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Bare

TITLE: BARE

AUTHOR: Adrienne Lee (Oct 24, 2004)

DISCLAIMER: The usual: femslash; borrowing Dick Wolf’s characters; reserving applicable copyrights etc. Katie Tolliver’s from Eppy 65: Competence; alluded to Eppy "Angel". Lyrics from "I wanna be loved by you" and "Lucky Star" used without permission.

RATING: R

SUMMARY: More pieces of the puzzle, more revelations in -- A conversation between two hearts, on two separate days, over one weekend. Continuation of "Ghost".

1a. Alex

Here we are, in your little studio. Who am I this time? Olympia? Lady Godiva? If you do another Madonna and Child we’re going to find you a therapist. Don’t think George or Maggie C can help you this time.

Maybe I’m Venus, and our babies are Cupid and some random cherub. Who’s who? Are they even in the painting?

I think I like it better when you sculpt. At least then I can see what you’re doing. I can see you, and the concentration on your face. Sometimes your nose itches and you try so hard not to scratch; sometimes you’d forget and leave a smear of mud on your face. Then you’ll remember I’m probably watching you, and grinning at you; and you’ll blush, or stick your tongue out at me, or blow me a kiss...

Now, all I see is the easel and the back of the canvas. If I squint, from the slight dent on the fabric and the location of your elbow, I think I can see where you’re putting down the next stroke. Damn it, I want to see what you’re painting!

"Stop fidgeting." From behind your work, you scold, your voice teasing.

"I’m not," I protest. How did you know? You haven’t looked at me in the last ten minutes.

"Shhh… You’ll wake Livvie." Softly, you remind me. "I can feel your impatience all the way here."

1b. Olivia

Here we are, in my studio. Me NAKED. Naked in MY studio. When will I ever learn to keep my damn mouth shut? Now I have to share my sanctuary with you. I’ll have to keep it clean and neat and tidy for you. Who’d ever heard of an organized artist, one who’s not sloppy to some degree? Now I have to be one, just for you.

I’m still waiting for you to ask if you could turn my old bedroom into a darkroom. You know I’ll put up at least a half-assed fight. I don’t know why I still bother. We both know, sooner or later, I’ll cave. If I were a cave, I’d be a certain deathtrap for any and all spelunkers. Heh. I’m so funny, I kill me.

Oh, who am I kidding? I love sharing my space, my stuff, myself, anything I have with you. Especially, myself. Besides, you are my sanctuary.

I wanna be loved by you, just you and nobody else but you. I wanna be loved by you alone. Pooh pooh bee doo…

Did I just hum it out loud? Judging by the look on your face, I must have. Ooops. I’m such a hopeless mush ball around you. I know it, you know it, the whole fucking world knows it. Why do I even bother hiding it? I just hope you’ll keep me forever. "I wanna be kissed by you, just you, and nobody else but you…"

Oh, you’re putting down your camera, and coming over, with that smile on your face. Are you going to kiss me? Maybe we can do something about the desire part, too?

Maybe once I have your undivided attention, I’ll even get you to explain to me what Sheela-na-gig’s about, besides the Irish Mother Earth part. What’s with you about me being Mother Earth anyway?

2a. Alex

Anyway, where was I? Oh, our babies. Can you believe Alexis is already reading by herself? What are we going to do when she gets older? She’s going to be smarter than both of us, I’m sure. Maybe I should have been careful with my wishes.

Although I do wish for Livvie’s hair color to stay the same; and I hope her eyes will lose the blue soon. Have you noticed the brown specks in the gray these days? Maybe she’ll end up with your dark hair and eyes…

We do make beautiful babies together, don’t we? I wonder if you’d want more. Sometimes I see you with a dozen of little kids, crossing the road, like a mother duck. If you do want an even dozen though, we’ll definitely have to adopt, like I wanted to do, before you convinced me to have our own… You can be such a charmer; and I can be such a sucker for you.

I can’t believe I’m going to be forty next year. It seems like only yesterday that we first got together. Well, at least you’ll always be older than me.

The last twelve months… We’ve been through a lot during those and the previous months; and something tells me the worst is not over with… Sometimes it amazes me that we’re still together. That we haven’t killed each other yet.

