Title: Out in the Open

Author: Cheyne

Email: WhenPiggsFly55@aol.com

DISCLAIMER: All characters belong either Dick Wolf/NBC/Universal or Chris Rock/Ali LeRoi and Dreamworks.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Post "Loss." Sequel to "Dirty Little Secrets." It starts out very serious with Alex's return, but then...well, sometimes if it wasn't for bad luck, Olivia might have no luck at all.

ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

FANDOMS: Law and Order:SVU/Head of State.

The first person Alex called was her mother who, at fifty-five, was an older version of her beautiful blonde daughter. When Catherine Francoise LeVesque was Alexandra's age, she was one of the most sought after women in all of Europe. Catherine, and Alex's father, Ben Cabot, an American in Paris on business, had never married, very frowned upon for the someone in the higher echelons of society as Catherine was, but not unusual for couples in the mid-1970's.

When young Alexandra was four years old, her father's business transferred him from Paris to New York City. Even though Catherine and Ben had parted ways a year earlier, she made the decision to move to the United States so that her daughter could be near a father who clearly adored her. Alex spent her formative years in a huge three-story brownstone on one of the side streets immediately west of Central Park, near the Dakota. Her mother had known and partied with John and Yoko and Alex actually had play dates with the couple's son, Sean, although she didn't remember any of that. When John Lennon was murdered right outside his home, it was a deep, personal loss as well as a cultural tragedy.

Growing up, Alex had been raised as a society princess, attending all the proper schools, all the right social functions. She was a popular and well-known debutante in young New York circles. Catherine was raising her daughter with an iron hand, too. Alex had a curfew, limits, boundaries, responsibilities and, above all, respect for her mother and father.

Warren Benjamin Cabot III did not come from the same social circles as Catherine had. His grandparents were from and still lived in Iver Heath, Bucks, in England and his parents met, married, and spent their lives in Westport, Connecticut. He was not a poor man, by any means, but still...if Catherine's father had been alive when they got together, he never would have allowed the union. As if that would have stopped the headstrong Parisienne.

Alex idolized her tall, blond, boyishly handsome father. Even though her parents did not live together and, occasionally, there were other people in their lives, they were devoted to their daughter and still spent the night together when the mood struck them. Even though their personality clashes (not to mention a few other major issues) kept them from cohabitating, they never stopped loving each other and it was that love that helped make Alex the person she became. So Alex and Catherine were both understandably devastated when the police came to their door, informing them of a bad car accident. Ben had been killed instantly and his companion was in critical condition.

It was then Alex learned of her father's bisexuality. His "companion" had been his new male lover. She had been shocked by this development and even more stunned by her mother's casual attitude toward it. Catherine reminded her indignant daughter that she was European and that part of the world was more relaxed, less uptight when it came to matters of sexuality than America was.

Alex returned to her first year of college heartbroken over her father's death but also disillusioned and embarrassed by what she considered his peccant secret. Even her mother was exasperated by her daughter's somewhat prudish take on the situation. But campus life began to open Alex up a lot more than she had anticipated. She missed her father terribly and then, missed him even more, when she began to understand him through the eyes of gay and bisexual friends whose lives she had become involved in at school.

When Alex graduated and accepted her first job with the Bronx District Attorneys office, Catherine decided to move upstate. She was tired of the hustle and bustle of New York. She longed for a house, fresh air, peace and quiet and some land she could tend a garden on. When she got Alexandra settled in a spacious two bedroom apartment on West 78th Street, Catherine and her daughter then searched for the perfect place for Mom to settle. They found it in a nice little Cape Cod-style home on nine acres of land in East Amherst, which would give Alex a place to escape to when the City got to be too much for her.

She had not gotten over her father being gone but she had gotten used to it. In a way, it was more difficult not to have her mother around. Alex and her mother were extremely close and though she fully understood her mother's reasons for leaving Manhattan, she couldn't help feeling slightly abandoned. Not having her mother at her beck and call also took some getting used to.

Although Alex's standards had relaxed during her college years, she still declined any offers for experimentation from a few interested co-eds. There were one or two who, surprisingly, intrigued her and invaded her occasionally not-so-pure dreams but not enough to go to bed with them. Then she met Olivia Benson.

It wasn't an immediate lightening bolt that struck her the first time she met the gorgeous detective with the Special Victims Unit, but damned near. The electricity she felt the first time she looked into those beautiful and expressive dark brown eyes unexpectedly sizzled through her like nothing else in her life ever had. She had slept with a few boys at school, one she thought she was pretty serious about, but none of them left her with the feeling Detective Benson did just by being in the same room.

Olivia seemed as tough as she was attractive and Alex got the impression this woman didn't take shit off anybody. Her height was in the same vicinity as Alex's, a willowy five foot nine, but Olivia seemed much stronger. It also didn't take Alex long to notice Olivia's femininely muscular curves but, again, the instant attraction was in the older woman's eyes. They could say everything without revealing anything.

Her crush on the stunning detective soon evolved into full-blown unrequited love. How that happened, she didn't know. In fact, when that happened, she wasn't quite sure, either. All she knew was that suddenly the feelings were there and the more she denied them, the stronger they got. And, despite the rare moment, when Olivia let her guard down and bordered on flirting with Alex, the blonde got no other indication that the detective was even interested in women, much less her, personally.

So, in the interim, how Alex had ended up in bed with Abbie Carmichael first, was also a mystery to her. Okay, technically, they never made it to a bed but that was just semantics. It's not that Abbie certainly wasn't attractive in her own right, because she was. In fact, Abbie Carmichael could have given Alex's mother competition as one of the most beautiful women on the planet but as alluring and sensual as Abbie was, Alex's heart still anonymously belonged to Olivia.

It wasn't long after Alex had transferred from the Bronx DA's office and accepted the position with the Manhattan District Attorney's office that she was assigned to Special Victims Unit. She met with Abbie several times as Abbie had been doing double duty with major cases and SVU and was transferring the information and documents Alex would need to settle in.

