When Olivia learned that Langan was her attorney she got queasy. She hated this man with everything and now he was her legal advocate.

"You have some very generous friends," Langan mentioned as he was getting ready to leave.

"What do you mean?" Olivia asked, looked up at him.

He adjusted his tie, "You're partner paid most of your bail and the bane of my existence swallowed her pride and paid my retainer and the rest of your bail."

"The bane of your existence?" Olivia raised an eyebrow.

"Tall, blonde, great legs and a glare that turns people's hearts to ice," Langan smirked.

It suddenly clicked for Olivia, "Alex?"

"Yup," Langan nodded, "No if you'll excuse me, I have some other client that don't have preferential treatment in holding cells." He nodded to her, "I'll see you at the trial."

When Elliot picked her up, they were walking out of the jail and Olivia mentioned, "I can't believe you mortgaged your house."

After Cragen chased her out of the precinct, Olivia knew she had to swing by the DA's office before going home.

Olivia timidly stepped into Alex's office after standing outside for the better part of five minutes trying to figure out what to say.

Alex looked up, "Can I help you detective?"

Olivia watched the blonde, water her., "I wanted to... Uh thank you for helping me out today."

Alex shrugged, "It was no problem." She looked down at the paper in front of you. "My replacement should be worked out over the next week. I'll be transferred back to appeals when it goes through."

Olivia suddenly felt like a huge ass for filing that request. "Is there anyway to stop that request?"

Alex looked at Olivia and studied her. A subtle shift of her mouth told Olivia she was still in deep shit. "Don't think that me helping you was just a ploy to get you to renege the request. I wasn't even thinking about that. If you can't trust me and I can't trust you perhaps we shouldn't be working together."

"You've done nothing to deserve my distrust and I'm sorry I was ready to throw you under the bus in the last case. You were doing your job and when it looked like we weren't going to anything to protect you, you had to protect yourself." Olivia took a deep breath, "You've worked with us for a long time. We shouldn't throw years of trust away because you've been gone for a while. We've all taken you for granted since you've been back. I'm sorry. We're just not used to anyone keeping a close eye on us anymore. Lately we've all gotten sort of out of control."

"I accept your apology and I'd like to say I'm sorry for jumping off last case. Sonja got to me, even though I know how she's been since before I left but... Since I've come back this job is all I have left. My old life is gone. My friends have changed... I've changed. The only thing that hasn't is the criminals in this city. I love this job and it's all I've got in the world," Alex looked at her fingers as they tapped her desk before looking up at Olivia.

"That's not true," Olivia paused, "You've got me."

A small smile graced the blonde's face. "Thank you detective."

"You can call me Liv. We are friends."

Alex raised an eyebrow, "Are we?"

"Yes and we're going out for a friendly dinner tonight," Olivia stated, putting her hands in her pockets.

"I wish I could but I'm going to dinner with…," The last part was mumbled and incomprehensible.


Alex took a deep breath and let out, "If I say his name I may vomit."

The brunette chuckled, "Then I'll take you for a drink afterward. You'll need it after a date with Langan."

"How did you know?" Alex asked, leaning back in her chair.

"Elliot told me. And I owe you so big for that," Olivia smirked.

Alex nodded, "You do. Really." She smiled at the smile on Olivia's face.

The detective nodded, "Drinks are on me tonight."

Alex smiled, "Okay. I'll call you after get out of my…appointment with Langan."

"Great," Olivia nodded and sniffled.

The blonde eyed Olivia, "Are you going to be okay?"

"I'm just getting over the flu," the brunette nodded.

"Well, if you don't feel up to it, we can go out later," Alex reassured Olivia.

She put her hand on the door knob before answering, "I'm sure I'll be fine."

The ADA didn't seem to be convinced. She just nodded and watched Olivia linger at the doorway. "We'll see."

"I'll be fine," Olivia repeated. She smiled and rolled her eyes at the scrutinizing eyes of the blonde, "Call me no matter what time it is."

"Alright," Alex nodded, "I will."

"Have fun on your date," Olivia teased.

"Bite me," Alex deadpanned.

Olivia laughed, "Maybe later. I'll see you later."

"Bye," Alex called after her.

Just as she expected, she hated her date with Langan. Had it been anyone else in the entire world, it wouldn't have been a decent date, but everything about Langan annoyed her. This was her second date with him and every little thing made her want to ditch her heels and run out the door.

