DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story references a few episodes across all 11 seasons particularly 'Loss',' Ghost', 'Infiltrated' and 'Fault'. Time lines are based on show air dates. There is no mention of L&O:Trial by Jury as in my world, Alex never went there. This is the first part in an ongoing trilogy.
THANKS: To everyone on my Yahoo Group, vivalab, for their support - you guys rock!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Chapter 7: Moving On
Elliot and Lieutenant Goldie were inside the mobile command post discussing options.
"How the Hell can a building this important have only one stairwell and no other emergency exits? Have they learned nothing from the past decade?" said Elliot, frustration evident. "Liv's heading for the roof, we get them off, then storm the building...right?" He looked to Goldie for confirmation.
Goldie shook his head. "Stabler," he stopped the tirade he was about to deliver and decided to start again, "Look, once they make it to '12' and are en route to the roof, we can send in the whole damn team and flush him out. We.." he motioned between the two of them, "..have a real chance here to apprehend, dead or alive, a terrorist," he paused, "It's not just Benson and Cabot's lives we're trying to preserve here, it's the future lives of hundreds."
Elliot just looked at him, he didn't care about everyone else. Not today, anyway. He checked his watch, Liv should be heading for the roof, "Is the chopper team in position?" he asked, knowing it probably was.
Goldie nodded his head. We have a 'go' team in the lobby awaiting the signal. Once Benson confirms her position, they'll ascend directly to '9', the rest of the team will secure the stairwell and sweep each floor. Connors is going nowhere Stabler, have some faith."
The comment got Elliot's back up and he was about to reply when an agent broke in, "Sir, feed's back, we have visual." He motioned to the bank of monitors all now displaying live images from within the building.
"Get me '9'" demanded Goldie. The static cameras were in the same position on each floor, none of the office's had cameras. The stairwell camera was located above the fire door, angled downwards at 45 degrees.
All eyes watched as the two cameras covering the 9th floor showed an empty hallway filmed from opposite ends. The first camera was above the elevators and the second at the corner of the 'L' shaped corridor. They watched for any sign of movement, seconds ticked by. Nothing, no movement, no sign of life. Both men anxiously watched the monitors for the floors between '9' and '12'.
"There!" Elliot jumped forward.
A hooded figure dressed in black fatigues was on the stairwell about to open a fire door.
"Which floor is this?" demanded Goldie urgently, "Is this '10'?"
The agent turned, "No sir, '11'" he confirmed.
"Shit." Elliot pulled out his cellphone and hit speed dial, "C'mon Liv.....,c'mon.... pick up," he urged with quiet desperation.
Olivia was leaning against the wall outside the bathroom when Alex re-emerged. She looked at the Detective suspiciously, "Were you listening?" she asked with mock seriousness.
Olivia choked, "Eeww, Alex that's gross. You think I get my kicks outta listening to lawyer's pee?" she shuddered, "Boy, you need to get out more."
Alex smiled, "Maybe I do Detective, you offering?" there was no mistaking the flirtatious tone in her voice.
Olivia looked at her, shook her head and walked away.
Alex watched her confused, 'What did I say? It was only banter, she didn't mind earlier.' She walked after Olivia and reached for her arm. Olivia turned round and looked at the hand on her arm intimidatingly.
Alex instantly let her go, "What did I say Liv? I...I, I don't understand, " she searched Olivia's face trying to read her expression.
Olivia counted to ten and then did it again, deliberately trying to calm herself. She studied the face of the beautiful blond and tried to keep her tone even, "You want me to take you out sometime?" she clarified.
Alex smiled broadly and nodded her head.
"But you didn't want to return my calls or reply to my emails?" She felt herself losing her composure.
The smile on Alex's face faded, "Liv-"
"No" she stopped her.
Olivia closed her eyes, "You don't get to explain, it's too late Alex. You were out of witness protection for three fucking years and you couldn't pick up the phone, not once. You couldn't be bothered, you moved on. Good for you Alex, I'm pleased you got your life back and realized what you did and didn't need in it!" She turned to step away but a hand gripped her arm tightly and forced her to stay still.
Alex rose to her full height and looked directly at Olivia, "You have no idea what I've been through, how dare you try and make me feel guilty when you're the one who disconnected her phone service and moved apartment. Don't worry Liv, I got the message loud and clear, " she dropped the arm. They both stood staring.
Olivia was looking at her with a confused expression, "What are you talking abut?"
Olivia frowned trying to think what she was doing in September 2006, nothing out of the ordinary sprang to mind.
Alex watched her trying to find the significance in the date, "Please Liv, don't go through the motions for my benefit," she moved towards the large, reinforced window and looked out, "I was out of protection two weeks, I was undergoing psychiatric evaluation for any signs of post traumatic stress disorder, I tried your home number and your cellphone. I even went to your apartment but was told you didn't live there any more. I called the precinct and was told you no longer worked there. I may not be a detective Olivia but it didn't take a genius to work out that you didn't want to be found," she finished, bitterness lacing her words.
Olivia moved slowly towards her, "Who did you speak to at the precinct?" She had an idea but needed confirmation.
Alex inhaled and blew the breath out sharply, "I think the name was Beck," she said and turned, surprised at Olivia's close proximity.
Realization dawned on Olivia and she smiled, "I was working undercover for the Feds in late 2006. Danni Beck was Elliot's new partner, she answered the phone. I was on a deep cover op, nobody knew where I was, not Elliot, not the Captain, nobody. If I knew you were back Alex," she stopped and reached for her hand, "I would have been the first to welcome you home with open arms," she said, hoping Alex believed the sincerity in her tone.
