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property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEQUEL/SERIES: To Words in Haste.
Repent In Leisure
By Mary Griggs
Alex stood alone in the darkened observation area. She watched six men enter the adjoining room for a lineup. She glared through the window at the red lines on the back wall, hating that she had to be here in the squad room instead of her office or in a courtroom. The smell of burnt coffee and desperation always seemed to cling to her skin afterwards as a vivid reminder of her own bleak existence.
In the months following Olivia's disappearance, it was rare for her to make the trek down to the station. The detectives had grown used to contacting her by cell phone when they needed a search warrant or approval for an arrest. It was a testament to her skill as an attorney that she continued to win her cases despite her lack of involvement with the squad.
She had tried to keep Olivia safe from the retaliation of the Columbian drug cartel by breaking up with her and then allowing her to believe that she was involved with her Secret Service bodyguard. Knowing that it was her fault and at her request that the brunette walked out of her life, didn't make the days and nights any easier to bear.
Realizing that her hands were clenched on opposite biceps, she consciously relaxed her grip. As the survivor came in with a female officer escorting her, she attempted to smile.
"Hello. My name is Alexandra Cabot and I'll be handling the prosecution of the person who assaulted you. Do you recognize any of the men standing in the next room?" When the young woman didn't look up, she softened her tone. "Take your time, Amy. Get a good look at the men and see if you can tell us which one attacked you."
The girl kept her head down, shielding her face with her dark, lank hair.
The officer touched her shoulder. "The men can't see you. The window is one way."
"I'm scared," Amy whispered.
"That's okay. You're safe, though."
Trembling, the girl cried, "I don't think I can do this."
Alex sighed and earned a glare from both the officer and Elliot. She forced another smile onto her face and said, "I know that we're asking you to do something very difficult. You probably see his face in your nightmares. But we need you to do this so we can stop him from doing this to anyone else. Please try and look."
The young woman slowly lifted her head, the vivid scar from her attack seeming all the more prominent against the pallor of her face. She stared through the window and immediately pointed at one of the men. "That's him. Number five."
"Very good. The officer will escort you out and have you sign a statement. Thank you very much for coming down."
As the officer led the young woman out, an out of breath attorney pushed her way into the room. She glared at Alex. "How kind of you to invite me to my client's lineup."
"And hello to you, too, Ms. Clancy."
"Drop the social niceties, Alex. I'm tired of your twisted interpretation of Miranda."
"It was just a fortuitous coincidence that the victim was here at the station with a sketch artist when your client was brought in. There is New York precedent for running him through a lineup in such a case."
"He'd asked for a lawyer, Alex. You should have waited for me to confer with my client."
"Your client is well versed with the intricacies of the legal system from his numerous brushes with it. He was apprised of his rights and waived them."
"Yeah," Fin added. "He's got some sort of hot date lined up. How much do you bet that we'd find another raped girl tomorrow morning if we'd cut him loose?"
"I'll have you keep your prejudicial comments to yourself, detective. Alex, you'll have a motion to dismiss on your desk tomorrow."
"It was a clean arrest and good lineup, Sarah. Now, why don't you go and escort your client through booking. He'll be arraigned in the morning and you can take it up with the judge then."
Fin escorted Sarah Clancy from the room and directed her to the holding area.
Elliot stayed in the room after the other detectives left. He studied the reflection of the lean face in the glass. The sharp angles could cut glass. "You aren't eating enough."
"I'm not hungry."
"You still need to eat. Come on, Alex. She wouldn't want you to kill yourself."
"I wouldn't be too sure of that. You didn't see the look on her face."
"Give her time."
"She's not coming back, Elliot. To either of us."
"Really. Then why haven't you moved on?"
"If you really thought it was hopeless, you'd have moved on by now. The Great Alexandra Cabot might not admit to losing easily but even you know when to cut bait."
"I'm tired, Elliot. I don't want to do this." She pressed cold fingers to her stinging eyes.
"That sounds like a well-practiced phrase. Is that what you told her?"
