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property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Words in Haste
By Mary Griggs
"Why don't you stay at my place tonight?" Olivia asked.
Smiling slightly at the detective, Alex answered, "No, I'll be all right."
Elliot opened his car door, "Okay, we need "
An explosion from across the street interrupted whatever he was going to say. All three of them were blown off their feet as the car the DEA agent had just gotten into disintegrated around him.
Alex rolled over on the hard pavement and looked over at the burning car. For a brief moment she thought she saw a movement from Agent Donovan through the flames. Intellectually, she knew that the explosion would have killed him instantly but the possibility of him being burned alive was appalling. Bile rose in her throat but she swallowed it down, letting anger fill in all those places that fear had emptied.
She pushed herself to her knees and realized that the noises around her were muffled. She swallowed again and tried to will her hearing to return. She looked at Olivia and saw the horror she was feeling, reflected back at her in the detective's expressive eyes. When she made it to her feet, she realized that her clothes were torn and her palms were bleeding.
Numb, she allowed Agent Hammond to shout at her. She couldn't get her mind around the reality of the loss of life. Nothing in her prosecutorial background had prepared her for the violent retaliation of the drug lord.
She didn't flinch when the EMT grabbed her arm and hustled her over to the ambulance.
"You need to be admitted." The penlight of the paramedic was blinding as he checked the reaction of her pupils. "You might have a concussion."
"I'm fine. I never lost consciousness."
"That doesn't matter. The concussion of the blast would have been sufficient."
Blinking, Alex pulled her head from his grasp. "No. I'm going home." Alex looked around Olivia. She met the warm brown eyes. "Take me home. Please."
"I've got you."
"We need to talk, Ms. Cabot." Agent Jack Hammond was still furious. "This isn't over."
"She's falling down in exhaustion. I'm going to take her home and you can speak to her tomorrow."
"You better make sure she's available." He waved over a pair of agents. "They'll escort you home."
"We'll be fine."
"Really? I'm sure that's what Tim thought too. He was a good agent. I know this isn't what you're used to in sex crimes but people would be alive today if you'd take this seriously."
"I never treated this as a joke."
"But you treated it like a game and now a good man is dead."
"I'll be at work tomorrow. My usual time." Alex's voice was clipped.
"Then I'll see you and your boss there."
Alex leaned into the warm support of the detective. She needed to ignore the implied threat to her job and put all of her remaining energy in remaining upright for her walk to the unmarked vehicle.
She dozed off and only wakened briefly to stumble into her apartment. Olivia made her take off all her clothes in the tub and place them directly into a garbage sack in order to keep the fragments of glass off the floor.
Olivia set the water flowing at the hottest setting. "Don't take too long."
"You're almost out on your feet as it is. I don't want to have to explain to everyone how you survived a bomb blast with a couple of scratches only to break a hip in the shower."
"You are too good for me."
"I take that oath to protect and serve pretty seriously."
"I know you do. Thank you." Alex pulled the curtain closed and let the watery fingers of the shower massager work on her sore back. She soaped and rinsed fairly quickly. She had barely removed the towel from the rack when a hand came through the bathroom door to place a mug on the counter.
"What is this?"
"Some of that herbal tea you like."
"Naw, this stuff is free of everything including taste." Olivia's preference for coffee was a running joke.
Alex took a deep breath and a sip. "Hey, what else is in this?"
"A little honey and a little kick."
"What's the kick?"
"Kahlua. Now dry off and get into bed."
"Yes, ma'am." Alex knew that her lover was smiling. "I'll be out in a minute." She took a further sip of the tea before completing her nighttime ablutions.
"The bed is turned down."
Alex looked up at the older woman. "Are you coming to bed?"
"I need a shower too."
"Oh, right. Are you okay?"
"Sure. Remember, I was behind you."
"Yeah," whispered Alex.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"No. I need to try and sleep."
"Okay. I'll be out in a jiffy."