Alex stepped closer, squeezing the hand she held, "Undercover?"
Olivia nodded, "I never knew you were back, the only person who knew my location was Agent Dean Porter, my FBI handler."
They stood unmoving looking into each other's eyes both thinking the same thing, 'We've wasted so much time.' They both thought about the times they had spent together before that fateful night. The dinner invitations after work, the late night phone calls after a particularly tough case and the charged arguments in the squad room.
Alex was the first to speak, "Can I ask you a personal question?" she looked deeply into Olivia's molten brown eyes.
Olivia lifted her free hand and curled it around Alex's neck drawing her forward, she paused briefly to look into Alex's bright blue eyes and dipped her head. There was no mistaking her intention.
They were breathing the same air, lips almost touching, Olivia moved to close the final distance and taste the lips she had sought for so long when she felt her pocket vibrate.
Due to their proximity Alex felt it too and looked down resting their foreheads together, "You better answer it," she breathed out in frustration.
Olivia pulled back slightly, she kept her hand curled around Alex's neck but released her other hand to reach for her cellphone. Without breaking the heated gaze she answered it, "This better be good!" she answered abruptly.
"Liv?" said Elliot surprised at his partner's tone.
"Connors just entered your floor!"
Chapter 8: Smoke and Mirrors
Olivia released the gentle hold she had around Alex's neck and reached for her hand. She pulled Alex away form the window and tugged her towards the bathroom. She moved the cellphone away from her ear and spoke softly to Alex, "Stay in there, lock the door, whatever happens, whatever you hear, don't open it for anyone, okay?" she implored.
Alex was stunned and frightened, "Liv...Liv, what's going on?" she demanded.
Olivia ignored her, moving the phone back to her ear, concentrating on what Elliot was telling her, "Okay El," she said and and hung up.
Alex stood at the bathroom door, she lifted her briefcase off the floor and watched Olivia. "Liv?"
Olivia was taking off her leather coat and tucking her hair behind her ears. She moved towards Alex, "Connors just entered the floor, he's probably going to check each office. We're at the end and in his blind spot. I'm going to wait for him at the corner. I need you to stay here, okay?" she had both hands on Alex's shoulders and was waiting for her to respond.
Alex nodded her head and entered the bathroom. As Olivia went to close the door Alex placed a warm hand on her exposed arm, "Be careful," her worry evident.
Liv leaned forward and gently kissed her on the mouth, "Always," she smiled.
"Would now be an inappropriate time to tell you how hot you look," Alex said, admiring the form fitting black shirt with sleeves rolled up above her elbows, toned arms exposed.
"No," Olivia smiled, kissed her again and closed the door.
Olivia answered her phone as it vibrated again, "El?" she asked, keeping her voice low and verbal dialogue to a minimum.
"He's in the office on the right nearest the elevators, where are you?" Elliot asked.
Olivia could tell by his tone he was anxious. She withdrew her weapon and moved carefully to the door, "About to enter the hallway, I need to go silent El, be my eyes," a request she knew she didn't have to make.
"Tact Team is en route, they're on the 4th floor Liv," he said, his eyes never leaving the monitors.
Olivia moved through the open office door, she closed it slowly behind her and moved along the hallway as quietly as she could. She tried to focus on keeping her breathing steady. The Glock in her hand felt heavy as she readjusted her grip.
"He's in the hallway, he's looking towards the elevators...he's entering the opposite office, he's on your left...okay...he's inside...move.." Elliot advised.
Olivia hung up and placed the phone in her pocket as she turned the corner. She stealthily crept down the hallway, gun raised, ready to take the shot. She listened for any movement but could hear nothing. As she approached the office she moved her left hand to support her right, adopting the classic firing pose.
A figure appeared in the doorway.
Six feet separated them.
Olivia aimed her Glock at the figure who had stopped and was facing out from the office door way. She could only see him from the side, she saw the weapon in his right hand, pointed to the floor.
She watched as he stepped out into the hallway.
"Police. Drop your weapon!" she yelled.
The hooded figure turned, startled at the noise.
Two simultaneous gunshots rang out loudly in the hallway.
"NO!" screamed Elliot as he bolted from the command post and raced for the lobby.
Alex heard the gunshots and felt a chill wash over her. Olivia instructed her to wait, no matter what but she couldn't. She counted to twenty, grabbed the door handle and ran out. She reached the closed office door, pulled it open and froze.
A gun was aimed directly at her.
A man dressed in fatigues with ESU printed over the front of his Kevlar vest lowered the weapon in his left hand and spoke, "I've come to get you Miss Cabot, I'm with ESU," he said motioning for her to come out of the office.
Alex stood in the doorway staring at him. He was tall with brown hair, she noticed the ear piece in his right ear and assumed he was part of the Tact Team that had been en route.
"Where's Detective Benson?" she demanded.
"Yankee's been shot, she and Connors faced off, she'll be okay. Ma'am, I need you to come with me," Alex looked at him, she stared hard into his steely gray eyes.
"I'm not going anywhere until I know Detective Benson is safe," she spoke slowly so there was no mistaking her intention.
The figure shook his head, "Ma'am, I have orders to get you out the building I need you to come with me. Now." He emphasised the last word by pointing his right hand downwards towards the floor.
Her eyes followed the aggressive movement and then she saw it.
A dark drop on the floor.
He was bleeding.
She looked at his hand and saw blood seeping through the fingers of his closed fist. She looked up his arm and noticed the darker patch on the fatigues at his shoulder. An entry wound was visible beside the Kevlar vest.
