Chapter 9:  Broken

Over the next few weeks, Olivia and Alex tried to be friends, but that only complicated matters.  They wanted their relationship to be similar to the one they had when they were just getting to know each other several years ago.  They used to test the waters by just going out for coffee, lunch, dinner, or an occasional drink at the bar without ever upping the ante to intimacy.  However, they couldn’t return to that point no matter how hard they tried.  Now they would go out to dinner, the opera, cabarets, the theater, art galleries, and other venues, and then they would go back to one or the other’s apartment.  The sexual tension in the air was so thick that you couldn’t even cut it with a knife.  They’d sit mere inches apart on the sofa, trying not to invade the other’s personal space.  For awhile they managed to control themselves, but unfortunately sooner rather than later they no longer had any self-control. 


Alex was back in Olivia’s arms and back in her bed before she knew it.  She felt herself falling deeper and deeper in love with Olivia, if that was possible.  She told herself that she had to break this off before she was too weak once again, before she got used to being with her.  What is it about Liv that does this to me?  Why does she cause me to lose all self-control? she wondered.  It wasn’t passion from lust; she could differentiate that easily.  It was pure passion from love.  When she and Olivia made love, the physical gratification from sex wasn’t her primary interest.  She did it because she wanted—needed—all of her.  She wanted to feel emotionally and spiritually complete, and she was sure Olivia did as well.  She was disappointed at herself for letting things go so far, but there was nothing she could do about it now except make sure it didn’t happen again in the future.  She was thinking of Olivia already in terms of a girlfriend again, even though that term had not come up.


She sat on her sofa and just stared at her phone beside her.  She was supposed to call Olivia to meet for dinner at The Water Club but decided against it.  She didn’t like taking the easy way out, but she couldn’t face Olivia and risk breaking her heart again.  She thought back to their breakup a few weeks ago and the memory of the look on Olivia’s face made her heart drop each time.  Besides, Olivia could always read her like a book, and she’d push until Alex told her what was going on.  As shady as it was, she was hoping they would slowly just drift apart and wean themselves off each other.  Olivia would eventually get tired of her excuses to avoid making new plans or to cancel on plans they’d already made. 


But Olivia wouldn’t tire so easily that night.  She called five times before Alex finally turned off her phone.  Alex hoped Olivia would think that she got caught up at the office or something.  However, it turned out that she would have no such luck.  Olivia showed up at her door less than an hour later.


“Alex, why didn’t you answer my calls?  I was worried about you,” she said, walking in.


“I-I…just—” Alex stammered, looking down.  “I was going to call you and tell you I couldn’t make dinner because of the Mancini trial tomorrow, but I fell asleep.”


Olivia frowned.  “You’re not a very good liar.”


Alex sighed deeply.  “You know how big this trial is.  I had some last minute adjustments to my arguments I needed to make and I couldn’t afford any distractions.”


Olivia took a step closer to Alex.  “Oh, so now I’m a distraction?”


Alex massaged her temples and replied, “Liv, you’re a pleasant distraction, but a distraction nonetheless.  I need to focus tonight.”


“You knew this trial started tomorrow before we made dinner plans.  So lay off the excuses, Alex.”


Alex threw her hands up in the air.  “Olivia, cut the umbilical cord already!  We don’t have to spend every spare minute together and I don’t owe you an explanation for everything that goes on in my life!”


“Alex, we’re just friends and last time I checked, friends hang out.  What’s the real reason you’ve been avoiding me?” Olivia demanded.


“Liv, we’re not just friends and you know it!” Alex yelled before she could stop herself.


Olivia crossed her arms.  “We’re in love.  That’s not going to change, regardless of whether we call ourselves friends or lovers.  So what’s your point, Alex?”


“I just think we need a little breather.  We’ve been spending far too much time with each other lately and it’s like we’re still—”


“So that’s what you’re worried about?” Olivia interrupted.  “You think I’m gonna pressure you to be my girlfriend again?  I didn’t come over here to jump your bones, Alex.”


“Liv, we’ve already crossed too many boundaries already.”


“But, Alex!  We were doing fine.  Yeah, things went a little further than we expected but we both enjoyed it.”  She looked down.  “At least I did.”


Alex moved forward and lifted Olivia’s chin.  “Liv, that’s the problem.  I enjoyed it too much.”  Olivia’s chocolate eyes bore into hers and she felt herself drowning.  She forced her eyes to look away.  It was now or never.  Don’t lose your resolve, Alex, she told herself.


“Alex, well…we don’t have to have sex.  We can go back to just being friends again.”


Alex sighed.  She desperately wanted to still be a part of Olivia’s life but knew she couldn’t do it.  She would be breaking her own rules—again.  “Olivia, I don’t think so.  If I am to be around you, then I have to be in a relationship with you.  I tried…and I can’t settle for just being your friend.  I can’t stop myself from wanting more from you.”


