Title: Dirty Little Secrets
DISCLAIMER: All characters belong either Dick Wolf/NBC/Universal or Chris Rock/Ali LeRoi and Dreamworks.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Post "Loss." I took liberties with the character of Nikki (yeah...God willin' and the creek don't rise...) and made her a little darker and more serious than she was in "Head of State." Also, a special nod to Trancer and "Confessions of a Superwhore" for opening the avenue for this pairing.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FANDOMS: Law and Order:SVU/Head of State.
"'To Thine Own Self Be True,' William Shakespeare," Munch quoted.
"'Bite me,' Olivia Benson," Olivia responded.
"Seriously, Olivia, you have been a bear lately. What you really need is to-"
Olivia held up her index finger toward him, threateningly, "Don't you dare finish that with 'get laid.'"
Munch shrugged. "Obviously, I don't need to."
"John -!! Not all the world's problems are solved with sex!" Olivia stated, incredulously, looking to Elliot for support. Her partner just smiled, shaking his head and retreated back to the paperwork on his desk.
"I'm not looking to solve the world's problems, Olivia. Just yours. And I'm pretty sure yours can be solved by a good roll in the hay."
"I don't have a problem, John, at least not in that area so why are we even talking about this? And, may I remind you that your 'solution' is a very misogynist thing to say."
"Not really. All my problems could be solved by getting laid. Most of them, anyway. That's equal opportunity, I believe." Munch smiled his crooked grin. "However, I think you stand a much better chance than I do."
Olivia looked at the ceiling and silently counted to ten. Why was Munch getting on her nerves so quickly this morning? He wasn't saying anything to her that he hadn't said a hundred times in the past and sex, or poking fun at the lack thereof, was usually a tension breaker in the squad room. Except normally, it was Olivia slamming the unit's conspiracy theorist's moodiness and his lack of companionship. She hadn't realized that her co-workers must have been keeping track of her late evenings working and early mornings in, not to mention the nights spent in the crash room.
Munch was right. It had been a while. A long, lonely while. Olivia had picked up maybe three short-lived, very casual lovers in the nearly two years that Alexandra Cabot had been gone. They meant nothing. Even the sexual release had not been satisfying. In the long term sense anyway. Everything always felt great in the frenzied heat of the moment but Olivia could not have felt emptier moments after. They were all nice women and it wasn't their fault. The problem was they weren't Alex and none of them would ever be Alex.
Everything annoyed her today. Hell, everything had been building to annoying her for the past two weeks. It wasn't PMS, she got over her period more than a week ago. Was it ovulation? That normally didn't put her on edge. Maybe it was the two-year anniversary marking Alex's getting shot and whisked away into Witness Protection closing in on her. Maybe not hearing anything or being allowed to know anything regarding the whereabouts and safety of the absolute love of her life was really starting to wear thin on Olivia. She tried to shudder the persistently haunting thoughts out of her head but it was impossible. Something was in the wind. She could feel it, she could sense it.
Congressman Gene Garvey was a son-of-a-bitch. That was a well known fact and one that Congressman Garvey, himself, seemed very proud of. He was not a handsome man and he was not young or charming or particularly friendly. But he was a hell of a politician and one the Party was looking at to possibly groom for higher office. Which was why they hooked him up with Nicollette White, a "superwhore," one of several women trained, authorized and paid very well by the government to have affairs with politicians, so the Party could keep normally out of control libidos in line. As Garvey was a married man for twenty years and the father of three children, the Party wanted to control his extra-marital activities as much as possible, hence, the connection with Nikki.
Garvey personally picked Nikki from a photo of a group of women. He liked blondes, especially sophisticated, beautiful blondes like this one. If the Party was going to force him to have just one mistress, she might as well look like Nikki.
Nikki White was recruited not too long after she attended the University of Nebraska as a theatre major. She did some low-budget movies of questionable content that went straight to video, one of which was seen by Aaron Altschul, the man put in charge of the Superwhore program. Altschul liked Nikki immensely at their first meeting, she had the right combination of personality and ...talent... and he knew she would do well in the career field. She had been given several upscale assignments since her graduation from the program seven years ago, mostly in the nation's capital, and she had done the program proud. When the golden boy, Garvey, requested Nikki, the powers that be couldn't have been happier. The productive Ms. White was discreet and extremely successful at her craft and they knew she could keep the surly congressman satisfied and, hopefully, out of trouble.
Aaron Altschul was not pleased with Nikki's involvement in the Garvey camp. Altschul had dealt with Garvey in the past and was not a fan. Future president or not, the congressman was a nasty, abusive prick and he felt Garvey would treat Nikki like a whore, which was not acceptable. He was concerned for his favorite student's safety. She was perfect for the Superwhore assignment of a possible future leader of the free world but she was too good for Gene Garvey. He wanted more than anything for something to happen to break up this liaison. His mother always told him to be careful what he wished for.
Elliot Stabler was a good man. He had strong ethics and an impenetrable moral code. He was charming, handsome and firmly rooted in his Irish Catholic heritage. He was happily married for nearly twenty years and the proud father of four. He ran a strict but loving household and the family faithfully attended church every Sunday. Elliot needed his church and his faith to reconcile the horrors of what he had to deal with every day at his job. The presence of God in his life was very strong. It had to be to keep him sane and rational.
It was those strengths in Elliot that made him the perfect partner for Olivia. He kept her balanced and grounded. It's not that he didn't feel the same compassion and outrage that Olivia did, he just compartmentalized it differently. However, he couldn't take all the credit for the successful partnership - there had been times if he had not seen or assessed a situation through Olivia's eyes, he may not have been a cop anymore. They complimented each other well.
As much as they thought alike and worked together like a well-oiled machine, they were vastly different. Olivia's faith was never one of her strong points. She almost leaned toward being agnostic. A child of rape, she never grew up with much stability or a sense of belonging. Going to church every Sunday was something her mother told her she should do but never forced it on her. She went with her grandparents a few times but she always seemed to be the center of attention. Other parishioners would point at her and whisper, say mean, upsetting things to her grandmother and cruel things to her. She was a child, for heaven's sake, and definitely not responsible for the circumstances surrounding her existence. Church wasn't supposed to be a place to go where you were condemned. So she stopped going. That was an experience, among so many others, that helped shape Olivia's life to present day.
In contrast to her partner being the consummate family man, Olivia was a loner. Up until six years ago, it had been by choice. She'd had relationships in the past, some very meaningful but once it seemed the feelings started progressing toward something a little more serious, Olivia ran. The exotically beautiful detective felt strangled and trapped by anyone wanting more out of her than she was ready to give. And she never seemed ready to really give. Until Alex.
Olivia had not been selective about gender in the beginning of her dating life. She dated men, mostly, then unexpectedly found the pleasure of being with a woman. However, having been the subject of ridicule most of her life, she was not ready to jump the fence or even openly straddle it, so she stayed closeted. Until Alex.
Elliot learned by accident that Olivia occasionally dated women and had a difficult time accepting that in the beginning of their partnership. Homosexuality went against his beliefs because it went against the canons of his church. But this wasn't a nameless homosexual he found himself partnered with. This was Olivia, a woman with feelings and convictions and history. This was a cop, just like him, who did the job just like him, who faced demons just like him and who was a good, decent person, just like him.
It was the good and decent part of them that hated this job but also knew how necessary it was. They had spent the later part of the morning at the home of a young mother who entered her six-year-old son's room to find him gone from his bed and his window broken. The little boy had been snapped up right out of the safety of his own bedroom and taken by way of the fire escape. Fingerprints lifted off the window and railings came back to a convicted pedophile, a repeat offender, who had slipped through the system on technicalities time and time again.
By late afternoon, Olivia and Elliot had rescued and reunited the desperately damaged child with his mother and collared Gardiner Hawkhurst, who, with a little 'incentive,' confessed to the molestation of that child and four others over the past two weeks. These children had nothing in common except they all lived above the first floor and all could be accessed through a fire escape. When asked what provoked him to target his victims, other than them being children, Hawkhurst smirked psychotically and stated that they all had one of those "Child Finder" decals in their windows. Hawkhurst advised the detectives that those stickers that told firefighters where to find the kid's rooms in case of a fire were as good as neon welcome signs to pedophiles.
It took everything Elliot had not to knock this little weasel into the next millennium. Hawkhurst seemed quite proud of his accomplishments and his ability to slide through the loopholes that put him back on the street to re-offend. Olivia and Elliot left the interrogation room both feeling that even if they boiled themselves for an hour, they still wouldn't feel clean enough.
Olivia had realized after her third beer that she didn't want to be there. She wasn't even getting a buzz off the alcohol and she wasn't feeling particularly comfortable for some reason. She had been to this bar probably more than any other, with the exception of Chauncey's, and she normally enjoyed the easy, relaxing atmosphere. She had been approached twice in the ninety minutes she'd sat at the bar but neither women interested her. Her responses to their flirty propositions to dance or buy her a drink were polite but firm. Thanks but no thanks. Sighing, Olivia finished her draft and stood up, tipped the bartender and strolled outside. Stretching as she was about to head to her car, she heard a commotion across the street. Squinting, she observed an average sized man and a tall blonde woman. They appeared to be walking toward a parked vehicle and there was no one else on their side of the street.
"You stupid bitch! You never learn! Why did you have to talk to him?! You know how I feel about that when you're with me!!"
The sound of a slap echoed across the street. Olivia looked up just as the blonde was reeling backward from the force of the strike. She then heard the woman speak. "Gene, stop it! I had to talk to him. He's one of my liaisons!"