Recognition flashed on both their faces.
He raised the gun in his left hand and pointed it squarely at her chest, "He said you were sharp."
Her mind began to race, 'He?' She swallowed nervously, "You can't get out of here, ESU have the building surrounded," she hoped she sounded more confident than she felt.
He smirked, "I am ESU," he paused, "I found you and rescued you after Yankee was shot. Now, you can come with me quietly or, I can put another bullet in Benson, just to be sure," he said, his voice cold and detached.
Alex nodded, "I need my briefcase," she said turning and heading for the bathroom.
"Don't try anything stupid Cabot, killing is what I do and I have no concerns about shooting a woman in the back," he said abruptly stepping slightly into the office.
As Alex entered the bathroom she considered her options, she knew she couldn't risk it. Olivia might still be alive. Why else would he have said 'another bullet,' she closed her eyes, 'she must be alive...she has to be,' she thought swallowing a sob.
She composed herself and exited the bathroom, carrying her briefcase. She walked towards the door where the gunman was still standing.
"You're not Connors," she confirmed.
"If I was Sean Connors, you'd already be dead."
She felt her blood run cold, "Why would you get mixed up in something like this?" she asked.
"Everybody has a price," he replied coldly.
"Well, if Connors is getting $250k for this hit, what's your cut?" she asked, trying to stall him. She was praying the Tact Team were close by.
"None of your business, MOVE!" he ordered.
Alex watched as he stepped aside and motioned for her to enter the hallway in front of him, "Remember, I found you, I'm leading you to safety. When I lower my gun, DO. NOT. TRY. ANYTHING, " he said, enunciating every word.
"You might want to cover the blood on your hand then, it's a bit of a give away," she spat sarcastically before adding, "Just how are you planning to get past an entire Tact Team?" she said adjusting the strap on her briefcase.
"Always secure the target, stop for no-one. Yankee switched to exit 4 before opting for the roof. I'll report the roof is compromised, escort you downstairs and place you in the waiting SUV," he paused, "By the time they realize you've been kidnapped I'll be back with my unit." he sneered.
The ADA in Alex was confused, "That is the most preposterous plan I've ever heard. Nobody will believe you. There are witnesses, myself and Detective Benson. They're not just going to let you walk me out of here," 'I hope,' she thought.
"He looked at her again, "Have you any idea how many situations like these we deal with? This is protocol. There will be no contact between here and the transportation point, especially once I report that I have 'the package' and Yankee is down. Everyone will be too busy looking for Connors. Nobody will care who is escorting you out as long as it's to safety," he finished.
"How did you get up here, you're alone, doesn't the Tact Team usually travel in pairs?" she said her mind going back to the stairwell and the strange 'popping' noises she had heard.
He shook his head in mock sadness, "Three good men died trying to protect you Miss Cabot. Killed in the line of duty. A terrible loss, all at the hands of Sean Connors. Luckily for you I put up a struggle and got away, despite my injuries," he waggled his bloody hand for effect.
Alex felt sick.
Chapter 9: What's in a Name?
Elliot raced into the DA's building and headed straight for the elevators. His eyes scanned the lobby as he entered the open car, he turned and saw Lieutenant Goldie running towards him. He reached out a hand to stop the closing doors, allowing Goldie to slip in.
"Did you think I'd just let you go without back up Stabler?" panted Goldie, as he brought his breathing under control.
Elliot released the door and punched '11' on the floor selection panel and looked over curiously at Goldie, "Is there no way this guy can get out?" he wanted to make sure Connors was going nowhere.
Goldie leaned against the back wall of the elevator and checked his weapon, "Nope. All the exits are secure, ''Team 1 should almost be there and the 'Go' Team are behind them" he paused and chose his words carefully, "paramedics are heading up too," he added sombrely.
Elliot visibly flinched, he didn't look at him, all he could focus on was what he'd seen on the monitor. Olivia had been waiting for Connors to come out of the office. The hooded figure had stepped into the hallway, been startled at her presence, turned and fired.
It had been over in a heartbeat, when he saw them both go down, he knew they'd both been hit.
Olivia had never been shot on the job before. In the ten years they had been partners he'd seen her stabbed, kicked and punched. He thought of her time undercover at 'Sealview', she had refused to talk to him about the events that occurred in the basement but he'd seen her bruises, watched her withdraw into herself and knew it hadn't been, 'nothing'.
He couldn't see where she'd been hit, he just saw her body recoil backwards and slump heavily to the floor. His decision to enter the building and go to her was non negotiable and he feared Goldie was trying to keep him out of the way.
He turned to Goldie as the elevator flashed '4'.
"That's my partner up there Lieutenant, I'm not standing down," He warned.
Goldie pushed off the back of the elevator, he stood with his feet apart and nodded his head, "No, but you ain't going in 'gung ho' neither." He moved towards the floor selection panel, "We don't know what we're facing up there," he said tapping the button marked, '11' with a finger on his free hand. He looked at Elliot, "Did you stop to consider your options before you punched '11'?" He said as he moved his finger and pressed '7'.
Elliot just looked at him as his brain kicked into high gear, 'shit,' he mentally kicked himself, I didn't'. His only thoughts had been to get to Olivia as fast as he could by the quickest route possible. He suddenly realized whoever was on '11' would almost certainly know they were about to get company. His eyes widened at Goldie in realization, "Shit, I nev-"
Goldie cut him off, "Other elevator's stuck on '7', we'll exit there and see why he needs the elevator jammed, then proceed to '11'. Your partner's down, we have no visual on Cabot but we do have visual on the floor," he stopped, looking to make sure Elliot understood exactly what he was saying. "Tact Team are trained for this Stabler, this is where you let me do my job," he said nodding his head seeking confirmation.
