Author: Rysler PM
Alex reveals she's been receiving death threats. (An Alex and Olivia Story)Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Words: 5,582 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 19 - Follows: 2 - Published: 02-24-05 - id: 2279408
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
And now, for something completely different... No spoilers for Loss/Ghost, just a good old-fashioned crime drama first-time story.Title: Amicus Curiae
For Deb, for giving me a nudge toward the one true pairing.
"Olivia, I..." Olivia tried to focus her wandering attention when Alex spoke. "Olivia, I've been getting death threats."
Olivia choked on a mouthful of wine. She covered her mouth with a napkin to absorb her sputtering. Alex watched patiently until she swallowed and wiped at her lips. Olivia cleared her throat. "Have you called the police?"
Alex raised her eyebrows.
"This doesn't count." Olivia leaned back and folded her arms.
Alex shook her head. "I'm embarrassed. It's probably nothing. I don't want to make a mountain out of molehill."
"You've received death threats before."
"What makes these different?"
"They're more cryptic. I can usually tell who writes them, if they're smart enough not to sign their name, which is rare. And, don't laugh-The spelling is better, this time."
"I'm not laughing," Olivia said.
"They're more...insistent. I've received six letters." Alex opened her purse and pulled out a plastic bag containing envelopes. She slid it toward Olivia.
"What else?" At Alex's frown at her question, Olivia leaned forward. "You wouldn't bother me over just letters. No matter how poetic the prose."
Alex sighed. "Ever the detective."
"Yup." Olivia continued to press. "What's going on?"
"The last two days I've been feeling...watched."
Olivia sat up. "Alex."
Alex looked at her hands. "Now I really feel silly."
"Don't." Olivia reached out and covered one of Alex's hands with her own. "I'll take care of it."
Alex studied their linked fingers. "I knew you would."
Alex leaned forward. "Have you found something already? It's only been a day."
"I've traced the mailbox drop, thanks to the U.S. postal service." Olivia's voice came through the line. "Look, Alex, we should really start an official file on this..."
"Liv, I have my career to think about. If I don't have a tough enough skin to handle some hate mail without running and crying to the police..."
"You'll never be D.A. or judge. So instead you just sneak around doing secret investigations and making your investigator work off-the-books."
"Right." Alex exhaled, sending an echo across the mouthpiece. "Do you hate me?"
"I could never hate you," Olivia said.
Alex's shoulders sagged.
Olivia's voice crackled through the line. "I find your arrogance only mildly irritating."
"Did you really think stakeouts were all that glamorous?" Olivia said as she watched the street in front of them.
"Well, I thought eventually stuff happened." Alex leaned back against the headrest. "Now that I know the suffering involved... thank you for doing this."
Alex closed her eyes. "You shouldn't be at work, or anything, should you?"
"It's my day off." Olivia chuckled, drumming her fingers on the steering wheel.
Alex opened one eye and looked at her companion. "You guys get days off?"
"Mandatory, after 9-11. Post-traumatic stress syndrome gave way to the trendy new disease of exhaustion."
Alex frowned. "Right. I remember, now." She'd done case work on the lawsuits by firefighters and police officers demanding to get back to ground zero and find their brothers. Guilani had had it right-there was enough grief, disease, and suicide without driving people to it-but she sympathized. She studied Olivia's profile. The woman would stop working when she died.
Olivia broke the silence. "What about you? No work?"
"I have work." Alex hefted her briefcase onto her lap. "But I can just as easily do it from home, or the passenger seat of an unmarked car. I don't need to show my face except for trial. In fact, it's encouraged-We're less of a target for terrorism if we're not at the courthouse. Why do you think I spend so much time in the squad?"
Alex pushed her glasses up her nose. "Can't you do paperwork, too? 501s or something?"
Olivia glanced at her. "Those are blue jeans. And, I'm, you know, watching the mailbox."
Alex cleared her throat. "How do we even know he'll come back?"
"We'll assume he knows you got the letters, since you've vanished to whereabouts unknown with your investigator. He's used the same mailbox six times. You've received the notes, but he hasn't been arrested. This'll make him feel safe, and confident about his territory."
