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

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Post "Loss." No relation to "Texas Hold 'Er." Just wanted to do an Oliva/Abbie story again. Apologies to Casey Novak fans in advance…but I just couldn't resist. And the ending is a little 'Aw, shucks,' so be forewarned…

ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.





The patrol partners in the unit designated as Three Zero Lincoln were completing their second pass in their assigned area and it was already three-quarters of the way through swing shift. Two domestic calls, one arrest, one theft report, a bar fight, more patrolling and it was already 2115 hours. Nine-fifteen PM to all the civilians out there. It was early spring, meaning it had already been dark for nearly two hours.

The weather was inclement, the air cold and damp, the temperature hovering somewhere around forty degrees and dropping for the night. The two police officers in the patrol car didn't care. Even if the vehicle's thermostat had not been working, there was enough heat in the car emanating from both individuals to keep them toasty – to say the least – for the rest of the shift.

To say having sex on the job was against regulations constituted an understatement, regardless of who they worked for. The fact that they were employed by the city of New York as protective servants, bound by oath and duty to uphold the law, assigned to the same patrol unit made this violation even more prohibitive. Further complicating the situation was that both officers were female, and even in the most accepting of environments, the fracturing of this no fraternization policy, despite the male fantasy factor, would not be tolerated.

The sudden attraction and blossoming affair between Corporal Maria Marchese and Officer Julie Houston (pronounced Hewston, like the city, not Howston, like the street, she insisted on telling everyone when she had to write her name down for something) began about sixteen weeks earlier when Marchese, the training supervisor, got to know Houston at a spontaneous shift "choir practice" following the end of watch one night. One call after another, with rare let up, put all the shift's patrol units through their paces, to the point where no one took a dinner break and report writing kept them long past their punch out time of midnight. Word spread quickly of an impromptu wind down party in the parking lot of a condemned church in the precinct at one AM. It had been such a bitch of a night, very few members of the swing shift missed showing up for at least one beer.

A couple hours and much imbibing later, the party broke up. Corporal Marchese, even though she was quite buzzed, as the most sober, made sure the grounds of the church were 'policed' up. When all the designated clean up crew had finished their task and departed, there was just Marchese and Houston remaining. Maria offered Julie a lift home after a final walk through of the invaded area to make sure there was no evidence left of a party.

It was the combination of too much alcohol, too little inhibition and too late to stop the speeding train of hormones that overpowered both women. Regardless, it was still an unexpected coupling. Julie was, indeed, a lesbian, the type of woman who possessed an overly aggressive, predatory nature that ran the risk of giving other lesbians a bad name because she usually zeroed in on and dogged heterosexual women. However, in this case, Maria Marchese, straight, married, mother of two, came on to the younger, gay officer.

In the unusually breezy warmth of that late Indian Summer night, on a blanket from the trunk of Maria's personal vehicle, in a more private and stable area of the church, Julie Houston introduced Maria to things about sex she'd never experienced in fifteen years of marriage. The encounter awakened a dormant sexuality, which now surged like a caffeine-induced adrenalin through Maria's veins. After that night, Maria became almost obsessed with Julie, arranging to spend as much time with her as possible and to also, hopefully, not draw any suspicion to their illicit romance. Since Maria had a husband and family and Julie had a live-in girlfriend, their trysts were limited to twice a week when they were assigned to the same patrol unit.

The two veteran police officers knew the risk they were taking but they could not help themselves. The thrill and excitement overruled any common sense and usually, with an hour or so left to their shift, they would find a secluded area, abandoned by most traffic, decorated by few or no working street lights and make out like teenagers, driving each other into a frenzied state through mutual manual stimulation, doing as much to each other as they possibly could without actually shedding their uniforms.

Tonight, chaos had dwindled on the shift to a point where Corporal Marchese could finally request a Code 7 and be out of service for thirty minutes. They knew all the best places to go to conceal their vehicle from being spotted and to give themselves enough privacy to do whatever they could get away with.

It was exactly because they had been "getting away with it" for so long, that neither woman gave a second thought to getting right down to business. They were so hot for each other and knew that hands down each other's pants was just not going to cut it tonight. They parked the car and began kissing but the confinement of the front seat and all the equipment hindered their movement. Exiting the vehicle, they made out up against the car. Opening the back door, they began to remove each other's uniform slacks. Julie eased Maria down in the back seat of the patrol car, wasting no time putting her fingers and tongue to work. As Maria vocalized her ecstasy in quivering waves, the lovers were oblivious to anything else around them. Big mistake.

They got complacent. Cocky. Careless. And somebody was watching.

Olivia Benson hated when her phone rang in the middle of the night. It was never good news. Tonight was no different.

When Detective Benson arrived at the location, it was after three in the morning. She flashed her badge at the posted uniform officer, held up the yellow tape marked 'Crime Scene – Do Not Cross,' passed under and headed directly for Medical Examiner Melinda Warner.

"What's up, Doc?" Olivia asked, approaching Warner, performing a quick observation of the scene. When she was done scanning her eyes met the sleepy medical examiner's glare. "What?" Olivia asked, innocently.

"You channeling Bug Bunny?"

"Yikes…get up on the wrong side of the slab?"

"Olivia, I have had four hours sleep in thirty-six hours. Don't start."

Pulling on latex gloves, Olivia nodded and half-smiled at the normally amiable Dr. Warner. She then looked at the women in uniform – well, half in uniform, dead, at the crime scene. "What's the story?"

"Well, this officer here was stabbed forty-two times that I can see. I may find more when I have her in the morgue. The other officer whose body is half in and half out of the back of the vehicle was shot by this officer's gun."

"She's naked from the waist down. Was she raped?"

"My initial guess is that they were both raped but I haven't got that far yet."

"Two female cops raped and murdered while on the job," Olivia shook her head. "This is going to be a mess."

"Oh, it gets worse," Melinda commented. She crooked her finger at Olivia, beckoning her to follow. The M.E. neared the patrol car and put her hand out to another uniformed officer. As Olivia approached the vehicle behind Melinda, she got a closer look at the open rear vehicle door and the body of one of the officers laid back on the seat with her legs spread and hanging out the door, very exposed.

"Can someone cover her up?" Olivia asked Warner.

"Yeah, when we're done." Melinda turned to Olivia with a stack of photographs in her hand. She handed the pictures to the SVU detective.

Slowly, Olivia looked at each and every snapshot. The first several were from a regular camera, probably with a powerful zoom lens. The last three pictures were from a Polaroid, definitely taken at that location. The photos showed Marchese and Houston in various stages of different intimate acts. She might have suspected the women could have been forced into posing if it hadn't been evident that the pictures had been taken at several different locations. These women were lovers.

"Aw, Christ," Olivia sighed. "This is going to be a nightmare." She handed the stack back to Warner, who in turn, gave them back to the officer who had been previously holding them. It wasn't just the fact that two police officers had been murdered, two lesbian cops, quenching their sexual thirst while on duty. This was going to be a horrific dirty joke that was going to haunt all female cops, straight or gay. Olivia felt sorry that two officers were dead but the circumstances in which they were found, the position in which they put themselves in would now reflect on every female police officer that could be reached by the tentacles of the news story. "Who are they?"

"The one on the ground is Officer Julie Houston. The one in the car is Corporal Maria Marchese."

Olivia stopped and approached the open back door. "Wait – Maria Marchese? Wife of Councilman Sal Marchese?" Recognizing the face of the woman in the back seat, Olivia shook her head.

Warner shrugged. "I guess. Don't know. I'm not familiar."

"No, it's her. Forget nightmare. This is going to turn into a major shit storm."

The ringing phone woke her out of a sound sleep. She should have been used to it but she was not. Rolling over to pick up the receiver, she focused on her digital clock: Five twenty-four AM.

"Carmichael," she identified herself, sitting up in bed.

"Abbie? It's Olivia Benson."

"Olivia?!" Even in her semi-conscious state, complete with bed head, Abbie Carmichael was an extremely beautiful, sensuous woman. Nothing brought that vision home more in Olivia's memory than Abbie's smoky, husky voice, enhanced now by sleep. "To what do I owe this very, very early honor?"

"Well," Olivia sighed, "it's nice to know you still consider it an honor. Second, I thought you'd want to be advised…Toni's cousin, Maria, was murdered last night."

"What??" Abbie had now been shocked awake. "How? What happened?" The Toni Olivia referred to was Toni Ricci, a former lover of Abbie's who was also an ADA at the time she was killed by the Russian mob.

"We're not sure of all the details yet. She was murdered along with one of her patrol partners."

Abbie rubbed her eyes, resting her head on her knees. "Give me details, Liv."

"Ah, Abbie, it doesn't look good."

"It's a murder, Benson, what would look good about it?" Abbie asked, annoyed.

"Hey…" Olivia started, defensively.

"Sorry," Abbie sighed. "It's been a rough week. I don't mean to take my irritation out on you. What time is it again?"

"About five-thirty."

"Why can't shit like this happen at a reasonable hour of the day?" Yawning, Abbie brushed her hair away from her face with her hand. "Okay. I guess I'm ready," she drawled. "Shock me…if it's possible."