Believe it or not, I thank the power or powers that be, for every day we’re together. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I don’t ever want to have to contemplate that scenario. I don’t. I can’t.

Although if you get yourself shot again, I swear to god, I’ll kill you with my bare hands.

2b. Olivia

Hands. I wait for your next set of instructions. Sometimes I hold my breath and wait for your instructions. But it’s your hands I find myself watching. Your hands, changing the aperture, the lens, the filters. It’s your finger I watch, waiting for the next snap of the shutter.

Sometimes I wonder why you keep the fact that you’re a photographer like it’s such a big secret. I wonder why you refuse to show Geoffrey your work, despite his interests, even though you keep pushing me to show mine in his galleries.

Sometimes I feel so super special. It’s almost like an honor for me to be privy to this aspect of you. This and many other aspects of you.

I still remember how your hands shook with excitement, when we found that Pentax K1000 for you at the thrift store, when you were still living in Chicago. Of course I also remember how you acted like you were going to pop the red lights, when we took that weekend darkroom class together, and things weren’t turning out quite right. I remember thinking I’m glad I’m not the light bulb, or your instructor.

Now I look at you, and I’m smiling, or not smiling, depending on your instructions, and I wonder what you’re seeing. What you’re thinking. Feeling. I wonder what else you’re hiding, from me, from the rest of the world. Mostly, I wonder what you’re still hiding from me.

It’s been months since you found out about me, my past, our past. But you’ve barely said a word to me about it, unless I bring up the subject, and give you no choice. Why is that? I thought you should be happy. I am. You know I am.

I don’t know if I want to do it, but I’ll do it for you. I’ll do anything for you. You know that. Would you really prefer we forget about Cass?

3a. Alex

Cass... When I sit here, and watch you work. Naturally, I think about her. How can I not?

I know you want me to embrace her, to accept her, to love her as I did when we were children. Sometimes I wonder if you’re painting or sculpting for you. Or if you’re doing it for me, hoping that I’ll learn to love Cass again.

Sometimes, I wonder how long you’ve known, or suspected, that I was Jenny. I don’t think I’ve changed so much, especially not the parts you’ve seen. Not the parts that only you’ve seen…

When I think about it… If I had let myself notice the similarities between you, instead of trying to focus on all the differences. If I didn’t avoid asking questions most people wouldn’t think twice to ask. If I had made myself pay more attention to the little hints you drop, here and there. I would have known. I would have recognized you a long time ago. Or maybe on some level, I did see you, I just refused to acknowledge the fact. Denial is a powerful drug.

I’m not sure if I could deal with it then. Just like I’m not sure if I can deal with it now. Albeit for entirely different reasons.

I’m afraid when you find out why this treasure chest used to be a Pandora’s Box, you’ll lose that youthful happy look again. Even though none of it is your fault, I’m afraid you’ll find a way to blame yourself… I’m fearful of the day you find out about the truth.

Yes, I’m beginning to treat our past as a treasure chest that I’ve buried somewhere, forgotten, long ago. How can I not? I see this excitement, this carefree innocence in your eyes I haven’t seen for ages, that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in Det. Olivia Benson. Det. Benson’s eyes were almost always haunted…

3b. Olivia

Haunted! That’s the look I’ve been seeing in your eyes lately! That I saw just now, when you pull the camera away to reload the film. I wonder why you’re not using the digital SLR I got you… Now we’re going to be spending the next two weekends in a darkroom. Why do I follow you like a puppy every damn time? I know you’ll get frustrated about something, and you’ll just take it out on me... Oh, right, that’s why I follow you like a puppy. Heh.

Back to that look though. Did I put it there? Did Cass put it there? You and Ling have been so totally evasive about the rest of the summer after we parted. What happened? Did something so really bad happen that you’re afraid to tell me? Am I going to want to kill someone? Perhaps myself?

Is that why you’re rejecting our past? Did you really push my face so far in the back of your mind so you could forget how I look? Granted, I think my features have gotten much more distinct and angular with age, my hair color’s definitely different, and I’m much less a tomboy, but do I really look that different?

Oh, who are you kidding, Benson. You tried so hard to be different. You even got rid of your damn first name. YOU wanted to forget who you were, too.

