Chapter 20:  Taking the Plunge

“Olivia, what the hell are those things on the side of your neck?” Elliot wondered as he placed a cup of coffee and a fresh bagel on her desk.


Olivia nodded her thanks and pulled her turtleneck up farther.  “Never mind.”


“Did you get lucky last night?” he continued, taking his seat. 


Olivia didn’t say anything.  She just blushed furiously and busied herself with spreading cream cheese on her bagel.


Elliot’s eyes widened as realization dawned across his face.  “Son of a bitch!  You slept with Alex!”


“You automatically assume it was Alex?”


“Liv, you have that ‘I just got my brains fucked out six ways from Sunday’ look on your face.  I’ve only seen that look when you’re around Alex.  I’m a detective.  I can put two and two together.”


“And you have that ‘I’m going to get punched by my partner’ look on yours,” Olivia threatened.


“So I take that as a yes?”


“Elliot…” Olivia warned.


Elliot put his hands up in surrender.  “Ok, ok.  I’ll shut up now.”


“That’d be great,” Olivia replied.


A few minutes later, Elliot said, “Hey…Kathy invited me to dinner at her mom’s tomorrow.  You wanna come?”


Olivia smiled.  “Thanks, El.  I’d like that.”


Munch walked into the squadroom.  “Greetings, my fellow humble slaves to the force.” 


Fin came down the stairs.  “’Bout time you dragged your bony ass in here.”


Munch motioned at the bagels on Elliot and Olivia’s desks.  “See, they take care of each other.  Where’s my breakfast?”


“When’s the last time you brought me food?” Fin responded, walking past him and sitting down at his desk.


“You two fight like you’re married,” Elliot commented.


Munch shrugged.  “What can I say?  Fin makes me feel unloved.”


“Go buy a puppy then,” Fin retorted.  “Maybe he’ll be willin’ to listen to your conspiracy theories.”


Olivia shook her head and laughed.  “Geez, Fin, you want the poor dog to run away?” she teased.


“Ha ha,” Munch replied dryly.  He studied her carefully.  “You seem to be in a rather cheerful mood today.  Get lucky last night?”


“That’s somethin’ you’ll never experience,” Fin interjected.


Munch turned to him.  “Hey, I’ll have you know that I was quite the catch in my younger days.  Just ask any of my ex-wives.”  He turned back to Olivia.  “I’m eagerly awaiting your response.”


“Keep waiting,” Olivia snapped, taking a sip of her coffee.


“Oh, come on.  Let me live vicariously through you, Olivia,” Munch coaxed.


“Why the hell you gotta be so nosy?” Fin asked.


Elliot chuckled.  “If you haven’t figured out the answer to that in the five years you’ve been partners, you’ll never know.”  He looked at Munch.  “Munch, if she wouldn’t reveal anything to me she sure as hell isn’t gonna tell you.”


Olivia shot Elliot a warning look, which Munch caught.  “Well, considering the look of death your partner just bestowed upon you, I’ll be quiet,” he said.


“Good call,” Olivia said.  When Munch turned his attention to his computer, she leaned across the desk and whispered to Elliot, “Is it really that obvious?”


Elliot grinned and responded, “Yep.”  Olivia just rolled her eyes.




Late Thanksgiving evening, Olivia heard a knock on her door.  She looked through the peephole and was surprised to see Alex.  Sighing deeply, she unlocked the door and opened it to let her in.


“Hi,” Alex said warmly.  She was holding a brown paper bag that Olivia could only guess contained food by the rich aromas that filled the air.


“Hi,” Olivia replied softly.  “What’s that?”


“Your dinner,” Alex replied with a smile.


“Thanks, Alex, but Elliot got together with Kathy and the kids and they invited me to dinner,” Olivia explained.


Alex’s smile slightly faded.  “Oh…well, I’m sure you’ll get hungry later.  You can eat it then.  I packed a lot.”


Olivia flashed a smile.  “Thanks.”  She motioned for Alex to follow her into the kitchen.


Alex took an aluminum foil pan out of the bag and pulled off the lid.  “Doesn’t that look yummy?”


Olivia looked at the array of food before her and felt her mouth start to water.  “Why, yes it does.”  She cleared some room in her refrigerator and placed the dish on a shelf.


Alex looked in her refrigerator.  It certainly had more items in it than the last time she’d seen it.  “Nice to see that you’ve restocked lately.” 