"Maria was shot by her patrol partner's gun and –"

"What she'd do to piss him off?" Abbie interrupted.

"Her. Maria's patrol partner was female. And her name was Julie Houston and she was stabbed at least forty-two times."

"Jeez Louise, that sounds angry and personal. Any suspects?"

"I'm not finished telling you about the crime scene, Ms Impatience," Olivia smiled, suddenly missing Abbie Carmichael very much.

"Well, hurry up, I have to pee."

"Take the damned phone with you, Carmichael."

"I hate doing that, it's so rude." Abbie then perked up. It was, after all, Olivia she was talking to, certainly not anyone she felt she needed to impress. Abbie crawled out of bed and made her way to the bathroom.

Olivia heard silence, then the sound of a toilet flushing. "God, Abbie," she kidded, "that's so rude."

"My bladder thanks you and, incidentally, fuck you." The gorgeous dark haired woman padded her way back to her bedroom and climbed back on her bed, shivering from a chilly floor against her feet.

"Been there, done you," Olivia retorted.

"Yeah. I remember," Abbie said into the receiver, her normally raspy voice, suddenly sounding much more intimate.

Olivia felt a slight tremor sizzle up her spine, a sudden sexual recollection searing into her brain. She cleared her throat. "Alrighty then, back to business." Switching the phone to her other ear, the striking SVU detective, sipped on some tea from a cup she just bought off a roach coach on the street. "Apparently, Maria and Julie were having an affair and were caught in the act and –"

"Hold it, wait…what? Maria's straight. That's got to be a mistake."

"No mistake, Abbie. They were attacked and murdered while they were having sex on duty in the back of the patrol car."

"No. No…what? That's got to be a mistake."

"Abbie…stay with me, okay? We have photographs backing that up, so it's not a mistake. It's going to be a major story on the news. I thought you'd want to be prepared. The focus will probably not be on the murder as much as it will be on the sensationalism of the two women cops fucking while on duty. And you, being a former ADA at the precinct, will probably catch residual shit from it."

"Damn it. What were they thinking?"

"I have a few ideas, seeing some of those pictures."

"Anybody notify Sal yet?"

"The devastated Councilman Marchese was already here and gone. He's not saying much of anything."

"Maybe I'll come up there," Abbie sighed.

"Not that I wouldn't love to see you but there really is no need," Olivia told her, hoping she didn't sound too convincing. Why did she and the stunning brunette attorney break up again? Oh yeah, that's right…a trivial little issue of Abbie moving elsewhere. They barely found time for each other when they lived ten blocks apart, with Abbie relocating to Washington and Olivia in New York, pretty much all bets were off that the relationship would work. It broke both women's hearts but under the guise of being brave and mature, neither tried to show that emotion to the other.

Abbie had visited New York a few times since she had moved to DC and she and the SVU detective usually got to briefly visit at the precinct but schedules collided and promises of dinner and drinks (and hopefully more) never materialized. As she sat on the edge of her bed, the former New York Assistant District Attorney leaned more and more toward taking a few days off and heading to her former stomping grounds. "I know it's not like I could do anything but get in the way but…it is Toni's cousin and Maria was pretty supportive of us, even if Sal was an ignorant prick."

"Well…" Olivia smiled, thrilled at the prospect that she might have Abbie all to herself for a couple of days, but she tried to play it low-key, "…far be it from me to tell you what you should or shouldn't do…" As if I ever could, Olivia finished to herself.

"Not that you ever could," Abbie echoed Olivia's thoughts out loud.

Olivia was waiting for Dr. Warner to finish up her post-death investigation in the morgue, when her cell phone rang, rousing her from her momentary lapse of consciousness. "Benson," she said into the mouthpiece as she glanced at her watch. Five minutes after one in the afternoon and she had already been up ten hours. Days like these never seemed to end.

"Olivia, it's Elliot. Anything from Warner yet?"

Sitting up in her chair, Olivia peered through the thick glass window that separated the anteroom from the lab area. Melinda was still hard at work on the body of Maria Marchese. "No and she is as grouchy as a troll today so I am not going to bug her."

"Has she even got to the other officer yet?"

"No," Olivia responded, knowing that the attention given to Julie Houston's murder, even though it was at the same time, just as brutal and involved with Corporal Marchese's would not get the undivided attention that Maria's would. It was unfair but the corporal being the wife of an extremely politically involved Councilman who liked to hear himself talk and believed most of his own publicity would be the more important of the two cases. "Why?"

"Her partner is here at the station. I just wondered if we had anything we could tell her or if we should be suspecting her."

"What does she know?"

"Only that her partner was killed in the line of duty, at this point. None of the dirty details have made the news yet." Elliot sighed. "She does appear to be sincerely devastated and in shock. Cragen is going to have Huang talk to her." Elliot was referring to Dr. George Huang, an FBI profiler assigned to SVU as a colleague and resident shrink.

"As soon as Melinda's finished and can tell me anything of significance, I'll get back to you. But George or somebody does need to prepare her for what's going to go down with this case. It's not fair for her to be blindsided, especially if she had absolutely nothing to do with it and has no clue."

"Yeah…wish you were here to talk to her."

Olivia smiled. "You mean one lesbian to another?"

"No," Elliot sounded indignant and defensive at first, "because you are really the best one in our squad in handling these things." There was dead silence on both ends of the line. "And…one lesbian to another would probably not hurt, either."

Chuckling softly at Elliot's admission, Olivia then asked, "What about Councilman Marchese? Has he been back in?"

"He doesn't need to be, he's got the commissioner's boys running around like puppets for him. He's reportedly in seclusion," Elliot's tone of voice told Olivia he wasn't buying the grieving husband routine.

They had both had run-ins with the ambitious councilman and neither Olivia nor Elliot were impressed with him or his delusions of grandeur. The first case the partners had worked on that Marchese had been tied to, involved at least one mistress. As soon as the councilman was aware that the detectives had uncovered one of his adulterous secrets, instead of being grateful for their unsolicited discretion, he seemed to become obsessed with bringing them down. The first year after that case had been settled, Marchese did everything within his power to put the partners in the hot seat with Internal Affairs at any hint of scandal or impropriety. With the specified line of police work Olivia and Elliot did, the councilman didn't have to look too hard to make their lives a living hell. Of course, nothing ever came of Marchese's "suggestions," but having IAB on their backs every other case wasn't a picnic, either. He finally left them alone but every now and then, during political social events, they would all run into each other. Everyone was civil and polite but there was never any pretense about being no love lost between them. They had both felt sorry for Maria because she seemed to be a very pleasant, accommodating woman despite her tough as nails demeanor on the job.

"Do you think he had something to do with it?" Olivia asked, reflecting Elliot's thoughts.

"Hard to say. Nothing he would do would surprise me. I can't see him personally getting his hands dirty, though, so if he did, he got someone to do it for him."

"And, I am sure, have a dream team of lawyers to get him out of any trouble."

"Hey," she heard the smile in Elliot's voice, "speaking of lawyers, guess who just walked in?"


"How did you know?" His bubble had burst, thinking Olivia would never in a million years guess Abbie Carmichael.

"Because I'm psycho…psychic! Psychic! Freudian slip," she joked. "Actually I spoke with her this morning."

"Did you phone her or nudge her?" The smile was back in Elliot's voice.

"I phoned her, Mr. Don't-Go-There."

Laughing, he said, "Call me when Warner's done. In the meantime, I'm going to go flirt with my fantasy girl."

"You do realize you're wasting your time, right?"

"That's why it's called a fantasy, Olivia," Elliot responded, in a 'duh' tone of voice.

Endearingly, Olivia said, "you're an asshole, Elliot."

"I know," Elliot grinned and hung up.

Captain Donald Cragen stood in the observation room with Abbie Carmichael, looking through the one-way mirror at Dr. George Huang, Detective Elliot Stabler and Marissa Farris, the young woman who had just lost her girlfriend to murder. They closely studied her reactions to all the available details that were revealed to her. She sat at the table, not really looking at either man in the room, mostly staring off into space, her face red and swollen from crying. She wiped her eyes and ran her hand through her short, boyishly cropped hair.

"I kind of suspected she might be cheating on me," Marissa admitted, tearfully, sniffing. "I chose not to confront her. I chose not to know for sure."

Abbie exchanged glances with Cragen. Instinctively, they knew that this girl was not capable of the brutality of the crime committed against her lover. They both shook their heads and looked back into the interrogation room.

George Huang's manner was gentle and his voice soothing. "Marissa, do you have any idea who might have wanted to hurt Julie like this?"

"No, not offhand," Marissa said, shrugging. She drew a deep breath and looked over at George. "Anybody look at the partner's husband? He might be angry enough to kill them. You know how straight men can get about this kind of stuff." She then looked over at Elliot, innocently. "No offense."

"None taken," Elliot responded, looking at the mirror.

Abbie, catching the meaning behind Elliot's glare, turned to Cragen. "Has anyone looked at Sal Marchese?"

"Not officially. But it is on the agenda."

As sympathetically as he could muster, Elliot said, "I don't mean to sound insensitive, Ms. Farris, but it's best we get this question out of the way as soon as possible. Where were you last night from, say, nine o'clock on?"