"How do we know the mailbox signifies anything? I mean, a smart crook would use a mailbox outside of his domain, not one in his territory."
Olivia nodded. "To a certain extent. But there's a quantifiable comfort zone. He won't use the mailbox next to his house, but he won't go down to Harlem and use theirs, either."
"So it's one he's familiar with."
"Okay, so how do you know which one it is? That box is getting a lot of traffic."
"We'll assume it's not that mother with the stroller." She gestured at the sidewalk. "Or any couples, or anyone we can see who leaves a building, since this would be too close to home."
"Why don't people in these apartments just use their own mailboxes?"
Olivia shrugged. "No one trusts anyone, anymore."
"We're looking for a single male, coming on foot or from the subway." Alex folded her arms. "Fabulous."
"We're looking for an individual white male, age 25-55, probably well-dressed, as his word usage suggests a white-collar job that involves writing to some extent-clerk, secretary...lawyer. He's familiar with sexual theory-not many people are. He'll have a string of peeping or stalking arrests, maybe flashing, possibly evidence of death threats sent in the past, definitely restraining orders from previous significant others."
"Flashing? I will never live down being stalked by a flasher." Alex's eyes widened. "Wow. Okay, so how do you know it's not a long-haired hippie environmentalist who doesn't like the trees I kill creating subpoenas?"
"Well, he could be." Olivia said. "But he probably would have mentioned that in the letter."
"Ah." Alex took a greater interest in the people passing on the street. "There's a terrifying amount of guesswork in police procedure."
"Well, there wouldn't be, if the victim allowed me to run the letters through trace. Detectives like to collect evidence, not shrink the heads of every pedestrian in New York."
Olivia bit her cheek. "You shouldn't be here."
Alex glanced over. "I know." She sighed. "Olivia, thanks for doing this."
"No problem." Olivia grinned and patted Alex's leg.
Alex caught her hand, and squeezed it. "Really. I trust you with my life."
Olivia curled her fingers around Alex's, caressing them. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that."
Alex smiled at her. Their gaze lingered, until Olivia saw someone approach the mailbox. "Look." She released Alex's hand, and grabbed the wheel again, peering over it. "I think your letter carrier may be a woman."
A short brunette was approaching the mailbox, glancing furtively around her to make sure no one was watching her too closely. She pulled an envelope out of her coat and shoved it into the mailbox in a practiced gesture that didn't require her to break her gait.
"Out one subway entrance and into the other. Slick," Olivia said. She reached for the door handle. "I'll follow her. You-"
"No need." Alex touched Olivia's arm. "I know her."
Alex cringed. "Margarite Tennison. She used to clerk for the ADA's office."
"She was, ah, fired."
"For what?" Olivia's tone was impatient.
"Falsifying her resume."
"For what, really?"
Alex closed her eyes. "Sexual harassment."
"Of you?" Olivia's voice softened.
"No." Alex leaned back against the headrest. "Of Judge Sable."
Alex looked over at her, exasperated. "Is this how you question everyone?"
"One fact at a time." Olivia settled against the driver's side door. "Makes everything clearer."
"So what does this fact tell you?"
"That she's not the letter writer. 'I want to take your pussy and feed it to the police dogs,'" Olivia quoted, "Is personal. So why isn't she going after Judge Sable?"
"Because it's not her," Alex concluded. "So who is it?"
"Boyfriend, probably. Or current employer."
Alex exhaled. "We need to file a report, don't we."
"Yes." Olivia placed her hand on Alex's shoulder. "So we can pull Tennison's phone records."
Olivia let go and started the car. "I think I can get it assigned to SVU. The sexual connotation of the letters should go over well."
"Wouldn't that be a conflict of interest?"
Olivia was silent.
"I'm sorry, it doesn't matter." Alex fastened her seatbelt. "I don't want anyone else."
Olivia assumed, 'on this case,' was left unsaid.
"I just did."
"You should have come to us, yesterday. We're a team. There can be no secrets."
"I'm sorry, Captain. I wanted to make sure it was solid."
"Well, is it? We don't have time to chase down every angry letter the district attorney's office gets."
She met his eyes. "This is different."
"I'm sure." Olivia shoved her hands into her pockets. "We could turn it over to the 16th precinct? Or white collar?"