Elliot nodded. He kept seeing the image of Olivia recoiling and slumping in his mind, 'Hold on Liv...hold on,' he repeated like a mantra.
The radio on Goldie's belt broke the mounting tension as a voice filled the car, " 'Go' Team to Retriever, you copy? "
Goldie unclipped the radio, "This is Retriever, what's your status?"
"Team 1 located...three dead on stairwell, level '6'"
There was a pause as the gravity of the statement sunk in. The initial assault team had been intercepted by Connors with deadly consequences.
Elliot and Goldie exchanged worried looks.
"Who's missing?" Goldie asked anxiously.
"Copy that," Goldie responded.
Elliot was still watching him, "What does that mean? Where is he?" he asked confused.
Goldie ignored him, "Does anyone have a visual on David Brennan? Every team report in now!"
Elliot's mind was racing, 'Connors took out Team 1, Did he have Brennan? Why would he take an ESU Agent? Why hadn't Brennan reported in?' he looked expectantly at Goldie, willing him to give him the answers.
They both listened as each team reported no visual on Brennan and floors 1 6 were secure.
Elliot looked once more at the floor number...'6'...he removed his gun from his left hip holster and released the safety. He watched as Goldie informed his teams that he was approaching '7' and to take 'the shot' if anyone had a clear visual on Connors.
Elliot and Goldie took up positions on either side of the elevator doors. As the car slowed and jolted to a stop they both nodded as the doors slid open....
David Brennan watched Alex carefully as she entered the hallway in front of him, "Remember what I said," he warned.
Alex refused to acknowledge him and started walking towards the corner of the 'L' shaped hallway. She noticed the black jacket and hood lying on the floor at the wall, hidden from view. 'Bastard,' she thought.
He stopped suddenly, "Wait," he instructed. He tilted his head to one side and winced, he was listening intently to something being said in his earpiece. With the injury to his right shoulder he struggled to move his upper body as freely as he normally would.
Alex reached into her briefcase, she felt the gun pressed into her back.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
She looked over her shoulder at him, "I need to put my glasses away, I don't wear them outside, I've got a holder for them in here," she tapped the briefcase, "If I leave wearing them, someone will know something is wrong," she lied.
He nodded and removed the gun from her back. He was still listening to the conversations taking place between Tact Teams and Retriever.
Alex reached into her briefcase and felt her hands find what she was searching for, she slowly pulled out the oblong object.
She closed her eyes briefly, took a deep breath, turned and struck him across the face as hard as she could. The force of the blow causing his head to bounce to the side reflexively. Before he had a chance to react she drove the titanium name plate as forcefully as possible into his wounded shoulder.
He screamed in pain as blood gushed from his nose and his newly re-opened wound. He dropped the gun in his left hand, bent over reflexively and grabbed his bleeding shoulder.
Alex instantly grabbed his shoulders, raised a strong, lean thigh and rammed her knee as hard as she could between his legs. She stepped back quickly and watched as he fell backwards into a crumpled, wheezing heap.
She reached for the forgotten gun that was lying motionless on the tiled floor.
Just as she bent to pick it up a hand grabbed her wrist and threw her backwards, she dropped the name plate and felt nothing but air until she collided with the wall with an ominous thud. Pain flew up her back and she fought the waves of dizziness and nausea that were washing over her, 'Don't pass out, don't pass out' she repeated, willing herself to stay conscious.
He was inches from her face, blood pouring into his mouth, "That was clever Cabot, now I really do look like I got away from a trained killer, thank you," he panted. He spat out some blood and took a cleansing breath, "Pull a stunt like that again... and I'll shoot you myself." he said through gritted teeth, eyes blazing with fury.
Chapter 10: No Pain, No Gain
The elevator doors had just started to slide open on the 7th floor when a voice from Goldie's radio broke the taut silence.
"Retriever, this is Command, do you copy?"
Elliot placed and held a finger on the 'doors closed' button to prevent them sliding open any further as Goldie responded to his radio.
"Retriever copy, go ahead Command." Goldie said as the elevator doors closed.
"Movement on '11' Sir, 'the package' is in the hallway with ESU," the agent from the Command Post advised.
Elliot and Goldie stared at each other in disbelief.
The 'Go Team' hadn't reported entering the floor. They hadn't even confirmed they had reached '11' yet.
Goldie's tone was tense as he spoke into the radio, " 'Go Team', what's your twenty? " he asked urgently.
"This is 'Go Team', Retriever. Approaching '11'. No sign of Connors or Brennan," the agent reported.
A confused Goldie continued to look at Elliot. "Command, what's Yankee's twenty?" he asked, noticing the subtle shift in Stabler's stance.
Elliot held his breath.
"Yankee is still down Sir."
Elliot moved his finger from the 'doors closed' button to the still lit '11' on the floor selection panel. He tilted his head towards the doors, "If the 'Go Team' are approaching '11', the first Tact Team were compromised on '6' and there's no sign of Connors," he shook his head," It has to be Brennan with Cabot."
He nodded his head back to the illuminated button, "We gotta go up. You have Teams sweeping each floor, the mobile Command Post have a visual on every floor, they don't see anyone on '7'. Connors wouldn't be dumb enough to sit on the same floor all this time with ESU waiting downstairs" Elliot said calmly hoping that Goldie could see the logic in his statement.
Goldie considered everything Elliot had said and weighed up the options as he spoke to the Command Post, "Command, can you confirm it's David Brennan with 'the package'?'"