Luckily, Langan said he was paying for dinner and had picked a five star restaurant so she decided to take advantage of it and be the most expensive date possible. After all, defending criminals paid three times as much as prosecuting them.

When she finally got to say goodnight, it was almost eleven. Alex unzipped her dress and picked up her cell. She hesitated to call Olivia because it was so late, but she did promise to call so she was going to.

After she stepped out of her dress, she dialed Olivia. When Olivia answered she smiled because of the groggy stuffed up voice she answered with.

"You sound terrible," Alex stated as she took her heels off.

Olivia rubbed her eyes and sat up on the couch where she had dozed off, "I just dozed off. I took some medication and it made me tired. I'm fine now."

"You don't sound fine," the blonde started digging through her drawers for something to wear. She caught sight of herself in the full length mirror, her lilac lingerie was wasted on a date with someone she wasn't at all interested in. She tried to figure out how long it had been since she had gone on a date with someone she was truly interested in. It was before she went into witness protection which meant years. It took a moment for her to realize that Olivia had said something.

"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Alex said into her phone.

Olivia repeated what she said, "Where are we meeting for drinks?"

"No where," Alex stated.

"Why?" the detective asked.

"You're not feeling up to it and drinking with your medication could put you in the hospital," Alex stated, pulling on some jeans, "What do you have in your refrigerator?"

"What do you mean?" Olivia asked.

Alex chuckled, "I mean, open your refrigerator and tell me what's in it."

There was a shuffling on the phone and Olivia's voice saying, "Well there's shelves."

"That's it?"

"No," Olivia answered, "I have a tomato." There was a pause, "And it is cultivating penicillin."

"Jesus Christ Liv," Alex couldn't help, but smile, "What's your address?"

Olivia rattled off her address then asked, "Why? Are you picking me up?"

"No," Alex stated, "I'll be over in about an hour. Go back to sleep."

"Wait, no…Alex?" Olivia asked into her phone, but Alex was already gone. The detective fell back onto her couch and looking around her living room where she'd been living for the past few days. There were tissues and blankets everywhere. There was a line of take out boxes on the coffee table. She laid down on the couch for a moment just to rest her eyes before picking up her apartment, but she instead she fell asleep.

A knock on her door woke her up. Olivia didn't remember Alex was coming over when she stumbled to the door and leaned on the wall next to the door to unlock it. When she saw Alex with two paper bags in her arms, she froze. "Hey Alex."

"You look like hell," Alex smiled and floated in. She went to the kitchen and put the bags down on the counter.

Olivia closed and locked the door. "I was really going to clean up before you got here, but I fell asleep."

"Don't worry about it," Alex smiled sweetly, "You can go back to sleep. Your dinner will be ready in half an hour."

Olivia walked to the kitchen, "What dinner?"

Alex started getting things out, "The one I'm making."

The detective raised an skeptical eyebrow, "You can cook?"

The blonde looked at Olivia with a look that said did you really just ask that?

"I didn't mean it like that," Olivia chuckled.

Alex moved around the kitchen like it was her own. "I know. Now go lay down."

Knowing that it was no use to argue with the attorney, Olivia leaned on the counter, "Thank you Alex."

"It's no problem," Alex smiled back, "Now go lay down. After dinner I got you some flu medicine that will knock you on your ass, but when you wake up you'll feel great."

Olivia walked to the living room and fell on the couch. She didn't feel like sleeping, but she didn't feel like moving either. So she reached for the remote and turned on the TV.

The show on the TV was just a jumbling of colors in front of her. She couldn't quite focus on what was going on. She was listening to what Alex was doing in the kitchen. The sound of Alex stirring something gave her an idea of what the blonde was making.

The stirring stopped and there was some cabinets opening and closing. Then the blonde appeared at her side with a class of water. She set it on the coffee table while Olivia watch. Alex started picking up the trash around the living room.

"Alex you don't have to do that," Olivia sat up.

Alex looked at Olivia, "I know, but I know you don't feel like cleaning and I feel fine."

"You've already done way too much for me," the brunette sighed.

The blonde paused and studied Olivia before speaking, "You do so much for everyone else, it's about time someone did something for you. And that's it. No more arguments."

