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 7

She was wearing the charcoal pinstripe Tahari today. That meant she was confident. When she needed a little boost, she wore the navy with a low cut cream shell underneath. The dark gray was her, "I know what the fuck I'm doing, and you're going down ass wipe" suit. Olivia reveled in the ADA's demeanor whenever she looked this way. For some inexplicable reason, arrogance was sexier on Alexandra Cabot to the detective, than any skimpy lingerie could ever be. Clothes don't make the woman after all.

"No further questions your honor," Alex was finished her cross. She turned to take her seat and caught a glimpse of Olivia for the first time. The alluring detective had snuck into the gallery while Alex had been busy busting the nuts of Bill Pellinham. Alex nodded her head slightly in the brunette's direction and gave her a cocky half smile. The message was clear. "We got him." Olivia dipped her head in acknowledgement and congratulations. She liked this, the unspoken language that was developing between them. It allowed them to communicate privately no matter where they were, no matter who was around. She chuckled to herself. It was a lover's language.

Judge Lena Petrovsky looked to the defense for redirect or closure, and Trevor Langen shook his head in surrender. He gave Alex a "Damn you," glance and closed his file folder. Olivia beamed. She hated Trevor and loved it whenever Alex put him in his place. Jealous? Maybe, but the fact that Alex seemed to enjoy kicking Trevor's ass too, made it all the more sweet. Trevor stood up and began his fact filled summation. Alex had clearly taken all the wind out of his sails, and he was doing his best just to hold the fort. He finished up and Benson almost laughed out loud as juror number five stifled a yawn.

Olivia leaned back in her chair and crossed her ankles as Alex took the floor, "Watch and learn, toad boy," she mumbled at the pretentious defense attorney.

"Trust." Alex paced the floor in front of the jury box. Her movements were sleek and strong, like a lioness on the prowl. "Bill Pellinham dealt daily in the most vital of all human emotions. Trust. His patients trusted him. As troubled teenagers, they poured out their hearts to him. Gave him their deepest fears. Told him their inner secrets. They became weak in his presence. As a school counselor, he had the duty to exorcise those demons; to help children heal. But in the cases of Juan Lopez, Jill Beckwith, and Peter Avendale, Bill Pellinham, the defendant, twisted that trust, that duty, into a perversion that only fueled the children's neurosis. Brandings on their shoulders and thighs, beatings that left bruises and broken bones," she ticked them off with her fingers, "Emotional torture that scarred their souls and repeated brutal rapes that stole their fleeting childhoods. Lastly, in the case of Jill Beckwith, Bill Pellinham committed the ultimate betrayal. He murdered her in cold blood." She took off her glasses, placed both hands on the jury box and leaned in for the kill, "These three children have had the life strangled out of them by Bill Pellinham, a school counselor who should have offered them hope, and helped them to chart their way through their full futures. Instead he gave them only pain, torture and death. Now, it is up to you to fight for those who cannot. It is up to you to free these victims from their demons at last, and renew their trust in us by finding the defendant guilty on all counts. I urge you as members of this jury." She paused for effect and looked them over, "Do not unleash Bill Pellinham on any more helpless children. Give others the future that these three had stolen away. Prove to them that goodness and justice do truly prevail. Do not…betray…their trust." She nodded a "thank you" and took her seat.

Olivia beamed as Petrovsky charged the jury to withdraw to chambers, and called for recess until they rendered their verdict. Meanwhile, Trevor tried to console Pellinham and ushered him out with the sheriff's people. They knew they were screwed. The visitors in the gallery shuffled out and left Olivia sitting proudly in her chair. Alex gathered up her coat and files and came to stand in front of the smug detective, her briefcase resting on her lap as she leaned back on the handrail in front of her friend.

"Don't be so sure," the ADA confided.

Olivia stood up and smiled at the prosecutor. "I'm sure."

Alex rolled her eyes and shook her head. "You doing anything right now?"

"At the moment, nah. Just came by to watch Pellinham get his, and see how you were holding up."

Alex smiled. "I'm fine, but I need a chai latte to really make things right?"

Olivia raised her eyebrows in mock contemplation then professed, "I can do that."

Alex closed the distance between them and gave her friend a seductive smile. Her body brushed up against the brunette's as she whispered warm words into Olivia's ear, "Get me outta here, Detective."

Olivia breathed in deeply. God, Alex always smelled so good. Today it was expensive, something subtle, but crisp and clean. Olivia couldn't place it, but she knew she'd never forget it. She forced herself to take a step back, "What, you piss Trevor off so bad you need a security detail?"

Alex wouldn't back off. "I don't know." She drew nearer again. Damn your proximity control, Olivia. "Think you can protect me?"

Olivia licked her lips subconsciously and swallowed hard. Alex's eyes were searching the detective's expression for an answer, and even though Olivia said nothing, the ADA got the one she wanted. Olivia closed her eyes and shook her head. Damn lover's language. It had betrayed her no matter how hard she fought it. She felt the heat creeping up her chest, and Alex almost snickered out loud at the resulting blush.

