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It's All in the Cards
Olivia Benson knocked on the office door and waited. A few seconds later, she heard the reply from within. "Come in." She opened the door to see the Assistant District Attorney sitting at her desk, phone to her ear, with what could only be described as a shit-eating grin on her face. Alex waved her in with a 'come here' motion of her hand and gestured to one of the client chairs facing her desk. Olivia stepped inside, closed the door quietly and made her way to the designated chair. She sat and observed the ADA as she listened intently and then rolled her eyes for Olivia's benefit. "I don't care what your client has to say, Trevor, thanks to my ace detectives," she gave Olivia a wink, "we no longer need his testimony to corroborate the rape. The deal is off the table."
Olivia watched and wondered if Alex had any idea just how sexy she was when she was wearing those glasses and winking at one of her 'aces'. One of these days, Olivia might just find the nerve to tell her, but probably not today. She had chickened out every other day, and she could see no reason this one should this one be any different.
Alex shook her head and said into the phone, "Trevor, listen to me, I'll speak slowly. His. In-for-ma-tion. Is. Use-less. No. Deal." Olivia almost laughed out loud. Alex listened for a few seconds and said, "I'm not being condescending, I just can't figure out what part of 'No Deal' you don't understand." A few seconds later, Alex pulled the phone away from her ear and looked at it before hanging up. "Well, I think he finally understands."
"Getting to hear that was worth the trip over here."
"I swear, sometimes I really believe that man is just dense." She looked at Olivia and held up her hand. "I know what you're thinking, so just don't go there. It was one dinner and I quickly saw the error of my ways." Alex shook her head as if shaking off a bad memory. She was, of course, referring to the evening when Elliot and Olivia tracked her down requesting a warrant and found her dining with Trevor Langan. Olivia even accused her of 'dining with the enemy'. Alex was still not sure if the 'enemy' the detective referred to was a defense attorney or the man himself.
Olivia chuckled and shook her head. "I didn't say a word. How could I? I'm still speechless over that whole affair. No pun intended."
"Very funny, Detective. Are you ready to go over your testimony for Brown tomorrow?"
"That's what I'm here for." That, and to gaze into your eyes... While we discuss a rapist. But, hey, it's better than nothing, right?
Alex's phone rang. She looked at it and said, "Please, God, don't let that be Langan again." She picked up the phone. "Cabot Yes What?!" She looked at Olivia as the color drained from her face. "Detective Benson from Special Victims." This piqued Olivia's interest. "Yes. I understand. You will keep us posted, right? Thank you." She hung up the phone and stared wide-eyed at Olivia.
"Alex, what's going on? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"We're in lock down."
"Lock down? For what?!"
"A security guard just found a suspicious package by the main entrance with a note that said it was one of several in the building and they all contain Anthrax." Olivia leapt out of her chair and headed toward the door. "Olivia, wait!! The phone call was from the security chief's office. He said for neither of us to leave the office. They're starting a grid search now and will let us know when it's safe."
"Alex, I'm a cop!"
"A special victims detective."
"Are you saying I'm not capable of handling something like this?"
"Olivia, I have never doubted your capabilities in any situation. I just don't want my ace detective to go and get herself exposed to Anthrax." Alex looked at Olivia pleadingly. "They don't know where the other boxes are, or if they even exist." Olivia looked at Alex and saw a hint of fear in her eyes. "Please, Olivia, just stay put until we hear more."
"So what am I supposed to do, just sit here, while I could be out there helping?"
Alex sighed. "Olivia, they know you're here. If they need you, I'm sure they'll call. Besides, I have selfish reasons for wanting you to stay." The detective cocked one eyebrow and waited for Alex to continue. "As you've pointed out, you're a cop. Why don't you call your partner, let him know you're here, and see if he can get some inside information on what's going on?"
Olivia pulled out her cell phone and sat back down in the chair. "Why didn't I think of that?" She opened the phone, but looked at Alex before punching in the number. "And I thought it was just because you were worried about me."
