DISCLAIMER: All characters of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" are the sole property of Wolf Films and Universal Television. No copyright infringement was intended -- just borrowing them to feed the imagination! No profit is being made from this. All other original characters created solely from the imagination of the author.
RATING: Please note this warning related to a crime scene theme of a potentially disturbing nature for some readers -- theme only, the scene is not described in great detail. Otherwise, this story is rated a "light" M.

The Guardian Angel
By Saxony

The warmth of the sun begins to hit my face. It is only in rare moments when I am absolutely still that I can feel this. I take in a deep breath, for the moment that I can. It is only in the first moment of the morning that I can do this...

... a ritual to begin a new day.

I pull my long coat tighter around me. I chuckle inwardly, knowing that I didn't do it because I felt a chill, but because I had picked up one of those human habits.

I walk along the street to my destination, the place I go to each day...

... to watch her.

A person that I pass by almost turns her head, as if noticing me. I wonder if she did, because I know it happens on the rare occasion.

I enter the building and move easily through the groups of police officers. My steps, light on the stairs, take me up to the room where I know her desk to be in. Smiling, I see her buried in her notes, as per usual, at this early hour of the day. Conveniently perching myself on a nearby table, I settle in to watch her day begin.

"Detective Benson," I hear her say curtly into the telephone. "I see. We're on our way." She gathers her leather coat and beckons, "Elliot? We've caught one."

Detective Elliot Stabler looks up from his desk, and only after a momentary pause, moves to follow the other detective out.

I hop off my perch and shadow them out the door.

Following Olivia and Elliot to the entrance of the house, I watch as both of them pull their badges out.

"Special Victims," Elliot says to the officer controlling the flow of traffic through the door.

I slip by the uniformed officer who has just let them pass and trail the two detectives into the living room.

"God, Elliot, this is one of the worst ones we've seen." Olivia's tone is hushed.

"Dear god," is his only reply. He bends down to pull the cover higher over the young boy lying on the floor.

My eyes trace the lines on the motionless face of the child on the floor. The expression of fear etched in...

... even in the last moments of his young life.

I watch Olivia, and I don't have to be omniscient to know the pain she feels, even if it is not her own.

The detective moves around the body reverently, gathering clues with her eyes, hoping to learn the story of what had tragically unfolded in the room only hours earlier. Glancing around, Olivia winces at the sight of the enormous amount of blood at her feet.

Her thoughts ring loud in my mind. "So much... Dear god. How did this happen?" I watch her put on her best face -- the stoic one that won't give away the anger brimming below the surface whenever she discovers yet another grave injustice committed upon an innocent human being.

"Elliot," Olivia says grimly. "It's the same guy."

"I know," is all her partner answers.

I watch Olivia work with concentrated determination -- as she usually does. As the minutes of the hour tick by, I feel the frustration and sadness in her growing as she gathers her information. And the anger.

Moving beside her, I watch her watching the young boy on the floor again, still feeling the anger escalating inside of her. I turn to her and lightly place a hand on her shoulder.

Watching her face, I see her close her eyes. She takes in a deep breath and expels it slowly. As she opens her eyes again, I feel her loosen. I let my hand fall off from her shoulder.

"We WILL get this guy, Elliot," Olivia says, the sharp focus returning to her eyes.

Listening to Dr. George Huang recite his thoughts with encyclopedia-like precision, I find a corner of a desk to perch on as I watch the detectives in the room ponder the facts that mark the white board.

"Notice that his second victim has the same characteristics as the first," Huang remarks.

"Explain." The rushed prompt comes from Captain Donald Cragen, standing and staring at the grisly photos pasted onto the white board.

I watch Huang bring his hand up to his chin in his habitual pose of contemplation, wondering how one can be so scientific about the tragedy of a child. I suppose that's his job. I hear him say, "Both of the victims are eight, have a dog, are both blond, only have one parent -- a mother..."

Olivia instantly catches on. "Those are only things a person would know if he asked or..." With alarm in her eyes, she turns to Cragen. "...or observed. Captain, this guy might be staking them out before he grabs them."

