DISCLAIMER: All main characters belong to Dick Wolf/NBC/Universal.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: In Reine, I picture someone very much like Marina from "The L Word" or a younger Pierrette from "8 Women." That's just my vision. Use your own imagination.

ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

SPOILERS: Post "Loss."





Part I - Jane Doe

The woman had been on the lookout for the Blue and White patrol car and ran down the stoop of the brownstone when she spotted the vehicle drive around the corner. She met the officers as they parked the car and exited the sedan.

"Jesus! It took you guys long enough!!" she yelled at them, her adrenaline obviously pumping.

"Lady, give us a break, you weren't the only emergency," a slightly overweight police officer commented, shaking his head.

Leading them back up the steps, the woman said, "Well, excuse me for thinking 'shots fired' and screaming would bring an immediate response."

"You heard shots? And a woman scream?" The husky cop looked at his partner. "Call for back up."

"Well, actually, it sounded like a man screaming." The woman quickly showed them the door where the noises had come from. Guns drawn, the officers pounded on the door.

"Police!! Open up!" No response. "NYPD!!! Open the door now or we take it down!!"

"Should we wait for back up?" the younger, more timid police officer asked.

"What if someone's hurt or dying?" the more experienced officer suddenly wondered.

"What if someone's in there waiting to ambush us?" the rookie questioned.

"Good God! Give me the damn gun and I'll go in," the woman shouted, agitated.

With that embarrassing incentive, the officers kicked at the door. It didn't budge. They kicked the door again. Still no give.

The woman, on a hunch, reached for the doorknob, twisted it and the door opened outward. She looked at the cops, rolling her eyes, disgusted. "Starsky and Hutch, you're not."

Cautiously entering the apartment, the uniformed officers searched the area, room by room, until they came across a woman lying unconscious on the bedroom floor. The woman was covered in and surrounded by blood, with drops leading to the open window and out the fire escape.


John Munch and Odafin Tutuola, NYPD detectives from the Special Victims Unit assigned to the 16th Precinct in Manhattan, entered the crime scene, which was crawling with CSU techs.

"Where's the vic?" Fin asked.

"They took her to the hospital," Morlock, from the Crime Scene Unit volunteered, in between swabbing, collecting and collating evidence. "Damn, there's a lot of blood here."

"So what's the story?" Munch asked, looking around.

"Not sure yet," Morlock shrugged. "The female found was obviously raped and beaten up - but we don't think she was the one who was shot."

"Think she was the shooter?" Fin asked, flipping his little notebook open to record some details of the scene.

"Unknown. There was no apparent powder residue on her but note use of the word apparent. She was a bloody mess. Haven't found a gun yet, either."

Munch looked at Fin. "I'll call to see if there has been any reported GSW's at the hospitals in the last couple hours."

Morlock looked up. "Hello, Munch...this is New York...it would be unusual if there weren't any GSW's reported in the last couple of hours, don't you think?"


Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson, also from the Manhattan Special Victims Unit and co-workers of Munch and Tutuola at the 16th, arrived at Roosevelt Hospital. It was later in the afternoon, a busy time for the emergency room, for some reason. They walked past the triage area, to the desk, where a doctor was filling out a chart. The patient - a female - was still unconscious.

"What have we got, Doc?" Olivia asked. She and Elliot knew Doctor Miglorie. They had dealt with him several times in the past. He was straight up and fair. He liked the two sex crimes detectives. They really were trying to make a difference in the world.

"Female. My guess is mid-thirties. No ID. Obvious rape - well, obvious to me. We did a rape kit, which will be turned over to you and we bagged her clothing. A lot of blood."

"Witness heard shots fired...was she -?"

"Shot? I found no gunshot wounds on our mystery patient."

Olivia and Elliot exchanged glances. "Then where did all the blood come from?"

"Good question. She was worked over pretty good but, honestly, no bullet holes. Nothing consistent with that volume of blood on her clothes. Nasty concussion, though."

Elliot stayed outside with Miglorie to get more information as Olivia pushed aside the curtain and stepped inside the area where the victim was. Moving closer to the bed, Olivia surveyed the woman's bruises. In addition to the rape, which was horrible enough on its own, she had been worked over pretty hard, possibly even pistol-whipped. Olivia figured this woman must have put up quite a struggle. But it still didn't explain what happened in that apartment.

The dark haired victim began to stir. She moaned slightly when she moved, floating into consciousness. She blinked her eyes open and suddenly, intense green eyes were focused on Olivia.

"Hi," Olivia said, quietly.

"Où Suis-je?" the woman asked, not taking her eyes off the detective. Her initial tone was barely audible.

Without hesitation, Olivia replied in French, "Vous êtes dans un hôpital, vous avez été blessé. Parlez-vous anglais?"

