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.
10. Saints and Sinners
The inevitable clean-up was underway. She'd seen the vans with flashing lights and the Brass casing crime scenes plenty of times, she'd even had her gun taken into evidence before but this was the first time she'd fought for her life. A partner shot down in the melee, a lover depending on herthis wasn't the Job, this was making a stand.
Blue and red rolled across Alex's cheek. Blue, red. Blue, red. She hugged her sides and nodded as the men in suits questioned her. A pang wrenched Olivia's stomach as body bags were zipped and hefted onto gurneys. Regret? Victory? She wasn't sure she wanted the answer, but the suits surely would.
Sidestepping evidence markers and pools of blood, she advanced toward the only ambulance that medics circled with purpose.
Olivia leaned into the bus. "Hey." The oxygen mask fogged and groggily; Lilly smiled. "Gave you something for the pain, huh?"
Slivered blue eyes crinkled and drifted shut.
"Detective Benson," Hammond called.
Olivia patted the back of the ambulance and pushed off. Reluctantly, she faced the man she'd flattened an hour before.
"I said I was sorry." She wasn'tand Hammond knew it.
"I told you to go back to New York." He surveyed the chaos, shrewdly avoiding eye contact with the Detective. "But I knew you wouldn't."
Her lips curled, an impish expression creeping across her face.
"What you did tonight I've never seen such blatant disregard of safety, common sense You all could have been killed."
"It was under control."
Hammond narrowed his eyes and when he spoke again it was through gnashed teeth. "You were outmanned and outgunned, Detective. Think long and hard about that before you tell IAB you had it under control."
She walked an invisible grid within the room. Back and forth, every turn predictableOlivia never could sit still. The shock was setting in.
"What the hell happened out there, Alex?" her voice was sharp in the silence of the hospital waiting room.
Alex stilled her bouncing knee. "We got lucky."
She nodded. "I know."
Cutting the declaration off before it was unfettered was an old habit that Olivia surely recognized. She flopped into the chair beside Alex. "What did I do?" Unsettling as it was, her question went unanswered. No amount of cooing would make it all right and they both knew it. "They're gonna take my badge."
"You don't know that."
"People died, Alex. I killed them."
"What? You think he's gonna help me? After I knocked him on his ass and got one of his men killed?"
"He knows the situation. You were defending yourself, defending me."
"I'm a cop." There was more to the thought but Olivia didn't articulate it.
"It ended the only way it could end, Olivia. Unless "
"I need some air." Olivia stood abruptly. "I'll be outside if the doctor comes back."
Alex had been driving for two days. She couldn't stop. But when she was forced tofor gas or foodher heart bounced in her chest like a basketball in an empty gym, her face flushed, and she anticipated death.
It was only a matter of time until they caught up with her.
The gas station attendant eyed her suspiciously. She was, after all, jittery as a Wall Street trader looking to score an eight ball. Alex was sure the hand the clerk kept out of sight was white-knuckling a shotgun under the counter as she paid for her coffee with a handful of change. She looked like hell. She couldn't remember the last time she slept. Sleeping meant stopping and stopping wasn't an option.
"Miss? Can I help you?"
Alex jittered in front of the nurses' station. "Lilly Rush?"
The grey-haired woman flipped through her clipboard. "I'm sorry, she's still in surgery."
Alex nodded. "I'll just be waiting "
"I'll send the doctor to talk to you when he's through."
In the muffled silence of her car, she focused on the measured sounds of her own breathing. Her chest felt tight, her arms felt rubbery, and staring at the gun in her hand she questioned her resilience. Remembering the halfway houses, the dread that filled her every morning when she awoke, and the government thugs who got off on reminding her that her days were numbered, the clarity of her decision rippled through Alex. She refused to live in a bunker, to sit still and wait for death to come to her in a dungeon of her own doing. And no matter how many men were assigned to watch over Alex she never felt safe.
There was only one way she'd ever be safe again.
Olivia's arrogance had worn off and the ghastly reality of the hours before rattled her nerves. Replaying it in her head she felt less and less like the hero. She was a bullet away from death and she had the audacity to act invincible. Had it been a drug czar with a semi-automatic instead of a cocky FBI desk jockey they'd all be dead.
All the ways she thought it would end were fairy tales in comparison.
Sitting on the planter beside the emergency room doors, she stared at the sky. Her breath dissolved in tendrils and wisps as she confessed her sins to the stars.
Vera didn't bother with words as he ambled past, simply grunting. Jeffries, the softer of the two, nodded affably as he passed, but it was Lieutenant Stillman bringing up the rear, that shamed her with a grim expression of fatherly disappointment.
They'd never understand why she signed the release and walked away from protection. But the insignificance of her case and the knowledge that there was no justice for a woman who loved the law as much as Alex did left her embittered and made even the slightest chance of returning to her former pampered existence more unlikely.
Filled with purpose she set out, knowing enough to get her close enough to kill or be killed. She'd even gone so far as to map a hit listshe traveled from city to city collecting information, getting just close enough to get what she needed before disappearing again. She was a lot better at it than she thought she would be in the beginning. The lying came so easily.