"Good. You know I don't sleep well unless you're with me."
"Don't worry about it. I'll be here for you."
"No, thank you." Olivia leaned down and kissed her forehead. "Pleasant dreams, darling."
"I hope I don't dream at all," she whispered into the dark.
The next morning Alex dressed very carefully. She pulled on the ivory silk blouse and the light grey wool suit because she needed the comfort of normalcy. Even the slight weight of the fabric was heavy on the tender skin of her back.
Two new agents met her downstairs. They silently drove her to her office and followed her upstairs. Alex was too nervous to even make rudimentary small talk with them while the car ascended.
The receptionist's eyes were huge when she spotted the Assistant District Attorney exiting the elevator. "Ms. Cabot, you're expected for a meeting in Mr. Branch's office."
"Thanks, Judy. Do I have time to drop this stuff in my office?"
"I would go right in."
"All right." Alex took a deep breath before returning to the elevator and riding up two more floors. She took another when the secretary sitting before the District Attorney's door just pointed. Surprised that her hand wasn't trembling, she pushed open the oak door.
The room was well appointed and she glanced around in appreciation of the legacy of the office. She was grateful to see her supervisor, Liz Donnelly, was here for the meeting. She nodded at Jack Hammond and Arthur Branch. She didn't know the other two dark suited men in the office.
"Glad you could join us, Ms. Cabot."
"No problem." She could swear she saw a ghost of a smile glide across Liz's face. "Are you pulling me off the case?"
"Not unless you request it."
"I understood that Federal charges were warranted."
"Yes but our case is not ready to go to trial." The taller of the two strangers spoke up. "I'm Fred Darcy with the special prosecutors office."
"I'm afraid I don't understand."
"We need your case to go forward to buy us the time we need."
"Your case is our only hope of keeping them where we can get them." Agent Hammond unwrapped a stick of gum and put it in his mouth. "If New York drops the charges, he'll be long gone before the RICO case can be made."
"Yesterday you didn't want me further involved." She stared at the larger man and remembered his words from the previous night.
"I said some things last night that shouldn't have been said."
Alex knew that was the closest she was going to get to an apology. "What do you want?"
"First of all, you need to know that you are under no obligation to carry forward with this." The gravel tones of Arthur Branch broke into the conversation.
"I understand the risk."
"I'm not sure you do." Fred Darcy spoke quietly.
Jack Hammond nodded. "The threat is very real, Ms. Cabot. The death of one of my agents may not be the last one before this is through."
"It is one hell of a price."
"But a price that Tim was willing to pay to get those animals off the streets. How many people have died with their veins poisoned by the drugs that animal smuggles into this country? He must be stopped."
"I'll proceed with the case I have."
"She'll need better protection than what the City of New York can provide." Liz Donnelly spoke up for the first time.
"Of course. I've discussed this with the Federal Marshals."
"I'm not going into witness protection or any such thing."
"No, of course not. We're going to involve the Treasury department."
Alex was confused. "How is that going to help?"
"You'll be assigned a full Secret Service protection detail. You'll be covered completely."
"Like the president?"
"Not quite to that extent." The other dark suited man spoke up. "My name is Patrick Cannon and I'm the District Chief of the New York field office for the Department of the Treasury Protective Services."
"I had no idea you people could do this."
"Protection has always been the first responsibility of the Secret Service. We are broadening the scope to cover you but we are the best in the business for this kind of work."
Alex was slightly stunned. "I can agree to all this but I want one thing perfectly clear, my personal life is mine."
"Relax, Ms. Cabot. We know all about your relationship with Detective Benson."
Very carefully, she doesn't look at her boss. "Okay."
"We will cover all the basics and she will need to abide by our restrictions as well."
Agent Hammond glanced over at the District Attorney. "Well, she was mentioned in the last threat."
"Yes. The targets are you, Detective Benson, and your Mother."