"I'm not sure Lieutenant, I'm pulling up his personnel file to compare images," the voice said hurriedly.
Goldie gripped the radio tighter in his hand, "Get me a visual confirmation NOW from someone who doesn't need to look at a goddamn file photo. Is Thomson in there?" he barked impatiently.
There was a pause.
"Sir, this is Thomson. I just need a minute to get a clear visual...." the agent paused.
Elliot's frustration was increasing as precious seconds ticked by, 'C'mon, c'mon,' his thoughts screamed as his mind flashed back to the grainy image of Olivia lying motionless on the 11th floor hallway.
The radio crackled into life.
"Confirmed. ESU is Agent David Brennan," Agent Thomson yelled into the radio.
Elliot pressed the button for the 11th floor.
Goldie barked into his radio, " 'GO TEAM' HOLD YOUR POSITION. REPEAT. HOLD YOUR POSITION. DO NOT ENTER THE FLOOR. DO YOU COPY?" he instructed.
"Copy that." the 'Go Team' Leader confirmed.
"Command, what's happening on '11'?" Goldie demanded.
The agent in the mobile Command Post relayed every movement Alex and the ESU agent were making as they walked along the hallway towards the elevators.
As the elevator approached '11', Elliot felt a tightening in his gut, instinct screaming at him, 'something's not right.'
The constant throbbing in her head reminded her of her wild days as a student at Siena College, only this pain wasn't a hangover.
Olivia winced in pain.
She lay motionless on her left side trying to find the strength to get up, she tried to open her eyes but it was too much effort. She cautiously cracked one eye open and closed it quickly, the fluorescent lighting from the hallway blinding her.
A noise from somewhere behind her brought her back from the brink of slumber. She strained, trying to hear it again. After a few seconds, she heard a man's voice, hushed tones spoken in anger. She frowned in concentration and grimaced at the pain the action caused.
As her mind began to clear, her brain started to focus. Awareness flooded her senses as she remembered where she was and why she was on the floor, 'He shot me...son of a bitch...he shot me.' she swallowed a wave of nausea as she remembered the sickening 'crack' her head had made as it connected with the solid floor.
She sucked in a breath as she heard another voice. Her eyes flew open, oblivious to the harsh hallway lighting.
'Alex...' her mind screamed in recognition.
She tried unsuccessfully to sit up.
The pain at the back of her head made her skull feel heavy, weighing her down like an anchor. She felt as though she was tethered to the floor. Her left arm was pinned beneath her. She needed to roll her body to the right to free the aching limb. She placed her right hand on the floor by her left side to provide the balance needed to propel her torso onto her back. She halted her movement as she felt a sticky, wetness underneath her fingers. She raised her hand and looked at the blood soaked palm and digits, she swallowed anxiously trying to suppress the rising panic coursing through her body.
She placed the bloody hand back on the floor, counted herself in, '1...2...3', sucked in a breath, preparing herself for the pain she knew would come and pushed herself over on to her back. She let out a muted groan as the bullet wound in her side made its painful presence known.
She lay quietly listening for any movement that would indicate she had been heard.
She let out the ragged breath she had been holding. Blood was rushing back through the veins of her newly freed left arm, causing more discomfort to her already aching body. She began to flex the fingers of the blood soaked limb in an attempt to speed up the healing process. She raised her right hand to her head, tilted forward slightly, slowing her fingers to reach up and touch the back of her skull, she felt wetness matting her hair and knew it was blood.
'Explains the need for sleep,' she mused, knowing she had an open head wound and a probable concussion. The fingers on her left hand began to feel like her own again and she moved them to the burning sensation in her left side, below her ribs. She cautiously pressed her thumb into the torn material of her favorite black shirt and felt the open wound in her side.
She gasped at the pain the gentle pressure had caused. She moved slightly to the right, sliding her thumb underneath her side. She winced at the pain but was relieved to feel an exit wound.
The bullet had gone through.
She blew out a breath taking inventory of her wounds and the limits they now placed on her mobility. She needed to get to Alex, needed to protect her. She moved both hands out in a sweeping motion trying to locate her weapon.
As her left hand retrieved the Glock from beside her left knee she heard an ominous 'thud' and a cry of pain.
Chapter 11: Sacrifice
As Alex rounded the corner of the 'L' shaped corridor her mouth fell open and the air left her lungs, 'Oh my God!' her mind screamed.
The body of Detective Olivia Benson lay unmoving on the floor at the far end of the hallway, 'What is that?' she thought as she raised a hand to adjust the black glasses that adorned her face. She squinted in an effort to get a better look at the floor beside Olivia, her eyes riveted to the motionless figure, 'Oh no. Oh God, please no.'
It was blood.
Olivia was lying in a pool of her own blood.
She had to help Olivia, she had to. She couldn't just walk our with this mad man and leave her. She couldn't. She wouldn't. 'Please don't be de-' she refused to finish the morbid thought, the very idea too distressing. She picked up her pace and began to move with urgency, with purpose towards Olivia.
A restraining, bloody hand on her upper arm pulled her back slightly, "Easy there Counselor, remember we're 'live' on candid camera. Yankee is down, my 'directive' is to secure your safety and escort you out the building," he gripped her tighter, "that doesn't include breaking free from your protective detail, even if there is a dead cop on the floor." he snarled into her ear through a fake smile.
'Dead,' echoed Alex, 'She can't be...not Liv.'
Agent David Brennan, decorated member of ESU's Special Tactical and Weapons Team, was a rogue agent on an unstoppable mission.
