Olivia was driving herself mad. The sexual innuendo, the one she wasn't even sure had been intended as one, but she had asked if that's what it was? She shouldn't have. Because now it kept her occupied, had ever since the previous evening. She was overthinking it way too much, she knew; and she couldn't remember when she had dwelled on the question to have or not have sex so much in her whole goddamned life. Even her first time at age sixteen had been a rather quick decision making process. Stupid as it was, Olivia was this close to making a pro and con list.

There was a lot to go down on the pro side. First of all, she hadn't had sex in a year. A year! She hasn't gone that long without in her entire life so far. And Carrie had hit the nail on the head four months ago, when Olivia had first wanted to refuse going out with Tom, saying she must be terribly underfucked. She was. At this point she'd give a leg for an orgasm, even a tiny one, just as long as it actually involved another person. Which also answered the question if she wanted to. Hell yes, she wanted to. She had known Tom for four months, had gone out with him, had gotten to know him. There was more than just a basic level of trust by now and Lord knew she's slept with men much sooner. Men she hadn't known nearly as much about. Men she found less attractive. While she usually didn't drop her pants on the first date, second or third was usually the one, and she was so past that with Tom.

But.

With him everything was different. Had been from the start. None of this whole dating experience with him could be compared to her past dating history or relationships, certainly not those of the past five, six years. There had been David, and while she hadn't planned on sleeping with him the night it actually happened, he had kind of charmed her pants right off of her. He was comfort, and he knew it, too, because during that time she was still trying to come to terms with Elliot's leaving. Not that she hadn't been interested in David Haden. There had been something about him that had made her heart flutter in an instant.

Then there was Brian, of course. And that had been easy, because although it had been more than a decade ago, they had been there before. It happened as soon as Cassidy had been discharged from the hospital. His Doctor probably would have frowned upon it but then again Olivia had done all the work. There was minimal risk involved for Brian and it had definitely spiked his healing process, at least that's what he had claimed with a mischievous grin afterwards.

After Brian there had been two one-night stands, something she wasn't proud of, but what was a woman to do? It was just enough to keep her sane.

And finally there had been Ed Tucker. A few drinks and conversation had led her to make a decision, namely if she could get over the past and partly get over herself. Eventually she had decided not to hold a grudge, and when he had extended a dinner invitation to her, she had agreed and allowed him to bed her that same night. Truth was, she had been a little drunk.

Obviously she wasn't known for taking her time and really getting to know a guy inside out first. But yes, things were different with Tom. Right from the get go everything had been so, so different.

For one she was nervous. Of course she wasn't a stranger to nerves when it came to first time sex in a new relationship. It was always exciting and accompanied by some insecurities, but she had never been overthinking it this much. Olivia had always been open to simply letting things play out, see how it would go. This time? Not so much. She felt like she needed to make up her mind before showing up at his place.

Then there was still the fact that she hadn't yet talked to him about Lewis. And she wouldn't, at least not in detail. But the scars were too obvious to not notice, and she wondered if it was going to be fair if she didn't mention anything before he'd take off her clothes. Her biggest worry was that he could think they were self-inflicted, followed by him feeling turned off upon seeing them. Olivia questioned herself if she would want a basic explanation beforehand, but the truth was that she wouldn't make a big deal out of it. But that was her.

She remembered her conversation with Lindstrom, how he had said she didn't need to tell a potential new partner about them if she wasn't ready. Maybe that was the route to go. Not mention anything beforehand and wait it out, see if Tom was going to ask about them at all. If they would dim the lights, maybe he wouldn't even notice too much of it. But the fact that she was completely torn apart over it - the big to tell or not to tell - didn't change. And neither did the to have or not to have sex.

...

An intimate sugaring later - and Jesus, it really hurt after she's not gone for a couple of years - Olivia felt as prepared as she could be. Her legs were cleanly shaven, she was showered. She had opted for a dress but after putting it on and off two times had ultimately decided on a pair of jeans and a light blouse. Being comfortable for a movie at his home had won over looking stunning. She put one of her favorite perfumes on, Eternity by Calvin Klein. By the time Lucy showed up, Olivia was good to go. Checking her appearance one last time, she stood in her bedroom, taking a deep breath. Then a thought hit her, and she lost some of the inner balance she had tried hard to contain. Condoms. Should she bring one? She had once seen a box in his medicine cabinet, but what if they had by now expired? She couldn't know if they had been in there for years or had been a recent purchase. Did she even have any? She stepped closer to her nightstand, opening the drawer. Rummaging through it she found plenty of crap and an empty condom wrapper, surely a relic of bygone times with Ed. She made a mental note to buy a new box at her next stop by the drugstore.

