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11 November 2007 @ 12:27 pm
New C/O-Yay in honor of Passion & Perfection's 5000th Story Archived! Hooray! Part II!  
Title:  Meet Me in St. Louis
Author:  DiNovia
Fandom:  SVU
Pairing:  C/O
Rating:  MA (language, graphic sexual situations)
Author's Note:  This is a sequel to my story The Awakening, which in turn is a sequel to The Good Earth, which was a response to Fewthistle's story Look Homeward, Angel.  The Awakening and The Good Earth can be found at http://community.livejournal.com/copper_n_steel/ .  Because of the timing of these previous stories, the following takes place in December of 2006.
Thanks:  Tiff, thank you for letting me read most of this over the phone to you, my love...  I hope you enjoy the ending.  
              Rachel, thank you for understanding why this story, like all my others, is so late to your inbox.
Spoilers:  None



-----

It was a testament to how truly exhausted Olivia Benson was that she was able to sleep through such a thorough visual inspection by four pairs of very dubious eyes.

"What happened in here?" asked Don Cragen in a comical stage-whisper.  His round eyes swiveled from the merely unlikely to the truly bizarre and back again.

"Man, it looks like a Christmas elf puked up all over the crib!"  Fin grimaced even as some small part of him wondered if Liv would mind if he had one of the mini candy canes hanging from the tiny tree.  Candy canes were one of the few redeeming parts of Christmas to the ex-narcotics detective.

"If Casey Novak is a Christmas elf, she's the tallest one on record," said Munch.  There was no question in his mind who had engineered the transformation of the crib.  Beyond the obvious reasons, it was the only possible explanation for why Olivia "Bah Humbug" Benson was sleeping comfortably amidst such holiday cheer. 

Elliot, by turns pleased and incredulous, said nothing.  He just grinned, shook his head, and sauntered back to his desk.  Two bankers boxes sat on his desk; a mirror to the two sitting on Liv's.  Each one bore the name of one of the Red Cross Rapist's previous victims.  Not wanting to leave the comfort of his Christmas glow just yet--he, Kathy and the kids had celebrated the holiday in style this year--he avoided opening them for the moment and focused instead on the myriad Tupperware containers littering his partner's desk.  When he realized what they were, his grin returned.

Jesus, Liv, you got it bad, he thought.  Only love, he knew, could put the spirit of Christmas into Olivia Benson.

Just then , Fin and Cragen came in, each beating a hasty retreat to his respective desk.  Fin offered only two words in explanation: "War path."

Olivia exploded into the squad behind them, savagely pulling a rust-colored Henley over her head to cover the tank top she'd slept in.  She was presently considering herself lucky that she'd fallen asleep in her jeans.  The last thing she wanted to do was parade half-naked in front of her four male colleagues.  Particularly Munch. 

"You really had too much egg nog, John!" she tossed over her shoulder.  "Not everything is one of your crackpot conspiracy theories!"

Munch strolled into the squad laughing.  "What?  All I asked is 'Who are you and what have you done with Olivia Benson?'  A perfectly reasonable inquiry under the circumstances."  When she didn't respond, he added, "I am really going to have to insist upon a DNA swab."

Olivia ignored the salt-and-pepper-haired detective and headed for her desk...only to find it occupied by two bankers boxes.  Frowning, she grabbed one of them and hauled it to Munch's desk.  "What time is it, Elliot?" she asked hurriedly.  "I left my watch in the crib."

Elliot glanced at his new watch, a gift from Kathleen.  She was growing up so fast...  "About eight-forty," he answered.  "Why?"

Liv handed off the last box to Fin and immediately relaxed.  "Good.  Thanks."  She dropped into her desk chair and began to fiddle with her computer.

"Hey," said her partner, his brows crowding low over his eyes in his patented deep-thought expression.  "Wasn't Casey supposed to be flying in today?"

The sorrel-haired detective glanced sharply at Elliot.  "What to you mean, 'wasn't'?"

"Well, JFK and LaGuardia are both snowed in.  It's a mess out--"

"Did you drive today?" she interrupted.  "In the Bronco?"