"We need to go through everything -- and I mean EVERYTHING," Cragen iterates adamantly. "All the places these boys play in -- corner stores, playgrounds, libraries, video arcades -- and cross check everything. Do the same with the names of their friends, classmates, and any other living being they might have encountered. Get a crime scene unit out to each of their homes to inventory their personal effects -- we might find clues that way. This is two in forty-eight hours, so he's moving at lightning speed."

All the detectives gathered around nod grimly and then break off to their own work.

Feeling rather than hearing Olivia's heavy sigh, I watch as she goes to her desk to pick up the telephone.

"Hey..." For the first time since this morning's horrendous discovery, a smile breaks through the dark countenance I have seen cloud Olivia's face. But only for a moment. "I, uh, don't think I'll be seeing you tonight. We have a really, really bad one... I'll be on this one around the clock... yeah... this is a tough one." A pause and then Olivia answers with gentleness in her voice, "I will."

I smile, because I know what she had just agreed to.

Don't worry, she'll be okay, I think to myself.

Rubbing her temples, Olivia tries to massage the threatening ache from her head. "Damn," she says out loud. "I've been cross checking for three hours and I'm going buggy-eyed."

"Why don't you go to the crib for a little while," Elliot suggests. He has the same tiredness in his form as Olivia's. "I promise I'll wake you in an hour."

I peer up at the clock on the wall. It is almost midnight. Mentally shaking my head for checking the time, I chuckle inwardly at just how many habits I have picked up from the people around me. Knowing Olivia and her counterparts have been at it without a break since early morning, I find myself hoping she takes her partner's advice.

She does. I follow her into the room where cots stand and settle into a chair in the corner. I watch her try to fall asleep. After sitting for a time and observing the dark-haired woman toss and turn, I rise from my chair and move towards her. I had hoped troubled thoughts would not prevent sleep tonight, but knowing the case weighing on the detective's mind, perhaps I had hoped for too much.

Placing a hand on her shoulder, I watch as her form settles to stillness. Sleep well, gentle soul, I think to myself. I let my hand leave her shoulder.

After standing and watching her for several more moments, I know she will be okay for the next little while.

With one last look, I leave her alone to rest.

The woman in front of me shuffles to and fro in her bedroom. She sits in an armchair and picks up a book. Trying to immerse herself in the words of the book's author, I watch her flip the same page back and forth several times over a span of a few minutes.

Her thoughts sound clearly in my head. "The angel was no less standoffish with him than with other mortals, but he tolerated the most ingenious infamies with the patience of a dog who had no illusions." This brings me to smile brightly. Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Soon after, the blonde-haired woman tosses the hardbound book onto the side table in frustration, finding no reprieve from her worry. I look into the woman's bright blue eyes and see deep concern for the person whose essence threads through her mind like a familiar strand of an old favorite song.

Watching her move to her bed, I wait for her to turn out the lights and settle under the covers before I drop into the armchair she had just occupied. Sitting in the darkness, I wait to see if she falls asleep. Through the dark, I can still see the deep-set anxiousness in her open eyes as she stares up at the ceiling.

I know she is thinking about the case that Olivia is working on. I feel the worry she has for Olivia -- not for any physical harm, but for the emotional toll she knows this case will have on the other woman.

I watch and wait for a long time.

Finally, moving to the side of the bed, I crouch my form so that I am level with her. Placing a hand on her shoulder, I watch as her eyes close and still themselves. Rest well, Alexandra Cabot -- she's doing okay right now.

Satisfied that the woman has fallen into a slumber, I decide it is time to check in on my other friend.

"CSU's finished cross checking the inventory," Elliot iterates suddenly, breaking into the early morning low-level buzz of noise in the squad room. Nearly slamming the receiver back onto its cradle, he says, "They have something."

I look up at the clock. 5:03 A.M. I follow Olivia and Elliot out the door, knowing that I will miss the first moment of the morning today.

Running a finger along the volumes of books on the shelf, I listen almost absentmindedly to Alex's musings on the telephone.

Leaning up against the bookcase, I watch Alex quietly. She stands by the window with the telephone receiver to her ear, watching the early morning rush on the street as she talks. I tilt my head in childlike wonder, surprised at the halo-like aura she has around her head with the light from the window illuminating her golden hair. Smiling, I think to myself that, indeed...

