DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and its characters are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the third part of the story arc that started with Déjà vu, followed by The Cabot Cabin. To understand this one, I strongly recommend reading those two.
THANKS: To all of you for reading this ongoing series and supporting it the way you have, I really appreciate it. To the faithful followers on my Yahoo Group, vivalab you guys rock!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Trial & Retribution
Chapter 11: Voyeur
Abbie Carmichael's heels clicked loudly on the tiled floor as she strode into the 16th precinct. She knocked once on Captain Cragen's office door before entering, only to find the room empty. She closed the door and swept her dark eyes around the squad room, groaning as she spotted a familiar figure.
He noticed her at the Captain's door, immediately moving out from behind his desk and heading towards her, "Why, Federal Prosecutor Carmichael, what black ops, cover up brings you here?" he asked, tilting his head conspiratorially.
Abbie rolled her eyes, "Munch, as much as I'd love to entertain your latest theory about our Government's involvement with whatever you're about to say, I need to speak with Elliot," she responded coolly.
John Munch feigned wounded pride as he dipped and nodded his head, "My belief in your involvement with any such Government op is only further fuelled by your lack of willingness to discuss such matters with me Abbie," he replied poetically.
Abbie shook her head, "If that's what you need to believe to make it through the day, then maybe it's time you found wife number five, John," she replied.
Munch nodded again, "Your unwillingness to contest the point only further add-"
"I get it Munch," she interrupted, holding her hands up to stop his diatribe. She looked towards the interview room and pointed, "Elliot in there?"
He shook his head, "The box," he replied, referring to the interrogation room.
"Thanks," she said, clicking loudly out the room.
Jim McLean looked up as Olivia entered the the small, claustrophobia inducing room. His eyes immediately flashed to the black bag she was carrying and instantly recognized his camera bag. He stared as she pulled out the seat next to Stabler and sat the bag carefully on it as she retrieved a sheaf of color photographs. He watched as she quickly scanned through them and sat them in a neat pile on the table, next to the camera. He looked at her face, finding it surreal to be looking at her so closely without the use of the zoom lens.
Olivia placed the bundle on the table and briefly met Elliot's eyes before moving to lean against the wall behind him, between the window and the one way mirror.
McLean, swallowed nervously as he looked at his watch again, "We only got an hour and a half," he said, his eyes darting between Stabler and Olivia.
Elliot unfolded his arms, his shirt sleeves rolled up exposing taut muscle and nodded at him, "Who hired you?" he asked, prompting him with a nod of his head.
"I dunno her name," McLean answered.
"You're wasting our time, you told me back at the roof where you tried to throw Detective Benson off, that you could lead us to her," Eliot said impatiently.
McLean nodded, "I can, I can I gotta deliver the pictures by 5pm tonight you can follow me get her that way," he said nervously.
Elliot looked him straight in the eye, "How long you been a private dick?" he asked.
"About six months," he answered, glancing up at Olivia.
Elliot shook his head, "Six months? Are you for real?"
McLean nodded, "I got laid off, couldn't find work, I took a course it seemed like easy money," he said defensively.
Olivia looked down at her boots, feigning disinterest as she absorbed everything McLean was saying.
Elliot lifted up the photographs and flicked through them, he and Olivia had already looked at them, but he wanted McLean to feel more uncomfortable. He singled out a picture showing Alex with her arm around Olivia outside St Vincent's hospital and turned it towards McLean, "Why were you following them and taking pictures?" he asked, selecting another one from the same day, showing them entering Olivia's apartment building.
McLean glanced again at the imposing silent figure in the corner, "I was hired to get picture evidence of Detective Benson," he said, swallowing as the brunette lifted her head and looked straight at him.
""What kind of evidence?" Elliot asked.
McLean looked nervously away from Olivia's unrelenting gaze and met Elliot's unblinking eyes, "Of her cheating on her girlfriend," he replied.
"Looks like I arrived just in time for the afternoon matinee," Abbie announced.
Alex and Cragen both turned at the sound of the familiar drawl.
Cragen removed his hands from his pockets, "What brings you down here Abbie?" he asked, smiling fondly at her.
Abbie returned the smile, placing a hand on Alex's shoulder and squeezing it gently, "I just need to get some information from Elliot," she answered, looking through the glass at the trio in the room. She motioned with her head, "What's going on?"
Alex ran her hand through her hair, "Jim McLean, private detective he's been following Liv and I since we got back to the city," she answered.
"Who hired him?" she asked.
Cragen shook his head, "He doesn't have a name, only that it's a woman and he has a meeting with her at 5pm," he supplied.
Abbie took in Alex's casual attire, "Want me to have a word with him?" she asked, holding Alex's gaze, "I've got my spurs on," she said lightly, earning her a smile from the blonde woman.
Alex shook her head, "Can you stick around?" she asked, returning her eyes to the glass.
Abbie nodded, " Sure, I need to wait for old blue eyes anyway," she said.
Elliot clasped his hands together and placed them on the table, "We're dumping your cellphone, we're doing a full background check on you you wanna sit there and play dumb, go ahead no jury is going to think twice about locking you away for twenty years for attempting to murder one of New York's finest," he said calmly.
McLean rubbed his profusely sweating brow with his hand, the damp and smelling tie having been discarded. He licked his dry lips, "Look, some broad offered me a lotta money for pictures of them together, she insisted on one shot of " he paused, conscious of the brooding figure in the corner, " the two of them kissing that's all," he said.
"C'mon, you gotta have more to go on than that, how does that work? Hello, is that the dumbest private dick in the country, yeah? I need you to follow a cop and a lawyer " Elliot said sarcastically.
"She said they'd been together a long time, said she needed proof Detective Benson was cheating on her so she could get her out of her life!" McLean shouted, rising from his chair.
Elliot stood at the same time, "Take it easy pal, sit down," he said, waiting for McLean to sit back down before continuing, "Who was together?"
"Detective Benson and the woman," he replied.
Elliot shook his head, "Detective Benson and the woman that hired you?" he asked incredulously, furrowing his brow.
Olivia watched as McLean nodded, resisting the urge to turn and shake her head at the glass.
McLean held his head in his hands, "She said they'd been together a while, she wasn't going to let her make a fool of her any longer, running around with her blonde bit on the side," he said, unable to hide his frustration.
