DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are
property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE Inspired by "Ghost" and the ROA.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Five Things That Don't Happen to Alex Cabot
She heard the car before she saw it, the screeching tires throwing her into reflexive action. "Down!" she screamed as she grabbed Alex, yanking the both of them around so Olivia landed on top. Alex heard a series of loud pops, heard Olivia grunt once, then saw stars as her head hit the pavement. Someone flashed along the edges of her vision Stabler, giving chase.
"Olivia," said Alex. She pushed at the heavy body covering her own. "Olivia."
The detective made a halfhearted attempt to move, slid horizontally across Alex's body, her belt buckle catching a little on Alex's hip. "Aghh " She became very still. A dark stain started spreading under her body, slowly coating the sidewalk.
Alex stared, uncomprehending. "Olivia?" she asked, as if the other woman would suddenly sit up and give her an answer. Louder: "Olivia?" She shook the detective, almost screamed in shock when Olivia blinked up at her and spat up bright red blood as she coughed.
"No, no, no, no," said Alex as she frantically pulled herself up to her knees. She ran her hands down Olivia's body, starting at her shoulders. Finally, her fingers grazed the edges of a ragged hole in Olivia's shirt, just beneath her ribs. She pressed down, unsure of how hard to really press. She had never even taken a first-aid course.
"Hurts," said Olivia between bloody teeth. The superficial details made everything that much more gruesome.
"Shh," whispered Alex. She looked up at Stabler, sprinting back to them. She felt so helpless.
"Oh my God," said Elliot, looking sick. He fumbled for his cell phone, hit 9-1-1 with a shaking finger, and began barking orders for an ambulance, and officer down right the fuck now.
Blood oozed up and over and through Alex's fingers despite the pressure of her hands. Her heart is stronger than my weight, thought Alex, and she was momentarily, inexplicably, reassured. The moment passed as her fingers rubbed slickly togetherOlivia was still dying right in front of her.
She blinked rapidly, as if trying to stay awake. Her eyes widened momentarily with the effort. "Okay?" she croaked thickly.
Alex tried to smile at her as she looked down through a curtain of hair. "Fine," she managed to say. "You're going to be fine, too." She nodded firmly, because Olivia looked skeptical. So damn pragmatic. "You're going to be okay. Believe me." He words were pouring out all over each other. Alex had never seen a gunshot wound, but there was so much blood that something had to be horribly wrong. Alex looked up again at Elliot, who seemed to be immobile with shock. The initial frenzy of the chase had left him shaking. His dangling phone tremored in his hand.
"Elliot, I don't know what to do," said Alex. She needed to make him move; she couldn't save Olivia by herself. He knelt, collapsed really, on the ground, opposite Alex. He stripped off his jacket to fold it under Olivia's head. He took off his oxford, too, and crumpled it against her bloody stomach. The ADA and the detective stared at each other.
A spasmodic cough from Olivia startled both of them. Elliot tilted her head to the side so she could spit the blood away. He tried to wipe most of it from her face but only managed to smear it. The ambulance, it seemed, would never arrive and they three would be frozen forever huddled on the sidewalk untilOlivia worked her jaw and her gaze became insistent as her eyes came back into focus. Her left hand crept over the concrete, slow and laborious, to touch Elliot's knee.
"What is it?" he asked, far more tenderly than Alex had ever heard him speak. But she bypassed him, hand reaching up to grope further, finally landing on Alex's wrist, where it still strained to stem the tide of blood. Olivia spidered her hand up Alex's arm to her shoulder, dragged her down to whisper something in her ear.
Alex caught Olivia's hand as it slid free and locked their palms together, arms twined. "I will," she told the other woman with a hitch in her voice.
"What? What did she say?" Elliot asked. He grabbed Alex by one shoulder and forced her to look at him. Their faces were inches apart. "What did she say?" he demanded.
Alex inhaled sharply. Olivia's hand had gone limp. She turned away from Elliot to bend closer to the other woman. "Olivia. Olivia. Olivia."
Elliot looked down at his partner. Her eyes were still open, glazed over, as if she were merely lost in thought. She wasn't blinking. He rocked back on his heels, overbalanced, and wound up sitting flat on the pavement. Unconsciously, he scooted himself away from Olivia and kept pushing himself along with his heels and hands until he backed up against a car. He looked terrified. "No," he told Alex without looking at her. "It's not real. She's not "
The faintest echoes of sirens reached their ears.
