DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By D.S.

The next step in their investigation, the detectives agreed, was obvious: Get Cabot's OK to arrest Herrera, then sweat him to see if he would roll on Jimenez. The assistant district attorney, though, would be in and out of court all day, Cragen reported. One of the SVU detectives would have to track her down.

"I'll go," Olivia said. Pushing back her chair, she stuffed her notes on Herrera into a manilla folder.

Elliot smiled at his partner. "Gonna ask her out finally?"

Olivia rolled her eyes. She never should have told Elliot her first, somewhat prurient impressions of their new Assistant District Attorney. Yes, the blonde was tall and smart and sexy and just about everything one could want in a woman, but other than working together at SVU, they had nothing in common.

Even the "working together" thing was a matter of opinion at times. They seemed to spend half their time quarreling, often ending their disagreements only inches away from each other, fuming, until one of them finally moved away. It hadn't gotten much better after Cabot apparently decided that Benson was the easiest SVU detective to get hold of and began using her to relay messages back and forth among the group. All that did was just create more opportunities to be in each other's faces.

None of that mattered, anyway. In all the time they'd been around each other, Cabot had never hinted to Olivia that she might be "eligible." No, once Detective Benson had picked her jaw off the floor, she had firmly dismissed their new ADA as a potential.

She shook her head. "I've told you," she reminded him. "There's nothing there."

"Ah," Elliot replied with a nod.

He looked on as Olivia grabbed up the file folder, then set it back on her desk while she rifled through her purse. Eventually, she found a small comb that she slipped into her pocket, and started down the hallway. A moment later, she was back again. Wordlessly, Elliot held up the folder. Olivia plucked it from his hand and headed out the door.

The ADA was in the second of three possible courtrooms suggested by her secretary, mid-hearing in one of Odafin Tutuola's cases. Sliding onto a back bench, Olivia concluded that there really wasn't much to do while she waited except observe the ADA in action.

The charcoal jacket and skirt were nicely tailored; if Olivia had been interested in Cabot, she would have said they enhanced the blonde's curves. And rather agreeable curves, objectively speaking: Well-defined calf muscles (Does she jog?), slender hips, and an unyieldingly stiff back that suited the haughty little sneer she was sending over to defense counsel. That arrogance is going to get you in trouble one of these days, Sweetie.

Cabot was pooh-poohing the contention that a search by SVU's newest addition had exceeded the scope of the warrant authorizing it. Olivia hadn't worked with this Fin enough to get a feel for him yet, but Cabot was making him sound like Cop of the Year.

This isn't so bad when you're not on the hot seat. Detective Benson had been to court several times with Cabot so far, always just long enough to testify and then take off again. It might be kind of fun to hear the ADA talk about her, she decided. Next time defense counsel pulled this shit in one of her cases, she'd make a point of attending the hearing, even if she didn't have to testify. It might give her a better understanding of the challenges that Alex faced, which might, in turn, make her more sensitive to the attorney's expectations.

On the other hand, sensitivity ran both ways. Maybe the ADA ought to join her on an apartment toss some time when the detective was trying to find nonexistent evidence that Cabot was demanding, or at a hospital in the middle of the night telling a 9-year-old rape victim and her hysterical parents that everything would be OK when they all knew it wouldn't.

Yeah, an invitation to Liv's world was in order. In the meantime, maybe Olivia could work through lunch a time or two next week and come down here to take in a few Cabot matinees.

"Officer Tutuola is entitled to ascribe plain meanings to language in the warrant, Your Honor," Cabot was saying. "The word 'video' ordinarily connotes a range of material from home video to commercial videotapes, including digital camera images."

This might be something she should know, Olivia recognized; she'd better concentrate.

"Digital cameras are so ubiquitous today that no one can reasonably claim a lack of notice . . . "

Her hair's a little lighter than it used to be. I like it.

". . . and thus the memory sticks were clearly within the scope . . . ."

Those glasses look great on her. Is she nearsighted or farsighted?

". . . fully consistent with the purposes of the Fourth Amendment . . . ."

No ring. Of course, Olivia already knew that the ADA wasn't married. And if she was going out with anyone in the DA's office, it had escaped the attention of the normally reliable courthouse rumor mill. Same with the NYPD. Right. Like the glamorous Ms. Cabot would be interested in one of them. The Commissioner of Police, maybe, not your average Joe Cop. Unless the blonde was one of those repressed types that liked to go leather once in a while. Not that Olivia cared enough to speculate.

She shifted her gaze to others in the courtroom. Judge Bell. He wouldn't say anything until he was ready to rule, at which point he would become an immovable object that even the irresistible force that was Alex Cabot could not budge. She remembered Cabot griping last month in that cute lawyerly way about the hazards of guessing what might be important to Bell on any given day.

