Disclaimer: All characters from Law & Order SVU belong to Dick Wolf and NBC. I own nothing.

AN: I've taken a little liberty with the timelines of seasons 10-14 as well as cannon, but hey its fiction right? I'm horrible at writing sex scenes so I don't. I will leave most of that up to your imaginations. I think yours will be better than mine anyway. This is an A/O story. If that isn't your thing, you won't like this. I have no idea know how long this will be. I'm just trying to brush up on my writing. Let me know what you think.

Chapter 1: Partners

Detective Nick Amaro knew that his partner, Detective Olivia Benson, still looked at him as the new guy and technically she was right. He was still getting to know his new partner… and boy, she did not make it easy. Getting something personal out of this lady was harder than breaking into Fort Knox. He'd heard a few whispers and a couple of rumors here and there. Some said that she was some sort of saint that walked among mere mortals, while others looked at her with a little suspicion. The tenure of a sex crimes detective was about two to three years. Benson had been there for over thirteen. Anyone who had lasted in the Special Victims Unit this long had to have a few hang ups, right? Yet, as a detective, Nick Amaro knew better than to make assumptions. He'd always believed that every person had a purpose. Maybe this was Olivia Benson's purpose in life. However, this still didn't make it any easier to get to know her. Yet, as the months had gone by he had to admit that he thought he was making progress. He now knew how she took her coffee and that she'd made it a point to know how he took his. She seemed considerate like that. He knew she was very intelligent. He'd witnessed her speaking in at least three different languages while talking to witnesses. Not to mention, she'd held her own around their ADAs when politics were the topic of choice and talked circles around John Munch and his weird ass conspiracy theories. She seemed to know a bit about everything, but didn't broadcast it. He knew she was street smart and seasoned. She had as many connections on the street as Odafin Tutuola and that guy had been in Narcotics a while back.

Olivia Benson had been doing this job for a long time and it was clear from the way she knew how to handle every victim differently and just how far to push a suspect in an interrogation. It still threw him a little how easily she could change the texture of her voice for any given situation. That kind of knowledge only came from experience.

Nick Amaro thought of himself as a damn good detective, but he had no problem admitting that Olivia Benson was one of the best he'd ever seen on the job. In the time since they had become partners, he'd never seen her as anything but solid; that is… until today. Something was definitely up with his partner and he was curious about what it could be.

Olivia stared down at the text message for what seemed like the millionth time since it had appeared on her phone. She blinked several times to make sure her eyes were not deceiving her.

"I'm home. I would really like to see you. May I take you to dinner?"

There were several thoughts running through her mind at the moment. First, Alexandra Cabot had just sent her a text message. Second, said message was grammatically correct. 'Leave it to Alex Cabot to refuse to text speak like a normal human being.' The thought almost made her smile. Third, Alex was home, back from the Congo and had asked her to dinner. So here she sat, two hours later and she had yet to respond. All she could do was stare at the fifteen words in the little bubble on her screen.

To be honest, Olivia didn't really know how to respond. A part of her was thrilled that Alex was back, safe and sound. There had not been a day that had gone by when she did not think of Alex, worry for Alex. However, there was a part of her that was still angry… and a little hurt that Alex had left in the first place… left her once again.

Olivia glanced at the screen and read the words once again and sighed deeply. When would she finally get over this? It had been years of this… "thing" that she could not put a name to; years of them being in and out of each other's lives. She started to calculate the time in her head. Alex gets shot and whisked away into Witness Protection, only to return two years later for the Conner's Trial. It would be another two years before Alex was able to come home for good. Then there was the bazaar period of time that Alex had been back in the city yet avoided everyone from her past and seemed to become some sort of pod person planted by the government… according to Munch that is.

Running her fingers through her hair in frustration, she slipped the phone back into her pocket, turning her attention back to the same DD5 she had been working on for the last hour. Some things would never change. Apparently, Alexandra Cabot would always have her tied in knots.

"Hey Benson, everything okay over there?" Nick finally asked.

Olivia blinked and lifted her eyes to meet her partners. "Uh, yeah… why?"

"Well… because you've been working on that same five for like an hour." He smirked as he leaned back in his chair linking his hands behind his head. "And I'm pretty sure that it's upside down."

Olivia glanced down and noticed that he was right. She rolled her eyes and quickly righted the form. "I guess I'm just a little distracted today. I don't know where my head is."

"I'd say it's on whatever is on your phone. You know the one you keep pulling out and staring at." He said with a small boyish grin.