One evening, they worked later than planned and other than security, who rarely came upstairs on their shift, they were the only two people left in the building. Needing a break, they wandered down the hall from the conference room and got into Jack McCoy's scotch. Abbie had initially cast her eye on the nearly flawless Ms. Cabot, so the underlying intention was already there. Alex, on the other hand, did not tell her predecessor that drinking scotch made her uninhibited and very touchy-feely.

One minute they were discussing habeus corpus and the next they were ripping each other's clothes off and having some pretty wild sex on the Executive ADA's leather couch.

The experience had been amazing. Abbie certainly showed Alex the favorable difference of making love with a woman. However, as pleasurable as it had been, Alex almost immediately felt guilty. She had been harboring such a hard core crush on Olivia, she was disheartened that her first woman had not been the evanescent Detective Benson. Not that Abbie had been the least bit disappointing, in fact, sex with Abbie Carmichael made Alex acknowledge that she preferred to be with women. Especially one woman. Nonetheless, the realization that she couldn't care less if she was ever with a man again, flabbergasted her. Well…at least her mother could no longer call her 'prudish.'

Abbie sensed Alex's reserve right away following their encounter and automatically (but incorrectly) assumed it was due to the young blonde being a 'virgin,' so to speak. Abbie didn't take it personally. After all, she was leaving town soon to move to Washington, DC, it wasn't as though there had been promises of anything more than a circumstantial romp that one time. If Alex had shared her deep, secret feelings for Olivia, Abbie could have given her some pointers on that but, not knowing, Abbie didn't ask and Alex didn't tell. Neither did Abbie tell, nor Alex know, that the sultry, raven-haired ADA had been involved in a very private three month affair with Olivia. Since the detective didn't have any desire to move from her refuge in the closet, Abbie felt it was not her place to out her. Their fling had been much more physical than emotional, anyway, because Abbie followed Olivia's lead and the detective was not ready to be openly involved that way with a woman. Too bad, too, because their lovemaking had been phenomenally and creatively hot and if Olivia had outwardly given Abbie the time of day, they might still be together and Abbie might have never left New York. Oh well. Old news. History that neither Alex nor Olivia chose to mention to each other.

Alex's encounter with Abbie, however, did prompt the blonde ADA to pursue something more than friendship with the detective. If sex was that good with Abbie, someone she had been only mildly attracted to, she could not fathom what making love to Olivia Benson would be like. If they fucked as passionately as they argued, well, Alex's knees went weak just thinking about it. Of course, it would help if the detective was a lesbian but Alex sensed that, at the very least, Olivia was bisexual. It was that 'gaydar' thing her friends in college spoke of.

Every time Alex entered the SVU bullpen or the detective was in court or in the vicinity of her office, Alex wanted to corner her and ask her out for coffee or a drink, depending on the time of day but the opportunity never seem to present itself. It also didn't help that every time they got together, they butted heads and clashed on just about everything but the color of the sky. Alex was about ready to give up any hope of getting close to Olivia when the inevitable happened.

The two women had been debating heatedly about the issue of a certain search warrant, Olivia on the pro side, Alex on the con, when Olivia put her hand up in a halting motion and said, "That's it! I can't do this anymore!" Pointing to the empty observation room, following the blonde inside, shutting and locking the door, Olivia then abruptly took Alex into her arms and kissed her as intensely as they had been arguing. Alex truly thought she was going to pass out.

"Well," Alex said, breathlessly, when the kiss ended, "I guess that settles that."

"Hardly," Olivia smiled, touching her forehead to the ADA's. "You don't think I want to stop there, do you?"

"Oh, God, I hope not," Alex admitted. She was grateful Olivia made the first move. "Is my lipstick smeared?" Alex wondered, before they walked back out into the squad room.

"No, Bozo, you look great."

Outside, Olivia's partner, Elliot Stabler, and their co-worker, John Munch, could not stop looking at the closed door that eventually led to the Interrogation Room.

"It's awfully quiet in there. What do you think they're doing?" Munch asked the air. He then focused on Elliot, who was just staring at him. Elliot then chuckled softly, shaking his head. Munch cocked his head. "Really? And I thought that was just my fantasy."

The door opened and both women emerged a lot calmer than when they went in. "So…um, yes, Detective, we will have to discuss that at another time," Alex said, unnecessarily, as they exited the observation area. Her wink and smile had almost been imperceptible when she left.

"That was interesting," Elliot commented, as Olivia returned to her desk, sporting a silly smirk.

"What was?"

"That you two think you actually have anyone fooled."

"What does that mean?"

"Oh, Olivia, please…the sexual tension in this room was so thick you needed a machete to cut through it." Elliot approached her.

"That obvious, huh?"

"Helen Keller could have seen it," Munch threw his politically incorrect two cents in.

"So, did you finally kiss her?" Elliot asked, poking her.

"Okay, that's as far as this conversation goes," Olivia responded, actually blushing.

"Doesn't matter," Munch commented, off-handedly, "I can make up the other details myself."

The funny thing was, once they got together, neither wanted to keep the relationship a secret. They were so happy to finally be together and so resoundingly in love, it was as though they wanted everyone to know. Even funnier, the two of them together seemed very natural to their co-workers and accepted by just about everyone. The people who found fault with the coupling of Olivia and Alex, weren't people who made much of a difference in their lives, anyway.

Alex made Olivia feel rich and Olivia made Alex feel alive. Alex brought a fullness, continuity and meaning to the detective's life that she had never known before and Olivia had showered Alex with a vitality, spirit and sexual receptivity she had never previously experienced. They were as perfect together as two lovers could be, which made it doubly hard when Alex was shot, presumed dead, 'resurrected,' and whisked away into the Witness Protection Program to insure her safety before she and Olivia had a real chance to say goodbye. They were unfinished business and somehow, someway, they both knew they would be together again. They were too emotionally invested and connected not to complete what had been so unexpectedly interrupted three years earlier.

When Olivia received the bulletin that Cesar Velez, the drug lord who had ordered Alex's death, had been executed in Columbia, along with most of the lieutenants in his upper cartel, and that the love of her life was going to be returning to New York and, hopefully, to her, it was long anticipated news that relieved her, thrilled her and scared her all at once. It had been almost thirty-six months since Olivia and Alex had spoken, much less seen or touched each other. They had, no doubt, both changed and had a lot to catch up on. They both hoped they were still compatible, still in tune with each other and most of all, still available. Both women had sporadically engaged in random sex with others in the absence of each other, some encounters meaningless, others somewhat significant. However, in the back of their individual minds, they both felt committed to each other despite the separation. And they would remain that way until there was a reason not to.

