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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Must-See TV
By D.S.

She took comfort in habits. It was one thing they hadn't been able to take away from her.

6 a.m. in the park, then orange juice, toast, newspaper.

She glanced at the clock. 7:39 a.m. 10:39 a.m. in New York. Too early for lunch, but not for one of those cherry danishes that they loved and sometimes shared. She smiled slightly at the image, remembering the time that–

She wouldn't say the name. She had learned not to make that mistake in the mornings.

–the time that she had realized the pastry on her desk was being eyed by a hungry ADA. With a grin, she had bitten into the dessert and held it clamped between her teeth, wordlessly daring the attorney to bite into the other half. Did she really think that was going to stop her? As competitive as they both were? Brown eyes had widened when she closed the distance between them, holding her gaze while she leaned in to accept the challenge, until the noisy arrival of SVU co-workers ruined the moment. She still owes me half a pastry.

Rinse the glass. Toss the napkin. Drop the paper into the recycle bin.

Time to go talk someone into buying a house. She checked her jacket and blouse in the mirror. "Elaine Blair," she reminded her reflection again.

"How about it, Elaine? We're heading out early for a beer or five . . . "

She looked up at the small group encircling her desk. "I'd love to, but I'll have to take a raincheck."

"Hot date?" Nancy Laureski, co-owner of Kidd & Laureski Realty, had joined them.

"I thought I'd take a night off from unbridled passion," she replied drolly. "I've actually been looking forward to something on TV tonight."

"Boooo-ring!" fellow residential realtor Sissy Walker sang at her.

"I'll pop a six pack in your honor," Alex promised.

"Well, that's OK then."

Alex checked her watch. "Gotta go." She had tested out the new VCR already, but what if she couldn't find a tape? She might need a couple. If she left now, she'd have plenty of time to get to the Fred Meyer, get her dinner made, get the phones turned off, and get stationed on the couch for uninterrupted viewing.

'Looking forward' to this. Ha – slight understatement. Even as she used her advocacy skills to convince buyers that a view was exactly what they wanted, or it was worth paying extra for a swimming pool that could only be used three months a year, Alex had thought of little else for the past three weeks, ever since her daily internet search – the Ledger, the Post, the Times – had struck gold. Thinking about it subconsciously caused her to press harder on the accelerator.

The trial was salacious enough to have caught Court TV's interest, and the rumblings in New York were loud enough for the supreme court to allow the broadcast. Tonight's entry in reality television was The People vs. Henry Bosco – middle child of Senator Ted Bosco – on one count of murder, three felony drug charges, and one count of rape. Rumors were that some testimony would involve an attempted coverup by the venerable politician himself. Whatever. That wasn't where former ADA Alex Cabot's interests lay.

She was a little curious to see her replacement in action – well, OK, more than a little. Did Olivia like her? Did they spend as much time in each other's faces, arguing over whatever the Great Conflict of the day was? Terrific. Jealous of someone I don't know because of a woman I wasn't even involved with.

For Alex, though, those highly charged arguments had often been the bright spot in her day. It was never anger that she felt afterward. She was very aware of what it was, what she would have shared with the detective if she had ever gotten any clear signals that it would be welcome. Of course, Alex hadn't exactly issued any proclamations herself, either. The closest she had ever come was a little judicious unbuttoning when she knew the detective was on her way over.

She studied SVU's new assistant district attorney during the woman's opening statement. Unimpressed, Alex decided, not really caring whether she was being objective or not. What's with that hair? Does Olivia like her? Does she compare us?

Get on with it! The former ADA's brain recognized the need to call the first uniform at the murder scene and the CSU tech and the lab analyst (Herb's lost weight, she noted idly), but her heart wished they had edited all of that out. She wanted the main attraction – and there it was, finally.

"The People call Detective Olivia Benson."

Without realizing what she was doing, Alex moved off the couch and onto the carpet. She was rewarded with a nice close-up of the detective, one hand raised while she swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I am going out tomorrow to buy whatever it takes to lift that image, she decided. She often regretted not having any pictures of Olivia, except for a few crappy downloads of crime scene news photos.

Alex wasn't going to touch the screen. She wasn't. She was a grown woman, for Christ's sake. A professional. Do you ever think about me, Olivia?

