. Gil then began to move the applicator around Alex's small belly. A few seconds later, a soft, rhythmic thud filled the room. "Now that's your baby's heartbeat," Dr. Gil said with a smile. Alex couldn't believe it. Although she had known that she was pregnant for a couple of months now, it hadn't felt completely real until this point. She was carrying their baby – a tiny, living baby. Feeling her eyes getting glassy, she turned to look at Olivia, who was also choking back tears. The brunette squeezed her hand and placed a kiss on her forehead. Dr. Gil flipped a switch on the machine, turning on the monitor screen. An image of fluxing grey waves appears. "One moment..." the doctor muttered, trying to focus the image. "There. Alex, Olivia, take a look at your baby." Within that nebulous swirl was the image of something resembling an infant.

Alex felt her breath catch as Dr. Gil pointed out the head, the feet, the little hands. Taking a moment to tear her eyes from the screen, she looked at the brunette, who was similarly fixated. "That's our baby, Alex," she almost whispered, "that's our baby."

Alex turned back to watch the image, which was now moving around. "I... I can't believe it," she stuttered, almost speechless from momentousness. She watched as her child moved his or her hand to what appeared to be their mouth. "Are they...sucking their thumb?"

Dr. Gil smiled. "Yep, some babies do that in-utero." She watched happily as the couple continued fixate on their child. Reluctant to interrupt this precious moment, but knowing as well this may be equally exciting for them, she interjected, "So, are you two interested in finding out the baby's sex today?" Alex and Olivia looked at one another in shock before nodding vehemently.

After the sex was disclosed, Olivia could no longer help but allow a couple of tears from streaming down her cheeks. After all she and Alex had been through, from dancing around each other's feelings to nearly losing each other forever during the Velez case to finally deciding to start a family, she had never felt so utterly happy. She was going to have a child with a woman she loved, a woman she had almost lost for more reasons than one. And in this moment it felt so incredibly real. Dr. Gil printed the couple a few ultrasound images and finished cleaning Alex up before leaving the room to give the two some private time with one another. When she was gone, Olivia stood up in front of Alex, looking at her in what could only be described as in awe. She moved her hands to Alex's, intertwining their fingers and placing them upon her bump. The two remained in peaceful silence for a moment, resting their foreheads against one another and looking at Alex's belly as though they could see right through it to the precious thing lying inside. A few minutes later, Olivia kissed Alex passionately, the saltiness of each of their happy tears melding in both of their mouths. "You are amazing," Olivia murmured against her lips before moving to rest her lips on Alex's stomach. In that moment, Olivia realized that she would protect those two with her life, no matter what it came down to.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

The ecstatic couple returned back to the NYPD headquarters that evening after taking a quick pit stop to pick up some maternity clothes for Alex. They walked hand-in-hand into the precinct, an uncommon display of affection in the workplace when it came to them. At this point, however, the two could hardly keep their eyes off of one another, let alone their hands.

"What are you two so giddy about?" Munch asked, looking up from his newest book on the Kennedy assassination.

"Nothing much," Olivia responded, attempting to be nonchalant, "Just doing so shopping. Picked up something for my desk."

"Never thought you were one for shopping," Fin said skeptically, "What are you so excited about?"

Olivia just smiled, pulling out a frame from her desk which she placed next a photo of herself and Alex on their wedding day. Without a word, she returned to Alex's side, wrapping her arm around her waist. Fin raised an eyebrow, walking across room to see what was going on. Reaching across Olivia's desk, he picked up the small black frame and flipped it over. An ultrasound image. "Wait a second. This isn't what I think it is..."

Meeting the gaze of two very confused detectives, Alex simply opened her jacket, revealing her small bump that was now quite visible under the tight knit sweater she had changed into.

Chuckling at the drop jaws of her colleagues, Olivia exclaimed, "You guys, meet baby Cabot-Benson, our little girl."

There was a shocked silence, and Fin was the first to respond. With an uncharacteristically large smile, he placed the frame back on the desk and walked over to the anticipant couple. "Congratulations," he bellowed, pulling them both into a tight hug. He looked at Alex and gestured to her stomach, "May I?" The blonde nodded and Fin bent down and placed a palm on her stomach. "Hey baby girl. Welcome to the family."

Munch stood up from his desk and headed over to the group. "If I had known you two had been in the market, I would have been glad to provide you with a donation," he said with a smirk.

"They don't want your crazy-ass sperm," Fin said, slapping Olivia on the shoulder. The couple chuckled and Munch shot Fin a glare. "Well, congrats anyway," he said with a smile, hugging Alex. "Mazel tov," he said, doing the same to Olivia.

"What's with the pow-wow?" Cragen said, entering the squad room with Elliot in tow. Munch and Fin looked at the pair expectantly.

Olivia took a deep breath. "Well, Captain, let's just say in a few months Elliot won't be the only one on diaper duty," she explained with a small smile. Cragen's eyes widened as what his detective just told him registered, gazing at his ADA's swollen stomach. He then broke out into a large grin and hurried over to give Olivia a bear hug.

"You're on desk duty, this point on."

"Cap, I'm not even the one whose's pregnant!" Olivia said in shock. Cragen sighed.

"Fine, but you're going to be extremely careful then. This little one's going to need you safe and sound," he said, placing a hand on Alex's belly.

"Don't worry Cap, we got her back," Fin said. The rest of the boys nodded in agreement.

Cragen smiled and turned to Alex, "Congratulations!"

"Thanks Don," she said, giving him a hug.

Elliot smiled at the exchanges occurring in front of him. "So you two, any words on the sex?"

"A girl," Alex beamed.

Elliot smiled widely and gave his partner a congratulatory slap on the back. "Looks like Eli's going to have a little girlfriend."

Olivia glared at him, moving over to her wife's side, "Don't even think about it, El. I know how you Stabler boys can be," she said playfully, placing her arm protectively around Alex's bump.

"Not even born yet and Liv's already all protective," Munch teased.

"You expect anything else," Fin said with a chuckle.

"I think this all deserves a celebration. Leave the work for tomorrow. Drinks at McGregor's, my treat." He turned at look down at Alex protectively, "Except for you of course, young lady." Olivia smiled at Cragen, touched by how much her surrogate father figure looked out for she and Alex alike. Grabbing Alex's hand, she and the group headed out to the bar to welcome the newest member of the 1-6.

~*~*Page Break~*~*

Later that night, Olivia found Alex standing in the doorway of the guest room, what would soon be the nursery. Walking to stand next to the blonde, she wrapped her arm around her. Alex smiled and rested her head on Olivia's shoulder. "We need to paint."

Olivia placed a kiss on the crown of her head. "You will be doing none of that." Sensing Alex's protest, she continued, "Paint fumes can be bad for the baby. You pick out the color, tell me where you want it, and I'll get it done."

"At least have Elliot help you."

Olivia nodded, pulling the blonde into a tighter embrace. "Come on, let's go to bed. It's been a long day."

Hand in hand, the couple headed to their room and stripped for bed. Sliding under the covers, Alex rested herself against Olivia's side. The detective rested an arm around her waist. Just as she began to doze off, she heard Alex's soft whisper. "Can you believe this is happening."

Olivia just smiled contently. For once, yes, she could.

Chapter Text

Timeline: January. Alex is 4 months pregnant

Chapter 10

Alex yawned heavily, lazily reaching across to the other side of the bed, eyes still closed from the affront of the sunlight peeking in through the window. She frowned slightly when she found the space beside her empty, cracking open one eye only to find that Olivia was no longer in bed. Turning over, she glanced at the alarm clock: 10:24.

Alex slowly pulled herself out of bed, shivering slightly when her bare feet touched the cold wooden floor. Shrugging on her robe, she padded down the hallway in search of her missing partner. Several minutes later, she entered the illuminated nursery, two mugs in hand. Hearing the door open, Olivia looked up from her place on the floor where she was surrounded by a slew of wooden crib pieces, a most recent Ikea purchase.

"Hey there, beautiful," smiled the detective as Alex handed her one of the mugs. Olivia frowned as Alex took a sip of the dark brown liquid.

Alex rolled her eyes. "Stop worrying. It's decaf." Olivia shook her head with a smirk. Conquering Alex's caffeine habit over the past several months had not been a simple task. "Why didn't you wake me up? It's so late."

"It's the weekend. You've been tired."

The blonde moved over to sit on the only completed furniture piece in the room: a heirloom rocking chair her mother left for Alex in her will. "So, how is the crib coming along," she asked, gesturing at the melange of pegs and beams and rods.

Olivia scowled, picking up a slightly crumbled piece of paper off of the floor. "I swear they're all in Swedish!" she exclaimed. She studied the instructions again for a moment before slapping down the paper in a huff.

"Baby, you're a detective...you're good at solving things. Figure it out."

"Detective, not carpenter," the brunette grumbled, holding a particularly strange wooden piece in her hand.

Alex rolled her eyes. "Fine, let me see the instruction."

"No, no, I've got this," Olivia said determinedly, grabbing the paper once more and furrowing her brow. Alex smirked - Olivia and her pride. She used the free moment to take a look around the room which, despite the earliness in her pregnancy and business of both of their schedules, was progressing quite well. A soft pink paint covered the walls and some of the pale green crown molding had already been installed. The window was blanketed in a simple cream tulle wrapped with pink ribbon. Although it was not complete, a simple cream dresser sat in the corner of the room, where Olivia was taking the time to stencil on wispy designs. Alex was very excited to begin to fill up it's drawers with a new wardrobe.

As the brunette continued to struggle with the task at hand, fiddling with a few wooden beams and a screw driver, Alex reached over to grab a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting off of the dresser. She decided to flip ahead to one of the sections that she feared - and thus had been avoiding - most: labor. She shook her head and chuckled lightly when she realized that Olivia had already read and hyper-analyzed the section as well. She held up the book to reveal a very highlighted page. "Baby, you do realize I'm the one giving birth?" she giggled.

Olivia looked up and blushed slightly. "I just want to be prepared. You know, to help you through it," she said with a shrug.

Alex smiled softly, eyes glistening slightly from her wife's sentiments. Damn hormones. "You're sweet," she whispered tenderly. "And I would get up to kiss you but I think my ankles are swollen."

Olivia smirked and pulled herself to her feet, moving over to where Alex was seated. She leaned over and placed a sweet kiss on the blonde's lips before the ring of the phone echoed down the hallway. She quickly gave Alex's stomach a quick peck. "This crib will be ready in time for your arrival, Peanut," she assured before heading out of the room. A few minutes later, she returned to the room. "Feeling up to some baseball?"

~*~*~Page Break~*~*~

"So this is Little League, huh?" Alex asked as she and Olivia walked over to the field.

"Yup," Olivia nodded, holding Alex close. "God, I can't believe this field is still here. Back in high school, I must have come down here everyday in the summer. Just playing softball," she reminisced. Alex snickered. "What?"

"Reenforcing the stereotype?" the blonde teased.

Olivia rolled her eyes. "I'll have you know, all that work paid off. Many a times was this first baseman invited under the bleachers for some fan appreciation," she smirked back. "I see El and Kathy."

The couple waved, heading over to the bleachers to meet their friends.

"Hey guys!" Kathy greeted, bouncing little Eli on her lap, "Thanks for coming!"

"Not a problem! I've been dying to see Lizzie and Dickie in action," Olivia responded, taking a seat next to Elliot after helping Alex ease herself down on the metal stands. The group enjoyed some chit chat before the umpire bellowed the signature Play ball!

Alex leaned over to Olivia. "They all look the same in those uniforms. Where are Dickie and Lizzie?"

Olivia surveyed the field. "Looks like Dickie's playing shortstop and Lizzie's on the mound.

Alex cocked an eyebrow. "You say that like it means something to me."

Olivia chuckled shaking her head at Alex's lack of sports-based knowledge. "Lizzie's the one pitching this inning. Then Dickie's between second and third base – those white things on the dirt..." She received a glare from Alex.

"Yes Liv, I am familiar with enough with the sport to know what a base is." Olivia threw her hands up innocently. The blonde leaned over and whispered with a mischievous smile, "Metaphorically as well."

"Why, Ms. Cabot, such a dirty outlook you have," Olivia murmured back seductively, sliding her hand innocently down the blonde's thigh.

Alex shrugged, adjusting the ball cap on her wife's head. "Maybe later you can show me how you hit a home run..." Olivia inhaled sharply, feeling a dip in her core. Suddenly, these seven innings seemed like an unbearably long time to sit through.

~*~*~Page Break~*~*~

"Aunt Liv! Aunt Liv!" Within seconds, the detective was being swarmed by two very energetic ten-year-olds.

Alex smiled as she watched Olivia pull the twins into a hug. "Great game, you two!"

"Did you guys see my hit?" Lizzie said excitedly, juice pouch in hand.

Dickie followed closely in suite. "Mine was better!

"Nuh uh!"

"Ya huh!"

"Nuh uh!"

"Ya..."

"Whoa, you guys! Cut it out!" Elliot said sternly.

"Yeah, you knuckleheads," Kathy said, ruffling their hair, "You both did great!"

"Of course we did! We're Stablers," Dickie said with a smirk before running off with his sister to meet some friends, leaving a puff of orange dirt in their wake.

Kathy shook her head. "The ego – that's all from you, El." Elliot rolled his eyes, taking Eli's stroller off of Kathy's hands. Kathy turned to Olivia and Alex. "Can I interest you two in some dinner," she asked.

"Wow, Kath, trying to soften them up," Elliot teased.

Olivia gave him a perplexed look. "Soften us up for what?"

Kathy smiled softly. "Well, we were going to invite you over regardless," she said, glaring at Elliot, "But Elliot is referring to the fact that next Friday is our anniversary."

"That's right!" Olivia said happily, "Congrats you two! What is that, twenty-five years?"

"Yep!" Kathy beamed. "And this one here, being a romantic at heart, wants to take me out on a date," she explained, earning a slight blush from Elliot. "Problem is, Maureen's busy with school and Kathleen has plans with friends that night."

"We were wondering if you guys wanted to babysit. You know, get some practice," he smirked.

Olivia looked at Alex, who nodded. "Um, yeah, we'd love to you guys!"

Kathy gave a sigh of relief and smiled widely. "Ah, really! Thanks you guys," she said, giving both women a hug. "And don't worry, I'll tell the twins to be on their best behavior."

"Oh when aren't they?" Olivia joked, knowing quite well that the answer was fairly often.

Several days later, Alex was up in Eli's bedroom with Kathy. "So, his diapers are in here... uh, wipes in the heated canister on the changing table. We have a knock-off diaper genie, but it's a bit of a pain in the ass. Keep that in mind when you two are looking for one. Oh, and use ointment as well because Eli has a bit of a diaper rash." The older blonde looked around the room, checking to see if she had missed anything. "I think that's it! Any questions?" she asked. Alex shook her head. With Olivia's attention already occupied by the twins, she was being sure to memorize all of Kathy's instructions, secretly a bit nervous to take care of the baby for the first time. With the exception of a couple of family reunions, Alex didn't have much experience with kids, being an only child herself. She felt very lucky to have Olivia, who was clearly a natural, by her side. "Alright then! There's some leftover mac n' cheese you can heat up for the twins. Eli gets another bottle before he goes down around eightish. And it's a special occasion so Lizzie and Dickie can stay up until nine." She leaned over and gave Alex a peck on the cheek. "Thank you so much again! You guys are going to do great!" she added quickly before rushing to grad her purse.

"Kath! You ready to go, babe?" Elliot yelled from downstairs.

"Yep, we're on our way down," she responded, leading Alex out of the nursery. Heading down the stairs, the two were met by Elliot, who had Eli balanced on his hip. "Bye baby boy," Kathy cooed, placing a kiss on his head. Scooping the child out of her husband's arms, she handed the squirming eight month old to the blonde. Alex tried to balance him awkwardly as he continued to be restless, finally situating him comfortably around her slightly extended bump. "Bye you two," Kathy called over to the twins.

"Bye mom!" they shouted back, not bothering to look up from the Nintendo game they were currently playing with Olivia.

"See you at 12!" Kathy said, slipping her arms into the coat Elliot held out for her before stepping out the door.

"And good luck," Elliot smirked, following his wife outside.

Alex sighed and looked down at Eli. "Here goes nothing, little guy," she breathed. The baby smiled up at her from under his blond curls before contorting his face and grunting, suddenly emitting a foul odor.

"Lovely," Alex muttered, turning to take the baby back upstairs for a changing. "Liv, I'm going to go put a fresh diaper on Eli and then start some dinner."

"Okay!" Olivia called, eyes also glued to the television screen as she pounded down on the controller's keys.

Alex shook her head at her wife's childishness as she headed back to the nursery. Gently laying Eli down on the changing table, she was careful to keep a hand on him as she gathered the supplies she needed, having read in one of her pregnancy books that babies easily roll off of surfaces while getting their diapers changed. She unbuttoned Eli's onesie and removed the soiled diaper, grimacing at the smell. "Okay, Eli, now just stay still," she instructed softly, placing a toy in the child's chubby hands to keep him occupied. Just as she leaned down to grab a wipe, she felt a stream of warm liquid hit the side of her face. She let out a yelp and a few seconds later, heard Olivia rushing up the stairs.

"Everything okay?" she asked worriedly, hurrying over to the blonde's side.

Horrified, Alex exclaimed, "He just peed on me!"

Olivia couldn't help but chuckle. "Aw, sweetheart, you've got to cover him up," she explained, placing a wipe over the baby's lower half. "Boys do that when they get cold down there."

Alex huffed, "Thank God we're having a girl then!"

Olivia bit her lip to keep herself from smiling, knowing it would only upset Alex further. "Sweetheart, go on and clean yourself up and start dinner. I'll take care of the wiz kid over here," she said, tickling Eli's tummy. When Alex had left the room, Olivia laughed at the baby. Referencing a recent spit-up incident, she chided, "First you throw up on her, now pee on her. That, my friend, is not a way to win over the ladies."

~*~*~Page Break~*~*~

"That was delicious! Thanks Alex," Lizzie said, scraping the bottom of her bowl clean.

"It was all your mom's doing. I just heated it up," Alex said with a smile, moving to put the plates in the dishwasher.

"Alright guys," Olivia said, "it's seven-thirty now, so you've got about an hour before you've got to get ready for bed. What do you want to do?"

"Play checkers! No, cards!"

"Yeah, and do a puzzle too! And color!"

"And watch a movie! And..."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Olivia chuckled, "Well, if you want to do that, we better get a move on. How about you two go set up a board game. One of us will be in there in a minute." As per instruction, the twins hurried off to the other room. Olivia smiled and turned back to Alex. "Do you want to go play with them now or put Eli to bed?" she asked.

"I'll take care of this little man," Alex said, smiling at the baby who was now resting peacefully in Olivia's arms, having just finished his bottle.

"Alright," Olivia grinned, sliding the baby into Alex's arms and kissing them both on the foreheads before heading towards the living room to meet Lizzie and Dickie. Before exiting she turned back to Alex, "Hey babe?"

"Yeah?"

"Can you believe that in a few months this will be us?" She paused. "Minus the hyperactive ten-year-olds," she added with a smirk.

Alex laughed. "Yeah, I may need some more time to adjust to that," she said, walking over to Olivia, Eli in tow. "But this," she said, guiding Olivia's hand to her belly and looking at the baby on her hip, "so incredibly happy." Kissing her wife tenderly, Alex headed upstairs. It was true. In spite of some of the less than ideal moments of the evening, including a bumped head, fight between the twins, and general fussiness, watching Olivia take care of Lizzie, Dickie, and Eli made the blonde more excited than ever to be starting a family with the detective. She was still a bit nervous about her own abilities, but figured she at least had a few more months to sort things out. Hopefully that would be enough time, she thought with a frown. Sighing, shechanged Eli into his pajamas and moved over to his crib. "Alright Eli," she said softly, "time to go to sleep," she said as she lowered him. Just as she was about to turn off the light however, upset cries filled the room. Alex's eyes widened, and she headed back over to the crib, picking Eli up. "What's the matter, huh?" she asked softly. "You just ate and," she leaned her head to sniff his bum, "are all clean." She moved to place the boy back in the crib when he whimpered again. Alex sighed. "You just want to be held?" she stated with a questioning tone. "Okay, okay, it's alright," she whispered, wiping a tear off of his cheek. She carried him over to the nearby rocking chair and began to sway back and forth. Eli was quiet for a moment, but then grimaced. "Shhh," Alex cooed soothingly. As she began to hum, she was surprised when the baby suddenly relaxed in her arms. "Oh, you like that? Okay then." Softly, she began to sing a lullaby that her mother had lulled her to sleep with as a child: Golden slumbers kiss your eyes, smiles awake when you do rise...

Having sat the twins down with Monsters Inc., Olivia padded up the stairs to check on Alex. After almost a half an hour now, she had yet to emerge from the nursery, and Olivia wanted to make sure little Eli didn't have any more tricks up his sleeve. When she reached Eli's room, she heard a soft noise – singing? Furrowing her brow, she quietly opened the door a crack. Her wife was rocking Eli slowly as he slept peacefully in her arms, sucking on his tiny thumb. Alex was completely absorbed in the infant, humming a tune as she brushed her fingers through the wisps of his blond hair. Her glasses were perched on the top of her head and she looked tired but perfectly content. Olivia smiled softly to herself, quietly shut the door, and headed back downstairs.

~*~*~Page Break~*~*~

"I cannot believe that it is possible to produce this degree of chaos within a three hour period," Alex sighed, eyes wide as she surveyed the mess that covered the living room. Toys were everywhere – legos and puzzle pieces split on the floor - along with several DVDs and video games, books and snacks. Olivia nodded her head in agreement.

"You go ahead and lay down, baby. I'll take care of this. You shouldn't be bending over too much."

"I'll finish up the dishes first," Alex said, pecking Olivia on the lips.

Over a half hour later, Alex was lounging on the couch, hands resting on her stomach while she watched the nightly news. Olivia gathered up the last puzzle pieces into their box and let out a sigh of relief. "Done!" she exclaimed quietly, placing the box back on its shelf. Alex scooted over on the couch, allowing the brunette to join her. Laying back against a pile of pillows, she gently pulled Alex between her legs and kissed the crown of her head. "Have fun?" she mumbled against her blond tresses, breathing in the soft scent of her lavender shampoo.

Alex nodded tiredly. "Absolutely. I'm exhausted though."

"Yeah, me too." The couple continued to lazily watch the program, Olivia rubbing her hands over Alex's belly in slow rhythmic motions. Just as Alex was about to doze off, she heard a muffled cry over the baby monitor.

Olivia sighed. "I've got him," she said, carefully slipping out from behind Alex. A few moments later, she returned with the baby. "He's not letting me put him down, so I figured I'd let him join us." Alex smiled sweetly at Eli, who yawned tiredly, wet tears beginning to dry off of his cheeks. "You want to hold him? You seem to comfort him." Alex nodded and sat up, taking the baby into her arms. Olivia sat back down behind her, allowing the blonde to rest her body against hers. Alex felt Eli nuzzle into her chest and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead. Within minutes, all three of them were asleep.

Olivia woke up to a strong hand shaking her shoulder. Blinking her eyes tiredly, she found her partner leaning over her. "Hey Liv. They tire you guys out?" he whispered with a smile.

Olivia nodded with a yawn. "Thanks so much again, Olivia," Kathy said softly, returning from the twins' rooms. Those two are dead asleep. You must have really tuckered them out."

"I do believe we played ten games of checkers, colored an entire book, played video games, did a puzzle, built Legos, watched a movie, and read some books. I don't know how you two do it," she said with a chuckle.

"Years of practice," Elliot smirked. "You'll find out soon enough. Now, I'd love to let you two stay, but our date night's not over yet," he said suggestively, earning a pop in the shoulder from Kathy.

"Not with that attitude Stabler."

Olivia laughed softly. "Not a problem. Let me just get this one up. Clearly it's past her bedtime. Hey Alex," she whispered into the blonde's ear, "Time to get up sweetheart." Alex mumbled something incoherent and snuggled further into the detective's chest. "Hey El, can you grab Eli?" Her partner obliged and gently scooped his sleeping son up, rocking him gently. Olivia slowly stood up, carefully avoiding awakening Alex. She then leaned down and picked up her wife, struggling slightly with her added weight. Alex muttered something again, burying her head into Olivia's shoulder. "Night guys," Olivia said with a smile, carrying her babies out to the car.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Ghost

Olivia fell back against the crisp, white sheets, letting out an amative moan as she climaxed. A few moments later, Alex collapsed on top of her panting heavily, her body curling into her partner's, pressing languid, succulent kisses across her collar bone. Olivia breathed deeply, tangling her fingers through Alex's sweat-matted hair as she recovered from her orgasm. With her hormones bouncing off the walls, the young attorney had been insatiable lately – Olivia felt as though she hardly left the bedroom when the two were alone together. Well, at least only to do bedroom activities elsewhere in the apartment – the shower, the couch, the kitchen counter... not that she minded. This was certainly an enjoyable part of the pregnancy.

She pressed her lips against Alex's brow, breathing in the soft scent of perfume, before turning her lips into a content smile. She traced her fingers from Alex's shoulders down to her lower back, which she massaged lightly. "You are so beautiful," she murmured, cupping Alex's buttock. "Let's never leave this bed."

Alex smirked, "Detective, I've been intending on doing just that." She carefully rolled off of Olivia, flipping onto her side and nesting her expanding belly into the curve of the brunette's body. The grooves of their body matched perfectly.

Olivia gently sucked on Alex's shoulder, watching as the alabaster skin turned slightly pink, wrapping her arms around the attorney to pull her body closer to her own frame. She moved her legs, intertwining them with Alex's, who she heard moan slightly, melting into her touch. "Round two?" Alex requested with a smile. After all, she was off today. Just as the detective moved to straddle her wife, her cell phone vibrated against the bedside table. Olivia sighed heavily, leaning over to pick up the intruding object.

"Benson." Alex watched as the brunette listened to the caller, nodding along with the message. "Yeah, yes, I'll be there in thirty, Cap." Hanging up the phone, she gave Alex an apologetic smile. "Sorry, Alex. That was Cragen. There's a lead on the Mangold case." Alex shuddered slightly. This was the 1-6's latest case. A week ago, Victoria Mangold, a housewife on the upper East Side had been abducted as she walked to pick up her son from school. Her body was found two days later. It was one of the few times she had actually been sick from simply reading the ME's report. Up to this point, the perp had been in the wind.

Alex nodded and watched as Olivia changed into her work clothes. As she headed off to the bathroom to wash up, Alex went into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. When Olivia entered the kitchen – jacket on, gun strapped against her waist, badge in hand – she poured the brown liquid into a to-go mug and handed it to the detective. "Be careful," she said, kissing Olivia tenderly.

Olivia smiled, brushing her blond hair off on her forehead and sealing it with a kiss. "Always."

~*~*~Page Break~*~*~

Alex shuffled through the fridge, looking for something to have for dinner. "Hmm, what do you want," she asked the baby, rubbing her bump. "Okay, peanut butter and olives it is," she chuckled, astounded by the odd cravings she had been having of late. Grabbing her spoils, she took a seat on the coach and grabbed a book, trying to distract herself as she impatiently waited for Olivia to return home. Knowing it would be a while, soon enough, she had dozed off. The pregnancy had been taking a toll on her energy levels of late.

She was awoken abruptly by a knock on the door. Rubbing her eyes tiredly, she grabbed her glasses and padded across the apartment. After checking the peephole, she unlatched and opened the door. "Fin, Cragen," she greeted, using her fingers to fix her hair, "Updates on the case? You could have just called, and I would have come down..." The two men were silent. Fin looked down at the floor.

"What's going on guys?" Alex asked, confused by Cragen and Fin's behavior. More accurately, she didn't want to believe that the purpose of this visit extended beyond her role as ADA.

Cragen hesitated. "Alex, we..." That was all it took. The tone in his voice. The sadness and fear in his eyes.

"No," Alex said, "No no no no no!" she repeated, clumsily stepping backwards into the apartment. It wasn't real. If she went back and laid down, it wasn't real. And in a couple of hours Olivia would wake her up with a kiss and carry her back to bed.

Cragen grabbed her shoulders, forcing her to look him in the eyes. "Alex, we have to get to the hospital now."

Now there were tears, pouring from her eyes. Her body trembling in the captain's strong grasp. She couldn't breath. She couldn't move.

"Wha – what – what ha – " she attempted to choke out.

"There was a chase," Cragen said as calmly as possible, "Olivia was- she was shot Alex."

Alex's world froze on that one word: shot. She felt herself collapsing, convulsing in heavy sobs. Cragen pulled her up into his arms. "Fin, go to the bedroom and grab her some shoes and a jacket. Alex, where are your keys?" He was met with silence, the blonde's face pale and unmoving. "Alex?" he said more sharply, attempting to break her out of her trance.

"Purse," Alex muttered quietly, still lost in her thoughts, unconscious tears streaming down her cheeks. Cragen surveyed the room before locating Alex's black pocketbook. Fin returned to the living room . Alex was still as limp as a doll, so he helped her into her shoes and coat. They moved quickly out of the apartment complex and into a waiting squad vehicle. Fin joined Alex in the back seat. The piercing glare of sirens shattered the blanket of silence and startled Alex into a fresh batch of sobs, murmuring Olivia's name. Wracked with his own fear, Fin wrapped his arms around her tightly. "I've got you, Alex. You've got to hang in there baby girl."

~*~*~Page Break~*~*~

Elliot rammed his fists into the white cinder block wall in the waiting room. Two seconds faster. Two seconds.

If he had pulled the trigger first, none of this would be happening.

The memories returned in broken flashbacks, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. They had told Arthur to freeze, he was surrounded. Didn't see the faulty wall. Didn't see it. Ducking under fallen beams, running as fast as possible. Lost track of Liv – must have been behind him. Light pierced the fading darkness. Outside now. Arthur turning a corner. He didn't see what happened. When he turned around the bend, Liv was there, hands up backed against a brick wall. Arthur had a gun. Bang, bang! It wasn't his weapon. Another bang. That was. Arthur was flat on the ground but he didn't see him then, just assumed that's where the scumbag ended up. His eyes were on Liv. Liv slumped over against the wall. Liv not moving. Liv, blood everywhere.

Elliot's eyes were glassy, his head throbbing. He wouldn't let the doctor's look at him. He was fine.

The waiting room door burst open and Cragen, Fin, and Alex rushed into the room. Alex. When she saw Elliot, she burst out in a scream.

It was then Elliot realized his shirt was stained in crimson – his partner's blood. Alex's wife's blood. Without a word, he storming into the men's room, leaned over the toilet, and proceeded to vomit.

~*~*~Page Break~*~*~

"May I help you," the receptionist had asked.

"Family of Olivia Benson," Alex had managed to say. Her words felt both empty and weighted.

"Relation."

"I'm her wife," Alex whimpered, holding her left hand up as though for proof.

The receptionist nodded solemnly. "Ms. Benson is in surgery right now, ma'am. We will notify you as soon as anything changes."

"I ne-need to see her!"

"I''m sorry, dear. There's nothing we can do right now," the woman responded sympathetically. "It would help if you filled out these forms in the meanwhile," she added, handing the blonde a clipboard. Cragen guided Alex to a nearby seat, never letting his arm leave her. Alex picked up a pen to begin to fill out the paperwork in front of her, but before she could even finish writing Olivia's name, her hand began shaking violently.

"Hey, hey," Cragen said comfortingly, guiding her hand back onto her lap, "You don't have to do that now. Just rest now, Alex. You've got to try to stay calm for the baby." Alex relinquished the pen, but her body and mind did anything but relax.

An hour later, the waiting room was full with the family of Olivia Benson. Cragen remained by Alex's side, holding her close. He had been joined by Kathy, who was stroking the younger blonde's hand. Elliot was seated next to his wife, his head in his hands – emotionless, broken. Munch and Fin sat at the opposite side of the room, the former staring blankly at the wall, the latter's hands curled into nervous fists. Even Liz Donnelly was there, currently trying to use any connection possible to get update's on Olivia's condition. It was to no avail, and with a frustrated sigh, she sat down next to the captain.

One and a half hours.

Two.

~*~*~Page Break~*~*~

There was one clear moment when Alexandra Cabot first realized she was in love with Olivia Benson.

It was one of her earlier cases working with SVU, a he-said-she-said rape case that lacked all the necessary evidence. And Olivia wanted a search warrant.

"Alex, there's got to be a way you can get us into that house," Olivia stated frustratedly.

"I'm sorry detective, but without grounds no judge will issue me that warrant."

"We have grounds!" Olivia yelled, "I know this is the guy!"

"A feeling is not concrete evidence and you know it," Alex had stated staunchly, folding her arms across her chest.

Olivia looked her fiercely in the eye, brown clashing with blue. "You need to find a way to get that warrant," she gritted before turning back to talk to the victim. Alex watched her quietly through the double-sided glass. Olivia had an arm wrapped around the crying college co-ed with a tenderness unseen in their earlier confrontation. In that moment she realized Olivia was different from any other detective. She had a clear determination to achieve justice for no other reason than it was right, and more poignantly was willing to sacrifice anything in order to do so. She connected with the victims in an uncanny way, something Alex would only come to understand years later. But at present, Alexandra Cabot was sure of one thing – Detective Benson's passion had ignited something strong and unique in her own heart.

Later that night she had called a favor in from her uncle. Needless to say, that warrant was on Olivia's desk the next morning.