Olivia alerted immediately on the tone and timbre of the woman's voice as she was starting to cross the street to put an end to the physical abuse she had just witnessed. This woman sounded just like Alex. Trying to focus on the owner of the female voice was difficult as the man was blocking her view. "I think I'm going to have to start talking to someone," Olivia mumbled to herself, "everyone is reminding me of Alex."
"I don't give a flying fuck who he is - when you're with me, no one else exists. How many times must I pound that into your thick, sleazy, whore brain??" He grabbed her roughly by the arm and yanked her violently toward the black Lincoln Town Car.
The woman pulled away from him and plucked her cell phone out of her purse. "You're drunk and I'm not going with you."
"You're not what?!!" Another resounding crack across the face caused the woman to stagger backward again. Olivia picked up speed as the man took a fistful of the woman's hair, forcing her toward the car again. Olivia hit the sidewalk running and knocked the man away from the woman, where he fell to the pavement, stunned.
"That's enough!" Olivia commanded in a loud but controlled voice. Her adrenaline was pumping, having hit the man like a linebacker, sending him flying into the wrong end zone. She was about to ask the woman if she was okay and if she wanted to press charges when the man addressed her.
"Are you fucking insane?! Do you know who I am?" the man bellowed, still shocked that someone - especially a woman - had the audacity to lay a hand on him.
Olivia glared at the man, her eyes threatening to burn a hole right through him. "You're probably some ball-less dickhead who can only get off when he's beating up on women."
The man got to his feet in one fluid motion. He walked menacingly toward Olivia. "Why you stupid cunt. You just made the biggest mistake of your life."
Seeing the man ball up his fist, Olivia shoved her shield into his face before he could take another step. "No, Sir, I think you did."
The man stopped dead in his tracks and focused on the badge and ID. And then he began to laugh. "Well, well, well. One of New York's finest. Detective Benson? You just served me up your career. I'll bury you."
"Gene," the woman pleaded, "let's go, all right? She was just doing her job."
Once again, Olivia was about to turn to get a good look at this woman to see if, by miracle, her face matched her voice but her attention was directed back to the man.
"Shut up, you fucking slut, I'm not done with you, just remember that. When we get -"
"I said that's enough!" Olivia shouted at him. The man, who did look vaguely familiar to Olivia, then spat on her. Taking a half-step back from the shock, the detective pulled out her handcuffs. "Sir, I am placing you under arrest for assault on a police officer..." she went to grab his wrist to put a hold on him when he punched her, knocking the wind out of her.
"Now, that's assault, Detective," he sneered. "You," he addressed the woman, angrily, "in the car, now!!"
Recovering as quickly as she could, Olivia slammed the man against the car several times and then threw him to the sidewalk. With lightening speed, she was on him with her knee pressed into his back between his shoulder blades. "I hate bullies," Olivia spit out, with fire in her eyes and voice. "They are usually the biggest gutless, piece of shit cowards I've ever met." Then she realized the man wasn't moving. "Hey!" Olivia shouted at him.
"Oh my God - did you kill him?" the woman took a few steps closer.
"You should be so lucky," Olivia commented, feeling the man's neck for a pulse. He had one and it was damned strong. She leaned down and checked for breathing. That was strong, too. She was about to accuse him of faking unconsciousness and cuff him anyway when she felt two hands on her shoulders from behind.
"Detective...you need to get out of here. Seriously. This man could ruin your life. Truly. Just...just leave and I will handle him when he comes to."
Olivia began shaking her head in disgust. She turned to look at this woman and lost her breath, even more so than when she was sucker punched earlier by this woman's companion. Words became caught in her throat. The blonde hair, the blue eyes, the patrician features, the creamy complexion, those lips...that voice. It was Alex Cabot. Or so she thought.
The blonde immediately noticed the change in the detective's demeanor and the odd look on her face. "What?"
"Alex?" Olivia barely squeezed out of her vocal cords. She stood up, facing her.
"No. Nikki," the woman responded, confused.
"Nikki. Right. The name you're using now." Then Olivia flew into this woman's arms, the force sending them back against the Lincoln. "Oh, God, Alex! I have missed you so much. Thank God." Olivia didn't care that they were on a public street, she started kissing every inch of this woman's face.
"Excuse me, Detective - Detective??" Nikki struggled, trying to get Olivia's attention, wondering what the hell was going on. It was then Olivia planted one right on the blonde's lips. Nikki stopped squirming and not only allowed the contact to continue but began responding to it as well. Nikki may have been perplexed but she wasn't stupid - this woman could kiss. Whoever this Alex was, she was a lucky woman.
Breaking the kiss, Olivia trailed more pecks down the woman's long neck. Nikki stood there, eyes still closed, sorry the moment was over. "Alex, what are you doing with that asshole? What is going on?"
"I told you, it's Nikki."
"Nikki. Right." She aggressively seized the blonde's mouth again with her own. The street was thankfully deserted, which Olivia took full advantage of. It was heaven being in Alex's arms, kissing her again but it was different. Alex definitely had not lost her touch but she had become somewhat...mechanical...and lacked the usual passion Olivia remembered so well. The kiss broke when they both heard the now semi-conscious man on the sidewalk start to moan.
"Detective, please," Nikki said, almost desperately, "you need to get out of here."
"Not without you I'm not. There is no way in hell I am leaving you again, especially not here and I think we obviously have some things to discuss."
"I don't think -"
Olivia put her hand gently on the blonde's cheek. "Do you think you should have that looked at? He hit you pretty hard, the bastard."
"You're not fine, Alex - Nikki…who is this guy, anyway?"
"What the fuck happened?" they both heard the man mumble, sourly.
Olivia stepped away from the blonde about to tell this idiot exactly what happened, when she felt Nikki grab her hand and pull her into a very narrow, dark alley.
"What are you doing?" Olivia asked, annoyed. What the hell was going on?
"Shhh," Nikki whispered, standing in front of Olivia, very close, putting her finger gently to Olivia's lips. The blonde looked curiously into the penetrating brown eyes of the detective. Who was this gorgeous woman who thought they were lovers?
Olivia did not resist Nikki's gesture. Thinking she was Alex, she trusted her instincts. The alley was a tight squeeze and the two women's bodies were pressed against each other. Neither minded in the least.
"Nikki!! Goddamn it, Nikki, come on! We need to get out of here!! Now!"
The two women just stared into each other's eyes while the man ranted a few minutes longer. The next noise they heard was a car door opening, slamming shut, an ignition starting and tires squealing away. The sound of the motor faded into the other night atmosphere of the city. Nikki slowly removed her finger from Olivia's lips.
"Okay, what is going on here?" Olivia demanded as neither of them moved.
"That man is Congressman Gene Garvey."
"Really? I thought he looked familiar. What the hell are you doing with him?"
"I'm not sure I want to get into that."
"Why? Oh, Christ, you've gone back to men? No wonder you're not kissing me the same." Olivia looked at Nikki, disgusted, and tried to move out of the alley but Nikki stopped her.
"What's wrong with the way I kiss?" she asked, indignantly.
"How could you go back to men, Alex? Huh? Where the hell have you been? Why couldn't you contact me?" Olivia's tone was building to anger.
"I'm not Alex!" Nikki protested.
"I don't care what you are calling yourself now, okay? You'll always be Alex to me. And what you're name is isn't really the issue, now is it?"
Nikki shook her head. She really must have strongly resembled this Alex person. This was not the first time since she had arrived in New York that someone had called her Alex. "What's wrong with my kissing?"
Olivia's mouth opened to speak but closed again without saying a word. There were so many more important things to address here and Alex was concerned about the way she kissed? Okay, Olivia would play her little game. "It's just not the same. But then you're not the same, are you?"
"Look, Detective -"
"Why don't you call me Olivia anymore? What happened to you over the past two years?" Olivia's frustration and anger looked as though it was suddenly going to turn to emotional pain. Her eyes began to well up.
"Olivia, I think there has been a mistake here."
"Obviously, and I'm the one who made it." Once again the detective attempted to move but Nikki firmly held her in place.
"Let me go, Counselor, or I'll arrest you for unlawful detainment."
"Counselor? This Alex was a lawyer? Wow, there really has been a mistake here," Nikki started to laugh.
Olivia was speechless. Was Alex making fun of her?
Instantly realizing her faux pas from Olivia's expression, Nikki quickly swallowed her smile. "Olivia, why don't we go somewhere very private and talk about this?"
Crossing her arms, Olivia said, "I'm not so sure I want to go anywhere with you." The hurt in Olivia's voice was undeniable.
"Detective, you danced with the devil tonight, whether you realize it or not. We need to talk. I'm not who you think I am and you need to know who I am and what was going on here tonight."
"That asshole was beating the shit out of you and you were letting him and I stopped it. There's no need to clarify that, Alex -"
"I am not Alex!!" Nikki yelled at her. "I'm Nikki!!"
"I don't care who you are at this point!" Olivia shouted back. "You're an ungrateful, cold bitch!"
Nikki sighed, looked skyward and then back at Olivia. "Feel better?"
"Of course, I don't feel better, I -"
"Can I kiss you again?"
"You surprised me before. I think you should give me another chance."
Olivia blinked and actually began stammering. Had Alex been dropped on her head sometime over the past two years? "Wh - Wait…why are you so damned concerned about your kissing? You keep bringing it up, like it's a big deal, like it's your…your job or something."