Abbie bumped shoulders with Alex, "Hello, but on the side," she said smiling.
"What is he talking about?" Alex asked, turning to look at Cragen.
Cragen shrugged his shoulders, "I have no idea, I'll go see where they are on the background check for Columbo here," he said, leaving the room.
Alex looked at Abbie, "I think you're up next Tex," she said, smiling weakly as the knot in her stomach tightened.
"Bring it," Abbie drawled.
"You took on a job, following two women with connections to the law and you didn't ask for a name?" Elliot asked, shaking his head in disbelief.
McLean nodded, "I got five grand just for taking the job, I gotta mortgage and a wife," he replied defensively.
"Where are you supposed to meet her?" Olivia asked, speaking for the first time since entering the room.
McLean looked up at her, "She'll call me with the meet," he answered immediately, looking up at her.
The door opened and Abbie looked over at Olivia, "Detective Benson, Captain Cragen needs to speak with you," she said, holding the door open.
Olivia pushed off the wall and glanced at McLean as she moved towards the door, her eyes searching questioningly into Abbie's.
Abbie closed the door behind Olivia and walked over to the seat beside Elliot, she picked the bag up and placed it on the floor, conscious the sweating bald man's eyes hadn't left her since she entered the room.
Abbie settled in the chair and folded her arms, tilting her head, "You attempted to murder a decorated police officer, you've broken six privacy laws and used false credentials to ascertain information pertaining to Detective Benson and Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot's whereabouts, you will be prosecuted and convicted. I will personally see to it that you are placed in a facility where short, bald men are this season's must have fashion accessory," she paused and leaned forward, "Do you understand?" she asked pointedly.
McLean swallowed, shaking his head, "I already told you what I know I dunno anything about her she calls me I don't have a number to contact her " he trailed off, feeling nausea rise in his throat, "I think I'm gonna be sick," he said, holding his throat and gasping for air.
Abbie frowned, "You can pee your pants for all I care. You better get used to that taste in your mouth," she said rising, "It's going to be your new favorite flavor at Riker's," she finished as she turned and headed for the door.
Olivia stood beside Alex, watching Abbie in action. She held open the file for Jim McLean that Finn and Munch had managed to piece together, scanning the details that she and Alex had already looked at, seeing if there was anything she had missed.
Jim McLean was fifty four years old and had worked as an insurance broker for twelve years before being made redundant, another victim of the ongoing global recession. He lived in the affluent suburbs of Williamsburg with his wife of twenty eight years, Irene. They had two children, both married, both moved out of state. He was two months behind on his mortgage, with three years left to run on it before they owned the five bedroomed house outright. His credit cards were maxed out, he was overdrawn at the bank and his car had been repossessed.
His detective agency was internet based, created using free web development tools and housed on an umbrella site offering free web hosting.
Alex nudged Olivia again, the first one having gone unnoticed, "Hey, didn't you hear me?" she asked, her face showing concern.
Olivia lifted her head and looked at her, "Sorry, was seeing if we'd missed anything," she replied.
"Did we?" Alex asked hopefully.
Olivia shook her head, "He's desperate, this is only his second job, the first was a cheating husband in Queens, he ended up in hospital with a dislocated shoulder and a possible lawsuit," she said.
Alex placed a comforting hand on her arm, "Don says Morales is running a trace on all the traffic to his web site, maybe we'll get lucky," she said, holding Olivia's gaze.
"She could have found him in the free press, where he advertises his services or one of his leaflet drops or a business card " Olivia said sighing.
Alex leaned in and kissed her cheek gently, conscious of their surroundings. Olivia turned her head and kissed Alex tenderly on the lips in return. They pulled away and both breathed out a frustrated sighed.
"I think we should give him what he wants," Alex said quietly.
Olivia nodded and looked at her watch, "She'll be calling him in an hour," she replied.
The door opened and Abbie appeared, she looked between them both and frowned, "You two okay?" she asked.
Olivia nodded, "Yeah, just wishing for a normal life," she said.
Abbie grinned, "And miss all this fun?" she replied, indicating the interrogation room.
Three pairs of eyes looked through the glass, watching McLean as he leaned forward in the chair, trying to put his head between his knees, his large stomach preventing him from achieving his goal.
Elliot turned to the one way mirror and shrugged before rising from his chair and grabbing McLean by the shirt collar and dragging him towards the door.
Chapter 12: Candid Camera
"This feels weird," Olivia said, looking up at Alex.
Alex leaned forward, shaking her head, "Kissing me is weird?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.
Olivia smiled, "Kissing you in front of the peanut gallery is weird," she clarified, looking over Alex's shoulder at their rapt audience, huddled together, on the bustling Manhattan sidewalk around the corner from the precinct.
Alex lifted her hand and forced Olivia to look at her, "Whatever's going on here, whoever this woman is, we need to give McLean the shot that he needs okay?"
Olivia focused on the cobalt blue eyes, grounding herself on the connection she felt between them, "Okay so we're just gonna walk along the sidewalk and then I'm gonna kiss you," she said, repeating the agreed plan.
"Why does everyone assume you would initiate the kiss?" Alex said lowering her hand and shaking her head again.
Olivia smiled, "I do have a reputation to maintain, y'know," she said confidently.
"Really?" Alex said, sliding her hands inside Olivia's leather coat and pulling her closer. She dipped her head and kissed the base of her throat, feeling Olivia's hands automatically reach out and rest on her denim clad hips. Alex lifted her head and gazed into brown eyes before capturing Olivia's lips with her own.
The shutter whirred away on the digital camera as Jim McLean finally got his money shot.
Elliot, Abbie and Captain Donald Cragen stood speechless as Alex Cabot devoured Olivia Benson on the busy sidewalk, oblivious to pedestrians and the looks they were receiving.
"Cabot's really going for it," Elliot commented as he watched Olivia tuck her hands into the back pockets and pull Alex closer.
Abbie snorted, "She's just getting started," she added absently before realizing how that must have sounded.
Cragen cast a sideways glance at Abbie, "Something you'd like to share?" he asked lightly.
Elliot looked at her too, wondering what she meant.