"That too, but I really didn't think that would stop you."
Olivia smirked and punched in Elliot's number. Alex watched the detective as she relayed what she knew about the situation to her partner. Olivia was right. She really didn't want her in any more danger than she already was, but she didn't know how to express that to the detective without sounding like a nagging wife. Olivia signed off and snapped the phone shut. "Elliot says I'm in much better company here. They had just gotten word of what's going on, and Munch has already launched into conspiracy theory number three." Alex laughed. "He's gonna call back as soon as he has anything to report. So, do you still want to go over testimony?"
"We may as well. Make yourself comfortable and we'll get started."
Two hours and one phone call from Elliot later, they finished up the trial prep work. Elliot had called to say he still didn't have any news, but Alex had the suspicion that he was just checking on Olivia. She knew it annoyed Olivia sometimes, but Alex was glad that Elliot was so protective of his partner. Of course that might make pursuing a romantic relationship with the lovely detective a little more difficult. Like that's ever really going to happen. Cabot, you're such a chicken-shit!
Alex took off her glasses, stood and stretched, and walked over to the mini refrigerator in the corner of her office. "Can I interest you in something to drink?"
"Don't suppose you have any cold beer in there?"
"Sorry. But after today, I might add that to my shopping list." Alex opened the door of the fridge and leaned over to peer inside. Olivia immensely enjoyed the view. "I have Pellegrino water, spring water, or two boxes of Juicy-Juice."
"Never would have figured you for a Juicy-Juice kind of girl, Alex."
The ADA stood and gave Olivia a smirk. "I keep it on hand for any children that I may have to interview."
"Yeah, next time you show up in court with a red mustache, we'll know why."
"No mustache. They come with little straws. Could lead to a red tongue though." As soon as the words left her mouth, Alex inwardly cringed as she realized the set-up she had just given the detective.
Olivia smiled as she let that image run wild in her head. "Yeah " She felt a warm flush go through her and wondered it this was evidenced on her face. "Uh, I'll have a spring water."
Surprised by the look that just passed over the detective's face, Alex watched her for a moment, still expecting a smart-ass reply to the tongue statement. When none came, Alex leaned back into the refrigerator giving Olivia one last glimpse of her skirted posterior and drew out two bottles of spring water. She crossed the room, handed one bottle to Olivia and returned to her desk. The ADA decided that the reddening of Olivia's face was most likely due to the rising temperature in the room.
"It's really getting stuffy in here." Alex removed her suit coat and hung it on the back of her chair.
Olivia nodded. "My guess is they've turned off the air and ventilation system to avoid the spread of any contaminants." She stood up and began unbuttoning her outer shirt. Alex watched with very inappropriate thoughts running through her head. "I usually layer, since I never know what may end up on my clothes." Alex nodded and felt the blush creeping up her neck. Olivia noticed, with amusement, the never before seen look on Alex's face. If I didn't know better, Alex, I would think you like watching me undress.
Olivia removed her outer shirt to reveal a somewhat clingy sleeveless shirt underneath. Alex tried not to ogle her. Oh. My. God. She has no idea how good she looks in that shirt. Olivia sat back down, opened the bottle of spring water, and took a drink. Alex was still watching her with what could only be described as admiration bordering on lust. Those arms. Those
"Don't you want some?" The detective was smiling.
"Water?" Olivia pointed to the unopened bottle on the desk.
"Oh. Yeah." Alex quickly picked up the bottle and opened it. Maybe I should just pour it on my head. She took a sip and put the bottle back on her desk. "I'd offer ice, but I forgot to fill up the tray last time I emptied it."
"That's OK. The bottle is cold." Olivia held her water bottle against her forehead. She could feel her face beginning to perspire. The temperature in here just went up a notch and I don't think it's all because of the lack of air conditioning. She noticed Alex squirming around in her chair. Her hands were beneath the desk and she was bending forward. "Alex?"
"Are you OK?"