This woman suspiciously eyed Olivia. "Yes..." she answered, cautiously. "What happened?" Her accent was obvious but not too thick to be understood.

"We were kind of hoping you could tell us that," Olivia said, smiling kindly. "Do you remember anything?"

"We? Who is we?"

"I'm Detective Olivia Benson. My partner, Detective Elliot Stabler, is outside with the ER doctor."

"Detective? You are the police?"

"Yes," Olivia responded, producing a badge. "Special Victims Unit."

"What does that mean? Why are you here?" the woman sounded concerned but still seemed calm, under the circumstances.

Olivia moved closer to the bed and said, gently, "Do you know that you were raped?"

The woman closed her eyes and then nodded. "Yes. Yes, I remember." Opening her eyes, she looked around the room. "Where are my clothes?"

"They have been kept for evidence," Olivia explained.

"What? No!" The victim became almost angry.

"No?" Olivia repeated, not understanding.

"No. I do not wish to pursue this."

Startled, if not stunned by this admission, it took Olivia a second to digest the woman's sudden emotional change. "If we don't get the guy who did this, he is free to do this to someone else. Maybe even again to you." Olivia's was trying her best to sound soothing but her instinct told her something strange was going on here.

The woman managed a smile, although it was a rueful one. "Detective, this is not really about rape. This person is not on a spree. This is personal. This is about showing me who is in charge."

"With all due respect, that's usually what all rapes boil down to. Power. Control. Humiliation."

"Detective...Benson, yes?"


"I assure you, this was not random. This was personal."

"That still doesn't make it any less a rape, Ms. -?"

Smiling again, appearing to become stronger with every word, she painfully pushed herself to a sitting position. "I need my clothes."

"Well, as I said, they have been bagged for evidence. They are soaked with blood." Olivia watched this woman with curiosity. She wasn't behaving like most victims Olivia was used to dealing with. Granted, everyone dealt with the aftermath of rape in their own way, like a grieving process, but something was definitely awry.

"And I do believe I said that I was not pressing charges. I would like my clothes back so I can leave."

Olivia decided to try a different strategy. "A neighbor said she heard shots coming from that apartment but there are no gunshot wounds on you. Did you shoot someone?"

"Did you find a gun?"

"No, but -"

"Then I guess the neighbor was hearing things."

The curtain separating the area the victim was in from the other ER beds and the triage area moved and Elliot stepped in, acknowledging the conscious victim. "I see we're awake."

"Awake and being very uncooperative," Olivia advised him, a little edge to her voice.

Looking at Olivia questioningly, Elliot then looked back at the victim. "You understand you were violated?"

"Yes, Detective, I understand."

"Do you also understand that a witness heard gunshots, that there is a lot of blood at the scene and that you have no bullet holes in you?"

"I cannot help you with that. I know nothing about a gun."

The two detective exchanged glances. "You know, no identification was found on you or anywhere in that apartment. Can you tell us your name?" Elliot asked, patiently.

The French woman captured Elliot's gaze and held it. "Jane Doe."

"Quel est votre nom? Nous essayons seulement de vous aider. Pourriez-vous être peu un plus coopératif?" Olivia said to the victim.

Now the woman looked at Olivia. There was an unsettling glint in her eyes and she did not appear to be backing down anytime soon. "I am sorry you do not believe me."

Now annoyed, Olivia drew a deep breath and exhaled to maintain her cool demeanor. "Ms. Doe. A crime was committed in that apartment and we are going to need a lot more information than this. I am thinking that you're a little disoriented, a little in shock, a little groggy from the pain meds..." although she seemed anything but groggy. "We'll give you some time for the medications to wear off and we'll be back." Olivia walked toward Elliot. "And, please, be prepared to be a little more forthcoming."

The woman silently watched them leave.

Passing Dr. Miglorie on the way out, Elliot said, "Make sure someone keeps an eye on her."


Driving back to the House, Olivia was still angrily sputtering about the situation with the mysterious woman in the ER. "Jane Doe, my ass."

"Ah, oui, but a French Jane Doe," Elliot teased, sounding more like Pepe LePew than Gerard Depardieu. "I didn't know you spoke French."

"Yes, you did," Olivia argued. "You've been with me when I have mirandized suspects in French. And Spanish."

"Hmm...can't remember that, for some reason. Where'd you learn French?"

"Four years in high school."

"You recall your high school French? God, how long ago was that?"

"Careful," Olivia warned, smiling. "I was also in French Club."

"Ooh, do I even want to know what that means?"

"Down, boy. It wasn't as suggestive as you're thinking. It was an after school activity, a group of students who met once a week and we spoke in French. So I got pretty used to the language. We went to Montreal for a club trip my senior year. It comes back to me fluently at the strangest times."