A sly, seductive smile crossed Nikki's lips. "Close."
Wide-eyed, Olivia shook her head and put her hands up in front of her in a halting motion. "This has been one of the weirdest fucking nights of my life. I'm getting out of here. I know I haven't had that much to drink."
"Good idea. Let's go get a drink somewhere. How about your place?"
"Why are you behaving like you don't know me?"
Nikki leaned closer. "I could get to know you."
Olivia's head was now beginning to spin. How could she not take Alex home and not let her out of her bed until someone broke down the door, finding two sated skeletons, regardless of how weird she was acting? "Why can't we go back to your place?"
"Not a particularly good idea. My place is occupied by Gene Garvey when he's in town."
"You're fucking him." It was a statement, not a question.
"Why?" Olivia wondered, tears forming in her eyes again.
"Because it's my job."
"I don't understand," Olivia's voice was breaking.
By the time they reached Olivia's apartment, Nikki had pretty much convinced Olivia that she wasn't Alex. She told the detective all about the government subsidized Superwhore program and how she got involved. Nikki swore Olivia to secrecy when she advised her about the situation with Congressman Garvey. The blonde's tale was a stretch but believable, nonetheless.
Olivia closed the door behind both of them and threw her keys into a basket by the jamb. "Should you call somebody?" Olivia asked her. "Don't you have to check in or anything?"
"I really should call in, let them know I'm okay. I don't want to because if Gene has called them, God knows what he's told them."
"Let me talk to them, I'll let them know what happened."
"I don't think you should get involved, Olivia."
"You don't think your Congressman will automatically involve me?"
"If I had 'obeyed' him and left with him, I would say yes. Since he has no idea where I am and doesn't know whether or not you can use me against him, no, I think he will stay quiet. At least for now. The last thing he needs is bad publicity and attacks against his All-American Family Man image."
Olivia shed her jacket. "Glass of wine?" She could not stop looking at the blonde. The resemblance was uncanny. She even had Alex's taste in clothes. Although Nikki was dressed in casual attire, her blouse, jeans and shoes no doubt had an expensive designer name attached to them.
"Yes, thank you." Nikki responded.
Olivia went to her cupboard and pulled out a wine glass. "Red or white?"
"Whatever you're having will be fine," Nikki told her, as she wandered around the living room.
"I'm not having any. I'll have a beer."
Nikki looked over at her, grinning. "What kind of beer do you have?"
"Lite and low carb. You'd rather have a beer? You don't strike me as a beer kind of girl."
"Every now and then a nice cold beer tastes good."
"Okay," Olivia shrugged, putting the wine glass away. She went to the refrigerator and pulled out two beer bottles, twisting the caps off. "Glass?"
"No, I'll rough it if you will."
Olivia smiled, walking toward Nikki and handing her a beer. Nikki picked up a framed photograph off Olivia's entertainment center. Her eyes popped open wide examining the contents of the picture. "Oh my God…"
"Yeah. Spooky, isn't it?" Olivia said for her.
Nikki took the photo with her over to the couch and sat down. "We could be identical twins, except for the glasses."
"Pity. The glasses were the real attraction," Olivia joked. She felt very comfortable with Nikki in her apartment, as though she belonged there.
"You two look very much in love."
"We were. I was, anyway."
Nikki focused on Olivia and smiled sincerely. "How could anyone in their right mind not be in love with you?" The comment actually made Olivia blush and in response, she nodded and took a long swallow of beer. "What happened to her?"
"She…uh…was shot in response to a case she had been involved with. She was an assistant district attorney. Very tough and not easily intimidated. " Olivia wasn't sure how much she should say. "She had to go away. For her own safety."
Nikki knew there was more to this story. "Witness protection? Does the person who shot her think she's dead?"
"Yeah. Him and the rest of New York, including her own mother."
"That's why you were so happy and relieved to see me." Nikki set the picture down. "Who else knows she's alive?"
"The DEA and my partner, Elliot."
"You know, you are not the only person to mistake me for Alex," Nikki told her. "Could I possibly be in danger from the person who tried to kill her, thinking I'm her?"
Olivia had not thought of that until Nikki brought it up. "It is a possibility. How long have you been in New York?"
"A little under two weeks."
"Where do you live?"
"Upper west side. 86th Street, why?"
"Alex lived on the upper west side, about eight streets below you. That could be a big problem."
"Huh. I'm not thrilled to hear that."
"Were you going to go back to your place while Garvey is still there?" Olivia wondered.
"I'm not really sure what to do at this point." Nikki kicked off her shoes and tucked her legs up underneath her, another Alex gesture that did not escape Olivia's observation.
"How can you let yourself be abused by that prick?" It slipped out before Olivia could stop herself.
"Because I am paid very, very well to let him abuse me. I don't come cheap…if you get my drift."
"I'm sorry…no amount of money is worth the way he was treating you."
"It's all politics, Olivia."
"Bullshit. That's a pat answer and you know it. You obviously have too much self-esteem to really be comfortable with any of this."
"The bruises go away. It's easy money. The government takes care of me. Trust me. I am well compensated for my efforts."
"Is that so? Hmmm…then why are you at my place right now, not sure where you can go or who you can turn to? Sounds to me like the government would turn on you in a second in favor of saving their golden boy's reputation."
"Nature of the beast. I knew that going in." Nikki stretched, languidly, resting her head on her arm, which was on the back of the couch, looking at Olivia when she sat down on the other end of the couch.
Olivia did not know if it was this woman's natural lusty appeal or the fact that she looked so much like Alex that made her want her so badly. But the feeling building between her legs was letting her know that if Nikki was willing, sex between them tonight was inevitable.
"Of course, with this Alex situation coming into it, that complicates matters a great deal," Nikki commented, taking a long sip of her beer. "I will have to call in to see what it is they want me to do now." She looked deep into Olivia's eyes. "But…I can do that tomorrow."
"Do you want to stay here tonight?" It really was an unnecessary question.
"Absolutely, Detective. I think I need your protection," Nikki stated, throatily, as she moved closer to Olivia on the couch.
"Nikki…" Olivia was battling with her conscience. She knew this was wrong but also knew there was no way she would be able to stop herself.
"Yes?" The blonde's face was now less than inch away from her own. They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity.
"You know you're only here because you look so much like -"
"Alex. I know. And I'm okay with that. For now." She set her beer bottle down on the coffee table and returned her attention to Olivia, outlining the detective's facial features with her index finger. "How long has Alex been gone?"
"Two years," Olivia said, closing her eyes to Nikki's touch.
"Have you…been…with anyone since then?"
"A couple times. Nothing serious."
Nikki gently kissed Olivia's forehead, the bridge of her nose and then her lips. It was a long, sensuous kiss that lasted several minutes. "So," Nikki whispered, breaking the contact, "what's wrong with the way I kiss?"
"Absolutely nothing," Olivia answered her, mesmerized. They kissed again, this time longer and more involved. No, she didn't kiss like Alex, Olivia had to admit, this was actually better. A part of her felt guilty for thinking that. Not that it stopped her.
"Are you sure? Because earlier…" Nikki trailed off, nibbling on Olivia's earlobe.
"No complaints. Honest." This woman's touch was enchanting.
"Usually I charge extra for kissing…" Nikki teased.
"Bill me," Olivia responded, lying back on the couch, pulling Nikki on top of her.
The alarm clock buzzed much too early for the night Olivia had put in. She blindly reached out and finally found the snooze button, slapping the incessant noise silent. Rolling over, she was staring into the blue eyes of Alex Cabot. No. Nikki White.
"Hey," Olivia smiled.
"Time to get up?" Nikki asked, quietly.
"Soon," Olivia answered. "Nikki…?"
"Not now, Olivia, okay?" The blonde ran her hand along the curves of Olivia's perfect body. "How about one for the road?"
How could Olivia resist? Nikki had given her one of the most eventful nights of her life. Olivia had never been with a professional before. She now knew why Nikki was so highly paid and in demand. They'd had sex three different times before Olivia fell asleep and each time had been different, more exciting and inventive than the last. Nikki had done things to her that made her body respond in ways it never had before. The fact that she looked and sounded so much like Alex only enhanced the outcome.
"I should really shower," Olivia offered, reluctantly.
"Ooh, we haven't done that together yet. Let's go." Before Olivia could react, Nikki was out of bed and into the bathroom, running the water.
Under the heat of the spray, Nikki had full control of Olivia and was on her knees, her face buried between the detective's thighs, thrusting her talented tongue and fingers into areas that drove Olivia into the stratosphere of ecstasy. Finished, cradling the brunette's limp, spent form, she worked her way back up Olivia's torso, to her breasts, neck, chin and then lips.
"Nikki, Nikki, Nikki," Olivia sighed, as the steam from the shower billowed up around them, "I don't know if this is a good thing or not but I could get very used to this."
"Mmmm, you and me both." Nikki began washing Olivia's back. "Thank you, Detective Benson, for last night," Nikki said, her mouth close to Olivia's ear. "That was the first time in a very long time that someone has cared about my feelings in bed."
"That's a shame and unbelievable."
"The difference between women and men, I guess. Most women are as invested in giving pleasure as receiving it. Most men only care about the receiving part."
"Yeah, that's been my experience, too. That's why I don't get sexually involved with men anymore."
"I wish I didn't have to, but…"
Olivia didn't want to talk about that anymore. She turned and kissed the blonde's forehead before rinsing all the suds off herself.