Catherine LeVesque almost had a stroke when she heard her daughter's voice on the phone, thinking she had been brutally murdered three years earlier. Alex should have found a way to prepare the poor woman first, like having Olivia call her and break the news to her. But, therein lay another dilemma – having not been in contact with Detective Benson in as many years as her mother, she wasn't sure yet that Olivia was still accessible to her, still at her disposal when and if she needed her. And, oh, God, yes, she still needed and wanted her.

Being selfish for the first time since she left New York, Alex wanted to hear her mother's voice, wanted to gauge her first reaction. Once the shock wore off, neither could stop crying, Catherine because she had her baby back and Alex because this was finally over and she could be Alex again.

From the moment Alex arrived at her mother's house in East Amherst, Catherine would not let her daughter out of her sight, barely able to let her out of her grasp. That week, the former ADA and her mother bonded in a way they never had. Their time belonged exclusively to each other and every second was precious. Neither would ever take the other or the time they spent together for granted again. If Alex just had not left a similar isolated existence in Montana, she might have opted to move in with her mother. Alex longed for the excitement of New York City again and yearned to be anywhere near Olivia.

As Alex was apprehensively dialing the detective's cell phone number toward the end of the week, Olivia was just as anxiously awaiting the call. The conversation flowed easily between them, as though there had never been any interruption in their relationship. When Alex asked, Olivia readily agreed to drive upstate, pick Alex up and bring her back to New York.

Alex cried just as hard embracing Olivia for the first time in three years as she had when she hugged her mother. Holding the detective in her arms again after so long, after missing her so much, dreaming about their last time together and constantly thinking about their next time together made the reality of it almost surreal. Tears flowed down Olivia's face too but not with the same ferocity as they had the blonde's. Holding onto Alex while she wept, she reassured her over and over that everything was going to be okay now. And they both believed it would. Although because of Olivia's short involvement with an Alex look-alike named Nikki White, it had felt as though she had been with Alex just about ten months earlier. However, now that the real thing was safely back in her arms, she remembered that Alex had a feel, a touch, an essence all her own. Olivia squeezed the blonde a little tighter.

Although Catherine did not want her daughter to leave her again – even if it was to re-establish herself in New York – one look at Alex and Olivia together and there was no doubt where her daughter belonged. The love and devotion that radiated between the two women was blinding. Catherine had only met Olivia once before, briefly, not too long after Alex had revealed to her mother that she was not only dating but that she had fallen in love with a woman. Catherine didn't care what the person's gender was as long as he or she was good to her daughter, respected her and loved Alex back as much as Alex loved that person. It was obvious Olivia filled that bill.

That initial meeting between Olivia and Catherine had been successful, albeit uneventful. The detective knew she was under a microscope and behaved accordingly and most appropriately. On the way back to the City after the weekend was over, Olivia could not stop raving about how gorgeous and refined Alex's mother was. The attorney was used to it by then as Catherine had that affect on all of Alex's relationships and her only comment to Olivia was that she was glad she approved because if they were still together by then, that is what she would look like at fifty. Which made Olivia's smile even wider.

Catherine was a non-judgmental person who liked Olivia immediately. She thought the detective was a beautiful, decent woman of rare strength who obviously worshipped the ground her daughter walked on and vice versa. Catherine had never seen Alex as happy and contented as she was when she was with Olivia Benson. So naturally, she was thrilled and grateful to know that Olivia was still available to her daughter.

So overpowering was the current between Alex and Olivia, even after all that time, Catherine pulled her daughter aside and told her that she would sleep in the downstairs guest bedroom that night as she did not want to inhibit the two reunited lovers their first night back together. Alex thanked her mother for that and for her discretion in not saying anything in front of Olivia, who would have been embarrassed and insisted that Catherine not relocate herself for the night. Alex loved her mother deeply but did want and need this intimate time alone with Olivia.

After saying goodnight to Catherine, the former ADA took Olivia's hand and led her upstairs to the bedroom Alex had been staying in during her visit. Shutting the door, Alex hugged her precious Olivia again and then began kissing her. Proceeding nervously and timidly at first, the blonde heated up quickly and practically fused her lips to every inch of Olivia's face. The kissing became more aggressive as tongues fought for dominance in each other's mouths. They began to undress each other and when the fumbling seemed to be taking too long, they were happy with getting their own clothes off as quickly as possible. Just the mere thought of tasting Olivia again almost brought Alex to orgasm. Beating her to the punch, Olivia playfully wrestled Alex to the bed and went down on her first. The detective certainly had not lost any of her magic. As Olivia's tongue and fingers drove home the ecstasy Alex had waited for three years to feel again, the blonde came explosively, unexpectedly crying out Olivia's name and the Lord's in the same breath. Riding out her orgasm until Alex was temporarily spent, Olivia was torn between pride and modesty. She laughed, grabbing a pillow and throwing over Alex's face.

"Behave. Your mother will hear us!" Olivia whispered, harshly, yet grinning at the fact that Alex's body was still quivering.

"My mother is sleeping downstairs tonight," was the muffled reply from under the pillow.

"Well, with that little vocal performance she needs to be downstairs in a house in New Jersey in order not to hear you."

Pushing the pillow away from her face, Alex said, "I don't care. I want the whole world to know how you make me feel."

"That's good because you may have just got your wish," Olivia laughed.

They looked at each other, lovingly. "I missed you so much."

"Can't possibly be as much as I missed you."

"Ooh, still so competitive," Alex smiled.

Olivia, hovering over her, leaned down and intensely kissed the woman who had occupied her every waking moment and haunted her dreams for the past three years. "I want to make love to you all night…is that too ambitious?"

"Not in my book. Just put aside some time for me to pleasure you."

"Your reaction to my making love to you pleases me deeply," Olivia's hand was wandering between Alex's legs again. The heat and wetness she found there was driving Olivia close to the edge, herself.