Olivia had the good nature to blush. Even she had to admit that her partner was a cutie. There had been a time in her life when she might have been interested in a guy like him but she wasn't that person anymore. She just liked him because he really was a good guy.

Seeing the change in his partner's demeanor, peaked Nick's attention and he sat up and leaned on his desk in her direction. He deliberately lowered his voice so that only she could hear him. "I got your back, Benson… whatever it is."

Olivia smiled slightly. Nick Amaro was almost the exact opposite of her old partner, Elliot Stabler. Nick didn't demand to know what was up. He didn't feel the need to try to protect her like she was some helpless damsel in distress. He respected her skill as a cop and knew that she could handle herself. He just wanted to make sure that she knew that he had her back. Although she often missed the closeness she'd once shared with Elliot, there was something refreshing about this new partnership. Yep, she hated to admit it, but Nick Amaro was growing on her. It was because of this that she did something that she usually never did. She opened herself up about something other than the job.

"I just got a message from an old… friend. They've been away for a little while and now they're back. They asked me to dinner."

Nick knew this was big. Olivia was an extremely private person. She rarely shared anything, especially anything about her personal life. He knew he had to tread carefully or she would clam up.

"So… I take it this dinner would be like a date or something?"

"Yes… No… I mean…" Olivia seemed to struggle. "I don't really know… what it would be."

Seeing Nick's confusion, she sighed in frustration. "This person and I have never really had that kind of relationship. Our relationship is… complicated."

"And by complicated, you mean…"

"I don't know. I never really know where I stand with he… um… them."

Nick smirked as she stumbled over her words.

Nick had been a detective long enough to pick up on the subtle things that most people missed. There was usually only one reason a person played the pronoun game. He wasn't into gossip, but he'd heard a few whispers passing the water cooler. There were more than a few women around the precinct and the courthouse that checked Olivia Benson out on a daily basis. It was kind of hard to miss even if his partner was completely oblivious to it. Apparently, they thought of her as some kind of lesbian wet dream. He gave her a quick once over and he could see where that came from. She had the smooth leather jacket, stylish snug pants and tops that showed off the impressive killer body, and the gun and badge that gave just the hint of danger. But those things were also the same reasons most of the guys would drool over her as well. Yes, Olivia Benson was definitely easy on the eyes. Just because he was married didn't mean he was blind.

He bit his lip, silently praying that she wouldn't have his balls for what he was about to say.

"Women can be that way." He said evenly as he pretended to work on his paperwork. "You should know that since you're a woman too."

Olivia's eyes snapped up to meet his. "What? I…I never said anything about it being a… a woman."

"You didn't have to." He shrugged his shoulders casually and grinned. "I'm a detective. I know things."

Considering what he'd just insinuated, she should have been angry about his assumption, but oddly enough she wasn't. There was something about that casual boyish grin of his that seemed to put her at ease. She found herself shaking her head and grinning back.

"And what exactly do you think you know, Detective Amaro?" She smirked as she stressed the word detective.

"I know that whoever sent you that message is most definitely a woman. Only a woman could tie someone up in knots like that."

Olivia narrowed her eyes at him in a mock glare. They had a stare down for a few seconds before he was the first to blink. He laughed a little holding his hands up in surrender. "And… my sister also happens to be gay. Before she actually came out, she used to use the word 'they' all the time when she would talk about the person she was dating."

He waited as she sat in silence for a moment. He was worried that he'd pushed a little too much.

"I'm not gay." She said quietly.

He nodded his head ready to apologize and let it go when she continued.

"But… I'm not exactly straight either."

"So…"

"So, I'm just me. I date who I like, you know?"

He breathed a little easier, glad that he had not offended her. "And… I'm guessing you like this woman."

"That would be a safe bet."

"So, what's the problem? She must like you. She asked you to dinner."

"Like I said. It's… "

"Complicated." He added with a smile. The both laughed softly.

Olivia bit her lip. She couldn't believe she was sitting at her desk having this conversation so easily with her new partner. She would have never been able to talk like this to Elliot. There was always just too much… stuff (religion, expectations, feelings)… there between them.

"Like I said before, we've been friends a long time and I never really know where I stand with her."

Nick nodded as he stood from his desk stretching out his stiff back. He pulled his jacket off the back of his chair and slipped it on. "Maybe that dinner would be a good way to figure that out." He gave her a soft pat on the shoulder as he passed by. "I'm making a run. I need some real coffee. I'll get your usual."

"Thanks, Nick." She said realizing she was thanking him for much more than the coffee.

After a few moments of contemplation, she pulled out her phone and tapped the screen. She typed out a quick three-letter response to the message that had haunted her all afternoon.