Abbie shook her head, laughing, "Not in this lifetime," she said before raising two fingers to her lips and whistling loudly at the kissing couple. She ignored the fact that half the street turned in their direction and gave them both a thumbs up.
Elliot looked at McLean, "D'you get what you need?" he asked.
McLean lifted the camera and showed him the captured images on the digital display, "She'll ask me to email a copy, then we'll meet" he said.
"Why the email?" Elliot asked, glancing over at Cragen.
McLean lowered the camera, "I tried to bluff her on the first day, said I had it she asked me to email it to her I said it got deleted by accident," he answered.
Cragen looked at McLean, "You sure you can pull this off?" he asked skeptically.
Abbie bobbed her head knowingly at McLean, "This season's must have remember?" she said smiling.
Donald Cragen sat behind his desk and looked at his watch, they had less than thirty minutes before McLean would receive the call. He stood up and looked through the window into the interview room and watched Elliot and Morales in deep conversation with the self proclaimed, private detective.
Morales was hoping to triangulate the location of the call, despite the woman using a prepaid disposable cellphone. They might not be able to trace her exact location, but they would be able to narrow it down. The photographs that they would be emailing would have tracking software embedded in them, allowing them to trace her through her email address back to her IP, even if she was using a remote access point.
He moved to his office door, scanning the squad room for the three women and instantly spotted Abbie arguing with Munch. He walked slowly towards them with his hands in his pockets, "You know Abbie, you hang around here much longer, I might think you have designs on becoming the next, Mrs Munch," he said with his usual, emotionless tone.
Abbie's frown was so deep, her dark eyebrows almost obscured her vision. She looked at Cragen with her mouth hanging open, "I used to respect you Don," she said, shaking her head as she clicked across the floor to the coffee maker.
"If it's meant to be, it's meant to be you shouldn't fight your destiny," Munch said to the retreating form.
Cragen shook his head, "We turn anything up yet?" he asked.
Munch pointed to his computer screen, "His website traffic is so low he'd have more hits if he advertised his services on MySpace," he quipped.
"Anything else?" Cragen asked, accepting the coffee Abbie handed him.
Finn held up two sheets of paper, "These are all the IP addresses of everyone that accessed his site, me and Munch are checkin' them out, so far nothin'," he said.
"Where are Olivia and Alex?" Cragen asked, pleased he didn't say, 'lovebirds', out loud.
"Bathroom," Abbie supplied before taking a sip from her cup.
"Don't stop," Alex panted as her back bumped lightly against the bathroom door.
Olivia couldn't stop now, even if Cragen walked in. She sucked hard on the swollen nipple she held captive between her hungry lips as her hand moved rhythmically inside the open waistband of Alex's jeans. The bundle of nerves throbbed as she massaged it knowingly with sure fingers. Alex was slick with wetness and Olivia tried valiantly to ignore the insistent ache between her own legs.
Alex was struggling to remain quiet, her pants coming sharp and fast as she felt her climax coiling for release. She sucked in a shaky breath, clutching tightly with one hand at the coat hook above her head and at the brunette, attached to her breast, with the other.
Olivia felt the nub pulsing against her fingers and deftly switched her stroking motion to a circular one, the results instantaneous. Alex's thighs went rigid as she strained her sex against Olivia's fingers.
Olivia released the breast from her lips, capturing Alex's mouth and swallowing the low guttural moan that escaped. She felt the bundle of nerves twitching and Alex's core clenching as she continued to ride out the orgasmic aftershocks against Olivia's hand.
Alex tore her mouth away after a few minutes, her breathing labored and moved her mouth to Olivia's ear, "That was hot," she panted, readjusting her bra and pulling the sweater back into place. After their impromptu public make out session she had needed Olivia in a way she couldn't comprehend and wouldn't deny.
Olivia smiled as she lifted her hand to her own parted lips. Alex captured her wrist and licked her own wetness from Olivia's long fingers.
Olivia groaned, "Now, that's hot," she whispered.
Alex pressed her thigh against Olivia's centre, wincing as pain shot through her knee.
"What's wrong?" Olivia asked with concern as Alex withdrew her leg.
Alex pulled the fabric away from her plaster covered knee, "Forgot about my knee," she replied.
Olivia smiled in sympathy and looked at her watch, "We should go, she'll be calling in twenty minutes," she said regrettably.
Alex straightened and moved her hands to the top of Olivia's jeans, "That's okay I only need five," she husked out before capturing Olivia's lips.
Elliot looked doubtfully at McLean, "You know what you're doing?" he asked as Morales checked the equipment he had hastily set up for the third time.
McLean nodded, "I keep her on the line, I tell her I have the pictures, I agree to the meet," he said, swallowing nervously. He looked at Morales, "Is he staying?" he asked.
Morales looked between Elliot and McLean, "I'll be sending the email and analyzing the call you won't even know I'm here," he said, nodding his head.
"Don't blow this," Elliot warned.
McLean swallowed again.
Olivia and Alex sat in the visitors chairs across from Cragen's desk while Abbie leaned against the front edge. The audio monitor, Morales had set up, sat on the desk behind her.
"What brought you down to the squad Porter?" Olivia asked, looking up at her.
Abbie smiled down at her, "Actually, I heard a report about a life size lightning bug found in the ladies' room," she smirked.
Olivia tried not to react as she contemplated her response, "Can you blame me? She's gorgeous," she finally said, turning to Alex and grinning at her.
"Oh my God, I was yanking your chain Liv that's just wrong here?" she said, screwing up her face and shaking her head.
The smile fell from Olivia's face as she realized Abbie had been bluffing, she buried her face in her hands and leaned against Alex, "I'm sorry," she mumbled.
Alex rubbed her back in a soothing motion, "It's okay sweetie, I'm not," she said, waggling her eyebrows at Abbie.
Abbie snorted, "If I even joked about that to my gir-" she stopped, realizing what she had just said.
Olivia whipped her head up, "Who is she?" she asked eagerly, her embarrassment instantly forgotten.
Abbie shook her head, "I can't tell you not here," she replied, watching Cragen talk to Munch through the open door.
Alex looked at her, "Is it serious?" she asked, smiling at her.
Abbie beamed in response, "Very," she answered, nodding her head.
Alex rose form the chair and stepped around Olivia's, engulfing Abbie in a heartfelt hug, "I'm so happy for you," she whispered.
