Chapter 10:  Time Goes By

Four weeks had passed, and Alex hadn’t seen hide nor hair of Olivia.  Thankfully, she had the bureau to keep her mind occupied both at the office and at home, so it was becoming easier to divert her attention from thoughts of Olivia.


But it wouldn’t be so easy that day.  She was coming out of her office to give her secretary some arrest reports to copy when the dark-haired detective caught her eye.  She was standing at ADA Jessica Rossi’s door and pointing her finger at something in a manila folder.  Alex froze on the spot.


“How many copies did you say you needed?” Cheryl asked impatiently.


Alex shook her head quickly and returned her attention to Cheryl.  “Uh…just make 8 of each,” she ordered distractedly.


Taking the reports from her, Cheryl rolled her eyes and walked off.  Alex turned back to Olivia.  Stop staring, Cabot, she told herself.  But for some reason, she just couldn’t take her eyes off her.


As Olivia was leaving, she caught Alex staring at her.  Even from the distance she was at, Alex could see a flash of pain and anger cross her eyes.  Alex’s mouth fell open, but no words came out.  Olivia tore her eyes away and continued walking.


Alex knew she had absolutely no influence over Olivia since the SVU detectives no longer worked for her, but she couldn’t just let Olivia walk out like that.  “Detective Benson!” she called.  “May I see you for a moment?”


Olivia’s facial expression immediately hardened.  She stopped in her tracks and gritted her teeth at Alex’s boldness.  How dare she try to use her position of authority to boss me around in her office? she thought.  Groaning and letting out the breath she had been holding, she slowly turned to face, or rather, glare at Alex.


From her position at her door, Jessica carefully watched the interaction between Olivia and Alex.  From the expression on Olivia’s face and Alex’s equally shocked and pained expression, she knew that there was tension between them for some reason.  She wondered what Alex had done that was so offensive that her mere presence made Olivia uncomfortable.  I guess Alex just has an uncanny way of making enemies everywhere she goes, Jessica thought.  Perhaps Alex antagonized her detectives at SVU and that’s why Detective Benson dislikes her?  Alex’s take-no-prisoners attitude and authoritarian demeanor rubbed several people the wrong way, so she wouldn’t be surprised if she had often clashed with people at her former unit.


Alex glanced around uncomfortably to temporarily avoid Olivia’s piercing stare.  Is she just going to stand there and stare me down? she wondered.  I don’t want her making a scene.  She was already less than pleased with the rather amused expression on Jessica’s face; she didn’t want to draw more attention from nosey parkers.  She returned her gaze to Olivia.  “Detective Benson, would you please step into my office?” she rephrased.


Muttering something unintelligible under her breath, Olivia headed in the direction of Alex’s office.  Shutting the door behind her, she folded her arms and demanded coldly, “What do you want, Alex?”


Alex leaned back against the front of her desk and swallowed hard.  She nervously entwined her fingers and placed her hands on her stomach.  “I just wanted to see if you’re ok.”


Olivia let out a sardonic laugh.  “Oh, like you give a damn, right?”


“Olivia, can we please just be civil with each other?” Alex begged.  “We are professionals and it’s inevitable that we will still see each other sometimes.  We all work to put the same criminals away.”


“It’s too bad that didn’t occur to you when you told me you wanted me out of your life!” Olivia snapped. 


We all say things we don’t mean, Alex thought dejectedly.  “I’m sorry, Liv!  Gosh, what more do you want me to say?”


“I want you to explain the logic of wanting someone in your office that you never wished to see again.  I think that’s the 8th wonder of the world.”


Alex decided to let Olivia’s biting sarcasm roll off her shoulders.  “I never actually said I never wanted to see you again.  You’re the one who forbade me to ever contact you again.”


“So what you mean is that you wanted to call all the shots and be in control!” Olivia barked, pointing a finger at her.  “Typical!”


Alex frowned and folded her arms.  “Olivia, we are both adults here.  Let’s be mature.”