Elliot nodded slowly.  "Yeah--" he began but Olivia shot out of her chair and ran toward the crib before he could continue.

"I need your keys!" she yelled just before she disappeared.  The men could hear the sounds of hasty packing start in the back.

"My pod person theory doesn't seem so far-fetched now, does it?" asked Munch smugly as he met the startled looks of his colleagues.  

Liv burst back into the squad, cutting off whatever smart-assed response Fin was obviously about to deliver.  She wore her leather bomber jacket and that damnably-orange scarf she'd gotten at Thanksgiving and she carried a small duffel bag.

"I need your keys, Elliot," she repeated breathlessly, her hand out.  "Please."

Elliot searched Olivia's bark-brown eyes and saw, staring steadily back at him, a new woman; one who was as determined, as intense, and as much a force of nature as she always had been, but tempered now by a new maturity and a sense of contentedness that only seemed to elevate her to new heights.  He sighed--a sound tinted by shades of relief--and held out his keys.

"Thanks, El," said the younger detective as she kissed him quickly on the cheek.  "We'll be back tomorrow.  I promise."  Then she darted out the door without a backward glance. 

If the others had missed the changes in Olivia Benson before, the fact that she'd just voluntarily left the squad--to go on vacation--while there was an active case starting drove those changes home like clanging railroad spikes.  They all quietly pondered the door she'd disappeared through as it gently swung to a stop.

"Well," said Cragen finally, blinking to break himself of his reverie.  "I guess that just leaves us lonely mucks to get on with this investigation.  Let's get to it."

"You losers might all be lonely," countered Elliot Stabler proudly, "but I have a beautiful wife and four kids waiting for me at home." 

He was not surprised when the other three pelted him with ballpoint pens.  It didn't stop him from grinning, though.

-----

Olivia Benson had already called Casey Novak's cell phone three times by the time she'd breezed through the deserted Holland Tunnel.  Each time, she'd gotten Casey's semi-professional voice mail greeting:  "You have reached the voice mail of Casey Novak, Assistant District Attorney.  I am unable to answer the phone at the moment, so please leave a detailed message, including case file number, at the tone and I will get back to you as soon as possible.  If you are calling to gloat over the last softball game, please hang up now and I'll see to it those photos don't make it to your boss.  You know who you are."  Cute as it had been back during summer, Olivia now found the outdated message annoying.  Especially since she couldn't get through to the woman who'd recorded it.  She threw her phone onto the passenger seat in frustration and concentrated on getting into New Jersey without crashing Elliot's car.

The roads had been plowed and looked relatively safe, but Olivia couldn't tell when the snow might start falling again and she wanted to get out from under this horrible storm as quickly as possible.  The sky above was slate blue with clouds that crowded low over the horizon and everything seemed so quiet on this Tuesday morning after Christmas.  The world seemed asleep; blanketed under the deep, downy white of the snow to dream of future summers.  The crunch of her tires over salted roads was the only sound she heard.

The New Yorker in Olivia could only see the snow as an inconvenience, though, and she scowled at it, breaking the spell of the silence.  As she drove through Jersey City on her way to Intertate 95, Olivia passed a rusty Toyota Corolla with an "Army: Be All You Can Be" sticker in the back window and it gave her an idea.
She grabbed her cell off the passenger seat and jammed it into the hands-free setup Elliot had installed earlier in the year when Maureen had almost creamed their garage door while talking on her cell.  She pressed a speed dial button she had never before used.  The call was answered on the second ring.

"Detective Benson," said Matt Novak in his rich, deep baritone.  "Merry Christmas!"

Olivia smiled in spite of herself.  "Colonel Novak," she greeted warmly, not surprised in the least that he had caller ID on his phone.  "Merry Christmas!  I'm sorry I could't take you up on your invitation this year.  That'll teach me to sign up in March for holiday duty."

"As long as it doesn't happen again, I'll forgo the court martial proceedings."

Olivia laughed at that.  "Don't worry," she assured him.  "I told the captain that the guys each have to do a Christmas rotation before I will do another one.  That gives me three years to make it up to you.  And to Casey."

