DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Fallacy is one of my favorite episodes. It also lends itself quite well to those of us who see more to Alex and Olivia than just colleagues.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Fallacy, brief reference to Guilt.
"Cheryl Avery was gang-raped at Rikers." Those words from the ER nurse echoed through Alex's brain and her head began to spin. Her surroundings became surreal and she momentarily felt like she was going to throw up. She saw Olivia go and speak to the nurse at the desk. People moved around her, but she was unaware of what they said or where they were going. Sounds were muffled and her vision was blurred.
"Alex?" She came out of her trance-like state to focus on Olivia's face in front of her. "Alex?" a little louder this time.
"They're taking Cheryl to surgery. She won't be able to give a statement until at least tomorrow." The detective looked at Alex, concern for the other woman beginning to show on her face. "Alex, are you OK?"
"No. Yeah. I just need to go." Alex turned and walked unsteadily toward the emergency room doors.
"Alex, wait. Are you sure you're OK?" Olivia caught up to the ADA as the doors slid open.
A wave of anger washed over Alex. "Yeah, Olivia, I'm just great! I've seen what you brought me here to see, so can you just take me back to my office? On second thought, I'll just get a cab."
The ADA's words stopped Olivia dead in her tracks. "Alex " Realizing that Alex was rapidly walking away, Olivia broke into a jog to catch up. "Wait. Alex, hold on," she said as she caught up to the retreating attorney, catching her arm. "What are you talking about?" Alex jerked her arm away. Olivia grabbed her arm again, turning Alex around to face her. "Wait, what's going on?"
The pain was evident in Alex's eyes. "I'm responsible for Cheryl being here. Isn't that why you wanted me to come with you?"
Shocked, Olivia eased her grip on Alex's arm. "Alex, how could you think that? And, furthermore, you are not responsible for this! You gave Cheryl the best chance hell, her only chance at not going to prison." Olivia's eyes pleaded with Alex.
Alex blinked away tears and looked at the ground. "I prosecuted the case, Olivia."
"You did your job, Alex. This was a no win situation for everyone involved."
"Then why did you tell me I should come with you to the hospital?"
"Certainly not because I thought you were responsible for any of this. The call I got in your office only said that there was a rape victim being transported to Bellevue. I just thought I could save us both some time by bringing you with me." Softening her voice a bit, she continued, "I also thought maybe I could talk you into that drink when we were done." Alex looked up at Olivia and gave a small shrug. Olivia felt the urge to give her a hug, but held back, not sure how such a gesture would be received. "Alex, I know that this was not an easy case for you to prosecute. I hope you know that I would never intentionally do anything to make it any harder than it's already been." Realizing that she was still holding Alex's arm, she gave a squeeze and then let go.
Alex was regaining her composure. She looked at Olivia and was a little surprised at the concern evident in the detective's brown eyes. "I'm sorry, Olivia. I don't usually let my emotions get the best of me. It's just hard not feeling some responsibility for this." Olivia realized that she was witnessing a rare show of raw emotions from the ADA. She didn't remember Alex getting this personally involved in a case since Sam Cavanaugh. As if reading her mind, Alex said, "You'd think I would have learned from the Cavanaugh case, wouldn't you?"
Olivia shrugged. "Some cases just get under your skin. This is one of 'em."
"Right after she suspended me, Liz asked me if doing what I did helped to assuage my guilt for what happened to Sam. I told her 'no' and she said that it never would. She was right."
"Alex, I feel responsible for Cheryl too. But I know that no matter how much I sympathize with her situation, what she did was wrong. You and I can never know what she must have gone through her entire life, and while that certainly helps to explain her behavior, it doesn't change the fact that she killed Joe Cappilla."
"Maybe it really was self-defense. In Cheryl's eyes it certainly was."
"Maybe. But the jury didn't see it that way. Alex, you gotta stop beating yourself up over this."
"Did you know I asked Branch to take me off the case?"
That surprised Olivia. "No. Why?"
"I thought I was too sympathetic toward Cheryl to remain objective."
"Branch obviously thought differently."
"He asked me to think about who would give Cheryl the fairest treatment, me or some other prosecutor who would put her gender on trial."
"Hard to argue with that. For what it's worth, I agree."
"And look where that got Cheryl."
"Alex, you prosecuted Cheryl for murder, not for being transgendered. You're the one always telling me that you have to follow the law. That's what you did."
Alex smiled a crooked smile. "You know, I really hate it when my own words come back to haunt me."
