DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything, let alone these two. Borrowed for entertainment purposes only and returned no worse for the wear.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written in one sitting, inspired by Sarah MacLachlan's song, "Angel", not beta-read.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Arms of the Angel
By DiNovia

Jeanette Winters sat cross-legged on the functional queen-sized bed in her functional, mid-range, two-bedroom apartment and stared at the .38 caliber handgun in her lap.

Tears ran down her face as she checked the cylinder to make sure the bullets were still there, ready and waiting for her to pull the trigger. It was her nightly ritual, though the young FBI agent who had suggested she keep a firearm nearby at all times certainly wouldn't have guessed that now she kept the gun close by so that she would be ready when she finally decided to blow her own brains out.

Every night, the young blonde went through the ritual of sitting on her bed and contemplating death at her own hands. It wasn't always the same bed, she didn't always answer to the same name, and she might cry or might not, depending on her mood. But it was always the same gun, with the same six bullets given to her by the earnest agent with pity in his eyes.

However, tonight Jeanette couldn't help but cry. She had spent another in a long series of mind-numbing days in the company of Jeb Hardy, quite possibly the world's most ineffectual, blustering, arrogant excuse for the president of a bank. Even if it was a small-time, small-town, Midwestern bank of no consequence or particular financial interest. That didn't matter to Jeb Hardy. No, he treated every day as if he were personally responsible for the continuing solvency of the entire United States. And Jeanette—as his VP—bore the brunt of Mr. Hardy's unique and volatile personality.

Jeanette had worked for idiots before and for men of unparalleled arrogance and even for one of the loudest talkers ever heard on the planet. This ordeal, in and of itself, wasn't enough to cause her tears or her despair. But added to the constant drone of the days passing by her in this sleepy little Indiana town and the fact that she'd had no fewer than ten identities over the last 28 months, Jeanette knew she couldn't hide her depression much longer.

Wiping away tears with one hand, Jeanette lifted the gun with her other one and placed the cold, impersonal barrel against her temple. She sat like that for almost ten minutes, willing herself to just pull the trigger…just pull the damned trigger already!

But—just like every other night—she couldn't. She just couldn't. She didn't think she had the courage in her.

And she couldn't let go of Olivia long enough to try and find it.

Sighing, Jeanette put the gun back into the plain, oaken bedside table and left her bedroom. She went into the kitchen and put on water for tea, blindly going through the necessary motions while repeating a mantra inside her mind.

My name is Alexandra Cabot. I was the ADA for New York's SVU unit. I am 32 years old. My birthday is February 11th. I was named for my mother's father, Alexander Younger. I have no brothers or sisters. I have been in Witness Protection for 28 months and eight days. It has been…20,652 hours and… She checked her watch. …19 minutes since I last saw Detective Olivia Benson. I have made a promise to myself to see her again. Therefore, suicide is not an option. While there's life, there's hope.

Some days she could feel the hope and some days it was so far away, it was like a ghost in the fog. Hard to see, harder to hold onto.

She poured the now hot water into her favorite mug and lowered a tea ball into it, breathing in the comforting scent of rosehips and lemon peel. Sighing, she took the mug into the living room and curled up on the couch, retrieving her most recent literary endeavor from the low table next to her.

She opened Memoirs of a Geisha to the marked page and began reading, silently acknowledging the one good thing about her present identity: it was allowing her to catch up on her pleasure reading.

Forty minutes later, Jeanette was just about to head back to the kitchen for another cup of tea when her doorbell rang. She glanced at the time display on her VCR and frowned. It was after 9pm, the traditional this-town-is-completely-shut-down-now-don't-even-call-us time.

Slowly, Jeanette got up off the couch, reaching for her cordless phone in the process. She sidled carefully toward her front door and peered through the peep hole. Outside her door stood two very clean-cut young men in nearly identical suits. Even without the badge the one was holding up to her peep hole, Jeanette would have recognized them as feds.

She felt the tears welling in her eyes before she had even managed to unlock the door.