She bled her truth into the sidewalk that night. Smeared her lover's hands with it, choked on it as they resuscitated her and now she slept with one eye open because of it.
Alex inhaled sharply. Jerking awake, the coat Olivia had covered her with slipped to the floor as she sat up.
Olivia stood stock still in front of the other woman, unnerved by her reaction. Three years ago Alex would have known it was herher smell, her noises, the air of brooding confidence that hung heavily when she was near.
"Brought you coffee." Olivia set the paper cup on the table beside Alex and kneeled to retrieve her jacket.
The wearied shadows cast across Alex's face spoke volumes and compelled Olivia's worry. "When's the last time you slept, Alex?"
"Don't ask." She ran a hand through her hair. "How long was I out?"
"An hour or so." Olivia grimaced as she stoodthe ache in her bones incomparable to the war in her head.
Olivia glanced at the nurses' station. "Nothing yet. Philly's finest are here, though."
Alex took quick stock of her surroundings, eyes darting from doorways to exit signs and back again. The tension in her posture tainted the room's air.
"It's nothing serious." She settled next to Alex. "Well," she corrected, "they're not too happy with me."
Staring at the face that once belonged to Alex Cabot in the dingy truck-stop bathroom, she regrouped. She studied the lines on her face as the tap ran, its too-tepid water unsatisfyingshe ached for the scalding satisfaction that a proper tap could bring.
She looked at the blood and dirt beneath her nails, smeared across her cheek and tried not to hate herself.
A fist pounded against the rickety door.
"You okay?" A voice echoed.
"Alex?" Olivia's voice drew her back to the moment.
"Yeah." She had to say it twice before the word was heard in the hallway. "I'll be out in a minute."
11. Picking Up The Pieces
"Haven't you done enough?" a man barked.
"This is a hospital, keep your voices down," a nurse scolded them as she passed the pastel room.
Alex advanced toward the waiting room with much trepidation. Empty moments before, the room was now filled with men of every shape and sizecops always came with entourages. Alex went unnoticed outside the room. She wanted to disappear, to melt away, to evaporate into ether.
The chubby one was grumbling about something and Olivia did well not to smack the pointing finger away from her face.
A mustached man she assumed to be his partner clapped a hand on the fat one's shoulder. "Calm down, Nick."
"The doctor isn't letting anyone in to see her tonight, so why don't we call it a night." She recognized the cadence and tone of his voice and the way he settled the detectives as one that Captain Cragen often employedhe was the man in charge.
"Go home and get some rest."
The men buzzed past, Vera still shaking his head; tearing at his words like a junkyard dog as he stomped down the hall.
Olivia spotted her first, then the Lieutenant, his eyes following Olivia's to her. There was no point pretending to be the proverbial fly on the wall any longer so she stepped into the putrid pink room and faced the man in charge.
"Alex," Olivia introduced, "this is Lieutenant Stillman."
She squeezed the man's warm hand. "Alex Cabot."
"Well, Ms. Cabot, Detective Benson Agent Hammond has asked that I bring you both back to the station."
There were no cuffs, no threats or manhandling, just a civilalbeit quietride across town in an unmarked car. Olivia had noticed Alex's indecisiveness when the back door was opened for her and crawled in first, sparing Alex the indignity of sitting in the cage by herself. As the sedan pulled away from the curb, Alex had brushed her thumb across the back of the hand that rest between them as Olivia nervously picked at the bench's loose threads.
"Philadelphia's most wanted." Stillman groaned as lowered himself to his chair. "I have to admit you're not what I was expecting."
"No, I'm not."
The Lieutenant puzzled over her statement for a long while before he spoke again. "So what happens now?"
The question, while an obvious one, troubled her. The gutting irony of it was: she hadn't thought that far ahead.
"You did it." Hammond threw a stack of photos onto the table. "You got him." His head bobbled like a doll as he spoke. "What are you going to do with yourself now, Detective?"
Olivia pushed the pile of pictures around, spreading the bloodied bodies of their would-be assassins across the table with curious wonder. She tapped her nail against a photo. "You're sure it's him?"
She didn't wait for his nod; even awash with blood she recognized Velez.
Hammond crossed his arms and sat on the edge of the interrogation room table.
Lifting the badge that dangled from the chain around her neck she stared at the numbers that had defined her for so many years. She twisted the gold shield in the harsh lamp light, not shying away from its glare before lifting it over her head and setting it on the table.
"You didn't do it, you know." Hammond tapped a pen on the table and poked at Velez's bloody body. "Not Velez." Olivia cocked her head. "I did him," he gnashed his teeth, "and it felt good."
Overwhelmed, Olivia sunk into the cold, metal chair. Staring at her badge she tried to make sense of it all.
"There'll be an internal investigation, of course," he brushed imaginary dust from his pant leg.
The door creaked as Lieutenant Stillman stepped into the room. She never thought her day of reckoning would be so swift, so immediate.
"I will personally apprise IAB of your capacity on this case and within our jurisdiction. Your weapon will be returned to you accordingly. Thank you for your assistance in recovering our witness."