Alex fidgeted nervously outside of the 16th precinct. She felt unnaturally exposed, standing next to the building that had once been as familiar as her own apartment. Having left Witness Protection, she had expected a certain degree of awkward readjustment, but hadn't been prepared for just how awkward.
Tentatively, she stepped off the curb to cross the street; she jumped back to avoid a speeding taxi, followed closely by a honking sedan. The second time she waited until she was absolutely sure her jaywalking wouldn't result in death, then jogged to the precinct's front door. She got a few strange looks on the way; one officer did a hard double-take as he walked into a corner. She ignored everyone, retracing her steps once in the hallway to avoid an especially large crowd of beat cops coming on shift. She pretended to read the bulletin board, barely skimmed over the headline of a shootout before resuming her course.
Alex took the stairs all the way up to the SVU's floor to avoid the elevator, where she would inevitably get the standard excuse-me-but-you-look-very-familiar line she'd been getting all day. She paused on the landing before pushing her way through the stairwell door and walking briskly towards the bullpen. She picked up her pace, hoping that the speed would help bolster her nerve.
She was at the door, staring at the blue and gold shield of the NYPD stenciled on the glass. Her hand stopped short of pushing it open. Maybe she should call first, or maybe she should go through the U.S. Marshal's office. They handled reintegration sometimes--
"Oh my God."
Too late. Elliot Stabler stood at his desk with a file in one hand, staring at her. His mouth was wide open. Munch and Fin looked up in response to Elliot's tone. The surprise slowly registered on their faces. Munch squinted through his glasses, as if he thought he was merely seeing a lookalike.
"Holy shit," said Fin. He repeated it: "Holy shit."
Everyone in the bullpen had stopped moving, staring at Alex like a movie star making an entrance. She blushed violently at the thought, took a step into the room proper in an attempt to dispel the dead silence. "Uh " She blushed even harder at her inelegant start.
And then there was a crowd of people headed towards her, voices clamoring to be heard over one another. Was she really Alex Cabot? What kind of sick joke was this? What the hell had happened the night she was shot? She shrank back a little under the onslaught until she felt a strong hand grip her bicep and tug her towards Captain Cragen's empty office. Elliot gave her a gentle, but hasty, shove into the dimly lit room, shrugged apologetically at the bullpen in general, and shut the door.
Elliot spun on one heel. "Alex, what the hell are you doing here?"
She opened her mouth, came up blank, had to close it again while she composed herself. "I left Witness Protection. It was the wrong decision."
"What about Velez?" asked Elliot. He sounded angry with her, but not as angry as he had a right to be.
"The marshals told me my mother has terminal cancer," said Alex shortly. "I can't let her die thinking she's outlived me."
That brought him up short. He pushed at his sleeves a little. "I'm sorry." And then, as the thought occurred to him, he asked, "You don't have a detail anymore?"
She grimaced. "Not while I'm out of the program."
He took that and ran with it. "So you intend to go back."
She hesitated again. "I don't know. I actually " The air evaporated from her lungs, leaving her words in vacuum. She took a long, silent breath and tried again. "I actually think I might stay. Isis Olivia here?" There. It was out in the open. Alex waited to hear what latest case had Olivia overextended and exhausted.
Elliot stared at her for a minute as something processed in his mind. "Alex," he said, "Olivia died six months ago."
The local police department was baffled. Sheriff Tate scratched his head as he stood at the edge of Helen Crewe's back yard. The bark on her birch trees was peeling off in long slivers, littering the ground beneath.
"Sheriff, we haven't found anything," said Deputy Thompson, trudging over, hat in his hand. He looked pale and a little sick. "I reckon some of the boys don't even know what they're looking for."
Tate folded his arms without saying anything. He thought it through, beginning to end. Miss Crewe would have been enjoying the crisp weather, the last before the cold season really swept in. She had set out a glass of wine and a novel on the porch table. The back door was open, giving Tate an unobstructed view of the clean, spare kitchen. Tate crossed the lawn, followed closely by Thompson. The sheriff stopped just short of the door. Thompson looked on expectantly.