"Jeanette Winters?" asked the taller of the agents as he hesitantly entered the apartment. His partner followed him.

The young woman closed the door behind them. "Yes," she sighed, forcing herself to look at the two men. She tried to remind herself that it wasn't their fault she was going through this, that it was Velez and his obsession with seeing her dead that was chasing her through the Greater United States and enough names to fill a phone directory.

"We have a packet for you, ma'am." He pulled a large manila envelope from his suit jacket and handed it to her.

"Thank you, Agent…?"

"Oh, Agent Martin, ma'am. And this is Agent Gentry."

"Thank you, Agent Martin." Jeanette stared at the envelope for a minute before tearing it open, reasoning that she couldn't avoid the inevitable. She wondered how Velez's goons had found her this time. She'd only been Jeanette for four months. It was almost a record.

She brushed a lock of blonde hair out of her eyes and pulled the documents from the envelope, noticing as she did so that there was something different about the feel of this packet. She saw the official seal of the FBI on the first page, right where it always appeared, and began to read.

Ms. Cabot,

It is with pleasure that I am able to inform you of the shooting death of Cesar Velez in a sting operation executed by the Manhattan office of the FBI with the cooperation of the Manhattan offices of the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Agency.

Also deceased are two of Velez's top advisors, while three others are currently incarcerated, awaiting trial for multiple charges of possession with intent to distribute, fraud, racketeering, assault, weapons possession and murder.

Enclosed, please find photographs of the deceased as provided by the local ME's office.

Alex quickly paged through the packet until she found the photos and there he was: Cesar Velez. He was laying on a slab with three dark holes in his chest. The other two had similar wounds and looked just as dead. She looked at the photos for a long time, not quite believing that what she was seeing was real. Finally, she turned back to the letter.

With the assistance of the NYPD, both the Narcotics and Major Crimes units, the FBI has determined that the imminent threat that led to your placement in Witness Protection no longer exists. As such, you are now free to reclaim your birth identity and to return to the life that you left two years ago.

Enclosed you will find the paperwork necessary to facilitate this process.

Please contact me or any member of my staff with any concerns or needs you might have. Also, when arrangements have been made for whatever services you might need to execute your move, please contact my office. We will handle all necessary arrangements and payment for these services.

The FBI thanks you, Ms. Cabot, for your continuing cooperation with the Velez investigation and wishes you the best in returning to your previous life.

It was signed by the Director of the FBI himself and under his signature was a hastily scrawled personal message asking her to contact his cell phone if she had any urgent needs.

The tears that had welled in dread now spilled over in joy.

Jeanette Winters was no more. And Alex Cabot rose happily from the dead.

It was just after midnight when Alex finally finished filling out the paperwork that would allow her to be legally recognized as 'Alex Cabot' again. She didn't wait to complete it, opting instead to have the agents stay to take it away with them that very night.

Once the two helpful and friendly agents had taken their leave, Alex was at a loss. She locked the door and leaned against it, not knowing what to do first.

Part of her wanted to start packing up the few belongings she would keep from this last identity. Another part of her wanted to scream and dance, drunk with her new freedom. And another part, the part that finally cut through all the other options vying for her attention, wanted to call Olivia.

Making her way to the couch, Alex picked up her cordless phone and stared at it, knowing she could just dial Olivia's number. She knew it by heart. It was only a little after 1am in New York. She knew Olivia would answer.

But she didn't know how the lanky detective would react to hearing her voice for the first time in over two years.

While they'd been close, had even begun—at least from Alex's perspective—to flirt somewhat seriously, Alex and Olivia had never discussed their friendship, let alone anything beyond it.

What if Olivia had forgotten about her? What if she'd gotten tired of waiting? What if she never held those feelings in the first place?

After considering her plan of action for fifteen long, quiet moments, Alex dialed Olivia's cell, her breath catching when it was picked up on the half ring.

"Benson," snapped the detective, sounding slightly out of breath. Alex wondered what she was doing.