"I honestly have no alibi, Detective. I was home, alone, dozing on the couch, watching HBO."

"You never left your apartment, saw anyone, called or received calls from anyone?"

"No…wait, my sister called me a little after eleven o'clock last night. We talked for maybe forty-five minutes. I was so tired, I barely remember the conversation."

"Your sister called you? On your home phone, not a cell phone?"

"Yeah. Why? Is that important?"

"Depending on when the time of death is established, it could be very important," Elliot advised her.

"I didn't kill Julie," Marissa started to cry again. "I loved her. She loved me. Her sleeping around was just that – sex. It didn't mean anything and I knew that. I loved her. I never would have done anything to hurt her, Detective, I swear." By that time, Marissa could barely catch her breath, as she became inconsolable.

Resting a comforting hand on her shoulder, Elliot squeezed lightly and exited the room. He shut the door and looked at Cragen and Abbie. "If this girl had anything to do with what happened last night, I'll eat my shorts. Hell, I'll eat Munch's shorts. But unless she is one hell of an actress, I think she's innocent."

Standing there with her arms folded across her chest, Abbie was still staring at Marissa Farris. "How can anyone have so little self-respect that they think it's acceptable for their partners to cheat on them? Once is bad enough but on a continual basis? Nobody is worth that kind of blind devotion." She then looked at Elliot. "I agree. I don't think she had anything to do with it, either."

Olivia awoke to being poked in the shoulder. She had dozed off in the chair with her head resting against the wall. She looked up to see Melinda Warner staring at her with files in her hand.

"Was I drooling?" Olivia asked, blinking awareness back into her eyes.

"No but you were snoring and I'm jealous," Melinda commented. She sat opposite the SVU detective. "Thankfully, I get to go home now and I will probably sleep for two days."

"So what'd you find?"

"Where to begin, where to begin…" Dr. Warner sighed, as she scanned the contents of her notes. "Let's see…Maria Marchese had three gunshot wounds all from her partner's service weapon. One in the head, one in the shoulder and one in the leg. The perp must have known she was wearing a vest, never even tried to shoot her in any area the vest covered. The leg wound is what killed her. She actually could have survived the other two, believe it or not, except the bullet hit an artery in her leg and she bled out within minutes."

"Was she raped?"

"No. The only evidence I found of any sexual activity was saliva from Houston."

"What about Houston?"

"It's my guess that whoever did this was really angry with her. She had a total of sixty-two puncture wounds and she had been raped quite violently."

"Puncture? Meaning the wounds were deeper than long? Like an ice pick?" Olivia asked, to Warner's nodding. "Raped before or after she was stabbed?"

"According to the bruising, I would say before. My guess is that someone came upon them, photographed them, surprised them – they were in a pretty stupidly vulnerable state – grabbed Houston's gun, shot Marchese to incapacitate her, raped Houston and then stabbed her. At some point, he removed Houston's vest because we found it in the patrol car and the amount of puncture wounds near her heart would indicate she had no protection."

"That's a lot of stabbing. Do you think this person was alone?"

"I do. Each wound had the same angle to it."

"Right or left handed?"


"Anything to indicate that Houston fought back?"

"Not really. Some minor bruising on her forearms but nothing conclusive."

"Estimated time of death?"

"Best guess right now, sometime between 2130 and 2200."

"So, in your sage and expert opinion –"

"Bite me, Olivia," Warner interrupted her, somewhat playfully, but not without getting her point across.

"This was personal, then?"

"In my expert and sage opinion? Extremely personal." Melinda stood up. "We did find a stray hair on Houston's body, though, that seemed out of place."

"Why is that?"

"Because it isn't a human hair. My guess is that it belongs to a dog. Either of them work with a K-9 unit or use a K-9 vehicle?"

"Not to my knowledge. I'll check it out, though."

Strolling into the SVU bullpen, Olivia looked exhausted. She had phoned Captain Cragen with the results of Warner's findings and told him that the M.E. would follow up with faxing the paperwork. Other than the dog hair, the preliminary investigation yielded no obvious evidence that the squad and major cases would be able to work from. The weapon that killed Julie Houston, an unusually grooved ice pick, Warner figured was probably somewhere in the bottom of the Hudson River by now or somewhere else equally as difficult to locate.

Olivia had been the first one up and on duty that morning from the SVU squad and now it looked as though she was going to be the last one to leave. The detective figured that the news must have been all over the City by now, as the snippets of conversation she heard from the moment she left the M.E.'s office to the second she reached her desk all included the words, "cops, dykes, sex, murder and Marchese."

She looked around, disappointed that she had missed Abbie but, in reality, knew she was much too tired to entertain her at this point, anyway. She figured that the beautiful Ms. Carmichael, of all people, was aware of the unpredictability of Olivia's work hours and assumed the former ADA was out having a few beers with the boys and would get a room for the night. So no one was more surprised than Detective Benson when she approached her apartment door and smelled the aroma of something delicious emanating from within.

Unlocking the door, opening it slowly, Olivia figured it had to be Abbie. No burglar was going to ransack her place, then cook her a mouth watering meal. Or light candles. Or put on music. Well, the music could have been a little more romantic than Travis Tritt but the thought was obviously there. Locking the door behind her, a smile lit up Olivia's face as she entered the kitchen and saw Abbie pouring a glass of wine for herself. Looking up, Abbie returned the appreciative expression and poured Olivia a glass of wine.

"I guess you never threw away that key I gave you, huh?" Olivia said, pulling Abbie into a hug.

"Well, we never did officially break up," Abbie shrugged, giving her former lover a kiss on the cheek. She handed Olivia the glass of wine. "You look exhausted."

"It was a long day. For both of us." Olivia took a sip of wine. "How did you know when I'd be home?"

"I asked the desk sergeant to call me when you left for the night."

Olivia smiled, nodding. "Very sly, Counselor. Dinner smells great."

"Well, you always raved about my chicken marsala, so I thought you deserved a treat."

"You're a sweetheart, Abbie. Do I have time for a quick shower? I am very sticky and smell like death. I'd like to scrub that off before I sit down to enjoy a meal with you."

Abbie looked up at Olivia's kitchen wall clock. "Is ten minutes long enough?"

"I will make it long enough, thanks." Olivia leaned over and returned Abbie's kiss on the cheek and retreated to the bedroom. Abbie Carmichael was in her kitchen again. Abbie was most likely also going to be in her bed tonight. Suddenly Olivia Benson was very wide awake.

Dinner was delicious but the conversation that accompanied the meal was all work. Abbie had gotten very few details from Elliot and Don Cragen when they had all gone out for a beer after work. Olivia provided her with everything that Warner had told her that afternoon. They both agreed that the hard part of the case was not going to be solving the crime but the negative and adverse media circus that was going to accompany it. It was not going to be about two women brutally murdered, it was going to be about two lesbian cops breaking the rules and getting caught in the worst way. Maria's children would not be allowed to remember their mom as a loving and doting mother or a brave and decorated police officer. Instead, they would always be reminded of the circumstances in which their mother had been murdered. Julie Houston would not be remembered for her several commendations or her work with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth and the many she had saved from suicide and found loving homes for after their parents had kicked them out onto the street. She would be remembered as the dyke who bought it on duty while doing her girlfriend in the backseat of a patrol car.

They made stupid decisions and they paid dearly for the consequences of those choices but their legacy should not have been this. Abbie had already heard that the funerals that should be attended by everyone with full honors were going to be boycotted by most of the force. Rumor was spreading quickly that Sal Marchese was only going to allow a private funeral for Maria, heavily guarded so that the press could not feed anymore on the sordid details of his wife's death. As for Julie Houston? Her girlfriend had no legal rights to make any decisions in the matter and her next of kin had been contacted but had not made any official comments or announced any plans.

Both Olivia and Abbie reasoned that a majority of the female officers in the NYPD would feel very stung by this. The press had already amplified the salaciousness of the case to the nth degree, indicating that Maria and Julie had been part of a "ring" of lesbian cops that had a sisterhood akin to the mile high club where, instead of subtle fornication in airplanes in flight, they indulged in sex on duty in patrol cars. They called it the "True Blue Club," blue being meant in the most pornographic sense. Of course none of this was accurate but that would not convince the average public of inquiring minds and the grocery store rag mags disguised as newspapers that would take liberties in the biggest stretch of poetic license. No female affiliated with the department was going to escape this scandal and the worst was yet to come.

Finishing the bottle of wine, after cleaning up the kitchen, Olivia and Abbie agreed not to watch the eleven o'clock news. It would be too depressing, too distracting, too inaccurate to concentrate on anything else. Travis Tritt had long ago stopped wailing about T-R-O-U-B-L-E and now they were listening to a Marvin Gaye CD. The candles were getting low as Marvin sang, "Let's Get It On," encouraging an idea that was already in the heads and loins of the former lovers. Wiping her hands on a dish towel, entering the living room, Olivia moved silently behind Abbie, swaying to the music with her. Putting her arms around the former ADA, she held her snugly as Abbie leaned back into Olivia's arms.

"Mmm, this feels so nice. I've missed being in your embrace," Abbie admitted.

