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Silly Mistletoe Thing
The book still bore the mild stiffness of a new purchase.
Out of Uniform: Tough Cops and the Women who Love Them.
Holding the paperback in one hand, the woman let the other rest inside the pocket of her long coat. Her body swayed slightly with the natural lurch of the subway as it meandered down the track.
From across the car, a man drew down the hood of his red and white sweatshirt and stared at her. After a moment, he began edging toward her.
Raising her hand from her pocket, the blonde slid a long finger behind the page she had just finished and turned it.
With painstaking precision, the figure advanced, taking his time as he moved almost indetectably among the holiday throng.
Chapter 4: Sex and the Badge. She read through the next stop.
He was finally there. Slowly, he raised his hand.
The woman drew her hand from her pocket again--this time gripping a shiny gold badge. Without taking her eyes from the book, she aimed it directly at his face.
Tucking the badge back into her pocket, she reached out again and removed the mistletoe from his hand, tossing it to the floor of the train.
"Hmm. . . ." Dog-earing the corner of one page for future reference, she continued to read.
"Oh, Miss Cabot."
Alex paused midway through shoving files into her briefcase to see what Judge Bryant wanted. "Yes, Your Honor?"
"Could I see you in chambers on an unrelated matter?" the jurist asked.
"I'm sorry, Your Honor," she replied, "I need to be somewhere. What is it regarding?"
"I received your application for a warrant in Stein and I have a few questions," Bryant said. "I assume you would rather discuss it privately."
"I don't think it'll be necessary," she replied.
"Well, I think it would be more appropriate."
A harried ADA joined her at the prosecutor's table, shoving Alex's three-ring binder aside to begin unloading his briefcase.
"Very well," Alex said. "Mr. Fugly here is intimately involved in the Stein matter, and is free to discuss it with you either now or after his hearing."
"The what matter?" her colleague muttered.
"Oh." Judge Bryant frowned. "Actually, let me have another look at this." He ran a finger down the sheet of paper in front of him. "Nevermindlooksfine." Scribbling his signature across the bottom, he rose and stomped back toward his chambers.
As he exited the courtroom, Alex watched him reach up and snatch something green from above the doorway.
"Amateurs," she murmured.
"Oh, my God!"
Olivia gasped at the sight that greeted them as she and Alex entered the squad room: Munch lay motionless on the floor beside his desk. Elliot desperately performed CPR while Fin leaned over both men, poised to breathe for their stricken colleague.
"What happened?" she asked, rushing over to them. She reached down to loosen Munch's collar.
"He was," Elliot huffed, "--plugging in the--" Puff. "--toaster oven--"
"That deathtrap?" she said incredulously.
Leaning against Olivia's desk, her legs crossed at the ankle, the ADA observed the proceedings calmly.
"--when--whew--suddenly--" Elliot wiped his brow on his shirt sleeve. "We could use some help here."
Alex drew out her cell phone and pressed a speed dial button. "Glen? Alex. Will you bring a defibrillator down to SVU?"
Elliot paused in his ministrations. "Uh . . . we have a pulse!" he exclaimed.
Munch slowly struggled onto an elbow, groaning in disorientation.
"You OK, John?" Elliot asked anxiously.
"I will be," Munch replied. "What happened?"
Alex spoke into her phone again. "Nevermind, Hank." Clicking it shut, she turned to Olivia. "Call me later."
As the attorney's heels clicked down the hall, Elliot leaned down to give Munch a hand up.
Suddenly seeming much more robust, Munch brushed dirt from his slacks. "So much for Plan E," he declared. "We'll have to escalate."
Olivia was confused. "What's going on?"
"Cabot," Munch answered, as if that explained everything.
"What about Cabot?"
The men stared at her as though she had just asked why Playboy didn't print more articles.
"The legend," Fin said. "Six years as an ADA and no one has ever gotten Cabot under the mistletoe. NYPD and the courts got a standing bet on this."
"Under the--" Olivia looked up at the ceiling above the spot where Munch had lain and saw a tiny green sprig.
"Oh, for God's sake," she snapped. "Why would you go to all that trouble just to get Alex under the mistletoe?"
They stared at her again.
Elliot slammed the phone down. "We have a sighting!" he announced.
"I'll call you back," Munch said quickly into his phone. Spotting his partner just entering the squad room, Munch called out to him. "We're on!"