"O-Olivia?" she asked quietly. She could almost feel the tall woman's presence next to her and it made her dizzy with years of pent up desire and stuffed down loneliness. She heard the older woman's breath catch.

"Alex?" came the reply. "Alex, is that you?"

"Yes, it's me. I—I—… I don't know what to say." The young blonde laughed ruefully. "I've wanted to call you for so long and now that I have you on the phone, I don't have the faintest idea what to say to you." Tears slipped down her cheeks and she swiped them away, annoyed by them.

"It's okay, sweetie," whispered Olivia. "Tell me anything you want. Read me the phone book; I don't care. Are you okay?"

"Yes!" Alex got up off the couch and paced around her living room. "Yes, I'm fine! I got my packet tonight, Olivia. I'm free! I can be Alex Cabot again."

Olivia laughed at the unbridled joy she heard in Alex's voice. "I know," she said, tears of her own slipping down olive-skinned cheeks. "I know, sweetie."

Alex clutched the phone with a death grip. "You do? Olivia, how?"

"It's not important. Just tell me…just tell me…" Olivia's voice petered out, a sigh mixing with the static on the line.

"Just tell you what?" asked Alex urgently. She would tell the beautiful woman anything she wanted to hear if only she would stay on the line for the foreseeable future. Until Alex felt real again, felt whole. Knowing that neither would happen until she was able to see Olivia again.

"Alex? Would you do me a favor?" Olivia's voice sounded uncharacteristically small, uncharacteristically hesitant.

"Anything," breathed Alex into her phone. "Anything, Olivia."

"Would you open your front door and tell me what you see?"

Of all the favors she had expected Olivia to ask for, this one was not one of them. Puzzled, she ran to her front door, throwing the bolts back with vicious force in her rush to do what Olivia asked. She jerked the door open…

…and dropped the phone, barely hearing the plastic casing shatter on her hardwood floor.

Olivia grinned at her shyly and pulled her cell away from her ear.

"I guess I don't need this anymore," she joked, flipping it shut.


Olivia Benson's chocolate-colored eyes darkened at the sound of Alex Cabot saying her name with such unrestrained emotion.

"What do you see, Alex?" she asked quietly, jamming her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket.

Alex ignored the question and threw her arms around Olivia's neck, surprising both the detective and herself with one of the most passionate kisses either of them had ever experienced. When they parted, Alex turned bright blue eyes, ringed with tears, up to Olivia's.

"I see the woman I am head over heels in love with," she whispered, reaching up to kiss Olivia again.

Olivia groaned and enfolded Alex into her arms, answering Alex's unspoken plea by opening her mouth to the blonde's questing tongue. They fell against the open apartment door, Alex burying her hands in Olivia's slightly shaggy, uneven locks. Olivia's hands raced up and down Alex's back, trying to pull the woman closer.

Finally, she wrenched her mouth away from Alex's, gasping for air. Her eyes shone with a heady mixture of lust and need.

"Are you sure?" she asked, her hands coming up to cup Alex's face, thumbs gently caressing the soft skin beneath the winter-ice eyes.

Alex just smiled and jumped, wrapping her blue-jeaned legs around Olivia's hips. Still smiling, she leaned in for a slow, wet, thorough kiss that left Olivia trembling and incoherent. When she pulled away and had Olivia's undivided attention, she whispered, "Take me to bed, Liv." She looked directly into the older woman's eyes, offering everything Olivia could see in those cloudless climes as a gift. "Take me to bed and make me remember who I am. Take me to bed and I swear you'll know how sure I am for the rest of your life."

Olivia leaned her forehead against Alex's, tightening her arms around the former ADA.

"I love you, Alex," she said with naked honesty.

"I know, baby," replied Alex, leaning in for another breathless kiss. "Let me show you how much I love you. Please."

The slamming of the door to apartment 3-C at approximately 2:19am on Wednesday morning was the last sign of Alex's existence any of her neighbors had for the next three days.

The End

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