Alex sighed, in mock submission. "All right, fine, Detective. Have your way with me. Just remember I get equal time for a rebuttal."

"Always the lawyer, eh, Counselor?"

"Are we going to gab or are we going to fuck?" Alex challenged.

"Talking like that in your mother's house? I should wash your mouth out with soap," Olivia kidded.

"I'd rather be spanked," Alex winked at her.

"Maybe later. Right now I have my own brand of punishment in mind." Olivia then dove in for a second helping and punishing it was – in the most pleasurable and productive of ways. After Alex's third ripping climax, one that practically sent her reeling off the bed, Olivia laid on her back, breathlessly, and said, "I've changed my mine. You need to do me and do me right now or I just might come without you."

"Like hell you will," the blonde exclaimed, heeding the cue. It didn't take long. Alex had just barely started stroking her gorgeous girlfriend when Olivia's back arched and she ground her hips into Alex's fingers, pulling the blonde's mouth to hers, alternating between kissing her and gasping her name. Alex continued to stroke, easing her pace but keeping the pressure on what was obviously a still very sensitive area and Olivia quickly came again. And yet again. And then Alex got to do what she had waited so long to do - taste her exquisite Olivia. She could have stayed there for hours, days. She could have died right there a happy woman. It had been a very long time since either woman had felt this filled up. Others had succeeded in satisfying that temporary itch but none could accomplish what they could master together with each other.

Olivia had not told her co-workers that she had gone to retrieve Alex over the weekend. She hadn't wanted to deal with the mixture of shock, betrayal and euphoria she knew everyone would feel at the news that Alexandra Cabot was still alive and well and that they would most likely see her in the flesh soon. She wasn't sure how Alex had wanted to deal with it or how she would have handled it, so Olivia just stayed silent on the subject of the former ADA. Unfortunately, when Alex insisted on coming to work with Olivia and surprising everyone, the detective's co-workers said and did exactly what she hoped they wouldn't.

John Munch was the first detective to check in after Olivia. Alex sat at Olivia's desk, smiling radiantly at him. She got a reaction but not one she expected. Munch did a quick double-take, then smiled warmly back at her and said, "Hi, Nikki. Nice to see you again."

Olivia had been upstairs picking up some paper for the printer and had not been present at Munch's comment. Alex gaped at him. "Nikki? John, it's Alex!"

"I'm not falling for that again," Munch smiled, wagging his finger at her.

"Falling for what again? What are you talking about? Who's Nikki?"

Munch was just about to respond when Fin strolled in. He patted Alex on the shoulder. "Nikki, what brings you back here?"

"Who is Nikki?? Alex asked again, thinking Olivia must have forewarned them and they were all playing this big practical joke on her.

Olivia walked in with Elliot, who she had run into descending the stairs in the hallway. She had quickly explained to her partner about her weekend, which prompted Elliot to practically run in the door, sweeping Alex into a relieved, secure hug. Not only did this action surprise Alex, it left Munch and Fin speechless as well.

"You look great, it is so good to see you," Elliot told her, sincerely. He held her out at arms length, assessing the stunning blonde before him and then pulled her back into another tight embrace.

As Olivia was watching this display with a warm smile and tears threatening to spill from her eyes, she noticed Munch and Fin in the background. The partners looked at each other, their expressions resembling two children who had just been told the truth about Santa Claus.

"Elliot, I didn't know that you and Nikki had gotten so close," Fin finally spoke.

The look on Olivia's face suddenly went from joy to slightly mild panic. She started to furiously shake her head at her two co-workers when Alex looked over at her and caught her in mid-shake. She quickly plastered her face with a smile again, looking at Alex, lovingly and shrugging.

"Who is this Nikki everyone is talking about and why does everyone think I'm her?" Alex asked Olivia as Elliot released her.

"Guys," Elliot began, coming to the rescue, "actually, we have a big surprise for you. This is Alex."

Munch and Fin both blinked at him, responding with a deafening silence. John Munch then rolled his eyes and walked back to make coffee.

"No, no, really. Alex wasn't murdered three years ago. She recovered from her gun shot wound and was put into witness protection. No one could know and we were sworn to secrecy by the Feds. Since Velez is now dead and not a threat, Olivia brought Alex back this weekend." More silence.

Then Fin shook his head, disgusted. "Do you think we're idiots? Come on, man, drop it."

Munch approached Alex, eying her suspiciously. "So you're Alex, huh?"

"Yes, John!" She was getting exasperated. "What is wrong with you two? Elliot had no problem believing it."

"Okay…" Munch tilted his head, thinking., "I told you something in strict confidence the first time we all went out to celebrate after a case. What was it?" Munch was smirking, arrogantly. He had Nikki on this one.

Thinking, Alex then smiled. "Would you like me to tell everyone or would you like me to whisper it in you ear?"

"If it's what I told you, it would be most appropriate, not to mention save my ass, if you whispered it to me."

Smugly, Alex practically strutted over to Munch, folded her arms across her chest and whispered something in his ear to make him go immediately pale. Make that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy AND the Easter Bunny.

"ALEX???!!! It really is you!!!" Munch also grabbed her in an unusual display of affection that startled everyone but most of all Fin. Seeing the unabashed expression of elation on his partner's face, he knew it had to be true.

"What the fuck…?!" Smiling, Fin came over and joined in the group grope of Alex Cabot. They stood around quizzing Alex on her life for the past three years and what the prospects of her immediate future might be when Captain Cragen entered the bullpen.

"What's going on here, people? Don't you have work to do?" Cragen snapped as he stomped to his office.

"Bad mood again," Fin mumbled.

The four co-workers broke away from Alex and Munch said, "Hey, Captain, look who's back?"

Glancing back at the blonde, Cragen barely acknowledged her with a nod. "Hi, Nikki." He walked in his office and slammed the door.

"Yep, surly as a boil," Fin commented.

"WHO IS NIKKI???!!!" Alex tuned to Olivia.

"Coffee?" Olivia asked, praying someone would say yes.