~*~*~Page Break~*~*~

"Family of Olivia Benson," a middle aged man dressed in scrubs called.

"Right here," Cragen responded, lifting Alex to her feet and guiding her over to the man. "Elliot," he called, looking firmly at his detective, "You too."

"Cap-" Elliot started to argue.

"Elliot, now!" Cragen ordered. When the detective reached his side, Cragen muttered sternly, "You listen to me Elliot. This was not your fault." Receiving a less than convincing nod in return, he faced the doctor once more.

"There's a problem," the young doctor explained. "We've been able to stop most of the internal bleeding, but it appears as though one of the bullet's that entered into Ms. Benson's thoracic cavity has imbedded in some tissue near her spinal chord."

"Was there damage to it," Cragen asked carefully, nervous about hearing the fate of his detective.

"None to the spinal chord directly, however there is a good chance of that if the bullet were to shift."

"What needs to be done?"

"We need to surgically extract the bullet. It's the only way to ensure that there is no damage to the spinal chord. This bullet already punctured Ms. Benson's lung, and based on the particular location of the bullet now, there's a risk of acute injury that could result in respiratory failure."

"What's the risk of surgery," Alex managed to choke out, her throat dry from crying.

"With any surgery so close, there's a risk of nerve damage. Worst case scenario, paralysis, although there's also a risk of that if the bullet is not removed. However, Ms. Benson's been under anaesthesia for almost three hours now. She's lost a lot of blood and her body's weak... There's a chance that she might not may it through the surgery."

Alex forced the rising bile down her throat. "So, if she doesn't have the surgery, she may be paralyzed or die. And if she does have the surgery, she may be paralyzed or die. That's what you're saying?" she practically screamed.

The doctor frowned. "I'm sorry, Ms. Cabot. We really don't have any other choices. As Ms. Benson's medical power of attorney, we need you to make the decision. And we need to know now."

Alex remained silent, fuming as she stared off in the other direction. Cragen squeezed her hand gently, and she sighed. "Just do the damn surgery."

~*~*~Page Break~*~*~

The next two hours were the most painful of Alex's life. Never before, not even in Witsec, had she felt so utterly powerless. In spite of the fact that it was she who had to make the decision, if you could call it that, about Olivia's surgery. She felt terribly uninformed and wondered if it would have been better to take the risk of not having the surgery, of waiting until Olivia was stronger. Then again, the doctor had indicated that action was urgent. But still Alex had made a decision that could have sign the detective's death certificate. Her body convulsed at the thought. She didn't know what she would do if...

"Family of Olivia Benson." The doctor's voice broke her out of her thoughts, and she hurried across the room, Cragen and Elliot in tow.

"Ms. Benson is out of surgery and on her way to recovery right now. There were two wounds. One entered her thoracic cavity and was imbedded in some tissue near the spinal chord, which we were able to remove. We can't say for certain, but it looks as though there was no nerve damage. As I told you earlier, the bullet also collapsed her left lung, but we were able to re-inflate it and it is functioning normally. The other shot was a clean entrance and exit through her abdomen. Missed major organs – she was lucky with that – but shredded a great deal of tissue and tore open an artery." Alex felt as though she was going to be sick, but didn't have the energy.

"Is she – will she be alright?" Elliot asked nervously, looking at the floor.

The doctor sighed heavily. "It's touch and go at the moment. She's lost a lot of blood. Crashed once on the table and we had to resuscitate. We'll have a better idea of the prognosis if she makes it though the night." If. Alex felt her knees weaken and had to be held up by Cragen once more.

"Let me get you a wheel chair, Miss Cabot," the doctor said.

"I'm fine!" Alex spat. "Olivia's the one whose injured. And it's Benson." The doctor gave her a confused look. "My name is Mrs. Cabot-Benson!"

The doctor nodded apologetically. "Of course."

"Can we see her now?" Cragen asked. The doctor looked at the full waiting room of anticipant eyes.

"It's against protocol for those outside of family but I'll make an exception this time." He lead the group down the hallway of intensive care.

Olivia looked so small on the crisp white sheets of the hospital bed. Weak. She had wires and tubes attached to every surface of her body, and her skin was sickly and wan. A larger tube was stuck down her throat, breathing for her.

Everyone stood outside giving Alex a moment alone with her wife. Alex broke out of Cragen's embrace and rushed to Olivia's side. "Olivia," she whispered, gently squeezing the detective's frail hand, "You need to wake up, sweetheart. I can't – we can't do this without you. I – I lo – love you – ssso much" Cragen moved to place a chair behind the weeping blonde, guiding her to sit. Alex obliged, her hand never leaving Olivia's. She combed the brunette's hair to the side and placed a tender kiss on her forehead.

Cragen payed his silent respects to his detective, a single tear managing to escape from one of his eyes. Munch and Fin followed. Munch gently squeezed the detective's blanket-covered knee and leaned over to whisper something softly into her ear. Fin gave her a kiss on the forehead. "Stay strong, baby girl," he told the sleeping form before following his partner out. Donnelly came in afterwards, giving Alex a strong hug and leaving without a word.

Kathy and Elliot were last. Kathy sniffled, holding Olivia's other hand for a moment before moving to give Alex a hug and kiss. She then left the room to give her husband a moment alone with his partner. Elliot knelt down at Olivia's bedside. "God, I'm so sorry, Liv. So sorry..." his words dissolved into broken whispers, but Alex was able to make out his saying "I should have been there." Elliot crossed himself before standing up. He looked at Alex in acknowledgment, but then moved to leave, unable to face his partner's wife after all he had failed to do.

"Elliot." He turned back to see the blonde staring at him, tears marring her blue eyes. He rushed to her side and enveloped her in a hug. Holding Alex closely in his strong arms, he finally let himself cry. "I'm so sorry Alex," he sobbed, "I should have protected her." Alex let her own tears fall as she wrapped her arms tighter around him, a silent way of telling him it wasn't his fault.

A/N: Thanks for reading. Review for an update, please!

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

It was dark and gray. Clouds filled the dismal March sky, blanketing the surroundings. A light drizzle started to fall, though nobody seemed to notice. The cold wind whipped through Alex's hard as she stood there, solemn, still, empty. Her black dress whirled around her thin frame, billowing in the breeze. She wrapped her arms across her chest but didn't feel warm again.

Alex's knees felt week as she walked along the jumbled gravel path. She was surrounded by many faces, some familiar yet others completely unrecognizable. It didn't matter. She wouldn't talk to anyone. Couldn't muster even a bit of cordialness and honestly wouldn't accept anyone's expectation that she do so. As she continued to step forward, past a tearful Elliot and solemn Cragen, she felt the bile rise in the back of her throat.

At her foot was the cold, gray stone. She couldn't bear to look at it, yet wouldn't tear her eyes away. Engraved in the marble:

Olivia Louise Benson

Beloved wife, mother, and partner

1967-2008

Alex screamed, her body snapping up in the arm chair. "Ms. Cabot-Benson, Ms. Cabot-Benson," a nurse said, hurrying over to her side. "Are you alright dear?" the kindly gray-haired woman asked, placing a gentle hand on the younger woman's shoulder. Alex's eyes shot open wide. She was panting wildly, a cool sweat dripping down her brow. Sobs racked her frame. With the nurse rubbing her back smoothly, she finally calmed down enough to look around the room. She broke down into grateful tears when she saw Olivia lying in front of her. She leaned over and kissed her forehead, murmuring "just a dream, just a dream." A few moments later, the nurse spoke once more, "I think a visitor is waiting for you. Liz I believe her name was. I informed her that you were getting some rest, but as soon as your ready, I can send her up."

Alex nodded before turning back to the detective. She traced her hand up the wan olive skin of her forearm, careful to avoid the tangle of wires extending from it. She cleared her throat. "I'm ready, thank you.

A few minutes later, Liz Donnelly entered the room, a vase of fresh flowers in her arms. She placed the bouquet on one of the bedside tables, where it was accompanied by a plethora of other offerings of flowers, cards, and plushes. Taking a moment to regard Olivia, Liz then turned to her goddaughter. "You look sick, Alex."

The younger attorney sighed heavily. "How exactly am I supposed to look, Liz?"

Donnelly nodded. "You've been sitting in that chair for two days straight. You need to get up, eat something."

"They brought me a cot for if I want it. And the nurses bring me meals..."

"Alex," Donnelly said more firmly. "You are six months pregnant. I know how much you want to be here for Olivia, but I also know how much Olivia would want you to be taking care of yourself." She was met with a defiant glare and sighed. "At least come down to the cafeteria with me so you can eat. Don't try to tell me you haven't been skipping meal. And then when we come back up here you are going to shower and lie down in the cot for a bit. I brought you a fresh change of clothes."

Alex frowned but knew there was no use arguing. Holding out her hand, she allowed Liz to help her stand up and placed a kiss on Olivia's forehead. Before the pair headed downstairs, they left explicitly instructions that Alex be called immediately if there was even a slight change in Olivia's status.

Ten minutes later, the two blondes were seated at a formica table, a banana, oatmeal, a tea in front of Alex and cup of black coffee in front of Liz. Alex spooned at the hot cereal despondently before Liz reached over and peeled the banana, holding out the yellow fruit to the younger woman. Sighing, Alex grabbed the banana and took a large bite.

The two sat in silence for several minutes, Liz sipping her drink and Alex slowly but surely eating her breakfast. Suddenly, however, she stopped, staring down at the stained table top. "I can't do this without her, Liz."

Donnelly stared across the table, watching her goddaughter break down in front of her eyes. She wanted to reassure her, to tell her that either way, things would be alright. That she was surrounded by a support system who would take car of her and the baby in Olivia's absence. Yet, as she allowed herself to envision Alex and the detective in her mind, the palpable love between the two of them, the happiness that she had never seen before in the young blonde, she knew Alex was right. When she took another sip of her coffee, the liquid burned going down.

~*~*~*Page Break*~*~*~

Alex was struggling with a restless sleep when she heard a tiny moan. Almost instantly, her eyes were open. The blonde looked over at Olivia's bed from the cot, frowning at the stillness. Yet, unwilling to ignore the sound she knew that she heard, she pulled herself from her own bed and moved to sit in the chair next to the detective. She took the detective's hand in her own and squeezed it lightly. "Olivia?"

This time she saw it. A slight grimace of the brunette's features accompanied by another small sigh. Squeezing her hand again, she was greeted with the most beautiful sight she had ever witnessed.

Olivia's deep brown eyes fluttered opened slowly.

Alex stifled a sob, though a few tears escaped from her eyes. Using her free hand, she pressed the red button to alert the nursing staff before turning her attention quickly back to the detection, whose face was contorted and scared. "Olivia, sweatheart, shhh it's alright. It's all going to be okay."

~*~*~*Page Break*~*~*~

Olivia's entire body felt numb and heavy; she was only vaguely aware of a sharp pain in her side as she slowly regained consciousness. She blinked several times, but everything seemed blurry – confusing. She went to call out – to ask where she was, what was going on – but something in her mouth stopped her. Before she could pull the invading object out, she felt a gentle hand caressing her face.

"Olivia, Liv, sweetheart, stay calm honey. Don't try to speak."

She knew that voice anywhere. Again, she tried to talk. Alex. The word was clear in her mind but she was still unable to voice it.

"Baby, you have a tube in your throat. The doctor's have to take that out first before you can talk. Just hang on a minute." She felt Alex stroke her thumb along her cheek. Turning to her head slightly to face the blonde, she was immediately upset by her bedraggled appearance. Whereas Alex was always maintained her poise and appeared put together regardless of the stress she may be under, at the current moment she was a mess. Her blond hair was tangled and clearly unwashed. She wasn't wearing any make up whatsoever – normally a cardinal sin. Worse yet, her eyes were puffy and red – clearly she had been crying. The NYPD tee shirt she was wearing – which never left the house on her person – was wrinkled over a pair of gray yoga pants. Even her glasses were skewed on her head. Olivia moved to straighten them, but winced when a striking pain shot through her body. Why did she hurt so much?

"Shh," Alex mumbled, placing a soft kiss on the brunette's forehead and letting her lips linger, "You're okay. Thank God you're okay..."

A tall middle aged man with reddish blond hair and a receding hairline entered the room – which by this point Olivia had established was a part of a hospital ward. Mercy by the looks of it. "Olivia," the man greeted with a warm smile, "I'm Dr. Allen Timothy. It's good to see you awake." Now consciously aware of the tube in her mouth, she managed a weak nod. "Here, let me take care of that tube for you." He walked over to her bedside. "Okay, on the count of three, I want you to cough," he said, positioning his gloved hands on the apparatus, "one – two – three -" Olivia obliged and managed a feeble cough. She felt Alex squeeze her hands. "There, much better."

A nurse who had been standing nearby handed her a glass of water. "Here hon, try to take a few sips of this." The sensation of the cool liquid sliding against the rough dryness of her throat was magical, but she must have swallowed a bit too much too fast and entered a coughing fit. It was horribly painful and resulted in Olivia hunching over, gasping for breath.

Alex leaned over nervously, rubbing her wife's back in smooth, comforting circles. "Is she alright? Could she pull any of her stitches?"

A few moments later, the coughing subsided. The nursed eased her back onto the bed slowly and pulled her hospital gown slightly askew. Slapping on a new set of latex gloves, the doctor gently palpitated two locations on Olivia's side. She grimaced. "Sorry Ms. Benson," he responded apologetically, lifting his gaze, "everything looks and feels alright."

"Wh – what happened," Olivia managed to ask, her voice raspy.

"Do you remember going to work on Monday?" the doctor asked.

Olivia nodded and tried to clear her throat. "Yeah, the Mangold chase. We found Arthur."

The doctor nodded solemnly. "Do you remember what happened?"

Olivia struggled to think. Everything was a bit cloudy. "There was – a chase. We had his corner but – but he got out of this false wall. El, El he followed him so I ran around the other way. Try to trap him again. I was about to head into the alley. Arthur... he was – behind the dumpster. Tripped me. My gun... it fell..." She looked up at the doctor puzzled. "I can't..."

Dr. Timothy nodded. "That's alright. Some confusion is to be expected. I'm sorry but you were shot Ms. Benson. Twice. You immediately loss consciousness. Your partner stopped enough of your bleeding to stabilize you enough to get to the hospital. One of the bullets entered your chest and collapsed your left lung. We were able to remove it. The other went clean through you abdomen. It opened an artery, which we were able to suture, and damaged some tissue. It was near your spinal cord, but is removed without injury. You were in surgery for 5 hours but will make a full recovery in time. You were very lucky."

"How long have I been out?"

"Almost four days. And your wife here hasn't left your side for one of them," he responded, giving Alex a soft smile. Olivia turned back to Alex only to see tears glimmering in her eyes. Hearing about Olivia's injuries again, remembering the past few days, was too much for her to handle.

"Baby..." Olivia said softly, rubbing her thumb over Alex's hand.

"We'll give you two some time alone. If you need anything, just hit the red button on this remote and a nurse will be right in."

When the doctor and nurse left, Olivia continued to comfort Alex. "Alex, sweetheart, it's okay. Don't cry. I'm alright."

Alex shook her head, her body beginning to tremble. "I almost lost you Olivia! I couldn't – I wouldn't be able to go on without you."

Olivia smiled softly. "But you didn't. And you won't. I'm right here, Alex. Right here," she said, gently tugging Alex down towards her. She brushed her lips against her wife's cheeks, kissing the tears away.

If anything though, this tender action did nothing more than intensify Alex's crying. "All I kept think – thinking was, you and me, and, the baby," she hiccuped, "and how I don't know what I would do if I had to – to raise her," she shuddered, "alone."

"Hey, hey," Olivia soothed, combing her fingers through Alex's silky hair, her own eyes becoming glassy, "I'm not leaving you, Alex. But if it had come down to it, you would have raised our baby and loved her more than anything. And she would have grown up to be smart and compassionate and loving and [she added with a twinkle in her eye] stubborn just like her beautiful mother."

Alex stifled another sob. "I love you so much," she whimpered, resting her forehead against Olivia's – their tears – their pain, their fears, their hope – melding together.

Olivia captured Alex in a passionate kiss, moving her hands to envelope Alex's stomach. "You have no idea," she murmured against her lips.

The two remained in a comfortable silence, overwhelmed by the sensation of being physically connected to one another once more, releasing sighs of relief and filling these gaps with each other's breathes.

"Alex?" Olivia whispered against the paleness of her neck, her chapped lips scratching the skin slightly.

"Yes Liv? Is everything okay, Sweetheart?" she responded, reluctantly pulling herself out of Olivia's embrace to look at her.

Olivia nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. Can I just hold you for a while?" she asked yearningly.

"Of course," Alex whispered, trying to keep her voice from breaking. She climbed into bed, careful not to jostle it. More astutely, she laid down at Olivia's side, slowly leaning closer to her. "Is this hurting you?" she asked nervously.

"No," Olivia said adamantly, wrapping her arms around Alex's waist and pulling her even closer. In the shelter of her wife's arms, Alex felt herself relax for the first time since Cragen and Fin had showed up at their door. She smiled as Olivia's hand found its way under her shirt to rest just below her naval at the curvature of her bump. Alex gasped – shocked by a sudden sensation. She felt Olivia stiffen against her as well in astonishment.

"Was that – "

Alex nodded, happy tears now filling the oceans of her eyes. "She's happy her mama's okay," she said with a beaming smile, snuggling closer to Olivia.

Unable to lean over, Olivia lifted her hand momentarily, kissed her fingertips, and returned them to the baby. "I love you, Peanut," she whispered joyfully.

"We love you too," Alex said, flipping over to face Olivia and placing her hands on top of the brunette's. The couple lay intertwined with one another, mutually captivated by the fluttering of their daughter's feet.

A/N: Review for an update!

Chapter Text

It was another several days before Olivia was released from the hospital, much to the brunette's dismay. Worse yet, she was under strict instruction to remain bed-ridden for at least another week, absent of some physical therapy exercises. Although the detective had tried to argue, a couple of Alex's icy glares and Cragen's threats of prologued desk duty eventually had her biting her tongue.

Currently, Olivia was biting her lip in an attempt to stifle the ache in her side as Elliot carried her into the apartment. "Sorry partner, almost there," Elliot said as he noticed her grimace, heading across the space towards the bedroom.

The pair was followed closely by Alex, who had a box full of flowers, cards, and other gifts that her wife had received in the past weeks. "You should have taken the wheelchair they offered," the blonde chastised.

"You guys should have let me walk," the detective groaned.

Alex rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, that would have gone over so well," she retorted sarcastically, following the two into the bedroom and placing the box on the dresser. Just the previous morning, Olivia had been convinced she could make it to the bathroom unassisted and was lucky a nurse was nearby when she lost her footing. Even still, the detective was stubborn as ever and determined to have things back to normal.

"Okay, Liv, I'm going to lower you down on three," Elliot informed as he approached the bed. "One-"

"Three," Olivia grumbled, cutting him off. "Come on, El. Just put me down. I'll be fine."

Elliot sighed, slowly lowering his partner down onto the bed before pulling the comforter over her, which earned him a small frown. Ignoring his partner's mood, he directed his attention to Alex, who was sorting through the contents of the box. "Do you two need anything else? I can go grab some food or something."

Alex chuckled and shook her head. "I think the entire NYPD has dropped off a casserole at this point, but thank you."

"Do you want me to stick around and help you with this one?"

"I'm right here!" Olivia protested with a huff. Elliot ignored her.

"Don't know if it'll stress yourself out too much moving her around with the baby and all."

Alex pondered this for a moment. "Well..."

"I think we'll be okay, El" Olivia responded. "I should just need an arm to hold onto to steady myself, but if there's any problems, I'll call you first thing. I promise." As much as she hated being coddled, the detective also wouldn't do anything to risk putting Alex or the baby in any danger.

Alex nodded, finding the approach reasonable. "Okay. Thank you so much, El. We've got it from here," she said, giving her friend a hug.

Elliot nodded as he stepped away. "If you need anything, don't hesitate to call. Kathy too," he offered. Before walking out of the room, he looked back, "And Liv, don't be stupid."

Olivia flipped him the finger. "I'm fine, Elliot."

Elliot chuckled at his partner's grumpiness, shaking his head. "Have fun," he said to Alex sarcastically. "Let me know if you need her handcuffed." He only just dodged the pillow careened towards his head, giving one last chortle before leaving the apartment.

When she heard the front door click shut, Alex walked over to Olivia's side of the bed and ran her fingers through her wife's hair. "So tough guy, how are you actually feeling?"

"Sore, but I'm fine. Just glad to be home." Olivia smiled genuinely and nestle closer to Alex's side. "Although I'm soon to be very bored."

"My company isn't enough for you?" the blonde teased, walking across the room to pick up the pillow that Olivia had discarded.

"Your company is more than enough. However, you will soon be going back to work. And I will be stuck in bed."

"I can stay here as long as you need me too," Alex said, adding the pillow back to the mound that she had laid out.

"I appreciate that, baby, but I don't want to keep you from work any more that I already have. They need you there."

Alex sighed, slipping off her shoes and climbing up on the bed next to Olivia. "True, but I'll at least try to get some stuff done from home this week. I have some paperwork that needs catching up on. Plus, you have me the rest of the day and all day tomorrow," she said, kissing the detective's temple.

"Oh however will we occupy ourselves," Olivia teased, turning to kiss Alex deeply. She frowned when she was met with air.

"Uh uh uh," Alex chided playfully, "You are an invalid. There will be none of that for you."

"Ugh, Alex, we can at least kiss for a bit."

Alex shook her head. "I know your ways, Benson. But if you're good, maybe I'll give you a sponge bath later," she added with a sly smile.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~Page Break~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Two weeks later, Olivia was back at the 1-6, though still on desk duty, much to her and her newly developing carpal tunnel syndrome's dismay. While she was happy to no longer be stuck at home, needless to say, she was getting restless. The detective sighed, opening up another file for a DD5 when she heard the clicking of heels against tile and smiled.

"Hey, Liv," Alex greeted, "I brought lunch." She held out a brown bag from one of their favorite take-out places.

"You are God-sent. Here, sit at El's desk. He's out with Munch right now." Alex lowered herself down into the cushioned desk chair, compensating for the added size she had gained recently. In just another week, she would hit the eight month mark. Olivia smiled and handed Alex chopsticks and a container of lo-mein. "How is everything coming along," she asked, referring to the ADA's recent efforts in getting her office in order before going on maternity leave.

"Ugh, it's going," Alex sighed, taking a bite of noodles. "My replacement is a challenge to say the least. Young. From Brooklyn homicide. Going to take a while to prepare him to actually be able to handle live victims." Whereas the last month before birth was supposed to be relaxing and full of relief from the stresses of one's job, Alex couldn't help but feel anxious. Not everyone could handle SVU cases, and she feared that her absense would affect the level of justice achieved for the unit's victims as well as adherence to the code of legal ethics she proudly tried to represent.

Olivia gave her a sympathetic smile. "I'm sure that he'll get the hang of it, especially with you teaching him the ropes." While the brunette tried to reassure her that everything would be dealt with properly, Olivia knew Alex's fears were not baseless and that her wife was uniquely talented in a profession filled with many less-than-impressive individuals.

"So it goes," Alex said with a shrug. "At the very least, I've finally sorted my mountain of paperwork into several smaller hills. Anyway, how are you doing today?"

"Same old, same old. The guys go out in the field and leave me their pile of paperwork. Maybe soon enough this shit will get computerized."

"Do you think it'll be a late night?" Alex asked.

"Actually, no. I've got a few more hours of work left but then I'll be done for the day."

"A miracle on the order of loaves and fishes! I should be done around then too."

"Both of us completely done with work and home before dinner? Where is Munch? I need to hear about this conspiracy."

"Shh, don't jinx it!" Alex said, tossing her empty food carton into the trash and standing up. "What do you say we rent a movie or something and have a nice relaxing night of cuddling?" she asked, moving behind the detective and draping her arms lazily over her shoulders.

"Sounds perfect."

Unfortunately, the couple's evening of relaxation was cut short by the trill of Olivia's cell phone. "Did they mention anything at all," Alex asked, furrowing her brow as Olivia helped her into the car.

Olivia shook her head. "Cragen just said that there's a case and for both of us to get down there as soon as possible."

Alex raised an eyebrow. "Well, this can't be good." Olivia nodded in agreement, starting the engine.

Fifteen minutes later, the couple arrived at the NYPD and took the elevator up to the third floor. As they approached the precinct, they couldn't help but notice how uncharacteristically quiet it was. New York's finest were seldom at rest, never when there was a case, at the silence was quiet and unnerving. As Olivia went to hold the door open for Alex, a sudden shout made her jump to attention.

"Surprise!"

Scattered throughout the precinct was a group of Alex and Olivia's closest family and friends. Cragen stood next to Munch, Fin, and Liz Donnelly. Elliot was there will Kathy and the kids. Melinda, Huang, and a few of Alex's colleagues as well as her aunt and uncle were also in attendance. And Olivia couldn't help but blink twice when she noticed Simon standing across the way. The normally cut-and-dry, masculine office was instead decorated with in an assortment of pinks, greens, and other "girly" hues. Elliot and Olivia's desk was covered in a plethora of appetizers while a stack of presents were piled on Munch and Fin's.

Olivia grinned widely, grabbing Alex's hand. She was speechless – and surprised by how completely thrown off she had been by the whole "case" guise.

"Welcome to your baby shower," Kathy said with a smile as she walked over to give both women a tight hug, "Courtesy of the NYPD and friends." After a round of thank yous were exchanged before the group settled down to eat and chat, enjoying each other's company. About a half and hour in, while Alex socialized with her family, Olivia settled down next to Simon, who was nervously sitting on the outskirts of the gathering, soaking tortilla chips in salsa.

"Uh, thanks for coming," Olivia said softly. "It means a lot, Simon," she said, looking up to meet his eyes.

He returned a small smile and shrugged. "Well, it is my niece, right?" Olivia chuckled slightly to release some of her nerves. "Hey, Olivia, I know I wasn't the most supportive with you know, yours and Alex's relationship and all, but I promise you I've gotten over all of my issues. I was stupid. I kick myself for missing your wedding..."

Olivia nodded solemnly. She and Simon had been managing to develop their relationship, getting to know one another with coffee and lunch trips once or twice a month, the occasional telephone call. Everything had been going well for once – until Olivia told him about Alex. Apparently her half-brother was extremely homophobic and had almost instantaneously cut her off, disappearing completely. Olivia had been devastated to have lost her only blood relative – though she tried to hide her depression. Many had seen through her guise, however, and Simon quickly became public enemy number one to several of her friends – Alex and Elliot namely.

"Well, you're here now," she said, forcing her lips to upturn slightly. "Speaking of which, how did you know..."

Simon sighed heavily. "Last month, I tried to find you to talk. I had joined this parents and friends of – gays and lesbians... thing back in June and I wanted to, you know, apologize for all that shitty stuff I said." He cleared his throat. "I guess you moved which makes sense... so I waited outside the precinct hoping I could catch you alone but um, you were with your... wife so I left. But I saw she was pregnant and, I don't know, it was probably stupid."

Olivia raised an eyebrow. "Simon, what did you do?"

"I called your partner... Elliot. He almost hung up right away, but I convinced him it was important... we met for lunch last week. He told me you and Alex were happy and he was damned if he would let me screw that up. Actually, I'm here only with several threats should I 'change my mind and decide to be a bastard again,'" he said, smirking slightly.

Olivia looked across the room to Elliot, who shot her a small smile and wink. She turned back to Simon. "So, the PFLAG thing helped you?" she asked hesitantly.

Simon nodded. "Yeah, I mean, I go once a month to meetings. Some of the stories, I don't know, really opened my eyes. I mean, man and woman, woman and woman, it's the same love, right? I'm working on it." Olivia stared into his eyes for a moment – those deep brown orbs that matched her own – and saw the effort, the truth, in the statement.

"Simon, I believe you and I'm really glad that you're doing this. Believe me. I just don't... I'm not ready to have you back in my life full force again. There was too much... and I don't want to subject Alex to that, or our daughter..."

Simon gave a small nod, looking at the ground. "But it's something we can work on?"

"Absolutely. I'd really like that." Olivia nodded before feeling a thin arm snake around her waist.

"Hey baby, you alright over here?" Alex asked, her voice laced with subtle concern, as she pressed a kiss to the top of the brunette's head.

Olivia smiled and nodded, holding Alex close to her. "Yeah, everything's fine."

Simon nodded as well. "I think I'm going to get out of here. I um got you this though," he said, grabbing a small pink bag from the seat next to him and handing it to Olivia. "Thanks for talking, Liv. And congratulations. You too Alex." With a small smile, he bid his parting and headed out of the precinct.

Olivia stared at the bag in her hands, clearly lost in thought. Alex kissed her temple tenderly. "Liv, you sure you okay?"

Olivia turned and smiled, placing a loving kiss on the swells of Alex's lips. "Uh, yeah, he's trying to change which is good. But regardless, I've got everything I need right here.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~Page Break~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Munch, stop gawking," Alex snipped at the man as he continued to ogle her.

"Sorry, Alex. Just admiring what wonders pregnancy has done to your womanly figure," he said with a smirk before quickly snipping the string and handing it to Kathy, who shook her head at the older detective's shenanigans .

"Alright Fin, you're up next," Kathy said with a chuckle, handing him a ball of yarn and pair of scissors. He eyed Alex for a moment, looking her profiled up and down before measuring a piece of string out and giving it a snip.

Regarding the length of the piece, Alex glared at him. "Det. Tutuola," she said with mock acrimony, "I strongly suggest that you take a few inches off of that string there is you don't want your next warrant request to be a living nightmare."

Fin grinned and shook his head, handing his guess to Kathy. "Sorry Counselor."

Grabbing the yarn again, Kathy took her turn and then handed the objects to Olivia. "Last turn, mommy," she said with a smile.

Olivia faced Alex and looked at her mischievously. The blonde raised an eyebrow.

"Babe, I suggest you think wisely before making and decisions. The couch isn't the most comfortable of sleeping situations." Olivia removed some of the string she had snipped.

"Alright Alex, let's see how big you actually are," Kathy said, wrapping the yarn around Alex's midsection. Huang and Maureen were short of the mark, each receiving an appreciative smile from the attorney. Cragen's string on the other hand was very much long, resulting in an outbreak of laughs from the group. The other guesses were all in a similar range, but none fell as closely as Olivia's, a mere half inch off of Alex's actually bump size.

"Aw, man, this is rigged," Fin complained as Olivia received a victory kiss from Alex, "I mean, she sees Alex's body up close all the time." His comment resulted in some amused chuckles and two very flushed women. "Oh, naw, I didn't mean it like that!"

"On the contrary, Det. Tutuola, I believe your observation is quite accurate," Donnelly said with a smirk, causing Olivia and Alex to blush more furiously.

Stifling a laugh, Kathy decided to save the couple from further embarrassment. "How about we open some presents you guys?" The group settled down in front of Alex and Olivia, who proceeded through the mound of presents. From Olivia's fellow detectives, they received a rather expensive jogging stroller that Olivia had mentioned she had her eyes on. Munch threw in a baby monitor, citing several conspiracy theories to demonstrate the fact that their daughter should get used to monitoring from the start. Kathy, Elliot, and the kids also gave them a basket full of several essential baby items, like onesies, pacifiers, and bottles, knowing how much the little things mattered, especially in during first few months. Huang gifted a beautiful mobile while Melinda gave the two a baby bath kit. Donnelly's present consisted of several books – all probably too advanced for an infant – with the statement that they should challenge their daughter. Simon had given them a soft pink blanket. Alex's family and colleagues gave them assorted toys and clothing. Finally, Olivia's heart was warmed when they unwrapped Cragen's gift: a baby book and a fluffy brown teddy bear with a large pink bow. He had leaned over to the detective and given her a hug, whispering, "After everything you've been through, Olivia, you deserve all of this. Enjoy every moment."

A round of thank yous and hugs were exchanged, and Elliot tagged along with the couple to help them load their gifts into the apartment. Later that night, Alex was placing freshly washed baby clothes into the dresser while Olivia put bedding on the newly finished crib, placing the bear in the corner. She walked over and wrapped her arms around Alex, who leaned back against her lazily.

"Tired, sweetheart?"

Olivia felt Alex nod against her chest and guided the blonde into the bedroom. Slipping into a tee shirt and sweats, she sat on the bed and watched as Alex stripped off her clothing, leaving her in just a pair of panties. She sat there in awe of her wife's body, admiring each and every curve that had appeared on Alex's still thin frame, heavily swollen breasts, the large bump that jutted out above her hips, pale skin that she had Olivia rub lotion on daily at to prevent stretch marks. She was stunningly beautiful – ethereal.

Pulling a saggy NYPD tee shirt on, Alex cocked her head to the side. "You're just as bad as Munch" she teased as she watch the detective's eyes wandered up and down her figure.

Olivia shrugged her shoulders in mock innocence. "You know, just 'seeing your body.' Got to make sure I'm reigning champion with that string game... you know, should we play again."

Alex smirked, moving over to stand between Olivia's seated legs. "Is that so?" she said, looking her dead in the eyes. "Well then detective, I think I can help you with that." She gave her a mischievous smile and placed Olivia's hands at the hem of her shirt before capturing her in a sensuous kiss.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Wonderland

"Ms. Cabot! Ms. Cabot!" a voice yelled at Alex, shoes clicking against the marble floor behind her down the hall of the courthouse. The attorney turned to see Georgina Freds, one of SVU's victims and her current case. The young woman looked absolutely wearied, which wasn't a surprise given the current situation. She had been assaulted by a man with a history of stalking and who, unfortunately, had been released on his own recognisance the previous day. In spite of the fact that a restraining order had been issued, Alex knew better than anyone the fear of being followed and understood Georgina's frantic disposition.