"Really?" Olivia kissed the back of Abbie's head, not convinced. "And you left because…?"

"Oh, we're going to revisit that, are we?" Abbie slowly spun in Olivia's arms to face her.

Looking into the counselor's dark brown eyes, now sparkling with arousal, Olivia caught her breath. Abbie was remarkably and, at times it seemed, impossibly beautiful. The memory of their sexual compatibility and how each encounter between them was always creative and satisfying rushed back to Olivia full force. "No," Olivia said hoarsely. "No need."

Abbie's arms snaked around Olivia's shoulders as Olivia's arms remained securely around Abbie's trim waist. "I automatically assumed that I could stay with you while I was here. That wasn't a mistake on my part, was it?"

The two women had stopped moving and were staring deeply into each other's eyes. "Absolutely not," Olivia answered.

Softly, sweetly, Abbie kissed Olivia's chin, cheek and forehead. Olivia responded by kissing the curve of Abbie's neck. "I've missed you, Olivia. I always miss you, Olivia," Abbie breathed, as the detective's hands stroked her back and moved down to cup the attorney's ass, lifting her slightly so that their lower bodies met. Touching her lips to the sensual detective's, Abbie pressed in more urgently. Olivia responded by welcomingly accepting the kiss, then upping the stakes by parting the attorney's lips with her tongue, as though she were challenging Abbie to a duel. Moaning at the contact, Abbie could not have gotten any closer to Olivia if she had climbed into her.

As her breathing became very heavy, Olivia took a handful of Abbie's hair, as though she were trying to anchor herself and not collapse from the sexual intensity radiating between the two women. Their kissing continued for many minutes until Abbie finally broke contact, panting.

"I'd forgotten how your kisses got to me," Abbie gasped, resting her head against Olivia's neck.

"You'd forgotten?" Olivia snickered. "That's not the way to get me into bed, Counselor."

Abbie laughed, giving the detective a rather chaste kiss on the lips. "Who are you kidding? You're easy and you know it."

"Oh, you think so?" Olivia asked, in mock indignation.

As Abbie began rubbing Olivia through the crotch of her jeans, feeling the wetness that was soaking through two layers of fabric, Abbie flashed her a dazzling smile, "I know so."

"Damn, I hate it when you're right," Olivia kidded.

The detective and the attorney laid back on Olivia's bed. Having shed their clothes seconds before, the women slowly, sensually ran their hands over each other's naked bodies. Even though it had been years between encounters, both immediately knew they were in familiar territory. Abbie looked down at the woman underneath her, shaking her head in awe at the amazing form that encompassed the woman who was Olivia Benson. Olivia looked up at the goddess hovering above her that encompassed the woman that was Abbie Carmichael.

Settling herself on top of Olivia, Abbie pushed the detective's hair away from her face as their bodies fit into each other's in near perfect symmetry. She kissed Olivia lightly then much more intently. An undefined passion surged through both women as Abbie began to kiss the detective with a sexual urgency neither had experienced in a long time, possibly since their last time together. The attorney could have spent hours just kissing the detective but certain other body parts were sending signals to her brain that they needed immediate attention, also.

Olivia was never one to let her fingers remain idle while her mouth was doing its job, either. Her hands went from rubbing Abbie's back to gently massaging the attorney's breasts. Olivia then reached behind Abbie's neck with one hand, keeping their lips securely together as tongues fought for dominance, and, with the other hand, found her way to the triangle of curls between Abbie's legs, finding the wetness with her middle finger, putting light rhythmic pressure on the soft, warm flesh she found there.

Breaking the kiss, Abbie sat up, straddling Olivia's mid-section, raising slightly on her knees, as Olivia entered Abbie's center with two fingers and stroked the other sensitive area with her thumb. Studying the attorney's expression as Olivia concentrated on keeping her pace and placement, she watched as Abbie's stunning face became even more alluring as it changed in the throes of orgasm. Riding out each shuddering wave of pleasure until she was breathing normally again, the attorney lowered herself until one of her breasts reached Olivia's mouth. As the detective orally lavished attention on one erect nipple, she manipulated the other between her thumb and forefinger, resulting in almost a feral growl in Abbie. In one swift motion, Olivia flipped Abbie on her back and buried her face between the gorgeous attorneys thighs, not stopping until Abbie repeatedly cried Olivia's name over and over as she climaxed multiple times.

"And, silly me, thinking you were tired," Abbie panted, as Olivia crawled back up the attorney's body, kissing her skin all the way until they were face to face.

Smiling, Olivia nuzzled Abbie's neck. "I am tired. But now I can go to sleep a happy and satisfied woman," she stated, rolling off Abbie.

"Wait…what about you?" The exquisite Ms. Carmichael, even sexier in post coital bliss, asked, leaning on her elbow, studying her lover.

"You're not leaving in the morning, right? You are planning to be here a couple days?" Olivia reached up and caressed Abbie's face.


"Then," Olivia smiled, complacently, "I'm not worried. I know where to find you." She put her arm around Abbie, as the attorney settled in beside her, resting her head on the detective's shoulder. Within minutes both women were sound asleep.

In the 16th Precinct's SVU squad room the next morning, Olivia, Elliot, George Huang, Casey Novak and Abbie Carmichael sat, leaned or stood in Captain Cragen's office with the door closed. John Munch and Odafin Tutuola, the two other Special Victims Unit detectives that completed this group were working another case.

Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak, who was assigned to SVU, stood with her arms folded across her chest, sneaking glances at her predecessor before Alexandra Cabot took over. So this was THE Abbie Carmichael, huh? Her reputation had been almost as hard to live down as Alex Cabot's had been. And put a few drinks in Liz Donnelly and she couldn't stop talking about the raven-haired, "Hang 'Em High" Carmichael, who obviously occupied more than a few of the older woman's erotic fantasies. Well, Casey could certainly see why. If she were a lesbian, she'd be on Abbie's trail, too, the woman was drop-dead gorgeous. And if she had the desire to experiment, she would also look in Abbie's direction but that wasn't her thing. Even though she was still a tomboy, Casey Novak liked her sex straight (but definitely not vanilla). Men were indeed, a pain in the ass, but, she smiled to herself, she liked that pain in the ass, so to speak. And with a majority of her lovers entering her from behind to really get her off, she didn't have to look at them, which was a plus in most cases. She closed her eyes, smiling, as she suddenly conjured up a visual of Elliot Stabler taking her roughly, only he was facing her, on top of her, hammering himself into her, feeling like he was going to split her in two…

"Casey? Casey??"

Snapping out of her daydream, Casey focused to see everybody's eyes were on her. "What?" she asked innocently. God, she was wet.

"You want to stay with us here?" Cragen requested.

Looking around, embarrassed, she nodded. Her eyes met Elliot's, who was regarding her curiously with a silly smirk on his face. Could he read her mind? She hoped not…or did she? She looked down at the floor, catching up with the discussion.

"Now this was either a hate crime or a double homicide committed by an enraged acquaintance – husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, ex-lover, current lover…you get the idea," Cragen finished. "However, with all the publicity surrounding this case, it is going to be that much harder for everyone to do their jobs."

"Warner said she felt this was personal," Olivia offered. "They are working on isolating and narrowing down that dog hair to a specific breed."

"Does anyone know if either woman had a dog?" Elliot asked.

"I know Maria and Sal used to," Abbie spoke up. "But that was years ago. He was a mutt Toni rescued from the pound and gave to Maria, who fell in love with him. Sal hated the dog because he wasn't an expensive breed, something he could show off. But that dog would have to be at least nine or ten by now. If he's even still alive."

"What about Houston and her girlfriend?" Cragen put the question out to anyone in the room.

"I don't remember Marissa mentioning a dog in any of our conversation yesterday but that certainly doesn't mean anything," Dr. Huang volunteered. "Are we still including Marissa as a possible suspect?"

"We have to," Casey interjected. "She willingly admits she has no alibi, Warner sets the time of the murders somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00, which would have given her plenty of time to get back home before her eleven o'clock phone call."

"She's such a tiny thing, though…would she actually have the strength to overpower Julie, get her gun away from her and stab her so many times? And what about the rape?" It was Abbie throwing that question out.

"No seminal fluid was found, Julie could have been raped by an object…" Casey responded.

Abbie shook her head. "I don't see it. Marissa Farris may be naïve and an emotional punching bag for Julie Houston and I am sure that made her very angry at times. But for her to commit such a brutal, bloody crime – even in an enraged state – she just doesn't have that kind of strength to pull that off. And, she did not seem angry yesterday…she was heartbroken. Grieving. In shock."

"I agree with Abbie on this one," George volunteered.

"Me, too," Elliot added.

"I think we should be looking at Sal," Abbie laid out, simply.

"Do you know what kind of can of worms that would open?" Casey questioned.

"Yes, I do, and I know he is conniving and nasty and would find a way to fight us every step of the way…but that still doesn't mean we shouldn't go after him if he's guilty," Abbie said.

Everyone but Casey warmed to the way Abbie kept saying 'we' as though she were still a part of the team. Abbie wouldn't have to face the consequences and ramifications of going after the councilman if he turned out to be innocent, Casey thought. She had also dealt with Sal Marchese and he could be a bastard, not to mention a political stone wall to Casey's possible future ambitions. "So we're definitely ruling out random hate crime by a stranger?"