"Don't tell me you whisper words in French in bed. I'd have to look at you in a whole different light," Elliot said, knowing he was working her up even more. Looking over at Olivia, who was driving, he saw the beginnings of a blush.

"Oh my God, you do!" Elliot laughed and playfully poked his partner on the shoulder.

"Just stop it, okay?"

"I'm going to have to have Kathy call you and have you teach her some things..." Realizing how that came out sounding, Elliot backpeddled out loud. "I mean, you know, give her some tips on the language, what to say..."

"I know what you meant, Elliot." Olivia pretended to be bothered by his implication but her smile betrayed her. "No offense, El, I love Kathy and all but she's not my type."

"Oh, don't tell her that, you'll break her heart," Elliot kidded. "So...Liv..."

"Elliot, we are not going there."

"Fine. Fine. You know I like teasing you but, honestly, I admire your, I don't know, freedom."

"You mean because I don't use gender as a prerequisite to find a date?"

"Yeah, something like that."

"Just tell me that you never fantasize about me with other women to get yourself off because that would really cross a line here. Ya know what I mean?"

"Liv, you know better than that," Elliot smiled, winking at her. It was a look that told Olivia she didn't know anything of the kind. "What do you think is going on with our vic?"

"She's in some sort of trouble. Wants to disappear just like the perp who attacked her."

"All that blood. He had to have been shot. Munch is still checking on GSW's."

"We'll see if we can get anything more out of our Jane Doe later."

"Maybe you should whisper seductively into her ear in French."

Olivia laughed, shaking her head at her partner. "You can be such an asshole sometimes."

"Yeah, I know."


Munch returned to his desk with a fresh cup of coffee. "French, huh? Catherine Deneuve French?"

"Not looks-wise but appeal-wise, I would say...maybe," Elliot commented. "Although, she was pretty bruised, so it was hard to tell."

"Did you ever see 'The Hunger', Olivia?" Munch asked, with an arched brow.

"I think seeing that movie is some rite of passage, isn't it?" Fin joked.

"Hey, boys, can we focus here? We have a serious situation on our hands and your minds are in your shorts."

"Is she making a veiled insult to the size of our manhood?" Munch inquired, smirking.

"If I was insulting your manhood, trust me, it would not be veiled," Olivia told them, unnecessarily. "This woman, whoever she is, didn't want us anywhere near her. She just wanted her clothes back so that she could get the hell out of there."

"Is that really all that unusual?" Munch questioned. "We've had victims before who have not wanted anything to do with the court process."

"This was different," Elliot told him. "She didn't seem traumatized, I mean, not to the degree she should have been. And she was just so damned uncooperative. I agree with Olivia. This woman is hiding something."

"No ID, no nothing," Fin stated. "And the landlady and the witnesses couldn't tell me who she was. They swore they had never seen her before."

"So what is she? A ghost?" Olivia asked, from her desk, putting some old paperwork in numerical order. "What about the guy who rented the apartment?"

"That's strange, too," Fin said. "He just moved in a week before. Everybody said he seemed pleasant enough but he kept to himself."

Captain Donald Cragen exited his office and joined the group discussion.

"Anything, Cap?" Fin wondered.

"Not yet. They're still working on the serology and prints. Said they'd let us know as soon as they knew anything. But what are the chances our vic is going to be in the system anywhere. Especially if she's a foreign national. And as for the perp, well, I'm not buying the name on the lease."

"Which was?" Elliot asked.

"Jean Henri Smith," Munch supplied.

"You're joking…John Henry Smith? That didn't raise any red flags with the landlady?" Elliot wondered, incredulously.

"He paid her six months rent advance. In cash. His name could have been Mickey Mouse, for all she cared."

"Jean Henri? So he was also French?" Olivia inquired.

"Actually, no, according to the landlady, he was Russian," Cragen clarified.

"What the hell is going on here?" Elliot wondered, out loud.

"That's what we need to know. Olivia, Elliot, go back to Roosevelt and find out who our mystery vic is," Cragen ordered. "Munch, Fin, I want to know who this Russian really is."


Olivia and Elliot walked into the Emergency Room entrance and found their way to the triage desk. Seeing no one immediately around, the two detectives moved to the area where Jane Doe had been earlier. Pulling back the curtain, they found the bed empty. The sheets were crumpled back, as though they had been used.

"Maybe she is in the bathroom," Elliot suggested. He walked to the bathroom door opposite the row of beds. It was unoccupied but there was a bloodstained hospital gown on the floor. "Olivia…!"


"Find someone from staff, I think our Jane Doe has fled."

"Shit," Olivia exhaled as she sprinted toward a recognizable staff member.


"I don't know. They checked her vitals thirty minutes ago. She was in there," the head nurse advised them.