This time the warning came in an icy glare. He pushed on anyway.
"Don't give up on her, Alex."
"Hold onto the fact that she's out there somewhere and she loves you."
"No, not in the essential ways." Elliot leaned his shoulders into the window so he could face her directly. "Look, Liv is a cop. It goes all the way to the bone. One of these days, she'll remember that and when she does, we'll find her."
"Everyone checks references these days."
Alex drew in a deep breath and held it for a minute. Releasing it slowly, she brought her head up. "You really think so?"
"I know so. Trust her to find her way."
For the first time since entering the building, Alex had a genuine smile on her face. "Thank you, Elliot. I needed that."
"Anything for my favorite lawyer."
That earned him another smile as she collected her briefcase and jacket in preparation of heading back to her office.
It was a blustery March day when Munch sauntered into the bullpen and dropped an envelope on Elliot's desk.
"A receipt for lunch at Antonio's."
"And why should I pay you for this?"
"I always knew that keeping on Maria in Personnel's good side would some day pay off."
"Oh, what did you do? Promise not to date her?"
Munch raised his eyebrow at Fin. "I know how to woo a woman; I just can't seem to stay married to them."
Interrupting the banter, Elliot demanded, "So, what did you get?"
"It seems that there has been a hit on Olivia's sheet."
Elliot stood up in a rush and snatched up the envelope. "Don't be pulling my leg, John."
"I wouldn't joke about that, amigo. She matters to me too." Munch perched one skinny butt cheek on the desk. "It seems our wandering lass went south."
"To the Big Easy The Crescent City The City that Care Forgot."
"New Orleans, my friend."
"Not at all. Le fille lessaize bon temps rollez."
"Has she been there this whole time?"
"That I do not know. The request came from the New Orleans Police Department yesterday."
"What's going on here?"
The detectives looked up at Captain Cragen. His sharp gaze took in everything.
"We've got some positive information on Olivia's whereabouts."
"There's been a background check on her from the NOPD."
Cragen smiled. "I've always wanted to see New Orleans."
"I've got the best chance of getting the hiring officer to talk to me and give me her information." He cleared his throat. "So, who's going to tell Alex?"
The men glanced around, guiltily.
Fin pulled his hands out of his pockets. "Paper, scissors, rock?" he asked.
Elliot and Munch nodded. Shaking their fists, they held out their hands. Scissors cut paper but was blunted on rock. Fin looked at his clenched fist in dismay.
Fin pulled his leather jacket off the back of his chair. "I'll be back in a while. Page me, if you need me."
Munch shook his head vigorously. "Don't worry about anything. We can handle things until you get back."
Tapping his closed fist to his chest, Elliot intoned. "We who are about to die, salute you."
"Whatever, man." He used his cell to confirm with Alex's assistant that the ADA was in her office and expected to stay there for the rest of the afternoon. He drove there in a late model Chevy he picked out of the motor pool and parked in the underground garage.
"Detective. To what do I owe this pleasure?"
"Can't I just come down to chat with my favorite ADA?"
"You could if you'd ever done it before."
"I brought you a latté."
"Thank you." She popped the lid and sniffed deeply of the hot liquid before taking a sip. "It's very good. I needed that."
"I thought you might."
The two of them stared at each other across the small space. Alex dabbed a bit of foam off her upper lip and asked, "What do you want?"
"I was elected to talk to you."
One sculpted eyebrow rose. "Really?"
They stared at each other some more before Fin shrugged. "It's about Olivia."
"Have you heard something? Is she all right?"
"Easy, now." Fin lifted both hands, attempting to placate her. "We don't know much. It seems that Olivia's folder has been requested by the New Orleans Police."
Her chair clanged back against the radiator as she stood up in a rush. "How long ago?"
"Do you know her contact information?"
"Nope. She's not listed in the directory but that isn't saying much."
She paced back and forth behind her desk. "I've got the closing and two motions to argue tomorrow but I could leave afterwards."