Olivia took a few steps toward her.  “Don’t you dare condescend to me like I’m some child or one of your little ADAs you’re just breaking in, Alex!”


“Olivia, lower your voice!” Alex ordered, gesturing toward the door with one hand.  Her own temper was starting to flare.  “I know you have every right to be angry with me, but at least keep it out of work.”


“You’re the one who called me in here for a chit chat,” Olivia retorted.  “What did you expect?”


Alex took a deep breath.  She couldn’t let Olivia ruin her whole day.  “It was a shock to see you, that’s all.  I’ve been concerned about you.” 


Olivia was pleased that Alex still thought about her, but she would never let her know it.  She was determined to never show Alex any signs of her vulnerability again; that way she couldn’t be hurt by her anymore.  “I’m fine, Alex, although your concern is not needed.  I just stopped by to drop off a case file to ADA Rossi and bring her up to speed on the particulars.  As you know, Casey’s workload is full and you already gave the ok for her to pass the case along to this bureau.  But Casey had arraignments and couldn’t deliver it, so she asked me to.  Oh, and while I’m here, I just remembered that you still have some clothes of mine,” she said a bit quieter.  She took careful note of Alex’s reaction when she said it.


Alex’s face immediately fell.  She hadn’t expected Olivia to ask for her clothes back.  Did you really think you could keep her stuff forever, Alex? she berated herself.  But maybe this is for the best.  It’s time to let go.  “Um…I’ll swing by your place tonight and drop them off,” she said disappointedly, her eyes downcast.  Mentally kicking herself, she realized that she couldn’t just stop by without Olivia giving her the ok.  “I mean…if that’s ok with you,” she quickly amended, hesitantly meeting her eyes.


Olivia studied Alex’s forlorn expression for a few more seconds before responding.  She wanted to say something snide, but she couldn’t bear to inflict more pain upon Alex.  Asking for her clothes had obviously been an unexpected blow to her gut.  “Uh…sure.  I’ll call you when I get off.”


Alex smiled weakly.  “Ok.  Well…I’ll let you get back to the bullpen.”


“Actually, I’m meeting Warner at the lab.  But uh…yeah.  See you tonight,” Olivia responded.  She didn’t feel quite right saying the last line.  It no longer had the same meaning attached to it.  It was just another goodbye that she wasn’t looking forward to saying.


Alex felt the same regrets.  Nodding quickly, she answered simply, “Ok.”


Olivia gave her a quick wave and walked out.  Alex went over to her refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of water.  After taking some long gulps, she sat down at her desk and rubbed her forehead.  Before seeing Olivia, she’d thought the hardest task she would have to deal with that day would be bringing the monthly bureau reports to the 8th floor and explaining the drop in drug-related and domestic violence indictments.  Now she was actually looking forward to it.  She picked up her stress ball and gave it a firm squeeze before turning to her computer.


In a few minutes, there was a loud knock at her door.  “Come in!” she shouted without looking away from her monitor.


Cheryl came in and dropped the copies on her desk.  “Do you need anything else while I’m here?”  I sure as hell hope not, she thought.


Alex waved her off in slight annoyance.  “No.  Thank you.”


“Mmm hmm,” Cheryl murmured, walking out gratefully.


Alex continued compiling the reports and double checked the data she’d entered with that of the arrest reports.  God, I need a vacation, she thought.




Meanwhile, Jessica walked to the break room to get a cup of water.  ADA Christina Finn looked up from making her cup of tea and greeted her with a warm smile.  “Hey Jess.”


“Hey Christina.”


“What’s up?” Christina asked.


“So it looks like Detective Benson wasn’t too happy when she left Alex’s office,” Jessica began.  She picked up a granola bar and tore open the wrapper.


Christina laughed.  “Let me guess.  You just happened to have a pressing matter that required you to stand at your door until you saw Alex’s open.”


Jessica laughed, too.  “I just thought that would be too good to miss.”


