DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf. I make no money, and I make no claims. This is Mr. Wolf's sandbox. I just knock over his castle for grins when he's not looking.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My deepest thanks to Naelewai and Weehawken for slogging through the drafts.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Proximity Control
By Cymberlea

Part 1

It was 8:30am and Captain Cragen was finishing up the daily briefing on the SVU squad room floor. "So Fin and Munch will take the collar while you and Olivia interview Levinson's sister. Let's try and tie this one up today people."

Fin and Munch went for the coat rack, as Olivia and Elliot gathered their files.

"Oh," seems Cragen wasn't finished, "It's that time of year again, too." He started to smile, "Charity auction fundraiser in two weeks." A collective grunt emitted from all parties, "Yep. And this year, my money's on us bringing in more than SWAT and NYFD."

"You seem fairly sure about that, Cap." Munch offered.

"Oh, I am."

"But, wait. Munch only brought us $5 last time." Elliot announced jokingly.

"Yeah well, rotation you know. And with Benson representing us…"

"What?! Captain, c'mon. What about Elliot?"

"Nah, we drew straws, remember Liv? I was up first, then Fin, Munch and now you," Elliot ticked the names off on his hand, "It's your turn. Maybe we can pick you up something nice to wear on the way back from Levinson's sister's."

Olivia rolled her eyes, "Shut up, Stabler."

Fin checked his pockets. "Hey, I got a twenty here." He grinned as he slapped Munch on the back and turned to leave.

"See Olivia, you're ahead of Munch already," Cragen called over his shoulder as he retreated to his office.

Olivia pointed a long finger at her partner who immediately tossed his hands up in surrender, but she knew he would be teasing her in his "big brother" style all afternoon.

Alex studied her detectives through the two-way mirror of the interrogation room. She watched as Olivia slowly calmed the woman down and earned her trust. Her soft words and knowledge of exactly when to move in close, had a magical effect on so many people that the dark detective spoke with. Proximity control… they taught us that, but it comes so damn naturally to her. Alex caught herself swallowing to refocus.

Cragen leaned in to the window, nodded towards the interrogation room and stated blankly, "Sounds like she'll do it. No love lost in that family."

"Good, but we're going to need more than just her testimony and the line-up ID. I need hard evidence Captain, or this is still a gamble."

He nodded, as Stabler and Benson entered the darkened room.

"She's digesting it. No one wants to believe their family's capable of this kind of shit." Stabler offered.

Alex turned to Olivia. "What's your take?"

"I don't know. Something doesn't fit."

Alex stepped closer. "How so?"

"Dawn Coulter started by saying she couldn't believe it, then she switched her story. She said that Levinson had been such a good brother. Even paid rent while he stayed at her place last month. But," She turned toward Alex and flipped through her file finally handing several photocopies to the ADA, "our info dump turned up these utility bills at Levinson's present residence." She moved in to stand by Alex's shoulder and point out the data, "and all of these indicate he was living at his apartment last month." Geeze, what is that, gardenia? Olivia derailed for a moment.

Alex looked her in the eyes. "That's enough for me. I'll subpoena her financials too, and see if we get the 'rent' payment. If that's not there, then this case is far from over. What I really need is something definitive. Something to put the murder weapon in Levinson's hand."

Elliot uncrossed his arms. "Maybe the sister's got reason to pin it on him." Everyone's attention turned in his direction. "I'm just saying." He waived his hands in a gesture that indicated it was just an idea.

"Give me something more than both of your hunches, and I'll give you the warrant."

Cragen nodded and turned to leave, followed by Stabler and then Cabot who was wrapping her purple scarf around her neck.

"Alex," Olivia called her back, "I need a favor." She was clearly waiting until the boys left.

Alex returned her coat to the rack and faced Olivia. The detective crossed her arms and leaned back against the glass, turning her head and locking eyes with the younger blonde, "See, there's this, um, event coming up and…"

Elliot poked his head back in, "C'mon, Liv. We gotta roll. Unis, just called in with a rape homicide down in the Battery. Warner's already on scene, as is the media."

Olivia nodded and started to walk out. She touched Alex briefly on the arm, "I'll talk to you later about it." And the door shut behind her.

ADA Cabot stood motionless for a moment thinking the very air in the room had warmed. Proximity control. Damn, how does she do that?

Alexandra Cabot tossed her glasses on to the yellow legal pad on her desk and rubbed her tired eyes. She leaned back in her chair then searched her right hand drawer for the aspirin that might just tackle the headache she had been nursing since about 4pm that afternoon. That was about the time the gavel came down in Petrovsky's courtroom and once again, the jury had seen things differently from "the People." Slovnik would walk and she knew that would disappoint her detectives who had worked like dogs once again for her. No, not for me. For Angie Swenson and Carmella Martin. God she hated losing. It looked bad for the DA's office, it looked bad for her personal track record, and it felt like hell when she had to face her officers in the squad room. She was just about ready to call it a night and head home to some slow music, strong wine and hot bubbling water when there was a gentle tap on her door. She wasn't sure, but in the faint back lighting, the silhouette looked a hell of a lot like Olivia Benson. Yeah, that favor. At slower moments during the day, like when she was sipping cold coffee and waiting… to loose, her thoughts had returned to Olivia and wondering what the seasoned detective could need from her. From all indications, it was something of a personal nature and she sort of liked the idea of that. Over the months at SVU, Alex had gotten used to being an outsider. She often felt an acute twinge of jealousy at the ease with which the officers got along. There was nothing like that up here in the stratosphere. Everyone here had a personal agenda. Yeah, even me. She confessed sadly. She longed for some camaraderie, but with all her time devoted to work, it was hard to find. The rare drink with the detectives of SVU was the extent of her social life. Pathetic. But, of late Olivia had been stopping by a little more, and Alex found that she enjoyed the professionalism and quiet strength of the older woman…who is knocking on your door.