She felt comfortable and apprehensive at the same time leaving Nikki in her apartment for the day. She fully expected to come home at the end of her shift and find Nikki gone and twenty dollars on her dresser. Not really but she was amused by her at her own humor. Twenty? Hell, should have been a hundred. Or more.
Regardless of the motivation, Olivia was grinning ear to ear when she arrived at work. Unfortunately for her, everyone noticed, including the P.A. on the first floor. By the time she got to the second floor where the Special Victims bullpen was, Detective John Munch was waiting for her with arms outstretched. "Olivia. I am so happy for you."
"Oh, shut up," Olivia threw out at him, shaking her head, laughing, removing her jacket and putting it on the back of her chair. As she sat down, Elliot clocked in and headed to his desk. Noticing the silly expression on Munch's face, Elliot cocked his head in question.
"Olivia got laid," Munch confirmed to Elliot.
"Munch!!" Olivia exclaimed, then looked at Elliot, again for support.
"Anyone I know?" Elliot smiled. So much for an ally.
"Guys, leave me alone. I am not going to talk about it." She powered up her computer.
"Hey, I heard Olivia got some last night," Fin stated, entering the room and proceeding directly to his locker.
"Christ, is it on the ticker in Times Square?" Olivia asked, turning around to look at Odafin Tutuola, another integral member of the SVU squad.
"Yeah, how'd you know?" Fin kidded her.
Elliot approached Olivia's desk. "No, seriously, anyone I know?"
"No. Go back to work," Olivia smirked.
"Anyone you know?" Elliot prodded.
She looked at him. "I do now." He looked back at her, expectantly. She lowered her voice. "Female."
Elliot nodded and smiled. The volume of his voice was now low enough where only Olivia could hear it. "Anyone with Cabot's class? 'Cause I think you hit your high with that one."
Olivia wanted to tell him everything but knew that was not a good idea. "Close," she winked at him.
She had almost forgotten about the ribbing from her co-workers when Cragen reported to work and stopped at her desk on his way to his office. "What's this I hear about our Olivia?"
Now, embarrassed, Olivia put her head down on her desk. Had she been that crabby and out of sorts that even Cragen noticed? "Okay," she said, without lifting her head, "Olivia got lucky last night. Are all our little fantasies fulfilled now? Can we all go back to work now?"
Nikki had fixed herself breakfast and was on her third cup of coffee. She was stretched out on Olivia's couch, flipping channels on the television, finally deciding on 'Regis and Kelly.' She contemplated the set of keys Olivia had left for her. Very trusting for a cop. Nikki smiled at the memories of the night before. Olivia wasn't just any cop. No, Detective Benson was very special, a good, honest woman and an exceptional, considerate lover. Yes, Nikki thought, the detective was, indeed, an intriguing development.
On her way back from the bathroom, Nikki reached into her purse and turned her cell phone back on. Thirty-one messages? Just from last night? Shit. She listened to them all. Twenty-seven from Gene, the first twenty-three being very negative and nasty in nature and the last four made in the early hours of the morning being apologetic and as humble as Gene's personality allowed him to be. The remaining four were from her bosses. Three from her supervisor, whom she never really liked and one frantic call from Aaron Altschul, a man she admired very much. She decided to call Aaron back.
"Aaron, it's Nikki."
"Nikki, thank God! Where have you been? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Why? What's going on?" she asked, feigning innocence. She wanted to know what was going on since last night and she knew Aaron would tell her.
"What's going on? Everybody and their brother are out looking for you! What the hell happened last night?"
"Why? What do you mean?"
"Stop it, Nikki! Garvey reported that he got attacked last night by an NYPD detective and that the cop abducted you and was holding you for blackmail against him."
"That's a lie, Aaron. Gene was smacking me around, as usual, not that the Program cares about that, but this cop interfered and pulled me to my senses."
"Nikki, you realize that you have one purpose to the Program and one purpose only."
"Maybe I don't want to be in the Program anymore."
"You don't mean that," Aaron assured her.
"Listen, Aaron, you've been great and I have enjoyed most of my assignments but Gene…"
There was a labored silence at the other end of the phone. "Nikki…I am so sorry. I don't want you with Garvey, never wanted you with him, but it's not my call."
Well, just so that you know, I am done with him, if nothing else for my own self-preservation."
"I understand. I will try to explain it to the 'powers that be'."
"There's something else."
"And that is?"
"I look exactly like an assistant district attorney that got gunned down here about two years ago. I have been mistaken for her several times already. I am concerned that whoever had a hit out on her will also mistake me for her and try to come after her again. Which leaves me very vulnerable."
"Where are you, Nikki, I will come get you."
She knew Aaron could be trusted but what happened after he came and got her? Would he bring her back to DC and turn her over to the Program? She felt burnt and wanted some time to herself to figure things out. "Would you hate me if I said I'm not going to tell you?"
"Hate you? Nikki, I could never hate you. I just want you to be safe. Can you tell me, though? Just me?"
Nikki drew a deep breath. "No, Aaron. I would like to but I think that would put you in a bad position and I don't want to do that."
She heard the concern and frustration in Aaron's voice. "I do understand, Nikki, I do. I don't like it but I know that you are trying to protect me and I appreciate that. But, please, keep in touch with me, okay?"
"Tell me, is this…detective…worth this?"
"Aaron, it's not the detective, per se, but what she has made me see through her eyes."
"She? He didn't tell us the cop was a female."
"Does that make a difference?"
"Not to me. I've always known your personal preferences were women. Can't say as I blame you."
Nikki smiled. She didn't want to expend the effort of going into the differences of preferences and orientation with Aaron. "I will keep in touch."
"Please. That's all I ask."
Pressing the 'End' button on her cell phone, Nikki picked up the business card Olivia had left and programmed the detective's cell phone number into her directory. She then dialed the number to a florist.
When Olivia and Elliot returned to the squad room after lunch, there were three-dozen white roses sitting on Olivia's desk. "Where'd these come from?" Olivia inquired, looking for a card, which she found in the middle bouquet.
"You must have been a very good girl last night," Munch stated.
Ignoring him, Olivia read the card: "To My Knight In Shining Armor," was all it said. Understanding, Olivia felt a blush crawl up her cheeks.
"Wow, thirty-six white roses," Melinda Warner assessed, having just ascended from dungeons of her office. The medical examiner assigned to SVU had dropped off some crucial paperwork to Captain Cragen.
"Don't you start," Olivia warned her, good-naturedly.
"About what?" Warner looked appropriately confused.
"Do you know the significance of white roses, Olivia? Traditionally it means the sender is letting you know they are worthy of you," Melinda informed her.
"I didn't know that. Thanks," Olivia said, genuinely appreciative of the information.
"So," Warner leaned in to Olivia, her classic features breaking into a knowing smile, "finally got out of your slump, huh?"
Nikki picked up phone on the second ring. "Hello?"
"Why are you answering my phone?" Olivia asked, laughing.
"Because it rang," Nikki told her, playfully.
"Thank you for the flowers. They are lovely."
"So are you," Nikki responded.
"Thank you. Any problems?"
"No, I believe everything is under control."
"You let me know immediately if there is a problem, okay?"
"I have you on speed dial."
Olivia bit her bottom lip. "Will you be there when I get home tonight?"
"Is that what you'd like?"
"Would you like dinner on the table?"
"You don't have to do that."
"You're right. I don't have to do anything. I choose to. How's stir fry?"
"About what time?"
"Perfect. Bring home more beer if you want it but that bottle of Shiraz in your cupboard is good enough for me."
"Okay. See you at six?"
"Can't wait," Nikki said, sounding as though she really meant it.
Snapping her cell phone shut, Olivia looked up to see her co-workers staring at her. "You guys really need to get a life."
Olivia had just shut down her work computer and was writing down an appointment with Casey Novak on her desk calendar when she looked up to see two men in dark suits standing off to her side, glaring at her. Elliot noticed it, too, as did Munch and Fin.
"Detective Benson?" one of the men asked.
"Yes?" Instinctively, she knew who they were but refused to show any expression that revealed that.
They both offered up governmental secret security police badges. "We'd like to speak with you in private."
Studying the identification pictures and descriptions to make sure they matched with the two men standing before her, Olivia said, nonchalantly, "about what?"
"We think you know, Detective."
Glancing over at her co-workers, knowing they were there for her if she needed them, she looked back at the two strangers. "No, can't say that I do." Olivia knew they would not want to get into it with witnesses.
"Detective Olivia Benson?"
"I thought we already established that."
"We're investigating the disappearance of Nicollette White. We were advised you might know something about that."
"You were misinformed," Olivia lied. "I met Ms. White briefly last evening with Congressman Garvey." The two men automatically flinched at the mention of the two names in the same breath. "Mr. Garvey appeared to have some issues that I believe were addressed in a proper manner and that is the last I saw of either of them."
The two men exchanged skeptical glances. "Detective, it is extremely important that we locate Ms. White."
"Well…I don't know what to tell you. I will keep my ear to the ground. If I hear anything, I'll be sure to let you know."
"Yes. You do that." The older of the two men stated, looking at her, suspiciously. They left as quickly as they had come.
Elliot, Munch and Fin crowded Olivia's desk. "Who is Nicollette White?" "You met Congressman Gene Garvey?" "What the hell was that about?"
Olivia held her hand up in front of them. "Guys, guys…! On my way home last night, I ran into Garvey accidentally. In the course of my dealings with him, I also met Nicollette White. No big deal, okay?"
"Olivia, that was the GSSP," Elliot reminded her. "They don't make house calls unless there's a reason."