He let go of Cabot's arm and tried to focus on what he had just heard in his ear piece. Goldie had ordered the 'Go Team' not to enter the floor, to 'Hold' their position. He mentally processed all comms he had listened to between the Lieutenant, the Command Post and the teams of agents that were by now, he guessed, outside on the stairwell.
He cast a look down the hallway to the fallen Detective lying on the floor, 'Such a shame Yankee, paramedics are right outside that door,' he mused to himself.
He schooled his thoughts, turning his attention to the part he now had to play, 'Keep it cool Davy boy, you're almost out. Escort her to the SUV, get cleaned up, accept the accolades for surviving an attack from one of America's Most Wanted, show 'remorse' for my 'fallen' colleagues and cha-ching, pocket the cash. Easy money.' he smiled.
No sooner had he thought that when his eyes caught movement on the illuminated red display of the elevator.
'Showtime,' he thought.
They had almost reached Olivia. Brennan looked down to make sure she wasn't moving and then leaned into Alex, pressing his body against her back, "Don't think I won't," was all he said.
Alex tensed, remembering his earlier words, "I'll put another bullet in Benson."
She looked down tearfully at Olivia as they passed her lifeless body and made a decision. She watched the elevator intensely as they walked, wondering who was going to step out.
'Connors,' she thought, 'can't be, he couldn't get into the building could he? No, this bastard is taking me to a car. If it's not Connors, it mus-' she was cut off as the man behind her spoke.
"Retriever, this is Brennan," he paused, "Anyone, anyone hear me?"
Alex was confused, he was obviously talking with ESU but she had no way of hearing the response.
"I've got 'the package.' Connors took out 'Team 1' on the stairs, the roof is compromised. Repeat the roof is compromised. Heading to exit 4 via stairwell. Does anyone copy?" he said convincingly as he released the talk button on the mic at his throat.
The familiar sound announcing the arrival of the elevator jolted Alex into action. She pushed backwards, colliding forcefully with Brennan. He stumbled.
She turned, threw her hands out, making sure to dig the thumb of her left hand into the bullet wound on his right shoulder and shoved him hard. He fell awkwardly into the door frame of an open office.
Alex ran to Olivia, skidded to her knees and leaned over her, "Liv....Liv, can you hear me?" She said as she frantically placed two fingers at the Detective's neck in search of a pulse.
She couldn't feel any, she closed her eyes trying to concentrate on feeling for any signs of life.
She thought she felt a beat, she felt it again. It was faint and weak but it was definitely there, she breathed out a silent, "Thank you," on a grateful breath.
She heard Brennan curse as he tried to steady himself. He was looking for his gun.
Alex had no fears for her own safety. If he shot her in the back at least she died trying to save the woman who had protected her so selflessly on so many occasions. She yanked off her suit jacket and lifted the bloody, brown haired head gently off the cold, hard floor and placed the makeshift pillow against where she thought the blood was coming from. She looked at the blood soaked left arm and visibly paled. She ran her hands over Olivia's upper body feeling for the bullet wound she knew she must have sustained to cause so much blood.
Her hands found the tear in the black fitted shirt. She freed the shirt from the confines of the Detective's trousers and ripped open the buttons to seek out the entry wound. She placed pressure with her right hand on the congealed, bloody mess she found on Olivia's left side and moved her left hand to quickly check for other injuries. She was relieved to find none.
Brennan got to his feet, raised the retrieved weapon in his left hand and aimed at the crouched figure of ADA Alexandra Cabot. "You bitch! You stupid, stupid bitch!" he shouted.
"DROP IT!" bellowed Lieutenant Tom Goldie.
Brennan's head snapped towards the elevator, his gun remained aimed directly on the back of the ADA.
Elliot stepped out of the elevator and looked over to Alex. her back was angled away from him, but he could see she was leaning over Olivia protectively. He kept his gun trained on Brennan.
Goldie took a cautious step forward, "Brennan, what's going on here?" he asked as he lowered his weapon. Goldie took in the broken nose, the blood smears on his face and the dark, familiar stains that covered his right hand. He looked up his arm and noted the bleeding wound on his shoulder. Goldie was conscious of Elliot's position to his right, he stayed to the left in order for Stabler to take the shot if he had it. He bobbed his head at Brennan, prompting him for an answer.
Brennan kept the gun aimed at Alex's back as his eyes darted between the Lieutenant and the stranger beside him. "Who's he?" he demanded.
The NYPD Kevlar vest easily identified the stranger as a cop. He took in his height, build and tattoo on his right forearm, 'Marines,' he thought as he recognized the symbol. He wasn't just a cop, he was ex military. Brennan played out every possible ending to his current scenario. None of them looked good. For anyone.
Goldie placed his weapon on the floor, a gesture of faith which he hoped Brennan would acknowledge. He motioned to the right with an open hand, "Elliot Stabler, Manhattan SVU," he declared.
"I know he's a cop, but what's he doing here?!" Brennan asked impatiently.
Elliot realized that Brennan didn't know who he was as he had only communicated by cellphone with Olivia. They had never spoken on the radio.
He saw his chance and decided to answer for himself. He tilted his head towards the two women in the hallway, "The one on the floor covered in blood and probably bleeding to death is my partner, Olivia Benson and the woman trying to keep her alive," he swallowed at the gravity of his own words, "is the one you're supposed to be protecting. She's our ADA," he finished.
Elliot was desperate to squeeze the trigger and take him down with a single head shot. He knew he could.
Brennan knew it too.
Elliot and Brennan stared at each other, eyes unblinking.