Milt Collins, defense counsel. Olivia hadn't been bothered by Collins' persistent invitations to dinner "and whatever else might develop" a couple of years ago, even though she could tell he was only including the 'dinner' part out of a sense of decorum. She also hadn't been tempted. Collins wasn't as slimy as some, yet not as picky with his clientele as the detective thought he should be. You're out of your league today, buddy. Olivia would put her money on Alex Cabot against Collins any time. Hell, against anyone.

She wondered if Collins had ever hit on Cabot. What was she saying – of course he had. Who wouldn't? Whatever else she was, Alex Cabot was one hell of a head turner.

The attorneys were packing up? Had she zoned out and completely missed the judge's ruling? Wake up, Liv.

Cabot spotted the dark-haired woman in the back and strode toward her. "Will you be going back to SVU, Detective?"

Olivia nodded.

"Would you mind letting Tutuola know?" the ADA continued.

Uh . . . "Sure," Olivia replied. "What exactly would you like me to say to him? I mean, is there any particular wording you want me to use?"

Alex glanced at her watch. "Judge Bell denied the motion to suppress, and Fin didn't do anything wrong. That's all that matters."

Oh. Good. "Hey, that makes two pieces of good news in one day," Liv said. She had forgotten to pass on the message from Alex's assistant.

"What other good news?" Alex asked.

"The Court of Appeals upheld Randall Lane's conviction this morning."

"Yes!" Alex exclaimed. She pumped a fist into the air.

Olivia glanced around. She understood the emotion – it was Alex's first big trial at SVU, tossed into her lap only one week into the job, and if anyone deserved the death penalty, it was a man who raped and strangled three young schoolgirls – but Cabot might catch flack if some media gossip caught the ADA cheering an impending execution. "Will it be your first?" she asked.

Alex nodded. Olivia walked along silently beside her, allowing the other woman to savor the win.

"It was your case," Alex said. "Do you want to go with me?"

Attending executions actually wasn't high on Detective Benson's list. However, if Alex Cabot was going to sit through it, Olivia would be there with her. "Let me know when," she replied. She pictured the girls' devastated parents, wondering if it would bring them closure.

Alex suddenly seemed to realize that Olivia probably had another reason for searching her out. "Was there something you needed from me, Detective?"

"Oh, yeah." Olivia drew out the folder, outlining over their next twenty paces SVU's rock-solid suspicions about Luis Herrera. "So . . . ?" To her dismay, the blonde head was moving back and forth instead of up and down.

"Not enough," Alex declared.

"Not enough?" Olivia repeated. "Are you kidding me? That's more than we had on O'Neal last week."

"O'Neal is on probation. It's a lower standard."

Goddamn it, Cabot. "OK, fine," Liv said. "How about a search warrant, then?"

"Inside his place?" Cabot shook her head again. "We're still stuck with that 'probable cause' thing, Detective."

"Christ, Alex, what does this guy have to do? Write you a note?"

"Why don't you screen his garbage? That's fair game." The attorney held up a hand to end Benson's rant. "Olivia, I have no doubt that you are absolutely right about Herrera. But after the reversal in Stedman last month, there isn't a judge here that will let us into his apartment based on what you've got right now, and I'm not going to ruin my credibility by asking."

The detective spun around, exasperated. "Oh, c'mon, Alex." An idea occurred to her. "Hey, what about that uncle of yours . . . ?"

Oops. That expression didn't bode well. Olivia had apparently stepped over a line.

"I am not going to call Judge Herriman and pretend like I actually believe we have enough for a warrant," Alex said. "I have to sit across the table from him at Thanksgiving dinner in three days. I'd like to be able to look him in the eye."

Silence followed as the two women resumed their trek toward the courthouse entrance. Olivia was stewing, trying to think of something she could add to make Cabot change her mind, when the woman in question spoke up again. "So, do you have plans with your family for Thanksgiving?"

Terrific. A rare attempt by Alex Cabot at something akin to normal conversation, and she chose that subject. "No," Olivia replied.

Cabot waited for elaboration.

"My mother died recently."

From her startled reaction, this was news to the ADA. "Oh, Liv," she uttered. "I'm sorry -- I didn't know." Alex reached out to clasp her wrist.

Olivia shrugged. "It happens."

"Do you have any other family?"

"No." This wasn't particularly a conversation that Olivia wanted to dive into.

"Um . . . ." The attorney stopped just inside the entrance. "Listen, Olivia, I'm not heading upstate until Thursday afternoon. I don't know if you'd be interested,–"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm on it." Olivia's cell phone was pressed to her ear. "Cabot says we don't have enough. No shit? Hang on." She held the phone away from her mouth. "Sorry, Alex; I didn't catch all of that."