Olivia interpreted the chuckle as a patronizing response, and she would not have her feelings mocked by the counselor. She was determined to regain control of the situation. The detective set her jaw and locked her gaze with the fiery attorney's. The emotion alone in her deep, brown eyes was powerful enough to make Alex catch her breath, and take a small step back from Olivia, who whispered, "Don't play games."

Alex's eyebrows twitched slightly as confusion played across her features. She hadn't meant to hurt Olivia. She would never knowingly let that happen. Still, something had gone terribly wrong. She dropped her gaze to the floor, and bit her lower lip to fight back the sting of tears threatening to rim her blue eyes. She finally worked up the courage to look at Olivia again. The younger woman placed a tentative hand on the detective's crossed arms. "I'm sorry." She managed a quick and nervous, "Forgive me?" smile, and breathed a sigh of relief when she saw it had been accepted. Alex looked down at her feet and mumbled resignedly, "I should go." She gently squeezed the forearm she hadn't let go of, and then turned to leave. She felt like the words she had heard so often in here, "We find the defendant, guilty," somehow applied to her this time, and it tore her up inside.

Olivia let her walk away. Despite reason, it made the older woman's heart ache. She watched as Alex started to slowly push open the heavy wooden doors of the courtroom.

"Counselor." The compassionate detective couldn't do it. The word echoed in the empty marble space and stopped Alex in her tracks. A thousand useless words flooded Olivia's mind, she sighed visibly and decided on "Wait." Olivia walked over to her side. The blonde was fighting so hard with her own emotions, that she turned a cheek to Olivia not wanting her to see the struggle behind her eyes.

"Look at me," she whispered.

Alex set her jaw, and shook her head stubbornly.

"Alex," She leaned in a little to fix her deep brown eyes on the blonde's despondent expression and to try and force her friend's hand, "Look at me." Each slowly pronounced word battered down the lawyer's faltering defenses.

The ADA fought hard though, and Olivia could see Alex's cheek muscles flare each time she clinched her teeth. This wall is coming down, now. Olivia hesitantly reached up and gently touched her fingertips to Alex's chin. With the slightest pressure she brought the blonde's stormy blue eyes to gaze upon her. "You're not getting outta here without me."

Alex looked skyward for help, then back to Olivia. She swallowed hard and dropped her gaze to the ground. Where are the words? What do I say? She sighed and surrendered. The honesty of her response gave her courage. She raised her head confidently to finally match Olivia's insistent stare. "I never wanted to."

It was Olivia's turn to flinch. Slowly, they shared a nervous smile. A bailiff entered from a doorway in the back, and both women turned to look in that direction. Reality had intruded once more, and they knew the moment was over. Olivia stole a last quick glance over at Alex, and the counselor's expression revealed how reluctant she was to let her feelings fade. "Ready?" the detective questioned with a reassuring dip of her head

Alex turned back to face Olivia, drew in a deep breath as she nodded, and once again put on the commanding countenance of Alexandra Cabot, Assistant to the District Attorney of New York County. It was a move she had refined over countless years of burying her true emotions. It was what made her a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom. It was what insulated her and kept her sane when prosecuting and dealing with the crimes she faced every day. It was what would keep her relationship with the amazing woman standing in front of her, whose arms she wanted nothing more than to crawl into and be held close by, professional.

Normally, Olivia would have found the counselor's inner strength to be most attractive, but somehow today it was painful to see. Painful because she knew what it hid, the truth. Alex stepped back and Olivia opened the door for her. She ushered the younger woman out with a gentle touch to the small of the blonde's back and then they were out in the open, out in the marble corridor full of human traffic. They fell into their roles of cop and counselor with a misleading ease. A silence filled with regret settled between them as they escaped the halls of justice. For all intents and purposes though, this was just like any other day. The only indication of anything deeper to prying eyes was the lack of personal space between the two women. It was as if their bodies fought to say what they would not.

Alex was glad the elevator was crowded. There would be no questioning looks as to why she and the SVU detective were standing so close against the back wall. Olivia's hand had been resting on the handrail lining the elevator, but as Alex moved closer in the crush, she felt Olivia's thumb through the silk of her gray suit start to gently rub up and down her lower back. The brunette appeared to not even be thinking about it, as if it was nothing, but it was driving the attorney wild. Alex had never been one for risk taking or public displays of affection, but if the elevator emptied and Olivia didn't stop that, she'd push the emergency button, drop her coat and briefcase, pin the brooding detective to the wall and kiss her soft lips until neither could breathe. Her heart was pounding out of her chest, and she felt her cheeks starting to redden. Now who's playing games? She held her breath each time someone stepped off the elevator, but then she noticed the lower parking levels were lit. They would not be alone. Relief and disappointment wrestled for control of Alex's clouded mind. Pull it together, Cabot. They reached the main lobby level, and Alex nudged her way to the front of the elevator and out of her confinement. She had never been claustrophobic, but it was getting rather suffocating in there. She needed air and distance.