Elliot walked to Cragen's office and knocked. When given permission to enter, Detective Stabler obeyed, closing the door behind him. After approximately three or four minutes, the door flew open, hitting the wall with a bang and Cragen stood, wide-eyed, staring at Alex. "Holy shit," was all he could say.

"Don," Alex acknowledged, "good to see you again, too."

Donald Cragen shooed everyone else back to work and insisted on taking Alex to breakfast. They caught up with each other and then Alex had to know. "Don…who is Nikki?"

"Nikki?" Cragen blanched.

"Do not insult me by pretending you have no idea what I am talking about."

"I know what you're talking about, Alex, I just don't think it's my place to tell you."

"Everyone in your squad room seemed to know her, thinking I was her…whose place would it be to tell me?"


Alex sat back in her chair and folded her arms. "Really?"

"I'm going to go out on a very short limb here and guess that Olivia hasn't told you about Nikki."

"No…in our hastiness to get other things out of the way, I guess that just didn't come up."

"Alex – "


"I will give you a quick background but I think you need to get the rest from your girlfriend. I am assuming she is still your girlfriend?"

"Tell me about Nikki and we'll see," Alex told him, arching an eyebrow.

"I will tell you that whatever involvement Olivia had with Nikki, it was brief. And I honestly believe it was because she looked so much like you." Cragen sighed. "Identical, in fact. Possibly a transference thing," the captain shrugged.

"How long were they together?"

"Alex, don't put me in this position, please…"

Leaning forward, Alex looked into Cragen's eyes. "Oh, God…how serious was it?"

Olivia spent that evening explaining to Alex that Nikki had been a fling. That's all. They had met quite unexpectedly, sort of through a case but not really. Olivia further explained that she had been hypnotized by Nikki's resemblance to Alex and that had provoked her into something a little deeper. When Alex pressed for more information, Olivia became evasive. She felt there would have been no purpose to let her know what Nikki used to do for a living. Alex wanted to know where Nikki was presently and all Olivia would tell her was that Ms. White was independently wealthy and traveling the world. The former ADA felt that there was more to this story but she was satisfied that Nikki was no longer a threat to her relationship with the sultry detective.

Upon her return to New York, Alex had moved in with Olivia with the understanding that they would start looking for a bigger place. The blonde had a lot of personal effects in storage that she missed being surrounded by and did not think it was fair that Olivia should give up all her memories and possessions to move into a place that accommodated just Alex's needs. Hence, the agreement to search for a suitable compromise for them both. It was unspoken and understood that neither wanted to be apart from each other again and would not seek separate residences.

It had been a little over two months since Alex's return and the blonde and the detective could not get enough of each other. They were certainly making up for lost time. Whatever moment that was not spent at work or grocery shopping or involved in other necessities, was spent in bed. Blissfully, gratefully and ravenously making love.

While Olivia was at work, Alex made it a point to reacquaint herself with the City. She also visited the District Attorney's office, lunched with Arthur Branch and made it a point to have coffee with Casey Novak. Alex was surprised to find Casey a little defensive at first. When Casey realized that Alex wasn't after her job and Alex was reassured that Casey wasn't after Olivia, they both relaxed and actually enjoyed each other's company. When they parted, they agreed to meet again as Casey wanted to know more about cases before she took over SVU and Alex wanted to know all the things that had gone on since.

Alex did not need to go back to work immediately. However, she missed not having a job to go to every day. She missed doing something with her life that made a difference. When she had been exiled by the WPP to Montana, she was employed by Legal Aid. And she loved it. Well…she loved the good she did with the organization, she did not always love the circumstances she found herself involved in. Kind of like being back in SVU. Her former boss, DA Branch, had advised her that there might be an opening in major cases in both Manhattan and Brooklyn but not immediately. Alex would also have no problem working in a reputable firm or perhaps even starting her own private practice. On the other hand, she was also liking playing housefrau for a change. She rather enjoyed being home before Olivia returned from work every night, having dinner on the table, finding out all about Olivia's day. Alex laughed at her own self-imposed regression. Olivia was certainly doting on the undivided attention Alex was lavishing on her. As long as Alex Cabot was back in her life and stayed there, Olivia would just about agree with anything Alex wanted. Within reason, of course.

Their lives, their dedication to each other, their passion and their commitment to one another all felt as though it had come together seamlessly over the past couple of months. Olivia was convinced her luck had finally changed.

The Nikki White issue had just about been forgotten when Olivia and Alex were out one evening at an exclusive eclectic restaurant in midtown, having a drink at the bar, waiting for their table. Suddenly, Olivia heard her name shrieked from across the room and, when both the detective and Alex looked in the direction of the voice, they both spotted a very familiar-looking blonde bounding toward them. Two jaws dropped as the woman pulled Olivia into a long hug. Nikki was about to say something sexual to the detective, something about her looking so wonderfully relaxed and satisfied, when she happened to glance in Alex's direction. Nikki's clone was gaping at her. Nikki extended her hand and, in a voice that sounded identical to Alex's, said, "You must be Alex. I heard you were back. Wow. It's even spookier than seeing you in photographs."

"And you are?" Alex questioned, unnecessarily.

"Nicollette White. Nikki."

"Oh…so, you're the infamous Nikki…"


"Never mind," Alex waved off, glancing over at Olivia, who was still speechless.

"So, how are you?" Nikki asked Olivia, enthusiastically.

"Fine. Fine," Olivia managed to get out. "What are you doing in town?"

"Had some business, kind of a spur of the moment thing. But I am so glad to see you!"

"I have an idea. Why don't you join us for dinner?" Alex invited, warmly. "You two could catch up." This was a story she wanted to hear.

"No!" Olivia said, retreating with a smile when she realized how that sounded. "I mean, I'm sure Nikki has plans."

"Actually, I don't and I would love to join you," Nikki agreed, oblivious to Olivia's hint.

"Great," Olivia responded, unenthusiastically, thinking, 'this can't be really happening.'

Alex called the bartender over and informed him that there would be another person joining them, information he passed on to the maitre 'd. Just as Nikki asked for a glass of merlot, the bartender advised the trio that their table was ready. Olivia ordered another round of drinks to be sent over to the table.