"If she doesn't get medical attention soon I don't think she'll make it," Alex said, breaking the tension. She turned to the trio behind her and looked at Brennan, "You did this to her, you have a chance to make it right. We're interested in Connors, not you. You can walk away, you saved me remember?" Alex was desperate and willing to try anything to get Olivia medical help. She gripped Olivia's right hand with her own, taking strength from the physical connection between them, willing her to hang on.
Brennan never looked at her. His eyes transfixed on Stabler. Goldie moved slightly in his peripheral vision.
"Put your weapon down Stabler. If you don't, I'll start shooting. Lieutenant here knows I'm a crack shot, believe me, I will take everyone down."
Goldie took another step closer, raising his hands in a calming motion.
Brennan also moved and stepped closer to Alex, raising his gun from her back to her head. There was less than two feet between them.
Elliot's heart was pounding as he moved his gaze to Brennan's left hand holding the gun.
"I might as well go out in style, " Brennan said as his finger on the trigger moved.
"WAIT!" Screamed Elliot as he placed his gun on the floor and raised his hands. "What Alex said is true, we're not interested in you, it's Connors we want. This.." he motioned with his hands, "..This is just a misunderstanding in the heat of the moment. I've been there, we've all been there. Brennan, you don't have to do this," he pleaded.
Brennan looked between Elliot and Goldie and turned his head slightly to look at the women on his left. He took a deep breath and shook his head, "But I do."
Chapter 12: Calm Before The Storm
Alexandra Cabot lay heavily on top of the body of Detective Olivia Benson.
She slowly pulled back and looked into Olivia's closed eyes, she turned her head to look at Brennan's limp body lying awkwardly on the floor. Goldie was applying pressure to the bullet wound at the rogue ESU agents' gurgling throat but it was obvious he was bleeding out.
Elliot opened the fire door, the 'Go Team' entered but it was the paramedics he needed. He shouted at them to enter but an ESU agent stopped them.
"Nobody goes in there until it's clear," instructed the agent towards the two paramedics.
Elliot grabbed him by the shoulder straps of his Kevlar vest and shoved him against the door, "Trust me pal, the floor's clear. My partner's in there, she needs medical attention and she's getting it," he said forcefully, feeling hands at his back trying to pull him away. Elliot released his grip and motioned for the paramedics to enter.
Two men looked to the flustered agent for permission and raced past Elliot after receiving a vigorous nod.
Olivia was tired, the last thing she had remembered was hearing a thud and then Alex crying out in pain. She had managed to find her gun but the effort to stay awake had been too much and she had succumbed to slumber. She had dreamed of warm hands on her neck, on her bare stomach and Alex's voice talking to her in hushed, soothing whispers. She had felt herself floating between sleep and wakefulness, struggling through the fog to find clarity and form conscious thoughts.
Her eyes had flown open as a booming voice bellowed, "DROP IT."
The voice didn't match the sight that met her. The beautiful, but concerned face of Alex Cabot was an image her tired eyes wouldn't soon forget. She blinked a few times to clear her vision. she could feel the pressure that Alex was placing on the bullet wound in her side. It felt odd, yet strangely comforting to have Alex's hands on her exposed flesh. Alex was too focused on tending her wound to notice she was conscious.
Olivia moved her blood stained left hand the short distance to reach underneath her thigh, Alex spotted the movement and instantly looked at her face. Olivia had smiled weakly and motioned with her eyes for Alex to move to give her an unobstructed view of the hallway. Alex had moved slightly to the right, as discretely as possible whilst still protecting Olivia's body with her own.
Olivia took in the position of Brennan and the angle of his outstretched arm, it didn't look good. She brought her eyes back to Alex and looked down to her left, Alex followed her eyes and saw the gun poking out from beneath her upper thigh. A look of confusion crossed the beautiful blonde's face and Olivia realized she probably thought she meant for her to take it. Olivia waggled her fingers again, understanding flashed on the face of the ADA as she moved the weapon silently into Olivia's down turned hand.
As the gun settled into the unfamiliar grip of Olivia's left hand, Alex gently brushed her finger tips over the back of her wrist and looked deeply into Olivia's dark, dilated eyes.
Olivia smiled reassuringly at her as she closed her eyes, listening intently to the conversation taking place over her head. She knew there was no mistaking the intention in Elliot's tone. The tense silence that followed only confirmed what she already knew, her partner was about to shoot.
She had worked with him long enough to know he would do anything to protect her, even if that meant endangering his own life.
Her mind flashed back to a dimly lit warehouse and a deranged psychopath who had murdered his own child and slit Olivia's throat. She remembered how Victor Gitano pressed the gun barrel tightly against her partner's head, no more than 8 feet away from her and Elliot telling her it was, "Okay," to take the shot. She hadn't needed to, an ESU marksman had taken Gitano down with a single bullet.
She almost choked at the irony.
The events of that day had caused them both to re-evaluate their partnership, Olivia had been so sunned that Elliot had expected her to take the shot that she had gone to Cragen and asked for a new partner.
She shook off the painful memories and focused on what she needed to do, she only had one shot at this and she knew it.
She continued to listen as Alex stalled for time in an effort to diffuse the tension by reminding everyone Olivia needed medical attention. All she could focus on was the roaring sound of blood in her ears as her heart began to beat faster. She tightened the hold she had on her weapon, thankful the safety was still of
She heard Brennan move closer and say, "I might as well go out in style," and knew he was going to shoot Alex. She swallowed the bile in her throat at the thought. She heard Elliot cry out in surrender and the unmistakeable sound of his gun being placed on the floor.