"Yeah, well, I just thought you might like to know that I really do hear what you say. I don't always like it, but I hear it." Olivia smiled warmly and Alex felt a little of her anguish melt away.
"Thanks. I'll remember that the next time you need a warrant at two a.m." The detective laughed and Alex realized just how much she liked that sound. "Do you still want to get that drink, Detective?" Surprise replaced concern in the brown eyes. "As long as I'm letting my emotions take charge, I may as well admit that I really don't feel like being alone right now."
Realizing what it took for Alex to make that admission, Olivia nodded. "A drink sounds really good right now, Counselor. Where would you like to go?"
"Wherever you'd like, or better yet, I have a nice bottle of Merlot at my place. I'd love to share it with a friend."
Olivia smiled and gestured toward the car. "Let's go."
They arrived at Alex's apartment and the ADA ushered Olivia in hoping that she didn't leave too much in the way of clutter in her apartment. "Make yourself at home, Olivia. If you don't mind, I think I'll change clothes. I don't think I can stand another second of these damn pantyhose."
Olivia chuckled and said, "That's one perk of being a cop not many days require pantyhose. Point me toward the wine and I'll open it to breathe." Alex was impressed. The detective knew something about wine. Olivia chuckled again seeing the look on Alex's face. "You know, I do drink something besides beer once in a while."
Alex smiled and shook her head. "The wine rack is in the kitchen. I think there's only one bottle of Merlot, but take your pick if there's more. There's a corkscrew in the drawer to the left of the sink. I'll be right back." She turned and walked down the short hall to her bedroom.
Olivia located the bottle of Merlot and found the corkscrew exactly where Alex said it would be. She was amazed at how organized the kitchen was. Everything was in its place. The only sign of use was an empty coffee cup in the sink. She opened the wine and set it aside to breathe. Wine glasses were hanging beneath the built in wine rack and she pulled down two glasses and set them beside the open bottle.
Alex padded into the kitchen barefoot, wearing faded jeans and a soft oversized sweater. Olivia turned and was taken aback to see the ADA in such casual attire. "Feel better?" she asked as Alex opened the refrigerator and began rummaging around.
"Much. I'd like a day in court with whoever invented pantyhose." She pulled out several kinds of cheese and put them on the counter. She opened a cabinet and pulled out a cheese board and began cutting the cheese into bite size pieces. Another cabinet produced a box of crackers as Olivia watched. She decided that casual Alex was much less intimidating than power-suited ADA Cabot. Alex seemed to sense Olivia's eyes on her and said, "I never really had dinner tonight, so I thought a snack would be good with the wine."
Olivia quickly said, "We can order take-out if you'd like."
"No, I'm not really hungry, but wine tends to go straight to my head if I don't have something in my stomach," Alex said sheepishly. Olivia nodded and realized that Alex seemed a bit nervous and preparing the cheese tray seemed to occupy her hands. Suddenly aware that she had been staring intently at the blonde she decided it best to divert her eyes before Alex felt her stare again. She looked over the counter and noticed the message light on Alex's answering machine blinking. Alex seemed to notice it at the same time and said, "Why don't you take this into the living room and I'll check my messages and bring the wine."
Olivia picked up the cheese tray as Alex pushed the play button on the answering machine. A male voice emanated from the machine. Olivia didn't plan on listening, but the volume was turned up so that she didn't really have a choice. The voice sounded a little like Harvey Fierstein.
"Hey, Sweets. It's Marty. Just checking in. I was wondering how your case with the tranny was going. Call me."
Olivia wondered if Marty was Alex's boyfriend. Next message, same voice. "Alexandra, it's me again. Guess you're still not home. Hope you took my advice and you're out getting laid. You know, I was thinking, maybe you should see Jack again. We'll talk later. Toodles!"
OK, obviously Marty was not a boyfriend. Jack sounded like a possibility though. Olivia was tempted to ask, but didn't want Alex to think she was prying. The answering machine signaled the end of the messages and Alex entered the room with two glasses of wine. She handed one to Olivia, who was seated on the couch, and then sat down next to her.
"Sorry about that. The volume on the machine is stuck. Marty is a friend who lives upstairs."
"You don't need to explain, Alex."
"Well, I don't normally discuss cases with my friends, but I was hoping for some insight into the Avery case. Marty's gay. He's a performer." Alex hesitated. "A female impersonator." Olivia's right eyebrow arched and she tried not to smile. "I thought he might help me to better understand Cheryl, Detective!" Alex didn't mean for her last statement to sound as defensive as it did.