Abbie squeezed her, "Thanks," she said quietly.
Olivia stood up and waited until Alex stepped away. She shook her head and smiled, "Maybe you'll finally get over me now, "she teased.
Abbie laughed, "You wish!" she snorted as she grabbed Olivia and hugged her fiercely, smiling down at Alex over her shoulder.
Cragen stood silently at his door, "Does anybody want to tell me what's going on?" he asked, looking between the three smiling women.
Before anyone could answer, the audio monitor on the desk, sprang into life as McLean's cellphone rang.
Morales nodded at McLean as he kept his eyes glued to the two laptops open on the table.
"Do you have the pictures?" she asked bluntly.
McLean swallowed nervously and looked at Elliot, "Yeah, I got lots of 'em you want me to email you them kissing?" he replied, forcing himself to sound natural.
There was a pause at the other end of the phone.
In Cragen's office, four pairs of eyes stared at the black audio monitor waiting for the mysterious woman's response.
Just as McLean was about to ask, if she was still there, she responded, "Yes, send me a sample," she instructed coolly.
Cragen leaned his elbows on the desk and clasped his hands, studying Olivia. He watched her as his instinct told him, she didn't recognize the voice. He caught her eyes and raised his eyebrows asking the question silently.
Olivia held Cragen's gaze and shook her head.
Alex caught the motion and glanced at Olivia's profile, wondering what she was thinking.
McLean's voice cut through her thoughts as he asked for the woman's email address.
Inside the interview room, Morales tapped the keyboard with lightning dexterity and nodded his head towards McLean.
"Okay, you got your money's worth that's three of the best," he said, tying to sound casual.
Elliot looked at him and gave him a nod of encouragement.
The silence in both rooms was deafening as they waited for the woman to respond. Seconds ticked slowly by as the woman remained silent, obviously retrieving her email and viewing the images.
Another slow minute passed before a heavy sigh was expelled over the phone line, "Excellent work Mr McLean, I finally have the cheating whore exactly where I want her meet me in one hour at the East Coast Memorial," she instructed and released the call.
Olivia was hyper aware of the faces looking at her expectantly, she shrugged her shoulders and shook her head, "I didn't recognize her voice and there's no way I've ever been involved with her," she stated adamantly.
Alex placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, meeting Cragen's eyes, "She opened the pictures, we've got a trace," she said hopefully.
Cragen moved out from behind the desk and walked towards the window, tapping the glass gently. He waited until Elliot and Morales left the room before he turned round. Once they joined the others in his office, he glanced briefly over his shoulder at the motionless McLean.
"Ruben, did we get anything?" he asked, hoping the tech specialist had something for them to go on.
Morales nodded his head, "She's close to Battery Park, her triangulated position puts her somewhere between, Bridge Street, Pine Street and Broadway," he said, checking the details on the tablet pc he held in his hand.
Elliot frowned, "Wall street's right in the middle could explain why she's got money to burn for pictures," he supplied, looking down at his partner. He held her gaze for a few seconds searching her face. When she gave him a ghost of a smile, he looked back towards the Captain.
Cragen saw the exchange and looked at Olivia, "Know anyone in Wall St?" he asked.
Olivia shook her head.
"What about McLean, think he can handle this?" Cragen asked, directing his question to Elliot.
Elliot nodded, "I don't see why not, we've got plenty of time to mobilize and get into position before the meet," he replied, looking through the window at McLean.
Cragen nodded, he looked at Abbie, "Any thoughts, hotshot?" he asked.
Abbie shrugged, "I'll make a few calls, I think I can get us satellite coverage over the park, won't be for long though," she replied, shaking her head.
He moved towards the door and called over to Munch and Finn. He let them settle into the busy office before speaking, "Any luck with the site traffic?" he asked.
Finn shook his head, "Nothin'," he said.
"Okay people, we don't have much time, we need to decide how we're going to play this," he said, sweeping his eyes over everyone in his office.
Munch shook his head, "Where we going?" he asked, unaware of the details of the phone call.
Olivia looked up at him, "Battery Park."
Chapter 13: Mousetrap
Olivia sighed as she checked her watch again and moved her eyes back to the three monitors in front of them, peering anxiously at the screen. The live images coming courtesy of a dark haired, Federal prosecutor with friends in high places.
"How long?" Alex asked from her position beside her in the back of the surveillance van.
Olivia turned to her, "Few minutes," she answered pensively. She was struggling to contain her frustration at the Captain's orders for her and Alex to remain out of sight, she was desperate to see who this mystery woman was. Over the last hour she had been trying to recall any confrontations with women that would lead them to seek some sort of revenge against her. When Elliot had disturbed her reverie and asked what she was thinking about, he had quipped she'd need, 'a lot more than an hour to go through that list.'
The back door of the van opened and Cragen climbed in, removing his flat cap and tucking it in his coat pocket. He took a seat behind Olivia and Alex, watching as Morales searched the park near the East Coast Memorial for anyone that could be their mystery woman. The space in the van was tight and the tension rising as they huddled around the monitors.
Cragen removed his portable radio, "Everybody set?" he asked.
Alex listened as the team confirmed their positions. She stared at the screen displaying the Memorial plaza and the easily identifiable figure of Jim McLean as he paced in front of the bronze eagle.
Elliot walked up the stone steps on the southern side of the plaza and casually made his way to one of the tall, granite pylons on his left. He looked up at the list of names of lost service men, still legible, despite the low evening light before shifting his gaze to McLean.
The park was busy, as usual, with tourists meandering along the front, coming and going from the water taxi's to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. They were conscious she was probably watching, so were using virtually undetectable earpieces and small mic transmitters as opposed to the chunky portable radio's. He lifted his left hand and rubbed his nose, "Clear on the South side," he said quietly, listening as Munch and Fin both responded in his ear and looked at his watch.
She was late.
He moved across the plaza, glancing at the nervously waiting McLean as he looked at the names on another tablet before easing back down the steps and heading towards the railing overlooking New York Harbor. He raised a foot and rested it casually on the lower rung of the safety railing, feigning interest in the sights across the water.
