DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are
property of NBC and Dick Wolf. Cold Case belongs to Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FANDOMS: Law & Order:SVU / Cold Case.
1. The Blue Nowhere
NEW YORK CITY
Elliot pushed his chair away from the desk and groaned.
"Get out of here."
"Cap will kill us if we don't get this done tonight."
"I'll do it. Just go."
"Go home to your family, Elliot."
He stared at her, not so much confused but waiting for her to say something else to ease his conscience. She was holding him at arms length, making him read between the lines. Nobody is waiting up for me.
She could use what seemed like the longest day of her life as an excuse for her stoicism, but lately every day seemed to come with its own set of annoyances and obstacles that she was ill-equipped to deal with.
He hovered in the doorway. "See you tomorrow."
She kept her eyes down, too tired to look up from the stack of paperwork. "Yep. 'Night."
As her partner's footsteps faded, Olivia exhaled. The act, as much as it was failing, required more upkeep than she had in the reserves. Elliot's constant coddling since Alex's death was honorable and sweet, but irritating all the same.
She looked at the phone, wishing she had someone to call. Don't wait up for me, she'd say reluctantly. Her lover would be groggy and Olivia would be able to feel her sleepy warmth through the crackling telephone connection. She pulled her hand away from the receiver.
Sometimes she'd dial Alex's number in the middle of the night and listen to the automated operator tell her she had made a mistake. Last week she dialed it and someone answered. Even phone numbers have second lives.
She typed in the only number she knew better than Alex's phone number. Her case number. It was habit now. She'd stare at the status and check the access logs, hoping to see movement. It was wrong, she knew, to be policing the police, but she was past the point of reason.
The database was always fast this time of night, still she tapped her pen impatiently on the desk.
Nine years and a lye laced burial had leeched the evidence from Mary Marks' body, Lilly cracked the case. She went from witness to witness collecting the facts that would eventually damn her man. Jerome Dixon had been stalking young Mary for a year and nobody put it together. But ten years after Dixon had set eyes on his prey, Lilly had pieced it together. Relentless like an itch in an open woundit had to be scratched.
She satself-satisfiedat her desk, not ready to leave her glory at the office so soon. She was an honorable woman with pure intentions but damn if it didn't feel good to solve a cold case.
"Detective Rush?" Lilly's smile faded. "This just came for you."
A manila envelope slid across her desktop.
She traced a finger along the neat cursive lettering, studying it. She tried to guess its contents, hoping for a thank you card or a happy family photo in spite of what she instinctively knew awaited her within its crisp confines.
Another cryptic note? Another I did it, signed Anonymous? Couldn't she be selfish just this once and bask in her victory longer than the length of the walk from central booking to her desk?
Maybe next time. She ripped open the envelope.
Olivia sat on the countertop flipping through a tattered Guns & Ammo as she waited for the coffee to brew. She checked her watch when in all reality the time was of no concern to the detective. This was her life.
Brewing coffee at 1amhaving already consumed the leftover 12 hour sludge after the unit emptied, reading Guns & Ammo, eating stale powdered donuts out of her bottom desk drawer and obsessively searching for Alex. Sometimes she'd skulk home for a few hours of sleep, but the crash room was just as homey in a pinch. It was a bland existenceone full of regrets, disappointments and dead ends.
The computer beeped.
Olivia narrowed her eyes and hopped off the counter. Her search program hadn't found any hits, Alex's case file, on the other hand, was being accessed. A whirlwind of keystrokes sounded through the squad room as she correlated the IP address and set about tracing it.
Three years ago she had no idea what an IP address was much less how to trace one, but necessity is the mother of invention and desperation was the detective's greatest motivator. And so Olivia had deciphered much of the hacker lingo effectively demystifying the internet and as a result her police issue computer had become an invaluable resource. She knew the answers were out there, she just had to find them in the dearth of information. Alex was alive, contrary to what her file said, and Olivia would find her.
A few pings later and Olivia had the address of the information-seeker.
Her first lead in months. She scribbled the user's login ID and terminal number on a scrap of paper. The three fact finding missions prior had quashed the hope that abounded each time such an opportunity presented itself. And in those disappointments she was now certain that Alex had never set foot in San Diego, California, Tempe, Arizona, nor Portland, Maine.
"Philadelphia," she whispered with an excitement that she'd assumed was gone for good.
2. Signed, Sealed, Delivered
"Feel up to a gruesome twosome, Rush?" Vera asked.
Lilly rubbed her eyes. "Is that your coy way of asking if I'd like to accompany you to a crime scene, Vera?"