Olivia scrunched her forehead at Agent Hammond's off the wall apology. His allusion to clearing her name was possibly the most bizarre thing she had ever heard given the circumstances. She looked to Stillman who didn't seem share her disturbance over Hammond's uncharacteristic display of generosity.
"Yessir," she stood awkwardly and turned to leave.
"Benson," he barked. When Olivia turned, he was pitching her badge to her. "Stay out of trouble."
"This is it. It's not the Ritz but I wasn't expecting..." Olivia looked over her shoulder as she fumbled with the plastic keychain.
"No, it's good." Alex didn't tell her she had seen her fair share of roach motels during her exile, nor did she remind Olivia that she'd visited her motel once before.
"Here," Olivia eagerly cleared away the suitcase she'd left behind all those hours ago. "Take this one." Her wild gesticulation between the two beds was almost comical. "That one has this spring and it's just this one is good." Olivia took a deep breath.
She nodded and tried not to smile at Olivia's nervousness. It was senior prom all over againthe 'are we, aren't we' tensionbut this was worse. There was an aching finality to their awkwardness. The way they avoided the subject, shied away from touching, keeping a respectable distance when there was such a palpable need to reconnect. But things were more complicated than that. Things had changed; there were things Olivia needed to know before they went down that road again, and she might not want to even try once she heard what Alex had to say.
Olivia hovered by the door until Alex settled onto the edge of the bed.
"You can stop running now."
12. Temple Rubato
She saw the flash before she heard the pop. A man glided out of the alley with purpose, adjusting his pants as he tucked a gun into the waistband. Head swimming, nausea threatening, she sunk into the bucket seat and waited for it to pass, for him to pass.
Methodical footsteps scratched closer. This was it, she thought. This was how she was going to die: in plain sight, having played cloak and dagger with the wrong people. He whistled, shoes clacking in time to the callously up-tempo tune as he passed. The car eased away from the curb without haste, its casual pace matching the gunman's gate moments before.
She panted, her hands trembled and her eyes tried to maintain contact with the Mercedes creeping down the street. But she didn't move. Movement would attract attentionthey were easing away from the crime scene not to avoid suspicion, rather to look for witnesses.
She pawed at the glove compartment, eyes still locked on the receding glow of the getaway car. When it slammed open she scrounged for a pen, scribbled the plate number onto a napkin and tucked it into her pocket.
Hand on the door handle, she filled her lungs againthe toxicity of freedom. The gun was heavy. No matter how many times she'd carried it, it weighed her down. The burden of what she had become. She crossed the street quickly.
"Miranda?" she whispered into the dim alley.
Plastic crinkled and she crept closer, squeezing the waffle-grip tighter. A stray cat protecting its meal growled as she passed the dumpster. Attention drawn away briefly, she stumbled over a garbage bag. A can skittered down the alley, spinning like a top in an inky puddle.
The stain on the ceiling gave her pause. She'd spent entirely too much time contemplating its origins, each theory more repellant than the last.
Olivia sighed. An expulsion of air, an abbreviated hum, a sound of complete contentmentGod, she sounded good.
Sleep eluded her. The bed was too soft, Olivia's breathing too loud. Years ago it was the measure of a lover's breathing that was the harbinger of blissful repose. Ironic, considering she'd spent the better part of two years sleeping in her car.
A hand, its fingers curling, reaching out, lie palm up beckoning her closer. Lifeless and stiff, the gesture was hopeful and by that made more tragic.
Alex employed far less caution approaching the body of Miranda Inez than she had entering the dark alley. Tears fell uncontested as Alex crumpled amongst the smelly debris and wept openly.
Blood everywhere, Miranda Inez's lifeless gaze a silent indictment of what Alex had become. There wasn't much left, she feared, that separated her from the villains.
Sirens sounded in the distance.
Heart racing, Alex turned off her emotions. She detached from angry copper stench suffusing the air, the hot blood cooling on her knees, the dark eyes' blank stare growing paler as each minute passed.
Survival was paramount.
"Where is it?" she asked, frantic.
The body jerked as Alex searched its pockets, rolling it from side to side, finding nothing in its jacket or jeans. But she didn't stop there, reaching into the low-cut top Alex searched Miranda's bra. Gentler was her exploration, still the invasion cost not only a dead woman her dignity but Alex hers as well.
Slipping beneath Miranda's left breast something cleaved her finger. Pinching the card stock between her fingers, Alex withdrew.
"I'm sorry." She cupped the Miranda's cheek and drifted away into the night.
Olivia lay as she always had: on her back in the middle of the bed, both arms tucked behind her head; confident even in slumber.
Foreign to her now, Olivia's breathing was a painful reminder of all that which was lost. The longing, the unspoken, their fragile union mystified her still. Even if they could get back what they had, where did that leave them?
Alex turned on her side and watched Olivia bathed in tempered neon. She focused on the shoulder she'd laid her head on and the hip she'd draped her arm across so many times before and the distance disappeared.
She fit neatly in Olivia's curves. A paradisiacal mix of soft and hard, her body gave way to Alex's in all the right places. Olivia's heart pumped against her ear and it was then that Alex finally found the metronome by which her sleep was driven.
Return to Law & Order Fiction Return to Cold Case Fiction
Return to Main Page