Olivia rubbed her forehead as she stared intensely at the images on the screens, frustrated they had no clue as to who they were looking for. The light was failing and the woman was late, she shifted restlessly in her seat. A hand reached over and patted her arm.
"We'll get her Liv, relax," Cragen said, nodding his head as he removed his hand.
Alex leaned a little closer to the monitor, watching a woman in a long dark coat and gray trousers, carrying a briefcase, approach the eagle from behind, "There!" she blurted, pointing with a finger to the figure on the screen.
Morales zoomed in on the woman, tracking her every move as she approached the monument.
The woman looked to be of average height with a slim build, she had shoulder length curly brown hair and was wearing oversized sunglasses that obscured most of her face. In her right hand she carried a black leather briefcase and in her left, what appeared to be a cellphone.
Everyone in the van listened as Fin's voice sounded quietly over the radio.
"I think I got her, black coat, briefcase, sunglasses she's coming up behind McLean what d'you wanna do Cap?" Fin asked, watching the woman from his position on the left hand side of the paved plaza.
Cragen watched the woman approach the statue, her head moving from side to side as she scanned the area. He pressed the talk button on his radio, "Hold back, see what she does," he advised.
Elliot listened to the orders in his ear and shifted his stance, discretely glancing around and saw her almost at McLean. He lifted his hand to his mouth, "Munch, you got her?" he asked.
Munch sat on a bench not far from the monument and turned his head, "Got her," he replied, adjusting the small gallery scope he held in front of his glasses before shifting his gaze towards the Statue of Liberty.
Elliot glanced round again, "We have contact, " he said into the mic.
McLean shifted his weight nervously from foot to foot as he waited, he watched Stabler resting against the railing and knew there were other cops around him. The mic under his jacket lapel would pick everything up, if things got nasty he knew help was only a yell away.
He heard footsteps clicking on the paved plaza behind him and resisted the overwhelming urge to spin round. He swallowed and blew out a steadying breath.
He turned round slowly, trying to act natural, "Yes?" he replied.
She stood in front of him, taking in his cheap suit and disheveled appearance. He was just as unkempt as she had imagined him to be, 'Just like the others,' she thought to herself. She removed her sunglasses, revealing striking blue eyes that seemed to radiate in the evening light.
She nodded her head at the large packet in his hand, "Is that for me?" she asked.
McLean clutched the packet of pictures nervously between his fingers and thumb, feeling his palm grow sweaty as his anxiety spiraled. He nodded his head, "You got my money?" he replied, looking anxiously at her briefcase.
She dropped her cellphone into her coat pocket and reached over to unfasten the briefcase, as she did so, she caught a movement to her right.
A man on a bench was watching them.
"I think she just made Munch," Fin's voice announced over the radio to the occupants of the van.
Cragen reacted instantly, "Get out of there John. Now," he instructed into the portable.
Olivia and Alex watched as Munch casually looked out over the harbor before rising from the bench and walking calmly away in the opposite direction.
"We're cool," Fin announced, as he watched her shift her gaze from the retreating figure of his partner back to the briefcase.
"Let's take a walk," the woman suggested, as she retrieved a small packet from her briefcase and slipped it into her other pocket.
McLean looked nervously at her, "Lady, you're not my only client," he said with false bravado.
"Really?" she answered doubtfully, before repeating her request.
McLean looked at her for a long minute and acquiesced.
They headed for the steps in front of the statue and made their way down them, turning to their right and walking along the waterfront. After a few minutes of silence, she reached out her hand expectantly.
McLean handed over the packet as they stopped underneath a lamp post and turned, pretending to be looking out over the water.
She reached in and pulled out the photographs, quickly flicking through them, a smile spreading slowly over her face, "Nice work Mr McLean," she said, retrieving the small packet from her pocket and handing it over.
McLean took it and shoved it hurriedly into one of his misshapen jacket pockets.
She looked at him curiously, "Aren't you going to check it?" she asked, placing the photographs inside her briefcase.
"Classy broad like you? I trust you," he said as his eyes glanced past her.
She frowned at him and turned, instantly spotting the man in the leather jacket walking hurriedly towards them.
"Friend of yours?" she asked.
McLean shook his head, "Never seen him before," he replied.
She turned again at the imposing figure in leather and quickly scanned the area and spotted a man walking purposefully from the other direction. She recognized him instantly, 'Stabler', she thought as she pushed McLean away, "Cops?" she asked.
She didn't wait for his answer as she ran towards the grass.
Alex and Olivia watched the scene unfold, as the woman started to run, Olivia leapt from her seat. Cragen's restraining hand held her back.
"Sit down Olivia," he warned.
She blew out a frustrated breath and looked at him, "What if they lose her?" she said anxiously.
He shook his head, "She's going nowhere," he said, indicating the monitor.
"Police!" Elliot yelled to the retreating woman as she hurried up the grassy incline unsteadily on heels.
She turned at the sound and saw two figures racing towards her. She reached the path and looked both ways.
"May I be of assistance?"
She looked at the man sitting on the bench, "Yes I'm being attacked help me," she panted out.
He rose from the bench and held out his hand.
She reached to grab hold of it and looked down in surprise at the sudden coldness against her wrist. Her eyes flew to his face.
Munch held up his shield, "You're under arrest," he said smiling as he secured her hands behind her back.
Chapter 14: Six Degrees
The captured woman was led towards the waiting vehicle, flanked by Munch and Fin. Elliot followed closely, guiding Jim McLean towards a police cruiser, where two officers bundled the protesting man into the back.
Olivia and Alex followed the woman's movements until she slipped from camera view. Olivia turned to Cragen, a pleading look in her eyes, "You gotta let me see her, Cap," she said, looking at him hopefully.
Cragen opened his mouth, whatever he was about to say died on his lips as Alex cut him off.
"Liv, if you see her now, you're giving her what she wants," Alex said evenly, looking straight at her.
Olivia shifted her gaze to her girlfriend, "I need to see her, look at her face I don't know the first thing about this woman Alex," she said in a frustrated tone, shaking her head.
Alex nodded, "I know. I felt the same frustration about Liam Connors," she said, holding her gaze.
Olivia instantly reached for her hand, oblivious to the man behind her, "I'm sorry, that was thoughtless," she said, looking lovingly into blue eyes.