"Georgina," she greeted with concern, "Are you alright? Has Tucker tried anything?"

The woman shook head and explained nervously. "No, he hasn't. Not yet at least. But I'm not alright. Detective Stabler said you were leaving. That someone else was going to be taking over my case..."

Alex sighed. Though she had explained the situation to Georgina at the onset, she knew victims of trauma sometimes blocked out certain things. "Um, yes, Georgina. I'm sorry, I thought we were clear earlier. Today's my last day in the office. Mr. Nichols will be handling the trial from this point on..."

Georgina shook her head vehemently, her black hair moving wildly in front of her face. "N – no! Please, Ms. Cabot, I'm only comfortable with you!"

"I understand Georgina, but Mr. Nichols is extremely qualified to represent you. Everything will be..."

"No! No! I- I won't appear in court if you're not the one questioning me," she stuttered out with an attempt of resolve.

Alex massaged the bridge of her nose in frustration as she looked at the woman in front of her, green-eyes wide with unbridled anxiety. She didn't want to threaten holding Georgina in contempt to make her testify, knowing that would only exacerbate her fears in addition to re-victimize a victim. She sighed heavily, realizing what she had to do in order to achieve a successful statement, a crucial component of the evidence. "Okay," she breathed, mentally tabulating the trial's schedule, "I will handle the trial." It wasn't often that Alex gave into anyone, but she was quite frankly too tired to try to reason with Georgina at this point.

Georgina smiled widely. "Oh, thank you so much, Ms. Cabot," she said earnestly before heading back down the hall.

Later that evening over dinner, Alex informed Olivia of her decision.

"No," the detective had simply said in response.

"Liv, I can handle it. It's just another week and a half..."

"Alex, you're eight months pregnant. The doctor said not to stress yourself out more than necessary."

"It is necessary," Alex refuted. "Georgina refuses to testify unless I'm the one questioning her. We need that testimony, Liv. It's some of our most irrefutable evidence."

"Since when do you give in just because someone wants something?" Knowing the detective usually went above and beyond to make the victims comfortable through trial, Alex could tell from her reluctance that Olivia was very nervous.

Alex sighed. "Please Liv, I'll be fine. The girl is scared. I don't think she could handle the trial with Nichols. It's bad enough that the defense attorney is male. And all the trial prep is done for the most part. I can do this."

Olivia groaned, realizing how important this was. "Fine," she agreed, gently holding one of the blonde's hands. "But other than physically being in court you're staying home and resting. And if you get tired at all, you are giving up this case," she said sternly.

Alex nodded, happy to have gotten her way even though she wasn't thrilled about handling the case. A week and a half, she kept repeating to herself. Just a week and a half.

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

"Mr. Tucker, can you please tell me what this is?" Alex asked, gesturing to a piece of evidence.

"My laptop," the middle aged man grumbled, pulling uncomfortably at his tie.

Alex moved towards the jury, crossing paths with Tucker's eye line. Normally, her movements in court were intimidating to the defendant (as well as his or her attorney). Now, she imagined, her normally predatory saunter must look more like a comedic waddle. "Right, and as you live alone, is there anyone else other than you who has access to your personal computer?"

"No."

"Mr. Tucker, the detectives found several candid images of Georgina Freds saved on this computer. So if you are the only one with access to the laptop, would it be accurate to say that you are the one who put them there."

"Objection: speculation!"

"Sustained."

"I'll rephrase. Mr. Tucker, are you the one who took these pictures of the victim, Georgina Freds, and downloaded them onto your computer." The man was silent. "Mr. Tucker, I remind you that you are under oath."

"Yes but..."

"Mr. Tucker, what is the date on these photos."

"December 2."

"Right, and do you know when was Ms. Freds attacked?"

"December 3."

"So, can you please explain why you took over one hundred pictures of the victim, a woman you did not even know, the day before she was attacked?"

While the defendant was trying to give a lame excuse for the "coincidence," Alex felt a sharp sensation at in her abdomen and winced slightly. At first she attributed it to a sharp kick, but several seconds later felt it again. She tried to focus. "Mr. Tucker, is it also just a coincidence that your fingerprints were found at the crime scene?"

"It's a public park..."

"In the women's rest room –" Her words were cut off by another sharp pain. Shit.

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

Olivia fiddled her fingers nervously on the wooden courtroom bench until Elliot grabbed her hand and shot her a look.

"It's, Alex," Olivia explained softly, "Something is up."

"You sure? She seems to be handling everything fine. She's got Tucker cornered."

Olivia pursed her lips, watching as her wife rested her hand on her belly. She never did that in court, not wanting to draw any more attention than necessary to the fact that she is pregnant. "Something isn't right."

The detective was able to release a slight breath of relief when the judge called a recess for lunch. She watched carefully as Alex slowly returned to the prosecution table, taking note at a subtle wince that crossed the blondes face as she gathered her belongings. The brunette practically scurried over to the attorney as soon as she was close enough. "What's wrong?"

Alex glanced around quickly to make sure no one was in ear shot. "I don't know. I keep getting a sharp pain right here," she said gesturing to her lower abdomen.

"We're going to the hospital," Olivia said sternly, moving to lead the blonde out of the courtroom.

Alex hesitated. "Liv, Georgina hasn't testified yet. It would just be a couple more hours..."

"Alex, I know how important this is, but something could be wrong with you. You and the baby. Please," she practically begged.

Alex bit her lip as another sharp pain radiated through her belly. "Okay. Let me just tell Nichols."

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

"Braxon Hicks," Dr. Gil explained, looking up from examining Alex, "It's very common in the last term of pregnancy, especially if the mother is very active, dehydrated, stressed..." Olivia raised an accusing eyebrow towards Alex.

Alex ignored her. "So... I'm not in labor?"

Dr. Gil smiled, removing her gloves and grabbing an informative pamphlet off the counter, which she handed to Alex. "Nope, not yet! Hopefully not for a couple more weeks. Braxon Hicks are harmless but can be very painful. Because it's so late in your pregnancy, I'm not very concerned. You can go home, but I recommend you rest..."

"Oh don't worry," Olivia said, grabbing Alex's hand, "she will be doing just that."

Dr. Gil chuckled lightly, "Well Alex, I have no doubt that you're in good hands. I'll see you on Monday for your next appointment. If you have any problems before then, please don't hesitate to call."

The couple thanked the doctor and Olivia helped Alex to her feet and out into the car. Once they arrived home, Olivia settled Alex into bed, handing her a glass of water.

"I'm going to go make us some lunch. You stay put," the brunette ordered gently.

"Liv," Alex whined, "The doctor said to relax, not go on bed rest. I'm fine..."

Olivia held up a hand to stop her. "And I'm not taking any chances." She pecked Alex on the lips and headed out of the room. Alex sighed and grabbed her phone, dialing Gregory Nichol's number. "Yes, Greg. It's Alex. Yeah, no, I'm fine. I was just calling to see how the rest of the trial went. Okay, good. Tomorrow then? Okay, please call me immediately. Thanks. Bye."

Towards the end of the conversation, Olivia returned to the room with a mug of tea and a couple of sandwiches. She handed a plate to Alex and sat down next to her on the bed.

"Nichols?"

"Yes, court just finished up for the day. Jury's in deliberation and should be out tomorrow."

"And Georgina?"

"Reluctantly testified. Elliot talked to her."

"Good, good," Olivia said, taking a bite out of her sandwich. After a moment, she chuckled. Shaking her head, "I can't believe you went through a day of court while in labour."

"False labour!"

"You were still having contractions!"

"What else was I supposed to do, Liv? Just stop in the middle of questioning?" Alex asked defiantly.

"Yes!" the brunette exclaimed, as though the answer was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Oh, perfect. And then Tucker gets another day to go over his case with Paxton and figure out a way to bull shit the jury when Nichols tries to get him to talk. No way in hell!"

Olivia rolled her eyes, wrapping her arm around the blonde. "You're insane," she said teasingly.

Alex smirked, resting her head on the detective's shoulder. "I prefer dedicated to the cause."

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

The next two weeks were a living hell for Alex. Not only was she under Olivia-imposed bed rest – which included, due to the detective's doubts that Alex would adhere to rest and relaxation – almost constant supervision, but she also had Braxon Hicks pains almost constantly. She tried everything to relieve the uncomfortable pressure – laying in various recommended positions, yoga breathing, massages – but to no avail. With the pain and practical house arrest was making her miserable, Alex was counting down the days until her due date.

At present moment, Alex was in the midst of a particularly uncomfortable series of contractions, laying in fetal position on the couch. She was surprised to hear the doorknob turn and the sound of Olivia's footsteps given that it was early evening.

"Oh, sweetheart." Olivia placed a grocery bag down on the kitchen island and walked over to the couch, running her fingers through Alex's hair. "That bad?"

Alex managed a nod. "If this is so bad, I'm really afraid of actual labor," she said with a small chuckle, although Olivia could tell she was being serious.

"I'm sorry, baby. I got some stuff to try to make you feel better. You think you're up to moving a little bit?" Alex nodded. "Okay, give me a few minutes," she said, grabbing the bag and heading into the bedroom. Some time later, Olivia returned. "Here, Lex, let me help you up," she said, guiding the blonde off of the couch. She led her through the bedroom and into the master bath, where she had set up a warm bubble bath and lit a bunch of lavender scented candles. Some soft jazz music was playing and one of Alex's favorite books was sitting on a side table next to the tub. Alex began to tear up at the sight, much to Olivia's surprise.

"Ugh, sorry, hormones," Alex said with a laugh. "But Liv, thank you so much. This is so sweet."

"I just want you to feel better," Olivia said with a shy shrug. "Here, let's get you into the tub."

"Help me?" Alex asked, pulling her shirt over her head.

Olivia bit her lip, trying her hardest to maintain her arousal at the sight of the partially naked blonde. She knew Alex wasn't in the mood for that. Bending down, she slowly pulled the pajama pants down Alex's smooth, long legs, helping her keep her balance as she slipped them off, her panties in suit. She then helped Alex climb over the porcelain side of the tub and lower herself into the water.

"Mmm, this is perfect," Alex moaned, settling back. "Only one thing could make it better... you getting in here with me." Olivia quirked an eyebrow and Alex rolled her eye, splashing her with a bit of water. "Not like that. I just want to relax with you. Plus, now you're wet so you have to get it."

"Oh, is that how it is, Ms. Cabot?" Olivia teased. "I mean, I'm feeling pretty wet in more ways than one." That earned her a laugh and another splash.

"Oh you flatterer!"

"Seriously, Lex, you are so incredibly beautiful right now," Olivia said seriously, smiling at the blonde.

"Oh get in here, you sap," Alex grinned before watching intently as the brunette's olive skin came more and more into view. Scooting up, she made space for Olivia to sit behind her before settling back, smiling as she felt the detective's hands encircle her stomach and her lips against her neck. "Read to me?"

She felt Olivia chuckle against her skin. "Oh now who's the sap."

"Come on, I'm in pain," Alex said, turning slightly so Olivia could fully see her pout.

Olivia sighed dramatically but smiled as she reached over to dry her hands on a towel before picking on the book and opening to the first page. "When he was nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly broken by the elbow..."

Chapter Text

hapter 15: Lullaby

"So we collar him!" Olivia offered, pacing over to the coffee pot and pouring herself a cup. "Stick him in the cage for a while and see if that helps break him." She took a sip of the dark, thick liquid, grimacing slightly at its strength. Munch had undoubtably made this batch.

"And if it doesn't?" Cragen questioned, "We have to let him go and then he's in the wind."

"Well, Cap, we have to do something..." Elliot added, looking at the image of a former convict they currently were suspecting of rape homicide.

Cragen breathed in heavily, rubbing his forehead. "You two better break him," he said simply before heading back to his office.

"I'll take that as permission," Elliot shrugged. "Let's go pick him up. Brother said he works down at the fish markets during the weekdays."

Olivia felt her phone vibrate against her hip. "Sorry, hang on a sec," she said, picking up her phone, "Benson."

"Liv, don't freak out," Alex started from the other end of the line.

The brunettes eyes widened. As if that was going to do anything but make her more panicked. Quickly, she stepped aside into the hallway for some privacy. "Alex, what's wrong? Is it the baby?"

"Liv, Liv, calm down," Alex said, pressing her lips together in pain, "Yeah, I think – I think my water broke." Well, she knew her water broke for her current position on top of wet sheets. She grimaced again as she felt another spasm radiate through her abdomen.

Olivia took a short, quick breath. "Okay, okay," she said, trying not to sound nervous, "How far apart are your contractions?"

"A little over ten minutes."

"You stay put and I'll be right there. Just breathe, baby. I love you."

"I love you too."

As his partner hung up her phone and returned in the squad room, Elliot acknowledge the anxious look on her face. "Liv, what's wrong? Is Alex alright?"

"Umm, yeah," Olivia responded, slightly dazed, starting to shuffle through her desk haphazardly, "Her water just broke. Um, what do I – I need... keys... keys," she repeated, searching through her desk. Elliot grabbed the silver keychain off her desk, holding it in front of her.

"What's going on out here?" Cragen asked, returning to the squad room, "Benson, Stabler, I thought you were going to pick up Isaac."

As his partner was currently rendered speechless, Elliot explained, "Alex's water just broke."

Cragen's eyes widened in surprise. "I'll drive you."

"No, no, I've got it," Olivia said, coming to her senses. "Uhhh..." She quickly slipped on her coat and started to rush towards the door. Elliot grabbed her by the shoulders, stopping her momentarily.

"Liv, take a deep breathe." The brunette obliged, releasing a heavy sigh. Elliot smiled, patting her on the shoulder. "Good luck partner. Keep us updated." Olivia returned his grin, finally absorbing the totality of the situation. After all this time, the baby was almost here. Olivia moved briskly out of the building and hurried on home.

Olivia may have broken several traffic laws, but she arrived back at the couple's brownstone in record time, practically flying up the stairwell in lieu of waiting for the elevator. "Alex? Alex, where are you baby?" Olivia hollared, entering the apartment.

"Bedroom," Alex called back. Olivia could her the pain in her voice and hurried down the hall. She found Alex sitting up on the side of their bed, breathing heavily. To her left, Olivia saw that the sheets were slightly stained with fluid. Noticing her wife's observation, Alex explained sheepishly, "Sorry, I was going to clean that up."

Olivia shook her head and rushed over to Alex, kneeling in front of her. She placed one hand on her stomach, noticing that it was currently hard with a contraction, and softly grazed the blonde's cheek with the other. "Don't worry about it," she comforted, "How far apart are your contractions, sweetheart?"

"About nine minutes."

Olivia nodded, standing up and placing an affectionate kiss on her forehead. She looked down and noticed that Alex was still in the pajamas she left her in this morning, which currently were damp with amniotic fluid. "Okay baby, I'm going to grab you a change of clothes and your bag and then will go to the hospital, okay?" Alex nodded. Olivia left her for a brief moment to do as she explained but quickly returned to her wife's side. Alex stood up slowly, thankful that she a present was not enduring a bout of painful contractions. Using her shoulder to brace herself, she allowed Olivia to shimmy her pants and underwear off and replace them with a fresh set of sweats. The brunette then grabbed the closest pair of flats she could find and placed them in front of Alex.

"Nope."

Olivia looked up and wrinkled her brow in confusion.

"Those shoes clash."

Olivia sighed. "Alex, we're going to the hospital. No one is going to be looking at your shoes."

"I am not going to wear patent leather with sweats. That just looks silly!" The attorney paused, biting her bottom lip in pain. "Are you really going to fight me on this?"

Olivia rolled her eyes but picked up the pair of shoes and stepped back into the closet, returning with a pair of Toms.

"Better?" The blonde nodded, slipping her feet into the shoes. "You're a pain."

"Hey, watch it. I'm about to birth your first born." Alex responded sarcastically.

Olivia chuckled. "How about we get you to the hospital so you don't wind up doing so on the bedroom floor. Wrapping her arm around the blonde's waist, she held her close and supported her on their way to the car, stopping once to coach her through a particularly strong contraction.

Fifteen minutes later, Olivia cautiously drove into the lot out Mercy General's delivery wing. The couple was met at the door by a nurse, who eased Alex into a wheelchair and pushed her into the building. The expectant couple was settled into a room and informed that Dr. Gil was on her way. After thanking the nurse, Olivia shuffled closer to Alex's side, brushing her blond locks out of her face.

"How are you feeling?"

Alex managed a slight grin, pressing her lips together tightly. "How does it look," she said with a tired chuckle.

Olivia smiled softly. "Is there anything I can get you?" Alex shook her head and the two remained in silence for a moment. Gripped by another contraction, Alex squeezed Olivia's hand tightly and the brunette breathed calming words to her through its duration, using her free hand to comb her fingers through Alex's hair. About ten minutes later, a very cheerful Dr. Gil entered the room.

"Hello ladies! How are we feeling, Alex? Ready to meet your baby?"

Alex nodded with a smile, looking up at Olivia who kissed her forehead.

"Good," Dr. Gil grinned, washing her hands and putting on a pair of latex gloves. "Let's see how we're doing then," she said, moving to separate Alex's legs and examine her cervix. "Uh huh, okay." She looked back up at the nervously awaiting couple. "Everything looks fine. You're only about three centimeters dilated though, so this could be a while." Alex sighed heavily and Dr. Gil gave her a sympathetic smile. "If things become too unbearable, let the nurse know and we can administer an epidural. Until then, however, just try to breath and stay calm. Hopefully your baby will be here by the end of the day."

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

"Ow, fffuck!" Alex muttered, squeezing her eyes closed. Hours had past and she was exhausted and in excruciating pain, curled on her side with Olivia rubbing her back in an attempt to relieve some of her wife's discomfort. Alex was determined to get through labor without an epidural, having a life-long fear of needles, but it was already proving difficult. And she still was only six centimeters along.

After some convincing, Alex followed Dr. Gil's advice and went for a walk with Olivia in hopes to speed up the labor process. As the two moved slowly down the hospital corridors, Alex reflected on how thankful she was to have Olivia at her side. As if her wife hadn't been supportive enough throughout the entire pregnancy, she was incredible now, willing to do whatever Alex needed, constantly whispering words of comfort to her, telling her how great she was doing. Even when Alex had gone through a particularly bitchy period somewhere around five centimeters, to the extent where nurses were avoiding her room, Olivia hadn't left her side. Alex sighed heavily, relaxing against her wife's side.

"How about we get you back into the room, baby?" Alex nodded in agreement. Instead of sitting in bed alone this time, Olivia joined her, climbing up behind her and supporting Alex against her chest. Alex happily settled into the comforting embrace, sighing in relief as Olivia massaged her tense shoulder muscles.

Dr. Gil smiled when she found the two in the same position an hour later – at this point around midnight – Alex resting her eyes while Olivia watched her tiredly, rubbing her hands over the blonde's large stomach. When she saw the doctor, Olivia place a soft kiss on Alex's head to get her attention. The attorney yawned exhaustedly.

"Hey you guys. Just came to check and see how things were progressing." Olivia nodded and slipped out of bed carefully, propping up a few pillows to make Alex comfortable. After examining the blonde, Dr. Gil smiled widely at the pair. "Good news! You're fully dilated, Alex. I'm going to go get all washed up. A nurse will be down here in a few moments to take you both to delivery.

When the doctor had left the room, Olivia leaned over to look at Alex and quickly noticed the petrified look in her eyes. "Hey, Alex, are you okay, sweetheart?" she asked with concern. When the blonde tried to reassure her, Olivia pried further, "Come on, Alex, tell me what's wrong."

Alex shrugged, her eyes glistening. "I'm scared."

"Aww, baby, it's okay. I'm scared too. But I'm going to be right there to help you through this, okay?" She kissed away a lone tear that had escaped down her cheek. Alex nodded, caressing Olivia's cheek before wincing because of another contraction. "You're going to be amazing."

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

"Let's have another push, Alex," Dr. Gil coached, encouraging the exhausted blonde to continue. Alex couldn't even tell how long she had been pushing at this point. At this point, she was cursing her mother for giving her what apparently was a more narrow birthing canal.

"Ughh, I can't," she panted, falling back limply against the sheets. She looked up at Olivia with doe eyes and a pitiful look, "Livvy, do it for me," she whined, completely exhausted.

Olivia couldn't help but smile. Even after countless hours of labor, Alex looked beautiful. "I would if I could, baby," she said, brushing Alex's sweat matted hair from her forehead, "You can do it, Alex. Just keep pushing. You're doing amazing."

As another contraction ripped through her system, Alex resumed pushing. "Great Alex, one – two – three..." Dr. Gil counted off.

The blonde gripped Olivia's hand so tightly the latter was sure it was turning purple, but in the moment she didn't care. She watched in awe as Alex struggled with all the strength she had left in her. "That's it baby, keep going," she encouraged, helping hold Alex's leg in the proper position. While Olivia had helped other women through the birthing process before – Kathy just over a year ago – nothing was as incredible as this.

At the end of the ten second interval, Alex let out an exhausted breath. "Okay Alex, one more push and you should have your baby."

"What?" Alex managed to pant out.

"She's crowning," Dr. Gil explained. Alex looked up at Olivia who was now leaning over to see her child's head beginning to emerge. With happiness glistening in her eyes, she turned back to Alex and smiled widely, squeezing her hand gently.

That was all Alex needed.

Seconds later, a strong, healthy cry pierced through the room. Dr. Gil held up a squirming, pink baby for Alex and Olivia to see. "Congratulations! It's a girl!" Alex let out a tired but joy-filled sob. At this point, tears were streaming down Olivia's cheeks as a nurse helped her cut the umbilical cord. She moved back to Alex and kissed her several times, mumbling against her lips, "Thank you so much."

Less than a minute later, Alex held hers and Olivia's daughter for the first time, the nurse informing them that the baby was perfectly healthy as she placed the now clean and swaddled child into the blonde's arms. Settled in her mother's embrace, the baby's cries lessened into soft whimpers and eventually a content gurgle.

Olivia couldn't tear her eyes away. Her daughter was beautiful, a miniature version of Alex with wisps of light blond hair and flawlessly fair skin. She was breathing softly from her small button nose. Olivia hoped that when she opened her eyes, she would have the same breath-taking orbs as her mother.

Alex looked up at her with a smile. "She's perfect."

Olivia nodded, still awestruck. Kissing Alex, she responded, "You both are."

"Do you want to hold her?"

Olivia nodded again, too overcome to form any words. After she sat down next to her on the bed, Alex carefully placed the baby into Olivia's arms, watching as her wife gently stroked the side of their daughter's cherubic face. "So perfect," Olivia breathed softly.

Alex smiled, settling comfortably against her wife's side, resting her head against her, not once taking her eyes off of the small bundle. Olivia rested her cheek against Alex's head. After years of thinking she would end up alone, would never get to experience the joys of motherhood, she almost couldn't believe she was sitting there with the love of her life, holding their newborn daughter.

She now had everything.

"She needs a name," Alex said softly.

"Too bad she wasn't a boy," Olivia kidded. "We had that all figured out. Look at you already being trouble, just like your mother," the brunette teased, earning a light smack on the arm.

"How do we pick?"

"I'm not sure. I think we're supposed to just feel it?" Olivia said, smiling down at the tiny bundle, whose eyes had flickered open. The couple watched intently for several moments at their child looking back up at them. "What about Amelia?"

Alex regarded the baby once more, inviting Olivia to lower her into her arms. Gently, she caressed her index finger down the newborn's cheek, surprised by how soft and smooth it was. "I think that's perfect. Mia."

Olivia grinned at the sound of her daughter's name. "And for the middle name?"

Alex looked up from the baby make contact with the detective's brown eyes. "I was thinking Serena would be nice."

Olivia's eyes glistened and she smiled softly when Alex's hand caressed her own. She didn't know it was possible for her to keep falling more and more in love with this woman. "Yeah," she said clearing her throat, "That would have meant a lot to her." Wiping a tear from her eye, she leaned over and kissed Alex's forehead before looking back to the baby. "What do you think about that, princess?" she cooed. The baby, who had once more awoken, gurgled as she looked up at her mothers. Olivia smiled widely. "It's settled then! Welcome to the world, Amelia Serena Benson-Cabot."

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Everything

"Congratulations, mom."

Fixated on one particular infant sleeping in the nursery, Olivia didn't even noticed that Elliot had come up behind her. Turning around, she met her partner's wide smile. "Is that her in the middle?"

Olivia nodded proudly, turning back to her daughter. "Amelia Serena Cabot-Benson, born at 1:34 AM on July 9, 6 lbs 2 ounces."

"Amelia Serena, huh?" he affirmed, looking at the newborn, who was sleeping peacefully. "She's beautiful, Liv."

"She looks just like Alex."

Elliot smiled at his partner's undeniable happiness. He nodded in agreement, "She does. She certainly does. How's Alex feeling?"

"Good. A little sore and tired, but good. She's asleep."

"Yeah, that's what the nurse said. She sent me this way. What, you couldn't sleep?"

Olivia shrugged. "I did a little but then I decided to come down here for a while."

Elliot understood. When each of his children had been born, he couldn't rest unless they were at his side. Even though most doctors wanted to keep the baby in the nursery for the first night to let the mother gain some much needed rest, he had been able to convince all but one to make an exception.

Olivia looked down at her watch. "Elliot, it's only seven in the morning. What are you doing down here?"

"Figured I'd come in before work. I mean, with your camera phone being broken, I knew I'd have to come down here to see this little cutie." Olivia smiled and he continued. "Speaking of which, I promised the 1-6 I'd snap a photo so they could see her as well. May I?" Olivia nodded happily and Elliot took a picture on his cell. "I'll share this with the guys, though I'm sure they'll all be stopping by later on tonight"

Olivia grinned and gave Elliot a hug. "Thanks partner."

"Don't mention it," he said, hugging her close before turning to leave. "Tell Alex congrats for me when she wakes up. I'll come back later if you don't mind..."

"Not at all" Olivia said, shaking her head, "Bring Kathy and the kids too."

"Of course," Elliot nodded with a smile, heading down the hall. Olivia smiled softly to herself. While she was glad to see her partner, she was glad that she would have until the evening to spend with just Alex and Mia.

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

Alex's eyes fluttered open tiredly and she was instantly warmed by the sight in front of her. Sitting beside her bed was Olivia, who was gently rocking a softly sleeping infant, her brown eyes filled with a type of love that Alex had never seen in the brunette before. She was humming a soft lullaby, rocking the baby to the rhythm.

"Hey," Alex yawned contently, looking at their daughter. Olivia looked up, brushing her bangs away from her eyes.

"Morning beautiful," she said, smiled radiating. Carefully standing up, she moved to hand Mia over to Alex. "Say good morning to Mommy, sweetheart." The baby yawned widely and blew a few bubbles with her lips before nuzzling against Alex's chest. Olivia giggled. "Close enough." She leaned over and gave Alex a kiss. "Did you sleep well, love?"

Alex nodded, kissing Olivia again. "Yeah, I was exhausted. I wish we could just take her home already," she said with a pout, placing a tender peck on the top of Mia's head.

Olivia nodded in agreement. "The doctors were telling me tomorrow morning." She sat down at the edge of the bed, wrapping her arm around the blonde. "Elliot stopped by this morning. Said the guys will probably be coming by later if that's okay."

"I'll have to get cleaned up but sure." She added with a smile, "It'll give us a chance to show Mia off."

"Oh believe me, she's already very popular." All the nurses Olivia had spoken too this morning commented on how particularly adorable Mia was, as well as how calm and peaceful. Olivia had to wonder where she got those latter traits from.

An older nurse who had helped the two the day before walked into the room. "Good morning, ladies!" she greeted. "Alex, how are you feeling?"

"Much better, thank you."

"Good, good. Now it's time for Amelia's next feeding. Would you like to try breast feeding this time?" Alex nodded enthusiastically, looking up at Olivia. "Alright," the nurse began with a smile, "Let me show you how." With a blush, Alex pulled aside her terrycloth robe and allowed the older woman to help her out. The nurse was also very diligent to keep Olivia involved as well, so when the baby was reluctant to latch, she instructed the brunette to coax her by caressing the side of her face closest to Alex.

Olivia softly traced her finger along Mia's little cheek. "Come on, angel," she encouraged gently. Soon, the baby obliged and eagerly began suckling, clearly very hungry. After making sure the couple was settled, and helping Alex switch breasts, the nurse gave the family some time alone, instructing them to call should they have any problems.

When they were alone, Olivia asked, "How does it feel?" Alex looked up at her, still carefully supporting the baby's head.

"A little bit strange, but very amazing," she answered honestly before turning to watch their daughter once more. Olivia mustered a smile, touched to watch this intimate moment between her wife and daughter, how perfectly the two seemed to be bonded. In some ways, she wished she could experience breastfeeding as well. For the first time since Mia had been born, she found herself doubting her own abilities to parent and feared she wouldn't be able to provide her daughter with what she needed. Alex and Mia had a natural connection – would she be able to mother too? Was the baby's having her name enough? Before she could wallow too much, however, she was torn from her thoughts by Mia's wailing. Alex tried to comfort her but was without much luck. The blonde anxiously handed her over to her Olivia, who began to rock her back and forth rhythmically, soothing her cries. A few minutes later, Mia was peacefully asleep. And Olivia had realized that everything would be just fine.

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

"Hey mommies, are you decent?"

"Yeah, come on in, El," the detective heard his partner say with a chuckle. Elliot opened the cracked door and entered the room, followed by the other detectives of the 1-6 as well as Cragen. Alex was propped up in bed having something to eat while Olivia sat next to her with Mia. The couple was soon flooded with congratulations and Mia with attention. Reluctantly, Olivia handed her daughter off to her partner to hold.

"Hey Amelia," he cooed, leaving his brusque demeanor behind as he held the small bundle, "Welcome to the family, little girl."

He then handed the baby over to Fin, who held her carefully. "Wow, she's the spitting image of Alex! Down to the blue eyes."

"Those might darken though. We'll have to wait and see. I, for one, wouldn't mind her having brown eyes," Alex said, giving Olivia a tender smile.

"Either way, she's beautiful. You're gonna have to watch out, Liv. Boys are gonna be all over her," Fin teased.

Olivia groaned dramatically and mumbled, "Don't remind me."

Fin chuckled before turning to Munch. "Hey partner, you want to hold her." The older man nodded, awkwardly trying to support the tiny infant in his arms. "Oh, dear..." Fin said with a sigh, "Dude, just hand her to Cragen." The two gave their congratulations once more before heading out for the night, bickering on their way.

"I'm going to head out too for a sec," Elliot informed, "Kathy and the kids are here so I'll direct them this way." Olivia nodded before turning back to the one remaining man, who was cradling her daughter as though she was made of porcelain. She smiled softly before turning to Alex, who nodded with approval.

"Hey Cap, can we talk to you for a sec?"

Cragen turned his gaze upwards, still carefully supporting Mia in his arm. "Of course. What's up?"

Olivia inhaled deeply. "Well, you know how Alex and myself especially are lacking in the whole extended family department. I mean, Alex has aunts and uncles and cousins, but she's lost her parents and my mom is gone... You and the guys, outside of Alex and Mia, you're my family. Especially you... I mean, ever since I can to the 1-6 you looked out for me, beyond work and stuff. You're special to me, to both of us..." She turned to Alex to continue.

"Don, we don't want Amelia growing up without a family outside the two of us. So we were wondering if you... if you would be a sort of... surrogate grandpa," the blonde said with a small smile. Cragen was silent for a moment, simply looking down at the small baby in his arms. He and his wife never were blessed with having children of their own, despite his desires to. The cards just never seemed to fold that way, and it was something he accepted, though never liked. As for Olivia, he had always had a special place for her in his heart, had looked at her as something more than simply his detective...

He looked up at Olivia and Alex, who were staring with anxiously awaiting eyes. Clearing his throat, Cragen responded, "I would be honoured." Giving Mia a kiss of the forehead, he handed the her to Alex before giving both women a tender hug. The group spent a few more moments together in comfortable silence, which was soon broken by the scuffing of children's sneakers against the tile floor. Cragen gave the couple a nod and wished them goodnight before heading out of the room, knowing very well it would soon be too hectic with the entire Stabler clan.

"Is she here? Is she here?" Dicky and Lizzie came bounding into the hospital room, eyes wide, smiles eager.

Olivia couldn't help but laugh before holding up a finger to her lips to silence the duo before they scared Mia. "Yes she is. You've got to be calm though you two. Remember, she's very little." Dicky and Lizzie nodded simultaneously and stealthily walked over to the other side of the bed where Alex was rocking Mia in her arms.

"Aww, she's so cute!" Lizzie began to squeal, leaning over to touch her.

"Hey!" Kathy interrupted roughly. The twins looked up at their mother nervously. "Hands?" Dicky and Lizzie held up their palms. Kathy pointed to the sink in the room. While the kids cleaned themselves up, she walked over and greeted Alex and Olivia with a hug and kiss. Balancing Eli on her hip, she turned her attention to Mia. "Olivia, Alex, she's absolutely precious!" she cooed at the infant, who was at present moment watching she and Eli with wide eyes. Maureen and Kathleen also entered the room, holding several pink balloons and a pot of flowers from the hospital gift shop. Before they could even finish a hello, Dicky and Lizzie returned to the bedside, anxious to play with the new baby. Knowing how rambunctious (and germy) her children could be, Kathy had them settle with playing with Mia's feet. The group stayed for a while before heading home, leaving Olivia, Alex, and Mia to relax.

