Title: Maybe
Pairing: Implied Alex/Olivia
Word Count: 2157
Rating: PG
Spoilers: None that I know of, except for Lead where Alex comes back
Disclaimer: I so don't own this show, which should be evident considering Olivia is supposedly still "straight" and Alex hasn't jumped Liv's bones yet. Maybe during Alex's far too short current tenure on the show, they'll finally get it on!
A/N: I have no clue how this story got to be so long. I basically sat down a couple of hours ago and churned out this fic. It had been in my head ever since last night, when "Lead" premiered. Basically it turns out Alex has been out of witness protection for 3 years, and though the SVUers have tried to contact her, she hasn't been able to call them back. Here's my little femslash diddy as to why. Oh, and this is unbeta'd by the way, so sorry if it's got grammar errors and such!

They’d been there for hours, shuffling over the victim’s statement, witness notes, and possible suspects. She’d forgotten how exhausting this was. In her prime, she may have been able to skip out on a bit of this process, but the years of trying appeals and training new prosecutors had left her less confident. The best way to compensate, she found, was to fall back on her meticulous nature, scanning and analyzing every bit of information with a depth she had not used since law school. Most of the detectives had already headed out for the evening. She chuckled at the thought that some of them actually had lives to attend to. She’d had enough of “life” though, after all the time in hiding, spent at uneventful dinner parties, school charities, and town hall meetings. After years of basically being bored by life, little excited her more than getting lost in a new case. And lost was a pretty appropriate term for where she found herself presently. She and Stabler were two of only a few left behind in the usually bustling bullpen, and after hours of scrutinizing the case, they found themselves confused over how to proceed.

“I don’t get it, we have three witnesses who saw the same man leave the residence around the approximate time of the crime, we have his DNA under the fingernails of the victim, yet you’re saying we don’t have enough to charge him,” Elliot questioned, frustration evident in his voice.

“The victim and the suspect were in an intimate relationship, and there is nothing to substantiate his presence at her residence being anything other than an afternoon rollick. So no, we do not have enough to charge him,” the prosecutor responded evenly. “What we need is a murder weapon,” Alex added

“We’ve searched his house twice; no weapon, so I would try finding some other basis to charge him,” Elliot replied irately.

“Last time I checked, finding a motive and evidence was your job detective. So maybe you should try doing it if you want me to charge him,” the blonde pointed out coolly. A tense silence filtered into the area, as Elliot quietly fumed and Alex returned to the case board, annoyed.

“I’m sorry,” the detective finally spoke. “I was out of line. I just can’t stomach the creep getting away with it. I mean, she clearly trusted him, and he violated her without a second thought.”

“I know, and I want him to go down for that just as much as you do. But I can’t make that happen without real evidence to back up the charge,” Alex stated, while wearily removing her glasses. “Maybe we should take a break. Order some food,” the ADA offered.

“Food sounds good. Reminds me a bit of the good ole’ days, minus Liv of course,” Elliot replied with a chuckle.

“Yeah, minus Liv,” Alex responded quietly. The solemn timbre of the attorney’s voice was not lost on Elliot, and he took a moment to silently regard his friend. His partner had been on a short leave during the case, taking a much deserved break at the insistence of Cragen. Since the prosecutor’s return, Elliot had noticed a subtle change in his partner. She had begun taking a harder line on cases, and immersed herself completely in a litany of work. This might not have seemed out of the ordinary, to the casual observer, but Elliot could tell she was using each case as a means of working through something else. She was almost hiding in them. As he observed the woman across from him, he couldn’t help but recognize that part of the distance likely surrounded the blonde.

“So how's it been since you’ve been back, by the way? I know we haven’t talked much, outside of each case, but I’ve been meaning to ask,” Stabler finally asked.

“It’s been okay. Just trying to get back into the swing of things, I guess. Taking it one case at a time,” Alex offered absently, having returned to scrutinizing each document.

“That’s good, but I meant…” Elliot began before being cut off by Alex. “I know what you meant, I just didn’t want to answer the question,” the blonde responded tersely. She quickly regretted the cool tone, and searched for something better to offer the detective.

“It’s just different. I was so sure I was ready to come back. I had taken so much time because I wanted to come back ready, you know. To be the same,” Alex replied softly.

“But we didn’t expect you to be the same Alex. There is no way anyone could have gone through all that and stayed the same,” Elliot responded, hoping to show his friend that they would have been there for her under any circumstance.

“I know. I guess… I guess I just was not ready to face it. All the memories, all of the question—all of it. Everything is so different now. I’m so different now,” the prosecutor offered gently, before breathing in deeply. Her next words were uttered softly, and she almost hoped they wouldn’t be heard, but she needed to say them nonetheless.

“And I just was not ready to face that… to face her,” the statement hung heavily in the air, and for a moment, she thought it may go ignored.

“Oh… Ohhh,” uttered Elliot, surprised by the admission.

“Yeah, I know,” Alex spoke shyly.

“I didn’t… I didn’t know you two were…” Stabler stated before trailing off.

“We weren’t… I mean it was never… it was never what I wanted it to be. I mean, for the most part, it wasn’t until way after that I would even admit to myself that that’s what I wanted. That she is what I wanted. You have no idea how many nights of sleep I lost after admitting that to myself,” the blonde replied. And it had kept her up—thinking about how she and Liv were and what they could have been. Wondering if the woman in question felt the same; wondering if she even thought about her anymore.

