Olivia pushed her way through the crowd in the bar. She waved at the curvaceous red-head who served as barmaid on the weekends. She had been a little surprised by the call from Captain Polniaczek this morning asking her to meet the woman for a drink in the afternoon. The detective had a hard time imagining anyone who was married to a woman who looked like Blair Warner wanting to spend her Sunday drinking in a cop bar. Besides, from what Liv had seen at the awards ceremony, Warner was crazy about the Captain. Still,the word was the two had been together for twenty years. After that length of time, maybe things had cooled off in the bedroom department.
Which reminded Liv that things between Alex and her had cooled a bit lately, thought it was not that she desired the blonde ADA any less. Things had just gotten a little crazy at work lately. The new captain had not helped anything. Polniaczek seemed to be in the squad room around the clock and the detectives were working double shifts just to keep up with her. Speaking of whom, the detective found the aforementioned captain kicked back in a booth in the back corner sipping a beer.
Dropping onto the bench across from the other woman, Liv greeted her, "Captain."
"Call me Jo. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot of each other outside the job."
"Really?" Not sure what the woman was talking about Liv thought it better not to commit herself just yet.
"Yeah. Seems your Ms. Cabot went shopping with Blair today."
"And you think that affects me?" Liv was still being cautious.
Jo gave her a lop-sided grin. "Want a drink?" was her response.
Holding up her bottle, Jo got the barmaid's attention and held up two fingers. Looking back at the detective, she studied her for a moment before seeming to come to a decision.
"People who work together and have a relationship outside of work need to be careful."
Liv wondered if the Captain was warning her, but she and Alex were always careful.
"There's something else they need to do," Jo continued. "They need to know who their friends are. Seems Blair and Alex have known each other for years. In fact, Alex was at school with Blair's little sister, Bailey."
Liv remembered Alex talking about a Bailey a few times. They were supposed to have been roommates at some swank girl's school upstate.
"I'm still not seeing the connection here," Liv ventured.
Jo sighed but waited to elucidate until after the barmaid sat their beers on the table.
"Thanks, Jenny," the Captain murmured, which earned her a smile from the red-head. After the woman left them alone again, Jo sipped her beer. "Alright, I can't blame you for being cautious so I'll draw you a picture. Blair likes Alex, considers her a friend. Having a friend who is both from her world and understands mine makes Blair happy. What makes Blair happy makes me happy. Now, it seems, what makes Alex happy is…you."
Liv turned up her bottle and took a couple of healthy swallows. "And you know this how?"
"Because, in addition to being my wife, Blair is my best friend and tells me everything, including the fact she's had two lunches and four lengthy phone conversations with a very unhappy ADA."
Knowing it was no use to try being coy, but still not sure where the other woman was going, Liv decided to take a direct approach.
"Are you telling me you want me to tell Alex to stay away from Ms. Warner? Because I promise you she'll hand me my head if I try it."
Jo laughed. "Damn, she is a lot like Blair. No, Liv, I'm not telling you that. Blair has a lot of friends but no one really close except for our old roommates, Nat and Tootie. Their careers have taken them to other parts of the world. Nat, Natalie Green, is covering the war in Iraq and Tootie, Dorothy Ramsey, is filming her next movie in England. They'll both be gone for months. With them away, Blair has no one to bitch to about me and my job. Alex fills that role nicely. So no, I don't want you to warn her off. "
"Well, that's a relief. I guess Ms. Warner must fill a similar role for Alex," Liv mused.
"Yep. She does. I'd like to make that work for both of them. So my question to you is do you have problems socializing with me?" Jo took a pull on her beer and waited for a response.
"No, no problem. I'm not so sure it would be such a good idea if it got too public and became talk at the station."
Jo thought about it for a moment.
"Yeah, you're probably right. I'm far enough along not to care but you've got a ways to go before that happens."
"So does Alex."
"Okay, so we don't do many high publicity events but you're okay with dinners and stuff."
"That sounds good to me."
