Disclaimer: Again, I do not own any of the characters, brands name and such. I only own my active imagination, and a whole lot of free time. Review is much appreciated.

"It's ok, Alex. You're gonna be just fine. Just stay with me. You hear me, Alex?"

Olivia woke up, startled at the vividness of the dream. The words kept ringing in her ears. She couldn't silence her demons. Images of Alex lying on the sidewalk clouded her mind. She sat up on the bed and held her legs with both arms as warm tears flowed down her cheek. The guilt, together with the longing, was slowly eating away at Olivia's sanity. On the outside, she appeared to be calm and collected like she had always been. But on the inside, a part of Olivia had died when Alex had been shot in front of that restaurant that night.

I could've saved her. Olivia could not shake away the guilt, even though the logical part of her knew there was nothing to be done. The shooting that took place a year ago and the subsequent meeting with DEA Agent Hammond and a very much alive Alex replayed in her mind like a broken record. Knowing that Alex was alive brought relief to her, but it also brought a whole new set of fears. She saw the fear in Alex's eyes when the wounded blonde insisted on meeting the two detectives before the federal agents whisk her away to safety. She worried that Cesar Velez's people could get to Alex just like how they got to Agent Donovan.

"This is crazy," Olivia said out loud. She pushed the comforter aside and climbed out of bed. After putting on her sweats, Olivia headed out of her apartment and started jogging toward Central Park. It was her only refuge from the demons that taunted her.

Six hundred miles away, Katherine Smith stood on her porch, trying to catch her breath after coming home from a jog. The early morning jogs were the only times where she could be Alex Cabot and not Katherine Smith. It was a habit that she could not shake off, life in danger or not. Gone were the days when she was the feisty ADA for the Manhattan SVU. Instead, she was known as the assistant professor in the law department at University of Michigan, teaching clinical criminal appellate practice.

"Shit, I'm gonna be late!" the blonde rushed to the bathroom, stripping off her workout clothes before she jumped in the showers. Lukewarm water ran down her body as she hurried to wash off the early morning jog.

Fifteen minutes later, Katherine was on her way to work. If she had any luck, she would be able to find a parking spot and walk the two blocks to get to her office. Today's class was her favorite because she would be accompanying her students to meet with their clients. Anything that reminded her of her old life became her favorite. Going to court, writing a brief, meeting with a client in prison. They all made her heart race as she remembered her former life.

When she first arrived in Michigan, Katherine was more than grateful. She knew that another day lived was another day earned. The fragility of life was etched into her memory forever when the bullet hit her shoulder a year ago. As she walked toward her office the memories of that night came crashing back like waves crashing the shore.

"Professor Smith?" a voice prevented Katherine from reliving the horrendous moment in her life. She turned around to see a familiar figure standing in front of her office.

"What can I do for you, Miss Shayne?" she knew those words were just a front that they put up. The undercover agent posed as a student in her class, ensuring that she would have round-the-clock protection. Katherine motioned for the younger woman to follow her into the office. After making sure the door was closed, she slumped down into her chair, a habit quickly forming as these secret meetings continued to take place. "What's up?"

"I thought that you should know, Velez seems to be having some trouble lately."

Katherine cocked her eyebrow at that remark. She had waited too long for any updates on the Colombian drug lord. Without waiting for a response, the agent continued.

"Intelligence told us that it won't be long before something gets out of hand."

The tall blonde understood what the agent wasn't voicing out. That there might be a slight chance that she might be able to return to her old life, after all. Her life, her work, her Olivia.

"Ok. Anything else?" Katherine's attention was already on the file sitting in front of her. She needed to go through the case file first before she met with her students. Innocent until proven guilty, she always told her students. She reminded them that the objective of the class was not only to effectively write an appellate brief on behalf of the client but also develop essential skills for appellate advocacy.

Back in New York City, a grumpy SVU detective was making her way back to the station house after a particularly disturbing case they caught not too far from the precinct.

"Sons of bitches just never learn," Olivia slammed the locker shut just as Elliot sat down at his desk.

"Easy, Liv," He knew his partner was boiling inside, and he didn't want to be near her when she finally exploded. Uh oh, pissed off Olivia is back again. As Munch and Fin walked in, Elliot was glad. He found his way out. "Hey Munch, you got that Jackson file with you?"

Olivia knew her partner was avoiding her. She knew her misplaced anger had driven him away once again. It had been like this for a week, Olivia getting upset over a case and Elliot finding ways to stay out of her path. It wasn't like this always. She wasn't always upset. Of course, she had Alex to blow off her steam to back then. Alex. It took all of Olivia's will power to focus her attention on the report sitting in front of her and not think about the absent ADA.

Two hours and three cups of coffee later, Elliot felt it was safe to approach his partner again. He looked up from the file that he was reading and captured Olivia's distant gaze.



They both got up and headed out.

"Away with the Ice Age, and ahead comes the Big Bang," Munch quipped.

"Let it go, Munch," Fin said, slightly annoyed at his partner's nosiness. He knew Olivia was hurting, but he didn't know why. Like himself, Olivia was secretive when it comes to personal issues. He knew the death of the ADA hit Olivia worst, since both women were very close.

Walking across the street, both detectives stood in line at the deli around the corner, waiting for their turn to get lunch. After spending nearly fifteen minutes trying to get their orders, they walk out of the deli with lunch in their hands. They sat down at the table farthest away from the crowd, buying them some privacy while they enjoyed their sandwiches. After a few bites of his meal, Elliot spoke up.

"You wanna tell me what's going on, Liv?" he questioned, pausing as he waited for his partner to reply.

"Nothing's wrong, El. I'm just a little burned out, that's all."

"Don't give me that 'nothing's wrong' crap, Liv. I deserve better," Elliot kept a serious expression on his face. This is not the time to avoid the subject, Liv.

Olivia let out a sigh. She knew she would have to come clean about her relationship with Alex sooner or later to her working partner. But years of secrecy had taught her otherwise. Both detectives ate in silence while Olivia contemplated on whether or not she wanted to tell her partner the truth.

"You remember what date it is today?"

Elliot looked at the brunette sitting across him, a confused expression crossing his features. He noticed that her face was slowly draining of color. And then it hit him. Alex's shooting. He put down his sandwich, dumbfounded.

"Has it been that long?" he said out loud. He didn't yet notice the single tear running down his partner's cheek.