“Maybe you were reading too much into it.  It may not have been a big deal at all.”


“No, trust me.  From the looks on their faces, it was.”


Christina sighed.  “So do you think Alex gave her the 3rd degree then?”


“I dunno.  I think Alex’s finally met her match with Detective Benson.  She’s tough.  Even I wouldn’t wanna get on her bad side.  So it was probably the other way around.”


Christina grinned and rolled her eyes.  “You know…Alex’s really not that bad.”  


Jessica gave her an annoyed look.  “She can be kind of a bitch, Chris, and you know it.”


“Well…she’s our chief and she’s been nice to me.  You have to respect her.  I just think the two of you have such strong personalities.  You’re both alpha females and that’s not going to change, regardless of who is in charge.  The problem is that you both think you’re always right…and you can’t always be right because she’s the boss.  And as hard as it is for you to believe, she’s not out to get you.  She just wants what’s best for the bureau.  Just give her a chance.”


“Ok, ok.  I’ll try to give her a chance,” Jessica conceded, downing her water and starting to leave.  She suddenly looked back over her shoulder and said, “But I’m not making any promises.”


Christina just shook her head and followed her out.




“So you won’t believe who I had a run-in with today,” Olivia said to Elliot as they sat in the squad car across the street from the bodega.


Elliot took a sip from his cup of coffee and kept watching the street for a glimpse of their rapist.  “That’s not a hard one.  Alex.”


“Yep,” Olivia answered, taking a sip from her own cup. 


“How’d it go?” Elliot wanted to know.


“Eh…it went,” Olivia began.  She recounted the details of their meeting for him.


Elliot nodded when she was done.  “Well, that wasn’t too bad.  And it’s not like she was just gonna stop caring about you, Liv.  How do you think it’ll go tonight?”


“Hopefully, she’ll give me my clothes and be on her merry way,” Olivia replied.  She pointed her coffee cup in the direction of a scruffy-looking guy wearing a brown hoodie.  “Hey, do you think that’s our guy?”


Elliot shook his head.  “Nah.  Our guy’s a little shorter.  The vic said he was about 5’11”.  That guy looks like he’s 6’1”.”


“It was dark when he attacked her, so maybe she was off a little.  But she did say he had a large mole outside his left eye,” Olivia replied.  She picked up her binoculars and looked through them.  “I’m just waiting on this guy to turn his head so I can make sure…”


“Things might turn out better than you think tonight,” Elliot interjected.


“Alex and I are done, Elliot,” Olivia responded tersely.  She put down her binoculars.  “You’re right.  That’s not our guy.  No mole.”


“You can keep pretending you’re over her for as long as you want,” Elliot said.


Olivia gave him an annoyed look.  “Don’t start, El.”


“Hey…I just think you should never give up on love,” Elliot said.


“Well, Alex made the bed we both have to lie in,” Olivia retorted, looking out the window again.  “If she doesn’t give a shit about us, then I’m not going to either.  All she cares about is politics.  How pathetic would I look begging her to let me back in her life?  Besides, aren’t you the one who told me to start dating again?”


“Dating other people doesn’t mean you give up on the love of your life,” Elliot replied.  “A hot date comes a dime a dozen, but you only get one special someone.”


Olivia turned to look at him.  “So is Kathy seeing anyone else?  Is this really what it’s all about?  Your own hopes that she’ll return to you?”


Elliot frowned.  “No…she’s not—at least not to my knowledge.  And don’t turn this around on me.”


Olivia sighed.  “I’m sorry, El…I know you’re just trying to help.  But seeing Alex again today reopened wounds that had just barely started to heal in the first place.”


Elliot reached out and squeezed her shoulder.  “I know.  I just want you to be happy.”


Olivia smirked.  “The one thing that will make me happy right now is catching this bastard and getting home to take a long, hot bath.”


Elliot smiled at her.  “Ah, the simple things in life.”