"I'll tell Blair. She was a little worried about it."
"To be honest, I've been so busy lately I didn't even know Alex was having lunch with Ms. Warner."
The Captain nodded. "First, her name is Blair, use it. Second, that's partly my fault. I didn't realize the rest of you were going to try keep up with my schedule."
"Well, you are the Captain," Liv defended her fellow officers.
"Not used to that yet. It's football season so…," Jo stopped abruptly.
"You don't like football?" Liv asked.
"No, I love football. Tell you what, you buy the next one and I'll tell you a little story. It might be of benefit to you."
Liv shrugged. Might as well. She didn't have anything else to do if Alex was shopping, which could be an all day event for the blonde. Besides, there was a certain mystery in the Captain's look that intrigued her. Walking over to the bar, Liv got the beers and threw in an order for buffalo wings to make sure she would be able to walk out later.
As she waited, she thought about what she knew about the Captain. She had to appreciate the fact the other woman was willing to put her partner's happiness ahead of her career. From what Liv understood Jo had never made a secret of the fact she was a lesbian nor who she was involved with. It could not have been easy for her. Cop shops were notoriously homophobic but even the old timers seemed to respect Polniaczek. Liv knew she had pulled a long stint in undercover and had been wounded more than once in the line of duty. She was a hardnosed, no-nonsense cop who knew how to do her job. Even Munch and Fin liked and respected her. Now that was saying something, especially with Munch. Yet, she clearly adored Blair Warner.
Sitting back down, she sat a beer in front of the Captain. "You were going to tell me a story," she encouraged.
Jo smiled and sipped her beer. "Blair and me…well, we're not what you'd think of as an obvious couple."
Liv laughed at that. "You could say the same about me and Alex."
"True. I've known Blair since I was sixteen. We went to the same girl's school Alex did, Eastland Academy."
At Liv's look of surprise, Jo clarified, "I got a scholarship. Went to college the same way. Blair and I were roommates the whole time along with Nat and Tootie."
"Damn, you have known her a long time."
"And loved her just as long. I think I started falling for her the day I met her. It just took me a while to figure it out. I wasn't always the brightest kid in town. I convinced myself I hated her and we fought constantly. Nat says it was our own brand of foreplay and she's probably right."
The detective couldn't help grinning. "Alex and I subscribe to the same brand."
Green eyes lost focus as Jo looked back over the years. "I'd never seen anything like her. Clouds of silky golden hair, perfect skin, enormous brown eyes and this disdainful, privileged attitude. I loved her on sight and hated her on principle."
Liv nodded. Yep, just like with Alex.
"It took us a long time to get together, but we did. Eventually, we had our own place. Both of us worked long hours. I had a tendency to flake out on the couch on Sundays. Drink beer, watch football, that kind of thing."
Sipping her drink, Liv wondered where this was going as Jenny sat the food on the table along with two plates. The detective noticed the warm way the red-head smiled at the Captain.
"Here you go. Get you anything else, Jo?" the woman asked.
"Nah, I'm good. I'll be right back," Jo excused herself and headed for the back where the restrooms were.
The barmaid's eyes followed her retreating figure and then turned her attention back to Liv.
"Can I get you another?" she asked.
"Not yet," Liv smiled.
"You know Jo long?"
"Not really. We work together."
"I figured. I've seen you both in here but never together. Can I ask you something?" The woman seemed hesitant.
The detective had a feeling she knew what was coming next. "Sure."
"She seeing anyone?"
"Yes, she is."
Jenny sighed clearly disappointed. "Figures. She's really beautiful."
"Yes, she is." It was true so Liv had no trouble agreeing.
The woman's eyes widened as if she realized something. "Oh, damn. You two aren't…I mean…you and her?"
Liv laughed. Boy, that would be the mismatch of the century. "No, I'm definitely not her type."
"I wonder who is," Jenny mused.
"You got a newspaper?"
The woman stared at Liv like she might be a little crazy. "Yeah."
"Get it and I'll show you."