Alex smiled and nodded, "We've got her, let's see how she copes when she has to play by our rules," she said, squeezing Olivia's hand.
Cragen watched the exchange and dipped his head, "Alex is right Liv, she's just another perp," he said, lifting his eyes and meeting her own.
"Then let's get back to the house and find out who she is," she replied, squeezing the hand she held gently.
Elliot watched the car pull away before turning in the direction of the surveillance van. He lifted his left hand and spoke into the small mic, "She's on her way to the precinct," he said, jogging lightly towards the unmarked car, parked behind the van.
The back door of the blue van opened and Cragen, Olivia and Alex stepped out, spotting him instantly.
Olivia's eyes flew to his empty hands, "Where's the briefcase?" she asked.
Elliot opened the driver's side door and shook his head, "Munch and Fin have got it, along with her cellphone," he replied as he lowered himself into the seat.
"Why?" Olivia asked as she ran to the passenger side while Alex and Cragen eased into the back.
Elliot looked over at her as she closed the door, "It was empty and the phone's prepaid," he answered, turning the key in the ignition.
She sat calmly at the table, her hands carefully folded in front of her with her legs neatly crossed at the ankles. Her coat was draped over the back of the chair she sat on, the contents and sunglasses having been removed.
Outwardly she appeared cool and calm, inside, she was barely containing the rage she felt at her own stupidity. Every other meeting she had arranged with her long line of low life investigators had been carefully executed, until now. She had let her excitement cloud her typically cautious judgment. She lifted her head a little higher and looked straight ahead, making eye contact with whomever stood behind the mirror.
Olivia folded her arms and adjusted her stance as she silently watched the woman through the window.
She studied her features and the set of her jaw, she knew she had seen her before, but couldn't remember where. The curly brown hair and blue eyes gave the woman, she guessed to be in her late forties, a striking appearance. Her mind was on overdrive trying to place her and she sighed in frustration at her own inability to recall where and more importantly, when she had seen her.
A hand touched her lower back in a familiar, loving gesture and she tilted her head, smiling at the blonde.
"You okay?" Alex asked, looking at her with worried eyes.
Olivia nodded," I've seen her, I just can't remember where," she answered quietly, even though the woman couldn't hear them.
Alex turned her head towards the window, "Maybe we'll get lucky and she's already in the system," she said hopefully.
Olivia shook her head skeptically, "Look at her, I doubt it," she replied.
Alex watched the woman in the interrogation room unfold her hands and carefully place them on top of one another again. She wondered how this woman was connected to the brunette detective beside her. "Based on what little we know, at the moment all we can do is file an order of protection against her," she said coolly.
Olivia suppressed the sigh she wanted to expel loudly and closed her eyes, willing her rising tension to subside, "A restraining order?"
Warm lips touched her cheek briefly, causing her eyes to flutter open.
"Pretend she's been doing this to someone else, you need to be objective Liv, you need to stay focused," Alex whispered.
Olivia turned her head, "I'm trying," she said in a hushed tone.
"What do we know?" Cragen asked his detectives as he leaned against Olivia's desk.
Elliot shifted in his seat and looked at him, "Nothing, we're waiting to see if her prints are in the system," he said, looking over at Fin.
Fin took his cue, "She musta had a car, she's not gonna walk all over the city in those heels must be parked close to the park, I'm waiting on traffic coming back with any cars towed in the last hour. It's only a one hour wait in the surrounding streets," he finished.
Cragen nodded, "She's been in there thirty minutes, I think it's time we had a proper chat with her," he said, casting his eyes back over to Elliot.
"Lab got a perfect thumb print from the back of two of the photgraphs our mystery woman touched, prints should be back soon," Munch added, hanging up the phone.
Elliot stood, rolling up his sleeves as he passed the Captain on his way to the box.
"Elliot?" Cragen called after him.
He stopped and turned, "Yeah?" he said to the approaching figure.
"Go easy," he advised.
Elliot smiled, "Don't I always," he replied holding out his arms before turning and walking away.
Olivia and Alex turned as they heard the approaching footsteps.
Olivia and Alex turned as they heard the approaching footsteps.
"You okay?" Elliot asked his partner.
Olivia rolled her eyes, "Why does everyone keep asking if I'm okay?" she groused.
"Because we care about you," Alex replied instantly.
Olivia sighed and looked between her girlfriend and her partner, "I know, I just want to be in there and not out here," she said, frustration coloring her tone.
Elliot smiled, "I'm going in and you'll be watching, it's the next best thing," he said, nodding confidently at her.
Olivia shifted her eyes back to the woman through the window as Elliot opened the door and entered the small room.
"Can I get you some water?" Elliot asked politely as he closed the door.
She looked up at him, "No thank you Detective Stabler," she replied calmly.
He nodded his head, hiding his surprise that she knew who he was and pulled out the chair. As he sat down he placed a photograph of Alex and Olivia kissing on the table in front of her. He watched her closely as she tried to mask the grimace that flashed across her face, "Why did you hire someone to take pictures of these women?" he asked.
She looked at him, "I don't have to answer that," she replied.
"Actually, you do," he said nodding his head. "We're running a background check on you, it'll make this a lot easier if you just co-operate," he said, indicating the picture again.
She smiled as she shook her head, "I'm not some suburban housewife you can threaten detective, I know my rights," she said confidently.
He smiled, "No, you're just an ordinary woman that likes to stalk members of law enforcement what is that a hobby?" he asked, shaking is head.
She smiled, "How's Kathy...and the kids five now, isn't it?" she asked coolly, raising an eyebrow.
He schooled his anger and forced a look of calm indifference across his face and in his tone, "My family's fine, you stalking me too?" he asked lightly.
She laughed, "No, I have no issue with you," she said.
"But you do have one with Detective Benson?"
She shifted her hands on the table and lifted the photograph, "She's a lying slut and a home wrecker," she stated coldly, staring hard at the image.
Olivia and Alex watched as the woman ranted about Olivia in a frighteningly calm and detached manner.
Alex bumped Olivia's shoulder, "Whoever she is, you really pissed her off," she said lightly.
Olivia sighed, "I just wish we knew who she was," she said, shaking her head.
"We do," Captain Cragen announced as he leaned past them and tapped the window. He stood back, watching as Elliot rose from the chair.