Olivia chuckled, "Okay. Fine, but I'm taking you out sometime."

"I'll hold you to that," Alex told her as she went back to the kitchen. She returned with a bowl of soup and a box to flu medicine.

"Eat that," Alex handed the bowl of soup to Olivia. Then she set a box of flu medicine on the side table, "Then take two of those."

"Got it," Olivia nodded and breathe in the soup, "This smells amazing. What is it?"

"It's something like chicken soup," Alex moved around the living room picking up a blanket from the floor and taking it back behind the couch.

After she was done with the delicious soup, Olivia took the pills as directed and was almost immediately asleep.

Alex moved around the apartment cleaning and straightening everything. She had always been a neat person so the cleaning was second nature. She just started and saw something else that needed to be done and something else and something else. Before she realized what she was doing, she had cleaned the whole apartment top to bottom.

She put her jacket back on and slid her keys into her pocket. After covering Olivia with a blanket, she walked out the door, silently.

As she floated into consciousness, Olivia waited for her head to start pounding or her breathing to be labored or her sniffles to come back, but none of them did. She opened one eye, then the other and sat up. She felt fine. Then she remembered that Alex had been there when she fell asleep. She stood and looked around, figuring she wouldn't find Alex.

Light was coming through her windows so she figured she had slept through the night. Her suspicions were confirmed when she looked at her watch on the couch table. It was almost eight in the morning.

Since she was feeling much better, she decided to get out of the house and find who framed her for murder.

As she passed the kitchen to get to her bedroom she slowed down and saw that the kitchen was spotless. She detoured into the kitchen and opened her refrigerator to find Alex had put the leftover soup and some other food in there. Then she looked in her cabinets and found more food. She smiled at the ADA's kindness.

Then she walked to her bedroom and saw that her bed was made and all the dirty clothes that were on the floor were in the dirty clothes hamper. The dinner she was taking Alex out for was going to be really, really nice.

Alex stared at a pretrial motion. She had read it multiple times, but she couldn't see the defense's angle and that was a big part of her prosecution strategy. She could usually tell exactly what the other attorney was going to say before she even stepped foot in a courtroom. She sighed and leaned back in her chair, closing her eyes.

There was a knock on the door a few seconds later.

Alex put on her professional front and sat up straight, "C'min."

Her secretary stepped in with a file Alex had asked for. Alex thanked her and opened the file as her secretary stepped out. Not ten seconds after her secretary left, Mike Cutter stepped in. The EADA cleared his throat so Alex would know he was there.

Alex looked up and raised an eyebrow, "Mike. Something I can do for you?"

He was holding a piece of paper in one hand. He scanned over it, "This is a formal request for a change of ADA by Detective Benson with Special Victims. I know I told you that you'd be transferred back to Appeals, but we just don't have that kind of latitude right now. I suggest you make friends with this detective because you'll be stuck with Sex Crimes for a while. We're in a hiring freeze and when it lifts we may be able to get you out of there if you wish."

"I don't think that will be necessary, but thank you," Alex answered.

"Okay, good," Mike nodded. He dropped the request on her desk, "Good luck." With that, he walked out and closed the door behind himself.

Alex tenderly picked up the request. It hurt her a little to read it, but she couldn't stop herself. She was so focused on reading that she didn't hear the door open.

"Busy?" Olivia's voice asked.

Alex looked up, "Just reading." She put the request down on the desk.

pOlivia could see from where she was standing what it was. She took a deep breath, "Who do I need to talk to, to make that disappear?"

"Don't worry about it," Alex leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs, "There's a hiring freeze so they couldn't move me anyway."

"Thank god," Olivia sighed, "I'm so sorry about that."

"It done," Alex ran a hand through her hair, "How do you feel?"

"Great," Olivia smiled and stepped farther into the office, "I really owe you big time for what you did in my apartment. And now that all the charges against me have been dropped you can have the money you put up for my bail back."

"That's great Liv," the blonde smiled for the first time that day.

Olivia looked at her watch, "So how about I take you out for dinner tonight? Unless you have another date with Langan."

Alex checked the clock on the wall behind Olivia and saw it was well past six, "I will never date him again as long as I live."

Olivia laughed, "Good."

"I would love to go to dinner though," Alex looked over her desk. She cleaned it considerably by putting a few files in her desk and locking them.

