Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
'It's Always Been You'

Disclaimer: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters associated with it belong to Dick Wolf and NBC. Not mine, I don't claim them.

Summary: Post-Lead (10.15) episode. Alex is back. But has too much time passed for her to reclaim what she and Olivia once had? Alex/Olivia pairing.

Reviews Welcome, but please be nice.

Olivia knew she was coming before she heard her. It wasn't the heels so much, although they were a dead giveaway, but it was pretty hard to hear the heels from the other side of the door. Olivia just knew. She hung her head at the strong, purposeful knocks. With a sigh she walked over to the door. There was no point in pretending not to be home. Alex knew her better than that. She took a deep breath and opened the door.

She didn't reach Alex's eyes as the blonde walked into the apartment. She closed the door behind Alex and went back to her spot on the couch.

Alex looked around the apartment. It was new, different from the apartment that always came to mind when she thought of Olivia. That place held memories of late night dinners, cuddling on the couch, night spent . . . Alex shook her head. She couldn't think about all the memories Olivia's old apartment held. It was too painful knowing she would probably never get to experience moments like that again. It had been three years and she said nothing. "Olivia-"

"What have we got?" Olivia said, repeating Alex's earlier words when they first saw each other. "Are you kidding me Alex?"

Alex looked down. Now it was her who couldn't meet the other woman's eyes.

"Three years Alex? I can see three weeks, three months, but three years?" Olivia tried to hide the hurt in her voice, but there was no use. The hurt was too strong, too fresh. "Alex we were together for…" She trailed off. "You know what, it doesn't matter anymore."

"Yes it does Olivia."

Olivia shook her head. "No it doesn't."

"It does to me."

"You got a funny way of showing it."

Alex looked back down at her feet. She deserved that one.

"And then you show up at a crime scene and expect everything to be fine. It's too late Alex."

Alex knew Olivia wasn't okay with how she had handled things. The only conversation she had had with the detective since they first saw each other at the crime scene had been necessary, work related. And that 'You really are back' comment in court had stung. The minute the case was closed Olivia bolted out of the courtroom as fast as she could hoping that she wouldn't have to talk to the blonde any further and that when she came back to work they would have a new ADA. She took a few steps closer to the brunette and sat down on the chair next to the couch. "Olivia I never meant to hurt you."

Olivia chuckled and nodded, staring straight ahead as she took another sip of her beer. "Why?"

Alex shrugged. "I can't answer that"

Olivia turned her head toward Alex and looked deep into her eyes. "Try. Don't I at least deserve that?"

"You deserve so much more than that Olivia. That's the problem."

"I will decide what I deserve if that's alright with you Counselor."

Alex looked at Olivia and her heart broke. "I don't know." She began, answering Olivia's question. "I thought about it, I wanted to. But every time I heard your voice on my voicemail, saw your name pop-up on my collar ID, every time I picked up the phone and started dialing your number . . . Do you know what it's like to see someone's face every time you close your eyes?"

Olivia looked over at Alex with tears in her eyes. "I think I do."

"Yes, but Olivia I . . ." She got to her feet and paced around the small space in front of the coffee table. "I knew where you lived. I knew where you worked, I knew your cell phone number, your home number, I knew your e-mail address, hell even your screen name. I knew every way to contact you, but I couldn't."

"Do you think its any easier pretending that the person you love most in the world is dead? But knowing that she's just out of your reach?"

Alex stopped dead in her tracks. That was it. The glimmer of hope she had been hoping for three years still existed. "I didn't contact you when I got out because I was scared. Olivia I loved you so much it hurt and I spent a good part of my time in witness protection in physical pain because it hurt so much. If I contacted you or answered your calls and found out you were involved with someone I would not have made it. I stayed away from you and Elliot and everyone else so I could still hold on to the hope that you would still be waiting for me when I got back. That there was still hope for us."

Olivia took a minute to take everything in, ignoring the tear that made its way down her cheek. "When you came back for the Connors trial . . ." She trailed off. Thinking about it broke her heart. "You were the one who said you were involved with someone. Not me."

"I lied Olivia."

"What?" Olivia looked at Alex, more tears spilling down her cheeks. "Why?"