"Double homicide, another one of those gangland jobs." He waggled his eyebrows, excitement over the case winning out over good graces.
"I can't. I'm working on something "
"Yeah," she sighed.
"Fair enough " The round detective put his hands up and backed away; a mock surrender to the blonde's workaholic tendencies.
Lilly smirked and returned to sifting through the pile of meticulous notestypewritten, collated, and referencedcomplete with footnotes and headers. Overloaded, she lay her head on the desk and waited for it to make sense.
What the hell did it all mean? Where was the cold casea trifecta of murdered civil servants: two DEA agents (one undercover) and an ADA hypothetically at the hands of a New York drug cartel. New York. What the hell did that have to do with Philadelphia?
Lilly opened her eyesskin tight jeans and criminal curvesdefinitely not Nick. She lifted her head, line of sight roving over the non-police issue belt with its empty holster, a clinging sweater/t-shirt combo, to the surly expression partially hidden by overgrown hair.
The stranger brushed the bangs from her eyes. "Detective Rush," she said again.
Lilly straightened. "Yes," she squeaked before clearing her throat. "How can I help you?"
She glanced at the papers on the blonde's desk. "Can we talk?"
"So you're telling me you came all the way out here because these people were your friends?"
"That's the quick and dirty version."
"This was your case," Lilly looked at the file, "Livia Sandoval?"
Olivia nodded. "Look, I just really want some justice for my friends."
"I'll do my best, Detective."
"You don't understand." Olivia slapped a hand on the interrogation room table. "This is dangerous. You need to know that going inpeople have been killed for their involvement."
"I'm not exactly convinced I have any jurisdiction over this case."
"You must have opened it for a reason " Olivia paced in front of the two-way. Lilly recognized the interrogation strutshe too was guilty of it from time to time but Benson oozed perpetual impatience.
"I'm afraid I can't discuss that with you."
"Look lady, I know the drill, but if you wanna play it like that, fine by me." She slapped a business card onto the table and scribbled something on the back. "If you change your mind, I'll be at this address for a few days."
"What are you doing?"
Olivia squeezed the cellphone between her ear and shoulder as she dumped her suitcase onto the spare motel bed. "What do you think I'm doing, Elliot?"
He sighed. "Why? I thought you were through with this crusade? I thought we talked about it."
"I agreed to keep you out of it. Don't ask, don't tell, partner."
"Where are you?"
"I'm doing my part, what's your story?"
"Nevermind. Don't tell me. Just be careful."
"I will." She wrestled with a cellophane wrapper.
"I'll give your regards to Cap'n."
Olivia bit the Twinkie in two. "And feed my fish, will ya?"
"I always do."
The televangelist hollered for her to repent. God himself was beating down her door. "Repent! Olivia! Repent, sinner!"
Olivia rolled over.
"Detective Benson, open the door."
Squinting she sat up, bathed in the artificial blue light of stained glass and velvet backdrops flickering from the television screen.
The banging commenced anew. "Detective," the voice outside her room called again.
She stumbled toward the door.
"What time is it?" She wobbled in the doorway, shielding her eyes from the corridor lights.
"And you've just decided that you want my help?"
"No, I decided that an hour after you left."
"Well, thanks for calling."
"Come on, let's go."
Olivia looked down at her ripped sweat pants and faded, oversized t-shirt. "I don't think so."
"Go change, I'll wait."
The car rocked forward as Lilly set the brake. "We're here," she said in her quiet way.
Olivia rubbed the sleep from her eyes, squinting at the in-dash clock. A few hours had passed since the blonde's predawn visit to her skanky motel room. At least she was gracious enough to let Olivia sleep while she drove. It had been a while since she'd awoken in a strange place in the company of an equally strange womannot that she was strange in that odd, don't ever call me again way, but Lilly's familiarity was strange in and of itself. She peered at her companion before hazarding a glance out the window, ruefully hoping that she hadn't said anything embarrassing in her stupor.
"What the hell is in Lancaster?"
"The post office responsible for the postmark on the anonymous letter I received yesterday."
"Just a little old fashioned police work." Lilly smiled in a way that completely disarmed Oliviaa sly show of pearly whites with a side of irresistible twinkling blue eyes. "Just to be clear, Detective, your badge doesn't hold much water in Pennsylvania so I'm afraid your involvement in this case can only be as a civilian."
Olivia smirked. "Fair enough. Let's do this thing."
Olivia stared, arms folded, at the corkboard plastered with WANTED posters. She wondered if postal workers ever ID'd anyone, because they sure as hell couldn't identify their anonymous mailer. Not a one could say whether Anonymous was male or female much less height, hair or eye color. What a fucking waste.