"We're not ruling anything out at this point," Cragen stated. "We're just tossing theories around here to get a better handle on the direction we want to go in first."

"Elliot and I have had many run-ins with Marchese and, overall, he is just not a nice guy," Olivia spoke up. "But he is so high profile, do you actually think he would jeopardize his rising career even if his wife was embarrassing him in a manner he found unacceptable?"

"He could have committed these murders and immediately dissociated," George suggested. "That's what experts think may have happened in the OJ Simpson case."

"Don't people believe in divorce anymore?" Olivia asked no one in particular.

"Look, I know Sal," Abbie said, insistently. "He's a homophobic rotten son-of-a-bitch. He hated the fact that Maria's cousin, Toni, was a lesbian. He's the type of man who feels all a lesbian needs is a good man to straighten her out. She wouldn't give him the time of day and never backed down when he would get obnoxious and belligerent. And the few social occasions we all attended together, when he realized he was not going to get into my pantyhose either, he hated me as well. Do you understand what a blow this would be to this kind of a man to find out his wife has been continually banging another woman? With the type of narcissistic prick he is, something like this just might send him over the edge."

"Good point, Abbie," Cragen nodded. When he inadvertently caught Casey rolling her eyes, he said, "you have something you might like to add to that, Counselor?"

Cheeks suddenly as red as her hair from getting caught reacting childishly, Casey cleared her throat. "Well…I am still a little hard pressed to believe he would personally do this himself. If he has anything to do with it at all."

"He could have hired someone…" Elliot shrugged.

Olivia was shaking her head before he finished. "There was too much rage at that crime scene. Warner said it was obviously personal. Do you know how long - how much strength and anger it takes to stab someone sixty-two times? After you've brutally raped them? After you've shot someone else three times? I could see a hit man doing the shooting and doing the rape and still have the heightened adrenaline to possibly stab the second victim a few times in vital areas that would leave her dead. But sixty-two times…? Raise your hand in the air and thrust it down even half that amount. You'd be exhausted, even if you were pumped up and motivated by money. Whoever raped and stabbed Julie Houston wanted to teach her a lesson before she died. It was personal, which is why there was overkill. I agree with Abbie. The only person who would have that kind of motivation, means and strength would be Sal."

"So, Counselor," Cragen returned his attention to Casey. "How do we get the councilman into the hot seat?"

It actually wasn't that difficult. Thinking he was so superior, so much smarter than everyone else and always loving the sound of his own voice, he agreed to come down to the station to answer a few questions with his attorney present.

Walking into the station, accompanied by Michael Robilotto, his private defense council, Salvatore Marchese seemed much too smug for a man who had just endured such a terrible tragedy. He smiled at everyone, shook hands with a few officers, accepted condolences from others. His cocky expression only faded once, briefly, when he laid eyes upon Abbie Carmichael. Regaining his composure almost immediately, he approached Abbie with a hand extended.

"Why, Abbie Carmichael, of all people. I thought you were a big deal in Washington now," he stated.

Looking down at his outstretched hand, then back up at his darkly handsome face, Abbie never unfolded her arms. "Sal. I'd shake your hand but I'm afraid I'd have to count my fingers after you let go."

He put his hand in his pocket and shrugged. "Still the charmer, I see." He looked her up and down. "And still beautiful." He shook his head. "Such a waste."

"Not for me," Abbie smiled at him, gritting her teeth. As he walked away toward the interrogation room, Olivia put her hand on Abbie's shoulder.

"Are you going to be okay in the observation room? You won't, like, jump through the window at him or anything?"

"You mean like the only difference between me and a Pit Bull is lipstick? I'll be fine," Abbie said as she watched him disappear behind a closed door. Her eyes flashed in anger when she looked directly at Olivia. "I know he did it, Liv. I know it."

"Well," Olivia ran her hand down Abbie's arm, "let's get in there and see what we can get out of him."

"Let's hurry up and get this over with," Sal said, pleasantly, still smiling. "I still have more arrangements to make and I don't want to leave my children for too long."

As Abbie, Casey and Elliot watched from behind the glass, Don Cragen and Olivia Benson conducted the interview. Marchese and Robilotto both sat while the detective and her captain stood.

"First, Councilman, let me express my deepest sympathy for your loss," Cragen began, diplomatically. "We do appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few of our questions."

Shrugging, looking at his attorney, then back at Cragen, he said, "I want to help. Some maniac killed my wife, the mother of my children, I want that person found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Olivia stepped confidently up to the table in the interrogation room. She was holding a file of crime scene photographs and copies of the incriminating pictures that had been left at the scene. "Councilman Marchese," she acknowledge, professionally.

"Detective Benson," Sal responded, as though saying the name left a very bitter taste in his mouth. He was not pleased about her being in the room but he tried to hide his disdain with a practiced, polished smile. "How've you been?"

"Fine," Olivia answered, agreeably, "especially since IAB hasn't been crawling up my ass every five minutes with bogus claims."

"Whoa," Elliot laughed, standing between Abbie and Casey in the observation room, putting his hands in the air, representing a goal post, "and she scores!"

Marchese was about to reply to that when Cragen, interrupted. "So, Councilman, you know why you are here. The spouse is always considered in situations such as the one that has us all here today and we would like to clear it up before more time passes and let you get on with your…bereavement."

"I appreciate that, Captain. You're a good man." He turned to his attorney, "See Micky? I told you. Cragen is a good man." He looked back at the captain, wearing that plastic smile, as Abbie made kissing and other rude suction noises from behind the glass. Elliot immediately cracked up as Casey bit her nails. This case was probably going to make or break her career and Abbie Carmichael was not helping.

"You suck-ass, Sal," Abbie commented, not taking her eyes off him.

"I would like to ask you about your feelings regarding the circumstances surrounding your wife's death," Cragen began.

"I only know what I saw myself at the crime scene, what I heard from a homicide cop and what the press is saying, which is not very nice. My kids have to hear that crap."

"Understood, Councilman, but how did you feel?" Olivia pressed.

Marchese looked up at the detective, a haughty look in his eyes, and shook his head. He again turned to his lawyer. "Ya hear that, Micky? The detective wants to know how I feel about the whole thing? She must have gotten a degree in psychiatry since the last time we spoke." He looked back at Olivia, whose expression never changed. "How do you think I feel, Detective? My beautiful wife of thirteen years, the mother of my two beautiful children was murdered. And all the media can talk about is what she was allegedly doing while she was killed."

"I think that's the detective's point, Councilman. What are your feelings about the circumstances in which Maria died?" Cragen reiterated.

"I don't believe it. I think it was a set up, I think –"

Robilotto placed a firm hand on Marchese's shoulder. "Careful, Sal. You don't want your thoughts or suggestions to become twisted into some sort of confession."

"I've got nothing to confess, Micky. The good captain here knows that." He looked up at Cragen. "Don't you, Captain?"

"Councilman," Cragen said, patiently, "I'm certainly not trying to trick you into confessing to something you did not do. But I do need to know where you stand on your wife's murder. Unfortunately, the scandal and suspicions won't go away when your wife is buried. As soon as we move on to another avenue of investigation, the sooner the press will follow our lead and hopefully leave you and your children alone."

Marchese laughed, ruefully. "You really think so, Captain? Because people are saying my wife was a dyke –" he looked up at Olivia, "-not to offend the good Detective Benson here with slang…" A smile slightly curled his lip, hoping the term did rub her the wrong way. Olivia's expression remained the same. She would be damned if she left this moron get to her. "They're saying that she turned to her lesbian slut of a patrol partner because I couldn't satisfy her in the bedroom."

"Lesbian slut of a patrol partner," Olivia repeated. "Sounds to me like you had some real anger issues toward her, Councilman."

"Sure I was angry. Maria was seduced by this dyke and my manhood takes a direct hit over it. I'm Italian, Detective, you never challenge an Italian's manhood." Sal raised his voice as Robilotto put his hand on Marchese's shoulder again.

"So," Olivia started, turning the screws a little tighter, "you're wife was brutally murdered by some 'maniac' as you called him and you're biggest concern is the press challenging your manhood? Sounds to me as though your priorities are a little off."

"You're putting words in my mouth, Detective," Sal stated, trying to calm himself down.

"You asked me how I felt, remember?"

"Councilman, were you aware of or did you suspect you're wife might be having an affair?" Cragen asked.

"No. Never. She always seemed quite satisfied with what she got at home," Marchese told them, arrogantly.

"Oh, bullshit," Abbie said, from behind the mirror. "Maria got drunk once and told Toni and I that she sometimes felt as though she had to use a magnifying glass and tweezers to find your 'manhood,' Sal!"

Once again, Elliot shook his head, chuckling at Abbie's comments and Casey buried her face in her hand. She definitely had a headache coming on. Thank God, Abbie knew to keep her voice just low enough where she could not be heard in the other room.

Olivia wasn't buying it. "You never hired a private investigator to follow her and take pictures of her, say, to have proof of her in 'flagrante delicto' with her partner?"