True. But Sweetheart, you have no idea how happy I am when I finally found out. When I finally had the guts to confront Ling, somebody, anybody. I think I started dropping hints after Edith showed me your old room and your old pictures. I’d throw out innocuous bits and watch for your reaction. Like I would a perv, I’m sorry to admit. And when you didn’t show any sort of recognition, I just finally racked everything up to coincidences and wishful thinking on my part.

After all, I’m already the luckiest person on earth to have found you, the love of my life. I can’t be THAT lucky, and have you be the love of my youth, too. Right? Right?

You must be my lucky star, 'cause you shine on me wherever you are. I just think of you and I start to glow, and I need… Okay, Benson, you’re losing it. See that look on her face? She’s probably wondering about what you’re thinking.

4a. Alex

What are you thinking? What’s going on in your head when you’re looking at me like that? Are you thinking about the colors? The background? How my breasts fit in your composition?

I knew we should have brought bottles for Livvie. It makes me warm and gooey and all funny inside when you stare at me like that, when I’m nursing. By now, I recognize most emotions in your eyes. I know your gaze is not sexual, nor am I responding to you sexually. I just don’t know what it is… It almost feels like I’ve got this big teenage crush on you, like I’m falling in love with you, all over again.

Except I think I’m more in love with you now, than I’ve ever been.

When you look at me like this, when I’m posing for you, I wonder if you looked at any of the models the same way. I wonder if the people you modeled for looked at you similarly. I can’t believe I had helped you shave that morning, so you could show off your perfect body to the world. Now, I would have covered you with a burlap sack, and gouge out peoples’ eyes. I wonder if there are still drawings of you out there sitting in some artists’ portfolios; if there are, I want them!

When you pose for me, I see this obedient, excited puppy dog expression on your face. That had better be for me and me only! Where’s all this jealousy coming from anyway? I can’t even blame it on baby hormones anymore. It’s not like you give me any reason to be like this. Jenny never used to be like this. I’m not sure Alex Cabot had ever been like this…

Oh, I guess it’s the besotted puppy dog smile I’m seeing right now. Sometimes I wonder what I’ve done to deserve this kind of devotion. "Hey, instead of sitting way over there," I smile back an invitation, "Why don’t you come over here, and hold us."

I love how easy it is to make you smile.

4b. Olivia

"Smile!" You tell me cheerfully, and I do. I love posing for you. Sometimes I wonder if I didn’t get you the digital camera just so I don’t have to wait for you to develop the pictures. I can’t wait to see the me through your eyes, the me in your eyes.

You know I could care less about the students’ work, when I was modeling and taking classes at Pratt. We were all alike: obsessive artist-wanna-be’s. Obnoxious and arrogant and sure that we’re all gonna be famous one day. It didn’t have to be a real person standing there for all any of us cared. When I look at your work though, I see me: tough, demure, open, pensive, beautiful, intelligent… I see me how you see me: the love of your life.

If you’ve wondered at all whether I looked at other models like I look at you, when you pose for me, I hope you’ll tell me. So I can assure you otherwise. Or, maybe I’ll just tell you. Yeah, I’ll tell you when we take our next break.

I used to listen to other fellow classmates models talk in between classes, about so-and-so looking at them like they owned them. Well, all I’ve ever gotten was impersonal concentration, I’m glad; and I suspect you’ll be too.

If we talk strictly about one of us belonging to the other one though, you’re the owner, and I’m the possession. I can guarantee you, even when you’re the model and I play the artist.

Every stroke I put down on paper, on canvas, it’s like I’m putting down a little piece of my heart. Like I’m writing you a love poem. It’s there only because I’m lucky enough for you let me love you. When I sculpt, when I shape you with clay, I’m not molding you per se, like Pygmalion making his ideal female. You’re already my ideal. I’m just trying capture your perfection.

Well, okay, I’ll admit it, sometimes I just like to see you naked. I like the excuse to be able to watch you as intensely as I want, for as long as I want. And sometimes I’m just sort of vicariously coping a feel.

5a. Alex

Feel this? Feel my brush glide across your skin? I can almost hear you ask me as you kiss me with your eyes. You’re so unfair. You know I can’t do anything but lay here, and let you molest me with your smile, when Livvie has just fallen asleep and Alexis is awake and playing with her dolls.

Come on, Alex, just relax, and let me take care of you. I always take care of my Baby, don’t I? You tell me with a flick of an eyebrow and a smirk. Then quietly, you move the easel and your stool, so now I can see the image on the canvas.