Olivia was beginning to believe that this night was going to be the death of her. Or maybe she was just hoping it would be because, at this point, she wasn't sure which was worse – trying to get through the evening with as few emotional (if not physical) bruises as possible or just dying right then and there of mortification, humiliation, embarrassment, take your pick.

"So, Nikki, what is it that you do?" Alex asked, congenially, as the waiter placed menus before them and walked away.

"Damn, where are those drinks?" Olivia asked, looking around, a little too desperately.

"I am the Executive Director of Internal Liaisons for the Party," Nikki announced, proudly.

Olivia almost gave herself whiplash, looking back at Nikki. "I thought you gave that up."

"I did. But I got bored just flitting aimlessly around the world, so I went back."

"Nikki!" Olivia's eyes were wide in surprise.

Nikki smiled at the detective, reassuringly. "Relax, Liv, I'm in management now. I don't do field work anymore."

"What does that mean?" Both Olivia and Alex asked at the same time, then looked at each other. Calling her girlfriend 'Liv' did not escape Alex, either.

"Seriously, Nikki, just exactly what does that mean, 'executive director of internal liaisons'?" Alex wanted to clarify, noticing Olivia's fidgeting out of the corner of her eye. She looked at her girlfriend silently, with an expression that said, "What the hell is the matter with you?" The detective smiled sheepishly as a response. Alex didn't get it. Olivia had already admitted that she and Nikki had slept together and even if she hadn't, Alex would have recognized the look of intimacy on Olivia's face. She had seen it too many times not to. What she hadn't ever seen, however, was what she looked like with the same expression. It was almost amusing watching her mirror image interacting with the woman she loved. Almost.

"I work on political campaigns, " Nikki offered. "I used to be hands on, so to speak…"

Olivia closed her eyes, hoping to open them and have no one there, that this had all been a bad dream. Nope. When she opened them, everyone was still there.

"…but now I manage the individual directors of internal liaisons who work on campaigns."

"Sounds interesting."

"Oh, absolutely. It was and it is."

Alex nodded, "Okay, but you still haven't told me what you do or what a director of internal liaisons does."

Again, Olivia's head began popping up and down like a prairie dog. "Where the hell are those drinks?"

Ignoring her actions but letting her know she was onto her, Alex reached under the table and grabbed a pressure point just above Olivia's knee. Olivia reacted by jumping quickly out of her seat.

"Are you okay?" the clones asked, innocently.

"Fine. Foot cramp." She shot Alex a reprimanding glare before sitting back down. The look Alex returned was not an expression Olivia was familiar with and not one she was sure she wanted to get used to seeing, either. Once again, Olivia smiled, meekly, at Alex, who returned her attention to Nikki, encouraging her to continue.

"Well, we – "

"Oh, thank God," Olivia stated much more relieved than she should have been. The waiter placed the drinks in front of each woman.

"A champagne split for you," he said, setting the tiny open bottle and a glass down in front of Alex. "A glass of merlot for you," he stated, placing the wine before Nikki, "and two shots of Cuervo Gold and a Fischer for you," he said to Olivia. Before he could ask if they needed a few more minutes before they ordered, Olivia had downed the two shots – no salt, no lime – and asked for two more. "Certainly, madam," the waiter responded, backing away from the table and turning toward the bar.

Pouring the contents of her champagne bottle into her glass, Alex looked at Olivia. She had guzzled half her beer already. "Are you trying to make yourself sick?"

"No, I'm just really thirsty," Olivia answered, her voice raspy, her eyes watering.

"Does tequila make her sick?" Nikki asked Alex.

"No, tequila makes her stupid," Alex commented, a little more smugly than Olivia felt she needed to.

"That's not true," Olivia shot back, defensively.

"Oh, really?" Alex took a sip of her drink. "What happened the first time you ever drank tequila around me?"

"Um…I…accidentally dropped my keys down a sewer grate?"

"No, that was the last time you drank tequila around me. I remember that distinctly because instead of the romantic night we had planned, we had to wait for three hours in twenty degree weather while city workers, you called frantically, drudged the area for your keys."

"That's right. What happened the first time?"

"Another romantic evening down the toilet. Literally. Instead of getting to hold you all night, I got to hold your head while you bent over the bowl, throwing up everything you must have eaten for the past month."

"I was nervous."

"And toss in a little touch of stupid."

"I only drink shots if I've had a bad day at the orifice…get it?" Nikki laughed uproariously at her own pun and took another sip of wine. Alex looked over at Olivia, who drained her beer.

Oh, please, please, let the wizard drop a house on me right now, Olivia thought just as the waiter returned with two more full shot glasses. She downed them both while Alex struggled to find her voice. Holding up her empty Fischer bottle, the waiter nodded and disappeared again.

"Tell me, was she drinking tequila the night she met you?" Alex asked Nikki, while evenly glaring at Olivia.

The slam went airborne right over Nikki's head but Alex's cattiness took Olivia a little by surprise. "No, beer," Nikki answered. "In fact, I don't ever remember seeing any kind of whiskey at your place," she said to the detective.

"How long did you two see each other, do you recall?" Alex asked Nikki.

"What was it, Liv, about six weeks? Two months?" Nikki asked Olivia.

Pinching the bridge of her nose, Olivia nodded quietly. She kept her eyes closed. Where, where, where was that waiter?

"Interesting," Alex smiled. Two to four more weeks than Olivia could conveniently recall. "So, let's get back to this 'internal liaison' thing." She saw her normally tanned partner's face start to drain of any color. "Am I guessing correctly when I say that your job title reflects something akin to having sex with politicians? That kind of 'internal liaisons'?"

"That's it," Nikki responded. "That's how Olivia and I met."

"Really. Olivia neglected to tell me this story. Please share," Alex smiled, complacently.

Olivia turned, leaning her chin on her hand, her elbow resting on the back of her chair. Did restaurants have life preservers? She could pretend to choke, except she hadn't eaten anything yet. Maybe she could excuse herself to go to the ladies room and pull the fire alarm. Use the pay phone in the lounge to call in a bomb threat? Under any other circumstance she would have been deliriously happy to have run into Nikki. Now, she just felt delirious.

