We all have a book or a story that we return to in times of trial, in times of sorrow and in times when we need a comfortable embrace of a good friend, The Spark Trilogy by chilly_flame is that story for me. When a book I’m reading does not pan out, when my week goes to hell in a hand basket, when I just need a touch of the safe and the familiar and of something that has never let me down – I turn to Spark, Hybrid and Synthesis, the three novellas that form the Spark Trilogy and that together rise to the word count of a full novel.
The beauty of Spark is that it explores a place in a romantic relationship of two truly beloved characters that a reader very rarely is privileged enough to experience. The author gives us a true gift in this series – that nebulous Happily Ever After that we only get promised in most stories but that we never see. Well, we see it here. In spades, in all its glorious Technicolor and Dolby Surround. What happened after Princess Charming awakens Snow White or how did Cinderella manage not to drive everyone insane in the castle with her habits of cleaning and organizing? We see it through the eyes of this couple.
We get to experience a Happily Ever After of two of TVs most beloved characters in one of the longest running show – the resolute, loyal and fearless SVU detective Olivia Benson and the returning from her two years in witness protection program Assistant District Attorney Alex Cabot.
Their chemistry on screen was undeniable and it’s testimony to that chemistry that so many viewers, even casual ones, shipped those two gorgeous strong characters. Their reconnection after years of pining and longing for each other is where the first story in the triptych begins. Alex returns from her enforced exile to find Olivia in a loveless relationship and Olivia finds Alex even more lovely and irresistible than she had ever thought her to be.
Will they ignore their obvious to absolutely everyone feelings for each other, or will they finally throw caution to the wind and take that elusive chance? Will Alex’s past come to haunt them? Will Olivia’s present?
Pros And My Favourite Parts
Cabenson, as is the name of this ship, is an old one and a good one. Even the actresses themselves have used the hashtag to tag photos they had taken together on the occasion their paths had crossed. It’s a comfort ship for many, myself included. And to see the ship get a HEA among the very first chapters of the story and then spend the rest of the 70,000 words living it? Priceless.
From living arrangements, to birthday parties, to facing up to past and present mistakes together, it’s low angst, high happiness and high reward for the reader who wants to sit back, relax and enjoy a HEA unfolding.
Still, despite mostly rosy events and fun times, this story has plenty of journey from both characters, from being single and solitary creatures, enveloped in their work, to learning how to be a couple and how to ask forgiveness and how to communicate better.
Supporting cast in Stabler and the SVU boys get special mentions because they really shine in this one, as do Alex’s witness protection time friends – the subjects of Hybrid, the second part of the trilogy.
Cons And Heads Up
Understandably, Alex has been through hell and back with the attack that took her into witness protection and the aftermath of those events and they still weigh heavy on her. There’s some representation of PTSD on page.
If you love SVU and Cabenson – this is the absolute best series that has been written about this ship and there are many good ones out there. Not just because the characters are overwhelmingly true to themselves, but because this is a rare aspect of a relationship that a reader gets to see – what happened after HEA.
I’d love to say something original about the writing but this is my third review of a fanfic by this author and all I can say is – they are a proven talent that never ever disappoints and always finds ways to surprise the reader with their depth of understanding both the characters and their language and emotions. Stellar, per usual.
The sex scenes are all the better for the astounding trust and intimacy the couple shares and the understanding that their time has finally come after years of trials and tribulations, they are each other’s.
Thankfully, Snow White is not part of this fandom, or she’d be meddling and baking cookies and trying to be as saccharine sweet about this already sweet enough journey as possible.
Excerpt from The Spark Trilogy by chilly_flame
“Jesus, Fin, what happened?”
Fin raised his chin, gesturing across the room. Around her, the air seemed to spark, alive with electricity. “Hey,” a voice said behind her, and Olivia froze.
Though her feet didn’t want to cooperate, she managed to turn around. Before her stood a vision, the one face that made her heart stop and stutter forward again, tripping over itself to beat in triple time. Olivia opened her mouth, but words wouldn’t come.
Elliot came into focus next to Alex. “Velez turned up in the Hudson the night after you left.”
She coughed once, croaking out, “Why didn’t you call?”
“I did,” he said, moving toward her. “I left messages.”
She shook her head, looking past her partner, unable to stop staring. Ice blue eyes gazed steadily at her. Alex looked… different. Her hair was short, but still the pale blonde that Olivia had dreamed of every night for a month after Alex had gone. She was thinner, and there was something missing, though for a moment she couldn’t put her finger on it.
When Alex tilted her head, Olivia had it. The cockiness was absent, replaced by a hesitance that didn’t suit the formerly assured lawyer.
“Aren’t you going to welcome me home?” Alex asked quietly.
Trying to mask a wince, Olivia felt the familiar pain blossom in her chest. For more than two years she’d folded up her affection for Alex until it was so small, it seemed invisible, as if it had never existed. But the tiny place where she held it burst open beyond her control. She imagined sweeping Alex into an embrace as tears rolled down her face. Alex would hold her so close, while Olivia would smell the scent that had haunted her for so many days and nights. They would kiss once, twice, and again until those around them would look away, not wanting to intrude.
Instead, Olivia said hoarsely, “Welcome home.”
The obvious dissatisfaction on Alex’s face stunned her. She wasn’t used to seeing such naked emotion on the cool features, and the effect was potent. “Thanks,” Alex said dryly. “Just like old times.”
Olivia hated seeing her disappointment, and wracked her brain for something more meaningful. “I mean, I missed you,” Olivia said, moving a step closer. The thirst she’d suppressed bubbled up. Somehow, she’d drifted to stand right in front of Alex. “How are you?” Her hand started to lift, wanting to touch that soft hair; it looked silken, like feathers, like velvet. She pushed the desire away, shoving her hand into her pocket.
Alex watched her. “Not dead. Which is more than I can say for Velez. How are you, Liv?”
The way she said the nickname was a whisper of a kiss. Blankly, Olivia nodded. “Good, good. I’ve been… good.”
“You went away,” Alex said. “I can’t believe you were on vacation.”
Olivia snorted lightly, running a hand through her hair. “I know. I was tricked into it.”
For the first time, Alex broke eye contact. Her gaze followed Olivia’s hand up, then down again. “What’s that on your hand?”
The ring. Christ. “Oh, um, it’s just a thing someone gave me.”
And then Alex was holding her hand, while Olivia tried not to gasp. It was only then that she looked around, realizing Fin, Munch and Elliot had left them alone.
“That’s an engagement ring.”
Alex’s skin was soft, but there were calluses on her thumb, and the inside of her forefinger. Olivia said weakly, “It’s not. I mean, I’m not engaged.”
Blue eyes, almost translucent, pinned her; she was an insect in a spider’s web. “Why are you wearing it then?”
With a sigh, Olivia replied, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Seconds ticked by, and their hands stayed in contact.
Bits And Bobs
Fandom: Law and Order: SVU
Rating Guide: G= General, T = Teen and up, M=Mature, E = explicit
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