"There is a reason. They are looking for someone. I can't help them."
"Congressman Garvey, the Ward Cleaver of politics, wouldn't have a dirty little secret, would he?" Munch asked with an arched brow.
Olivia tried not react to that remark. Nikki shouldn't have been anyone's dirty little secret. "Got me, John. Ms. White was with him but did not strike me as someone he was trying to hide."
"So who is she?" Fin asked.
"Honestly, I don't know. I didn't ask and I don't care."
"Did you know the rumor is that Garvey is being groomed for the presidency?" Elliot brought up.
"That's the word," Fin agreed.
Olivia shrugged. "Whatever. He didn't strike me as someone worthy of my vote." She looked at her watch. 5:40. She needed to go. She stood up and put her jacket on.
"Doing anything special this weekend?" Elliot asked, as he walked her outside.
"Nah. Thought I'd stay in," Olivia answered.
"With the new squeeze?" Elliot grinned.
"Goodnight, Elliot," Olivia laughed, heading in the opposite direction. "Tell Kath and the kids I said Hi," she shouted back to him.
"Excellent meal, thank you, Nikki," Olivia complimented the chef. She poured the last of the bottle of Shiraz into the blonde's glass.
"No. Thank you." She took a sip of the red wine. "I feel somewhat liberated, Olivia, and I owe that to you."
"Nikki, two secret security agents came to see me today just before I left."
Blanching, Nikki barely maintained her composure. "And?"
"I played stupid. But I wanted you to know that they are looking for you."
Nodding, the blonde, cleared the table. "I haven't decided exactly what to do yet about my…situation. Would you mind if I holed up here for a couple days until I figured it out?"
Olivia caught Nikki's hand on her way to the sink and pulled her back. "Stay here as long as you like. I mean that."
She leaned down and tenderly kissed the brunette. "I know you're being kind to me because of who I remind you of. But I appreciate your generosity, anyway."
"Nikki, I want you here, okay? Your resemblance to Alex got you in the door. That's where it ends." Olivia pulled Nikki onto her lap. "I think it would be best if you laid low a few days, too."
"Want to take a few days off and lay low with me?"
"Don't tempt me."
"But that's what I'm good at," Nikki whispered to Olivia, seductively. She kissed the detective again, a simple touch of the lips with an unspoken promise of so much more.
"God," Olivia sighed, "did you learn how to kiss like that in the Program?"
"And yesterday you didn't like the way I kissed," Nikki teased.
"Oh, trust me, I liked it, I was just expecting something different, you know, thinking you were…Alex, and all…"
Nikki laughed, softly. "One of the female instructors took me under her wing, so to speak. Taught me a lot about kissing. The rest, of course, comes from my attraction to you."
Olivia studied the concentrated blue eyes staring back at her. Her throat suddenly seemed very dry. "I'm…really…tired. Lack of sleep from last night."
Nikki looked up at the kitchen clock. Seven-twenty. "Then let's go to bed."
They only made love once but it was a continuous session that lasted almost an hour. Nikki wanted to go again and so did Olivia but the detective was showing obvious signs of fatigue and Nikki didn't want to wear the poor woman out. Not this soon, anyway.
Lying naked on her stomach, Olivia moaned lightly at the feel of the blonde's fingers against her skin. Nikki, also nude, sat on the small of Olivia's back, giving the detective the beginnings of a full body massage. This was Nikki's specialty. Tales of a Nikki White massage were legend in Washington. Kneading, rubbing and using oil to glide her hands over the brunette's tanned and smooth skin, Nikki was not surprised to find Olivia in a deep sleep within fifteen minutes. Not the effect she normally had on clients but rather than be insulted, Nikki was pleased that she had relaxed the detective enough to put her into a restful slumber. She was sure the beautiful woman needed it.
Waking up somewhere around three A.M., Olivia needed a drink of water. It took her a few groggy seconds to remember whose body was tangled up in hers. Smiling, trying not to wake Nikki, she gingerly rolled on her back and reached over to her nightstand, picking up a water glass and taking a couple sips from it. By the time Olivia was ready to settle back in, Nikki had thrown one leg over Olivia's thighs, one arm over the brunette's stomach and laid her head on the detective's shoulder, snuggling close, still asleep. Kissing the top of the blonde's head, feeling very contented, Olivia stroked Nikki's hair before drifting back off herself.
Nikki awoke to Olivia sitting on the edge of the bed, tying her running shoes. She stood up and reached for her South Pole sweatshirt.
"Hey…" a sleepy voice broke the silence, "where are you off to at this ungodly hour?"
"Running. I try to run every morning. Keeps my head clear. And I kind of missed it yesterday morning because I was…otherwise engaged," Olivia smiled.
"None." Damn, she looked so much like Alex. Olivia was grateful for the time alone to jog. Maybe a good workout would also clear her head about the situation with Nikki.
Looking at the window, the blonde stretched and yawned. "The sun isn't even up yet, why do you have to be?"
"This is the best time to go."
"How long will you be gone?"
"It usually takes me about an hour and I need to stop and pick up a few things on my way back, so maybe an hour and a half today." Olivia could not stop grinning at this woman. "I'll be back before you know it." She crawled onto the bed and gave Nikki a kiss.
Holding the detective's face in her hands, Nikki reluctantly released Olivia when Olivia appeared to just as reluctantly ease away. "You be careful," Nikki whispered, "there are bad people out there."
"I know," Olivia responded just as softly. "That's why you're here, remember?"
"Yes, that's right. You're voluntarily bogyguarding me. I think I might need to be reassured of that when you get back."
Olivia laughed. "Do you know what the word 'insatiable' means?"
Crawling over to where Olivia stood next to the bed, Nikki grabbed her hand and faced her toward the mirror on the bureau. Both women were reflected back at themselves. "Pot meet kettle."
"You're a brat," Olivia laughed. She leaned over and kissed Nikki quickly again and then left for her morning run.
If the black SUV that followed her while she jogged was any more obvious there would be lights and sirens accompanying it. The occupants apparently wanted her to know they were there because covert was not a word she would have used in describing their actions. She sighed and shook her head as she led them around her usual route. When she came out of Gristede's with a grocery bag and the vehicle with the blacked out windows was still there, she smiled and gave them a big wave and began crossing the street toward them. Olivia was approximately three steps away from the driver's side window when the car drove away. "Assholes," she mumbled to herself.
Olivia shut her apartment door, thinking maybe Nikki was still in bed and had gone back to sleep. She put away the few groceries she had purchased and filled the coffee maker. On her way out of the kitchen toward the bedroom, she heard water running and music coming from the bathroom. Peeking her head around the corner, she heard Nikki, behind the shower curtain, humming along to the music.
"Hey!" Olivia shouted, "I'm home."
"Just in time," replied the melodic voice. "Come join me."
The recollection of yesterday's shared shower was motivation enough for the detective to immediately shed her clothes and step inside the tub. Nikki moved aside so Olivia could get under the spray.
"How was your run?"
"Crowded. Your GSSP boys tagged along."
"No kidding? That's bold."
"Actually, I'm surprised they haven't knocked on my door with a search warrant."
"They are not going to want to make this any more of a mess than it all ready is."
"Do you even know how much of a mess it has really become?"
"I can only guess." Nikki began to soap up Olivia's body. "I don't want to talk about them right now."
It felt as though she was massaging the suds right into Olivia's skin, especially concentrating on the most sensitive parts when she helped rinse the soap off. As the blonde gently, lovingly, expertly and alternately manipulated the brunette's nipples with her tongue, she used her hands to finger Olivia into one of the most earth-shattering orgasms she'd ever experienced. The lovers left the bathroom and returned to the bedroom, where Olivia worked her particular oral magic on Nikki, causing the blonde to arch and buck almost uncontrollably, uncharacteristically vocal for a professional who wasn't getting paid for her services. They lay in each other's arms, gasping for air, slowly recovering only to repeat both performances when they regained their individual momentum.
Olivia had dozed off, spooning Nikki, their bodies drenched in perspiration and sex. Awake but satisfied, Nikki happily secured her back against Olivia's breasts and stomach, content and comfortable in the warmth she felt there. Her eyes had just begun to flutter shut when Olivia's cell phone rang. Nikki picked it up off the nightstand and was about to jostle the detective awake, when she felt a hand on her own. "I've got it," Olivia advised, softly, taking the device from the blonde. She looked at the caller ID. It was Elliot. "Elliot? What's up?" she asked, concerned. He never called her on the weekends just to chat, unless they had prearranged plans. Saturday and Sunday were exclusively reserved for his family.
"Liv, I think you better meet me outside in about twenty minutes. Warner is processing a crime scene right now that's going to hit the fan."
"What are you talking about?"
"Gene Garvey was just found dead in an apartment on West 86th Street."
"WHAT??" Nikki yelled at her. "What do you mean dead?"
Olivia had just stepped out of the shower again - one she had taken alone, in a hurry, and had just finished getting dressed. "I don't know, Nikki, I don't know any details yet, that's all my partner said."
"Oh my God. Oh my God. How? Why? I…I…" She began to get dressed. "I have to go there."
"Nikki, no. That is not a good idea until I find out what happened. You have to stay here." Olivia stopped suddenly and turned to face her. "You didn't leave here at any time this morning while I was out running did you?"
"No! No, I stayed right here." Her tone of voice was defensive, then incredulous. "You can't think that I had anything to do with this…"
Olivia looked at her watch. Elliot would be downstairs waiting for her. "It's in my nature to ask, Nikki, I don't want to think you had anything to do with this but I have to ask. You understand that, don't you?"