The Rapture of Psyche, huh? Wait a minute, I did not pose like this. I look down at myself. Okay, maybe I am posing like this, but I definitely don’t have that look on my face! I glare at you.

In response, you grin, with wicked mischief in your eyes. You touch the tip of your paintbrush to the palette, mixing non-existent colors for all I can see. All I recognize is the gentle, circular movement of the sable against the plexi, and I feel my body respond, like a quiver, a throb. I sigh. I so want to close my eyes to your caress…

Oh, but if I do, I’ll miss your next moves. So I inhale deeply, and watch you with half-lidded desire. Watch you smile and dip the soft hair into your bottle of Liquin. Watch you swirl the brush around the slippery, semi-clear medium…

Then you place a fluid stroke along the insides of my thighs. I can feel the cold tip of the brush juxtaposing with the warmth of your breath, your tongue, as you work and rework the canvas, building the glistening sheen, coaxing my body with your phantom touch…

All right, maybe I do have that look on my face.

5b. Olivia

Face it, Benson, Andy was right, your clit’s tied to your heart, reluctantly I admit to myself, as I sit here, naked in my studio, and watch you move around, taking pictures of me. Except ‘tied’ maybe isn’t quite the right word. Melted maybe? Bound? I wonder as your long legs stride across the room, as you squat and bend in such a way that I can catch glimpses of your luscious cleavage. At least I think I can…

If I had known having babies would have that kind of effect on your body, I would have knocked you up a long time ago, or at least have fun trying. And I’d keep you bare foot and pregnant if you’d let me.

Benson, listen to you! You sound like a male chauvinistic pig! You should be ashamed of yourself. I scold myself silently. Seriously though, I’ll love you no matter how you look; I’ve loved you when you were still just a kissful, or when you were a mouthful… Although I sure would like a hand full of you right now.

I shouldn’t have made you explain Sheela-na-gig. Now all I can think about is the deity holding her cervix open for all to see.

You’re not going to ask me to spread my legs for you while you take pictures of me, are you? If you are, please tell me soon, so I’ll have plenty of time to prepare myself … Hm… Low and needy and just a little wanton, I allow a moan to escape my throat, "Mmmm…"

"Did you say something, Liv?" You ask me, from behind your camera, trying very hard to keep the flush from your voice.

I sigh again, as I slowly, deliberately lean into the padded platform, throwing my head back and my legs open. And I close my eyes, waiting for you to explore me with your lens, your fingers, your tongue, any or all of the above. Yep, Serena was right, too; when it comes to Alex, you’re just a hopeless, smitten, lust bunny.

6a. Alex

"Bunny!" I hear in my sleep, a little boy’s excited voice calling. "Cassie Bunny!" I hear Jenny’s happy voice calling back. That’s how the dreams would start. Then suddenly, I’d feel an apparition heavy against me, choking me. I’d hear a loud bang, and startle awake to the sensation of warm half melted masses splattering all over me…

I’m so glad you’ve been working nights, so you haven’t been around when those nightmares happen. As much as I long to seek shelter in your arms, I’m not ready to tell you. If you knew about the dreams, I’m sure you’re going to ask me, and badger me, until I breakdown and tell you what’s causing them.

How do I tell you Trevor is really more than just his brother’s replacement? How do I tell you about Max? About Trevor shooting his cousin Max? On one of those many days, when I sat in the hunting lodge, unconcerned about my safety and my surroundings, because I was mourning the loss of Cass?

It had taken Katie Tolliver’s case for me to comprehend and stop blaming myself what happened that day. That Max probably knew what he was doing, that he wasn’t completely innocent because of his disability. It took six more months for me to finally talk about it; to thank Trevor for what he did in defense of another -- me.

I was ready to tell you then, when you found me with him. It would have been so easy, when the emotions were high, especially if you fly into a jealous rage, as I was sure you would.

Instead, you just made love to me, like it would be our last time, like I was about to walk out of your life…

If I show you what’s inside that Pandora’s Box, will you somehow twist things up to make Cass the villain and Trevor the hero? Will you clutch onto the unfounded guilt? Will you wallow in the groundless fear that I might leave you? Again?