Olivia laughed.  “A girl’s gotta eat.”  She pulled out a bottle of water and offered it to her. 


Alex took the bottle from her hand and nodded her thanks.  “So did you enjoy dinner with Elliot and his family?”


“Yeah.  It was really nice,” Olivia said, walking back into the living room and taking a seat on the sofa.


Alex sat down beside her.  “I’m glad you had a good time.  It’s nice that Elliot and Kathy still get together for the holidays.”


“Yeah,” Olivia agreed.  “How’s Victor?”


“He’s good.  Katherine was there, too.  It was nice to spend time with her since I hadn’t seen her in awhile.  We had a lot of catching up to do.”


“Ah, holidays with your siblings.  Must be nice,” Olivia said.


Alex smiled.  “I’m glad you didn’t have to spend Thanksgiving alone.”


Olivia smirked.  “Is that why you came over?”


Alex blushed.  “Well…yeah.”


“Thanks for the thought,” Olivia said.  She picked up the remote and turned on the TV.


“It’s so good to see you again,” Alex said, grabbing her and hugging her unexpectedly.


“You just saw me yesterday morning,” Olivia said with a chuckle.


“It seems like a lot longer,” Alex replied.


As Alex held her, Olivia wrinkled up her nose and frowned.  She could smell an expensive cologne on her that she knew could only belong to Robert.  She pulled back.


Alex gave her a puzzled look.  “What’s wrong?”


Olivia shook her head.  “Nothing.  It’s just…you don’t smell like you.”


Alex realized that Olivia could smell Robert’s cologne.  Her mind flashed back to how Robert had held her close as they’d sat on the sofa in her brother’s living room.  Everyone there had commented on what a great couple they were, especially Victor.  “We didn’t have sex if that’s what you’re thinking.”


“The fact that he’s touching you in any way is bad enough,” Olivia said.


“Liv…I don’t wanna argue,” Alex pleaded.


“I think I’m still exhausted from the fight we had a couple nights ago,” Olivia joked.


Alex gave her a wicked grin.  “I’m not so sure if it was the fight or other activities,” she replied.


Olivia smirked again.  “How’d I know that was coming?”


“You can read me like a book.”


“So how’d you enjoy your first Thanksgiving back in New York?” Olivia asked.


Alex sighed.  “It felt good, a little unreal, though.  My time in the program makes me appreciate the holidays even more.”


“I guess you truly have a lot to give thanks for, huh?” Olivia replied.


“You’re right,” Alex said.  She reached out to touch her hand.  “And what I’m most thankful for is being able to spend some time with you tonight.”


Olivia laughed.  “Were you just planning on staking out my apartment all night?”


“If it came down to it,” Alex replied, her lips slowly curling into a smile.  “And if I got hungry…well, I could always sample a little of your food.  By the way, I hope you enjoy the cranberry and pecan stuffing I made.  I made sure to give you quite a generous portion.”


“I look forward to trying it,” Olivia replied.


“Victor, Katherine, and I decided to celebrate Christmas at the family house back in East Amherst.  But it will be so lonely there without Mom.”


“At least you have fond memories,” Olivia said comfortingly.


“Yeah.  So…” Alex began, twirling a finger around anxiously on the back of Olivia’s hand.  “I thought maybe we could talk.”


“Cut right to the chase, huh?” Olivia said.  “Go ahead.  Talk away.”


“Well, I’m sorry we fought the other night and…I thought we could come to an amiable resolution.  The tension between us only leads to blowups, so can we agree to come to each other and talk before our tempers get the best of us and things get outta hand again?”


Olivia sighed.  “I guess.”


“And can we genuinely work on friendship again this time?” Alex asked hopefully.


“That’s going to be pretty hard,” Olivia confessed.  She saw Alex’s face fall.  “But…I’ll give it a shot.”


Alex smiled again.  “Thank you.  That’s all I can expect from you anyway.”


“I’ll try not to ignore your calls either,” Olivia said with a lopsided grin.


Alex chuckled.  “I’d appreciate that.”


“But what I need for you to understand is that sometimes I really do need my space.  I need you to respect that and not jump to conclusions.”


Alex nodded.  “I understand.”


Olivia kicked off her shoes and Alex instinctively pulled her legs into her lap and started massaging a foot.  “Um, Alex…as good as that feels, this can’t happen.  Friends don’t massage each other’s feet.”


“Some friends do,” Alex replied.