Olivia's head spun instantly towards him, "Who?" she asked, her eyes wide with anticipation.
"I think we should talk abut it in my office," he said, just as Elliot emerged.
Elliot looked at him, "What's going on?" he asked.
"We know who she is," Cragen repeated for Elliot's benefit.
Elliot's eyebrows shot up into his hairline and he looked at his partner, "And?" he asked.
"And, I'd rather discuss it in private," he said, looking directly at Olivia.
Olivia felt her stomach drop, this wasn't going to be good, "Please Cap'n, who is she?" she asked, dipping her head and searching his eyes.
He looked at the expectant faces of the three before him and opened the file in his hand, "Deborah Lawson, 48, divorced, lives in Westchester, worked as a broker for Klaust and Bonn on Wall st until fourteen months ago, where she was fired for attacking a male colleague. Charges were pressed, she received two hundred hours community service and mandatory anger management counseling," he said, reading from the sheet of paper.
Olivia absorbed the information, the name meant nothing to her. She looked at Elliot, "I don't know her," she said, feeling Alex's shoulder brush against her own as she took a step closer.
"But you do know her husband," Cragen added solemnly.
Olivia's eyes snapped to his as she held her breath.
"Captain Lowell Harris," he said.
Chapter 15: Spatial Awareness
'Captain Lowell Harris,' she repeated to herself, needing to hear it again in her own head to believe it. Now she knew where she'd seen the woman before. Deborah Harris had sat behind her husband during the proceedings, always with her head bowed and always dressed in black. When Olivia had testified during his trial for rape and murder, she had noticed the woman's captivating blue eyes watching her as she identified her husband as the man who had sexually assaulted her and almost raped her.
Olivia blinked, shaking off the memories as she realized someone was speaking to her. She looked over at Elliot, who was studying her intensely, searching her face, trying to read what was going through her mind. He'd looked at her a lot like that after Sealview.
"You okay?" Elliot asked tentatively.
Olivia slowly nodded, "Yeah," she swallowed, "She's his ex wife?" she asked Cragen in a measured tone.
Cragen looked closely at the brunette detective in front of him, "Divorced him not long after his conviction," he answered.
Olivia nodded again, "I just need a minute," she said swallowing, as she moved away, leaving a trio of searching faces watching her slowly retreating back.
"Who's Lowell Harris?" Alex asked, shaking her head. She had no idea what had just happened and was struggling to resist the urge to go after Olivia.
Cragen and Elliot shared a look that Alex couldn't interpret. A terrible sense of dread washed over her, she shook her head again, "What?" she asked.
Elliot sucked his bottom lip for a few seconds before answering, "Two years ago Liv went undercover at Sealview," he said, glancing at Cragen.
Alex nodded in recognition of the name, "The women's correctional facility," she confirmed.
"Yeah Lowell Harris was the CO " he paused and shook his head, "Alex Liv should be telling you this not me," he said.
Alex began to panic, what was so terrible that Elliot couldn't tell her what happened at Sealview, possibly to his partner. He never had any problem sharing anything before. She looked pleadingly at Cragen, "Don?" she asked, hoping he couldn't hear the anxiety in her tone.
"Captain Lowell Harris was charged and convicted for murder, multiple counts of rape and a single count of aggravated sexual assault," he supplied, looking down as he noticed Elliot's clenching fists.
Alex was numb.
She listened to the charges brought against this man and thought of Olivia's reaction, or rather, her lack of one. She hadn't moved, hadn't blinked. Alex realized Olivia had been remembering something and whatever it was, it wasn't good.
"Di he get the needle?" she asked coldly, instantly despising the man.
Elliot shook his head, "He'll never get out," he answered, clenching his jaw tightly.
Alex heard him speak but all her thoughts were on the silent brunette who had walked away, a few short minutes ago.
Cragen's voice cut into her thoughts of Olivia, "Elliot, get in there and confront her. It's getting late and some people have things to talk about and here isn't the place," he said, glancing over at Alex.
Elliot nodded and entered the room, determined to find out what Harris' ex wife was up to.
Olivia sat with her legs apart on the sturdy, plastic chair, her feet firmly planted on the gravelly surface. She tipped her head back and gently closed her eyes, resting her hands, palm down, on her thighs. She breathed slowly through her mouth, listening to the sounds of the city below and counted, silently, to twenty. When her counselor had first told her to fix her focus on something, Olivia found it hard to switch off the images of depravity she witnessed every day and had discovered number counting instead.
She felt the cool night air blowing across her exposed neck and arms, briefly regretting not bringing her coat. The city was noisy, allowing her to detach herself from what was happening three floors below.
After a long, still minute, she let her mind wander to Sealview. She thought of the time she had spent undercover, the horrors she had seen and the terror she had experienced in the basement.
Alex walked hurriedly across the floor of the 16th precinct, looking for Olivia. She had checked the crib and the ladies room, finding both empty. Se wondered for a second if Olivia had left, but spotted her leather coat, sitting on the desk. She picked it up and headed towards the elevators.
Fin's voice calling her halted her movements. She turned as he caught up to her at the open doors.
"The roof," he said.
She looked at him, not understanding, "The roof?" she repeated, impatiently shaking her head.
Fin nodded, "I've seen her go up a few times," he said.
She smiled in gratitude before rushing towards the stair access.
Elliot looked at the seated woman with fresh eyes and a new approach. He sat on the chair and removed the photograph she was holding between her hands.
She lifted her eyes and watched him expectantly.
Elliot bit his lip, "What was it like?"
"What was what like?" she asked calmly.
Elliot smiled, "Being married to a rapist and a murderer," he replied.
Her eyes widened, "How dare you how dare you talk about him like that," she said through clenched teeth.
"You must have liked it, did he come home and rape you after a shift raping women at Sealview?" he taunted.
She swallowed, "My husband is not a rapist, or a murderer, " she spat out struggling for control.
"I think a jury proved otherwise, beyond a reasonable doubt in fact," he answered.
Olivia blew out a long, cleansing breath and opened her eyes, immediately sensing a presence and knew she wasn't alone. She turned her head towards the access door and spotted the blonde leaning against the wall.
"Hey," Olivia said in greeting.