"You should travel with the Captain."
"He is going to go so as to get the 411 from our brothers in blue." Fin winked. "If you ask nice, he'll probably let you tag along."
Alex came around the desk and hugged the burly detective. "I don't know how to thank you."
"Just bring her back home, Alex. We all miss her." He reseated his hat at the proper angle and left her office.
Pulling out her wallet, Alex began making arrangements for a weekend away.
Captain Deroy Thibodeaux smiled at Captain Cragen and Assistant District Attorney Cabot from behind his dark oak desk. "While it's a pleasure to have such a distinguished officer and lovely lady visit our fair town, I'm afraid I don't understand why y'all have come."
The 6th District commanding officer was a large man. His uniform stretched tight against the spread of his stomach. His hair was red and so thick on his forearms that it looked like he had a pelt.
"I hoped to get some personal contact information about one of my folks who's applied for work here," Donald Cragen replied.
"Is there a problem with her application?"
"Oh, no. She's an excellent officer."
"I'm afraid I don't understand your interest in our hiring practices."
"Detective Benson was an asset on my squad. She was taking off some time to decide about returning when I learned about your background check on her." Donald ran his hand over his head. "I'll like a chance to talk her out of it."
"Now, why would I let you do that?"
Alex spoke up. "She left because of a misunderstanding. I'd like a chance to clear the air. If she decides to stay here after learning the full story, we'll accept her decision."
"A misunderstanding, huh?"
"Seems to have had a pretty big impact on her professional life, if she'd leave without resolving it."
"It was a very volatile situation. We were prosecuting a Columbian drug lord for sexual assault when his people began a terror campaign against the DEA officers and members of the NYPD and District Attorney's office."
"Indeed. Detective Benson was specifically mentioned as a target. Her life was in danger and she reacted strongly to measures to protect her."
"I don't think I'd respond well to pressure from that quarter, either." He leaned back in his chair and studied the woman sitting across from him. After a few moments, he turned his attention to the police officer. Eventually, he asked, "Your word that her leaving had nothing to do with her ability to perform the work?"
"You've got it."
"So, you just want a crack at her? And if she still wants to stay, you'll not kick up a fuss?"
Cragen nodded. "I'll give her a glowing reference, in that case."
"Well, just between the three of us, I'll admit that my reluctance stems from the fact that we've been doing a bit of the hard sell ourselves."
"Yes, ma'am. Seems that Ms. Benson was instrumental in getting a serial rapist off the street."
"Tell me about it," Alex demanded.
"She works down the Quarter and had heard about several of the dancers getting attacked. It's my understanding that she interviewed everyone she could find, including a number that wouldn't talk to my NOPD officers and got a suspect. When the former head of the task force wouldn't give her the time of day, she went vigilante on his ass. The girls down there used their contacts to make sure that when she brought him in there was plenty of news coverage."
"It was a good bust?"
"Rock solid. The perp was only too happy to confess if it meant getting out of her hands." He opened his hands wide. "I'd be a fool to let such a closer get away."
He interrupted, "No offense meant."
"None taken," Cragen quickly interjected.
"So, what is it you want from me? Why don't you just call her up?"
"She's not listed in the telephone directory and we hoped to save some time by getting her contact information from you."
"I'm not too comfortable doing that. I'm no lawyer but I'm sure there's some sort of privacy or confidentiality issue involved."
"Please." Alex spoke only one word but she invested it with all her emotions.
He looked across his desk at the pallor on the checks of the strikingly beautiful blonde. Drumming his fingers, he came to a decision. "Y'all just missed Mardi Gras but I bet you didn't know that we do a mean St. Patrick's Day celebration."
Cragen shook his head. "Can it compare to the march New York puts on each year? We've got a bunch of Irish cops."
"And we've got a bunch of Roman Catholics."
"So, we shouldn't miss the party?"
"Well, you might find what you're looking for." He winked. "If you went to get a drink between 7 to 4 shift at One-Eyed Jacks, who knows who or what you'd find."