Cragen shook his head. "She's ours. She looks out for us, and we're not going to turn our backs on that. Go take her statement."
More of Alex's life was on display on the monitor than Alex had seen herself. She turned away, watching the squad room. Olivia's questioning voice caught her attention. "You made a charitable contribution to the Human Rights Campaign?"
Alex shrugged. "I realize they're not the bleeding edge of lobbying, but they have a legitimacy that carries a lot of weight, and besides, it's tax-deductable, and..." Alex stopped talking and actually looked at the surprise on Olivia's face. "...What?"
"Nothing." Olivia looked at a second check. "I didn't know you were gay."
Alex folded her arms. "You think I'm gay just because I support equal rights?"
"I suspect." Olivia tilted her head. " And I'm right."
Alex glanced down at her lap.
Olivia turned back to the screen. "I don't think your stalker knows. But if he found out, he could really go after you, Alex."
"Great, as of now, the police know more about me than a criminal does. I'm finally starting to understand privacy legislation."
Olivia smirked. "I'm sure checks to the ACLU are deductible, too."
"Talk about lampooning a promising legal career."
Alex swatted at Olivia's shoulder. "Focus on the crime."
"Not saving a gay baby whale for Jesus is a crime."
"Now you're starting to sound like Munch." Alex chuckled.
Olivia covered her heart in dismay.
"Ladies." Cragen was coming toward them, Stabler close behind with a manila folder in his hand. "We found something."
Stabler grinned. "Seems Ms. Tennison was hired away from the clerk's office to work for Rob Waters." He looked intently at Alex.
Alex frowned. "The attorney?"
"Alex," Cragen said, bowing his head. "You're working the Nguyen case?"
"Opening remarks in two days... Waters is opposing council."
"And you drew Judge Sable?"
Alex blinked. "Oh, God."
Olivia reached out and put a hand on her knee. Cragen held her shoulder.
Alex concentrated on breathing. "It's a mob case... Do you remember the girl?"
Olivia glanced up to meet Stabler's eyes. "I remember."
"So, grand jury in the morning?" Alex said, snapping shut her briefcase as she directed her question at Olivia. "And wear something nice, Detective Benson." She winked.
"Sexual harassment inside a special victims unit? You are a daring woman." Olivia laughed.
"Hard to follow the letter of the law until you've experienced it," Alex said.
"In that case..." Munch sauntered in their direction. "Let me volunteer, for the good of City Hall."
Alex rolled her eyes. "Like you'd do anything for the good of City Hall."
"A man can change."
Alex patted his arm, flashed another smile at Olivia, and headed for the exit. She stopped short when the opening was blocked by an Asian man in clean, working-class clothes, holding the hand of a young girl-six or seven years old-wearing a jumper. A uniformed officer was behind him.
Olivia brushed by Alex. "Can we help you?"
The man began babbling in a foreign language, gesturing to the girl. She looked to the uniform for assistance. "Can you translate?"
"I'm sorry, detective. I'm Philippino, they're Vietnamese. Came up to me while I was doing the beat. Lieutenant told me to bring them here. Got one of the Task Force coming down, too."
The uniform gestured for Olivia to come to the side of the little girl. On the back of her dress, she could see blood. "God."
Stabler had come to Alex's side. She saw his face was white and his jaw was so tight she was afraid he'd crush his teeth. She prayed she wouldn't have to see this one in a courtroom...
"The man told us the girl was his daughter," Stabler said, recounting the case notes from memory, like he was already on the stand. "That he and the mother had never been married, and she lived with her, but he visited from time to time. The mother lived with her sister, who was dating..."
"Teddy Tran. They say he runs the street gangs, prostitution, and even immigration," Cragen said. "We had his DNA on the girl, and witnesses we got into protective custody before Tran's goons could come after him, but he's insisting on a trial."
"Why have an erudite lawyer send death threats?"
"A distraction?" Cragen looked at Alex.
Olivia frowned. "Or something we're missing."
Cragen put his hand on Alex's shoulder. "You should recuse yourself."
"Maybe I should."