"Could she be anywhere else, like having tests or anything?" Elliot asked.

"Not unless the directive changed without my knowledge. She was only supposed to be monitored and released in the morning. They were concerned about her concussion and possible infection but -"

"Well, since her clothes are being processed in our crime lab and her hospital gown is lying on the floor, did she leave here naked?" Olivia interrupted.

"I don't know, Detective," the head nurse stated, defensively, "this is the City, probably not a lot of people would notice if she did or if she wrapped herself up in plastic garbage bags. However, there is a supply closet right there," the nurse pointed to the first door in the corridor from triage, "my assumption is that she probably stole a clean pair of scrubs and that's how she left."

Olivia looked at Elliot. "This just keeps getting better, doesn't it?"

Elliot sighed, disgusted. "Let's canvas the immediate area and put out a description of our vic, possibly wearing hospital scrubs and then go back to the One-Six and see if anything has come back yet from the lab."


When Olivia and Elliot got back to the bullpen, Munch and Fin were busy at their computer terminals, feeding random information into NCIC, VICAP and various search engines.

"Still no sign of her?" Munch asked, looking up at the two frustrated detectives sitting at their respective desks.

"Nothing," Olivia said. "How about you two? Anything from the lab?"

Fin nodded toward Cragen's closed door. "Dad may have something. He just hasn't shared yet."

Olivia looked up and saw Cragen's door fly open and he stormed out, holding a fistful of papers.

"Guess I spoke too soon," Fin mumbled.

"Anybody find out anything at all on our mystery man and woman?" Cragen snapped out, crisply.

"No. It's like they disappeared into thin air, like -"

"Spare me your theories, John, I need to know if anyone found any verifiable facts," Cragen interrupted, sourly.

"You know, Cap," Elliot began, "I'm as eager as anyone to cut Munch off at the knees when it comes to his conspiracy theories, but…I have to agree with him. It's like these people never existed."

"Oh, they exist, all right," Cragen sighed.

All four SVU detectives were suddenly alert and focused on their leader.

"What's up, Cap'n?" Fin asked.

"We got the preliminaries back and the man's prints come back to a Stepanya Melaninkov, Russian immigrant, ties to the Russian Mob. Several arrests on petty issues, nothing ever stuck. Always made bail, charges always seemed to disappear. Mr. Melaninkov is thirty-eight, muscular build, six foot one, premature white hair, about two hundred pounds. It is suspected that Mr. Melaninkov has participated in several mob hits over the past ten years. We have a photo. I'll make sure you all get a copy."

"Wow. I guess it makes sense why the woman wouldn't want to go up against that. She kept saying it was personal. She probably knew the consequences," Olivia offered.

"If it was only that simple," Cragen stated, rubbing his forehead. He held up a picture of the woman. "Is this her?" he asked Olivia and Elliot.

"Yeah," they both chorused.

"That's her," Olivia confirmed. "Who is she?"

"That's a surveillance photo of Reine LaSimonne. She is on an international watch list."

Olivia and Elliot blinked at each other, shocked. "She's a terrorist?"

"No. She's a suspected assassin for hire. Ms. LaSimonne is thirty-four, a French national, five foot seven, One hundred twenty-five pounds, green eyes - which of course can change with colored lenses, and last known hair color was dark brown. But again, that can change with wigs or hair dye. She has eluded the US Government for years. Not a lot of information on her, except that she is dangerous and unpredictable."

There was a stunned silence in the room until Fin finally spoke up. "So she probably did cap the Russian guy."

"Then what happened to the gun? The shell casings?" Munch countered. "Our boys went over that place with a fine tooth comb."

"She had to have done something with them before she passed out."

"Or Melaninkov did," Fin said.

"Why would Melaninkov hide the gun that shot him? That doesn't make sense." Elliot stated.

"Jesus, Elliot," Olivia weighed, "what the hell about this case does make sense?"

"Exactly," Cragen agreed, "which is why we are turning this one over to the Feds. It is no longer an SVU case."

"She was still raped," Olivia tried to reason.

"We don't know what the hell happened in that apartment, Olivia," Cragen responded. "Plus, even if she was raped by Melaninkov, she refuses to report it. It will be easier if we hand this off."


It was two days later and none of the SVU detectives could stop talking about the strange turn of events the intriguing case they had just handed over to the Feds had taken. Especially John Munch.

"If she was on an international watch list, how the hell did she get into the country?" Fin asked, paying for his and his partner's hot dog off a street vendor around the corner from the station.

"You're kidding, right?" Munch laughed, as they both walked across the street toward the One-Six.

"Come on, Munch. Ever since 9/11, it's gotten a lot better."

"What continent are you living on, Detective Tutuola?" Munch shook his head, smiling smugly. "Maybe she's here to assassinate someone high up in the government so they looked the other way when she got here."