"How can they be kept safe?"
Hammond laughed. "The best way is for them to be kept as far from you as possible. Failing that, we can offer them limited protection."
"Olivia would never stand for that." Thinking back on the disaster that was the last time she had officers protecting the strong willed detective, she shuddered. "I want her to be safe."
"That will be up to her and how well she follows our instructions."
"I'm going to have to make her then." Alex raked the room with her gaze. "Protect my mother. I'll make sure that Detective Benson stays away from me."
Sitting in the darkened living room, Alex sipped at her tumbler of scotch. She generally couldn't abide the harsh taste but she needed it if she was going to make it through the next thirty minutes.
Olivia's keys hit the table in the entryway. "Alex? I'm home." She came into the main room and leaned against a wall as she removed her shoes. "Hey, babe." When she doesn't get a response from her lover, she steps into the room. "Whoa, it must have been a bad day for you to take to the scotch."
"We need to talk."
For a brief flash, Olivia felt as if all the air in the room had suddenly been removed. "Can I change clothes first?" she asked quietly.
"I'd like to get this over with."
"That doesn't sound good." Olivia looked around and saw a suitcase and duffle bag by the hallway to the bedroom. "What's this?"
"Come and sit down."
Olivia followed the direction and sat down opposite the blonde. She looked at the pale face and clenched her hands. "What's going on, Alex?"
"I want you to take your stuff and move back to your apartment."
"I can't do this anymore."
"That's it? No reason, no nothing. I thought we were doing well."
"You were wrong." The simple words hung for a moment in the stillroom.
"I don't think I was in error last night." She glared across the world. "I never thought that you would be the one to quit first."
"I'm not a quitter, Liv."
"Oh, no? It seems to me that's exactly what you're doing." Olivia's hands gripped the armrests. "What is it, really?"
"My work needs to come first."
"I wasn't talking about a goddamn case, Alex. I'm talking about us."
"Us? Really, Detective. Why is it that you never want to talk about us when I want to talk about us?"
"Alex," Olivia began to answer.
"No, Liv. Now is not the time for you to suddenly want to make a commitment. You had your chance before all this."
"Before all this, I never thought I'd lose you."
"It's hard to lose what you never had."
"We fuck, Liv. We might do a little more often and include other activities but we still just fuck."
"How can you possibly say that?"
"Are you watching my lips?" Alex pulls off her glasses and tosses them on the top of the coffee table. She can't stand to see the pain in the dark haired detective's eyes. "I'm only going to say this once moremy job comes first."
"Christ, don't you think I know that?"
"Let me finish. Right now, I need to focus on winning this case. I don't need distractions."
"That's all I am to you? A distraction?"
"Well, right now you're certainly not a help." Standing up, Alex turns to face the window behind her. "We both knew this wasn't going to last."
Olivia stared at the lean back. "What are you saying?"
"Please leave your key on the counter when you go."
The detective is stupefied. "This meant nothing to you." She opened her arms to encompass the room. "You feel nothing?"
"You were fun. Now, you're a drag I don't need."
"I can't believe this." Olivia took a step toward her. "Please, Alex. We can't be over. Not like this."
"Goodbye, Olivia." Alex resolutely kept facing the window while she listened to her former lover move about the room and finally leaves. "Someday, you'll realize this was for the best."
"Hey, Elliot. Give me a minute to run in drop this off." Olivia held up a thin inter office folder.
Her long time partner grinned. "Take your time, Liv. We'll go to lunch afterwards." He hoped that a visit to the ADA was just what the doctor ordered for his morose partner. She hadn't opened up but he figured that she and Alex were having problems. Alex's visits to the precinct had been sharply down this month and he knew that they hadn't done any trial prep together for at least a couple of weeks.
Olivia walked down the corridor to Alex's office. Her pulse raced, other than a few brief glimpses in court, she hadn't been able to speak to the attorney alone since that night. Their interactions had been strictly professional and Olivia had to admit that she just wanted to see if Alex was having as hard time a time with this breakup as she was.