As Brennan started to speak she instantly pushed Alex backwards, simultaneously sliding her hand through the exposed gap between their bodies, adjusting her aim and squeezing the trigger.
Brennan recoiled backwards, landing heavily on the floor.
Alex collapsed unharmed onto her body in relief.
She surrendered to the blackness as her body strained with pain as a result of the exertion, she felt the Glock slip from her hand.
Elliot's voice shouting at someone down the hallway pulled her back from the brink of sleep. She savored the feeling of an alive Alex Cabot crushing her, despite the discomfort it caused.
"If all you wanted was to cop a feel Cabot, all you had to do was ask," she rasped out.
Alex immediately sat back, relief flooding her features. She grasped Olivia's hands and held them tightly in her own as they both looked over at the dead body on the floor.
"Lucky shot?, " quipped Alex.
Olivia looked cockily at her and smiled, "Ambidextrous, remember?"
Alex laughed and the smile that broke out on her face was all the medicine Olivia needed. Unfortunately, two paramedics had other ideas as they moved Alex aside and began checking her wounds.
Goldie had tried to get information from Brennan as he lay drowning in his own blood but it was too late. He was on his radio talking to the Command Post barking orders for a full history of Brennan's whereabouts over the last 24 hours.
Elliot stood with a comforting arm around Alex as he watched the paramedics load his partner onto a mobile gurney. He smiled at Olivia as she cast a tired gaze in his direction. He squeezed the ADA's shoulder gently and whispered, "Be right back," into her ear.
He moved cautiously to Olivia and stood looking down at her, eyes blinking rapidly in an effort to contain his emotions. Olivia watched him and knew he was struggling for control. She reached for his hand clasping it firmly and brought their joined hands to her chest, reassuring him she was okay. He swallowed and looked away. She tugged his hand, refusing to let him avoid this.
"I would've done the same," she said quietly.
He opened his mouth to speak but she cut him off with a gentle shake of her throbbing head, "No. You were trying to protect us, you had no option El. You had to lower your gun," she paused, "I've been there, remember?"
He thought back to Gitano and all that followed. He nodded his head in acceptance, "Just promise me you'll behave for these guys," he said, releasing her hand as he motioned to the patiently waiting paramedics.
She rolled her eyes, "They could just patch me up here. It's a clean bullet wound, that should only need a few stitches and my head feels fine, " she lied, as the constant drumming in her head began pounding out another new beat.
Alex listened to the exchange between them and moved closer. She ran a gentle hand across Olivia's sweaty brow, brushing hair away form her face, "Please Liv," she said quietly.
Olivia smiled at her for a long moment, drowning in the depths of her bright blue eyes that glittered behind the dark frames, "Okay."
Elliot looked curiously between his partner and his ADA and frowned. Olivia never gave in that easily, especially when hospitals were involved. He noted the intimate way Alex was caressing Olivia's head and the look his partner was giving her in return. His observations were interrupted by one of the paramedics saying they were ready t go.
Elliot stepped aside and touched Alex's arm motioning for her to do the same. The ADA turned to him, "I'm going with her to the hospital."
Elliot smiled, "We both are, but they can't move her if you're holding her head," he deadpanned.
Relief flooded Alex, she had expected a lecture from Elliot about her safety, the fact that Connors was still out there and that she was still a target. She smiled gratefully at him.
They passed an anxious Lieutenant Goldie as they headed for the elevators. He advised them ESU would escort them to Mercy-General, a four man team was already in position on the ground floor waiting for them. Elliot simply nodded at him wondering how he felt knowing one of his own had 'gone rogue.'
The elevator ride down was quiet and cramped. The gurney carrying Olivia's damaged body took up most of the space, the paramedics stood either side while Alex held Olivia's hand gently. Elliot stood beside her and took in his partner's injuries. They had cleaned and bandaged her open head wound, the bullet had gone straight through her side and they had placed compresses on both entrance and exit wounds. He had blushed at the expanse of skin on display but was secretly impressed at her toned abs.
The doors opened on the Ground floor where an ESU agent was waiting for them to exit.
Elliot looked at him suspiciously, "What's your name?" he asked, as his hand reached for his holstered gun.
The agent looked at him, "Luker, Sir. Lieutenant Goldie instructed me to escort you to Mercy-General, four man protective detail, " he said, pointing to three armed ESU agents to his left.
Elliot wanted to believe him but he wasn't taking any chances. He pointed to the entrance of the building, "You lead, we'll follow," he instructed as he kept his hand firmly on his weapon.
Olivia was loaded safely into the back of the emergency vehicle under he watchful eyes of four ESU agents. Alex moved to step in to the vehicle but was stopped by Agent Luker, "I'm sorry Ma'am, you'll have to come with us," he said apologetically.
"I'm going with Detective Benson. It's not up for discussion," she stated emphatically.
Elliot glared at Luker and then turned to Alex, "You can ride with me. Connors is still looking for you, we've seen what he's willing to do," he paused, "You don't want to put Liv in any more danger, do you?" he was trying to appeal to her rational side.
She considered what he had said and looked at Olivia lying on the gurney, she turned to him, "I'm not leaving her Elliot. I'll meet you there," she said and climbed inside.
Elliot and Luker shared a troubled look. "You'll escort them to Mercy?" confirmed Eliot.
Luker nodded his head, "Two cars. One in front and one behind," confirmed the agent.
"I'll meet you there," said Elliot as he watched the convoy move out. He turned and started running in the direction of his car. He had only taken a few long strides when the blast from a deafening explosion knocked him to the ground.
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