Matt's laughter was immediate and boisterous.  "Well, three years might just be long enough to assuage my bruised feelings.  My daughter, on the other hand, seems to be made of sterner stuff than her old man.  Not only has she not complained once, but she is your sole defender amongst us more sensitive types.  Perhaps that is the benefit of dating an attorney..."

"I'll have to remember that for the future.  Speaking of Casey, is she still there or has she left for the airport already?  I can't seem to reach her on her cell."

"She left almost an hour ago, Olivia.  And she probably can't hear her cell over the din there.  She called a few minutes ago to tell me that her flight has been delayed indefinitely because of the closings in New York.  She says Dulles is a madhouse."

"Why doesn't she just go back to your place and wait?  It'll be hours before JFK gets themselves back on schedule.  And that's only if it doesn't start snowing again."

"Olivia, you know Casey possibly better than I do.  You and I both know she will wait in that airport until Doomsday before she gives up the chance of seeing the woman she loves on the day she promised.  I told her that if there's been no progress by one this afternoon, I'm coming to get her.  I'll drive her to New York myself before I let her spend all day in that place."

Olivia chuckled.  "Great minds think alike, Matt.  I borrowed my partner's car and I'm on my way there right now.  I'll pick her up at the airport and take her home.  If the weather gets bad on the way, we'll find a place to stop."

Matt's smile, had it been converted to light energy, probably could have been seen from outer space.  "I see you're ahead of me, Detective.  You would have made an excellent military officer."

Olivia shook her head briskly.  "No way!  I don't have the discipline for that."

"No one does.  It's something we beat into you once we get our hands on you."  Matt laughed jovially but Olivia knew he was only half-kidding.  Still, she thought she was a little too likely to be the one disobeying direct orders and she liked the fact civilians weren't arrested for that.  She was grateful that she had never seen herself taking that path away from the childhood made painful under Serena Benson's cruel hand.

"No, thank you," she replied.  "I get beat up enough on the job.  I'm not going to volunteer for it!"

"I knew you were a smart woman when I first met you," Matt said, mirth still threading his voice. 

Olivia blushed in the privacy of her partner's car and ignored the compliment.  "Listen, Matt," she began, changing the subject.  "If Casey calls again, would you mind not telling her I'm on my way?  I want to surprise her."

"Your secret's safe with me, Olivia."  Matt suspected he'd gone too far with the unexpected compliment and did the honorable thing: he gave her a graceful out.  "You be careful driving down here, okay?  My little girl will be none too pleased if you end up in an accident."

"I will," replied the detective gratefully.  "Tell Chris and Julie I said 'Merry Christmas!'  And 'Congratulations!' too!"

"I will.  I think Julie dragged the poor boy off to a stationery store to look at invitations.  He's either in a coma from boredom right now or wishing he was."

"At least she's not knitting them!"

They laughed for a moment together and then said their goodbyes.  Hours later, Olivia was still ruminating over the effortless nature of communication with Casey's father--wondering how or why such a thing could be possible--when her cell gave a familiar tweetle.  She looked at the dashboard clock and grinned.  She was only about an hour away now. 

She pressed the answer button.  "Casey?  Hey honey, you at the airport?"

"I'm at an airport--yes--but not the right one!"  Casey's voice was morose and sorrowful and she sounded more than frustrated.  "My flight's been delayed indefinitely.  I'm waiting to find out if there's even the remotest chance that I'll get out of here today but it's not looking good."

Liv could hear crowd sounds in the background, complete with the ubiquitous screaming baby.  She tried to sound disappointed.

"Honey, don't worry about it.  There's nothing you can do.  It's probably the weather up here.  It's really been snowing and--"

"But I am worried!  I promised I'd be home today, Liv.  You haven't even gotten to open a single Christmas present!  It's not fair!  Maybe I'll just take my dad up on his offer.  He said he was going to pick me up and drive me to Manhattan himself but I don't want him to do that.  Especially with gas the price it is.  I don't know--"

Olivia cut the ADA off, attempting to steer her back to where she wanted her.  Under no circumstances did she want Casey to call her father and take him up on his offer.  "Honey, it's okay.  Really.  Go back home and spend an extra day with your family.  JFK will be open tomorrow and I'll see you then.  I'm fine.  I'll get some take-out and watch movies or something.  It'll be great." 