"Nothing." Alex waved off the question. "What's up?"

"Munch went through the LUDs again. Three phone calls on the day of Justine's murder were from a payphone on 47th. Turns out that Herrera's brother owns a pawn shop directly across the street."

Now that expression was more enjoyable. No one could pull off smug like Alex Cabot. "Let's have Mr. Herrera in for a visit," the ADA said.

Liv managed to hold open the door for Alex while simultaneously communicating the ADA's instructions into her cell phone. She supposed she ought to be heading back to the station house now.

Before she was halfway down the marble steps, Cabot was surrounded by shoulder cams and microphone-wielding reporters anxious to hear how she felt about Randall Lane's fate. Although Alex was outwardly somber, Olivia was familiar enough with those features to know that she wasn't minding the attention. The detective hung around, watching the show, in case there was anything else Cabot wanted to tell her before she went back to SVU.

She almost missed it. In one instant, Alex was offering the usual platitudes ("no one relishes the taking of a life, but Mr. Lane understood the consequences of his actions"). In the next, a young man was raising a handgun, aiming it directly at the ADA's head.

"Murderer!" he screamed.

Olivia acted out of pure instinct. Alex – danger. In three long steps, she had taken him to his knees. Powered by a surge of adrenalin, the detective's training kicked in, and in less than thirty seconds she was slamming his face into the stone with one hand while reaching for her handcuffs with the other. Court security converged on the pair and Olivia shoved the suspect at them, then scrambled over to where Alex sat on the ground, still gasping at the shock.

"Alex." Olivia laid a hand on the ADA's shoulder. "You OK?" She ducked her head to peer into stunned blue eyes. "You're safe, Alex. I'm here." She gently smoothed ruffled blonde hair.

After a few minutes, Alex seemed to emerge from her daze. "My briefcase," she said weakly.

"I'll get it," Olivia offered. "Wait here; I'll be right back." The satchel lay, unnoticed, near where the attorney had been standing when–

She inhaled deeply. So close. They had been so close to losing Alex to the misdirected rage of Randall Lane's son. She stared at half a dozen white shirts dragging the young man into the courthouse. A jury, not Alex Cabot, had convicted his father. Alex enforced the laws; she didn't make them. Deep down, though, part of Liv understood his rage. When she'd seen him pointing that gun at Alex, her first thought – her only thought – had been to kill. So close.

Olivia maneuvered her way through camera lenses zooming in on the shaken ADA. "Fuck off," she snapped, crouching closely in front of Alex to block their view. "Leave her alone."

A hand tentatively brushed against her forehead. "You're hurt, Liv."

"Hm?" The detective reached up to feel a small patch of stickiness on her temple. Must have been when Lane swung the .38 at her. She vaguely remembered an impact with the butt of the gun. "No big deal," she said lightly. "Not enough to get the afternoon off."

"Your cheek, too." Alex's palm felt cool against her skin. "I'll tell Cragen to let you go."

"Nah," Olivia declined. "I'd just be bored at home. Come on; let's get you where you want to go."

"The office, I guess," Alex said. "I'd be bored at home, too, if I were alone."

Olivia helped her up. "Back to work it is then, Miss Cabot." Cragen wouldn't beef if she stayed with Cabot a while longer, the detective figured, not after what happened. The satchel lightly slapped against her thigh as she escorted the ADA to safer surroundings.

Late that afternoon, the razzing from co-workers that Olivia thought had finally receded began anew when a helpful clerk called everyone's attention to a small TV in the video room, on which they could all enjoy Channel 4's footage of "Detective Olivia Benson's heroic struggle" with the deranged gunman who attempted to assassinate Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot earlier in the day.

"Ooh, you're my hero," Munch cooed at her.

Olivia ground her teeth together. Thank God it was time to go home. This would all die down overnight.

As they straggled back to their desks, Elliot leaned in toward his partner. "So, you think Cabot will 'reward' you for saving her life?" He waggled his eyebrows at her.

Sigh. "I've told you before, Elliot: There's. Nothing. There." She loved the man, but why couldn't he get a simple concept through his pea brain?

Cragen poked his head into the common area. "Somebody's gotta stay late," he announced. "Cabot wants to go over what we've got on the park rapes."

Olivia rose. "I don't mind . . . ."

She began straightening her desk, and Cragen reappeared. "She'll wait for you in her office," he said. "She says she owes you dinner at least. I'd take her up on that if you're going to work late. Better their budget than ours."

Dinner with Cabot; guess that would be all right. A working dinner would be efficient. Slipping into her jacket, Liv glared at her partner. She could tell what he was thinking.

Stabler threw his hands up. "Nothing there," he repeated solemnly.

Moments later, she hurried away to answer the ADA's call.

"Yep," Elliot smirked. "Not a thing."

The End

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