Alex yawned as she burped Mia over her shoulder, having just finished a bedtime feeding.

"Tired?"

The blonde nodded. "Exhausted. Ah, families," she said with a shake of the head.

Olivia nodded in agreement, happy with her wife's word choice. It had taken her years to realize it, but everyone who had come by that day was her family, thick as thieves. "Me too," she agreed, "And I love them, but this," she said, gesturing to the three of them, "is even better."

Alex smiled, moving aside so Olivia could join her in laying on the bed. "I agree," she returned, as Olivia played with their daughter's fingers as the baby slowly drifted off to sleep.

"Ten perfect fingers, ten perfect toes," Olivia muttered tiredly, snuggling closer against Alex's side.

"I'd love her even if there wasn't."

"Me too."

When she was sure Mia was entirely asleep, Alex carefully got up and placed her in the bassinet next to their bed. Returning to Olivia's embrace, she said, "You'll have to thank Elliot for letting Mia stay here tonight. Pulling strings with the nurses," she said with a smirk.

"Yeah," Olivia agreed, "It was good having him come by. And the kids." She turned her attention to Alex's hands, playing aimlessly with the bands on her left ring finger.

"Absolutely. Though they are a bit high-strung..." Alex began with a chuckle.

"Five kids too much for you?"

"Seems like too much for anyone!" she said with a laugh, "I don't know how Kathy does it."

"Me either," Olivia contended, shaking her head. She paused for a moment. "More kids would be nice though."

Alex sat up sharply, turning to face her. Her eyes were wide with shock. "For me and you?" she asked, almost incredulously.

"Yeah, I mean, in the future you know maybe," Olivia stuttered sheepishly, "You and me, we're only children. I always thought... I mean, I think it would be nice for Mia to have a brother or sister, you know, someone to be there for her when we're not." She cleared her throat nervously. "Haven't you ever thought about having more kids?"

Alex raised an eyebrow. "You're seriously asking me this after I just went through over 24-hours of labor."

Olivia bit her lip before noticing that Alex was only being half-serious. "Good point," she said with a slight chuckle before flicking off the side lamp. This discussion could certainly wait. She kissed Alex goodnight and whispered the same to Mia before wrapping her arm around her wife and closing her eyes. Just as she was about to doze off, she heard Alex mutter something beside her.

"What was that, Alex?"

She felt the attorney inhale softly. "I said, more kids would be nice."

With a wide grin plastered on her face now, Olivia kissed Alex's temple before pulling her into a tighter embrace. A few minutes later, both women were asleep, both with smiles on their faces.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Safe

Olivia drummed her fingers impatiently upon her desk, glancing up every couple of minutes at the clock.

"Liv – earth to Olivia... Liv!"

"Huh, what?" Olivia responded abruptly, blinking out of her daze.

"Did you see anything in the file?"

"The what?"

Elliot narrowed his eyes slightly. "The file on Jenson you were looking through. Did you find anything?" Olivia looked down at the brown folder in front of her. Page 2... where she had been for probably the last half an hour. Elliot smirked at his partner's gaping silence. "I'll take that as a no."

"Sorry El, I've just been distracted." And she had, all day. Although she had been able to take a couple of days off to be at the hospital and then help settle in with Mia, a new case had required Olivia to return to work, leaving only Alex at home to care for the five-day old infant. The attorney was perfectly capable; that was not Olivia's concern at all. In fact, she had never seen Alex as tender and caring as she was towards Mia. It warmed her heart to watch her wife care for their daughter. And that was the problem. Olivia wanted to be home with her two favorite girls, not sitting at her desk with a cup of lukewarm coffee, looking at just another dead-end lead. She was passionate about her job, but in this moment, she just missed Alex and Mia so much more.

Elliot nodded with a soft smile. "I can tell," he said with a small laugh, "Well, Cragen told me to let you know we're closing up for the night. So..." he said, picking the file up off of the desk, "how about I take this home with me and you get back to Alex and Mia..."

Olivia frowned. "No, El, let me take that with me. I don't mind..." she lied through her teeth. Elliot saw right through that.

"Ah, don't worry about it. Let's just say you owe me coffee and a danish tomorrow morning."

"Thanks El," Olivia said gratefully. Grabbing her things, she put on her coat and headed on home.

About twenty minutes later, she unlocked the door of her apartment and stepped inside, heading down the hallway. She couldn't help but chuckle at the sight. The normally impeccable living space was in complete disarray – well, at least by Alex's standards. The sink was full of a few bottles and a dish or two. A pacifier was sitting on the counter next to a toy. Moving to the living room, she found some more toys and a blanket, a onesie, Mia's bouncy seat... Olivia continued onto the nursery, assuming she would find Alex there. And she was right. The blonde was oscillating slowing back and forth on the rocking chair, eyes closed, Mia cradled in her arms fast asleep. Olivia tiptoed into the room over to her side, placing a soft kiss on the crown of her head. Alex's eyes opened tiredly. "Hey," Olivia whispered, "You guys do okay?"

Alex nodded with a sigh. "Hang on a sec," she responded quietly, standing up. Cautiously, she went over and placed Mia in her crib, flicking on the baby monitor and leading Olivia out of the room. Once they reached the living room, Alex spoke once more at normal volume. "She went down about an hour ago... finally." Surveying the surrounding area, she added, "Sorry about the mess. She's been colicky all day. Wouldn't let me put her down at all until now."

"Don't worry about it," Olivia said with a small smile. She looked over her completely exhausted wife. "Have you eaten at all?"

Alex bit her lip and thought for a moment. "Uhh... yeah, I had some toast for lunch."

Olivia placed a kiss on her forehead, catching Alex's weight as she leaned in for a tired embrace. "You go lay down for a bit, okay. I'll fix us some dinner and clean this up." Alex smiled appreciatively and headed down the hall to their bedroom. About an hour later, the apartment was back in order – bottles and toys sanitized, dirty dishes washed, baby stuff put away, laundry in the dryer – and dinner was put down on the table. Olivia sauntered over to the bedroom and peaked inside. Alex was strewn out on the bed, not even under the covers. She hadn't changed – not that it mattered; she was in flannels and a tee anyway – and even her slippers were still on her feet. If she hadn't been so concerned that Alex was hungry, Olivia would have just left her to sleep. She moved over to the side of the bed and combed some of her blond hair aside. "Hey babe, dinner's ready." Alex mumbled something – probably dreamy nonsense – before flipping onto her side to face Olivia, who laughed when she realized Alex was still even wearing her glasses. "Aw, sweetie, let's get you some food so you can go back to sleep." Guiding the tired blonde to the kitchen, the couple was just about to sit down when a whimpering sound pierced through the baby monitor. Alex sighed heavily. "You start eating," Olivia offered, "I've got her."

Pushing open the door to the nursery, Olivia smiled when she saw her daughter, squirming in her crib. She picked up the tiny baby and gave her a kiss. "Hello princess! You gave mommy a run for her money today, didn't you. Yeah, you definitely get your high-maintenance attitude for her..." She lowered her voice to a hush, even though no one else was there. "Don't tell her I told you that." She bounced Mia up and down gently, hoping to soothe her discomfort. "What's wrong, love? Does you diaper need changing?" The detective checked and found that the baby was clean. She sighed. Mia had been diagnosed with colic the day prior and was prone to little fits. The crying itself didn't bother Olivia and Alex as much as the fact that they couldn't seem to calm their daughter down readily. Luckily, the doctor said that it should pass soon and was common with newborns. Olivia took some time just walking around the room, speaking softly to Mia, rubbing her back with small circles, which seemed to give the baby some relief. When the whimpering finally subsided, she said, "You must be hungry. It's time for you to have a feeding, baby girl. Let's go see if mommy's done with her dinner." She carried Mia back to the kitchen, where she found Alex washing her dish in the sink. "Aw, Alex, I would've taken care of that."

Alex shook her head. "You have done enough and need to eat," she ordered, gesturing to the still full plate of food at the table. She held out her arms for Mia.

Handing over their daughter, Olivia explained, "I think she's hungry."

"Yep, it's time for her feeding now," Alex said, looking at a chart she had made up to make sure that Mia was fed at the appropriate times. She settled back down in her chair, guiding Mia to her heavy breast, combing her fingers comfortingly through the tufts of light blond hair on the baby's head. When Mia was settled, she turned her attention back to Olivia. "How was your first day back?"

"Long," the brunette grimaced, looking up from her plate. She smiled softly, "I missed you and Mia."

"We missed you too."

"Yeah, I'm just going to have to get used to leaving her for a while."

"I'm dreading the day..." Alex had a month before she returned from maternity leave. She knew she had to return to work – it wasn't something she could give up to stay home all day, nor would it be financially smart – but actually doing so seemed much harder now that Mia was there with them. Taking her to daycare, even if it was on the same street as her office, would definitely be a struggle. "Anyway, how's my replacement doing."

Again, Olivia scowled. Nichols hadn't lasted so the temporary ADA assigned to SVU was Kim Greylek, a prosecutor from Washington D.C. who had worked for the Office of Violence Against Women. With that background, Olivia would have thought she would have welcomed her, but the detective (and her colleagues) already couldn't stand "the Crusader." "Pompous... and not in a lovable way," she teased, earning a glare.

"Just because I'm not all hormonal anymore doesn't mean that's a good idea," Alex responded, burping Mia over her shoulder.

"Noted," Olivia smirked, washing her dish in the sink.

"Alright, I think it's time for this little one to get to bed. Want to join?"

"Of course." Olivia wrapped her arm around Alex's waist and they headed back to the nursery.

Alex placed a tender kiss on Mia's forehead and placed the dozing infant into the bassinet in their bedroom. "Goodnight, Amelia. I love you."

"Mama loves you too, angel," Olivia added, stroking her cheek. When they got out of the room, Alex yawned heavily. "Come on, Alex, let's get you to bed."

"I think I'm going to shower first. I feel disgusting," she said, sticking out her tongue slightly.

Olivia nodded. "Okay, let me join you," she said nonchalantly. Alex quirked an eyebrow. "Aw, no, baby not like that. I mean that I have to take a shower too anyway. Plus, you look so tired that I want to make sure you don't fall asleep standing up," Olivia said with a laugh.

"Got you. Okay, shall we then?" Alex asked, taking Olivia's hand and leading her towards the master bathroom, keeping the door open so they could still hear the baby. The two stripped out of their respective garments and stepped into the inviting warmth of a steamy shower. Once inside, the two spent a couple of moments just relaxing in the streams of hot water, Olivia rubbing Alex's shoulders gently. She eventually added some soap to the mix, rubbing sudsy palms all over her wife's creamy skin, running her fingers gently over her swollen curves. She paused on the small bump that still remained, awestruck that just days age her daughter was still inside. It seemed so foreign now...

Alex turned to face Olivia, pressing a long kiss to her parted lips before squirting some shampoo into her own palms. She moved slender fingers through Olivia's chestnut hair, massaging her scalp. The brunette couldn't help but let out a small moan when she felt Alex's breast brush up against her, earning a smirk from the attorney. Olivia returned the favor, running her own hands through the lengths of Alex's golden tresses, enjoying the overwhelming scent of Alex's shampoo. When finished, she simply dragged her hands gently down her lithe sides, resting them on her hips, simply holding Alex as they enjoyed a few more moments of peaceful tranquility. The shower – washing one another – had not been a sexual thing, not salacious. Rather it was sensual and tender, leaving both individuals feeling amply loved.

Feeling her counterpart becoming more and more slack, clearly exhausted, Olivia turned off the faucet and helped Alex out of the shower. After getting their robes, she grabbed a towel from the cabinet and used it to take some of the wetness out of her wife's hair; she knew Alex would be too tired to blow dry it but didn't want her getting sick. Once Alex was settled in bed, she went back to the bathroom to get the baby monitor they had forgotten. On her way back to the master suite, she stopped by the nursery, smiling at the sleeping form of her daughter. She went over and place another soft kiss on her forehead before heading back down the hall.

She found that Alex was already motionless, lolled on her side. Curling up besides her, she heard Alex mumble sleepily: I love you. She pressed a kiss to the attorney's jawline and returned the sentiment. Then, knowing that the two most important people in her life were safe, sound, and tucked into bed, Olivia finally drifted off to sleep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*A/O*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The sound of wails and whimpers jostled Olivia awake for the fifth time that evening, and she inhaled deeply, forcing her eyes to open. She allowed her gaze to be assaulted by the bright green fluorescence of the alarm clock: 4:37 am.

Before she could even sit up, she felt Alex slide out of the bed. "Stay, Liv. You go back to sleep, baby." The blonde walked over to the bassinet and picked up the crying baby, bouncing her up and down slightly. "Shh, it's okay, Mia. Mommy's here." Yet, like many earlier efforts in the night, these too were futile. Both women had hardly gotten more than an hour and a half of consistent sleep, their daughter miserable from colic pains.

Olivia squinted her eyes tightly at the noise and sighed, leaning over and flicking on the bedside lamp. "Here, Lex, I'm up anyway. At least come back to bed."

Alex shuffled back over, climbing up carefully as she continued to try to soothe the baby. Clearly sleep deprived, the blonde began to tear up. "Nothing's working."

Olivia grabbed one of Alex's hand in her own and gave it a comforting squeeze, rubbing the baby's belly with her other hand for a few moments. "Do you think that she's hungry again?"

"I just fed her a little while ago, so I don't think so," Alex said, drying some of Mia's tears with her thumb. "I just feel terrible that I can't stop this."

"I know, I do too." Olivia ran her fingers through her hair in frustrated fatigue as another piercing cry echoed across the room.

"I have an idea. Here, can you hold her for a minute," Alex said, shifting the squirming baby into Olivia's arms. Leaving the room, she returned a moment later with Mia's small bathing tub, which she brought into the bathroom. "I forgot but I read earlier that a warm bath may help. I'm getting desperate," Alex said with a chuckle.

"I mean, what better time than 5 am for a first bath?" Olivia said with a small smile, carrying Mia over to the bathroom. While Alex prepared the tub, she took off Mia's onesie and diaper and grabbed some towels from the closet. "Ready, baby girl?" she asked with a tired smile before turning to Alex. "Here goes nothing..." she said as she lowered the sniffling baby into the water. Mia's eyes widened in confusion, but her crying turned into a whimper and after a minute or so had ceased entirely. The blue orbs followed Alex's hand with intense curious as the blonde trickled some water onto the baby's belly. Olivia laughed. "She seems to like it!"

"That she does" Alex responded gleefully, rubbing some water through the small tuft of Mia's hair. Still, the newborn remained quiet. "Clearly I birthed a fish." The two continued to give Mia her first bath for several more minutes before drying her thoroughly and dressing her in a fresh diaper and onesie. Alex carried the baby back to bed, lifting her nightshirt off and positioning Mia at her swollen breast. Olivia smiled softly as she settled in next to her wife. "Liv, you can go to sleep if you'd like," the blonde said with a yawn. "She'll be done soon and you have to get up for work in like an hour."

"I can stay up a bit," Olivia said, watching her wife and daughter intently. After a minute or so of silence, she asked quietly, "So what does it feel like?"

"This?" Alex said looking down at their feeding daughter. Olivia nodded. She paused for a moment, thinking. "Remember when we went to my aunt and uncle's home upstate and swam in the lake? And those little guppy fish kept nipping at our toes." Olivia nodded again. "Kind of like that," Alex said with a small smile. The two were quiet for a moment before Alex continued. "My favorite thing, though, is that when she's laying this close, you can feel her heartbeat. Here," Alex said, moving to pull Olivia's tank top up. She gently removed Mia from her breast and settled her against the detective's chest. The baby instinctually nuzzled closer into her bosom, and Olivia placed a hand on her small back, holding her safely close. She blinked to ward off the tears building up as she realized what Alex was doing, letting her experience this intimate moment as closely as was possible. Alex covered Olivia's hand with her own. "Feel it? It's just crazy to me that we made that. That she's really here."

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

"Are you sure you're comfortable with this?" Alex asked Maureen once more. Olivia sighed, gently grabbing the wrist in yet another attempt to lead her out the front door. She shot the eldest Stabler child an apologetic look. This was the first time that the couple would be leaving Mia with a babysitter. Alex had returned to work a couple of weeks ago, so they had already tackled the mountain that was leaving her a daycare (even though Alex and Olivia alike stopped in to check on her at least once a day). But for Alex, the idea of having an untrained person care for their two month old was proving difficult. Olivia had tried to convince her that she had all of the faith in the world in Maureen. After all, she was twenty years old, had four younger siblings of her own that she watched, and was a trained EMT. Kathy was also a phone call away, as was Elliot. Plus, they were going out to eat within walking distance – a quick dinner to celebrate Alex's birthday.

Yet, the blonde remained in place, clearly hesitant. "Alex…" Olivia drawled, giving her wife a tug.

"It's okay, Aunt Liv," Maureen said with a smile, turning back to the nervous blonde. "Don't worry, Alex. I babysat Eli for my mom when he was this little. Mia and I will be just fine. If you'd like, I could give you both a call here and there to check in…"

Just as Alex was about to agree, Olivia responded, "That's okay, Maureen. We won't be gone long to begin with."

Alex bit her lip. "Okay," she said cautiously, giving Mia another look. "Well, you have our cell phone numbers just in case. I also put them on the fridge along with the restaurant number. The neighbors are home too – on the right side not the left. Umm, I showed you where all of her things we. Oh, remember, I put a bottle in the fridge – well, two in case one doesn't work or spills. You just have to heat it up. Not too hot though! I fed her already but just in case she's hungry. You know, her cry gets different when she's hungry. I wish you could have heard it earlier…"

"Alex," Olivia interrupted sharply, rolling her eyes at her wife's exactness. What a Virgo. She then softened her tone, "Mo's got this. You showed her everything she needs."

Alex sighed, "Okay."

With a smile, Olivia pecked her on the lips. "Good. Now let's get going or we're going to be late for our reservations." She placed a kiss on Mia's forehead. "Bye princess. Be good. See you in a couple of hours, Mo!" Alex gave Mia another kiss as well before she was hurried out the door by Olivia.

They walked to the French restaurant – one of Alex's favorite – hand in hand. Still early autumn, the weather was surprisingly warm and the crisp air was still tolerable even to Alex, who was wearing a cerise-colored dress that fell just above her knew. Olivia, on the other hand, had decided on a violet blouse and trousers, her leather jacket draped over her arm in case it got cold. Although several blocks away, Alex had spent the majority of the walk ensconced in nervous speculation. "What if she doesn't know…"

Olivia sighed heavily in frustration, stopping their tracks for a moment. The detective couldn't be mad, knowing that the blonde anxiety was merely protectiveness. She turned to face her wife. "Baby, please," she said with a tried patience. "I promise you that everything is going to be fine. Now, I really just want to enjoy this night with you, okay?"

Alex nodded. "I'm sorry," she replied as the two resumed walking.

"It's okay. Your neuroticism is kind of endearing. You do realize you practically gave Maureen a minute-by-minute schedule for Mia." Olivia smiled when she heard Alex laugh.

"Okay, maybe that was a bit much."

The two engaged in much less worrisome talk for the remainder of their walk to Chez Jacqueline, but just as they were being seated, Olivia examined Alex's face and chuckled. "Go call," she relinquished, "But just once." Alex smiled and gave Olivia a peck before heading to the restroom, cell phone in hand.

~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~

"Remember the look on Cragen's face when he found out about us," Olivia sputtered out, already in a fit of laughter from hers and Alex's conversation.

"Oh god, that was so embarrassing," Alex chuckled, taking another sip of her sparkling water. A blush rose up her neck as she remembered the incident.

It had been early in their relationship – no more than a month or so in. Olivia had been stuck at the precinct late, catching up on paperwork that was due the next day. She had texted Alex to inform her that she would be spending the night in the crib, much to the blonde's disappointment. Just as she was about to lay down, she heard a knock on the door and quirked an eyebrow, surprised as she had figured everyone else had already left. Standing up, she walk over to the doorway and was even more shocked when an eager pair of lips captured her own.

Breaking the kiss, Alex took a second to let her girlfriend breath before statin seductively, "I didn't want to sleep alone tonight." She pressed Olivia up against the doorframe, turning her attention to Olivia's neck with kisses and small bites.

Olivia stifled a groan. "Alex – We can't – the precinct."

"Shh," Alex said, looking up and placing her index finger against Olivia's lips to silence her. "It's past one. No one else is even here anymore." Olivia paused for a moment, considering things. Alex smiled as she watched her lover's brown eyes trace her body up and down, halting at her cleavage, courtesy of a strategically snug v-neck sweater. Clearly enamored, Olivia grinned and met Alex's eyes before taking the younger woman's finger into her mouth, releasing it with a small pop. Alex caught her mouth in another rough kiss, clumsily leading Olivia back over to the cot. Clothes were shed quickly, and the two spent little time loosing their inhibitions, their bodies pressed tightly against one another, moaning loudly, as they engaged in a round of passionate love-making, oblivious to anyone but each other.

Olivia had lost track of time as she reclined towards the end of the cot, propped up on her elbows as Alex teased her clit with the tip of her tongue. Hearing someone clear their throat, Olivia had the misfortune of opening her eyes to make eye contact not with her lover, but with her boss. "Shit!" she said, quickly grabbing the blanket and covering herself. Alex, startled by the commotion, looked up from her position between Olivia's legs and grew redder than a lobster when she saw Cragen's horror-stricken face.

Although the encounter had last no more than a few grueling seconds, the entire trio was mortified. Cragen coughed awkwardly, his eyes fixed to the ground. "Goodnight ladies," he managed, closing the door and heading out of the precinct, leaving two furiously blushing women in his wake. The next morning, he had called Olivia into his office first thing.

"He told me what I was doing could be dangerous, especially if we broke up." Olivia smiled at Alex, squeezing her hand across the table. "I told him he didn't have to worry about that."

"Awfully presumptuous, detective," Alex toyed with a smirk.

"Well I was right, wasn't I?"

Alex laughed. "What do you say we do a little reenactment of that evening?" Alex mused. "Minus Cragen. And the crib."

Olivia quirked her eyebrow. "Check, please."

~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~

Returning to their apartment, the couple paid Maureen and Olivia walked her out to the parking garage to make sure that she got in to her car okay. While waiting for her wife, Alex slipped off her heels and headed towards the nursery to check on Mia, who was sound asleep. She watched the sleeping baby fondly for several minutes before she felt a pair of hands slip around her waist. Alex smiled when Olivia rested her head on her shoulder, swaying them back and forth. "She looks peaceful," Olivia whispered.

"Sound asleep," Alex said, before leading the brunette out of the room. Entering their own bedroom, Olivia kicked off her shoes while Alex removed her jewelry. "Baby, can you help me unzip this please?" Olivia nodded, crossing the room and tugging at the silver fastening. As she guided the garment off of Alex, she almost choked on her tongue at the site underneath. Smirking at her wife's reaction, Alex stepped out of the dress and did a little twirl. "You like?" she asked saucily.

Alex was standing there in an extremely sexy lingerie– a deep red that contrasted with her pale skin, the two-piece set was very sheer, leaving little to the imagination, and was complete with garters. Olivia gulped and nodded, unable to form a proper sentence. The blonde smirked and sauntered over to her mute partner, beginning to unbutton the brunette's blouse. "It's been so long. I figured I'd make it a bit special."

"It's always special," Olivia said, managing to find her voice even as Alex slipped her blouse off her shoulders.

"I love you, Olivia."

"I love you too, Al."

Quickly stripping of the remainder of her clothing, Olivia reached to remove Alex's bra but was stopped.

"Nuh uh," Alex said playfully.

Olivia furrowed her brow. "Why not? Baby, you don't have anything to be embarrassed about if that's it…"

Alex softened at her partner's sweetness. "I know, love. And as much as I could do without this stomach," Alex said, giving a self-deprecating chuckle as she gestured to the baby weight she was still efforting to lose, "You make me feel beautiful. But," she started, leading the older woman to the bed, "I want this night to be for you, Liv. You've been incredible throughout the pregnancy and with Mia. You take such good care of us. And now I want to take care of you."

Olivia was about to contest with the comment that it was the blonde's birthday, but was loath to do so as soon as Alex nipped her earlobe, feeling herself become soaked at that simple action. Never would she have guessed that eight weeks without sex would feel like such a long time.

Still, Alex seemed intent on taking things slow. After lowering Olivia back against the pillows, she meticulously explored every inch of Olivia's body, placing small kisses all over her body. It was driving the detective crazy. After what seemed like an eternity of teasing, Alex smiled and settled between Olivia's legs. Pressing a kiss against the brunette's knee, she then traced her tongue down her leg until she reached her destination. Olivia moaned heavily, falling back against the pillows and bracing herself. Much to her surprise, however, Alex's motions had stopped. She opened her eyes and looked down at the blonde, who was eyeing her with anticipation. "I want you to watch me."

Olivia bit her lip. She knew she wasn't going to last long to begin with, but the sight of Alex fucking her was sure to expedite things even more. That said, once Alex started, she couldn't look away. Alex maintained fixed eye contact with her as she slowly drew her tongue up over Olivia's pussy in one broad stroke. That one touch and Olivia was putty in her hands. Alex circled her tongue around Olivia's clit and after a couple of minutes, she slipped two fingers inside, curling them slowly to press against her wife's g-spot. Olivia didn't know if it was the anticipation or the sight or the lingerie or the fullness, but within moments she found herself pulsing around Alex's fingers and falling back against the pillows completely satiated.

~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~~AO~

Alex rested her head against Olivia's shoulder, lazing tracing her fingers over the detective's now bare chest, tired but certainly content from the end of their date. It had been a pretty damn good birthday. She felt Olivia kiss the top of her head, tracing her jaw and neck with a gentle caress. She continued down the blonde's collarbone, pausing when she reached Alex's right shoulder. The detective then moved, sliding down until she was eye-level with the scar that remained etched on Alex's skin, a reminder she had only dared to look at only once or twice before.

"It's been years, Liv," Alex whispered after a few moments.

"It'll always seem like yesterday to me." Placing the most tender, heartfelt kiss on the mark, she pulled Alex into a close embrace, holding on to the one thing that made her feel safe as they drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

A/N: What did you guys think? I'll definitely update again this weekend!

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

"Come on, Mia. MOM-MY," Olivia enunciated slowly at the giggling eight-month-old.

"No, Mia. Say 'MA-MA.'" Alex said, giving her wife a competitive glare. Mia smiled a toothless grin and moved her mouth only to blow a raspberry in her expectant mothers' faces.

Olivia chuckled. "Remember, I'm the one who fed you this morning, sweetheart. Say 'MOM-MY.'"

"Hey, I gave you a bath last night," the blonde countered, 'MA-MA.'"

Mia looked back and forth between the two with wide brown orbs – her eyes had darkened considerably from the baby blues she had at birth. "Meh!" she gurgled excitedly.

Alex and Olivia looked at one another questioningly, and their daughter repeated her new phrase. Alex furrowed her brow. "That could be either of us…"

"Nah," Olivia said with a mischievous smile. "That definitely means "Mommy."

"We'll see about that," Alex said with a scowl. She turned back to the baby and asked sweetly, "Who's 'Meh," Mia? Mama [she pointed to herself] or Mommy [she waved a flippant hand towards Olivia]."

While the blonde and brunette waited impatiently for a response, Mia giggled, slapping her chubby palms against the tray of her high chair. Finally, she squealed again, reaching out for Olivia, "Meh! Meh! Meh!"

"Ha!" Olivia exclaimed victoriously, sticking out her tongue at Alex before lifting the child out of her seat and doing a little dance. "She meant me. I'm her first word!" Mia laughed as the detective bounced her up and down, and Olivia placed a kiss on the crown of her head. "Good girl! You said "Mommy."

Although Alex secretly couldn't help but love the huge grin that was spread across her wife's face, she forced a frown. "Yeah, well, the book says that it's all babbling up until 9 months anyway. She's not associating the sounds with actual things yet."

Olivia rolled her eyes. "You," she said, giving Alex a peck on the lips, "are just a sore loser. Ten minutes ago, you were the one saying that Mia might be 'linguistically advanced' for her age."

Alex crossed her arms across her chest. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, 'Meh," it smells like someone needs a diaper change before we leave. She did ask for you, didn't she?" the attorney said with a smirk before heading to the bathroom to finish her make up.

~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~

"Benson! Stabler!"

Olivia looked up attentively from her desk, the tone of Cragen's voice clearly urgent. "Yes, Cap?"

"A two-year-old was just abducted from the Central Park Zoo. Patrol's been sent out. I need you two at the scene, now!"

Olivia felt her stomach drop. Cases involving children had always been the most difficult for her to handle, but ever since Mia was born, they had become much more distressing. She still couldn't conceptualize the horror of having her child go missing, but having experienced the bond between parent and child, it was something she was more able to imagine. She now understood how Elliot lost complete and utter control when it came to any case involving children. Grabbing her shield and gun, she rushed after Elliot and sped off to Central Park. With sirens at full blast, the detectives arrived minutes later. There was no doubting where to go – a cluster of police officers was crowded around the crime scene, hounds sniffing tracks around the north end of the park, searching for a trace of the toddler. Elliot and Olivia were immediately shepherded by the head officer on the scene towards a distressed young woman sitting on a park bench with two men in blue. She was sobbing hysterically, a pacifier limply dangling from her left hand.

"Mrs. Oliver," Elliot began slowly, "I'm Detective Stabler and this is my partner, Detective Benson from the Special Victims Unit. Can you run us through what happened?"

The woman struggled to speak between sobs. "Pl- please. You- you have to find my son."

"We're going to do everything we can," Elliot said reassuringly, "I know this is hard, but it will help if you are able to tell us exactly what happened."

The woman hiccupped, blinking her hazel eyes several times to clear them of tears. "I took- I took Kevin to the park over there," she said, pointing to a small recreational area near the tortoise exhibit. We come here a lot… almost every afternoon. It's always been safe. He was playing in the sand. I- I never take my eyes off of him! But today, a little girl tripped right in front of me and was screaming. I leaned over to help her until her nanny came by and – and – when I looked up he was –" She broke down into tears once more. One second. That's all it took.

Olivia tried to keep a professional demeanor while inside, her head was spinning. "Mrs. Oliver, have you noticed anything out of the ordinary lately? Anyone paying un-due attention to your son?"

The woman looked at her worriedly, clearly wracking her memory. "Not- not that I noticed."

"Is your son enrolled in daycare?" Elliot asked.

"No, no I don't work."

"Your husband?"

"I'm not married. Kevin's father has never been involved. He was a fling a couple of summers ago… took off right before I found out I was pregnant. He doesn't even know Kevin exists."

A young officer walked over to the group. "Detectives," he said, gesturing for their private attention.

"Excuse us, Mrs. Oliver," Elliot said apologetically as the two stepped off to the side to the younger man.

"Officer Paul," he said, introducing himself before lowering his voice. "I just interviewed a nanny who comes here frequently. Says she's seen Kevin and Mrs. Oliver here many times before. Also says that for the past few weeks, she's seen a man hanging around. In his thirty-somethings. White, tall, clean-cut. Said he wouldn't have looked suspicious but it seemed like he never had a kid with him."

"Did you get her to a sketch artist?"

"Yeah, she's working with her now."

"Have that drawing sent to us immediately," Olivia ordered. She looked back at the young mother, who was falling apart as she hugged the pacifier to her chest. "And go stay with Mrs. Oliver. See if she has any family or friends in the area."

As the detectives walked back towards the taped-off playground, they were met by Cragen, who had a dismal look on his face. "The dogs picked up a scent and followed it to the dumpster. The kid's clothes were inside. No sign of the boy though. There are 16 sex offenders living in the area, just outside the limits of their parole. Seven of them have been charged with crimes against children. Munch and Fin are out tracking them down. I want you two on that as well."

Two unsuccessful encounters later, Elliot and Olivia sped off to the next location on their list. As Elliot rounded the corner of the block, Olivia felt her phone vibrate against her hip. She glanced at the caller I.D.: Alex.

"Hey," she said quickly into the receiver.

"Hey, just seeing where you were. The daycare called-"

"What's wrong? Where's Mia? Is she okay?" Olivia interrupted, eyes widening in fear.

"Whoa, slow down babe. Mia got sick and is running a fever. I'm on my way to pick her up now, but I have court at 6, so I was wondering if there was any way you could get off early. Liv, is everything okay?" she asked, noting the detective's anxious response.

Olivia let out a sigh. "Alex, a kid's missing." She could here the blonde inhale sharply at the end of the other line.

"I'll get someone to cover for me."

"I'm sor- "

"Stop. I love you."

"I love you too. Give Mia a kiss for me." With that, she returned her phone to her waistband and followed Elliot outside to search the streets of NYC.

~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~

Alex traced her daughter's cheek with her thumb before leaning over and pressing her lips to Mia's forehead. She frowned as she felt the heat radiating off of it and grabbed the thermometer, guiding it into the baby's ear. 101. She had been home with Mia for a couple of hours now and her fever had yet to let up. The pediatrician had instructed her to wait it out – apparently a bad bug had been going around and should let up in about twenty-four hours. Alex didn't have to bring Mia back unless the fever spiked above 103 or she showed signs of dehydration. Still, Alex couldn't help but worry.