Alex drove them to the restaurant because Olivia's car was in the shop being repainted. As they walked in, there a menu board standing next to the door announcing the Thanksgiving Special.

"Is it almost Thanksgiving already?" Alex asked Olivia as they were being lead to their table.

Olivia nodded, "In two days."

"Hmm," Alex thought and picked up her menu.

"What are you doing for Thanksgiving?" Olivia asked off handedly.

"I'm going to order take out and watch Matlock reruns," Alex offered with a shrug.

Olivia lowered her menu to look at Alex, "You're not going anywhere?"

Alex shook her head, "Nope. Just me and Matlock."

The detective smiled, "Why don't you come to my apartment for Thanksgiving? We can order take out and watch reruns of Colombo."

"Matlock?" Alex raised an eyebrow.

Olivia made a face like she smelled something gross, "Colombo is better."

"That's debatable," Alex chuckled.

"You think everything is debatable," Olivia retorted. She looked at her menu, "But we can debate it when you get to my apartment at noon on Thursday?"

"I'd be honored to join you and Matlock for Thanksgiving," Alex smiled.

Olivia laughed fully and nodded, "Fine. Matlock. You win."

"You give up too easily," Alex leaned on the table and sipped her water, "I was thinking we'd get as far as thumb wrestling before you caved."

"If I wasn't so hungry I would have argued all the way to Greco-Roman wrestling," Olivia smirked.

Alex took another sip of her water, "What a shame. I look good in spandex."

Olivia giggled, "Wait until after dinner, maybe we could find an empty gym and two spandex suits."

"I'll have to pass on that," Alex picked up her menu again, "I have two days off this week and I don't want to be sore when I'm sleeping late and watching hours of infomercials."

"You've finally learned how to relax?" Olivia asked.

Alex raised an eyebrow.

Olivia clarified, "Before you left, you never relaxed. Even on your days off we found you in your office."

"Well I have a lot more time on my hands in witness protection," Alex explained, "If I didn't learn to relax I would have gone insane."

"What did you do in witness protection?" the detective asked, "If you don't mind me asking."

The waiter walked up to their table and smiled politely. They both ordered and Alex looked thoughtfully at her water. "You know about my first job as a claims adjuster. When I went back for a while I was a corporate attorney. I made an obscene amount of money. Most of it went to charity. I kept enough to buy an apartment in Manhattan. After that I was a professor of criminal law at a state university." Alex paused and looked at Olivia, seeing that she was rapt. "Then for one school year of hell I taught high school English."

"Wow," Olivia watched a multitude of emotions run through Alex's eyes. Her face was neutral, but her eyes, to someone who knew how to read her, would always giver her away. "Did you have to change identities every time you moved?"

Alex nodded, "From Emily to Jenny to Kate to Allison."

"Wow," seemed to be the only thing Olivia could say. She couldn't imagine losing her whole life like that and having to start over whenever some government agent told her to.

Alex fell silent after that. She didn't really want to talk about witness protection anymore. She never wanted to even think about it again.

Olivia sensed this and stopped asking questions. She just looked at Alex. She seemed different than she was before she left. It was probable that witness protection had changed Alex. Something about her eyes seemed confined and something seemed wild.

They ate in silence for a while before either of them spoke. Olivia offered an apology for bringing up Alex's time in witness protection.

"It's not a problem," Alex spoke slowly and evenly, "I'm sure my sudden return has raised a lot of questions. After dinner, I'll take you back to your apartment and you can ask anything you want about the time I was gone, but after that…I don't want to talk about it."

"You don't have to answer-" Olivia started, but Alex interrupted her.

Alex smiled gently, "You have a look in your eye like you don't know me sometimes. You're a detective. You want to know how and why. Just ask me after dinner and we'll get it out of the way. Feel free to pass the information on to your colleagues."

"Thank you," Olivia nodded, knowing that the offer Alex was putting on the table was going to be extremely difficult for her.

Dinner passed pleasantly after that. Olivia paid the check and Alex drove them to Olivia's apartment.

Alex took a deep breath as they sat on the couch and looked at Olivia, "Do you mind if we open a bottle of wine?"

The detective shook her head and walked to the kitchen. In her newly reorganized cabinets she pulled out a bottle of wine and poured two glasses. When she returned with them, Alex looked extremely tense.