"My pleasure, ma'am. I hope you don't mind me not wishing you any luck?"
"Not a problem." She extended her hand. "Thank you so much for your time."
He kissed the knuckles of her hand. "Until we meet again, mon cheri."
It was a Thursday and the 80's dance music was blasting from the speakers. Donald grimaced at the wall of noise that hit them when they entered. "Where should we look?"
Alex rubbed her damp palms against her pants. "I guess we should start behind the bar."
The sea of bodies parted and Alex had her first view of Olivia in 214 days. Olivia was wearing a wife beater and her well-muscled arms were in constant motion behind the bar. As if she felt the regard, Olivia looked up from speed pouring a drink and froze.
The bottle of Remy Martin fell out of nerveless fingers. Olivia looked at the broken glass at her feet while she tried to get her traitorous heart under control. Flashing a grin at the waiting customer, she poured a new drink and waved off the payment. "On me, sugar."
Olivia carefully cleaned up the mess. When she was done, Alex and Donald were at the bar in front of her.
Without a word, she made Alex a gin and tonic and used the soda gun to pour out a ginger ale for her former boss. She handed them across with a nod. "Donald."
"Olivia. You're looking better than expected."
She very carefully did not look at Alex. "Thanks. You're looking pretty good yourself." Waving her hand at the women lined three deep at the bar, she said curtly, "I've got to get back to work."
"Of course. We would like a word with you when you get a chance."
She scowled and moved away. As she got away from Alex, her heart began to slow its frantic beat and she was calm, cool and collected by the time she took the first order. Her movements balletic, she quenched the thirst of many a woman.
The towering, transgender Diva who owned the joint stepped up beside her. "Girlfriend, who's the blonde dish?"
"Just a friend."
"I treat my enemies better than you've been treating her."
"It's a long story."
"I don't want to hear it. It's bad manners and the antithesis of southern hospitality. Didn't your Mama teach you anything?"
Olivia glanced sideways at her boss and friend.
"Oh, that's right. You're a Yankee and don't know any better."
"I know we kicked your asses the last time around."
"Not New Orleans, baby. Remember, we've got French blood in our veins. We surrendered early."
"Uh, huh." Olivia glanced over at Alex. The ADA had hardly taken her eyes off her all night.
"That girl has it bad for you."
"Not to hear her tell it."
"Don't listen to their words, sweetheart. Women lie with their lips." S/he batted her false eyelashes. "It's their bodies that do the truth talking."
"She let her body talk to someone else."
"Are you sure you have the whole story? Go take a break and talk to your wife."
"What?" Olivia glanced at the odd couple at the end of the bar. "Uh, how did you know?"
"Sugar, she's staring at you like she's dying of thirst and doesn't know whether you're an oasis or a mirage."
"Honey, women are. That's why we love 'em." S/he picked up a rag and pushed Olivia aside. "Shoo. You're in my way."
Olivia walked down the bar like she was heading to the firing line. She swallowed the lump in her throat. Curtly, she said, "You want to talk? Then follow me."
She led them out the alley to the small courtyard. There was a single table surrounded by boxes of booze. Pulling out a chair, she sank down. "How did you find me?"
"We asked Captain Thibodeaux for a crack at convincing you to come back in exchange for a glowing reference." Donald shook the ice in his glass. "He seems quite taken with you and rather convinced that you'll choose to stay here."
She ducked her head. "I was a little blunt in my interview."
"That's what I always liked about you." He watched her for a moment. "Is the door closed? I wouldn't want to waste my time."
"I don't know."
"You don't belong here." Alex's voice was fierce. "Where is the woman who wouldn't go farther south than New Jersey?"
"She didn't have a reason to stay and plenty of reasons to put as much distance as possible between her and the pain."
"I'm sorry." Alex fought back tears.
Olivia shook her head. "I waited a long time to hear those words and, you know what? They don't mean shit."
"Olivia," Donald said, warningly.
"What? I don't work for her anymore."