"Or maybe she's been in the country since before 9/11," Fin reasoned, mostly to himself, as Munch was now off on a tangent.

"Or maybe she's an agent provocateur, you know, an agent who's not really an agent, who lures and seduces members of an organization - like the Russian mob - into blatant, criminal behavior, in hopes of exposing their actions to get them arrested."

"She wouldn't have to do much luring or seducing to get members of the Russian mob to be overt or violent."

"Or maybe -"

"Or maybe we should let it drop," Fin suggested, tired of it all. "It's not our case anymore." Fin's cell phone rang and he flipped it open. "Tutuola. What?" He looked at his partner. "Sure, we'll be right there."

"Let me guess, another rape."

"No. A homicide. The captain wants us to check it out."


Munch and Fin flashed their tins and carefully entered the crime scene. The hotel was a fleabag down by the piers, the room was obviously there for one purpose. The only piece of furniture in the room was a single bed, which now sported a blood-soaked mattress and a very dead body.

"What are you guys doing here?" Homicide Detective Davis Otto asked, not unpleasantly. He had worked a few cases with Fin in narcotics before they both moved to different units and would have trusted the SVU detective with his life. In fact, he felt he already had on a few occasions.

"Hey, Otto-man, how ya doin'?" Fin smiled. "Our Cap told us to come down here and check this out."

"Maybe one of your scrotes?" Otto wondered.

"Don't know yet," Munch said. "Can we get a look at him?"

"Davis Otto, my partner, John Munch," Fin introduced.

"Hey, Munch," Otto winked at Fin, "My condolences for having to work with this guy." The homicide detective led them cautiously over to where the body laid obscenely on the bed. Munch and Fin leaned around Otto to see the dead man's face. He had a bullet hole directly in the middle of his forehead.

"Oh, shit," Fin said, recognizing the man's face. He looked at Munch. "Isn't that -?"

"Melaninkov," Munch finished for him. "Want to take bets on who shot him?"

Startled, Otto looked from Munch to Fin. "Stepanya Melaninkov? This is a Russian mob hit?"

"I don't know," Fin said, giving Munch a warning glance. "I guess it's up to you guys to find out."

"So, is he one of your scrotes?"

"Yeah…that's the one that got away…almost," Munch said, dryly.

"Did you guys find a gun?" Fin asked.

"Yeah, already been bagged. A Glock," Otto answered, taking out his cell phone, pressing a pre-programmed number.

"Did you notice any other bullet holes in this guy?" Munch inquired.

"Yeah but I am pretty sure the one between the eyes killed him. Guess I'll let the M.E. do the rest. Hey, it's Otto," the homicide detective said into his phone. "Let me talk to Carpenter." He looked at Fin. "I've got to let my boss know what kind of shitstorm we might be in for, this being Melaninkov and all."

"No problem. Hey, Otto, think you could FAX us a copy of the M.E.'s report?"

"Don't see why not. I'll make a note of it." Otto turned away from them to speak to his boss on his phone.

When Fin turned to look at his partner, Munch was smirking.

"Oh, shut up," Fin told him, as they exited the hotel room.


"Was it him?" Cragen asked, already sensing that it was. When word of the homicide came in, he'd had a hunch, which is why he sent Munch and Fin to check it out. He was waiting for the two detectives as they entered the bullpen.

"It was Melaninkov," Fin confirmed.

Olivia looked up from her desk. "You guys caught Melaninkov?"

"Yeah, we caught him deader than a doornail in a hooker hotel with a nice little hole in his head," Munch said, sitting at his desk.

"He's dead?" Elliot asked, unnecessarily.

"God, I hope so. He'll get a complex walking around looking like that. He'll think everybody's staring at him," Munch cracked.

Ignoring Munch, Fin said, "Looks like he was executed. More than likely with his own Glock."

"Executed?" Olivia repeated. She looked at Cragen. "Do you think it was our vic who got to him?"

"I'd bet on it," Cragen sighed. "So they actually found a gun at this scene?"

"Yep. They are going to FAX over the M.E.'s report when it's done," Fin advised him.

"Did you tell them about Reine LaSimonne?" Cragen threw out to either Munch or Fin.

"No, we thought we should clear that with you first," Fin responded.

"Thinking maybe Melaninkov got what he deserved?" Cragen asked. Munch and Fin were silent. "Understood. But a murder was still committed and they need to know what we know. I'll call over there and talk to Carpenter and also let him know we turned this over to the Feds." Cragen returned to his office and shut the door.

The four SVU detectives looked at each other. It was Olivia who spoke first. "LaSimonne said it was personal."

"You've got to love a girl not afraid to go up against the Russian mob," Munch smiled.