More squirming and then a smile. "Better now." The ADA held up a limp pair of pantyhose and then tossed them on the floor beside her desk.
"Don't forget those. The cleaning crew will find them and will wonder what you've been doing in here." She had seen some of the looks directed toward the ADA on occasion and speculated that she was not the only one who fantasized about the woman. She imagined the attorney's bare legs beneath the desk and tried to remember if she had ever seen them that way before. Maybe she could entice another trip to the fridge.
"I'm sure the cleaning crew has found worse around here than these." Alex scooped up the nylons, opened a desk drawer and stuffed them into her purse. Olivia couldn't help but find it amusing that the ADA didn't seem to want to provide fodder for the rumor mill. Then another thought occurred to her.
"You don't happen to have any cards in there do you?"
"Yeah, you know, playing cards. I was going to challenge you to a hand of poker. Loser has to sneak out for ice." Alex was giving her a skeptical look. "Or " Careful, Benson. Do you really want to open this door? Oh, what the hell, after the way she's been looking at you, go for it. "At the rate we're going, I guess we could just play strip poker." Alex froze for an instant, and Olivia wondered if she had gone a bit too far. Then Alex's expression changed, but Olivia was not really sure which emotion was in control intrigue, surprise, and amusement all seemed to make fleeting appearances. She took another sip of water and sat back to wait for a response.
Alex looked squarely at the detective, trying to determine where this conversation was headed. It seemed obvious, but she didn't want to misread the situation. Olivia's face displayed something between a smirk and a smile and there was a definite glint in her eyes. OK, Olivia, I'll play along and see just how far you're going with this. "We seem to be doing that already - without the cards. I believe it's your turn."
Olivia almost choked on her water. She sputtered and coughed. Smooth, Benson. Alex found this utterly amusing, but stifled her laugh. Olivia looked down at her clothing and said, "Uh, I'm out of layers." She looked back at Alex who was now having trouble hiding her amusement. You think you just called my bluff, don't you, Alex? Olivia smiled and kicked off her shoes. "But I guess I could lose the shoes." She lowered her head and peeked under the privacy panel on the front of Alex's desk. "Looks like yours are already off."
Alex shook her head and laughed. "Now I wish I hadn't already taken off those damn glasses." This brought a laugh from Olivia. "Remind me to never actually play poker with you. I'm pretty sure I'd end up the naked one."
Olivia arched a dark eyebrow. "You never know. I might throw a few hands, just so you wouldn't be alone."
Alex was opening her mouth to respond when Olivia's cell phone rang. Damn! Olivia looked at the display and then opened the phone. "Hey, Elliot No, we haven't heard anything yet. What about you? That's good. Maybe they'll let us out soon then." She glanced up at Alex while she listened to Elliot. "Like you said, I'm in good company. We went over all the Brown testimony and we were just sitting here chatting. Other than the fact that they turned off the air conditioning, we haven't had any problems Yeah, well we decided that was a benefit of dressing in layers. We just peeled off the top layers " Another look at Alex accompanied by laughter. "I'll tell her OK, thanks, El." Olivia hung up the phone and clipped it back on her belt.
"Elliot says the preliminary tests on the residue on the box came up as baking soda, but they're still testing the contents. They're hoping to evacuate the building soon, but they want to get security cameras trained on all the exits just in case the deliveryman is still in the building."
Alex nodded. "So what else are you supposed to tell me?"
"He said next time you get locked down, he volunteers Munch to join you. When he heard you were peeling off layers, he figured Munch would volunteer himself."
"I think I'll stick with present company, thank you."
Olivia smiled. "Good. Now what were you saying about getting naked?"
Alex was about to reply when they heard a knock on the door. Double damn! "Ms. Cabot? It's Jerry from Security." The voice was muffled through the door.
Alex looked at Olivia almost apologetically. "Come in, Jerry."