She sat up taller in her chair and called out, "Come in."

"Bet I caught you noddin' off." Olivia reverently closed the door behind her, not wanting to disturb the quiet all around them.

Alex grinned, "Not quite. Thursday's summation." She said tapping the legal pad, and then rising to walk around to the other side of the desk. She motioned for Olivia to sit down, and rested her slight frame on the edge of her mahogany desk.

"I got your message. You sounded," she searched for the right word that wouldn't offend the ADA, but would express the younger woman's tone, "wounded." Alex flinched visibly. "That's why I came by instead of just calling. I hope you don't mind me interrupting."

"No, not at all. I could use a break," Alex turned the other client chair toward Olivia a bit, and sat down slowly in it.

"Alex, look, I know that we're not, well, particularly close, but if you want to talk. Elliot says when he can get me to calm down, I'm a pretty good listener." A slow shiver went down Alex's spine winding up as a subtle tingle somewhere deep within her. So this is what it's like to be interrogated by Olivia. She stood up and went behind her desk with her back to the detective, trying desperately to avoid the woman's deep caring eyes. She needed… proximity control.

"I wanted to tell you…" that you're the closest thing I've got to a friend right now, that if it weren't for you, I'd consider putting in for a transfer to major crimes, that there are times when I feel the most profound respect for you, and that I never want to let you down, "that Slovnik walked."

"What?! I did all the footwork on that one personally, Alex! Christ, I laid that one in your lap." She stood up. "What the hell happened?" Each word slammed into Alex's heart like a pickaxe, and made her headache throb like a Wagner opera. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back slightly in defeat.

Olivia winced. If Alex had sounded "wounded" before, then Olivia realized she had just put the nail in the ADA's coffin. Great. Nice work, Benson. You come here because you're concerned about her well-being, and all you manage to do is fuck it up more. She swallowed hard and fought the urge to go around the barrier of the desk. "Okay, so, he got away with it… this time. He's an addict, Alex. He'll screw up again. We'll get another shot at him."

Alex let out the breath she'd been holding, hoping that Olivia would at least try and understand. The fact that she was making such a valiant effort on her behalf, made Alex feel even worse. You have no idea how much this hurts. "Yeah, we might, but at who's expense? How many innocent women will suffer because I couldn't control the jury. I couldn't do my job." She turned back around to see Olivia starring at her, those chestnut eyes showing no malice.

Olivia broke their shared gaze with a chuckle at that last comment, "Should I get down on my knees, Alex?"

Alex's expression registered complete and utter confusion.

"How shall I worship thee oh omnipotent and mighty?"

Now, Olivia thought she saw anger creeping into the corners of those cool blue eyes. Good. Olivia decided to cross the barrier between them, and moved within inches of the younger woman, casually leaning back against the desk with her wrists supporting her. They stood side-by-side and face-to-face. Yep, Gardenia. "Look, don't take this the wrong way," Olivia's voice lowered to a warm and comforting whisper. "But Alex, you're the only one who expects you to control everything. Christ Cabot. You're not God." She stared insistently into Alex's eyes. "Let it go," she sighed. The older woman let her vision linger there, trying to read the emotions behind her friend's expression. It took everything she could muster not to close the distance between them. Not to take this woman in her arms and chase away the demons that were clearly stalking her. Slowly, Olivia pushed her weight off the desk and took up a position a safe distance away with her hand on the doorknob. She paused momentarily, then opened it and started to go, but couldn't force herself to leave just yet. The symbolic irony of the position she was in wasn't wasted on her. Close the door… walk away. She risked one parting glance.

Alex's gaze tracked every movement the detective made. She didn't know what to say. Everything was spinning…she laughed slightly… out of control. A smile started to play across her face. Olivia returned it willingly and watched as Alex's grin grew to match her own. Olivia shook her head and chuckled softly. "Good night, counselor," she said when she was satisfied with her work, and slipped out into the dimly lit hallway.

Alex Cabot swallowed hard and sunk into her chair. Olivia had left, but she felt her presence everywhere, lingering warmly around her in the soft lamp light like a familiar hug. She closed her eyes and sighed deeply trying to hold on to the sensation. To her tired mind, the emotions that tugged at her when it came to Olivia Benson were all so very confusing, yet completely clear. The truth…she was a lawyer for Christ's sake, devoted to finding out the truth, and all the evidence pointed her to the same conclusion regarding her feelings and the passionate detective. She ran her fingers through her long blonde hair and rested her head in her hands. The ADA's summation was unavoidably obvious to her. Still, she would find a way to deny it. Maybe she was just tired and stressed-out. Yeah, that's it. After all, Olivia was a co-worker, a professional, and a friend at best. There wasn't room right now for anything more than that in Alex's life, or so she tried desperately to convince the jury in her mind.

Part 2

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