Intrigued the red-head hustled over to the bar and was back in a moment with the day's paper. Liv took it and pulled out the Social pages. Knowing Alex and Blair had attended a benefit last night, the detective felt sure a picture of Blair would be featured. She was right. On the front of the section was a very nice picture of Blair and Alex talking to the Mayor. Tapping the picture, she turned the page so the woman could see.
"That's Jo's wife."
The red-head studied the picture of the two women, one in red, one in black.
"Shit, she's gorgeous. No wonder Jo doesn't notice anyone else. Who's that with her?"
"That one keeps my attention." Liv realized it was the first time she'd admitted that to anyone but she had not said the feeling was returned so she felt safe with the semantic.
"So what are you two doing here?"
"I'm wondering that myself," Liv admitted.
Jo slid back into her seat and reached for a wing. Jenny excused herself taking the paper with her. Liv grabbed a wing and waited while Jo chewed and swallowed waiting for the Captain to resume her story.
"The thing about Princesses is they need a lot of attention," Jo began, "and if they don't think they're getting it they find a way to."
"I've noticed that about Alex too," Liv admitted.
"Those two are a lot alike," Jo agreed. "We are too, which is why I'm sharing this. Blair decided football was not an 'appropriate use of my time'." Jo finger quoted that last part causing Liv to snort the beer she was drinking.
"That sounds just like Alex."
"So the next Sunday she's sitting on the other end of the couch flipping through one of those rag mags of hers."
"Rag mags?" Liv asked.
"Every few minutes she's asking when halftime is gonna start. I was about ready to kill her."
"Damn, that would have driven me crazy too."
"So finally it's halftime. I get up to get another beer. When I get back Blair is gone. I'm thinking finally I get to watch the game in peace. I just get comfortable and Blair comes back."
"She start in again?"
"You know the summer practice jersey's the players wear?"
A little thrown by the change of topic, Liv nodded. "The thin white ones with all the little holes."
"Yeah," Jo grinned. "She'd changed and that was all she was wearing."
"Damn, those things are practically transparent," Liv had a sudden picture of Alex wearing one.
"So they are and Blair had her own idea of appropriate halftime activities. Princesses aren't above using their feminine wiles to get what they want. Over the years she's made herself a nice little collection of those shirts. If I get to working too much and opt to spend my free time watching games she goes shopping for a new one."
Finishing her beer, Jo glanced at her watch. "Yep, just enough time to make the kick-off." Jo rose from the booth and clapped Liv on the shoulder. "I'll see you Monday, Detective. Have a good evening."
Liv watched her walk out waving to various officers she knew. The detective sat for a few moments. She had the feeling there was a message in this for her somewhere. Long work hours, football games, jerseys and shopping. They'd all been working long hours lately in the squad. Alex went shopping with Blair today. The two had spent a lot of time talking lately. Her eyes widened as things went "click." The picture of Alex in one of those jerseys forming in her mind again, Liv bolted out of the booth and ran through the bar. Exploding out the door, she was yelling for a cab before she even cleared the sidewalk.
Monday morning found the detective sitting at her desk attempting to complete a report. She squirmed in her chair trying to ignore the soreness and exhaustion of a Sunday well spent. Her lips curled in a slight smile. It had definitely been worth it and she was willing to bet there was at least one blonde princess in this city that was having an even harder time sitting at her desk.
A large cup of coffee descending in front of her brought her attention to the Captain who was sitting on the corner of her desk.
"Thought you could use this," Jo commented. "You look tired."
Sipping the coffee, Liv sighed in pleasure.
"Mmmm. Seems Alex is starting her own collection thanks to a healthy dose of butch wiles," Liv grinned.
"Bless those butch wiles," Jo quipped toasting Liv with her own coffee cup.
They both looked up as Liv's partner, Eliot, walked in.
"Hey," he greeted them. "I had a sick kid yesterday. Anyone know who won the game?"
Liv gave Jo a conspiratorial wink. "We did."
The Captain laughed all the way back to her office.