"Except this one could love you to death," Fin reminded him.

Part Two - Olivia

It had been a bitch of a day. In fact, it had been a bitch of a week. Olivia needed a drink. Or several. As she signed her last report and straightened up her desk, her thoughts wrestled with each other. Should she? Shouldn't she? She was feeling anxious, frustrated, lonely and somewhat horny. So what else was new? Her dilemma did not stem from lack of attention or possibilities when she went out, it was just that nothing was the same without Alex.

Alexandra Cabot had kept her sane, kept her grounded and kept her aroused just by the mere thought of her. In the year Alex had been gone, the hole in Olivia's heart just grew deeper. Saying she missed Alex terribly didn't even qualify as an understatement. Calling Alex her girlfriend was way too informal and calling Alex her lover seemed way too impersonal. She didn't really have an 'official' description for what she and Alex were to each other, she just knew that some days it was hard to breathe at the absence of the gorgeous, blonde former ADA from her life. One night she's there in Olivia's bed, in her heart, in her veins and the next night, she's gone. Not dead, as originally believed but just…gone. Which, at times, seemed almost as bad. The physical emptiness Olivia felt was immeasurable enough but the emotional emptiness, added with the not knowing and the waiting was unbearable. Not being able to be with her, to see her, to touch her, to hold her until God knew when, was the worst torture of all. It was like nothing she had ever felt before and, hopefully, like nothing she would ever feel again.

There was not a day that Alex didn't pop into Olivia's head. Olivia could have confided in Elliot what she was feeling on the days when the pain was at its worst because Elliot was one of the few people who knew of the affair between his partner and the lovely Ms. Cabot, but Olivia had always been one to keep her own counsel in matters of the heart. She was sure Elliot would have put a big brotherly arm around her and lovingly coax her to 'move on,' to 'get over it,' thinking that was sound advice. "Get over it?" Olivia would think to herself, "I'm barely getting through it."

Olivia reminisced about the evening that started it all. She and the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the Special Victims Unit had been playing a cat and mouse game with each other for a while. Both were interested, neither thought the other one was, they seemed to butt heads more than they subtly flirted with each other, both were fiercely independent and both were very lonely, not to mention secretly smitten with each other. It was that combination that finally wore them down.

The Carrera kidnap/rape preliminary trial ended unexpectedly one Friday afternoon when Carmine Carrera, the defendant, was being cross-examined by Alex and she must have hit a nerve. Carrera suddenly jumped up from the witness stand and went all Charles Manson on her, confessing through violently poetic phrases, in the process. Tackled and subdued by five sheriffs and Olivia jumping in front of Alex to protect her, Carrera was dragged off and the trial was over. As the courtroom settled down, Olivia faded into the background and allowed Alex her shining moment. As the congratulatory event moved to the corridor, Olivia was the last one out of the courtroom. Pausing, letting the door close, she observed Alex, looking breathtaking and glowingly ecstatic, being hugged by the victim's family. Even the defense attorney shook Alex's hand, almost cracking a smile.

Then, as if by telepathy, Alex glanced in Olivia's direction, catching the look of unabashed admiration in Olivia's eyes. Alex smiled at her, an expression that seemed reserved just for her and it melted Olivia. But Olivia didn't move, just stayed in the same spot, watching, appreciating and letting Alex drink in all the glory she deserved. God, she loved this woman. Did she really just think that? Yes, she must have. Just looking at Alex prompted that erotic 'tickling' sensation that started at her neck, traveled down her arms, down to the pit of her stomach, to the core of her being, not to mention her sexual desire.

Alex excused herself from the crowd and walked toward Olivia. It almost seemed like slow motion. The ADA stood in front of Olivia, looking stunned. "What the hell happened in there?" Alex asked no one in particular, almost a giddy tone to her voice. If Olivia hadn't known any better, she would have compared Alex's inflection to a non-popular teenager who had just been invited to the prom by a star quarterback.

"You did a hell of a job, Counselor," Olivia smiled at her. "You triggered something in him that just saved the taxpayers a lot of money."

"Yes!" Alex exclaimed, triumphantly. "Life is good."

"Well, it certainly is right now," Olivia commented with a double meaning flying around her head.

"Then let's not lose the mood. Let's celebrate," Alex suggested.

"I have to go back to work," Olivia protested, reluctantly.

"I'll call you in sick to Cragen."

"Oh, yeah, that'll work."

"I want to go back to my office, sign off on this, change clothes and go get crazy."

Olivia chuckled, enjoying Alex's revelry. "Enlighten me, Counselor, how does Alex Cabot get crazy?"

Alex leaned in to Olivia, almost purring. Her voice was low and breathy. "Probably not too different than the way Olivia Benson gets crazy." Alex started walking toward the elevator, leaving Olivia speechless and on the verge of experiencing her knees buckling.