Mia refused to be put down and whimpered as Alex shifted her in her arms. "Shhh, darling. It's okay." When Mia was settled and dozed off, she carefully grabbed the television remote and flipped on the tv. While her boss had called her to brief her on the case an hour or so after Olivia's call, she wanted to stay as updated as possible. Stories about the missing Kevin Oliver were streaming constantly on every local news station, an entire city in desperate search of the missing child.

Alex couldn't bring herself to fully imagine the desperation of Isabella Oliver. The panic. The sickening feeling of looking up to see that your child was completely gone. She kept looking at her cell phone, as though it would will Olivia to call her with some sort of good news about the case – a lead, a suspect, that the boy had been found. The only thing she could fathom being thankful about at the present moment was the fact that, other that her abstract fears, the young mother was ignorant of what could be happening to her child. Having seen the heinous acts performed against children, the chilling brutality of abuse, Alex knew she would've completely shut down if she were placed in the same situation.

Cringing at the thought, she flipped the channel of the television, tossing the remote across the couch in frustration. She held Mia closer to her chest, holding the child protectively as she continued to sleep.

~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~

"Where is he?" Olivia asked, slamming her hands against the metal table. Harry Bell looked up at her with a sickeningly entertained smile.

"Which piece?" he responded with a grin.

Olivia willed her churning stomach to calm itself as she dared a look at the deranged man. The nanny had been right. Under any other circumstances, he would look completely unassuming. Like the average business man that you saw on Wall Street. But that mask quickly dissolved when you looked at his record. While sealed when he was a minor, it detailed the classic signs of sociopathy. Animal abuse, arson. The detective scoffed at Bell's amusement at the current situation – clearly the treatment program he had been enrolled in for juvenile deliquents at the age of 15 didn't work. Some people were truly evil.

She and Elliot had been questioning him for over two hours, long since the night's darkness had enveloped the city. While the rest of the department and many of the city's other precincts were out on a desperate search for the still missing two-year-old, the two were trying to glean any useful detail possible out of the creep they had arrested that afternoon after a store clerk had called them, having recognized Bell from the circulating "wanted" flyer. Thus far, they had been largely unsuccessful. They had gotten a basic confession – that he had done it. While normally the two would have been relieved to get such a sadist off of the streets, right now their primary concern was still finding the boy. Hopefully alive.

Olivia hoped that he was playing them about the child's current state, as during the interrogation, Bell had described numerous forms of torture that he had performed. She wanted him to crack, but knew this was not likely. The confession had been simple for him. He didn't seem phased. But stopping his twisted game wasn't – it was almost as though he knew how much more tortuous it was to have the key to the puzzle but not to know where the lock was. Right now, Olivia was banking on a slip up.

Which is where Elliot came in now. She had played the roll of bad cop. It was now time for her to leave and for him to work some of his magic – to appeal to all of Bell's darkest sides. Olivia only hoped that the man, who was clearly intelligent, didn't see through their ruse. Slamming the door of the cage, she exited and went to grab a cup of coffee. It was late. 1:13 am. And she had been running on overdrive.

She picked up her phone. No new messages. She had texted Alex when they were on their way to arrest Bell, and the blonde had responded that she was getting Mia into bed. Judging by the fact that the blonde was caring for the sick infant by herself, Olivia assumed that she had gone to bed not too long after. Sighing, she ran her fingers through her hair and tossed the iPhone back on to her desk before heading over to the bulletin board with facts about the case.

She didn't know how long she had been staring at the board, trying to triangulate the different locations involved in the kidnapping when a strong hand on her shoulder interrupted her from her thoughts. She turned to see Elliot, a frantic look on his face.

"Harlem."

~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~

The patrol car sped down Gansevoort street, sirens wailing. Elliot and Olivia practically jumped out of the vehicle when they reached their destination: a small alley near a fish market. Flashlights poised, they began their search – canine unit not far behind.

The street was covered in blood and scales, several trash bags torn open by the bodega cats. It was hard to discern what was what, and Olivia prayed that the parts belonged only to fish. She kneeled down near a pile of unopened trash bags and began tearing them open, searching through the contents. "Come on, come on," she growled to herself as she threw trash aside. A few minutes later, she heard barking.

"Detectives!"

She and Elliot rushed over to where the officer was calling them, a frantic German shepherd continuing her alert. Diving to the ground, Elliot held a flashlight as Olivia pushed around a pile of garbage. Her heart stopped when she saw a limp hand. "Elliot!" She quickly moved on more bag aside, revealing Kevin Oliver. His was naked, large gashes evident all over his body, pale from the clear blood loss. Olivia pressed two fingers against his neck and prayed for a pulse. She felt a faint beating. "He's alive. We need a bus here!" she yelled. Carefully scooping the child into her arms, she heard a tiny whimper before he lost consciousness again. "It's going to be okay, sweetheart," she soothed, pulling off her scarf and wrapping it around his cold body. "You've got to hang in there."

Both detectives rode in the bus on the way to the hospital, where they met Mrs. Oliver, who stood sobbing in the emergency room.

"Kevin!" she screamed, rushing towards the small child as he was transferred to a gurney, doctors and nurses rushing around him.

"We need O- stat!" one yelled out.

Olivia ran her hands through her hair as she and Elliot watched anxiously from the side as the doctors hooked the boy up to monitors and assessed his injuries.

"He's hypothermic!"

"Get heating blankets!"

"Signs of internal bleeding."

"We need to get him into the OR."

As they were about to move him, however, the monitors started beeping frantically.

"He's crashing!"

"I need paddles!"

"Ma'am we need you to move!"

"No! No no no!" Mrs. Oliver cried. Elliot yanked her backwards and held her tightly.

"1-2-3 clear!"

"Nothing."

"Force 10 ccs epinephrine."

"Clear!"

Flatline.

Olivia hardly heard them call time of death, her mind spinning as she watched Isabella Oliver collapse to the ground in tears.

~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~~*~Page Break ~*~

Alex shot awake at the sound of the door. While she was normally not a light sleeper, she hadn't been able to rest given the circumstances. Quickly, she pulled off her blankets and walked down the hall to the living room where she found Olivia staring blankly.

Alex gasped softly. The detective was in a set of hospital scrubs, but there was still smears of blood across her forehead and cheeks and ground into the skin of her hands. "Liv…"

Olivia looked at her wife, her eyes wide and jumpy. "He- he's dead," she said simply before dissolving into sobs.

Alex's own face became crest-fallen as she walked over to the detective and wrapped her arms around her. "I've got you, I've got you," she whispered against her hair soothingly. A few moments later, Olivia pulled away suddenly, as though she was snapped back into reality.

"I need to check on Mia," she said almost robotically, moving to walk down the hall.

"Liv, you need to-"

The brunette turned and faced her wife, eyes bloodshot and cheeks lined with salty tears. "Please, Alex," she practically begged.

"Come on," Alex said, placing a hand on the small of the brunette's back and guiding her into the nursery where their daughter was asleep. Olivia looked over the edge of the crib, careful not to touch anything knowing she was filthy.

"Is she okay?"

"Yeah," Alex said, rubbing her hand comfortingly up and down Olivia's back. "Her fever broke a couple of hours ago and she's been sound asleep ever since. She's still a little bit congested." Olivia nodded as she watched over their sleeping daughter. "Come on, Olivia. Let's get you cleaned up.

Too exhausted to put up a fight, Olivia allowed herself to be guided to the master bathroom. Knowing that she should get the detective to bed quickly, Alex started the shower to allow the water to warm before turning her attention back to her wife, who was standing there blankly. She grabbed the hem of the scrub top and gently pulled it over Olivia's head. Her brow furrowed with worry when she took note of Olivia's heavily bruised hand, product of her punching a wall at the hospital after Kevin's death. "What happened?" she asked, picking up the appendage gently.

Olivia winced. "It's fine," she whispered, tugging it away. Alex sighed but decided not to prod, having the sense that the injury was likely self-inflicted. She stripped Olivia of the rest of her clothing before removing her own and guiding the two into the shower.

Normally the warm wash would feel heavenly after a long day at work, but today Olivia just felt numb to the pellets of water slapping against her skin. Alex worked quickly, grabbing a bar of soap and lathering up her hands. She ran them gently over Olivia's skin, scrubbing the patches of blood and dirt and surreptitiously assessing her wife's body for any more injuries. Not that she had to be sneaky – Olivia was staring blankly ahead, clearly lost in thought.

With her sufficiently washed for the moment, Alex turned off the water and wrapped Olivia in a towel before drying herself. Not bothering to search for fresh pajamas or dry their hair, she took the exhausted detective to their bed and settled her back against the pillows, covering her in blankets so she wouldn't get sick. Slipping in bedside her, she waited patiently in the darkness, knowing the worst thing she could do right now would be to force Olivia to speak. She was about to doze off when the detective finally spoke. "We couldn't save him," she murmured, clearly trying to hold back sobs.

Alex pulled her into her arms and held her as sobs wracked her body. "I know," she said simply, running her fingers through the wet stands of her wife's hair. She didn't bother to say it was okay, because it wasn't. She didn't try to tell Olivia it wasn't her fault, even though that was true. She just continued to hold her until the exhausted detective succumbed to sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

With Mia balanced on one of her hips, Olivia used her free hand to jiggle open the front door of the apartment, grabbing the tote of groceries off of the ground as she entered. "Hey Al," she called out, "I'm back." No response, but the detective could make out a soft thumping sound echoing from somewhere upstairs. Furrowing her brow, she turned to Mia and gave her a curious look. "What on earth is Mama doing, ladybug?" Ascending the wooden stairs, she placed Mia in her crib before crossing the hall to the closed door of Alex's study. As she approached, she could now hear the whirring of the vacuum over – what in the world was it – bass? Olivia shrugged and opened the door only to practically fall over in laughter at the sight. Alex was, in fact, vacuuming the room; however, the blonde was also bopping around to the song "All I Do Is Win" by DJ Khaled, which was blaring from her iPhone speakers. With the music playing loudly, she hadn't yet noticed her wife had entered the room and froze wide-eyed when she turned and was met with the brunette's amused grin. Turning off the vacuum and practically diving to her desk, she paused the music.

"Counselor," Olivia greeted her with a chuckle.

"Uh, hey Liv," Alex said sheepishly. "Did you get the stuff for tomorrow?"

"Mhmm," she responded, smirking. She walked over to the desk and grabbed Alex's iPhone, holding it up. "So, uh, what are you listening to?"

Alex's blue eyes widened in embarrassment, and she reached to grab the phone out of Olivia's hands before she could look at the screen. "Hey, gimme!" she whined, as Olivia tried to hold the object out of her reach. Using her couple of inches of advantage, she reached over the detective's head at her outstretched arms. "You're seeming to forget that I'm taller than you," she said in her most intimidating voice. Olivia laughed and relented, handing the blonde her phone. That didn't mean, however, that she would relent in her teasing.

"Didn't take you for a hip hop fan. Did they play that one at your debutante?" In all of the years that she had known Alex, she had never heard her wife listen to anything from the genre and had consequently concluded that her musical tastes didn't expand beyond the classical and jazz tunes that she so often played.

Alex gave her a cross look. "It was on the radio…" she tried to pass off.

"Oh yeah, sure sure," Olivia chuckled, "What's up next? Flo Rida?"

"Livvvv," Alex whined.

"No, no I think it's great," Olivia continued mischievously. "I mean, what are the lyrics? 'All I do is win win win no matter what.' Do you play that after court?" She broke out in laughter, Alex glaring at her with her hands on her hips. "Aww come on now, Al," she cajoled, placing her hands on her wife's hips and trying to stifle her chortles, "I think that it's cute."

"I am not cute," Alex said stiffly. "I am tough."

That was the last straw, and Olivia lost it, laughter bringing her to tears. "Oh yeah, that's right," she managed to sputter out, "My tough guy."

Alex rolled her eyes. "Laugh all you want, detective. In fact, you can laugh yourself right to the couch tonight."

~*~Page Break~*~~*~Page Break~*~~*~Page Break~*~~*~Page Break~*~~*~Page Break~*~

"Diaper bag and cooler?"

"Check"

"Towels?"

"Check"

"Sunscreen?"

"Check"

"The right type?"

Olivia reached into the bag and pulled out the bottle, grade 100+. "Yep, SPF Vampire," she said with a smirk.

Alex rolled her eyes. "I don't want to burn. Plus, Mia has my skin tone. We can't just go sunbathing like you olive-skinned folks can."

Olivia stepped over and placed a kiss on the bit of pale collarbone peaking out from Alex's cover-up. "I don't want you to burn either. Or this little one," she added, placing a kiss on top of Mia's head. "But, let's hope for the sake of our summer budget, out next kid isn't like Casper… or I'm buying stock in Coppertone."

Alex's grimace softened. She liked how Olivia kept throwing out small references to their new child. Nothing was official yet, of course, but they had decided earlier last month to start trying for another baby, attempting insemination with the same donor used with Mia. While their daughter was still young, Alex wasn't getting any younger, and with her issues with fertility and family history of ovarian problems, the couple had figured that it was better to try sooner rather than later, especially because the blonde would likely not before pregnant right off the bat.

"Okay smart ass, let's get going. We're going to be late to meet Kathy and El."

Olivia's jaw dropped open dramatically, an intentional look of shock plastered across her face. "Hey, don't use such offensive language," she mocked, "Mia is highly impressionable at this age." Alex rolled her eyes at the comment, which was a reference to the attorney's own remarks the prior evening, when Olivia had yelped out a slew of expletives after stubbing her toe on Mia's playpen.

"Care to spend another night on the couch, detective?" Alex asked solemnly, eyebrow quirked.

Olivia debated teasing her wife a bit more, but decided against it. Her aching back was indication enough that she was getting too old to crash on the sofa, and given the blonde's fluctuating mood, she didn't want to risk it. "Okay, okay, Miss Punctuality. You do realize, though, that the Stablers are notoriously late. So it's really unnecessary to get there fifteen minutes early…"

"It's necessary to me!" Alex snapped, interrupting her and startling Mia. Although Alex and Olivia were not strangers to verbal dueling with one another at various decibels, that had been making a concerted effort to not fight in front of the baby.

Understandably confused, Olivia furrowed her brow at Alex's outburst. "Okay, fine, Alex. Let's go then," she responded curtly, heading to the driver's side. Alex sighed and buckled Mia into her car seat before she joined the brunette.

The two didn't speak to each other as Olivia started to drive, but the silence didn't last long. A few blocks from their apartment, Mia began fussing and eventually erupted into a full-on fit. Alex let out a frustrated sigh, massaging her temples with the pads of her fingers. "Can you please pull over?"

"We'll be there in like a minute. She's just being fussy."

"Liv, pull over!" Alex demanded, the loudness of her voice only seeming to make the baby cry more.

"Alex, I'm pulling into the parking lot now. Just take a chill pill, okay? A look of rage filled Alex's eyes, and she opened her mouth to speak. Luckily, Mia let out a particularly loud wail. Olivia quickly parked and hopped out of the car, opening the door to the backseat. She scooped up the whimpering baby and bounced her up and down.

"Hey, baby girl, what's wrong?" she soothed, "Look we're at the pool! We're going to have a really fun day." Slowly, Mia's sobs dissolved into small hiccups and then a tired post-tantrum fatigue. Meanwhile, Alex gathered all of their things, slamming the Lexus's trunk. The loud noise caught Olivia's attention, and she breathed a sigh of relief that it didn't send Mia back into another fit. She gave Alex an irritated look. "So are you going to stay like this all day?"

The blonde shrugged. "Maybe it's warranted."

"Seriously, Alex?" Fiery blue eyes met brown.

Alex was in a bad mood, and she sure as hell was stubborn, but at the same time she realized she was possibly being a bit unreasonable. "Okay, I'm sorry," she said with a still slightly-miffed tone. "I've just been in an, I don't know, funk. I've had a horrible headache and I'm PMS-ing. This case is wearing on me. And Mia's been moody lately as well from teething…" she explained, running her fingers through her hair – a sign that always betrayed that she was stressed.

Olivia softened her glare. "Alex, I get it," she said, reaching out with her free hand to gently caress the blonde's cheek with her knuckles. "But next time, please just tell me that. Don't go on like I shot the pope or something, okay?"

Alex finally allowed a small laugh. "I know, and I'm sorry. I love you," she said genuinely, giving Olivia's hand a squeeze.

"I love you too." She gave Alex a quick peck on the lips, deciding to end the discussion there. When Alex was in a foul mood, it was generally something that lasted, so she was glad that the blonde seemed to be relaxing ever so slightly. Wrapping her arm around Alex's waist, she added with a smile, "Now let's get you something for your head before we're actually late."

Two Excedrin and ten minutes later, the Stabler clan burst into the community pool's gates and, after briefly searching, located Alex and Olivia who were in the process of laying down some blankets in a nearby patch of grass. Dickie and Lizzie shouted a quick 'hello' whilst throwing down their things before making a mad-dash for the diving boards. Kathy sighed, placing Eli on the blanket before reaching down to fix the grab a sunscreen bottle from her bag.

"Hey guys," she greeted the couple with a tired smile. "I'm going to go track down those scoundrels before they get burnt. El, you've got Eli?"

The detective nodded at his wife before giving both Olivia and Alex a hug, elbowing Kathleen to greet them as well. The teen complied before heading off to go tan in the sun, far away from the embarrassment of her family. Elliot took a seat next to Olivia, scooping Eli onto his lap and covering the toddler with sunscreen. Olivia picked up Mia and began to do the same. She was careful to cover every inch of delicate baby skin, not wanting Mia to burn – nor wanting to face Alex's wrath should this happen. The baby shivered from the sensation of the cold lotion hitting her skin before breaking out into giggles. Olivia chuckled. "You like that, angel?" she asked, tickling Mia's bathing suit-covered tummy.

Alex grabbed a yellow gingham hat out of the diaper bag and placed it on top of her daughter's head. "Liv, when you're finished, can you do me?" she asked, gesturing towards the bottle.

Olivia nodded, pushing the dirty joke that the blonde's request elicited to the back of her mind. She placed Mia down on the blanket next to Eli, and the little blonde crawled towards him and grabbed the toddler's shoe, causing him to grumble. Olivia removed his leg from Mia's grasp and placed a toy ball in front of her instead, which she was immediately fixated on. She banged the surface of the large red toy with her chubby palms. Eli stated at the baby for a moment, eyes full of curiousity, before mimicking her. Olivia chuckled at the sight and nudged Elliot with her elbow. "Looks like they're going to be pals," she said, her partner smiling in agreement.

The brunette then turned back to Alex, who was sitting on the adjacent blanket, lathering her arms with sunscreen. "Lay on your stomach, babe," Olivia instructed, taking the bottle out of her hands. Alex took off her sundress and obliged. Olivia, meanwhile, struggled to keep her arousal at bay as she admired the sight in front of her – Alex stretched out in a modest but sexy bikini, it's red coloring contrasting with the fairness of her skin, golden hair splayed out messily. She kneeled down so that she was hovering over her wife, trying to maintain a platonic façade despite the fact that she was practically straddling the blonde's ass. This became more difficult once the sunscreen actually hit Alex's skin. She shuddered like Mia, but then moaned contently as she felt Olivia's fingers kneed into her tense back muscles. "Just relax, baby," Olivia whispered – though this was perhaps a command more aptly intended for her for other reasons, given that she could feel the bottoms of her own bathing suit becoming damp as she ran her hands under the strap of Alex's top, brushing her fingers quickly past the soft swerve of her breasts. She was broken out of the trance by the feeling that eyes were on her and turned to meet Elliot's cloudy gaze. He was practically choking on his own drool. "Pervert," Olivia clipped with an eye roll and moving off of the blonde.

Elliot shrugged his shoulders and gave a smug smile. "You're the one giving a show. Can't blame me for watching."

Olivia gaped and smacked him hard on the bicep. She began to blush though, reminiscing on how the previous moment was becoming borderline inappropriate. She looked over at Alex, who was smiling slightly.

"Typical man, Stabler," the blonde contended. With a mischievous glint in her eyes, she continued, "We'll try to calm it down though for your sake. You're supposed to be watching the kids. She moved to sit between Olivia's legs, smiling as she felt the brunette run her fingers through her hair to pull it up into a ponytail. Olivia knew how much she hated it getting matted from the chlorine.

"Oh please, don't do me any favors," Elliot joked with a smirk.

"El!" Olivia squealed, glaring at her partner.

"Is my husband behaving?" Kathy asked, finally returning to the group with a couple of cans of soda.

"No," Olivia said with a roll of her eyes. She lifted herself to her feet and helped Alex up as well before reaching out for Mia. "We're going to go for a swim before El gets anymore bright ideas," she said with a smirk, swatting the back of her partner's head. She grabbed Alex's hand and led her to the pool, balancing Mia on her hip. When they got to the edge of the water, the blonde stopped for a moment and looked at the water hesitantly.

"I'm going to check and see how tolerable the water is," she explained, moving to the edge of the pool. She lifted her foot gingerly and slowly began to lower it into the water. Olivia couldn't resist. She sneaked over behind Alex and gave her a gentle push. As she was balancing on one foot, the blonde fell gracelessly into the pool, letting out a small yelp when she kit the water.

"Olivia Louise Benson!" The brunette broke out in laugh at the sigh. Alex was treading water with a furious but shocked look on her face, completely soaked, mascara running under her eyes. "It's not funny," Alex whined, looking so pitiful that Olivia couldn't help but laugh even more. Even Mia began to giggle. In the midst of her fit, Olivia was able to gesture for Alex to move over to the shallow end. She calmed down and headed over to the stairs with Mia, where she was met by her wife who had her hands on her hips, pouting.

"I'm sorry, baby," Olivia said with a chuckle, wiping the make up out from under Alex's eyes with the pad of her thumb. "I love you," she added, batting her eyes innocently.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Alex said curtly but with a small smile. She pecked Olivia on the lips. "Well are you going to get in or what? It's actually not too cold."

Olivia turned to Mia. "Ready for your first swim, ladybug?" she asked excitedly. She began to wade into the pool, slowing down when the water reached Mia to allow her to acclimate. When her toes hit the water, Mia's brown eyes widened in surprise, and when she was up to her tummy, she froze and began to whimper. "It's okay, love. It's just like a big bath."

"May I?" Alex asked, extending her arms. Olivia handed the baby over to the attorney, who held her above the water's surface. "Mia, sweetie, it's okay. Come on and play. Mama has you. Look!" she patted her hand against the water's surface, causing it to ripple. She then scooped some water into her palm and sprinkled it on Mia's tummy. "Ooo, isn't that cool?" Mia made a funny look but then giggled. She reached out for the water and Alex lowered her down. The baby began splashing her palms, laughing happily.

Olivia smiled widely. "Good job, angel! Look at you!" Alex bobbed the baby up and down and began to wander around the pool with her wife. A few minutes later, Elliot joined them with Eli and the group spent some enjoyable time in the warm June sun. Around noon, Alex took Mia back to the blankets while Olivia grabbed their own lunches from the cooler. She sat down next to Alex and popped open a Tupperware container. As he wife's hands were occupied with holding Mia, who was nursing under a light blanket, Olivia stabbed some of the pasta salad with a fork and held it up to Alex's lips. "Here you go, babe."

Alex smiled and took a bite. "Thanks!"

"How's our little fish doing over there?" It had been a struggle trying to get Mia out of the water. Despite her initial hesitance, she had taken a clear liking to it.

"Very hungry. Actually…" she peaked underneath the blanket. "Tired too. She's starting to doze off."

"If you guys want to leave her here for a bit, I'll watch her," Kathy offered, peaking up from her book. "El's got the kids under control."

Olivia looked to Alex. "How about it? You up for some adult swim?"

"Yeah, sure," Alex responded, "Thanks, Kath!"

"Not a problem at all!"

Alex fixed her top and lifted the blanket off of Mia, careful not to disturb the now sleeping child. After the baby was in her carrier seat, the couple headed off towards the pool. Before they reached it, however, Alex felt the detective pulling her aside. "Liv?" Olivia simply gestured to the nearby locker room. Alex gave her a confused look but followed along.

Once inside, Olivia did a quick survey of the area and found that they were alone. Before Alex could protest, she kissed her firmly on the mouth and guided her into a changing stall, closing the curtain behind them. Alex initially melted into the strength of Olivia's embrace, but in a moment of rationality, stopped. "Whoa, what are you doing," she exclaimed.

"Shh," the brunette chided. "What do you think I'm doing?" she asked cheekily, tugging at the strings of Alex's bikini top.

"I think you are taking me as an exhibitionist," Alex scoffed, running her hands down from Olivia's shoulders before gently pushing her away.

Olivia moved back towards her. "No, I think you're someone who has been stressed all day and needs some relief," she drawled, sucking on Alex's collarbone to elicit a groan from her counterpart.

"Liv," Alex whined futilely. "Not… now… not here – we're in public," she managed.

"And that's stopped us before?" Olivia asked with a smirk.

"But that's been in my office. Behind a closed door. With a lock. Not where someone can just walk right in."

"I'm sure Cragen would disagree."

Alex rolled her eyes. "Where I thought we were alone."

"We just have to be quiet," Olivia prodded, her hot breath tickling Alex's ear. The detective's wandering hand slid down Alex's torso, cupping her over her bathing suit.

Alex hissed in a breath of air. She was a goner. "My mother would kill me!" she exclaimed quietly, in a final effort of protest.

Olivia pulled back for a second and looked at her curiously before smirking. "Baby. You're thirty-five years old. Now's the time as ever to rebel against your prim and proper unbringing." She leaned back in to kiss the blonde and smiled to herself as she felt the attorney relax completely into her touch.

About five minutes later, just as things were getting particularly hot and heavy, the couple heard the door to the locker room squeak open, followed by the padding of flip flops. Both women froze when they heard two voices.

"So that I says to him," one woman with a thick Staten Island accent began, "Youse stop looking at that tramp or your shit will be out on the sidewalk." Her companion responded with some sort of agreement as their voices echoed from over where the showers were. Alex and Olivia soon heard the sound of water. The blonde felt like a teenager caught making out in the back of the movie theatre, and she felt a blush rising up her neck. Knowing they were no longer alone, she assumed Olivia would shop and was shocked when the brunette simply continued her prior actions.

"Olivia!" Alex practically shrieked at the sensation, before lowering her voice to a hush. "We've got to stop," she sighed, her arousal contesting the statement.

Olivia lifted her head from her task for a brief moment only to whisper huskily, "Just stay quiet." Easier said than done. Alex dug her teeth into the back of her hand to bury a moan as Olivia continued to fuck her. She was able to hang on until she was certain that the two women had left and that they were alone again. At that point, she let out a cry of pleasure as she allowed herself to climax, collapsing against Olivia as she stood up. The detective held her trembling body to keep her from falling down on what couldn't have been the most sanitary of floors. She looked around nervously.

"Baby, I said quiet. They must have heard us!" she whispered nervously, clearly having been oblivious to her surroundings.

"They're gone," Alex sighed, resting her head against the tawny skin of the brunette's ample chest. Once Alex regained her functional capacities, Olivia suggested they shower before heading back outside, to both clean up and actually look like they had gone for a swim.

"After all, we need to look wet… and not like that," Olivia said with a cheeky wink, giving her wife a quick kiss before leaving a still stunned Alex to head for the shower stall.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21: Somedays

"Umm... no, I think that would actually be better over there..." Alex instructed, pointing a slender finger across the room. Elliot groaned heavily and Olivia appeared just as discontent as they looked down once more at the small but solid table in front of them.

"Come on, Alex! This is our third time moving this thing," Elliot gripped.

"Yeah, babe. It's a birthday party, not the presidential gala. No one's going to analyze the gift table's location."

"I just want everything to be perfect," the blonde responded bruskly, hands poised on her hips. Olivia sighed. The hall that they had rented for Mia's first birthday party couldn't have looked more impeccable. Elliot and Olivia had already shuffled around so much furniture that their aging backs were screaming, and Alex had driven half of the staff crazy with suggestions as to table settings and decoration placement. Olivia walked over to her wife, who was now fiddling with a bunch of balloons, examining the ends of the ribbons with a frown. "I wish they would have curled these..."

"Sweetheart, they look great. Everything does!" She cupped Alex's face in her palms, gently pulling the blonde's attention away from the decorations and towards her. "Just relax, Al. Mia's not going to remember whether or not her cake was cut into perfectly symmetric pieces. She's one years old."

"I know, I know. But my family will care." Alex exhaled heavily, wrapping her arms around Olivia's waist and relaxing into the detective. Olivia used the moment to gesture quickly for Elliot to make a run for it. Her partner shot her an appreciative thumbs up, mouthing that he would see her later before making a beeline for the exit. The brunette ran her hands soothingly against Alex's lower back. "I can't believe my baby's already a year old."

Olivia nodded, pulling backwards so she could look at her wife. "It's gone by fast," she said with a soft (and slightly sad) smile. And it had. It seemed like just yesterday that she had held her daughter for the first time. Actually, it seemed like yesterday that Alex had told Olivia that she was pregnant with Mia. On the same token, the detective could hardly believe how much her life had changed since she first heard her daughter's heartbeat, saw the blurry ultrasound image that signified the start of the Cabot-Benson family. Olivia could in no way have foretold what parenthood was actually like – how incredible of a bond there was between mother and child. In some ways, it saddened her that she had never felt this connection in her own upbringing. She loved her mother and knew that her mother loved her, at least to a degree. But the stark difference between her relationship with Serena and her bond with Mia already was harsh evidence that made Olivia question whether or not her mother's love was unconditional. Did her assault blanket her in so much hatred that Olivia became a burden as opposed to a child? The detective was afraid to know the true answer. If anything, though, the pain of this uncertainty only made her more determined to give every ounce of herself to Mia and Alex.

"I just want her to stay this small forever," Alex continued wistfully.

Olivia pressed her lips against the blonde's forehead. "I know. But it's only going to keep getting better and better." She paused for a moment and added with a whisper, "And who knows. We may have another tiny baby very soon." With a happy grin, she slid her hands forward from Alex's back to rest on her wife's stomach.

Alex was equally enthused judging by the wide smile on her face. "Maybe," she beamed before kissing Olivia tenderly, placing her hands on top of the detectives. A couple of minutes later, Olivia broke the embrace.

"Well, as much as I'd love to stay like this, we should probably head home to get ready. Got to look presentable for the honorable Cabot family," she said with a smirk. Alex's entire extended family had been invited to Mia's birthday party. While most of them had yet to even meet the baby – or Olivia for that matter – the fact that Mia had not had a christening was a huge "faux pas" in spite of the fact that the Cabots were more Christian by tradition than by practice. The lack of baptism automatically meant that every one of Alex's relative, however distasteful they might be, had to attend this gathering. Olivia was dreading it. With the exception of perhaps three members of her wife's family – Liz Donnelly and Bill Hermann and his wife – Olivia was either nonexistent or scorned for being the devilish woman who led poor, innocent Alex astray, threatening to tarnish the notable Cabot name. At least several of the couple's friends would be coming as well. Olivia hoped in particular that her fellow detectives would help soften the blow. Hopefully.

A big hopefully.

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

"John, Fin?"

"Nursery!"

Olivia shook her head with a chuckle. "Never thought I'd be hearing that from those two. Together at least."

Alex smiled as they headed down the hall. "Remind me why we trusted them with Mia?"

Before Olivia could answer, Munch interjected. "Hey," he said as they entered the room, "For your information, Ms. Cabot, Fin and I cared for your spawn with the utmost diligence.

"Yeah, even with all of your nutty instructions, Counselor," Fin said from where he sat in the rocking chair with Mia on his lap, book in hand. "And quit using the word spawn, Munch. It's creepy."

Olivia shook her head at their antics. "Well, thank you guys for watching her. I hope she was good for you." She moved over by the rocking chair and held out her arms for the baby, who had become squirmy when her mothers entered the room.

Fin passed Mia to her, the latter instantly smiling once she was in Olivia's arms. "Any time. She was an angel," Fin said, pinching the baby's cheek to elicit a giggle," 'cept when Munch came anywhere near her. Though that makes me like her even more. She's got a good judge of character."

"Hey!" the older man protested, "Mia likes me. She just has a firm sense of personal space."

"Oh yeah, just like all babies," Fin rolled his eyes, gesturing to the fact that the girl was now snuggled tightly against Olivia.

"Yeah, well, sometimes it takes people a bit of time to warm up to me."

Fin nodded brusquely in agreement. "Ten years and I still haven't," he deadpanned, earning the chuckles of Olivia and Alex. He ruffled Mia's hair before heading towards the door with a rather irritated Munch in tow.

"We'll see you later guys?"

"Yep, just got to get all prettied up for this fancy party," Fin said with a smirk.

Olivia nodded with a sigh, her face revealing that she was very much in agreement with Fin's mockery. Alex shot her a glare, to which she immediately gave an innocent shrug. "Thanks again, you two. We'll see you in a bit," the blonde told the men appreciatively. They returned an 'anytime' before heading on their way. When she heard the front door click shut, Alex turned to Olivia. First she greeted Mia with a large smile, "Hello sweetheart, Mama missed you!" She leaned over and gave the baby a kiss.

"Mmem," Mia drawled happily.

Alex grinned and gave the baby another kiss before looking up at Olivia, her face now serious. "You know, if you have an issue with this party, you could tell me up front. You don't have to make wise cracks to Elliot, Munch, and Fin.