Olivia could not believe Alex was dragging her through this again.  “You are unbelievable, Cabot.  Here, let me help you with that knife so you can stab it even deeper in my heart!”


“I hope one day you can forgive me,” Alex said painfully, not able to meet her eyes.


Olivia took another step toward her.  “Forgive you?  That’s such a copout and you know it!  It’s too hard for you so you decide you can’t even be my friend now?”


Alex looked up.  “Olivia, you couldn’t control yourself anymore than I could!”


“You’re the one who kissed me first and started us down this road again!”


“And you were quite the willing participant!” Alex shouted back.


“You know what, Alex?  Fuck this and fuck you!” Olivia said, grabbing her jacket off the back of the armchair.  “If you don’t want me in your life, then I’m not gonna beg you!”


Alex grabbed her arm.  “Liv, wait!  It’s not that I don’t—”


Olivia turned back around and yanked her arm out of her grasp.  “Keep your hands off me!  You have no right to touch me anymore!”


Alex couldn’t stop the tears that had started to roll down her cheeks.  “Liv, please!  I don’t want us to end like this!”


“You mean you want to completely cut me out of your life to make things easier for your ass but you want me to smile and give you a hug?  Did you expect a passive little ‘Thanks!  It’s been fun!’ from me?” Olivia asked in amazement.  “You’ve got to be shitting me!”


Alex looked down at the carpet.  “Liv, it’s not so much that I’m trying to cut you out of my life as it is that I’m trying to cut myself out of yours.”


“Stop splitting hairs, Alex!  It’s the same thing!  You want to create a life without me!”


Alex’s lower lip trembled as she slowly raised her eyes back to Olivia’s.  “I don’t want to, Liv!  I have to!  Why can’t you understand that?”


“Because you’re full of shit, Alex!” Olivia screamed.  “You’re so fucking paranoid that you concoct all these scenarios that might happen if more people find out you’re gay!  You just wanna take the easy road out!”


Alex’s sadness was quickly replaced by anger.  “You have no clue what it’s like to be in my shoes—what it’s like to come from a world with WASP society parents who placed certain expectations on their offspring!  Everybody wants me to be successful, but nobody wants me to be gay!  This is my life, Liv!  Not yours!”


“Save me the pity party, Alex.  You can have your damn life.  I want nothing more to do with you.  Don’t ever contact me again,” Olivia told her, turning around and marching through the foyer to the door. 


Alex quickly followed after her.  “Liv, stop!  Please!”


“Fuck off, Alex!” Olivia demanded coldly, not bothering to turn back around.


Liv!” Alex screamed desperately as the door slammed in her face.  She flinched at the sound, one that would forever be etched into her memory.


It took Alex several minutes to wrap her mind around what had just happened.  She couldn’t believe things had played out that way.  Out of all the fights they’d had, she’d never seen Olivia so angry with her.  Olivia had never forbidden her contact.  God, I never expected to lose her like this, she thought. She hated herself enough for what she did; the last thing she needed was for Olivia to hate her, too.  Besides, when she wanted to break things off with Olivia, she only wanted to comfortably distance herself from her; she hadn’t planned on actually never seeing or speaking to her again.  She wanted the only reason Olivia wasn’t in her life to be because she wouldn’t let her, not because she absolutely couldn’t have her.  She liked having the option of calling at some point in the future just to check in on her, but now Olivia had given her no choice.  She’d never felt so defeated in her life.  She didn’t see how she could fix this or why she should even bother.  Whether things ended on good or bad terms, she was left with the same result—no Olivia. 


Forcing her body to move again, she went upstairs and decided to take out her suit for the next day.  As she walked into her closet and began sifting through clothes, her hand suddenly brushed against something.  It was Olivia’s lavender button-down shirt, which happened to be her favorite because she absolutely loved the way it looked on Olivia.  Olivia was more prone to wear her blue or red ones, but it was just something about this one that Alex treasured.  She’d even ask her to wear it sometimes.  Carefully taking the shirt off the hanger, she held it in her hands for a few seconds before bursting into tears.  She crumpled to the floor and sobbed helplessly into the shirt.  After a few minutes, she was struggling to breathe and her ribs ached, but none of that mattered.