"Oh, it was a really interesting night," Nikki began.

"I'm sure it was," Alex commented, stealing a glance at her lover, who wasn't looking well. Serves her right, Alex thought, for not telling me this whole story up front.

"I was on an assignment and Olivia intervened when the politician I was with started to physically abuse me on the street. She rescued me. Seriously, she changed my life that night."

"I just bet she did," Alex agreed in a tone of voice Olivia recognized as mock enthusiasm. Alex pinched her lover under the table.

Nope. Definitely not a nightmare, Olivia thought, slightly flinching. I felt that.

"And that night prompted you to get out of – how did you put it – field work?"

Nikki nodded. "Yes. After that incident with Gene, I took some time off. I traveled, reevaluated my priorities…but it wasn't enough and I found I had way too much time on my hands. I really do believe in the Program and its purpose, so I contacted a few people I had kept in touch with, negotiated a great deal and went back." She looked at Olivia, proudly. "I have Aaron Altschul's old job."

"Great. Good for you. Anybody hungry yet?" Olivia brought up as she got the waiter's attention, holding up an empty shot glass and two fingers.

"Okay – wait…isn't Aaron Altschul the guy who killed that congressman last year?" Alex asked to which Nikki responded by nodding. "Uh huh. And, when you say 'Gene,' do you mean Congressman Garvey, the one who was murdered?" Nikki nodded again, as Alex nodded with her. "Okay…and, uh, just what exactly is The Program?"

"The Superwhore Program!" Nikki beamed.

Alex dropped her glass, which thankfully was not full and did not shatter. Nikki pushed her seat away from the table, startled, and Olivia called a little too loudly for the waiter. Alex set her glass upright and mopped up the minor mess with her linen napkin. Nikki moved her chair back to the table and Olivia still frantically searched for their waiter.

"Well, I see you certainly weren't bored while I was away," Alex stated, snatching one of Olivia's shot glasses off the waiter's tray when he approached the table. She downed the tequila with ease as Olivia also polished off another one.

"I kept busy," Olivia rasped.

"So I see," Alex agreed, lightly shaking her empty split bottle, indicating to the waiter that she'd like another.

"Um…is everything okay?" Nikki asked, finally, "have I said something I shouldn't?"

"No, no, everything is just ducky, why?" Alex commented.

Nikki looked at Alex, then at Olivia and sighed. She returned her attention to Alex. "I think you should know something very important," Nikki began, very seriously.

Oh, Christ, Olivia thought, now what is she going to say?

Nikki continued, "the entire time we spent together, all she thought about and talked about was you. Her devotion was to you. I mean, come on, Alex, she never would have given me the time of day if I hadn't looked like your twin. She never stopped loving you. Ever. You are a very lucky woman."

Now both Alex and Olivia felt embarrassed. Their behavior bordered on childish and unacceptable and they looked at each other, both expressions reflecting that. Olivia faced the table again and Alex bowed her head, slightly, and quietly said, "Thank you."

"And, God, can she kiss!" Nikki threw in.

And she was doing so well, Olivia thought, wondering if she twitched her nose like Samantha on 'Bewitched,' if she could disappear.

"Yes, that she can," Alex agreed, the malice now absent from her tone. Some of the weirdness was starting to wear off and despite herself, she was beginning to take a liking to this former superwhore. "What brings you here?"

"Contract dispute. Very dull dinner conversation," Nikki grinned.

"Are you seeing anyone?" Olivia finally joined the conversation. Please, please say yes, the detective prayed.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. I just started seeing someone in D.C., a beautiful woman. An attorney, you both know her, Abbie –"

"CARMICHAEL??!!" They chorused. When Nikki nodded, they both called for the waiter. Olivia shook her head. Could this evening get any worse?

"Yeah. She's something, isn't she?" Nikki stated, wistfully. "Maybe you both can give me some advice. We just started dating, been to dinner twice but we haven't slept together yet." Nikki lowered her voice. "What is she like…in bed?"

Both Olivia and Alex were suddenly struck mute. Neither had ever confessed to each other their individual trysts with the lovely Ms. Carmichael and both suddenly wanted to strangle Abbie for mentioning it to Nikki. But then, why wouldn't she? Knowing the resemblance to Alex, it would have to come up. The detective and the blonde former ADA looked everywhere but at each other. They were temporarily saved by the waiter who appeared with more drinks and to take their order. They all ordered the chef's special, without even looking at their menus…and another round of drinks.

After the waiter left, Nikki leaned in to her two dinner companions, still keeping her voice low. "Come on, you both fucked her, right?" Seeing the surprised and helpless expressions on both their faces when they looked at each other, both their mouths opened but again, neither could utter a word. "Oops. Guess neither of you knew that, huh?"

Olivia was the first to speak, smiling sardonically. "Well…aren't we just one big happy incestuous family."

"Yeah…except for..." Nikki's hand gestured back and forth between her and Alex.

"God, that…that would really creep me out. No offense," Alex commented.

"I think it would be interesting," Olivia said, offhandedly.

"You're only saying that to alleviate your guilt," Alex threw at her. "Nikki and I is one fantasy of yours I will not fulfill."

"Guilt?!" Olivia's eyes snapped open wide. She was finally regaining some color in her face. "I have nothing to feel guilty about. Abbie was way before you and Nikki was in your absence and I think you can understand the attraction." She looked at Nikki. "No offense." She returned to Alex. "You, on the other hand, never told me you slept with Abbie."

"It was before you, too, and hello, you never told me about Abbie, either. Nor did Abbie tell me about you."

Nikki suddenly felt like a referee. "Ladies, ladies, time out," she held her hands up in a "T" formation. "You two need to stop before this goes to a place of no return. You are together again, you have each other back now and my guess is that neither of you is planning on going anywhere again. At least not voluntarily. Right?" They both nodded, admonished again by their own behavior. "Now, enough about you two. Let's talk about me. Doesn't either of you want to give me any lurid and sordid details about Abbie's habits or style in the sack?"

Olivia and Alex quickly exchanged glances. "Not if we want to go home speaking to each other," Olivia stated, wisely. The waiter brought around their drink orders, which they all paused to take sips of.