"Olivia, I swear to you, I never left here," Nikki said, with desperation in her voice. It was important to her that the detective believe her.
Grabbing her keys out of the basket by the door, Olivia turned to face the blonde, who was right on her heels. "Let me find out what's going on. Don't answer the phone, the door or call anyone until I get back." She reached out and pulled Nikki to her, hugging the blonde, her mind racing. Why did Nikki want to know how long Olivia was going to be gone that morning? Please, she closed her eyes tightly, please don't let her have anything to do with this. Olivia felt Nikki shaking in her arms. "It's going to be okay," Olivia whispered, soothingly, wondering which one of them believed that less.
Olivia reached the bottom step of her front stoop just as Elliot's car charged up to the curb. Getting in, Olivia had barely reached for her seatbelt when Elliot sped away.
"What the fuck is going on here, Olivia?" The tone of his voice bounced between angry and scared.
"I have no idea, Elliot. Who called you about this?"
"Warner called Cragen. Shit, Olivia, everybody knows the GSSP came to see you yesterday, asking you about Garvey and now the guy ends up dead? What aren't you telling me?"
Olivia hesitated then spilled everything to her partner about all the events that unfolded on Thursday night. The only detail she left out was Nikki's description.
They pulled up in front of the building on West 86th. The street had been blocked off at Riverside Drive on one side and West End Avenue on the other. There were official cars everywhere. "Olivia - what could have possibly provoked you to get involved any further than you did with a well-known congressman's mistress? You should have known there would be repercussions and consequences. And now you're hiding her from the government police? What are you thinking?"
She hated being dressed down by her partner, especially when he was right. She tried to lighten the tension. "And yesterday you were so happy that I'd gotten laid."
"That was yesterday. You better figure out what you're going to do before Cragen gets here." They both exited the vehicle, displaying their badges to the uniformed officers guarding the perimeter. "I'll go talk to homicide, maybe you should go get a head's up from Warner."
Elliot had walked in the other direction, toward two plainclothes detectives he knew to work in the homicide division. On her way to the building's entrance, Olivia was nearly knocked over by a young patrolman barreling by her. He needed fresh air and a place to throw up.
"That bad, huh?" Olivia commented to him as she walked into the building.
The first two people she ran into were the men who had visited her yesterday afternoon. "You should have given her up when you had the chance, Detective," the older agent told her, quietly. "It's out of our hands now. You're on your own."
Ignoring them, Olivia lost count of the amount of people just in the lobby alone. Officers protecting the crime scene, CSU technicians, supervisors…and that was just the beginning. The detective's heart began to beat a little harder. What had she gotten herself into?
Flashing her badge to get around the barrage of cops, Olivia walked down the hallway toward the crime scene. The closer she got, the more she became aware of an overwhelming stench permeating the air. She took a handful of her jacket and placed it over her nose and mouth. The aroma of leather barely disguised the pungency as even her eyes protested and began to water. Reaching the open doorway, Olivia looked inside, spotting Medical Examiner Melinda Warner, squatting by a body. She was wearing a filtered mask but her eyes were watering worse than Olivia's.
Surveying the room before entering, the detective first noticed the reason for the smell. There was vomit and excrement everywhere. She looked back at Warner, who looked up and saw her. The corpse Melinda was attending to was ghostly white, except for the parts that were lying in and covered with his own bodily fluids.
"Watch where you step, Olivia," Melinda warned. "Unfortunately, it's all evidence."
"You don't have an extra mask, do you?" Olivia wondered, carefully making her way over to the ME.
"I think you've got it better the way you're doing it."
"Yuck," Olivia commented, bile threatening to rise in her own throat.
"Yuck is being way too polite." Warner looked up at Olivia. "Recognize him?"
"It's not one of his best days but I would have to say that is Gene Garvey. What do you think the cause of death is?"
"Not sure about his right now. Mine may very well end up being this smell."
"Yeah, it's pretty bad. What happened?"
"If I was to venture a quick guess, I'd say some kind of poison."
"Any idea about what time?"
"Again, unofficially, guessing by the body temperature and lividity, I'd say about five hours ago."
When Olivia was out jogging, the detective thought, her heart sinking. "Suicide?" she asked, hopefully.
Warner shrugged. "Don't know yet. Poison is a pretty horrible way to kill yourself." Standing up, Melinda said, "I need some air and I'm sure you do, too."
Nodding, Olivia and the ME gingerly avoided evidence areas and walked outside. Both took long, deep breaths before they spoke.
"It was not a pleasant death, that much I do know," Warner advised her. "His upper digestive tract probably started to burn and he got very hot. He more than likely started to salivate uncontrollably, was hit by overbearing waves of nausea, which caused the excessive vomiting. The pain in his abdomen by then would be blistering and cause the diarrhea. Extreme disorientation, immediate prostration and then convulsions followed by respiratory paralysis would be a natural progression."
"No clue about how he may have been poisoned, though, huh?"
"No. Not yet." She looked at Olivia, sincerely. "Word has it that you had a run-in with this guy recently. This isn't somehow going to come back and haunt you, is it?"
"God, Melinda, I hope not. And, for the record, I have an alibi for this morning."
"Good," Warner responded, putting her hand, reassuringly on Olivia's arm. "I hope she's credible."
Olivia bit her lip. If only Nikki had been her alibi. That would have meant Olivia would have known exactly where Nikki was five hours earlier.
Olivia and Elliot were leaning against his car when Cragen arrived on the scene. The homicide detectives told Elliot that the apartment had been rented by a government official but the name of the person who had been occupying it the last few weeks was named Nicollette White. She had not been seen by any of the neighbors for a couple of days. In fact, the neighbors had not witnessed anyone go in and out of there in a while, so they were also surprised by this turn of events. The maintenance man, called in to fix a leaky shower in the next apartment, noticed the putrid smell coming from within Ms. White's place about two hours ago. Thought maybe the sewer had somehow found it's way in. He knocked several times before using his passkey to go in to check it out. He advised the detectives that one of those piles of puke was his.
Cragen stomped over to where his two SVU detectives were standing. His face resembled a fist. This was not going to be pretty. Without saying a word, the captain took Olivia by the elbow and escorted her away from hearing range of everyone else.
"I just got off the phone with Barry Talmadge. Do you know who he is?"
"No," Olivia admitted, her eyes wandering everywhere but the vicinity of her captain's face.
"He is the head of the GSSP in Washington, D.C., so learn that name, Detective Benson, because you're going to be hearing it a lot if you don't come clean with me right now. Do you know where Nicollette White is?"
Olivia guessed that this is what it must have felt like to be chewed out by an angry, strict father. If he would only just ground her, send her to her room and be done with it.
"Yes, I know where she is," Olivia admitted.
"Do not make me pull it out of you, Olivia."
"She is at my apartment."
"As we speak."
Cragen pulled out his cell phone, dialed, and relayed the information to whoever was at the other end of the line. He then ended the call, placing the phone back in his jacket's inner pocket. "Let's go. We are going to meet them at your place. I will not have one of my detectives tied up in this kind of scandal. Not if I have any control over it."
If only there was a way Olivia could somehow warn Nikki without drawing any more wrath from Cragen. Then, suddenly, Olivia wondered why she would want to tip off this total stranger she had barely met three days ago, when she had to remind herself that she did not honestly know what Nikki was or wasn't capable of. The stunning blonde was paid professionally to sleep with very high profile men and was, apparently, very accomplished at it. Nikki didn't even really like men and Garvey had put quite a beating on her, not for the first time, either. Olivia had known and encountered women who had killed for less. She struggled with her thoughts - was Nikki capable of this act? She knew, under the right circumstances, anyone was capable of murder. Olivia, herself, hurt Garvey the other night without even trying and hadn't thought twice about it afterward.
"I know you have your reasons for protecting this woman," Cragen stated, almost sympathetically - his tone now less angry and more concerned, "but none of them are worth giving up your career and going to jail over."
"I know," Olivia conceded, even though she didn't want to.
"Can you alibi her?"
"I was with her except for approximately ninety minutes this morning when I went out running." Olivia looked at the side view mirror to see Elliot following in the car behind them.
"If she's innocent, Olivia, hopefully she can prove it. You don't need to be any more involved in this than you already are. You have never see it hit the fan like you will over this."
Olivia nodded. The rest of the ride back to her place was silent. Neither really wanted to get into the details of her marathon sexcapades of the last couple of days with someone she didn't even really know.
Unlocking her door, Olivia opened it slowly. Behind her were Elliot, Cragen and the two government agents. "Nikki? Nikki, you need to come out and talk to these guys," Olivia announced, cautiously. She tilted her head to listen for the sounds of movement or occupation. She heard nothing. "Nikki?"
The entourage entered gradually, singularly, and Olivia closed the door behind them.
"Ms. White? It's Bergstrom from the Program. We have to talk about this!" the younger agent called out.
Olivia stayed with Cragen, as Elliot and the two agents walked through the apartment. It was empty.
"You got to her somehow," the older agent, Popovich, accused Olivia, coming out of the bedroom.
"I assure you, she did not," Cragen said, indignantly. "I was with her the whole time."
Olivia flared. "Listen to me, you Laurel and Hardy pieces of shit, you could have knocked on my door any time if you were so sure she was here. If there is only two of you assigned to her, why were you both watching me this morning? One of you should have stayed with her, don't you think?"