Tate looked up at Deputy Briggs as he entered the kitchen from the other side of the house. Briggs met Tate's eyes, shook his head briefly. Nothing.
Tate sighed. He turned his body towards Thompson without taking his eyes off the woman on the floor. "Tell the coroner he can come on through, now, and take a look at Miss Crewe's body. Make sure he doesn't touch anything else." Tate pushed his hat up, pulled it back on again, tugging firmly on the brim for a snug fit. "I wanna catch this son of a bitch."
Thompson seemed to take heart from the words as he nodded and left to relay the orders.
The sheriff stepped inside the house proper, paused at the edge of the blood framing Miss Crew's head and neck. As he stared down at her body, he counted the two little holes burrowed into her forehead, just about her left eye. He saw the stippling on her skin, knew it for what it was: evidence of an execution. He tugged on his hat one last time before leaving the cold house through the front door.
They would have laughed about it if it had been remotely funny: hitmen who couldn't carry out a hit. A squeal of tires, a handful of gunshots, and nothing to show for it. Olivia had pulled Alex to her feet, dusted herself off, and run after Elliot. He had managed to memorize the license plate and he and Olivia had paid the car's owner a visit the next day. He, in turn, had been willing to testify that he had been hired by a known lieutenant of Cesar Velez.
Unfortunately, protective custody didn't quite manage to live up to its name. The driver and the shooters wound up dead in their cells. Fed up with the holes in the systemand no doubt encouraged by the DEA and the US Attorney's officeBranch ordered EADA McCoy to tear up the guards responsible. Then IAB interfered, and the entire police force felt itself grind to a halt while it got scrubbed out top to bottom.
Velez took advantage of the infighting to sow further dissension by picking off low-level officials. He never touched the NYPD itself, just the DA's office. He avoided federal officers as well, making it clear that his only target was within the ranks of the district attorneys. One night, one of the white-collar ADA's went home to find his wife dead, child missing. Homicide recovered the child's body from the Hudson.
After that neither side held back. Velez wanted them to know that there was no one he couldn't touch and they wanted to prove that the city was still theirs. All DA's received protective details. Alex sent her mother out of the state; Elliot was constantly exhausted from staying up all night to watch his family. Finally Olivia had to start staying over so her partner could get some sleep. Munch, Fin, and Cragen also started taking turns at the Stabler house, doing their best to appear nonchalant in front of the children. After a week of non-stop vigilance, Elliot finally sent his family away to his sister-in-law's home in Montana.
Alex wasn't much better off for sleep despite her armed guards. She spent hours sifting through data and case law trying to find a way to solve the problem without brute force, though it seemed more and more that that was the only thing Velez would respect. Unfortunately, the only body powerful enough to invade his compound in Columbia was being strangely reticent about inciting conflict in yet another foreign nation.
One late night in the SVU bullpen, Alex sat next to Olivia's overflowing desk. The detective was pale from exhaustion and her red eyes stood out vividly against her wan features. "So if you have the DD-5 on Lowell, I can start my brief for the case," said Alex. She stared at her hands while Olivia nodded silently. Alex shifted in her seat, somehow finding the energy to look up at the other woman. "Do you think things would be better if I had died that night?" she asked.
Olivia jerked her head up in surprise. "What makes you think that?"
Alex shrugged minimally. "This all seemed to start the night Velez tried to kill me. Sometimes I wonder if that's all he wants"
"None of this is your fault," interrupted Olivia sharply. "Cesar Velez is a son of a bitch, that's all." She flipped shut the folder in front of her. "It's getting late. You should go home." She offered a hand to Alex, who let herself be pulled up.
"I just need to get Alan and Jerry," said Alex, indicating the room where her two bodyguards were waiting for her.
"It's okay. I'll take you home," said Olivia. She handed Alex her coat, stopped briefly to murmur something to Alan and Jerry, then ushered the ADA to her car. Neither of them spoke until Alex shut her apartment door, turned the deadbolt, and slid the chain home.