"Hmmm…" Nikki said, eyeballing them both. "Not that I really wouldn't like to know what it's like to bed Abbie but, unfortunately, we aren't dating. We met at a function last week. She nearly fainted, too, thinking I was you and that you were dead. I told her about what happened last year, about my brief involvement with Olivia and that you weren't dead, in fact, I'd heard that you were back and we put together this little scheme. Somehow, it didn't turn out as comical as we had both thought it would be."

"Oh, that Abbie, what a card," Alex muttered, dryly.

"Yes, remind me to thank her when I see her again," Olivia agreed.

"And that will be?" Alex questioned, not looking at Olivia.

"Never, of course, dear," Olivia said, grateful for the waiter's presence again. He set three chef's specials before them. "What's this?" Olivia asked, staring at the unrecognizable pile of something on her plate.

"What you ordered, madam, the chef's special, which is –"

"Calves brains?" Alex guessed, having been served it at an upscale dinner her mother took her to once. She didn't eat it then, either.

"Yes, madam."

All three women silently studied the unappetizing-looking dish that sat before them until Nikki finally spoke up. "Anyone for pizza?"

"Works for me," Alex responded. Olivia nodded in agreement and they requested their bill.

Olivia, Alex and Nikki walked four doors down and entered a corner Italian deli. It was too bright, too noisy, too small and too crowded and perfect for the rest of their evening. They split an extra large white pizza and a pitcher of Dr. Pepper. They all agreed they'd had enough alcohol for the evening.

When the detective and the former ADA let their guard down, Alex enjoyed Nikki's company very much and Olivia remembered the reason, other than Nikki's resemblance to Alex, why she let the superwhore stay with her exclusively for seven and a half weeks. It had less to do with the sex and facial features than it did a realness and vulnerability Nikki had. And, despite feeling like she was looking in a mirror every time she addressed Alex, Nikki could see the why Olivia had fallen so in love with this woman but there was a part of Nikki that also regretted not fighting to keep Olivia for herself. However, the fact that Olivia's heart belonged to Alex and had always belonged to Alex, and it stood to reason that it would always belong to Alex, it was probably best that their affair ended when and the way it did.

Who knew what would really come to pass. At one point, when Alex had left the table to use the ladies room, Nikki reached over and squeezed Olivia's hand. "You two are wonderful together," the blonde told her, warmly. "I am glad she is back in your life."

"Thank you. Me, too."

"I apologize if I caused any problems tonight…"

"Don't worry about it, Nikki. If anything, you may have inadvertently caused a little turbulence but we've survived much worse."

"I incorrectly assumed you two had told each other about Abbie. I'm sorry."

"Don't be. We should have told each other. We shouldn't have any secrets like that, should we?"

"You're asking the wrong person about secrets, Olivia. You should have figured that out by now."

Olivia smiled, nodding in comprehension. "Listen…if you really have a chance with Abbie Carmichael? Go for it. She's a good woman."

Nikki let go of Olivia's hand and grinned. "We had some interesting conversations about you, too."

Olivia sat back in her chair, somewhat mirroring Nikki's expression. "I'm not so sure I want to hear the content of those conversations."

"It was all positive, Liv."

"That's good to know. You don't think you and Abbie could…?"

"I think I would run into the same problem with Abbie that I ran into with you."

Olivia sat forward. "You think Abbie's in love with Alex?"

"No. No, it would almost be simpler if she were. I think Abbie is still in love with you. And I remind her of what you now have, which, of course, isn't her."

Olivia swallowed this information with a little difficulty. "You think Abbie is still in love with me?" The detective looked up and then shook her head. "I never thought Abbie's feelings went that far…I mean…we broke up, she left."

"That, my dear, is between you and her. I know I just don't want to be anyone's substitute again," Nikki stated, seriously.

"No. You deserve better."

Nikki laughed and nodded. "Funny, Alex told me the same thing when you went to the bathroom."

"Nikki…it had to be fate that we all met. I normally don't believe in any of that crap but that's the only thing that makes any semblance of sense to me. If I had not met Alex, I am sure you and I would have been great together. If you didn't look like Alex, maybe you two would have hit it off. If you didn't remind Abbie of her past, then maybe you two would have been perfect for each other. But you would always be wondering and that's so not fair to you. You have so much to give someone and they need to find you and love you for who you are, not who or what you remind them of."

"Thank you, Olivia."

"Oh, you are more than welcome, Ms. White," Olivia responded, as Alex returned to the table.

When the three parted, there was another promise to stay in touch. Who knew if it would happen but, at the time, the pledge was sincere.

Not being too far from home, Olivia and Alex decided to walk as opposed to taking the subway, taxi or a bus. The first four blocks, they strolled in silence. Walking onto side streets, Olivia quietly reached for Alex's hand and held it securely as they slowed their pace.

"I love you more than anyone and anything on this planet, you know that, right?" Olivia asked her, without looking at her.

"And I love you back, Olivia. Sometimes I get frightened when I think I might lose you again."

"Alex…" Olivia stopped, halting the beautiful blonde with her. She pushed her lover's hair away from her face, "I don't ever want to be without you in my life. I already know what that feels like. I cannot go there again. Yes, I slept with Abbie. Ancient history. Yes, I slept with Nikki. Also ancient history. Every lover I have ever had either meant nothing or meant something but none of them – not one – can ever come close to what I have with you. I want you and only you, Alex. And I don't ever want you to doubt that."

Alex pulled Olivia into her arms. "Considering your last serious involvement looked exactly like me, the evidence definitely goes in your favor."

"I love you so much, Counselor," Olivia whispered in Alex's ear.

"And I love you more than that, Detective," Alex breathed back.

Looking around at people passing them on the street – no one looked back, it was New York, after all, Olivia passionately kissed the blonde in her arms. "Let's go home and live happily ever after."

Alex pulled her face away and looked at Olivia, amused.

"What?" the detective searched her lover's face, curiously. "A little too smarmy?"

Chuckling softly, Alex said, "maybe a little. But I know the sentiment was sincere."

They touched foreheads and then walked down the street arm-in-arm.

The End

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