Olivia gave her a stern look.  “Alex…”


“All right, all right,” Alex replied, gently placing Olivia’s feet back on the carpet.


“And I think we should establish a few other ground rules.”


“Like what?”


“Rule number 1:  no sex.”


Alex smirked.  “I figured.”


“Rule number 2:  no kissing.”


Alex gasped.  “Not even on the cheek?”


“Ok, only on the cheek,” Olivia amended.  “And no undressing in front of each other, no cuddling…”


“Liv, some friends cuddle!” Alex protested.


“Friends who aren’t interested in each other romantically can cuddle.  Since we don’t fit that bill, we can’t.”


“Ok,” Alex agreed softly.  She turned her head slightly and her eye caught the statue she’d given Olivia.  She stood up and walked over to it.  Running a hand over it, she said, “You still have her.”


“Are you surprised?” Olivia asked, looking over at her.


“Kinda,” Alex responded truthfully.  “I wouldn’t have blamed you for throwing out everything I ever gave you.”


“Can’t say I wasn’t tempted,” Olivia said before she could stop herself. 


Alex swallowed down the hurt she felt at the statement.  “I see.”




“It’s ok,” Alex interrupted.  “With how much I hurt you, it’s understandable.”  She looked down for a second before cautiously meeting Olivia’s eyes again.  “I know I’ve asked this before, but…do you ever think you’ll be able to forgive me?”


Olivia paused for a few seconds.  “With time, maybe.”


Alex didn’t like the “maybe” at the end, but she would take whatever she could get at that point.  She knew Olivia certainly didn’t owe her forgiveness after everything she put her through.  “So where do we go from here?”


Olivia let out a strained sigh.  “I really don’t know, Alex.  Baby steps, I guess.  It will be more difficult than usual dealing with all this because of Ro—your current situation.”


Alex nodded.  “You said before that when I’m with you, I’m the real me.  And that’s true.  So when we’re together, he doesn’t exist.”


“Alex, you can’t just create some alternate reality for yourself.  Being with me isn’t going to make him magically disappear.”


“I know, but I mean figuratively speaking.  Besides…I need an ally,” Alex admitted.


Olivia raised an eyebrow.  “What happened to Serena?”


Alex sighed.  “We aren’t speaking,” she quietly answered.


Olivia frowned.  “And why not?”


“A couple weeks ago, I said something to her I shouldn’t have regarding Abbie.  We were arguing when I told her about Robert and I wasn’t thinking.  I haven’t heard from her since.”


Olivia shook her head in disappointment.  “You sure do have a way with words, don’t you, Cabot?  You should apologize.”


“I tried to when she was at my apartment, but she wasn’t receptive.”


“Did you try calling her?”


“No.  I was afraid she wouldn’t answer.  I don’t seem to have good luck in that department,” she said, smiling pointedly at Olivia.


“Ya can’t blame her, though.  She has every right to be angry.”


“I suppose you’re right,” Alex said, letting out another sigh.  “You and Serena are the only ones who know my secret.  Well, besides Liz and Elliot but they happened to find out by chance.”


“So, what?  Are you tryin’ to keep us close because you’re afraid that Serena or I will rat you out?”


“No, Liv.  I know neither of you would.  I just meant that it’s good to have two people in my life I don’t have to hide from.”


Olivia nodded in understanding.  “You need to do something soon.  The longer you wait to apologize, the less of a chance you’ll have for reconciliation.”


“Any advice on what to do?” Alex asked, propping her elbow on the back of the sofa.


Olivia propped her elbow opposite Alex’s.  “Well…you could stop by her apartment.  It’s much better to deliver an apology in person.”


“That sounds like a good idea.  I hope she won’t slam the door in my face.”


“You have to be willing to take that risk,” Olivia told her.


I wish I had the courage to take an even bigger risk and come out for you, Alex thought sadly.


About 45 minutes later, Olivia stood up and stretched.  “Well, I need to turn in.  I have a long day tomorrow.”


Alex nodded, although she was disappointed that their night was coming to a close.  Time had flown by so fast.  She gave Olivia a quick hug and a soft kiss on the cheek.  “I’ll see you later.”


Olivia smiled and walked her to the door.  “Stay safe.  Thanks again for the food.”


Alex returned her smile.  “No problem.”  She gently touched her arm and then walked out her apartment.  As she walked to the elevator, she tried to calm the butterflies in her stomach.  I sure hope I can prove myself worthy of her friendship—and Serena’s.