"Of her what?" Sal looked confused.

Olivia rolled her eyes. "Of her having sex with Julie Houston."

"That's disgusting. My wife did not have consensual sex with that…that…woman. She wouldn't have done that. She's Catholic and she knows that behavior is forbidden by the church and the laws of God."

"So, are you telling us you think your wife had non-consensual sex with Julie Houston?" Olivia confirmed.

"That's the only way it could have happened."

"Do you think your wife would allow her patrol partner to behave that way, without her permission or consent and not tell you about it? That's taking into consideration her not reporting Houston for sexual harassment to her superiors? Don't you think she would have at least requested a different partner or assignment?" This time Cragen asked the question.

"She never said nothing to me. Maybe it only happened that once."

"No, Councilman. We have proof that your wife and her patrol partner engaged in consensual sexual activity more than once, while on duty," Cragen advised him.

"Gee," Olivia mused, "guess you'd better rethink that statement of your wife being satisfied with what she got at home."

"That's out of line, Detective Benson, and I think we have reached a point where this interview should come to an end," Robilotto said, stiffly.

"Just one more important question before you leave," Cragen said.

"Which is?" Robilotto asked, as Marchese stood up, shooting death glares at Olivia.

"Where were you two nights ago from nine o'clock until midnight?"

That smirk was back on his face again. "I was with a friend."

"A friend? We're going to need that 'friend's' name and contact information to verify your claim," Cragen told him.

"Not a problem. Her name is Mia DelVecchio. I'll write it down for you."

"So…let me make sure I'm getting this correctly," Olivia prodded. "Your wife's behavior with her patrol partner is against the church and the laws of God but it's all right for you to have a mistress and disgrace the marriage vows you took before God and the church?"

Marchese shook his head, laughing as he looked at Cragen. "Women. They don't get it."

"Just one more question, Councilman," Olivia asked as Marchese wrote down the name, address and phone number of his alibi.

"What?" He didn't even bother trying to make his tone civil.

"I said no more questions," Robilotto insisted.

"This one's an easy one," Olivia said. "Do you have a dog?"

Marchese looked up at her as though she had two heads. "What? A dog? No. Why?"

"Just wondering."

"We had a dog, a mangy mutt who didn't mind worth crap but he died last year." He handed the piece of paper he just wrote the information down on to Cragen. "Another one of my wife's misfit strays."

Even behind the glass, Abbie could feel Olivia seething. The former ADA looked at Elliot and then at Casey. She shook her head, disgusted. "That is not a man who is sorry about his wife's murder."

Sal Marchese had worked everyone up. Even Casey Novak, who had been trying to remain neutral during the observation of the interview now wanted to string him upside down over an open fire and extract his body hairs one by one. Maybe she could borrow Maria's tweezers.

Olivia and Elliot had paid a visit to Mia DelVecchio. She was a young woman, obviously not too bright but with enough sense to be nervous about the detectives' visit. She was a bottle blonde with black eyebrows and a hankering for way too much make-up and way too tight clothing. She would have been extremely attractive if she had left her hair it's natural, coal-black shade and came up one size in clothing. She had a sweet smile and very large, expressive brown eyes. She respectfully addressed the detectives as 'Sir' and 'Ma'am' and was very cooperative. Yes, Sal spent the night with her two nights ago. He was with her until about two a.m. and he never left her bed the entire seven and a half hours he was there. Yes, it was a shame what happened to his wife but she couldn't be too sad, after all, she smiled coyly, now this left him free to publicly be with her.

Olivia and Elliot exchanged glances at that last statement. Then they both dismissed the thought at the same time. There was no way this woman could have thought up, planned and executed such a crime. At least not by herself. The detectives left DelVecchio's apartment certain that she was lying for Sal Marchese. They just had to prove it.

The SVU partners recounted their conversation with Marchese's dim bulb mistress to Cragen, who, in turn, advised them that he stopped by the Houston/Farris apartment to give Marissa the contents of Julie's locker. There was no evidence of any pets in the place and, when asked, Farris told the captain that they never had a dog. Julie was allergic to them.

Abbie, who had been sitting in Cragen's office, reading over the information and files piling up on this case, strolled out to the bullpen with a fax in her hand. "Hot off the presses. Warner's people said the dog hair has a 99% probability of coming from a Yorkshire Terrier."

"Amazing what science can do now, isn't it?" Elliot remarked. "Now we just need to find that Yorkie. Did that mutt Toni gave Sal and Maria have any Yorkie in him?"

"Not to my recollection," Abbie answered, thinking back. "He was part husky and part lab, I think."

"Well, that's a dead end, then." Cragen muttered. He looked at his watch. "I'll coordinate with homicide and see what they've got but I think we've done all that we can do today. We don't we call it a day, people."

"Sounds good to me," Elliot said, winking at Abbie.

That gesture made the former ADA smile. She wasn't into men in the slightest but, damn, Elliot was cute. Not a bad body, either. For a guy. "You're a flirt, Elliot," she commented, in response to his gesture. She was pretty sure the macho man was blushing.

"Busted," Olivia laughed, playfully punching Elliot in the upper arm.

"Who's on call tonight?" Cragen asked before retreating to his office.

"Fin," both Olivia and Elliot chorused, glad that it wasn't either of them. Olivia was especially tickled. She had other plans for her night.

Olivia was not in as good a mood when she and Abbie got back to her place. As they were leaving the station, the press was hounding a patrol unit attempting to leave the motor pool to begin their shift. The partners in the vehicle were both women, both straight and both about ready to request a transfer to another planet. And, while all attention was focused on that little scene, someone had sneaked into the area where the patrol units were parked and graffitied two of the vehicles with the words, "True Blue Club," and spray-painted obscene caricatures of women.

Olivia was silent all the way home. She wasn't mad at Abbie, not that she had any reason to be to begin with, but she was just too furious to speak. Women worked damned hard to overcome stereotypes and negative images a misogynist good ol' boys club had initially put out there that had taken centuries for women to wear down and when they were finally just starting to garner some of the same respect as their male counterparts, one incident branded all women and, at the very least, neutralized or nullified any and all progress and strides that had been made to that point.

And the lesbian population in the City was paying the most dearly for it. It was bad enough, a majority of the media portrayed gay women as being predatory, perverse, nymphomaniacs, hell bent on "converting" all straight women and, especially young, impressionable girls, now they had an actual event to work from. Olivia wasn't angry about the sexuality of the two officers involved, that would have been fruitless, not to mention hypocritical but that they never considered the repercussions of their actions when they so blatantly broke the rules and ignored their oath.

"Olivia, you need to put this incident in perspective," Abbie said, soothingly, as they entered the apartment.

"What kind of perspective would that be, Abbie?" Olivia almost snapped at her.

The attorney turned away from her and smiled. She knew Olivia's anger was not aimed at her and she recalled quite fondly that a little bit of tension between them usually resulted in great sex. "Want a beer?" Abbie asked, heading toward the refrigerator.

"Yes, I want a beer but you don't have to wait on me." Before Olivia could take a step toward the kitchen, Abbie was already on her way back to the couch with two bottles of ice cold Corona. She handed one to the detective. "Did you hide the lime or don't you have any?"

"I'm out. What did you mean about the perspective?" Olivia took a long, appreciative swallow of beer.

"Two women were murdered, Olivia. One was violently raped and murdered. It shouldn't matter who they were, what they were doing, who they were doing it to and where they were doing it. The fact remains that someone took it upon himself to take the lives of two otherwise productive women. Maria's kids don't have a mother. Marissa Farris doesn't have a partner. Regardless of how messed up their home relationships were, these two women were loved very deeply, and until this incident, very respected by the community and will be missed terribly, regardless of the circumstances of their death. Yeah, we are all going to bear the brunt of the results of their not-so-well-thought-out actions but they didn't deserve to be murdered for it."

"I never said they did –"

"But their murders are being pushed into the background because the media is blowing a private matter that should have been handled departmentally out of horrendous proportion. Somebody in the loop leaked the details to the press. What those two women did was against any and all regulations but they didn't deserve to die for it. Their families, friends and co-workers do not deserve to suffer for it. And had they not been murdered, this feeding frenzy would not be happening. Think about it, Liv. Someone wanted to take the focus off the murders and put it elsewhere. Why? To draw attention away from himself? Who would benefit the most from the murder itself being pushed into the background?"

"The perpetrator."

"Exactly. The PIO needs to get control of this and put the focus and perspective of this case back where it belongs. Not on the fractured rules and regs or the sexual proclivities of either officer but on the fact that someone stalked these two women and waited until the time was right and savagely slaughtered them. That's the page everyone should be on…including you." She sat down on the other end of the sofa from Olivia.

"Yes, you're right. That's where we all should be. But this other little annoying detail has taken precedence."

"Only because the powers that be have allowed it to. Think, Olivia. Male officers get caught up in sex scandals all the time…hookers on duty, trading sex for no arrest, it's a blurb on page 30 of the New York Times. But this? This has made the national news. And it shouldn't have. This case is about murder. Someone wanted these two women dead. That's the bottom line. Their affair may have been the stoking of the fire but neither of them deserved to die because of it. So, who do you think would benefit from all this publicity? Who do you think the public is taking pity on?"