"Alex, I'm not I'm sorry. I just never would have pictured you hanging out with a drag queen."
"Well, obviously I don't know much about them, because I was told in no uncertain terms that most drag queens are not even in the same ballpark with the transgendered."
"Well, how was I supposed to know that?" The defensive tone was back.
"Alex, I think it says a lot that you were trying to understand Cheryl as a human being. Another prosecutor would have turned her into some kind of freak and used that against her."
"Maybe that's why I feel so bad now. I know she's not a freak."
Olivia took a sip of wine and tried to think of a way to change the subject. Neither woman needed to dwell on the evening's events. "Enough about this case for tonight. New subject." She looked at Alex. Blue eyes looked back at Olivia, but neither woman spoke. Olivia chuckled and shook her head. "Surely we can find something to discuss that doesn't involve this case or work."
Alex smiled. "Well, I just realized that I know Olivia Benson, the detective, but I'm not sure I've ever met Olivia Benson, the person."
"I'm pretty sure that Olivia the person is Olivia the detective."
Alex shook her head. "I'll bet there's a lot more to you than you let people see."
"Nope, not really. What you see is what you get. Sad, huh?"
"Not sad at all. I think you're a strong, compassionate, caring person. You just don't let many people see the personal side of you that I seem to be catching a glimpse of tonight." Olivia looked down, somewhat embarrassed. "Thank you, Olivia."
"Keeping me company tonight. Letting me vent my frustrations to you and just being a friend when I needed one."
"Any time, Alex. It's actually nice to have a friend who can relate to the job, you know?" Olivia looked up at Alex and found her blue eyes startlingly clear and gazing warmly at Olivia. Not really sure where to direct the conversation next, Olivia fidgeted a bit and took a sip of wine. "We're coming dangerously close to talking about work again, so another change of subject is in order. Tell me about this Jack that your drag queen wants you to see again." Whatever emotion had been in Alex's eyes was immediately replaced with a new one. Olivia realized her mistake and back peddled quickly. "I'm sorry, I couldn't help overhearing. Forget I asked. It's really none of my business, Alex."
Alex recovered from whatever it was Olivia's questioned had invoked. "No, it's OK. Jack is an old flame that wants to rekindle."
"So why not?"
"Because my flame for Jack burned out a long time ago. End of story."
"OK. Next subject?"
"What about you? Any old flames burning for you?"
Olivia fidgeted again. "No. Next subject?"
Alex smiled. "You started this, remember?"
Olivia nodded. "Asked and answered, Counselor." A hint of playfulness was in her voice, but she hoped that Alex wouldn't pursue this line of questioning.
Alex smiled. "You also said no more work talk."
"Just because I throw your words back at you, doesn't mean you have to do the same thing," Olivia bantered back. "So what does that leave us to discuss?" Olivia pretended to ponder. "How about the Yankees?" Alex rolled her eyes. Olivia groaned. "Please don't tell me you're a Mets fan."
Olivia groaned and rolled her eyes. "You've got be kidding. Next subject?"
Alex laughed again and Olivia believed that she could almost see Alex beginning to relax. She was even feeling more at ease herself. Maybe it was the wine. Or maybe, just maybe, this was the beginning of a real friendship. Olivia drained her wine and Alex stood saying, "I left the bottle in the kitchen. Let me grab it." Just as she turned toward the kitchen, there was a knock at the door.
"I'll get the wine, you get the door," Olivia said standing. She headed for the kitchen and Alex went to answer the door.
From the kitchen, Olivia could hear the same voice that she heard on the answering machine.
"Oh, good, you're home. Did you get my messages?"
"Yeah, sorry I haven't had a chance to call you," Alex's voice responded.
"Oh, no problem. I just came down to tell you to ignore the part about Jack. The more I think about it, the more I think she's just no good for you anymore. Has she called again?"
She? Olivia was headed back into the living room with the wine and stopped in her tracks when she heard that word. Jack is a woman? Alex's voice sounded a little anxious this time. "Marty, now is really not the time-"
"You need someone you can depend on. I've decided you should go after that yummy SVU detective you told me about the other night-"
"Marty!" Alex interrupted.
Olivia came back into the room and the man she now knew was Marty peered around Alex when he spotted her, surprise evident on his face.
"Ohmigod, Alex! Why didn't you tell me you had a guest? I didn't mean to interrupt."