Popovich was on his cell phone. "She's gone. No, I don't know where and I'm sure if the good detective does, she's not talking." He glared at Olivia. "Has Altschul had any contact? Really? He's in the wind, too? Fascinating. Huh. We'll be right there." He signaled to his partner, then looked at the SVU trio. "Detectives. Captain. I'd say it's been a pleasure, but..." And with that, they left.
Elliot and Cragen turned and looked at Olivia.
"What? I don't know where she is."
"Great," Cragen commented, sourly. "Just...fucking great." He looked at Elliot. "Stay with her." He then turned to Olivia . "If she contacts you, I want to know about it." He stormed out.
Olivia and Elliot looked at each other. "So...Olivia, just exactly what is the allure with this one?" Elliot asked, genuinely curious.
"Hard to say," Olivia answered, evasively. "There's a familiarity there."
"You feel familiar with a professional pross?"
"She's not like that."
"Superwhore, right, that's what you called her."
"I can't explain it, El. What's the allure in anybody?"
"Who is this Altschul guy?"
"Recruiter for the Program. Mentor."
"Think she went to him?"
"That would make sense. And they are both missing."
Nikki rode silently in the car while Altschul drove, watching the scenery go by. "Where are we going?"
"Away from here. Somewhere safe."
"I should have left Olivia a note or something. You surprised me, showing up like that. How did you find me?"
"I work for the government, remember? I have connections. I can find a needle in a haystack." He looked over at her, smiling. "You're better off with me. She would have turned you over to her people."
"I don't know. I would like to think that she believed me."
"Nikki...she's a cop. You're a...well...you're not. I'm all you have now. You know that," he told her, obviously quite delusional, thinking that his word was all she needed to convince her.
"I did not kill Gene, Aaron, I swear to you, I didn't go anywhere near him."
"You know? How?"
"Because I killed him." He said, triumphantly and, reached over and took her hand, which suddenly felt like a cake of ice. In fact, her whole body was chilled to the bone.
"Why?" She could barely get out.
"Why? Because he deserved it. He was a rotten son-of-a-bitch and he abused you. You, of all people. The Program execs wouldn't rein him in. Somebody had to do something before he did irreparable damage to you. You, my beautiful Nikki."
Nikki suddenly felt very sick to her stomach. "How did you kill him?"
"Poison. Just like I thought," Warner told Olivia over the phone. "His blood was very fluid and dark. His stomach and intestines were severely inflamed and all his organs were congested. I tested his brain, viscera and the contents of his stomach and all the samples came back positive for nicotine poisoning."
"Nicotine? Tobacco, you mean? Smoking killed him?"
"No. I would say nicotine in a lethal liquid form. Forty milligrams is fatal."
"How do you get liquid nicotine in toxic strength?"
"There is nicotine in a lot of things, Olivia. Household cleaning products, for example, or insecticides sometimes can have a percentage a little less than half."
"Do you distill it?"
"It would take titrating many bottles of the solution to get it to its pure form."
"Would someone have to have access to a lab to do this?"
"It would help but no. You would have to be very familiar with chemistry, though, to know just what you needed to do. It's not something you discover by accident."
"How did Garvey get this poison in him?"
"He definitely ingested it. From the tox screen and the stomach contents, my guess is that he or someone else put it in a very strong Bloody Mary. But I just can't see anyone using this method of suicide. Do you know if anyone reported him to be suicidal?"
"He didn't seem it when I met him. More homicidal than suicidal. Although, he had just lost a beautiful mistress but I think he was way too arrogant to let that get him down."
"Somebody wanted this guy to die a nasty death. What about his wife?"
"If he was my husband, I'd have poisoned myself. From all accounts, she and her children were at a special church function this morning in Virginia and in the presence of the In-Laws last night."
"What about the mistress?"
Olivia let out a deep breath. "Oh, Melinda, I so want to think no. She only had a small window of opportunity and she did not strike me as being that angry with him. Fed up, yeah, but not enough to do something like this."
"Then who else?"
"That's what I'm going to try and find out. It's not too hard to believe that he had enemies out there. Thanks for the info."
"You're welcome. And Olivia? Good luck."
By the time they had reached the hamlet of Cape May, New Jersey, Altschul had confessed to all the gory details. He showed up at Nikki's apartment somewhere around seven A.M. Fortunately, Garvey was just reaching outside the door for the morning paper so Altschul didn't have to alert neighbors to someone visiting by knocking. They were not friends, in fact, barely acquaintances, but Garvey wasn't unhappy to see him as he needed someone to vent to about this new situation with Nikki. So as Garvey bitched about how ungrateful Nikki was and ran her into the ground to Altschul – big mistake – Aaron took the little glass vial out of his jacket pocket and mixed it with Garvey's Bloody Mary, a breakfast cocktail he knew the congressman had every morning. Altschul mixed himself a Virgin Mary and served Garvey his toxic drink. It didn't take long for the mixture to start working. When Garvey began convulsing, after begging Altschul to help him, to call an ambulance, Aaron left.
He had done it for her. All for her. "No one will ever be mean to you again. No one appreciates and loves you like I do. I know you personally prefer women and I can live with that. Just pretend I am one of your clients and we'll be fine together."
Horrified and frightened, Nikki wisely agreed with everything he said. At the first opportunity, she knew she needed to get away from him. "What do we do now?"
Altschul pointed straight ahead. "We are going to check into that nice little seaside motel and finally, finally consummate our relationship. We'll spend the rest of the day making love."
Again, the nausea almost overtook her. She swallowed hard and smiled at him as lovingly as she could. "Yes, Aaron, I've waited for that, too."
"You have?" he asked, wavering between disbelief and being thrilled.
"Well, yes, but I always thought it was against the rules, so I never pursued it."
"But…what about the women?"
"You said you could live with that. And, for that occasional need to be with a man, I want it to be you."
That was the perfect thing for her to say. "I can't believe this day is finally here. I am so in love with you, Nikki. I've always been in love with you."
"Bingo!" Olivia exclaimed, after two hours of cross-referencing information on the Internet. "Aaron Altshul, graduated Brown University in 1988, majored in marketing, minored in chemistry."
Elliot joined her at her desk. "You think he killed Garvey?"
"I think he is our best suspect right now."
"Other than Nikki," Elliot reminded her.
"Nikki really didn't have motivation, Elliot. She seemed actually happy to get away from this jerk. Killing him would have served no purpose for her. She could have resigned from the Program or requested reassignment. I was angrier at Garvey than she was."
"So what's Altschul's motivation?"
"Don't know. Nikki seemed very fond of this guy, seemed to trust him implicitly. Maybe he got tired of seeing her used and abused by the Program."
"Like you said, though, she had choices."
"Maybe he didn't see it that way."
"Then why are they both missing? Could they be in it together?"
"I am trying not to turn a blind eye to Nikki's possible involvement but my gut tells me that she's somehow an innocent participant in all this."
"That's because you want her to be." Elliot smiled. "The news is calling her and Altschul 'persons of interest.' She is obviously a person of interest to you."
"You have no idea," Olivia responded.
He insisted she accompany him inside the office to register. Not so much that he didn't trust her but he wanted her to share all significant moments with him from now on and having the desk clerk think this beautiful blonde was his wife qualified as a significant moment to him. He proudly told the clerk that they had just gotten married and registered them as Mr. and Mrs. Aaron White. He pulled her close and kissed her several times during their registration. The clerk wanted to tell them to get a room but that's exactly what they were doing. Nikki had all she could do to revert to her professionalism and not gag when his lips touched hers. It amazed her how something she once found so sweet and trusting could suddenly turn so vile. What could have happened to make him flip?
Once in the room, Altschul couldn't keep his hands off her. She could feel him rock hard, straining the fabric of his khakis as he pinned her up against the wall. He started to yank at her clothes, an NYPD sweat suit she had borrowed from Olivia's dresser.
"Aaron, Aaron, wait…wait…I want to do this right and be perfect for you."
"You are perfect," he told her, roughly grabbing her breast.
"I don't feel clean and I won't be relaxed and comfortable unless I am. Let me take a shower and I promise you it will be worth the wait." As though to emphasize her point, she cupped him, his erection filling her hand. She kissed him as passionately as she could muster the strength to do.
"I don't know if I can wait that long," he moaned.
"Of course you can. You've already waited this long. It's difficult for me, too, you have me so hot right now," Nikki lied.
Finally he relented. "Okay but don't take too long."
She smiled. "Why don't you get into bed and keep little Aaron occupied and ready for me when I get back out here," she breathed seductively as she disappeared behind the closed bathroom door. Before she turned the shower on, she heard the creaking bed springs and the television come on. By the sounds emanating from the other room, Aaron must have ordered himself an adult movie. She quietly flipped the lock on the bathroom door. There was a bathroom window but it was in the shape of a porthole and so small, a toy chihuahua couldn't have fit through it comfortably. She removed her clothes, taking her cell phone from out of a hidden inside pocket in the sweatshirt. She stepped into the shower and sat down at the end of the tub, pressing the preprogrammed number she had entered for Olivia.
The illuminated area on her cell phone read 'Unknown Caller.' Olivia's heart leapt to her throat. She pushed the 'talk' button. "Benson."
"Olivia!" Nikki's voice was barely audible.
"Who is this?"
"It's Nikki. Olivia, you have to help me!" she whispered, harshly.
"Where are you?"