"You don't have to-" this time all it took to cut Olivia off was a look. The brunette nearly laughed at herself for stopping mid-sentence because of a look from the younger woman.

After Alex had drained half of her glass rather quickly, she looked to Olivia. "Do you want me to just start talking and you can asked questions in between or do you want me to just answer questions?"

"You can start telling me what happened," Olivia offered.

Alex nodded and took a deep breath. Then she took another one. "You know about me being a claims adjuster named Emily. After that I was Jenny the corporate attorney in Dallas. It was by far the least terrible job in the least terrible city in my time in witness protection. Dallas isn't as big as New York, but it's close. I actually started to like it there before I had to move."

"Did you meet anyone there?" Olivia asked.

"Like romantically?" the ADA asked to clarify.

Olivia nodded.

"No," Alex shook her head, "I haven't dated anyone since before I came back to New York to testify."

"Except Langan," Olivia added to lighten to mood.

It worked and Alex chuckled, "If you keep bringing that up, I'm never telling you anything again."

"Fine," the detective smiled, "Continue."

"I did make some friends though," Alex looked out the window that looked right across the street into another building, "They were nice, good people, but the whole time I kept looking over my shoulder. When I would walk down the street I would look at all the faces around me. When someone would look at me, I would this 'this is it, they found me'. Then the U.S. Marshals showed up at my front door one night telling me I had to move. My apartment was cleaned out in a matter of hours."

Olivia reached over and touched Alex's hand that was resting on her knee. It was a small gesture and Alex appreciated it, drawing strength from the brunette.

"Then I became Kate the professor," Alex shrugged, "I got paid to talk for three hours a week. The TA did all the work. But I had way too much time on my hands. It made me paranoid. I'd hear creaks in the night and freak out. I still do that sometimes. I couldn't take it anymore so at the end of the semester I told the Marshals I saw someone that recognized me. They didn't ask questions. They just moved all of my things to Chicago where I became Allison the high school teacher. That kept me relatively busy so I was able to keep my mind off of my situation. I didn't go out much though. When they told me that Velez had been killed in a raid I didn't immediately leave for New York like I thought I would. I stayed in my apartment in Chicago for about a month or so before I had gained the courage to come back."

"Do you regret coming back?" Olivia asked carefully.

Alex looked up as she thought. Then she looked back at Olivia when she spoke, "I did for a short period of time. I didn't feel like I could ever be who I was before. So I thought that moving to a different city would be better, but in the end I'm glad I stayed."

"Where there ever times when you wanted to just say screw it and come back before Velez was killed?"

"Oh yeah," Alex nodded, "Every second of every day. I even went so far as to booking a plane ticket back before one of the marshals talked me out of it. I dreaded waking up everyday and I hated my life. Sometimes I'd feel so out of control, I'd just lay in bed and cry for days."

Olivia's heart broke for Alex, "That's terrible."

The blonde expelled a breath and shrugged, "It happened and I can't change it."

"I wish I could have," the detective swallowed hard, "If I would have been faster…"

"No," Alex shook her head, "You couldn't have done anything. I couldn't have done anything. I've gone over it a million times in my head and I'd do the same thing and make the same choices I did before."

There was a thick silence settling over them. Neither one knew what to say.

Alex looked at her watch, "It's late, I should go."

"You don't have to," Olivia offered.

The blonde forced a smile, "I have an early meeting tomorrow."

"You okay to drive?" the brunette asked.

Another sad smile crossed Alex's face, "My alcohol tolerance has grew exponentially in witness protection. I'll be fine."

Olivia frowned at the fact that Alex did so much drinking in witness protection, but she'd asked about it later. She hoped the blonde wasn't following the long sad path her mother had taken.

They both walked to the door and Alex looked at Olivia, "Thanks for tonight. It was nice."

"We'll have more fun Thursday," the detective smiled, "I promise."

"I'll hold you to that," the ADA stood in the doorway.

Olivia took a chance and moved in for a hug. Alex seemed to relax into her. There was something calming and securing about Olivia's arms that she hadn't felt in years.

"Noon on Thursday?" Alex asked one last time with one foot out the door.

The older woman grinned, "I'll be here."

With one last fading smile, Alex walked out of the apartment and down the hallway.