"Olivia," said Alex, her voice catching on the second syllable. She turned around, found the detective standing inches behind her. Her expression was something unreadable, but her intent was obvious as she pinned Alex against the door with her body. She radiated heat, even through her clothing, and her kiss was fevered. Alex opened her mouth as she felt the tip of Olivia's tongue slip against her lips. Then Olivia's hands were pulling at her blouse, sliding over her stomach, unzipping her skirt.
"Oh God," Alex said, shivering as the other woman gently traced the line of Alex's throat. She heard a small clicking noise, felt something cold and hard against her temple. Alex opened her eyes and found herself staring at a hard-faced Olivia Benson. "Olivia?" she said, this time in confusion.
"I just want you to know," said Olivia, her voice foreign and cold, "She died asking about you."
Her neighbors didn't hear the gunshot.
Olivia set her flowers down, the clear green wrapping crinkling loudly on Alex's bedside table. The other woman was pale, but she smiled as Olivia leaned on her bed railing. "You don't have to bring flowers every time you visit," she said.
"Oh, these aren't for you. I have a hot date," said Olivia, flashing a winning smile.
"Here. At the hospital."
"There's a very romantic supply closet down the hall," Olivia informed her. She eyed the vase on the other side of Alex's bed. "And besides, your old ones were looking a little stale."
Alex glanced at the purple daisies, which were in perfect health. "I see what you mean." She reached for the new flowers, froze in place and winced as she felt a pulling sensation deep in her abdomen.
Olivia made a sympathetic face. "Still hurts?"
Alex let her arm fall. "Only when I move."
Gathering the new flowers, Olivia scooted around the edge of the bed. She removed the florist's wrapping and poked a few of the long-stemmed lilies in the vase. The entire arrangement shifted to the left; Olivia pushed it back. The flowers shifted again. She picked all the flowers up below the petals, shook them a little, then set them back, only to watch them slant right.
"No, I got it," said Olivia, concentrating on getting everything to balance out again.
"No, really, Olivia," said Alex. "Some people just weren't meant to be florists."
Somewhat sheepishly, Olivia abandoned her efforts. "I probably should've gotten a new vase for these. I guess"
"I'm checking out tomorrow," interrupted Alex.
Olivia blinked a bit before recovering the conversation smoothly. "So they're sending you home with your appendix in a jar?"
"Yes minus the jar," said Alex. She regarded the detective seriously for a moment. "I was hoping you could give me a ride."
"Sure," said Olivia. One hand twitched nervously before she stuffed it in her jeans pocket.
"And in return, I could make you dinner?" asked Alex.
There went her other hand. It too was stifled by being unceremoniously stuffed in a pocket. "Are you sure you shouldn't be resting?" asked Olivia in an effort to stall. Of course she knew what Alex was getting at, but it felt like she would be taking advantage of the other woman by accepting. She was still recovering from surgery and coming down off of painkillers and was most likely a little woozy from it all.
"I can rest and order takeout at the same time," said Alex. She focused her eyes directly on Olivia's; the detective had the unsettling sensation that Alex was locking on target. "I'd rather not be alone when I get home from the hospital."
Olivia snatched her squalling phone from her belt, held up a finger to pause the conversation. "Benson," she said, turning away.
Alex watched her impatiently, wishing that she could yank off her covers, get out of bed, and tell Olivia exactly what she wanted from her in no uncertain terms. Her appendix had picked a fine time to inflame. As it were, it had been removed just short of rupturing. She'd thought she just had the flu, or a stomach ulcer, or possibly both. She had keeled over in the squad room as the detectives were attempting to brief her on Livia Tellez and had woken up in the hospital the next day feeling like absolute crap. Olivia had been bringing her flowers for nearly a week.
"Okay. Great. Yeah, I'm on my way back. Bye." Olivia flipped her phone shut, tucked it away, and stepped back to Alex's bedside. She smoothed out the covers next to Alex's stomach, just barely brushing the other woman's body. "I'll be back tomorrow. And then maybe mushu pork?"
Alex managed a smile. "Sure." As Olivia pulled away, Alex gave in to impulse and grabbed Olivia's wrist despite the cost in pain to her gut.
"Alex?" asked Olivia, worried.
Alex shot her hand up to Olivia's collar, used it to drag Olivia's head down to her level, and planted a long, satisfying kiss on the detective. She released her after a long moment, their foreheads touching lightly. "Next time, bring roses," Alex murmured.
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