She knocked on the door and opened it quickly before she changed her mind. "Alex?" Olivia could hardly believe her eyes. Her ex was not alone. There was a truly stunning woman hanging on the back of the ADA's chair. She grinned wolfishly at the startled detective.
"Was there something you wanted?"
"Yeah, I wanna speak to Ms. Cabot."
"As you can see, she's a little busy right now. Why don't you leave you message with the secretary?"
"Who the fuck are you?"
"Olivia, lower your voice." Alex glanced up, her eyes stopping ever so briefly at the ample cleavage over her shoulder. The sharp-eyed officer did not miss the small hesitation. "Tracey, give me a minute. Please."
"For you, doll, I'll give you five." She walked out the door and closed it firmly behind her.
"Who is that?"
"Why are you here?"
For a moment, Olivia looks taken aback. "I've missed you."
"I'm sorry. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed."
"Alex, who is that woman?"
"You no longer have the right to ask that question."
"Did I ever?" Olivia held out her hand, palm toward the blonde. "Don't answer that. You've answered a lot of my questions today. Even a couple I didn't know to ask." She stood up and stared down at Alex. "I'm sorry I disturbed you."
For a few moments, while the slamming of the door still reverberated in her ears, Alex sat frozen.
"You gonna be okay?"
Her smile was brittle. "Of course. Where were we?"
"Just finalizing your schedule." Tracey perched on the edge of her desk. "That was one pissed lady who left here. Is there going to be trouble?"
"No. She shouldn't be a problem."
"Any particular reason you're throwing her back?"
"The threats included her. I'm not going to give him another target. If I stay focused on this case, he stays focused on me."
"She looked like she could take care of herself."
"She's a detective with the 16th precinct."
"A cop. So, tell me again why'd you give her up?"
"Don't forget what happened to those DEA agents." Alex snapped her planner closed. "After this is over, I'll be able to explain."
"How did you get her to let go?"
"I let her believe that I was sleeping with you."
"You don't know women very well, do you?"
Pale blue eyes drilled into the agent's like ice. "What do you mean?"
"And you really think that she will be there when you get your head out of your ass?"
"Whatever." Tracey pulled out her planner. "I've got all your dates for the next seven days? Are you ready to go to court now?"
"Just let me collect the rest of the materials." She was surprised by the tremor in her hands and shook them out before filling her briefcase with the relevant documents. With a nod at the agent, she walked out the door.
"Alex, it's Elliot. You need to put me on your witness list for the Bryson case."
"Why can't Olivia testify? She was the primary."
"She's not here."
"What? Olivia never flakes."
"No, I mean she won't be available."
"Repeat that?" Alex gripped the phone.
"Sorry. I thought you would have known."
Alex was inches from crawling down the telephone wire and throttling the man. "Knew what?"
"All I know is that when I came in this morning, her desk was piled high with cleared files and her badge was on top."
"I don't understand?"
"Didn't the two of you talk yesterday? She came out the elevator like a bat out of hell and, from the looks of it, worked all night."
"Briefly. We talked briefly."
"About what?" Elliot gripped the phone. "Look, Alex, I'm not an idiot. I know you guys are involved." He listened intently to the silence, counting out the seconds that passed without a response. "Or were involved. Is that why she's been a bear to partner with the past couple of weeks?"
Her voice was glacial. "Elliot."
"No. Don't try to pull that Ice Queen crap on me, I'm not a defense witness. I care about her, Alex. Don't you?"
"Then spill, Counselor. What the hell is going on?"
"We broke up."
"What?" Elliot pulled the phone away from his ear and stared at it for a moment. "I had to have misheard you."
"She never said anything. What happened?"
"It was for the best. Her life was at risk."
"What are you talking about?"
"The threats. They weren't just about my mom and me. Olivia was mentioned too."