"Recusing yourself is a serious matter," McCoy said. "You've worked on this case for seventeen months. You go to trial in one day, Ms. Cabot."
"I know." Alex folded her hands. "But I can't work opposite someone trying to kill me."
"You have direct evidence?"
"We have the letters and the identification of Ms. Tennison."
"Have your investigators interviewed her?"
"We don't want to tip our hand."
McCoy sighed. "Do you have enough for an arrest?"
Alex was silent.
"Then you don't have enough to pass the buck. I'm sorry."
"What about Judge Sable?" Alex looked up again, into his grey face, his sympathetic eyes that watched her with an honest, open expression even as he sealed her fate.
"If Ms. Tennison isn't in the courtroom, I don't see how it's a conflict of interest. All that happened three years ago."
Alex nodded. "Thank you for your time." She stood up.
"Alex, do you have..." He looked earnestly at her.
"Protection?" She smiled thinly. "Don't worry, I'm not alone."
Court rested on the end of the opening statements, and in the morning, Alex would call Nguyen to the stand. She'd watched Judge Sable for signs that he knew the tension lurking with Tennison's superior, but he seemed unaware, almost bored, as he carried out court procedure.
Now, the witnesses had been dropped off at the safe house, and Olivia insisted on driving her home. And insisted on coming up.
"Do you think my apartment is booby-trapped?" Alex asked, as they sat in the unmarked car in front of her building.
Olivia rotated her head to look at Alex. "Humor a detective, would you?"
"Did we not recently discuss privacy?"
"It would make me feel better."
"Oh, it would make you feel better." Alex looked at Olivia and smirked.
Olivia looked steadily at Alex.
They got to Alex's door, Olivia insisted on unstrapping her gun and going in first, commando-style, in the dark. When she yelled "Clear!" from the bathroom, Alex started laughing.
Olivia came back to the foyer, wearing an innocent expression. "What?"
"I think you're trying to impress me."
"Nah." Olivia sobered, looking toward the window at the opposite end of the entranceway. "If I wanted to do that, I'd catch the guy."
"Liv." Alex stepped closer to her. Olivia turned. "Stay for dinner?"
"What are you serving?"
"I have four different kinds of Lean Cuisine."
"Four..." Olivia's eyes widened.
Alex pushed her stomach. "Don't worry. My wine collection is far more extensive."
They ate sitting on the leather couch in the living room, under dim recessed lighting. "How do you usually spend your evenings?" Olivia inquired.
"During a trial? Case notes. Transcripts. Interview preps."
"And now you're... eating dinner with a beautiful woman without a scrap of paper in sight. The only evidence of the true Alex is that you're still wearing your glasses."
Alex chuckled, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose. "A beautiful and modest woman." She shook her head. "This whole case feels surreal. The courtroom feels surreal. I have to keep reminding myself that Misha Nguyen is the victim. I remember her coming into your squad. More clearly than I remember most things. Most cases just sort of fade... But not this one. Do you know why?"
"Because you saw the blood?"
Alex closed her eyes. "No. Because of something you said... When Stabler went to arrest Tran, with anger leaking out of his every pore, you stayed with the victim, to supervise the rape kit. You said you were the protector. That you protected the victims. That it wasn't about justice."
"If I thought for one second that killing Tran would help Misha, I would do it. Elliot and I would put two bullets in the back of his head and never look back." Olivia said. She shifted on the couch, facing Alex. "But it won't. Other things can help her. Like justice."
Alex offered a faint smile. "So I'm not useless."
"No." Olivia leaned forward, her gaze intent on Alex's face. Her lips parted, for breath, to say something, but Alex was leaning in, too, cutting off her words with her mouth. The kiss was soft and brief. They separated long enough to miss the touch, and Olivia reached out to pull off Alex's glasses, setting them on the coffee table before they kissed again. Alex's upper lip brushed Olivia's lower one, encouraging her to open her mouth. Olivia complied, eager to taste-
Glass shattered. Alex screamed, shielding her face away from the exploding living room window. Olivia wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her off the couch, covering Alex with her body, pinning her to the floor. The room was silent. No further explosions came. Olivia began counting. On 'one hundred and twenty, Mississippi,' she climbed to her feet, and gestured for Alex to stay on the floor.