Once outside on the cold marble steps of the courts building, the brisk December wind whisked Alex's breath away and cooled her flushed cheeks, while the perpetual noise of the city calmed her racing thoughts. Slush and sirens, cold and clouds, it was amazing how monochromatic the city seemed at that moment, like she had stepped into one of her own black and white photos. She put her coat on and was grateful for the city's calming neutral hues, but it left her feeling empty somehow. Not real. It was a still life, and her life was in motion. Like Newton's cradle, one touch, one glance from Olivia set off a chain reaction deep within her. Something she could not deny, and didn't really want to anymore, but it was all so new and confusing. She closed her eyes and focused trying to adjust the image around her to one full of the color and chaos that would match her life. Her thoughts took her back to the warm hues of the fire glow from Monday night, and Olivia's comforting embrace. When she opened her eyes, the shallow street scene that had been before her was transformed. She saw the flickering holiday lights, heard someone laugh nearby, and picked up on the rhythmic ringing of a Salvation Army Santa. She chuckled softly to herself. It was as if she was waking up for the first time, and starting to really be in the world around her. She had always thought that she had had a commanding grasp on it, but a woman, this woman, Olivia Benson, was changing everything, and she knew in that moment that nothing would ever be the same again.

Olivia let Alex go on ahead. It was clear that she was still upset. She figured that if the blonde was waiting on her once she got outside, then she was still in the game, but if she was gone, she better start thinking up ways to make things right between them. She was relieved to see the ADA leaning back against one of the mighty pillars of the justice building. Alex was rubbing her forehead with her right hand as if to wipe away whatever thoughts had sent her virtually fleeing from the confines of the courthouse. It looked almost as if she was trying to draw strength and confidence from the sturdy marble column behind her. Olivia shoved her hands into her pockets and quietly came to stand beside Alex. She leaned a strong shoulder against the pillar and for a long moment she said nothing.

"Will a chai latte still make things right?"

Alex couldn't suppress her soft laugh. She always knows just what to say. The attorney turned to look into Olivia's hopeful brown eyes, "Yeah," she answered softly, "It would."

"You feel like walkin' or want a cab?"

"It's not that far. Let's walk if that's okay?"

"Sure." The detective acquiesced.

Alex bent down to get her brief case, but Olivia already had a hand on it. She caught Benson's eye. The detective just shrugged and smiled as she hefted it on to her shoulder. It was a sophomoric move for sure, but somehow when Olivia did it, it was charming and romantic. It served to further Alex's growing good mood and reinforce what she was already feeling for her friend. She took a risk and threaded her arm through the one Olivia had shoved into the pocket of her trademark leather coat.

Olivia was floating as they walked along together. It was as if they were in high school, and the valedictorian homecoming queen she'd had a crush on for years, was finally out on a date with her. Alex was quiet and contemplative, but she was smiling all the while, so Olivia decided it was better to not break the magical silence they were walking in. When they got to Nice Perks, Olivia grabbed the door and let Alex lead them in. She decided not to pull out her chair, and instead just dropped the briefcase down as Alex removed her coat and scarf.

"Chai latte… I'll be right back."

Alex settled in and pulled the Ramsey file from her bag. She was skimming over it and making notes when Olivia returned with the steaming mugs. The attorney set down her papers and greedily wrapped her hands around the warm stoneware. Alex inhaled the spicy aroma, and took a hesitant sip not wanting the frothy liquid to burn her lips. Olivia chuckled as her friend's glasses steamed over, "Christ, counselor. It's just tea."

Alex gave her an incredulous look, "Yeah and Shakespeare's just a writer."

Olivia rolled her eyes. "Whatever." She sipped her own black coffee, glad for the seeming normality that was slowly returning. Olivia decided to keep the conversation safe and went with work as her topic. "So, how long do you think deliberation will take?"

"Hard to say. I'm fairly confident they'll find him guilty, but you never know."

Olivia gave her that "Oh c'mon" look.

"No, really. With my track record these days…"

"Alex…" Olivia rolled her eyes as she interrupted her. "Give it a rest. You know, lots of things look good on you, kiddo, but self-pity just isn't one of them. It makes your eyes go all gray."

Alex grinned as if she had a secret.

"What?" questioned the slightly exasperated detective.

The blonde leaned in to share, "You know, that's the fourth time you've called me 'kiddo.' Am I earning a nickname?"

"No, you're just acting like a retard."

Alex laughed at that and then gave her a sly grin. "Right." She bit her lower lip as she digested that thought, and leaned back in her chair.

Olivia smiled over the brim of her mug and then took another sip, but she never let her eyes off of Alex's baby blues. A second, silent conversation took place between the two women where Alex was asked if she wanted something that personal from Olivia, and the counselor responded in the affirmative. It was a lover's language all right, and the more they practiced it the closer to the surface it got.

Part 8

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