It took Olivia a minute to find her voice and some saliva. She cleared her throat. "I'll call the Captain and, uh, meet you at your office," she called after Alex, who disappeared behind the elevator doors. How could someone who so infuriated her most of the time, give her and the rest of the squad migraines over being so unbendable when it came to the law, argue with her toe-to-toe usually about anything and everything, so completely stir her up, sexually, at the same time? At this point, she didn't care.

When Olivia got to Alex's office, the attorney was dressed in faded blue jeans and a navy tank top. Casual but stunning. Olivia tried not to stare and for the second time in less than an hour, she had trouble finding her voice.

"Did Don release you for the evening?" Alex asked.

"Um...yeah, yes, he did. He said congratulations and have fun."

Alex looked at Olivia and winked. "I intend to."

Thoughts were now running through Olivia's head like a ticker tape: What did that mean? What is going on here? Is Alex giving me signals? Am I reading too much into everything? What if I'm wrong? What if I'm right?

"Ready?" Alex asked Olivia, oblivious to the four shades of red the detective was turning and sweat starting to bead her brow which had nothing to do with the heat.

Olivia's inner voice screamed, "More than you know!" The response that actually came from Olivia was, "Lead the way. Where to?"

"I was thinking Acapulco East for a pitcher of Midori margaritas and some nachos to start?"

They walked out the door and into the street, the summer heat and humidity hitting them as though someone had opened an oven door. "I'm not a big margarita fan," Olivia advised.

"Okay, fine. I'll have margaritas and you can have Corona. You can have whatever you want, Detective, it's on me."

'Then how about you for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and midnight snack,' Olivia thought. Out loud, she said, "Thanks, Counselor. I should be in the courtroom more often when you win."


Two hours, a pitcher of margaritas and several Coronas later, Alex and Olivia left the bar. They weren't drunk but neither were they completely sober. It was dusk and the city lights, the marquees and the billboards were just starting to illuminate. Not a lot of personal information passed between the two colleagues in the cantina because of the roving mariachi band singing songs in Spanish from table to table. Whatever conversation took place revolved around Alex's amazing day in court and Olivia was fine with that. She could have sat silently and watched Alex Cabot all night. Especially in the mood she was in, the mood they were both in, which the alcohol only seemed to enhance. Sigh. Unrequited love. She thought she gave that up in high school.

Olivia wanted to ask where they were going now but she really didn't care. They stopped at a street vendor and Alex bought them each a lemonade in a very large cup with a lot of shaved ice and they continued to stroll.

The turning point came when they rounded a corner to a tree-lined, brownstone covered, more isolated side street. The sun had set and the area they were in appeared darker with more shadows than Columbus Avenue. Olivia had just finished mentioning that she hated these hot, sticky days that gave no relief when darkness fell. Next thing she knew she was covered with shaved ice. She was not only shocked by the sudden cold but also stunned by the mischievous, unapologetic expression on Alex's face.

"I don't believe you just did that," Olivia barely got out, still frozen in place by the unexpected shower she just received.

"Um...oops?" Alex said, and then began to laugh, almost uncontrollably.

"Oops? Oops? I've got your 'oops' right here…" The look in Olivia's eye warned Alex that she better run. Which she did. However, no matter how much dodging and weaving she tried, there was no way she could out maneuver the much more physically fit detective. It took Olivia less than a minute to trap Alex, who had run down to a lower landing of a brownstone, and dump her cup of shaved ice on the now obviously uninhibited attorney. "Ha! How do you like that? Huh?" Olivia asked, now seeing a shocked look on Alex's face from the instant cold.

It was then that Alex stood there, totally still, as though she were pissed off but instead, looked up at Olivia and said, "I cannot believe how much I want you right now."

For the third time that night, Alex Cabot had rendered Olivia Benson speechless.

Alex then reached out for her, hooked her fingers in one of Olivia's belt loops, pulling Olivia into the darkness of one of the archways. Olivia did not resist her. "You should see the look on your face," Alex whispered, smiling, putting her arms around Olivia's waist, holding her very close.

"What's going on, Counselor?" Olivia managed to get out in a somewhat normal tone.

Alex's smile deepened and she arched an eyebrow. "How did you ever make it to detective if I have to explain something as obvious as this?" Her tone was teasing but very intimate.

"Are you drunk, Alex?" Olivia asked, quietly, slipping her arms around the ADA's shoulders, slightly swaying her back and forth.

Alex reached up and touched Olivia's hair, now damp from the melted ice. "No, Ma'am. I am in full control of everything I am doing. I have wasted so much time not telling you how I feel, how I have felt since…oh, just about the second I laid eyes on you."

Olivia moved Alex slowly back toward the wall. "So you've been attracted to me for that long and never said anything?"