"Shit, I didn't know that."
"I didn't let them tell her."
"What were you thinking? She can't protect herself if she doesn't have all the information."
"Don't you understand? That is why I broke up with her. I thought she'd be safer if she wasn't a part of my life."
"I don't think Olivia would have wanted to be safer if it meant she had to lose you."
Alex clenched her hands together. "It was for the best," she repeated the refrain that she had been telling herself every morning she woke alone.
"Fuck that, Alex." Elliot pinched the bridge of his nose. "What happened yesterday?"
"She came by when the Secret Service Agent was going over my schedule. I let Olivia believe that she and I were involved."
"Are you insane?"
"I'll be able to explain all of this when the trial is over."
"Shit, Alex. She might forgive you for trying to protect her. Hell, she's forgiven both of us for the whole Plummer thing. I don't know you could even explain that to her, much less convince her to excuse you for that kind of betrayal, though."
"I need to talk to Cragen."
"I don't think he knows anything more. He seemed just as in the dark as the rest of us." Elliot leaned across his desk and picked up Olivia's Rolodex. "Look, I'm going to drive by her place. Do you want to come with me?"
"I can't. I'm due in court. Will you call me and tell me what you find?"
"Please transfer me to Cragen."
"What are you going to tell him?"
"I know Olivia has a large bank of time. I'm going to ask him not to process her resignation until I get a chance to talk to her."
"Alex, if Olivia doesn't want to be found we won't find her."
"I'm hoping that she's not completely gone."
She snatched up the phone before the end of the first ring. "ADA Cabot."
"Alex, it's Elliot."
She leaned back in her chair and swallowed. "What did you find?"
"The place is empty. She's gone."
"I don't know. She left the super rent money for the next three months to break her lease and told him to keep the security deposit because she didn't have time to clean."
"Did she leave any forwarding information?"
"Not with the super or property management company. There might be something with the post office but we won't know that for another couple of days."
"Did she leave anything?"
Elliot scratched his head while he debated answering the question. "Um."
"Tell me." Alex's voice dropped. "Please."
"The place was completely empty. All her furniture and everything are just gone."
"She left a dry erase board on the refrigerator. "
"Was there a message?"
"Yeah. It said Elliot. Let me go. O"
"Alex, I've got calls out to see if any moving companies helped her."
"I've done the preliminaries. We're tracking her social security number, her credit cards and her bank account."
"As of an hour ago, she hadn't taken a flight, a bus or a train out of the city."
"What about her mother's car?"
"Damn. I forgot that she still had that thing. I'll put out a BOLO for it."
"Yeah, we don't want a trigger happy trooper to think he's got some major criminal."
"You got that right." Elliot cleared his throat. "Her cell phone's been cancelled."
"I know. I tried it after you called."
"Did you know of any other family she could have gone to?"
"There's no-one. She's on her own out there."
"We ran a check on the morgue and all the hospitals. She isn't in either place." Elliot tapped his pen on his desk. "Uh, have you eaten anything today?"
She laughed. "I had breakfast."
"You've got to take care of yourself. If not for you, then for her."
Alex gulped and tried to force the tears back. "What am I going to do?"
"I never wanted to lose her. I just wanted her safe."
"I'm not going to second guess you at this stage, Alex. You did what you did. She did whatever it is she did. I just hope it doesn't prove to be permanent."
Everyday she waited for a call that didn't come; for a letter that was never sent. Olivia's absence was like a weight inside her. It coated her mouth and made every bite she attempted to eat taste like ashes. It filled the darkness of her bedroom when she tried to sleep and made it impossible to draw the slightest breath without the pressure of it on her chest.
She woke up each day tired. She would sit up, turn off the alarm and follow her regular schedule. Outwardly, everything was the same. Alexandra Cabot, Associate District Attorney, made her cases and kept up her win record. Her heart wasn't in it, though. It was lost.
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