“When I came back to testify against Connors… I had myself so convinced that it was just all in my imagination. That I’d just dreamed it up in the midst of all that seclusion, but there it was. I came back, and it was all there, just as plain as daylight to see,” Alex spoke, with something akin to awe at the realization. Silence fell upon the two for another moment, Alex searching for what to say next, and Elliot contemplating how to respond.

“Maybe you should tell her,” Elliot finally settled upon.

“Tell her what? That I’m pathetically in love with her and that’s why I’ve been avoiding her for the past three years. Come on, Eliot; let’s consider who we’re talking about,” stated critically. Realizing she’d spoken the word love caused a wave of anxiety to crash over the normally composed prosecutor, and she found herself rising from her chair again, walking absently to the case board.

“I’m not saying it won’t be difficult, and it might cause some tension, but she still deserves to know. She’s been blaming herself all this time, thinking maybe if she had been a better friend, you would have still cared. You know how she is, internalizing every little thing. She doesn’t deserve to keep holding on to all that guilt,” Elliot spoke, trying to reason with his friend.

“Maybe you’re right. She shouldn’t have to hold on to all of that. But telling her isn’t going to make things any better. It will just muddle everything up—make it so we can’t ever fix this. At least now we still have a shot at becoming real friends again. Maybe that will be enough,” Alex responded, with a despairing hope clinging to her voice.

“For who: you or her?” The question crashed onto Alex with the force of an anvil, and a sedate agitation worked through her. The accusation was clear, and the recognition it brought with it was painful. “Does it really matter,” she finally forced out, only to be met with Stabler’s accusatory eyes. Yes, it does, they pronounced.

“For both of us then. It’s not like us being friends will really leave her heartbroken. I’m the one making the sacrifice. I’m the one putting her feelings first,” she stated intensely.

“Oh, that is such a cop out, and I would have expected much better from you. You’re hiding, and you’re cheating both of you out of a chance at happiness,” Elliot exclaimed.

“Well I guess after several years, I should be pretty darn good at it.” The words made their intended effect, and Stabler retreated mildly at the words. Alex found her way back to a desk, sitting across from her friend again. She knew he was only trying to help, but he just didn’t seem to understand. “And you’re acting like some grand declaration of love is really going to change things between me and Liv.”

“It could,” Elliot responded plainly.

“It won’t, at least not in any positive way. Because contrary to all the speculation, Liv is straight.” The instance the statement left Alex’s mouth, she recognized the absurdity of it, and it brought a ghost of a smile to the blonde’s face. “Or she is least still under the assumption that she is straight. And forcing her to reconsider that belief or assess any potential feelings she might have for me beyond platonic can only lead to something neither of us want.”

“A relationship,” the detective exclaimed, frustrated by the prosecutor’s pessimism.

“No. It’s me heartbroken and her confused and closed off,” Alex said dejectedly.

“I don’t think you give her enough credit,” Elliot responded.

“And I think you care too much about her to understand what this would cost me. I just got back Elliot. I mean really back. And you want me to sacrifice it all. For what? An unrequited crush?! I can’t do that.” The frustration was clear in Alex’s voice, and she didn’t understand why Elliot kept pushing the situation. There was no point in giving her hope for something that wasn’t going to happen.

“Maybe I do care too much about her, but I care about you too,” Elliot stated fervently. He paused to consider his next words, knowing they would either sway the blonde or nothing would.

“I got to be here for when she thought you were dead, and I got to see that broken, desolate look in her eyes when she thought she had lost you. I got to see her when she found out that you weren’t dead, but that you were lost all the same. I got to see how much she beat herself up over the fact that you had to lead that life. One where you were always hiding, always looking over your shoulder. I got to see her when you came back, only to leave again. I got to see her cry over the fact she felt she failed you. I got to see Olivia Benson cry over you,” he punctuated, trying desperately to force the blonde into action. His words were visibly not lost on Alex, as she felt her own tears pool in her eyes.

“And I got to stand there when she called you that first time, right after she found out that you were back. That you had been back for several months, but didn’t bother to tell us. I got to stand there while she called you, because she was too afraid to call you on her own. Because she was too damn worried about chickening out, or not knowing what to say! I got to see it all, and I’m telling you that you’re wrong! She does care, even if she hasn’t admitted to herself, even if she doesn’t realize how much. And yeah, it could be hard at first, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t know. Yeah, I care too much, about both of you, and I know that if one of you just got up the damn courage to tell each other how you feel, you could both be happy. And you both deserve that,” Stabler finished enthusiastically. He didn’t understand it, honestly. He didn’t understand why two people who clearly loved each other refused to act on it. They both were so worthy of finding happiness, yet they kept martyring themselves for a false cause.

“I… I just… I love her too much to lose her Eliot,” the ADA finally responded, desperately.

“Try loving her enough to be honest with her.” The statement struck Alex deeply. For someone who strived so hard to force honesty out of others, she really was quite bad at offering it herself.

“I don’t know,” she spoke doubtfully. She paused, sifting through the flurry of emotions that arose from the conversation.

“Maybe,” she breathed softly.

“Maybe’s a start,” Elliot responded.




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