"Sal Marchese."

"Damn right, Sal Marchese. That's who is behind all of this. The murder, the publicity…I'd stake my life on it." Abbie moved closer to Olivia on the couch. Her tone was quieter now and less argumentative. "The stigma surrounding this case will eventually go away – especially if Sal is responsible. But the murders are there forever and they will never go away." She let Olivia contemplate this with a sip of beer. "I mean, come on, Liv, you know you've never done things you're not supposed to in a patrol car…have you?" Abbie asked cautiously.

Olivia's head snapped quickly to her right, meeting Abbie's questioning stare. "Of course not! How could you even ask me such a thing?"

Abbie continued to look at her, silently, a slight smile kidnapping her lips as she tried to cover it with a swallow of beer.

"Oh, come on, Abbie! We were not technically on duty, you were dropping me off from a long, frustrating surveillance and it was in your little Honda, not an official vehicle. I had a pinched nerve for three days."

"Just checking," Abbie winked, breaking into a full grin.

"I wasn't the only one in that car," Olivia continued, her surly mood now being tempered by the memory of both long-torsoed, long legged women turning themselves into contortionists just to satisfy an immediate primal urge that obviously couldn't wait for more private and accommodating conditions.

Abbie put her hand up. "I take full responsibility for my behavior. The point I am making is – what if we had been caught? We are two consenting adults having the kind of sex that is outlawed in several states, we were on a public street in view of anyone walking by..."

"Those windows were pretty steamed up," Olivia recalled.

"Doesn't matter. Our urges took control and propelled us to do something we know is wrong or at least not acceptable."

"True but we weren't on duty…"

"Olivia," Abbie said, patiently, "we still could have been arrested for public lewdness, depending on the cop. We could have made the papers and our careers could have been over. That would have been the consequences of the choices we made. But we'd still be alive. We would have deserved to get punished and perhaps a little humiliated for getting caught having sex in a public place…but would we deserve to die?"

Taking another thoughtful swallow of beer, Olivia shook her head. "No," she finally responded, quietly.

Abbie watched the realization wash over Olivia's expression and inched closer. Her voice was now a husky whisper. "We need to forget all the other bullshit and concentrate on the real crime here. The other stuff is just a smoke screen and that's exactly what that bastard wants."

Nodding, Olivia took a few more sips of beer, set her bottle down on the coffee table, turned to Abbie, leaned in and lightly kissed her lips. "Now I remember all the reasons I got so hooked on you."

Kissing her back a little more passionately, Abbie said, "Now you remember? You mean, you had actually forgotten?"

"God, you are such a lawyer," Olivia smiled before she wrapped her arms around her former girlfriend, pulling her onto her lap as they came dangerously close to devouring each other.

They made love on the couch, comically fell to the floor immediately after writhing around with a loud and nearly mutual orgasm and made love again on the throw rug over the hardwood, giggling and laughing through a majority of that session.

Olivia and Abbie laid in the dark, on the round, braided rug, tangled in each other's arms, listening to each other breathe. "I'm suddenly very hungry," Olivia broke the silence, "how about you?"

Abbie started to bubble into laughter again, "No thanks, I just ate."

"Oh, God, Abbie," Olivia also chuckled, but with a 'tsk' in her voice. "You are so bad."

Abbie lifted herself onto her elbow as her face hovered over the SVU detective, the counselor's hair falling down and tickling Olivia's cheek and chin. "A few minutes ago, you led me to believe that I was so good," she quipped, seductively.

"You're both," Olivia acknowledged, quietly as her eyes adjusted to the dark and studied the stunning woman looking down at her. "How did I ever get so lucky?"

"Oh, Liv," Abbie sighed, sitting up, leaning her back against the couch, "why can't life be simpler? I would love for us to get back together again."

"Me, too, Abbie. Me, too." She rolled on her side to face the attorney. "We're both too strong, too stubborn and too addicted to what we do to compromise. You want to be there and I want to be here. It all comes down to that."

"Won't you even consider checking out DC? We could have a nice little house in Virginia…"

"Won't you consider coming back to New York?" They looked at each other, intently.

"It's always going to be this particular wall, isn't it?" Abbie stated, more than asked, looking away from Olivia.

"Maybe not. Maybe one of us will get sick of where we are and move closer to where the other is."

Abbie shook her head, resting her chin on her knees. "Sure…and they all lived happily ever after…"

"Maybe we'll both meet someone and –"

"Not exactly the direction I envisioned this conversation going in, Liv…"

"Sorry," Olivia said. And she really was. She had been smitten a few times since Abbie's departure, had a few affairs, the most significant being the wonderfully refined Alexandra Cabot. Similar to Abbie in strength and determination yet very different in other enticing ways.

Olivia and Alex spent a little over a year dancing around each other like moths to a flame and quite unexpectedly ended up in each other's arms after a rather nasty disagreement they'd had. Olivia, having totally misinterpreted Alex's line of thinking as accusatory after a case, went off on the younger, blonde ADA and stormed out of Alex's office, leaving her stunned and bewildered. She never realized the affect Olivia being angry with her would have on her until that moment. Alex almost immediately left work, ended up at McAleer's Pub on Amsterdam, with every intention of going home after, as her apartment was mere blocks away, yet found herself knocking on Olivia's door, with tears stinging her eyes when Olivia answered. The SVU detective did not appear happy to see her and still seemed extremely agitated – until she saw a single tear roll down Alex's cheek and she melted. She pulled the ADA into her apartment, locking her door and Alex grabbed onto the detective as though her life depended on it. No words were spoken between them. They kissed with abandon and made love until neither could move.

The affair was intense and passionate but burned out as quickly as it ignited. As with Abbie, Olivia and Alex's work schedules constantly conflicted and they spent less and less time together. They were also learning that even though the sex was beyond fulfilling, they argued and butted heads way too much and they were actually better friends than lovers. Then Olivia discovered that Alex and Serena Southerlyn, the ADA who took Abbie's place in major cases, were spending more and more time together and the detective and her blonde lover agreed to cut their losses and call it quits.

Alex and Serena's flame burnt out quickly, too, though, and by the time Alex had been whisked away into the Witness Protection Program, she and Olivia had been working toward the possibility of starting something up again. In the two years Alex had been gone, Olivia had maybe slept with three women in somewhat desperate but casual circumstances. One of them being Serena and that had only occurred when they ran into each other late one evening, got drunk and commiserated about the loss of Alex Cabot. It was more of a comforting thing than anything else, an incident they both acknowledged as such and then moved on.

But no one ever had the effect on Olivia like Abbie Carmichael did. Abbie with her Texas born and bred attitude and charm, Abbie with her fashion model looks, Abbie with the feistiness and intelligence of a supreme court judge and Abbie with her instinctive and seemingly inherent knowledge of what Olivia wanted and needed. Others came and went but Abbie was a constant. Why they couldn't come to a compromise was beyond both of them.

"If I did, say, for example, decide to move back here to New York, would we pick up where we left off?" Abbie asked, nonchalantly.

Olivia focused on her, wondering where she was going with this. "Absolutely. Look at us now. I don't think there would be any question about that. Why? Is that a possibility?" Olivia didn't mean to but she was holding her breath.

"It's always a possibility, Liv. I miss New York. I like DC, but it's not New York. And…you're not there." She reached over and enveloped Olivia's hand in hers.

Abbie had also engaged in a few flings since her move to the nation's capital. Nothing significant but enough to keep her libido occupied. The only one that possibly could have turned into something stronger but the 'time spent together' issue was even more limited than hers and Olivia's, was a surprising and brief affair with, at the time, White House Press Secretary, C.J. Cregg. However, their intellectual intercourse was much more inventive and stimulating than their sexual encounters were and that was a shame. The only time CJ really seemed to relax and enjoy herself was when she was around Abbie. It didn't take long for that intimate liaison to fade into the sunset and the two highly visible, high-powered women became allies and fast friends, Abbie lamenting about Olivia and CJ droning on and on about her lust for the First Lady, also named Abby. Despite the offers and opportunities, there was no one for Abbie Carmichael other than Olivia Benson. And Abbie knew it was foolish pretending there was someone or something else out there because this little trip just proved that a moot point.

"I would really like that," Olivia whispered, sounding as though she was choking up. "I really, really miss you, Cowboy."

"I miss you, too, City Girl" Abbie leaned back down and kissed Olivia tenderly.

"Being with you again? It's been…I don't know…like a waterfall – this thing that's meant to be, with constant movement forward but you never appreciate the beauty or power of it until you are standing in front of it, admiring the wonder of it."

Hugging, Olivia tightly, Abbie's lips right next to the detective's ear, she said, "God, I love you so much, Liv."

The two reunited lovers had just fallen asleep after intervals of touching and talking about the past, the present and the future. They were emotionally and physically exhausted, each one wondering who was going to drift off first as neither could seem to keep their eyes open any longer. Both had just dozed into a comfortable snooze when the phone rang, waking them both suddenly. Abbie, being closest to the phone, answered it. It was Elliot.