A freshly filled coffee mug stilled halfway to Olivia's lips as she watched the sudden flurry of activity.
Fin dragged two chairs toward the north entrance, then walked over and grabbed a long wooden board propped up in the corner. After pausing to let Elliot through with a nearly full vase of water, Fin positioned the board across the chairs and started back toward his desk.
"You gonna leave that there?" Olivia asked. "You're blocking the door."
From beneath his own desk, Munch drew out six orange cones stacked neatly together. "Here," he directed, tossing them at his partner as Fin passed by.
Elliot, meanwhile, carefully poured the contents of the vase onto the floor. Fin laid the cones out in an oval around the huge puddle, which extended from the doorway to a narrow dry spot a few feet away--above which, Olivia could see, was a row of mistletoe.
For crying out loud. "Juveniles," she muttered.
Lurking near the trap, the three men admired their handiwork, high- fiving each other as they settled in to wait.
One minute ticked by, then another. Suddenly, one of the square tiles in the suspended ceiling dropped to the ground near Olivia's desk. Two shapely legs followed as ADA Cabot lowered herself to the floor.
A disappointed rumble emanated from the entrance, but Olivia wasn't paying attention to the boys any more. A shift of the detective's head a few inches either way would have rewarded Olivia with a rather nice view, she realized. In fact, maybe just--no. She was an adult and--damn, too late now.
Brushing dust from her skirt, Alex approached her. "Detective," she said. "Did you get anything from Reed's neighbors?"
"Not yet," Olivia said, shaking her head. "But while you're here, you want to sign off on this photo array?" She offered the ADA a 6 x 8 card.
Alex peered at the lineup. "It's a little dark," she said. "I need better light." She grabbed Olivia's arm and dragged her over to a far wall, where she again squinted at the squares. "I think--" Just then, she glanced up. "Good grief--I can't believe it!"
Following her gaze, Olivia spied a stray branch of mistletoe directly above their heads. It was her last conscious thought as Alex grabbed her sweater with both hands and slammed their bodies together against the wall, latching firmly onto Olivia's lips.
"Mmf!" Olivia exclaimed.
A long moment passed, and just as Olivia began to lose consciousness, Alex broke away. "You win, Detective," she panted. "You got me."
"Wha--?" Olivia stumbled back to her desk, followed by the ADA.
"All right, you've had your victory," Alex said. "Let me see that array." Standing beside her detective, she leaned down to sign the card.
"Huh?" Dazedly, Olivia reached up to pull something dangling from her hair. "What's this?" she mumbled.
Her words drew Alex's attention, and the attorney looked up to see Olivia holding out a piece of mistletoe. "Oh, you bitch!" she growled. She swept Olivia's desk clear with one arm and threw herself onto it, dragging Olivia down on top of her, still clutching the greenery.
"OK, Benson, that's enough!" At the captain's bellow, Alex released her grip on the detective's back. "Geez, Olivia, give the woman a break," Cragen said. "You got her fair and square, but she probably needs to get some work done today."
"Yes." Alex straightened her clothing. "Well played, Detective." She unclipped the cell phone from her waist band. "I told myself that, if I ever got nailed, I would owe someone a dinner. Octavio's," she directed the voice dialer. "Maurice, Alex Cabot. . . . Fine, thank you. . . . Yes, two for tonight. . . . Excellent." Ending the call, she turned back to Olivia. "I'll pick you up at seven." At that, she spun around and strolled toward the north entry way, moving the chairs aside to step into the hallway.
Brown eyes blinked at her retreating back. "Uh . . . OK."
"Well done, Liv," Elliot congratulated. "The big prize and dinner to boot. I hear Octavio's is nice."
"Octavios," Munch repeated. "Octavio's." He snapped his fingers. "Now I remember--I read it in Sunday's Post. They're doing a Christmas theme all week--mistletoe over every table."
"Uh oh," Elliot said. "Cabot's gonna be hot when she sees that."
In unison, the men shook their heads, commiserating with the co- worker who would bear the brunt of the attorney's ire. Poor Benson . . .
"Anyone seen Cabot yet?" Fin asked the next morning.
A clerk handed Cragen a pink message sheet. "She's out today," he replied, reading from it, "working on something at home." He glanced at the message again. "With Olivia." The clerk handed him another pink slip. "Until Monday."
"Huh; guess we won't know how last night went," Elliot said with a shrug. "Merry Christmas, Liv . . ."
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