"Marty Levin, I'd like you to meet Detective Olivia Benson." Olivia gave a small wave from across the room and Marty waved back, looking from Olivia to Alex and then back to Olivia.
"So nice to meet you, Detective. Wish I could stay and chat, but I left something on the stove. Call me, Alex." He turned and fled down the hall leaving Alex staring at the open doorway. She slowly closed the door and turned to face Olivia wondering how much of the exchange with Marty she overheard. The look on Olivia's face gave her the answer. It was somewhere between amusement and surprise.
Alex gestured toward the door. "That was Marty."
"So you said." Alex didn't move. Olivia refilled both wine glasses and looked again at Alex. "Next subject?"
"Olivia, let me explain."
"Alex, you don't owe me any explanation, but if you'd like to tell me, I'd like to listen."
Alex moved back to her place on the couch, picked up her wine glass and downed almost half of the contents. Olivia suppressed a smile and waited for Alex to begin. "I'm not sure what you heard Marty say."
"Will that alter how much you tell me?"
"No, but it will help me know where to begin."
"It's a small apartment, Alex, and he doesn't exactly have a soft voice." Alex nodded and took another sip of wine. "Like I said, you don't owe me anything."
"No, I do. I don't want to you to get the wrong idea."
"About me. About why I invited you here tonight."
"Why did you?"
"Because I needed a friend."
"And that's why I came, Alex. We can just leave it at that."
"No, it's out there now, and I don't want you to feel weird around me or anything. I kind of like having you as a friend."
Olivia nodded. "Me too."
Alex took a deep breath. "My old flame, Jack? It's short for Jacqueline. She's an ad exec with a big firm in lower Manhattan. She could never really accept my view that coming out of the closet was not a wise career move for an assistant district attorney prosecuting sex crimes. It was always a sore subject between us and eventually she found other willing escorts when I wouldn't accompany her to public events. I found out when her picture showed up in the society section of the Times with a stunning redhead on her arm."
"Yeah. So we broke up. That was six months ago. She called me the other day and wanted to get together for drinks. I said no and made the mistake of telling Marty about her calling. Now he's making it his personal mission to get me back in the saddle his words, not mine." Alex paused and looked at Olivia. "Well, you're not running for the door, so I guess that's a good sign."
"I'm still waiting for the part about the yummy SVU detective," she taunted. "You see, I've been thinking, and I just can't associate the word 'yummy' with Munch or the Captain, and Elliot's happily married. So that leaves Fin or-"
"You, Olivia. Marty was talking about you. I was telling him about the Avery case and how compassionate and understanding you were towards Cheryl. I guess he mistook my admiration for attraction."
Olivia pondered the thought for a few seconds. "It's kind of a stretch to go from compassionate and understanding to yummy, isn't it?"
Alex sighed. "I suppose I gave him a physical description of you when he asked. But I never used the word yummy. That's Marty's description, not mine. I would never call you yummy." Out loud.
"Thanks. I think."
"I'm not saying you're not attractive, I'm just saying that's not a word I would use."
Olivia tried to suppress a grin. "What word would you use?"
Alex looked at Olivia and remembered how she described the detective to Marty. Her words had certainly revealed her attraction to the detective, even though she knew she was unattainable. After a moment she said, "Let's not go there."
"You're doing wonders for my ego."
"That's not what I meant at all."
"So, you do find me attractive?"
"I don't want to give you the wrong idea."
"What idea would that be?"
"That I'm you know interested in pursuing you."
"Oh. Well, that's a relief." Olivia comment was laced with sarcasm.
Alex looked squarely at Olivia and tried to read her thoughts. She couldn't. "Olivia, I really can't tell if you're joking or if you're pissed off or what, but please, just hear me out." Olivia tilted her head to indicate that she was listening. Alex took another deep breath and started speaking again. "A lot of women get freaked out when they learn that they are in the company of a lesbian. You and I have a great professional relationship and what I see as a nice beginning of a personal friendship. I just don't want to screw that up, OK?"
"Alex, in case you haven't figured it out by now, I'm not one of those women you mentioned. And I don't question your intentions for asking me to have a drink with you. In fact, I think I was the one that asked you first - and you turned me down. So I'm not questioning your motives or worried that you're interested in more than friendship."
"Good. I'm glad."
"What I am, is a bit surprised that I never even had a clue. I'm usually a little more astute at picking up on things like that."