She went to the side of the window, and gingerly glanced at the street. "Nothing," she said, calling back to Alex. "Do you have a camera?"
"A couple of disposable ones, in the desk drawer..." Alex sat up and watched Olivia prowl around the room.
"Good." Olivia said. She pointed to the ceiling. "There. A slug. High angle-Shot from the street. Not at us. Meant to scare you."
"Did they know you were here?" Alex asked. She was still sitting on the floor, leaning back against the couch, afraid to get up and feel her knees buckle.
"I don't know. They could have been watching, but then why wait so long? More likely a walk-by. We need to call it in."
"No, I don't-"
"You don't have a choice. We need ballistics. We need this on the record."
Alex stood up. "Olivia..."
Olivia came to her, heedless of the exposure from the broken window. "I promise, after the interviews, after the paperwork, after forensics, we'll come right back here. Okay? You can be alone." She put her hands on Alex's shoulders, and looked down at her. "I promise."
Alex stepped into her embrace, wrapping her arms around Olivia's waist. "Just give me a minute." Olivia's hold tightened on her. She pressed her face against Olivia's shoulder.
Olivia began to count.
"Oh, god." Alex's laugh was muffled against Olivia's shirt. "Don't count again."
Olivia stopped counting and merely pressed her cheek against Alex's hair. "It's going to be all right," she said.
"Olivia?" Alex loosened her grip on Olivia's abdomen and found her voice. "You should have gone to the window right away, shouldn't you? You broke procedure."
"I..." Olivia stepped back, keeping her hands on Alex's arms. "It's not about justice."
Alex reached up to cup Olivia's cheek. "Thank God you were here," she said, drawing Olivia closer for a kiss. Their mouths touched, mingled, reluctantly parted, before Olivia went to call Stabler.
At the mention of the Tran case, Alex looked up sharply at Stabler. He met her eyes, and continued the recounting before she could clarify. "At 9:13 PM, a single shot was fired through the living room window of your apartment from street-level. After ensuring your safety, Detective Olivia Benson again secured the scene, and then called the detectives in charge of a current open case concerning harassment, on the presumption that this incident is related."
Alex's cheeks burned with anger. She hated being this exposed, this transparent. Whenever she thought her last private moment had been revealed, the detectives made it worse. She should have just ignored the letters, but it was too late, now. Waters had even found his way into her courtroom. Before she could think of the meanest, most polite thing she could say to Elliot Stabler, he spoke again. "Just what were you and Olivia doing between 8:00 PM and 9:13 PM?"
"What?" Alex stood. "I'm the victim here. Not some perp you need to bait."
Stabler folded his arms. "I'm glad you finally realize that, Alex. Now maybe you'll go a little easier on us when we're working your case?"
Alex turned and walked out of the room. Her lawyer scrambled to follow her.
Olivia sighed. "It's the middle of the night. Someone shot at her. Did you have to push so hard?"
Stabler leaned over and whispered in her ear. "You've got lipstick on your cheek." He winked.
Behind the glass, Southerlyn glanced at Cragen. "Can she step down from the Tran case?"
Cragen shook his head. "Good luck stopping her now."
"Allergic to fingerprint powder?"
"No." Alex rubbed her nose. "To crime."
Olivia took Alex's coat, and hung it in the closet off the foyer before taking off her own. "What time are you due in court?"
"10. Sable granted a delay, due to the shooting. Luckily we asked early and he was awake when we called." Alex wandered further into the apartment.
"You should get some sleep, then."
"I need to take a shower, first." Alex stopped in the doorway of her bedroom and looked back at Olivia. "Stay."
Olivia nodded. "I'm staying."
Alex nodded. She grabbed some clothes, stepped into the bathroom and shut the door. Olivia heard the water turn on. She'd brought her bag from her locker, and changed into sweats, and then turned down the bed. She eyed the sheets before choosing to settle into the bedroom's easy chair. As the water ran, she stared out the window, searching for a threat. The shadows revealed nothing, and the bedroom was dark. They weren't visible targets.
The sound of the shower stopped, and Alex emerged, wearing a nightgown and a filmy robe. She grinned at Olivia, and then slid into bed. "Come here."