Olivia was sure her face looked guilty. Running her free hand through her hair, she began "It's not a 'problem,' per-say..." Alex raised an eyebrow and the brunette sighed heavily, "I'm just nervous."

"It'll be okay. There's nothing to be nervous about," Alex lied through her teeth. Olivia saw right through the facade to her wife's own nervousness about the afternoon.

"Alex, your family hates me."

"That's not true..."

"It is! They either pretend that I don't exist or pity the ground that I walk on. Most of them didn't even show up to our wedding..."

"I didn't want them there," Alex said with a sense of honesty – but some pain. It was true; she didn't want most of her family at her wedding, because she knew they didn't approve and weren't happy for her. She just wished she had family would love and accepted her for who she was – not for the image they wanted her to portray. " Liv, I'm sorry. I don't want to drag you into this mess. You don't deserve it."

Olivia sighed sadly, recognizing the anguish in Alex's cool blue eyes that the blonde was attempting to hide. "It'll be okay. We should probably get ready, babe." Alex nodded and gave Olivia a soft kiss before moving over to Mia's closet. She pulled open the door and grabbed the dress bag containing the $450 Burberry outfit they had purchased for the occasion: a little pink dress with bloomers and a cashmere ribbed sweater. Olivia had argued that it was utterly ridiculous to dress a child – let alone a baby – in something that expensive, stating that there were equally as nice clothes at Target that wouldn't cause the brunette a conniption when Mia outgrew and/or spit up on them. While the attorney agreed, she had explained to Olivia the harsh judgment that would result if Mia was not dressed in something with a designer label. As if they needed more of that. Plus, the outfit, was hugely 'on sale' – an absurdity that had almost resulted in the detective's laughing out loud in front of the boutique's employee.

"How about you go take a shower and I'll get Mia ready?" Alex offered. While they both had gotten washed up that morning, moving things around at the restaurant had caused Olivia to work up a sweat.

"Sounds good," Olivia said as she handed the baby over to the blonde.

When she was sure that Olivia was out of earshot, Alex said to Mia, "Okay little girl, let's get you into these clothes. Now, I know they're probably not the comfiest of things and you'd rather be crawling around in a onesie, but we've got to put these on, okay." She brought the baby over to the changing table and put her in a fresh diaper before slipping on the dress. Mia fussed a bit. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. I know this is no fun." And she did know. She was a Cabot, and while this did conjure an image of prim and properness to the average person when they heard the name, no one really knew the exact reality of growing up in "high society." Alex didn't really have a childhood. What she remembered of it was cold – attendance at long galas in stark dresses and with perfect etiquette, lessons to ensure she was cultured in language, the arts, and recreation, the expectations of living up to her family name, constantly feeling as though she was in the spotlight without anyone truly looking at her. She didn't grow up with the attention of her parents, but instead of a constant flow of nannies and other caretakers. While she knew her mother and father loved her, it wasn't until she met Olivia that she experienced affection from a family member– had someone care for her.

Rarely did Alex broach the topic of her upbringing to the detective, beyond the necessary and the superficial. While she had no doubt experienced several difficulties, she in no way found them comparable to what Olivia went through, and she felt guilty at even the thought of complaining. After all, on the surface, she had it all: two parents, a steady home (in addition to several other properties), a private school education, and whatever material good her heart had desired. The imperfections that came along with that – how could she ever explain those...

All she knew was she didn't want Mia to have to one day. In that moment, putting the baby in a fancy dress and taking her to an expensive, formal party for the purpose of being shown off went against every maternal instinct she had. She hated the fact that she was too much of a coward to completely break away from her family's expectations.

With Mia now fully clothed, she took a brush and fixed the growing wisps of her light blond hair into a small ponytail, around which she tied a thin lace ribbon into a bow. "You look beautiful, princess," she said, giving her daughter a soft but cracking smile. "You always do though. I promise this will go quickly. You know, I'll even bring some toys and books for you... some of my aunts and uncles may have a problem with it, but who cares," she said with a scoff as she began to load the aforementioned items into Mia's diaper bag.

Alex was so absorbed in her task – and more so her thoughts – that she didn't notice Olivia standing in the doorway. "I'm going to pack you a change of clothes as well," the blonde explained to Mia, who was sitting next to her on the floor playing with her own feet. "Just in case you get really uncomfortable. Once, when I was six, I thought that if I ruined the dress I was supposed to wear to our Christmas party, I would be able to wear something else instead. So I ripped it and told my mom that it had gotten caught in the doorframe..." Olivia had never heard this story – in fact, she rarely heard any story about Alex before she reached college-age – so the detective listened in rapt attention, completely quiet. Alex forced a sad chuckle. "It didn't work though. My mother's tailor was called and I was forced to stand for an hour without moving while she made the adjustments necessary. Quite a task for a six year old..." the attorney trailed off.

Olivia waited a few moments before softly clearing her throat. Alex's head shot around quickly, and the brunette had to hide the surprise and sadness on her own face when she saw that her wife's blue eyes were brimming with tears. "Alex –"

The attorney wiped her eye quickly with the back of her hand. "You about ready? I have to go change..." She made a beeline for the door, but as Olivia was standing there, was easily intercepted.

"Baby, talk to me," Olivia said softly, looking Alex dead in the eyes, only to see them stormy with untold emotion.

"I can't – I mean, we're going to be late, Liv. Later. I promise," she said, trying to evade the detective's firm embrace.

Olivia gave her one more concerned look. "Okay."

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

When Alex, Olivia, and Mia got to the hall, several guests were already there. "Shit," Alex muttered quietly to Olivia, "we're so late."

Olivia squeezed the blonde's hand comfortingly. "It's okay, babe," she whispered back. "The party doesn't start for another half hour – so technically they're just very early. We have a one-year-old. They'll understand." Alex raised an eyebrow and the statement and Olivia shrugged. Yeah, she didn't believe herself either.

The young family was greeted almost immediately by Alex's cousin, Carole, infamous busybody. "Alexandra," the middle-aged woman drawled, giving the blonde three air kisses, "We were worried about you darling. What on earth happened?"

"Sorry, Carole! Mia needed a diaper change and was a bit fussy so we got held up," Alex explained apologetically.

"Oh dear! And your nanny was unable to control her?"

"We don't have a nanny," Olivia commented.

"What? No nanny!" Carole exclaimed completely horrified. The couple shook their heads. "What on earth do you do for childcare. Especially with Alexandra still working," the red head added, voice laced with disapproval and condescension. Most of the Cabots were horrified that their Alexandra still had to work because of Olivia's lack of equity and six+ figure paycheck.

"Well, Alex has been able to get home a bit earlier now, but when we're both at work, Mia goes to daycare."

"Daycare?" The woman looked as though she was going to faint. Alex was quiet so Olivia continued.

"Yeah, there's a daycare on the same block as our building."

"In that neighborhood. Aren't you concerned about her exposure to other children."

"We want her to make friends."

Carole sighed heavily. As though she was explaining a complex art form to two neophytes, she began, "A nanny will take Mia to playgroups, so she can be properly socialized. Some will also clean the home, so it's almost a two for one deal. Not cheap though. I'll give you a few names. We went through several wonderful nannies with Pierre."

Olivia went to protest, but Alex stopped her, knowing it was not worth it to argue. "Thank you, Carole. Now if you'll excuse me, we're going to take Mia to greet some of the other guests."

"Of course, darling. She's lovely by the way," Carole said, gesturing for the first time towards the baby. Alex smiled and thanked her before heading off towards her Uncle Bill and Aunt Elizabeth, allies of the bunch. Just as Olivia was about to follow, Carole caught her shoulder.

"Who is that?" she asked, slightly appalled. Olivia followed her gaze and sighed. Shit. "Umm, that's my partner, Elliot and his children." At present, quite wild children who were pestering Elliot about something relentlessly, looking very uncomfortable in formal clothing.

"Partner! But Alexandra..."

"Elliot's my partner at the NYPD. Remember, I'm a detective," Olivia explained.

"Oh, right. It's just, you never can know what one is into these days. Not good for children..." she said, giving Olivia a sharp glare. The brunette could hardly keep her jaw from dropping at the insinuation that she and Alex were in some type of polyamorous relationship. Is that honestly what people equated every gay relationship with? Why couldn't they accept that what she and Alex shared was a loving, monogamous relationship – with a daughter they would both do anything for. Olivia couldn't fathom a response that wouldn't involve several expletives, so she settled for the awkward silence that ensured. A few moments later, she excused herself and went to go greet Elliot and Kathy.

"Help, save me!" Olivia said dramatically once she reached her partner.

"That bad?"

"I've spoken to one of Alex's cousins and I already want to drive my head into a wall."

"Where is Alex, speaking of which?"

Olivia scanned the room. "Uh, over there by her godfather. I should probably go say hello..."

Elliot nodded. "Yeah, go get your obligatory greetings done so we can try to have some fun at this thing, okay?"

"Haha, fun and Cabot family does not mix, my friend. I'll see you later. Oh, and if the kids are pestering you for food, take them down to the kitchen. I asked the chef to spot them some chicken fingers."

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

Happy Birthday, dear Amelia.

Happy birthday to you

The group sang out as Olivia held Mia in front of the cake. Upon the songs completion, Alex blew out the candles. The couple looked at each other happily, then down at their daughter, who was excitedly reaching towards the cake. When a slice was handed to Olivia, she dipped her finger into the icing and held it out to Mia. When the baby tasted it, her eyes widened and she began babbling for more, causing the entire group to laugh. Olivia turned to Alex; "Looks like someone has a sweet tooth," she said with a chuckle.

"Wonder where she got that from," Alex teased as Olivia ate a bite of the cake herself. She gestured over to their table and took a seat, enjoying a private moment with their daughter while everyone else waited for their own desserts. Even though this was Mia's party, Olivia felt as though she had hardly seen the baby, and Alex for that matter, and she was taking delight now in watching Mia enjoy the rest of her cake. The little blonde was sitting on her lap, hands diving into the vanilla dessert, pink frosting covering her face. It was as though Mia was having more fun playing with the cake than actually eating it.

Alex couldn't stop laughing at the sight and Olivia was glad to see the blonde loosening up for the first time to day, the fact that her wife had been crying this morning not escaping her concern. "Oh dear," the attorney cooed, "Are you enjoying that, princess?" We should probably go clean you off." When Olivia started to get up, Alex stopped her. "I've got it, babe. You go hang out with the guys for a little while. Have some fun." She gestured over to the table where the Stablers were sitting with Cragen, Donnelly, Munch, and Fin.

"Okay!" Olivia said cheerily, before giving Alex a sweet kiss. She chuckled, "You taste like strawberries."

"Strawberries and cream. Your favorite cake." Alex said with a smile. Olivia kissed her once more, savoring the taste of sugar and Alex before the blonde headed towards the restroom with Mia. Olivia was about to head towards the NYPD table when she heard someone loudly clear their throat behind her. Turning around, she was met with the condescending eyes of Alex's great-aunt, Victoria Cabot.

"Public displays of… affection, if you want to call it that, are inappropriate in this context, Ms. Benson. I would think you'd have gotten used to this by now."

Olivia bit her tongue. Despite the fact that she was nearing ninety, Alex's Aunt Victoria was quite possibly the meanest, most brass individual she had ever mentioned. When it came to insulting Olivia, she spared no words, even if it was rude or in a public setting – and, given the fact that she was Olivia's greatest critic, these moments were quite frequent. The detective, who had been surprised she had showed in the first place, had been trying to avoid her all day and had been successful – to this point.

"I apologize, Ms. Cabot. I didn't notice you."

Victoria scoffed. "Well, it's to be expected. And of course I'm here. I'm a part of Alexandra and Amelia's family."

"Yes, of course. I meant that I hadn't noticed that you were behind me." Olivia forced herself to remain cordial. For Alex and Mia. "How have you been, Ms. Cabot?

"Well enough. Spending most of my time up at the Vineyard." Alex's extended family owned a couple of vacation properties, a 'quaint' cottage at Martha's Vineyard being one of them.

"That's nice. I've heard the weather's been wonderful lately. Not too cold."

"Yes, it's been quite temperate. I was planning on extending an invitation for Amelia to come up for a visit, given that Alexandra is able to take some time from work." Olivia stopped herself from furrowing her brow. This was unexpected.

"Oh, wow, that'd be wonderful. I'm sure Mia would love it and Alex and I could use some time off from..."

"I believe you've misunderstood, Ms. Benson," Victoria interrupted.

"I'm sorry. What?"

"The invitation is meant for Alexandra and Amelia."

"Are you – "

"While it's nice that you're a good friend to Alexandra and her daughter, this is family time."

"Ms. Cabot, in due all respect..."

Olivia couldn't get a word in edgewise and Victoria's next words left the brunette feeling as though she had been sucker punched. "Regardless of your personal lifestyle, Ms. Benson, you should know that I, as well as the vast majority of my family, do not approve of your involvement with Alexandra – platonically or especially romantically. Nor do I find you to be a suitable influence for her daughter whatsoever..."

Before Victoria was able to continue her tirade, Alex's words rung across the room. "Get out!"

Several heads, including Olivia's, shot in her direction. The blonde looked completely incensed, her blue eyes piercing Victoria's glare.

"Alexandra..."

"Aunt Victoria, I asked you to leave." she paused for a moment, clearly recognizing that all eyes were now on her, but then continued resolutely. "If you cannot respect my wife and my family, then I do not want you here around them. Especially around Mia."

Victoria looked as though she was about to have a heart attack from the confrontation. She tried to mask her unease and stuttered, "How dare..."

"That goes for everyone else as well," Alex bellowed, addressing the gawking on-lookers. "If anyone has an issue with Olivia or our relationship, I am asking you to leave. Now." You could hear a pin drop in the room. The detective struggled to keep herself composed, standing awkwardly exposed in the middle of the hall, and deciding to focus instead on her daughter, who was perplexed by the sudden change in atmosphere, clutching the teddy bear Cragen had given her in her chubby palm. Without another word, Victoria walked over to her chair and picked up her belongings. Her heels clicked furiously across the ground as she headed to the door, glaring at Olivia and Alex as she passed them. When she reached the exit, she turned back and spat one more ringer:

"Alexandra Rose Cabot, what would your mother say?"

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

They drove home in silence. Mia was fast asleep in the back, surrounded by the copious amounts of presents she had received. Olivia was still in shock, and had no issues forking over the car keys to Alex when she had requested them. Though the detective had stolen a few glances at Alex, the attorney's face was frustratingly unreadable, even to her. When they arrived home, the silence did not cease. Olivia carried the gifts inside while Alex settled Mia into bed and washed up. The detective had come to accept the fact that Alex needed the night to herself as she settled into bed next to the still-mute blonde. Just as she was about to flick of the light, however, she heard Alex's whisper.

"They hated me."

Concerned, she looked back at the blonde, whose eyes were fixed on the comforter, and cautiously held her hand, eyes begging her to continued.

"When I came out to my parents, they hated me. They didn't say that of course – just that it was a phase and that I was young. But I could see it in my parent's eyes. They saw their dreams for me vanishing. I was sixteen –" Her voice broke off; she was clearly nervous to be this vulnerable, even to Olivia.

"Alex..." Olivia's heart was already breaking and she didn't even know the whole story. Just saw this harsh pain engulfing Alex's eyes.

"I was sixteen. And I loved her. I mean, as much as you can love someone at sixteen. I see it as puppy love now, but it was real to me back then. Her name was Angela. She was in my ballet class and we used to walk home together. Sometimes we would hold hands, like friends do. But one day, when we reached the gates of my property, she kissed me..." Alex reminisced, touching her fingertips to her lips. Her voice broke slightly. "My mother pulled in the driveway. She greeted Angela cordially before yanking me in the house before the neighbors could see. Then she didn't say anything to me. Not one word. When my father got home for work, I heard them talking. Then they sat me down at the table and told me that they had changed my ballet class to a different time." By now, Alex was in tears, and Olivia held her close as she continued. "I ran into Angela once a couple weeks later at a recital. She smiled at me and touched my shoulder." Alex looked Olivia dead in the eye, as if she was giving her a confession. "I told her that it was a mistake. That I didn't want to see her again. She – was my first – kkiss, but I didn't – I couldn't – lose my family."

Olivia gathered the sobbing blonde in her arms, rocking her slowly and rubbing her back as she let her cry. After a few minutes, Alex had calmed down enough to continue. "My parents never brought it up again. When I told them I had met someone at Harvard, a girl, they sent me to talk to my minister, who told me what I was doing was perverted and a rebellion from God. But my parents didn't say one word about it. Just let me feel their disapproval. So I stopped telling them. I went through it all alone – dating, confusion, heartbreak. When I got out of law school and still wasn't engaged, my mother decided to get involved. She started setting me up with men from my father's firm, friends' sons. One night, I told her that I wanted her to stop. That I wasn't happy. She asked me how dare I threatened my father's name, my political future." Alex paused. "And then she died, a year later, while I was in witness protection. She never knew who I was, Liv. She never wanted to know."

Olivia thought back to the older Cabot woman at Alex's 'funeral,' her prim and proper stance, the polite responses she had to each and every condolence. The woman clearly loved Alex dearly and was heartbroken by her loss. But Olivia didn't fail to notice that every memory the woman had shared in her eulogy was superficial, foreign, acquainted.

Alex's words interrupted her reminiscence. "I tried so hard to please them, especially my father. I was daddy's little princess before Angela. Before he knew I was a… I did everything I could to try to redeem myself! I was number one in my class, had a perfect SAT score, practiced ballet and piano for hours and hours, went to all of their dinners and partook in conversation from the time I was three, even tried to date boys. But it didn't work. I was so depressed. I hated myself. I knew I could never be perfect, good enough for them. That I wasn't the daughter that they wanted anymore. I – " Alex froze, clearly contemplating her words.

Olivia watched her patiently and was startled when the blonde pulled out of her embrace and slide further to her side of the bed, staring down at the blanket. [Trigger warning! Self-harm/suicide]

"I – tried to kill myself once, Olivia."

Olivia felt like the world had both frozen and was rushing over her at the same time as she struggled to absorbed Alex's words. She felt sick from the pain burrowing deep into her chest as she looked up at her wife, sitting there pale and broken. Words were not coming to her so she said the only thing that was most true and natural: "I love you." Her voice cracking with every syllable.

Those three words, the raw emotion behind them sent Alex into hysterics and she fell against Olivia once more, her sobs staining the detective's gray pajama shirt. The brunette began crying as well, her own salty tears mixing with Alex's as the blonde held up her wrist like an offering of every truth she had ever hidden from her wife. From the middle of Alex's wrist extending to her mid-forearm, there were three fading lines. Olivia had asked her about them once and was told that they were the remnants of a skiing accident several years ago. Now Olivia saw the scars for what they really were, could feel the desperation radiating off of them. She slowing lifted Alex's arm, never breaking eye contact with her, as though asking for silent permission. Tears continued to flow down the attorney's cheeks as she watched Olivia press a tender kiss to each of the three marks, the part of her body she was most self-conscious of – hated. "Beautiful. Everything about you is beautiful." The detective then gathered Alex's frail body into her arms, whispering 'I love you' again and again like a mantra, holding her tightly as they both cried themselves to sleep.

~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~AO~

When Alex woke up the next morning after a fitful sleep, Olivia was sitting up in bed watching her, softly running her fingers through the blonde's hair. Alex went to say good morning, but her voice was chapped from crying. Olivia kissed her before handing her a warm cup of tea. She allowed Alex to rest against her side.

The detective didn't say one word about the prior night, knowing that the attorney wouldn't want her to. And she was right. Alex had never been that vulnerable to anyone before and was touched by the way in which her wife held her secrets silently close to her heart, expressing everything she needed to with the comforting way in which she now gripped Alex's hand, the occasional butterfly kiss she'd occasionally place on her collarbone.

In that moment, Alex may still have not felt perfect. But she felt whole.

When she finished her tea and sat the mug on the bedside table, she rested her head against Olivia's chest, listening to her soft heartbeat. A few minutes later, she interrupted the silence.

"Next year, there is no way I am inviting any of them again. I don't care about 'Cabot etiquette.'"

Olivia looked down at her curiously. "I thought you said that your family only had to come to first birthday parties..."

"Right."

"Then..." Olivia was silent for a moment, thinking about the blonde's statement. "Oh my God!" She sat up abruptly and looked at Alex with wide brown eyes. The attorney nodded, with the biggest smile on her face – pain replaced by happiness.

"I'm pregnant."

A/N: Let me know what you think!

Chapter Text

Chapter 22

Alex continued to sip on her tea, settled contently against Olivia's side as the two women enjoyed a much more relaxed morning than the day prior. They chatted briefly about the new baby, but Olivia soon felt the attorney's weight press more heavily against her. Listening carefully, she was able to hear the blonde's subtle snores, and she smiled softly. Neither of them had slept well – Alex fraught by her interaction with her extended family and Olivia troubled by the secret that her wife had shared with her because of it.

Although the detective would never ask or pressure her to say, she wondered what exactly Alex had been through with her depression. She felt as though if she knew what had happened, maybe she would have a better chance of healing the blonde's buried emotional wounds. Allowing herself to cave slightly to this curiosity, she found herself looking more at her wife's right forearm. The scars were thick and had surely healed over deep cuts. Olivia grimaced at the thought of how desperate Alex must have been to inflict that sort of damage on herself, knowing that this was the same woman that had the pain tolerance of someone who cries from a stubbed toe. The detective also noted, however, that the scars were significantly more faded than they must have been, so Alex must have been fairly young when it happened. After all, Olivia had met the young attorney by the time that she was 26.

Pursing her lips, Olivia realized that she likely would never understand what Alex went through, even if the blonde ever decided to share. At the same time, however, that didn't mean she could try to do some healing, even if it was in same ways. Carefully extricating herself from Alex's side and replacing her form with a pillow, Olivia climbed out of bed – careful not to wake her wife – and tiptoed out of the room and towards the nursery. There she found Mia still laying down in her crib but awake, looking fixatedly on a bird outside of her window.

"Who's that, Mia?" Olivia asked with a smile, "Is that a birdy?"

"Bababa" Mia giggled, reaching her arms up at her Mommy.

"That's right, sweetheart. That's a birdy!" Olivia exclaimed as she scooped the baby into her arms, bouncing her as she brought her closer to the window. When she was close enough to reach, Mia smacked her chubby palms against the glass, startling the robin and causing it to fly away. "Oh no, baby, the birdy doesn't like loud sounds. Say bye-bye birdy."

"Bye bye," Mia babbled, waving her arms up and down.

"Good girl," the detective praised, placing a kiss on the little blonde's head. "Okay Mia, Mommy is going to get you a bottle. And then, we're going to do something special for Mama, okay?"

AO~AO~ AO~AO~AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO

After feeding Mia and dressing her in a blue gingham romper, Olivia slipped into hers and Alex's room to check on the blonde, who was still fast asleep. Just in case Alex woke up before they returned, the detective quietly placed a post-it note on her pillow stating that she and Mia would be back.

Their first stop was the market, where Olivia picked up the ingredients she needed to make Alex's favorite orange cinnamon French toast. Groceries slung over Olivia's shoulder in a reusable bag, the two then headed over to the local florist, which was run by a kindly older couple, the Pérez's, who had immigrated from Cuba a decade or so ago. Olivia had first been introduced to them when she was helping their eldest daughter procure a restraining order from her abusive boyfriend. Even since, the parents had been deeply grateful and made Olivia promise that she would always get her floral arrangements from them. When she and Alex got married, they almost refused to let the couple pay for the copious amounts of roses and peonies, but they finally agreed on a discount.

When the bell on the door chimed to betray their entrance, Olivia saw Maria Estevez's head pop up over a bushel of berzillia. "Oh my goodness, look who it is!" Maria called out, grinning widely. "Chiquita! Look how big you are." She gently lifted Mia out of Olivia's arms, kissing her forehead.

"Mia, say hi to Maria."

"Hi hi."

"Oh look how inteligente she is! ¡Rafael, ven aquí! Mia y Olivia están aquí."

A few crashes and the sound of spilt water was heard before an aging Latino man entered from the back room. "¡Hola! Hi girls!" Rafael greeted excitedly, wiping his hands on his flannel shirt before hugging Olivia. "What brings you here today? Flowers for Alex?" Olivia nodded. "A special occasion?"

"Do I need one?" Olivia chuckled, giving him a wink.

"Ah amorcito, you could learn a few tips from Olivia," Maria joked, handing the baby to the man. As Rafael entertained the baby with a game of peek-a-boo, his wife started collecting flowers. "How about pink roses – Alex's favorite – with some alstroemeria and baby's breath?"

"Sounds perfect!" The detective began reaching for her wallet.

"Ay ay ay, Olivia. What do we tell you always about money?"

"And what do I always say back?"

Rafael chuckled. "Okay, we take no more than half price."

"Deal," Olivia replied, placing the bills on the table. She startled slightly when a large orange cat jumped up next to her hand. "Oh! Who is this?"

"Oh, this is Naranjo! Now that our youngest is not in the house, we adopted him."

Meanwhile, Mia babbled excitedly, reaching out for the cat. "Mamamamamama!"

Olivia laughed. "Is he friendly?"

"Oh si, trés bonito," Maria said as she pieced together the floral arrangement.

"Okay, Mia," Olivia explained, taking the young girl from Rafael, "You can pet the Naranjo but you have to be gentle." She took the baby's little hand and stroked it gently over the cat's long fur, earning a thrilled giggle from the child. Olivia made a mental note to discuss the possibility of adopting a pet at some point with Alex.

"Okay, dear, here you go," Maria said a couple minutes later, handing the detective the flowers. "You give Alex our love. And let us watch the bebé sometime soon. Give you and Alex a mommy night."

AO~AO~ AO~AO~AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO~ AO~AO

Fifteen minutes later, Olivia and Mia returned to the apartment after making one last stop to the local Starbucks. Alex loved some type of iced soy chai latte they served there – an addiction Olivia didn't understand but, after the creation of the "order ahead" option on the Starbucks app that allowed her to avoid the ungodly lines, was much more willing to enable.

Once back at the brownstone, Olivia worked quickly. Placing Mia in her playpen, she set to work preparing the French toast. She certainly wasn't an epicure, but she could make a few good dishes – this being one of them. She had made it the morning after she and Alex had first spent the night together as an effort to woo the blonde. Needless to say, afterwards Alex had expressed her approval in quite some fun ways.

As she prepared the food, she came up with one more idea, and while the toast was baking, she picked up Mia and brought her over to the table, where she had laid down newspaper and some construction paper. She uncapped the edible and safe-to-use fingerpaints she and Alex had purchased a couple of weeks ago. "Mia, how about we paint something for Mama?"

The brunette didn't need to ask, as the baby had already reached her hand into the tub of red paint and was slapping her palm against the paper. Thank God I put down newspaper, Olivia thought to herself, or this would look like a crime scene.

A few minutes into painting the timer rang out, and Olivia heard her wife call from the bedroom, voice indicating that she clearly had just woken up. "Liv?"

"Yeah baby, stay there! Mia and I have a surprise for you. We'll be there in a second."

Washing the paint off of the baby's hands and arms, Olivia then scooped some of the French toast on to a plate, drenching it in syrup. Plate and utensils in one hand and Mia balanced on her other hip, she headed down the hallway to the bedroom, where she found Alex sitting up in bed, glasses slightly askew, looking at her curiously. "What is all of this?"

Olivia placed the dish on the bedside table and gave Alex a peck before adjusting her frames. "Mia and I figured we would do something special for you today while you were sleeping," she explained, placing the squirming baby on the bed.

"Mamamama!"

"Ohh! Did you help Mommy with this, baby?" Alex asked, pulling Mia on to her lap. The aroma of the French toasts spreading, Alex inhaled and release a content sigh. "Liv, this smells delicious."

"There's more where that came from," Olivia explained, heading towards the door. "I've just failed to grow an extra pair of arms at this point." A few moments later, she returned. "Here is your drink," Olivia said, placing the coffee next to the dish. "And Maria and Rafael say hello," she added, placing the vase of flowers down as well. Finally, she held up the paper. "And Mia painted this for your office."

Alex swallowed the emotion she felt rising in her throat, blinking back tears. "Olivia, you didn't need to do all of this."

The detective ran the back of her fingers along Alex's face, looking at her softly. "I wanted to, sweetheart."

"I love you so much."

"I love you more than I can say, Alex." She kissed the blonde until she heard her let out a small yelp. Looking up, she saw that Mia had pulled some of the attorney's hair. Olivia laughed and hopped onto the bed. "Okay, let me hold this little monster so you can eat. And then maybe we can all go to the park. It's a beautiful day out."

"Sure!" Alex said, reaching over and grabbing her plate. She cut a healthy pierce of toast off and pierced it with her fork. When she tasted it, the look on her face was one of ecstasy. "This is literally heavenly. Later I am going to thank you properly for this," Alex said with a groan of pleasure as she took another bite.

Olivia smirked. "Noted, Counselor."

Chapter Text

Chapter 23

"Can you believe we're back here?" Alex asked Olivia with a smile, her hand encased in the older woman's as they walked towards the entrance of their OB/GYN.

Olivia gave Alex's hand an excited squeeze. "You have no idea." Alex had already had two appointments – the first confirming her pregnancy and then her second prenatal visit. Olivia had been on her way to the second appointment when she was called in for a dangerous hostage situation – she had been devastated to have missed it. But Alex reassured her that it was okay, and that the third visit would be the first time that an ultrasound was taken and that they could see their baby together. She held open the door to the office, placing her hand on the small of the attorney's back to gently lead her in. The waiting room was fairly busy – parents in all states of gestation as well as a slew of infants and young children.

"You find us some open seats. I'm going to go sign in," Alex instructed, giving Olivia a quick peck. She returned a few minutes later to find the brunette sitting next to a couple of men and their surrogate, her glasses posed on her nose as she read flipped through a Parents magazine. Alex chuckled, finding the site quite adorable. Olivia had been rather self-conscious when she first came home with her new reading glasses, but Alex was quick to put her worries at bay, showing her wife just how much she enjoyed her in her new accessory. Taking a seat next to the brunette, she peaked over her shoulder at the magazine. "Anything interesting?"

"There's an article on how to better manage tantrums," Olivia pointed out with a smirk.

Alex sighed with a chuckle. "Well, that would certainly be useful." Over the best couple of weeks, Mia had taken to having fits of moodiness. Alex wondered if she perhaps sensed that something was changing or if it was just an early kickoff to the "terrible twos" (their daughter, after all, seemed a bit precocious in terms of development). Regardless, she and Olivia had failed at figuring out a good strategy to manage it. While Olivia was tough at work, she shied away from playing 'bad cop' with their daughter – the little blonde having had the detective wrapped around her finger before she was even born. Alex was more comfortable being firm, but after a while it was easier to give in to Mia's tantrums, especially after a long day in the office. Still, the two women didn't want their daughter becoming spoiled.

"It says that we're supposed to ignore her and give her some space. That she just needs to let her anger out in a non-destructive way."

"Sounds like you could use that trick with Stabler," Alex joked dryly, in reference to the male detective's most recent outburst, which involved punching a concrete wall.

"I'm sure he'll prefer that to a spanking next time," the brunette joked. "It also says that we should try to find out what is making her upset, which might be easier once she's a bit older."

"I don't know about that. After all, look at her parents. We're clearly so good at being open with our feelings."

Olivia jabbed her wife softly with her elbow. "It does say hugs work. That sounds good. I'm great at hugs," she added with a grin.

Alex giggled. "That you are," she said, kissing Olivia's cheek.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," the tall red-headed man next to them began, catching the couple's attention, "but you have other children?"

"Jonathan, shh, don't bother them," his partner, a smaller black man hushed.

"Oh, no, it's okay," Olivia reassured the two. "Yes, we have a little girl named Mia. She just turned one. I'm Olivia and this is Alex by the way," she said, introducing the two.

"See, I told you it was okay," the red-head told his partner. "I'm Jonathan and this is Jerry. And our surrogate Lesley," he explained, gesturing to the younger heavily pregnant woman sitting with them. "Which one of you is carrying?"

"John!" Jerry chided, clearly embarrassed by his partner's inquisitiveness.

Olivia chuckled. "I'll try not to be offended," she joked, "but Alex is pregnant. She gave birth to our daughter as well. Is this your guy's first?"

Jerry smiled shyly. "Can you tell?"

"Lesley is due in just a month and we're trying to make sure everything is just perfect!" Jonathan added excitedly.

"Well, don't set your bar too high," Alex offered, joining the conversation. "I'm learning that a lot of times, even when things don't go according to plan, they still turn out okay. Took me a while though," she added sheepishly.

"You could give John some hints. He's very type A."

"Oh so is this one," Olivia said, wrapping her arm around Alex. "But she's right. You do relax a bit. About 5 nights without sleep beats the goal of a minute-by-minute parenting schedule right out of you."

"I already downloaded five scheduling apps to help," Jonathan said, fiddling with his phone. Jerry shook his head, giving the red head's thigh a squeeze.

"Alexandra Cabot?" a nurse called out.

"That's us," Alex said, the pair standing up. "I was a pleasure meeting the three of you. Best of luck!"

"Oh here, take my card," Jonathan said, reaching into his briefcase and pulling out a small piece of cardstock and grinning. "We'll have to have a playdate sometime. We gay parents have to stick together."