Lilly fanned herself with the envelope. "I got nothin'."
"Probably, but we'd need a warrant and that's not the attention we want at this point, wouldn't you agree?"
"Good point. So, now what?"
"I don't know," Lilly sighedan unusual display of exhilaration rather than defeat. "There's a lot of information" she tapped the manila against her palm. "I'm not sure I know where to start."
"Are you going to let me look at it or what? I may be a civilian in Pennsylvania, but my Captain in New York seems to think I'm a decent detective."
An hour into their drive back to Philadelphia Olivia said it: "She wasn't there."
The envelope while unremarkable to most was all but autographed in red magic marker to Olivia's eyes. The handwriting was unmistakablefrom the elegant loops and deep gouging crosses of t's, to the careless afterthought of dots on her i's. It was Alex. Unquestionably Alex. And Alex would never be so careless. She'd drive five hours out of her way to mail a letter if it meant hiding her location from the good or bad guys.
"The handwriting...it's a little feminine don't you think?"
Another smileshe could get used to that smile. "I never doubted your powers of perception." Lilly's fingers drummed on the steering wheel. "So how do you know she wasn't there?"
"Every asshole with a television knows the first thing cops investigate is the postmark."
3. Postcards From the Edge
"The way I figure it ol' Hector picked the wrong corner to be selling his wares," Vera hypothesized as he sat on the edge of Will Jeffries' desk.
Lilly dropped her feet onto her desk and tipped back in the chair, smirking at the men's exchange.
"It's not the oldest crime in the books," Vera defended, "but it's close."
"So what's Mr. Lovejoy's story?"
"Turf war? Who knows what these guys are thinking when they're hopped up on the latest, greatest invincibility cocktail."
"What if he's just an innocent bystander? Maybe he wandered in on Ortiz's execution."
The women exchanged a knowing look. "Who're your vics?" Olivia asked abruptly.
Jeffries scrunched his face at the outsider and gave Lilly a look that spoke volumes. Who the hell is she?
"Will what are their names?" Lilly Rush asked, ever diplomatic.
"Hector Ortiz and Danny Love."
Olivia flipped through Alex's "anonymous" manifesto. She stopped, tapping her middle finger against the page and slid the sheet across the desk toward Lilly.
"We may be working the same case, guys."
Olivia was reluctant to share the file with the other detectivesshe'd been pouring over it since Lilly finally gave it up during their drive back to Philly. And while the other detectives couldn't find anything strange about her interest in the file, they didn't catch the unusual amount of attention paid to the perfume masked beneath the sweet stench of paper and ink nor did they see her fingers tracing the cursive lettering or her eyes scouring each page for notes in the margin.
After a brief game of I'll show you mine if you show me yours, the detectives sat in silence each pondering new theories.
"The names were circled." Three faces turned toward Olivia. Unnerved, she continued: "I thought it was just the cartel hierarchy but maybe she was trying to tell us about the hits."
"So is Mrs. Anonymous our killer?"
Olivia wanted to defend Alex, Anonymous, whatever they wanted to call her, but she didn't. There was a great strategy at play, a method to a madness that had no cure. And so she waffled. "I don't know if that's her agenda. Sure it's bold, but why? What's the link to the past?"
"Revenge? Could be she's a cop with an axe to grind, justice for her fallen comrades, et cetera et cetera." Vera sized her up.
"Nice to know we've established some trust, Nicky," Lilly intervened.
"I'm just sayin'"
"I know what you're saying."
"Don't let 'im get to you
Olivia kicked a pebble as they walked along the park path. "I understand. The Boys Club is alive and well."
"They're good guysit's justthey're not used to "
"Really, don't worry about it." Olivia sunk her hands into her ridiculously tight jean pockets as they approached the half-courts.
"Hey, hey it's the 5-0," a preteen bellowed.
"Hey, boys." Lilly smiled good-naturedly as they approached the band of misfits. "We were wondering if you might have seen anything unusual Wednesday night?"
"Even if we did," the dirty kid in the back of the pack spoke up, "we wouldn't tell you. You think we wanna die?"
"What's your name, kid?"
"Are ya that old, lady? I said I ain't telling you shit." The troop of ruffians guffawed at the apparent leader's defiance.
"Good one, Jimmy!" the short one in the front cackled.
The amusement faded away from Jimmy's face as he glared at the turncoat. "You asshole."
"Kid's got a mouth," Olivia mused aloud. "All right, Jimmy " She took the basketball from his dirty hands and bounced it twice. "Make you a deal" She bounced it again. "if I make this jump shot you'll tell me what you saw the night Hector and Danny were killed."