In the past she used to have protection on her but usually it hadn't been necessary. And if his mind worked anything close to Olivia's, Tom would definitely have made sure he had condoms around his place. She should relax and not interpret it as some kind of sign the universe was sending her.

Again, she inhaled deeply and closed her eyes to keep the emotions, mainly the insecurity and irrationality, from spinning. Tom wasn't a careless person. The thought was comforting.

Olivia's time to leave was approacing. She really would have to get her ass in gear if she wanted to make it to Tom's apartment until eight. The streets would be busy as always, she would be lucky to hail a cab around this time when it seemed that every single person in the city was going somewhere, be it a date or dinner, or whatever else normal people were up to after a long day. Finally ready to get on her way, Olivia left the bedroom, smiling at Lucy who mimicked her expression.

„Well, I'll be on my way then. I'll probably be… late tonight." Olivia wondered if she was an open book and had just given her plans for the night away. But what did it matter if her nanny knew she had a sex life? Lucy wasn't secretive about dates, either.

„Alright. Have fun. You look gorgeous, by the way," the other brunette complimented.

„Thank you, Lucy. I'll see you… later then."

„Yeah, later," Lucy smiled, watching Olivia take her keys and walk out the door.

...

„Five minutes late, I was getting worried," Tom chuckled as he opened the door, looking at Olivia who, as always, looked incredible. Dark jeans, a forest green blouse and he couldn't help but notice that her hair was slowly growing out again since she's cut it three months ago. Although her hair did look lovely this way, he had decided he had liked it best when it was longer, just the way he had gotten to know her.

„I know, I'm sorry, traffic was crazy and I've dawdled a little," Olivia admitted, stepping into the apartment, instantly welcomed by Tom with a hug and a soft kiss as he closed the door. His hands fell onto her back and something about them felt different. Maybe it was the way he touched her, as if there was a different motivation to it or his attitude had slightly changed. Olivia's eyes closed briefly as she kissed him back, lips attaching to his for just a couple of seconds.

Yes, this was definitely going to be the night. There was something in the air that was telling. Like the both of them have been stripped of any pretenses about what this was between them. While his kiss was gentle, a sweet hello to welcome her, it was also full of confidence and… want? Olivia opened her eyes as Tom slowly pulled back, smiling at her. She could tell that the beard has been trimmed, and although it had taken her some getting used to when she had first seen it on him, it was now really starting to grow on her. She also liked the way it felt against her face whenever he kissed her.

„You look absolutely gorgeous," Tom told her, leading her further into the room.

„Thank you," she said politely, suddenly realizing she didn't bring the wine. „Shit. I forgot the wine," she told him, sounding annoyed over it.

„No worries, I've got some," he assured. „I haven't ordered the pizza yet, I wasn't sure if you really wanted pepperoni."

„Pepperoni would be great." She shrugged out of her jacket and followed Tom to the kitchen as he retrieved a bottle of Merlot from one of the cabinets. Olivia got two wine glasses, feeling comfortable enough to get things from his kitchen by now. „Had a good day?" She asked him, watching as he uncorked the bottle.

„Lazy one. You?"

„Packed. Errands, Noah," she said with a soft sigh, adding in her thoughts ‚getting my hair ripped out where it hurts the most'. „A normal Saturday."

Tom listened, wondering if Noah's father was in the picture at all. Olivia had never mentioned him, he was sure of that. Neither had Noah, he now realized. „Does he stay with his Dad sometimes?" He asked, trying to figure out what the dynamics were and hoped he wasn't putting his foot in his mouth. There were a few possible scenarios. The guy might live somewhere out of state, or simply show no interest in his child. Maybe they had parted on bad terms. Or maybe Noah saw him sometimes but simply has never talked about it because he wasn't as much of a presence as his mother. He stepped closer to her, filling the wine glasses.

„There is no father," Olivia said truthfully, as it dawned on her that she had never talked to Tom about how she became a mother to her son. „He's adopted. I went through the whole process on my own, I wasn't with anybody at the time who could have taken an interest in being involved so… it's just us." Olivia had never tried to keep it a secret, it simply hadn't come up, and in the end it didn't matter that she was not Noah's biological parent.

In the middle of all things that Tom had imagined a possibility, this one came as a total surprise and he had never even considered it. In fact there were even moments when he thought he could see Olivia in Noah's face. Funny how wrong one could be simply by assuming. Looking at her he figured she could see that this was not something he had expected. „Wow. I had no idea. That's… That's great, actually. And shows just how much you must have wanted this to take this on all by yourself."

He was even more amazed with her now. Sarah and him had gotten their share of information about adoption and the process wasn't easy, leave alone the chance to be considered by the birth mother. What were the odds when it came to being chosen as a single, working woman? Maybe that was why she became a mother so late in life. It couldn't have been a fast or easy road.

