DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
CHALLENGE: Written as part of the 1001 Nights Challenge - trial.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Amara


She felt exposed. Everyone's attention was focused on the drama playing out in front of them and yet Olivia simultaneously felt as if all eyes were on her; in her unobtrusive brown leather jacket, in her unobtrusive seat, in the very back of the courtroom. She ran a hand through her short hair and tried to force herself to relax back into her chair.

Olivia was less nervous on those occasions she had to take the stand than she was now. At least if she been on the stand she would have had a legitimate reason to be here. This wasn't her case, even if she and Elliot had helped, and Olivia didn't know the victims personally. Strictly speaking, she had no business being in this courtroom. She wasn't even there to watch Alex; in fact Olivia barely registered the stunning, impassioned ADA.

Although, the woman appeared to be in rare form. Alex attacked the case with a vengeance that, while probably the only chance she had of winning given the slim evidence, seemed almost personal. Olivia shook her head ruefully. Knowing Alex, it probably was. Alexandra Cabot, for all her blue blooded status and wealth, was a champion of justice. The fact that the perp was likely to get away with this atrocity was just the sort of thing that enraged the lawyer. Small odds of success only increased Alex's determination in circumstances like these, against perps like these. Only a few months ago, the blonde had proven how far she was really willing to go, actually breaking the law in order to bring a pedophile rapist to justice. A slight smile crossed Olivia's face as she watched Alex, hips swaying dangerously, stalk back to her chair.

The smile faded as quickly as it had come and Olivia caught herself glancing around to see if anyone had noticed her expression. Her hands tightened, short fingernails pressing into her palms, as her lips solidified into a thin line. She was reacting like a victim. This case hit too close to home and Olivia couldn't shake the feelings that came with it. She, like these victims, was unable to help the way she was born, and this man had attacked them for it. Sitting in the court room Olivia felt obvious, that just by looking at her, everyone could tell. The desire to hide was enormous; if she hadn't needed to see what happened so badly she would have stayed behind the security of her desk, far away from the court room.

Sometimes she wondered what the world would be like if everyone really could tell about people like her by nothing more than a glance. If something as obvious as skin tone marked her as different, and the decision to divulge or conceal was gone, what would that world be like? Sure, Olivia would still be in the minority, but she wouldn't be so isolated and alone. And that, Olivia mused, was what truly frightened her, the crazy idea that she was under that spot light alone.

The breath in Olivia's chest eased and she, finally, relaxed. If a witch hunt came after her blood right this minute, she had no doubt that Elliot would be at her side in a heartbeat and he wouldn't be alone. The large numbers of the victims' friends and families made that abundantly clear. Alex rose from her chair, drawing Olivia's eyes. Somehow, she hopefully suspected that the counselor would be there too and that thought made Olivia feel safer than anything else. Knowing Elliot had her back was comforting, but Alex? While Olivia often felt protective of the ADA, she knew that Alex was just as much a warrior in her own domain as Olivia was in hers. She rarely felt safer than she did when she knew Alex was watching out for her.

The ADA approached the judge, angling her body so she appeared to be facing both him and the jury. Although Olivia couldn't see her face, she knew the weight those stern blue eyes carried under the boxy black glasses Alex was wearing. When the ADA spoke, Olivia could hear the rage in Alex's voice, tightly channeled into an impassioned closing speech.

"Your Honor. Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. Mr. Hadley was not the victim here. His son willing had unprotected sex with a prostitute, got AIDS, and died. Rather than blame his own offspring, Mr. Hadley chose to fixate his revenge on the Cablers, the Alvaros, and the Glensteins. He knowingly injected his son's blood into the sperm intended for these families; families whose only crime was that they wanted to have a baby and that they were gay. Mr. Hadley specifically targeted these families because they were homosexual, wrongly blaming all homosexuals for his son's death. He is solely responsible for turning what should have been a joyful occasion for these families into a nightmare and fating four innocent women and one unborn child to die a horrible, painful death. Mr. Hadley is a mass murderer and I ask for nothing more than that you punish him to the full extent of the law."

Olivia swallowed convulsively as Alex finished and the defense attorney rose. It always sickened her, the excuses they made for the heinous acts their clients committed. She tried her best to tune out what the man was saying; something about circumstantial evidence, as if someone else would have used the son's blood in all three cases and also had access to the sperm. Bastard.

Olivia stood, straightening her jacket as the jury went into recess and people began filling out of the courtroom. She could go back to the squad room and stare blankly at her pile of paper work, but she knew she was kidding herself if she expected to get any work done while awaiting this decision. She smoothed her hands against the sides of her black slacks as she waited for Alex to finish gathering her papers.

The thick glasses were back in their case and the energy that had radiated from Alex during the trail had evaporated, leaving a semi-tired human behind.

"Detective," Alex greeted as she reached Olivia, giving her a small but seemingly genuine smile. "I'm surprised to see you here."

"I just wanted to see how the trial turned out," Olivia said, attempting to affect a nonchalant attitude.

"I really hope we get him 'Liv," Alex replied, showing a measure of self doubt Olivia was unused to seeing from the ADA. Alex was definitely emotionally invested in the case and Olivia, noting the circles under her friend's eyes, felt her protectiveness stir.

"Hey, you wanna grab a cup of coffee?" she asked gently. "It's better than sitting around here waiting."

"I doubt I can stomach anything right now, but I wouldn't mind the company," Alex smiled wanly.

Olivia nodded, walking closely beside Alex as she followed the prosecutor out of the court room, as if she could prop Alex up by sheer proximity.

If anyone noticed the two beautiful women walking out together, Olivia didn't notice them; her attention was focused solely on Alex. She had never felt safer.

The End

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