The door opened and a heavy-set security guard appeared in the doorway. He nodded to each of the women. "Ms. Cabot. Detective. Looks like it might be a false alarm, but we're getting everyone out now just to be safe. We've shut down the elevators, so I'm afraid you'll have to use the stairs. Also the media is camped out front so you may want to use one of the side exits. Sorry for the inconvenience."
The cop in Olivia couldn't resist. "Any leads on who may have done this?"
"No ma'am. Not that I'm aware of, but I'm just the hired help. I'm sure you probably have better sources than I do. You two have a good day, now." He nodded to them again and left.
Olivia slipped her shoes back on and picked up her shirt. Alex began gathering papers and folders from her desk and stuffing them into her briefcase. "Tomorrow's court will probably be cancelled, but I guess I should be prepared just in case."
Olivia nodded. "Walk you out?"
Alex nodded, slipped back into her shoes, collected her briefcase, jacket and purse, and walked out of her office with Olivia. They went down the hallways and stairwell without speaking. Olivia wondered if what had transpired between them today was just a heat of the moment thing or something that would go beyond today. They exited through one of the side exits as Jerry suggested and stopped together on the sidewalk. An awkward moment of silence passed and neither woman seemed to know what exactly to say.
Olivia was the first to find the nerve. "If you ever want to finish that game, let me know."
Alex nodded and smiled, uncertain how to respond. Just when Olivia thought she wasn't going to say anything, the words came out. "Olivia, there's something I think you should know." She hesitated and Olivia was beginning to wonder if she really wanted to hear the rest. Then her eyes began to smile before her mouth actually did. "I usually play to win."
Olivia almost breathed a sigh of relief and laughed. "Then you'll be glad to know that with the game I have in mind, I think we'll both win."
"That sounds promising. Although losing a hand or two may have its advantages."
Olivia cocked an eyebrow just as her cell phone, with its impeccable timing, rang once again. She unclipped it and looked at the display. "It's from the squad room, I better take it." Alex nodded. "When you get ready to play, Counselor, you know where to find me." Olivia sauntered away and Alex heard the familiar "Benson" as she answered the phone.
As predicted, court was cancelled the next day for one final security sweep of the building. Olivia did not see the ADA until two days later when she was scheduled for her testimony in the Brown trial. A sudden illness experienced by Juror #2 caused an early recess before Olivia took the stand. She and Elliot were heading to the elevator when the ADA called out to Olivia. "Detective Benson, may I have a word with you?"
Elliot looked at Olivia. "Two and a half hours in lock down together wasn't enough?"
Olivia ignored the question. "I'll meet you downstairs." She turned to follow Alex into one of the attorney-client rooms.
Alex shut the door and reached in her briefcase to retrieve a small wrapped package. She handed the package to Olivia. "Think of it as a memento from our time in lock down." A bit puzzled, Olivia didn't know what to say. "Go ahead, open it."
Olivia quickly unwrapped the package to discover a new pack of Bicycle playing cards. She laughed and said, "Counselor, are you challenging me to a game?"
"You bet. Winners take all."
"Sounds like my kind of game."
"Meet me out front at, say, six o'clock?"
"I'll be there."
"Good. I'll look forward to it." Alex opened the door and stepped into the hallway. Olivia looked again at the cards and smiled as she dropped them in her pocket. "Oh, and, Detective?" Olivia looked up to see Alex leaning back into the room. "Bring the cards." She winked and left Olivia standing speechless in the small room.
Elliot was waiting for Olivia on the front steps. Seeing his partner walking out of the door he fell in step beside her. "What was that about? Everything OK?" He couldn't really decipher the look on Olivia's face.
"Yeah. Just some last minute details Alex wanted to go over."
"Oh." He looked at his watch. "Hey, since we're done early today, you want to go grab a beer or something?"
"Thanks, Elliot, but I can't. I already have plans."
"Just a poker game." She walked off and left her partner standing on the sidewalk looking confused.
"Since when do you play poker?" If Olivia heard the question her partner called to her, she didn't respond. Her mind was already planning her strategy for a game she couldn't wait to play.
FADE TO BLACK
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