„Yeah, well… actually he was a bit of a miracle that I had never seen coming before I took him home," Olivia admitted, talking about it fondly. None of it had been an ordinary experience. „I've always wanted a family, a child. About ten, eleven years ago, I was thirty-seven, I heard the biological clock ticking away and… I never met the right person to have children with. So at that point I applied for adoption with three different agencies. Two turned me down instantly because a single woman with my kind of job, no support system? They pretty much said that in their eyes I am not a suitable person to raise a child. From the other one I never even heard back." At the time Olivia had been devastated. It had felt like the only time and chance to be a mother in this lifetime and it had stung to hear two agencies agree that she was not the kind of mommy material they were looking for. Of course Olivia had known that her chances weren't nearly as great as those of couples applying but it hadn't been fair to be treated like she wasn't able to give a child what it needed. She wondered if she should share more, but at some point, if things were going to work out, he'd find out. Couples talked about things that influenced their lives after all, even if they involved former partners. „Five years later I was in a relationship with a former co-worker that I've met again through work after… thirteen years I think. We were involved for two years, living together… I had sort of given up on ever having children. Except I had a pregnancy scare, I guess. I mean, it wasn't that much of a scare for me, but it was for him because he didn't… he liked kids but not for himself, you know? Until I took the test I had envisioned this whole new life with him and a potential baby. I took the test that night when he got home and as it came back negative he was relieved, I was… acting like I was relieved but deep down I was shattered. I still wanted this. We broke up soon after that when I asked him if he'd want children with me, grow old together. He never used the word no but… we both knew that this was it." Olivia slowly picked up her glass and took a sip of wine as she was reminiscing. Her and Cassidy had ended, and maybe deep, deep down she had always known that it wasn't going to last forever, but still they had good times. „He felt best about our relationship when things had been easy, we each had our own places, we'd get together when we wanted to see each other. That was him. And I thought maybe it would change. So after that relationship had ended…," she continued, leaving back against the counter, shortly breaking eye-contact with Tom who was listening interestedly. „…I thought that it had been my last chance at motherhood. And then I found Noah, on the job, as we were working a case. It wasn't even about him but there he was, just a baby, a few months old. He went into the system, went through different foster homes, was always given back, physically abused as it turned out later. There was something about him, the circumstances how we have basically stumbled upon him? I went to every hearing concerning his case and the judge must have noticed. And one day at a hearing she suddenly said that I seemed to be the only person who was taking an interest in this child and if I wanted to foster him with the option of adoption. He's… my miracle. I went to foster mother ready to apply for adoption within a second. Literally."

„I… I honestly don't know what to say. That is a miracle," Tom said, almost stunned to complete silence.

„Yeah, that was my reaction," she laughed softly. „They were getting the paperwork ready and it were just a couple of hours and I sat there just waiting and I couldn't wrap my head around it but there had not been a second of doubt there for me. It was crazy. I attended a hearing midmorning the one day and took a baby home the next day. Mind you, I had nothing. I was completely unprepared and going crazy that they'd visit and do find me unfit to foster him. My co-workers helped me with the most important purchases, the gifts were unbelievable. Car seat, crib, bottles - God, I had no idea how many bottles I would need. It was like someone had left this child at my door. And it's been hard. There was so much going on, I had moments where I honestly thought they wouldn't let me adopt him. And his whole backstory - that's something I'm going to tell you about another time… it's just… sometimes I still can't believe how this has all worked out for me."

„He's lucky to have you, Olivia," Tom said softly. The way she talked about this experience, the look in her eyes that held her heart in them, it moved him. And for the very first time in his life he realized that blood probably didn't matter. Olivia clearly couldn't love Noah more if he were hers by biology.

„I'm lucky to have him. He is the best decision I've ever made. And I don't know if… I never was sure about God, you know? And then Noah happened and I'm probably not the firmest believer but, I think he was meant for me and came at the right time. I don't feel like it was pure luck or coincidence."

„If that's the way you feel, then there's something to it," Tom said, sliding one arm around her middle and kissed her temple. Her scent was intoxicating, but more than that he was intoxicated by the fact she had confided in him about the most important person in her life and the struggles she had to endure to get where she was today. With everything Olivia had told him, this conversation had held by far the most detail yet. He knew she grew up an only child and that it had been just Olivia and her mother. She had never told him why, though, no mention of her father at all. There was a half-brother who obviously hasn't grown up around her. From what he could remember Olivia hinted that her mother didn't have it easy, but she had never elaborated on the matter. It could have been any number of problems. But today she had let him in on a major part of who she was and it was probably the greatest progress they have made so far. To him it meant that Olivia was truly starting to trust him.