When she finally pulled herself off the floor, she managed to wash her face, brush her teeth, and change into her gown for bed.  Picking up Olivia’s shirt off the floor, she climbed into bed and hugged it tightly to her chest as she prayed for sleep to overtake her.  But that wouldn’t happen anytime soon.  With each passing minute, the sting of Olivia’s rejection bore a deeper hole into her heart.  The coldness in her eyes and her voice was more painful than the bullet that had ripped through her shoulder.  Something about it transcended mere flesh and pierced her soul.  It was the same coldness Olivia reserved for the most violent and sadistic of perps.  She hadn’t felt such an incredible loss since the marshals had taken her away after her brief meeting with Olivia two years ago.  But what had kept her going besides being in love with Olivia was knowing how much Olivia loved her back and that one day, she would be able to return to her.  Now what would keep her going since she wasn’t allowed this?  Sure, Olivia had said she’d never stop loving her but that was no longer a comfort since she’d told her she wanted nothing more to do with her.  She loved this woman more than life itself and now had no receptacle for it, even though she knew it was her own fault.  The tears descended down her cheeks again and drenched her pillowcase.  She angrily threw the pillow across the room and grabbed another. 


She tossed and turned for another half hour before giving up on sleep.  Pulling herself out of bed, she walked out onto her terrace.  She shivered as the cool night air whipped around her body.  I should’ve put on Liv’s shirt.  She lifted her arm and slowly began rotating her shoulder, which had become stiff.  But this just reminded her of the times Olivia would massage the pain out of her shoulder.  Olivia’s touch was gentler than her doctor’s and much more welcome.  As she looked out over the city, she wondered how many others were alone and desolate because of choices they’d made.  A part of her was broken and she wasn’t sure she could ever fix it.  She didn’t know how she’d find the strength to go into the office the next morning, but she would just have to swallow her pain and guilt and move forward.  Being with Olivia was the first time I’d lived in two years, she thought.  She knew she would go back to being a shell of her former self, just as she did when she was in the program.  Maybe I should’ve been an actress.


Over the years, she had been commonly dubbed an “ice princess” because to many, her cold exterior was very off-putting and made her hard to decipher.  She didn’t see her true self as cold, though—just level-headed and confident.  Her stoic mask of professionalism had been perfected during her former years, and it was what made her an excellent lawyer.  Sometimes it leaked into her personal interactions with people, but it was solely a means of self-preservation in order to stay on top, accomplish her goals in life, and avoid being side-tracked or swindled.  Beyond her mask was a warm and caring person, and it was up to her discretion which side one saw.


However, whenever she tried to suppress her deepest emotions, she lost a part of her identity.  This was something she was used to compromising her entire life, and she didn’t know if she could ever put it to rest.  But Olivia was a part of her identity, a part of her reality, so where would she be without her—someone who stripped her of her façades and laid her soul bare?  Olivia was responsible for a lot of her progression, and now she felt like she was back at square one.  Taking a deep breath, she turned around and walked back inside.  As she lay down again, she picked up Olivia’s shirt and deeply inhaled her scent.  She didn’t know how she was going to return any of Olivia’s clothes, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to try.  She liked having something so personal of hers and she knew deep down that her heart would never let go of Olivia, even if Olivia managed to let go of her.




“Fuck her, Elliot!  I don’t ever wanna see her again!” Olivia shouted, picking up her glass of scotch again.  She felt a certain satisfaction as the liquid burned a path down her throat.


Elliot gently pried the glass out of her fingers.  “Liv, calm down,” he said, putting his hands on her shoulders and guiding her over to the sofa.


“I don’t want to hear Alex’s name again.  I want to forget she ever existed,” Olivia grumbled.


“You know you don’t really mean that, Liv,” Elliot said, sitting down beside her.


“Try me,” Olivia barked.  She clumsily reached for her glass but Elliot kept it out of her reach.  “Give it back, Elliot!”


“No, Liv.  I think you’ve had enough for the night.  We do have to be at the bullpen bright and early tomorrow morning.”


Olivia slumped against the back of the sofa.  “Don’t remind me.”  She tried reaching for her glass again but to no avail.  “Knock it off, El.  I’m not Kathleen.  I’m not gonna get behind the wheel wasted, I just wanna finish my fucking drink!”


That comment stung, but Elliot decided to ignore it since Olivia wasn’t herself at the moment.  “You’re not getting this glass back.  Drinking yourself into oblivion is not going to erase your problems.”


“Maybe it’ll erase Alex from my memory.”


“You can’t erase your heart, Liv.”


I have no heart!” Olivia screamed, jumping to her feet and almost stumbling over a leg of the coffee table.  She felt her head begin to swim from standing up too quickly.  “Alex took a sledgehammer and smashed it to pieces tonight.”


Elliot quickly rose and helped Olivia steady herself.  “It won’t always hurt this much.”


“Why’d I ever have to fall in love with her?” Olivia yelled.


“Can’t help who you fall in love with.  She’ll eventually come back to you, Liv.”


“I don’t fucking want her!  I’ll never forgive her for what she did!”


“Yeah, you will,” Elliot insisted, pushing her back down on the sofa.  “Listen, I’m gonna go get you some water.  Promise me you’ll stay put?”