"Are you sure?" asked the redhead dubiously.

"I'm sure," said Olivia gamely.

"Well, I still want to wait here for a little bit.  Maybe they'll get something moving soon.  It hasn't snowed there since last night; I checked."  Casey sounded a little reassured, but not much.  It was just enough.

Olivia played her last card.  "Promise me if you don't hear something soon, you'll call your father and let him at least take you home.  What if they never cancel the flight but just keep delaying it?  You could be there all day, Casey.  I don't know about you, but I'd rather be watching old movies back at Matt's house than crammed in an airport with a lot of frustrated strangers."

Casey's chuckle was almost lost to the din behind her.  "Yeah, me too.  Okay,"  she decided suddenly, "I'll give it two more hours and if nothing happens by then, I'll call Daddy and have him pick me up.  Deal?"

Olivia grinned.  Sometimes she worried she was too good at that.  "Deal,"she said.  "Call me when you know anything, okay?"

"I will.  Have fun tonight watching movies!  I love you."

"I love you, too," replied the detective.  She pressed the off button victoriously and edged the borrowed Bronco up a few miles per hour.  The sooner she could have Casey in the car and be on the way back to Manhattan, the better.

Olivia wanted nothing in the world more than she wanted Casey's beautiful, bare body next to hers in a familiar bed.  Where they could wake up slowly and take their time making love again.  Where they could drink their favorite coffee and maybe have brunch at that diner that did the awesome pumpkin pecan pancakes. 

Where it just felt like home.

-----

Nirali Murthy had a savage headache.  An older woman--who had marinated herself in cheap perfume--had just spent ten minutes complaining to her about the back up in the security lines.  The woman's brilliant argument had been that people traveling to the West Coast should have their own special line because it wasn't their fault that it had snowed in New York.

If the world worked that way, thought the TSA employee, we'd all live forever.  Who would submit to death when birth was "not my fault"?

Nirali thought she could feel every single strand of her hair pulling against her scalp.  Her tight, dark braid felt heavy and awkward--as if someone had tied a stone to its end.  She glanced at her watch and frowned.  She still had 90 minutes left in this wretched shift and then she could go home--

"Excuse me?"

Nirali scrutinized the taller woman in the bomber jacket and the Tandoori-colored scarf.  "Yes, ma'am?  How can I help you?"

The woman showed a badge.  "I'm Detective Benson with the NYPD and I need to pick someone up at American Airlines Gate D14.  If you could just--"

"I'm sorry, ma'am.  Unless you have a ticket or unless this is official NYPD business, I can't let you through."  Nirali wasn't trying to be a bitch; she really wasn't.  But she couldn't afford to lose her job because some cop's family was stuck waiting for a delayed flight.  The regulations were very clear and people in this airport were too aware of their proximity to the seat of the government to let things slide.

Now it was the detective's turn to scrutinize the TSA employee and she did so with dangerously narrowed eyes.  "Official NYPD business?  Would it make a difference if she was a Manhattan District Attorney?" asked Olivia bombastically.  

Nirali shook her head.  "No.  I'm sorry.  Have you tired calling your party?  You could have her meet you--"

Frustrated, Olivia raked her hand through her short hair and looked away, uncharacteristically close to tears and not wanting the younger woman to see that.  "No!  You don't understand.  I had to work on Christmas and she went home.  She was supposed to be back today but the airports are closed.  I drove down here to get her.  To take her home because I miss her.  I wanted it to be a surprise..."

As the detective spoke, Nirali began to smile.  Tonight, when she told this story to Beth while they snuggled on the couch, they would chuckle knowingly at the part where the butch New York cop drove four hours in the snow to pick up her lover because she couldn't wait one more day to see her.  But Nirali knew enough about this woman--even in the little contact that they'd had--not to pursue the humor now.  Detective Olivia Benson would not find her predicament the least bit amusing.