Olivia obliged, settling under the sheets and wrapping an arm around Alex's shoulders.
"If I didn't know better," Alex said, pressing herself against Olivia, "I'd think you'd stage this so that I would fall into your arms."
"Scare you into sleeping with me?"
"You don't have to scare me for that," Alex said.
Olivia shifted, moving on her side and wrapping an arm around Alex's waist. "Waters is waiting for you in the morning," she said, resting her forehead against Alex's arm.
"I know," Alex said. Tucked against Olivia's warm body, she wasn't afraid.
Tran leaned forward. "I know I have the right to defend myself. I wanted to say," He turned to the jury, "That I did not do it."
"You mean, you wanted to perjure yourself," Alex said.
Waters stood up. "Objection."
"Withdrawn." Alex glanced at the judge, who gave her a dirty look. She cleared her throat. "So the witnesses are lying, Mr. Tran?"
He sneered. "Women always lie."
"And little girls, do they lie too?"
"Misha was as quiet as a mouse."
"When?" Alex pressed.
"All the time." Tran leaned back. "She doesn't deserve what her mommy's putting her through."
"And why is her mommy doing that?"
"She has a vendetta against me, because I dumped that whore."
"Why? Because Misha told on you?"
"She didn't tell!" Tran snarled. "I made sure of that."
Misha hadn't spoken a word since Nguyen had brought her to the squad. Luckily the DNA evidence and her age protected her from being forced to testify, so that Tran could face his accuser. Alex's stomach twisted at the thought. "How did you make sure of that?"
Tran calmed down. He folded his hands. "You ask her."
Alex paced the length of the court. "How do you answer the DNA evidence, Mr. Tran?"
"Planted. I know how you cops operate."
"And how would they get a sample of your semen to plant? From Misha's mother? Did she store it in a jar?"
"I wouldn't let her near me like that, you sick fuck," Tran said.
Sable frowned. "Language, Mr. Tran."
Alex continued. "Maybe Nyugen then? He jerk you off in an alley somewhere? Maybe that's what you liked, rather than little girls?"
"Shut up!" Tran lunged at her, stopped by the barrier of the witness box. A bailiff moved between them. "Shut up," he repeated, and then looked at Waters. "Why didn't you shut her up? Why'd you miss?"
Waters stood. "Your honor, I request a mistrial."
Sable banged the gavel. "Mistrial granted. And you'd better get yourself a lawyer, Mr. Waters."
Turning around, Alex searched for Olivia in the crowd as reporters typed into their PDAs and Sable gave instructions to the jury. Olivia was standing behind the back row next to Stabler. She winked.
"I was thinking Chinese," Alex said, as she reached under Olivia's coat and stroked Olivia's stomach.
Olivia leaned back against Alex's touch. "Too spicy."
"Italian it is. Antonio's delivers." Alex slid her hand between Olivia's shirt and the waistband of her pants and caressed her lower belly.
Olivia closed her eyes. "How late?"
"Twenty-four hours." Alex's fingers skimmed Olivia's panties.
"Perfect." Olivia exhaled.
Alex teased Olivia's heat, cupping her center without applying pressure, before sliding her hand free and moving to face Olivia. She leaned in and kissed Olivia. Olivia responded, yielding to the pace of Alex's mouth as Alex pushed off her coat and let it fall to the floor. She moved her hands to the buttons of Olivia's blouse. "I want," she said, between nips at Olivia's lips, "To thank you for saving my life."
"I didn't actually-" Olivia gasped as Alex's tongue entered her mouth, "Do that."
"You would have."
"Mm?" Olivia tried to look at Alex, but her eyeballs wouldn't swivel that far, and she was too exhausted to turn her head. She resumed admiring the ceiling.
"You and Elliot protect the victims. And each other. And me." She exhaled. "What's my role?"
"You look out for both of us, ADA Cabot. It's a whole Who Watches the Watchers thing."
Alex chewed on her lip. "I'm the next circle of hell, you mean."
This time Olivia made the effort to roll over, and wink at Alex. "Well, you are a lawyer."
"Thank you, detective. Do you kiss people with that mouth?"
"I dare you to find out."