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"Well that Jonathan is in for a rude awakening," Olivia joked as she and Alex waited for Dr. Gil.

"Definitely. Although they seemed sweet. Maybe we should give them a call sometime?"

"Yeah sure, that would probably be fun. Although Jonathan might have a heart attack by how messy our place is. You know, we leave a bottle out once in a while."

"Oh hush, be nice," Alex said playfully, "If it were up to you, the place would be a hovel."

A rap was heard on the door, and Dr. Gil entered. "Alex, Olivia, wonderful to see you both!" she greeted cheerfully. "And Olivia, I already told Alex this when she was in last month but congratulations!"

"Thanks," the detective said with a smile, placing her hand on Alex's knee.

"How is Mia?"

"She's doing great," Olivia replied, pulling out her phone to show Dr. Gil a recent picture. "She's been a bit cranky lately, but she's very good."

"Oh she's entering the 'me me me' stage. Tantruming and being a bit self-absorbed is totally normal."

"Especially with this one as her mom," Olivia joked, squeezing Alex's thigh, earning her a soft smack in the head from the blonde.

Dr. Gil chuckled. "Careful Olivia. You haven't forgotten what hormones will do, have you?"

"I'm sure a night on the couch will remind her," Alex chimed in playfully.

"Speaking of hormones, how are you feeling Alex," Dr. Gil said, opening the woman's chart and taking a look.

"Pretty well, actually. Much less morning sickness than with Mia. I'm a bit tired, but part of that is probably from chasing around a thirteen-month-old."

"That'll do it for sure! Your vitals all look good. We're still waiting on the results of the blood and urine samples that the nurse took to make sure, but it seems like everything is one track. More importantly, how would you two like to see your baby?"

As Dr. Gil pulled out the ultrasound machine, Alex settled back onto the examining table, lifting her shirt up to reveal a very small bump. The blonde looked up at her wife, who she found was beaming.

"Okay, you know the drill, Alex. It'll be a little bit cold at first," Dr. Gil explained, squeezing some gel on to the blonde's belly. She maneuvered the ultrasound picture until a small image of a fetus came through the grainy background and a small but strong heartbeat was heard in the room. "There's your baby!" Both Alex and Olivia had tears in their eyes as they gripped each other's hands tightly, eyes never leaving the screen as they looked at their baby with joyful astonishment. "I can tell you next time if Mia will be having a little brother or a little sister, but for right now, the baby looks healthy. They're a bit on the smaller side, but still are developing right on track! I'll print the two of you a picture."

The couple continued to watch the screen right until the final moment. Only then did Olivia turn to Alex and place a kiss on her forehead, gently holding the side of her face. She then helped the blonde wipe the gel off of her belly, placing a small kiss on her bump. "I love you both so much," Olivia said, kissing the blonde once more.

Dr. Gil smiled at the affectionate exchange, turning when she heard a knock at the door. When she opened it, one of the nurses handed her a file with Alex's test results. "Okay, let's have a look here," Dr. Gil said, green eyes scanning the page. Her brow furrowed, and Olivia immediately stiffened, sensing a change in the doctor's demeanor.

"Is everything okay?" she asked hesistantly.

Dr. Gil paused for a moment. "Well, all of the blood tests came back fine. But Alex, your urine sample shows a high level of proteins."

The attorney looked at Olivia nervously, and the detective grabbed her hand. "What does that mean?"

"High protein counts in urine could be a sign of pre-eclampsia. But usually it's accompanied by high blood pressure as well, and for that Alex, you're in normal range. So this could just be the result of a UTI or something."

"Can you know that for sure?" Alex asked, her voice betraying her anxiety. She felt Olivia's palm becoming sweaty in hers.

"We'll have the urine tested for bacteria, but it'll have to be sent out to a lab so we won't have the result for a couple of days. Pre-eclampsia has some other symptoms as well usually. Alex, have you had any headaches? Or any abdominal pain?"

Alex shook her head. "No abdominal pain. I mean, I have headaches some time but it's probably just stress," she said in an attempt to reassure Olivia and the doctor (and herself). "After all, I work over 40 hours a week. And I have Mia…"

"It could very well be stress," Dr. Gil said reassuringly. "I don't want the two of you to panic. But it is something that we should keep an eye on. I'll schedule you two an appointment for a couple of weeks from now. And in the meantime, Alex, try to get as much rest as you can and drink a lot of fluids."

After scheduling their next appointment, the women left the doctor's office in a bit of a daze. They remained silent the first half of their car-ride, clearly both trying to absorb what the doctor had told them.

It was finally Olivia who broke the silence. "How about I drop you off at home before I pick up Mia from Kathy? This way you can lay down…"

"Liv, it's okay," Alex said, grabbing the detective's free hand. "Like Dr. Gil said, it's probably just a UTI. I get them a lot. And I don't have any other symptoms…"

"The headaches"

"The headaches are from stress, babe. I've always had headaches. After what you detectives put me through…" she joked, trying to lighten the mood. Olivia forced a smile.

"I just don't want anything to happen to either of you…"

"It won't, sweetheart. I promise."

Chapter Text

Timeline: October 2010 – Alex is 5 months pregnant

She was going to kill her.

After working in criminal law for a decade, Alex reasoned to herself that she could figure out a clandestine way to murder and dispose of a body. Granted, all of her wife's friends were detectives, but the chances were fair.

Even since her third prenatal visit, Olivia had been on her back almost constantly. Sure, the brunette tried to not seem over-bearing – especially after a particularly large spat between the couple when the detective had made an appointment with a pregnancy specialist without consulting Alex – however her subtle monitoring was almost more frustrating to the blonde at times. Alex loved that Olivia was nurturing. It was one of the things that had first attracted the blonde to the handsome detective. It made her heart swell when she saw how loving and caring Olivia was with their daughter. Lately, however, Alex felt like Olivia had replaced "nurture" with "micro-managing" – and the attorney already did enough of that for the two of them. While no strangers to arguments both personally and professionally, their bickering was almost constant at this point. Lately it was turning into all out brawls.

Alex sighed, flopping back on the couch, tearing open a bag of potato chips and flicking on the television in search of something mindless. Mia had just gone down for her nap and Olivia was out with Elliot, providing a nice requiem for the blonde. She was only about ten minutes into an episode of The Real Housewives, however, when she heard the doorknob to the brownstone jiggle. A couple of moments later, Olivia entered the room, and Alex forced herself to smile.

"Hey, what are you doing back so soon?"

"Try not to seem so happy to see me," the brunette said jokingly but with a clear undertone of tension.

"I just thought you and El were having a guy's day."

Olivia shrugged, before padding over to the kitchen. "We went to the bar and hung out for a bit. But I figured I wouldn't stay out so long. Take Mia off of your hands so you could relax." Walking over to the couch, she placed a glass of water on the end table next to Alex, taking her own with her to the arm chair.

"She's napping."

"I gathered from the lack of screeching toddler," Olivia said with a dry chuckle.

Alex gave a tight smile. "Well, you're welcome to join me. I'm just watching some Bravo."

Olivia looked over at the television at the overly made up women on the screen who had far too much plastic surgery. "Which city of Housewives?"

"Beverly Hills."

"Excellent," the brunette said with a chuckle, taking a sip.

Alex settled back against the pillows on the couch, resting her hands on her small bump. She was happy that the television session had been just that – no fighting, no pestering. She and Olivia had hardly spoken, but not due to tension this time. Instead, they chuckled along to the program, each inserting a quip or comment here or there.

About halfway through the program, Alex felt a flutter in her belly and gasped softly at the sensation of the baby kicking. This wasn't the first time it had happened, but it never ceased to bring a smile to her face, reminding her that she was actually carrying hers and Olivia's child. Although soft, the blonde's exclamation caught Olivia's attention. Smiling, Alex explained, "They're kicking again. Come feel."

With a grin, the detective hurried over the couch and gently placed a hand on Alex's belly underneath her thermal shirt. She smiled more widely when she felt the slightest movement underneath her palm. "Hi sweetheart," she said warmly, placing a kiss where her hand was.

Alex looked at her wife with a small smile. "Stay over here?" she requested, moving forward so that the detective could sit behind her. Although shocked by her wife's offer, Olivia figured she wouldn't risk the blonde changing her mind and sat behind her, wrapping her arms around Alex's frame. Placing a kiss on the blonde crown of her hair, the two resumed watching their show in comfortable silence.

After some time had passed, Alex felt her stomach growl slightly. For whatever reason, unlike with Mia, she was hungry all of the time during this pregnancy. Reaching down, she grabbed the bag of chips that had fallen off to the side of the couch, grabbing a handful out of the bag. Feeling Olivia stiffen, she turned and gave the detective a quizzical look before holding out her hand. "Want some?"

Olivia grimaced, a look of concern crossing her features. "Lex, what kind of chips are those…"

Knowing this conversation would likely not be fun, Alex pursed her lips and pulled herself up so she was no longer in Olivia's embrace, instead looking at the detective starkly. "Potato chips. Why?" she led, already knowing the answer.

"You know you're supposed to be watching your sodium…" Olivia began with a frown.

"Jesus Christ, Olivia. It's a bag of chips. A small bag."

"Dr. Gil said…"

"She said to eat healthy! Which I fucking do. And you know that. She didn't say I couldn't have a bag of chips now and then.

"Lex, it's more than just the chips. For someone who's so attentive – neurotic even – you're being completely lax with all of this."

Alex's eyes grew icy over her clear hurt. "You promised, Liv. You promised you would back off and actually trust me to take care of my body and our baby. Do you think I don't care about them?"

For the first time, Olivia looked shocked. "I didn't say that, Alexandra."

"Well that's what you're implying!" Alex shouted back.

Olivia shook her head. "I'm going to go check on Mia."

"Oh what, do you not trust that I can take care of her too? Do you think I just laid her down on the floor for her nap? God, I hope she's even in the apartment," Alex fired sarcastically.

"No, Alex," Olivia said evenly, the tension in her tone however clear, "I'm going to go to the other room because shouting and getting upset will raise your blood pressure."

Alex scoffed. "Well, Olivia, you know what. If you're worried about my blood pressure, how about after you check on Mia, you go stay with Elliot tonight."

~*~*~ Page Break ~*~*~ ~*~*~ Page Break ~*~*~ ~*~*~ Page Break ~*~*~ ~*~*~ Page Break ~*~

Olivia hardly slept that night.

It wasn't because the cots in the crib were uncomfortable, although that was certainly the case. Instead her mind was wrapped up in worry about hers and Alex's relationship. She didn't know how all of this had happened. Their relationship had been better than it ever had before they learned of the pregnancy complications. Within a week of that appointment, the tension between the two was palatable.

Olivia knew there had been times where she had overreacted. More times than she cared to admit if she was being honest to herself now… Of course she trusted Alex to take care of herself and the baby. She trusted Alex with her life. But at the same time, she didn't want to risk anything bad happening to either of them…

Ugh, Olivia sat up, ruffling her hair in frustration. Why couldn't Alex see that. Why couldn't her wife see that she was just trying to make sure everything went okay. That she was terrified of two of the most important people in her life getting hurt. Sighing, she looked at her cell phone. No response from Alex to her Goodnight – I love you text. It was 3:14 am. The wearied detective flopped back down against the cot and eventually willed herself into a restless sleep.

~*~*~ Page Break ~*~*~ ~*~*~ Page Break ~*~*~ ~*~*~ Page Break ~*~*~ ~*~*~ Page Break ~*~

"Benson."

Elliot heard the fatigue in his partner's voice when she picked up the phone. "Hey Liv, it's me. What, Mia keep you up late? Or Alex?" he said with a teasing tone, knowing full well from experience what the second trimester did to a woman's libido.

"Alex," Olivia grunted. "But not the way you're thinking. I'm in the crib."

"What, no angry make up sex?"

"Jesus Christ, Elliot," Olivia snapped. "Could you not." Wow, the male detective thought to himself. She's really in a mood.

"Okay, okay. What did she kick you out or something?"

"Yep." There was a pause. "I don't know what's wrong, El…"

"Liv, relax. This is all normal stuff. Couples fight. God, you and Alex fight like dogs. You're both under a lot of pressure right now. It's just a funk."

"I guess so."

"Look, I have to drop some DD-5s off at Alex's office before I come in. I'll bring her one of those croissants from Aimee's that she likes to soften her up. Say it's from you."

"Okay, thanks, El."

"See you soon, partner," Elliot said, flipping his phone closed. He chuckled to himself. For once, it was nice to be on the observational end of spousal fighting.

~*~*~ Page Break ~*~*~ ~*~*~ Page Break ~*~*~ ~*~*~ Page Break ~*~*~ ~*~*~ Page Break ~*~

Alex didn't bother to look up from her paperwork when she heard a knock on her door. "Yeah?" she called out.

Liz Donnelly entered the room and quirked her eyebrow at the young attorney. "Well who's got your panties in a twist, Cabot?"

Alex gave her boss as apologetic look as she could muster. "Sorry, Liz, I didn't sleep well last night."

"What, was Olivia doing something else with your panties?"

Alex rolled her eyes, flushing slightly. "Liz, please, I'm really not in the mood."

Liz sat in the chair across from her goddaughter. "I'm guessing you and Olivia had a fight?"

The younger blonde sighed heavily, flipping aimlessly through some documents. "We've fought before. We'll certainly fight again. Soon with how things have been lately."

"Baby stress?"

"What, being one type of counselor wasn't enough? You're the Freudian kind now too?" Alex quipped.

"Alexandra, I have known you since you were in diapers. And I knew your parents and the lovely temper you inherited from them. A temper that Olivia is not loathe to shy away from."

"She's just been on my back constantly, Liz," Alex said with a sigh. "I've been pregnant before. I know how to do it."

"And she hasn't been pregnant so she doesn't?"

"I didn't mean it that way," Alex responded discomfited.

"Alexandra, you know how protective Olivia is of you. Hell, when you were shot, all of us half expected her not to make it." Alex grimaced at the reference to that tragic event… and what she seldom dared to imagine it meant for her wife. "As frustrating as I do not doubt that it must be, she's just looking out for you. If she wasn't doing that, then I would be worried." Having imparted her wisdom, Liz stood up and headed for the door. She turned and gave Alex a devilish smile. "That said, don't even think you could get away with murder. Those SVU detectives are a ragtag bunch but they certainly are good at what they do."

"I know," Alex said, chuckling for the first time that day.

"What about us now?" Alex heard Elliot's voice call out. The detective entered her office a few moments later with a playful grin.

"You all don't need bigger heads," Alex joked, sitting back down at her desk. "What's up, El?"

"I come bearing DD-5s and an offering," Elliot posed.

"An offering? What, do you have a goat heart in your pocket?"

"Not this time," Elliot joked, holding up a brown paper bag. "From Liv. Your favorite croissant."

Alex sighed. "Tell her thank you for me."

"Seriously, Alex? Aren't you two being a little ridiculous."

"Look, El, I appreciate your concern. And Liz's. And I'm sure the whole department by now. But Olivia and I are fine. Fine enough. That said, I still need a little space from her right now, just to calm down."

"Just don't take too long, Cabot."

And as if on cue, suddenly an alarm when off. "CODE RED, CODE RED. WE HAVE AN ARMED INTRUDER IN THE BUILDING. BEGIN LOCKDOWN PROCEDURES IMMEDIATELY."

Chapter Text

Chapter 25

"CODE RED, CODE RED. WE HAVE AN ARMED INTRUDER IN THE BUILDING. BEGIN LOCKDOWN PROCEDURES IMMEDIATELY."

For a moment, everything was frozen. The air hung stagnant in the room.

Elliot was the first to move. "Alex, shut the blinds and then get down behind your desk. I'm going to lock the door," he commanded. The blonde attorney followed his instructions, almost automatonically, as though she was in a trance. Meanwhile, the detective rushed back towards the heavy wooden door, closing it swiftly and quietly. As he went to secure the lock, however, he was only able to jiggle the knob meaninglessly. "Alex, what's wrong with the lock?" he hushed.

In her position back behind her desk, the woman's pale skin became ghostly wan in recognition. "I- I forgot. It's broken. Ma-maintenance was supposed to come this afternoon," she stuttered.

Elliot ran his hand through his short patch of hair as he willed himself to remain calm. "Get down behind the desk," he ordered, "I'll move the couch in front of the door." Just as he was about to push the black leather sofa in front of the door, however, the knob turned and it banged open quickly, knocking Elliot backwards to the ground. One of SVU's former suspects entered the room, semi-automatic poised.

~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break

Olivia yawned and took another sip of the strong cup of coffee that she had made herself as she looked over another DD-5. Although her partner was dropping off a stack of the documents to Alex, the paperwork never seemed to end at SVU. She just hoped Elliot returned soon.

Thankfully, it was Friday and she had the weekend off, the detective thought to herself. Although she wasn't quite sure that the time spent at home would be anymore relaxing. While she wished that some simple space would solve the tension between her and Alex, she knew a conversation with her wife was inevitable. And she was dreading it.

Sighing heavily, Olivia turned the page and tried to drown herself in the task at hand to distract her from her personal life. She had been fairly successful, even losing track of time, until Cragen's voice broke her out of her concentration. She knew the tone he was using, and that never meant anything good. As she looked up, she caught sight of her watch. It was nearly 10 – where the hell was Elliot? Had something happened to her partner?

"What's going on, Captain?" she asked nervously, standing up from her seat.

"Olivia, come in to my office."

The brunette's eyes widened. Now she knew this wasn't good. Stomach churning, she followed the older man, shuffling back and forth on her feet until she heard the door shut "Cap –"

"Olivia, ESU just called. David Hoffman was spotted at One Hogan Place. He has a gun."

A fresh flood of adrenaline coursed through the detective. "Where is he? Alex – "

Cragen sighed. "Last visual they had, he was on her floor…" Noticing the look of pure panic that crossed Olivia's features, he quickly added "But they put the building on lockdown. To my knowledge, Elliot should be with her."

Olivia pulled her phone out of her pocket and looked at the screen. No missed calls. No texts. Something wasn't right…

"I need to get down there," she said, swinging around to exit.

Cragen grabbed her shoulder. "Olivia, you have to follow ESU's orders on this." The brunette steeled her jaw in defiance, but eventually nodded, knowing that it would be the fastest way to get her out of the precinct. "I'm coming with you," Cragen informed, opening the door. The two officers hurried out of the building and headed down Park Row, sirens blaring.

~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break

It happened so quickly. Before Elliot could get off of the ground, Hoffman had moved across Alex's small office and now had his gun pointed directly at the attorney, who cowered in fear, arms wrapped protectively over her stomach.

A few moments later, Elliot pulled out his pistol, pointing it at the gunman. "Hoffman! Come on now, put down the gun."

Hoffman chuckled sickeningly. "Come on now, Detective," he said, sanguine. "You know how this plays out. You tell me to drop my gun. I tell you that I'll shoot her. How about we expedite that by you giving me your weapon right now, before I blow the bitch's brains out." He grinned. "I don't think Detective Benson would like that."

Elliot willed his face not to fall as he debated what to do. In any other situation, he wouldn't give up this easily. He would continue to try to negotiate with the perp. But this wasn't any other situation. This was Alex. Olivia's Alex. And something about Hoffman's expression told him he wasn't playing when he said he would shoot her right on the spot.

"Okay," he finally remitted, holding his trigger hand up. He released the magazine and bullet to the ground and slid the parts over towards Hoffman, who stowed them away in his pocket.

"Glad to see your feeling amenable, Detective," Hoffman smiled. "I know you were trying to push the couch in front of the door, but the desk is much heavier. How about you move that?"

"Dustin –"

"Detective" the gunman responded, shaking his gun in Alex's direction.

Elliot sighed and stood, walking over to Alex's desk. Stealing a look behind it, he caught a glance of Alex's terror-stricken face. He had to come up with a plan. And come up with one quickly.

As Elliot pulled the heavy mahogany desk away from her, Alex startled before shaking wildly. She couldn't do this. Not again. Not after Velez. Not when she had a family. Not when she was pregnant… As though frightened themselves, the baby kicked in her belly wildly as she sat there, helpless.

Hoffman had clearly noticed her present condition. "Miss Cabot. It seems like congratulations are in order. You and Detective Benson must be happy." Alex looked at him blankly, too afraid to speak. "Yes, yes, I know you two are together now. Amazing what the Internet will do. Certainly explains all of the eye fucking you two were doing when you locked me up years ago. And now look at us all. You two are married. I'm sure Detective Stabler here was the best man. You have little girl and another baby on the way. Yep, that's right, I know about little Amelia. And I'm out of prison. Jeez, after all of these years, it's hard to think of anything that's the same. Except, oh that's right – " his playful tone turned into a growl, "My brother is still fucking dead because of you."

~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break

As they sped to One Hogan, Olivia went over the Hoffman case in her head. It had been years ago. A string of serial rapes and murders. The last victim was, unbeknownst to the perpetrators, a police officer. Andrew and David Hoffman were brothers and partners-in-crime. David did the hunting and violating, and Andrew covered up his brother's tracks by torturing and killing the victims, disposing of their bodies on the other side of the Hudson.

The men were completely loaded – trust fund children. This afforded them stellar council who, despite Alex's strongest efforts, got David Hoffman 15 years with eligibility for parole. Andrew, on the other hand, had not been so lucky. His murder of a police officer had earned him a needle in his arm.

Out of jail for good behavior, it now seemed like David was seeking revenge.

One Hogan was surrounded with police officers and ESU. Cragen and Olivia rushed through the mob of officers towards the ESU Lieutenant. "Lieutenant Daniels," Cragan called out, catching the man's attention.

"Captain Cragan," Daniels acknowledged. "One of your detective's is inside?"

Cragen nodded. "Elliot Stabler. This is his partner, Olivia Benson. Her wife is in the building. ADA Alex Cabot."

Daniels looked at the nervous woman in front of him. "Our officers are trying to get a visual, but we know that Hoffman has a semi automatic and that he's on the sixth floor."

"Alex works on that floor," Olivia relayed, trying her best to keep her emotions together.

Before Daniels could respond, an ESU officer interrupted, pulling Daniels aside and speaking to him, hushed. The commanding officer stiffened noticeably, clearly uncomfortable. After giving the officer a command, he watched back towards Cragen and Olivia. "I've just been informed that the team has a visual on Hoffman. He's in your wife's office and ADA Cabot and Detective Stabler are inside.

~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break ~*~~*~ Page Break

Flashback

Alex sighed heavily, flopping back on to the bed. She grabbed a book from the nightstand and tried to read it but quickly tossed it down in frustration.

She and Olivia had just had a fight. Their first major fight since they started dating a month ago. The detective had stormed out of her apartment and into the rain fifteen minutes ago.

Alex grabbed her phone and glanced down at it. No missed calls. No text messages. She was about to crawl under the covers and try to sleep when she heard a knocking on her door. Furrowing her brow, she padded to the living room and looked through the peephole. A very drenched Olivia was outside. Opening the door, she gave the detective a curious expression. "You have a key."

Olivia gave her a sheepish look and shrugged. "Patrick let me in the main door, but I wasn't sure if you would want me to come back to the apartment."

Alex sighed, stepping aside and letting the brunette into the hall. "Olivia, you are always welcome in my apartment."

Olivia looked down at her shoes. "We had a fight. A bad one."

Alex felt herself softening, unable to stay mad at the woman in front of her, the woman who she was falling desperately in love with. Placing her hand on the detective's cheek, she gently lifted the older woman's face so they were looking at each other. "Olivia Benson, the two of us are going to be fighting until we reach the grave."

The detective chuckled, finally giving a small smile. "I'm really sorry, Al."

Alex nodded. "I'm sorry too."

"I love you."

"I love you too." She took a step forward towards the detective but then stopped. "And I would hug you but you are soaking wet."

Olivia laughed. "Yeah, it's raining pretty hard out there."

"Is that why you decided to come back?" Alex joked.

Olivia shrugged. "I don't know. I just – wanted to see you. I didn't want to leave things like that… I know, it's stupid…"

"Hey," Alex gently stopped her. "It's not stupid." She gave the brunette a comforting smile and intertwined their hands. "When I was growing up, my parents had this rule. I mean, we used to fight. A lot. But we were never allowed to go to bed fully angry with one another. At least when I was a child. Sure, we would sometimes take up the argument again the next morning. But we always had to say 'I love you' before we went to sleep. My mom said it was because we never knew what the night would bring. I don't know, my parents and I had a lot of problems. But I always liked that we did that."

Olivia smiled softly, squeezing the attorney's hands. "Do you think we could do that too?"

"I'd really like that," Alex responded, burrowing herself into the detective's wet clothes.

"I love you, Alex Cabot."

"I love you too, Olivia Benson."

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Law and Order: SVU

A/N: I really appreciate your reviews! The next few chapters will be a bit intense, but I’m going to try to update frequently!

Chapter 26

She felt like they had been there for hours.

Realistically, from looking at the clock on her wall, Alex knew that the lockdown – and Elliot and her being taken hostage subsequently – had only been going on for a little over 40 minutes. Yet so much felt like it had happened.

Elliot was at her side now, both of their backs against her bookshelf while Hoffman paced back and forth in front of them. Alex knew his intentions weren’t good – that this wasn’t just some scare tactic. Even though he had everything to lose, it seemed that Hoffman was fixated on seeking revenge for having lost his brother. Alex was only thankful that he also seemed intent on making her and Elliot emotionally suffer – and she could only hope this would delay the inevitable long enough for ESU to get off a shot first.

She heard the sirens outside almost immediately. After all, One Hogan was only a couple of blocks from the police headquarters and it was chock full of government officials. ESU must have gathered they were in her office because the phone had been ringing non-stop for about twenty minutes now, a sound which Hoffman flatly ignored. She imagined the police presence outside was getting antsy knowing that they currently had so little control.

Alex hated feeling out of control like this. She had had her entire life stripped away from her before through WPP and never wanted to be on the receiving end of a perp’s violent threats again. The old Alex Cabot would stop at literally nothing to pursue justice. The new Alex Cabot was a mother and a wife.

She wanted her wife. She needed Olivia. To have her wife’s arms wrapped around her. To know that she and their baby were safe. She felt a tear roll down her cheek. She couldn’t even remember the last word she had said to her wife. It certainly hadn’t been I love you. All because of a stupid fight that didn’t even matter anymore…

Alex winced as a sharp pain shot through her abdomen. It had been happening on and off for about fifteen minutes, and the blonde attorney assumed it had something to do with the uncomfortableness of sitting on the floor at five months pregnant. Hoffman had ordered them not to move at all, so she couldn’t readjust herself. While she had been successful thus far in keeping her pain to herself, this time Elliot notice her grimace.

“Alex, you okay?” the male detective whispered.

“Yeah,” she hushed back, “I think I’m just in a weird position.”

Elliot furrowed his brow, evidently still concerned. “Hey David, how about we let Alex sit up in her chair. You know that she’s pregnant…”

Hoffman quirked an eyebrow at the suggestion. “I am well-aware. Speaking of, Miss Cabot, how far along are you?”

Alex glared at him, but Elliot gave her a look suggesting that she not cause a fuss. She wasn’t in much of a position to do otherwise. “5 months.”

“Oh, how exciting! I imagine little Amelia is looking forward to being a big sister.”

It took everything for Alex to stay calm for Hoffman even mentioning her daughter’s name. “Yes,” she responded simply.

Hoffman walked over to her desk and picked up fallen photo frame. Inside was a picture of Alex, Olivia, and Mia from over the summer at Coney Island. “What a beautiful little family. Okay Miss Cabot, you can go sit in your chair. Keep your hands where I can see them.” When Elliot moved to help her, he stopped him sharply. “No no, Detective Stabler, I’ve got it.” Alex whimpered as he crouched down next to her and pressed the gun against her temple. He wrapped his free arm around her waist and helped her to her feet, walking her over to her chair. “Take a load off, Miss Cabot. We have some time yet.”

Elliot debated inwardly how to move forward with the situation. Hoffman was proving to be a difficult read. “David, come on buddy, how can we help you out here?”

“Detective Stabler, buddy,” Hoffman echoed harshly, “I don’t see that there’s much you can do, seeing as my brother is dead.”

“David, I’m sorry. I know you cared about your brother.”

Hoffman chuckled. “You’re sorry? I’m sure you were outside applauding when they stuck a needle in his arm. After all, blue blood runs deep.”

Elliot noticed a change in Hoffman’s demeanor and figured the route of sympathy might be working. “I’m Catholic, David. We don’t believe in the death penalty. No matter what you brother did, taking his life doesn’t bring anyone back.”

“You should explain that to, Miss Cabot,” Hoffman said flippantly. As both men turned to face the attorney, however, they found her red-faced and contorted in pain.

“El-“ she panted out. “I think something’s wrong with the baby.”

~*~*Page Break*~*~~*~*Page Break*~*~~*~*Page Break*~*~~*~*Page Break*~*~

The last time Olivia had felt this helpless, she was on her knees on the sidewalk with Alex’s blood drenching her palms. Right now, she could only pray that Alex wasn’t in a similar situation… She shook her head as though to erase the thought from her mind. She couldn’t handle even considering that could be the case.

Neither ESU nor Cragen would let her near the building. In fact, Cragen was babysitting her. Not letting her out of his sight for fear that she would go against orders. Which wasn’t, she admitted, an inaccurate assumption.

Still, ESU had done jack shit. They hadn’t been able to get in touch with Hoffman on the phone and were moving at a snails speed getting into the building.

Looking up, Olivia noticed a sniper on one of the nearby buildings, weapon directed right at Alex’s window.

Daniels beckoned the captain and detective over towards where he and several officers were crowded around a phone. They hurried over towards the group. “We’ve made contact,” Daniels whispered to both of them. “Stay quiet or step aside.” He moved back to the phone. “David, this is Lt. Daniels again. What’s going on right now?”

“I’ve got a gun on your ADA and your detective.”

“Look, David, we don’t want things to turn out bad for anyone, including you. Now, we can make this nice and easy. You can walk out of this clean.”

Olivia heard the man chuckle on the other line. “Oh this won’t be nice and easy, Lieutenant, don’t lie.”

“David-“

“Actually, Lieutenant, it already isn’t nice or easy in here. You see, I think Miss Cabot here is sick.”

Olivia felt her heart drop and only Cragen’s hand on her shoulder kept her from shouting out at the bastard.

“David, what’s wrong with ADA Cabot? Is she injured?”

There was some static of Alex’s phone being switched over to speaker. The sound of Alex moaning in pain echoed through the phone.

“You son of a bitch,” Olivia growled, earning a look of disapproval from Daniels and the other ESU officers.

“Is that Detective Benson,” Hoffman asked cheerily. “I’m sure your wife would love to talk to you right now. Isn’t that right, Miss Cabot.”

There was a pause before the detective heard Alex’s voice. “Olivia,” she sobbed, clearly trying to remain calm in spite of the physical and emotional pain she was in, “I think that something is wrong with the baby.”

Sweat pooled on Olivia’s brow as panic filled her. She looked up at Daniels, who nodded. “Hey Alex, I’m here sweetheart. What’s wrong?”

“My stomach… it hurts up high. And my head.”

“Okay, Alex, hang in there. We’re going to get you help,” she comforted, as calmly as she could manage.

“It’s not good to make promises that you can’t keep, Detective,” Hoffman taunted.

“David, please,” Olivia practically begged. “Please just let Elliot bring Alex outside. We can fix this…”

“I’ll think about it, Detective. But right now, I have to go. It seems that your wife needs some attendance.” Olivia heard Alex scream one last time before the line went out.

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Elliot pressed his lips to Alex’s forehead, feeling the heat rising off of the attorney’s skin. “Alex, sweetie, you have a fever. Hoffman, I need to get her some water.”

Hoffman looked around the room and caught sight of Alex’s reusable water bottle. He picked it off and tossed it over to Elliot, smiling in amusement.

“Alex, I’m going to help you lay down.” Lifting the blonde from the chair, he lowered her to the ground gently, resting her head on his thigh. He then tore off two parts of his sleeve and dampened them with the cool water, placing them on Alex’s forehead and neck in an effort to cool her down. He looked up at Hoffman. “She needs to go to the hospital.”

“Oh but we’re not done with our game yet, detective. I’ve been waiting years for this.”

“What the hell do you want, Hoffman!” Elliot shouted, the noise making Alex groan.

“I want revenge,” Hoffman said, stepping forward with his gun pointed at the detective’s forehead. A shot rang out into the room.

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ESU moved quickly up the stairs to the sixth floor. Slamming the battery ram into the door to Alex’s office, the desk on the other side was dismantled, allowing them to rush into the room. Hoffman lay dead on the floor, a sniper’s bullet having gone through the window and right through his temple. Clean shot.

After having assessed any imminent risk, the officers turned their attention to the two hostages.

It was only minutes later that Olivia rushed into the room, having broken free from Cragen and Daniels. Her body filled with relief upon seeing her wife was still alive, however this soon faded when she assessed what bad physical shape that she was in. “Alex!” she shrieked, rushing to her side.

“L- Liv?” the blonde sputtered, clearly in pain. Her eyes were squeezed shut and her sweat was drenching her clothing and Elliot’s pant leg.

“I’m here, baby, I’m here,” Olivia cried, grabbing one of the blonde’s waxy hands. She brushed her fingers against Alex’s forehead and gasped when she felt the heat under her fingertips.

“We need EMS!” Elliot instructed one of the ESU officers sharply.

“L-Liv I- “

“Shh, sweetheart, don’t speak. Just try to relax. We’re gonna get you to a doctor.”