Alex took a second to wipe her own face free of tears before she sat back down. This time on the same couch Olivia was sitting on, but on the opposite side. "Because I wanted you to be happy. If you thought that I moved on then maybe at least one of us would have been able to."

"I haven't moved on Alex." Olivia said so low Alex was almost sure she was hearing what she wanted to hear, not what was actually being said. "Did you really think I would be happy without you?"

"I couldn't expect that you would wait for me Olivia."

"And then instead of calling me or stopping by the station when you got back you-"

"I did nothing I know." She paused. "While I was in the program you were the only thing that kept me going Liv. You, and the idea of us even if it was only an idea. I told myself that if I ever got out I wouldn't waste anymore time. We danced around each other for years Liv before we did anything about it. I did not want that to happen again."

"So you didn't do anything for three years. It didn't take us that long the first time Alex."

"This is hard for me too Olivia. You're not the only one who lost someone. I lost you too. I lost you, I lost my job, my apartment, my family, my friends. I lost who I was, my name, my mother died. . . When I came back everyone and everything was different. I couldn't take it if you were different too."

Olivia shrugged. "I am different. A lot has happened since you've been away Alex."

"I know. And I don't think I can ever tell you how sorry I am that I waited three years to talk to you. I had to find myself first. I didn't even know if the old Alex Cabot still existed when I got back. I had to figure out who I was." She shrugged. "Find out where I fit in the world. You fell in love with Alex Cabot, I-"

"I fell in love with you." Olivia interrupted softly. "Not your name." Alex looked down as a fresh tear ran down her cheek. "What if McCoy hadn't asked you to take the case? Would you still be here talking to me right now?"

Alex opened and closed her mouth a few times, but nothing came out. "Things happen for a reason Liv-"

"Don't give me that Alex." Olivia got off the couch and put some distance between her and Alex. "What was the reason you were shot Alex? Or taken into witness protection? Because I fail to see a reason for that." Alex looked away. "I prayed for you everyday Alex. And I don't pray. I prayed that you would be safe. That Valez wouldn't find you. That you would be happy. I went to your gravesite."

"I'm sorry Olivia. I am so sorry."

Olivia nodded and made her way over to the door. "Me too." She opened the door, clearly asking Alex to leave.

Alex stood up, but stayed right where she was. "I am not leaving until we talk about this."

"We've talked."

"Olivia I still love you!"

Olivia stayed there by the open door for a few moments before she closed it. "This isn't fair Alex."

"Just answer one question and if the answer is no I will leave and the only other contact we will have will be at your choosing, your discretion." She took a few steps closer to Olivia and waited until chocolate brown eyes met her own crystal blue. "Do you still love me?"

Tears welled up in Olivia's eyes as she crossed her arms over her chest. "I never stopped Lex."

At the sound of her nickname new tears sprang to Alex's eyes. It was surprising given her name, but only one person had ever called her Lex or Lexie and that was Olivia. To everyone else she was Alexandra or Alex or even occasionally Al. But Lex was all Olivia. She smiled. "I haven't been called that in years."

Olivia took a few steps closer to Alex. "I've missed you Lex."

Alex would have run into Olivia's arms, but she didn't know where they stood. A lot had to be going through Olivia's head and she wouldn't blame the detective if she needed some time to process everything. She settled with taking a single step closer to the brunette. "I missed you too."

Olivia saw Alex's body tense before she settled for taking a single step. "What are you thinking? Right now?"

Alex swallowed the emotion welling up in her throat. It was hard to imagine everything she had been scared to even talk about for the past three years was standing within her reach and she had wasted three years because she was too scared to simply pick up the phone. "It's been so long since I've been in your arms Liv."

Olivia looked at Alex with so much love in her eyes it caused the emotion Alex was trying so hard to hold back to spill over. That look told her everything she needed to know and she knew. This was her and Olivia. They had been through too much to hold back now. She ran into Olivia's arms and held her with no intention of ever letting go. "I am so sorry Liv. I messed up."

Olivia wrapped her arms as tightly as she could around the blonde in her arms. "Yeah you did. But it's you Alex." She pulled back and wiped Alex's tears away with the pads of her thumbs. "It's always been you."

A/N: Corny ending? Yeah, but it fits. Review if you like!