"It's Aaron. Aaron killed Gene. He's crazy. I've never seen this side of him," Nikki's sentences came out in short, fast spurts like automatic gunfire. "We just registered at Walker's Boat Slip Inn, a motel in Cape May, New Jersey. We're in room twelve. I'm pretending to take a shower but I can't stay in here forever. Please hurry."
Olivia wrote down all the information and handed it to Elliot. "Has he threatened you?"
"No," she said, not sounding any less scared, "he thinks what he did this morning was for me and bonds us together forever. He's waiting for me in bed right now."
A surge of unexplained jealousy and concern zapped Olivia to the core. "Has he hurt you?"
"No. I don't think he intends to but I don't know him anymore. I'm not sure I ever did." She sounded on the verge of tears.
"Can you keep him there until someone gets there?"
"I don't think that will be the problem and I want you to know I am not going to enjoy this."
Olivia closed her eyes. "I know you're doing what you have to do to survive. How did he tell you he did it?"
"Some kind of poison. Put it in a drink. Go to his hotel in New York, there has got to be some kind of evidence there."
"Or at his home. Where was he staying in the city and what's his home address?"
Nikki was able to rattle off both addresses before she abruptly hung up, leaving Olivia staring momentarily at her cell.
"Call Cragen," Elliot reminded his partner.
Olivia started punching numbers into her phone. "You call him. I need to contact someone to get her out of that room before he really goes nuts and decides to kill her, too. We'd never get there in time."
"Cape May? Yeah, that's a little drive from here." Elliot picked up his desk phone. "I'll brief the captain and have him call Casey to execute a search warrant for Altshul's hotel room and to see what he can arrange in Washington for a search of Altschul's home."
Both detectives began speaking at the same time to different locations.
"Nikki? Sweetheart? I'm still waiting for you. I'm more than ready," Aaron stated in a singsong tone of voice.
Having rinsed herself off in the shower to at least make her trip to the bathroom look credible, Nikki took a deep breath before she unlocked the door. She was not looking forward to this but if it kept her alive…
She opened the door, naked, put on her sexiest façade and sashayed over to the bed. She deliberately played it up for him as she slowly got under the covers with him, noticing that he was at full attention. Looking up at the television, she saw that he had been watching a little girl on girl action. How ironic, she thought to herself. He pulled the covers back. "I want to see you." His eyes roamed over her body in reverence and awe. He had anticipated and wanted this moment for so long. Just as he was about to mount her, little Aaron couldn't wait any longer, expelled prematurely and went to half-staff.
Wow, that was easier than I thought, Nikki observed to herself, relieved. She didn't let Aaron know it, though. "Awww, honey, I'm sorry," she purred, "want me to try and get you up again?"
Disappointed and embarrassed, Aaron buried his face into the pillow. "No. We'll try that later." He lifted his head and looked over at her, licking his lips, hungrily. He had other things in mind.
Olivia and Elliot helped search Altschul's hotel room. If he had mixed the solution there, there was not a shred of evidence to prove it. The police in D.C., however, had much better luck. They had discovered a make shift lab in Altschul's basement and several empty containers of E-Z Kill insecticide in the trash. E-Z Kill contained thirty percent nicotine. The Washington detectives bagged everything and preserved the rest for the crime scene unit. All results would be expedited to New York.
It appeared as though Altschul had been planning this for a while.
Under different circumstances Aaron might not have been a bad assignment for Nikki. He was trying to be accommodating and obliging but his oral skills could in no way compare to what Nikki had just experienced over the past few days. Olivia performed miracles with her tongue and had spoiled Nikki in a way she would probably never feel from anyone else. Nikki did not want to be there in bed with Aaron, or anywhere else with Aaron for that matter, but at least if they were engaged in this, he wasn't thinking about killing her. As he worked on her, she watched the lesbian porn movie on TV. She kept glancing at her watch, wondering when Olivia would get there to rescue her. She faked a few moans, movements and heavy breathing for his benefit.
Unfortunately for her, this act had brought the little guy back up again. He climbed onto Nikki, ready to enter her, when there was a loud knock on the door, startling them both. And down went little Aaron again.
"Mr. White? It's the motel manager. There's been a reported gas leak next door and we need to evacuate the premises. Mr. or Mrs. White?"
"Damn it!!" Aaron swore. He was angry. He rolled off Nikki and they both got out of bed. She quickly grabbed the sweats from the bathroom and put them back on and ran to the door, opening it, just as Aaron slipped on his boxer shorts.
No one was more surprised than Aaron Altschul to see the New Jersey State Police storm into the room, guns drawn, shouting orders at him to get on the floor. If little Aaron and the boys had the ability to invert, they would have done it right then and there.
Both Nikki and Aaron had been taken back to the state police barracks to be held temporarily for transportation back to New York. Although Nikki was not under arrest, she was questioned for two hours by a federal investigator.
Olivia and Elliot had agreed to meet the extradition team at One Police Plaza. Cragen also accompanied the partners. The three of them had given up their Saturday to help with this case, although Olivia had a little more personal interest in it than the other two, and Elliot and the captain wanted to get a look at this woman Olivia barely knew, who she nearly gave up her career for.
The vehicle carrying Altschul arrived first. They had allowed him to get dressed before shackling and transporting him. He wasn't a bad-looking man, Olivia thought, as he stepped out of the marked vehicle, a little disheveled at the moment but that was understandable. He stared at Olivia as though he knew who she was even though they had never met. His expression was not one of anger but of confusion. The deputies escorting Altschul, ushered him inside. They wanted to be settled in and prepared with statements before the press got there.
Another marked vehicle, the light bar revolving rhythmically, pulled into the bay. The gate automatically lowered after the patrol car's entry. Looking around, before the ignition was shut off, Olivia noticed Bergstrom and Popovich standing quietly in a corner.
The deputy on the passenger side exited the vehicle and opened the back door. Nikki White stepped out and immediately began to search for Olivia. Spotting her, a look of pure relief came over her and she almost ran into the detective's arms.
Both Elliot Stabler and Don Cragen had to pick their collective jaws up off the cement floor. "Holy shit," was all Cragen could say.
"Alex?" Elliot asked, finally able to breathe.
"No, Nikki," both Olivia and the blonde said at the same time.
"You're not Alexandra Cabot?" Elliot questioned, shocked by the vision in front of him.
"No," Nikki answered him.
"And you've never been Alexandra Cabot?"
"Holy shit," Cragen repeated.
Elliot just nodded. Now he understood what the allure was. He couldn't stop looking at her. She sounded just like Alex, too.
They were approached by Bergstrom and Popovich. "Ms. White?"
"I am not going anywhere with you two," Nikki said, defensively. She wouldn't let go of Olivia, who kept a protective arm around the blonde
"We have been advised that you need to stay in New York until the full investigation has been completed. At that time, you will need to either return to Washington or meet with someone from the Program for debriefing and further discussion on the status of your future involvement," Agent James Popovich advised her, his tone sounding almost humble. "You will also need to notify us as to where you will be staying and where you can be contacted."
"She'll be staying with me until further notice," Olivia told them. She looked at Nikki. "Let's go inside and make sure they have everything they need from you at this time and then let's get you home."
"Home…I like the sound of that," Nikki admitted. She looked at Olivia, gratefully.
Olivia brazenly kissed the top of Nikki's head, which was burrowed into the detective's neck. They walked inside arm in arm.
Cragen looked at Elliot, eyes still as wide as saucers. "Holy shit."
Most likely, due to her connections in Washington, any further mention of Nikki's name, description and occupation had been kept away from the press. With the blonde's disappearance into the anonymity of Detective Benson's apartment, her 'person of interest' status was quickly forgotten and buried deep into the recesses of urban legend status. And, a week later, Donald Cragen was still mumbling "holy shit."
Olivia and Nikki enjoyed a month of open communication and blissful sex while the investigation into the death of Congressman Wayne Eugene Garvey, Jr., wound up. With Aaron Altschul's confession and all the evidence backing that up, the District Attorney's office – also stunned by the uncanny resemblance to Alex Cabot - deemed Nikki's involvement circumstantial and not connected to the murder. Nicollette White was now free to go anywhere she pleased. It pleased her to stay with Olivia for the time being.
Nikki had invested her earnings well over the past seven years. She never had to work again if she so desired. She made the decision not to return to the Program and chose to travel. She was concerned about staying in New York AND with Olivia because of her being an Alex Cabot clone. Nikki wanted the detective to want her for who she was and not for who Olivia really wanted her to be, despite Olivia's protests. Besides, she tried to reason with the sultry brunette, what would happen if this Cesar Velez character was no longer a threat and Alex came back to New York and to Olivia. It was food for thought.
She further ventured to persuade Olivia to take time off and travel with her. As tempting as that offer was, the detective chose not to. Nikki certainly was exciting and excellent companionship and phenomenally expressive in bed but if it was going to end, it needed to end now before she became any more invested in the relationship.
As difficult as it was to say goodbye to each other, they both knew it was for the best. Nikki was falling more and more in love with Olivia every day and Olivia was reciprocating by falling more and more in love with Alex's memory and apparition. They parted ways with a promise of staying in touch and they both believed they would hold each other to that. The first week they spoke every night on the phone, which dwindled to every other day, then bi-weekly, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly and ultimately, silence. Nikki would send an occasional postcard from some exotic location, always telling Olivia that she wished she were there. However, ten months after Nikki's departure from Olivia's life, the detective was thankful that the affair was over and filed firmly into her sexual archives. Cesar Velez and his cartel were found massacred in Columbia and Alex was coming back to New York.
|Out in the Open||Cheyne||Law & Order||Main Index|