Olivia grumbled something unintelligible as Elliot took her glass into the kitchen.  She didn’t really want booze or water, she simply wanted to do nothing, see nothing, hear nothing, and feel nothing.  She wanted to pass out on her bed and not wake up until sometime the next morning.


Elliot returned a couple minutes later with a bottle of water.  Olivia mumbled her thanks and took a few gulps.  Setting the water on the coffee table, she sighed and brought her knees up to her chest.  A tear rolled down her cheek and she asked, “What am I gonna do, Elliot?”


Elliot turned to the side to face her and rubbed her knee.  “Well, nothing worth having is ever easy.  I believe that one day Alex will get her priorities straight and realize she’s miserable without you, but you can’t put your life on hold waiting for it to happen.  Go out and meet people.  Play the field awhile if you want.  You don’t have to commit to anyone, but I’m not gonna let my best friend sit around moping and drinking.”


“Forgive me, El if I don’t feel like partying.  I feel so stupid!  Getting all excited to see her tonight like some stupid schoolgirl while she was planning to tell me she didn’t want me to be a part of her life!”


Elliot sighed.  “Just keep yourself busy and your mind occupied with thoughts other than Alex.  You’ll be ok.  You’re one tough cookie.  Look at all you’ve overcome already.”


Olivia forced a small smile.  “Thanks, El.  It’s just…I wish things were different.  We see enough depravity in our lives everyday.  How someone like Alex who is so familiar with the deepest and darkest parts of human nature could do something so cruel…I’ll just never understand.”


“I doubt she understands things herself, Liv.  Love is complicated.  But you know she didn’t do it on purpose.  She loves you too much.  She’s being selfish, no doubt, but she’d never intentionally try to destroy you.”


“Love is only complicated because people put other shit before it.”


Elliot looked down and thought about his own problems with his family.  Before Kathy left him, she’d frequently complained about how he put SVU before her and their kids.  He’d give anything to have his family back.  “Yeah.  Love’s everything.  Family’s everything.”


Olivia looked at him and gave a sympathetic smile.  “You miss ’em, don’t you?”


“Yeah.  I really do.”


“I hope things work out for you guys.”


Elliot took a deep breath.  Letting it out, he responded, “Yeah…me, too.”  He looked at his watch.  “Well, I should get some shuteye.  Think you’ll be ok?”


Olivia nodded.  “Yeah.  Thanks for coming over and putting up with my whining.”


Elliot leaned over and gave her a hug.  “That’s what partners are for.”


After Elliot left, Olivia picked up the necklace Alex had given her and slid it back and forth against her neck.  She wanted to rip it off, throw it out the window, flush it down the toilet—but she just didn’t have the heart.  As much as she hated what Alex was doing, she couldn’t bring herself to hate her.  That necklace was a symbol of something she’d never felt with anyone else—a love so powerful, so real, so consuming that it had torn down the walls she’d placed around herself and her heart.  While she had loved before, it had been for all the wrong reasons, and she’d never been in love or experienced love that was pure, natural, and unconditional.  When she dated the guy twice her age in high school, she was subconsciously looking for someone who had all the characteristics of a model father figure as well as a lover, and when she dated her mother’s 21-year-old student when she was 16, she was looking for someone to rescue her from her mother’s drinking and abuse.  But she didn’t have a reason for loving Alex, especially not after how she’d broken her heart.  She just did and for the life of her, she couldn’t understand why.  She knew that time would numb the pain, but that thought wasn’t too comforting at that moment.


She picked up her cell phone and scrolled through her contacts.  Of course, Alex was the first name on her list.  She thought about deleting the contact but decided against it at the last minute.  What’s the point?  I have all her numbers memorized anyway, she thought dejectedly.  Despite everything, a small part of her wanted to hold onto Alex.  She knew it was useless, but she had to face it—Alex was cemented into her mind and her heart.  She’d never completely forget her, but she could try to work around the memory of her. 


She pulled herself up from the sofa and got ready for bed.  Alex had just spent the night a couple days earlier and her scent was still on her pillow, so were a few strands of her hair.  Choking back tears, Olivia pulled Alex’s pillow close and placed her head on it.  She wondered if she’d been too cruel to Alex.  Nah.  She deserved it, she decided.  Still, she couldn’t help feeling guilty for the harsh things she’d said.  Why does love have to hurt so much?  She turned over and looked out her window.  The moonlight poured in and washed over a framed photo of the two of them on a hiking trip a few weekends before.  They had still been a couple then.  Turning the photo away from herself, she tried to forget about how beautiful Alex looked, how happy and relaxed they were with their arms wrapped tightly around each other.  Finally, she could hold her tears in no longer and sobbed until she fell into a deep, restless sleep.