"Official police business only, Detective.  That's the only way I can let you through." 

Nirali waited.  Would the beautiful detective with the strong features hear what she was truly saying?

Olivia searched the Indian woman's dark eyes, surprised by the twinkle she found in them, by the slight smile turning up the corners of her mouth.  She forced herself to go back over what the TSA employee had said...  "The only way I can let you through."

"Official police business?" she asked slowly.  "Like...the apprehension of a dangerous fugitive?"

Nirali Murthy grinned.  "That's as official as it gets, Detective.  Follow me."

Ten minutes later, Olivia Benson was still wandering through the sea of humanity that was the D concourse of Dulles International Airport.  She'd already been to Gate D14 twice and Casey was nowhere to be found.  That wasn't entirely unexpected with seemingly the entire population of Manhattan jammed into one long hallway, though.  Finding one redhead among them would be nearly as impossible as Finding Nemo.

Stuck for the moment, Olivia headed toward some windows behind a bank of pay phones to catch her breath.  Crowds were one thing but this?  This was like nothing she'd ever seen.  As she came around the far end of the ersatz wall, hoping for a momentary respite, she heard a familiar voice.

Casey Novak was sitting on her suitcase with her cellphone held to her ear.  She had her red locks pulled back into a ponytail and was wearing jeans and an emerald green sweater.  Her winter coat was balled up behind her as a makeshift pillow and a duffel bag served as an ottoman for her feet.  Leave it to the ADA to find the only place in the entire concourse where she could spread out and be comfortable.

"I want to wait another hour, Daddy...No, no New York flights have left yet but...Okay, one more hour and then you can come pick me up...Love you, too...Bye."

Casey dropped the cell in the pocket of her duffel and sighed noisily.  She did not notice the hovering presence nearby.

""Ma'am, I'm going to need you to come with me."  Olivia used her most serious professional voice and Casey looked up, clearly startled.  Her features were filled with fear until she recognized her lover standing over her.  She shot like a rocket up off the suitcase and into Olivia's waiting arms.

Casey Novak breathed in the earthen and leather scent of Olivia Benson greedily.

"Oh, my God!  Liv!"  She tightened her arms around the unexpected detective and her voice sounded muffled as she burrowed her face into Olivia's neck.  "What are you doing here?"  She pulled back, her features suddenly suffused with confusion.  "Wait!  I just talked to you an hour ago!  You were in New York!"

Olivia smiled evilly.  "Was I?"

Casey put two and two together and got conspiracy.  She swatted Olivia's chest with the flat of her hand.  "You!  I can't believe you!  What did you do--borrow Elliot's Bronco?"  She thought for a few seconds and did the math.  "Olivia, you would have had to left at nine o'clock this morning!"

"Did you think I would leave you stuck here if there was anything I could do about it?"  The shorter detective nuzzled Casey's ear.  "I missed you," she whispered softly.

Caught in the gravity of this particular moment, Casey and Olivia gazed at each other.  It was as if the entire world had melted away.  Their mouths were so close, they could each feel the other's humid breath.  The moment stilled, poised in the silence and the kinetic potential, until Casey finally tipped her head and captured Olivia's lips in a soft, sweet kiss of longing.

"I love you," she whispered when they parted. 

"I hope you still feel that way in about five minutes," said Olivia worriedly.

"What?  Why?"

The detective ducked her head, embarrassed.  "The only way I could get through security was to tell them I was on official police business..."

"So?"  Casey didn't understand and Olivia was reluctant to explain. 

"Remember that night when you joked about wanting me to cuff you?" she asked.

Casey grinned.  She hadn't really been joking, but yes, she remembered.

"Well, you're about to get your wish.  Only...not exactly the way you planned."

And five minutes later, when she finally understood what Olivia was driving at, Casey found even her limits tested.  She was glad she'd packed her sunglasses but even happier that Olivia had brought that beautifully long scarf.  Wrapped around her head, it concealed her identity better than she had hoped.  With Olivia carrying her luggage and her winter coat strategically placed over the cuffs, Casey was reasonably sure she wouldn't be the lead story on the 9 o'clock news in Manhattan tonight.

