It's not that she doesn't love him; that's precisely the problem, but she can't stand his constant looks, his newly founded quiet demeanor, or the fact that she doesn't trust him anymore. She hands Broyles the request who to his credit, doesn't argue or protest, just sighs heavily and nods. She leaves his office without a word and doesn't look back.

/

She has a whole new apartment and a whole new wardrobe in a whole new town. She smiles, thinking about how no one has slept in this brand new bed of hers. The only thing she doesn't change is her cell phone number: just in case she argues.

/

Her new partner is a woman, which surprises Olivia to a certain degree. She's sure that it violates some FBI rule somewhere, but "bodies are hard to come by these days" is the explanation Paul gives her before introducing the two together.

"Hi. Erica Evans."

Olivia stretches out her hand, nodding. Erica looks exhausted and has several scratches and fading bruises on her face. "Nice to meet you," she says as Erica takes her hand and shakes it firmly. Erica doesn't glimmer, no one, no object in this office does. It makes Olivia smile.

/

"You've been briefed on the Visitors?"

"I have been and I've read all of your reports too. It all just seems... crazy to me."

"What? Miss Parallel Universes thinks that Space Invaders are crazy?"

"I suppose there are crazier things out there." Olivia rolls her head towards Erica, who glances at her sideways with a mischievous grin. "Just drive the car."

Erica laughs, which makes Olivia laugh too.

/

"Who are these people?"

"They're my... informants."

"On Fifth Column?"

"Yes. Let me do the talking."

They eye her carefully, the three men in this concrete basement. One, a priest, greets her with a warm smile, while the other two watch her carefully from opposite sides of the

room.

"Are you sure we can trust her?" one whispers to Erica who doesn't answer right away.

"I can save us all some trouble and find out now..." the other sharpens his hunting knife carefully, never taking his eyes off of Olivia.

"Hobbes," Erica warns; it doesn't stop him.

She figures it all out fairly quickly and she wonders if this was her test.

/

"You could have told me."

Olivia has her arms crossed tightly over her chest, pacing about Erica's kitchen.

"I... I didn't know if I could trust you."

The explanation doesn't help and Olivia doesn't respond. She leaves without another word and Erica says nothing to make her stay.

/

There's a coffee sitting on Olivia's doorstep the next morning with a note stuffed inside the sleeve. She reads it and smiles despite herself, making her way over to the black SVU parked across the street.

"For a second I thought you were going to leave it."

"For a second, I did too."

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you, Olivia."

"It's fine, really, it is. I understand why you didn't."

Erica nods. "We're going to go meet some other Fifth Column. I want to get familiar with some of our... techniques."

"Oh, so today's the day you're going to teach me the secret handshake?"

"It's a good a day as any."

/

Erica was right about her aim; Olivia misses the seeker bomb entirely and it costs her. She's hit, knocked off of her feet, landing in a pool of her own blood. She hears a noise from behind her and the smell of smoke permeates the air.

"Hey, hey."

She's lying with her head in Erica's lap as she strips off her shirt and bunches it over Olivia's chest wound, trying to sop up the outpouring sticky red that slowly sucks Olivia's life away.

"I've already lost two partners, Olivia. I'm not about to break in another one."

She smiles, weakly and tries to say something but suddenly there's too much blood in her throat and she coughs it up, all over Erica's chest.

"Hey, take it easy."

"Okay, Mom."

And her world goes out.

/

She wakes up, however many hours, days, months later, to a pair of bright blue eyes that light up like fireworks in the night sky when she comes to. Erica squeezes her hand and Olivia squeezes back.

"Hey there."

"Hey," she croaks, somewhat horsely. She rubs her forehead with her free hand. "What..."

"You're alright. You're going to be alright," Erica places her other hand on Olivia's arm, stroking it reassuringly.

"I guess I owe you a thank you."

"No. No you don't. You're my partner, Olivia. You don't owe me anything."

Olivia smiles, enjoying the gentle pressure that Erica's hands make on her arm.

"How about a coffee?"

"That," Erica said grinning, "I might take you up on."