„Sounds odd, I know." She sounded apologetic, not wanting him to think she was an idiot.

„Not at all. It sounds perfectly reasonable to me," Tom assured. Her journey to motherhood was anything but ordinary after all. „Would you have decided the same way if you had still been with your ex?"

„Probably," she snorted. „I guess it would have come down to me asking him for a decision, to either go or stay and raise this child with me. He couldn't have been right for me if he had denied me that one and last chance at motherhood. And I couldn't be with a man who wouldn't want to be involved in Noah's life either. He's been through so much in his life already, someone who only wants me has no space in our lives," she shrugged, once more making that clear, all the while looking Tom square in the eyes to see if he was following.

„That's understood," he said softly, reaching for her hand. „I knew that from the very start, Olivia. I want you just the way you are, full package, child included. I've said it before and nothing about it has changed." While it was scary there was not a single doubt in Tom's mind. Surely it wouldn't always be easy but he was in a bit of an equal dilemma Olivia had been through. His only chance at fatherhood was either finding a woman who was willing to go through an adoption process with him, or someone who already had children and was allowing him to take on a fatherly role, which wasn't the same as fathering a kid or being listed in the legal documents, but he imagined it would be enough. It wasn't clear in what capacity Olivia would want a man to be involved in Noah's upbringing, obviously that was to be seen. He would discuss the matter in the near future, because it would be crucial for the both of them to see if their relationship could continue on.

For a moment Olivia didn't respond, she even tore her glance off of Tom, taking a moment to let the words sink in. He had said it before, but a couple of months ago it had been all very hypothetical for her. This time around the conversation seemed more serious and real, like it actually mattered for the future. She felt Tom's hand stretching across her back reassuringly and she allowed herself to lean a bit further into the soft touch, her body relaxing after a boost of nervous energy. It had been of high importance to her to set the scene once more. As soon as this relationship was going to get serious - who was she kidding, even now - Noah was part of the deal.

„Okay." The word was merely a breath, the sound so small that Tom could have easily missed it. His fingertips gently rubbed across her back, the material of her thin blouse allowing his skin to move effortlessly.

„How about you take the wine and I'm going to order the pizza? Sound good?"

„Very," she smiled as Tom effectively distracted her mind from the discussion and let her focus on something as mundane as food and drinks. Or the movie they were going to watch. Picking up both glasses, Olivia headed to the living room and got comfortable, hearing Tom place the order over the phone. Taking another small sip of Merlot, Olivia had to admit she was a little proud of herself for sharing something monumental. She could have easily let her explanation end after sharing the fact that Noah was adopted, instead she had spoken verbosely, going all the way back to when she had first taken action in terms of trying to become a mother. The only other person she had entrusted with that information had been Elliot and her shrink, so to Olivia this one was big.

Huge.

Confiding in people, especially about the struggles she's been through in her life, was not something that came natural to Olivia. Even Carrie was unaware of most of the hardships she had faced growing up or dealt with during adulthood. While the blonde was Olivia's best friend - she no longer counted Elliot at this point -, she was unaware of Olivia being a product of rape, or the fact her mother had been an alcoholic. The one she had deemed to shocking to share with someone who wasn't working in the same field and the other… well, it had been plain embarrassing. What happened with Lowell Harris in the basement at Sealview had never even been mentioned because up until Olivia had fat PTSD she tried her best at being in denial about it. And then there there had been Lewis. She had admitted to Carrie about the kidnapping but had summed it all up by saying the guy had roughened Olivia up a bit. It was the biggest understatement of the universe. An actual lie. But despite giving her (partially false) statement to Fin, Cragen and answering to IAB about it, Lindstrom had been the only person she had ever discussed it with, and it was very likely going to stay that way. Olivia had outright refused to talk to Brian about it and in retrospect that circumstance hadn't exactly been healthy for their relationship. He had clearly wanted to know, but Olivia had rather bottled it all up inside between therapy sessions. Thinking back that had been when it all started to fall apart. Their decision to move in together hadn't been the result of their deep connection and love. Olivia has had no place to go. Her apartment had been a crime scene at first, and Lewis had left the place upside down. The place had reeked of hard liquor, burnt flesh and despair, there had been blood in her carpets, and destroyed furniture. Most of all there had been memories that could only been described as terrifying. The place would forever be haunted. Moving in together had seemed like the next logical step, although prompted by the situation. Neither Olivia nor Brian would have suggested shacking up anytime soon if it hadn't been for William Lewis crossing Olivia's path and taking a sick liking to her.

Talking about her desire to become a mother and sharing about Noah's adoption had been a huge step for Olivia. She was opening up, and wanted to keep trying. For herself. And for Tom.

...

To be continued