So far, Alex couldn't fault the ADA for the direct examination of her key witness. Olivia's credentials, her experience, her commendations, were all coming out in orderly fashion. Not to mention that the detective looked incredible. She had grown even more beautiful in the past twenty-one months. That blouse was nice. Liv always did look good in maroon.

And there . . . . Oh, God . . . There was the tiny necklace that was nearly identical to the single, delicate bud resting below the blonde woman's throat. Alex smiled. They had ended up with the sister pieces strictly by impulse. The attorney didn't usually stop at the multitude of cheap merchandise vendors that lined the streets around her office, yet for some reason this one had caught her eye one day. Olivia tugged at her arm – "Come on, there's a cappucino out there that needs me" – but by then Alex had already seen them. She peeled off a few twenties, then turned and slipped her arms around the detective's neck, efficiently hooking the clasp. Olivia wore hers often, and Alex's had become her favorite accessory. Thank God the clasp had broken shortly before her "death" and the necklace had been tucked safely in her purse awaiting the jeweler, where she fully expected to pay more for the repair than she had for the necklace. It was one of the few personal possessions she had been able to keep when she fled the city.

Alex had a general idea of Detective Benson's expected testimony, or at least the garbled version that the popular rags were spitting out. She had pored over every lurid article like a secret porn addiction. That allowed her to concentrate on the witness herself.

She's such a natural. When it came to rapport with juries, Olivia Benson had it. Same with victims. ADA Cabot didn't have the same personal touch with victims, which never really bothered her. She could, and did, sympathize with abused children or distraught rape victims, but their eyes weren't going to light up when she entered the room. Not like Olivia. Child or adult, male or female, it didn't matter; they almost all bonded instantly with the beautiful, compassionate detective. And that voice . . . the voice that one minute could growl at a suspect "I can screw you harder," and the next gently coax an admission of what was bothering you . . . .

I miss you. She wished she could tell Olivia that. She would tell Olivia everything this time.

Now Novak was standing near the witness stand, and Alex could see the two of them together. She studied the screen closely, but it wasn't like Olivia and this other woman were chatting over lunch. Alex wouldn't be able to tell anything about their relationship from body language. Olivia was all business, as she would expect.

Novak was asking another question, one that Alex had been wondering: How did Olivia become involved in this investigation? It didn't start out with SVU, apparently. If the Ledger had it right, they hadn't even learned about the rape until the end. None of the familiar names she was expecting – Stabler, Munch, Fin – had popped up in any of the reports.

"I was on loan from SVU to the DEA at the time," the detective was explaining.

Alex frowned. She was glad to see Olivia get a break from SVU, but she hoped she wasn't doing a lot of undercover work. She took enough risks in her job.

"Detective, Mr. Day implied in his opening statement that some evidence in this case might have been fabricated in retaliation for his father's role in having the Special Victims Unit program audited last year. Is that true?"

"No," she said. "Frankly, I didn't know Senator Bosco's involvement in that process until Mr. Day brought it up at a pretrial hearing." She turned to the jury. "The review actually turned out well for the unit," she continued. "The auditors concluded that most issues identified were due to understaffing, so we were allocated an additional detective in next year's budget."

Nice add on, Liv.

"Do you have any personal feelings toward Mr. Bosco or his family?"

"No," Olivia said again. "I was not even aware of Mr. Bosco's identity until I arrested him after the shooting."

"Mr. Day mentioned that you volunteered for the assignment. Is that correct?"



The detective hesitated.

Come on, Liv. You had to know that was coming.

"It was a matter of personal interest," she said.

"Related to Mr. Bosco?"

"No," Olivia replied. "Mr. Bosco was not the target of that particular investigation."

"Who was?"

"A drug trafficker named Cesar Valez."

"And what was your interest in Mr. Valez?"

"He . . . ." For the first time, Olivia's composure slipped. "I lost a close friend to him." She shifted in the witness stand, obviously uncomfortable with the subject. When she returned her gaze to the prosecutor, the camera captured a glimpse of pain.

Oh, Liv. Thank you.

They hadn't nailed Valez this time, apparently, but he hadn't been forgotten. She hadn't been forgotten.

I'm ready to come home, Olivia. You owe me half a pastry, and I want it. I want it all.

The End

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