DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
SPOILERS: 2.08 Inheritance, 3.11 Monogamy, 3.13 Prodigy
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Sum of Contradictions: 13. Silence
By beurre blanc


"Captain Cragen? It's Alex Cabot."

"Alex. What can I do for you?"

"Captain, I have been trying to contact Detective Benson. She's not at her desk, and her cell isn't answering." Eight times…

"She and Elliot have been following up leads on Edward Boggs, the stabbing victim from Riverside Park."

"Well, I need her to go over her testimony on the Manning case, and it can't wait."

"Look, Counselor, I need her on this. She and Elliot are still trying to get a positive ID on the female victim. I really can't spare her right now."

"I'm sorry, Captain, but I can't wait any longer. I have a preliminary hearing tomorrow, and I have to get this cleared up today. I have tried doing it over the phone, but she's not picking up the calls, and I'm running out of options here. Look, I'll be in court until five-thirty. Tell her I need her in my office by six."

"OK, OK. I'll let her know."

"Thank you."

"No, Olivia, you can't."

"What? Captain, I gave her that statement a week ago. She's had plenty of time…" Bitch.

"It's not negotiable, Olivia. Alex is due in court first thing tomorrow with this, and she needs to go over your statement tonight. End of story." What's the big deal?

"Fine." Whatever.

"Oh, and Detective… get your cell phone checked."

"Come in, Detective. Have a seat." ADA Cabot motioned towards the two chairs before her desk.

Olivia paced like a caged tiger, furious. "How dare you, Alex? That was completely out of line!"

"Well, what did you expect?"


"What the hell did you expect me to do? You won't take my calls, you haven't been home, you've been on this case nearly 36 hours straight."

"I'm doing my job, Alex. At least you could respect that!"

"Oh, come on, Detective. That's not fair. You and I both know this has nothing to do with how you do your job, or my opinion of it. But we need to talk about this, and you have closed every avenue. I did what I had to do."

"Bullshit, Alex. It was a snow job. Still, coming from you, I'm not at all surprised Cragen bought it."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Yet another convenient lie to meet your own needs, Counselor."

"When have I ever, ever lied to you?" demanded Alex.

"Oh, I don't know," Olivia replied airily, "how about the rapists-are-born-not-made assertion? Or, better still 'I've never slept with another woman, show me what to do'… You made a lie out of the whole fucking night, Alex. The only thing you got right was the bit about it being a mistake!"

"Look, Olivia, have you any idea how difficult this has been for me-,"

"For you?!"

"Olivia, please, I'd like us to discuss this, rationally-,"

"Christ, Cabot, you really are a piece of work. You know, I never thought I'd ever have something in common with Trevor Langan, or Roger Kressler," Olivia's voice dripped with sarcasm, "but it turns out we've all been fucked by ADA Alexandra Cabot. Only in my case it wasn't in front of a judge!"

"OK, Olivia, that's it!" Alex slammed her hand down on her desk, livid. "Sit down," she roared, "and shut the fuck up! It's my turn!"

Hearing Alex utter an obscenity was about the only thing which could have stopped Olivia's rant. She clenched her jaw and sat down, fuming.

"Thank you." Alex took a big breath, then exhaled slowly, calming herself. She removed her glasses, folded them, and placed them on the desk in front of her, then looked up to meet Olivia's eyes.

"Yesterday morning, when I said it was a mistake, what do you think I meant?"

I'd have thought that was obvious. Olivia said nothing, but her expression clearly broadcast her opinion.

"I see. So you thought… what? You thought I regretted it?" She fixed Olivia with a penetrating stare. Alex shook her head slowly. God, this is difficult. "Olivia, what happened, what is happening between us… It's – well, it's something I have never experienced before. And I'm not just talking about sleeping with another woman. That's… irrelevant, really. I mean what I felt, what we felt. I don't regret one moment."

Olivia blanched. In the preceding day and a half she had so surrounded herself with defensive bitterness she could barely accept the truth of Alex's words. "So why, then?"

"It's about this," she swept her arm around the room, "… our jobs, the work we do. When you implied I had no respect for you doing your job, you could not have been more mistaken. It's because I respect you, and us, that this cannot continue."

"Look, Alex, I know you have political ambitions…"

"Yes, Liv, I do, and I'm not prepared to give them up," because I'm inconveniently falling in love with another woman - she closed her eyes briefly – if that's what this is

Olivia nodded slowly, blinking, and looked away, jaw clenching again. Alex could see her mentally reconstructing the ramparts. No, Olivia. Don't you dare. She stood, and walked slowly around the desk to kneel beside Olivia's chair. "Look at me, Liv." She laid a hand over the brunette's, grasping her fingers.

"I have to go." Olivia twisted away, and stood hurriedly, straightening her coat by the lapels.

"Olivia, please." Alex was dangerously close to breaking, and pinched the bridge of her nose in an effort to regain her composure. "I'm not finished yet – hear me out."

Olivia pulled her scarf from her pocket, and began to wrap it around her neck, teeth clamped tightly around unspoken words.

"Shit, Olivia. Don't do this to me again!" Alex's voice was now thick with unshed tears, and she was quietly desperate.

"Do what, Alex? Do what, exactly?" Olivia's self-protective response came out as a sneer.

Alex crumbled. "Don't walk out of here, don't walk away from me until I finish, until I know you understand." Alex was openly crying now, nothing left in reserve. "You did the same thing to me after we secured the Darrell Guan verdict. I still don't know what that was about, but you made me feel about an inch tall when you walked away. So, the other night, after something so – so beautiful, so complete, when you simply stormed out..." She paused, and looked directly at the detective, jabbing an index finger at her for emphasis. "You jumped to another fucking conclusion and you left! How do you think I felt after that, huh? The most… magical…experience of my life, a night when I – let go of every preconceived notion of 'right', and 'proper', and committed myself to…" She looked up at Olivia, accusingly. "And you won't even speak to me until I get your ass hauled in here by your boss? Who hurt you, Olivia? Who did such a number on you that as soon as someone or something gets a little too close you just clam up and run?"

Olivia took refuge in defensiveness. "Compared with most cops, I'm rather better at knowing how to keep my mouth shut."

"Well, perhaps that's an asset when you're at work," said Alex quietly, "but you use silence as a weapon, Olivia, and it hurts…"

Olivia relented somewhat, but the concession was minor. "So, what more is there to say? Obviously I got it wrong – you have no problem fucking me, none at all. It's just the minor issue of what that could do to your career, if anyone found out you're in a same-sex relationship…"

"No, not my career, our careers. Yours and mine, and not because it would be 'inconvenient' to be called a lesbian," she took a steadying breath, "but because the second anyone gets so much as a hint of a relationship IAB will be all over you, and I'll have every defence attorney – Trevor, Roger, Lionel and the rest - screaming 'conflict of interest' and demanding retrials all over the city. Pending cases collapse, past cases are subjected to unwarranted scrutiny, you risk being transferred out of SVU, and my political aspirations are in tatters. So yes, it was a mistake, it can't happen again, and I didn't deserve to have my beautiful memories forever tainted by…" she waved a hand indeterminately about the room to indicate their confrontation, and whispered, "…this."

Alex turned her back on the detective, utterly drained.

And, finally, Olivia understood.

The End

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