"But you do still love her."
"Yeah, right. What kind of love kicks someone to the street when things are tough?" She shook her head. "I thought I knew what love meant and then I walked in on you."
"It was a lie."
"It was the easiest way to get you to stay away."
"Why, Alex? Why couldn't I be there for you? What is it I did so wrong?"
"You didn't do anything wrong."
"Then tell me why?"
"You were named."
"Excuse me?" Olivia looked from Alex to Donald.
Donald answered, "The DEA had a credible threat that listed you and Alex's mother as targets if the prosecution continued. They took responsibility for Tim's death and said it was nothing to what they would do to you if Alex didn't drop the case." He looked sympathetically at her.
"I don't understand."
Donald put his hands on the table. "She wanted to protect you. She thought that if she got you away from her, you'd be safe."
"Safe? What's safe to having your beating heart ripped out of your body?" She glared at Alex. "Did you get Zapata?"
"A child got him." Alex shrugged. "He killed a witness but left her son alive. He was very brave and took the stand to testify against Rafael."
"He's off the street?"
"And his organization?"
"In tatters. They aren't a viable force in the drug and murder for hire racket anymore."
Olivia ran a hand through her short, dark hair. "This is a lot to take in."
"I know." Donald pushed his chair back from the table. "I'm going to head back to the hotel." He handed her a card. "I'm giving you my number, in case you forgot it. I've got my cell phone with me. Let me know what your decision is before I leave on Sunday."
Looking dazed, Olivia nodded. "Okay. It was good to see you."
"You're looking good, Liv. Better than I expected." He placed a hand on her shoulder. "No matter the decision you make, I want you to keep the number. Let me know how you're getting on occasionally."
"All right." She watched him walk away. When he passed through the doors, she sighed and turned back to face Alex. "What do you want?"
"I want to make it up to you. I was wrong. I never should have pushed you away."
"What about her? The woman in your office."
Alex blushed. "She was my bodyguard. I thought if you believed the worst, you'd go." Her voice low, she whispered, "I never thought you'd go so far."
"I had to. I couldn't stay and watch someone else," Olivia couldn't even say the words. "You know."
"I know and I'm so sorry." She reached across the table and took Olivia's hands. "I'd like a chance to make things right. To make us right again."
"It's not going to be easy."
"Please, Olivia. I've been in hell since you left."
"That's funny. I never saw you there." Olivia pulled her hands free. "I don't know if I can ever forget."
"I'm not asking you to forget. Just say that you forgive me and I'll work every day to make it up to you."
"I don't know if I can come back."
"I can take the bar here."
"Louisiana practices a different kind of law," Olivia warned.
"I don't care. I gave up too much when I chose the job over you. I will sell paper flowers on the street, if you'll just give me the chance to make things right."
"Better you should learn to throw the bones or read the tarot cards. There's a good business in fortune telling."
"I'll keep that in mind." There were tears in her eyes. "It's always good to have a fall back career."
"Like my bartending?"
"It's how I paid for school. My mother spent so much time in bars when I was growing up, I knew every drink there was and how to pour with flair."
Alex sighed. "I missed being able to watch you move."
"We're not going to be back where we left off. We're going to have to start at the beginning again."
"Please, does this mean yes?"
"I could never say no to you, Alex. Not from the first day you walked into the squad room."
Alex burst into tears and came around the table. She fell to her knees and hugged Olivia around the waist. Burying her head in Olivia's lap, she sobbed. "Thank you."
"I'm not making any promises."
"I am. I promise to do everything in my power to make you believe in me, in us, again."
"You think we still have an us?"
"I know it." She placed her hand on Olivia's heart. "You know it, too. After everything, we're still united by bonds stronger than titanium."
"I felt you. Back there, in the bar."
"Our bodies might have been apart but our souls never were." She tightened her grip on Olivia's shirt and pulled her down for a searing kiss. "I never want to lose you again."
"You won't. Now that you've found me, I won't ever let you go."
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