"Are you crazy lady?" Jimmy crossed his arms.
"MJ couldn't make that shot, Jimmy. White girl ain't gotta chance."
"I feel bad." Lilly finally took control of the uncomfortable silence that had filled her car. "We haven't exactly had a chance to get to know each other." Parking outside the motel, she looked over at Benson and saw her weary smile reflected.
"I appreciate you letting me tag along "
"Are you kidding me?" her tone lightened. "I couldn't have made that jump shot."
Chuckling, Olivia patted her thigh. "I've had to play that card a few times. Elliotmy partner" she clarified, "isn't the pro he leads people to believe."
Her chin dipped, eyes taking in the landscape of veins that decorated the strong hand lingering on her thigh. "Well, you're good." She cringed. The basketball, not the hand on my thigh, though that's nice, too.
"Thanks." The motor idled roughly. "I'd invite you in for a beer but my fridge is broken." She peered at Lilly from beneath a curtain of bangs. "And warm beer isn't a good basis for any friendship."
"And the Cheap N' Easy Motor Inn seemed like such a fine establishment "
"I figure, the company isn't picking up the tab and I'm barely in the room enough to justify the big bucks." Lilly's eyes sparkled despite the darkness that hid her face from Olivia. Captivated momentarily, Olivia sighed. "I'm beat," she pulled her hand away and gestured at the motel "I should"
"Get some rest." Lilly's hushed voiceits conveyed kindnesstempted her. "I'll call you if I hear anything from the guys."
Olivia collapsed onto the creaky bed. In hindsight, the big bucks might have netted a bed whose springs didn't jut uncomfortably into her spine as she tried to roll out of the deep chasm undoubtedly carved into the mattress by the motel's many sweaty, smelly and horny guests.
"Christ," the fundamental betrayal of her self-appointed mission slammed into her chest. "What am I doing?"
Her neighbors who, she was sure, could hear everything she was saying with immeasurable clarity (as she heard their enthusiastic encounter the night before) were most likely not entirely convinced of her sanity now.
She sat on the edge of the bed, mind racing. What kind of game was Alex playing? Why put herself in jeopardy over a few skells dealing drugs for Velez in Philly? Every answer she speculated raised more unanswerable questions. Alex was frustrating her now as she had in the months prior to her "murder". Always so headstrong and focused, The Cabot (as Elliot called her because "she's her own Brave New World") didn't accept anything.
Even as Olivia searched, she never imagined Alex to be scheming in exile and now that she was confronted with the mountain of research all she could do is scratch her head. Beaten at her own game.
Sure, The Cabot was a good attorney, but Olivia prided herself at being one step ahead when it came to police work. For as many times as she'd ask for a warrant that Alex had already gotten, there were five other times where Olivia would weasel a confession out of someone they had no evidence on.
It was a delicate balance. Alex had knocked the chess board over with her last move and now Olivia had no idea when or where the next move would present itself.
Olivia groaned as another pair of headlights lit up her room and she wondered if she'd get any sleep in the state of Pennsylvania. A car purred outside her window, its exhaust fumes wafting in through the shoddy insulation.
Flopping onto her back she waited for the insomniac to get back in their car and leave her in peace. Something scraped against her door. Slyly, quietly, she reached into the bedside table drawer to retrieve her service weapon, thoughtfully nestled beside the Gideon's bible.
She sat up slowly. Her feet met the gritty indoor/outdoor carpeting as she crept toward the door, gun in hand. She peered into the peephole expecting to see a distorted pervert attempting to gain entry into her room but everything was blackthe peephole was covered. She stepped away from the door, fearing what might be on the other side for the first time.
Her chest heaved, anxiety mounting. Footsteps retreated hastily, the car door slammed, and the engine revved. Olivia's hands worked the lockexcitement flustering her movementsas she tried to open the door. She wrestled with the chain briefly and flung the door open. It bounced hard against the doorstop, undoubtedly waking her neighbors, as she chased the intruder. Poised to shoot, she jogged into the parking lot, gun trained on the sedan speeding away.
But bare feet on concrete were no match for German engineering and defeat was swift. She held her sides, huffing as she stalked back to the motel room. She cased it, checking the bathroom, closets and under the bed making sure no one had slipped in during the melee.
Sitting heavily on the edge of the bed, she ran her fingers through her hair. "Fuck," she breathed.
The door creaked.
Olivia's head whipped up in response, gun not far behind. There, pasted in stark relief against the dirty door was a note:
GO HOME Part 4
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