As they walked back through the security corrals at the Departures entrance, a brunette TSA employee with dark eyes, olive skin and an impossibly long French braid grinned at them.

"You found your dangerous fugitive, eh, Detective?"

"Yep.  And the NYPD thanks you for your cooperation."  Olivia nodded from behind her own sunglasses the way she had seen David Caruso do on "CSI:Miami" the few times she'd watched it.  She'd always thought the move to be overdone but now discovered its intrinsic value.  Always give the public what it expects.

"Knock it off, Liv," hissed Casey from underneath her obscuring scarf.  "Nobody is ever going to confuse you with Horatio Caine."  Unseen, she grinned lasciviously and added a heartfelt and grateful, "Thank God."

-----

Back at Casey's apartment after a long, joyful drive through snow-blanketed cities and towns made charming by their reunion, the ADA found herself once again in handcuffs.  It had been her price for that little show at the airport and Olivia was only too eager to pay it.  They were hooked over one of the coat hooks on the back of her apartment door, holding her prisoner more than effectively while the brunette detective knelt before her.

Olivia leaned back on her calves for a moment and let her eyes feast on the sight of Casey, her honey-cream skin gilded by candlelight, stretched in a taut line above her.  The young attorney's eyes were half-lidded and heavy with devotion as she gazed down at her lover and her nipples, so recently devoured by an ardent mouth, still stood at attention, raspberry pink in the flickering light.  She took long, shuddering breaths that accentuated the sweet curve of her belly and waves of gooseflesh rolled over her.  As the scrutiny continued, she dragged her teeth over her bottom lip; the alchemy of agony and ecstasy flushing her pale skin with ruby desire.

Olivia still had her jeans and tank top on.  She left the jeans in deference to her current position but licked her lips before pulling the tank over her head and discarding it.  Her own nipples, longing for the touch of her lover, tightened almost painfully but the detective ignored them for the moment.  Instead, she leaned forward, both palms held flat before her, and stopped barely a centimeter from Casey's skin.  She was so close that Casey could feel the heat of her presence but Olivia didn't touch her.  Not yet.  

Olivia drew her hands over Casey's body just like that, moving sensuously, sinuously as if the motion was part of a complex dance.  Casey whimpered, wanting the touch, desperate for it.  Wherever Olivia's strong hands passed, her skin burned.  She felt wetness begin between her thighs and then the tingling ache of her charged sex filling with molten, liquid need.

"Touch me, Olivia," she breathed, her voice unsteady, halting.  "P-please...  I need you..."  Her fingers closed and opened above her head, grasping for what they could not reach.

The touch, when it came--finally, blessedly--set Casey's skin aflame and she groaned, deeply relieved, deeply aroused.  Soon Olivia's fingers and hands were joined by teeth and tongue, by cheeks and silky tresses until the younger woman was awash in sensation, her stance now precarious.  She trembled from the crown of her head to the heartbreakingly beautiful arch of her instep.

Olivia breathed in the scent of her lover's arousal and her mouth watered instantly.  Hungry for the taste of that tart honey-wine on her tongue, she draped one of Casey's impossibly long legs over her shoulder, braced her hands on the bare wood of the door, and leaned forward. 

The cuffs protested loudly against the door as Casey arched into Olivia.  The feel of the detective's hot mouth upon her, consuming her, was a torturous, breathless bliss.  Her head twisted from side to side, her unbound hair now wild and untamed.  She cried out with every one of Olivia's deep, lingual caresses and arched into them, offering herself--her whole self--up to the feast.

Delirious with need, Casey thrust her hips forward, grunting with the effort.  She wanted more, needed more.  The entire Universe had coalesced to that single point of fervent, white-hot desolation and she required the release that only Olivia could provide.

"Take me, Liv," she begged, her voice ragged with lust.  "Sweet God, fuck me..."

Olivia immediately filled her lover, thrusting into her with three strong, corded fingers.  Casey slammed her head back into the door so hard she heard ringing in her ears.  "Yesssss..." she wailed, submitting completely to her wanton ravishment, to her powerful yearning until the coiling, twisting thread holding the Universe together snapped.  Space and time both collapsed in on themselves, pulverizing whole worlds in the cosmic grind, reducing them to shimmering flecks of dust that twinkled and flickered until they burned out across the empty sky...