"I try very hard to keep my private life, well, private. Are you telling me that you have some special insight into people's sexual orientation?"
Olivia chuckled. "I don't know that insight is the right word."
"Gaydar?" Alex smirked.
"I guess some people call it that. Why the smirk?"
"I just didn't think straight people really had it."
"They don't." She looked directly at Alex. "Guess yours is not working too well either." She let the comment hang in the air until she saw the realization dawn on Alex's face. Olivia smiled.
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?" Alex asked incredulously.
"Fair's fair. I know what it took for you to tell me what you've told me tonight. And if we're gonna keep this friendship thing going, then I feel I owe it to you to be honest with you too. So, yeah, to answer your question. You're looking at Olivia Benson, lesbian detective." Alex stared at Olivia for a moment and then shook her head with a quiet chuckle. Olivia stared back. "Don't tell me you never suspected."
"Well, you never did."
"At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, you don't necessarily fit the usual stereotypes - I do. Or so I've been told."
"I'll have to say, I've wondered on occasion, but you date men!"
"I seem to recall seeing you on a date with a man." Olivia also recalled the red dress Alex was wearing at the time.
Alex nodded. "True. But it never went beyond dinner or some public affair where a date was expected."
"I'm not asking you to defend yourself, I'm just pointing out that things are not always what they seem." Oddly, Olivia felt pleased to know that Trevor Langan, the sleazeball defense attorney serving as Alex's dinner date, never had the pleasure of removing that red dress.
"I would think it would be a little more accepted for a female cop, although I'm not really sure why. Stereotypical, I guess."
"It's challenging enough being the only female detective in the squad without adding another layer."
"Does anyone in the squad know?"
"Not because I've told them. I think Elliot suspects, but we've never discussed it. Being the good, catholic ex-marine and all, I think he's happy with don't ask, don't tell." Olivia drained her wine glass.
Alex, whose glass had long been empty, asked, "Should I open another bottle?"
Olivia looked at her watch. "No, but thanks for the offer. It's getting late and I'm driving, remember? I probably should get going." Alex nodded and tried to not look disappointed. She must have failed because Olivia said, "Are you OK with everything?
"Yeah. I'm sorry about the circumstances that caused it, but I'm glad we had the chance to talk tonight. I appreciate your honesty and your words of wisdom about the Avery case."
"I'm not sure about wisdom, but I'm glad I could be a friend when you needed one." She looked directly into Alex's blue eyes. "And don't worry. As far as I'm concerned, anything said here tonight stays between us."
Alex nodded. "Thanks. That goes both ways. I know I can trust you Olivia. That's one of the things that makes you so great." Olivia gave Alex a questioning look. "With the victims, I mean. You have this way about you that puts people at ease and almost makes them want to open up to you. I've seen you do it so many times, and I'm in awe every time." Alex smiled. "See, I'm doing it now."
"Telling you things that I wouldn't ordinarily tell you. That's one of the things I told Marty about you. How you put Cheryl at ease and were so kind to her."
"I still don't see how that translates to yummy, Alex."
Alex rolled her eyes. "Well the part about your beautiful brown eyes and great, albeit too seldom seen, smile probably entered into the equation for yummy."
"All those things that you're not attracted to."
"I never said that." Olivia arched one eyebrow. Alex smiled and said, "Are you sure you wouldn't like another glass of wine?"
"I would but I really should be going." Olivia stood and walked to the door and Alex followed. Olivia hesitated when she reached the door and looked back at Alex. "Can we save it for next week?"
"Sure." Then the question registered with Alex. "Next week?"
"Yeah. You made it pretty clear that you weren't planning on pursuing me, and I know that you're a woman of your word." Alex nodded, wishing with all her might that she could take back those words, but it was too late. "But you never said you would be opposed to me pursuing you. Would you like to have dinner with me next week?"
Alex's heart skipped a beat. She smiled surprise and delight evident on her face. "I would love to."
Olivia smiled back. "Good." She opened the door and stepped into the hallway. She hesitated as she turned to face Alex again. "There's one more thing you need to know." Alex looked at Olivia and waited, wondering what else the detective could possibly surprise her with tonight. Olivia leaned in close and just when Alex thought she was going to kiss her, she turned her head toward Alex's ear and almost whispered, "I will never, ever cheer for the Red Sox." With that, Olivia turned and left, leaving Alex with one thought as she watched the detective's departing swagger Now that's what I would call yummy!
FADE TO BLACK
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