6b. Olivia

Again I see that haunted look in your eyes. I think the only time I saw anything remotely similar, was when you went to the morgue with us. What’s been bugging you these days? What can be more or as traumatizing as seeing your first dead body?

I want to ask, I really, really want to ask. But maybe I should wait, maybe you’ll tell me when you’re ready. Or maybe you’ll tell me when you think I’m ready to hear it. Last night, were you going to say something, before Livvie started crying? Maybe I should just ask.

Will you tell me though?

What if whatever it is, is really my fault? Can I bear the thought of causing you any more pain? Beyond what I’ve already caused you, in the last fifteen months, and before?

Suddenly, my heart freezes. What if you decide you want to leave me? What am I gonna do? If you’re gonna leave me though, you would have left already right? Right? So, if you’re staying, then I must know. If I don’t know, how can I even begin to make it up to you?

And if it’s not my fault, then I should be there for you, to help you through whatever it is that you’re trying to face by yourself. You want me to be your partner, then you should really treat me like one. Please Alex, please let me share your troubles, let me carry some of the burden for you.

You think I can’t see the dark circles you’ve been trying to hide under your makeup? You think I don’t know you haven’t been sleeping well? Sometimes I think you forget I’m a damn good detective. Sometimes I think you don’t notice how I watch your every move, and hang onto your every word. Now, and in the past. Always.

7a. Alex

Always, when I look at you, I want to smile. I want to touch you, want to jump into your arms, and tell you how much I love you, how happy I am you’re mine and I’m yours.

Then I want to have wild bunny sex with you. Yes, I do.

I don’t know why Edith’s giving me such a hard time. What’s wrong with what I want to do? I’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for, she knows that. Besides, she’ll be the first to upbraid me if she thought I’d been neglecting you. Sometimes I really wonder who she loves more, you or me.

You know, if we could write a book on how to keep the Bed Death at bay, we’d make a fortune. Then you can just stay home and sculpt and write mushy poetry. Knowing you though, you’ll probably keep being a cop. I wonder if your Police Commissioner dream is serious. Will you tell me if I ask?

What am I talking about? I might have to pry, or more likely, bribe you, and you might fake a fuss, but I can’t remember the last time you didn’t let me have my way. I wonder why we play these little games we do, when we know how we feel about each other, and know exactly how we’ll act.

I know you’ve been watching me, and you know there’s something wrong. Maybe you’re waiting for the right time to ask. Or for me to tell you. Maybe I should just tell you…

Yeah, I think I will. Later, or tomorrow, when we don’t have other things to worry about, when the babies are asleep. When it’s just you and me, in the warmth and safety of our bed. I’ll tell you then, and show you everything will be all right, that we’ll be all right.

7b. Olivia

All right, Edith comes back from Atlantic City this afternoon right? Hopefully, she’ll bring Celine and Harriet back with her, and they’ll agree to take care of the babies for the night. Whatever this thing is, I’m gonna find out, goddammit, even if it kills me. It kills me already to see this look in your eyes. I want my girl to be happy and worry free all the time. Cass promised Jenny that when we were young, and I promised you that when we came back from therapy. Whoever you want me to be, I have a promise to keep. And I always keep my promises, especially the ones I make to you…

"Ready for the last picture?" You ask me.

I open my eyes to meet your smile. "Still gonna be in it with me?"

"Where do you want me?" Distractedly you ask, as you mount the camera onto the tripod. Then you realize how that might sound, you blush. "Don’t answer that."

"Here," I raise up on my elbow, and point to the space next to me. "You can hide most of me." A mischievous smile brightens your features as you set the automatic timer. Without warning, you flop on top of me, pushing me onto my back, and cover my nakedness with your clothes. Then you kiss me, deep and tender and slow. We’re still kissing when the shutter snaps close.

"I think, if you don’t object, I’m going to let Geoff see some of the photos," much later, you tell my shocked ears while I catch my breath. "If he decides to put them in a show, I want that one in there," you continue, your eyes shine with pleasure and excitement. "So people know the models’ already taken."

You bet. "So is the beautiful artist," I insist, as I slide my hands under your shirt. I know I hold the power to take away whatever’s been haunting you lately. I know we’ll get through whatever else life decides to throw at us in the future. I’m sure of it, as sure as I am about my love for you.

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