“Yep.  From now on, that’s the way I’m gonna try to keep my personal life—simple.”


Elliot bit into his donut.  “Good luck.”


Olivia snorted.  “Yeah.  I’ll definitely need it.”




Olivia was in her kitchen when she heard a knock.  “Coming!” she yelled, wiping her hands on a towel.  When she got to the door, she took a deep breath to slow her racing heart.  She then unlocked it and swung it open.


Alex stood before her with a shopping bag.  She didn’t expect Olivia to invite her in, but she couldn’t drive the hopes out of her mind anyway.  “Um…here are your clothes,” she said softly.  She gave Olivia a good once-over.  Even in her tank top and drawstring pants, she looked as gorgeous as ever.


Olivia reached out and took the bag from her, her fingers lightly brushing against Alex’s and causing both women to flush warmly despite the tension between them.  Olivia looked inside the bag; Alex had folded everything neatly inside tissue paper.  She looked up to meet her eyes and said, “Thanks.”


Alex held her gaze.  “You’re welcome.”


A few seconds of silence passed that seemed like an eternity.  They could almost hear the other breathing.  Olivia finally looked away and focused her attention on the contents of the bag again.  “Well, uh…I’m gonna turn in early tonight.  It’s been a long day.”


Alex nodded.  Her eye suddenly caught Olivia’s necklace.  Gulping, she turned to leave but on impulse, she turned back around and picked up the necklace.  Olivia gasped sharply as Alex pressed her lips hard against the jewels.  Several seconds later, she let go.  Looking into Olivia’s eyes one last time, she forced herself to take her leave.


Olivia was quite a bit taken aback by the action.  She had planned to finally take the necklace off that night and put it up to never wear again, but after that tender gesture, she decided against it.  Gently rubbing her fingers where Alex’s lips had just been, she watched as Alex ran down the stairs.  She shut the door and quickly crossed her living room to the window.  Alex appeared on the sidewalk and hailed a cab.  When it stopped in front of her, she turned around one last time and looked up at the window.  Olivia’s breath caught in her chest as their eyes found each other’s once more.  She thought about how similar it was to the gaze Alex had given her right before the marshals cut their last moments together short.  Alex sadly turned back around to step inside the cab and Olivia watched her drive off into the night.


Olivia took the shopping bag into her bedroom and placed it on her dresser.  She started to unfold her clothes and hang them in her closet when a piece of stationery suddenly fell out of her lavender button-down shirt.  Bending down, she picked it up and took a seat on her bed.  Unfolding it, she recognized Alex’s fine handwriting right off the bat.




            I know things didn’t end well between us.  I take full responsibility for that.  But one thing will always remain true, even if you no longer believe it.  I love you with all my heart and I’ll never stop.  I do hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me one day.  I still think about you everyday; I can’t stop myself.  I’m not going to add insult to injury by making further excuses for my actions.  But I’ll hate myself forever if I never completely tell you how I feel. 


            I think back to the night I saw you before the marshals took me away.  I’d learned from a young age to bury my emotions to keep them from rising to the surface, but with you I absolutely couldn’t.  My heart was breaking—I wanted so badly to be with you and it was destroying me that I couldn’t.  I wanted to kiss your tears away.  Hell, part of me wanted to throw caution to the wind and refuse to leave—or at least take you with me.  If the marshal hadn’t said we were leaving, I would have been tempted to stand there forever in our own little cosmos.  I wanted every muscle in my face, every tear in my eye, to convey just how deeply in love with you I was. 


            And now I want every word in this letter to convey the same.  Regardless of how I appear to everyone on the outside, inside I’m a mess.  That’s why I called you into my office today.  As much as I wanted to just act like you weren’t there, my heart wouldn’t let me.  There’s a void inside me without you.  Seeing you today and hearing your voice shaved a fraction of my pain away.  If only I had as much courage as you do, we’d still be together.