... perhaps humans can be angels too.

"I know... Anything like this that happens to someone so young..."

I hear her voice trail off, but I know the anguished feelings this compassionate woman harbors silently for cases like this.

"You know all too well." She pauses again and exhales perceptibly. "Look, the warrant your boss asked for -- it's on its way."

She stands staring out the window, a long pause on her end of the conversation. Finally, she says softly, "Just be careful when you go in, okay?"

Settling back into her chair after she hangs up the telephone, she tries to work on the file in front of her. Eventually, she gently tosses the pen onto her desk, sighing. She slips her glasses off and sets them on top of the unread file.

Looking upwards to nothing tangible, she breathes a few words into the air, almost inaudibly.

But not inaudible to me.

Although I know nothing can happen to me, even I hold my breath, mirroring Olivia's action.

Elliot and Olivia stand on either side of the door, service weapons and warrant in hand. They signal one of the heavily armed officers to force the door open when nobody responds to their knock and their procedural identification.

I involuntarily -- and unreasonably -- step back and wait.

The door is ajar and I watch Olivia enter quickly to do a crosscheck. "Clear!" she says as she lets Elliot slip by her to move ahead for the second crosscheck.

Following behind them, I sense the presence immediately. The intense darkness of the presence nearly propels me backwards, but I stand my ground. Instinctively, I look for Olivia and catch her going up the stairs with Fin Tutuola behind her. I follow quickly, moving past Fin to edge up directly behind her.

The intense darkness becomes more acute.

I check Olivia's eyes and she is razor-sharp in concentration. She moves purposefully to the doorway of the first bedroom, signaling Fin to take position on the other side of the doorframe.

I feel the intense darkness stir suddenly.

In my mind's eye, everything becomes slow. Each action represented in minute slivers of time. I watch Olivia move in front of the door to open it...

... and with all of my energy and without a moment's thought, I summon the power that exists within me as I reach out to touch
Olivia's shoulder...

... and only after another sliver of time, she shirks back to the side unknowingly and unsuspectingly as shots ring through the air.

The rest of the scene plays out quicker than the human eye can catch. The door bursts open and the man rushes out as I watch Fin turn quickly to try to grab him -- only for the man to run straight into the onrush of police officers coming up the stairs, responding to the ring of gunshots in the air.

It is only after the man is brought down, I turn around to look at the door he had just burst through.

I suppress an involuntary shudder.

There are three gunshot holes through it...

... at chest level.

"You know, it's been a few nights since we've been able to fall asleep together." Alex's voice is tired but grateful for the arms she has wrapped around her. "I'm glad this case is done -- for your sanity."

"And for the two young boys who no longer walk this earth." Olivia's voice is tinged with sadness. It is clear she still has not shaken the toll of the case.

Turning around to face the other woman, Alex props herself up on one elbow to look down at Olivia's tired face. "Hey, what can I do for you," she says softly, running a finger down Olivia's cheek.

A hesitant voice replies, but it doesn't answer the other woman's question. "I, uh, had a close call today."

An alarmed look strikes Alex's face. "What?"

"I don't want you to fret. It was a close call, that's all. I got out of the way on time from a few errant shots," Olivia replies, not wishing to embellish any details for fear of increasing her life-partner's worry.

Alex only stares back at Olivia, several indefinable expressions flitting across her face.

Olivia says with gentleness, "C'mon. I'm okay. We can talk more about this tomorrow. Let's get some sleep." She pulls the other woman down, turns her around and wraps her arms around her again.

"I ask my guardian angel to watch over you every day, you know."

Olivia hugs the woman in her arms tighter. "You do?"

Squeezing one of the arms wrapped around her, Alex smiles into the dark. "I do."

Shortly after, because both women are exhausted, they fall into a peaceful sleep.

I mimic the smile I just saw on Alex's face and think to myself, that indeed, Olivia, Alex does ask every day.

And every day, I answer her.

Turning my back to the two women resting peacefully of their own accord, I look out the window and see that I have a long, drawn out moment of quietness before that first moment of the morning.

- Fin -

Footnote: A quote is gratefully borrowed from "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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