The Man behind the Screen

What was she doing? Olivia Benson had worked cyber-crimes in the past, and she'd seen what had happened to her captain. She of all people was aware of the risks. Olivia Benson also understood her captain's need for companionship. She was approaching forty-five years old, after all. Her biological clock was running out. If she ever planned on having a family, she needed to act fast. She longed so much for love. Anything was worth a shot.

She sat on her bed with her laptop that night she created her first legit online dating account. To online daters, she would be known as "Apple Pie." She wasn't very creative with usernames and had taken the delectable dessert's name from the sign in her kitchen. Safety first: she did not want to reveal her real name to the public.

She uploaded a recent picture and sat stupefied at her profile, trying to find the perfect words to describe herself. First things first, she did not want to reveal that she was a police officer. If she were targeted by a bad guy, she did not want to give him a red flag.

Her fingers trembled as she filled out her 'about me' section, being careful not to reveal too much personal information.

I'm a career-orientated, strong woman who's still looking for "Mr. Right."

She looked at the line she'd written and was satisfied with how she'd described herself. There was no better way to describe herself. Sure, she could write an essay for the stalkers to read, but she decided against it.

Next, she decided to answer some match questions so the website could pair her with men who might be potential matches.

"What kind of questions are these?" she muttered out loud, reading the third question that came across her screen:

How often do you masturbate?

That was a personal question that was no one's business, if you asked her. She skipped the question. No stranger needed to know that she relieved herself of sexual tension every night before bed. That was between her and her body.

What's worse on the first date? No physical attraction or nothing to talk about?

Well, they were both pretty damn bad. How could she choose just one? She selected no physical attraction. At least if there was nothing to talk about and they were physically attracted, she could just jump in bed with him and all their problems would be solved.

As she thought that, she felt like a slut.

Divide your age by 2. Have you slept with that many people?

"Damn," she said to herself. They were going to make her count? She was positive that she had not slept with at least twenty-two men. She found herself counting just to make sure, though, and let out a sigh of relief when she realized she'd truly only had sex with nine men in her entire life. She hadn't even reached double digits! Hopefully she wasn't forgetting anyone.

She proudly selected no.

"Congratulations, you've answered 10 match questions!" read on the banner at the top of the page, and Olivia was tired of answering questions for the night. She closed the laptop and set it on her nightstand. She ran across the room to turn off the lights and crawled back into bed, ready to relieve herself of the day's stress.

Olivia didn't have time to check and see if she'd received any messages on the website before going to work, so she figured she'd sneak a peek at her inbox on her desktop at work. She was first to arrive in the squad room that morning, which was a normal occurrence.

She scrolled through her inbox, impressed with the amount of messages she'd received. There were ten messages, and nine of them simply read something along the lines of "Hey" or "Hey sexy" or "U r hot." She found those messages profoundly annoying and pointless, thus she skipped over them. Where was she supposed to go with that type of message, anyway? If the men weren't going to make an effort to initiate a true conversation with her, then why should she bother?

Only one message stuck out. The man's username was "LostandHopless".

Hey, there. I don't suppose a beautiful woman like yourself would be interested in me, but I thought I'd take a shot at messaging you. I'd love to chat more. Feel free to look over my profile and if you want to give me a chance, feel free to message me back!

She clicked on his profile and immediately was disappointed when she noticed he did not have a profile picture. Nonetheless, she wasn't going to completely shut him out because of this fact. After all, she was hesitant to post her photo online. There were so many creepers out there, and it was not hard to download a photo off the internet. The idea of some stranger having her photo on his computer freaked her out. Surely, there were just as many creepy women out there, too.

Olivia immediately jumped to his 'about me' section:

I would describe myself as an honest, hard-working guy. I've been divorced for almost a year and want to take a hand at this 'dating' game again. Please don't let this turn you away. I'm a father, so keep that in mind if you're interested in me. I love my kids to death and have joint custody with my ex. I'm being upfront about my situation because I figure if you message me knowing my background, then you're truly worth my time. If you want to see a photo, just ask. I don't want my ex-wife to know I'm here.

She swallowed hard, hesitant to reply. The man was divorced, so that should be a red flag right away, right? Then again, she was in her mid-forties. It would be hard at this time in her life to find a man who hadn't been through at least one divorce in his life.

And he had kids. Surely, the same applied. She wanted to be a mother, but she had never considered what it would be like to be a step-mother. What if the children hated her? Was she prepared to deal with that?

Despite her hesitance, she went back to her messages and began typing into the message box.

Hey there. I was wondering if you could send me a photo so I could see what you look like. Thanks!

As she the send button, she looked up to see Nick Amaro standing behind her computer screen, staring directly into her eyes.

"Whatcha doin', Olivia?" he inquired, sipping on his morning coffee.

"Just checking my email," she said quickly, closing her web browser as Nick walked behind her, heading toward his own desk. She couldn't help but notice him glance at her computer screen. She moved her mouse over the email icon and double clicked.

"Oh, really?"

She could not help to notice that Nick was suspicious, but what she did in her personal life was none of his business, nor was it anyone's in the precinct. She'd been intently looking at the screen and he'd surely noticed that her email wasn't open yet. He was inclined to be suspicious.

Olivia decided would just have to be more careful about checking her online account at work. Olivia did not want to hear her colleagues' opinions on where she chose to find dates.

Don, John, Fin, and Amanda all walked into the precinct together. Olivia was set for a day a long day on the job. In the back of her mind, she would be wondering if LostandHopeless had messaged her back. Maybe she could peek at her messages later.

Author's Note: Like? Hate? Let me know! This idea just randomly came to me while I was procrastinating. By the way, the questions used were taken directly off OKCupid. Rated T for now, may have to raise later. Depends what I feel like doing. (: (PS: Anyone else hate the fact that M rated stories are automatically hidden by the site? There needs to be an option to make them visible by default!)