"Stupid, huh? I was too afraid you'd reject me, be horrified, all those insecure things that surge through your head, you know, when you're harboring a crush."

"A crush? What are you, thirteen?" Olivia joked, outlining Alex's face with her finger.

"I feel like it when I'm around you," Alex closed her eyes, savoring Olivia's touch, her closeness.

Olivia leaned in slowly, purposely taunting the blonde with the proximity of their lips, eventually kissing her. Finally, the beginning of the moment both women had fantasized about for too long was here and the imagination of it could not come close to comparing with the reality of it. It was soft, it was urgent, it was innocent, it was sexual, it was everything both women wanted it to be and more. These two mature, professional women stood in the darkness of that archway, making out like a couple of teenagers. Olivia reluctantly broke the fifteen minute kiss because she could no longer breathe and honestly felt her equilibrium going. "Oh, my God, Alex," Olivia exhaled, burrowing her face into Alex's neck.

Alex's voice was ragged, almost strangled by desire. "Does this mean you're okay with this, Detective?"

Olivia laughed, still nuzzling the blonde. "How did you get to be an ADA if you can't figure this out all by yourself?"


"By the way, I would have been okay with this the second you laid eyes on me."

"Why didn't you ever say anything?"

"Why didn't you?"

"You're the older, more experienced one..."

"Oh, so it's my fault, is it?" Olivia smiled, and kissed Alex's forehead, her cheek, her chin and finally her lips, again, where they continued for another five minutes without coming up for air.

Alex broke this kiss this time, panting. "Olivia, how far is it to your place from here?"

Hugging the beautiful blonde as close to her as possible, Olivia broke the embrace and took Alex's hand, leading her out of the archway, back onto the street. "We'll get a taxi."

The ride back to Olivia's was silent. In the back seat of the cab, Olivia reached over and massaged Alex's hand, closing her fingers around the attorney's trembling ones, as both women stared out opposite windows at the passing streets.

Once they were at Olivia's, the apartment door was barely closed before clothes flew in every direction. Their lovemaking had been as passionate and as intense as their arguing had always been. Olivia was surprised but delighted to find the upright, staid, cultured attorney was anything but in the bedroom.

There was not a part of each other's body that went untouched, unkissed or uncaressed. The two women consumed each other for nearly forty-eight hours, joyfully discovering that, among all the other things they had in common, they were extremely sexually compatible as well. When Alex left Olivia's apartment late Sunday afternoon, both women missed each other the second the door closed. Before Alex left, she gave Olivia a long, soulful kiss and said, "I can't believe we wasted so much time." That sentence echoed around Olivia's head like a reverberation in the Grand Canyon, now meaning more than ever.

Snapping out of her daydream, Olivia stopped a tear from rolling down her face. She looked around to see who else was in the bullpen with her. Fortunately, anyone who would have seen Olivia's behavior as unusual or curious had left for the day. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and stood up.

She would see Alex again, of that she couldn't be more sure. But she missed this woman with every ounce of her being and hated not being in control of when she would see Alex again. All because of a man named Cesar Velez, a Columbian drug lord who ordered Alex shot with every intention of killing her. Everyone thought he had succeeded, including a stunned and devastated Olivia who mentally tortured herself for not being able to protect Alex that night. The doctor in the ER advised the entire SVU squad, who was holding vigil, that Alex had lost too much blood and they had been unable to save her. They were sorry. The next two days were the worst in Olivia's life. Until she found herself and her partner, at the 'request' of the Feds, facing a black SUV in a specific, isolated area, with an injured but alive Alex Cabot in the back seat. Olivia could not get a grip on her thoughts and emotions because she suddenly felt numb but just as quickly, she regained control of her senses. They shouldn't be doing this, the Feds said, but SHE (meaning Alex) insisted. Olivia knew why. And then she was gone, whisked away to a destination and identity unknown in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Until when? Until Alex's life was no longer in danger or Alex chose to leave the program. Whichever came first. Olivia thought about all the things she didn't get to say to the love of her life in that brief, restricted time in the park. Olivia suddenly wondered what it would take to hire Reine LaSimonne to hit Cesar Velez.

Turning her desk light off, Olivia put on her mid-thigh length leather coat and walked out of the building. She decided to rent a couple of movies and just go home. Going to a bar and picking up someone just to help her relieve some sexual tension no longer held the intrigue it once did. Not after knowing what being totally and unconditionally in love felt like. Besides, anyone else would just be a substitute for Alex and that wasn't fair to Olivia or Alex. It would have to be someone very special in very unique and unusual circumstances for Olivia to be unfaithful, especially when, at least for now, it was an itch she could scratch herself. At least she still had Alex in her fantasies.

Continued in Part 2

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