Alex looked at her sitting in the chair and motioned with her hand across the roof, "Didn't you get enough roof excitement for one day?" she said lightly, moving towards her.
Olivia smiled, "This is different see?" she pointed to the six feet high safety rail surrounding the building.
Alex approached and pointed to the other chair, "May I?" she asked.
Olivia nodded, "Always," she replied, feeling her world slide back into place in the presence of the woman she loved.
Alex moved the plastic chair closer to Olivia's and eased into it. She handed Olivia her coat, "I thought you might need this," she said, adjusting her position in the uncomfortable chair so that she could look at Olivia's face.
Olivia nodded and draped the coat over her lap.
"What are you doing up here?" Alex asked, reaching for her hand.
Olivia smiled, "I needed some air," she said, lacing their fingers together and looking out over the city once more.
Alex nodded, "Did you bring the chairs?" she asked, shifting again.
Olivia shook her head, "No, they've been here a while," she answered, instantly realizing her slip.
Alex processed the information, desperate to know what had happened at Sealview, but unsure how to ask. She looked at Olivia's face, a face she knew so well and felt her heart thump for her friend.
Olivia shifted her head and looked at her, "Did they tell you?" she asked, curiosity getting the better of her.
Alex shook her head, "No. They would only tell me who Harris is and what he was charged with," she replied, watching Olivia closely.
Olivia nodded, thankful they hadn't gone into detail, not that they knew. Nobody really knew, only the counselor she had seen for over a year knew the full extent of the terror she had experienced in that basement.
Alex watched as Olivia drifted off, lost in her thoughts and squeezed her hand, bringing her back to the present. When Olivia blinked and focused on her, Alex held her gaze and asked quietly, "Did he hurt you?"
Brown eyes searched blue in the well lit rooftop as a multitude of responses touched her lips. She saw the concern in Alex's face and the love in her eyes and surprised herself with her answer, "He sexually assaulted me," she said quietly, studying the blonde's face for her reaction.
Alex suppressed the shock and anger she felt at knowing someone had deliberately hurt Olivia. A woman who fought for victims, alive or dead and who gave so much of herself to others. She felt her pulse racing as she tried to remain calm and not voice the question dominating her thoughts. She parted her lips to speak, but couldn't find the words.
Olivia watched her struggle with her emotions and squeezed her hand, "He didn't rape me," she said, knowing that's what Alex wanted to ask.
Alex sucked in a shaky breath, "What happened?" she asked.
Olivia sighed, "Would it be okay if we talked about this at home?"
Alex looked at her, "I love you, I never want you to forget how important you are to me. You are the most important person in my life and if someone out there hurt you I want to know what they did," she said, feeling tears well in her eyes, not from pity, but from rage.
Olivia swallowed at the heartfelt words and felt her own emotions rising. She stood up, pulling Alex with her and wrapped her arms around her slender body, the coat falling to the gravelly surface between them.
Alex inhaled and blew out a steadying breath, her arms gripping Olivia protectively. She rocked them gently in the cool night air on the deserted roof and kissed her head, "I love you so much Liv," she whispered.
Olivia felt the crack in her protective wall widen and fought to remain in control, she shifted her head and kissed Alex gently on the lips before pulling back. She felt safe in the cocoon of Alex's embrace and looked at her lovingly for a long minute before speaking, "Lowell Harris took me to a basement and sexually assaulted me," she admitted quietly.
Alex absorbed the words, feeling her stomach recoil at the images that flooded her mind, she knew how strong Olivia was physically and mentally and couldn't imagine what that had been like for her. She remembered Elliot's words that it had happened two years ago and felt a wave of guilt wash over her, "Was this for the FBI?" she asked, remembering how Olivia had confessed she had gone undercover with the eco-activist's in Oregon to, 'be anyone but myself' to escape the pain of Alex being in Witsec.
Alarm bells rang in Olivia's ear as she realized what Alex was thinking and possibly blaming herself, "No, it wasn't the FBI. I volunteered, even Cragen was against it, I knew the risks before I went in," she said, rubbing Alex's back in a soothing motion.
"Why did you have to go in?" she asked, holding her close.
Olivia rested her head on Alex's shoulder, taking comfort from their connection, "Women were being raped in the prison, their families on the outside were being assaulted, children were being raped," she said, remembering Ashley Tyler and the suffering she had endured.
Alex stroked the head on her shoulder tenderly, "But why you?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Because someone had to," she answered, swallowing hard.
Cragen strode purposefully out of his office, "Munch, Fin Blaine's going to have someone meet you with a warrant. Get over to her house, see what you can find, I want to be able to hold her on something more than stalking with malicious intent," he said, stopping at their desks and looking at them pensively.
"We're on it Cap," Fin said as he and Much grabbed their jackets.
Cragen nodded as they hurried past him before he turned and headed towards the interrogation room.
Alex and Olivia swayed together for a few more minutes before Olivia lifted her head and sighed, "I want to tell you what happened, I've only ever told my counselor and " she paused, searching Alex's eyes for her reaction, finding nothing but love reflected back at her, " I love you and want you to know all of me I don't want to keep anything from you, that might affect us," she finished, blinking a few times.
Alex smiled and shook her head gently, "Whatever he did, it wasn't your fault you can tell me anything yes, it will affect us " she said, nodding her head as she swallowed the lump in her throat, " because it will only make me love you more and want to kill the bastard that hurt you," she said, blinking away a few stray tears.
Olivia lifted a hand and removed her glasses, wiping away the wetness with her thumb, "How did I get so lucky?" she whispered as she shook her head and swallowed her own rising emotion.
Alex smiled, "I ask myself that same question every time I look at you," she answered, sighing deeply as she gazed lovingly into deep brown eyes.
Olivia slipped the glasses back on and leaned forward. The kiss was gentle and unhurried as both women welcomed the intimate connection. Alex pulled back first and lifted both hands to either side of Olivia's head, holding her in place. Olivia looked at her, searching her eyes.
"Thank you for loving me and trusting me with your heart," she said gently, watching Olivia absorb the heartfelt words. She lowered her hands and reached for one of Olivia's, clasping it firmly.
Olivia smiled, "Let's go see what's happening downstairs, it's getting late and I wanna go home," she said, reaching down and retrieving her fallen coat.
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