Made senseless by Casey's honey-wine, Olivia leaned against the redhead's heaving belly, listing to the side like a great vessel foundering in the fickle sea.  When she could move again, she rose and gently unhooked Casey's limp arms, bringing them down where she could remove the cuffs with the key she'd secreted in the pocket of her jeans.  She dropped them noisily to the floor and lifted the quiescent younger woman into her arms without a word.

Once Casey was safely in the bed, Olivia stripped the rest of her clothes off and she climbed in after her, molding her wiry frame to her lover's and pulling the blankets around them both.  Casey turned and wrapped her lankier body around Olivia, pressing her face into the hollow of her throat.

"I love you," she whispered, her voice small.

Olivia pressed gentle kisses onto Casey's forehead and eyelids.  "I love you, Casey," she soothed.  "Sleep now."  She sifted red silk between her fingers over and over.  "Sleep now.  We're home."

Casey whimpered softly then sighed.  Soon, her breathing slowed, becoming deep and regular as she melted into sleep.

Olivia simply held her.  As she looked out the single, small window into the dim light of the alley behind Casey's building, she saw that it was snowing again.

"We're home," she said again and she fell asleep watching lazy snowflakes drift past Casey's window on milky moonbeams...

-----

Olivia awoke to the sensation of a block of ice being placed on her sternum.

"Merry Christmas, sweetheart," stage-whispered her lover, grinning beautifully in the icy winter's morning light when Olivia finally managed to lever her eyes open. 

The block of ice was actually a small, wrapped box with a tiny silver bow on it and it was warming rather quickly.

"Merry Christmas, Casey," Olivia dutifully replied before succumbing to a jaw-cracking yawn.  "What time is it?"

"Time for you to open gifts!" replied the younger redhead gleefully as she punctuated her declaration by bouncing the bed.

The detective accurately translated this answer to mean "Earlier than fuck!" and she groaned.  "Can we at least have some coffee first?"

"Yours is on the table next to the bed.  Now wake up so I can watch you open gifts!  I've been waiting long enough."

Knowing she was well and truly caught, Olivia sighed and pushed herself into a sitting position, noticing with sudden interest that Casey was wearing the slip of blackberry silk she'd sent with her to her father's house. 

"I want to unwrap you," she said, reaching for her lover.  Casey swatted her hands away.

"No!  Gifts first; sex later!"

Olivia rolled her eyes.  "Fine," she said.  "But the actual order of events is coffee first, then gifts, then sex."  She thought for a moment.  "Then food--wait.  Can the food come before the sex?  I'm getting hungry."

Casey, surrounded by gaily-wrapped boxes, put her hands on her hips.  "Oliviaaaaa!" she pouted.

The detective laughed.  "Okay, okay!  Just let me get my coffee.  I have a feeling I'm going to need it."  She grabbed the mug off the table and took a quick gulp of liquid fortification.  "Now whatcha got for me first?"

Casey tossed thick red envelope at her.  "Smart ass," she grumbled playfully.  "I can't help it if I love Christmas."

Olivia leaned in for a kiss.  "And I can't help it if I love you," she smiled as she carefully slid her thumb under the flap of the envelope.  "Oooooh," she exclaimed appreciatively as she pulled the contents out, her attention now entirely on the task at hand.

Ten minutes later Olivia sat amidst the paper ruins of so many lovingly-wrapped boxes, feeling a little overwhelmed.  She couldn't remember when she had last received this many Christmas gifts at one time and she felt unworthy and yet pleased at the same time.  Julie had sent a Best Buy gift card with a note that her favorite "Gadget Girl" should splurge, on her...  Chris had sent a handsomely framed 5x7 of Casey taken at the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington DC with an accompanying note that said it had been taken on a crisp Autumn afternoon the week before she'd moved to New York to become Manhattan's youngest ever White Collar Crimes ADA.  She was in profile, looking down to read the Constitution, and a gust of wind had whipped her longer hair into a banner streaming behind her.  It looked as if Justice, herself, had removed her blindfold to read that which she had sworn to protect...  Matt had sent a five pound bag of the Private Reserve Kona they had shared back at Thanksgiving with a note that said he had arranged that a five pound bag would be sent every month for her entire squad to enjoy for as long as she worked with the 16th...