“Gon- gonna be sick,” Alex groaned before vomiting profusely out on to the ground, splattering both detectives.

“Shh, it’s okay, Alex,” Olivia comforted, rubbing the attorney’s back even though she gave Elliot a fear-stricken look. “I love you sweetheart. I promise you, it will be okay.”

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Law and Order: SVU

Chapter 27

“35-year-old female, severe abdominal pain, fever, headache, and vomiting. 20 weeks pregnant.”

EMS rushed Alex into the emergency room, Olivia in tow. The attorney’s condition had worsened noticeably in spite of the IV fluids they had given her in the bus on the ride over.

“Olivia,” Alex groaned as they transferred her over on to a cot, whipping the curtains closed to give her privacy until the attending arrived.

“Yes sweetheart?”

“Where’s Mia?”

“Elliot’s taking care of her, sweetheart. Don’t worry.”

“Liv,” the blonde continuing, opening her eyes to look at her wife. “Yesterday. This morning. I’m so sorry…”

“Shh, Alex, it doesn’t matter anymore,” the detective replied, holding on of Alex’s hands between her own. “Right now all that matters is that you and the baby are okay.”

Alex stifled a sob. “What if I’m losing the baby?”

Olivia’s face slackened as she struggled to both come up with a response and acknowledge that very possible reality. Before she could say anything, however, the curtains were pulled aside and Dr. Gil entered. “Alex, Olivia,” she greeted, “The ER paged me and I happened to be in delivery. I came as soon as I heard.”

“Do you have any idea what’s wrong?” Olivia asked nervously.

Dr. Gil frowned. “We’ll have to confirm with 24-hour urine sampling, but preliminary tests and Alex’s symptoms are suggestive of preeclampsia.”

Alex let out a sob as the reality of the situation began to settle – all of this time, she had been arguing with Olivia about not worrying. But her wife had been right.

“What does that mean?” the brunette asked, rubbing Alex’s hand soothingly.

“Essentially, Alex’s blood pressure is way too high,” Dr. Gil explained. “Lack of blood flow to the placenta or placental abruption are a risk. But right now we’re more concerned this will turn into eclampsia or HELLP syndrome.” She took a moment to gauge the women’s reactions and realized they were both terrified and confused. “HELLP syndrome involves the destruction of red blood cells. It can damage your liver… your kidneys. And eclampsia can cause seizures. They’re both life-threatening. Alex, you have some of the symptoms so we need to run some blood tests to make sure it hasn’t progressed that far.

“And if it has?” the blonde asked, now crying openly from pain and emotions.

“If it’s HELLP or eclampsia, we will have to terminate the pregnancy immediately,” Dr. Gil explained soberly. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet though. Alex, Nurse Gia is going to take some of your blood. I’ll be back as soon as it’s analyzed.”

As the nurse collected Alex’s blood, neither of the women spoke – each looking into space blankly, tears running down their faces. Soon Alex began sobbing uncontrollable, and Olivia rushed to her side.

“Shh, sweetheart,” she managed, running her fingers through Alex’s blonde tendrils. “Just try to stay calm.”

“This- thi- this is all my- fault,” Alex hiccupped.

Olivia directed Alex’s chin upwards so they were looking at each other. “Alex,” she said firmly, “None of this is your fault.”

“You were right! I should have taken better care of myself.”

“Sweetheart, you did take good care of yourself…”

“No I didn’t! Not enough.”

“Alex, sweetheart, you need to try to stay calm,” Olivia coaxed, pulling the blonde against her. She didn’t blame Alex. Even though her wife hadn’t taken all of the precautions she perhaps could have, what was happening wasn’t her fault.

“Olivia, you have to promise me that if something happens, you have to save the baby.”

“Al –”

“Olivia, promise me!” Alex pleaded, tear-filled orbs piercing Olivia’s gaze.

Olivia hesitated, unsure of if this was a vow that she could keep. Her aching heart, however, won out. “I promise.”

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Olivia fought to keep her heavy eye-lids from drooping. It was just shy of 2 am, and they had been at the hospital for hours now. Alex had been drifting in and out of dozing, physically and emotionally exhausted. Although Olivia was completely drained, her protectiveness didn’t allow her to get some rest, and instead she held vigil over her wife’s sleeping form.

The brunette detective tried to let the constant rhythm of Alex’s heart monitor lull her into some sense of calm but the effort was futile. It was preeclampsia. Dr. Gil had confirmed the diagnosis earlier in the evening. Although the doctor had tried to comfort the couple by explaining that preeclampsia was a treatable condition – even so early in the pregnancy – Olivia could sense the woman’s alarm under the guise of reassurance. If Alex noticed, she must have been in denial. The blonde was far too quick to brush off the potential complications – stroke, seizure, pulmonary edema, heart failure. “If I take the drugs and stay on bed rest, we’ll both be okay,” the blonde had tried to assure her wife, smiling for the first time in days.

Olivia wasn’t as easily relieved. Under any other circumstance, she knew Alex wouldn’t have been either. The math wasn’t on their side. With preeclampsia, doctors would induce labor by 37 weeks to protect both the parent and child. Alex was at 20 weeks. The baby wouldn’t even be viable for a couple more.

The baby. Their baby. Olivia was already so in love with this child, just as she had been with Mia. Perhaps even more so than during Mia’s pregnancy, because she already knew how intensely incredible a mother’s love for her child could be. When Dr. Gil had given Alex an ultrasound earlier, neither woman was able to keep from crying. This baby was already a part of their family.

The moon light reflected off of Alex’s pale skin as she lay on her left side, an attempt to take the pressure of the baby’s weight off of her blood vessels. Her face was swollen from fluid retention, as were her wrists, one of which rested protectively around her bump. Her brow was furrowed, indicative that she was in a restless sleep. The detective sighed. Even though she was currently blaming herself for what was happening, she knew Alex was doing so even more and that she would have little luck in convincing the attorney otherwise until both she and the baby were okay.

Olivia didn’t know if she believed in God, but she prayed they would be okay.

She prayed until she finally succumbed to her ongoing fight with sleep.

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The sound of rapid screeching jolted Olivia awake a few hours later. Disoriented, she tried to refocus. Beeping. Monitors. Hospital. Alex. Baby.

She jumped from her seat panicked and horrified at the site of her wife convulsing on her cot.

“Somebody help!” Olivia screamed, rushing over to Alex’s side and trying to hold her still. The blonde continued to shake, eyes rolling backwards and saliva pooling on the sheets next to her mouth. Within moments, a team of nurses burst into the room. “What’s happening to her,” Olivia asked a younger Asian American woman desperately.

“Ma’am, I need you to stay out of the way,” the nurse responded, gently pushing the stunned detective backwards as she continued to watch, completely terror-stricken.

“Tonic clonic seizure,” a red-headed male nurse called out. “Push 5.0 mEq magnesium sulfate!”

“Airway is clear!” a middle-age woman called out.

“Keep her on her side.”

“Convulsions are stopping.”

“Pupils are fixed and dilated”

“Blood pressure is 190/120”

“Page Dr. Gil immediately.”

The team of nurses moved rapidly, starkly contrasted with Olivia’s all but frozen stance. The quickly raised the bars on the side of Alex’s cot and unlocked the wheels, pushing it towards the door. A hand on her shoulder finally pulled the detective out of her trance. The middle-aged nurse spoke to her with a tone that combined both comfort and urgency. “Miss, we need you to come with us.” Olivia blinked rapidly a couple of times before turning quickly to follow the team – and more importantly, Alex – out into the hall.

“What’s happening?” Olivia cried out, grabbing the woman’s arm as she anxious watched Alex’s unconscious form be pushed down the hall.

The nurse explained quickly, neither of them slowing their pace of walking. “Your wife is in a hypertensive emergency. We need to get her to the OR now.”

“The OR?” Olivia stuttered. “Please, can you help her? What about the baby?”

The nurse pursed her lips, unsure of what to say.

“Can you help them?” Olivia cried out in frustration. Dr. Gil rushed over, relieving the nurse of her unfortunate duty.

“Olivia,” she said soberly but with equal exigency, “I need to get her consent.”

“What is happening,” Olivia asked desperately, “No one has told me what’s going on.”

Dr. Gil sighed. “Alex’s blood pressure is dangerously high. If we don’t get it lowered, she could stroke or have a heart attack.”

Olivia clamped her hand over her mouth. “Please, you have to help her,” she choked out.

“We’re going to do everything we can,” Dr. Gil said resolutely. She paused. “Olivia, we need to delivery the baby now.”

Olivia let out a sob. “The baby is only 20 weeks.”

“I know. I am so sorry.”

“You can’t- I pro- I promised Alex I would do- anything to save the baby,” Olivia sputtered, trying to hold back her tears.

Dr. Gil placed a gentle hand on the brunette’s elbow. “Olivia, the baby is in severe fetal distress. There’s nothing we can do to save them.”

“I can’t – ”

“Dr Gil! BP is up to 200/135!” a nurse called out frantically.

“Olivia, we need your consent to operate now!” Dr. Gil demanded desperately.

Olivia took one last look at her wife, who was growing paler by the second.

“Deliver the baby,” she choked out.

A/N: *dodges objects being thrown* I’m sorry you guys. This broke my heart to have to write. As I mentioned, the next couple chapters will be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but things will turn around, I promise!

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Law and Order: SVU

A/N: A lot of emotions coming. I hate doing this to these characters, but I think it’s important to be realistic in reflecting a lot of the problems that couples face, including the loss of a child. Plus Olivia and Alex are strong as individuals and as a couple – I promise you all that they will get through this and happier times will come soon! Feedback is always welcome including ideas about where you would like to see the story go. I’ll try to incorporate them so long as they fit the plot map!

Thank you so much to all of those who have been following this story, especially those of you who have taken the time to review. It really means a lot!

Shoutout to the most recent reviewers: trace619, Akalittlered2, SilentDaughter, Hope03, chloeabbyalex, peterpeter, and “guests”. Be sure to check out everyone’s stories that they’ve written!

Chapter 28

When Alex’s eyes fluttered open, all she saw at first was light. Blinding fluorescent light. She blinked several times to adjust her eyesight, which remained blurry in the absence of her glasses. Still groggy, she slowly recollected that she was in the hospital. Dr. Gil had started her on medication for preeclampsia. She had fallen asleep.

As Alex was trying to recollect what was happening, she caught sight of the outline of her wife, who was sitting looking out the window of the hospital room.

“Liv?” the blonde called out hoarsely, her throat and lips chapped and dehydrated.

The detective jumped, clearly startled. She eased very slightly when she realized it was her wife calling out her name. “Thank God,” Alex heard the brunette whisper softly as she quickly came over to Alex’s bedside. “Thank God you’re okay.”

“My glasses?” Alex requested. She tried to move but stopped as a sudden jolt of pain coursed through her abdomen. Furrowing her brow in confusion, she waiting until Olivia handed the black frames to her. With her glasses on, Alex was finally able to see the detective’s face. On top of the dark bags that had formed underneath them, Olivia’s eyes were red and swollen, the surrounding skin splotchy and wet. She had clearly been crying. Alex leaned into her touch as the brunette gently caressed her face. After a few moments of comfort, she pierced the heavy silent ear with a question, “What happened?”

Olivia’s already wearied face became crestfallen, and she looked down, unable to meet Alex’s gaze. The blonde felt her own nervousness brewing with her wife’s atypical reaction. “Your blood pressure – uh – your blood pressure was too high, Alex. It got up to 200/135. They were scared you would stroke… or have a heart attack.” Olivia took a deep breath to try to brace herself as tears started to flood down her face. “You had a seizure and were unconscious,” she continued to explain, voice cracking, “They took you to the OR –“

“What about the baby,” Alex interrupted. “Are they okay?” she asked, hands instinctually reaching down to her blanket-covered belly, which still maintained a small curve of a bump.

Olivia moved to speak, fighting almost futilely against her sobs, trying to stay strong for her wife. “They- they had to deliver the baby, Al.”

Alex observed her wife in confusion, reaching out and holding her hand to comfort her. “Okay. So they’re in the NICU? Can a nurse bring me to see them? Please, Olivia?”

Olivia looked up and met Alex’s hopeful blue eyes before turning her head back down in shame. She realized her wife thought the baby had made it. Didn’t yet grasp that her decision to have the baby delivered had been a decision to terminate.

“Al- ” Olivia said hoarsely, so quietly that the blonde had to strain to hear her. “Alex, the baby didn’t make it.”

Alex’s entire world froze. Her hand clamped down on Olivia’s, nails begging to pierce the olive skin beneath them. Shaking, she began to chant “No, no, no, no, no.” This couldn’t be happening. Their baby couldn’t be gone. Just hours ago she had felt them fluttering in her belly. The baby couldn’t just be gone like that. Gone without a goodbye.

“Olivia.” She cried out. “Olivia, please. Where is our baby?”

The brunette looked shell-shocked, almost frozen. Slowly she lifted herself from where she had been crouching next to Alex’s bedside and walked across the room to a small basinet – Alex hadn’t even noticed it until now. She turned around a moment later cradling a small bundle of swaddling clothes in her arms. Tears continued to run down the detective’s cheeks as she returned to Alex’s bedside. “Our son,” she introduced softly, tilting the bundle so Alex could see. The room was silent as Alex observed the small baby, who was only slightly larger than Olivia’s palm. His skin was purplish red and taunt over an underdeveloped frame and his eyes were closed as though he was peacefully sleeping. The nurses had placed a tiny blue knit cap on his head. He was beautiful.

Alex’s mouth gaped open as she tried to absorb the fact that this was their son and that he was gone. She looked up at Olivia, who was crying silently, holding the baby as though he was the most precious treasure. Alex held out her arms, willing her to pass her their child. With the bundle finally in her arms, the blonde tentatively brushed the tip of her pinky finger against their son’s cheek. He was cold.

It was at that moment that Alex broke down into violent sobs. Sobbing for their son. Sobbing for their loss. Sobbing for how she had failed to protect him. She felt Olivia wrap her strong arms around her frame, holding her tightly as she too cried, the salt of their tears running down their faces and stinging Alex’s chapped lips.

Time seemed suspended as Olivia and Alex sat mourning their little boy, but eventually their sobbing ceased, both women wearied and spent. Alex continued to hold the baby, rocking him gently in her arms. “Was he born alive,” she finally rasped, her eyes never leaving his face.

Olivia nodded. “He lived for three minutes after he was born.”

“Was he- was he alone when it happened?”

“I was holding him. Telling him how much we love him.”

Alex nodded soberly, relieved that her son’s final moments had been those of lovingness and comfort. “What- what happened?” she whispered.

“After you had the seizure, you were in a hypertensive crisis. The uh, the nurses rushed you out of the room to the OR. Dr. Gil – Dr. Gil found me and she explained that you would have a stroke or a heart attack if they didn’t deliver the baby. She asked for my consent to – ”

Alex stiffened. “Your consent? Your consent to deliver the baby?”

Olivia nodded.

“So you did this? You told them to deliver him. To deliver him when he didn’t stand a chance,” she asked, the questions laced with the hurt of betrayal.

“Alex, I didn’t have a ch-”

“You promised me Olivia! You promised me that no matter what you would save him. You fucking promised!” Alex screamed in rage.

“Al- “ the brunette tried, reaching out to touch her.

“No!” she shot back angrily between sobs, slapping her hand away. “Get out, Olivia! Just… just leave!”

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Olivia was shaking when she walked out of the hospital doors. Robotically, she reached into her leather jacket and grabbed her car keys only to remember that both hers and Alex’s vehicles were still parked at their offices. Catching the eye of a nearby cabbie, she hopped into the vehicle.

“Where can I take you tonight, ma’am?” the driver asked, starting the engine to the vehicle.

Olivia froze. She hadn’t thought that far. Did she just go home? No, Mia. She needed to see Mia right now. She needed to see her daughter.

“125 80th Street, Queens” Olivia replied before looking back one last time at New York Presbyterian. Considering one last time whether or not she should actually leave…

The humming of the engine startled her back into her body, and the cab whipped out of the drive way.

“Getting a bit chilly out,” the cabbie mused, driving to strike up a conversation. It was getting cold. Bitter even.

“Mhmm,” Olivia responded absentmindedly, lost in her own thoughts.

“Queens is quite a ways away.”

“Yeah, um, I have to pick up my daughter. She’s staying with a friend.”

“Ah, I see,” the cab driver said with a smile. “My daughter’s all grown up now. 32. Married. She’s got two little one’s – a girl and a boy. Perfect little family.”

Olivia forced a polite smile before turning back towards the window, quietly allowing her tears to fall.

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“Ms. Cabot-Benson?” A gentle voice pulled Alex’s attention away from where it had been fixed for the past twenty minutes. Looking up from her son, she was met with the kind face of an older woman dressed in a sweater and slacks. “My name is Fiona. I’m a social worker. How are you feeling, dear?” the older woman asked.

Alex let out a harsh chortle. ‘How does she think I feel?’ she thought to herself bitterly. Reconsidering, however, she realized none of this was the woman’s fault. “I’m sorry.”

Fiona gave her a sympathetic smile, placing a comforting hand on her blanket-covered leg. “It’s okay, dear. Times like this don’t warrant logic.”

Alex pursed her lips before looking down at the baby again, the discomfort of the situation settling in. It had been one thing when it was just her and her son alone. Or the two of them and Olivia. Now she felt as though she and her grief were on display.

Fiona, however, was clearly well-versed in these kinds of situations, and continued on smoothly. “Your son is very beautiful. Does he have a name?”

Alex frowned and shook her head. “We didn’t have a chance to… There wasn’t…” she trailed off.

Fiona nodded in understanding. “I saw in your file that you have a partner, Olivia. Is she here with you, Alex?”

Again, Alex gaped for words – something the loquacious attorney was not used to. “I- I um. I told her to leave…” she said before looking down at the blankets shamefully.

“Alex,” Fiona started, placing her hand on top of the younger woman’s, “Losing a child is an unbearable pain. It’s an experience that no one can understand. Even with other parents who have lost children – every experience is unique and different. But Olivia, she’s the person who will most be able to understand what you are going through – the anger, the sadness, the guilt. You brought this beautiful boy into the world as a couple, and now you have to mourn him together as well.”

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Olivia paid the cabbie his fair and a generous tip before she headed up the walk to the Stabler’s house and knocked on the door. She could here the padding of feet all over the house and she looked down at her watch. It was almost 3. The kids would have just gotten home from school.

Suddenly, the door swung open and Lizzie stood in front of her. “Auntie Liv,” she greeted cheerfully. She then seemed to remember the situation and sobered. “How is Aunt Alex?”

“Hey, sweetheart,” Olivia greeted, stepping into the house and placing a kiss on the girl’s head. “She’s doing better.”

“What about the baby,” Dickie called out from a nearby couch where he was working on his homework and eating a snack.

Olivia froze. Thankfully, Kathy entered the room and interceded. “Dickie, Lizzie, please take your homework and snack upstairs to your rooms. Dad, Olivia, and I have to have a chat,” she instructed.

“I’m not allowed to have room upstairs,” DIckie wavered, teetering back and forth on his feet as he looked at his mom suspiciously.

“It’s okay this time, Dickie,” Kathy replied, trying to seem as nonchalant as possible. “Now head on up you two. I’ll call you when it’s time for dinner.”

“And before Auntie Liv leaves?”

“Yes, and before she leaves.”

As the twins scurried upstairs, Kathy sighed and her face filled with concern. “How are you, Liv? How is Alex?”

Olivia inhaled heavily. “Ah, she’s okay. You know… I just wanted to see Mia,” she added simply, not wanting to get into the details with her partner’s wife.

Kathy nodded understandingly. “She’s napping in our room.”

Walking down the hall, Olivia quietly pushed open the door to Elliot and Kathy’s bedroom. Mia was fast asleep in Eli’s playpen, blonde hair mussed and tousled, thumb in her mouth. Olivia felt her eyes pooling with tears as she walked over to her daughter and gently rubbed the baby’s back. The tears began to fall even faster when she wrinkled her face in her sleep, an expression that she had inherited from Alex.

Engrossed in watching over Mia, Olivia didn’t notice that Elliot had entered the room for several minutes and when she felt his presence, she startled. Giving one last look at the sleeping child, she gestured towards the adjoining bathroom so that their voices wouldn’t wake the toddler.

Once the door was shut behind them, Elliot took in the totality of his partner’s wearied appearance as he patiently waited for her to speak.

Olivia looked down self-consciously. “She told me to leave.”

“What?” Elliot asked, trying to hide his astonishment.

Olivia looked up at her partner. “She told me that I promised her that I would save him no matter what and I broke that promise. And that I needed to leave,” Olivia said, beginning to whimper.

“Liv-“

At the sound of the address, Olivia began sobbing heavily. “Sh-she’s right. I didn’t do it. I- I didn’t protect him. I- I kill- killed our baby,” she heaved as she fell into Elliot’s embrace, tears staining the chest of his shirt.

“Olivia. Olivia look at me right now,” Elliot demanded sternly. “You did not kill your son. I know that. The doctors know that. You know that. Even Alex knows that.”

“Alex said- “

“Alex is grieving. You both are. You just lost your child. But Olivia, this is not your fault. It’s not either of your faults. Sometimes things like this just happen.”

Olivia looked into Elliot’s blue eyes, which were filled with their own tears. “I want to know why,” she sobbed out. “I just want to know why.”

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Law and Order: SVU

A/N: Thank you all for your support with the last chapter. I know it was a difficult read. Now begins the healing process.

Chapter 29

After Fiona departed the room, Alex was left deep in thought, trying to collect herself. Her emotions were a complete blur – the physical pain she was starting to feel was nothing in comparison to the psychic pain. Never before had she been this devastated.

She had lashed out on Olivia. There was a part of Alex that wished she could displace the blame – even on to someone she loved more deeply than she could have ever imagined – so she wouldn’t have to confront the fact that her actions led to her son’s death. She didn’t resent Olivia – she resented herself. She wished she could go back in time – wished she could see that specialist Olivia had called, monitored her food better, not overworked herself. But she couldn’t. And that fact settled over her with a hallow emptiness.

A soft knock beckoned her attention. Expecting to see Fiona once more or another nurse, Alex was surprised to find her Uncle Bill in the doorway. The older man walked softly over to Alex’s bedside, taking a seat next to the blonde.

“Uncle Bill,” Alex started, coming out of her shock, “What are you – “

“Your godmother called. Liz said that you told her not to come – “

“I wasn’t up for visitors,” Alex began apologetically.

“You don’t need to apologize, Alexandra. Liz understands. But she also figured that you needed some sort of family here. And well, I’m stubborn. That’s the Harriman way,” he explained, earning a small smile from the blonde. The two were quiet for a moment, and Alex furrowed her brow when her uncle suddenly lowered his head in shame. “Alexandra, your Aunt Evelyn and I owe you and Olivia the deepest apology. Although it was a bit of a shock – well, maybe it shouldn’t have been… Regardless, your aunt and I have never had any problem about who you were. And we should have defended you at Amelia’s party. It was cowardly not to.” He looked up at her, and Alex swore she could see the glimmer of a tear in the normally stoic judge’s eye. “Alex, can you forgive me?”

The younger woman’s mouth gaped slightly. “Ye- yes, of course, Uncle Bill.”

Judge Harriman exhaled heavily in relief, leaning over and given Alex a kiss on the head. Having reconciled with his niece, with slight discomfort he moved to acknowledge the still child in Alex’s arms.

“Is this…”

Alex stiffened and nodded, not daring to make eye contact because she knew she would fall apart once more. “The nurses say that they have to take him soon.”

“Alexandra,” the man began, his tone bearing the sympathy of a family member and the wisdom of a judge, “I cannot even imagine the pain that you and Olivia are going through right now. And I know there are probably reasons she’s not here right now that you’d rather not discuss. But for what it’s worth, she needs to be here when you say goodbye to your son. And you need her here too.”

Tears beginning to pool in her eyes, Alex nodded rapidly, knowing he was right.

Judge Harriman nodded soberly, walking towards the door. He hesitated before leaving, however, and ultimately resolve to turn back around. “Alex, I regret that your mother didn’t have the chance to see the family you’ve created. My sister, well, she was stuck in her times, but you need to know, Alexandra – and I say this because it is the truth – that she would have been incredible proud of the woman, and the wife and mother, you’ve become.

~*~*~*Page Break*~*~*~ ~*~*~*Page Break*~*~*~ ~*~*~*Page Break*~*~*~

Olivia stood outside the suite door, trying to prepare herself. After a little over an hour at the Stabler’s house, her cell had rung and she heard Alex’s raspy voice asking her to please come back. Elliot had driven her, sirens on to expedite the trip.

Now her she was outside of Alex’s room. Just standing.

Sighing heavily to release the tension that had built in her chest, the detective finally opened the door and walked in. For a moment, the two women just looked at each other solemnly, nervously, exhaustedly. A moment later, both were consumed by tears.

No longer caring about the awkwardness, the pain she had felt from Alex’s words, the guilt she was feeling herself, Olivia moved to her wife’s bedside and pulled her into her arms. As they cried, the two women expressed to one another what perhaps words could not say, each letting each and every last emotion flow into the hospital’s stale air. Some time after, when the pace of their breathing had both shallowed, they pulled away, never letting go of each other’s hands.

“Olivia,” Alex choked, “I know you can never forgive me for what I said to you. But I know this wasn’t your fault. That you couldn’t have stopped it.”

Olivia nodded sadly. Looking up from their entwined hands to her wife’s face, she rejoined, “It wasn’t your fault either, Alexandra.” Alex closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. “I promise you,” the brunette added, caressing her knuckles alongside Alex’s jaw.

Alex nodded solemnly. “I want to know why it happened,” she rasped out.

“Me too.”

Alex choked out a sob. “I want him back.”

“Me too, Alex, me too,” Olivia said, tears pooling in her eyes. “Can I – can I hold him?”

Alex carefully laid their small newborn in her wife’s arms, pulling her gently back against the pillows so they were lying next to each other, the blonde resting against Olivia’s chest.

“I love you so much, Alex,” Olivia avowed, her eyes never leaving their son’s face – a face, which she noticed for the first time, already bore Alex’s nose. “Nothing will ever change that.”

“I love you too, Liv,” the blonde said as they continued to spend their final moments with their son. “We’re going to get through this.”

Olivia nodded. “We will.”

The women continued to hold each other and their son until the nurse came, fluctuating from crying to smiling at memories to simply just breathing. Knowing they would never have closure, but that they had each other and their daughter, the couple said a tear-filled goodnight to Maxwell Alexander Cabot-Benson.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Law and Order: SVU

IMPORTANT A/N, PLEASE READ: Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this story so far! I’ve been doing some thinking, and this will be the last chapter of this fanfic. But do not fear! In lieu of continuing this story in long-form, I want to start writing oneshots in this A/O “universe.” Essentially, I’m having some trouble keeping up with the slower pace of long-form writing over the years of Alex and Olivia’s life, and I think that one shots will allow me to continue this story in a more successful way. Plus I can give my other long-form fanfic, “Run Through Your Heart,” some attention.

An added bonus is I will really be looking for your feedback/input! This last chapter is going to be an epilogue to the story that jumps ahead in time. So my oneshot series will be a place where I can start “filling in the blanks.” Essentially, if you have any event you want to see before, during, or after the storyline for “Always You: Take 2,” leave it in the comments or PM me! I hope to start the oneshot series over the next couple of days so I could use the ideas!

Again, thank you all for your continued support!
-iamtheunknown15

Chapter 30: Epilogue

Present Day – 2016

Olivia Benson had always been a light sleeper. So it was no surprise when the clamor of dishes in the kitchen startled the brunette out of her sleep. She glanced over at her wife, who was out cold, mouth hanging open gracelessly, and quietly chuckled. While the blonde struggled with insomnia on-and-off, when she was asleep, she was certainly asleep.

Stretching before slipping out of bed, Olivia padded across the bedroom towards the hall, sliding on her bathrobe before she exited. Approaching the kitchen, she heard her daughter’s chiding voice.

“Shh! We gotta be quiet or they’re gonna wake up,” Mia hushed. Olivia heard another clang of silverware before Mia sighed in frustration. Olivia couldn’t see the small blonde, but knew that she was probably massaging the bridge of her nose in frustration -- one of the countless traits that she had picked up from her other mother. While Mia had certainly inherited some of Olivia’s traits – her fierce empathy for one – as she grew older, family and friends joked that she was becoming more and more a carbon copy of Alex.

With curiosity getting the better of her, Olivia finally decided to peak around the corner to see what kind of project was unfolding. “Good morning,” she greeted with a mischievous glint, poking her head into the kitchen.

Mia, who was in the process of spreading some butter on a piece of toast, looked up, brown eyes – her one distinguishing trait from Alex – wide from the intrusion. “It was supposed to be a surprise!” the seven-year-old lamented.

Olivia looked around at the kitchen, which was in complete shambles – every surface coated in crumbs and sugar, fruit juice on the floor, fridge open. Peeking around the island was her younger daughter, who was currently covered in jam. She laughed. “Sadie, what on earth happened to you?”

The four-year-old gave her a toothy grin. “Happy mowther’s day, mommy!”

Mia frowned, still focused on getting the right amount of butter on to the bread. “She was trying to help, but she just kept dropping things,” she explained with exasperation.

Olivia shook her head at her older daughter’s perfectionism. “Well, it’s the thought that counts! And I have two very thoughtful daughters,” she said with a smile, scooping up the sticky younger girl. “Plus, you can still surprise Mama.”

“She still asleep?” Mia asked eagerly.

Olivia chuckled. “Yes she is. How about you finish setting up the plates while I get this little monkey clean? And then we can surprise her.”

“Okay mommy,” Mia agreed with a smile, spirit renewed. The woman placed a kiss on the crown of her blonde hair and she looked up. “Happy mother’s day!”

“Thank you, baby. Okay Sadie, let’s go get you washed up.” Carrying the younger girl into the bathroom, Olivia grabbed a washcloth and dampened it, wiping clean the globs of jam on her hands and head. Running her fingers through her daughter’s brown hair, she checked for any last signs of stickiness. “All clean! You ready to surprise Mama?”

“Yeah!” Sadie screeched excitedly before quickly putting her finger over her lips. “But Mia say I have to be reaaaaalll qwiet. Like a ninja.”

“That’s right,” Olivia whispered with a smile. Getting on her tip toes and heading back to the kitchen with her daughter following likewise in suit.

Helping Mia carry a breakfast tray, the three headed quietly down the hall towards the master bedroom. As soon as Mia opened the door, Sadie went bolting into the room, jumping on Alex and waking the blonde in a jolt. “Happy Mowther’s Day!” she shouted.

“What is all of this,” Alex asked with a smile, still disheveled from having been woken up so suddenly. She reached over and grabbed her glasses from the bedside table, slipping them on and brushing her fingers through her hair to get rid of any bedhead.

“Happy Mother’s Day, Mama!” Mia said happily, rushing over to the bed and giving Alex a hug. “Sadie and I made you and Mommy breakfast. And cards,” she said, pulling two pieces of construction paper from behind her back.

“Hey, I want to see those too,” Olivia said with a smile, placing the breakfast tray next to Alex and giving her a quick kiss. “Morning,” she greeted the blonde cheerfully before Mia handed her the cards. Holding up the papers so both she and Alex could see, the couple gawked at their daughters’ artwork.

“These are beautiful, girls! Can we hang them on the fridge?” Olivia asked.

“Mhmm,” Mia said proudly. “Noah made one too, but we left it in his room so he could give it to you guys.”

“Speaking of…” Alex said, hearing tossling over the baby monitor. “Let me go get our little man.”

Olivia smiled when her wife returned a few minutes later with the newest addition to their family – their just shy of two-year-old son who they had officially adopted earlier in the year. “Look at this, Liv” Alex said. “Noah made us a drawing too!” She held up another piece of construction paper that had wild scribbles all over it. “To Mommy and Mama. Love Noah” was written in Mia’s handwriting.

“How did we get so lucky with these kids,” Olivia said, greeting Noah by tickling his tummy. “I guess we’ll keep them around,” she joked.

“Especially for the free breakfast,” Alex quipped, looking down when Sadie tugged on the hem of her pajama shirt.

“But Mama, you and Mommy bouwght the gwoceries,” she said.

Alex quirked an eyebrow and chuckled. “Very astute, this one. Well, what do you guys say about your Mommy and I enjoying this breakfast with you all while we watch a movie?”

“Sure!” Mia said excitedly. “Which movie?”

“You and Sadie can pick,” Alex offered, already knowing – and slightly regretting – the inevitable response.

“Frozen!” both girls shouted enthusiastically.

“Come on, Noah, let’s go set it up!” Mia instructed, picking up the toddler and scurrying down the hall with Sadie in tow. Olivia and Alex smiled at each other as they heard their older children already singing the song “Do You Want To Build a Snowman.” Grabbing their plates and each other’s free hand, they headed down the hall.

In the living room, the girls had already set up the DVD player – no grand task considering the Frozen disc hardly left it – and were tearing through their dress up bin.

“Sadie, go give Noah this white shirt,” Mia, already dressed in her Elsa dress, told her younger sister, who was holding her own Anna costume. “He can be Olaf!”

Watching their children with amusement as the Frozen soundtrack echoed through the brownstone, Olivia and Alex smiled at one another. The blonde squeezed her wife’s hand.

“Happy Mother’s Day, Liv.”

“Happy Mother’s Day, Alex.”