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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: 3.11 Monogamy and 3.12 Protection.

The Sum of Contradictions: 9. Singed
By beurre blanc


"Man, what bug flew up her ass?"

John Munch pulled his glasses down his nose and peered over the top of them.

"I take it you're referring to our esteemed ADA?" he said, as both men watched Alex exit the squad room without bothering to farewell them, heels clicking officiously as she went.

"Yeah. Wonder who bought it this time."

"Let me see. Elliot – Olivia – Elliot – Olivia? Too close to call."

Elliot entered, and walked across the squad room to his desk, shaking his head and muttering. John and Fin looked knowingly at one another, then Fin made a show of walking around Elliot, inspecting his head.


"Just checking."

"For what?"

"Scorch marks, singed hair, you know."

Elliot squinted at Munch and Fin, not nearly as amused as they evidently were. Well you're looking at the wrong cop, buddy. "Yeah," he said curtly. "Later."

Elliot picked up the two beers and a small pack of pretzels, and carried them back to the booth.

He ran the argument over again in his mind. "This isn't about revenge, Alex. It was self-defense." Olivia hadn't given an inch. "No, Olivia! Fredo's gun was two rooms away." And neither had Alex. Fortunately Capt Cragen had stepped in to defuse the dispute, but when Alex left the precinct shortly afterwards, two things were clear to Elliot: one – this disagreement had been about more than the facts of the case, and two – nothing had been resolved.

"OK, Liv, you tell me. What the hell is going on between you and Alex?"

Oh Elliot, don't do this to me. "Look, Maria was terrified for herself and her son! I can't see how Cabot has a problem with that!" Olivia looked at Elliot for a moment, then popped a pretzel in her mouth in what she hoped was a non-committal manner.

Elliot recognized Olivia's deflection for what it was.

"Yeah, maybe you're right. But look, Liv, she's a good prosecutor. Maybe you should cut her some slack."

"Why, Elliot? So she can screw up Maria's life even further? I'd have thought losing her son would have been bad enough!"

"Come on, Liv! That's a bullshit answer, and you know it." He waited a moment, then added, more gently, "And I'm not talking about just this case."

Olivia merely glowered.

"Liv, talk to me."

And say what, Elliot? That it was a professional disagreement, and we'll all get over it? That she's a cold, clinical bitch and this is merely reversion to form? That I have no idea what you're talking about? Or that I don't care?

Or perhaps I should just tell you that she's funny, and intelligent, and dedicated and sexy as hell, and she's giving the entire squad a rough time because of me?

In the end, Olivia's practiced reticence won out. "I dunno, El." She shrugged for emphasis. "Like you said, she's a great prosecutor, and whatever the problem is, she certainly gave that new guy Langan a heaped serving of it when he tried to file the motion to suppress Dr Manning's evidence. "

Elliot regarded her noncommittally, knowing from experience that he'd get no more. Olivia spoke in silences, and what she hadn't said was far more enlightening. He took a sip of his beer, and changed the subject.

Olivia sat on the bench in the fading light, forearms resting on her thighs, contemplating her laced fingers. Her thumbnails touched and tapped together, quietly marking the rhythm of her thoughts.

Finally she took a deep breath and said, "Who am I kidding?" Speaking aloud somehow validated her thoughts, drawing her out of the abstract world of introspection, emboldening her. Olivia stood, hands now resolutely in the pockets of her leather coat, decision made.

The End

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