And if that wasn't enough, Casey's first gift to her had been a copy of an itinerary for a week-long vacation to Las Vegas arranged for the upcoming July 4th week.  Another sheet of paper confirmed that the time off had already been approved by Cragen.

When Olivia looked up at her lover with shock, Casey shrugged and explained, "You seemed to have so much fun in DC when we were there, I though you should see more of this great big country.  And I've never been to Vegas, so I thought we could discover it together."

Speechless, Olivia gathered the young woman into her arms, letting the strength of her embrace convey her amazement.

Finally, there were only two boxes left: one for Olivia and one for Casey.  Shyly, they each opened their last present.

Olivia breached her gift's protective paper first and opened a tiny jewelry box to find not jewelry but a key.  Puzzled at first, it only took Liv a second to realize that it was the key to Casey's apartment.

She blinked.

Casey watched nervously.  "Is it okay?" she asked.  Olivia lurched forward unexpectedly and caught Casey's lips in a deep, thorough kiss. 

When she pulled back, she rested her forehead against her lover's and said, "It is amazing.  Just like you."

"Oh," she said dazedly.  "Good."  Realizing she still had a half-opened box in her hands, she finished removing the shiny red paper and lifted the lid of a black jeweler's box.  "Oh," she said again, but this time the word was filled with wonder.  Tears rimed her jade-colored eyes and she lifted the necklace out of it's velvet nest with trembling fingers.  At the end of a fine gold chain hung a small 22k gold replica of the NYPD detective's shield and in the center of that, over the place where the coat of arms would normally be, was a tiny, white, kite-shaped diamond.  But Casey barely registered that.  The most important part to her wasn't the diamond; it was the string of tiny, golden numbers underneath the shield itself.  44015.  Olivia's badge number.

And what was there to say about that in the end, really? 

After Olivia had fastened the delicate chain around Casey's neck and as they made love deeply and tenderly amongst the colorful Christmas trash and treasure, bare to each other's arms while nestled in this familiar bed, only their unspoken hopes could be heard.

Carry me safely in your heart, my love, and I will carry you safely in mine.  Always...

-----

Fin



I hope you enjoyed it!

Twoodles!

DiNovia


 
 
 
My State of Mind: exhaustedexhausted
 
 
 
Tiffany: comic ds dinosaurs & sexpiekid on November 12th, 2007 08:46 am (UTC)
So if I write my favorite parts of this story on my person, will you sign me when next I see you?

;)
seftiri: Dinosaur Comics Sex Sceneseftiri on November 12th, 2007 12:30 pm (UTC)
Even better! I'll sign you in edible ink! ;)
Tiffany: comic dc t-rex sexypiekid on November 12th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
mmmmmmmmmm........

We'll both use it... no Sharpies. ;)
seftiri: MeLivFicseftiri on November 13th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
Nope. Never Sharpies. ;)
_melymbrosia_ on November 12th, 2007 01:21 pm (UTC)
Another excellent story, Erin! I'm so looking forward to the next one you hinted at in your gift suggestion post!

Although my favorite story of yours is still The Awakening, I found this one to be very satisfying as well. I really admire the way you create a complex, non-predictable storyline, yet bring it to a comforting resolution in the end. For example, I loved the way you described Liv and Casey's separation over Christmas, to emphasize Liv's devotion to both her calling and her partner. I wasn't really into the "dangerous fugitive" bit or the handcuffs, but that's a matter of personal taste. However, I relished the family dynamic you mentioned in the lj community, in this and also your other stories...I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to family and commitment.

All in all, another delicious offering from my favorite C/O author in the world!
seftiri: Limer Green and Goliath Purpleseftiri on November 13th, 2007 12:30 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for the lovely feedback. :D