"Guess again," Abbie yawned, sitting up as Olivia stirred to consciousness.

"Oh. Abbie. Hey."

"Hey, Elliot. You want to talk to Liv?"

"Uh…sure…if she's not, you know, otherwise engaged…"

"In your dreams," Abbie laughed while handing the phone to the woman beside her. She heard Elliot say, "Well…yeah…hello…!"

Also yawning, Olivia sat up, putting the telephone to her ear. "What's up?"

"We got him!"

Olivia's eyes suddenly snapped open and she felt very wide-awake. "What?! Got who?!"

"Marchese!! We got him!!"

"What?! How?! What happened?? Why didn't anyone call me??"

"Munch wanted to but I assured him you had a few other things going on that might be occupying your time in a more pleasurable way."

"And he didn't want details?"

"Of course he did. I told him that you'd supply those later."

"Thanks, El. What a guy," she rolled her eyes at Abbie, who had settled back down but turned on her right side, watching Olivia, listening to her end of the conversation. This had to be important because she knew Elliot didn't just call at two-thirty AM because he felt like it.

"Listen…Marchese has been staying away from Mia DelVecchio, right? Because of all that's been going on and he hasn't wanted to put that relationship in the spotlight. So, Einstein that she is, she called the precinct tonight wondering if we had seen or heard anything from Sal because his lawyers, reps and bodyguards won't put her through, telling her to forget his number, forget they ever knew each other. Munch tried tell her to calm down that due to the circumstances and the fact that Sal did lose his wife, he's probably laying low from her for a while. She doesn't want to hear this, doesn't get it and starts ranting and raving – to Munch! A cop! She starts in about how ungrateful Sal is that she was his willing alibi, lying to the police when he wasn't even there."

"You're not serious," Olivia stated.

"What? What's going on?" Abbie mouthed, silently.

Olivia held a finger up while Elliot continued. "So then, Munch says, well what do you mean he wasn't even there, and she says, he wasn't with her. He never showed up at her place until ten-thirty. She said he smelled terrible. His clothes looked clean but he had blood on his face and on his sneakers. When she asked him what happened, he told her while driving on his way over, he'd hit a dog and taken the thing to the vet's where it died."

"And she didn't put two and two together?"

"Yeah…and came up with three. One too many for her liking. Now she is feeling just a little used and betrayed and has suddenly realized that the good Councilman Marchese is not going to ask her to be his second wife."

"Is any of this useful? I mean, she can be considered a scorned and vengeful –"

"Not only did she not bury, throw away or wash the sneakers covered in what we are pretty sure is going to be Julie Houston's blood, she has a dog."

"We didn't see a dog there yesterday."

"The dog, a pure Yorkshire Terrier named Reginald, was at the Groomer's yesterday."

"Woo hoo!!" Olivia whooped so loud, Abbie (and probably half the building's tenants) jumped. "We got him! We got Marchese!" she told her lover.

"Yes!!" Abbie smiled, triumphantly.

"CSU and a shitload of detectives are at her place right now, already securing the dog, his hairs and the shoes."

"And the ice pick?"

"Now don't get greedy, Liv," Elliot told her, good-naturedly. "But, uh, information only…DelVecchio had a stainless steel Amadon Silver ice pick."

"Had?" Olivia repeated.

"Yeah. Had. It's missing."

"There's more…I can hear it in your voice."

"Oh, yeah," Elliot was almost laughing. "Do you know how rare an Amadon Silver ice pick is?"

"No but I have a feeling you're going to tell me."

"It's a collector's item. It has grooved and grated designs that differentiates it from anything else. There were only 50 of them ever made and only five registered and recorded in the state of New York, only two in New York City. One owned by Charles Lustig in the Bronx and the other by Mia Concetta DelVecchio – an estate heirloom from her grandfather, Luigi DelVecchio. Mr. Lustig still has his. Mia's is missing."

"Oh, Elliot, this is just too easy. Could either one of them be setting the other one up?"

"Olivia, you met her…" Elliot replied, incredulously. "Do you honestly think that she has the capacity to –"

"Hey…stranger things have happened."

"No. I think this is Marchese. All Marchese. He was counting on her blind loyalty, her stupidity, her dependency on him to stay quiet, her love for him…I don't think he ever thought she would turn on him."

"That's what concerns me, though, Elliot."

"Olivia, don't rain on my parade here. Let CSU put this all together, I'm just giving you the good stuff."

"When are they going to pick him up?"

"They've already got eyes on his place. They want to make sure everything is pretty much set in stone before they haul him in."

Abbie motioned to Olivia that she wanted to speak with Elliot. "Hey, Stabler," Abbie said when she got the phone from Olivia.

"Hey, Carmichael," Elliot responded, grinning. Just the thought of his striking partner and Abbie in bed together was enough to keep a smile on his face for quite a while.

"You really got the bastard, huh?"

"Not yet. But it looks like a done deal."

"I want to know when they bring him in. I want to be there. Make sure someone calls us when they're ready," Abbie told him, a little too gleefully.

"My pleasure, Counselor. My pleasure."

Michael Robilotto had made arrangements for Councilman Salvatore Marchese to turn himself in by one o'clock that afternoon. By one-thirty, Marchese had not shown up. By two o'clock, the police were actively searching for him. By four-thirty, Marchese, his two children and DelVecchio were listed as officially missing. At four-forty-five PM, a call came from the police patrolling the Vermont-Canadian border. Marchese was detained while en route to Montreal to catch a flight to London, then Rome. His two children were taken into protective custody and awaiting a reunion with their maternal grandparents. Mia DelVecchio's body was found a week later in a shallow grave near the cemetery where Maria Marchese's funeral had been held. Duct taped to Mia's body was the rare Amadon Silver ice pick her grandfather had willed to her. She had been stabbed to death with it.

Marchese was returned to New York to stand trial on three separate murder charges. Continuances and other legalities would keep Marchese out of the courtroom for quite a while. But his former power and privilege couldn't keep him out of Riker's. Sal Marchese may have been a big man on the streets of Manhattan but more than likely, to Abbie's delight, he was probably some other big man's bitch in the blocks.

Abbie had arranged to meet with former colleagues, like Jack McCoy and Arthur Branch, while she was in town and gathered some leads on possible open positions within the City's legal hierarchy. She set up interviews before she returned to Washington and was willingly and seriously looking into transferring back to the Big Apple so that she and Olivia could be together again.

Olivia took a few well earned day's off and accompanied the former ADA back to DC to get an idea of just what Abbie was willing to sacrifice for her. Washington was nice but just a little too high profile for her. Arlington, Virginia where Abbie rented a house, was also nice but a little too quiet for Olivia. But as the detective witnessed all of the friends and political contacts Abbie had made since her relocation six years earlier, and just how influential and prestigious her lover was within the Washington caste system, she began to feel guilty about Abbie being the one to give up this life she had worked so hard to create for herself.

Trying to persuade Olivia that this life was meaningless and empty without someone special to share it with was a difficult task. Trying to convince Olivia that Abbie really did want to come back to New York because Washington was too superficial for her was also somewhat problematic. Abbie Carmichael had political rottweilers eating out of her hand. They had gone to a popular restaurant for lunch and Abbie barely got to put any food in her mouth, she was approached by so many high-powered, well-known, if not downright notorious politicians, congratulating or praising her on some recent cases she had just handled. If Olivia had not already been impressed by the magnificent specimen of womanhood sitting opposite her, that visit would have clinched it.

It was impossible to believe that Abbie would give all that up for her. The attorney was a shining star in a city of tarnished masses. Olivia began to panic, thinking what if Abbie moved back to New York, leaving all this success behind for her, and she couldn't commit? Was it fair to ask, to expect Abbie to do this? What if she couldn't live up to Abbie's expectations of a partner? What if Abbie took a job she really didn't want just to be there with her? Would she resent her? Would this connection, this passion fizzle out and eventually turn to hate because Abbie compromised and Olivia didn't?

Lying in bed the night before Olivia was scheduled to return to New York, she voiced her fears to Abbie. The luminous and astute attorney had noticed a difference in their lovemaking that evening, a hesitancy in Olivia she had never experienced before. What Olivia didn't realize, though, was that Abbie had expected it. This indecisiveness had been the determining factor in their break up six years earlier. And Abbie was having none of it this time. She was too alive with Olivia and too inanimate without her. Abbie Carmichael wanted Olivia Benson in her life and there was nothing going to get in the way of that this time.

By the time Olivia was on the train the next morning, Abbie had assured and reassured the detective that moving back to Manhattan was what she wanted, needed to do. By the time Olivia's train had pulled into Penn Station, she had spoken with Abbie five times by cell phone. By the time Olivia got to her apartment that evening, Abbie had sent her two-dozen roses. And by the time Abbie secured a job with the US Attorney's office in New York, and had left Washington, the illustrious Ms. Carmichael had successfully courted and wooed the lovely Ms. Benson and she and Olivia were settled into a newer, larger apartment surrounded by the familiarity of both their belongings. And six months after that, they were planning a wedding in Massachusetts and a honeymoon by the Niagara River, so Olivia could face the mother of all waterfalls and equate it with the start of her new life with the woman of her dreams.

The End

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