            I know I’ve caused you tremendous pain.  You’ll never know how sorry I am.  But I want you to be happy.  I hope you’ll find someone who will love you and treat you like you deserve.  You’re the most beautiful soul I’ve ever met and God knows I’m not worthy of you.  But no matter who comes into your life after me, all I ask is that you never forget me.  A selfish part of me also wishes you’ll always have a place for me in your heart—despite what I’ve done.  I love you.  Forever.





Olivia found herself crying when she reached the end of the letter.  With shaking hands, she put the letter down on the comforter so her tears wouldn’t smear the ink.  She grabbed some tissues to wipe her face but the tears quickly soaked through them.  Her brain was awash with so many emotions at that moment—shock, despair, disappointment, happiness, love, comfort, humility.  After what happened between them, she hadn’t expected Alex to pour her heart out like that.  Now half of her wanted to shake her for throwing away what they had and the other half wanted to take her into her arms and kiss her.  Maybe Elliot was right; perhaps Alex would get her priorities straight and request to be back in her life, but Olivia still wanted to leave the ball in her court.  And she didn’t want to get her hopes up.


She carefully folded the letter and put it in the top drawer of her nightstand.  She hung up the rest of her clothes and put the shopping bag on the closet floor.  She thought about calling Elliot and telling him about the letter, but she wanted more time to process everything.  Pulling back the covers, she climbed into bed and settled against her pillow.  She stared at her bedside clock as Alex’s words repeated in her mind like a mantra.  It was all almost too good to be true.  She didn’t know the exact reason behind the letter.  Did Alex write it because she hoped for a reconciliation at some point or because she needed closure before moving on?  Olivia did know one thing, though—she had to protect her heart.  She couldn’t allow herself to be tangled up in Alex’s web again.  She decided that she needed to move on with her life and as for things with Alex, let the chips fall where they may.  If they were meant to be together again, then fate would bring them back to each other.  Letting out an exasperated sigh, she turned off the lamp and hoped that slumber would soon rescue her from her thoughts.




In her own apartment, Alex was lying in her bed staring at a picture of Olivia.  Did Olivia read the letter? she wondered.  How did she react?  Did she laugh in scorn or did she cry?  Did she rip it up?  Does she believe me?  And most importantly, does she forgive me?  Or does she hate me?  She didn’t know how much time had passed when a loud horn blowing in the distance startled her out of her thoughts.


You’ve got to get a grip, Alex, she told herself.  She put the frame down and decided to turn on the radio.  She had only been listening a few minutes when Carrie Skipper’s “Time Goes By” began playing.  As the soft, melodic beats and Carrie’s smooth, haunting vocals drifted over the airwaves, she picked the framed photo of Olivia up again.  Each poignant stroke of the violin bow struck chords of despair and longing in her heart.  As she listened to the lyrics, stinging tears poured from her eyes and fell onto the glass.


Found your home somewhere

Now you’ve reached the end

The game seems so unkind

When this moment ends

You’ll look back to see

The love you left behind


The closer the feeling

The more you recognize

Familiar, the faces

Reflected in your eyes

I’m with you, I know you

If only in my head

I always remember

(I always remember)


No more holding on

To a fading memory

Of how things used to be

Life will carry on

Love will always be your guide

If you just set me free


The closer the feeling

The more you recognize

Familiar, the faces

Reflected in your eyes

I’m with you, I know you

If only in my head

I always remember

You looked at me and said


Time goes by

From the point of no return

You’ve gotta be strong enough to learn

Time goes by

The love you leave behind

Builds a temple in your mind


As soon as the song ended, Alex quickly turned off the radio and returned the photo to the nightstand.  It was like fate was laughing at her, taunting her from every turn.  As if being shot and almost killed, forced twice into new identities in Witness Protection, and losing her mother and being forbidden to attend her funeral weren’t enough, she now had the heartbreak of losing the love of her life again and the stress of trying to run an entire bureau to add to her long list of problems.  She wanted—needed—an escape from the demons of her mind.  Now all she had to do was find it.